Articles By Mitch Light

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By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here are previews and predictions for the 10 best college football games this weekend.


LSU (+5) at Alabama
It’s the most anticipated regular-season game of the BCS era. It’s LSU and Alabama — the top two teams in every poll — in prime time on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Both teams are 8–0 overall and 5–0 in the SEC, and both teams are dominant on defense and highly efficient on offense. So who wins? Well, it likely will come down to which team makes fewer mistakes. Neither offense figures to have much success driving the length of the field, so the team that can force a turnover and create a short field will put itself in great position. LSU has been better than Alabama at both forcing turnovers (18 to 14) and not turning it over (3 to 8). The Crimson Tide, however, have been better, at least statistically, on both offense and defense. I’ll go with the home team and the (slightly) better defense.
Alabama 24, LSU 17

Missouri (+2.5) at Baylor
Missouri broke through with its first big win of the season, rallying from 11 points down in the second half to beat Texas A&M, 38–31, in overtime at Kyle Field. The Tigers feature two of the more unheralded skill position players in the nation — dual-threat quarterback James Franklin and tailback Henry Josey. This dynamic duo should put up big numbers against a Baylor defense that has given up a total of 114 points and 1,281 yards the past two weeks in losses at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. Baylor, too, can move the football, but yards haven’t been translating into big numbers on the scoreboard in recent weeks. Baylor averaged only 26 points against A&M and O-State despite rolling up 1,102 total yards. This one will be highly entertaining.
Missouri 41, Baylor 38

Kansas State (+20) at Oklahoma State
Kansas State’s dream season hit its first speed bump — and it was quite large. The Wildcats, who were 7–0 and had climbed to No. 10 in the AP poll, dropped a 58–17 decision at home to Oklahoma. K-State’s usually stout defense gave up 690 yards to Oklahoma, dropping from 29th in the nation to 60th in just one week. The Cats are in for another huge challenge this week. Oklahoma State ranks second in the nation in scoring offense (49.8 ppg) and fourth in total offense (553.1 ypg). The Pokes give up plenty of yards — over 450 per game — but they are only allowing 26.2 points in Big 12 action. It’s tough to see K-State doing enough on offense to keep this close.
Oklahoma State 41, Kansas State 21

South Carolina (+5) at Arkansas
South Carolina controls its own destiny in the SEC East, but the Gamecocks still have several hurdles to climb before they can plan a return visit to the Georgia Dome. This trip to Arkansas figures to be a significant challenge. The Hogs have struggled in recent weeks, beating Ole Miss and Vanderbilt by a combined eight points, but this is still a very talented team that boasts one of the nation’s top passing offenses. On paper, however, this looks to be a decent matchup for South Carolina. The Gamecocks, even without Marcus Lattimore, are leaning heavily on their running attack, and Arkansas has trouble stopping the run. The Hogs gave up 222 yards on the ground last week to Vanderbilt and allowed 381 to Texas A&M and 291 to Auburn. Getting off to a quick start will once again be a focus for Arkansas; the Hogs trailed Vanderbilt 21–14 at the half last week and trailed Ole Miss 17–7 at the break the week before.
Arkansas 27, South Carolina 17

Oregon (+16.5) at Washington
The Ducks are 5–0 in league play but are about to face their three most difficult Pac-12 opponents — Washington, Stanford and USC. The burning question in Eugene is who will be taking the snaps this week for Oregon — Darron Thomas or Bryan Bennett? Chip Kelly benched Thomas in the Ducks’ win over Washington State last week and isn’t revealing the starter for the trip to Seattle. There are no such issues at quarterback for Washington, though Keith Price wasn’t at his best last week vs. Arizona. The sophomore threw only five interceptions in his first seven games but was picked off three times by the Wildcats. Still, he is clearly the man in charge of the UW attack that has scored 30 points or more in all but one game this season.
Oregon 34, Washington 31

Texas A&M (+13.5) at Oklahoma
Texas A&M has been arguably the biggest disappointment in the nation this season. The Aggies are 5–3 overall and held a double-digit lead in the second half of each loss. Scoring points hasn’t been the problem — A&M ranks 12th in the nation in scoring. Getting stops in key moments is what has plagued this team. That, obviously, will have to change if the Aggies have any hope of winning in Norman. Oklahoma laid an egg two weeks ago at home to Texas Tech but bounced back in fine fashion, drilling previously undefeated Kansas State, 58–17, in Manhattan. Sooner quarterback Landry Jones has been on a tear and figures to put up big numbers on the A&M defense.
Oklahoma 38, Texas A&M 24

Arizona State (-9) at UCLA
UCLA is 4–4 overall and has lost its last three games by an average of 30.3 points. The Bruins gave up 254 yard rushing to a team (Arizona) that was averaging 71.8 yards on the ground. They don’t have a win vs. a team with a winning record. Yet, UCLA finds itself still very much alive in the Pac-12 South Division. The Bruins, at 3–2 in the league, are tied with USC, which is ineligible for the title, and one game behind an Arizona State team that visits the Rose Bowl this weekend. How convenient: Win and the Bruins will be tied for the South lead and own the all-important tie-breaker with the Sun Devils. That, however, will be very tough to do. Arizona State is 6–2 overall, highlighted by wins over USC and Missouri. The Sun Devils are known for their defense, but the offense, at least statistically, has been better in 2011. Led by quarterback Brock Osweiler, ASU is averaging 35.9 points and 438.8 yards per game.
Arizona State 27, UCLA 20

Michigan (-4) at Iowa
We all know the transitive property doesn’t work too well in sports, but let’s take a look at how both of these teams fared against Minnesota. Michigan beat the Gophers 58–0. Iowa lost to the Gophers 22–21. So, do we think the Wolverines are going to win by 59 points? Not likely, but Michigan should win the game — even on the road. The Wolverines are 7–1 overall, with the lone loss coming at Michigan State. The schedule hasn’t been overly taxing — Nebraska and Ohio State still loom — but Michigan is improved on the defense end, ranking 35th in the nation in total defense (340.6 ypg) and seventh in scoring defense (15.3 ppg). Iowa must regroup after the stunning loss at Minnesota. The Hawkeyes got a huge game from Marcus Coker (252 yards on 32 carries), but they managed only 21 points against a Minnesota team that gave up an average of 48 points in its first three Big Ten games.
Michigan 27, Iowa 21

Cincinnati (-2.5) at Pittsburgh
Things are going much better in Year 2 for Butch Jones at Cincinnati. After winning back-to-back Big East titles under Brian Kelly, the Bearcats slumped 2–5 in the league and 4–8 overall in ’10, Jones’ first season as the head coach. Turnovers were the main issue; UC ranked 119th in the nation in turnover margin one season after ranking 13th. Well, the Bearcats are winning the turnover battle this season, currently ranking third nationally with plus-1.86 per game. Pittsburgh is 4–4 overall but just 2–4 vs. team from BCS conferences. The Panthers were dealt a big blow last week when Ray Graham, who was 10th in the nation in rushing, was lost for the season with an injury. Former Wisconsin Badger Zach Brown will step in as the starting tailback for Pittsburgh, but the offense will not be the same without Graham.
Cincinnati 28, Pittsburgh 17

Note Dame (-14) at Wake Forest
Notre Dame bounced back from a difficult loss to USC with a very impressive win (56–14) over a Navy team that had defeated the Irish in its last two trips to South Bend. Now, ND heads to Winston-Salem for the first-ever meeting between these two schools. Wake has struggled in recent weeks. After jumping out to a 4–1 record, the Deacons have lost two of three, with the only win coming by one point at Duke. Quarterback Tanner Price had his worst game of the season in last week’s 49–24 loss to North Carolina, throwing for a season-low 146 yards, with no touchdowns and three interceptions. With starting tailback Josh Harris expected to be out again (hamstring), the Deacs will need Price to be at his best.
Notre Dame 35, Wake Forest 22

Last week — 7-3 (3-6-1 vs. spread)
Season — 61-29 (46-42-2 vs. spread)

 

Teaser:
<p> Alabama-LSU highlights the weekend slate in college football.</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 08:06
Path: /college-football/ucla-still-alive-pac-12-south-race
Body:

By Mitch Light

They’ve lost four games, the last three by an average of 30.3 points. They gave up 254 yard rushing to a team (Arizona) that was averaging 71.8 yards on the ground. They don’t have a win vs. a team with a winning record.

Yet, UCLA finds itself still very much alive in the Pac-12 South Division. The Bruins, at 3–2 in the league, are tied with USC, which is ineligible for the title, and one game behind an Arizona State team that visits the Rose Bowl this weekend. How convenient: Win and the Bruins will be tied for the South lead and own the all-important tie-breaker with the Sun Devils.

First things first: Winning this week will be very difficult. Arizona State is 6–2 overall, highlighted by wins over Missouri and USC. The Sun Devils are known for their defense, but the offense, at least statistically, has been better in 2011. Led by quarterback Brock Osweiler, ASU is averaging 35.9 points and 438.8 yards per game.

“We realize it is a tremendous challenge trying to contain their offense and score points against a vaunted defense,” says UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel. “It will take focus and resolve.”

The key for UCLA will be finding a way to play well for a second-straight week. The Bruins are coming off their finest effort of the season, a 31–14 win over California. But they have followed up their previous three wins with lopsided losses — 49–20 at Texas, 45–19 at Stanford and 48–12 at Arizona.

“We are 0-for-3 in terms of following up a victory with that kind of effort that we need,” Nueheisel says. “Not we have our fourth chance, and shouldn’t squander it.”

UCLA is at its best when it is running the ball effectively. The Bruins are averaging 236.8 yards rushing in their four wins and 137.8 yards in their four losses. Last week against Cal, they ran for 294 yards and four touchdowns on 52 attempts. Quarterback Kevin Prince was responsible for much of the damage, with a 163 yards (almost double his previous career high) on 19 carries.

“I thought Kevin did a very good job, and he got better as the game went along,” Nueheisel said. “He is 230 pounds. He is a load to bring down.”

Prince, who has been in and out of the lineup due to injuries (and poor play) in his three years at UCLA, caught the attention of Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson.

“Prince is playing extremely well right now,” Erickson said earlier this week. “If they can run the football, they can create a lot of problems for you. They’re sitting there in a situation, like us, where they have a chance to win our division. They have to beat us to do it. On the road, it’s a real important game for all of us.”

It’s more important for UCLA, though. The Bruins have to win this game to remain in contention in the South. Arizona State, even with a loss, will be in good shape because the Sun Devils have a much kinder schedule to end the season. ASU will be favored in its remaining three games (at Washington State, vs. Arizona, vs. Cal), while UCLA must end the season with two of its final three games on the road, most notably the finale at USC.

The road might be tough for UCLA, but it’s amazing that this team, with all of its issues, is even talking about a championship this late in the season.

AROUND THE PAC-12

• Cal is 4–11 in its last 15 Pac-12 games dating back to the end of the 2009 season.

• Washington State is averaging 33.3 points per game, good for 33rd in the nation. The Cougars ranked 118th, 119th and 106th in scoring in Paul Wulff’s first three seasons.

• Oregon has scored 52 touchdowns in eight games. Colorado has scored 20 touchdowns in nine games.

• Oregon State true freshman Malcolm Agnew has converted all five of his rushing attempts on third down and three yards or less into first downs.

• Andrew Luck is converting 79.5 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter.

• Coby Fleener of Stanford leads the Pac-10 in with 22.5 yards per receptions — a very high number for a tight end. Fleener is the only tight end in the top 50 in this category nationally.

• Arizona State leads the Pac-12 in both fumbles gained (12) and interceptions gained (13).

• Oregon has scored 40 points or more in 17 of its last 20 league games.

Teaser:
<p> UCLA is Still Alive in the Pac-12 South Race</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 10:43
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-state-dealing-pressure
Body:

By Mitch Light

There were plenty of teams that posted more significant wins, but you can make a strong case that no team was as impressive as Oklahoma State last weekend. Six days after climbing to No. 3 in the BCS standings, the Cowboys dismantled a solid Baylor team with stunning ease. The Pokes led 21–0 after one quarter, 35–0 at the half and 49–3 through three quarters en route to a 59–24 victory.

Mike Gundy’s team proved — for at least one week — that it will be able to handle the pressures that come along with a lofty ranking in the BCS standings. When you are ranked No. 3 in the nation — and the top two teams are about to play each other — it becomes pretty clear to everyone in the program that your team has a direct path to the national title game. That’s obviously a good position to be in, but it can be very dangerous, as well — especially for a program that is not used to playing with a bull’s-eye on its back.

Just ask South Florida, which was No. 2 in the initial BCS rankings released in 2007 and proceeded to lose its next three games. Or Boston College, who replaced South Florida as the No. 2 team that season but went on to lose consecutive games to Florida State and Maryland to begin the month of November. There are many other programs that have made guest appearances in the top 5 of the BCS standings only to fade away and end the season playing in a mid-level bowl game.

Gundy’s task is to keep his team focused each week. His players know the deal: Oklahoma visits Stillwater on Dec. 3 in what has the potential to be the biggest game in school history. Gundy, however, is well aware that Dec. 3 is only important if his team takes care of business in the weeks that precede Bedlam.

That is what makes Saturday’s performance against Baylor so impressive. The Pokes were able to deal with the distractions that come with the No. 3 ranking and play perhaps their best game of the season against a team that has spent much of the season ranked in the top 25.

“We’re not going to play under pressure,” Gundy said before the Baylor game. “We’re not going to coach under pressure. We want the players to enjoy the experience they’re going through.”

Around the Big 12

• Texas Tech was held to single digits at home (seven points) last week for the first time since October 2000 in a 56–3 loss to Nebraska.

• Missouri tailback Henry Josey is the first player in the league to 1,000 yards. He has 1,017 yards on only 119 attempts for a league-best 8.6-yard average. In the fourth quarter, Josey’s average is 11.8 yards per carry.

• Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles has 18 receptions of 20 yards or more, the most in the Big 12 by five. Baylor’s Kendall Wright is next with 13.

• Kansas is 1–18 in its last 19 Big 12 games. The Jayhawks were 15–6 in the 21 previous league games.

• Baylor is the only team in the nation averaging over 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing.

• When his team is losing by 1-7 points, Robert Griffin III has completed 30-of-42 passes for 487 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

• Kansas State dropped 31 spots (from 29 to 60) in total defense in the national rankings after the Oklahoma game.

• Texas A&M has only converted one fourth down this season, tied with five other teams for fewest in the nation.
 

Teaser:
<p> With trip to BCS National Championshp Game in reach, Oklahoma State must remain focussed</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 11:53
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-9
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here's a look at every game of the Week 9 college football schedule.

