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Selection Sunday is about six weeks away, but the picture for who’s in and who’s out of the NCAA Tournament is starting to take shape.

In general, most of the 68 spots are fairly certain. Of the 32 conferences, we’ve tabbed 20 as being one-bid leagues, determined solely by conference tournaments. On the other end of the spectrum, at least 30 teams are safely in the field barring a total collapse between now and March 17.

That leaves the bubble, where every win and loss is magnified and every result from November and December takes on a renewed significance.

Here’s our look at the NCAA Tournament field for 2013. This is not intended to be a prediction, per se, but a snapshot at how the field may look right now.

We looked at RPI, strength of schedule, good wins and bad losses in our projections. You will also see references to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The selection committee does not use them as a reference, but we include them as an added resource.

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET PROJECTIONS: FEB. 6

TOP FOUR SEEDS
Indiana 
Michigan
Duke
Miami

ACC (4)
In: Duke, Miami, North Carolina, NC State
Worth a mention: Florida State, Maryland, Virginia
Bubble notes: Maryland remains on the outside looking in. The Terps' RPI is 66, and their only good win is vs. NC State at home. Virginia had a four-game winning streak snapped at Georgia Tech last weekend. That was a troubling loss — the Cavs' sixth to team ranked 100th or worse in the RPI. North Carolina has only one top-50 RPI win, vs. UNLV at home. Florida State already has nine losses and only has one top-50 win (BYU).

Atlantic 10 (5)
In: Butler, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU
Worth a mention: UMass, Xavier
Bubble notes: Saint Louis is new to the field this week. The Billikens crushed Butler last Thursday and followed up with a convincing win over Dayton. SLU's RPI is 57 and it has two top-50 wins. The loss at home to Rhode Island is the biggest blemish on the resume. La Salle bounced back from a loss at home to UMass on Thursday by winning at George Washington over the weekend. The Explorers have a strong RPI (27) and two top-50 wins. Barring a late-season slide, Temple should remain in the field thanks in large part to its win over Syracuse at MSG. The Owls have a couple of bad home losses — vs. Canisius in December and St. Bonaventure last week. UMass is in the discussion because of a realtively solid RPI (52) and that road win over La Salle last week. The Minutemen have a lot of work ahead of them.

Related: Key games with postseason implications to watch this week

Big 12 (5)
In: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: Baylor remained in the field this week despite losing three straight — vs. OU, at Iowa State and at Oklahoma State in a heartbreaker Wednesday night. The Bears have some solid wins (at Kentucky, vs. Oklahoma State), and their RPI is a respectable 49. Iowa State padded its resume with wins over Baylor and Oklahoma to improve to 6–3 in the Big 12. The Cyclones' RPI is 36. With a win at Kansas in its back pocket, Oklahoma State should have nothing to worry about down the stretch — barring an implosion.

Related: This week's college basketball power rankings

Big East (7)
In: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Worth a mention: St. John’s, Villanova
Bubble notes: Villanova followed up its two wins at home vs. top-10 RPI foes (Louisville and Syracuse) by losing at Notre Dame and at home vs. Providence. The Wildcats (RPI 65) bounced back with a win at DePaul, but their resume has too many stains at this point. St. John’s beat UConn Wednesday night to improve to 7–4 in the league. The Red Storm (RPI 55) have one really good win (at Cincinnati) and several bad losses (at San Francisco and at home vs. UNC Asheville. Pittsburgh put itself in great position by beating Syracuse on Saturday (and not losing to Seton Hall on Monday).

Related: NCAA Tournament Report Card: Villanova

Big Ten (7)
In: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Worth a mention: Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue
Bubble notes: Iowa is good enough to play in the NCAA Touranment, but the Hawkeyes lack an NCAA Tournament resume. They dropped to 3–7 in the Big Ten with a loss on Wednesday at Wisconsin. They do have a home win vs. the Badgers, but their other two wins in the league came against Northwestern (on the road) and Penn State. Illinois is still in the field despite a 2–7 record in the league — but the Fighting Illini are on the thin ice. They have three top-20 RPI wins, including two away from home (Butler on a neutral court, at Gonzaga). Illinois hosts Indiana this weekend and then visits Minnesota. Winning one of those two would really help. Northwestern has a bad RPI (85) and a lot of losses (10), but the Wildcats are hanging around. Baylor's struggles have weakened Northwestern's resume (the Cats won in Waco). Purdue is 5–5 in the league with an RPI of 119 and only one top-80 win.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 21-27

Conference USA (1)
In: Memphis
Worth a mention: Southern Miss
Bubble notes: Southern Miss lost at UCF on Wednesday night, the Golden Eagles' first defeat in league play. It was enough to knock them out of the field. They are 16–4 against Division I opponents but have no wins against top-100 RPI teams. That is just tough to overlook. USM hosts Memphis this weekend. Memphis is 19–3 but lacks quality wins — but also has no bad losses.

Missouri Valley (3)
In: Creighton, Indiana State, Wichita State
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: The Valley is a mess. Indiana State sandwiched huge wins over Wichita State (on the road) and Creighton (at home) around a loss at Drake (RPI 147). The Sycamores have eight losses, including four to teams ranked 130 or worse in the RPI, but they also have four top-50 RPI wins. Their profile is very interesting. Wichita State has lost three straight games but still has a solid RPI (38) and three top-60 wins. The Shockers, however, must start playing better ball.

Mountain West (4)

In: Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Worth a mention: Boise State, Wyoming
Bubble notes: Boise State is out this week after losing three of its last four — including by one point at San Diego State on Wednesday night— to drop to 3–5 in the league. The Broncos' RPI is 53 and they have two top-40 RPI wins (at Creighton, 34; vs. UNLV, 20). A very weak non-conference schedule has hurt their profile. Wyoming has lost four straight in the league and its RPI is down to 63. The Cowboys also don't have a top-125 RPI win away from home. UNLV has been a disappointment, but the Rebels aren't in any danger of missing the field — yet.

Pac-12 (5)
In: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
Worth a mention: Washington
Bubble notes: Colorado is 4–5 in the league and lost at Utah over the weekend, but the Buffaloes still have a strong RPI (26) and five wins vs. top 70 RPI teams. They probably can't afford get swept this weekend by Oregon and Oregon State. Arizona State has been one of the nation’s biggest surprises. The Sun Devils are 6–3 in the Pac-12 and only have one bad loss, vs. DePaul at home. They might need to sweep Cal and Stanford at home to remain in the field next week. Washington is barely in the discussion. The Huskies are 5–4 in the league with an RPI of 69. They have lost four of five and play at UCLA on Thursday night.

SEC (4)
In: Florida, Kentucky Ole Miss, Missouri
Worth a mention: Alabama, Arkansas
Bubble notes: Kentucky is playing very well of late. The Wildcats have won four straight to improve to 7–2 in the SEC. The RPI is solid (43), but they are lacking in qaulity wins. UK still has two games with Florida, a home date with Missouri and a visit to emerging Arkansas on the slate. Alabama's resume took a huge hit Wednesday night with a loss at Auburn. The Crimson Tide also have three damaging losses at home — to Dayton (RPI 103), Tulane (166) and Mercer (173). Also, they have only one top-60 win, vs. Kentucky (46). Arkansas's RPI is up to 77 after Tuesday's big win over Florida. The Hogs have the talent to get on a roll in the month of the season, but they can't afford any bad losses to remain in the picture.

West Coast (2)
In: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's
Worth a mention: BYU
Bubble notes: Saint Mary’s has decent computer numbers (60 RPI, 24 KenPom), but only one win vs. a top-90 RPI team (at BYU). The Gaels also have lost two games, on a neutral court, to teams ranked lower than 100th. They are in the field this week — barely. BYU only has two top-100 wins, both against Santa Clara (RPI 84).

One-bid conference projections

Conference Projected winner Conference Projected winner
America East Stony Brook MEAC Norfolk State
Atlantic Sun Florida Gulf Coast Northeast Bryant
Big Sky Montana Ohio Valley Belmont
Big South Charleston Southern Patriot Bucknell
Big West Long Beach State Southern Davidson
Colonial Northeastern Southland Stephen F. Austin
Horizon Valparaiso Summit South Dakota State
Ivy Harvard Sun Belt Middle Tennessee
MAAC Niagara SWAC Southern
MAC Akron WAC Louisiana Tech



 

Teaser:
<p> With Selection Sunday less than two months away, Athlon Sports projects the field for the NCAA Tournament, conference by conference</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-indiana-returns-top-spot
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Another week, another No. 1 in the Athlon Sports college basketball power rankings.

For the third week in a row, we have a new team in the top spot following Duke two weeks ago, then Michigan. We return to an old friend at No. 1 in Indiana, who defeated the Wolverines 81-73 on Saturday.

Illustrating how closely matched the two Big Ten giants seem to be, Michigan dropped just one spot to No. 2 this week. In the marquee game of the week, the Wolverines fell behind by a wide margin early in Bloomington, but battled back to tie the Hoosiers in the second half before Michigan’s eventual loss.

Indiana may have been the No. 1 team regardless of other movement around the country, but Kansas’ stunning home loss to Oklahoma State made the decision an easy one.

Meanwhile, the Sunshine State is enjoying unparalleled success with both Florida and Miami in our top five this week. The Gators keep steamrolling through the SEC with their 14-point win over Ole Miss qualifying as a squeaker for Billy Donovan these days.

But the bigger story is in Miami, where Jim Larranaga continues to prove his credentials as a miracle worker. The Hurricanes used a late 8-2 run and a Reggie Johnson tip-in against NC State to remain undefeated in the ACC and two games ahead of Duke for the conference lead.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 28-Feb. 3

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: FEB. 5

1. Indiana (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated Purdue 97-60, defeated Michigan 81-73
This week: at Illinois, at Ohio State
Buzz: Indiana’s starters hit 23-of-38 from field vs. Michigan.

2. Michigan (20-2, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Defeated Northwestern 68-46, lost to Indiana 81-73
This week: Ohio State, at Wisconsin
Buzz: Trey Burke needed 24 shots to score 25 points vs Indiana.

3. Florida (18-2, 8-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated South Carolina 75-36, defeated Ole Miss 78-64
This week: at Arkansas, Mississippi State
Buzz: The Gators are shooting 51.4 percent from the floor in SEC games.

4. Kansas (19-2, 7-1 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Lost to Oklahoma State 85-80
This week: at TCU, at Oklahoma
Buzz: Oklahoma State ended Jayhawks’ 33-game home winning streak.

5. Miami (17-3, 8-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Virginia Tech 73-64, defeated NC State 79-78
This week: Boston College, North Carolina
Buzz: First-place Hurricanes are 5-0 on the road in the ACC.

6. Duke (19-2, 6-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Defeated Wake Forest 75-70, defeated Florida State 79-60
This week: NC State, at Boston College
Buzz: The Blue Devils struggling from line in ACC games (61.9 percent).

7. Syracuse (19-3, 7-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Lost to Pittsburgh 65-55, defeated Notre Dame 63-47
This week: St. John's
Buzz: Orange only had three points from bench in loss to Pitt and seven in win over Notre Dame.

8. Gonzaga (21-2, 8-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Loyola Marymount 88-43, defeated San Diego 65-63
This week: Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount
Buzz: Zags play five of final eight games at home.

9. Arizona (19-2, 7-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Washington 57-53, defeated Washington State 79-65
This week: Stanford, Cal
Buzz: Wildcats back in race after sweep of Washington schools on the road.

10. Louisville (18-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Marquette 70-51
This week: at Rutgers, at Notre Dame
Buzz: Despite recent struggles, Cardinals only one game back in the loss column in Big East.

11. Michigan State (14-3, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Defeated Illinois 80-75
This week: Minnesota, at Purdue
Buzz: Michigan State has three players averaging more than six boards.

12. Ohio State (17-4, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Defeated Wisconsin 58-49, defeated Nebraska 63-56
This week: at Michigan, Indiana
Buzz: The Buckeyes are hanging around in Big Ten title chase. Will they still be after this week?

13. Kansas State (17-4, 6-2 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas 83-57, defeated Oklahoma 52-50
This week: at Texas Tech, Iowa State
Buzz: The Wildcats’ padded NCAA Tournament resume with win at Oklahoma.

14. New Mexico (19-3, 6-1 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated Wyoming 63-59, defeated Nevada 75-62
This week: Air Force, at UNLV
Buzz: The Lobos are emerging as the team to beat in deep MWC.

15. Cincinnati (18-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Rutgers 62-54, Seton Hall 65-59
This week: at Providence, Pittsburgh
Buzz: The Bearcats' four losses have come by a total of 10 points.

16. Butler (18-4, 5-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Lost to Saint Louis 75-58, defeated Rhode Island 75-68
This week: St. Bonaventure, at George Washington
Buzz: The Road in the A-10 has not been kind to Butler with losses to La Salle and Saint Louis.

17. Minnesota (17-5, 5-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Nebraska 84-65, defeated Iowa 62-59
This week: at Michigan State, Illinois
Buzz: Hollins and Hollins pulled Gophers out of a four-game losing streak.

18. Pittsburgh (19-5, 7-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Syracuse 65-55, defeated Seton Hall 56-46
This week: at Cincinnati
Buzz: Pitt has won seven of eight, with only loss by 3 at Louisville.

19. Georgetown (16-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Seton Hall 74-52, defeated St. John's 68-56
This week: at Rutgers
Buzz: Hoyas' opponents are shooting only 41.2 percent from two.

20. Marquette (15-5, 6-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Lost to Louisville 70-51
This week: at Wyoming, Nevada
Buzz: Eagles have already played three overtime games in Big East.

21. Oregon (18-4, 7-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Lost to Stanford 76-52, lost to Cal 58-54
This week: Colorado, Utah
Buzz: Ducks fall down to Earth with Bay Area-sweep

22. Oklahoma State (15-5, 5-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Iowa State 78-76, defeated Kansas 85-80
This week: Baylor, at Texas
Buzz: Cowboys were 0-3 on the road in the Big 12 before rare win in Lawrence.

23. Wisconsin (15-7, 6-3 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 23
Last week’s results: Lost to Ohio State 58-49, defeated Illinois 74-68
This week: Iowa, Michigan
Buzz: Wisconsin shot 42 free throws in win at Illinois after shooting none in a loss at Ohio State.

24. Creighton (20-3, 9-2 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Missouri State 91-77, defeated Bradley 75-58
This week: at Indiana State, Illinois State
Buzz: Bluejays back on track after two-game slide.

25. Colorado State (18-4, 5-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Boise State 77-57, defeated Wyoming 65-46
This week: at Nevada
Buzz: The Rams have won their last three MWC games comfortably in time for stretch against San Diego State, Air Force, UNLV and New Mexico next week.

Out: No. 15 NC State, No. 16 Wichita State, No. 17 Ole Miss, No. 24 Missouri, No. 25 San Diego State

Teaser:
<p> The Hoosiers back at No. 1 after Michigan win, but Miami is in rare territory in the top five.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-michigan-takes-top-spot
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Miami’s 90-63 drubbing of Duke last week shuffled the power rankings in more ways than one.

First, the Blue Devils’ loss means Athlon will have a new No. 1 this week. Our nod goes to Michigan, who is having its best season since Chris Webber and Jalen Rose were on campus. The Wolverines and John Beilein have a chance to either solidify their credentials for the No. 1 spot or open the door for another team when they visit Indiana on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Miami enjoyed the biggest boost in our rankings this week, moving from No. 21 to No. 10 after defeating Duke and Florida State by a combined 52 points last week. Keep in mind, the Hurricanes scored only 51 points in the second game of the season, a loss to Florida Gulf Coast. Miami’s staying power will be tested this week on the road against the nation’s leading scorer in Virginia Tech’s Erick Green and then against erratic NC State.

The biggest drop in this week’s power rankings came from Minnesota, which fell 10 spots to No. 19. The Gophers started 15-1, but they’ve lost four in a for in Big Ten play.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 21-27

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: JAN. 29

1. Michigan (19-1, 6-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Defeated Purdue 68-53, defeated Illinois 74-60
This week: at Indiana
Buzz: The Wolverines top the Associated Press top 25 for first time since Fab Five days.

2. Kansas (19-1, 7-0 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated Kansas State 59-55, defeated Oklahoma 67-54, defeated West Virginia 61-56
This week: Oklahoma State
Buzz: Kansas is riding an 18-game win streak.

3. Indiana (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated Penn State 72-49, defeated Michigan State 75-70
This week: at Purdue, Michigan
Buzz: Home date with Michigan on Saturday is Hoosiers only game at Assembly Hall in four games.

4. Syracuse (18-2, 6-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Lost to Villanova 75-71 (OT)
This week: at Pittsburgh
Buzz: Point guard Michael Carter-Williams has 16 turnovers in his last three games.

5. Duke (17-2, 4-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Lost to Miami 90-63, defeated Maryland 84-64
This week: at Wake Forest, at Florida State
Buzz: Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of slump to score 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field against Maryland.

6. Florida (16-2, 6-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Georgia 64-47, defeated Mississippi State 82-47
This week: South Carolina, Ole Miss
Buzz: The Gators are eyeing a perfect 18–0 record in the SEC.

7. Gonzaga (19-2, 6-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated BYU 83-63, defeated San Francisco 66-52
This week: at Loyola Marymount, at San Diego
Buzz: Zags next four opponents are from the bottom half of the WCC before a Feb. 14 trip to Saint Mary’s.

8. Arizona (17-2, 5-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Lost to UCLA 84-73, defeated USC 74-50
This week: at Washington, at Washington State
Buzz: Arizona allowed a season-high 84 points in loss to UCLA last week.

9. Louisville (17-4, 5-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Lost to Villanova 73-64, lost to Georgetown 53-51, beat Pittsburgh 64-61
This week: Marquette
Buzz: Louisville broke out of its three-game losing streak with win over Pittsburgh, but Peyton Siva remains in a slump (7 of 31 from the field in the last four games, four free throw attempts in the last six).

10. Miami (15-3, 6-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Duke 90-63, defeated Florida State 71-47
This week: at Virginia Tech, at NC State
Buzz: Veteran Hurricanes are in control of the ACC race. In basketball.

11. Butler (17-3, 4-1 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Lost to La Salle 54-53, defeated Temple 83-71
This week: at Saint Louis, Rhode Island
Buzz: Rotnei Clarke’s return against Temple makes Butler team to beat in A-10.

12. Michigan State (17-4, 6-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Defeated Wisconsin 49-47, lost to Indiana 75-70
This week: Illinois
Buzz: Adreian Payne is emerging as intriguing veteran forward and NBA draft prospect.

13. Ohio State (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Defeated Iowa 72-63, defeated Penn State 65-51
This week: Wisconsin, at Nebraska
Buzz: Deshaun Thomas is averaging 15.5 shots per game, most in the Big Ten and 16th-most nationally.

14. Oregon (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 16
Last week’s results: Defeated Washington State 68-61, defeated Washington 81-76
This week: at Stanford, at Cal
Buzz: Freshman point Dominic Artis is out with a foot injury.

15. NC State (16-4, 5-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Lost to Wake Forest 86-84, defeated North Carolina 91-83
This week: at Virginia, Miami
Buzz: Crazy week for the Wolfpack: Lose at Wake, crush North Carolina.

16. Wichita State (19-2, 8-1 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Missouri State 62-52, defeated Bradley 73-39
This week: Indiana State, at Northern Iowa
Buzz: The Shockers are all alone in first in the Valley.

17. Ole Miss (17-2, 6-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated Tennessee 62-56, defeated Auburn 63-61
This week: Kentucky, at Florida
Buzz: Marshall Henderson (19.2 ppg) is the most hated man in SEC.

18. Kansas State (15-4, 4-2 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Lost to Kansas 59-55, lost to Iowa State 73-67
This week: Texas, at Oklahoma
Buzz: Wildcats dealing with first back-to-back losses under Bruce Weber.

19. Minnesota (15-5, 3-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Lost to Northwestern 55-48, lost to Wisconsin 45-44
This week: Nebraska, Iowa
Buzz: The Gophers have lost four in a row, all by eight points or fewer.

20. New Mexico (17-3, 4-1 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Colorado State 66-61, lost to San Diego State 55-34
This week: at Wyoming, Nevada
Buzz: The Lobos went 11 of 44 from the field and 3 of 15 from three-point range in loss at San Diego State.

21. Cincinnati (16-4, 4-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 23
Last week’s results: None
This week: Rutgers, at Seton Hall
Buzz: Bearcats back in action Wednesday after an eight-day break since loss to Syracuse.

22. Marquette (15-4, 6-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 24
Last week’s results: Defeated Providence 81-71, defeated USF 63-50
This week: at Louisville
Buzz: Marquette used a career-high 30 points from Vander Blue to defeat USF on Monday and move into a tie for first place in the Big East.

23. Wisconsin (14-6, 5-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 25
Last week’s results: Lost to Michigan State 49-47, defeated Minnesota 45-44
This week: at Ohio State, at Illinois
Buzz: Badgers averaged 46 points and split the week.

24. Missouri (15-4, 4-2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated South Carolina 71-65, defeated Vanderbilt 81-59
This week: at LSU, Auburn
Buzz: Tigers should be back at full strength very soon with return of forward Laurence Bowers.

25. San Diego State (16-4, 4-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Nevada 78-57, defeated New Mexico 55-34
This week: at Air Force
Buzz: The Aztecs continue to get it done on defense.

Out: No. 17 VCU, No. 20 Creighton

Teaser:
<p> Michigan is Athlon Sports' new No. 1 team in the power rankings with a key game against Indiana on the horizon. Miami moves into top 10.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-bracket-projections-jan-24
Body:

Selection Sunday is less than two months away, but the picture for who’s in and who’s out of the NCAA Tournament is starting to take shape.

In general, most of the 68 spots are fairly certain. Of the 32 conferences, we’ve tabbed 21 as being one-bid leagues, determined solely by conference tournaments. On the other end of the spectrum, at least 30 teams are safely in the field barring a total collapse between now and March 17.

That leaves the bubble, where every win and loss is magnified and every result from November and December takes on a renewed significance.

Here’s our look at the NCAA Tournament field for 2013. This is not intended to be a prediction, per se, but a snapshot at how the field may look right now.

We looked at RPI, strength of schedule, good wins and bad losses in our projections. You will also see references to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The selection committee does not use them as a reference, but we include them as an added resource.

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET PROJECTIONS: JAN. 24

TOP FOUR SEEDS
Michigan
Syracuse
Kansas
Duke

ACC (5)
In: Duke, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State
Worth a mention: Florida State, Virginia
Bubble notes: Maryland was the last team in the field this week. The Terps have four losses, two on the road vs. NCAA teams (Miami and North Carolina), one on a neutral court (vs. Kentucky) and one at home (Florida State). Their only good win is vs. NC State, at home. North Carolina has a couple of losses that could come back to haunt it, at Texas and at Virginia. That late-December win at home vs. UNLV is the Heels’ only top-60 RPI win. Virginia has some good wins (at Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida State), but some troubling losses (Delaware, Old Dominion). Plus, the Cavs’ RPI is 131 (with a KenPom rating of 37). Florida State already has seven losses and only has one top-50 win (BYU).

