Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/secs-top-15-games-2014

The gap has certainly closed but the SEC is still college football's premier conference.


The No. 1 team in the nation, the toughest division in football, a glut of Heisman Trophy candidates and nationally relevant coaches made the SEC must-see TV this fall.


But it wasn’t just the Iron Bowl, Les Miles or the ACC-SEC round-robin that made the SEC great theatre this fall. A coaching change/search at one of the league’s most powerful programs, the rise of the Magnolia State into national prominence and the advent of a four-team College Football Playoff made the 2014 campaign a season no SEC fan will ever forget.


Here are the most memorable SEC games of the year:


1. (11) Ole Miss 23, (3) Alabama 17

For about seven minutes, Bo Wallace was downright brilliant and Alabama's special teams were not. Two Wallace touchdown passes and two 'Bama turnovers led to a historic and memorable victory over the Tide in "College GameDay’s" first-ever visit to The Grove.


2. (1) Alabama 55, (15) Auburn 44

While there was no SEC West or SEC title hanging in the balance, the intensity still delivered for these two hated rivals. Neither team played much defense in this record-setting Iron Bowl, as Alabama outscored Auburn 34-10 over the following 23 minutes after trailing by 12 in the third quarter. The win kept 'Bama in the playoff picture.


3. (5) Alabama 20, (16) LSU 13 (OT)

Always physical and always intense, the heavily-favored Crimson Tide needed a historic drive from Blake Sims to defeat the Tigers. Sims led 'Bama 55 yards over the final 50 seconds to tie the game before going on to win in overtime.


4. (3) Auburn 35, (4) Ole Miss 31

Literally and figuratively, the Rebels' home loss to Auburn might be one of the most painful in school or SEC history. No one on either side of the ledger will forget when Laquon Treadwell fumbled and broke his leg with 1:30 to go, as he was falling into the end zone for the game-winning score. The back-and-forth affair never featured a lead of more than seven points.


5. (24) LSU 10, (3) Ole Miss 7

It wasn’t always pretty but it was extremely memorable. The physical units beat each other up for 60 minutes before Ole Miss had a chance to win in the final moments. But a bizarre decision by Bo Wallace (and, to some extent, Hugh Freeze) in the final moments of the game began a tough final month for the Rebs.


6. (24) South Carolina 38, (6) Georgia 35

This SEC East rivalry has become of the most important and entertaining in the league and this year’s version didn’t disappoint. Todd Gurley and Dylan Thompson went back and forth all game while special teams and a goal-line stand played critical roles in the second half. 


7. Texas A&M 41, (3) Auburn 38

The thrilling road upset by the Aggies was highlighted by two of the most bizarre fumbles the SEC has ever seen. After a furious second-half rally, Auburn appeared to have the game won or at least tied at two different times in the final moments. But a tangled exchanged at the two-yard line and a bizarre center snap on the 28 cost Auburn the game. Texas A&M was a 23-point underdog and this win also helped christen Kyle Allen as the future in College Station.


8. (6) Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 28 (OT)

The Hogs appeared to be poised for their first SEC win under Bret Bielema until Kenny Hill snatched victory away from Arkansas. Trailing by two touchdowns in the final frame, Hill connected on two long touchdown throws and added the game-winner on the first play of overtime to score 21 unanswered points and give Texas A&M the win.


9. (17) Missouri 21, Arkansas 14

The Hogs played extremely well for three quarters before a road-grading, old-school touchdown drive gave Missouri the SEC East championship. The Tigers ran 12 plays for 85 yards to score the game-winner with just six minutes left in the game. A turnover forced by Markus Golden eventually sealed the win in what should develop into an underrated border rivalry.


10. Florida 36, Kentucky 30 (3OT)

Kentucky fans will only remember what happened before the play and won’t ever forget what happened at the end. After the play clock appeared to hit zero, Jeff Driskel connected with Demarcus Robinson on 4th-and-7 in overtime to tie the game and keep Florida alive. Two overtimes later, Matt Jones scored the game-winning touchdown.


11. (16) Georgia Tech 30, (9) Georgia 24 (OT)

The 109th edition of Clean, Old Fashioned hate was one of the best. Mark Richt appeared to have won a sixth straight game over Paul Johnson, taking the lead with just 18 seconds left. But somehow Tech managed to get into field goal range and tie the game as time expired before prevailing in overtime.


12. (5) Auburn 42, South Carolina 35

South Carolina came to Auburn as a heavy underdog but proved to be anything but an easy out. The two high-powered offenses traded scores for the better part of 60 minutes before Auburn’s defense finally got a few stops in the fourth quarter. The two teams combined for 1,086 yards of offense and three total punts.


13. Tennessee 45, South Carolina 42 (OT)

Joshua “Astro” Dobbs became a household name in the miraculous comeback win over the Gamecocks. The Vols trailed 42-28 with less than five minutes to play before Dobbs led a whirlwind comeback in Columbia. Dobbs set a school record with 467 total yards of offense and became the first Vol to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 100 in the same game.


14. (5) Alabama 25, (1) Mississippi St 20

It wasn’t as close as the score indicated but anytime two teams ranked in the top five get together, it’s cause for celebration. Alabama was clearly the better team but the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs acquitted themselves well, fighting back to lose by only five.


15. (19) Ole Miss 31, (4) Mississippi St 17

It wasn’t as dramatic or action-packed as some others but few games this year matched the intensity that the Egg Bowl produced. The Bulldogs led midway through the third quarter before Ole Miss went on a 24-7 run to end the game and knock MSU out of the playoffs.


The Best of the Rest:


16. Missouri 21, (13) South Carolina 20

17. (22) Louisville 44, Kentucky 40

18. (13) LSU 28, (14) Wisconsin 24

19. LSU 30, Florida 27

20. (12) Georgia 35, Tennessee 32

21. South Carolina 23, Florida 20 (OT)

22. (5) Auburn 20, (20) Kansas St 14

23. (7) Alabama 14, Arkansas 13
24. (12) Georgia 45, (16) Clemson 21

25. Mississippi St 34, (8) LSU 29

26. Kentucky 45, South Carolina 38

27. (3) Florida St 24, Florida 19

28. (3) Mississippi St 38, (2) Auburn 23

29. Florida 10, Tennessee 9

30. (20) Missouri 29, Tennessee 21

SEC's Top 25 Games of 2014
Post date: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/accs-top-10-best-games-2014

For the first time in years, the ACC entered the season as a must-see conference.


The defending national champions and controversial reigning Heisman Trophy winner made ACC Media Days more of a circus than even the four-day SEC extravaganza in Birmingham.


But it wasn’t just the Jameis Winston spectacle that created intrigue in the ACC this preseason. John Swofford welcomed Louisville and Notre Dame to his ranks, boosting the number of nationally watched games instantly. New faces under center created unknowns and subsequent excitement across the entire conference. The usually impossible to predict Coastal Division was even more difficult to forecast than normal.


And to top it all off, college football welcomed a four-team Playoff to the mix. It’s safe to say no one will ever forget the 2014 season. Here were the most memorable ACC games of the year:


1. (2) Florida St 31, (5) Notre Dame 27
Oct. 18, Tallahassee

It’s hard to make an entire nation root for the usually hated Fighting Irish but that is what the Seminoles were able to do in this battle of top-five teams. An evenly matched bout most of the way, Winston led the Noles on a game-winning touchdown drive with just under eight minutes to go. Not to be outdone, Everett Golson moved the Irish to the FSU two-yard line before the infamous pick penalty erased the game-winning score and pushed ND back to the 18-yard line on fourth down. Winston was star of the show again, going 15-of-16 in the second half.


2. (16) Georgia Tech 30, (9) Georgia 24 (OT)
Nov. 29, Athens

It didn’t really mean much in the standings or rankings but the 109th edition of Clean, Old Fashioned Hate won’t ever be forgotten by either side. Paul Johnson and Tech entered the game on a five-game losing streak against UGA but pulled off one of the most dramatic wins in series history. Georgia scored with 18 seconds to go to seemingly win a sixth straight over the in-state rival but somehow Justin Thomas ran his team into field goal range on the ensuing possession. Harrison Butker drilled a 53-yarder to tie the game as time expired and, after a missed extra point nonetheless, the Jackets' defense kept the Dawgs out of the end zone for the win.


3. (4) Florida St 37, (11) Georgia Tech 35
Dec. 6, Charlotte

A year’s worth of close calls and near misses for the defending champions had most predicting the upset in the ACC Championship Game. After allowing boatloads of yards in the first half, it looked like Tech would be up to the task. However, the Seminoles' defense tightened in the second half and Winston, like always, led multiple scoring drives in the final 20 minutes of play. It was just enough for Florida State to win its third consecutive ACC title.


4. (1) Florida St 23, (22) Clemson 17 (OT)
Sept. 20, Tallahassee

The day before the big Atlantic Division showdown, Jimbo Fisher suspended his star quarterback for the entire game. Clemson, buoyed by a confident defense and the emergence of true freshman DeShaun Watson at quarterback, played mostly excellent football for 58 minutes. But a gut-wrenching fumble deep in Florida State territory with two minutes to play and a questionable fourth-down decision in overtime left the Tigers dumbstruck when the final whistle blew. Florida State had done it again, this time with Sean Maguire under center.


5. (3) Florida State 30, Miami 26
Nov. 15, Coral Gables

Once again, FSU started out slowly, trailing both 16-0 and 23-7 in the second quarter. But Winston and tailback Dalvin Cook flipped a switch in the second half, as Florida State went on a 23-3 run, scoring on four drives in the second half. Cook sprinted 26 yards with 3:05 left in the game to give the Noles their 26th straight win and fifth in a row over the archrival Hurricanes. Winston and Brad Kaaya both topped 300 yards passing.


6. (2) Florida St 42, (25) Louisville 31
Oct. 30, Louisville

Stop me when you’ve heard this before? Florida State stumbled out of the gate in primetime on a Thursday night in Papa John’s Stadium. Michael Dyer led a surging Cardinals squad to a 21-0 second-quarter lead before a fortunate bounce helped FSU get into the end zone with just 33 seconds left before halftime. The second half was the James Winston and Dalvin Cook show, as the duo combined for five touchdowns — all of which came from at least 35 yards away. The Noles finished on a 42-10 run over the final 31 minutes of play.