Friday

No. 60 BYU at No. 39 TCU
BYU will be playing on Friday night for the third time this season. The Cougars were lucky to win their previous two Friday games, edging UCF and Utah State by a combined 11 points. They will need to play their best game of the season to win in Forth Worth.
TCU 30, BYU 20

Saturday

No. 77 Washington State at No. 4 Oregon
Oregon continued its assault on Pac-12 defenses last week in a 45–2 win at Colorado. The Ducks are averaging 46.3 points and 535.5 yards in league play.
Oregon 49, Washington State 14

No. 32 Baylor at No. 5 Oklahoma State
Nothing is guaranteed, but the Cowboys, up to No. 3 in the latest BCS rankings, could very well play for the national championship if they keep on winning. And beginning with this Saturday, three of the Pokes’ most difficult games — Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma — will be played in Stillwater.
Oklahoma State 51, Baylor 31

No. 6 Clemson at No. 24 Georgia Tech
Those of us waiting for Clemson to have a Clemson moment and lose to an inferior team when it’s least expected might be waiting for a long time.
Clemson 34, Georgia Tech 27

No. 7 Stanford at No. 21 USC
USC is coming off arguably the finest showing of the brief Lane Kiffin era, a 31–17 win over Notre Dame in South Bend. The Trojans will make Stanford sweat, but the Cardinal will do what they always seem to do — win by double digits.
Stanford 37, USC 23

No. 8 Arkansas at No. 53 Vanderbilt
The Commodores are stout on defense and especially strong in the secondary, but Tyler Wilson and the Razorbacks’ deep wide receiving corps will be too tough to slow down.
Arkansas 31, Vanderbilt 17

No. 9 Michigan State at No. 12 Nebraska
Iowa and Michigan are still in the picture, but there’s a very good chance that the winner of the Michigan State-Nebraska battle in Lincoln will represent the Legends Division in the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game.
Nebraska 24, Michigan State 21

No. 10 Virginia Tech at No. 66 Duke
Tajh Boyd is the obvious choice for first-team All-ACC honors at quarterback, but Logan Thomas needs to be in the conversation. Over the last three weeks, he has completed 66.7 percent of his passes and has averaged over 328.7 yards of total offense without throwing an interception.
Virginia Tech 33, Duke 10

No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 33 Ohio State
Not many people expected these two teams to be a combined 3–3 in the Big Ten at this point of the season.
Wisconsin 21, Ohio State 17

No. 14 Oklahoma at No. 13 Kansas State
Kansas State won five straight in this series from 1993-97 but has only won one time since, a 35–7 beatdown in the 2003 Big 12 Championship Game.
Oklahoma 31, Kansas State 21

No. 15 South Carolina at No. 44 Tennessee
Tennessee is a mess right now. The Vols are 0–4 in league play, have lost each of their last two games by 31 points and will be sending out a true freshman (Justin Worley) at quarterback this weekend.
South Carolina 28, Tennessee 17

No. 92 Colorado at No. 16 Arizona State
The Buffs have lost their four league games by an average of 29.0 points and have been outgained by a staggering 244.3 yards per game. Not good.
Arizona State 39, Colorado 10

No. 41 Missouri at No. 17 Texas A&M
Missouri, a disappointing 3–4, has yet to record a quality win. The Tigers will have ample opportunities to do so over the next month, with road trips to A&M and Baylor followed by home dates with Texas and Texas Tech.
Texas A&M 31, Missouri 27

No. 58 Iowa State at No. 18 Texas Tech
The losing team has scored at least 34 points in each of Texas Tech’s last five games. Iowa State has scored more than 26 points only once this season.
Texas Tech 47, Iowa State 28

No. 19 Georgia vs. No. 40 Florida (at Jacksonville)
Georgia has defeated Florida only three times in the past 21 games. This Gator club, however, could be the least imposing of the last two decades. The offense has issues — even if John Brantley is back at quarterback — and the defense has given up an average of 206.3 yards rushing in the last three games.
Georgia 27, Florida 17

No. 62 Purdue at No. 20 Michigan
Purdue is playing very well of late. The Boilers lost at Penn State, 23–18, two weeks ago, then returned home and upset Illinois, 21–14. Michigan hasn’t played since losing at Michigan State, 28–14, two weeks ago. It could be a struggle, but take the Wolverines at home.
Michigan 24, Purdue 20

No. 37 Illinois at No. 23 Penn State
About a month ago, I threw out the possibility that Illinois, with its relatively soft Big Ten schedule, could run the table. I was wrong.
Penn State 17, Illinois 10

No. 90 Kansas at No. 25 Texas
Kansas ranks last in the Big 12 defense (550.9 ypg) and is giving up over 125 yards more than the No. 9 team, Texas Tech.
Texas 38, Kansas 7

No. 61 Arizona at No. 26 Washington
Arizona played its finest game of the season in the debut of interim head coach Tim Kish, smacking UCLA, 48–12, on a nationally televised Thursday night broadcast. The Cats will have to play even better to hang with Washington.
Washington 38, Arizona 24

No. 73 Navy at No. 27 Notre Dame
Navy is 2–5 but has lost two games by three points and two others by one point. Notre Dame is 4–3, with two losses by four points or less. One more fact: Navy has won three of the last four in this series, including the last two in South Bend.
Notre Dame 31, Navy 27

No. 30 Wake Forest at No. 42 North Carolina
Wake Forest, which is 4–1 in the ACC, is a seven-point underdog at North Carolina, which is 1–3 in the ACC. The Heels’ schedule might have been a bit harder, but there is nothing really on their resume that suggests they should be a touchdown favorite.
Wake Forest 24, North Carolina 21

No. 29 West Virginia at No. 46 Rutgers
This is an important game for West Virginia. The Mountaineers need to play well and prove that last week’s stunning no-show against Syracuse (49–23 loss) was an aberration.
West Virginia 31, Rutgers 17

No. 55 NC State at No. 31 Florida State
NC State picked up a much-needed win last week, beating Virginia 28–14 on the road. It was the Pack’s first win against a BCS conference opponent this season.
Florida State 30, NC State 20

No. 78 Ole Miss at No. 34 Auburn
The Tigers have scored 17 points or less in four straight games, their longest such streak (in the same season) since 1999. They should have no problem topping the 17-point mark this weekend.
Auburn 31, Ole Miss 14

No. 36 Southern Miss at No. 93 UTEP
Southern Miss has been known for its offense under Larry Fedora, but the Golden Eagles were terrific on defense last week, holding SMU to 330 total yards en route to a 27–3 win.
Southern Miss 37, UTEP 17

No. 38 SMU at No. 54 Tulsa
Houston is the team to beat in C-USA West, but both Tulsa (3–0) and SMU (2–1) are in the conversation. This is a must win for SMU.
SMU 37, Tulsa 34

No. 43 Iowa at No. 101 Minnesota
The Gophers don’t play Indiana so we won’t know for sure which is the worst BCS conference team in the nation. The smart money, though, is on Minnesota.
Iowa 47, Minnesota 17

No. 45 Mississippi State at No. 84 Kentucky
These two teams are a combined 0–7 in the SEC and are struggling to put points on the board. Kentucky has scored a total of 20 points in three SEC games. Mississippi State scored 34 against Auburn but managed a total of 28 in its ensuing three league games.
Mississippi State 20, Kentucky 7

No. 47 Syracuse at No. 71 Louisville
Syracuse was surprisingly dominant in a 49–23 win over West Virginia last Friday night. The Orange must now prove they can get it done in back-to-back games.
Syracuse 24, Louisville 20

No. 48 California at No. 68 UCLA
The Rick Neuheisel era hit a low point last week in a 48–12 loss at Arizona. The Bruins gave up 254 yards on the ground to a Wildcat team that was ranked 119th in the nation in rushing.
California 21, UCLA 20

No. 74 Oregon State at No. 50 Utah
Oregon State has played better of late and now has a healthy Malcolm Agnew in the backfield. Utah has scored 14 points or less in each of its four Pac-12 games.
Oregon State 24, Utah 14

No. 57 Northwestern at No. 100 Indiana
Both teams have lost five straight games. Northwestern, however, has been competitive; four of the five losses have come by 10 points or less.
Northwestern 41, Indiana 14

No. 97 Wyoming at No. 59 San Diego State
San Diego State is home to the nation’s No. 1 rusher, Ronnie Hillman (138.8 ypg). Wyoming is ranked No. 100 in the nation in stopping the run.
San Diego State 41, Wyoming 17

No. 86 Boston College at No. 63 Maryland
It hasn’t quite been a “dream” season for Maryland’s first-year head coach, Randy Edsall. The Terps are 1–3 in the ACC and have only one win vs. an FBS opponent.
Maryland 27, Boston College 24

No. 64 Air Force at No. 120 New Mexico
New Mexico has lost its last two games by a total of 118–7. The Lobos’ best shot at a win this season will come on Nov. 12 when UNLV visits Albuquerque.
Air Force 41, New Mexico 0

No. 65 Nevada at No. 110 New Mexico State
Nevada is in control of the WAC race, with a 2–0 mark (only undefeated team) and a victory over Fresno State.
Nevada 31, New Mexico State 18

No. 99 North Texas at No. 67 Arkansas State
Arkansas State is 5–0 against non-BCS conference teams. It might be time for ASU fans to make reservations for the New Orleans Bowl.
Arkansas State 28, North Texas 17

No. 107 UAB at No. 70 Marshall
UAB broke into the win column last week with a surprising 26–24 victory over UCF. The winning streak, however, will likely end at one.
Marshall 27, UAB 17

No. 115 Tulane at No. 72 East Carolina
Tulane sunk to a new low last week, losing at home to Memphis, 33–17, in the first game without Bob Toledo.
East Carolina 44, Tulane 0

No. 114 Memphis at No. 79 UCF
Memphis is 1–0 in its last one road game.
UCF 37, Memphis 10

No. 80 San Jose State at No. 88 Louisiana Tech
San Jose State is playing well, with three wins in its last four games, but Louisiana Tech is probably better than its 3–4 record indicates. The Bulldogs have lost to four solid teams — Southern Miss, Houston, Mississippi State and Hawaii.
Louisiana Tech 30, San Jose State 20

No. 81 Hawaii at No. 113 Idaho
The Warriors are 1–3 on the mainland this season, with the only win coming at Louisiana Tech. Idaho has yet to beat an FBS team.
Hawaii 31, Idaho 13

No. 82 UL-Lafayette at No. 112 Middle Tennessee
UL-Lafayette saw its six-game losing streak snapped in surprising fashion — a 42–23 loss at Western Kentucky.
UL-Lafayette 27, Middle Tennessee 24

No. 89 Ball State at No. 87 Western Michigan
Western Michigan must regroup after a shocking 14–10 loss at Eastern Michigan. The Broncs were good enough to win at UConn and scare Illinois (23–20), but couldn’t find a way to win in Ypsilanti.
Western Michigan 31, Ball State 27

No. 95 Buffalo at No. 108 Miami (Ohio)
Buffalo trailed Northern Illinois 31–10 heading into the fourth quarter last week. The Bulls scored three straight touchdowns, including two in the final five minutes, but missed a game-tying extra point with 2:35 remaining.
Buffalo 28, Miami (Ohio) 24

No. 98 Bowling Green at No. 116 Kent State
Something doesn’t quite add up about Kent State’s defensive stats. The Golden Flashes rank No. 22 in total defense yet only rank No. 73 in scoring defense.
Bowling Green 31, Kent State 3

No. 102 Colorado State at No. 117 UNLV
UNLV is responsible for one of the more surprising scores of the season. The Rebels are 1–5 on the season and rank among the worst in the nation in total offense and total defense yet defeated Hawaii, 40–20, back in Week 3.
Colorado State 27, UNLV 17

No. 104 Western Kentucky at No. 105 UL-Monroe
The Hilltoppers opened the season with four straight losses but have rebounded to win three straight. Tailback Bobby Rainey has averaged 161.0 yards during the winning streak.
Western Kentucky 27, UL-Monroe 24

No. 109 Army at Fordham
The Black Knights will be without starting quarterback Trent Steelman, who hurt his foot in a 44–21 loss at Vanderbilt.
Army 38, Fordham 14

No. 111 Central Michigan at No. 119 Akron
Central Michigan, which has lost to Eastern Michigan and Ball State in recent weeks, is in desperate need of a win. The Chips should get one.
Central Michigan 31, Akron 10

Last week — 38–13
Season — 345–70

Teaser:
<p> Oklahoma State-Baylor, USC-Stanford, Kansas State-Oklahoma headline the week of college football.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 28, 2011 - 08:39
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-9
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here are previews and predictions for the 10 best college football games this weekend.

Stanford (-8) at USC
Stanford owns the nation’s longest active winning streak at 15 games, and each of the last 10 wins have come by at least 25 points. The Cardinal are balanced on offense and dominant against the run on defense — a formula that will win any team a ton of games. USC is coming off arguably the finest showing of the brief Lane Kiffin era, a 31–17 win over Notre Dame in South Bend. The USC defense has climbed 18 spots in the national rankings in the last two weeks (from 61st to 43rd) after giving up 329 yards to Cal and 267 yards to Notre Dame in back-to-back wins. Stanford will be tested, but the Cardinal will do what they always seem to do — win by double digits.
Stanford 37, USC 23

Oklahoma (-13.5) at Kansas State
Oklahoma’s shocking loss at home to Texas Tech — the Sooners’ first defeat in Norman since 2005 — ruined Kansas State’s chances of hosting ESPN College GameDay this weekend. It’s still a big game in Manhattan, but it’s no longer a showdown of unbeaten teams. Kansas State did its part, shredding rival Kansas, 59–21, in Lawrence. Bill Snyder’s amazing Wildcats are now 7–0 overall and 4–0 in the Big 12. This team won’t wow you with its talent, but the Cats run the ball well, stop the run and don’t turn it over. In four Big 12 games, K-State has committed only two turnovers, one interception against Baylor and one against Missouri. The Wildcats won five straight in this series from 1993-97 but have only won one time since, a 35–7 beatdown in the 2003 Big 12 Championship Game.
Oklahoma 31, Kansas State 21

Georgia (-3) vs. Florida (at Jacksonville)
Georgia heads to Jacksonville riding a five-game winning streak and coming off a bye week. The Bulldogs are tied with South Carolina atop the SEC East but do not have the tiebreaker by virtue of their loss to the Gamecocks in early September. However, South Carolina is now without star tailback Marcus Lattimore and has a more difficult remaining schedule. So it’s safe to say that Georgia is now the team to beat in the East. But first things first: The Dawgs must get by a Florida team that they have defeated only three times in the past 21 games. This Gator club, however, could be the least imposing of the last two decades. The offense has issues — even if John Brantley is back at quarterback — and the defense has given up an average of 206.3 yards rushing in the last three games.
Georgia 27, Florida 17

Michigan State (+4) at Nebraska
Iowa and Michigan are still in the picture, but there’s a very good chance that the winner of the Michigan State-Nebraska battle in Lincoln will represent the Legends Division in the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans must come down from the emotional high of their thrilling win over Wisconsin last weekend. On paper, this is a pretty good matchup for Michigan State. The Spartans are strong against the run, and Nebraska is obviously a team that thinks run first (and second). Taylor Martinez is improved as a passer — he has thrown for at least 150 yards in all but one game — but it’s still a good idea defensively to make Martinez beat you with his arm, not his legs. Here’s an odd stat that doesn’t mean much: Martinez has attempted either 21 or 22 passes in every game this season.
Nebraska 24, Michigan State 21