Atlantic 10 (3)
In: Butler, Temple, VCU
Worth a mention: Charlotte, La Salle, Saint Louis, UMass, Xavier
Bubble notes: Barring a late-season slide, Temple should remain in the field thanks in large part to its win over Syracuse at MSG. The Owls have a couple of bad home losses — vs. Canisius in December and St. Bonaventure last week. La Salle has a solid RPI of 32 and picked up a big win on Wednesday night against short-handed Butler, but the Explorers resume still falls short. Xavier has wins over Butler and Temple, plus a 4–1 mark in the A-10, but the Musketeers lost to Pacific on a neutral court, Vanderbilt and Wofford at home and at Wake Forest. Saint Louis has wins over Texas A&M and New Mexico, but the Billikens have five losses and an RPI of 73.

Related: Key games with postseason implications to watch this week

Big 12 (6)
In: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: Baylor has a few puzzling losses (College of Charleston and Northwestern at home), but the Bears have solid computer numbers (RPI 38, KenPom 31). That win at Kentucky isn’t quite as impressive as we thought, but Baylor did beat a good Lehigh team before C.J. McCollum’s season-ending injury. Iowa State was good enough to take Kansas to the wire in Lawrence a few weeks ago but bad enough to lose at Texas Tech on Wednesday night. But he did, and the Cyclones lost in overtime. Oklahoma State isn’t in much danger, but the Cowboys only have one top-70 RPI win, vs. NC State on a neutral court. Four of their five losses have come against top-40 teams, including three on the road.

Related: This week's college basketball power rankings

Big East (7)
In: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Worth a mention: Rutgers, St. John’s, Villanova
Bubble notes: Rutgers is in the discussion due to a decent RPI of 56. But the Scarlet Knights are 101 in KenPom and don’t have any top-50 RPI wins. Beating Pittsburgh at home and winning at St. John’s is nice, but losing at home to St. Peter’s (RPI 271) is not nice. St. John’s won at Cincinnati and Rutgers, but has losses at San Francisco and at home vs. UNC Asheville. Villanova is playing its way into the discussion (a win over Louisville will look very good if this team is on the bubble), but the Wildcats had a lot of catching up to do. Pittsburgh feasted on a soft non-conference schedule, then got off to a rough start in the Big East, but has seemingly righted the ship. The Panthers have no bad losses and a nice win at Georgetown (and a potentially nice win at Villanova on the resume). Notre Dame is trending in the wrong direction but still has more than enough on its resume.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 13-20

Big Ten (8)
In: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Worth a mention: Northwestern, Purdue
Bubble notes: Iowa might be a surprise to some. The Hawkeyes have a bad RPI (65) but are rated No. 33 by KenPom. Five of their six wins have come against teams with an RPI of 22 or better, and the sixth was at Virginia Tech in November when the Hokies were playing very well. They have wins over two NCAA teams, Iowa State and Wisconsin, and also beat Northern Iowa and Northwestern (on the road). Illinois had lost three straight before winning at Nebraska Tuesday night, but the Fighting Illini have three really good wins — Butler (neutral), Gonzaga (road), Ohio State (home). Northwestern has three wins over projected NCAA teams, including two on the road — Baylor and Illinois. Purdue can make a statement over the next week, with a trip to Michigan and home games against Iowa and Indiana.

Conference USA (2)
In: Memphis, Southern Miss
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: Surprisingly, Conference USA could be a two-bid league in 2013. Southern Miss was one of the last teams in the field. The Golden Eagles are 16–4 (thought two wins are against non-D-1 schools), and two of their losses are against Arizona and Wichita State, both top-15 RPI teams. The Eagles will need to beat Memphis at least once and avoid any bad losses in the league to remain in the discussion. Memphis is 15–3 but lacks quality wins — but also has no bad losses.

Missouri Valley (2)
In: Creighton, Wichita State
Worth a mention: Indiana State
Bubble notes: Indiana State has a decent RPI of 51 but is ranked 81st by KenPom. The Sycamores have a couple of solid wins on a neutral court (vs. Ole Miss and Miami) but have also lost on the road to Morehead State and Southern Illinois. They were in the field this week until losing at Illinois State on Wednesday night.

Mountain West (6)
In: Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: This is shaping up to be a banner year for the Mountain West. Boise State could earn its first at-large invitation. The Broncos have two top-40 road wins, at Creighton and Wyoming. That could be the difference on Selection Sunday. San Diego State has slipped up a bit recently, but the Aztecs have three top-50 RPI wins (UCLA, Indiana State and Colorado State) and all four of their losses have come against top-40 teams. Colorado State has an RPI of 17 and only one bad loss, at UIC.

Pac-12 (4)
In: Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
Worth a mention: Arizona State, Washington
Bubble notes: Colorado is off to a rough start in the Pac-12 (2–4), but the Buffaloes have two top-40 wins (Baylor and Colorado State) and no bad losses (depending on your opinion of Arizona State and Washington). Also, Colorado’s RPI is 21, though it’s 51 in KenPom. Arizona State has been a nice story this season, but two things on the Sun Devils’ resume stick out (in a bad way): only one win vs. an RPI top-75 team (Colorado at home) and a loss at home to DePaul (RPI 172, KenPom 127). Washington already has three road wins in the league, but only one overall win vs. a top-70 team, and the Huskies have four losses to teams ranked 119th or worse.

SEC (3)
In: Florida, Ole Miss, Missouri
Worth a mention: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas A&M
Bubble notes: Kentucky is more well-received by KenPom (No. 19) than the RPI (61). The Wildcats have one win against a top-90 RPI team, vs. Maryland (59) on a neutral court in November. They don’t have any horrible losses, though three of the six have come against teams outside the top 50. Alabama has won three straight, but the Crimson Tide have plenty of stains on their resume — losses at home to Dayton (RPI 95), Tulane (150) and Mercer (161). Also, they have no top-50 wins. Texas A&M can boast about a win at Kentucky, but right now that’s a win over an NIT team. The Aggies’ loss at home to Southern in late December is troubling.

West Coast (2)
In: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's
Worth a mention: BYU, Santa Clara
Bubble notes: Saint Mary’s has decent computer numbers (66 RPI, 36 KenPom, but only one win vs. a top-90 RPI team (at BYU). The Gaels also have lost two games, on a neutral court, to teams ranked lower than 100th. They were among the last teams in the field this week. BYU likely would move into the field with a win at Gonzaga on Thursday night — but that’s a tall order. The Cougars have only one top-100 win, at Santa Clara.

One-bid conference projections

Conference Projected winner Conference Projected winner
America East Albany Northeast Bryant
Atlantic Sun Stetson Ohio Valley Belmont
Big Sky Weber State Patriot Lehigh
Big South Charleston Southern Southern Davidson
Colonial Northeastern Southland Stephen F. Austin
Horizon Valparaiso Summit North Dakota State
Ivy Harvard Sun Belt Middle Tennessee
MAAC Niagara SWAC Southern
MAC Akron WAC Louisiana Tech
MEAC Norfolk State    




 

Teaser:
<p> With Selection Sunday less than two months away, Athlon Sports projects the field for the NCAA Tournament, conference by conference</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-jan-22
Body:

The discussion for the top spot in college basketball continues to be a contentious one, but we’re sticking with the same No. 1 team we’ve had for several weeks — Duke.

Two weeks ago, the last four undefeated teams lost. A week ago, two other contenders for the top spot, Indiana and Louisville, also lost. Granted, Duke faced Georgia Tech last week while Indiana visited Wisconsin and Louisville lost to Syracuse. The Blue Devils had a much more manageable week against Georgia Tech, who is winless in the ACC.

While Duke remained No. 1, other teams saw major gains as Oregon defeated UCLA on Saturday, moving to 2-0 against the top two teams in the preseason in the Pac-12. The Ducks moved from No. 22 to No. 16. Butler, by defeating Gonzaga on a buzzer beater late Saturday, moved into the top 10.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 14-20

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: JAN. 22

1. Duke (16-1, 3-1 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Defeated Georgia Tech 73-57
This week: at Miami, Maryland
Buzz: Devils hold on to No. 1 ranking in rout of Georgia Tech.

2. Michigan (17-1, 4-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated Minnesota 83-75
This week: Purdue, at Illinois
Buzz: Michigan might be nation’s best offensive team.

3. Kansas (16-1, 4-0 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas 64-59
This week: at Kansas State, Oklahoma
Buzz: Ben McLemore is getting Freshman of the Year buzz.

4. Syracuse (18-1, 6-0 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Defeated Louisville 70-68, defeated Cincinnati 57-55
This week: at Villanova
Buzz: Orange squeeze out wins vs. Louisville, Cincinnati.

5. Louisville (16-2, 4-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Defeated Connecticut 73-58, lost to Syracuse 70-68
This week: at Villanova, at Georgetown
Buzz: Peyton Siva struggles as Cards lose late lead vs. Syracuse.

6. Indiana (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Lost to Wisconsin 64-59, defeated Northwestern 67-59
This week: Penn State, Michigan State
Buzz: Hoosiers have lost 11 straight games to Wisconsin.

7. Arizona (16-1, 4-1 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Arizona State 71-54
This week: UCLA, USC
Buzz: Mark Lyons is averaging 19.4 points per game in Pac-12 play.

8. Florida (14-2, 4-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas A&M 68-47, defeated Missouri 83-52
This week: at Georgia, at Mississippi State
Buzz: Gators playing as well as any team in the nation.

9. Minnesota (15-3, 3-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Lost to Indiana 83-75
This week: at Northwestern, at Wisconsin
Buzz: The Gophers’ three losses have come to Duke, Michigan, Indiana.

10. Butler (16-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Defeated Richmond 62-47, defeated Gonzaga 64-63
This week: at La Salle, Temple
Buzz: Bulldogs use some Hinkle Magic to top Gonzaga.

11. Kansas State (15-2, 4-0 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Defeated TCU 67-54, defeated Oklahoma 69-60
This week: Kansas, at Iowa State
Buzz: Rodney McGruder (15.2 ppg) only Wildcat scoring in double figures.

12. Gonzaga (17-2, 4-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Portland 71-49, lost to Butler 64-63
This week: BYU, San Francisco
Buzz: Late-game execution dooms Zags at Butler.

13. NC State (15-3, 4-1 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Lost to Maryland 51-50, defeated Clemson 66-62
This week: at Wake Forest, North Carolina
Buzz: Pack yet to show consistency needed to contend.

14. Michigan State (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Penn State 81-72, defeated Ohio State 59-56
This week: at Wisconsin, at Indiana
Buzz: Sparty has feasted on relatively soft Big Ten slate.

15. Ohio State (13-4, 3-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Lost to Michigan State 59-56
This week: Iowa, at Penn State
Buzz: Buckeyes’ D among nation’s best at forcing turnovers.

16. Oregon (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated USC 76-74, defeated UCLA 76-67
This week: Washington State, Washington
Buzz: Ducks now own wins over Arizona and at UCLA.

17. VCU (16-3, 4-0 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated St. Joseph’s 92-86 (OT), defeated Duquesne 90-63
This week: at Richmond, La Salle
Buzz: Rams rout Duquesne after OT scare vs. Saint Joe’s

18. New Mexico (16-2, 3-0 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 24
Last week’s results: Defeated Bose State 79-74 (OT)
This week: Colorado State, at San Diego State
Buzz: Lobos the only unbeaten remaining in wild MWC.

19. Wichita State (17-2, 6-1 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Illinois State 74-62, defeated Creighton 67-64
This week: at Missouri State, Bradley
Buzz: Shockers knock off Creighton in key Valley duel.

20. Creighton (17-2, 6-1 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: 17
Last week’s results: Defeated Northern Iowa 79-68, Lost to Wichita State 67-64
This week: at Drake, at Southern Illinois
Buzz: Bluejays lead nation in three-point shooting (45.2 percent).

21. Miami (13-3, 4-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Boston College 60-59
This week: Duke, Florida State
Buzz: Duke visits Coral Gables for a huge ACC showdown.

22. Ole Miss (15-2, 4-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Vanderbilt 89-79 (OT), defeated Arkansas 76-64
This week: Tennessee, at Auburn
Buzz: Ole Miss is 4–0 in the SEC for first time in 76 years.

23. Cincinnati (16-4, 4-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated DePaul 75-70, defeated Marquette 71-69 (OT), lost to Syracuse 57-55
This week: Rutgers, at Seton Hall
Buzz: Late lead slips away in Monday matinee at Syracuse.

24. Marquette (13-4, 5-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Seton Hall 69-62, lost to Cincinnati 71-69 (OT)
This week: Providence
Buzz: Three of four losses have been by two points or less.

25. Wisconsin (13-5, 4-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 25
Last week’s results: Defeated Indiana 64-59, lost to Iowa 70-66
This week: Michigan State, Minnesota
Buzz: Badgers shock IU in Bloomington then lose at Iowa.

Out: No. 13 San Diego State, No. 16 Missouri, No. 20 UCLA, No. 23 Connecticut

Teaser:
<p> Duke remained the No. 1 team in our power rankings while Oregon and Butler used signature wins this week to make major gains</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 14:14
Path: /college-football/fiesta-bowl-preview-and-prediction-oregon-vs-kansas-state
Body:

Kansas State and Oregon have proven that it is possible to change your standing on the college football food chain. Consider the following: These two programs have a combined 11 appearances in the final AP top 10 since 1995; they combined for one (Oregon in 1948) prior to ’95. Kansas State, in particular, was viewed by most as the worst major college program in the nation for several decades.

How things have changed. Both teams were one game away from playing for the BCS National Championship this season. Oregon lost by three points at home to Stanford on the same night that K-State lost at Baylor 52–24.

Fiesta Bowl — Kansas State (11–1) vs. Oregon (11–1)

Date and Time: Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. EST
Channel: ESPN
Location: Glendale, Ariz.

When Oregon has the ball:

Four the third time in the past three seasons, the Ducks rank in the top six in the nation in total offense (550.1 ypg) and top three in scoring offense (50.8 ppg). Oregon scored 42 points or more in all 11 of its wins but was held to 14 points and 405 total yards in the overtime loss to Stanford.  

The triggerman for the 2012 version of Chip Kelly’s attack is Marcus Mariota, a redshirt freshman from Hawaii who didn’t earn the starting nod until just a few weeks before the season began. Mariota led the Pac-12 in passing efficiency — thanks in large part to a 30-to-6 touchdown-to-INT ratio — and ran for 690 yards and four touchdowns.  He was at his best in the Ducks’ 62–51 win at USC, throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns while adding 96 yards rushing on 15 attempts.

The Oregon offense is far from a one-man show. The Ducks are blessed with a host of playmakers to complement Mariota, most notably tailback Kenjon Barner and all-purpose threat De’Anthony Thomas. Barner ranks fifth nationally in rushing (135.3 ypg) despite averaging only 20.7 carries per game. He could have been a serious Heisman candidate with a bigger workload. Thomas, considered to be among the fastest players in college football, averages 7.6 yards per carry (second nationally among players with at least 90 attempts) and also leads the Ducks with 41 receptions.

Oregon ranks third nationally in rushing yards per game (323.3) — ahead of option teams Georgia Tech and New Mexico — and first in yards per attempt (6.06). The Ducks have rushed for over 250 yards in all but three games.

Junior Josh Huff was the only wide receiver with more than 22 receptions. The 5’11 Houston native missed significant action with a knee injury but still caught 29 passes for 467 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. Huff combined to catch 11 passes for 234 yards and five scores in consecutive weeks in early November.

Kansas State was solid for much of he season defensively but had trouble with both Oklahoma State (504 yards) and Baylor (580) in the final month. Baylor rushed for 342 yards and passes for 238 in its 52–24 win over the Cats. Baylor has good speed. Oregon has great speed.  

When Kansas State has the ball:

Kansas State translates rather ordinary yardage totals into a high volume of points because it does several things very well — win the turnover battle (first in the nation at plus-1.75 per game), convert in the red zone and excel on special teams (first in the nation in both kick and punt returns).

Quarterback Collin Klein is the heavy lifter on the Wildcats’ offense. The fifth-year senior has throwns for 2,490 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions and added 890 yards rushing and 22 scores on the ground. Klein had over 250 yards passing and 100 yards rushing three times in 2012 — in wins over Kansas, Iowa Stat and Texas.

Tailback John Hubert has emerged as a productive sidekick for Klein in the Wildcats’ backfield in the past two seasons. Lightly recruited out of Waco, Texas — he had no other BCS conference offers — Hubert has rushed for 892 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior after netting 970 yards as a sophomore in 2011.

K-State isn’t known for its playmakers on the outside, but the Cats feature three quality wide receivers who are capable of making big plays down the field. Chris Harper, who began his career as a quarterback at Oregon, leads the way with 50 catches and 786 yards. Tyler Lockett, a multi-purpose threat, is next with 40 receptions for 657, and Tramaine Thompson has 36 catches for 514 yards. All three have at least one 100-yard receiving game this season.

Statistically, this is the best Oregon defense of the Kelly era. The Ducks overall numbers aren’t great — they rank 47th in total yards allowed — but this is a defense that is on the field quite a bit because the Oregon offense scores so quickly. Broken down by yards allowed per play, the Ducks rank a respectable 27th in the nation at 5.06. Only two teams have scored more than 26 points against Oregon — Arkansas State had 34 (31 of which came after Oregon led 50–3) and USC scored 51.

Final Analysis

Despite the fact that Oregon is favored by nearly 10 points, this is considered by most to be the most attractive of the non-title BCS bowls. Both teams hovered near the top of the polls for most of the season and — as stated above — both teams were one win away from playing in the title game.

Kansas State has made a habit out of proving its doubters wrong over the past two seasons, but Oregon has the superior roster. The Ducks’ prowess on offense is well known, but this is also a very strong defensive team that will be as healthy — especially on the front seven — as it’s been since the beginning of the season. Kansas State will score some points, but not enough to beat the high-flying Ducks.

Prediction: Oregon 38, Kansas State 21


Related College Football Content

A Very Early College Football Top 25 for 2013
Top 5 Performances in the Fiesta Bowl of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Fiesta Bowl Preview and Prediction: Oregon vs. Kansas State</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/top-5-fiesta-bowl-performances-bcs-era
Body:

With the 15th season of BCS bowl action about to take place, Athlon reviewed the tapes of the four (now five) biggest bowl games in college football. Since 1998, teams have been fighting to land a spot in the BCS and here are the players who made the most of their opportunities.

Here are the Top Fiesta Bowl Performances of the BCS Era:

5. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State, 2011
Blackmon capped off a terrific three-year career at Oklahoma State with a brilliant performance in the Cowboys’ 41–38 overtime win over Stanford. The senior caught eight passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns to lead a receiving corps that torched the Stanford secondary for 399 yards. Blackmon’s first two scores went for 43 and 67 yards, respectively, and helped the Pokes recover from an early 14–0 deficit. His final touchdown, a 17-yard pass from Brandon Weeden, tied the game at 31–21, early in the fourth quarter.

 

4. Alex Smith, QB, Utah, 2005
Running Urban Meyer’s spread option offense to near perfection, Smith led Utah to a 35–7 win over Pittsburgh that completed a perfect 12–0 season. The future No. 1 pick of the San Francisco 49ers completed 29-of-37 passes for 328 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions and added 68 yards on the ground. The Utes were the first team from a non-BCS conference to earn a spot in a BCS bowl.

3. Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon, 2002
Oregon was ranked No. 2 in the nation in both major polls but got squeezed out of the BCS National Championship Game in favor of Nebraska. Harrington and the Ducks’ offense took their frustrations out on Colorado, ranked No. 3 in both polls, in a surprisingly lopsided 38–16 win. Harrington completed 38-of-42 passes for 350 yards and four touchdowns, including a 79-yard strike to Samie Parker that tied the record for longest pass reception in Fiesta Bowl history.

2. Pat White, QB, West Virginia, 2008
A true dual-threat quarterback, White abused the Oklahoma defense with 150 yards rushing on 25 carries and 176 yards passing as the Mountaineers rolled up 525 total yards en route to a 48–28 win over the Big 12 champs. West Virginia was coached by Bill Stewart, who stepped in for Rich Rodriguez, who bolted for the top job at Michigan after the regular season.

1. Jared Zabransky, QB, Boise State, 2007
In what will always be remembered as one of the most exciting bowl games in history, Zabransky and the upstart Broncos stunned heavily favored Oklahoma, 43–42 in overtime, after converting a Statue of Liberty play into a two-point conversion on their first possession of the extra session. Zabransky finished the game with 262 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports ranks the best Fiesta Bowl performances of the BCS Era.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/top-5-sugar-bowl-performances-bcs-era
Body:

With the 15th season of BCS bowl action about to take place, Athlon reviewed the tapes of the four (now five) biggest bowl games in college football. Since 1998, teams have been fighting to land a spot in the BCS and here are the players who made the most of their opportunities.

Here are the Top Sugar Bowl Performances of the BCS Era:

5. Brian Johnson, QB, Utah, 2009
In one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Sugar Bowl, Utah rolled past Alabama, 31–17, with surprising ease. Johnson, a senior quarterback, completed 27-of-41 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns as the Utes completed a season with a perfect record for the second time in five years. Utah finished 2008 with an undefeated 13-0 record.



4. Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia, 2006
West Virginia, from the lightly regarded Big East, surprised favored Georgia with its speed as the Mountaineers outlasted the Bulldogs, 38–35, in Sugar Bowl that was moved to Atlanta in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Slaton, WVU’s diminutive tailback, led the way with 201 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 26 carries. The Mountaineers finished 11-1 after the win.



Or his second touchdown run...

3. Josh Reed, WR, LSU, 2002
Reed set Sugar Bowl records with 14 receptions and 239 yards receiving to lead LSU past Illinois, 47–34, in the highest-scoring Sugar Bowl in history. Reed also added two touchdown catches from quarterback Rohan Davey, who set a Sugar Bowl record with 444 passing yards. LSU, the SEC Champions, finished the season 10-3.

2. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida, 2010
Tebow was nearly flawless in his final game in a Florida uniform. The dual-threat quarterback completed 31-of-35 passes for 482 yards and added 51 yards rushing and another score in the Gators’ 51–24 victory over Big East champ Cincinnati. “They couldn't stop Superman,” Gators guard Carl Johnson said. “They needed some kryptonite.” After losing the SEC title game to Alabama, Florida uncorked its venegnce upon the poor Bearcats to finish the season 13-1.