7. Virginia Tech 35, (8) Ohio St 21
Sept. 6, Columbus

This was one of the biggest upsets of the year regardless of conference. The Hokies rattled and tormented J.T. Barrett all night in a shocking two-touchdown win in Columbus. The victory didn’t help Tech go on to bigger or better things, as the Hokies' season topped out with the win over the Buckeyes and the loss didn’t hurt OSU enough to knock them out of the College Football Playoff. But it was a memorable night for college football and VT quarterback Michael Brewer.


8. (24) Duke 51, Pitt 48 (2OT)
Nov. 1, Pittsburgh

These two teams combined for 62 first downs, over 1,000 yards of offense and not one turnover in this double-overtime thriller. James Conner did everything he could for Pitt, rushing for 263 yards and three scores but an appropriately named kicker, Chris Blewitt, missed a 26-yard field goal as time expired in regulation. Duke’s backup quarterback then led the Blue Devils into the end zone in the second overtime for the win.


9. Boston College 37, (9) USC 31
Sept. 13, Chestnutt Hill

Steve Addazio’s excellent tenure at BC was highlighted by this top-10 victory. Against USC, the Eagles produced one of the most remarkable statistics of the year. Boston College rushed for 452 yards against one of the better Pac-12 defenses. Tyler Murphy counted for 191 of those yards, 66 coming on BC’s final TD of the game with 3:30 left in the game, and the defense did just enough to hold USC at bay.


10. (22) Louisville 44, Kentucky 40
Nov. 29, Louisville

The newest ACC-SEC rivalry has had a long history of animosity, but few games in the Bluegrass State series have been as entertaining. The two teams combined for 33 fourth-quarter points and produced four lead changes in the final nine minutes of action. The Cardinals' Kyle Bollin came out of nowhere to produce 381 yards passing and Boom Williams rushed for 126 and two scores for Kentucky.


The Best of the Rest:


11. (24) Louisville 31, N. Dame 28

12. (3) Florida St 24, Florida 19

13. Clemson 23, Louisville 17

14. (21) Clemson 35, S. Carolina 17

15. (1) Florida St 37, Oklahoma St 31

16. Georgia Tech 27, Virginia Tech 24

17. Georgia Tech 42, Ga. Southern 38

18. (6) N. Dame 50, N. Carolina 43

19. East Carolina 28, (17) Virginia Tech 21

20. (1) Florida St 56, NC State 41

21. N. Carolina 48, Georgia Tech 43

22. (3) Florida St 20, B. College 17

23. N. Carolina 31, San Diego St 27

24. Colorado St 24, B. College 21

25. Virginia 23, (21) Louisville 21


BONUS: Worst Game of the Year

Wake Forest 6, Virginia Tech 3 (2OT)

Nov. 22, Winston-Salem
Is there any doubt this wasn't the worst game of the entire 2014 football season, regardless of conference? A 0-0 tie in regulation is as bad as it gets.

ACC's Top 10 Best Games of 2014
Post date: Monday, December 15, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/six-team-college-football-playoff-perfect-solution

Four isn’t enough and eight is way too much.


There is a perfect number of college football playoff teams and it falls right between the two. The NFL uses a six-team bracket for each conference (for now) to determine the most important sporting event in the world each year for a reason.


Because six is the perfect number. It solves every problem imaginable. Well, almost.


First, a six-team playoff gets all five Power 5 conference champions into the playoff — an issue most are complaining about already — if all five are deserving. Second, it gets roughly 10 percent of the Power 5 teams into the postseason. Third, it allows for a possibility that a Group of 5 champion could sneak into the sixth spot. Fourth, unlike an eight-team playoff, no three-loss teams will ever be in the postseason mix, maintaining a certain level of exclusivity for the prestigious national championship.


But how would a six-team playoff work? What would the rules and regulations be? And what would the bracket have looked like had it been in place this season (Hint: It would have been awesome).


First-round byes

One of the best aspects of a six-team playoff is a first-round bye for each of the top two teams. Like in the NFL where the best two teams in each conference get an extra week of rest, so too, will the top two teams in the nation. It rewards four quality teams while also giving a big edge to the two most deserving teams in the nation — who would have earned the right to rest. Additionally, it shortens the season by one game as compared to the eight-team bracket for those concerned about student-athletes playing too many times.


Use home sites

One of the biggest issues many have with the four-team playoff was the usage of bowl games as semifinals. Despite what Bill Hancock wants you to believe, it’s not ever been about protecting the sanctity of the bowl system. No, it’s cronyism at its finest. There are 36 other bowl games that provide 72 other teams a season-ending celebratory trip. The bowl system is just fine and doesn’t need any more additional revenue. Instead, let’s allow college football to showcase what makes college football so uniquely great: Electric atmospheres on picturesque campuses and stadiums. And asking teams to travel to three consecutive neutral-site games like an eight-team playoff would require is just stupid. In the six-team structure, both first (quarterfinals) and second-round games (semis) would be played at home sites with the top seeds hosting each game.


Rotate the final

Just like the Super Bowl, the national championship game should be rotated every year throughout every region of the country. This is the NATIONAL championship not the regional or southern championship. I love New Orleans and Tempe as much as the next fan, but Indianapolis, Detroit and New York have proven that title games can be held successfully in the Midwest and Northeast as well. Like the Super Bowl, the majority of the games would be held in warm-weather locations but it doesn’t mean the sport should ignore the Pacific Northwest, Midwest or Northeast in the process. Lucas Oil Stadium and Indianapolis got rave reviews for the Super Bowl it hosted and would be an excellent fit for the college championship.


Shorten down time

One of the biggest issues that the four-team bracket hasn’t fixed is the inordinate amount of down time between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. It has improved on the amount of down time that the BCS provided by a little more than a week. But the first two games of the three-round playoff could be held annually on Christmas Eve, for example, beginning a new college football tradition. The second round would still be held on New Year’s Day and the final played a week later.


Re-seed the second round

Obviously, the initial seeding process would determine matchups between No. 3 and No. 6 as well as No. 4 and No. 5. Should the six-seed upset the three-seed, then the second round would be re-seeded. This guarantees that the No. 1 seed will always face the lowest-seeded team in the second round.


A six-team playoff doesn’t solve every issue for college football. No system can be perfect. It doesn’t matter how big or small the postseason is, someone will always be upset about missing out. The ninth-ranked team in the eight-team playoff would be just as upset as Baylor and TCU this year. The same could be said about the seventh-ranked team in a six-team format.


That being said, a six-team format would have been perfect for 2014.


No. 6 TCU at No. 3 Florida State

How awesome would this be in Doak Campbell Stadium? The unbeaten, undisputed defending champion with Jameis Winston under center against Gary Patterson’s reinvented offense? Yes, please. If the Seminoles win, they’d face No. 2 Oregon in Eugene while a  TCU victory would have sent the Horned Frogs to Tuscaloosa to play No. 1 Alabama.


No. 5 Baylor at No. 4 Ohio State

Does anybody in Waco want the opportunity to prove that the Bears are better than the Buckeyes? Baylor fans would travel to any city in the world to play Ohio State if it meant a chance to prove the Bears belonged in the playoff. But The Horseshoe is as good a location as college football has to offer for the postseason and I promise BU would relish the opportunity. Where the winner of this game goes would depend on who wins the other matchup.



Meanwhile, No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon get a first-round bye and sit at home for an extra week. Then Bryant-Denny Stadium and Autzen Stadium would host national semifinals before the final two teams meet on a neutral field.


All in favor?

A six-team college football playoff is the perfect solution
Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-heisman-trophy-stats-you-need-know-2014

Marcus Mariota is going to win the 2014 Heisman Memorial Trophy.


And there couldn’t be a more deserving candidate.


The Oregon quarterback won the Pac-12 North, won the Pac-12 championship, earned a spot in the first College Football Playoff and set numerous records. He is the nation’s most efficient passer (186.33) and is the nation’s most productive player with 4,452 yards of total offense.


He is a consummate teammate on and off the field, so Saturday night is more a coronation than a highly anticipated announcement. The two numbers to keep an eye on are 2,853 total points and 86 percent of first-place votes.


Those are the two Heisman records set by O.J. Simpson in 1968 and Troy Smith in 2006, respectively. In fact, Simpson’s 1,750-point margin in ’68 is still a record and is a third benchmark Mariota could challenge this weekend.


Here are the other Heisman stats you need to know:


0: Oregon Heisman Trophy winners

Marcus Mariota isn’t just a remarkable player who could lead Oregon to its first national championship with record-setting numbers and astounding maturity. But he also will become Oregon’s first Heisman Trophy winner in school history. The Ducks have been close with LaMichael James (3rd, 2010), Dennis Dixon (7th, 2007) and Joey Harrington (4th, 2001) but have never won.


26: More INTs Ty Detmer threw than Marcus Mariota

BYU’s Ty Detmer posted huge numbers when winning the Heisman in 1990, throwing for 5,188 yards and 41 TDs. In fact, Detmer remains the only Heisman winner with 5,000 yards passing in a season. Strangely enough, he also has the most interceptions by a wide margin of any Heisman winner, throwing 28 interceptions in ’90. Jim Plunkett is No. 2 with 19 interceptions in 1979. Marcus Mariota threw two interceptions in 372 attempts this season. Danny Wuerffel’s 13 picks are the most by any winner since Detmer.


2003: Last time a WR finished in the top three

Amari Cooper is a Heisman finalist and will be the first wide receiver to finish in the top three since Larry Fitzgerald finished second in 2003 (Jason White). In fact, Cooper and Fitzgerald are the only two wide receivers to finish in the top three since Desmond Howard won the award in 1991. Howard is one of only two wideouts to ever win the award (Tim Brown, 1987). Since Howard won the Trophy only six WRs have even finished in the top five: Marqise Lee (4th) in 2012, Justin Blackmon (5th) in 2010, Michael Crabtree (5th) in 2008 and Randy Moss (4th) in 1997.