Clemson (-3.5) at Georgia Tech
Those of us waiting for Clemson to have a Clemson moment and lose to an inferior team when it’s least expected might be waiting for a long time. The 2011 Tigers seem to have a mental toughness that has been lacking in previous Clemson teams. There have been some issues on defense — the Tigers have given up a total of 83 points in the last two games — but the offense, loaded with playmakers, has been unstoppable. Georgia Tech raced out of the gate with six straight wins, but the Yellow Jackets have lost back-to-back games, falling 24–21 at Virginia and 24–7 at Miami (Fla.). The defense has been fine, but the usually potent option attack averaged only 253.5 total yards in the two losses. In their six wins, the Jackets are averaging 553.5 yards.
Clemson 34, Georgia Tech 27

Wisconsin (-7) at Ohio State
Not many people expected these two teams to be a combined 3–3 in the Big Ten at this point of the season. Ohio State is 1–2 thanks to an offense that is struggling to score points against quality competition. Wisconsin was considered by most to be a legitimate national title contender before losing last week at Michigan State on the final play of the game. This is still a very important game in the Leaders Division. Penn State sits atop the division with a 4–0 mark, but the Lions have a very difficult remaining schedule and will have a hard time holding on to the lead. Wisconsin, if it can find a way to win at Ohio State, will be the overwhelming favorite to win the division.
Wisconsin 21, Ohio State 17

Baylor (+14) at Oklahoma State
Now the pressure beings to mount for Oklahoma State. Nothing is guaranteed, but the Cowboys, up to No. 3 in the latest BCS rankings, could very well play for the national championship if they keep on winning. And beginning with this Saturday, three of the Pokes’ most difficult games — Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma — will be played in Stillwater. Baylor has proven to be one of the top offensive teams in the nation, but the Bears struggled on defense against the better teams on the schedule. They gave up 36 points in a loss to Kansas State and 55 in last week’s loss at Texas A&M. It’s tough to envision this group slowing down Oklahoma State enough to win this game.
Oklahoma State 51, Baylor 31

South Carolina (-4) at Tennessee
South Carolina has issues of its own — most notably the absence of its best offensive player, Marcus Lattimore — but Tennessee is a mess right now. The Vols are 0–4 in league play, have lost each of their last two games by 31 points and will be sending out a true freshman at quarterback this weekend. Justin Worley, a South Carolina native who has yet to attempt a pass and has only played in one game, has replaced senior Matt Simms — who replaced the injured Tyler Bray. The Vols would like to rely on their running game, but they rank 115th in the nation in rushing (though they have run the ball better of late) and will be facing a Gamecock defense that specializes in stopping the run. Tennessee is at home, where it has an 8–1 record vs. South Carolina since the Gamecocks joined the SEC, but this doesn’t look like a favorable matchup for Derek Dooley’s club.
South Carolina 28, Tennessee 17

Illinois (+4.5) at Penn State
About a month ago, I threw out the possibility that Illinois, with its relatively soft Big Ten schedule, could run the table. I was wrong. The Illini have lost two in a row, 17–7 at home vs. Ohio State and 21–14 at Purdue. After scoring a total of 79 points in its first two league games, Illinois has managed only 21 the last two weeks. Not a good sign with Penn State on the schedule next. The Nittany Lions have their issues on offense, but they have been consistently strong on defense en route to a 7–1 start. They’ve held six of eight opponents to 18 points or less and four of those six to 10 points or less. The offense has shown some signs of life in recent weeks, scoring 18 vs. Purdue and 24 vs. Northwestern. Penn State might only need 17 points to win this game.
Penn State 17, Illinois 10

Wake Forest (+7) at North Carolina
Wake Forest, which is 4–1 in the ACC, is a seven-point underdog at North Carolina, which is 1–3 in the ACC. The Heels’ schedule might have been a bit more difficult, but there is nothing on their resume that suggests they should be a touchdown favorite. Wake averted disaster last week, coming from behind to beat Duke after squandering a 17–0 lead. Tanner Price has been consistent at quarterback for the Deacons, throwing between 200 and 300 yards in all seven games, and he has 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. The running game should get a boost with the return of Josh Harris from a hamstring injury.
Wake Forest 24, North Carolina 21

Last week — 8–2 (6–4 vs. spread)
Season — 54–26 (43–36–1 vs. spread)

Teaser:
<p> Stanford-USC, Georgia-Florida and Kansas State-Oklahoma highlight the Week 9 slate.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 08:36
Path: /college-football/colorado-utah-struggling-new-league
Body:

By Mitch Light

Utah and Colorado are two proud programs that were both welcomed with open arms to the new-look Pac-12. With two BCS Bowl appearances in the past seven years, Utah was regarded as one of the elite non-AQ conference teams in the nation. And while Colorado has fallen on hard times in recent years, the Buffaloes won four Big 12 North Division titles from 2001 through 2005 and won a national title as recently as 1990. Clearly, this is a program that has proven it can win at a high level.

The transition to a new league, however, has not been kind for Colorado or Utah, which are a combined 0–8 in the Pac-12. Utah has some solid wins in non-conference action, most notably a 54–10 victory at rival BYU and a 26–14 win at Pittsburgh, but the Utes have been alarmingly uncompetitive against Pac-12 teams. They are getting outscored by 17.8 points and outgained by 117.7 yards per game. It’s been worse for Colorado, which is really struggling under first-year coach Jon Embree. The Buffs have lost their four league games by an average of 29.0 points have been outgained by a staggering 244.3 yards per game.

“It is hard,” said Embree, a 1986 CU alum, after the Buffs’ 45–2 loss vs. Oregon last week. “I’m smiling because you have to smile to keep from crying. It is hard because I feel that we have missed opportunities.”

Colorado missed a huge opportunity back in early October in its first Pac-12 game. The Buffs led Washington State in Boulder, 27–17, late in the fourth quarter but gave up two touchdowns in the final 2:35 of the game en route to a 31–27 loss.

CU plays the top two teams in the North Division, Arizona State and USC, the next two weeks, but the schedule softens a bit down the stretch, with Arizona, UCLA and Utah over the final three weeks.

Utah, despite its struggles, is still in position to reach a bowl game for the ninth straight season. The Utes, at 3–4 overall, will need to go 3–2 against the following slate: Oregon State, Arizona, UCLA, Washington State and Colorado, and three of the games (OSU, UCLA, CU) are in Salt Lake City. The key will be the play of quarterback Jon Hays, who was inserted into the starting lineup three weeks ago after Jordan Wynn went down with an injury. Hays played well in the win over Utah, but has a 1-to-6 TD-to-INT ratio in his other two starts, losses to Arizona State and California. If Hays can limit his mistakes, which he should against weaker competition, the Utes should be able to win at least three of their remaining five games and end their first season in their new league with yet another trip to a bowl game.

AROUND THE PAC-12

• True freshman Malcolm Agnew has only played in three games this season but still leads Oregon State in rushing by more than 200 yards. Agnew has rushed for 375 yards on 66 attempts for a healthy 5.7-yard average.

• Prior to last week, Arizona had given up at least 37 points in every game vs. a FBS opponent. The Cats, however, held UCLA to 12 in their 36-point win over the Bruins in the first game under interim coach Tim Kish.

• Only one of Stanford’s seven wins have come against a team with a winning record. The Cardinal, however, did beat that one team (Washington) by 44 points.

• Colorado has punted 52 times. Stanford has punted 16 times.

• Stanford is 9-of-9 on fourth down this season.

• Washington State and Oregon share the Pac-12 lead with five plays from scrimmage of at least 60 yards. Oregon is one of only four teams nationally that has two plays of at least 80 yards.

• Arizona’s Nick Foles leads the Pac-12 and ranks third nationally with 45.7 pass attempts per game.

• Andrew Luck has completed 80 percent of his passes on first down this season.
 

Teaser:
<p> Buffs, Utes a combined 0–8 in Pac-12 action</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 14:51
Path: /college-football/big-12-teams-getting-offensive
Body:

By Mitchell Light

There’s been some debate in the Athlon Sports offices — and on our web site  — about the strength of the Big 12 as compared to the SEC. Most assume that the SEC, with its five straight national titles, is the nation’s premier conference.

There’s no debate, especially after Oklahoma’s loss on Saturday, that the SEC is stronger at the top with Alabama and LSU. But you can argue, which I did, that the Big 12 is better in the middle and has more overall depth than the SEC.

There is, however, one point that is not negotiable: The Big 12 is far more offensive-minded than the SEC. A look at the national stats is quite telling: The Big 12 is home to five of the top seven teams in the country in total offense — Baylor (No. 2), Oklahoma State (No. 3), Oklahoma (No. 4), Texas Tech (No. 5) and Texas A&M (No. 7). And Missouri, at No. 12, is not far behind.

Compare that with the SEC, which has only two of the top 40 teams in total offense, No. 22 Arkansas and No. 23 Alabama.

This begs the following question: Are the Big 12 teams really good on offense, or do they simply feast on bad defenses? It’s a question that is probably impossible to answer, but I embarked on a stats-driven study that, to no surprise, was inconclusive.

The 10 teams in the Big 12 have played a total of nine teams from other BCS leagues in non-conference action. I compared the point total scored by the Big 12 teams vs. those non-conference foes with the point totals those teams allowed vs. other BCS teams on their schedule to date. For example, Oklahoma State scored 37 points vs. Arizona, but Arizona has given up an average of 38 points to the other five BCS conference teams it has faced.

Of the nine teams, Big 12 schools scored higher than the average of the other opponents five times (A&M vs. Arkansas, Kansas State vs. Miami, Iowa State vs. Iowa, Missouri vs. Arizona State and Texas vs. UCLA) and lower than the average four times (Oklahoma State vs. Arizona, Oklahoma vs. Florida State, Iowa State vs. UConn and Kansas vs. Georgia Tech).

The sample size is too small to draw any conclusions, but I would have expected a higher number of the Big 12 schools — more than five — to have outscored the average of their opponents’ other BCS conference opponents.

I hope this all made sense.

Around the Big 12

• Iowa State is having a ton of trouble on the defensive end in recent weeks. The Cyclones have given up an average of 566.7 yards in the last three games after allowing a respectable 369.2 in their first three games vs. FBS opponents (Iowa, UConn and Texas).

• The losing team has scored at least 34 points in each of Texas Tech’s last five games.

• Collin Klein, the starter in each of Kansas State’s seven games (and seven wins), has yet to hit the 1,000-yard passing mark this season. With the exception of Texas, which has played three quarterbacks, every other team in the league has a quarterback who has thrown for at least 1,300 yards.

• Oklahoma State has forced 20 more turnovers (24 to 4) than Kansas.

• Of the top six players in the league in rushing attempts, two come from Kansas State (Collin Klein, 151, and John Hubert, 122) and two come from Texas A&M (Cyrus Gray, 134, and Christine Michael, 111).

• Kansas has allowed its opponents to enter the Red Zone 42 times in seven game, the most in the nation. The Jayhawks have allowed 32 touchdowns and seven field goals.

• Five Big 12 teams are averaging 40 points or more in league games — Oklahoma State (45.8 ppg), Oklahoma (44.5), Texas A&M (40.5), Kansas State (40.0) and Texas Tech (40.0).

Teaser:
<p> Are teams in the Big 12 great on offense or do they feast on bad defenses?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 11:49
Path: /college-football/times-are-tough-tennessee-volunteers
Body:

By Mitch Light

These are not good times on Rocky Top.

The University of Tennessee football team, one of the more storied programs in college football, is 0–4 in the SEC for the second straight season. And it is not a competitive 0–4. The Vols have lost the four games by an average of 32.0 points and have been outgained by an average of 147.3 yards.

Yes, the schedule has been grueling — you can argue that no team in the nation has faced a more difficult conference slate to date — but this is Tennessee we are talking about. The Vols are used to being one of the elite teams in the league. They are accustomed to handing out the beatings — not being on the receiving end. A tough schedule was never used as an excuse from 1989 through 2004, when the Vols went 98–26–1 in SEC play. Tough schedules didn’t matter back then. Tennessee was often better than everyone else.

Not anymore.

Tennessee has slipped down several notches in the SEC food chain in the past decade and faces a difficult climb back to relevance.

This year’s Volunteer club had tremendous potential on offense, but those hopes were dashed when wide receiver Justin Hunter went down with a knee injury against Florida and quarterback Tyler Bray broke his thumb in the fourth quarter of a loss to Georgia.

The Vols were forced to take on the two premier defensive teams in the nation (LSU and Alabama) without their two best offensive players. The results weren’t surprising: 13 total points, 17 total first downs and 394 total yards.

The schedule softens up in the final month of the regular season, but the Vols will apparently forge ahead with a true freshman at quarterback. Derek Dooley opted to burn Justin Worley’s redshirt in the fourth quarter of the seventh game of the season. With Bray’s return uncertain — UT hopes he can return for Game 11, vs. Vanderbilt — Dooley and his staff obviously believe Worley, who has yet to attempt a pass, gives them a better chance to win than fifth-year senior Matt Simms, the starter in each of the last two games.

Tennessee, at 3-4 overall, needs to win three of its final five games to become bowl-eligible. One of those games, however, is a trip to Arkansas, where the Vols figure to be heavy underdogs. That reduces UT’s margin for error in the other four games. Chalk up the home date with Middle Tennessee as a sure win. Can this team, with a true freshman at quarterback the rest of the way, go 2–1 against South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Kentucky? The guess here is yes. But the fact that we are even asking the question shows how far this program has fallen.

AROUND THE SEC

• Jarrett Lee continued his efficient play, completing 14-of-20 passes for 165 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in LSU’s win over Auburn. Lee has 13 touchdowns and one INT in 155 attempts this season.

• Zac Stacy rushed for 198 yards in Vanderbilt’s 44–21 win over Army. It was the third-highest single-game total in school history, trailing Frank Mordica (321 yards vs. Air Force in 1978) and Doug Matthews (214 yards vs. Tulane in 1969). Stacy is averaging 7.4 yards per carry this season.

• Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson failed to throw a touchdown pass in the Hogs’ win against Ole Miss. It was the first time all season he did not throw a TD and it was the first time since November 2009 that Arkansas as a team did not have at least one TD pass.

• Kentucky beat Jacksonville State 38–14 last weekend. The Wildcats had scored a total of 37 points during their four-game losing streak.

• Tennessee has forced only six turnovers in seven games. South Carolina has forced 24.

• LSU’s Rueben Randle leads the SEC with six receptions of 40 yards or longer.

• Kentucky only has 58 plays from scrimmage of 10 yards or more, the fewest in the league by 14. Arkansas has 123 plays of 10 yards or more.

• Ole Miss has only made 14 trips into the Red Zone this season. Only two teams nationally, FAU and Kent State, have fewer.

Teaser:
<p> Tennessee has slipped several notched down SEC food chain</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 02:16
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-8
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here's a look at every game of the Week 8 college football schedule.