1. Chris Weinke, QB, Florida State, 2000
Weinke outdueled Virginia Tech redshirt freshman Michael Vick by passing for 329 yards and four touchdowns as the Seminoles topped the Hokies, 46–29, in the first Sugar Bowl of the new millennium. With the win, Florida State completed the first perfect season of Bobby Bowden’s career as a head coach and secured the Noles’ second national championship.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports ranks the best Sugar Bowl performances of the BCS Era.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - 08:50
Path: /college-football/gator-bowl-preview-and-prediction-mississippi-state-vs-northwestern
Body:

It’s the one blemish on an otherwise stellar résumé for Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald: The Wildcats are 0–4 in bowl games in his six-plus seasons as the boss at his alma mater. The former All-America linebacker, named to the top job at Northwestern in 2006 after Randy Walker passed away, is 49–39 overall and a more-than-respectable 26–30 in Big Ten games. But he has yet to break through in the postseason, losing to Missouri in the 2008 Alamo Bowl, Auburn in the 2009 Outback Bowl, Texas Tech in the 2010 TicketCity Bowl and Texas A&M in the 2011 Texas Bowl. To be fair, Northwestern’s bowl struggles pre-date Fitzgerald’s tenure as the head coach. The Wildcats are 1–9 all-time in bowl games, with their lone win coming over California in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day in 1949.

The Cats have a great opportunity to snap that streak in the Gator Bowl against a Mississippi State team that limps to Jacksonville having lost four of its last five games. The Bulldogs went 8–4 overall, but none of their eight wins came against teams that are playing in a bowl game. Northwestern, on the other hand, defeated four bowl teams.

Gator Bowl — Northwestern (9–3) vs. Mississippi State (8–4)

Date and Time: Jan. 1 at Noon EST
Network: ESPN
Location: Jacksonville, Fla.

When Northwestern has the ball:

Northwestern is one of the few teams nationally that won at a high level while playing two quarterbacks on a consistent basis. Both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian played in all 12 games (though Colter did not attempt a pass in the loss at Penn State), with Colter serving as a true dual-threat and Siemian operating as a pro-style quarterback. Colter, who completed just under 70 percent of his passes and rushed for 820 yards and 12 touchdowns, was the primary quarterback down the stretch and figures to get the bulk of the snaps in the bowl game. The strong-armed Siemian, however, will be more than ready in relief if Colter struggles.

For the first time since Tyrell Sutton graduated in 2008, Northwestern featured a legitimate Big Ten-caliber threat at the tailback position. Venric Mark, who carried the ball 15 times in his first two seasons on campus, emerged as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons — both as a running back and return specialist — in the nation. Mark, a 5-8, 175-pound Texas native, ranked third in the league in rushing with 1,310 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. He broke through with 123 yards in a key Week 2 win over Vanderbilt and topped the 100-yard mark seven more times the rest of the season.

Mississippi State struggled to stop the run for most of the season. The Bulldogs rank 58th in the nation in rushing defense and gave up 200 yards or more four times in 2012 — 230 to Troy, 213 to Tennessee, 361 to Texas A&M and 248 to Ole Miss. This is not a good matchup for the Dogs.

When Mississippi State has the ball:

Mississippi State changed its identity in 2012, morphing from a run-based attack in the first three years in the Dan Mullen era into an offense that was better — at least statistically — throwing the ball (50th in the nation) than running (85th). The reason for the new-look was the emergence of junior Tyler Russell as a quality drop-back quarterback. Russell, one of Mullen’s key early recruits, threw for 2,791 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. One of the benefactors of State’s newfound passing attack was senior wide receiver Chad Bumphis, who set career highs in catches (55), yards (904) and touchdowns (12).

Junior LaDarius Perkins stepped into the role as primary tailback that was handled quite well the previous two seasons by current Indianapolis Colt Vick Ballard. Perkins, considered by some to be too small to be an every down back, carried the ball 186 times for 940 yard and eight touchdowns. He had 100 yards or more in four of the first seven games, but wasn’t quite as effective down the stretch as the schedule became more difficult.

The Bulldogs’ offense feasted on a soft early schedule, averaging 416.9 yards en route to a 7–0 start. State however, was held to under 360 yards in four of the final five games, including 333 in a season-ending 41–24 loss to rival Ole Miss.

Final Analysis:

Northwestern won nine games and held double-digit second-half leads in all three of its losses yet finds itself as a two-point underdog to a Mississippi State team whose best win was either against Middle Tennessee or Tennessee — both at home. Yes, the SEC is better than the Big Ten, but the Wildcats aren’t getting enough credit for what they accomplished in 2012. Northwestern should have plenty of success running the ball and will do a better job than most expect of slowing down the Mississippi State offense. Only four teams scored more than 20 points against the Cats in 2012.

Prediction: Northwestern 28, Mississippi State 17  


Related College Football Content

A Very Early College Football Top 25 for 2013
Chick-fil-A Bowl Preview and Prediction: LSU vs. Clemson

Rose Bowl Preview and Prediction: Stanford and Wisconsin

Orange Bowl Preview and Prediction: Northern Illinois vs. Florida State

Teaser:
<p> Gator Bowl Preview and Prediction: Mississippi State vs. Northwestern</p>
Post date: Monday, December 31, 2012 - 06:10
Path: /college-football/music-city-bowl-preview-and-prediction-vanderbilt-vs-nc-state
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Vanderbilt enters postseason play riding a six-game winning streak — the longest at the school since 1955. The Commodores are also playing in a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time ever. It’s safe to say that James Franklin is getting things done in Nashville.

Tom O’Brien, on the other hand, didn’t do enough in Raleigh — in the opinion of NC State athletic director Debbie Yow — to save his job. O’Brien was fired after leading the Pack to a 7–5 record during the regular season. He had a winning record at State (40–35) but went 22–26 in the ACC and only had a winning league record once (5–3 in 2010). Offensive coordinator Dana Bible will coach the Pack on an interim basis before former Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren takes over on a full-time basis.

Music City Bowl — Vanderbilt (8–4) vs. NC State (7–5)

Date and Time: Dec. 31 at noon EST
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Network: ESPN

When Vanderbilt has the ball:

After struggling to score points in the first half of the season, Vanderbilt averaged 42.4 points over its final five games. The Commodores feature a balanced attack and have a 1,000-yard rusher (Zac Stacy) and receiver (Jordan Matthews) in the same season for the first time ever.

Matthews, lightly recruited out of Madison, Ala., has emerged as one of the elite wide receivers in the nation over the last year-and-half. He had 100-plus yards in seven games this fall, and closed the season with 153 yards at Ole Miss, 115 against Tennessee and 144 at Wake Forest. Matthews, a junior, teams with sophomore Chris Boyd, to form the most productive one-two punch in the SEC. Boyd has caught 46 passes for 756 yards and four touchdowns. Stacy leads a rushing attack that ranked sixth in the SEC with 170.4 yards per game. The senior rushed for 1,058 yards, becoming the first Vanderbilt player to top 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

When NC State has the ball:

NC State quarterback Mike Glennon is getting some buzz as a potential first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The senior threw for 3,648 yards with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions (four of which came in Week 1). He has good size, at 6-6, 232, and can make all of the throws. Glennon spreads the ball around to three veteran receivers — Quintin Payton, Tobias Palmer and Bryan Underwood each have more than 40 receptions and 600 yards. State will test a Vanderbilt secondary that ranks among the finest in the nation. The Commodores rank 10th in the nation in pass defense (175.8 ypg), fifth in pass efficiency defense and allowed only six passing touchdowns in 12 games.

The NC State running game is led by Shadrach Thornton, a true freshman who rushed for 100-plus yards in each of the last three games. The Pack, as a team, rank 106th in the nation in rushing (116.9 ypg) and only had two running plays of at least 30 yards for the entire season.

Final Analysis

Vanderbilt was hoping for an invite from the either the Gator Bowl or Chick Fil-A Bowl but will be forced to spend the holidays at home in Nashville. But don’t think the Commodores aren’t happy to be playing in the Music City Bowl. To paraphrase Franklin, there are “no bad bowls” when you are a program that has struggled historically like Vanderbilt.

Motivation has to be an issue for NC State. Yes, the players are saying the right things, but this is a program in transition that is playing with an interim coach. Nashville is a great city, but the goal for college football players is to spend the holidays in a warmer climate. NC State might not be the most motivated team on New Year’s Eve.

Prediction: Vanderbilt 30, NC State 17 

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<p> Music City Bowl Preview and Prediction: Vanderbilt vs. NC State</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 30, 2012 - 08:00
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With the 15th season of BCS bowl action about to take place, Athlon reviewed the tapes of the four (now five) biggest bowl games in college football. Since 1998, teams have been fighting to land a spot in the BCS and here are the players who made the most of their opportunities.

Here are the Top Orange Bowl Performances of the BCS Era:

5. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia, 2011
West Virginia set a bowl record by scoring 70 points thanks in large part to a near-perfect night from Smith. The sophomore quarterback completed 32-of-43 passes for 407 yards with six touchdowns (a bowl record) and no interceptions. Smith, who also ran for a score, connected with Tavon Austin on four of his six touchdown passes in the Mountaineers’ 70–33 victory.

4. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa, 2009
Clayborn was sensational for an Iowa defense that shut down Georgia Tech’s feared option attack in the Hawkeyes’ 24–14 win. Clayborn recorded 11 tackles, including two sacks, as Iowa held the Yellow Jackets to a season-low 175 yards, almost 270 below their season average.

3. Tom Brady, QB, Michigan, 2000
Michigan outdueled Alabama, 35–34 in overtime, in a matchup between two of the most storied programs in college football. Tom Brady led the Michigan attack with an Orange Bowl record 369 yards passing and added a career-best four touchdowns in his final game in Maize & Blue. The Wolverines overcame two 14-point deficits on their way to the first overtime win in school history.

2. Torrance Marshall, LB, Oklahoma, 2001
It was only fitting that a defensive player was named the MVP of the lowest-scoring Orange Bowl in 30 years. Marshall, a senior linebacker, recorded six tackles and intercepted a pass to lead Oklahoma to a 13–2 win over Florida State to secure the first national title for the Sooners since 1985.

1. Matt Leinart, QB, USC, 2005
The Trojans staked a claim to their second straight national title with a surprisingly easy 55–19 win over No. 2 Oklahoma. Leinart completed 18-of-35 passes for 332 yards and tossed an Orange Bowl record five touchdowns without throwing an interception. Steve Smith was on the receiving end of three of Leinart’s TDs.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports ranks the best Orange Bowl performances of the BCS Era.</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 30, 2012 - 05:48
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With the 15th season of BCS bowl action about to take place, Athlon reviewed the tapes of the four (now five) biggest bowl games in college football. Since 1998, teams have been fighting to land a spot in the BCS and here are the players who made the most of their opportunities.

Here are the Top Rose Bowl Performances of the BCS Era:

5. Mark Sanchez, USC, 2009
Sanchez and the USC offense dominated Penn State, jumping out to an insurmountable 31–7 lead at the half en route to a 38–24 victory. Sanchez, in his final game with the Trojans, completed 28-of-35 passes for 413 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added a six-yard touchdown run in USC’s 24-point second quarter.

4. Andre Johnson, Miami (Fla.), 2002
Johnson hooked up with quarterback Ken Dorsey seven times for 199 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Hurricanes past overmatched Nebraska, 37–14, in the first Rose Bowl that served as the BCS National Championship game.

3. Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, 1999/2000
Dayne and the Badgers played in back-to-back Rose Bowls to start the BCS and won both because of the former Heisman Trophy winner. Dayne rushed for a BCS bowl record 246 yards and four touchdowns in the 38-31 win over UCLA. Both records still stand today. A year later, Dayne rushed for 200 yards on a BCS bowl record 34 carries in the 17-9 win over Stanford. Dayne owns two of the four 200-yard BCS bowl rushing efforts in the 14-year history of the series (Steve Slaton, 204 yards, 2006 Sugar/Vince Young, 200 yards, 2006 Rose).

Here is another one from the Dayne Train:

2. Vince Young, Texas, 2005
Young burst onto the national scene with a breathtaking performance in Texas’ thrilling 38–37 win over Michigan on a perfect day at the Rose Bowl. A sophomore at the time, Young threw for 180 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 192 yards and four scores, including two in the fourth quarter as the Longhorns battled back from a 10-point deficit.

1. Vince Young, Texas, 2006
Young was brilliant in the final game of his career, setting a Rose Bowl record with 467 yards of total offense to lead Texas to a 41–38 victory over favored USC to claim the school’s first national title since 1970. Young completed 30 of 40 passes for 267 yards but is remembered more for his work on the ground. He carried the ball 19 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns, highlighted by a nine-yard run on 4th down to give Texas the lead with 19 seconds remaining.

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<p> Athlon Sports ranks the best Rose Bowl performances of the BCS Era.</p>
Post date: Friday, December 28, 2012 - 07:00
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The coaching carousel hasn’t come to a complete stop, but it appears Ball State will hold on to Pete Lembo for at least one more season. Lembo built a winner at Lehigh and Elon before jumping to the FBS ranks, where he has compiled a 15–9 record in two seasons at Ball State. This season, he has guided the Cardinals to a 9–3 mark that includes wins over two AQ conference schools, Indiana (for the second straight season) and South Florida. Ball State lost two games in league play, by two points to Kent State and two points to Northern Illinois — the two teams that played for the league title.

Lembo’s counterpart in this game, UCF’s George O’Leary, is on the tail end of a career that has seen him win 111 games in 16 seasons as a head coach (eight at Georgia Tech, eight at UCF). The Knights are 9–4 in 2012, with losses to Tulsa (twice), at Ohio State and vs. Missouri. O’Leary has won six games or more in Conference USA in five of his eight seasons in Orlando.

Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl – UCF (9–4) vs. Ball State (9–3)

Date and Time: Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. EST
Network: ESPN
Location: St. Petersburg, Fla.

When UCF has the ball:

For a team with some quality skill-position players — most notably quarterback Blake Bortles and tailback Latavius Murray — the Knights struggles at times to move the ball (seventh in the league in total offense). They do a good job, however, converting yards into points. UCF ranks second in the league and 27th nationally in scoring (35.2 ppg) because it does three important things well: win the turnover battle (16th in the nation at 0.85 per game) convert third downs at a high rate (47.1 percent), and score touchdowns in the Red Zone (40 on 56 trips).

Bortles, who won the job last year as a redshirt freshman, gives UCF a dual-threat at the quarterback position. He’s only netted 205 yards rushing, but he had two games with over 60 yards rushing and ran for seven touchdowns. Murray rushed for 1,035 yards and 14 touchdowns despite missing three games early in the season with a shoulder injury.

When Ball State has the ball:

Ball State had little trouble scoring points throughout the 2012 regular season, but the offense is facing some issues in preparation of the bowl game. Most notably: Who is going to play quarterback. Keith Wenning, a second-team All-MAC pick, is still recovering from a broken ankle suffered against Ohio on Nov. 14. Kelly Page replaced Wenning but suffered a concussion in the next game, a win over Miami (Ohio). His status won’t be known until days before the game. The next option is Kyle Kamman, a freshman walk-on. The coaching staff is hopeful Wenning will be ready to play.

With uncertainty at quarterback, expect the Cards to lean heavily on tailback Jahwan Edwards. The bruising sophomore — he’s 5-10 and 230 pounds — has rushed for 1,321 yards and 14 scores and ended the regular season by averaging 148.6 yards in the final six games. Edwards should have success against a UCF defense that struggled to stop the run late in the year. The Knights gave up 200-plus rushing yards three times in their final four games, including 290 to Tulsa in the C-USA Championship Game.

Final Analysis

This is far from the sexiest matchup of the bowl season, but this should be a very good game between two teams that haven’t received enough attention nationally. The running game is going to be key for both teams. UCF went 9–0 in games in which it rushed for 150 yards or more and 0–4 when it failed to hit the 150 mark. That’s pretty telling. Ball State needs a big performance from Edwards, who should be able to punish the UCF defense. With issues at quarterback, don’t be surprised if the North Carolina native gets the ball 30 to 35 times. And don’t be surprised if he leads Ball State to the win.

Prediction: Ball State 30, UCF 24


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<p> Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Preview and Prediction: UCF vs. Ball State</p>
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College football's bowl season begins on Saturday with the New Mexico Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Here are predictions on the first 14 bowl games. 

New Mexico Bowl – Arizona vs. Nevada
Defensive stops will be at a premium in Albuquerque, which plays host to one of only two bowls in which both teams are averaging over 500 yards of offense. Nevada won seven of its first eight games but slumped late to finish with a 7–5 record. Arizona’s regular season ended on a down note — a loss at home to rival Arizona State — but Rich Rodriguez’s first year in Tucson has to be considered a success. The Wildcats are 7–5, highlighted by wins over Oklahoma State, Washington and USC. 
Arizona 44–37

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — Toledo vs. Utah State
Utah State is one of the best-kept secrets in the nation. The Aggies went 10–2 overall (with a two-point loss at Wisconsin and a three-point loss at BYU) and swept through the WAC with a 6–0 record. Gary Andersen’s club is potent on offense, but the Aggies’ strength is on defense, where they only give up 15.4 points per game. Utah State will be tested by a Toledo team that went 9–3 with all three losses coming by seven points. Utah State 37–30

Poinsettia Bowl — San Diego State vs. BYU
Rocky Long has done an outstanding job maintaining what Brady Hoke built at San Diego State. The Aztecs, 17–8 in two seasons under Long, won a share of the Mountain West championship (their first title since 1986) with a 7–1 record in their final season in the league. BYU completed its second season as an Independent with a 7–5 record. The Cougars are strong defensively but really struggle to score points against quality competition.
San Diego State 28–14

Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl – Ball State vs. UCF
The coaching carousel hasn’t come to a complete stop, but it appears Ball State will hold on to Pete Lembo for at least one more season. Lembo built a winner at Lehigh and Elon before jumping to the FBS ranks, where he has compiled a 15–9 record in two seasons at Ball State. His counterpart in this game, UCF’s George O’Leary, is on the tail end of a career that has seen him win 111 games in 17 seasons as a head coach (eight at Georgia Tech, nine at UCF).
Ball State 30-24

New Orleans Bowl – East Carolina vs. UL Lafayette
UL Lafayette will make the short trip to down I-10 to play in the New Orleans Bowl for the second straight season. The Ragin’ Cajuns played their best football in the latter half of the season, highlighted by wins over ULM and Western Kentucky and a seven-point loss at Florida. East Carolina won a share of its first C-USA East title since 2009 by recording a 7–1 record in league play.
East Carolina 27-20

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas – Boise State vs. Washington
It was a rebuilding year for Boise State, but the Broncos still went 10–2 overall with a four-point loss at Michigan State and a two-point loss vs. San Diego State. Not bad for a team that only returned seven starters. Washington completed its third-straight 5–4 conference season under fourth-year coach Steve Sarkisian. The Huskies had some big wins (Stanford, Oregon State) but ended the season with an inexplicable loss to Washington State. Boise State 23–20

Hawaii Bowl – Fresno State vs. SMU
Tim DeRuyter’s first season as a head coach went quite well. Fresno State went 9–3 overall and won a share of the Mountain West title with a 7–1 record in league play. The Bulldogs boast two of the top skill players on the West Coast — quarterback Derek Carr and tailback Robbie Rouse. SMU is back in a bowl game for the fourth straight season under coach Junes Jones. The Mustangs’ quarterback is Garrett Gilbert, the 2008 Gatorade National Player of the Year who began his collegiate career at Texas.
Fresno State 37–23

Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl — Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky
The good news: Western Kentucky is playing in its first bowl game. The bad news: The Hilltoppers’ coach, Willie Taggart, is now the boss at South Florida and will not coach his team in the bowl game. Lance Guidry, WKU’s defensive coordinator, will serve as the interim coach through the bowl season. The Topper’s opponent, Central Michigan, is arguably the weakest team to be invited to a bowl games in 2012. The Chippewas are 6–6 and rank seventh in the MAC in both total offense and total defense.
Western Kentucky 30–20

Military Bowl – Bowling Green vs. San Jose State
Mike MacIntyre has worked a minor miracle in his short time at San Jose State. The Spartans went 1–12 in 2010, his first season as the head coach, improved to 5–7 last year and then broke through with a 10–2 mark this fall. SJSU features one of the nation’s most efficient passing attacks and a defense that specializes in stopping the run. Bowling Green struggles to score, but the Falcons lead the MAC in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass defense.
San Jose State 27–17

Belk Bowl – Cincinnati vs. Duke
Duke is playing in a bowl game for the first time since 1994, but the Blue Devils limped to the finish line after picking up their sixth win on Oct. 20. Duke lost five of its last six games and gave up an average of 47.8 points in the five losses. Cincinnati won a share of the Big East title for the fourth time in the past five seasons, but the Bearcats lost their head coach Butch Jones, who is now at Tennessee.
Cincinnati 38–30

Holiday Bowl – UCLA vs. Baylor
This should be one of the most exciting games of the pre-New Year’s Day bowl slate. Baylor, ranked No. 1 in the nation in total offense, ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak, beating Kansas State (ranked No. 1 at the time), Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. UCLA, the champs of the Pac-12 South, went 9–4 under first-year coach Jim L. Mora and feature an explosive offense led by quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Johnathan Franklin.
UCLA 38–35

Independence Bowl – Ohio vs. ULM
These two mid-majors stole national headlines in September, but neither program was able to sustain its strong play throughout the entire 2012 season. Ohio beat Penn State in Week 1 and won its first seven games but finished 8–4 overall and 4–4 in the MAC. ULM, which won at Arkansas in overtime in Week 1, missed a chance to win its first Sun Belt title since 2005 by losing to UL Lafayette and Arkansas State on consecutive weeks in early November.
ULM 31–27

Russell Athletic Bowl – Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
Rutgers had two chances to secure its first trip to a BCS bowl but lost at Pittsburgh and at home vs. Louisville in the final two weeks of the season. The Scarlet Knights will have to “settle” for a Big East co-championship and an invite from the Russell Athletic Bowl. Virginia Tech’s 2012 season has been a struggle. The Hokies have won only six games and need to beat Rutgers to avoid the program’s first losing record since 1992. Rutgers 20–10

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas – Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
Texas Tech’s ego was bruised when head coach Tommy Tuberville made the surprising decision to leave Lubbock to take over for Butch Jones at Cincinnati. Tuberville left behind a team that lost four of its last five games after starting the season with a 6–1 mark. Minnesota sneaks into postseason play as the only bowl team that was four games under .500 in its league. The Golden Gophers went 2–6 in the Big Ten but won all four of its non-conference games to get to the six-win mark.
Texas Tech 33–21

Final regular-season record: 92–48 (76–48 ATS)

@AthlonMitch

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<p> College football's bowl season begins on Saturday with the New Mexico Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Here are predictions on the first 14 bowl games.&nbsp;</p>
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Six conference championship games highlight the Week 14 slate, most notably the Georgia vs. Alabama clash in the SEC. There will also BCS bids on the line in the Big Ten (Nebraska vs. Wisconsin), ACC (Florida State vs. Georgia Tech) and Pac-12 (UCLA at Stanford), and possibly even in the MAC, where the winner of the Kent State vs. Northern Illinois battle could possibly end up in the Orange Bowl.

