Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-8-preview-and-predictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 8 Pac-12 Predictions:

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

Bye: Washington State, UCLA

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 8 Big Ten Predictions:

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

Bye Week: Illinois

by Braden Gall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best of the Rest:

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

Rivalries with Extra Juice this Year:

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

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Names to Watch:

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

* - strong safety

- by Braden Gall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Safeties</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /college-football/bcs-standings-2012-statistical-breakdown-championships

With the first release of the 2012 BCS Standings, Athlon Sports wants to make sure fans are aware of some stats, trends and rankings when sifting through the debut of the rankings that will eventually determine who will play for the national championship.

No. 1 has a 50% chance to play in the BCS National Championship Game
The No. 1 team in the initial BCS release has gone on to play in the national championship game seven of the 14 total releases. LSU was No. 1 in the first poll last season, but the Bayou Bengals were the first team since Ohio State in 2007 to debut at No. 1 and still play in the title game. But there is bad news coming for the Alabama Crimson Tide...

However, No. 1 doesn’t win the national title
Yes, seven of the 14 BCS title games featured a team ranked No. 1 in the debut release of the standings. But the last four — and five of seven — No. 1s have lost in the national championship game. LSU (2011), Ohio State (2007, '06) and USC (2005) all debuted in the BCS at No. 1, made it to the title game and lost. Florida State in 1999 and USC in 2004 are the only teams to win the national title after debuting at No. 1. Oklahoma in 2003 also began the BCS at No. 1 only to lose in the championship game to LSU.

You better be ranked in the top six
Of the 28 teams that have played in BCS title game, only two of those got there after being ranked outside of the top six in the initial release. In 2003, LSU debuted at No. 12 in the initial BCS standings and is by far the lowest ranked eventual national champion. Florida in 2008 was ranked No. 10 in the first poll and is the only other team to get to the title game after being ranked outside of the top six in the first BCS standings. Here is a breakdown of how the top 12 have fared in the title game:

Ranking in Initial Release Played in Title Game Won Championship
1st 7 2-5
2nd 7 4-3
3rd 4 1-3
4th 4 3-1
5th 1 0-1
6th 3 2-1
7th, 8th, 9th 0 0-0
10th 1 1-0
11th 0 0-0
12th 1 1-0

Projected Championship Game Match-up: Alabama (1) vs. Florida (2)
The odds of this happening are slim. Only twice in 14 years have the top two teams in the first BCS release go on to play in the championship game. In 2005, USC (1) and Texas (2) were clearly the best two teams in the nation and they eventually met in what many consider the greatest college football game ever played. Last year, LSU (1) and Alabama (2) become only the second such meeting. Both times No. 2 went on to win the title.

How should the Florida Gators feel?
Based on the 14-year history of the BCS, the Florida Gators should feel the best about their current title hopes. The No. 2 team in the first release has made it to the championship game about the same number of times as the No. 1 team (7). But while No. 1 is 2-5 in title game performances, No. 2 has won more titles than any other slot in the first release (4-3). This means the Gators have the best statistical chance of winning the national championship. 

Sneaky Pick: Kansas State Wildcats
While No. 1 and No. 2 make it to the title game the most, the No. 4 team in the first BCS standings has the best record in the national championship game. Fourth place is 3-1 in national title games as Miami (2001), LSU (2007) and Auburn (2010) went from fourth to national champ.

Some comfort for LSU
Being in the top six is huge as I previously pointed out, so LSU has to feel good about landing there. Additionally, the sixth place team in the first BCS standings is 2-1 in national title games. Ohio State (2002) and Florida (2006) both went from No. 6 to champions. So don’t count the Tigers out just yet.

Bad News for South Carolina, Oregon State and Oklahoma
No team ranked No. 7, 8 or 9 in the debut of the BCS standings has ever gone on to play in the national championship game. The No. 11 team has never made it either. This is also bad news for the Georgia Bulldogs. Alas, it also means we won't get the highly anticipated Beavers-Gamecocks match-up fans have been clamoring about for years.

New faces or traditional powers?
No team has ever played for the national title coming from outside of the top 12. But fans could expect to see a totally new look to the championship game this fall. Of the top 12, six have never made an appearance in the BCS championship game. However, of the other six teams, five have won the BCS national championship. Only Oregon has played in the title game and not claimed at least one crystal football.

How many Top 10 teams stay in contention?
On average, 6.4 teams per season ranked in the top 10 of the first release will stay in the top 10 for the final release. This means that 3-4 teams ranked in the top 10 right now will fade from relevance. Who are the most likely candidates? Oregon State? South Carolina? Oklahoma?

- by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content


<p> BCS Standings 2012: A Statistical Breakdown of Championships</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 11:22
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/eight-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-6

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

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 6 of NFL play:

12-for-12: Redskins have scored in all 12 goal-to-go situations
After going a perfect 3-for-3 in the come-from-behind win over Minnesota, the Redskins are now a perfect 12-for-12 in goal-to-go situation in 2012. More importantly, Robert Griffin III has led his team to 11 touchdowns in those 12 first-and-goals and just one field goal. This indicates that the offensive line is finishing drives and RG3 is protecting the football deep in the opponent's red zone. The talented first-year QB finished with 138 yards rushing, including an electric game-clinching 76-yard touchdown run. The 138 yards are the most since Michael Vick rushed for 166 in 2006 and the TD run was the longest by an NFL quarterback since Kordell Stewart broke off an 80-yard scoring run back in 1996.

5-of-7: NFC teams with a winning record who lost on Sunday
Since the 4-1 Chicago Bears were on a bye this weekend, there were only seven NFC teams with winning records playing on Week 6. Five of those seven lost. Four of the five came against teams with a losing record and three of those five came at home. The NFC is clearly the dominant conference, claiming all three divisions with a winning record: NFC West (15-9), NFC North (12-9) and NFC East (12-11). Wins from teams like Detroit and Washington this weekend only further indicate just how deep and complicated the NFC is in 2012. Add to it a Green Bay win over Houston in impressive fashion and the NFC claims the last unbeaten in 6-0 Atlanta.

16-0: Packers record when Jordy Nelson has at least 75 receiving yards
The Green Bay Packers are unbeaten when star wideout Jordy Nelson catches at least 75 receiving yards, including a 2-0 postseason mark. Aaron Rodgers was downright ruthless Sunday night and No. 87 abused the Texans secondary to the tune of nine receptions, 122 yards and three touchdowns. The Pack also moves to 15-3 in the regular season when the Kansas State wide receiver catches at least one touchdown (29-20 when he does not). This was a statement win for the reeling Packers and Rodgers' aerial assault in Houston has Green Bay right back into the heart of the NFC race. And for good measure, after two touchdown receptions Sunday night against the Texans, James Jones now leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns with seven.

10:30: Time left in the fourth quarter and the Eagles leading 16-6
The Lions scored a touchdown with 10:30 left in the game trailing 16-6. The Matt Stafford one-yard touchdown run was the first of four different scoring drives, including the last three of the game, resulting in 20 points to cap the game for the Lions — a 26-23 road overtime win. This game was virtually dead even other than one major statistic. Detroit ran 73 plays and got 25 first downs while Philly ran 78 plays for 24 first downs. Stafford threw 45 passes while Michael Vick attempted 46. The Lions ran the ball 28 times while the Eagles ran it 29 times. Both teams had 14 total possessions and 15 passing first downs. And after 60 minutes, both teams had 23 points. But the only stat that matters? The big reason the Lions went on a 20-7 run while the City of not-so-Brotherly Love watched its team collapse? Michael Vick's 13th turnover (8 INT, 5 FL). After three more giveaways, he is on pace for 37 turnovers this year.

10-0: Giants record when Ahmad Bradshaw rushes for 100 yards
Ahmad Bradshaw carried the ball 27 times for 116 yards and a touchdown in the dominating road win over the 49ers. It took Bradshaw until his 43rd career game before he got at least 20 carries, but the Giants are now 7-1 when the former Marshall running back gets 20+ rushing attempts — 10-0 when he tops the century mark. His 27 carries were his second-most carries in a game, trailing only the 30 he got last week against Cleveland. The 49ers offense, on the other hand, were held to roughly half (314 yards) of its franchise record output set last week against the Bills (621 yards). Alex Smith has now been sacked nine times in the last two meetings with the Giants — including last year's NFC Championship game.

108 and 13: A.J. Green's NFL record catches and TDs in first 21 career games
No wide receiver has had a better start to a career than Cincinnati's second-year superstar. He has 108 receptions, 1,685 yards and 13 touchdown catches — two of which are the best in the history of the sport for anyone in their first 21 games. Green is leading the NFL in receiving yards (628), is second in receiving touchdowns (6) and is third behind only Percy Harvin (49) and Wes Welker (48) in receptions. His current rate of production would put him on pace for 115 receptions, 1,675 yards and 16 touchdowns, all three of which would have ranked No. 2 in the NFL last year. He has quickly become one of the most uncoverable players in the league and has obviously developed an excellent rapport with fellow youngster Andy Dalton.

67.8: Yards rushing per game for Dallas prior to Week 6
If the Cowboys are going to make a push for a playoff spot, improving their 30th ranked rushing attack at 67.8 yards per game was a must. Despite coming up just short on the road on Sunday to fall to 2-3, Jason Garrett can take comfort in how his ground game performed. The Boys rushed 42 times for 227 yards — a franchise record for rushing yards allowed by a Baltimore Ravens defense — at a hearty 5.4 yards per carry clip. The injury-prone DeMarco Murray rushed for 93 yards before leaving with a foot injury in the second half, but Felix Jones picked up the slack with 92 yards and a touchdown of his own. With many of the NFC contenders losing in Week 6, Dallas is clearly right in the thick of the playoff hunt. And if Garrett's bunch can run the rock like it did against Baltimore, they will be in the mix until all season long. It also makes Tony Romo's job dramatically easier.

252: Jets total rushing yards
The Jets' 252 yards rushing on Sunday was the most productive game for the New York franchise since Week 17 of 2010. It was more than the three previous games combined (207 yards) and was 169 yards more than the season average of 83.0 yards per game. Shonn Greene was a monster in the easy win over the Colts, rushing for a career-high 161 yards, or 38 more than his previous four games combined, and three touchdowns. It was his fifth career 100-yard effort. As a side note, Tim Tebow had seven yards on four carries.

- by Braden Gall

<p> 8 Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 6</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:55
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2012-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review

At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it's time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the Big Ten.

First-Half Awards

Coach of the Year: Bill O'Brien, Penn State
Urban Meyer would likely win Coach of the Year should Ohio State finish the season undefeated, especially considering the Bucks lost seven games last fall, and his resume would include a win over Bill O'Brien, Michigan and defending league champ Wisconsin. For now, however, O'Brien has done more with less and has done so in the face of the worst football scandal in NCAA history. Matt McGloin looks like a real quarterback and the Nittany Lion offense looks more creative and innovative than it has since Kerry Collins was under center. Coach O'Brien, whose team leads the Big Ten in turnover margin (+1.17/game), has done a remarkable job in Happy Valley.

Freshman of the Year: Joel Stave, QB, Wisconsin
Danny O'Brien was supposed to be a savior for a Badgers offense that watched architect Paul Chryst, leader Russell Wilson and three-fifths of its all-world offensive line move on from Madison. That didn't work. But Stave has been a godsend in place of O'Brien. The redshirt walk-on has energized the Wisconsin passing attack, throwing for 214 yards per game, completing 55.8% of his passes with five touchdowns earning a 3-1 starting record. He has shown the ability to push the ball down the field with his big frame and arm, something O'Brien simply couldn't do.

Newcomer of the Year: Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa
Kirk Ferentz sat back and watched his running back position get thinner and thinner by the week in summer and fall camp. Then his team struggled out of the gate against Northern Illinois and Iowa State. So what is an old school, black and blue type of head coach to do to fix his offense? How about hand the ball to a 230-pound walk-on fullback and tell him to punish defenses. And Weisman has done just that, carrying 98 times for 623 yards and seven rushing touchdowns in four games — including a 2-0 start in league play. If you love the game of football and you don't enjoy watching Weisman pound the rock, there is something wrong with you.

Offensive Player of the Year: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
While there is literally a dozen quality candidates for Pac-12 Player of the Year, Big Ten POY is one man's to lose. Ohio State clearly has warts on defense, so no player has been more valuable, more productive and more electric than the Buckeyes sophomore signal caller. Miller has accounted for 20 touchdowns, is No. 3 in the league in rushing (162.7 ypg), No. 2 in total offense (311.9 ypg), No. 3 in passing efficiency (145.32) and is the unquestioned leader of the only unbeaten team in the league — one of only two 7-0 teams in the nation (Ohio). This is Miller's honor to lose.

Defensive Player of the Year: Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State
Penn State's senior linebacker deserves much of the credit for holding together an entire program in the face of tremendous adversity. Through six games, Mauti has 57 total tackles, a pair of interceptions, two forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and is leading a defense allowing a Big Ten second-best 16.0 points per game. His heart and toughness is a huge reason the Nittany Lions could challenge for the best record in the league.

Midseason Disappointment (Team): Michigan State
This award could go to a number of teams as this league struggled so mightily outside of conference play. Illinois, one could argue, has been much more of a disappointment, however, the Illini weren't considered a title contender in 2012. A 1-2 start to Big Ten action isn't what fans where expecting in East Lansing. Quarterback play — and the pass-catchers too for that matter — have been atrocious as the offense continues to be completely one-dimensional. It ranks 11th in the league in scoring offense, 10th in rushing and 11th in passing efficiency. The defense is solid, despite claiming the league's worst pass rush, and there are big wins left to had should Mark Dantonio's bunch turn it around. But for now, this team lacks the killer instinct that made it Legends Division champions a year ago. 

Midseason Disappointment (Player): Danny O’Brien, QB, Wisconsin
O'Brien had some huge shoes to fill when Russell Wilson departed for the NFL. And as a fellow ACC transfer who posted a productive season as a freshman at Maryland two seasons ago, expectations were sky high in Madison. Unfortunately, O'Brien looked completely lost in Matt Canada's new offense system and was pulled in the Utah State game. Wisconsin was dead last in the Big Ten in scoring (16.3 ppg) and total offense (276.0) after three starts by the former Terrapin. Luckily, backup Joel Stave has stepped in and saved the Badgers season. Big Red has averaged 33.3 points per game since Stave entered the picture.

Midseason Surprise (Team): Penn State
This team has dealt with a coaching change of the most tumultuous variety. It dealt with a mass exodus of current players transferring away — most of whom were starters on offense. And it began the year 0-2 after two heart-breaking losses. But after four straight wins, and marked improvement from the offense, Penn State has a chance to make a big statement in the first year under Bill O'Brien. 

Midseason Surprise (Player): Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern
The junior from Tomball, Texas has emerged as one of the most productive players in the league. Mark has rushed for 797 yards on 134 attempts and has scored 11 total touchdowns in three different ways (eight rush, one receiving, two return). He has become Northwestern's all-time kick return leaders in yards and attempts, while also scoring twice on punt returns. His versatility and dependability has opened up the offense and has given Pat Fitzgerald a traditional rushing threat he has been craving for years. He leads the league in all-purpose yards with 184.6 yards per game.