Friday

No. 13 West Virginia at No. 71 Syracuse
The Mountaineers have scored 34 points or more against every team not named LSU.
West Virginia 44, Syracuse 20

No. 27 Rutgers at No. 79 Louisville
Rutgers is one of the more surprising 5–1 teams in the nation. The schedule hasn’t been too tough, but the Knights do have wins over Pitt and Navy.
Rutgers 21, Louisville 14

Saturday

No. 44 Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama
Barring a major upset — Alabama is a 30-point favorite — Tennessee is headed for an 0–4 start to SEC play for the second straight season.
Alabama 30, Tennessee 7

No. 48 Texas Tech at No. 2 Oklahoma
Both teams score a ton of points. Only one team, however, plays good defense. That team is Oklahoma.
Oklahoma 47, Texas Tech 21

No. 24 Auburn at No. 3 LSU
Auburn has made a habit of finding ways to win over the last few years, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Gene Chizik’s club sneaks out of Baton Rouge with a win.
LSU 41, Auburn 20

No. 4 Wisconsin at No. 20 Michigan State
The arrival of quarterback Russell Wilson has given Wisconsin a huge spark in the passing game. The Badgers are the only team in the nation averaging over 250 yards rushing and passing per game.
Wisconsin 30, Michigan State 20

No. 62 Air Force at No. 5 Boise State
The Falcons have been a bit of disappointment this season, with a 1–3 record against FBS opponents. The AFA defense has given up 100 points the last two weeks.
Boise State 51, Air Force 17

No. 6 Oregon at No. 87 Colorado
Colorado is searching for its first win as a member of the Pac-12. The search will continue.
Oregon 51, Colorado 20

No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 38 Missouri
Missouri tailback Henry Josey might be the most underrated skill position player in the country. The sophomore has rushed for 717 yards on an amazing 9.7-yard average.
Oklahoma State 41, Missouri 30

No. 8 Clemson at No. 34 North Carolina
Clemson averted disaster last week, rallying from a 35–17 deficit in the third quarter to beat Maryland, 56¬–45, in College Park. UNC should provide a test, but the Tigers have too many weapons.
Clemson 28, North Carolina 20

No. 25 Washington at No. 9 Stanford
This game features two of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Everyone knows about Andrew Luck, but Washington’s Keith Price has been spectacular in his first season as a starter.
Stanford 41, Washington 27

No. 10 Nebraska at No. 102 Minnesota
Minnesota has lost its two Big Ten games — vs. Michigan and Purdue — by a total score of 103–17. This will get ugly.
Nebraska 48, Minnesota 7

No. 11 Arkansas at No. 81 Ole Miss
Houston Nutt is 2–1 vs. Arkansas as the head coach at Ole Miss. That record will be 2–2 after this weekend.
Arkansas 44, Ole Miss 7

No. 86 Boston College at No. 12 Virginia Tech
Logan Thomas has hit his stride at quarterback for Virginia Tech. The junior has completed 40-of-57 for 590 yards with five touchdowns and no INTs the past two weeks.
Virginia Tech 38, Boston College 13

No. 14 Kansas State at No. 74 Kansas
Last year, K-State jumped to a 31–0 lead at the half and cruised to a 59–7 win over KU. It won’t be quite as easy this year. But it won’t be difficult, either.
Kansas State 41, Kansas 17

No. 16 Georgia Tech at No. 27 Miami (Fla.)
Georgia Tech’s run at perfection ended last Saturday in Charlottesville with a 24–21 loss to the Cavaliers. The Yellow Jackets’ option attack, which rolled up 400 yards or more in its first five games, was held to a season-low 296 yards.
Miami (Fla.) 31, Georgia Tech 27

No. 18 Texas A&M at No. 55 Iowa State
Iowa State opened with three wins by a combined eight points. Since, however, the Cyclones are 0–3 with the three losses coming by a combined 81 points.
Texas A&M 37, Iowa State 20

No. 26 USC at No. 18 Notre Dame
Notre Dame snapped an eight-game losing streak in this rivalry with a 20–16 win in Los Angeles last year. The Irish have not defeated USC in South Bend since 2001, Bob Davie’s last season as the boss.
Notre Dame 34, USC 27

No. 21 Illinois at No. 89 Purdue
Purdue has played better in recent weeks, with a 45–17 over Minnesota and a 23–18 loss at Penn State. I smell upset.
Purdue 24, Illinois 20

No. 29 Wake Forest at No. 66 Duke
Statistically, Duke’s numbers on defense are better this season, but the Devils have had trouble stopping the only two quality teams they have faced — Stanford and Florida State.
Wake Forest 34, Duke 21

No. 57 Maryland No. 30 Florida State
C.J. Brown was inserted into the starting lineup at quarterback and provided the Terps’ offense with a spark, throwing for 177 yards and rushing 162. Maryland will need another monster game from the sophomore.
Florida State 34, Maryland 30

No. 33 Penn State at No. 54 Northwestern
Northwestern will test the Penn State defense with both Dan Persa and Kain Colter getting snaps at quarterback. The problem for the Wildcats is on defense, where they have given up an average of just over 40 points over the last three weeks.
Penn State 28, Northwestern 20

No. 35 SMU at No. 42 Southern Miss
This could be a preview of the C-USA Championship Game. Southern Miss has been on a roll since losing at Marshall in Week 2, winning four straight games — three by 24 points or more.
Southern Miss 30, SMU 27

No. 120 New Mexico at No. 36 TCU
Move along. Nothing to see here.
TCU 55, New Mexico 0

No. 72 Marshall at No. 40 Houston
Houston is undefeated and leads the nation in total offense and passing offense. Nothing should change after this weekend.
Houston 41, Marshall 17

No. 41 Utah at No. 51 California
The Utes picked up an impressive nonconference win last week, beating Pitt on the road with Jon Hayes at quarterback. This week, Hayes will try to lead Utah to its first Pac-12 win.
California 27, Utah 20

No. 45 Cincinnati at No. 50 South Florida
South Florida’s season has taken a wrong turn in recent weeks. A 4–0 start has turned into a 4–2 record with back-to-back losses at Pittsburgh (44–17) and UConn (16–10). Already 0–2 in league play, this is a game that South Florida desperately needs to win if it hopes to remain relevant in the Big East race.
Cincinnati 28, South Florida 24

No. 46 Iowa at No. 101 Indiana
Iowa has scored 34 points in all but one game this season (three vs. Penn State). Indiana ranks 95th in the nation in scoring defense. Not a good matchup.
Iowa 37, Indiana 17

No. 65 NC State at No. 47 Virginia
It’s been a strange ride for Virginia this season. One week after holding on to beat a bad Idaho team at home, the Cavs handed Georgia Tech its first loss of the season.
Virginia 31, NC State 20

No. 105 Miami (Ohio) at No. 52 Toledo
Toledo is in great shape in the MAC West, with a 3–0 league record and its next three games at home.
Toledo 31, Miami 10

No. 53 Temple at No. 104 Bowling Green
Temple’s Bernard Pierce is one of the more underrated backs in the country. He ranks eighth in the nation in rushing in the nation with 120.6 yards per game.
Temple 31, Bowling Green 14

No. 106 Army at No. 58 Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt has lost three straight to military academies, with losses to Army in 2009 and Navy in 2004 and 2003.
Vanderbilt 28, Army 14

No. 60 Tulsa at No. 88 Rice
Tulsa is 2–0 in C-USA, but the wins have come against Tulane and UAB, arguably the two worst teams in the league. The Golden Hurricane still have to play SMU, UCF and Houston.
Tulsa 41, Rice 28

Idaho State at No. 61 BYU
BYU steps into the FCS ranks for a date with the struggling Bengals from Idaho State. This shouldn’t be remotely close.
BYU 51, Idaho State 10

No. 91 East Carolina at No. 63 Navy
Navy is 2–4 and in serious jeopardy of missing out on a bowl game for the first time cine 2002, Paul Johnson’s first season in Annapolis.
Navy 31, East Carolina 30

No. 64 Washington State at No. 90 Oregon State
Washington State hasn’t won more than one Pac-12 game in a season since 2007. That is about to change.
Washington State 31, Oregon State 24

No. 83 Fresno State at No. 69 Nevada
It’s not a good sign for the WAC that these appear to be the best two teams in the league.
Nevada 37, Fresno State 20

No. 73 UL-Lafayette at No. 111 Western Kentucky
The Ragin’ Cajuns have won exactly six games in four of the previous six seasons. They will pick up their seventh win this weekend in Bowling Green.
UL-Lafayette 34, Western Kentucky 14

No. 75 Northern Illinois at No. 93 Buffalo
NIU recovered from its shocking loss to Central Michigan by beating Ball State and Western Michigan by a combined 59 points.
Northern Illinois 37, Buffalo 17

No. 76 Western Michigan at No. 108 Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan, 4–3 overall, has a winning record after seven games for the first time since 1995.
Western Michigan 41, Eastern Michigan 28

No. 107 New Mexico State at No. 82 Hawaii
The Aggies are showing significant signs of progress, but this team isn’t ready to win a road game at Hawaii. The Warriors are too potent on offense.
Hawaii 38, New Mexico State 18

No. 98 Louisiana Tech at No. 84 Utah State
Utah State is 2–4 but has led all four games in the fourth quarter. This team is a few plays away from being 4–2 — or better.
Utah State 27, Louisiana Tech 26

Jacksonville State at No. 85 Kentucky
Jacksonville State is 5–1 in the FCS ranks and will test the struggling Wildcats.
Kentucky 31, Jacksonville State 21

No. 109 Central Michigan at No. 92 Ball State
Central Michigan picked up a huge win over Northern Illinois on Oct. 1 but turned around lost to Eastern Michigan two weeks later. Dan Enos could really use a strong finish to the 2011 season.
Ball State 28, Central Michigan 24

No. 94 Ohio at No. 119 Akron
Ohio might have played its way out of the MAC East race with consecutive losses to Buffalo and Ball State — by a combined four points.
Ohio 41, Akron 0

No. 99 Colorado State at No. 95 UTEP
UTEP has won the three games it was supposed to win (Stony Brook, New Mexico State and Tulane) and lost the three games it was supposed to lose (SMU, South Florida and Houston). This one is a tossup.
UTEP 33, Colorado State 28

No. 97 UL-Monroe at No. 100 North Texas
UL-Monroe is fresh off a surprisingly one-sided 38–10 win at Sun Belt bully Troy. The Warhawks have a chance to get on a roll before they visit rival UL-Lafayette on Nov. 5.
UL-Monroe 24, North Texas 20

No. 110 Tulane at No. 118 Memphis
Bob Toledo resigned earlier this week as the boss at Tulane. He was 15–40 in his four-plus years with the Green Wave.
Tulane 21, Memphis 20

No. 114 Middle Tennessee at No. 117 FAU
Middle Tennessee is 1–4 overall, but the Blue Raiders are ranked 21st in the nation in total offense have lost three games by exactly three points.
Middle Tennessee 38, FAU 10
 

Teaser:
<p> Predictions for every game on the college football slate in Week 8</p>
Post date: Friday, October 21, 2011 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-8
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here are previews and predictions for the 10 best college football games this weekend.

Washington (+21) at Stanford
Stanford is on an incredible roll. Dating back to last October, the Cardinal have won 14 straight games, with 11 of the last 12 coming by at least 27 points. This season, Stanford has scored at least 37 points in each game and has not allowed more than 19. Andrew Luck is the obvious star of the team, but the Cardinal are also very good at running the ball and tremendous against the run. Washington is also getting great play from the quarterback position. Sophomore Keith Price has thrown at least three touchdowns in all six games and ranks fifth in the nation (and second in the Pac-12 to Luck) in passing efficiency. The Huskies’ balance on offense will provide Stanford with its toughest test so far this season.
Stanford 41, Washington 27

Wisconsin (-7) at Michigan State
It’s been quite a two-game stretch for Michigan State, which has defeated Ohio State (in Columbus) and Michigan by a combined score of 38–21. The win over the Wolverines was the fourth straight — the first time that has happened at MSU since the early 1960s. Now, however, the Spartans must deal with Wisconsin, who has been as impressive as any team in the nation in 2011. The schedule hasn’t been overly taxing, but the Badgers have outscored their opponents by an average of nearly 40 points en route to a 6–0 start. The arrival of quarterback Russell Wilson, a post-graduate transfer from NC State, has give Wisconsin a huge spark in the passing game. The Badgers are the only team in the nation averaging over 250 yards rushing and passing per game.
Wisconsin 30, Michigan State 20

USC (+8.5) at Notre Dame
Notre Dame snapped an eight-game losing streak in this rivalry with a 20–16 win in Los Angeles last year. The Irish have not defeated USC in South Bend since 2001, Bob Davie’s last season as the boss. The 2011 edition of the Irish have rebounded from an 0–2 start by winning four straight games, three by at least 18 points. The 5–1 Trojans are coming off their most impressive performance of the season, a 30–9 rout at Cal last Thursday night. The much-maligned USC defense — which had given up 84 points in its two previous games — played its best game of the season. Stopping Notre Dame, however, will be far more difficult. The Irish have balance on offense and have scored 31 points or more in four of their last five games.
Notre Dame 34, USC 27

Georgia Tech (+2.5) at Miami (Fla.)
Georgia Tech’s run at perfection ended last Saturday in Charlottesville with a 24–21 loss to the Cavaliers. The Yellow Jackets’ option attack, which rolled up 400 yards or more in its first five games, was held to a season-low 296 yards. Miami is back at home after splitting a two-game road trip with Virginia Tech (38–35 loss) and North Carolina (30–24 win). The Canes are 3–3 overall but could easily be 5–1 or 6–0 had they made one more play in each loss. Jacory Harris, who threw 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season, has been playing very well since returning to the lineup after missing the opener due to a suspension. The senior has only thrown three INTs in 22 attempts and is coming off an efficient 267-yard, three-touchdown effort in the win at Carolina.
Miami (Fla.) 31, Georgia Tech 27

Auburn (+22) at LSU
Auburn’s offense has hit the skids in recent weeks, averaging only 15.6 points in its last three games. The Tigers managed to win two of those three, thanks to a defense that gave up 13 to South Carolina and six to Florida last week. This week, the challenge is to slow down an LSU attack that methodically punishes opposing defenses with a power running game and an efficient passing attack. LSU’s defense gets most of the pub, but the Tigers’ offense is averaging 38.4 points and 369.1 yards per game. Auburn has made a habit of finding ways to win over the last few years, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Gene Chizik’s club sneaks out of Baton Rouge with a win.
LSU 41, Auburn 20

Oklahoma State (-6.5) at Missouri
This could be a tougher-than-expected test for Oklahoma State, which is ranked No. 4 in the initial BCS standings. Missouri is 3–3, but all three losses have come on the road against ranked teams (Arizona State, Oklahoma and Kansas State) and all three have been by 10 points or less. The star for the Tigers has been sophomore tailback Henry Josey, who has rushed for 717 yards on an amazing 9.7-yard average. Oklahoma State’s prowess on offense has been well-documented. The Pokes are averaging a shade under 400 yards passing per game but run the ball just enough (155.5 ypg) to make life very difficult for opposing defenses. Expect a good fight from Mizzou, but in the end, the Oklahoma State offense will be too much to handle.
Oklahoma State 41, Missouri 30

Wake Forest (-3) at Duke
The Deacons ran into a buzzsaw last week in a 38–17 loss at home to Virginia Tech, but this is still a solid team that is much-improved from last year. Wake is already 3–1 in the league, with wins over NC State, Boston College and Florida State. Duke saw its three-game winning streak come to an end last week with a 41–16 loss at home to Florida State. Statistically, Duke’s numbers on defense are better, but the Devils have had trouble stopping the only two quality teams they have faced — Stanford and Florida State. The Deacons’ balanced offense should be able to score enough points to win in Durham.
Wake Forest 34, Duke 21

Kansas State (-10) at Kansas
The surprising Wildcats are searching for their first 7–0 start since 1999. K-State has won the last four games as the underdog. That will not be the case this week against the struggling Jayhawks. Kansas has lost four in a row, allowing at least 45 points in each game. KU ranks last in the nation in both scoring defense and total defense. The offense has shown signs of life, with Jordan Webb leading the show at quarterback, but this team will not be able to compete in the Big 12 as long as the defense continues to struggle. Last year, K-State jumped to a 31–0 lead at the half and cruised to a 59–7 win over KU. It won’t be quite as easy this year.
Kansas State 41, Kansas 17

Penn State (-4) at Northwestern
Penn State continues to struggle on offense, but this team sure knows what it’s doing on the defensive side of the ball. The Nittany Lions rank sixth in the nation in both total defense (264.1 ypg) and scoring defense (21.7 ppg) and have only given up more than 18 points once this season — to Alabama in Week 2. Northwestern will test the Penn State defense with both Dan Persa and Kain Colter getting snaps at quarterback. The problem for the Wildcats is on defense, where they have given up an average of just over 40 points over the last three weeks. Penn State isn’t as potent as Northwestern’s previous three opponents — Illinois, Michigan and Iowa — but the Lions should be good enough to outscore the Cats in Evanston.
Penn State 28, Northwestern 20

Cincinnati (+3) at South Florida
Cincinnati is quietly having a very nice bounceback season under second-year coach Butch Jones. The Bearcats are 5–1, with the only loss coming at Tennessee in Week 2. UC has nice balance on offense with the passing of Zach Collaros and the running of tailback Isaiah Pead. South Florida’s season has taken a wrong turn in recent weeks. A 4–0 start has turned into a 4–2 record with back-to-back losses at Pittsburgh (44–17) and UConn (16–10). Already 0–2 in league play, this is a game that South Florida desperately needs to win if it hopes to remain relevant in the Big East race.
Cincinnati 28, South Florida 24

Last week — 8–2 (8–2 vs. spread)
Season — 46–24 (37–32–1 vs. spread)

Teaser:
<p> Previews and predictions on 10 key games in Week 8.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 09:22
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-7
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here's a look at every game of the Week 7 college football schedule.