Georgia (+7) vs. Alabama
We won’t have an official playoff until 2014, but the SEC Championship Game is basically a national semifinal. The winner will punch its ticket to the BCS title game, while the loser is likely out of the mix for a BCS bowl. Alabama is clearly the popular pick, but Georgia is good enough on offense to make the Crimson Tide sweat. Remember, Alabama gave up 435 yards and 418 yards to LSU and Texas A&M, respectively, in consecutive games earlier this month. This is still a great defensive team, but unlike last season, it’s a defense that will give up an occasional first down or two. The concern for Georgia is its defense, specifically against the run. The Bulldogs rank 67th nationally in rushing defense (164.4 ypg) and have given up 190 yards or more in six of their 12 games. Expect to see heavy doses of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.
Alabama 27–21

Nebraska (-3) vs. Wisconsin
Wisconsin is back in the Big Ten title game despite finishing in third place in the Leaders Division. The two top teams in the division, Ohio State and Penn State, combined for a 14–2 record but are both ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions. So we are left with a .500 Wisconsin club that has lost three of its last four games (though all three defeats were in overtime) rather than Ohio State, which is undefeated and ranked in the top five in the AP poll. There is no denying that Nebraska belongs in this game. The Cornhuskers won the Legends with a 7–1 record and have won six straight games. Nebraska is known for its rushing attack — and rightfully so — but Taylor Martinez has improved as a passer in his third season as a starter.
Nebraska 24–14

UCLA (+8.5) at Stanford (Fri)
UCLA and Stanford get together for the second time in a week. This time the stakes are quite a bit higher — a trip to the Rose Bowl is on the line. Last Saturday, the Cardinal manhandled UCLA at the line of scrimmage en route to a 35–17 victory in Los Angeles. Stanford rushed for 221 yards on 59 carries, led by 142 yards and two touchdowns from Stepfan Taylor. UCLA, on the other hand, only netted 73 yards on the ground, with All-Pac-12 candidate Johnathan Franklin rushing for 65 yards, his second-lowest total of the season. Some have suggested that Stanford didn’t get UCLA’s best effort — the Bruins had already wrapped up the Pac-12 South title — but it’s hard to believe a team would be lacking motivation in its home-finale, especially with a chance to pick up its 10th win of the season. Take the Cardinal to complete the sweep.
Stanford 34–27

Florida State (-14) vs. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech finished in a three-way tie with North Carolina and Miami in the Coastal Division with a 5–3 league record (and 6–6 overall). The Yellow Jackets, however, are the only team of the three eligible for postseason play, so they will be making the trip to Charlotte to play Florida State. Georgia Tech has had some decent wins, but this is not a team with an impressive résumé. The Jackets have four losses by 16 points or more, including a 21-point loss to Middle Tennessee and a 24-point loss to BYU — both at home. Florida State features a roster good enough to win a national title, but the Seminoles simply didn’t get it done on the field, losing at NC State, 17–16, and at home to Florida, 37–26. The Noles are likely headed to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2006, but this season has been a disappointment.
Florida State 30–20

Northern Illinois (-6) vs. Kent State (Fri)
It’s arguably the most attractive matchup in the 16-year history of the MAC Championship Game, with both Kent State and Northern Illinois ranked in the top 25 in the BCS standings with identical 11–1 records. Kent State, ranked No. 17, can play in a BCS bowl by finishing in the top 16 of the BCS standings. For that to happen, the Golden Flashes need to win and either for UCLA (No. 16) to lose to Stanford or Florida State (No. 13) to lose to Georgia Tech. Northern Illinois, ranked No. 21, has more hurdles to climb to reach BCS riches.
Northern Illinois 34–27

UCF (+2) at Tulsa
This is one of two rematches on championship weekend. Two weeks ago in Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane edged UCF 23–21 in a game that ultimately decided which team would host the C-USA title game. Tulsa outgained UCF 461–to-235 but had trouble punching the ball into the end zone. Last week, after clinching the West title (as well as home field advantage in the championship game), Tulsa lost at SMU 35–27. Bill Blankenship will have his team refocused and ready to play this weekend.
Tulsa 28–20

Louisville (+3) at Rutgers (Thu)
Neither team is playing its best ball of late. Louisville has lost two straight after a 9–0 start, while Rutgers missed an opportunity to clinch the outright Big East title by losing at Pittsburgh 27–6 last weekend. After muscling their way to 234 yards rushing in a key win at Cincinnati two weeks ago, the Scarlet Knights managed only 50 yards on 24 carries against the Panthers. They should get back on track against a Louisville team that has had trouble stopping the run of late. Over the past five games, the Cards have given up an average of 215.0 yards rushing, including 278 to Syracuse two weeks ago and 255 to Temple three weeks ago. That doesn’t bode well for their trip to Jersey on Thursday night. Rutgers should clinch its first-ever Big East title.
Rutgers 27–20

Texas (+11.5) at Kansas State
Kansas State can lock up the Big 12 title and a spot in a BCS bowl with a win over Texas or an Oklahoma loss to TCU. The Wildcats have not played since losing at Baylor two weeks ago when they gave up 580 total yards, including a staggering 342 on the ground. K-State dropped from ninth in the nation in rushing defense to 18th after the Baylor game. Speaking of trouble stopping the run, Texas is allowing 201.5 yards rushing per game — an alarmingly high figure for a team with so much talent. The Horns have also struggled on offense of late, but this team has had its moments this season, scoring 66 at Ole Miss, 41 at Oklahoma State, 45 vs. West Virginia and 56 vs. Baylor. Quarterback Case McCoy will make his first start of the season. David Ash, the starter in the first 11 games, is questionable with a rib injury.
Kansas State 27–20

Oklahoma State (-4) at Baylor
Baylor has bounced back from a four-game losing streak by winning three of its last four games. The Bears are now bowl-eligible for the third straight season for the first time since the early 1990s. As usual, Art Briles’ team is getting it done on offense. Baylor has scored 104 points in its last two games and has topped the 40-point mark in eight of its 11 games. It might take 60 points to win this game, however, when you factor in that Oklahoma State boasts an offense that is averaging 45.6 points per game and Baylor is giving up 38.5 per game. The Pokes scored 48 in an overtime loss to Oklahoma last week with a quarterback (Clint Chelf) who began the season third on the depth chart. Chelf, a junior, will get the start again this weekend. Expect him to put up gaudy numbers.
Oklahoma State 60–49

Oklahoma (-6.5) at TCU
TCU has had better teams and bigger wins, but the Horned Frogs’ 20–13 victory on Thanksgiving night at Texas has to rank among the most gratifying in Gary Patterson’s 12 years as the school’s head coach. Now, the Horned Frogs return home and host the mighty Sooners from Oklahoma. OU has won four straight, though the last three have been by eight points over Baylor, one point over West Virginia and three points, in overtime, over Oklahoma State. The Sooners haven’t exactly been dominant during this winning streak. The offense has been great, most notably quarterback Landry Jones (three games of 400-plus yards), but the defense has allowed an average of 564 yards in its last three games. However, don’t expect TCU to put up a big number on OU this weekend. The Frogs are averaging only 26.7 points in regulation (they’ve had two games go to overtime) this season against FBS opponents. To win this game, TCU will have to keep the score in the 20s or low 30s.
Oklahoma 30–17

Last week: 5–5 overall (4–6 against the spread)
Season: 85–45 overall (70–60 against the spread)

Other games

Middle Tennessee at Arkansas State
The Sun Belt title is on the line in Jonesboro this weekend, but the winner of this game will not be going to the New Orleans Bowl. Louisiana-Lafayette, which can finish no higher than a tie for second place, has already accepted an invite.
Arkansas State 30–24
Cincinnati at Connecticut

UL-Lafayette at FAU
As mentioned above, the Ragin’ Cajuns already know their postseason fate — a return trip to the New Orleans Bowl.
UL-Lafayette 37–17

South Alabama at Hawaii
Norm Chow’s first season at Hawaii hasn’t gone well, but the Warriors do have an opportunity to close on a two-game winning streak.
Hawaii 37–20

Boise State at Nevada
Boise State’s last trip to Reno ended in a shocking overtime loss that cost the Broncos a spot in a BCS bowl. There’s not nearly as much at stake this time around.
Boise State 34–23

Nicholls State at Oregon State
This game was originally scheduled for Week 1 but had to be pushed back due to Hurricane Isaac. Nicholls State is 1–9 with its lone win over Evangel.
Oregon State 51–0

Pittsburgh at South Florida
Pittsburgh has an opportunity to become bowl-eligible with a win this weekend, which could mean a third-straight trip to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham.
Pittsburgh 23–17

New Mexico State at Texas State
New Mexico State has lost 10 straight and does not have a win over an FBS opponent. This is arguably the worst team in the country.
Texas State 38–20

Kansas at West Virginia
Charlie Weis’ first season at Kansas will end with only one win — over South Dakota State in Week 1 — but the Jayhawks were competitive in many of their losses.
West Virginia 49–30

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> Six conference championship games highlight the Week 14 slate, most notably the Georgia vs. Alabama clash in the SEC. There will also BCS bids on the line in the Big Ten (Nebraska vs. Wisconsin), ACC (Florida State vs. Georgia Tech) and Pac-12 (UCLA at Stanford), and possibly even in the MAC, where the winner of the Kent State vs. Northern Illinois battle could possibly end up in the Orange Bowl.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:30
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Body:

These two traditional powers—Alabama and Georgia—will play for the first time in the SEC Championship Game and for only the fifth time overall since 1995. The stakes couldn’t be higher: The winner will play Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship and the loser likely will be squeezed out of the BCS mix.

Much has been made about Georgia’s relatively soft SEC schedule, but it’s important to note that both Georgia and Alabama only played two of the other four SEC teams ranked in the top 10 of the latest BCS standings. Georgia beat No. 4 Florida and lost to No. 10 South Carolina, while Alabama beat No. 7 LSU and lost to No. 9 Texas A&M. Alabama did play Michigan out of conference, but the strength of these two teams’ schedules is about the same.

It’s dangerous to compare results, but just for fun: Alabama and Georgia had four common opponents (Missouri, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Auburn); Alabama won all four games by a total score of 168–37, while Georgia won all four by a total score of 167–74.

So who wins on Saturday? Good question.

Other Championship Game Previews
ACC
| Big Ten | Pac-12

Conference Previews
Big 12
| Big East

When the Alabama Crimson Tide have the ball:
Alabama has built a reputation under Nick Saban as a smashmouth team that relies on its defense and running game. While that is true to a large degree, this team is still adept at throwing the ball down the field. In fact, Alabama as a team ranks No. 1 in the nation in passing efficiency thanks to the work of quarterback A.J. McCarron. The junior averages 9.46 yards per attempt (second-best in the nation) and has thrown 25 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

The Tide, however, will be without one of their primary targets for the remainder of the season. Junior Kenny Bell, second on the team with 431 receiving yards, was sidelined with a broken leg in the win over Auburn on Saturday. McCarron still has quality targets at his disposal, most notably Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood, but Bell, who averaged 25.4 yards per reception, was Alabama’s top deep threat.

The running game is powered by true freshman T.J. Yeldon and junior Eddie Lacy, who both rank among the top five in the league (min. 100 carries) in yards per attempt. Lacy leads the team with 1,001 yards and 14 touchdowns; Yeldon is second with 847 yards and 10 TDs. And it’s on the ground where Alabama figures to have the most success attacking the Georgia defense. The Bulldogs rank 67th nationally in rushing defense (164.4 ypg) and have given up 190 yards or more in six of their 12 games.

Alabama is versatile enough to beat Georgia on the ground or through the air, but it would be a surprise if Lacy and Yeldon each don’t get at least 12-to-15 carries.

When the Georgia Bulldogs have the ball:
The Bulldogs are one of the most balanced offensive teams in college football, ranking 39th nationally (and fourth in the SEC) in rushing and 35th (and fourth) in passing. The Dawgs feature one of the top quarterbacks in the country in junior Aaron Murray, who has thrown for 3,201 yards and hasn’t thrown an interception in the past four games. Georgia, like Alabama, is dealing with some injuries at wide receiver. Michael Bennett was off to a strong start to his sophomore season (24 catches for 345 yards in five games) before tearing the ACL in right knee against Tennessee. And senior Marlon Brown, who has 27 receptions for 469 yards, was lost with an ACL tear in his left knee against Ole Miss. With Bennett and Brown out of the lineup, Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell, who began the year playing cornerback, have been the primary weapons down the field. The Dawgs also have two tight ends (Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome) with at least 10 catches.

Georgia’s running game appeared to take a hit when Isaiah Crowell, who rushed for 850 yards as a freshman in 2011, was kicked off the team over the summer. No worries. Georgia plugged in two highly touted true freshmen, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who combined to rush for 1,858 yards and 222 touchdowns. Both had their moments, but Gurley emerged as the primary ball-carrier and finished the regular season as the SEC’s leading rusher in league play by averaging 95.3 yards per game. Gurley averaged 5.8 yards per carry vs. SEC competition, second only to Alabama’s Lacy for players with over 100 carries.

Statistically, Alabama features the nation’s No. 1 defense, but Georgia is good enough on offense to make the Crimson Tide sweat. Remember, Alabama gave up 435 yards and 418 yards to LSU and Texas A&M, respectively, in consecutive games earlier this month. This is still a great defensive team, but unlike last season, it’s a defense that will give up an occasional first down or two.

Final Analysis
These teams are quite similar. Georgia’s a bit more explosive on offense, but Alabama’s more formidable on defense and has the edge on special teams. You also have to give the advantage to Alabama in coaching. The bottom line: Georgia is very good. Alabama is great.
Alabama 27–21

  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Alabama vs. Georgia Alabama 35-21 Alabama 24-23 Alabama 27-20 Alabama 27-21
Last week 7-2 7-2 6-3 7-2
Season 90-22 95-17 95-17 94-18

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> These teams are quite similar. Georgia’s a bit more explosive on offense, but Alabama’s more formidable on defense and has the edge on special teams. You also have to give the advantage to Alabama in coaching. The bottom line: Georgia is very good. Alabama is great.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /college-football/sec-2012-season-recap-and-awards
Body:

SEC 2012 Season Recap and Awards

The regular season ended on Saturday with a dominating performance by the SEC in its four games against the ACC. Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Vanderbilt beat ACC opponents by a combined score of 161–74. In league play, Alabama disposed of Auburn with ease (as expected), while Ole Miss became bowl-eligible with a 41–24 win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M — Manziel capped off his brilliant freshman season with a banner day against Missouri. He threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns and added 67 yards rushing and two scores on the ground. Manziel has thrown for 3,419 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions and has an SEC-best 1,1181 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns.

2. AJ McCarron, Alabama — McCarron threw for 216 yards with four touchdowns and no picks in Alabama’s 49–0 Iron Bowl win over Auburn. The junior ranks second nationally in passing efficiency thanks in large part to his 25-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

3. Aaron Murray, Georgia — Murray ended the regular season on a tear, throwing for 13 touchdowns and no interceptions as the Bulldogs cruised to easy wins over Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. The junior leads the nation in passing efficiency.

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina — Clowney was dominant in the Gamecocks’ 27–17 win at Clemson Saturday night. The sophomore defensive end recorded 4.5 sacks and now has a single-season school-record 13 sacks despite missing time with a foot injury.

2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia —Jones had nine tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, in the Bulldogs’ convincing win over Georgia Tech. The junior linebacker now has 19.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks for the season.

3. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M — The junior defensive end was relatively quiet in the Aggies’ season-ending win over Missouri, but Moore has been one of the most productive defensive players in the league in 2012. He leads the SEC in tackles for a loss with 20.0 and sacks with 12.5.

Coach of the Year Standings

1. James Franklin, Vanderbilt — The Commodores put the finishing touches on an 8–4 regular season with a 55–21 win at Wake Forest on Saturday. Vanderbilt went 5–3 in the SEC — the school’s first winning league record since 1982 — and won five games by more than 30 points.

2. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M — It helps to have one of the most electric players in college football running the show, but Sumlin deserves a ton of credit for the Aggies’ 6–2 SEC record. They have two close losses at home to top-10 teams (Florida and LSU) and three weeks ago they knocked off Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

3. Will Muschamp, Florida — The Gators don’t always win with style points, but they finished the regular season with an 11–1 record against a very difficult slate. Florida claims victories over Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State.

10 Things We Learned from the SEC in 2012

1. Will Muschamp is the right coach at the right time for Florida
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley took a bit of a risk when he hired Will Muschamp, who had no experience as a head coach, to replace Urban Meyer. And after the Gators went 3–5 in the league last season — the school’s first losing SEC mark since 1986 — it was fair to ask the question: Was Muschamp cut out to be a head coach in the SEC? No one is asking that question after the Gators capped off the 2012 regular season with a win over Florida State in Tallahassee. The Gators went 7–1 in the SEC with four wins vs. teams in the top 13 of the BCS standings.

2. Texas A&M is a perfect fit in the SEC
Texas A&M’s first season in the SEC went about as well as any Aggie could have possibly expected. The team was outstanding (10–2 overall, 6–2 SEC); the brand of football was exciting (A&M led the SEC in total offense and scoring offense); the roster featured star power (Johnny Manziel is the Heisman frontrunner); the coaching was outstanding (Kevin Sumlin is an SEC Coach of the Year candidate and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury is being mentioned as a possible head coach at several schools); and the fans were incredibly passionate.

3. Vanderbilt was not a one-hit wonder under James Franklin
James Franklin inherited a program that won a total of four games in the previous two seasons, and guided the 2011 Commodores to six wins and a bowl game. The encore was even better. Vanderbilt closed the books on the 2012 regular season by beating Wake Forest 55–21 in Winston-Salem. The Dores head into bowl season with an 8–4 record after winning their final six games. The offense features a 1,000-yard rusher (Zac Stacy) and receiver (Jordan Matthews), and the defense ranks 18th nationally in both total defense and scoring defense. This was not done with smoke and mirrors.

4. LSU can win big with Zach Mettenberger … in 2013
One of the most important developments in the last month has been the emergence of Zach Mettenberger as a quality quarterback at LSU. The one-time Georgia Bulldog was a huge disappointment through LSU’s first eight games — he had six touchdowns and four picks and was completing less than 50 percent vs. SEC competition — but shined over the last quarter of the season. Over the last four games, Mettenberger completed 61.8 percent of his passes, averaged 267.5 passing yards per game and threw for five TDs and only two interceptions. The Tigers fell short of their primary goal in 2012 — a national title — but they found a quarterback capable of leading them to BCS glory in ’13.

5. Offense doesn’t win championships
This isn’t exactly a revelation, but rolling up a ton of yard doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, especially in the SEC. Only three of the top seven teams in the league in total offense (both overall and in league games only) had a winning SEC record — No. 1 Texas A&M (6–2), No. 3 Georgia (7–1) and No. 4 Alabama (7–1). The other four teams in the top half of the league in total offense (Tennessee, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State) went a combined 10–22. Conversely, the top six teams in the SEC in total defense (Alabama, Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Georgia) all had winning records in league play.

6. Todd Gurley was the best running back in the league
Georgia’s running game appeared to take a hit when Isaiah Crowell, who rushed for 850 yards as a freshman in 2011, was kicked off the team over the summer. No worries. Georgia plugged in two highly touted true freshmen, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who combined to rush for 1,858 yards and 222 touchdowns. Both had their moments, but Gurley emerged as the primary ball-carrier and finished the regular season as the SEC’s leading rushing in league play by averaging 95.3 yards per game. Gurley averaged 5.8 yards per carry vs. SEC competition, second only to Alabama’s Eddie Lacy for players with over 100 carries.

7. The SEC didn’t get Missouri’s best shot in 2012
Texas A&M enjoyed a tremendous first season in the SEC, but the league’s other new member, Missouri, struggled to a 2–6 record in the league. However, the rest of the SEC didn’t get to see Missouri at its best for most of the 2012 season. The offensive line was hit hard by injuries, beginning in the preseason and carrying over until the final weeks when tackle Justin Britt was lost for the season with a knee injury against Florida. The team’s best offensive player in 2011, tailback Henry Josey, didn’t play a down in ’12 as he recovers from a devastating knee injury. And, most important, quarterback James Franklin was never completely healthy at any point this season. He was slowed early in the year by a shoulder injury, then missed time after injuring his knee in a loss at home to Vanderbilt. Franklin did return late in the win against Kentucky and started the next three games, but his mobility was limited — not good for a dual-threat quarterback.

8. Hugh Freeze was the perfect hire for Ole Miss
Perhaps no team in the nation improve as much as Ole Miss in 2012. Last season, the Rebels were outgained by an average of 174.2 yards per game in SEC play. This season, they were a plus-5.3 in league games. Ole Miss did get a significant upgrade at quarterback with the addition of Bo Wallace, but that is still a staggering statistical improvement from one year to the next. The man responsible for the upgrade is Hugh Freeze, who came to Ole Miss with only one year of experience as an FBS head coach, at Arkansas State in 2011. Freeze installed a creative offensive attack that made Ole Miss a fun team to watch even when the Rebels weren’t winning games. As the personnel improves on offense over the next few seasons, Ole Miss should consistently be among the top offensive teams in the league.

9. South Carolina has joined the elite of the SEC
South Carolina failed to win the SEC East, but the Gamecocks won six league games for the second straight season and now have a 17–7 record over the last three seasons. It took a few years longer than he might have liked, but Steve Spurrier has elevated the profile of his program to the point that we should now consider South Carolina among the top tier in the SEC. The Gamecocks are not quite at the Alabama or LSU level, but this team should be in the mix for the SEC East title on an annual basis as long as Spurrier is calling the shots in Columbia.

10. Bobby Petrino is a really, really good football coach
There were other factors — injuries, loss of key personnel — but it became clear in 2012 that Bobby Petrino is an outstanding head coach. How else can you explain Arkansas’ drop from 6–2 in the SEC in ’11 (with Petrino calling the plays) to 2–6 in ’12 (with Petrino no longer in charge)? You can’t. One man meant that much to the Arkansas program. Now, with John L. Smith officially out after one season, the Arkansas administration is doing all it can to unearth another coach who can make the Hogs relevant on a consistent basis in the SEC West.
 