What Athlon Sports got right: Wisconsin's convincing win over Purdue indicates they are clearly the best bowl eligible team in the Leaders Division. Ohio State was ranked No. 6 in the Athlon Sports preseason Top 25 and was picked No. 1 in the league. Nothing has happened this season to indicate that the Buckeyes aren't the best team in the league. It also appears Michigan and Nebraska will play for the Legends Division crown on October 27 as expected. Should the Wolverines win that game, a Michigan win over Wisconsin in the title game would likely come true as believed in the preseason.

What Athlon Sports got wrong: Actually, most teams at this stage are slotted to finish exactly where Athlon Sports projected with a small tweak. Penn State has outperformed all preseason expectation and are only a few plays from being 6-0. Michigan State, on the other hand, could easily finish worst than third (where they were projected). Iowa has struggled mightily, as predicted, but is somehow 2-0 in the league. Iowa and Northwestern could still finish where Athlon predicted, but are much closer to the top of the division than anticipated. 

Second-Half Predictions

Here's how we think the final standings will look before the Big Ten Championship.

Legends Division

1. Michigan
2. Nebraska
3. Michigan State
4. Northwestern
5. Iowa
6. Minnesota

Leaders Division

1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
3. Wisconsin
4. Purdue 
5. Illinois
6. Indiana

Big Ten Championship: Michigan over Wisconsin

Three Things to Watch

How does the Legends round robin play out?
Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska all still have yet to face each other while Iowa and Northwestern have also crept into the picture. All five still have yet to face each other with the only exception of Iowa's road win over Michigan State this weekend. Michigan gets the Spartans, Wildcats and Hawkeyes at home, while having to visit Nebraska. The Cornhuskers' schedule is flipped as it has to face Michigan State, Iowa and Northwestern all on the road while also getting Penn State at home. Michigan State gets Nebraska and Northwestern at home with two nasty road trips to Michigan and Wisconsin looming. Hold on for dear life in this division because the next two months of action should be extremely entertaining. 

Ohio State's unbeaten record and Braxton Miller's Heisman campaign
There are two teams in the nation with 7-0 records and both reside in the state of Ohio. The Bobcats and Buckeyes have, by definition, the best records in the nation. Additionally, Ohio State's quarterback would be sitting in New York if the Heisman voting was taken today. The defense, which is ranked 10th in the Big Ten at 400 yards allowed per game, is a major question mark. But if Urban Meyer can finish the year unbeaten and Miller can stay healthy, there is little doubt that this team would be the heavy favorite to win the 2013 National Championship. 

The Penn State Nittany Lions
The Jerry Sandusky scandal transcended not only Big Ten football but all of college football, bringing Penn State University into living rooms of non-football fans everywhere. And after many players left the program, a coaching change and two tough losses to start the year, the story in the Big Ten in 2012 could be the performance of the Nittany Lions. Crippling NCAA punishments may be easier to overcome than originally believed if Bill O'Brien is as good as his first half coaching job indicates. With games left against Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa, the Nits will most definitely play a huge role in the Big Ten championship — whether they are eligible to win the crown or not.

Three Games to Watch in the Second Half

1. Michigan at Ohio State (Nov. 24)
It's arguably the best rivalry game in college football, and this season, it could feature an undefeated top-10 Ohio State team and a Big Ten favorite Michigan squad. Consider this Brady Hoke-Urban Meyer Chapter 1 in what could be a long storybook feud between two "new" coaching regimes.

2. Michigan at Nebraska (Oct. 27)
The Legends Division race is completely wide open but these two programs look like the odds-on favorites to win the division. The Cornhuskers will be looking for revenge after a 45-17 beatdown in Ann Arbor last fall.

3. Ohio State at Penn State (Oct. 27)
The Ineligible Bowl could feature the best two teams in the league. It also could feature the top two Offensive Players of the Year in quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Matt McGloin. Look for a huge crowd in Beaver Stadium should the Buckeyes show up undefeated.

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (7-0, 3-0)
Still some weaknesses, but this team refuses to lose behind leadership of Braxton Miller. 

2. Michigan (4-2, 2-0)
Denard Robinson is back on track and the schedule sets up nicely for UM after two top-10 losses.

3. Nebraska (4-2, 1-1)
Nothing wrong with the offense in Lincoln, but something needs to be done to the Blackshirts' defense.

4. Penn State (4-2, 2-0)
Matt McGloin has been spectacular, and the defense has been great. Nits could spoil more than one season in the second half.

5. Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1)
Two straight impressive division wins puts Badgers in driver's seat for a trip to Indianapolis.

6. Northwestern (6-1, 2-1)
Pat Fitzgerald got back to the ground game and it led to big road division win over Minnesota.

7. Iowa (4-2, 2-0)
Key road win at Michigan State puts the Hawkeyes squarely in the Legends Division race.

8. Michigan State (4-3, 1-2)
Devastating loss at home in double overtime to Iowa puts Sparty behind the eight ball in the division.

9. Purdue (3-3, 0-2)
Terrible start to conference play and has four of the next five on the road. Things could get ugly for the Boilers.

10. Minnesota (4-2, 0-2)
Great to hear Jerry Kill has been safely released from care after suffering a seizure. Return of MarQueis Gray is also a positive. 

11. Illinois (2-5, 0-3)
The wheels have official come off the Illini train after third straight blowout Big Ten loss.

12. Indiana (2-4, 0-3)
Same old story for the Hoosiers: Pretty solid offense can score. Defense of any kind? Not so much.

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content


<p> At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it's time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the Big Ten.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:10
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2012-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review

At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it's time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the Pac-12.

First-Half Awards

Coach of the Year: Mike Riley, Oregon State
Todd Graham has quickly turned around Arizona State. Chip Kelly has the best team in the league. And Lane Kiffin will certainly have a chance to join the fray. But for the time being, no one has done a better job than Mike Riley. His defense has gone from one of the worst in the conference to one of the best in one offseason. Now, he is winning tough road games without his starting quarterback. With one of the best resumes in the nation, Riley isn't just Pac-12 Coach of the Year material, he is squarely in the National COY race as well.

Freshman of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
UCLA's Brett Hundley deserves a lot of credit for stabilizing the quarterback position in Westwood for the first time in over a decade. But Mariota is leading the league's top team, scoring the most points (52.3 ppg) and is the Pac-12's No. 2 most efficient passer (156.42). He is poised beyond his years and has proven in short order to be a leader on and off the field. He is completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,301 yards, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions, 221 yards rushing and another score on the ground. Honorable mention falls to Oregon State stud freshman blocker Isaac Seumalo.

Newcomer of the Year: Xavier Su'a Filo, OL, UCLA
The team's top offensive lineman has been a huge part of the improvement on offense for the Bruins. The big Utah native was a top-100 prospect coming out of high school before taking his two-year LDS mission. He returned this fall and stepped directly into the starting lineup. The Bruins rank No. 2 in the Pac-12 in rushing, No. 3 in total offense and are top 10 nationally in sacks allowed, due in large part to improved offensive line play. Of which, Su'a Filo is the best player. USC's Silas Redd gets a big honorable mention here for the work he has done in the Trojans' backfield.

Offensive Player of the Year: Pick a quarterback, any quarterback!
Matt Barkley is the best player in the league and leads the Pac-12 with 16 touchdown passes. Taylor Kelly is the most efficient passer on a surprise team but has played a weak schedule. Sean Mannion's team is unbeaten against a nasty schedule, but he will miss at least two more games with a knee injury. Marcus Mariota is No. 2 in passing efficiency and leads the league's top offense on the Pac-12's best team. Matt Scott is lapping the field from a statistical standpoint, leading the league in total offense. Brett Hundley has been extremely productive at a position UCLA hasn't been good at in over a decade. The argument is likely between Barkley vs. Kelly with beauty falling to the eye of the beholder. For right or wrong, I lean towards the best player on what could be the best team over slightly better stats on a surprise team against a weak schedule. Don't even get me started on Lee vs. Woods vs. Allen vs. Hill vs. Crooks vs. Wilson. Or Taylor vs. Barner vs. Thomas vs. Franklin vs. Carey. This has to be one of the deepest collections of elite offensive skill talent ever assembled in any league.

Defensive Player of the Year: Jordan Poyer, DB, Oregon State
After his league leading fifth interception of the season — this one he returned for a touchdown to clinch the road win over BYU — the talented Oregon State cover man became the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year honors. This defense could be considered the best in the league and his team is undefeated because of it. He has 15 total tackles, one sack, five interceptions, a forced fumble, and also returns punts for the unbeaten Beavers.

Midseason Disappointment (Team): Utah
The Utes were one win away from playing in the Pac-12 championship game last season when it lost to lowly Colorado in the season finale. Kyle Whittingham's squad is 2-5 in regular season action and hasn't won a conference game since. John White set a school record for rushing yards last season and has only one 100-yard effort on his resume this fall and that came against Northern Colorado. Quarterback play has been downright atrocious after the injury to starter Jordan Wynn. All three of this team's league losses have come within the division.

Midseason Disappointment (Player): Keith Price, QB, Washington
Certainly, Price hasn't gotten much help from his decimated offensive line, but Price has been a shell of his 2011 self. At the halfway point of the season, the Huskies passer has completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 1,080 yards, almost as many interceptions (6) as touchdowns (7) and wasn't able to keep his team very competitive against Oregon or USC. This from a guy who threw for 3,063 yards and accounted for 36 total touchdowns on 66.9 percent passing a year ago.

Midseason Surprise (Team): Oregon State
Arizona State has been the South's version of Oregon State, except the Beavers have played a dramatically tougher schedule. In fact, with wins over Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona and BYU, it might be the best resume in the country. Mike Riley's defense is arguably the most improved unit in the entire nation and it has led to an undefeated first half of the season — the latest win coming on the road against BYU without starting quarterback Sean Mannion. 

Midseason Surprise (Player): Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
The sophomore signal caller battled with Michael Eubanks all summer long for the right to run Todd Graham's new offense in Tempe — a unit that had to replace its quarterback and top two pass catchers. Kelly, the league's top-rated passer, has made it look easy. He is completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 1,600 yards, 14 touchdowns, only two interceptions with 210 yards rushing on 57 attempts. Most importantly, his team is unbeaten in conference play.

What Athlon Sports got right: Predicting the division champions is the most important part of Athlon's preseason prognostication and both USC and Oregon are the class of the Pac-12. Colorado and Washington State also appear to be right on as the worst two teams in the league. UCLA and Arizona will battle for third in the South as expected while Cal wallows in fifth up North. Stanford could also finish as the North's top challenger to Oregon if it can defeat Oregon State.

What Athlon Sports got wrong: The Utah-Arizona State flip-flop is one of the biggest misses by our staff. Utah, picked second, will likely finish fifth in the South while the Sun Devils, picked to finish fifth, have a good shot at finishing second. Up North, the Oregon State Beavers are the only miss as they are dramatically outperforming preseason expectations. Otherwise, the other nine slots could finish exactly as predicted in the summer.

Second-Half Predictions

Here's how we think the final standings will look before the Pac-12 Championship.

North Division

1. Oregon
2. Stanford
3. Oregon State
4. Washington
5. Cal
6. Washington State

South Division

1. USC
2. Arizona State
4. Arizona 
5. Utah
6. Colorado

Pac-12 Championship: Oregon over USC

Three Things to Watch

Oregon's four second-half road games 
The Ducks, behind the best defense of Chip Kelly's tenure in Eugene, have made it to the halfway point unbeaten without really breaking a sweat. But things get a lot tougher from here on out. Four road trips dot the perilous second-half slate beginning with a Thursday night primetime showdown with much-improved Arizona State in Week 8 and wrapping up with an in-state Civil War battle in Corvallis. In between are trips to national power USC and Cal — a team that nearly derailed the Ducks' 2010 national title hopes in Berkeley — as well as a home test against Stanford. There is a lot of work left for the high-flying Ducks if they expect to win their fourth straight Pac-12 championship and possibly, the program's first-ever national championship.

The 2012 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year race
This is going to be a crazy race to watch the rest of the season. Matt Barkley looks like he is in the best position to win the award, while power names like Kenjon Barner, Stepfan Taylor, De'Anthony Thomas, Johnathan Franklin, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee have all lived up to the preseason hype. But new faces like Taylor Kelly, Matt Scott, Ka'Deem Carey, Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion and Marcus Mariota have all produced in a fashion that warrants consideration. And I haven't even mentioned Keenan Allen, Marquess Wilson, Markus Wheaton or Austin Hill (or anyone from Washington, for that matter). This league is loaded with elite offensive weapons and should make the second half out West extremely entertaining. 

Who has staying power out West?
Arizona State and Oregon State are two of the biggest surprises in the nation at the midway point of the season. UCLA has also shown that it is much improved. Washington and Stanford have flashed major potential as well. In a league that could be second only to the mighty SEC, can any of these conference upstarts that are looking up at favorites USC and Oregon stay in the race deep into the winter months? Many believe the Sun Devils will come back to earth as the schedule gets tougher, while the Beavers should take some sort of a hit without Mannion under center. And the Bruins' schedule is a nasty five-game stretch following next week's bye. Are these teams simply nice stories worth noting in the grand scheme of the USC-Oregon dominated 2012 Pac-12? Or does one of these unexpected contenders pull off a huge upset, totally shaking up the league and sending ripples throughout the national title picture?

Three Games to Watch in the Second Half

1. Oregon at USC (Nov. 3)
The Ducks and Trojans have been on a collision course since the 2011 season ended last January. It will likely be the first of two meetings between the two, and fans can only hope it is as entertaining as the 38-35 USC win a year ago in Eugene.

2. Oregon at Oregon State (Nov. 24)
The only two teams left unbeaten out West hail from the Beaver State. It is highly unlikely both make it to The Civil War unbeaten, but if by chance it does happen, it could be the single biggest in-state bout between these two adversaries in the 118-year history of the rivalry. The Beavers will likely be the underdog regardless of what happens from here on out, but getting the Ducks at home gives the Beavers as good a chance as anyone to upset Oregon.

3. Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 24)
The Arizona State Sun Devils have the unfortunate luck of facing both Oregon and USC, so their round-robin with the Ducks and Trojans is more important within the Pac-12. But when it comes to national importance, interest and history, there are few games that would be able to match a Notre Dame-USC top 5 match-up. Even if one or both lose a game along the way, a BCS bowl bid and potential top 10 bragging rights should be on the line.

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (6-0, 3-0)
Perfect first half gives way to tough second half road slate with visits to USC, Arizona State, Oregon State and Cal. 

2. USC (5-1, 3-1)
It hasn't been pretty at times, but Lane Kiffin still has his team poised for a Pac-12 title. 

3. Stanford (4-2, 2-1)
The most physical team in the league played valiant football in South Bend. An upcoming tilt against Oregon State looms large.

4. Oregon State (5-0, 3-0)
No Sean Mannion, no problem. Even without their star quarterback, the Beavers won on the road to stay unbeaten.

5. Arizona State (5-1, 3-0)
Todd Graham has found himself a quarterback in Taylor Kelly, but ASU faces tough second half.

6. UCLA (5-2, 2-2)
The Bruins bounced back from an ugly loss to Cal to get back to even in the league. This team goes as Brett Hundley goes.

7. Arizona (3-3, 0-3)
A much better team than the 0-3 mark indicates but the defense needs to show up at some point to win games.

8. Washington (3-3, 1-2)
The Huskies' defense is dramatically improved. But can Justin Wilcox and Tosh Lupoi coach the O-Line?

9. Cal (3-4, 2-2)
Got two clutch wins when Jeff Tedford needed them most. But Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington still left.