14: Winners who played QB in the last 15 years

Since the turn of the century, the Heisman Trophy has become a quarterback’s award. Since Ron Dayne won the coveted stiff-armed award in 1999, only one non-QB has won the trophy. Alabama’s Mark Ingram (2009) — largely considered the “weakest” of Heisman winners — is the only non-QB to win the award since Dayne. Mariota would become the 14th quarterback to win the award in the last 15 years.


Listen to the College Football Playoff Committee podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


2: High schools to produce more than one Heisman winner

Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas, is the first and only public high school to produce two Heisman winners. Davey O’Brien won the award in 1938 for TCU and Tim Brown claimed the trophy for Notre Dame in ’87. Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., is the only other high school to have multiple winners. The private school gave college football John Huarte, who won the award in ’64 for Notre Dame, and Matt Leinart, who earned the honor in 2004 for USC. Fork Union Military prep academy also has produced multiple Heisman winners — Vinny Testaverde in 1986 for Miami and Eddie George in '95 for Ohio State — but it doesn't technically count since Testaverde only attended the postgrad program.


8: Heisman winners in the NFL Hall of Fame

There are eight former Heisman Trophy winners currently in the NFL Hall of Fame. Marcus Allen (1981), Earl Campbell (1977), Tony Dorsett (1976), Paul Hornung (1956), Barry Sanders (1988), O.J. Simpson (1968), Roger Staubach (1963), and Doak Walker (1948). Interestingly enough, only one Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback has ever made it to the NFL Hall of Fame and that is Staubach. Additionally, only four Heisman winners have gone on to win Super Bowl MVP honors: Staubach, Allen, Jim Plunkett and Desmond Howard.


2-8: Notre Dame’s record when Paul Hornung won the Heisman

The only player to ever win the Heisman off of a losing team was Paul Hornung in 1956. He threw for 917 yards, three touchdowns and 13 interceptions while rushing 94 times for 420 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. The Irish went 2-8 that year, beating only Indiana and North Carolina. Hornung beat out Tennessee’s Johnny Majors and Oklahoma’s dynamic duo of Tommy McDonald and Jerry Tubbs.


1961: Ernie Davis became the first African-American Heisman winner

It took 27 long years but the voters finally gave the award to an African-American in 1961 when Syracuse’s Ernie Davis topped Ohio State’s Bob Ferguson and Texas’ Jimmy Saxton for the prestigious award. Davis was deserving but his stat line indicates how far the sport has come since the early '60s. He rushed 150 times for 823 yards and 12 touchdowns.


0: Games Jay Berwanger played in the NFL

The first Heisman trophy winner in history was a senior running back from the University of Chicago by the name of Jay Berwanger. He was the first pick in the first-ever NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1936. Yet, they traded his rights to the Chicago Bears because they didn’t think they could meet his salary demands (allegedly $1,000 per game). After Olympic tryouts and unsuccessful contract negotiations with George Halas, Berwanger took a job with a Chicago rubber company and never played a down of professional football.


7: Ohio State, USC and Notre Dame winners

The Buckeyes, Trojans and Irish are tied for the most Heismans with seven total trophies each. Ohio State’s awards have been spread out over time, winning at least one in five different decades while USC’s come in bunches. Under Pete Carroll, the Trojans won three Heisman Trophies in four seasons from 2002-05 (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush — yes, I officially count the ’05 trophy even if the Trust does not). The Irish held the Heisman lead for many years, winning six trophies between 1943-64. Tim Brown’s 1987 season is the only Irish Heisman since John Huarte won it in ’64.

10 Amazing Heisman Trophy Stats You Need To Know for 2014
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-season-awards-and-all-conference-team

The Pac-12 entered the season with eyes on knocking off the SEC as the best league in college football.


While that may not happen until Oregon knocks off both Florida State and Alabama in the College Football Playoff, the Pac-12 has clearly separated itself as the best league outside of the SEC and has set itself up to be on par with the SEC if the Ducks can win two more games.


Star power at quarterback, a deep collection of head coaches and renewed financial support across the league makes the Pac-12 one of the best two conferences in the nation. 


As far as conference awards and all-conference teams, there were very few difficult decisions.


2014 Season Awards and All-Conference Teams:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC


Pac-12 2014 Season Awards


Coach of the Year: Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

The Wildcats were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 South by Athlon Sports, as well as the preseason media throng. In fact, three different teams got first place votes in the South and Arizona wasn’t one of them. The Wildcats won 10 games, including matchups at Oregon, at Utah and over Arizona State at home in the division clincher. As Pac-12 South champs, Rich Rodriguez is the obvious choice for Coach of the Year and should get plenty of votes nationally.


Offensive Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

What more can be said about the star quarterback from Oregon? Marcus Mariota was simply brilliant in 2014, accounting for 53 total touchdowns and just two interceptions. His 4,452 yards of total offense topped the nation as well. He is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy for a reason.


Defensive Player of the Year: Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona

What more can be said about the star linebacker from Arizona? Wright III is one of the most disruptive players in the nation in leading his team to the Pac-12 title game. He finished second in the nation in tackles (153), first in tackles for loss (27.0), third in sacks (14.0) and first in forced fumbles (6). The Cats linebacker has already won the Nagurski Award as the nation’s best defensive player.


Listen to the College Football Playoff Committee podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Newcomer of the Year: Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

According to, Booker was the No. 103-ranked junior college prospect entering the college ranks in 2014. He was a three-star recruit who turned into a first-team performer in just one season in Salt Lake City. He led the Pac-12 with 266 attempts and finished second with 1,350 yards. He carried his team to victory over UCLA, Oregon State, USC and Stanford.


Freshman of the Year: Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona

The redshirt freshman quarterback led all freshmen nationally in passing yards (3,458) and finished behind only Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett in touchdown passes (27) and total offense (3,717) among freshmen. He also led his team to an unexpected berth in the Pac-12 title game. He is a perfect fit for RichRod’s offense and has a huge future ahead of him in Tucson.


Coordinator of the Year: Scott Frost, Oregon

Many believe Mark Helfrich or Mariota deserve the credit for Oregon’s massive offensive output this fall. While both will get their share of kudos (rightly so), Scott Frost has been recognized by the Frank Broyles Award as one of the five best coordinators in the country. The Ducks were No. 3 in total offense (546.2), No. 2 in yards per play (7.35) and No. 3 in scoring offense (46.3).


Breakout Player of the Year: Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

He led the Pac-12 in rushing touchdowns (16) and was fourth in the league in rushing (1,299). What made Freeman so important to Oregon, however, was his emergence following the loss to Arizona. All six 100-yard games came after the loss as did 11 of his 16 rushing touchdowns. His emergence allowed Mark Helfrich to move Byron Marshall to receiver and it helped protect Mariota in the second half of the season. The elite recruit from California totally lived up to his prep hype.


Pac-12 2014 All-Conference Team
First-Team OffenseSecond-Team Offense
QB Marcus Mariota
QB Brett Hundley
RB Javorius Allen
RB Devontae Booker
RB Royce Freeman
RB Paul Perkins
WR Nelson Agholor
WR Nelson Spruce
WR Jaelen Strong
Arizona State 
WR Vince Mayle
Washington State 
TE Pharaoh Brown
TE Austin Hooper
OL Hroniss Grasu
OL Jake Brendel
OL Andrus Peat
OL Kyle Murphy
OL Jake Fisher
OL Nick Kelly
Arizona State 
OL Max Tuerk
OL Steven Gurrola
OL Jamil Douglas
Arizona State 
OL Jeremiah Poutasi
AP D.J. Foster
Arizona State 
AP Adoree Jackson
Second-Team OffenseSecond-Team Defense
DL Leonard Williams
DL  Henry Anderson
DL Nate Orchard
DL  DeForest Buckner
DL Danny Shelton
DL  Owamagbe Odigihizuwa
DL/LB  Hau'oli Kikaha
DL  Dylan Wynn
Oregon State 
LB  Shaq Thompson
LB  A.J. Tarpley
LB  Eric Kendricks
LB  Myles Jack
LB  Scooby Wright III
LB  Jared Norris
CB  Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
CB  Steven Nelson
Oregon State 
CB  Ishmael Adams
CB  Troy Hill
S  Su'a Cravens
S  Damarious Randall
Arizona State 
S Jordan Richards
S  Erick Dargan
First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team Specialists
K  Andy Phillips
K  Zane Gonzalez
Arizona State 
P Tom Hackett
P  Drew Riggleman
KR  Ty Montgomery
KR  Trevor Davis
PR  Kaelin Clay
PR  Nelson Agholor


Pac-12 2014 Season Awards and All-Conference Team
Post date: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-season-awards-and-all-conference-team

Certainly, Big 12 fans feel jilted by the inaugural College Football Playoff Committee.


Both TCU and Baylor were worthy candidates for the national championship tournament. But being left out of the bracket and the subsequent finger pointing has taken away from what was a remarkable season in the Big 12.


The 2014 season was one filled with remarkable comebacks, record-setting performances, historic storylines and a lot of purple.


2014 Season Awards and All-Conference Teams:
ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


Big 12 2014 Season Awards


Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson, TCU

In just three short seasons, Patterson took his program from the Mountain West to the top of the Big 12 ladder. After losing close game after close game and finishing 4-8 a year ago with no quarterback play, Patterson reinvented himself on offense by hiring two new coordinators. With a wide receiver playing quarterback and his best defensive player lost for the year in the summer months, all Patterson did was win a share of the Big 12 title. The Frogs were picked sixth in the Big 12.


Offensive Player of the Year: Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

What else can be said about Boykin’s remarkable season? He led the Big 12 with 3,714 yards passing, 30 passing touchdowns and was top 10 nationally in both categories. He also led the Big 12 and finished third nationally in total offense per game at 363.0 yards per game. Of the 11 players with at least 30 touchdown passes, Boykin was one of five with fewer than 10 interceptions. For good measure, he was 10th in the Big 12 in rushing and sixth in rushing touchdowns. This was a no-brainer.


Defensive Player of the Year: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas

Brown was downright unstoppable this season for what turned out to be a bowl team in Austin. He anchored a unit that led the league in total defense and passing defense. The massive nose guard is a likely first-team All-American and finished his fine season with 62 total tackles, 12.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks to go with two forced fumbles. He was the most dominant defensive player in the league this year.