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> The regular season ended on Saturday with a dominating performance by the SEC in its four games against the ACC. Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Vanderbilt beat ACC opponents by a combined score of 161–74. In league play, Alabama disposed of Auburn with ease (as expected), while Ole Miss became bowl-eligible with a 41–24 win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.</p>
Post date: Monday, November 26, 2012 - 05:36
Path: /college-football/sec-week-13-preview-and-predictions
Body:

There isn’t a ton of drama remaining in the regular season. Assuming Alabama beats Auburn — and Nick Saban’s team is favored by over four touchdowns — the SEC Championship Game is set: Georgia vs. Bama. Two teams are fighting for bowl-eligibility; Ole Miss must defeat Mississippi State and Missouri needs a win at Texas A&M to reach the six-win mark. Four league teams will play an opponent from the ACC this weekend — Georgia (Georgia Tech), South Carolina (Clemson), Florida (Florida State) and Vanderbilt (Wake Forest)

Other Week 13 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12

SEC’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 13:

1. Will this be Gene Chizik’s final Iron Bowl?
Two years after winning a national title, Auburn is on the verge of the program’s first winless SEC season since 1950. Nothing has been announced, but there is speculation that Gene Chizik will be fired shortly after Auburn concludes its season, which most assume will end with a lopsided loss to rival Alabama. The Tigers are a 31.5-point underdog. While it seems a bit rash to fire a coach who delivered the school its second-ever national championship, there is ample evidence to suggest Chizik is not the long-term solution. Auburn has had one winning SEC record in Chizik’s four seasons; his predecessor, Tommy Tuberville, had eight winning records in nine seasons. Not only will Auburn likely fail to a win a game in the league this season, but the Tigers have been alarmingly uncompetitive. Through seven SEC games, they have been outgained by an average of 199.2 yards and outscored by an average of 20.3 points. And, the stat that everyone loves to point to: Chizik is 24–37 overall and 9–30 in conference play as a head coach when Cam Newton is not his quarterback.

2. Will Alabama’s defense pitch a shutout?
There won’t be much drama at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. It’s pretty much a given that Alabama will beat rival Auburn — and do so with ease. But Nick Saban will keep a close eye (as usual) on his defense. With a date with Georgia looming in the SEC Championship Game, it’s important that Alabama plays well on the defensive end after giving up 435 yards and 418 yards to LSU and Texas A&M, respectively, in its last two SEC games. Prior to that, the Tide had not allowed any team to gain more than 282 yards this season. Auburn’s issues have been well-documented (see above). It will not be a good sign if Alabama struggles on defense this weekend.

3. Can Ole Miss reach bowl-eligibility?
Ole Miss is 0-for-3 in its quest to become bowl-eligible under first-year coach Hugh Freeze. The Rebels’ last two losses have been especially painful —a 27–26 defeat at home to Vanderbilt in a game in which Ole Miss led 23¬–6 and then last week’s 41–35 heartbreaker at LSU. “We are coming off of another disappointing loss,” Freeze said earlier this week. “I don’t know that in my years of coaching high school, NAIA or Division I football if I’ve ever had three [Ole Miss also lost by three to Texas A&M this season] more difficult ones in one year. I’m extremely proud of our kids and coaches and the way that they bounce back from those.” Motivation should not be a problem this week against hated rival Mississippi State. The Rebels have lost three straight and five of the past seven in the series. Freeze would like nothing more than to snap the streak in his first Egg Bowl as the head coach. “There’s a lot riding on this game for us,” he said. “Obviously the Egg Bowl is enough, but I sure would like to send these seniors out going to play in a postseason game and our fans to get to experience that.”

4. Can Florida get its offense going?
We thought Florida had figured some things out on offense after scoring 31 points or more four times in a five-game stretch from late September through late October. We were wrong. The Gators have averaged only 18.3 points in their last four, and that includes games against Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State. Overall, Florida ranks 12th in the SEC in total offense (332.9 ypg) and 10th in scoring offense (25.8 ppg). Those are troubling stats that become even scarier when you have a trip to Tallahassee looming. Florida State ranks first nationally in total defense (236.3 ypg) and has given up more than 22 points only once this season. It’s strange to say this about a team ranked fourth in the BCS standings, but it’s tough to envision a scenario in which Florida musters enough offense to win this game.

5. Can Georgia control Georgia Tech’s option attack?
Georgia is 3–1 against Georgia Tech since Paul Johnson and his option attack arrived in Atlanta. After losing 45–42 in Athens in the first meeting, the Dawgs have won three straight. But even in the victories, Georgia has had trouble with Tech’s option offense; the Jackets have averaged 317 rushing yards and 30 points in the four games. Last week, Georgia prepped for Tech by playing Georgia Southern, an FCS team that has been running the option for years. The results couldn’t have thrilled Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham: Georgia Southern rushed for 302 yards on 58 attempts, with three different players averaging over 4.5 yards per carry. Stopping Tech’s attack this week will be a challenge.

6. Can Johnny Manziel finish strong?
Johnny Manziel, now considered the Heisman frontrunner, has one more opportunity to impress the voters. The redshirt freshman from Texas A&M closes what has been a magical regular season against Missouri on Saturday. Manziel leads the SEC in rushing (144.1 ypg), ranks fourth in the league in passing efficiency and ranks second nationally in total offense (378.3 ypg). He had one bad game — three picks and no touchdowns in a loss against LSU — but shined on the biggest of stages in the Aggies’ win at Alabama two weeks ago. He completed 24-of-31 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns and added 92 yards rushing against arguably the nation’s finest defense.
The Heisman is Manziel’s to lose.

7. Can Carolina make it four straight against Clemson?
South Carolina is in the midst of its most successful run in school history. The Gamecocks are 17–7 in the SEC over the last three seasons and have won three straight against their rivals from Clemson. It will be a significant challenge to increase that streak to four games. The Tigers, 10–1 overall, have been on a tremendous roll offensively for the majority of the 2012 season. They rank fourth nationally in scoring (44.6 ppg) and are fresh off of a 62-point, 754-yard performance last week against NC State. It was the sixth time in the last seven games that Clemson has scored at least 40 points. South Carolina was one of the top defensive teams in college football through the first half of the season but has not been as stout in the past month. Sophomore end Jadeveon Clowney, arguably the best defensive player in the nation, has been slowed by a foot injury. Carolina will need Clowney to be back to his disruptive self on Saturday to slow down the potent Tigers’ attack.

8. Can Vanderbilt handle prosperity?
James Franklin has done a great job keeping his team focused on the task at hand — the next game — throughout the 2012 season. But that will more difficult than ever this weekend. The Commodores are riding high after beating Tennessee 41–18 on Saturday night in Nashville. It was their fifth straight win overall and their first win over Tennessee at home since 1982. This week, the Commodores head to Wake Forest to play a struggling Demon Deacon team that has lost its last two games (at NC State and at Notre Dame) by a combined score of 75–6. Last year, Vanderbilt closed its regular season with a 41–7 win at Wake Forest. Franklin is no doubt guarding against overconfidence this week.

9. Can the LSU offense take its show on the road?
LSU has played well offensively in recent weeks, scoring 41 against Ole Miss, 37 against Mississippi State and gaining 435 yards in a 21–17 loss to Alabama. But all three of those games were at home. The Tigers have not played well offensively in their three previous road trips — and yes, they have only played three road games. LSU has averaged 14 points and 289 yards on the road this year, and only one of those opponents (Florida) is ranked in the top half of the SEC in total defense. The Tigers scored 12 points in a way-too-close win over Auburn, six in a loss at Florida and 24 in a win at Texas A&M. Zach Mettenberger has shown tremendous improvement at quarterback in the latter half of the season. Now it’s time for the junior to prove he can perform at a high level on the road.

10. Will Tennessee actually go winless in the SEC?
Tennessee dropped to 0–7 in the SEC with its 41–18 loss at Vanderbilt last week. The Volunteers need to beat Kentucky on Saturday to avoid their first winless conference season in school history. On two occasions Tennessee has only won one game (1–5–1 in 1964 and 1–5 in 1977), but never have the Vols done the unthinkable — fail to win an SEC game. And it probably won’t happen. As much as Tennessee is struggling, it is still a much more talented team than Kentucky, which is also winless in the SEC. The Vols would have to play really poorly not to win this game.

@AthlonMitch

  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light

LSU at Arkansas

LSU 28-14 LSU 24-13

LSU 30-20

LSU 30-17

Georgia Tech at Georgia

Georgia 35-17

Georgia 30-17

Georgia 34-24

Georgia 34-23

Kentucky at Tennessee

Tennessee 28-21

Tennessee 30-20

Tennessee 38-17

Tennessee 33-17

Vanderbilt at Wake Forest

Vanderbilt 31-21

Vanderbilt 34-13

Vanderbilt 31-17

Vanderbilt 30-20

Florida at Florida State

Florida State 28-10

Florida St. 24-20

Florida St. 24-17

Florida St. 27-17

Auburn at Alabama

Alabama 49-7

Alabama 38-14

Alabama 38-7

Alabama 41-10

Miss. State at Ole Miss

Ole Miss 28-24

Ole Miss 34-30

Miss. State 31-30

Ole Miss 31-27

South Carolina at Clemson

Clemson 35-21

Clemson 27-20

Clemson 30-27

Clemson 30-20

Missouri at Texas A&M

Texas A&M 35-14

Texas A&M 30-21

Texas A&M 41-24

Texas A&M 33-20
Last week 11-0 10-1 10-1 10-1
Season 83-20 88-15 89-14 87-16

Teaser:
<p> There isn’t a ton of drama remaining in the regular season. Assuming Alabama beats Auburn — and Nick Saban’s team is favored by over four touchdowns — the SEC Championship Game is set: Georgia vs. Bama. Two teams are fighting for bowl-eligibility; Ole Miss must defeat Mississippi State and Missouri needs a win at Texas A&amp;M to reach the six-win mark. Four league teams will play an opponent from the ACC this weekend — Georgia (Georgia Tech), South Carolina (Clemson), Florida (Florida State) and Vanderbilt (Wake Forest)</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 05:46
Path: /college-football/sec-post-week-12-power-rankings
Body:

There were no changes in the power rankings, but it was still a huge weekend for the SEC. Thanks to losses by both Kansas State and Oregon, the winner of the SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia will be in position to play for the national championship. Also of note, Vanderbilt beat Tennessee in Nashville for the first time in 30 years.

Post-Week 12 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M — Manziel is now at the forefront of the Heisman Trophy race. The redshirt freshman quarterback leads the SEC in rushing (101.3 ypg) and ranks second in the nation in total offense (378.3 ypg).

2. AJ McCarron, Alabama — McCarron barely broke a sweat in the Crimson Tide’s 49–0 win over Western Carolina. The junior quarterback completed 6-of-6 for 133 yards and one touchdown. He now ranks third nationally in passing efficiency.

3. Aaron Murray, Georgia — Murray had a productive day throwing the football in the Bulldogs’ 45–14 win over Georgia Southern. He threw for 330 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. The junior ranks first in the nation in passing efficiency and has 15 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last three games. 

Post-Week 12 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
— Clowney did not play in South Carolina’s win over Wofford due to a foot injury. For the season, the sophomore defensive end has 42 total tackles (17 for a loss) with 9.5 sacks.

2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia — Jones had six tackles, including one for a loss, in the Bulldogs’ win over Georgia Southern. The junior linebacker now has 18 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks for the season.

3. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M — The junior defensive end recorded four tackles in the Aggies’ win over Sam Houston State. He continues to lead the SEC in tackles for a loss with 20.0 and sacks with 12.5.

Post-Week 12 Coach of the Year Standings 

1. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M — It helps to have one of the most electric players in college football running the show, but Sumlin deserves a ton of credit for the Aggies’ 5–2 SEC record. They have two close losses at home to top-10 teams (Florida and LSU) and two weeks ago they knocked off Alabama in Tuscaloosa. 

2. James Franklin, Vanderbilt — The Commodores rolled past Tennessee with surprising ease on Saturday night to improve to 7–4 in Franklin’s second season on the job. Vanderbilt tied a school record with five SEC wins in Franklin’s second season.

3. Will Muschamp, Florida — The Gators aren’t exactly playing their best ball of late, but Muschamp has this program back among the nation’s elite. Last year, in his first on the job, Florida went 3–5 in the SEC. This year, the Gators went 7–1

Post-Week  12 SEC Power Rankings

1. Alabama (10–1, 6–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Week 12 result: Beat Western Carolina 49–0
Alabama disposed of FCS lightweight Western Carolina with little difficulty on Saturday afternoon. The big news, however, came late Saturday night, when both Kansas State (BCS No. 1) and Oregon (BCS No. 2) were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten. Alabama climbed to No. 2 in the BCS standings and will play for the national title with wins over Auburn next week and Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

Next week: Auburn

2. Georgia (10–1, 7–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 2
Week 12 result: Beat Georgia Southern 45–14
It was a struggle for a while, but Georgia pulled away in the second half en route to a 45–14 win over Georgia Southern. The Bulldogs had some trouble at times with Georgia Southern’s option attack, but only allowed one touchdown through the first three quarters and 318 total yards for the game. Aaron Murray was the offensive star for Georgia, throwing for 330 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. With both Oregon and Kansas State losing, Georgia now controls its own destiny to play for the national title. 
Next week: Georgia Tech

3. Florida (10–1, 7–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 3
Week 12 result: Beat Jacksonville State 23–0
Nothing comes easy for the Gators these days. Florida improved to 10–1 overall with a 23–0 win over Jacksonville State despite scoring only one offensive touchdown and recording only 356 yards of offense. Jacoby Brissett, playing for the injured Jeff Driskell, completed 14-of-22 passes for 154 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Senior tailback Mike Gillieslee rushed for 122 yards on 20 carries, his first 100-yard game since early October.
Next week: at Florida State

4. LSU (9–2, 5–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 4
Week 12 result: Beat Ole Miss 41–35
LSU kept its slim SEC West title hopes alive with a wild 41–35 win over Ole Miss in Baton Rouge. The Tigers gave up 463 total yards, including 310 through the air, but made key plays at the right time. Late in the fourth quarter, Anthony Johnson and Lavar Edwards sacked Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace on consecutive plays to knock the Rebels from the 18 to the 36-yard line. Then, after Ole Miss missed a 53-yard field goal attempts, LSU drove 64 yards on nine plays for the game-winning touchdown. To win the SEC West and play in the SEC title game, LSU needs to beat Arkansas, Missouri needs to beat Texas A&M and Auburn needs to beat Alabama.
Next week: at Arkansas

5. Texas A&M (9–2, 5–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Week 12 result: Beat Sam Houston State 47–28
Texas A&M won for the ninth time in the past 10 games, cruising to a 47–28 win over FCS power Sam Houston State. Quarterback Johnny Manziel threw for 267 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 100 yards and two scores to lead the Aggie attack. With Collin Klein struggling in Kansas State’s loss to Baylor, Manziel has emerged as the frontrunner in the Heisman Trophy race.
Next week: Missouri

6. South Carolina (9–2, 6–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Week 12 result: Beat Wofford 24–7
South Carolina was outgained 330-to-293 but managed to escape Williams-Brice Stadium with a tougher-than-expected 24–7 win over Wofford. Connor Shaw completed 16-of-20 passes for 122 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and Kenny Miles rushed for 127 yards and a score to lead the Carolina offense. The Gamecocks completed their first unbeaten (7–0) at home since 1987.
Next week: at Clemson

7. Mississippi State (8–3, 4–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
7
Week 12 result: Beat Arkansas 45–14
Mississippi State snapped a three-game losing streak with a emphatic 45–14 win over Arkansas in Starkville. The Bulldogs fell behind 14–7 early in the second quarter but scored the game’s final 31 points to secure no worse than a .500 record in the SEC. Tyler Russell was sharp for MSU, completing 19-of-32 passes for 274 yards with four touchdowns an no interceptions. Tailback LaDarius Perkins, who missed the LSU game with an injury, returned to the lineup and rushed for 91 yards on 17 carries. The Bulldogs recorded a season-high 505 yards of total offense.
Next week: at Ole Miss

8. Vanderbilt (7–4, 5–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Week 12 result: Beat Tennessee 41–18
Vanderbilt beat Tennessee in Nashville for the first time since 1982 — and did so in dominating fashion. The Commodores broke open a tight game with 28 straight points in the second half to claim their fifth straight win. The Vanderbilt defense held the powerful Volunteer offense to 303 total yards (second fewest of the season) and allowed UT to convert only 2-of-15 on third down. Jordan Rodgers outdueled UT’s Tyler Bray, throwing for 245 yards and two touchdowns. The 23-point win was the largest margin of victory for Vanderbilt over Tennessee since 1954. The Commodores, with five SEC wins, have secured their first winning league record since 1982.
Next week: at Wake Forest

9. Ole Miss (5–6, 2¬–5 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 9
Week 12 result: Lost to LSU 41–35
It’s been a tough two weeks for the Ole Miss Rebels. One week after blowing a 23–6 second half lead at home to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss battled LSU to the wire in Baton Rouge before falling 41–35. The Rebels outgained LSU 463-to-427 but committed four turnovers and had trouble protecting quarterback Bo Wallace on a decisive fourth quarter drive. Wallace threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns on only 15 completions but was responsible for three of the Rebels’ turnovers. He also rushed for two touchdowns, including a 58-yard run up the middle in the first quarter. Ole Miss must beat rival Mississippi State in Oxford next week to become bowl-eligible.
Next week: Mississippi State

10. Arkansas (4–7, 2–5 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
10
Week 12 result: Lost to Mississippi State 45–14
It’s official: Arkansas, a top-15 team in the preseason, will not play in a bowl game. The Razorbacks dropped to 4–7 overall and 2–5 in the SEC with a 45–17 loss at Mississippi State. Arkansas was done in once again by a pass defense that has been among the worst in the nation in 2012. MSU threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns, becoming the seventh team to top the 275-yard mark against the Hogs. Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson completed 23-of-29 passes for 225 yard and two touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice. Wilson has thrown seven picks in the last four games; he threw only six all of last season.
Next week: LSU

11. Missouri (5–6, 2–5 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 11
Week 12 result: Lost to Syracuse 31–27
Missouri lost for the fourth time at home this season, falling to Syracuse 31–27 on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds remaining. Missouri held leads of 14–3, 17–10, 24–17 and 27–24 but had trouble stopping the Syracuse passing attack all night long. SU quarterback Ryan Nassib threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns and wide out Alec Lemon caught 12 passes for 244 yards. Missouri quarterback James Franklin completed 17-of-23 for 278 yards and two scores but had to be replaced in the fourth quarter for an undisclosed injury. The Tigers must beat Texas A&M in College Station to become bowl-eligible.
Next week: at Texas A&M

12. Tennessee (4–7, 0–7 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 11
Week 12 result: Lost to Vanderbilt 41–18
The Derek Dooley era is over. It became official on Sunday morning, about 12 hours after the Vols suffered their worst defeat to Vanderbilt since 1954. The final score was 41–18 — and it could have been worse. The Volunteers were completely dominated in the second half on their way to their eighth straight SEC road loss. The Tennessee offense, which had scored 103 points in the previous two games, was held to one touchdown (the Vols added a scored on special teams). Tyler Bray had his worst outing of the season, completing only 11-of-29 for 103 yards with one touchdown and two picks. Bray was pulled in the second quarter but returned to the lineup in the second half. Tennessee ends its season next week vs. Kentucky. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will serve as the interim head coach.
Next week: Kentucky

13. Auburn (3–8, 0–7 SEC)
Last week:
13
Week 12 result: Beat Alabama A&M 51–7
This one was never in doubt. Auburn jumped on Alabama A&M early, taking a 21–0 lead after one quarter and a 35–0 at the half. The Tigers rolled up 502 yards offense, led by tailbacks Tre Mason (181 yards) and Onterio McCalebb (104 yards). True freshman Jonathan Wallace continues to play well at quarterback; he completed 10-of-18 for 171 yards and one touchdown. Auburn now makes the trip across the state to battle rival Alabama, which is back in the national title picture.
Next week: at Alabama

14. Kentucky (2–9, 0–7 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 14
Week 12 result: Beat Samford 34–3
Joker Phillips won in his final game at Commonwealth Stadium as the Wildcats snapped an eight-game winning streak with a convincing win over Samford. The Cats outgained Samford 455-to-102 by dominating on the line of scrimmage. UK ran for a season-high 342 yards, with Raymond Sanders (123 yards), Dyshawn Mobley (82) and Jonathan George (76) doing most of the damage. Jalen Whitlow received most of the snaps at quarterback and completed 10-of-13 for 66 yards and one touchdown.
Next week: at Tennessee

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> There were no changes in the power rankings, but it was still a huge weekend for the SEC. Thanks to losses by both Kansas State and Oregon, the winner of the SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia will be in position to play for the national championship. Also of note, Vanderbilt beat Tennessee in Nashville for the first time in 30 years.</p>
Post date: Monday, November 19, 2012 - 05:45
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-11-1
Body:

College football's Week 12 schedule is highlighted by two huge battles in the Pac-12. Stanford visits Oregon in a game that likely will decide the South Division champion, while USC makes the short trip to UCLA for the game of the year in the South.