10. Utah (2-4, 0-3)
Shocking turn of events in Salt Lake City have led to horrific start to 2012 — with little light at the end of the tunnel. 

11. Washington State (2-5, 0-4)
Home games against Colorado and Cal were best two chances at league wins and Cougs lost both.

12. Colorado (1-5, 1-2)
The Buffaloes have shown little fight all season and might not win another game the rest of the way. 

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content


<p> Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-tight-ends

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

Today, we rank college football's best tight end prospects:

1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame (6-6, 250, Jr.)
The big Fighting Irish tight end is easily the top prospect at his position for this upcoming draft. But poor quarterback play has limited his statistical production in 2012. He entered his final season as more of a pass-catcher but has gotten stronger at the point of attack as ND looked to pound the football more this fall. He projects as an excellent receiver on the next level and, should he continue to develop as an in-line blocker, he could creep into the first round next spring.

2. Joseph Fauria, UCLA (6-7, 255, Sr.)
From a pure athletic stand point, few players in the nation will match the size and speed combination Fauria brings to the table. He has more upside as a receiver than a blocker but is adequate at both. He needs to polish his overall game and prove his dedication and commitment to being a great player. Developing a killer instinct might be his only weakness.

3. Jordan Reed, Florida (6-3, 245, Jr.)
He will likely function more as an H-Back due to his overall lack of speed, but there are no weaknesses to his overall game. He is strong, physical and solid in a blocking role. He has speed and quickness on the outside in the passing game. And he showed loads of versatility as a runner and quarterback prior to the pro-style switch in 2012. He has dealt with three different coordinators in three seasons in Gainesville, so he is only scratching the surface of his overall potential.

4. Michael Williams, Alabama (6-6, 269, Sr.)
The pros for Williams: A huge frame. A nasty, powerful run-blocker. He played in a pro-style system coached by football czar Nick Saban. His pass-catching skills are limited, particularly down the field, but there is plenty of room in the NFL for a guy with his in-line blocking talents.

5. Zach Ertz, Stanford (6-6, 252, Jr.)
Ertz is a slightly less talented version of Coby Fleener. He isn’t quite as fast, isn’t quite as a powerful and hasn’t been quite as productive. Otherwise, he is a very similar player with similar skills. He has played in a pro-style attack that focuses on NFL skills at the tight end position. Few programs have prepared this position for the next level like Stanford.

6. Dion Sims, Michigan State (6-5, 285, Jr.)
Sims entered his final season with no help at quarterback or wide receiver and will likely finish as the top Sparty pass-catcher. He is a powerful blocker with a big frame and solid athleticism. He won’t wow scouts with his overall speed or quickness, but he has enough talent to stay on an NFL field due to his physicality and overall size. He should be a solid first and second down option with red zone potential.

7. Levine Toilolo, Stanford (6-8, 265, Jr.)
No player at this position will bring a bigger, better frame to the next level than Toilolo. His is massive. He can be used equally as a pass-catcher and in-line blocker, but needs to refine his talents at both. He is a more of a long-term project than some of his peers, but few can match his raw upside. When it comes to working vertically down the seam or in the red zone, few have the potential to be as dangerous as the 6-8 monster from out west.

8. Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn (6-5, 255, Sr.)
Without being elite at any one thing, Lutz is the complete package at tight end. He has suffered through horrendous quarterback play, multiple offensive systems and complete coaching turmoil. Yet, back in 2010 with Cam Newton as his quarterback, he produced in key situations and was a big part of the championship run as only a sophomore. He has middle-round steal written all over him — once he can get out of Auburn.

9. CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa (6-6, 265, Jr.)
This big fella’s production will never match his overall upside. Iowa will never be a pass-centric offense so his production in the passing game will never give an accurate picture of his talents. He has a huge frame and the ability to contribute equally in both the running and passing games. This is a player who should be a much better pro player than college.

10. Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State (6-5, 245, Sr.)
This Buckeye is a slightly smaller version of Fauria. Electric athletic ability with the ability to stretch the field vertically with ease. Yet, an overall lack of production and in-line blocking potential stand out on the resume as well. His offensive scheme limited his usage and overall numbers at times, so he could blossom on the next level if he lands in the right system.

Other Names to Watch:

Chris Gragg, Arkansas (6-3, 236, Sr.)
DC Jefferson, Rutgers (6-6, 250, Sr.)
Ryan Griffin, UConn (6-6, 245, Sr.)
Ben Cotton, Nebraska (6-6, 255, Sr.)
Mychal Rivera, Tennessee (6-3, 245, Sr.)
Matt Furstenburg, Maryland (6-4, 245, Sr.)
Ryan Otten, San Jose State (6-6, 245, Sr.)
Kyler Reed, Nebraska (6-3, 230, Sr.)
Nick Kasa, Colorado (6-6, 260, Sr.)
Chris Pantale, Boston College (6-6, 255, Sr.) 

- by Braden Gall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Tight Ends</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-7

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

2012 Record Against The Spread: 26-21
Last Week: 4-4

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Oregon State (+6) at BYU
No, Sean Mannion isn’t going to be playing. But Oregon State still has a talent advantage at every other position on the field — and on the sideline. And with the offensive struggles of BYU, 12 total points scored against Boise State and Utah State, Oregon State’s fully healthy defense should keep this game close. The Beavers rank No. 1 in the Pac-12 in rushing defense (67.3 ypg) and are No. 2 in scoring defense (17.0 ppg). If BYU wins, it will be very low scoring and very close. Prediction: Oregon State +6

Fresno State (+7.5) at Boise State
The Bulldogs, behind great play from quarterback Derek Carr, are 6-0 against the spread this fall. This team is scoring nearly 40 points per game and has great balance on offense — 315.5 pass yards per game, 178.3 rush yards per game. So it is on Boise State to outscore FSU-West and the Broncos are 85th in the nation in offense. I like Fresno State to win outright in a marquee upset for new coach Tim DeRuyter. Prediction: Fresno State +7.5

North Carolina (-8) at Miami
Which Miami team shows up this weekend? The one that got beat by a total of 77 points to Kansas State and Notre Dame? Or the one that dropped more than 40 points on ACC foes Georgia Tech, NC State and BC? At home, I like Al Golden’s bunch to play very well against a Tar Heels team primed for a letdown after the big win over Virginia Tech last weekend. Both backfields should be on full display in what should be a high-scoring affair. North Carolina wins, but not by much. Prediction: Miami +8

Wisconsin (+3) at Purdue
Both teams understand what this game means. A chance at a Big Ten title. This is the de facto Leaders Division championship game and each team enters the weekend on much different notes. The Badgers have rediscovered the ground game and have found a quarterback after a thrashing of Illinois. Purdue still isn’t sure what quarterback to use and is coming off of a home beatdown at the hands of Michigan. Wisconsin has won six straight in the series, Bret Bielema has never lost to Purdue, and UW hasn’t lost in West Lafayette since 1997. And frankly, this game hasn’t been close since a three-point win in 2004 for UW. The Badgers have won the last four by an average of 31 points (and at least 21). Prediction: Wisconsin +3

Utah State (+3) at San Jose State
This one is getting a lot of love in the Athlon Sports offices due to severe man-crushes on both head coaches. The Aggies are 6-0 against the spread this fall and San Jose State is 5-0 so, baring a three-point Spartans win, something has to give, right? Utah State has played the tougher schedule and is road tested (despite tough, close losses). This is going to be a great game and I’ll take Gary Andersen to edge Mike MacIntyre. Prediction: Utah State: +3

Kent State (-2) at Army
The Golden Flashes have quietly started 4-1 this fall with the same mark against the spread. They have won three straight and have scored 86 points in their last two wins. They are leading the MAC in rushing defense, they create turnovers and are solid in the return game. Army does little well (other than run the ball) and won’t be able to stop Kent State. Prediction: Kent State -2

West Virginia (-3.5) at Texas Tech
This line opened with the Mountaineers as a 5.5-point favorite. Somebody somewhere knows something that we don’t know, so the betting public worked this line down two full points by agreeing with shadowing Vegas wise guys. Now that it is down to 3.5, I am back on the 'Eers. Certainly, the letdown factor must be considered after the win over Texas and weird things can happen in Lubbock, but Geno Smith knows full well he can’t take a break. Tech is improved on defense, but they are much closer to the team that allowed 41 points and 380 yards of offense to Oklahoma than the unit that was ranked No. 1 in the nation two weeks ago. As a program, WVU is 172-0 when scoring 40 or more points. Prediction: West Virginia -3.5

Texas A&M (-7.5) at Louisiana Tech
The Bulldogs have built an impressive resume thus far in 2012. Road wins over Big Ten and ACC members validate the 523.4 yards of offense and 53.2 points per game Louisiana Tech is posting this fall. The Aggies, led by star quarterback Johnny Manziel, will score plenty too, but this could be the biggest "home" game — it's being played in the Independence Bowl — to ever take place in program history, so Tech has a chance to win the game outright. Prediction: Louisiana Tech +7.5

- by Braden Gall

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

Undefeated ATS: Arizona State (4-0-1), Fresno St (6-0), UL Monroe (5-0), San Jose St (5-0), TX-San Antonio (3-0), Utah St (6-0), Western Kentucky (5-0)

Winless ATS: Virginia (0-5-1)

One Loss ATS One Win ATS
Cincinnati (3-1) Arkansas (1-5)
Duke (5-1) Auburn (1-4)
Florida (4-1) Boston College (1-4)
Kansas St (4-1) Central Michigan (1-4)
Kent St (4-1) Colorado (1-4)
Ole Miss (5-1) Colorado St (1-4)
Northwestern (5-1) Eastern Michigan (1-4)
Notre Dame (4-1) Idaho (1-5)
Oregon St (3-1) Iowa (1-4)
Penn St (5-1) Kentucky (1-5)
South Carolina (5-1) Miami, Ohio (1-5)
Texas Tech (4-1) Michigan St (1-5)
Toledo (5-1) USC (1-4)
Troy (4-1) Southern Miss (1-4)
  Syracuse (1-4)
  Virginia Tech (1-5)

Related College Football Content

<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 7</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-7-preview-and-predictions

A huge injury to a player of the year candidate. A marquee top 25 showdown in a historic college town. A Thursday night primetime affair. And the former No. 1 team in the nation going on the road. The weekend of action out West has a little something for everybody, there is no doubt, so let's hope it lives up to the hype. On to Week 7...

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 7:

1. Which quarterback makes the fewest mistakes in South Bend?
Josh Nunes played the best game of his career last week in the win over Arizona but had three horrible games prior to that. Everett Golson has loads of upside and raw talent but still makes freshman mistakes — on and off the field. And now each will have to face one of the great defensive front sevens in the nation. Notre Dame has allowed 12 total points in its last three games, while Stanford is fourth in the nation in tackles for loss and averages almost three sacks per game. There will be plenty of NFL talent on the field for both defenses, so best of luck to both inexperienced signal callers in this one.

2. Therefore, the ground game will be key for both
Both Stanford and Notre Dame have big, powerful offensive lines and the aforementioned quarterback issues. Therefore, Stepfan Taylor will have to be the key cog for the Cardinal against Heisman contender Manti Te'o and that nasty Irish frontline. Cierre Wood had his best game of the season last weekend against Miami (118 yards, 2 TD) as the ND rushing attack continues to be the focal point of Brian Kelly's offense. The magic number on rushing yards should be around that 100-yard mark. If either team can crack the century mark on the ground, they will have a great chance at winning the game. Notre Dame has allowed two teams to top the 100-yard mark, but Navy runs the triple option and Denard Robinson contributes to the ground game in a unique way. Stanford allowed 124 yards rushing total in its first three games, before both Washington and Arizona topped that mark with 136 and 126 respectively. First team to 100 yards on the ground wins?

3. Can Oregon State win without Sean Mannion?
The bad news? Mannion is going to be out for a few weeks after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The good news? Mannion's prognosis is generally 2-4 weeks and the Beavers, at 3-0 in league play already, can survive without him for the time being. This weekend's game will be a test, but a win or loss against BYU has no impact on the greater goal of a Pac-12 championship. Utah, who visits Corvallis next weekend, hasn't yet shown it is capable of going on the road and scoring against the mighty Beavers defense. The road trip to Washington will be tricky, but ideally, backup Cody Vaz will be settled in by the time that game rolls around. A road trip to face the Cougars is a great (or brutal) way to break in the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder who hasn't thrown a pass in a game since Dec. 4, 2010.

4. The Huskies defense has to get off the mat one more time
After a tremendous performance on national TV in a win over Stanford, the Huskies defense came plummeting back to earth last weekend. Certainly, the Ducks make most defenses look silly, but Washington cannot hope to upset USC this weekend if it allows another 500 yards of offense and 52 more points this Saturday. Matt Barkley's offense scored 40 points and rushed for 252 yards in the blowout home win over the Huskies last season. If Justin Wilcox and company expect to keep this game close, his front seven must stop the developing USC rushing attack while his talented secondary locks down arguably the top pass-catching tandem in the nation. If not, the Barkley Heisman train will continue to roll along.

5. Brett Hundley can't turn the ball over this week
After a rock-star beginning to his UCLA career, redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley experienced what big-time college football can feel like last weekend. He threw four interceptions, fumbled twice (losing one) and got sacked six times in the ugly blowout loss to Cal. He entered the game averaging 327 yards of total offense per game with 15 total touchdowns before the Golden Bears silenced the Bruins quarterback. Hundley returns home to face a Utah team that has struggled all season. This was a demoralizing 31-6 beatdown in Salt Lake City by the Utes last year and UCLA will be aiming for revenge this time around. Much like last weekend, if Jim Mora's team wants to be taken seriously on the national stage, it has to win these types of games. And it starts with the star signal caller protecting the football against a normally savvy defensive front.

6. Letdown Alert: Cal heads to Washington State
Jeff Tedford posted one of the more surprising box scores last weekend — at just the right time. The embattled coach kept the critics at bay for one more week with the impressive defensive showing against UCLA. But there is no rest for this weary head coach as his team needs to be on full "Letdown Alert" this weekend against Washington State. Mike Leach's tenure has been anything but successful thus far, but one has to believe he will pull an upset somewhere along the way. A touchdown underdog at home against a 2-4 conference opponent who is riding high after an big win the week before feels like the perfect storm for just that.

7. Athlon Sports challenges the Colorado Buffaloes to...
NOT make this Thursday's meeting with Arizona State the worst Thursday night college football game of the season. The Sun Devils are heavily favored and are crushing people on offense while Colorado has been worthless other than one night in Pullman. Please make this one at least watchable Buffs!

Week 7 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 7 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Arizona St (-23) at Colorado Arizona St, 31-20 Arizona St, 34-10 Arizona St, 45-17 Arizona St, 45-17
Utah (+8) at UCLA UCLA, 27-20 UCLA, 30-17 UCLA, 31-20 Utah, 21-14
Oregon St (+2.5) at BYU Ore. St, 17-14 Oregon St, 24-14 BYU, 20-17 BYU, 17-7
Stanford (+8) at Notre Dame Notre Dame, 20-7 Notre Dame, 24-13 Notre Dame, 27-27 Notre Dame, 28-10
USC (-11.5) at Washington USC, 34-21 USC, 30-23 USC, 34-24 USC, 35-17
Cal (-7) at Washington St Cal, 31-24 Cal, 37-13 Cal, 31-27 Wazzu, 21-14
Last Week: 4-1 4-1 4-1 3-2
Yearly Totals: 34-15 35-14 35-14 33-16

Bye: Arizona, Oregon

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Pac-12 Week 7 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-7-preview-and-predictions

Fans knew the Big Ten Leaders Division race could be lacking in excitement this year due to two power programs not being eligible to play for the championship. So Wisconsin at Purdue in Week 7 leaves a bit to be desired on a national level when it comes to big-time title bouts. But that is what Big Ten fans are getting this weekend.