Newcomer of the Year: Tyreek Hill, AP, Oklahoma State

Hill was the No. 3-rated junior college prospect in the nation according to 247Sports and proved he was worth the lofty expectations. He finished second in the Big 12 with 150.9 all-purpose yards per game and made the biggest play of the Pokes season by tying The Bedlam Series with less than a minute away with his unforgettable punt return. Hill finished with 534 yards rushing on 102 attempts, 281 yards receiving on 31 catches and scored on three different returns (2 kick, 1 punt).


Freshman of the Year: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma

The burly true freshman carried his way into the NCAA record books this fall. Perine led the Big 12 with 240 carries, 1,579 yards and 21 touchdowns. He posted three 200-yard games and set the NCAA single-game rushing record with 427 against Kansas. He was never the unquestioned starter but was asked to carry the load when Oklahoma dealt with injuries. The Texas native rose to the occasion and finished eighth nationally in rushing and was one of seven players to rush for at least 20 TDs.


Coordinator of the Year: Doug Meacham, TCU

He lost out on the Frank Broyles Award given to the nation’s top coordinator (Ohio State’s Tom Herman) but that shouldn’t diminish the work Meacham did in Fort Worth. The Broyles finalist, along with co-coordinator Sonny Cumbie, took an offense that ranked 106th in total offense (344.8) and 88th in scoring offense (25.1 ppg) and turned it into one of the most prolific units in the nation. TCU averaged 542.2 yards and 46.8 points per game, ranking fourth and second nationally, respectively.


Breakout Player of the Year: Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

Boykin pretty much deserves every award possible. He’s the offensive player of the year, he’s the most improved player of the year and is clearly the breakout player of the year. Entering the summer, Boykin was a long shot to start at quarterback and was more likely to be a first-team All-Big 12 wide receiver than Heisman Trophy signal-caller. It was a remarkable year for the TCU QB.


Big 12 2014 All-Conference Team
First-Team OffenseSecond-Team Offense
QB Trevone Boykin
QB Bryce Petty
RB Samaje Perine
RB DeAndre Washington
Texas Tech 
RB Shock Linwood
RB Aaron Green
WR Tyler Lockett
Kansas State 

WR Sterling Shepard


WR Kevin White
West Virginia 
WR Corey Coleman
TE E.J. Bibbs
Iowa State 
TE Jimmay Mudine
C B.J. Finney
Kansas State
C Joey Hunt
OL Spencer Drango
OL Cody Whitehair
Kansas State 
OL Daryl Williams
OL Quinton Spain
West Virginia 
OL Le'Raven Clark
Texas Tech 
OL Tayo Fabuluje
OL Mike Glowinski
West Virginia 
OL Tyrus Thompson
AP Tyreek Hill
Oklahoma State 
AP Aaron Wimberly
Iowa State 
First-Team DefenseSecond-Team Defense
DL Malcom Brown
DL Andrew Billings
DL Shawn Oakman
DL Ryan Mueller
Kansas State 
DL Chucky Hunter
DL Cedric Reed
DL Emmanuel Ogbah
Oklahoma State 
DL Jordan Phillips
LB Paul Dawson
LB Eric Striker
LB Ben Heeney
LB Bryce Hager
LB Pete Robertson
Texas Tech 
LB Jonathan Truman
Kansas State 
CB Zack Sanchez
CB Quandre Diggs
CB Sam Carter
CB Nigel Tribune
Iowa State 
S Chris Hackett
S Karl Joseph
West Virginia 
S Orion Stewart
S Jordan Sterns
Oklahoma State 
First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team Specialists
K Josh Lambert
West Virginia 
K Jaden Oberkrom
P Trevor Pardula
P Spencer Roth
KR Alex Ross
KR Mario Alford
West Virginia 
PR Tyler Lockett
Kansas State 
PR Tyreek Hill
Oklahoma State 


Big 12 2014 Season Awards and All-Conference Team
Post date: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-final-2014-heisman-trophy-voting

Athlon Sports formed a Heisman Trophy committee that voted every week. Now that the season is over, who are they predicting wins the Heisman Trophy?


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


The Panel:


Stewart Mandel, FOX Sports

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network 

Adam Zucker, CBS Sports

Steven Godfrey, SBNation

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated

Bryan Fischer,

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

Josh Ward,

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports

David Fox, Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM


The Results:


1.Marcus Mariota6513----
2.Melvin Gordon46-93-1
3.Amari Cooper40-48--
4.Trevone Boykin22--272
5.Dak Prescott6---3-
6t.Scooby Wright5---13
6t.Tevin Coleman5---13
8t.J.T. Barrett3---11
8t.Cody Kessler3----3

Dropped out: None 


Listen to the College Football Playoff Committee podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


The Top 3:

1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

The Pac-12 title game wasn’t as much a must-win situation as it was a Heisman coronation. Mariota is the clear frontrunner for the 2014 Heisman Trophy and, frankly, it would be a huge upset if the Ducks didn’t win their first ever stiff-armed trophy. Mariota finished with 52 total touchdowns and just two interceptions and led the nation with 4,452 yards of total offense. Congrats to one of the good guys of college football.


Season Stats: 3,783 yds, 68.3%, 38 TDs, 2 INTs, 669 rush yds, 14 TDs


2. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

The only hope “MelGor” had to win the Heisman was to carry his team to an improbable Big Ten championship over the much more talented Buckeyes. However, Gordon was totally stuffed by Ohio State, finishing with just 76 yards on 26 carries with no touchdowns. Gordon still has an outside shot at Barry Sanders’ single-season rushing record, needing 292 in the bowl game to set the record. He needs 231 to pass Kevin Smith for second all-time.


Season Stats: 309 att., 2,336 yds, 26 TDs, 17 rec., 151 yds, 3 TDs


3. Amari Cooper, Alabama

Cooper didn’t make the big play in the SEC title game, but he did set an SEC record with 12 receptions in the championship game. He was a constant decoy that allowed others to make plenty of big plays and it gave Alabama the SEC title. Cooper also set a new single-season SEC record with 115 catches (Jordan Matthews) and is just 84 yards from breaking Josh Reed’s SEC single-season yards record (1,740).


Season Stats: 115 rec., 1,656 yds, 14 TDs 

Expert Poll: Final 2014 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/no-college-football-doesnt-need-8-team-playoff

TCU and Baylor were deserving and they got left out of the College Football Playoff. That doesn’t mean the system is broken.


The season hadn’t even ended on Saturday evening before the ethos started clamoring for an eight-team playoff. Not one down of playoff football had been played — much less a bracket established — when social media exploded with screaming fans and media members alike opining for an eight-team playoff.


Just stop it.


Life isn’t fair and not everyone deserves a trophy.


The biggest concern when the four-team, bracket-style postseason format was initially announced 18 months ago was the devaluing of the regular season. Everyone was worried the playoff would ruin the excitement of the best regular season in sports.


After one of the most memorable and intense regular seasons in college football history, obviously nothing could have been further from the truth. Entering the final weekend of play, at least seven different teams still had a shot at landing in the national title playoff. Every region of the country was intensely focused on four championship games and one massive showdown in Waco, Texas. It was a perfectly dramatic ending to a perfectly dramatic season.


But you know what would devalue the regular season? Expanding the playoff to eight teams.


Getting into the College Football Playoff should be hard. It should be an extremely exclusive club with secret handshakes and passwords. Someone should feel slighted when the dust settles. After all, not everyone deserves a trophy.


Listen to the College Football Playoff Committee podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Had Alabama, Oregon or Florida State lost in their championship game or season-ending rivalry games, all three likely would have still made an eight-team playoff. Where’s the fun in that?


What about No. 7 Arizona?


The Wildcats were ahead of both Michigan State and Mississippi State before losing to Oregon and dropping to No. 10. The Spartans and Bulldogs are quality teams but neither won their respective division and both were on “bye” this weekend. Does Arizona deserve to be knocked out of the playoff because it won its division and had to play an extra game?


The same type of argument could be made for Georgia Tech, Missouri and Wisconsin as well. All three finished with the same record as the MSUs, but the Spartans and Bulldogs belong in an eight-team playoff because they weren't good enough to play in a championship game?


The committee’s final rankings say as much.


What about three rounds worth of neutral-site games? How stupid does that sound?


An easy solution to this problem is to play the first round of games at home sites. But does anyone have any faith in the powers that be making the correct decision instead of gifting playoff games (aka, money) to their buddies who run the bowls?


And, frankly, a better question to ask might be do we want our student athletes playing 17 football games in one season in the first place?


If college football wants to expand, it will happen. The money will be too big to turn down and the inclusive nature will make everyone happy.


I just don’t want college football turned into some middle school field day where everyone gets a ribbon for participating.

No, College Football Doesn't Need an 8-Team Playoff
Post date: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - 08:40
Path: /college-football/college-football-podcast-debate-did-committee-get-playoff-right


Hosts Braden Gall, David Fox and Mitch Light debate the merits of the Selection Committee. Did they get the right four teams? What hurt the Big 12 the most? Who will be crowned the national champion when the dust settles? The guys break it all down and much more on this special Playoff Committee edition of the Cover 2 Podcast.

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

College Football Podcast Debate: Did the Committee get the Playoff right?
Post date: Monday, December 8, 2014 - 11:59
Path: /college-football/playoff-committee-college-football-quit-whining-enjoy-it

Baylor is upset that it beat TCU head-to-head and won the Big 12 championship by any logical or rational definition and is sitting at home. TCU is upset because the Horned Frogs won a game 55-3 and dropped from third to sixth and finds itself out of the tournament.


Everyone is upset that Ohio State — a team with the worst loss, the fewest good wins and an injured Heisman caliber quarterback — is in the bracket at all.


Common sense is upset at Bob Bowlsby and the Big 12.


As much as I enjoy the role of contrarian, I can't really disagree with any of that. If I were a TCU fan, I'd be furious. If I was a Baylor fan, I'd be livid. There is some justified Texas-sized diaper rash in Waco and Fort Worth. Both teams were deserving.


But we expected this.