Braden Gall's Week 7 Picks Against The Spread

Friday

No. 72 Hawaii at No. 92 San Jose State

San Jose State’s two-game winning streak was snapped last weekend, but the improved Spartans played relatively well at BYU. I’m still trying to figure out how Hawaii lost to UNLV by 20 points last month.
Hawaii 41, San Jose State 20

Saturday

No. 1 Alabama at No. 82 Ole Miss
The Alabama defense has allowed 14 points or less in all six games this season. Not a good sign for Ole Miss, which has struggled to move the ball against quality competition.
Alabama 38, Ole Miss 6

No. 2 LSU at No. 41 Tennessee
With Tyler Bray out of the lineup, few are giving Tennessee much of a chance against the mighty LSU Tigers, but keep in mind that the Matt Simms-led Vols came oh-so-close to beating LSU in Baton Rouge last season. The Tigers scored the winning touchdown on the final play from scrimmage after the Vols’ infamous 13-man defensive alignment.
LSU 31, Tennessee 14

No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 83 Kansas
Kansas has given up 42 points or more against each FBS opponent it has faced. Oklahoma has scored 113 points over the past two games. Not a good matchup for the Jayhawks.
Oklahoma 58, Kansas 10

No. 102 Indiana at No. 4 Wisconsin
Indiana has played better in recent weeks, but this is still a team that has lost to Ball State and North Texas this season. The Hoosiers trip to Madison will not be fun.
Wisconsin 55, Indiana 7

No. 5 Boise State at No. 97 Colorado State
It’s difficult to envision a scenario in which a team that lost to San Jose State at home — that would be Colorado State —can be competitive with Boise State.
Boise State 48, Colorado State 17

No. 17 Arizona State at No. 6 Oregon
ESPN College GameDay will be making a rare appearance on the West Coast for a clash between two of the elite teams in the Pac-12. Arizona State, with its slick new uniforms, is in complete control of the South Division with a 3–0 record that includes a win over USC. A win in Eugene could possibly put the Devils in position to host the league title game. That, however, is easier said than done.
Oregon 35, Arizona State 24

No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 25 Texas
Oklahoma State and Texas have met 25 times. Oklahoma State has won only three of those games — in 1944, 1997 and 2010. The Pokes are favored to pick up win No. 4 in this series.
Oklahoma State 38, Texas 24

No. 8 Clemson at No. 55 Maryland
Maryland has been in a funk since opening the season with a win at home vs. Miami, but the Terps did show some life last week in a five-point loss at Georgia Tech. Showing life will not be enough against Clemson.
Clemson 31, Maryland 21

No. 9 Stanford at No. 63 Washington State
The improved Cougars need to find three more wins on the schedule to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2003. Stanford will not be one of those wins.
Stanford 48, Washington State 10

No. 10 Georgia Tech at No. 67 Virginia
The Jackets scored a season-low 21 points last week, but still managed to beat Maryland and remain undefeated. This team could run the table in the regular season.
Georgia Tech 31, Virginia 20

No. 13 Virginia Tech at No. 19 Wake Forest
Wake Forest was known as a rushing team early in Jim Grobe’s tenure, but the Deacs are getting it done through the air thanks to the emergence of quarterback Tanner Price.
Virginia Tech 34, Wake Forest 24

No. 46 Ohio State at No. 14 Illinois
Illinois is favored over Ohio State for the first time since 2001, when Ron Turner’s Illini won the Big Ten title with Kurt Kittner at quarterback.
Illinois 24, Ohio State 21

No. 15 Michigan at No. 27 Michigan State
Michigan State is in the midst of its longest winning streak (three games) against the boys from Ann Arbor since the mid-1960s, when Duffy Daugherty & Co. outscored the Wolverines 78–14 in a three-game stretch.
Michigan State 28, Michigan 24

No. 18 Kansas State at No. 43 Texas Tech
The Wildcats are one of the surprise teams in the nation. I’ve picked against them in each of the last three weeks. I should jump on the bandwagon … but I’ll go with the high-scoring Red Raiders at home.
Texas Tech 34, Kansas State 30

No. 20 South Carolina at No. 40 Mississippi State
With Connor Shaw running the show, South Carolina rolled up a Steve Spurrier-era high 639 yards against Kentucky last week. Mississippi State should offer some more resistance.
Mississippi State 21, South Carolina 13

No. 23 Baylor at No. 21 Texas A&M
These two programs have played every year since 1945, but Texas A&M’s departure to the SEC most likely means the end of the rivalry.
Texas A&M 38, Baylor 34

No. 24 Georgia at No. 56 Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt’s defense has been strong, but the Commodores have only scored three points in the last two games.
Georgia 24, Vanderbilt 10

No. 26 Florida at No. 30 Auburn
It’s safe to say that a defending national champion has never been a home underdog to a team that is coming off consecutive losses of at least 28 points.
Auburn 28, Florida 23

No. 80 Colorado at No. 28 Washington
Washington quarterback Keith Price has thrown at least three touchdowns in every game this season.
Washington 37, Colorado 21

No. 34 Miami (Fla.) at No. 29 North Carolina
Miami tailback Lamar Miller might be receiving some Heisman buzz if the Hurricanes had won a few more game. The sophomore has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the first five games, including 184 vs. Ohio State and 166 vs. Virginia Tech.
Miami (Fla.) 27, North Carolina 20

No. 31 Florida State at No. 65 Duke
We thought the Florida State defense would be stout this year. We thought wrong. The Noles have given up 70 points in their last two games.
Florida State 34, Duke 21

No. 32 South Florida at No. 81 Connecticut
The Bulls are coming off a surprisingly one-sided loss (44–17) at Pittsburgh. Connecticut’s 43–16 loss at West Virginia, however, was not a surprise.
South Florida 31, Connecticut 14

No. 88 Purdue at No. 34 Penn State
The Nittany Lions might be tough to watch on offense, but this team has been solid on defense all season. It should be another ugly win for Joe Paterno & Co.
Penn State 21, Purdue 13

No. 70 UCF at No. 35 SMU
It’s C-USA East vs. C-USA West. It’s the running game vs. the forward pass. It should be an SMU victory.
SMU 29, UCF 23

No. 58 Navy at No. 37 Rutgers
Navy has lost three in a row for the first time since 2002, when Paul Johnson’s first Midshipmen club went 2–10.
Rutgers 34, Navy 27

No. 47 Iowa State at No. 38 Missouri
Iowa State’s three wins have come by an average of 2.7 points per game. Its two losses have come by an average of 23 points.
Missouri 31, Iowa State 17

No. 59 Utah at No. 39 Pittsburgh
Pitt has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the nation this season. One week after pounding South Florida, 44–17, at home, the Panthers were beaten soundly at Rutgers, 34–10.
Pittsburgh 31, Utah 14

No. 44 USC at No. 49 California
Cal shocked USC, 34–31, in 2003 in what was the first big win of the Jeff Tedford era. The Bears have lost seven straight in the series since that breakthrough victory in Berkeley, with the last two being decided by an average of 30.5 points.
California 31, USC 24

No. 53 Northwestern at No. 48 Iowa
Last week, in a 13–3 loss at Penn State, Iowa was held without a touchdown for the first time since 2007, when the Hawkeyes lost at Purdue, 31–6.
Iowa 28, Northwestern 27

No. 76 Louisville at No. 50 Cincinnati
The schedule has been far from grueling, but Cincinnati has held every team not named Tennessee to 14 points or less this season. Louisville ranks 112th in the nation in scoring offense.
Cincinnati 31, Louisville 13

No. 51 Toledo at No. 104 Bowling Green
The Rockets are one of the hidden gems in college football this season. They are 3–3 overall, with a controversial overtime loss at Syracuse, a five-point loss at Ohio State and a 40–15 loss to Boise State. This is a very solid team.
Toledo 41, Bowling Green 21

No. 89 Buffalo at No. 52 Temple
Buffalo is 2–4, but three of the four losses have come against BCS conference foes. Last week, the Bulls upset Ohio, 38–37. This is another big test.
Temple 31, Buffalo 24

No. 110 UAB at No. 60 Tulsa
UAB is one of three winless teams in the nation (New Mexico and FAU are the others). With dates against Tulsa, UCF, Marshall and Houston looming, it might be a while before the Blazers get off the mat.
Tulsa 48, UAB 14

No. 95 Northern Illinois at No. 61 Western Michigan
This is a huge game in the MAC West. Western Michigan has won four of five since opening the season with a weather-shortened loss at Michigan. The Broncos are very potent on offense.
Western Michigan 37, Northern Illinois 27

No. 64 BYU at No. 86 Oregon State
BYU swept a three-game homestand in less-than-inspiring fashion, beating UCF (24–17), Utah State (27–24) and San Jose State (29–16). Now, the show goes on the road against an Oregon State team that is rejuvenated after last week’s 10-point win over Arizona.
Oregon State 27, BYU 16

No. 120 New Mexico at No. 73 Nevada
The Lobos are looking for their first win of the year and their first win under interim head coach George Barlow. It’s not going to happen in Reno.
Nevada 48, New Mexico 14

No. 91 Ball State at No. 74 Ohio
Ohio’s 38–37 loss at Buffalo last week was very damaging. The Bobcats should be favored in every remaining game, with the possible exception of the home date vs. Temple on Nov. 2.
Ohio 31, Ball State 17

No. 87 Rice at No. 75 Marshall
Marshall’s offense, led by a true freshman quarterback (Rakeem Cato), has scored 17 points or less in all but one game this season. Rice has scored 24 or more in each of its last four games.
Marshall 24, Rice 21

No. 78 Utah State at No. 96 Fresno State
Utah State took out the frustration of three painfully close early season losses by pounding Wyoming, 63–19, last weekend in Logan.
Utah State 31, Fresno State 20

No. 101 North Texas at No. 79 UL-Lafayette
UL-Lafayette is the surprise of the Sun Belt, with a 3–0 league record that includes wins over both Troy and FIU. The Cajuns will be bowl-eligible after this weekend.
UL-Lafayette 33, North Texas 13

No. 90 East Carolina at No. 118 Memphis
It’s been a bit of a struggle for East Carolina, which has lost four of five games this year. Memphis, however, is good for what ails any team in college football.
East Carolina 41, Memphis 7

No. 93 UTEP at No. 108 Tulane
Tulane is 2–0 when it scores 47 points or more this season, and 0–4 when it doesn’t.
Tulane 22, UTEP 21

No. 114 Eastern Michigan at No. 94 Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan is 3–3, but two of those wins have come against FCS opponents and the other was against Akron, one of the worst teams in the FBS ranks.
Central Michigan 37, Eastern Michigan 14

No. 112 UL-Monroe at No. 98 Troy
Troy has dominated the Sun Belt in recent years but has had some trouble with UL-Monroe. The Warhawks have won two of the last three and three of the last six in the series.
Troy 28, UL-Monroe 20

No. 116 UNLV at No. 99 Wyoming
UNLV has been outscored in its four losses by an average of 37 points per game.
Wyoming 38, UNLV 21

No. 105 Miami (Ohio) at No. 115 Kent State
Miami broke into the win column for the first time last week, topping Army, 35–28, in Oxford. Win No. 2 should be much easier.
Miami (Ohio) 27, Kent State 10

No. 111 Idaho at No. 107 New Mexico State
New Mexico State is 2–3, with wins over Minnesota and New Mexico. The Aztecs have not defeated three FBS teams in the same season since 2004.
New Mexico State 21, Idaho 20

No. 109 Western Kentucky at No. 117 Florida Atlantic
Western Kentucky is coming off its first win of the season, a 36–33 double-OT thriller over rival Middle Tennessee. Bobby Rainey, the most underrated tailback in the nation, had his fourth 100-yard game of the season.
Western Kentucky 23, Florida Atlantic 14

Last week — 43-7
Season - 316-57
 

Teaser:
<p> Week 7 action is highlighted by Arizona State-Oregon, Michigan-Michigan State and Oklahoam State-Texas.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 14, 2011 - 08:03
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-7
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here are previews and predictions for the 10 best college football games this weekend.