Friday

No. 109 FIU at No. 17 FAU
FAU is showing signs of life late in Carl Pelini’s first season as the head coach. The Owls have won two of three, highlighted by a 37–28 win at Western Kentucky last weekend. The offense, which scored 20 points or fewer in each of the first six games, has scored 34 or more in three of the past four.
FAU 28–20

No. 121 Hawaii at No. 95 Air Force
Five years ago, Hawaii played in a BCS bowl. Two years ago, the Warriors won 10 games. Now, under first-year coach Norm Chow, this is one of the worst teams in the nation.
Air Force 38–3

Saturday

No. 14 Stanford at No. 1 Oregon
It’s a testament to Oregon’s dominance that the Ducks are favored by nearly three touchdowns against the second-best team in the Pac-12 North — and maybe the second-best team in the entire league.
Oregon 48–28

No. 2 Kansas State at No. 42 Baylor
Kansas State has given up 16 touchdowns in seven Big 12 games. Baylor has given up 38 in six games. Go with the team that allows fewer touchdowns.
Kansas State 44–28

No. 84 Wake Forest at No. 3 Notre Dame
Wake Forest was held to 185 total yards in a 37–6 loss at NC State last week. That same NC State team gave up 446 yards to Virginia the previous week. The Notre Dame defense should dominate.
Notre Dame 24–6

No. 4 Ohio State at No. 25 Wisconsin
Ohio State has a two-game lead on Wisconsin in the Leaders Division but is not eligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions. The Badgers will go in their stead after clinching a spot with an emphatic 62–14 win at Indiana on Saturday.
Ohio State 24–20

Western Carolina at No. 5 Alabama
The biggest mismatch of the weekend has to be Western Carolina vs. Alabama. The Catamounts are 1–9 and are allowing 519.8 yards and 40.0 points per game. It’s a safe bet that Alabama will bounce back from its only loss of the season with a comfortable win.
Alabama 41–0

Georgia Southern at No. 6 Georgia
Georgia true freshman Todd Gurley is closing in on 1,000 yards. He has 973 yards while sharing time with fellow rookie Keith Marshall, and is only 41 yards behind SEC leader Johnny Manziel.
Georgia 44–13

Jacksonville State at No. 7 Florida
Jacksonville State is the last school from the FCS ranks to beat an SEC school. The Gamecocks defeated Ole Miss in Oxford 49–48 on the opening week of the 2010 season.
Florida 31–7

No. 38 Ole Miss at No. 8 LSU
Ole Miss has played well in recent trips to Baton Rouge: The Rebels are 4–4 in their last eight at Tiger Stadium with three of the losses coming by three points or fewer and the other by seven points.
LSU 37–21

Sam Houston State at No. 9 Texas A&M
This should be a fun game. Sam Houston State leads the FCS in scoring offense (46.2 ppg) and ranks sixth in total offense (490.3 ypg).
Texas A&M 48–20

Wofford at No. 10 South Carolina
South Carolina takes on a solid Wofford team that is 8–2 overall and 6–2 in the SoCon. The schools have met twice in the past seven years, with Carolina winning 27–20 in 2006 and 23–13 in ’08.
South Carolina 31–13

No. 11 Florida State at No. 83 Maryland
Maryland’s season has been derailed by injuries, most notably at the quarterback position. The Terps have averaged 14.5 points during their four-game losing streak.
Florida State 41–0

No. 56 NC State at No. 12 Clemson
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Clemson has been on quite a roll. Since losing at Florida State in late September, the Tigers have won six straight by an average margin of 25.2 points.
Clemson 37–21

No. 13 Oklahoma at No. 35 West Virginia
This was expected to be one of the marquee games in the Big 12 this season. But that was before we knew just how bad West Virginia would be at preventing their opponents from gaining yards and scoring points. In league play, the Mountaineers are giving up an average of 517.8 yards and 51.0 points per game.
Oklahoma 55–30

No. 80 California at No. 15 Oregon State
Cal’s season will come to an end this Saturday in Corvallis. The question is: Will this also be the end of the Jeff Tedford era?
Oregon State 31–17

No. 21 USC at No. 16 UCLA
USC has been arguably the most disappointing team in the nation in 2012. UCLA has been one of the biggest surprises. The result: UCLA is one-half game up on its cross-town rival in the Pac-12 South and controls its own destiny to play in the league title game.
USC 41–34

No. 65 Minnesota at No. 17 Nebraska
Here’s an odd stat about Minnesota. The Gophers have scored either 13 points or 17 points in six of their last seven games. The exception was in a 44–28 win over Purdue three weeks ago.
Nebraska 31–17

No. 74 Iowa at No. 19 Michigan
Iowa is trying to avoid its first five-game losing streak since 2000, when Kirk Ferentz’s second Hawkeye team opened the season 0–5 en route to a 3–9 season.
Michigan 30–17

No. 48 Utah State at No. 20 Louisiana Tech
It’s the game of the year in the WAC. Louisiana Tech has received more national pub, but Utah State is having an outstanding season as well. The Aggies are 8–2, with a two-point loss to Wisconsin and a three-point loss to BYU.
Utah State 31–27

No. 22 Texas Tech at No. 27 Oklahoma State
These two teams have something in common: They both struggled to beat Kansas. The Cowboys topped KU 20–14 in Lawrence in mid-October. Last week, Texas Tech needed double-overtime to beat Kansas 41–34 in Lubbock.
Oklahoma State 34–30

No. 23 Arizona at No. 63 Utah
This is a huge game for a Utah program that needs two wins to become bowl-eligible for a 10th-straight season. The Utes are 4–1 at home with the only loss coming by 10 points to USC. Arizona, however, has too much firepower.
Arizona 31–17

No. 26 Rutgers at No. 37 Cincinnati
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood has to be a bit concerned about his team’s performance of late. The Knights lost at home to Kent State two weeks ago and then struggled with Army this past weekend. Rutgers was outgained 337-to-252 and didn’t hold its first lead until midway through the fourth quarter.
Cincinnati 27–17

No. 46 Arkansas at No. 28 Mississippi State
There’s one stat that best illustrates Arkansas’ struggles in 2012. And it’s quite simple: The Razorbacks aren’t scoring enough touchdowns. Last year, with Bobby Petrino calling the plays, Arkansas scored 32 touchdowns in eight SEC games. This year, the Hogs have scored 16 touchdowns in six league games.
Mississippi State 31–24

No. 29 Washington at No. 100 Colorado
Colorado’s defense has been unbelievably bad over the past five games. The Buffs have given up 51, 50, 70, 48 and 56 points in consecutive weeks.
Washington 51–7

No. 71 Indiana at No. 31 Penn State
Indiana must bounce back from a sobering 62–14 loss at home to Wisconsin. The Hoosiers can still become bowl-eligible but must beat Penn State and Purdue on the road. That’s not likely to happen.
Penn State 37–27

No. 32 Northwestern at No. 33 Michigan State
Northwestern is 7–3 overall and has had double-digit leads in the second half of all three losses — at Penn State, vs. Nebraska and at Michigan. This team could easily be in the thick of the Legends Division race.
Northwestern 24–16

No. 52 Tennessee at No. 34 Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt, 4–3 in the SEC, has won more than two league games for only the third time since the league expanded to 12 teams in 1992. With a win on Saturday, the Commodores will have a winning SEC record for the first time since 1982.
Vanderbilt 30–27

No. 36 Iowa State at No. 87 Kansas
Kansas has yet to beat an FBS team in 2012, but the Jayhawks have been relatively competitive — at least for a bad team. They lost by 14 to TCU, by seven at Northern Illinois, by six to Oklahoma State, by four to Texas and by seven in double-overtime at Texas Tech.
Kansas 24–20

No. 101 Washington State at 39 Arizona State
Arizona State was once 3–0 in the Pac-12. Now, the Sun Devils are 3–4. The problem? Defense. ASU gave up 17 points or fewer in its first three league games but has allowed 36 or more in each of its four losses.
Arizona State 34–17

No. 41 Syracuse at No. 51 Missouri
Missouri won its first SEC road game last week — 51–48 in four overtimes at Tennessee — despite giving up 432 passing yards. That has to be a concern for Gary Pinkel and his staff. Syracuse has been on a roll offensively.
Missouri 30–27

No. 112 Colorado State at No. 43 Boise State
Boise State can secure no worse than a tie for the Mountain West title in its last season in the league by beating Colorado State this week and struggling Nevada in Reno the following week. For the Broncos to win the title outright, San Diego State will have to lose at Wyoming next week.
Boise State 38–10

No. 55 Duke at No. 60 Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets rushed for 380 yards and seven touchdowns and threw for 208 yards and one score (on only seven completions) in a 68–50 win at North Carolina on Saturday. This is not a good matchup for a Duke team that ranks 85th in the nation in rushing defense and has given up an average of 43.8 points in its last four games.
Georgia Tech 44–30

No. 77 South Florida at No. 45 Miami (Fla.)
South Florida snapped a six-game losing streak by beating UConn 13–6 last week at home. The Bulls need to win their final three games to become bowl eligible. Not going to happen.
Miami 27–14

No. 59 UCF at 47 Tulsa
These two teams likely will meet again in the Conference USA title game in a few weeks, with the winner serving as the host. Neither team has lost to a non-AQ conference opponent in 2012.
UCF 31–27

No. 50 Kent State at No. 76 Bowling Green
It’s a huge game in the MAC East between 6–0 Kent State and 5–1 Bowling Green. Kent will clinch a spot in the league title game with a win; Bowling Green would still need to beat Buffalo next week to secure a trip to Detroit.
Kent State 34–24

No. 54 Virginia Tech at No. 93 Boston College
This figures to be the final home game for Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani, who has been on the Eagles’ staff since 1997. BC is 2¬–8 overall and 1–5 in the ACC.
Virginia Tech 23–13

No. 57 BYU at No. 64 San Jose State
San Jose State is 8–2 overall and ranks second or third in the WAC in every key offensive and defensive statistic. It’s a bit of a surprise that the Spartans are a 3-point underdog at home.
San Jose State 28–21

No. 66 Arkansas State at No. 82 Troy
Things are clicking for Gus Malzahn’s offense in the latter half of the season. The Red Wolves have won five straight and are averaging 40.4 points during that span.
Arkansas State 47–30

No. 105 North Texas at No. 67 ULM
ULM played its way into the national spotlight in September by beating Arkansas and losing by three to Auburn and by five to Baylor. But the Warhawks have fallen on hard times, with consecutive losses to UL Lafayette and Arkansas State. The once-explosive offense has struggled since quarterback Kolton Browning went down with an injury against UL Lafayette.
ULM 27–17

No. 69 Middle Tennessee at No. 122 South Alabama
Middle Tennessee needs to win its next two games — at South Alabama and vs. Troy — to set up a winner-take-all Sun Belt showdown at Arkansas State on Dec. 1.
Middle Tennessee 37–10

No. 111 Texas State at No. 70 Navy
Texas State scored 55 points and rolled up 577 yards of offense last week in a seven-point loss to Louisiana Tech. Not bad for a team in its first season in the FBS ranks.
Navy 30–24

No. 72 Purdue at No. 99 Illinois
Illinois ranks last in the Big Ten in total offense in league play, averaging only 267.0 yards per game and 4.07 yards per play. Last week, the Fighting Illinois lost at home to Minnesota 17–3.
Purdue 28–14

No. 85 Western Kentucky at No. 75 UL-Lafayette
Western Kentucky has played its way out of the Sun Belt race. After opening the conference slate with quality wins at Arkansas State and Troy, the Hilltoppers have lost three of four, including two at home (Middle Tennessee and FAU).
UL-Lafayette 31–23

Alabama A&M at No. 78 Auburn
Alabama A&M is 7–3 overall but plays in one of the weakest FCS leagues (SWAC). Auburn should roll with ease.
Auburn 37–10

No. 81 East Carolina at No. 115 Tulane
East Carolina still has an outside shot at the MAC East title. The Pirates must beat Tulane and Marshall and hope UCF loses at Tulsa (possible) and at home vs. UAB (not likely).
East Carolina 41–24

No. 86 Temple at No. 110 Army
Temple’s offensive woes continued last week at home vs. Cincinnati. The Owls recorded only 267 yards of offense in a 34–10 loss. They have failed to score more than 17 points in each of their last five games.
Army 27–17

No. 88 SMU at No. 96 Rice
Garrett Gilbert, the former Texas Longhorn and one-time prep All-American, has thrown 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions
in his first season at SMU. He ranks 10th in C-USA in passing efficiency.
SMU 31–21

No. 89 Nevada at No. 108 New Mexico
Nevada’s slump continues. The Wolf Pack lost their third-straight game last weekend, dropping a 52–36 decision at home to Fresno State. The offense has done its part, scoring 31 points or more in all three losses. The defense, however, has not cooperated. The Pack rank 91st nationally in total defense and 101st in scoring defense.
Nevada 34–31

No. 118 Eastern Michigan at No. 90 Western Michigan
After breaking through with a 4–4 record last fall, Eastern Michigan is staring at a winless MAC season. The Eagles are 0–6 with a trip to Western Michigan and a home date with Northern Illinois. Ron English could be in trouble.
Western Michigan 31–20

Samford at No. 91 Kentucky
Joker Phillips will coach his last game in Lexington on Saturday against Samford. It will be an emotional day for a man who has spent the majority of his adult life at the University of Kentucky. The Franklin, Ky., native played for the Cats from 1981-84 and served on the UK staff in some capacity for 19 of his 25 years in coaching.
Kentucky 24–10

No. 94 Houston at No. 92 Marshall
It’s safe to say that Tony Levine’s first season as a head coach has not gone well. Houston is 4–6 overall and 3–3 in C-USA — one season after winning 13 games.
Marshall 41–37

No. 114 Memphis at No. 97 UAB
Neither team has won many games this season, but it’s clear that both UAB and Memphis have improved under the direction of their first-year coaches — Garrick McGee (UAB) and Justin Fuente (Memphis).
UAB 27–23

No. 102 Buffalo at No. 119 UMass
UMass broke through with its first victory of the season last week, holding on to beat Akron 22–14 on the road. With home games remaining against Buffalo and Central Michgan, the Minutemen have an opportunity to end the season on a three-game winning streak.
UMass 27–20

No. 98 Miami (Ohio) at No. 106 Central Michigan
Central Michigan tailback Zurlon Tipton has rushed for 100 yards or more in four straight games, highlighted by a 243-yard, three-touchdown effort against Akron three weeks ago.
Central Michigan 34–28

No. 103 Wyoming at No. 113 UNLV
Wyoming is 2–0 since Dave Christensen’s return from his one-game suspension for calling Air Force coach Troy Calhoun a “flyboy” — among (many) other things.
Wyoming 28–20

No. 104 UTEP at No. 117 Southern Miss
Southern Miss has two more opportunities to pick up its first win of the Ellis Johnson era. The Golden Eagles are a 3.5-point dog at home this week and then travel to Memphis for the finale next weekend.
UTEP 27–13

No. 116 UTSA at No. 123 Idaho
Idaho is limping to the finish line under interim head coach Jason Gesser. The Vandals rank last in the nation in scoring offense (15.4 ppg) and 118th in scoring defense (43.0 ppg).
UTSA 21–20

Last week: 41–12
Season: 482–142

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> College football's Week 12 schedule is highlighted by two huge battles in the Pac-12. Stanford visits Oregon in a game that likely will decide the South Division champion, while USC makes the short trip to UCLA for the game of the year in the South.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 16, 2012 - 05:22
Path: /college-football/sec-week-12-preview-and-predictions
Body:

All 14 SEC teams are in action this weekend, but there are only three games involving two league teams. And all three feature at least one team that needs to win to keep its bowl hopes alive. Tennessee is 4–6 and needs to beat Vanderbilt this week and Kentucky next week to get to the six-win mark. Arkansas, also 4–6, has a tougher road. The Hogs need to win at Mississippi State and beat LSU in Fayetteville on the Friday after Thanksgiving. And Ole Miss, at 5–5, needs to win one more game, either at LSU this weekend or vs. Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. 

Other Week 12 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12

SEC’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 12:

1. Can Ole Miss pick up win No. 6 in Baton Rouge?
After losing at Georgia and at home to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss is down to two more opportunities to pick up that elusive sixth win. Conventional wisdom suggests the Rebels have a better chance of beating Mississippi State at home than LSU in Baton Rouge. And while that is probably true, the Rebels do have a history of playing very well at Tiger Stadium. Ole Miss is 4–4 in their last eight games in Baton Rouge with three of the losses coming by three points or fewer and the other by seven points. One of the most noteworthy wins in the series came in 2008, when Houston Nutt’s first Rebel team won 31–13 at Tiger Stadium. That is the last time LSU has lost by more than 10 points at home. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, a Mississippi native who was a member of Ed Orgeron’s staff from 2005-07, knows the history of this series quite well. “One of the earliest memories I have is sitting in the stands and hearing exactly how the Ole Miss fans felt about LSU in almost any game,” Freeze says. “You always remember the Billy Cannons and all of those things. It's quite clear to me the rivalry that this is and how well Ole Miss usually plays LSU.”

2. Can we now call LSU a passing offense?
Something strange is happening in Baton Rouge. For the first time since November 2010, LSU has had more yards passing than rushing in two consecutive games (against FBS opponents). Two weeks ago, the Tigers threw for 296 yards and rushed for 139 in a 21–17 loss to Alabama. Last Saturday, they threw for 273 and rushed for 119 in a 37–17 win against Mississippi State. The reason for this new-found success in the passing game has been the improved play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. In his first four SEC games, Mettenberger completed 46.2 percent of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions; in his last two games, he has completed 66.2 percent with three touchdowns and no picks. It’s not likely we will ever see a Les Miles-coached team fling the ball all over the field on a consistent basis, but it’s a positive sign that the Tigers are able to throw the ball down the field when needed.

3. Can Mississippi State slow down the Arkansas passing attack?
Mississippi State’s secondary has taken a beating in recent weeks. The Bulldogs have given up an average of 280 passing yards during their three-game losing streak. After seven games, all wins, MSU ranked 21st nationally in pass defense, allowing an average of 188.6 yards per game. After losses to Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU, the Dogs have dropped to 43rd (216.0 ypg). This week, Arkansas comes calling. The Razorbacks have been one of the biggest disappointments in the nation, but they still do one thing very well — throw the ball down the field. The Hogs ranks 19th nationally in passing offense (302.6 ypg) and lead the SEC with eight passing plays of 50 yards or more. Arkansas isn’t as balanced as State’s three previous opponents, but this offense is more than capable of putting up a bunch of points on what has become a suspect Mississippi State defense.

4. Can Arkansas score some touchdowns?
There’s one stat that best illustrates Arkansas’ struggles in 2012. And it’s quite simple: The Razorbacks aren’t scoring enough touchdowns. Last year, with Bobby Petrino calling the plays, Arkansas scored 32 touchdowns in eight SEC games. This year, the Hogs have scored 16 touchdowns in six league games. There are mitigating factors — injuries to some key personnel, losses to graduation at wide receiver, etc. — but this is still a significant decrease in production. As a result, a team that was hoping to contend for an SEC West title is now fighting for bowl-eligibility.

5. Which SEC team is most at risk to losing to a FCS opponent this week?
No SEC team has lost to a member of the FCS ranks since Ole Miss opened the 2010 season with a 49–48 loss to Jacksonville State. This week, there are an unprecedented seven games featuring an SEC team vs. an FCS opponent. The league figures to win all seven, but there are a few teams that should be on upset alert. Kentucky, which is 1–9, hosts Samford (7–3) in the final home game of the Joker Phillips era. South Carolina takes on a solid Wofford team that is 8–2 overall and 6–2 in the SoCon. The schools have met twice in the past seven years, with Carolina winning 27–20 in 2006 and 23–13 in ’08. Struggling Auburn hosts Alabama A&M, which has a gaudy 7–3 record but plays in the weak SWAC. The biggest mismatch has to be Western Carolina vs. Alabama. The Catamounts are 1–9 and are allowing 519.8 yards and 40.0 points per game. It’s a safe bet that Alabama will bounce back from its only loss of the season with a comfortable win.

6. Can Vanderbilt do the unthinkable — end the season with a winning SEC record?
There have been a lot of firsts at Vanderbilt this season. Among the highlights: The Commodores have become bowl-eligibile for the second-straight season for the first time in school history; they recorded their first SEC shutout since 1968; and they have won three straight on the road in the SEC for the first time ever. Another significant milestone can be reached with a victory over Tennessee on Saturday — a winning record in the SEC. This has happened only one time since 1959, when Whit Taylor led the Dores to a 4–2 mark in league play in 1982. Since the SEC expanded in 1992, Vanderbilt has won more than two conference games only twice, 2005 (3–5) and 2008 (4–4).

7. Can the Tennessee defense step up?
Tennessee is allowing an average of 511.2 yards and 43.7 points in SEC games — staggering numbers for a program that has produced so many great defensive players over the past two decades. This weekend, the Vols face a Vanderbilt team that has some nice weapons but is far from an offensive juggernaut. The Commodores have scored 67 points over the last two weeks (in wins at Kentucky and Ole Miss) but had scored 19 or fewer in their first five SEC games. Tennessee’s suspect secondary will be challenged by the league’s most productive wide receiver duo — Jordan Matthews (1,003 yards) and Chris Boyd (686 yards). Historically, the Vols have made life very difficult on the Commodores. Tennessee has only lost to Vanderbilt once since 1982 and has only allowed the Dores to score more than 28 points once (in 2004) since 1987. This season, however, has defied history — for both schools.

8. Can Dorial Green-Beckham finish strong?
He’s had some big catches, but it’s fair to say that Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation’s top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2012, hasn’t been quite as productive as most expected. In nine games, DGB has caught 22 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. His most productive game was against Florida two weeks ago, when he caught six passes for 73 yards, but his biggest catch came last week in the overtime win at Tennessee. Facing 4th-and-12 from the 25-yard line with under one minute to play, Mizzou quarterback James Franklin found Green-Beckham alone in the corner of the end zone for a game-tying touchdown. DGB added a 10-yard touchdown reception in the third overtime. With two regular-season games remaining, plus a potential bowl game, Missouri would love to see Green-Beckham close his rookie campaign on a strong note.

9. Can Joker Phillips win his last game at Commonwealth Stadium?
Joker Phillips will coach his last game in Lexington on Saturday against Samford. It will be an emotional day for a man who has spent the majority of his adult life at the University of Kentucky. The Franklin, Ky., native played for the Cats from 1981-84 and served on the UK staff in some capacity for 19 of his 25 years in coaching. Phillips has a 12–23 record overall and a 4–19 mark in the SEC in his two-plus seasons as the head coach. The high-water mark of his tenure was a 10–7 win over Tennessee — the program’s first over the Vols since 1984 — in the final week of the 2011 season. The low point had to be a 40–0 loss to Vanderbilt two weeks ago before fewer than 20,000 at Commonwealth Stadium. This Saturday, the Cats host Samford, which is 7–3 in the FBS ranks, and then close the Phillips era with a trip to Knoxville to play Tennessee.

10. Who will win the SEC rushing title?
Two freshmen have separated themselves from the field in the quest for the SEC rushing title. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, with 1,014 yards, leads Georgia true freshman tailback Todd Gurley, who has 973 yards while sharing time with fellow rookie Keith Marshall. Gurley has a slight edge in yards per carry (6.53 to 6.50), but Manziel has more touchdowns (15 to 11). Vanderbilt true freshman Brian Kimbrow leads the league in yards per carry (7.20) but only has 55 attempts. Among players with at least 100 attempts, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon tops the list with 6.61 yards per carry.

@AthlonMitch

  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light

Arkansas at Miss. State

Miss. State 35-21

Miss. State 31-28 Miss. State 27-24 Miss. State 31-24
W. Carolina at Alabama

Alabama 52-3

Alabama 41-7

Alabama 55-0

Alabama 41-0

Jacksonville St. at Florida

Florida 24-10

Florida 31-7

Florida 45-10

Florida 31-7
Wofford at South Carolina S. Carolina 38-10 S. Carolina 31-7

S. Carolina 41-17

S. Carolina 31-13
Ga. Southern at Georgia

Georgia 35-17

Georgia 34-10

Georgia 51-20

Georgia 44-13
Alabama A&M at Auburn

Auburn 28-7

Auburn 44-10

Auburn 41-10

Auburn 37-10
Ole Miss at LSU

LSU 35-14

LSU 24-17

LSU 34-20

LSU 37-21

Sam Houston St. at Texas A&M

Texas A&M 42-13

Texas A&M 41-10

Texas A&M 56-20

Texas A&M 48-10
Syracuse at Missouri

Syracuse 28-21

Missouri 38-31

Missouri 31-27

Missouri 30-27

Tennessee at Vanderbilt Vanderbilt 28-24 Vanderbilt 31-28

Vanderbilt 34-31

Vanderbilt 30-27
Samford at Kentucky

Kentucky 24-7

Kentucky 24-10

Kentucky 34-17

Kentucky 24-10
Last week 5-2 4-3 5-2 5-2
Season 72-20 78-14 79-13 77-15

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> All 14 SEC teams are in action this weekend, but there are only three games involving two league teams. And all three feature at least one team that needs to win to keep its bowl hopes alive. Tennessee is 4–6 and needs to beat Vanderbilt this week and Kentucky next week to get to the six-win mark. Arkansas, also 4–6, has a tougher road. The Hogs need to win at Mississippi State and beat LSU in Fayetteville on the Friday after Thanksgiving. And Ole Miss, at 5–5, needs to win one more game, either at LSU this weekend or vs. Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 05:09
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-12-0
Body:

College football's Week 12 schedule is highlighted by two huge battles in the Pac-12. Stanford visits Oregon in a game that likely will decide the South Division champion, while USC makes the short trip to UCLA for the game of the year in the South.  