Otherwise, any outlandish outcomes this weekend will come as major surprises as Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State are all heavy favorites.

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 7:

1. De facto Leaders Division championship game
Wisconsin will visit Purdue this weekend in what will likely decide one half of the 2012 Big Ten championship game. While Penn State and Ohio State are the two best teams in the Leaders Division (possibly the entire league), neither will be allowed to play in Indianapolis. And with Illinois imploding in Champaign, the Boilermakers and Badgers are left to battle for the division crown. Stop the presses. Drop what you are doing. There is a championship on the line in West Lafayette this Saturday.

2. Caleb TerBush and Company vs. Joel Stave
Danny Hope is sticking with TerBush as his starter but Robert Marve is sure to see time. The two combined for 153 yards passing and both threw an interception in the ugly loss to Michigan last weekend. Neither has played all that well, but Hope needs to get production from his quarterback to win this weekend. Meanwhile, Stave missed the end of the Nebraska game and it cost Wisconsin the win. He returned last weekend to throw for 254 yards and two scores in the easy win over Illinois. The redshirt freshman makes his second career road start against the Boilers. Both defenses will have to stop the run in an effort to force these suspect signal callers into passing situations, so whichever passer can complete clutch third-down throws will emerge victorious.

3. Look for Northwestern to go back to the ground
The Wildcats have made a concerted effort to run the football in 2012. And for most of the year, they have been extremely successful. Try 974 yards in the three games prior to visiting Penn State last weekend — where Northwestern totaled 112 yards on 25 attempts. Venric Mark and Kain Colter form a dynamic 1-2 punch that rushes for 168.3 yards per game, and moving the football against Minnesota's defensive line on the ground will be key. The Gophers' defensive front had allowed under 130 yards rushing per game until Iowa gashed them before the bye. Who wins the battle in the trenches will decide who stays with one loss and who becomes a Big Ten after-thought.

4. What type of impact could MarQueis Gray make?
Head coach Jerry Kill is "cautiously optimistic" that his star senior quarterback will play this weekend in a huge game against Northwestern. While Kill is it playing close to the vest, as he should, Pat Fitzgerald knows Gray is a totally different monster to account for than the young back-up Max Shortell. Gray's dual-threat capabilities and veteran presence give the Gophers a dramatically more complicated offensive look. Shortell failed to throw a touchdown against Syracuse and tossed three interceptions against Iowa, so any production Gray can offer will be a huge upgrade this weekend. The Gophers will need to score points against the Cats and No. 5 gives them the best chance to do so.

5. Heavy favorites need to avoid major letdowns this weekend
Michigan State hosts Iowa and is a 10-point favorite. Michigan hosts a reeling Illinois team. And Ohio State visits overmatched Indiana in an effort to pad Braxton Miller's Heisman Trophy statistics. All three, if they expect to compete for the best record in the league, have to hold serve this weekend. Obviously, the Spartans have the toughest test with the Hawkeyes coming off their best performance of the season — a 31-13 win over Minnesota — and resting over the bye week. That said, Sparty has no business losing this type of game at home if it expects to win the Legends Division.

6. Nearly 500 pounds of running back on display
Walk-on fullback Mark Weisman is listed at 6-foot and 230 pounds. He is a load to bring down and has sparked the once-dormant Iowa rushing attack with 507 yards rushing and seven scores in his last three games. Meanwhile, Michigan State counters with the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Le'Veon Bell who has proven to be a workhorse with three games of at least 36 carries this season already. The ground game will be heavily featured in a game with two struggling quarterbacks, so my condolences go out to both Iowa and Michigan State linebackers and safeties charged with tackling these two beasts. It should be fun to watch, however, if you like big hits and truck sticks.

7. Watch Denard Robinson drive a stake into Illini
Robinson got back on track last weekend with a statement road performance against Purdue. He posted his fifth career 200-yard rushing game with 235 yards on 24 carries, and much to Brady Hoke's delight, didn't throw an interception (even though he did fumble). The Wolverines under Shoelace are nearly unbeatable at home, so this weekend should, for all intents and purposes, signal the end of the Illini's 2012 season. Illinois would be 2-5 and 0-3 in the Big Ten with a loss and still have Ohio State, Purdue and Northwestern remaining on its schedule. 

Week 7 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 7 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Iowa (+10) at Michigan St Mich. St, 20-17 Mich. St, 13-10 Mich. St, 27-17 Mich. St, 38-14
N'Western (-3) at Minnesota N'Western, 30-24 Minnesota, 33-30 N'Western, 31-24 N'Western, 21-14
Wisconsin (+2.5) at Purdue Wisconsin, 27-24 Wisconsin, 23-17 Wisconsin, 27-20 Purdue, 17-14
Illinois (+23.5) at Michigan Michigan, 41-20 Michigan, 38-13 Michigan, 38-13 Michigan, 42-14
Ohio St (-17) at Indiana Ohio St, 45-27 Ohio St, 48-17 Ohio St, 38-17 Ohio St, 56-10
Last Week: 5-0 3-2 5-0 4-1
Yearly Totals: 47-10 44-13 46-9 45-12

Bye Week: Nebraska, Penn State

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Big Ten Week 7 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Heisman Trophy
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-6

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

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

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

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (13 first-place votes)
Season Stats: 
166-204, 1,996 yards, 24 TD, 0 INT, 26 att., 66 yards, TD
His 268 yards and four touchdowns paled in comparison to his monster game against Baylor, but this one came in a road win over Texas. It was a signature performance in a marquee win for the Mountaineers. Smith got all 13 first-place votes and is leading the nation in passing efficiency at 202.38. Next game: at Texas Tech

  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (1) Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 130/130 13 - - - - 13/13
2. (4) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 104/130 - 7 1 4 - 13/13
3. (3) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 102/130 - 3 8 1 - 13/13
4. (7) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 73/130 - 2 2 2 2 12/13
5. (9) Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 48/130 - - 1 2 1 9/13
6. (6) De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 46/130 - 1 1 1 3 7/13
7. (8) Matt Barkley QB USC 40/130 - - - 2 2 8/13
8. (10) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 26/130 - - - 1 1 6/13
9. (ur) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 18/130 - - - - 2 4/13
10. (ur) Mike Gillislee RB Florida 17/130 - - - - 1 7/13
11. (2) E.J. Manuel QB Florida St 17/130 - - - - - 6/13
12. (17) Stedman Bailey WR W. Virginia 15/130 - - - - 1 3/13
13. (12) Marqise Lee WR USC 14/130 - - - - - 5/13
14. (ur) Tavon Austin WR W. Virginia 11/130 - - - - - 4/13
15. (16) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 10/130 - - - - - 4/13
16. (ur) Jadeveon Clowney DE S. Carolina 10/130 - - - - - 4/13
17. (ur) DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson 9/130 - - - - - 2/13
18. (14) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 6/130 - - - - - 2/13
19. (13) Sean Mannion QB Oregon St 5/130 - - - - - 1/13
20. (20) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 4/130 - - - - - 1/13
21. (5) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
22. (11) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
23. (ur) Denard Robinson QB Michigan 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
24. (ur) Venric Mark RB Northwestern 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
25. (ur) Joseph Randle RB Oklahoma St 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 
83-135, 1,060 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT, 106 att., 763 yards, 8 TD
The Ohio native continues to make video game-esque runs and clutch throws for the Buckeyes. He rushed for a school-record 186 yards for a quarterback on 16 carries without a turnover in the blitzing of Nebraska last Saturday. He helped drop 63 points on the Black Shirts and is now second in the Heisman voting. Next Game: at Indiana 

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
 63-94, 887 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 73 att., 405 yards, 7 TD
It was a bit of a slow start for CK7, but eventually he finished with 129 yards passing, 116 yards rushing, four total touchdowns and a 40-point win over his in-state rival. Smith, Miller and Klein are the only three players on all 13 ballots and are clearly the top three candidates for the 2012 stiff-armed trophy.
Next Game: at Iowa State

4. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Season Stats: 48 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 3 INT, FR, 3 PBU
The heart and soul of the Irish defense continues to lead by example with 10 tackles in the virtual shutout of Miami. Notre Dame is No. 2 nationally in scoring defense at 7.8 points allowed per game and has allowed 12 points in its last three games — against Michigan State, Michigan and Miami.
Next Game: Stanford

5. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Season Stats: 116 att., 549 yards, 9 TD, 18 rec., 133 yards
Another SEC win and another 100 yards rushing for the best runner in the nation. Lattimore is No. 2 in the SEC in all-purpose yards (Todd Gurley) and is averaging 136.3 yards from scrimmage and has scored seven touchdowns in four SEC wins for the Gamecocks. He has touched the ball 106 times in those games. 
Next game: at LSU

6. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 41 att., 377 yards, 6 TD, 20 rec., 205 yards, 3 TD, 10 PR, 150 PR yards, 6 KR, 88 yards
Next Game: Bye Week

7. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 111-173, 1,308 yards, 15 TD, 5 INT, 12 att., minus-64 yards
Next game: at Washington

8. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 73-111, 999 yards, 12 TD, 0 INT, 19 att., minus-41 yards
Next Game: at Missouri

9. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Season Stats: 116 att., 727 yards, 9 TD, 11 rec., 111 yards, TD
Next Game: Bye Week

10. Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
Season Stats: 103 att., 548 yards, 7 TD, 2 rec., 14 yards
Next Game: at Vanderbilt

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 6</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-running-backs

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

Today, we rank college football best running back prospects:

1. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (6-0, 220, Jr.)
He appears to be fully recovered from his torn ACL in 2011. He still might be a bit tentative but he is rounding into form. He is big, physical, never goes down on first contact, is a tremendous receiver and works hard off the field. He is the most talented, most complete runner in the nation. For his career (26 games), he is averaging 126.6 yards from scrimmage per game and has scored 39 touchdowns. He might be the only back taken in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Comparison: Adrian Peterson

2. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (5-11, 215, Sr.)
Few players have as complete a game as the Cardinal ball-carrier. He is the workhorse back for a program that uses a physical, pro-style attack based around Taylor’s ability. He is thickly built, has a tremendous work ethic, plays smart football, can catch passes and runs hard every game. His workload in college could be his only negative, as he will be over 800 touches from scrimmage by the time his career is over. Comparison: Frank Gore

3. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (5-10, 205, rSo.)
This tough little runner came to UNC from St. Thomas Aquinas H.S., a storied South Florida program that prepares football talents for the next level. And as a redshirt freshman, Bernard exploded onto the scene with 239 carries for 1,253 yards, along with 45 receptions for another 362 yards and a total of 14 touchdowns. He has missed some time in 2012 but also delivered a huge performance in a win over one of the best defenses in the country (262 yards against Virginia Tech, Week 6). He is a bit smaller than a proto-type back but has speed to burn and the talent to play all three downs. In addition, as a redshirt sophomore, Bernard will have the most “tread left on the tires” of any back in the class. Comparison: LeSean McCoy

4. Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State (6-1, 240, Jr.)
Bell has some negatives — average shiftiness, straight line speed and work ethic — but also has the biggest, most powerful frame of anyone in the class. He is accustomed to power-I formations and can carry the load if needed (see games of 44, 36 and 37 carries in 2012). He is right at home in a play-action style offense and will be a huge asset around the goal line. If he can stay focused on keeping his weight down and works hard, he could be a future feature back. Comparison: Steven Jackson

5. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma St (6-0, 205, Jr.)
Production hasn’t been an issue for Randle after a school-record 26 touchdowns in 2011. He has been outstanding as the leader of the revamped Pokes offense this fall and brings breakaway speed to the edge, power up the middle and will play a big role in the passing game. Randle is taller than most ideal backs who aren’t 230 pounds, but he has plenty of big-play ability. Comparison: DeMarco Murray

6. Montee Ball, Wisconsin (5-11, 210, Sr.)
Scouts cannot argue the production for a guy who has a chance to finish his career with more rushing touchdowns than anyone in the history of the sport (73). He dropped weight before his junior season and it helped with quickness and burst. Yet, he lacks the top-end skills of the NFL’s elite. However, he is a tough player who consistently produces and has fumbled one time in his entire career. Comparison: Ahmad Bradshaw

7. Andre Ellington, Clemson (5-9, 190, Sr.)
The only real knock on Ellington is his durability, which stems from his overall lack of size. His frame isn’t ideal and he has been banged up throughout his Tigers career. That said, he will finish with over 4,000 yards from scrimmage and more than 30 touchdowns in his career. He has the raw ability to do everything an NFL back is asked to do, but can he be a true workhorse on Sundays? Comparison: Donald Brown

8. Rex Burkhead, Nebraska (5-11, 210, Sr.)
He won’t wow scouts at the combine with his average measurables, but he makes up for it with things that simply cannot be tracked with a stop watch: intangibles, leadership, blitz pick-ups, toughness and heart. He is one of the most complete players in the nation and will be a welcome addition to any NFL locker room. He will be a late-round steal and could be very productive for many years — even if he is never a star. Comparison: Matt Forte

9. Silas Redd, USC (5-10, 210, Jr.)
Redd was the only star for an average Penn State team (1,241 yards, 7 TD as a sophomore) before heading out West to USC for his junior season. He is a pro-style runner who has the skills to be a three-down back should he get a little bigger. He runs with power and has adequate speed. Should he develop his skills, he could be a sneaky good player on Sundays. Comparison: Rashard Mendenhall

10. Mike Gillislee, Florida (5-11, 210, Sr.)
This Gator tailback was a late bloomer — 920 yards and 10 TDs in his first three seasons — but developed into an SEC Player of the Year candidate with hard running and toughness throughout a brutal conference schedule in 2012. He was miscast in Urban Meyer’s scheme and fits much better into the pro-style attack Will Muschamp brought to Gainesville. Look for Gillislee to continue to move up draft boards with his excellent play this fall. Comparison: Cedric Benson

11. Eddie Lacy, Alabama (6-1, 220, Jr.)
All the physical talent in the world, but can never stay healthy.

12. Jonathan Franklin, UCLA (5-11, 195, Sr.)
Long track record of success but could be limited physically on the next elevel.

13. Ray Graham, Pitt (5-9, 195, Sr.)
Has NFL ability but is still regaining form after torn ACL. Size could be an issue as well.

14. Knile Davis, Arkansas (6-0, 225, Sr.)
Not the same back as he was before suffering a major ankle injury in 2011.

15. Christine Michael, Texas A&M (5-11, 220, Sr.)
Much like Davis and Lacy, he has the talent... and the long track record of injuries.

16. Cierre Wood, Notre Dame (6-0, 215, Jr.)
Off the field focus issues have knocked him down a peg, but coming on strong.

17. DJ Harper, Boise State (5-9, 205, Sr.)
This should be a sneaky draft day value for someone. Can do a little bit of everything.

18. Kenjon Barner, Oregon (5-11, 192, Sr.)
Tremendous talent, but has been banged up and scouts will question scheme and size.

19. Spencer Ware/Michael Ford/Alfred Blue, LSU (5-11, 225/5-10, 215/6-2, 220, Jr.)
Three burly backs who are tremendously physical. Each could be a steal on draft day.

20. Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt (5-9, 210, Sr.)
Short, stocky player with lots of potential and is accustomed to high level of competition.

Third-Down Speedsters 

Curtis McNeal, USC (5-7, 190, Sr.)
Chris Thompson, Florida State (5-8, 190, Sr.)
Onterio McCalebb, Auburn (5-11, 175, Sr.)
Perry Jones, Virginia (5-8, 187, Sr.)
Dennis Johnson, Arkansas (5-8, 212, Sr.)

Other Names to Watch:

Michael Dyer, Ark. Baptist (5-8, 210, Sr.)
Orwin Smith, Georgia Tech (6-0, 205, Sr.)
Cameron Marshall, Arizona St (5-11, 220, Sr.)
Miguel Maysonet, Stony Brook (5-9, 205, Sr.)
John White, Utah (5-8, 190, Sr.)
Matthew Tucker, TCU (6-0, 225, Sr.)
Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma (5-11, 205, Sr.)
Mike James, Miami (5-11, 220, Sr.)
Ronnie Wingo, Arkansas (6-2, 230, Sr.)

- by Braden Gall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Running Backs</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/eight-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-5

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

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 5 of NFL play:

9-4: Tom Brady's win-loss record against Peyton Manning
When it comes to raw football talent and overall ability, Peyton Manning may get the slight edge over Tommy Boy. But ask any quarterback who has ever taken a snap in the National Football League and they will tell you, winning is all that matters. Brady has clearly owned the head-to-head series with Mr. Manning after a dominating 31-21 performance this weekend. The former Michigan grad won the first six meetings, has won three of the last four and is 2-1 in playoff meetings all time against his rival. Brady's Patriots have never scored fewer than 20 points against the Tennessee grad while Manning has failed to reach the 20-point plateau four times. Sunday marked the first time in NFL history that a game featured two quarterbacks with at least 300 touchdown passes and was only the second meeting of two quarterbacks with at least 125 wins (Elway-Marino, 1998).

No. 12: Jersey number for Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck
These two quarterbacks put on a show on Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis. It's only fitting considering these two signal callers will likely be tethered to one another for the rest of their careers. Both got prestigious degrees from Pac-12 Bay Area programs. Both are first-round saviors replacing legends in Midwestern NFL strongholds. They are virtually identical in stature, athletic ability, arm strength and demeanor. And both wear No. 12.  In their first career meeting, however, it was The Pupil who took The Master to school in what was the fourth battle of a reigning MVP and reigning No. 1 overall pick — and the first time the rookie won. Luck became only the second QB to throw for 300-yards in three of his first four career games (Cam Newton) and is the first rookie QB to ever throw for at least 1,200 yards and record two wins in his first four career games. He is averaging 302 yards passing per game, has two final-minute, game-winning drives and is leading all AFC quarterbacks in rushing (104 yards, TD). While Redskins fans are wondering how long RGIII will be out after a nasty smack from Sean Weatherspoon, Colts fans might be thinking Wild Card.

7-to-11: Michael Vick's total touchdown-to-total turnover ratio in 2012
Michael Vick lost his fourth and fifth fumbles on the season in the two-point loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. It is the most lost fumbles for Vick in a season since 2005 (5) and is just two shy of his career-worst mark (7), which he set in 2004. That gives him 11 total turnovers in five games (really four games since he had none last week against the Giants) and only seven total touchdowns (6 pass, 1 rush). In 25 career starts with the Eagles prior to 2012, Vick turned the ball over only 27 times with 52 total touchdowns. Phily has played four of five games in which the final margin of victory was two points or less, so a quarterback who is turning the ball over 2.2 times per game isn't acceptable. Vick is on pace for 19 interceptions and 16 fumbles lost and just 22 total touchdowns. 

5-0: The best start in Atlanta Falcons' franchise history
Matt Ryan moved to 15-0 when throwing for at least 300 yards with another stellar performance against Washington. It gives the Falcons their first-ever 5-0 start in franchise history. Ryan tossed it around for 345 yards and two touchdowns — including a gorgeous scoring strike to Julio Jones to take the lead in the fourth quarter. It was Ryan's 18th career game-winning drive, the most by a quarterback in his first five years in the Super Bowl era. Future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez posted his 29th career 100-yard receiving effort, as his 13 catches and 123 yards were personal bests as a Falcon. The Redskins fall to 2-3, but more importantly, lost Robert Griffin III to an injury after the young quarterback made a terrible decision to cut up field instead of throwing the ball away near the goal line.

35-27: The Bears defense has outscored its last three opponents
Chicago has scored five defensive touchdowns in the last three games against St. Louis, Dallas and Jacksonville. Those three teams combined to score 27 points against the Bears defense. Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs both scored again this weekend on INT-TDs, marking the first time in NFL history two teammates each returned an interception for a touchdown in consecutive games. Had the offense not scored a single point in any of the three games, the Bears would have finished 2-1 over that span with wins over the Rams and Jags. This unit is right there with San Francisco as the best in the NFC. Speaking of...

556: Rushing yards by the 49ers in the last two weeks
Jim Harbaugh is now 17-4 as a head coach in the NFL after the Niners posted its best two-game stretch in 50 years. No 49ers team has had back-to-back 30-point wins since 1961, but did so with wins over the Bills and the Jets the last two weeks by a combined 76 points (79-3). Buffalo entered the game leading the NFL in offensive touchdowns (16) and managed just three points in the crushing road loss. The Niners rolled-up a franchise record 621 yards of offense and have rushed for an absurd 556 yards rushing over the last two weeks (245 and 311). Alex Smith continues his evolution from first round bust to All-Pro as San Fran looks like the best team in the league right now.

212: Career-high receiving yards by Reggie Wayne
The former Miami Hurricane abused Charles Woodson all afternoon in Indy to the tune of 13 receptions, a career-high 212 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He showed toughness, heart and plenty of spring in his 33-year-old legs. It was a tremendous day for a historic player who is two catches shy of 900 for his career and scored his 75th receiving touchdown to give the Colts their second win of the year. It was a remarkable performance for a truly great player who has 12,214 career receiving yards in 12 NFL seasons. And by the way, his 506 yards this season is his best four-game start to any of those 12 years.

0: Seconds the Kansas City Chiefs have led in regulation
It's hard to believe, but the Chiefs have yet to hold a lead in regulation in 2012. The Ravens never trailed this weekend in the 9-6 victory that dropped KC to 1-4. Even in the overtime win over New Orleans last weekend, the Chiefs never held a lead in regulation. To make matters worse for one of the worst teams in the league, Arrowhead faithful were cheering when embattled starting quarterback Matt Cassel got hurt late in the game. It was ugly football, but have some class folks. Even if your team has played five football games and never has really been ahead at any point.

Bonus Super Stat!

48: Drew Brees consecutive games with a TD pass
I covered this , so I didn't want to dive too deep into Brees' record. It is an amazing accomplishment and congrats are due. But the most important number for the Saints is the "1" in the win column. As a side note, Brady moved into sole possession of third place with his 37th consecutive game with a touchdown pass.

- by Braden Gall

<p> Eight Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 5</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 06:50
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-6-power-rankings

This weekend in college football was the biggest and most volatile to date. However, out West, Week 6 functioned more as an elimination weekend. Utah and UCLA have been all but removed from South Division contention. Washington proved it was still miles from competing with the North Division champs. And while Rich Rodriguez appears to have a solid team in Tucson, Arizona has started its conference slate 0-3, albeit in somewhat unlucky fashion.

Post-Week 6 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - It was only a matter of time before Barkley returned to the top slot. He completed 23-of-30 passes for 303 yards and three scores with no interceptions in a huge come-from-behind road conference win over Utah. He leads the league with 15 TDs and is still the best player in the league.

2. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State -
 The Beavers quarterback showed flaws this weekend, throwing three picks, but in a league loaded with huge statistical performers, Mannion is still unbeaten and is No. 2 in total offense at 324.3 yards per game. 

3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - His running backs continue to cancel each other out, Taylor Kelly was on bye, Matt Scott and Ka'Deem Carey can't win a big game, the UCLA Bruins backfield choked this weekend and Mariota played his best in the biggest spot. He is tied with Barkley with 15 TD passes after four against UW and he is No. 2 in passing efficiency behind only Kelly. He has settled in as the leader of the best team in the league.

Post-Week 6 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State - The defense had to carry the Beavers to victory this weekend and Poyer was one of two stars. He intercepted three passes and now leads the league in INTs. He also had four tackles, one for loss and his seventh pass defended. He added a 24-yard punt return as well. 

2. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - Normally two defenders from the same team would cancel each other out (see Oregon's RBs), but on the league's top defense, Crichton has been equally as important as Poyer. He posted four tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks while holding Wazzu to 20 yards rushing. He now leads the league in TFL and sacks.

3. Nickell Robey, CB, USC - Oregon's Michael Clay falls off the list after not playing this weekend while Robey was brilliant on Thursday night. He had seven tackles, a forced fumble and the ended the game with a 38-yard INT returned for a touchdown. 

Post-Week 6 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks are clearly the best team in the league to date. The offense hasn't missed a beat after losing two stars from last season and the defense is much improved — despite not having leader Michael Clay on the field against Washington.

2. Mike Riley, Oregon State - Oregon State's defense is starting to deserve some national attention as one of the best in the country. It allowed 227 total yards and six points to a MIke Leach team to stay undefeated.

3. Todd Graham, Arizona State  - Graham's team didn't play but made significant gains in the South standings due to key losses by UCLA, Utah and Arizona. The road trip to Heritage Hall on Nov. 10 is starting to look like a huge national game.

Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (6-0, 3-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 6 result: Beat Washington 52-21
Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas combined for 197 yards rushing, but Mariota was the star of the show. He kept plays alive with his legs, threw four scoring strikes and got the entire offense involved in the Ducks' attack (five different players scored six offensive touchdowns). The defense scored a touchdown for the third straight weekend as well. This team is clearly the best in the league, as the top offense in the Pac-12 scored at least 50 points for the fourth time in six games. Oregon averages over 300 yards rushing per game, has the league's No. 2 most efficient quarterback and, now, gets a chance to rest up for a marquee Thursday night trip into the desert to face an improved Arizona State team in 11 days.
This week: Open Date

2. USC (4-1, 2-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 6 result: Beat Utah 38-28
Lane Kiffin's offensive line was shaky to start and it gifted Utah a 14-0 lead with bad turnovers deep in their own territory. But Matt Barkley wasn't fazed and led his team back with, at one point, a 28-0 run to keep USC headed in the right direction. He posted his 13th career 300-yard effort and three big scoring strikes, including a game-changing 83-yard scoring toss to Marqise Lee. Curtis McNeal, who suffered an early concussion, and Silas Redd, who paced the team with 77 yards and a touchdown, both missed time due to minor injuries but both are expected to be fine for the trip to Seattle next weekend. There is no such thing as a bad road conference win on national television, but Kiffin will likely address the 14 penalties and two early turnovers accrued by the Trojans on Thursday night.
This week: at Washington (3-2)

3. Oregon State (4-0, 3-0)
Previous rank: 3
Week 6 result: Beat Washington State 19-6
The offense carried this team to a road win over Arizona two weeks ago. This week, Mike Riley used a dominate defense to stay unblemished. The Beavers allowed 20 yards rushing to the Cougars and continues to pace the league in rushing defense at 67.3 yards allowed per game. The improvement in stopping the ground game in Corvallis is one of the most remarkable one-year turnaround stories in the nation. Last fall, Riley's bunch ranked dead last in the Pac-12 and 101st overall at just under 200 yards rushing allowed per game. They are fourth nationally at stopping the run after four games. And while Sean Mannion reminded fans that he is still a sophomore this weekend, he is still leading his team to 458 yards per game.
This week: at BYU (4-2)

4. Stanford (4-1, 2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 6 result: Beat Arizona 54-48 (OT)
Josh Nunes was highly criticized after three straight poor passing performances for the Cardinal. Well, the normally dreaded vote of confidence turned out to be just what Nunes needed (facing the Wildcats defense helped some too). The senior signal caller set career highs in nearly every category — 365 passing yards, 33 rushing yards, 5 total TD — and was efficient throwing the football (21-of-34 passing). He led Stanford to 20 straight points to end the game and secure the overtime win. Stepfan Taylor also got back on track with 32 touches, 147 yards rushing and two touchdowns. This was a quality gut-check, bounce-back victory for David Shaw's squad.
This week: at Notre Dame  (5-0)

5. Arizona State (4-1, 2-0)
Previous rank: 8
Week 6 result: Off
There is a good chance that Todd Graham starts 5-1 in his first year in Tempe. More importantly, a win over Colorado next Thursday night would give him a 3-0 start in league play. And the national television opportunity gives him a chance to showcase his program in a big way against the lowly Bufffs.
This week: at Colorado (1-4)

6. Washington (3-2, 1-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 6 result: 
Lost to Oregon 52-21

The Huskies defense made a huge statement in a Week 5 win against Stanford and then came crashing back down to earth in Eugene. It allowed Oregon to rush out to a 21-0 lead and an eventual 35-7 halftime lead. It allowed 299 yards rushing and six offensive touchdowns to the Ducks. Washington's rushing game showed signs of life (208 yards rushing, 3 TD), but Keith Price could never get anything going through the air  — and actually scored more for Oregon (INT return TD) than he did for Washington. Oregon has now won nine straight games against the Huskies. Things don't get any easier as Steve Sarkisian's month from hell culminates with a visit from a resurgent USC team.
This week: USC (4-1)

7. UCLA (4-2, 1-2)
Previous rank: 5
Week 6 result: Lost to Cal 43-17
This was one of the most disappointing scores in the league to date this fall. This is the type of game true contenders have to win to stay relevant in the Pac-12 title race and Jim Mora's bunch was completely out-played. Brett Hundley and the offense turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions from the developing passer, and allowed four sacks. Meanwhile, the defense got torched through the air (295 yards, 4 TD) as well as on the ground (186 yards, 2 TD). This performance against a reeling Cal team likely reminds UCLA fans entirely too much of previous regimes. UCLA and Utah square-off this weekend in a game that could determine bowl eligibility.
This week: Utah (2-3) 

8. Arizona (3-3, 0-3)
Previous rank: 7
Week 6 result: Lost to Stanford 54-48
It was a great game with 10 lead changes, superstar performances and over 1,200 yards of offense. But for Matt Scott (506 yards, 3 TD) and Ka'Deem Carey (133 yards, 3 TD), the result was the same: Another crushing conference loss. With just over nine minutes to go, the Wildcats pushed its lead to 48-34 only to watch its defense allow yet another fourth-quarter comeback. Rich Rodriguez' offense is virtually unstoppable and was very impressive against a normally sound Stanford defense, but this team won't be able to compete in the South until it upgrades the talent on the defensive side of the ball. 
This week: Open Date

9. California (2-4, 1-2)
Previous rank: 10
Week 6 result: Beat UCLA 43-17
Jeff Tedford's tenure in Berkeley isn't over just yet. With their backs against the wall, the Golden Bears put together what was easily their best performance of a very disappointing 2012 campaign. They set a season-high for rushing attempts (42), passing yards (295), turnovers forced (6), points allowed (17) and scored more points than they had against FBS competition all year. Quarterback Zach Maynard played his best game of the year. The win merely stopped the bleeding for Tedford, who needs to continue to win to stay employed at Cal.
This week: at Washington State (2-4)

10. Utah (2-3, 0-2)
Previous rank: 
Week 6 result: Lost to USC 38-28
The Utes got a few lucky turnovers early, capitalized on them to build a 21-10 second quarter lead, but simply couldn't hold onto victory against a far superior football team. USC held the Utes running game in check and got off the field on third-downs — Utah was just 3-of-12 converting them — to rally for a clutch road win. Jon Hays was forced to throw short passes and couldn't get much going on offense after the nine minute-mark of the second period. With back-to-back road trips to UCLA and Oregon State now facing Kyle Whittingham's bunch, bowl eligibility is looking more and more unlikely by the week. At least, the uninformed national media got a clear look at just how good Star Lotulelei can be.