Michigan (+1.5) at Michigan State
Michigan State is in the midst of its longest winning streak (three games) against the boys from Ann Arbor since the mid-1960s, when Duffy Daugherty & Co. outscored the Wolverines 78–14 in a three-game stretch. For the streak to reach four games — something that hasn’t happened since the early ’50s — the Spartans will have to find a way to slow down Denard Robinson. The junior quarterback was terrific in Michigan’s win at Northwestern last weekend, throwing for 337 yards and two touchdowns and adding 117 yards and two scores on the ground. Last year, State limited Robinson to 86 yards rushing, a season-low at the time, and forced him into three interceptions in a 34–17 MSU win in East Lansing. The guess here is that the Spartans will do just enough to slow down the Michigan attack.
Michigan State 28, Michigan 24

Arizona State (+15) at Oregon
ESPN College GameDay will be making a rare appearance on the West Coast for a clash between two of the elite teams in the Pac-12. Arizona State, with its slick new uniforms, is in complete control of the South Division with a 3–0 record that includes a win over USC. Oregon will be in a battle with Stanford and possibly Washington for the top spot in the North. The Ducks’ chances at the title, however, took a hit last Thursday when star tailback LaMichael James was sidelined with an elbow injury. He is hoping to play some this weekend, but he could also be out for several weeks — it’s too early to tell. Oregon is deep at running back, but James is a true difference-maker who is very difficult to replace.
Oregon 35, Arizona State 24

Oklahoma State (-7.5) at Texas
Oklahoma State and Texas have met 25 times. Oklahoma State has won only three of those games — in 1944, 1997 and 2010. The Pokes are favored to pick up win No. 4 in this series— and it’s easy to see why. Led by quarterback Brandon Weeden and wideout Justin Blackmon, O-State boasts arguably the nation’s most explosive offense. Last week, the Cowboys led Kansas 56–7 at the half before cruising to a 70–28 win. Texas is solid on defense, but the Horns are fresh off of a humbling 55–17 loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout. OU quarterback Landry Jones had little trouble picking apart the Texas defense. Not a good sign with Weeden & Co. coming to town.
Oklahoma State 38, Texas 24

Virginia Tech (-7) at Wake Forest
Clemson is still the frontrunner in the Atlantic Division, but this clash in Winston-Salem this week could possibly be a preview of the ACC title game. Wake Forest is 3–0 in the league after last week’s impressive 35–30 win over Florida State. The Deacons, known as a rushing team early in Jim Grobe’s tenure, are getting it done through the air thanks to the emergence of quarterback Tanner Price. Virginia Tech has a fine quarterback of its own. Sophomore Logan Thomas, a first-year starter, played his best game last Saturday, throwing for 310 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Hokies’ thrilling 38–35 comeback win over Miami (Fla.). The key to the game, however, could be Wake’s ability (or inability) to slow down Tech tailback David Wilson. If he runs wild, the Hokies should win the game.
Virginia Tech 34, Wake Forest 24

Baylor (+9.5) at Texas A&M
Texas A&M got back on track last weekend, holding on for a 45–40 win at Texas Tech in what could be the Aggies’ last trip ever to Lubbock. A&M once again jumped out to a big lead at the half (31–20), but this week found a way to hold on — though there were definitely some tense moments in the fourth quarter. Baylor, too, rebounded from a difficult loss two weeks ago. The Bears rolled past Iowa State 49–26 behind another strong performance from Robert Griffin III, who threw for over 200 yards and rushed for over 100. These two programs have played every year since 1945, but A&M’s departure to the SEC most likely means the end of the rivalry.
Texas A&M 38, Baylor 34

Ohio State (-4) at Illinois
Illinois is favored over Ohio State for the first time since 2001, when Ron Turner’s Illini won the Big Ten title with Kurt Kittner at quarterback. The 2011 Illini, predicted by most to finish no better than fourth in the Big Ten Leaders, are one of the more surprising teams in the nation with a 6–0 overall record and a 2–0 mark in league play. Sophomore Nathan Scheelhaase is playing very well at the quarterback position, and Ron Zook’s club is making the right plays at the right times to win games. Ohio State, on the other hand, is not winning games; the Buckeyes have lost three of their last four (their worst stretch since 2004) due in large part to poor play at the quarterback position. True freshman Braxton Miller was showing signs of life Saturday night at Nebraska before going down with an ankle injury. Miller is expected to play this week — which is a very good sign. Joe Bauserman, the Buckeyes’ other option at quarterback, completed only 1-of-10 attempts for 13 yards in relief at Nebraska.
Illinois 24, Ohio State 21

Florida (-2) at Auburn
It’s safe to say that a defending national champion has never been a home underdog to a team that is coming off consecutive losses of at least 28 points. But that’s what we have this weekend at Auburn. The Tigers, fresh off a 38–14 loss at Arkansas, return home to face a Florida team that has been thoroughly beaten the past two weeks by the elite in college football, Alabama and LSU. Jeff Driskel is expected to be back at quarterback after missing the LSU game, but he is still just a true freshman, and he has yet to start a game in his career. That’s hardly comforting — even against a Tiger defense that has given up 34 points or more in four of six games this season. Auburn is having quarterback problems, as well. Junior Barrett Trotter completed only 6-of-19 attempts for 81 yards against Arkansas last week. Don’t expect to see the forward pass too much in this game.
Auburn 28, Florida 23

Miami (Fla.) (+3) at North Carolina
The Hurricanes are a few plays away from being 4–1 or even 5–0. Their three losses have come by eight points (Maryland), four points (Kansas State) and three points (Virginia Tech), with none of the games decided until the final minute. Instead, Al Golden’s team finds itself 2–3 overall and 0–2 in league play with two crucial ACC Coastal Division games looming, this trip to UNC and a home date with Georgia Tech. Had the Canes come out on top in a few more of the games, tailback Lamar Miller might be receiving some Heisman buzz. The sophomore has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the first five games, including 184 vs. Ohio State and 166 vs. Virginia Tech. Carolina is 5–1, with the only loss coming by seven points at undefeated Georgia Tech. Interim coach Everitt Withers has done a solid job keeping his team focused. This is a key game for Carolina, which hits the road for three of its next four games. A win here keeps the Heels in the Coastal Division race.
Miami (Fla.) 27, North Carolina 20

USC (-3) at California (Thu)
Cal shocked USC, 34–31, in 2003 in what was the first big win of the Jeff Tedford era. The Bears have lost seven straight in the series since that breakthrough victory in Berkeley, with the last two being decided by an average of 30.5 points. The 2011 Bears jumped out to a 3–0 start but have lost back to back games at Washington and Oregon. They led Oregon 15–14 at the half last Thursday night before getting ambushed in the final two quarters en route to a 43–15 loss. USC hasn’t been overly impressive this year, but the Trojans are 4–1 with all four of the wins coming vs. BCS conference foes. The offense has been productive, but Monte Kiffin’s defense has been torched for a total of 84 points the past two weeks. Cal, which is playing its games at AT&T Park in San Francisco, won’t have a boisterous home crowd, but Bears are ready to end their losing streak vs. USC.
California 31, USC 24

South Carolina (-2.5) at Mississippi State
It’s been an interesting week at South Carolina. First, Steve Spurrier refused to address the media while a columnist from Columbia was in the room because of something that columnist wrote several months ago. Then, a few hours later, the school announced that Stephen Garcia had been kicked off the team. All this came a few days after the Gamecocks’ dominating 54–3 win over Kentucky in which USC rolled up a Spurrier-era high 639 yards of offense. Yards and points have been hard to come by at Mississippi State, which is off to a disappointing 3–3 start. The Bulldogs have totaled less than 220 yards in each of their past two SEC games and struggled to score in their non-conference wins over Louisiana Tech and UAB. No announcement has been made, but there is a strong possibility that Tyler Russell will get the start at quarterback over Chris Relf.
Mississippi State 21, South Carolina 13

Last week — 7–3 (3–7 vs. spread)
Season — 38–22 (29–30–1 vs. spread)

Teaser:
<p> Previews and predictions on 10 key games in Week 7.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 08:51
Path: /college-football/arizona-state-has-pac-12-south-title-wrapped
Body:

By Mitch Light

If it were a political race, the networks would already have declared Arizona State the winner of the Pac-12 South. Yes, we are barely into October, but it’s quite clear that the Sun Devils will be playing in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game on Dec. 2 — likely in Palo Alto or Eugene.

Dennis Erickson’s club is already 3–0 in the league, with wins over USC, Oregon State and Utah. UCLA is the only eligible team — USC can’t play in the league title game — in the South with fewer than two losses, but does anyone really consider the Bruins, who have wins over Washington State and Oregon State, to be a legitimate threat? Didn’t think so.

The other three teams in the division — Colorado, Utah and Arizona — are a combined 0–9 in the Pac-12.

So there you have it: Arizona State will win the Pac-12 South. It’s over.

Now, let’s move on to the next issue: Can this team win the entire league and play in a BCS bowl for the first time? The key is hosting the Pac-12 title game. Here’s how that can happen:

• Arizona State somehow beats the LaMichael James-less Oregon Ducks this weekend in Eugene.

• Arizona State wins the rest of its league games — quite manageable, with Colorado, Arizona and Cal at home and UCLA and Washington State on the road. Note: No Stanford!

• Oregon beats Stanford in Palo Alto on Nov. 12. This is the big component, because even if ASU wins the Pac-12 South with a 9–0 record, an undefeated Stanford team out of the North would be ranked higher and earn the right to host. However, an undefeated ASU team would host over a one-loss Stanford or a one-loss Oregon.

So if you thought that this week’s game at Oregon was big — and it is, ESPN College GameDay will be on hand — it’s even bigger when you take a look at the long-term ramifications.
Erickson, however, isn’t really concerned with any big-picture talk. He’s far more concerned with the task at hand — beating a very good Oregon team on foreign soil.

“We have to learn how to go at warp speed,” he said earlier this week. “They are what they are. They do it week-in and week-out, year-in and year-out since Chip (Kelly) has been there. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team as fast offensively. It’s unbelievable watching.”

Erickson believes his team is in the right frame of mind for what figures to be the biggest game for the program since its trip to Eugene in November 2007, when ASU, 8–0 at the time, lost to 7–1 Oregon, 35–23.

We’re a confident football team,” said the veteran coach. “They believe in each other. I don’t know if you even call it confidence — they have a strong belief in each other and a strong belief that their teammate is going to do the job he’s supposed to do and give the effort he’s supposed to. In the first six football games we’ve done that extremely well.”

Arizona State will have to do everything extremely well to win Saturday night.

Around the Pac-12

• Cal’s Zach Maynard has completed only 51.4 percent of his passes, the lowest among any of the top 50 quarterbacks in the nation in yards passing per game. All but eight of the top 50 passers have completed at least 60.0 percent of their attempts.

• Oregon has 14 plays from scrimmage of at least 40 yards. No other team in the league has more than eight.

• Utah leads the Pac-12 in turnovers committed (13) and ranks second in turnovers forced (13).

• Washington’s Keith Price has thrown at least three touchdowns in each game this season.

• Andrew Luck has only thrown more than one interception in a game only twice in his two-plus years as the starter at Stanford. He was picked off twice against Notre Dame and Oregon last season.

• UCLA is over .500 in league play after three games for the first time since 2007, when Karl Dorrell’s final Bruin team opened with a 4–0 Pac-10 record.

• Arizona has averaged 33 points in its last three losses.

• LaMichael James has four carries of at least 40 yards. Only one other player in the league has more than one — USC’s Curtis McNeal has two.
 

Teaser:
<p> With the Pac-12 South title all but wrapped up, Arizona State could put itself in position for a possible BCS bowl with a win at Oregon on Saturday.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 16:30
Path: /college-football/kansas-defensive-struggles-are-epic
Body:

By Mitch Light

Toben Opurum spent his first season at Kansas on the offensive side of the ball, leading the Jayhawks in rushing as a true freshman in 2009. He scored a touchdown in each of his first six games. He knows what it’s like to score points.

The past two seasons, Opurum has learned what it’s like to give up points — a lot of points. In 2010, his first season on the defense, Kansas ranked 98th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up an average of 34.4 points per game. This fall, the Jayhawks have taken several large steps back.

After five games, Kansas ranks 120th in the nation in total defense and scoring defense. The Jayhawks have given up at least 42 points in all four games against FBS opponents, including 66 vs. Georgia Tech and 70 vs. Oklahoma State. Last week, KU trailed O-State 56–7 at halftime.

“It is embarrassing, and is something I do not want to be a part of,” said Opurum, when asked what it’s like to see an opponent score 70 points. “We cannot do anything about it right now. We need to put it behind us and continue to work hard.”

Turner Gill is now 5–12 in his one-plus season as the boss in Lawrence, but only two of those wins (Georgia Tech and Colorado in 2010) have come against BCS conference opponents. Last season, Kansas was outgained by a staggering 219.4 yards in its eight Big 12 games. This year, the Jayhawks have allowed an average of 632.7 yards per game to three the BCS conference foes they have faced. To be fair, KU has played Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State — three of the top offensive teams in the country — but its defensive numbers are still alarmingly bad.

Here are a few more stats to chew on: The Kansas defense is allowing 7.8 yards per play, the worst in the nation by almost a full yard. The Jayhawks have given up 34 touchdowns, 15 more than any other team in the Big 12. They have yielded 21 plays of 30 yards or more, nine more than any other team in the Big 12.

“We just have to keep improving,” Gill said after the O-State game. “We have some work to do on that side of the ball, or all sides of the ball for that matter. We just have to keep working. We have to improve.”

The Jayhawks don’t have much time to figure things out. The mighty Oklahoma Sooners — featuring an offense that has scored 113 points the past two weeks — visit Lawrence this week, and KU still has dates with Kansas State (which beat the Jayhawks 59–7 last year), Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and Missouri.

“We have people getting mad and we have people that are sad,” cornerback Greg Brown said. “We need to keep our heads up because it is still early in the season and we can still turn it around.”

AROUND THE BIG 12

• Texas A&M lost seven straight games in Lubbock from 1995-2007, but has now won two in a row on the road vs. the hated Red Raiders. With the Aggies off to the SEC, it’s highly unlikely that these two teams will meet in the near (or distant) future.

• A big key to Kansas State’s 6–0 start has been on the defensive side of the ball. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in total defense (298.8 ypg) and rank second in scoring defense (16.6 ppg). Last year, K-State ranked 11th in total defense (445.7 ypg) and eighth in scoring defense (29.1 ppg).

• The Big 12 is home to three of the top 10 scoring teams in the country — Oklahoma State (first, 51.4 ppg), Texas Tech (eighth, 45.8 ppg) and Oklahoma (tied for ninth, 45.0 ppg).

• Texas has given up 50 points or more three times in the Mack Brown era, all to Oklahoma — 63 points in 2000, 65 in ’03 and 55 in ’11.

• Iowa State’s three wins have come by an average of 2.7 points per game. Its two losses have come by an average of 23 points.

• The losing team has averaged 35.7 points in Texas A&M’s last three games.

• Missouri’s Henry Josey ranks 11th in the nation in rushing (117.6 ypg) despite not having more than 14 carries in any single game this season.

• Baylor has scored 35 points or more in five straight games (in the same season) for the first time in school history.
 

Teaser:
<p> Kansas Jayhawks have taken a step back in 2011</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 12:06
Path: /college-football/aj-mccarron-passing-every-test-alabama
Body:

By Mitch Light

It was far from the most stressful environment, and his team was favored by more than four touchdowns. But AJ McCarron made a nice statement Saturday night in Tuscaloosa as the Crimson Tide cruised past Vanderbilt, 34–0. Alabama’s sophomore quarterback played the best game of his short career against a Vanderbilt team that entered the game ranked 11th in the nation in total defense and fourth in the nation in passing efficiency defense.

McCarron had season-highs in completions (23), attempts (30), passing yards (237) and touchdowns (four). And most important, he did not throw an interception against a Commodore defense that had picked off 14 passes in its first four games. McCarron, who threw two picks in the first game of the season against Kent State, has now gone
21 quarters without throwing an interception.