We knew the advent of a selection committee was going to create inherent doubt and endless debate. The top three were going to be obvious and a small number of teams, say two or three, were going to feel like they earned that fourth spot. It's the nature of the beast we now call the College Football Playoff.


But it's an extremely small price to pay for the end result: Two historic playoff showdowns in college football for the first time in history. The landmark four-team, three-game tournament is going to be extraordinary and I'm going to love every snap.


The likely Heisman Trophy winner is going to face the unbeaten defending national champs. The flashiest program in the country that everyone loves to watch versus the most controversial franchise that America loves to hate. Marcus Mariota v. Jameis Winston. Need I say more?


Oregon-Florida State in Pasadena would be a outstandingly juicy matchup if it was the BCS national championship game. But college football gets another epic 60 minutes in New Orleans.


The sixth-winningest program in college football history (Ohio St) will face the eighth-winningest program in college football history (Alabama) in a game that features six combined BCS title game appearances. The undisputed king of the Big Ten will square off against the czar of the Southeastern Conference in football's modern embodiment of the North-South rivalry. Urban Meyer will match wits with Nick Saban in what amounts to their third national semifinal against one another in search of their combined seventh national title ring.


You'd have to be a corpse not to get excited.


Could I make a case that TCU looked like the best challenger with a reinvented offense and playmaking defense? Of course. Could I make a case that Baylor was, in fact, the one true champion of the Big 12 and was clearly the most deserving team in the conversation? Yes sir. Could I make the case that Ohio State is the most talented of the three, playing the best football of the three and would be the toughest out of the three? You bet.


But why waste all that time? These two playoff games are the first of their kind and will be remembered throughout college football history. When people talk about the 2014 season, they will always include "the first playoff games in college football history." It's a lot to live up to.


I am thankful that these two matchups will be deserving of such folklore.

Quit Whining, Enjoy the College Football Playoff
Post date: Monday, December 8, 2014 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-why-oregon-ducks-will-win-college-football-playoff

Oregon is in. And it's going to be a tough out.


Mark Helfrich has led his program to the Pac-12 Championship, the inaugural College Football Playoff and likely the school's first Heisman Trophy. But his team has much left to accomplish as it begins a month-long preparation for what will be the first of two possible playoff games.


The Ducks are playing as well as any team in the nation, winners of eight straight games by an average of 26 points per game. Here is how Oregon will win the national championship:


5 Reasons Why Oregon Will Win the CFB Playoff


1. Marcus Mariota stays healthy

It's not about Mariota protecting the football, being an efficient passer, making plays with his legs, handling the defensive pressure or any other traditional concern coaches have about quarterbacks heading into big games. Because no one can stop Marcus Mariota. The only concern fans should have with the likely Heisman Trophy winner is an injury. It might be the only thing that can keep Mariota from producing at a high level. That and maybe the Heisman buffet circuit.


2. Spread the wealth on offense

How can Helfrich keep Mariota upright and healthy? By spreading the ball around on offense to a developing collection of electric offensive weapons. Mariota isn't the only reason the Ducks offense is surging into the playoffs, and his supporting cast has gone from a question mark to coordinator's nightmare. In the win over Arizona, Oregon featured nine different ball carriers and four different players caught at least five passes. Helfrich has a power workhorse (Royce Freeman), a speedy deep threat (Devon Allen), a steady possession guy (Darren Carrington) and dynamic all-purpose threats (Byron Marshall, Charles Nelson). When all of these pieces are clicking, the Ducks can rip off huge chunks of yards and protect their star quarterback in the process.


Listen to the College Football Playoff Committee podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


3. Waves of defensive linemen

The Ducks aren't a dominant defensive team by any means but have enough talent to cause plenty of problems in the playoff. Oregon is 21st nationally in both sacking the quarterback (34.0) and tackles for loss (85.0). Don Pellum's front seven tormented the Arizona offense in the Pac-12 championship game, holding RichRod's unit to just 25 yards at halftime. He had five different players register at least a portion of a sack (4.0 total) and finished with 7.0 tackles for loss as a team. This unit comes in waves as 14 different players have registered a sack this season. In order to win a national championship, this group has to play its best football of the season — or, at least, match what it accomplished against Arizona.


4. Avoid Alabama altogether

There is a chance Oregon won't have to face Alabama in order to win a national championship this season. The Tide is the most talented roster in the nation led by the best coach in the land and likely would be the Ducks toughest possible matchup. If Alabama loses in the Sugar Bowl to Ohio State, the Oregon Ducks immediately become the favorite in the national championship game — if, of course, they can get past the defending national champions in Pasadena. Speaking of the Rose Bowl...


5. Play games west of the Mississippi

Oregon enters the first college football tournament the No. 2 seed and picked as the top challenger to Alabama. Part of the reason the Ducks have the best chance to knock off No. 1 and win a championship is that Oregon will play both games west of the Mississippi. As far as logistics and travel are concerned, the current path to a title is about as fortunate a draw an Oregon head coach could ever ask for. A semifinal in Pasadena is the best possible location for the Ducks to land in any round and a national final in Arlington keeps the Pacific Northwest program on one half of the country throughout the tourney.

5 Reasons Why the Oregon Ducks Will Win the College Football Playoff
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 15:10
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-championship-weekend-picks-2014

It's the final weekend of the regular season and I'm not going to lie to you. I don't feel good about it. 


I pick all of the championship games every season against the spread and will do the same again. (But am only going to count it towards my record if I do well.)


Listed below is every championship game prediction and the big one in the Big 12 as well. Enjoy!


Last Week: 2-3

Year-to-Date: 50-51-1


Alabama (-14.5) vs. Missouri (Atlanta)

This is a bad matchup for the Tigers, who have struggled with downhill, power-rushing teams. Maty Mauk has also been inconsistent all year. Mizzou is familiar with the situation but doesn't have the horses to compete with the Tide. Prediction: Alabama -14


Oregon (-14) vs. Arizona (Santa Clara)

The Ducks are cruising but this is a huge number against a team that beat them just two months ago. These two teams are a combined 21-3 this year overall but just 9-15 against the spread. It likely means stay away from this mess. But if you must, take Marcus Mariota to exact some revenge and definitely take the over. Prediction: Oregon -14


Florida State (-4.5) vs. Georgia Tech (Charlotte)

If we've learned anything this year, it's never take the 'Noles against the spread. Florida State is 3-9 against the mark this season and is facing a brutal matchup on defense. Tech is 5-1 against the spread away from home and could cover again — even if they lose. Prediction: Georgia Tech +4.5


Wisconsin (-4) vs. Ohio State (Indianapolis)

Whoever stops the run more effectively is likely to win this game. Ohio State is a better overall team by a wide margin but the one-game situation and no J.T. Barrett makes the Badgers the favorite. Take the team with more talent and more to play for in Ohio State. Prediction: Ohio State +4


Kansas State (+8) at Baylor

Both teams have been solid against the spread this year but Kansas State has been better. Baylor is 6-4-1 while KSU is 8-3. Art Briles has been excellent against Bill Snyder (3-1) but has a banged-up quarterback in Bryce Petty. Both teams are still eyeing a title in the Big 12 so a close game is likely. Prediction: Kansas State +7.5


Fresno State (+22) at Boise State

This is a huge number and Boise will win easily at home. But by how much? In a title game setting, I'd err on the side of caution.


Northern Illinois (-6.5) vs. Bowling Green (Detroit)

The Huskies are the better team and BG has had QB issues. Take NIU to roll.


Louisiana Tech (+11) at Marshall

Rakeem Cato in his final game with a title on the line at home? Yes, please.


Top 25 Picks ATS:


Top 25Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Alabama (-14.5) vs Mizzou
Oregon (-14) vs Arizona
Iowa St (+34) at TCU
Florida St (-4.5) vs Georgia Tech
Wisconsin (-4) vs Ohio St
Kansas St (+8) at Baylor
Oklahoma St (+21) at Oklahoma
Fresno St (+22) at Boise St
N. Illinois (-6.5) vs Bowling Green
Louisiana Tech (+11) at Marshall
Last Week:10-89-97-119-9
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Championship Weekend Picks 2014
Post date: Friday, December 5, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/podcast-debate-who-should-be-michigan-wolverines-new-head-coach


Brady Hoke is out as the Michigan head coach. 


Braden Gall, David Fox, Steven Lassan and Mitch Light debate the Michigan Wolverines head coaching vacancy in an Athlon Sports roundtable.

How good is the Michigan job? Where does it rank nationally? What are the strengths and weaknesses? Is this still an elite job?


How does Michigan compare to Nebraska? How will having an interim AD impact the search?


Who are the "Michigan Men" and are any of them worthy candidates? Who among them would be interested in the job? The guys debate Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles.


Who are the top Mid-Major (Group of 5) head coaches who are viable candidates? Who are the top coordinators: Pat Narduzzi or Tom Herman?


Where do Greg Schiano and Dan Mullen fit into the equation?


And finally, our hosts make predictions for the job. Each panelist makes a bold prediction as to who will be the next head football coach at Michigan.

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

Podcast Debate: Who should be the Michigan Wolverines new head coach?
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 12:55
Path: /college-football/cover-2-college-football-podcast-2014-championship-weekend-predictions


Hosts Braden Gall and Steven Lassan preview Championship Weekend in college football. Do any of the underdogs have a chance to pull an upset? Can Florida State avoid disaster? Can Baylor jump TCU in the playoff standings? Will Oregon get revenge on Arizona? The guys pick every major game of the final weekend of the college football season.

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

Cover 2 College Football Podcast: 2014 Championship Weekend Predictions
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 11:12
Path: /college-football/pac-12-championship-preview-and-prediction-oregon-ducks-vs-arizona-wildcats-2014

After 14 weeks, 12 teams, nine conference games and three successful Hail Mary passes, the Pac-12 Championship Game is finally here.


And it couldn’t be any juicer. Not even in the mighty SEC.


Preseason favorite and Pac-12 goliath Oregon will do battle with upstart, freshman-led Arizona in the fourth annual conference championship game at brand-new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. — the first such contest held on a neutral field.