This week: at UCLA (4-2)

11. Colorado (1-4, 1-1)
Previous rank: 11
Jon Embree's squad needed the bye week to regroup after a brutal first month of the season. Next on top is a much-improved Arizona State Sun Devils team coming to Boulder with a balanced attack and off of a week of rest as well. Every game is a must-win for the embattled Buffs coach.
This week: Arizona State (4-1)

12. Washington State (2-4, 0-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 6 result: Lost to Oregon State 19-6
Mike Leach has coached 132 games in his career and has failed to score 10 points only six times. Saturday's dreadful offensive performance featured five turnovers and only 227 yards of total offense as the Cougars failed to reach the end zone for the second time in five games this fall. Leach never has featured a stellar ground attack but 20 yards on 14 attempts isn't even trying. Wazzu now ranks 98th in scoring offense, 96th in total offense, 100th in total defense and 91st in scoring defense. It's been a rough return to the field for the quirky head coach.

This week: Cal  (2-4)

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-6-power-rankings

There may not be an elite team capable of winning a national championship in the Big Ten this fall, but no one can criticize the league for lacking dramatics. Michigan State survived a thriller. Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State made statements in big games against quality opponents. Wisconsin continues to show gradual improvement. But trying to pinpoint who will play in the Big Ten title game is impossible after six weeks of action. One week, the Huskers look like the favorites. The next, it's Michigan and Penn State. There won't be a national title in the Midwest this fall, but there will be plenty of excitement that should make fans proud.

Post-Week 6 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - There is no way to watch No. 5 in Scarlet and Gray and not be impressed. He provides jaw-dropping shiftiness and explosiveness (186 yards rushing, TD) while continuing to efficiently lead his team to victory. He has accounted for 17 total TDs and is already 237 yards away from 1,000 yards rushing.  

2. Matt McGloin, QB, Penn St - This is starting to be one of the more amazing stories nationally. After 282 yards passing and two more scores, the Penn State passer leads the Big Ten in passing TD (12), passing yards (1,499) and completions (136) on a team that could be one of the best in the league. He has also scored five rushing touchdowns in the last three games.

3. Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern - It wasn't enough to get a win, but Mark is quickly becoming one of the league's top play-makers. He is fifth in rushing (102.5), second in all-purpose yards (180.5) and third in scoring (9.0 ppg) after two more scores against Penn State.

Post-Week 6 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - He posted another nine total tackles as Penn State shutout Northwestern in the fourth quarter for the Lions' fourth straight win. 

2. John Simon, DL, Ohio State - There are a few POY candidates on the OSU defense, but Simon gets the nod this week after a monster performance against Nebraska. He posted seven total tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble.

3. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin - The Badgers' defensive leader had another workman-like performance in the key divisional win over Illinois. After a 12-tackle (1.5 for a loss) effort, Taylor is now No. 2 in the Big Ten in tackles on a team quietly showing improvement.

Post-Week 6 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - This was beginning to look like an instant classic until Meyer's bunch blitzed the Huskers in the final 20 minutes of play. Dropping 63 on Nebraska is about as impressive as it gets in the Big Ten.

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

3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - 
His team battled to the end in a hostile environment against a superior team. It didn't end in victory, but Northwestern belongs in the Legends Division race conversation due to Coach Fitz' leadership. 

Post-Week 6 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 6 result: Beat Nebraska 63-38

This was a great game — for about 35 minutes. Back and forth these two traditional powers went until Braxton Miller does what Braxton Miller does best. Take over a game and single-handedly abuse a defense en route to another victory. He rushed for a school-record (for a QB) 186 yards and passed for 127 yards while scoring two touchdowns in electrifying fashion as Ohio State ended the game on a 28-7 run over the final quarter and a half. But what should make Buckeyes fans excited about the rest of Big Ten play was the contributions of complementary pieces. Special teams and defense chipped in a touchdown each while Carlos Hyde rushed for a career-best 140 yards and four touchdowns. Miller is a Heisman front-runner, but if Urban Meyer wants the best record in the Big Ten, he will have to continue to get support from the rest of his team. 
This week: at Indiana (2-3)

2. Michigan (3-2, 1-0)
Previous rank: 3
Week 6 result: Beat Purdue 44-13
After a dominating road win over the Boilermakers, Michigan takes it turn back atop the Legends Division weekly power poll. Denard Robinson got back on track with a huge day on the ground (24 att., 235 yards), but more importantly, didn't turn the ball over. Brady Hoke, as expected, established the run early, but it was his defense that won the game. Purdue entered Week 6 averaging 42.5 points and 463.5 yards per game, but the Maize and Blue defense impressively held the Boilers to 56 yards rushing on 26 attempts and only 157 yards passing. The formula for success is obvious for Michigan: Robinson needs to protect the football and make plays with his legs, while the front seven needs to continue to develop. A home test against Illinois precedes the two-week round robin with Nebraska and Michigan State, so a win is a must next weekend. 
This week: Illinois (2-4)

3. Michigan State (4-2, 1-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 6 result: Beat Indiana 30-27
Michigan State did everything in its power to give this one away, but its defense came up with two huge three-and-outs late in the game to preserve the comeback road victory over Indiana. The Hoosiers jumped out to a 17-0 lead before Andrew Maxwell and Le'Veon Bell led the Spartans on a 30-10 run over the final three quarters. Maxwell played his best game of his short starting career, throwing for 290 yards and two scores without a turnover. He showed improved leadership, poise and toughness while attempting 40 passes. Bell finished with 121 yards and two scores of his own. Michigan State has obvious warts in the passing game — and playing IU might not be the truest barometer — but Maxwell and his receivers played their best game to date. All of that said, however, inching out a victory over a coaching staff that has yet to win a Big Ten game for Mark Dantonio has to be very concerning. 
This week: Iowa (3-2)

4. Nebraska (4-2, 1-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 6 result: Lost to Ohio State 63-38
Taylor Martinez accounted for three touchdowns and led his team to 38 points and 437 yards of offense. Rex Burkhead topped the 100-yard mark and moonlighted as a quarter/full-back on two scoring runs for Ameer Abdullah. But the defense simply couldn't stop the dynamic play-making ability of Braxton Miller and Martinez threw three costly interceptions. Bo Pelini was up to his old tricks berating his players on the sideline as he watched his team give away a chance at a road win over the Buckeyes. This defense had shown improvement at playing in opponents backfields of late, yet allowed a season-worst 371 yards rushing. This unit has allowed nine rushing touchdowns over the last two games and will have plenty to think about during the off week.
This week: Open Date

5. Penn State (4-2, 2-0)
Previous rank: 8
Week 6 result: Beat Northwestern 39-28
Bill O'Brien is entering National Coach of the Year territory with yet another gutty performance from his much-maligned program. In fact, with the unlikely development of Matt McGloin and continued leadership of Michael Mauti, Penn State could be in line for all three Big Ten "Of the Year" awards (Coach, Offensive Player, Defensive Player). This team is a few plays from being unbeaten and is quickly becoming one of the great stories in college football. There is a chance that the best two teams in the league could be ineligible to win the league title. And O'Brien gets all of the credit for implementing a complex and innovative offensive scheme in such short order. This is a totally different football team than a year ago — and that team started 8-1.  

This week: Open Date

6. Northwestern (5-1, 1-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 6 result: Lost to Penn State 39-28
Northwestern missed a golden opportunity to make a statement on the road against Penn State. The Wildcats took a 28-17 lead with less than a minute left in the third quarter on Venric Mark's second punt return touchdown of the season. But after holding up extremely well against the physical Nittany Lions rushing attack and ever-improving passing game for three quarters, the Wildcats crumbled in the fourth. Penn State exerted its will in the final frame, scoring three touchdowns in a nine minute span to give Coach Ftiz' group their first loss of the year. Penn State was the better team, but Northwestern played valiantly. 
This week: at Minnesota (4-1)

7. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1)
Previous rank: 7
Week 6 result: Beat Illinois 31-14
Joel Stave was able to start and finish the game. The rushing attack looked more like 2011 than it did 2012. And the defense played a physical brand of football, holding everyone on the Illini offense not named Nathan Scheelhaase to 22 total yards. Stave, who missed a key drive late against Nebraska, threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns while Montee Ball rushed for 116 yards and two scores of his own. Ball is quietly returning to form, after scoring five times in the last two weeks to bring his season total to eight and his career total to 69 total touchdowns. It won't have much national fanfare, but the road trip to West Lafayette next weekend could decide the Leaders Division crown. 
This week: at Purdue (3-2)

8. Purdue (3-2, 0-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 6 result: Lost to Michigan 44-13
This was one of the more disappointing performances by any team in the league this fall. Purdue still controls its own destiny with a visit from Wisconsin coming in Week 7, so a Big Ten title is certainly within grasp. However, if the Boilers play like they did against Michigan again, the Badgers will end those hopes next weekend. The normally stout Boilers front-seven was gashed by Denard Robinson and company for 304 yards rushing on 54 attempts. And the normally explosive Caleb TerBush-led offense was completely shut down by a Michigan defense that has struggled at times this fall. The season is still out in front of the Boilermakers, but this team needs to regroup quickly after being crushed in its Big Ten opener.
This week: Wisconsin (4-2)

9. Iowa (3-2, 1-0)
Previous rank: 9
Week 6 result: Off
Iowa played arguably its best game of the year back in the Week 5 win over Minnesota. So fans have to wonder if the bye week was perfectly placed to allow this team to build on its confidence or if it halted what little momentum the Hawkeyes may have built in the victory?
This week: at Michigan State (4-2)

10. Minnesota (4-1, 0-1)
Previous rank: 10
Week 6 result: Off
Getting MarQueis Gray healthy and addressing the defensive woes that led to a blowout loss to Iowa was the likely focus of Jerry Kill's squad during the off week. The Gophers have a winnable home game this weekend that is bordering on must-win status.
This week: Northwestern (5-1)

11. Illinois (2-4, 0-2)
Previous rank: 11
Week 6 result: Lost to Wisconsin 31-14
Things continue to get worse for Tim Beckman. After an embarrassing loss to Penn State at home last week, the Illini failed to show up in Madison. Illinois has allowed 108 points in its three-game losing streak as both PSU and UW rushed for 173 yards over the last two weeks. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase accounted for all but 22 yards of total offense on a team that offered little support to its quarterback. Things only appear to be getting worse for a team that is scoring the fewest points per game in the Big Ten (21.2 ppg) and that is allowing the most points in the league (28.3 ppg). Illinois will face Michigan and Ohio State on the road in the next three weeks.

This week: at Michigan (3-2)

12. Indiana (2-3, 0-2)
Previous rank: 12
Week 6 result: Lost to Michigan State 30-27
This was his chance. Kevin Wilson has yet to win a Big Ten game and after a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter — and a 27-14 halftime lead — the Hoosiers failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity. The Indiana defense allowed Andrew Maxwell to grow up in Bloomington on Saturday and Cameron Coffman went three-and-out on the game's final two possessions. This would have been a signature win for Wilson and company, but he now finds himself 0-10 in Big Ten play.
This week: Ohio State (6-0)

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Big Ten Post-Week 6 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 06:03
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-6

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

2012 Record Against The Spread: 22-17
Last Week: 5-3

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Michigan State (-15) at Indiana
The Hoosiers lost 55-3 in East Lansing last season and are currently last in the Big Ten this fall in rushing defense after allowing 394 yards last week to Northwestern. Michigan State, however, will enter this game with a chip on its shoulder after the tough loss to Ohio State last fall. The Spartans will have no trouble at all moving the ball behind that big line and Le’Veon Bell, so expect this one to get out of hand fairly quickly. Prediction: Michigan State -15

Navy (+7.5) at Air Force
The Midshipmen have scored a total of 17 points in three games against FBS competition this fall, including being shutout by San Jose State last week. This isn’t a vintage Navy triple-option attack as it is averaging only 219.3 yards per game rushing. Meanwhile, Air Force’s option is clicking on all cylinders, leading the nation in rushing at 396.3 yards per game. The success of the ground game has helped the Falcons score 37.8 points per game and Navy, who is 1-3 against the number this fall, will have a tough time stopping AFA. Prediction: Air Force -7.5

UCLA (-2.5) at Cal
This is the type of game that the Bruins have to win if they expect to compete in the Pac-12. The Bruins boast the league’s No. 1 offense at 558.4 yards per game after getting back on track last week with 42 points in Boulder. Meanwhile, Cal only has 535 yards of total offense in its last two Pac-12 games combined. Look for Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin to attack and expose the worst rushing defense in the league. The Golden Bears haven’t beaten an FBS team all year and are on the verge of total collapse. Jim Mora is happy to push Cal over the cliff’s edge. Cal is 1-4 against the spread this season. Prediction: UCLA -2.5

UL Monroe (-3) at Middle Tennessee
Had MTSU been on a bye last week, the point spread on this game could have been in the double digits. Monroe is unbeaten against the spread this fall and Middle Tennessee is coming off of arguably the biggest non-conference win in program history. Expect the Blue Raiders to hang in there for three quarters, but Kolton Browning and company are way too powerful — try 63 points last week and at least 550 yards of offense in three of four games this fall. Prediction: UL Monroe -3

Mississippi State (-10) at Kentucky
This Bulldogs team leads the nation in turnover margin and that spells trouble for a team that will rotate two freshman quarterbacks. State is allowing only 13.3 points per game and is off to its best start in over a decade, but still have room to improve. Coming off of the bye week, Dan Mullen should have his guys ready to play against the lowly Wildcats. Prediction: Mississippi State -10

North Texas (+12) at Houston
The Cougars are not a good football team, as losses to Texas State, Louisiana Tech and UCLA indicate. And the win over Rice last week came mostly due to the fact that starting QB Taylor McHargue didn’t play. North Texas should be able to run and could win outright, so I will take the 12 points and run all the way to the bank. Prediction: North Texas +12

Arizona (+9) at Stanford
Josh Nunes has struggled mightily of late, completely less than half of his passes in each of the last two games. Arizona has lost two straight but has explosive offensive talent and should be able to score points on the edge. Stanford should be able to control the line of scrimmage but there is no reason Arizona can’t win outright against a team lacking in offensive confidence. Take the Cardinal to win outright but the Cats to keep it real close. Prediction: Arizona +9

Utah State (+6.5) at BYU
The Aggies of Utah State have played a tough schedule and, with the exception of a missed field goal in Madison, should be undefeated. BYU bounced back with a complete performance last week against Hawaii, but Chuckie Keeton and company are a different animal. This could be a low-scoring affair with two underrated defenses taking the field in Provo. Never bet against Gary Andersen, whose team is 5-0 against the spread this fall. Prediction: Utah State +6.5 

Take the big-game dogs:

Georgia (+2) at South Carolina
West Virginia (+7) at Texas
LSU (-3) at Florida
Nebraska (+3.5) at Ohio State

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

Unbeaten ATS One Loss ATS One Win ATS (min. 4 games) Winless ATS
Arizona St (4-0-1) Ball St (4-1) Texas (3-1) Army (1-3) Michigan (1-3) Arkansas (0-5)
Fresno St (5-0) Cincinnati (2-1) Texas St (3-1) Auburn (1-3) Michigan St (1-4) Virginia (0-4-1)
UL Monroe (4-0) Duke (4-1) Toledo (4-1) Boston College (1-3) Navy (1-3)  
Northwestern (5-0) Florida (3-1) Troy (4-1) Cal (1-4) NC State (1-3-1)  
Oregon St (3-0) Kansas St (3-1) UCLA (4-1) C. Michigan (1-3) Oregon (1-4)  
San Jose St (5-0) Kent St (3-1)   Colorado (1-4) USC (1-3)  
Texas Tech (4-0) La. Tech (3-1)   Colorado St (1-4) S. Miss (1-3)  
TX-SA (3-0) UL Lafayette (3-1)   E. Michigan (1-3) Syracuse (1-3)  
Utah St (5-0) MTSU (3-1)   Houston (1-3) Tulane (1-3)  
W. Kentucky (5-0) Ole Miss (4-1)   Idaho (1-4) Utah (1-3)  
  Notre Dame (3-1)   Indiana (1-3) Va. Tech (1-4)  
  Penn St (4-1)   Iowa (1-4) Wazzu (1-4)  
  Purdue (3-1)   Kentucky (1-4) W. Virginia (1-3)  
  S. Carolina (4-1)   Memphis (1-3) Wisconsin (1-4)  
  Texas A&M (3-1)   Miami-OH (1-4)    

- by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 6</p>
Post date: Friday, October 5, 2012 - 05:55
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-6-preview-and-predictions

Michigan State and Ohio State transported Big Ten fans back last Saturday to an era of physical play the league has been missing this season. Trash talk, big hits, recruiting storylines and even some gamesmanship concerning pre-game film created a truly great football atmosphere that lived up to the hype. 