“AJ played pretty well,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, never one to offer effusive praise for his players. “He didn’t turn the ball over which was really important.”

The quarterback position was one of the few question marks for this Alabama team. McCarron beat out Phillip Sims in the preseason for the starting assignment and is trying to prove that he has what it takes — both physically and mentally — to run Alabama’s pro-style offense. He is 6–0 as a starter, with wins at Penn State and at Florida on his resume.

Alabama has already shown that it can run the ball with success. The Crimson Tide will need to prove that it can pass the ball — and do so in big spots — to be a championship team. Saturday night, McCarron and his offense took a step in the right direction.

“I definitely think we are an offense that can run and pass at will when we are clicking on all cylinders,” said tight end Brad Smelley. “I think we showed tonight that if you try to load the box, we can definitely make plays over the top and find the zones and the spaces that are open in there. We are a two phase team so we can run and pass.”

Alabama was particularly effective on third down against Vanderbilt, converting a season-high 70.6 percent (12-of-17). For the season, McCarron has completed 29-of-46 passes (63.0 percent) on third down with 23 of those 29 completions resulting in a first down.

If that type of production in the passing game continues, no one will question McCarron’s ability to be a championship quarterback.

AROUND THE SEC

• Tennessee’s Tyler Bray had thrown at least two touchdown passes in 10 straight games before being shut out by Georgia on Saturday night. Bray will be out of action for 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb.

• In two SEC games, Tennessee’s tailbacks have rushed for only 49 yards on 30 carries.

• In a 38–14 loss to Arkansas, Auburn was held scoreless for three straight quarters in the same game for the first time in the Gus Malzahn era.

• Vanderbilt’s average of 4.4 yards per play against Alabama was the highest of any Crimson Tide opponent this season. The Commodores, however, only had 43 offensive snaps, resulting in 190 total yards.

• Kentucky attempted a total of 26 passes for 17 yards in its 54–3 loss at South Carolina. The Cats averaged 0.65 yards per attempt.

• Arkansas has 109 plays of 10 yards or more this season. Kentucky and Vanderbilt each have only 44 such plays from scrimmage.

• Florida has been outgained 819 to 425 over the last two weeks.

• LSU has only allowed four sacks in six games. The Tigers are the only team in the league that is giving up less than one per game.

• South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore broke a two-game stretch of sub-100-yard games. He gained 102 yards on 22 carries against Kentucky, though he was held without a touchdown for the first time this season.

Teaser:
<p> Quarterback position no longer a question mark for the Tide</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 07:23
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-6
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here's a look at every game of the Week 6 college football schedule.

Friday

No. 5 Boise State at No. 89 Fresno State
Fresno State plays its old nemesis Boise State, which has jumped to the MWC after dominating the WAC for the pat decade. The Bulldogs gave up 38 points last week in a home loss to an Ole Miss team that had scored two touchdowns in three previous games vs. FBS opponents.
Boise State 41, Fresno State 10

Saturday

No. 56 Vanderbilt at No. 1 Alabama
Vanderbilt is good enough on the defensive end to keep things relatively interesting for a while, but the Commodores’ offense — statistically among the worst in the nation — is going to find yards extremely difficult to come by against a dominant Alabama defense.
Alabama 38, Vanderbilt 7

No. 19 Florida at No. 2 LSU
LSU’s Tiger Stadium would be very close to the top if you are making a list of venues that would not be ideal for a true freshman to make his first collegiate start. One positive for Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel: At least the game is not at night.
LSU 21, Florida 10

No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 10 Texas (Dallas)
Texas has some decent wins — BYU at home and UCLA and Iowa State on the road — but we’re still not sure if the Horns are good enough to challenge OU and Oklahoma State for the Big 12 title. The big key is at quarterback: Are Case McCoy and David Ash good enough to make plays on a big stage against an elite opponent? We’ll find out.
Oklahoma 26, Texas 17

No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 68 Kansas
What happens when one of the nation’s elite offensive teams plays one of the worst defensive teams in the country? A lot of points. That’s what happens.
Oklahoma State 55, Kansas 21

No. 85 Boston College at No. 8 Clemson
One team is undefeated with quality wins over Auburn, Florida State and Virginia. The other team has yet to beat an FBS opponent. Go with the good team.
Clemson 44, Boston College 10

No. 82 Colorado at No. 9 Stanford
When Colorado opted to bolt to the Pac-12, I’m pretty sure the Buffs weren’t planning on losing at home to Washington State in their first game in their new league.
Stanford 48, Colorado 14

No. 45 Ohio State at No. 11 Nebraska
What had the potential to be one of the most hyped regular-season games in recent Big Ten history is almost an afterthought.
Nebraska 24, Ohio State 10

No. 57 Maryland at No. 12 Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech has scored at least 35 points and accumulated at least 400 yards of offense in all five games this season. This team is a legitimate threat to win the ACC title.
Georgia Tech 41, Maryland 20

No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 Arkansas
Auburn keeps finding ways to win. The Tigers had been dreadful on offense yet managed to shut down South Carolina in a 16–13 victory in Columbia. Slowing down the Hogs will be a much more difficult challenge.
Arkansas 41, Auburn 33

No. 35 Miami (Fla.) at No. 14 Virginia Tech
The teams picked by many, including Athlon Sports, to finish 1-2 in the ACC Coastal Division, are each 0–1 in league play. The key in this game will be Miami’s ability (or inability) to stop Hokie tailback David Wilson.
Virginia Tech 20, Miami (Fla.) 17

No. 15 Illinois at No. 104 Indiana
The Fighting Illini hit the road for the first time this season after sweeping a five-game home stand — the final three by exactly three points. Indiana showed some fight last week in a 16–10 loss to Penn State, but the Hoosiers will have to play a perfect game to beat Illinois.
Illinois 28, Indiana 13

No. 16 Michigan at No. 55 Northwestern
This game opened with Michigan as a 3.5-point favorite but quickly shot up to over a touchdown. That’s quite interesting, especially since Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa has been cleared to play after tweaking his Achilles in last week’s loss at Illinois.
Michigan 34, Northwestern 27

No. 84 Connecticut at No 17 West Virginia
Connecticut’s three losses have come by an average of 4.7 points, but those defeats haven’t exactly come against the most formidable foes — Iowa State and Western Michigan at home and at Vanderbilt.
West Virginia 30, Connecticut 10

No. 77 Kentucky at No. 20 South Carolina
South Carolina lost to Kentucky last year yet still won the SEC East for the first time. The Gamecocks, still smarting from last week’s loss at home to Auburn, will send out Connor Shaw at quarterback for the second time this season.
South Carolina 27, Kentucky 10

No. 21 Arizona State at No. 50 Utah
The Utes are still looking for their first Pac-12 win, and the quest must go on without starting quarterback Jordan Wynn, who is out for a few weeks with a shoulder injury.
Arizona State 28, Utah 20

No. 33 Missouri at No. 22 Kansas State
Missouri is one of the better two-loss teams in the nation, with its defeats coming at Arizona State in overtime and at Oklahoma, by only 10 points.
Missouri 30, Kansas State 21

No. 23 Texas A&M at No. 46 Texas Tech
The last two weeks have been quite painful for Texas A&M fans. For the season, the Aggies have outscored their opponents 115–34 in the first half but have been outscored 59–35 in the second half.
Texas A&M 34, Texas Tech 27

No. 24 Florida State at No. 41 Wake Forest
This game will test Florida State’s mental toughness. Wake Forest, arguably the most improved team in the nation this season, is good enough to win if the Noles aren’t ready to play.
Florida State 28, Wake Forest 20

No. 52 Air Force at No. 25 Notre Dame
The Irish are over .500 for the first time this season and are playing very good football. They have given up an average of 12 points in their last three games.
Notre Dame 31, Air Force 17

No. 42 Iowa State at No. 26 Baylor
Baylor lost a nine-point lead in the final six minutes last week at Kansas State. Iowa State, too, suffered its first loss of the season, getting pounded at home by Texas, 37–14.
Baylor 41, Iowa State 21

No. 76 Louisville at No. 28 North Carolina
We thought Louisville would take a few steps back this season, but we didn’t foresee losses at home to both FIU and Marshall.
North Carolina 28, Louisville 10

No. 29 Georgia at No. 34 Tennessee
With John Brantley’s injury at Florida and South Carolina’s surprising loss at home to Auburn, this game suddenly takes on great importance in the wide-open SEC East.
Georgia 35, Tennessee 30

No. 31 Pittsburgh at No. 60 Rutgers
Pittsburgh’s 44–17 win over South Florida last Thursday was among the most impressive performances of the week. Tailback Ray Graham ranks third in the nation in rushing (146.8 ypg).
Pittsburgh 27, Rutgers 16

No. 43 Iowa at No. 36 Penn State
Penn State has been brutal on offense this season against teams not named Indiana State and Eastern Michigan, scoring 11 points against Alabama, 14 against Temple and 16 against Indiana.
Iowa 24, Penn State 14

No. 38 TCU at No. 61 San Diego State
TCU hasn’t had two losses at this juncture of the season since 2007. Loss No. 3 might be right around the corner. San Diego State is a solid team with very good talent on offense.
San Diego State 27, TCU 24

No. 39 Mississippi State at No. 110 UAB
UAB is one of four remaining teams without a win, but the Blazers haven’t played that badly over the past two weeks, losing 28–23 at East Carolina and 24–23 at Troy. Starting quarterback Bryan Ellis remains sidelined with a concussion.
Mississippi State 38, UAB 17

No. 79 at East Carolina at No. 48 Houston
East Carolina ranks 100th in the nation in scoring defense, which is a huge improvement from last season (120th). Case Keenum and the Cougars shouldn’t have much trouble putting some points on the board.
Houston 50, East Carolina 28

No. 51 Southern Miss at No. 49 Navy
Southern Miss has played very well since a Week 2 loss at Marshall, stringing together wins over SE Louisiana, Virginia and Rice. Navy must regroup after a heartbreaking overtime loss to rival Air Force.
Navy 33, Southern Miss 28

No. 114 Eastern Michigan at No. 53 Toledo
Toledo deserves a ton of credit for the way it bounced back from the controversial overtime loss at Syracuse. Beating Temple so soundly, 36–13, on the road made quite a statement.
Toledo 48, Eastern Michigan 10

No. 54 Temple at No. 53 Ball State
Temple followed up its 38–7 win at Maryland with a head-scratching 36–13 loss at home to Toledo. Ball State is improved under first-year coach Pete Lembo, but the Cardinals have a tough time stopping the run. Expect to see a heavy dose of Bernard Pierce
Temple 28, Ball State 21

No. 58 Arizona at No. 100 Oregon State
Arizona finally gets a bit of a break after playing three top-10 teams (Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon) and USC in consecutive weeks. Winning in Corvallis is never easy, but Arizona should be able to score enough points to knock off the Beavers.
Arizona 38, Oregon State 28

No. 62 Washington State at No. 67 UCLA
The Cougars are only three games away from bowl-eligibility after opening the season with a 3–1 record. Marshall Lobbestael has been great at quarterback in relief of the injured Jeff Tuel. The guess here is that the Cougs keep the magic going for at least one more week.
Washington State 28, UCLA 17

No. 90 San Jose State at No. 63 BYU
San Jose State has won two straight for the first time since October 2008, beating New Mexico State at home and winning at Colorado State. BYU is winning despite not playing very good football. The Cougars were fortunate to beat UCF and Utah State on consecutive Friday nights at home.
BYU 21, San Jose State 17

No. 92 Central Michigan at No. 65 NC State
The Pack are 2–3 but have yet to defeat a FBS opponent. This isn’t what NC State was expecting to see in the fifth year of the Tom O’Brien era.
NC State 27, Central Michigan 13

No. 69 Ohio at No. 107 Buffalo
Ohio didn’t play its best last week in a 17–10 win over Kent State, but the Bobcats are having a really nice season. This is a road game Frank Solich’s team needs to win to remain a strong contender in the MAC East.
Ohio 27, Buffalo 17

No. 70 FIU at No. 119 Akron
FIU has lost back-to-back games after its 3–0 start, but the trip to Akron should get the Panthers back on the right track.
FIU 34, Akron 10

No. 74 Marshall at No. 71 UCF
This is a key MAC East showdown between a Marshall club that already has a win over Southern Miss (and Louisville, out of conference) and the defending division champs.
UCF 21, Marshall 18

No. 72 Syracuse at No. 108 Tulane
Syracuse is a very uninspiring 3–2, with overtime wins over Wake Forest and Toledo (thanks to the Big East refs) and a seven-point victory over Rhode Island. Tulane has lost to Duke and Army in back-to-back weeks by a combined score of 93–33.
Syracuse 21, Tulane 17

No. 98 Western Michigan at No. 98 Bowling Green
WMU quarterback Alex Carder was brilliant in the Broncos’ 38–31 win at UConn last week, throwing for 479 yards with five touchdowns and no INTs. Three different Western Michigan players had over 100 yards receiving.
Western Michigan 37, Bowling Green 27

No. 78 Arkansas State at No. 111 UL-Monroe
Arkansas State avoided what would have been a bad loss last week, holding on for a 26–22 win at Western Kentucky. UL-Monroe has been pounded by three very good teams (Florida State, TCU and Iowa) and beat Grambling with ease. We’ll find out more about the Warhawks this weekend.
Arkansas State 27, UL-Monroe 14

No. 116 UNLV at No. 81 Nevada
The Wolf Pack are playing at home for the first time this season after opening the year 1–3 on the road. UNLV shouldn’t put up too much of a fight. The Rebs are bad.
Nevada 41, UNLV 13

No. 97 Wyoming at No. 86 Utah State
At some point, Utah State will catch a break. Right? This team is too good to be 1–3 at this point.
Utah State 31, Wyoming 17

No. 117 Memphis at No. 87 Rice
Memphis showed signs of life last week but couldn’t make a stop on defense when it counted in a 38–31 loss at Middle Tennessee. So was this a one-week blip or are the Tigers really getting better? We’ll find out (but my guess is the former).
Rice 41, Memphis 17

No. 102 Minnesota at No. 88 Purdue
I think Jerry Kill was a great hire and still believe he will do well at Minnesota, but his first season with the Gophers has been a disaster.
Purdue 31, Minnesota 17

No. 115 Kent State at No. 93 Northern Illinois
The Huskies’ 48–41 loss at Central Michigan was one of the more surprising scores last weekend. You have to beat the teams you are supposed to beat to stay relevant in the strong MAC West.
Northern Illinois 37, Kent State 12

No. 94 Troy at No. 101 UL-Lafayette
UL-Lafayette is off to a solid start under first-year coach Mark Hudspeth. The Cajuns are already 2–0 in the Sun Belt — highlighted by a win at FIU — and will be in great shape in the league race with a win over Troy.
UL-Lafayette 28, Troy 27

No. 96 Army at No. 105 Miami (Ohio)
As expected, the Black Knights have the most unbalanced offense in the nation, ranking second in rushing (368.4 ypg) and 120th in passing (45.0 ypg).
Miami (Ohio) 31, Army 21

No. 99 Louisiana Tech at No. 112 Idaho
Idaho came close to a shocking upset at Virginia last weekend, falling to the Cavs 21–20 in overtime. Louisiana Tech, like Idaho, is looking for its first win over an FBS opponent.
Louisiana Tech 27, Idaho 17

No. 117 FAU at No. 103 North Texas
FAU is on stop No. 5 of a five-game, season-opening road trip. All four have ended in defeat, though the Owls are showing signs of improvement.
North Texas 27, FAU 20

Last week — 41-12
Season — 273-50

Teaser:
<p> Week 6 action is highlighted by LSU-Florida, Oklahoma-Texas and Tennessee-Georgia</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 15:11
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-6
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here are previews and predictions for the 10 best college football games this weekend.