But don’t let the adjectives augment the reality of the situation. Arizona, more specifically Rich Rodriguez, has won two straight against the Ducks and has almost as much of a shot at landing in the College Football Playoff as Oregon.


In no other league title game this weekend is there a chance that both teams could win their way into the four-team national playoff tournament. Wisconsin, Missouri and Georgia Tech have virtually zero chance of winning their way into the playoff. When the committee moved Arizona to seventh in the latest rankings, they gave fans in Tucson hope.


RichRod's track record against Mark Helfrich gives them hope as well. Over the last 16 games, Oregon is 14-0 against everyone but Arizona and 0-2 against the Wildcats. Better yet, the Ducks are 24-1 in their last 25 games against all other teams and 0-2 against 'Zona.


The stakes are as high as it gets. The rivalry is reaching a fevered pitch. On one side, a grizzled veteran coach with a freshman quarterback and star linebacker. On the other, the Heisman Trophy front-runner and a coach desperately trying to prove himself.


What more do you need besides Jesus, Girls and Marcus Mariota?

Championship Week Preview and Predictions:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC


Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona Wildcats


Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Oregon -14


Three Things to Watch


1. Mr. Brilliance vs. Scooby Hustle

There is no better individual matchup in college football this weekend than Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Marcus Mariota and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Scooby Wright on opposite sides of the line of scrimmage. Mariota hasn’t been at full speed in Oregon's two previous defeats to Arizona, posting his lowest offensive output of the year (277 total yds) this fall and throwing two interceptions against the Wildcats last season. Wright, meanwhile, has been sensational in two meetings against the Heisman front-runner. The Wildcats' defensive leader has 13 total tackles, two for a loss, a forced fumble, an interception and a sack in two games against the Ducks.


Listen to the Championship Week predictions podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


2. Oregon’s supporting cast on offense

The Ducks' offensive line wasn’t healthy for the previous meeting in early October but appears to be stabilizing. But it’s not just the improved O-line that should have RichRod and defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel concerned. Since the Arizona game, Royce Freeman has established himself as a workhorse power back, Byron Marshall has been moved to receiver and is flourishing, and Dwayne Stanford has developed into a consistent threat on the outside. Not to mention Devon Allen’s ability to take the top off the defense, which has become a defensive coordinator's nightmare. Most will focus on the offensive line getting healthier and providing Mariota more time to operate — which is critical — but the rest of the offense around Mariota has become more dynamic since the last time these two met and 'Zona should be concerned.


3. Is the spotlight too big for the freshman?

In the first meeting, it was Mariota who was flustered and Anu Solomon who looked like the cagey vet in a hostile environment. Arizona’s freshman quarterback went on to produce 308.8 yards of total offense per game and 28 total touchdowns in just his first season on a college gridiron. But Solomon has dealt with nagging injuries in November and is at the end of a longer season than he's ever played — even in four state championship runs in high school. His completion percentage dipped late in the year before bouncing back against Arizona State. He should assume Oregon will attack him with waves of defenders from different formations in an effort to throw the rising star off kilter. He needs to handle the spotlight, manage the huddle and distribute the ball effectively to pull off the upset. He was capable in high school and it led to championships, so odds are he will be capable once again.


Final Analysis


These are two of the more dynamic offensive teams in the nation. Both teams like to the run the ball — try more than 5,000 yards combined this season — and both quarterbacks like to get out in space and make plays. The experience and talent edge lies heavily in Oregon’s favor, as does the motivational edge, making a third straight upset difficult to predict. However, the Wildcats have one significant advantage in Rich Rodriguez. He basically invented the Oregon offense and his 3-3-5 defense has proven to be effective against all types of spread offenses. Rodriguez claims “a couple of turnovers, great individual effort and a little bit of luck” are the reasons Arizona has topped Oregon the last two meetings. He will need plenty of all three to knock off the mighty Ducks on Friday night. 


Pac-12 Championship Predictions
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Oregon (-14) vs. ArizonaUO, 45-35UO, 38-23UO, 49-28UO, 38-31
Last Week:4-35-25-24-3
Season Record:64-2769-2270-2167-24


Pac-12 Championship Preview and Prediction: Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona Wildcats 2014
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-15-preview-and-predictions

There is one Power 5 league that is playing a semi-full slate of games this weekend and it’s the league embroiled with the most controversy.


TCU appears to be the better overall football team currently, as the College Football Playoff Committee clearly has stated. However, it shouldn’t sit well with anyone that Baylor could be THE Big 12 champion and own head-to-head bragging rights over TCU and still get left out in favor of the Frogs despite a virtually identical resume.


Both sides of the argument have a legitimate case but Baylor fans can wrap up this discussion with just a few words:


“Why do we even play the games then?”


With that in mind, bring on the final weekend.

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


Week 15 Big 12 Game Power Rankings


1. Kansas St (off) at Baylor
7:45 p.m., ESPN

The criticism the Big 12 is taking for lacking a “true champion” is complete nonsense. If the Baylor Bears win on Saturday, they will be the Big 12 champions. Technically, Kansas State is still alive as well but would need some serious help from Iowa State (don’t hold your breath). Either way, this is arguably the most critical game of the season for Baylor (after beating TCU, of course) and, like it or not, style points will matter. Sitting three spots behind the Frogs, Bryce Petty knows he needs to play extremely well just one week after sustaining a serious concussion. Jake Waters is a worthy adversary on the other side of the field, producing game-winning moments all season long. In four career meetings, Art Briles has defeated Bill Snyder three times, including a 52-24 victory the last time KSU came to Waco.


Listen to the Championship Week predictions podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


2. Oklahoma St (+19.5) at Oklahoma
3:30 p.m., FS1

Never before has The Bedlam Series meant less to college football or the Big 12. In recent years, with league championships hanging in the balance, this rivalry had elevated itself to near-Red River Shootout status. But after eight combined losses and multiple injuries to multiple quarterbacks, this game has left little to be desired. Unless, your name is Samaje Perine or Mason Rudolph. The promising young freshmen offer some optimism for both teams, especially the Cowboys who need to pull off a massive road upset to get to a ninth consecutive bowl game. Mike Gundy is 1-8 against Bob Stoops in this rivalry and even a tremendous performance from Rudolph is unlikely to help the Pokes pull off the upset.


3. Iowa St (+34) at TCU
Noon, ABC

This game certainly matters on a national level as TCU can only hurt itself this weekend against the Cyclones. Anything other than a dominating performance could cause the Playoff Committee to reevaluate its current Big 12 pecking order. The Horned Frogs do not control their own destiny in the Big 12, despite what Bob Bowlsby will tell you, so Gary Patterson needs some help from Kansas State to win a league championship. Although, it may not need that help to get a shot at winning a national championship.


Off: Kansas, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia


Big 12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
KSU at BaylorBU, 38-35BU, 37-27BU, 35-31BU, 38-34
OSU (+19.5) at OUOU, 40-20OU, 30-17OU, 48-21OU, 38-17
ISU (+34) at TCUTCU, 51-13TCU, 41-10TCU, 48-7TCU, 45-13
Last Week:3-14-04-04-0


Big 12 2014 Week 15 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-championship-weekend

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


The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 15.


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


Two top 5 teams will lose


Something crazy always happens on Championship Weekend in college football. Four 10-win teams will face four top-six teams in championship games and Baylor hosts Kansas State. With six teams vying for four spots, the committee should be rooting hard for two top-five teams to lose this weekend. Never fear, it will happen. (My bet is Baylor and Ohio State).


There will be no controversy with the final four


Yup, the most outlandish of all predictions is that there will be no story when the Playoff Committee announces the final four. Should two of the top five lose (as I’m predicting), then the committee will have an easy job picking the top four. And as I predicted at the beginning of the season, the only story when the tournament is set is that there won’t be a story.


The Big 12 will have one true champion


No matter who wins the Baylor-Kansas State game, the Big 12 will have one true champion. Tiebreakers have been a part of determining championships in sports for a century and why should it change now? If Baylor wins, it will have played everyone in the Big 12 and won the league fair and square. If Kansas State wins, TCU will have played everyone in the Big 12 and won the league fair and square. Give the Big 12 a break, it’s not like some other leagues…


Listen to the Week 14 recap podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


The American Athletic Conference will have three "true" champions


Unlike the Big 12, the AAC will have a tie atop their conference standings but won’t have a clear-cut tiebreaker. Memphis is in the clubhouse at 7-1 and UCF will likely beat ECU to finish 7-1 as well. Cincinnati needs to beat Houston at home to also join the mix at 7-1. Unfortunately, UCF didn’t play either Memphis or Cincy so there is no way to know who the true champion is in the AAC. A three-way tie without tiebreakers is the real joke, not the Big 12.

A Heisman preseason front-runner will win the Trophy at a school that’s never won the award


This is outrageous because a true preseason front-runner hasn’t won the Heisman Trophy in years (Ricky Williams? Ron Dayne?). When Marcus Mariota exacts his revenge upon Arizona this Friday, look for the Oregon Ducks to win their first-ever Heisman Trophy. Mariota was the preseason favorite and has gone essentially wire-to-wire as the best player in the game.

Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Championship Weekend
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-14-heisman-trophy-voting

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


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


The Panel:


Stewart Mandel, FOX Sports

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network 

Adam Zucker, CBS Sports

Steven Godfrey, SBNation

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated

Bryan Fischer,

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

Josh Ward,

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports

David Fox, Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM


The Results:


1.Marcus Mariota6513----
2.Melvin Gordon51-121--
3.Amari Cooper36-1101-
4.Trevone Boykin21--271
5t.Scooby Wright6---14
5t.Tevin Coleman6---14
7.Dak Prescott4---2-
8.J.T. Barrett3---11
9.Cody Kessler3----3

Dropped out: Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley 


Listen to the Week 14 recap podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


The Top 3:

1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Mariota is playing on another planet. With a national title hanging in the balance on the road against an archrival, Mariota accounted for six touchdowns and more than 400 yards of total offense. Among all players, his 9.31 yards per play is No. 2 nationally (New Mexico's Jhurell Pressley), his 342.2 yards per game is No. 5, his 36 passing touchdowns are No. 2 and his 190.2 passer rating is No. 1. Should he exact revenge on Arizona in the Pac-12 title game, the Heisman Trophy will land in Eugene for the first time in history.