This week there are loads of storylines across the league. Ohio State-Nebraska could feature the league's top two teams. Northwestern tries to stay unbeaten. Michigan looks to get back on track with a tough road test. And something will happen at Camp Randall this weekend, right?

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 6:

1. Which QB plays better: Braxton Miller or Taylor Martinez?
These have been the best two players in the league on what could be the best two teams in the Big Ten. And since Ohio State can't play in the title game, this could be the de facto Big Ten championship game for all intents and purposes. Martinez is leading the league in passing efficiency and passing touchdowns for the league's top offense. Miller is the MVP of the league, willing his team to victory last week against Michigan State. However, Miller turned the ball over and has been frequently banged up while T-Mart has a two-year resume that is loaded with poor throws and inefficient play. Whoever protects the football, makes smart decisions and converts on key third downs will emerge victorious Saturday night.

2. Who steps up around Miller on the Buckeyes' offense?
Ohio State has the edge for a variety of reasons in this game. The Bucks have the home field edge, the head coach edge, a slight defensive edge and the revenge edge. However, Nebraska has tons of support players on offense for Martinez while Urban Meyer is still looking for consistent play-makers with which to surround Miller. So who steps up and makes the play this weekend for the Buckeyes? Jordan Hall is doubtful so Rod Smith or Carlos Hyde will have to play well in the running game. The roster of non-descript pass-catchers also needs to be there for Miller. The O-Line is playing much better for Ohio State, so if Miller can get solid production from his peers on offense, Ohio State should remain unbeaten.

3. Can Michigan overcome road woes in West Lafayette?
Reading this week, it is obvious that the fans in Ann Arbor have major concerns about their road trip to Purdue this weekend. Michigan averages 40.1 points per game at home under the Brady Hoke coaching regime, but only 20.9 per game on the road. Denard Robinson has been dramatically less efficient and productive on the road, including five turnovers the last time he was out on the field against Notre Dame. Look for offensive coordinator Al Borges to reestablish the ground game early this weekend against a solid Boilermakers team in an effort to make Robinson's job easier. Because if...

3. The Boilermakers control the pocket, they will win
Danny Hope's defense, led by Kawaan Short, is allowing just over 100 yards rushing per game. This matters because if Robinson can be contained within the pocket, Purdue should be in this one. When Shoelace has been held to less than 100 yards rushing this season, Michigan has lost. When he has topped the century mark, the Wolverines have won. Additionally, despite two relatively easy wins (36-14 and 27-16) previously over Purdue, Robinson has struggled to pass the ball against the Steamers (1 TD, 3 INT, 173 ypg). This should be a high-scoring game, but Purdue has the horses on the D-Line to keep No. 16 between the tackles. If the defense can do its job, the Boilers will pull off the upset and begin Big Ten play 1-0.

4. Northwestern's bid for 6-0 hinges on defense
After five weeks of play, the Wildcats are leading the league in rushing defense at 90.0 yards allowed per game. But this will be its toughest test yet. Penn State's rushing attack has totaled 173 yards in each of its last two games and has accounted for six touchdowns in victories over Temple and Illinois. The turnaround can be attributed to the emergence of burly power backs Zach Zwinak and Michael Zordich and the return of starter Bill Belton from injury. In front of Nittany Nation at Beaver Stadium, Pat Fitzgerald knows his defensive front has to be physical and disciplined this weekend if the Wildcats want to stay unbeaten. 

5. Bill O'Brien's offense continues to improve
If you would have said that after five weeks Matt McGloin would be leading the Big Ten in passing yards, would be second in passing touchdowns, second in attempts and second in completions, I would have called you a liar this summer. But O'Brien's offense has continued to improve each week, showing innovation and creativity not seen in a Happy Valley passing attack in years. McGloin should be productive once again against Northwestern's secondary, so it's the PSU defense that must deliver this weekend. Northwestern quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian create unique match-up issues for most teams and Michael Mauti and co. will have their hands full stopping the dynamic and versatile Wildcats offense.

6. Big Ten's worst two offenses battle in Madison
Illinois and Wisconsin are ranked 97th nationally in scoring offense as each team is generating 22.6 points per game. They are 11th and 12th respectively in the Big Ten in total offense. And both team's struggles can be attributed to major quarterback issues. Nathan Scheelhaase returned last week as the turnover-prone, inconsistent passer Illini fans have grown accustomed to. If he is fully healthy, he needs to prove to Tim Beckman that he belongs under center. Meanwhile, Joel Stave appears to be the answer for Wisconsin, but he took so many hits last week, he was unable to play during critical fourth quarter drives against Nebraska. The Badgers appear to be in better shape and look to be improving — especially if Stave can play this weekend — so it falls to Scheelhaase if Illinois wants to win in Madison for the first time since 2002.

7. Who starts at QB for Indiana? Does it matter...
Kevin Wilson has seen everything this season from his quarterbacks. Tre Roberson was off to an excellent start before a season-ending injury pushed Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld into action. Both have had success and both have looked shaky at times. The head coach has stated he would like to settle on one guy, but both have shared reps this week evenly and both should see time against Michigan State. That said, will an angry 3-2 Spartans team allow either passer time to throw the ball effectively this weekend? It's highly unlikely.

Week 6 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 6 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Michigan St (-15.5) at Indiana Mich. St, 34-10 Mich. St, 30-13 Mich. St 34-13 Mich. St, 35-14
N'Western (+3) at Penn St Penn St, 27-17 Penn St, 17-13 Penn St 24-20 Penn St, 17-14
Illinois (+14) at Wisconsin Wisconsin, 30-21 Wisconsin, 28-21 Wisconsin 34-17 Wisconsin, 20-10
Michigan (-3) at Purdue Michigan, 27-24 Purdue, 24-20 Michigan 31-24 Purdue, 21-20
Nebraska (+3) at Ohio St Ohio St, 28-24 Nebraska, 24-21 Ohio St 27-24 Ohio St, 28-21
Last Week: 6-0 5-1 5-1 5-1
Yearly Totals: 52-12 50-14 54-10 52-12

Bye Week: Iowa, Minnesota

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Big Ten Week 6 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:08
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-6-preview-and-predictions

USC and Oregon are still on a collision course for Nov. 3. Yet, both divisions appear to be much improved. And what's more interesting is the hierarchy shift in both the North and South that took place last week. Oregon State and Washington could be the top challengers in the North while Arizona State and UCLA look like the best bets to topple USC in the South. UCLA and Oregon State have must-win games this weekend, while Washington's season could be on the line in Eugene. And the wild and crazy Player of the Year race out West will undoubtedly take another big turn this weekend as well.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 6:

1. Can the Washington offensive line protect Keith Price?
Three injuries to the Huskies offensive line had Keith Price running for his life last week against Stanford. Luckily, it didn't impact the outcome of the game. But if Washington cannot give its quarterback time to throw this weekend, U of W will be in for a long night. The Ducks posted seven sacks a week ago against Washington State and has returned three interceptions for touchdowns in the last two games. The only score UW allowed last weekend was on a Price INT returned for six points — and it nearly gave Stanford the win. The Dawgs can't afford such mistakes in a game they need to play perfectly to win. 

2. Huskies defense must step up for a second straight week
Trying to stop Chip Kelly's offense is an exercise in futility. Pick your poison: Stop one running back and the other goes for 200 yards. Gear up to stop the ground attack and Marcus Mariota will stretch the field with his arm and athleticism. The Washington defense showed massive improvement last week, holding Stanford to 65 yards rushing. But that was at home on a Thursday night against Josh Nunes. This is the three-time defending conference champ. The Ducks have won eight straight over Washington and have scored 45.8 points in the last five meetings. Steve Sarkisian needs another magical performance from his defense to end Oregon's recent dominance in this series. Nothing would be sweeter for Huskies defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who grew up 15 minutes from Eugene and played at Oregon.

3. Great teams win these types of games
Looking at you UCLA (and maybe Oregon State too). If Jim Mora and the Bruins want to be taken seriously on a national level as a Pac-12 contender, this is a game they have to win. Cal is better than its 1-4 mark indicates, but great teams don't lose to teams on the verge of collapse. If Johnathan Franklin and Brett Hundley can't take advantage of the league's worst rushing defense then they likely don't deserve to compete with USC and Arizona State for the South Division title. The Trojans and Sun Devils have defeated the Bears with relative ease over the last two weeks and a loss for UCLA would drop them to 1-2 in the league with four division games still left on the schedule. Great teams simply don't lose these games.

4. Can Josh Nunes bounce back after the loss?
The Stanford quarterback struggled mightily in his first road start. While coach David Shaw called talks of a quarterback switch "asinine," Nunes knows he cannot afford too many more performances like last Thursday night in Seattle. He completed only 48.4 percent of his 37 passes, giving him two straight games in which he failed to complete at least half of his attempts. Arizona's improved offense will be able to score points and Nunes cannot allow the Wildcats to stack the box like Washington did last week. He has to be more accurate if the Cardinal are going to hold serve at home. 

5. How does the Arizona line of scrimmage perform?
Stanford might feature the most physical lines, on both side of the ball, in the league. The Cardinal's defensive front seven is downright nasty and will get after Matt Scott and Ka'Deem Carey while the o-line will look to push around the 'Zona defensive line. The match-up is a bad one for the more finesse Wildcats. They don't pressure the quarterback (last in the Pac-12 in sacks) and they don't stop the power running game (11th in rushing defense). If Stanford can get Stepfan Taylor rolling like he was against USC and give Josh Nunes time to throw, it could be a long day for the 'Cats defense. And it will likely put too much pressure on the offense to convert on third down. 

6. How many interceptions will Matt Barkley throw?
The struggles of Utah have taken a lot of the luster off of this Thursday night game. But USC is still a national contender playing on the road in primetime against a program accustomed to winning. So while I would love to say 'anything can happen,' the likely storyline coming out of Salt Lake City on Friday morning will be the performance of Matt Barkley. He has four interceptions in his last two games and his pursuit of the Heisman Trophy has slowed to a crawl the last few weeks. Look for Lane Kiffin to get his star quarterback on track against a defense that was torched the last time out — try 326 yards and three touchdowns from first-year Arizona State starter Taylor Kelly. I wouldn't be surprised to see USC roll up a big number on the Utes.

7. Sean Mannion must take care of business at home
Washington State is struggling. Oregon State is unbeaten. This game was a blowout in favor of the Beavers a year ago. All signs point to Mannion and company taking care of business against an over-matched opponent. However, Mike Leach's bunch will likely pull off one upset this season at some point. Mike Riley knows this is the weakest opponent his team has faced all year, so guarding against a major letdown is paramount. Fans can expect big numbers in the passing game from both teams. This match-up features the No. 1 (Oregon St) and No. 3 (Wazzu) passing games in the league as both average more than 333 yards per game. And these are the worst two passing defenses in the Pac-12 (112th and 113th in the nation respectively). 

Week 6 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 6 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
USC (-14) at Utah USC, 31-14 USC, 34-13 USC 34-13 USC, 35-13
Arizona (+9) at Stanford Stanford, 24-21 Stanford, 30-27 Stanford 27-24 Arizona, 28-24
Washington St (+15.5) at Oregon St Ore. St, 35-21 Ore. St, 37-20 Ore. St, 34-20 Ore. St, 31-13
UCLA (-2.5) at Cal UCLA, 31-24 UCLA, 27-21 UCLA 34-24 UCLA, 28-10
Washington (+24) at Oregon Oregon, 41-21 Oregon, 38-17 Oregon 45-24 Oregon, 42-21
Last Week: 2-3 3-2 3-2 4-1
Yearly Totals: 30-14 31-13 31-13 30-14

Bye: Arizona St., Colorado

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Pac-12 Week 6 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-5

Each week, the Athlon editors vote on the most prestigious award in all of college football. A 13-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports voted this week for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the result will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

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

Since the college football season is five weeks old, we figured we would expand our Heisman voting to include some of the best college sports analysts and writers from around the nation. So instead of just nine Athlon editors, our Heisman voting panel is made up of a total of 13 respected members of the college sports media, including:

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

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (13 first-place votes)
Season Stats: 
141-169, 1,728 yards, 20 TD, 0 INT, 20 att., 99 yards, TD
This was a showcase moment for the WVU signal caller. He threw for a school-record 656 yards and tied the Big 12 record with eight touchdown passes on an ridiculous 35-of-41 passing rate. He now leads the NCAA in passing efficiency and total offense and has yet to turn the ball over for West Virginia. No rest for the weary, however, as Smith leads his team into Austin, Texas for a huge game against the Longhorns. Next game: at Texas