Stanford (+20.5) at Oregon
It’s a testament to Oregon’s dominance that the Ducks are favored by nearly three touchdowns against the second-best team in the Pac-12 North — and maybe the second-best team in the entire league. Stanford has been solid in 2012, with an overall mark of 8–2 and a 6–1 record in the league. Oregon, however, has been completely dominant. Consider the following: The Ducks have won their seven Pac-12 games by an average margin of 33.7 points and are outgaining their opponents by 161.8 yards per game. USC is the only team that has made Oregon sweat, but the Ducks still led by 10 points or more for all but six minutes in their 62–51 win at the L.A. Coliseum. Stanford will have to run the ball effectively against Oregon’s ordinary rush defense (fifth in the league) and hope to force some turnovers.
Oregon 48–28

Ohio State (+3) at Wisconsin
Wisconsin wrapped up a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game with an emphatic 62–14 win at Indiana on Saturday. The Badgers rushed for an astounding 564 yards and seven touchdowns, led by Montee Ball (198 yards) and James White (161). UW’s dominance on the ground allowed the coaching staff to protect quarterback Curt Phillips, an oft-injured fifth-year senior who was making his first career start. Phillips only attempted seven passes for the entire game. The Badgers figure to need some semblance of offensive balance against Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes rank 16th nationally in rushing defense, though they did give up 223 yards on the ground to Nebraska and 224 to California. Ohio State has a two-game lead on Wisconsin in the Leaders Division but is not eligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions.
Ohio State 24–20

USC (-4) at UCLA
USC has been arguably the most disappointing team in the nation in 2012. UCLA has been one of the biggest surprises. The result: UCLA is one-half game up on its cross-town rival in the Pac-12 South and controls its own destiny to play in the league title game. The Bruins’ roster isn’t stocked with elite players but does have star power at two crucial positions — quarterback (Brett Hundley) and tailback (Johnathan Franklin). Hundley, a redshirt freshman, ranks second in the Pac-12 in total offense (301.1 ypg), and Franklin, a senior, ranks sixth nationally in rushing (127.0 ypg). The key for UCLA, however, will be on defense, where the Bruins must find a way to slow down the USC passing attack. UCLA ranks 103rd in the nation in pass defense and has given up 22 pass plays of 30 yards or more, the most in the Pac-12. That number figures to increase after Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are done with the UCLA secondary.
USC 41–34

Rutgers (+6.5) at Cincinnati
Rutgers is the only unbeaten team in Big East play after Louisville’s loss on Saturday at Syracuse. The Scarlet Knights, though, have the toughest remaining schedule of the contenders, with trips to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and a home game with Louisville. A bigger concern for coach Kyle Flood has to be his team’s performance of late. The Knights lost at home to Kent State two weeks ago and then struggled with Army this past weekend. Rutgers was outgained 337-to-252 and didn’t hold its first lead until midway through the fourth quarter. Cincinnati rolled past Temple 34–10 in Brendon Kay’s first start at quarterback. Kay, a senior who beat out Munchie Legaux, completed 13-of-21 for 244 yards and two touchdowns and added 71 yards on the ground. The Bearcats are playing good football and are the better team.
Cincinnati 27–17

Duke (+12.5) at Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech has played its way into the ACC Coastal Division race with consecutive wins at Maryland and North Carolina. The Yellow Jackets, 4–3 in the league, need to beat Duke this Saturday and then for Duke to beat Miami the following week. That would leave Tech all alone in first place with a 5–3 record. Duke controls its own destiny but needs to win at Georgia Tech and beat Miami at home to claim its first-ever division crown. Duke’s first order of business is finding a way to slow down Georgia Tech’s powerful offense. The Jackets rushed for 380 yards and seven touchdowns and threw for 208 yards and one score (on only seven completions) in a 68–50 win at North Carolina on Saturday. This is not a good matchup for a Duke team that ranks 85th in the nation in rushing defense and has given up an average of 43.8 points in its last four games.
Georgia Tech 44–30

Northwestern (+6.5) at Michigan State
Northwestern is 7–3 overall and has had double-digit leads in the second half of all three losses — at Penn State, vs. Nebraska and at Michigan. This team could easily be in thick of the Legends Division race. Michigan State, a preseason top-20 team, has been a big disappointment in 2012. The Spartans are 5–5 overall and tied for last place in the Legends with a 2–4 record. The culprit has been an offense that is averaging only 19.7 points per game. Running back Le’Veon Ball has done his part, averaging 106.5 yards in Big Ten games, but Andrew Maxwell simply hasn’t been good enough at the quarterback position. The stout Spartan defense will pose some problems for Northwestern’s run-based offense, but Michigan State will have trouble scoring enough points to win this game — even at home.
Northwestern 24–16

Oklahoma (-10.5) at West Virginia
This was expected to be one of the marquee games in the Big 12 this season. But that was before we knew just how bad West Virginia would be at preventing their opponents from gaining yards and scoring points. In league play, the Mountaineers are giving up an average of 517.8 yards and 51.0 points per game. Last weekend, Oklahoma State became the third team this season to score at least 55 points against WVU. Oklahoma could be the fourth. The Sooners have scored 35 points or more in all but one league game, a 24–19 loss to Kansas State in September. Landry Jones isn’t having a Heisman-worthy season, but the senior quarterback is averaging just under 300 yards passing per game and has 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. It will be a shock if he doesn’t have at least 20 touchdowns after Saturday’s trip to Morgantown.
Oklahoma 55–30

UCF (+3) at Tulsa
These two teams likely will meet again in the Conference USA title game in a few weeks, with the winner serving as the host. Tulsa hasn’t missed a beat since Todd Graham bolted for Pittsburgh two years ago. Bill Blankenship, who coached in the high school ranks until 2005, is 13–1 in C-USA since taking over at his alma mater. The Golden Hurricane have two losses in 2012, at Iowa State by 15 and at Arkansas by four. UCF, too, has only lost to AQ conference teams, by 15 at Ohio State and by five at home to Missouri. The Knights struggled at home against a bad Southern Miss team in mid-October, but have been very impressive against the rest of the league.
UCF 31–27

Ole Miss (+18.5) at LSU
Ole Miss is now 0-for-2 in its attempts to become bowl-eligible. The Rebels appeared to be in control Saturday night against Vanderbilt after taking a 23–6 lead early in the third quarter, but the Commodores stormed back to claim a 27–26 win on a touchdown with just over one minute to play. Ole Miss has played well in recent trips to Baton Rouge: The Rebels are 4–4 in their last eight at Tiger Stadium with three of the losses coming by three points or fewer and the other by seven points. LSU has played well offensively the past two weeks, due in large part to the improved play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. In his first four SEC games, Mettenberger completed 46.2 percent of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions; in his last two games, he has completed 66.2 percent with three touchdowns and no picks.
LSU 37–21

Syracuse (+4) at Missouri
This is a strange late-season non-conference game between two 5–5 teams searching for a sixth win to become bowl-eligible. There is far more pressure on Missouri, who still has to play at Texas A&M, to win this game. Syracuse, on the other hand, ends the season with Temple, which has lost four straight. This team will still get its sixth win at some point. Syracuse is coming off its best performance of the season, a surprisingly easy 45–26 victory at home against previously undefeated Louisville. The Orange ran for 278 yards and threw for 246, and have now had at least 475 yards in each of their last five games. Missouri won its first SEC road game last week — 51–48 in four overtimes at Tennessee — despite giving up 432 passing yards. That has to be a concern for Gary Pinkel and his staff. Syracuse, as mentioned, as been on a roll offensively, and quarterback Ryan Nassib has been productive all season.
Missouri 30–27 

Last week: 9–1 overall (8–2 against the spread)
Season: 75–35 overall (59–51 against the spread)
 

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> College football's Week 12 schedule is highlighted by two huge battles in the Pac-12. Stanford visits Oregon in a game that likely will decide the South Division champion, while USC makes the short trip to UCLA for the game of the year in the South. &nbsp;</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 10:15
Path: /college-football/sec-post-week-11-power-rankings
Body:

There was a huge upset in the SEC over the weekend, but not a lot changes in our power rankings. Alabama held on to its No. 1 spot — even after losing at home to Texas A&M — due to its body of work throughout the 2012 season. Vanderbilt and Ole Miss switched spots after the Commodores beat the Rebels in Oxford, and Missouri jumped Tennessee following its four OT win in Knoxville.

Post-Week 11 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M — Manziel was terrific in Texas A&M’s thrilling 29–24 win over No. 1 Alabama. The redshirt freshman completed 24-of-31 for 253 yards and two touchdowns and added 92 yards on the ground. Manziel leads the SEC in rushing and total offense and ranks fourth in passing efficiency.

2. AJ McCarron, Alabama — McCarron’s status on the this list is in jeopardy. The junior quarterback threw for a season-high 309 yards on Saturday, but he was intercepted twice as the Crimson Tide lost at home to Texas A&M. He has 2,158 yards with 20 touchdowns and two interceptions for the season.

3. Aaron Murray, Georgia — Murray has been solid throughout his junior season. He has thrown for 2,656 yards with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he leads the league with 9.7 yards per attempt. 

Post-Week 11 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina — Clowney’s productivity has been down a bit of late due to nagging injuries, but he is still the best defensive player in the league. He had two tackles and one sack in the Gamecocks’ win over Arkansas on Saturday. For the season, the sophomore defensive end has 42 total tackles (17 for a loss) with 9.5 sacks.

2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia — Jones continues to shine for the Bulldogs. He had four tackles with two sacks on Saturday against Auburn and now has 17 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks for the season.

3. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M — The junior defensive end recorded five tackles and one sack in the Aggies’ win at Alabama. He continues to lead the SEC in tackles for a loss with 20.0 and sacks with 12.5.

Post-Week 11 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M — It helps to have one of the most electric players in college football running the show, but Sumlin deserves a ton of credit for the Aggies’ 5–2 SEC record. They have two close losses at home to top-10 teams (Florida and LSU) and on Saturday knocked off a No. 1 team for only the second time in school history.

2. James Franklin, Vanderbilt — The Commodores are bowl-eligible for the second straight season for the first time in school history. Vanderbilt rallied from 17 down in the second half to beat Ole Miss 27–26 for its fourth straight win overall and its fourth SEC win of the season.

3. Will Muschamp, Florida — The Gators aren’t exactly playing their best ball of late, but Muschamp has this program back among the nation’s elite. Last year, in his first on the job, Florida went 3–5 in the SEC. This year, the Gators went 7–1.

Post-Week 11 SEC Power Rankings 

1. Alabama (9–1, 6–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Week 10 result: Lost to Texas A&M 29–24
Alabama’s hopes for a second straight national title took a huge hit Saturday afternoon with a 29–24 loss at home to surging Texas A&M. The Aggies jumped on the Tide early, scoring three first quarter touchdowns — on drives of 87, 41 and 80 yards — against a defense that had surrendered a total of 10 touchdowns in its first nine games. Alabama has now given up a total of 853 yards in its last two games — a win at LSU and a loss to Texas A&M — after not allowing more than 300 yards in any of its first eight games. The Tide also have lost the turnover battle in the past two games, 2-to-0 to LSU and 3-to-0 to A&M on Saturday. Quarterback AJ McCarron, who did not throw a pick in the first nine games, was intercepted twice by the Aggies. The junior quarterback has dropped from first to seventh nationally in passing efficiency in the past two weeks. Alabama must now beat Auburn in two weeks to wrap up the SEC West title.
Next week: Western Carolina

2. Georgia (9–1, 7–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
2
Week 10 result: Beat Auburn 38–0
Georgia clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game for a second straight season and kept alive its slim national title hopes with a 38–0 win at Auburn. The Bulldogs’ offense operated at high efficiency, with Aaron Murray completing 18-of-24 for 208 yards and three touchdowns, and both Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall rushing for more than 100 yards. The Georgia defense shut down Auburn’s running game, allowing a net of 57 yards rushing on 27 attempts. Georgia, which hosts Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech in the next two weeks, is 14–2 in the SEC over the last two seasons. The Dawgs, ranked No. xx in the latest BCS standings, need to beat Alabama (the likely opponent) in the SEC title game and hope that two of the three undefeated teams lose in the next two weeks.
Next week: Georgia Southern

3. Florida (9–1, 7–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
4
Week 10 result: Beat UL Lafayette 27–20
Florida averted disaster with a huge play on special teams in the final seconds. The Gators broke a 20–20 tie when Jelani Jenkins returned a blocked punt 36 yards for a touchdown with 13 seconds remaining the game. Once again, the Florida offense struggled. The Gators managed only 311 total yards and two offensive touchdowns against a ULL defense that gave up 50 points two weeks ago against Arkansas State and 65 points to Oklahoma State in a Week 3 loss. Quarterback Jeff Driskel was having a solid game (13-of-16 for 98 yards, 76 yards rushing) before leaving with a sprained ankle in the third quarter. Jacoby Brissett came on in relief and completed 6-of-8 for 64 yards. Florida, ranked No. X in the BCS standings, ends the season with non-conference games against Jacksonville State and Florida State.
Next week: Jacksonville State

4. LSU (8–2, 4–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
4
Week 10 result: Beat Mississippi State 37–17
LSU broke open a close game in the second half to beat Mississippi State for the 11th-straight time in Baton Rouge. MSU cut what was a 10-point lead at the half to three with a touchdown on its first drive of the third quarter, but LSU scored the game’s final 17 points. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was sharp for the second straight game, completing 19-of-30 passes for 273 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Tigers rushed for 119 yards on 38 attempts, spreading the carries between Jeremy Hill (15), Russell Shepard (eight), Kenny Hilliard (five) and Spencer Ware (five). Hill, who had 48 yards, had his streak of 100-yard games snapped at three. The LSU defense gave up a season-high 304 yards passing but did not allow State to get much going on the ground. Nick Griffin led the Bulldogs with 38 yards on 11 attempts.
Next week: Ole Miss

5. Texas A&M (8–2, 5–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
6
Week 10 result: Beat Alabama 29–24
Playing on the biggest stage of his young career, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel delivered a performance that will go down in Aggie lore. The redshirt freshman completed 24-of-31 passes for 253 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and added 92 yards rushing to lead A&M to a stunning 29–24 win over No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Aggies stormed out to a 20–0 lead in the first quarter on the strength of three long touchdown drives. Their offense stalled for much of the second half, but they came up with a huge defensive stop inside the 5-yard line late in the fourth quarter to preserve one of the biggest wins in school history. With Manziel running the show, Texas A&M is averaging an astounding 531.9 yards in SEC play — and that includes games against three of the top-five defensive teams in the nation (Alabama, LSU and Florida).
Next week: Sam Houston State

6. South Carolina (8–2, 6–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Week 10 result: Beat Arkansas 38–10
South Carolina completed its second straight SEC season with a 6–2 record by snapping a three-game losing streak to Arkansas. Playing for the first time without injured tailback Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks struggled to run the ball with consistency. Mike Davis was solid, averaging 4.1 yards on his 13 carries, but Carolina’s other ball-carriers netted only 58 yards on 28 carries. Connor Shaw was productive in the passing game, throwing for 272 yards on only 22 attempts with two touchdowns and one interception. The total yards were close (383 for South Carolina to 360 for Arkansas), but the Gamecocks won the turnover battle 3-to-1 and were far more efficient on third down (7-of-13). 
Next week: Wofford

7. Mississippi State (7–3, 3–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
7
Week 10 result: Lost to LSU 37–17
Mississippi State dropped its third straight game — all against ranked opponents — to fall to .500 in SEC play. The Bulldog offense, which scored 27 points or more in its seven wins, has now scored 17 points or fewer in each of the last three games. State had success throwing the ball for most of the night, recording 304 yards on 27 completions, but the running game stalled. Starting tailback LaDarius Perkins missed his first career game after straining a quad during practice earlier in the week. Nick Griffin stepped in as the primary ball-carrier and rushed for 38 yards on 11 carries. The Bulldogs have now lost 13 straight to LSU, though they did hold a lead (7–0) for the first time in Tiger Stadium since 1994.
Next week: Arkansas

8. Vanderbilt (6–4, 4–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
9
Week 10 result: Beat Ole Miss 27–26
Vanderbilt rallied from 17 points down in the second half to beat Ole Miss 27–26 Saturday night in Oxford. The Commodores have now won four straight games overall and are bowl-eligible for the second straight season — for the first time in school history. Vanderbilt was forced to play the majority of the game without senior tailback Zac Stacy, who went down with a knee injury on the first possession. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers overcame a slow start and ended the night with 267 yards and two touchdowns. He hit sophomore wide receiver Chris Boyd on a 26-yard pass down the sideline to give the Dores their first lead with 1:09 to play. Jordan Matthews, the other half of the SEC’s most productive wide receiving duo, caught nine passes for 153 yards and now has 1,003 yards for the season. Vanderbilt has won three straight and six of the past eight against Ole Miss.
Next week: Tennessee

9. Ole Miss (5–5, 2–4 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Week 10 result: Lost to Vanderbilt 27–26
Ole Miss is now 0-for-2 in its attempts to become bowl-eligible. The Rebels appeared to be in control Saturday night against Vanderbilt after taking a 23–6 lead early in the third quarter, but the Commodores stormed back to claim a 27–26 win on a touchdown with just over one minute to play. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace threw for a career-high 403 yards — against a team that entered the game ranked third nationally in pass defense — but the Rebels’ offense repeatedly stalled in the Red Zone. Bryson Rose kicked four field goals, three from 28 yards or shorter. Four Ole Miss receivers caught at least five passes, with Ja-Mes Logan leading the way with career highs in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (160). Ole Miss will have two more opportunities — at LSU and vs. Mississippi State — to pick up win No. 6.
Next week: at LSU

10. Arkansas (4–6, 2–4 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
11
Week 10 result: Lost to South Carolina 38–20
Arkansas recorded 360 total yards but scored only one offensive touchdown in the game’s first 59 minutes en route to their first loss against South Carolina since 2008. The Hogs, who dropped to 2–4 in the SEC, were undone by three turnovers — two picks thrown by Tyler Wilson and a fumble by tailback Dennis Johnson. Wilson, who threw for 277 yards, has been intercepted five times in the past three games. Tailback Knile Davis missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. Arkansas, a preseason top-15 team, needs to win its final two games (at Mississippi State, vs. LSU) to become bowl-eligible.
Next week: at Mississippi State

11. Missouri (5–5, 2–5 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
12
Week 10 result: beat Tennessee 51–48 (4ot)
Missouri picked up its first SEC road win in dramatic fashion, outlasting Tennessee in four overtimes. The Tigers were completely dominated in first half — UT held a 383-to-64 advantage in total yards — but trailed by only 14 points at the break. Mizzou eventually tied the game late in the fourth quarter when James Franklin found Dorial Green-Beckham in the end zone on fourth down from the Tennessee 25-yard line. Missouri won the game in the fourth overtime on an Andrew Baggett a 35-yard field goal. Franklin completed only 2-of-8 for 18 yards in the first half but ended the game 19-of-32 with 226 yards and four touchdowns (three in overtime). Kendial Lawrence ran for 153 yards and two scores — a 77-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half and a 2-yard plunge late in the third quarter. Missouri needs to split its final two games — vs. Syracuse, at Texas A&M — to become bowl-eligible for the eighth straight season.
Next week: Syracuse

12. Tennessee (4–6, 0–6 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 10
Week 10 result: Lost to Missouri 51–48 (4ot)
Tennessee lost in SEC play for the 13th time in its last 14 games, falling at home in four overtimes to a Missouri team that had scored 10 points or fewer in four of its five previous league games. The Vols dominated the first half, outgaining Missouri 383-to-64, but were unable to build a lead larger than 14 points at anytime in the game. Quarterback Tyler Bray continues to shine in tough times for Tennessee. The junior threw for 404 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, and now has 1,302 yards in the last three games. The loss dropped Tennessee to 0–6 in the SEC and is a crippling blow for third-year head coach Derek Dooley. He is now 15–20 overall and 4–18 in SEC games at Tennessee.
Next week: at Vanderbilt

13. Auburn (2–8, 0–7 SEC)
Last week's rank: 13
Week 10 result: Lost to Georgia 38–0
Auburn put up little resistance in yet another lopsided loss in what has become a nightmare season for embattled coach Gene Chizik. The Tigers had only one drive that went for more than 50 yards and were outgained by more than 250 yards. There was one bright spot: Quarterback Jonathan Wallace, in his first start vs. an SEC opponent, completed 15-of-22 passes for 181 yards. Not bad for a true freshman who was used exclusively in Wildcat packages for the first half of the season. Auburn ranks 115th in the nation in total offense (298.5 ypg) and 90th in total defense (435.6 ypg) — stunning numbers for a program that won a national title two years ago. The Tigers figure to get back in the win column next week against Alabama A&M, but then close the season with a trip to Tuscaloosa.
Next week: Alabama A&M

14. Kentucky (1–9, 0–7 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
14
Week 10 result: Bye
The big news at Kentucky last week was the dismissal of Joker Phillips, who is 4–19 in his two-plus seasons as the head coach at his alma mater. Phillips will coach the final two games of the season, vs. Samford this weekend and at Tennessee on Nov. 24.
Next week: Samford
 

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> There was a huge upset in the SEC over the weekend, but not a lot changes in our power rankings. Alabama held on to its No. 1 spot — even after losing at home to Texas A&amp;M — due to its body of work throughout the 2012 season. Vanderbilt and Ole Miss switched spots after the Commodores beat the Rebels in Oxford, and Missouri jumped Tennessee following its four OT win in Knoxville.</p>
Post date: Monday, November 12, 2012 - 05:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-11-0
Body:

College football’s Week 11 schedule is highlighted by key games in the Big Ten Legends Division, Pac-12 North and SEC West. Also, Georgia can clinch the SEC East with a win at Auburn, and Miami can take another step toward an ACC Coastal Division crown with a victory at Virginia.