Season Stats: 3,470 yds, 68.6%, 36 TDs, 2 INTs, 636 rush yds, 11 TDs


2. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

In a winner-take-all situation against an archrival, Gordon was excellent once again. In fact, in the most critical situations, Gordon was dominant in the final three weeks of the regular season against Nebraska (408 yds, 4 TD), Iowa (200 yds, 2 TD) and Minnesota (151 yds, TD). He is leading the nation in rushing yards (2,260) and rushing touchdowns (26). He needs 368 yards to break Barry Sanders’ single-season rushing record and has two games to do it. In any other year, Gordon would have locked up the Heisman over the last three weeks.


Season Stats: 283 att., 2,260 yds, 26 TDs, 17 rec., 151 yds, 2 TDs


3. Amari Cooper, Alabama

With a trip to the College Football Playoff on the line, Cooper posted the best game of his career. The Crimson Tide wideout was the difference-maker for Alabama against Auburn in the second half, catching 13 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns. He is third nationally with 103 receptions, second with 1,573 yards and second with 14 touchdowns. Should Cooper finish among the top three in Heisman voting, it would be the highest showing by a wide receiver since Larry Fitzgerald was the runner-up in 2003.


Season Stats: 103 rec., 1,573 yds, 14 TDs 

Expert Poll: Week 14 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/its-time-nebraska-cornhuskers-fans-lower-expectations

Nebraska is the best job in the Big Ten West.


But it’s the fourth-best job in the Big Ten.


After seven consecutive seasons with at least nine wins, Nebraska has parted ways with head coach Bo Pelini. The fiery and often abrasive head football coach had plenty of moments that caused fans and administrators to shake their heads. But he also won 67 times in 94 games, including three division titles in two different conferences.


Only Alabama and Oregon join Nebraska with at least nine wins in each of the last seven seasons. But if Wisconsin and Michigan State can win Big Ten titles and Rose Bowls, why can’t the Cornhuskers?


Self-awareness is a highly underrated characteristic and, after firing a coach who won a lot of games, the question becomes does Nebraska know where it’s located in the college football hierarchy?


Nebraska has the biggest and baddest stadium in the division. It has the richest tradition and history of success in the division. And it has more financial resources than any school in the Big Ten West. Competing for and winning division titles is absolutely something Cornhuskers fans should expect nearly every season.


But long gone are the days of three national championships in four years. Nebraska is no longer a top 15 job and may never be a national power again.


The entire landscape of college football has been rapidly evolving for two decades and none of that evolution has helped Nebraska. The facilities arm race once dominated by Nebraska is nothing more than conducting business as architectural limits are being pushed in places like Oregon and Texas A&M. Nebraska was one of the first schools to understand the importance of strength and conditioning and now every major program employs five-star chefs and personal trainers.


Podcast: Who should be Nebraska's next head coach?

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Most importantly, recruiting is a totally different beast as technology has made the world a smaller place and given rise to layers of new programs. Nebraska used to be one of only a handful of programs that was on national television every weekend. Now, Rutgers is on national TV every Saturday. Would Mike Rozier (Camden, N.J.) or Rich Glover (Bayonne, N.J.) go to Nebraska if they were big-time prospects today? Would Florida native Tommie Frazier ever get out of the Southeast?


“The recruiting landscape is much more competitive today,” said Sean Callahan, publisher of “There really wasn’t a perennial West Coast power in the 90s like there is today with USC, UCLA and Oregon.


“Nebraska was a power in the state of Texas as well. Baylor, TCU and the SEC weren’t the recruiting powers in the state of Texas like they are today. Recruiting parity wasn’t a factor like it is today.”


Moving to the Big Ten was a financial and cultural windfall for the Cornhuskers, especially considering how weak the Big 12 appeared to be at the time. But it hasn’t helped recruiting. Population trends indicate that the Big Ten footprint is producing fewer and fewer big-time athletes and getting them to Lincoln is proving to be difficult.


The Johnny Rodgers and Dean Steinkuhlers of the world are no longer growing on in-state trees. According to 247Sports, Michael Decker of Omaha-North is the top prospect in The Cornhusker State in the Class of 2015. He’s ranked the 753rd-best prospect nationally.


“One of the biggest problems Nebraska faces today is getting recruits on unofficial visits,” said longtime recruiting guru Bill King, host on SiriusXM College Sports Nation Ch. 91. "The unofficial visit has become increasingly more important and you can’t get people to come to Lincoln on their own dime. They just don’t want to go.”


Nebraska has the tools and built-in support to compete at a high level in the Big Ten. Pelini wasn’t able to break through with a conference crown, was embarrassed in too many big games, never finished ranked in the top 10, never made it to a BCS bowl and his brutish personality never fit in the Midwest town.


But it may be unrealistic to expect more than nine wins a season from any coach at Nebraska.


“It’s very unlikely that the new hire wins more than Pelini. It probably will be a guy they like more but the end result isn’t likely to be better,” King said.


Said Callahan: “If you know what you are doing and have a plan in the place, you can routinely contend in the Big Ten West."


Both King and Callahan know what Nebraska fans need to accept. The days of competing for national championships are over in Lincoln.


In Tom Osborne’s prime, Nebraska was a one-of-a-kind program that dominated college football with advanced thinking and a fertile recruiting base. Now, the Huskers are just another solid Big Ten team and Osborne is busy trying to decide whether TCU or Baylor belongs in the College Football Playoff.

It's time for Nebraska Cornhuskers fans to lower expectations
Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/podcast-debate-who-should-be-nebraska-cornhuskers-new-head-coach

Bo Pelini is out as the Nebraska head coach. 


Braden Gall, David Fox and Mitch Light debate the Nebraska Cornhuskers head coaching vacancy in an Athlon Sports roundtable.

How good is the Nebraska job? Where does it rank nationally? What are the strengths and weaknesses? Is this still an elite job?


Are expectation levels too high in Lincoln or is it fair to compete for national championships on a regular basis at Nebraska?


Who are the coaches with Nebraska ties and are any of them worthy candidates? Who among them would be interested in the job? Is Craig Bohl qualified?


Who are the top Mid-Major (Group of 5) head coaches who are viable candidates? Is Jim McElwain heading to Florida or in the mix at Nebraska? Are Justin Fuente, Matt Wells or Troy Calhoun good fits? 


Who are the top coordinators: Pat Narduzzi or Scott Frost? Is Frost ready? Would Narduzzi be a home run?


Would any current Power 5 coaches be interested in the job? Would Jerry Kill, David Cutcliffe, Steve Addazio, Mark Richt or Kyle Whittingham have any interest?


And finally, our hosts give their top three dream candidates and predictions for the job. They do not necessarily overlap. Each panelist makes a bold prediction as to who will be the next head football coach at Nebraska.

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

Podcast Debate: Who should be the Nebraska Cornhuskers new head coach?
Post date: Monday, December 1, 2014 - 13:24
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/cover-2-college-football-podcast-week-14-recap-and-analysis


Hosts Braden Gall and David Fox breakdown all of the action from Thanksgiving Weekend. Championship games are set in the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Pac-12. Ohio State is dealing with a huge injury, the ACC wins the rivalry series with the SEC, Nebraska makes a coaching change and the Pac-12 South race ends in dramatic fashion. We debate it all and offer our playoff predictions on this week's edition of the Cover 2 Podcast.

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

Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Week 14 Recap and Analysis
Post date: Monday, December 1, 2014 - 12:16
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-2014-week-14-picks

Happy Thanksgiving, college football fans. It's the best day and weekend of the sports calendar. According to me, at least.


It's also one of the toughest weeks to predict as historic rivalries dominate the landscape. Strange things happen in rivalry games, so none of my top picks are from traditional Power 5 Thanksgiving matchups.


Enjoy the holiday, be thankful and please don't burn your house down.


Last Week: 4-3

Year-to-Date: 48-48-1


Stanford (+4.5) at UCLA

Jim Mora is out for revenge and has three championships (division, conference, national) hanging in the balance against the Cardinal. Brett Hundley has been excellent in November, but it's the Bruins defense that should control the game against the below-average Stanford offense. Prediction: UCLA -4.5


Utah (-9) at Colorado

The Utes have been one of the best plays all season long, going 8-3 against the number. And of importance for this week's game: Utah is 5-0 against the number on the road. Colorado is overmatched here and may be without their starting QB. Prediction: Utah -9


Colorado St (-7) at Air Force

The Falcons are a solid team and could find some space to run but more is hanging in the balance for the Rams. Jim McElwain's group won't know where they stand in the Mountain West race until Saturday, so they have to take care of business on Friday. The Rams have been one of the best plays all year (8-3 ATS) and are even better on the road (4-1 ATS). Prediction: Colorado St -7


UL-Monroe (+14) at Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern is one of the better stories in college football this fall. The Eagles are unbeaten in the Sun Belt and are poised to win the league (if allowed). This team is also excellent against the spread, going 8-3 for the season and a tidy 4-0 ATS at home. Willie Fritz's club has had two weeks to prepare. Prediction: Georgia Southern -14


Syracuse (+11) at Boston College

The Eagles are playing well and Cuse is playing exactly the opposite of that. The Orange can't score right now, recording only 40 points in its last four games. Boston College is 7-4 against the spread and Cuse is 4-7 for the season. Take the Eagles to win big. Prediction: Boston College -11

Listen to the Rivalry Week predictions podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Top 25 Picks ATS:


Top 25Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Auburn (+9.5) at Alabama
Oregon (-20) at Oregon St
Florida (+7.5) at Florida St
Mississippi St (-2) at Ole Miss
Michigan (+21) at Ohio St
Baylor (-24.5) vs. Texas Tech
Stanford (+4.5) at UCLA
Georgia Tech (+12.5) at Georgia
Michigan St (-13) at Penn St
Kansas (+28) at Kansas St
Arizona St (NL) at Arizona
Minnesota (-9) at Wisconsin
Utah (-9) at Colorado
Notre Dame (+7) at USC
Arkansas (+2) at Missouri
South Carolina (+4.5) at Clemson
Nebraska (+1) at Iowa
Kentucky (+13) at Louisville
Last Week:8-85-1110-66-10
Betting Against the Spread: College Football 2014 Week 14 Picks
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-14-preview-and-predictions

The Eyes of Texas will be focused squarely on Austin Thanksgiving night. So, too, will the eyes of the nation.