  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (1) Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 130/130 13 - - - - 13/13
2. (5) E.J. Manuel QB Florida St 90/130 - 2 2 5 2 13/13
3. (4) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 88/130 - 2 4 3 2 12/13
4. (3) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 87/130 - 4 2 - 5 13/13
5. (11) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 62/130 - 1 1 2 2 12/13
6. (2) De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 55/130 - 2 3 - - 9/13
7. (6) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 37/130 - 1 1 - - 8/13
8. (7) Matt Barkley QB USC 34/130 - - - 2 1 7/13
9. (9) Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 29/130 - - - - 1 8/13
10. (12) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 23/130 - - - 1 - 6/13
11. (10) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 19/130 - 1 - - - 5/13
12. (15) Marqise Lee WR USC 11/130 - - - - - 4/13
13. (UR) Sean Mannion QB Oregon St 8/130 - - - - - 3/13
14. (16) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 7/130 - - - - - 2/13
15. (17) Kolton Browning QB UL Monroe 6/130 - - - - - 2/13
16. (UR) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 5/130 - - - - - 1/13
17. (UR) Stedman Bailey WR W.Virginia 5/130 - - - - - 2/13
18. (14) Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 4/130 - - - - - 2/13
19. (UR) David Ash QB Texas 4/130 - - - - - 2/13
20. (18) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
21. (UR) Kain Colter QB N'Western 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
22. (UR) Joseph Randle RB Oklahoma St 2/130 - - - - - 2/13
23. (UR) Stefphon Jefferson RB Nevada 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
24. (UR) Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
Season Stats: 69-94, 905 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT, 24 att., 188 yards, TD
It wasn't the same type of performance that earned him national notoriety two weeks ago, but Manuel led his team to a relatively easy road win over an in-state BCS conference rival. He threw for 242 yards and a touchdown in the 30-17 win. The top challenger to Geno Smith gets another tricky test this weekend on the road at NC State. He missed the last trip to Raleigh two seasons ago when FSU lost. Don't expect the same outcome this time around.
Next Game: at NC State

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
 56-80, 758 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT, 63 att., 289 yards, 5 TD
CK7 got to rest his bloody elbows this weekend after the huge road win over Oklahoma. Kansas State now gets rival Kansas and Iowa State in the next two, making a 6-0 start for the Wildcats extremely likely.
Next Game: Kansas

4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 
76-121, 933 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT, 90 att., 577 yards, 7 TD
Miller's toughness was on full display in the gritty road win over Michigan State this weekend. He carried the ball 23 times for 136 yards and threw the game-winning scoring strike late in the second half. He battled injury and willed his team to a 5-0 mark. He is the clearcut Big Ten POY and is the Big Ten's No. 2 rusher. He received the most second-place votes with four. Next Game: Nebraska

5. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Season Stats: 89-130, 1,378 yards, 12 TD, 3 INT, 21 att., minus-8 yards, 3 TD
Murray had to battle with SEC East counterpart Tyler Bray more than he anticipated. But when the game was over, the Dawgs were unbeaten and their quarterback had another 286 yards and two touchdowns on his resume. He is leading the SEC passing efficiency and is second to only Bray in yards and touchdown passes.
Next Game: at South Carolina

6. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 25 att., 276 yards, 4 TD, 13 rec., 165 yards, 3 TD, 8 PR, 131 PR yards
Next Game: Washington

7. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Season Stats: 38 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 3 INT, FR, 2 PBU
Next Game: Miami (Chicago)

8. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 88-143, 1,005 yards, 12 TD, 5 INT, 11 att., minus-61 yards
Next game: at Utah

9. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Season Stats: 92 att., 440 yards, 8 TD, 16 rec., 109 yards
Next game: Georgia

10. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 73-111, 999 yards, 12 TD, 0 INT, 19 att., minus-41 yards
Next Game: Bye Week

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 5</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:10
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/ranking-nfls-starting-quarterbacks-week-5-update

After four weeks of play, the preseason NFL starting quarterback rankings have changed dramatically. It is a difficult undertaking and the criterion are endless. Toughness, efficiency, physical ability, injury history, leadership, statistical production and, of course, winning are all taken into account.

But taking all aspects of playing the position into account, I ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks in the  prior to the start of the season. So after reaching the quarter pole of the 2012 season, has anything changed?

I put my general manager's hat on and asked this question:

If my goal is to win the Lombardi Trophy in 2012, who do I want under center?

Note: Age is at time of start of 2012 season

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (Age: 28, Record: 43-23)
2012 Stats: 1,064 yards, 69.9%, 7 TD, 3 INT, 15 att., 51 yards
The Packers' offense struggled by their lofty standards through the first three weeks — albeit against three of the top defenses in the NFC. But against the Saints, Rodgers looked like the reigning MVP, throwing for 319 yards and four touchdowns on 75.6% passing. Preseason Rank: 1

2. Tom Brady, New England (Age: 35, Record: 128-39)
2012 Stats: 1,227 yards, 65.6%, 7 TD, INT, 6 att., 11 yards, TD
Brady is currently fourth in passing yards this season and has tied Brett Favre for the third longest streak in NFL history of at least one touchdown pass in a game. His resume speaks for itself. Preseason Rank: 2

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans (Age: 33, Record: 92-65)
2012 Stats: 1,350 yards, 10 TD, 5 INT, 3 att., rush TD
The Saints have started 0-4 but the NFL's leader in passing yards can't be blamed too much. Yes, he has five picks, but this team has no head coach and no defensive identity. Brees played his best last weekend against Green Bay, nearly pulling off the upset, and is still one of the elite passers in the NFL. Preseason Rank: 3

4. Eli Manning, New York Giants (Age: 31, Record: 71-52)
2012 Stats: 1,320 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT
The younger Manning already has had some insane second halves of play (did you see what he did to Tampa?). And he still throws a few too many interceptions. But his talent and track record makes him one of the game's most dependable signal callers. He is the defending Super Bowl champion. Preseason Rank: 4

5. Peyton Manning, Denver (Age: 36, Record: 143-69)
2012 Stats: 1,162 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT
Manning clearly doesn't have the same arm strength as he used to, but he has the same everything else. His mental preparation and commitment to winning is unmatched. And his three interceptions all came in one quarter against the 4-0 Falcons. Neck surgeries and diminishing physical skills keeps him from the top four. Preseason Rank: 5

6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta (Age: 27, Record: 47-19)
2012 Stats: 1,162 yards, 11 TD, 2 INT, 10 att., 48 yards, TD
No quarterback has played better in 2012 than Matty-Ice (No. 1 in QB rating 112.1). He leads the NFC in touchdown passes and owns the best record in the league at 4-0. The only thing keeping him from the top five, however, is his lack of production in the playoffs. His career winning percentage is remarkable but the 0-3 mark in the playoffs needs to be rectified. Preseason Rank: 10

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (Age: 30, Record: 81-36)
2012 Stats: 904 yards, 8 TD, INT
Big Ben has been lights out in 2012 and is off to one of the best starts of his career. The 109.2 QB rating is tops in the AFC for qualifed passers and he is fifth in yards per game (301.3). His playoff mark alone makes him one of the best options in the league. Preseason Rank: 7

8. Joe Flacco, Baltimore (Age: 27, Record: 47-21)
2012 Stats: 1,269 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT, 6 att., 6 yards, TD
The Ravens quarterback is consistently one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league. He has improved his numbers each of his three seasons and appears to be headed for his best year yet. No QB benefited more from a change in offensive scheme than Flacco in the Ravens' shift to their up-tempo, no-huddle attack. Preseason Rank: 11

9. Matt Schaub, Houston (Age: 32, Record: 36-34)
2012 Stats: 953 yards, 7 TD, INT
The quarterback for the best team in the AFC has proven to be a tough customer this season. And his 105.3 QB rating is No. 3 in the NFL and No. 2 in the AFC. His history of serious injuries keeps him from being much higher, however — he has missed at least five games in three of the last five years. Preseason Rank: 12

10. Tony Romo, Dallas (Age: 32, Record: 49-32)
2012 Stats: 1,148 yards, 5 TD, 8 INT
Cowboys fans certainly don't feel like they have a top 10 quarterback after his 5-INT game on Monday night. However, the loss wasn't just Romo's fault. The offensive couldn't block. The running game was non-existent. And No. 88 continues to waste his remarkable raw talent. The front office hasn't helped much either with few quality high draft picks. Romo is better than his 2012 numbers indicate. Preseason Rank: 8

11. Matthew Stafford, Detroit (Age: 24, Record: 14-19)
2012 Stats: 1,182 3 TD, 4 INT, 8 att., 36 yards, TD
He snapped his 21-game streak of throwing at least one TD when his Lions lost to the Vikings. He has regressed from last year as he is currently on pace for just 12 TDs after 41 last fall. Preseason Rank: 7

12. Philip Rivers, San Diego (Age: 30, Record: 66-34)
2012 Stats: 897 yards, 6 TD, 4 INT
His abrasive attitude and penchant for turnovers — as well as his inability to win big games — drops him outside of the top ten. Preseason Rank: 9

13. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (Age: 24, Record: 12-8)
2012 Stats: 1,111 yards, 8 TD, 4 INT, 14 att., 36 yards, TD
Dalton has been outstanding during the Bengals' quiet three-game winning streak. His 103.0 QB rating is No. 5 in the NFL as the redhead continues to grow into a star. Preseason Rank: 18

14. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (Age: 22, Record: 1-2)
2012 Stats: 846 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT, 10 att., 80 yards
It didn't take long for fans to see how good this kid is going to be. He already has two 300-yard games and a fourth-quarter game-winning drive in his first three games. He is 11th at 282.0 ypg. Preseason Rank: 17

15. Michael Vick, Philadelphia (Age: 32, Record: 56-38-1)
2012 Stats: 1,146 yards, 4 TD, 6 INT, 27 att., 130 yards, TD
Vick has led the Eagles to three close wins, but continues to turn the ball over like crazy (nine TO lost) and he takes more hits than anyone else in the NFL. Will he survive? Preseason Rank: 14

16. Cam Newton, Carolina (Age: 23, Record: 7-13)
2012 Stats: 1,013 yards, 4 TD, 5 INT, 33 at., 167 yards, 3 TD
Defenses are starting to catch up with Newton, who can still out-athlete most teams. But he needs to stay focused and start winning games to be considered elite. Preseason Rank: 16

17. Robert Griffin III, Washington (Age: 22, Record: 2-2)
2012 Stats: 1,070 yards, 4 TD, INT, 39 att., 252 yards 4 TD
This kid will set plenty of Washington team records this fall. He has a game-winning drive and is No. 4 in QB rating (103.2). But how long can he play the game the way he does and stay healthy? Preseason Rank: 21

18. Carson Palmer, Oakland (Age: 32, Record: 51-59)
2012 Stats: 1,081 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT
Palmer continues to find yards in Oakland, but needs some support from the defense and pass-catchers. He protects the football and moves the offense, but one man can only do so much. Preseason Rank: 15

19. Jay Cutler, Chicago (Age: 29, Record: 44-38)
2012 Stats: 917 yards, 5 TD, 6 INT
Cutler played well on MNF against Dallas, but has had a terrible start to the year. His toughness, dedication and maturity will continue to be major question marks for a guy who has obvious talent. Preseason Rank: 13

20. Alex Smith, San Francisco (Age: 28, Record: 35-35)
2012 Stats: 784 yards, 5 TD, INT, 15 att., 58 yards
He continues to be one of the most efficient QBs in the league — his 98.1 rating is No. 7. He leads arguably the best team in the NFL and rarely turns the ball over (two total in 2012). Preseason Rank: 25

21. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo (Age: 29, Record: 19-33)
2012 Stats: 931 yards, 12 TD, 7 INT, 15 att., 66 yards
Fitz continues to cause tantrums on the sidelines. He is a solid player who is leading the NFL in TDs. But is also leading the NFL in INTs as well. Preseason Rank: 19

22. Sam Bradford, St. Louis (Age: 24, Record: 10-20)
2012 Stats: 881 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT
Bradford has loads of ability but has struggled to stay upright behind a porous offensive line. He has led the Rams to two wins six weeks earlier than this team's second win last fall. Preseason Rank: 20

23. Jake Locker, Tennessee (Age: 24, Record: 1-3)
2012 Stats: 781 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 8 att., 67 yards
The second-year player is dripping with talent. He was coming off of a 400-yard offensive performance and was the Titans leading rusher before being knocked out after two pass attempts last week. Health is an issue, but his ability is not. Preseaon Rank: Unranked

24. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (Age: 25, Record: 29-22)
2012 Stats: 813 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT
Right there with Romo and Cutler, Sanchez is the most scrutinized QB in the league. His team is tied for the division lead with two AFC East wins after getting little to no help from his defense and running game last weekend. Stop the Tebow talk right now. Preseason Rank: 22

25. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay (Age: 24, Record: 18-26)
2012 Stats: 790 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT
Freeman has a big frame and a big arm. But he also has 50 career interceptions and 27 fumbles (10 lost) in 45 career games. Will the light bulb ever click on again or was 2010 a complete fluke? Preseason Rank: 24

26. Kevin Kolb, Arizona (Age: 28, Record: 9-10)
2012 Stats: 752 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 10 att., 32 yards, TD
The former Eagle is slowing rebuilding his credibility. He is 3-0 as the starter this season and stepped in late in Week 1 to lead the Cards to a win over Seattle. He did the same against Miami last weekend. Kolb has a positive trajectory once again. Preseason Rank: 30

27. Christian Ponder, Minnesota (Age: 24, Record: 2-8)
2012 Stats: 824 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT, 12 att., 46 yards, TD
He has been incredibly efficient by not taking sacks and protecting the football. He has wins over the 49ers and Lions, but special teams and the defense won the game last weekend. There is a lot to like here and Ponder has plenty of upward mobility. Preseason Rank: 27

28. Russell Wilson, Seattle (Age: 23, Record: 2-2)
2012 Stats: 594 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT, 22 att., 80 yards
He is a natural leader who competes on every play and is a wonderful face to any franchise. But he also has a lot to learn still about playing QB in the NFL. Preseason Rank: Unranked

29. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland (Age: 28, Record: 0-4)
2012 Stats: 997 yards, 3 TD, 7 INT, 4 att., 31 yards
The early production indicates that Weeden has some staying power in the NFL. But he will have to get some support and learn how to protect the ball quickly due to his age. Preseason Rank: 28

30. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville (Age: 22, Record: 5-13)
2012 Stats: 654 yads, 5 TD, INT, 11 att., 41 yards
He has shown drastic improvement from a year ago by not throwing an interception until Week 4 and showing signs of confidence in the pocket. But on a bad team, he has a ways to go before he is a top 25 QB. Preseason Rank: 32

31. Matt Cassel, Kansas City (Age: 30, Record: 29-29)
2012 Stats: 1,058 yards, 5 TD, 7 INT, 7 att., 47 yards, TD
Cassel is leading the NFL in interceptions and fumbles lost by a quarterback through four games. His team is 1-3 and there are signs that he could lose his starting job soon if he can't produce. Preseason Rank: 31

32. Ryan Tannehill, Miami (Age: 24, Record: 1-3)
2012 Stats: 1,046 yards, 2 TD, 6 INT, 9 att., 16 yards, TD
The athletic ability is obvious. The arm strength is obvious. And he just dropped 431 on a solid Cards defense. He could jump Cassel, Gabbert and Weeden quickly, but inexperience and inefficiency keeps him on the bottom for now. Preseason Rank: Unranked

- by Braden Gall

<p> Update: Ranking the NFL's Starting Quarterbacks in 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/8-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- by Braden Gall

<p> 8 Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 4</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:02
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-5-power-rankings

In what was the best weekend of football the Big Ten has experienced all season, some order appeared to be restored. Iowa and Penn State both posted huge wins in league openers, indicating that the traditional powers both still have much to say about the title race. Northwestern and Nebraska held serve in tough home wins. And Ohio State continues to overcome mistakes and imperfections to stay unbeaten, as evidenced by its gritty performance against Michigan State.

Post-Week 5 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

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

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

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

Post-Week 5 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

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

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

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

Post-Week 5 Coach of the Year Standings

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

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

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

Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week: Northwestern (5-0)

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

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

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

This week: at Wisconsin (3-2)

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

by Braden Gall

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Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:00