Friday

No. 51 Pittsburgh at No. 87 Connecticut
Pittsburgh just missed pulling off the upset of the year in South Bend last weekend. The Panthers are playing better as the season progresses, but it’s not a good sign when your defense gives up 291 yards passing to Notre Dame.
Pittsburgh 17–13

Saturday

No. 14 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama
Alabama is riding high after its thrilling win in Baton Rouge, but Nick Saban can’t be pleased that his defense gave up a season-high 435 yards — 232 more than its previous season average — to an LSU team that had averaged only 318.3 yards in its first four SEC games. The Crimson Tide can wrap up the SEC West title with a win.
Alabama 34–21

No. 2 Oregon at No. 74 California
Cal is 2–5 in the Pac-12 and still has to play two teams (Oregon and Oregon State) that are a combined 11–1 in the league. The Bears also have issues at quarterback; starter Zach Maynard is questionable for this week’s game after injuring his knee against Washington.
Oregon 44–17

No. 3 Kansas State at No. 28 TCU
Kansas State held on to its No. 2 spot in the BCS standings after knocking off Oklahoma State 44–30 last weekend. But the big story in Manhattan is the health of Collin Klein, the Heisman frontrunner. Klein was forced out in the third quarter of the O-State game with an undisclosed injury that has been reported by some to be a concussion. K-State coach Bill Snyder says he expect Klein to play, but Snyder has been known to bend the truth on the injury front.
Kansas State 34–21

No. 4 Notre Dame at No. 94 Boston College
Amazingly, Boston College won six straight in this series from 2001-08 (they didn’t play every year), but Notre Dame has rebounded to win three straight. BC has scored 17 points or fewer in its last four vs. Notre Dame. That trend will continue.
Notre Dame 27–3

No. 6 Georgia at No. 72 Auburn
Georgia can secure a spot in the SEC title game for the second straight season with a win on Saturday. The Bulldogs will be facing a true freshman quarterback (Jonathan Wallace) who will be making his first start against an SEC team.
Georgia 34–10

No. 76 UL Lafayette at No. 7 Florida
The Gators would like to get Mike Gillislee going for the stretch drive. The senior tailback has had four straight sub-100-yard games and still needs 203 yards to become Florida’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2004.
Florida 41–10

No. 25 Mississippi State at No. 8 LSU
In the past two weeks, MSU has dropped from 48th to 73rd nationally in total offense and from 25th to 50th in total defense. There is no shame in losing decisively at Alabama, but the Bulldogs were alarmingly uncompetitive at home against Texas A&M. The task this week will be to do something that no Bulldog team has done since 1991 — win in Baton Rouge.
LSU 24–3

No. 45 Arkansas at No. 9 South Carolina
The Hogs have won three straight in the series, the last two in convincing fashion against very good Carolina teams. Two years ago, Ryan Mallet, Knile Davis & Co. rolled up 443 yards of offense in a 41¬–20 victory in Columbia. Last season, Tyler Wilson and friends outgained the Gamecocks 435-to-207 en route to a 44–28 win in Fayetteville. Now, it’s time for payback.
South Carolina 33–17

No. 79 Maryland at No. 11 Clemson
Shawn Petty, who was a linebacker two weeks ago, played relatively well in his debut as Maryland’s quarterback. He completed 9-of-18 for 115 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Not bad. But not good enough to challenge Clemson.
Clemson 34-10

No. 43 Baylor at No. 12 Oklahoma
Baylor is the only team in the nation that is giving up more than 500 yards per game. That is not good.
Oklahoma 44–20

No. 13 Oregon State at No. 16 Stanford
Redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan will make his first start at quarterback for Stanford. In last week’s 48–0 win over Washington State, Hogan replaced Josh Nunes after two series and went on to complete 18-of-23 for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
Stanford 30–27

No. 15 Louisville at No. 63 Syracuse
Louisville is ranked No. 9 in the latest BCS standings, but the Cardinals — other than being 9–0 — don’t really have the résumé of a top-10 team. They beat FIU (2–8) by seven points, Southern Miss (0–9) by four points and South Florida (3–6) by two points. They have two solid wins, over North Carolina and Cincinnati, but those were by a combined eight points and both were at home.
Syracuse 27–21

No. 17 UCLA at No. 100 Washington State
It’s fair to say Washington State isn’t running the ball well this season. The Cougars have a total of 76 rushing yards in six Pac-12 games. Colorado is next with 576 yards.
UCLA 47–10

No. 27 Penn State at No. 18 Nebraska
Nebraska has seized control of the Leaders Division with consecutive wins over Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State. The Cornhuskers, 4–1 in the league, are one game up on both Northwestern and Michigan and now hold the tie-breaker over both teams.
Nebraska 31–21

No. 34 Iowa State at No. 19 Texas
Texas will open the game in the Wishbone to honor former Longhorn coach Darrell Royal, who passed away earlier this week. Royal went 167–47–5 in 20 seasons as the boss in Austin.
Texas 33–13

No. 31 Northwestern at No. 20 Michigan
Northwestern tailback Venric Mark had 23 carries in his first two seasons. This year, Mark has emerged as the Wildcats’ top offensive weapon with 1,072 yards on a healthy 6.5-yard average.
Michigan 33–24

No. 21 Louisiana Tech at No. 112 Texas State
Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes will be a hot commodity in the coaching world following the 2012 season. And for good reason. His teams win and do so playing an exciting brand of football.
Louisiana Tech 41, Texas State 13

No. 37 Arizona State at No. 22 USC
USC has given up a total of 1,318 yards in its last two games, losses at Arizona and to Oregon at home.
USC 37-23

No. 81 Kansas at No. 23 Texas Tech
Texas Tech gave up a total of 43 points in its first four games. The Raiders have given up 41 or more three times since. That, however, won’t happen this week.
Texas Tech 47–10

No. 99 Colorado at No. 24 Arizona
Colorado has allowed 55 touchdowns this season, most in the nation. Alabama has allowed 82 points this season.
Arizona 48–0

No. 107 Army at No. 26 Rutgers
Army is the only team in the nation that has two players averaging over 100 yards rushing per game — quarterback Trent Steelman (101.2 ypg) and slot back Raymond Maples (100.8 ypg).
Rutgers 40–10

No. 29 Wisconsin at No. 67 Indiana
Amazingly, this game — between two teams with a combined nine overall losses — could determine who represents the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Wisconsin 31–26

No. 33 West Virginia at No. 30 Oklahoma State
Things have changed quite a bit in the past month for West Virginia. In early October, the Mountaineers were 5–0 and ranked in the top five in both major polls. Now, WVU is 5–3, unranked and a 7.5-point underdog to an Oklahoma State team that also has three losses.
Oklahoma State 48–40

No. 61 Utah at No. 32 Washington
Utah has scored a total of 98 points in the past two weeks, climbing from 105th in the nation in scoring (20.1 ppg) to 72nd (26.6 ppg). Washington’s defense has played well of late, holding Oregon State to 17 and California to 13 in back-to-back wins.
Washington 33–10

No. 41 Vanderbilt at No. 38 Ole Miss
Vanderbilt has controlled this series of late, winning five of the last seven overall, including two straight in Oxford. Last year, the Commodores won 30–7 in Nashville for their most decisive win vs. Ole Miss since beating the Rebs 91–0 in 1915.
Vanderbilt 24–20

No. 71 Georgia Tech at No. 39 North Carolina
North Carolina tailback Gio Bernard has been one of the best running backs in the nation in the past month. The sophomore has 717 yards and six touchdowns in the past four games.
North Carolina 31–23

No. 40 Miami (Fla.) at No. 83 Virginia
Virginia snapped a six-game losing streak last week with a surprisingly easy 33–6 win at NC State. Miami controls its own destiny in the ACC Coastal. If the Canes beat Virginia this week and win at Duke on Nov. 24, they will advance to the league title game.
Miami (Fla.) 21–13

No. 42 Cincinnati at No. 84 Temple
Temple exploded for 37 points in its Big East opener (a win vs. South Florida) but has not scored more than 17 points since. The Owls are last in the league in total offense, as well.
Cincinnati 33–10

No. 56 Missouri at No. 44 Tennessee
Tennessee’s historically bad defense is coming off its worst game of the season. The Volunteers gave up an astounding 721 yards of offense to a Troy team that had 381 yards the previous week in a loss to FAU. For the season, the Vols rank last in the league in both yards allowed per game (483.1) and yards allowed per play (6.31).
Tennessee 34–24

No. 46 Tulsa at No. 90 Houston
Tulsa is the only team in Conference USA West with a winning overall record. The Golden Hurricane are 7–2 with losses at Iowa State and Arkansas.
Tulsa 41–38

No. 47 Boise State at No. 120 Hawaii
Boise State, which lost at home to San Diego State last weekend, has multiple regular-season losses for the first time since 2007.
Boise State 48–0

No. 50 Kent State at No. 97 Miami (Ohio)
Kent State has almost doubled its scoring average from last season. The Golden Flashes are averaging 34.0 points per game — up from 17.1 last season.
Kent State 34–23

No. 122 Idaho at No. 54 BYU
BYU dips down in competition this week after playing Oregon State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech in successive games. The Cougars should have this one wrapped up by the middle of the second quarter.
BYU 48–3

No. 80 Wake Forest at No. 55 NC State
NC State had one of the most puzzling losses of the season last week, dropping a 33–6 decision at home to a Virginia team that had lost six straight games.
NC State 34–17

No. 57 UCF at No. 102 UTEP
UCF is in control of C-USA East with a 5–0 record. The Knights have allowed exactly 17 points in each of their last three games.
UCF 41–17

No. 58 Fresno State at No. 88 Nevada
Nevada is averaging 33.3 points in its three losses — to South Florida, San Diego State and Air Force. The Wolf Pack will need to score a bunch to beat Fresno State, which has scored 42 points in each of its last three games.
Fresno State 42–41

No. 95 Air Force at No. 59 San Diego State
San Diego State is coming off one of the biggest wins in school history, a 21–19 victory at Boise State. It was SDSU’s first win over a ranked opponent since 1996. The Aztecs are now 5–1 in the MWC and will be favored in their final two games.
San Diego State 33–17

No. 64 San Jose State at No. 123 New Mexico State
San Jose State visits Las Cruces for a tune-up before returning home for a tough two-game stretch against BYU and Louisiana Tech.
San Jose State 44–10

No. 65 Navy at No. 85 Troy
Troy rolled up 721 yards of offense on the road against an SEC team — and lost. The Trojans took a 48–41 lead on Tennessee with 3:14 remaining but gave up two touchdowns in the final three minutes and lost 55–48.
Navy 31–30

No. 77 Purdue at No. 68 Iowa
Neither of these teams has won a game since Oct. 13, when Iowa somehow beat Michigan State on the road. Purdue has lost five straight — all in league play and all by seven points or more.
Iowa 21–20

No. 69 Minnesota at No. 98 Illinois
These are two of the four Big Ten teams that are ranked 68th or worse in this week’s Athlon Sports 124 rankings. Minnesota has shown signs of life this year. Illinois has been a complete debacle.
Minnesota 27–23

No. 117 FAU at No. 73 Western Kentucky
FAU beat a team two weeks ago (Troy) that rolled up 721 yards of offense at Tennessee last Saturday. What does that mean? Probably nothing.
Western Kentucky 31–13

No. 82 Marshall at No. 104 UAB
Marshall is one of 11 teams nationally that has allowed more than 2,000 yards rushing this season. It’s a good thing for the Herd that UAB ranks 11th in Conference USA in rushing with 111.0 yards per game.
Marshall 41–20

No. 86 Western Michigan at No. 108 Buffalo
Buffalo ranks last in the nation with only six turnovers forced — two fumbles and four interceptions. That’s a big reason the Bulls rank 85th nationally in scoring defense despite ranking 49th in total defense.
Buffalo 24–22

No. 111 Southern Miss at No. 89 SMU
Southern Miss’ dreadful 2012 season took another horrific turn last weekend. The Golden Eagles led UAB 16–0 at the half at home yet found a way to lose, 27–19. Ellis Johnson’s team is now an unthinkable 0–9 — one year winning 12 games.
SMU 31–18

No. 101 UNLV at No. 119 Colorado State
UNLV played its best game of the season last weekend, passing for 289 yards and rushing for 241 in a 35–7 win over New Mexico. There has been talk about Bobby Hauck’s job status, but there is a decent chance the Runnin’ Rebels could end their season on a four-game winning streak.
UNLV 28–20

No. 103 Tulane at No. 118 Memphis
Tulane scored a total of 45 points in its first five games. The Green Wave have scored 102 in their last two.
Tulane 41–20

No. 113 Wyoming at No. 105 New Mexico
New Mexico ranks last in the nation in passing yards (535), passing yards per attempt (4.6) and passing touchdowns (two). To be fair, the Lobos are running the option, but that is still alarmingly low production.
Wyoming 30–27

No. 121 South Alabama at No. 106 North Texas
North Texas doesn’t do very much well, but the Mean Green are outstanding at not letting the opposition sack the quarterback. They’ve allowed five in nine games; only three teams (Air Force, Oklahoma State and Tennessee) have allowed fewer.
North Texas 17–10

No. 110 Central Michigan at No. 115 Eastern Michigan
Dan Enos is on thin ice in Mount Pleasant. He might be gone if the Chips lose to their rivals from Ypsilanti.
Central Michigan 34–33

No. 124 UMass at No. 114 Akron
These two MAC East teams are a combined 1–19, with the one win coming by Akron over Morgan State in Week 3. UMass has been outscored 136–7 in the last three games.
Akron 27–17

McNeese State at No. 116 UTSA
McNeese State opened the season with a win at Middle Tennessee, which is now 6–2 against FBS competition. This will be a tough test for Larry Coker’s club.
UTSA 34–31

Last week: 42–11
Season: 441–130

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> College football’s Week 11 schedule is highlighted by key games in the Big Ten Legends Division, Pac-12 North and SEC West. Also, Georgia can clinch the SEC East with a win at Auburn, and Miami can take another step toward an ACC Coastal Division crown with a victory at Virginia.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:33
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-11-0
Body:

College football’s Week 11 slate is highlighted by a key matchup in the Pac-12 North (Oregon State visits Stanford), an intriguing showdown in the SEC West (Texas A&M travels to Alabama) and several key games in the Big Ten.

Oregon State (+5) at Stanford
Oregon is the clear favorite in the Pac-12 North, but Oregon State and Stanford are both 5–1 in the league and both teams still have a date with the Ducks. So the winner of this game will have an opportunity to play its way into the second Pac-12 title game. The other storyline is the quarterback situation at both schools. In Stanford’s 48–0 win over Colorado last week, redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan replaced Josh Nunes after two series and went on to complete 18-of-23 for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Coach David Shaw named Hogan as the starter earlier this week. At Oregon State, Cody Vaz has apparently taken over for Sean Mannion, who struggled in his one game back from a knee injury. Vaz, a junior, threw for 267 yards and three scores in a 10-point win over Arizona State on Saturday night. It’s rare that two teams this good are unsettled at quarterback this late in the season.
Stanford 30–27

Texas A&M (+13.5) at Alabama
After seeing a CBS promo for the Texas A&M-Alabama game, my 8-year-old son asked the following: “Do you think Johnny Football will gain a lot of yards against Alabama?” That’s a good question: Can Johnny Manziel, who threw for 311 yards and rushed for 129 in last week’s win at Mississippi State, do his thing against the mighty Crimson Tide? Much has been made of Manziel’s “struggles” against the top defenses he has faced, but he still averaged 268 yards of total offense in losses — by a total of 10 points — to Florida and LSU. Alabama is riding high after its thrilling win in Baton Rouge, but Nick Saban can’t be pleased that his defense gave up a season-high 435 yards — 232 more than its previous season average — to an LSU team that had averaged only 318.3 yards in its first four SEC games. The Crimson Tide can wrap up the SEC West title with a win.
Alabama 34–21

Wisconsin (+7) at Indiana
Amazingly, this game — between two teams with a combined nine overall losses — could determine who represents the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship Game. Ohio State (6–0 Big Ten) and Penn State (4–1) are the top two teams in the division, but both are ineligible to play in the title game due to NCAA sanctions. That leaves 3–2 Wisconsin, which is struggling through its worst season since 2008, and 2–3 Indiana, which has won four of it last 25 games vs. FBS competition, as the next best options. To its credit, IU is showing signs of significant improvement in Kevin Wilson’s second season in Bloomington. The Hoosiers flirted with upsets over Michigan State (lost 31–27) and Ohio State (lost 52–49) early last month before breaking through with two straight Big Ten wins, at Illinois and vs. Iowa at home. Wisconsin had a three-game winning streak snapped two weeks ago at home to Michigan State. The Badgers lost quarterback Joel Stave to a season-ending injury and will reportedly send out senior Curt Phillips, who has suffered three torn ACLs in his career.
Wisconsin 31–26

Penn State (+7) at Nebraska
Nebraska has seized control of the Leaders Division with consecutive wins over Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State. The Cornhuskers, 4–1 in the league, are one game up on both Northwestern and Michigan and now hold the tie-breaker over both teams. Last Saturday, Nebraska rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter to beat Michigan State in East Lansing. Quarterback Taylor Martinez was largely ineffective throwing the ball (16-of-36 for 160 yards with three INTs), but he rushed for 205 yards and two scores to lead a ground attack that totaled 313 yards on 40 attempts. Penn State rebounded from a 35–23 loss at home to Ohio State by drilling Purdue on the road 34–9. Matt McGloin had another big game, throwing for 321 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. McGloin will have to solve a Nebraska defense that has been very good against the pass. The Huskers rank eighth nationally in pass efficiency defense and fifth in passing yards allowed (156.0 ypg).
Nebraska 31–21

Kansas State (-7.5) at TCU
Kansas State held on to its No. 2 spot in the BCS standings after knocking off Oklahoma State 44–30 last weekend. But the big story in Manhattan is the health of Collin Klein, the Heisman frontrunner. Klein was forced out in the third quarter of the O-State game with an undisclosed injury that has been reported by some to be a concussion. His status for Saturday’s game in Fort Worth most likely won’t be known until game time. If Klein can’t go, redshirt freshman Daniel Sams will get the call. Sams completed 5-of-6 passes for 45 yards and ran for 20 yards in relief on Saturday. TCU has been playing with its No. 2 quarterback, Trevone Boykin, since early October. Boykin is 2–3 as a starter, with wins over Baylor and West Virginia, and losses to Iowa State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Last weekend, he completed only 12-of-29 passes, but those 12 completions went for 254 yards and two touchdowns to help the Horned Frogs upset West Virginia in Morgantown. TCU’s numbers are down on defense, but this team has shown it can score points in bunches vs. most Big 12 teams.
Kansas State 34–21

Northwestern (+11) at Michigan
Northwestern is 7–2 overall and had a double-digit lead in both of its losses — at Penn State (39–28) and vs. Nebraska (29–28). The Wildcats rank 13th nationally in rushing offense (237.6 ypg) thanks in part to the emergence of tailback Venric Mark. A junior who had only 23 carries in his first two seasons, Mark has rushed for 1,072 yards and nine scores on a healthy 6.5-yard average. Michigan has a dynamic playmaker of its own in Denard Robinson, but the senior quarterback missed all of last week’s game and a large portion of the Nebraska game with an elbow injury. He is expected to play this week, but the injury could be a factor for the rest of the season. Michigan is still alive in the Legends Division race, but the Wolverines will need some help; they are tied with Nebraska at 4–1. but the Huskers have the tie-breaker and have an easier schedule.
Michigan 33–24

Florida State (-13.5) at Virginia Tech (Thu)
This figured to be the game of the year in the ACC, a showdown against the overwhelming favorites in the Atlantic and Coastal. Well, Florida State has done its part, with a 5–1 league record and a top-10 national ranking. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, has been a colossal disappointment, with an overall record of 4–5 and a 2–3 mark in the ACC. The Hokies’ five losses are the most since the 2003 team went 8–5; they haven’t lost six games in a season since 1992 (2–8–1). Virginia Tech hasn’t been horrible in any one area (though it ranks 91st in turnover margin), but the Hokies haven’t been good at anything, either. The usually stout defense has given up 30 points or more four times, and the running attack has been average at best. It will be a surprise if Florida State does not win this game by a comfortable margin.
Florida State 35–21

Vanderbilt (+3) at Ole Miss
It’s a huge game for two programs searching for their sixth win of the season. Vanderbilt has controlled this series of late, winning five of the last seven overall, including two straight in Oxford. Last year, the Commodores won 30–7 in Nashville for their most decisive win vs. Ole Miss since beating the Rebs 91–0 in 1915. This, however, is a much-improved Ole Miss team that has made significant progress on both sides of the ball under first-year coach Hugh Freeze. The key to this game could be quarterback Bo Wallace, a Tennessee native who is a threat with his arm and his legs. Wallace, however, has thrown nine interceptions in the Rebs’ six games against AQ conference teams. Vanderbilt must win the turnover battle and limit Wallace in the zone read — something that has been a problem for the Commodores at times.
Vanderbilt 24–20

West Virginia (+7.5) at Oklahoma State
Things have changed quite a bit in the past month for West Virginia. In early October, the Mountaineers were 5–0 and ranked in the top five in both major polls. Now, WVU is 5–3, unranked and a 7.5-point underdog to an Oklahoma State team that also has three losses. The Mountaineers have allowed an average of 532.8 yards and 50.2 points in their five Big 12 games. Those numbers might be even worse after this week’s trip to Stillwater. Oklahoma State, despite injuries at the quarterback position, is averaging 509.2 yards in its five Big 12 games, second only to Baylor (589.2 ypg). The Cowboys likely won’t know who will start at quarterback until late this week; true freshman Wes Lunt, the opening day starter, was sidelined in the Kansas State game with an undisclosed injury. Junior Clint Shelf, in his first appearance of the season, stepped in and completed 16-of-27 for 233 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh was lost for the season with a torn ACL three weeks ago.
Oklahoma State 48–40

Louisville (-3) at Syracuse
Louisville is ranked No. 9 in the latest BCS standings, but the Cardinals — other than being 9–0 — don’t really have the résumé of a top-10 team. They beat FIU (2–8) by seven points, Southern Miss (0–9) by four points and South Florida (3–6) by two points. They have two solid wins, over North Carolina and Cincinnati, but those were by a combined eight points and both were at home. Syracuse is playing pretty well despite its overall mark of 4–5. Each of the Orange’s five losses has come to an AQ conference team that currently has a winning record. Syracuse’s strength is throwing the ball. Louisville’s strength — at least one of them — is stopping the pass. Whoever wins this battle will have a great chance to win the game. Go Orange in the upset.
Syracuse 27–21

Last week: 8–2 overall (5–5 against the spread)
Season: 66–34 overall (51–49 against the spread)
 

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p> College football’s Week 11 slate is highlighted by a key matchup in the Pac-12 North (Oregon State visits Stanford), an intriguing showdown in the SEC West (Texas A&amp;M travels to Alabama) and several key games in the Big Ten.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 04:59

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