TCU’s last big test of the season will take place Thursday night against the surging Longhorns and fans in Texas, the Big 12 and in places like Columbus and Starkville will be focused on The 40 Acres.


Fans can bet the Playoff Committee will be paying attention as well.


Elsewhere, Baylor and Kansas State should hold serve in preparation for their season-ending meeting next weekend.

Week 14 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


Week 14 Big 12 Game Power Rankings


1. TCU (-7.5) at Texas
Thur., 7:30 p.m., FS1

This is as dangerous a game as any national championship contender will have over the last two weeks of the season. Texas is one of the hottest teams in the nation, has one of the best defenses in the nation, is the most powerful program in the league and is a home underdog on Thanksgiving night. So the Horned Frogs will have to stop more than just a developing quarterback and surging running game on offense or even the top pass-rushing defense in the Big 12. A win would give Charlie Strong a four-game winning streak to end the year and a winning overall record — all after a 2-4 start. Trevone Boykin will have to play his best game of the year to get the win and keep pace with Baylor. Because if TCU plays like it did in its last two road trips to Morgantown or, worse, Lawrence, the Frogs could leave Austin with a loss they can't afford.


Listen to the Rivalry Week predictions podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


2. Baylor (-24.5) vs. Texas Tech
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2, Arlington

By Saturday afternoon, Art Briles will know exactly what is at stake against Texas Tech. Baylor (and KSU) will be watching intently on Turkey Day evening, knowing a win by Texas gives the Bears a shot at the College Football Playoff and an outright league championship. Either way, Bryce Petty should have no issues moving up and down the field against Texas Tech. Last year, this game featured 97 points and 1,129 yards of total offense — 63 and 657 of which came from Baylor. Kliff Kingsbury finally got into the win column last weekend against Iowa State but nothing about this matchup indicates the Red Raiders have a chance to pull the upset.


3. West Virginia at Iowa St
Noon, FS1

This is likely Paul Rhoads' last shot at a Big 12 win with a road trip to TCU looming in the season finale. Iowa State has had plenty of close calls, however, losing to Kansas State, Texas and Texas Tech by a total of 10 points. The Mountaineers aren’t playing much better, losing three straight with a surprising lack of offense — with their three least efficient yards per play showings of the season (4.46, 4.98, 5.09). Much of that is due to level of competition and Clint Trickett’s third concussion in two seasons. Skyler Howard would get the nod under center should Dana Holgorsen do the right thing and protect his starting quarterback. The undersized sophomore has attempted 25 career passes for WVU.


4. Kansas (+28) at Kansas St
4 p.m., FS1

Win and advance is all that matters for Kansas State. That, and, spend Thanksgiving rooting hard for Charlie Strong. If TCU loses to Texas, Bill Snyder’s bunch is right back in the mix for an outright Big 12 championship. The Jayhawks were destroyed by Oklahoma's Samaje Perine last weekend and there is no reason to think the Sunflower State rivalry will turn out differently.


Off: Oklahoma, Oklahoma St


Big 12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
TCU (-7.5) at TexasTexas, 24-23TCU, 28-20TCU, 28-14TCU, 27-24
BU (-24.5) at TTBU, 45-17BU, 47-13BU, 42-24BU, 48-24
WVU at ISUWVU, 34-31WVU, 33-13WVU, 35-17WVU, 34-27
KU (+28) at KSUKSU, 50-10KSU, 41-10KSU, 44-17KSU, 40-13
Last Week:3-12-24-04-0


Big 12 2014 Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-14-preview-and-predictions

It’s pretty simple for Pac-12 fans.


Oregon has clinched the North Division title regardless of what happens in The Civil War but need to win twice to lock up a spot in the first College Football Playoff.


Down South, UCLA is in control. Beat Stanford and Jim Mora’s bunch gets a rematch with the Ducks. A Bruins loss, however, makes this Territorial Cup arguably the most anticipated meeting in the desert in the history of the rivalry.

Week 14 Previews and Predictions:
| Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC


Pac-12 Week 14 Game Power Rankings


1. Arizona St at Arizona
Fri., 3:30 p.m., FOX

Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez know each other extremely well as they enter what could amount to the most important Territorial Cup in history. This, of course, hinges on Stanford upsetting UCLA (see below), but even if this ends up just a battle for second place, it will be heated. It’s a great rivalry that is made better by the history between the two head coaches (Graham coached under RichRod at WVU and is 2-0 against his former boss) and the gravity of the situation. Both teams are eyeing a 10-win season and both will need their quarterback to overcome adversity to get there. Taylor Kelly hasn’t been particularly sharp since returning from injury, but was brilliant bringing his team back from a two-touchdown deficit against Washington State last weekend. Anu Solomon has been brilliant all season but is dealing with a foot issue that, if he is able to play, would likely limit one of his key assets – his mobility. With the Sun Devils' ability to attack the quarterback and create turnovers, Solomon — or backup Jesse Scroggins — will have to distribute the football quickly and accurately to beat their in-state rivals.


2. Stanford (+4.5) at UCLA
Fri., 3:30 p.m., ABC

Jim Mora has had issues with Stanford, losing all three meetings to David Shaw. But this is the best UCLA team he’s had since getting to Westwood, while Shaw brings with him to Pasadena the worst Stanford team of his head-coaching tenure. Brett Hundley is playing the best ball of his career, either topping 300 yards passing or 100 yards rushing in five consecutive games and throwing just one interception over his last four games. Stanford scored 38 in a win over Cal last weekend but don’t be fooled, the Cardinal still have major offensive issues. Holding USC (276) and Arizona (255) to season lows in total offense over the last three games is no easy feat, so UCLA should have a major advantage when its defense is on the field. With a Pac-12 title hanging in the balance, the Bruins might be the only team that can beat the Bruins this weekend.


Listen to the Rivalry Week predictions podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


3. Notre Dame (+7.5) at USC
3:30 p.m., FOX

Any momentum USC built up with wins on the road over Utah and Washington State came to a screeching halt against UCLA last weekend. The Irish have been at a dead stop for what feels like a month, losing three straight and four out of five. Both defenses have shown elite talent among the starters, but their lack of depth has been exposed in November. This historic and normally important rivalry game is surprisingly lacking in national relevance but viewers should still tune in to watch the quarterback play. Cody Kessler is wildly underrated and has been excellent all year while no one knows what to expect from Everett Golson on any given snap. This feels like it could be a wild and memorable showdown despite the game meaning very little to the college football landscape.


4. Oregon (-20) at Oregon St
8 p.m., ABC

The Civil War has come a long ways since 0-0 but likely won’t be as exciting as the one-point thriller from last season. Marcus Mariota and the Ducks have clinched a spot in the Pac-12 title game but are still playing for a national title and a Heisman Trophy. Oregon's offense is clicking right now, rushing for between 264 and 269 yards in four straight games while scoring no fewer than 44 points during this span. The Beavers need to pull the upset to get bowl eligible and are at home, but too much is at stake for the Ducks to overlook their archrival.


5. BYU (+4.5) at Cal
4:30 p.m., P12 Net

Sonny Dykes has done an excellent job this season in Berkeley but Cal missed a great shot at home against an archrival to get bowl eligible. Finishing the season with three Pac-12 wins was a solid step in the right direction but the Bears would likely be disappointed if they lost three straight chances to get to the postseason for the first time since 2011. A win over BYU would change the entire complexion of the offseason.


6. Washington (-3.5) at Washington St
10:30 p.m., FS1

The Apple Cup is a fantastic rivalry and has given fans some memorable moments over the past few seasons. While Mike Leach enters his third such meeting, Chris Petersen is enjoying his debut in the important Evergreen showdown. Leach catapulted his team into a bowl game in 2013 on the strength of a wild comeback victory in '12 while the 10-point win by Washington last year was Steve Sarkisian’s final game in Seattle. Petersen has his team playing better with excellent balance on offense — UW has been over 200 yards rushing and passing in three out of its past four games and its 8.2 yards per play last week was a season high by a large margin. Leach’s team, despite the loss to ASU, did play better last weekend, posting 622 yards on 100 offensive snaps. Anything can happen when these two get together.


7. Utah (+9) at Colorado
1 p.m., P12 Net

The Buffaloes are winless in the Pac-12 and will have to play arguably the best game of their season to beat the Utes in Boulder. Sefo Liufau didn’t start against Oregon but came on at the beginning of the second half once the game was out of hand. Jordan Gehrke is Mike MacIntyre’s backup option (he was 9-of-18 for 64 yards). Utah has lost three out of four and is trying to erase the memory of what was its worst showing of the season against Arizona last week. The 520 yards and 7.54 yards per play allowed against the Wildcats were the most the Utes had given up this season while the 42 points were the second most.


Pac-12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
ASU at ZonaASU, 34-30AZ, 28-23AZ, 38-28ASU, 34-30
Stan (+4.5) at UCLAUCLA, 31-13UCLA, 26-20UCLA, 27-17UCLA, 27-20
N. Dame (+7.5) at USCUSC, 40-20USC, 35-21USC, 24-21USC, 38-27
UO (-20) at OSUUO, 45-24UO, 41-21UO, 44-33UO, 45-24
BYU (+4.5) at CalCal, 33-31Cal, 34-20Cal, 28-20Cal, 38-34
UW (-3.5) at WSUUW, 30-28UW, 41-29UW, 35-19UW, 34-31
Utah (+9) ColoUtah, 31-17Utah, 33-21Utah, 27-13Utah, 34-20
Last Week:4-23-33-36-0


Pac-12 2014 Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-2014-week-14-predictions


Hosts Braden Gall and Steven Lassan preview another historic week of Thanksgiving football. The Big Ten West, SEC West and East and Pac-12 South division championships hang in the balance. We also offer up some locks of the week against the spread and breakdown Turkey Day menus and traditions.

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

Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 14 Predictions
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 17:54