Oklahoma (-10) vs. Texas
Alabama and LSU are stealing a lot of the national headlines, but Oklahoma, still ranked No. 1 by the coaches, is also playing very good football. Landry Jones, as expected, has been superb at quarterback, ranking fourth in the nation in total offense (but third in his own league) with a 362.5 yards-per-game average. The defense, outside of a shaky first half against Missouri, has been strong, as well. Texas appears to be much improved after last year’s surprising five-win season, but Mack Brown’s team has yet to face a high-quality opponent. The Horns have some decent wins — BYU at home and UCLA and Iowa State on the road — but we’re still not sure if Texas is good enough to challenge OU and Oklahoma State for the Big 12 title. The big key is at quarterback: Are Case McCoy and David Ash good enough to make plays on a big stage against an elite opponent? We’ll find out.
Oklahoma 26, Texas 17

Florida (+14) at LSU
LSU’s Tiger Stadium would be very close to the top if you are making a list of venues that would NOT be ideal for a true freshman to make his first collegiate start. One positive for Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel: At least the game is not at night. Driskel, regarded by most as the top prep quarterback in the nation last year, was forced to play the entire second half against Alabama last week. He completed 2-of-6 attempts for 14 yards. The Gators will need far more production this week against a ferocious LSU defense that yielded only 155 yards to Kentucky last Saturday. Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will do his best to put Driskel in favorable situations, but it will be very, very difficult for the Gators to muster enough offense to win this game in such a difficult environment.
LSU 21, Florida 10

Auburn (+10) at Arkansas
After giving up an average of 36.7 points and 534.3 yards in its first three games, Auburn somehow managed to shut down South Carolina last week in a surprising 16–13 win in Columbia. The Tigers are still last in the SEC in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense (and that includes a Week 4 win against FAU, arguably the worst offensive team in the nation), but there are signs of hope after limiting the Gamecocks to season lows of 289 yards and 13 points. Now, however, comes the most difficult test of the season. Arkansas leads the SEC in total offense (471.8 ypg) and rolled up nearly 600 yards in its 42–38 come-from-behind win over Texas A&M over the weekend. The Hogs don’t have much balance — they rank ninth in the league in rushing — but the passing attack is nearly unstoppable (against teams not named Alabama).
Arkansas 41, Auburn 33

Missouri (-3) at Kansas State
Kansas State is emerging as one of the surprise teams in the nation. Bill Snyder, who turns 72 this week, has the Wildcats off to a 4–0 start, highlighted by wins at Miami (Fla.) and over Baylor. K-State is getting great play from junior dual-threat quarterback Collin Klein, who has thrown only two interceptions in 85 attempts and is averaging over 100 yards rushing per game. Missouri is one of the better two-loss teams in the nation, with its defeats coming at Arizona State in overtime and at Oklahoma, by only 10 points. The Tigers have a potent dual-threat quarterback, as well. In his first season as a starter, James Franklin has been extremely efficient in the passing game (61.1 percent, seven TDs, one INT) and effective running the ball, as well. K-State is a nice story, but Missouri has the better team.
Missouri 30, Kansas State 21

Ohio State (+11) at Nebraska
What had the potential to be one of the most hyped regular-season games in recent Big Ten history is almost an afterthought now. Ohio State, due in part to its personnel issues and coaching drama, has been a huge disappointment. The Buckeyes, coming off an uninspiring 10–7 loss at home to Michigan State, have been brutal on offense against quality opponents. Nebraska received a rude welcoming to the Big Ten last Saturday night, suffering a sobering 48–17 loss at Wisconsin. The Huskers will continue to beat up on mediocre (and even good) competition, but will have a tough time defeating top-10 teams until they prove they can make plays consistently in the passing game. Ohio State’s defense is good enough to put pressure on Nebraska, but the Buckeyes won’t be able to score enough points to win in Lincoln.
Nebraska 24, Ohio State 10

Georgia (-1) at Tennessee
With John Brantley’s injury at Florida and South Carolina’s surprising loss at home to Auburn, this game suddenly takes on great importance in the wide-open SEC East. Georgia has won three straight after opening the season with losses to Boise State and South Carolina. The Dawgs are getting outstanding play from true freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell (100-plus yards in all three SEC games), and the defense has been strong in recent weeks. Tennessee flexed its muscles in a 41–10 win over Buffalo on Saturday. The Vols are now 3–1, with three easy wins at home and a 10-point loss at Florida. We know Tennessee can throw the ball — even without Justin Hunter. The key for the Vols — this week and going forward — will be the running game. This team must show the ability to have some balance on offense.
Georgia 35, Tennessee 30

Michigan (-7.5) at Northwestern
This game opened with Michigan as a 3.5-point favorite but quickly shot up to over a touchdown. That’s quite interesting, especially since Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa has been cleared to play after tweaking his Achilles in last week’s loss at Illinois. Persa, when healthy, is one of the most effective quarterbacks in the nation due to his ability to run and throw. The same, obviously, can be said for Michigan’s Denard Robinson, who continues to put up amazing numbers for the surprising Wolverines. The key for Michigan, though, will be on the defensive side of the ball. The Wolverines are drastically improved statistically, but the early season schedule hasn’t been too taxing. They will be tested this weekend in Evanston.
Michigan 34, Northwestern 27

Florida State (-11.5) at Wake Forest
You can make a strong case that Wake Forest is the most-improved team in the nation. A year ago, the Deacs slumped to 3–9 overall, losing five games by 30 points or more. This year, a much more seasoned Wake team is off to a 3–1 start, which almost assuredly would have been 4–0 had starting quarterback Tanner Price not been hurt in the second half of a Week 1 overtime loss at Syracuse. Florida State’s shot at a national title ius gone after losing back-to-back games to Oklahoma and Clemson. The Seminoles will regain the services of quarterback EJ Manuel, who missed most of the second half against Oklahoma and the entire game vs. Clemson. This game will test Florida State’s mental toughness. Wake Forest is good enough to beat the Noles if they aren’t ready to play.
Florida State 28, Wake Forest 20

Miami (Fla.) (+7.5) at Virginia Tech
The teams picked by many, including Athlon Sports, to finish 1-2 in the ACC Coastal Division, are each 0–1 in league play. Virginia Tech struggled mightily on the offensive end in a 23–3 loss to Clemson at home. The Hokies managed 258 yards of offense and were held without a touchdown in an ACC game for the first time since losing at Boston College, 22–3 in 2006. David Wilson has been terrific at tailback, but Tech is really struggling in the passing game. Miami throttled Bethune-Cookman, 45–14, last week, but the Canes still have to be upset about their 28–24 loss at home to Kansas State two weeks ago. It’s been a strange first season for Al Golden; his team has a dominating win against Ohio State yet has lost to Maryland and Kansas State. The big concern for Miami this week is stopping Wilson and the Hokies’ running game. The Canes rank 105th in the nation in run defense, allowing over 200 yards per game.
Virginia Tech 20, Miami (Fla.) 17

Iowa (+4) at Penn State
Penn State has been brutal on offense this season against teams not named Indiana State and Eastern Michigan, scoring 11 points against Alabama, 14 against Temple and 16 against Indiana. The quarterback situation is a mess, and there doesn’t appear to be any resolution in the near future. This team will have to win this season by running the ball and playing defense. We’re still trying to get a handle on Iowa. The Hawkeyes let a lead get away (actually five leads) in a triple-overtime loss to Iowa State and then stormed back from 17 down in the fourth quarter to beat Pittsburgh one week later. James Vanderberg has been very good at quarterback, throwing only one interception in 129 attempts, and the running game has potential with Marcus Coker carrying the load. The Hawkeyes have the potential to be very good on offense.
Iowa 24, Penn State 14

Last week — 6–4 (8–2 vs. spread)
Season — 31–19 (26–23–1 vs. spread)

Teaser:
<p> Previews and predictions on 10 key games in Week 5.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 14:47
Path: /college-football/cougs-hot-start-has-paul-wulff-hot-seat
Body:

By Mitch Light

You can remove the name Paul Wulff from the list of coaches on the hot seat. For now, at least.

Wulff entered his fourth season at Washington State, his alma mater, with a 2–25 record in league games and an overall mark of 5–32. And the Cougars weren’t just losing — they were getting pounded, with regularity. Of those 32 losses, 15 came by at least 30 points. Washington State, simply put, was beyond bad.

The Cougs showed some signs of progress late last season, most notably in a 31–14 win at Oregon State in mid-November, but it was clear that Wulff needed to win some games in ’11 to save his job.

Consider his job saved. Washington State is now 3–1 after rallying from 10 down in the final minutes to knock off Colorado, 31–27, in Boulder on Saturday. The Cougs haven’t exactly faced a grueling slate — they own wins over Idaho State, UNLV and CU — but when you have averaged 1.7 wins over the previous three seasons, any win is a good win.

“Honestly, I think this was the best win of my life,” cornerback Daniel Simmons said after the game. “We’re moving in the right direction, and we’re very excited about what we’re going to do We kept working and kept believing, and that’s what it’s about. We worked so hard over the summer and this is the end result.”

The Cougars’ hot start is even more impressive when you factor in that they have been without starting quarterback Jeff Tuel for the last three games. Considered to be one of the few true Pac-12-quality players on the Washington State offense, Tuel suffered a broken clavicle in the opener against Idaho State. With Tuel sidelined, Marshall Lobbestael, who had six career starts heading into this season, has been sensational running the Cougars’ attack. He has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 1,335 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. In the win at Colorado last week, Lobbestael threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the final three minutes.

“Practice pays off, and you have to practice these types of situations like we’ve practiced these past two weeks and how we practiced fourth quarters,” Lobbestael said following the game.

Tuel has been cleared to return to action, but Wulff indicated earlier in the week that Lobbestael will remain the starter — for now.

“We’re just going to give (Tuel) some quality reps and let him work himself back into shape,” the coach said.

Lobbestael expects Tuel to regain the starting assignment in the near future. And the fifth-year senior sounds like he is more than okay with the move, when and if it happens.

“Wait until you see this offense with Jeff,” Lobbestael said. “I’m not ragging on what I’ve done … but I’m excited to see what he can do this year. Everyone else should be too. That’s all I’m saying. I’m just going to keep preparing like I have been and my goal is just to be ready to play, whether that’s the first snap or second or third string.”

Whether it’s Tuel or Lebbestael running the show, Washington State will need to scratch and claw to get to six wins and become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2006. This week, the Cougars are a 3.5-point underdog at UCLA, one of the weaker teams in the league. There is a chance that Washington State will be favored only one more time the rest of the season, when struggling Oregon State visits Pullman on Oct. 22.

AROUND THE PAC-12

• Keith Price is getting a lot of pub at Washington — and deservedly so — but tailback Chris Polk has also been a huge part of the Huskies’ success on offense. The one-time USC commitment has rushed for 100 yards in four of the five games this season, with a high of 189 yards on 29 carries in UWs’ 31–14 win at Utah.

• Stanford has won 12 straight games dating back to last October, and all but two of the Cardinal’s wins during that stretch have come by at least 10 points.

• Stanford has only committed one turnover all season. That ties Northwestern for the fewest in the nation.

• USC has given up 40-plus points in back to back games for the first time in school history.

• Oregon State has only scored seven touchdowns this season. Only UAB (six) and FAU (five) have scored fewer.

• USC’s Robert Woods leads the Pac-12 with 55 receptions, 23 more than the league’s No. 2 receiver, Oregon State’s Markus Wheaton.

• Arizona is the only team in the league that has given up over 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. Opponents are averaging 7.3 yards per play against the Cats’ defense, by far the most in the Pac-12.

• Opponents are only converting 23.9 percent on third down against Arizona State. That number leads the nation.

Teaser:
<p> Washington State's hot start has coach Paul Wulff off the hot seat</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 14:57
Path: /college-football/surprise-suprise-k-state-4-0
Body:

By Mitch Light

When Kansas State was trailing Eastern Kentucky, 7–3, late in the fourth quarter back in Week 1, even the most optimistic Wildcat fan would have had a tough time envisioning that this team would be 4–0 and that the K-State offense would be capable of scoring 28 points and 36 points in back-to-back wins over Miami (Fla.) and Baylor.

But that is exactly where the Wildcats find themselves, thanks in large part to the emergence of junior Collin Klein. The dual-threat quarterback has thrown only two interceptions in 85 attempts and is averaging over 100 yards rushing per game. In the 36–35 win over Baylor, Klein threw for 146 yards and two touchdowns and added 113 yards on the ground and another score. Not bad for a guy who was almost moved to wide receiver during spring practice.

The Wildcats are also getting solid production from the tailback position — but the man carrying the load is sophomore John Hubert, not former (over)hyped recruit Bryce Brown. The diminutive Hubert — he’s listed at 5-7, 185 — beat out Brown, a transfer from Tennessee, in preseason camp and has carried the ball 60 times for 343 yards in four games. Brown, meanwhile, has not had a carry since the opener and was not with the team during Saturday’s win over Baylor.

While Brown has been a bust, his brother, linebacker Arthur Brown — another transfer (from Miami) and former decorated recruit — has been playing extremely well in his first season back in his native Kansas. In the win against Baylor, Brown made three key plays in the fourth quarter, including an interception with the Cats trailing 35–33 with under six minutes remaining.

“He plays inspired football, and … he has a nose for the football,” says 72-year-old K-State coach Bill Snyder. “He knows how to find it and goes and gets it.”

Despite its hot start, Kansas State isn’t considered by most to be a legitimate threat in the Big 12. On the other hand, the Wildcats appear well on their way to exceeding the expectations placed on them by a certain preseason publication (hint: it starts with Athlon and ends with Sports) that predicted a ninth-place finish in the league.

AROUND THE BIG 12

• Kansas is allowing six touchdowns per game. Oklahoma has given up a total of seven touchdowns for the season.

• Missouri is the only team in the league that has over 1,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing.

• Iowa State is 3–1 despite ranking 118th in the nation in turnover margin (-2.00 per game).

• Texas is now 4–0 all-time in Ames and has averaged 44.3 points in the four wins over the Cyclones.

• Texas A&M has outscored its opponents 115–34 in the first half but has been outscored 59–35 in the second half.

• Texas Tech has won seven straight games dating back to last November. The Red Raiders' last loss came on Nov. 13 at Oklahoma.

• Baylor has scored at least 35 points in all four games this season after hitting that mark only three times all last season. The Bears had not scored 35 or more in four straight games since 1916, when Charles P. Mosley’s club opened the season with wins of 75–0 over Texas State, 62–0 over SMU, 37–0 over Trinity and 46–0 over Howard Payne.

• Oklahoma and Texas A&M have only allowed two sacks through four games. Kansas State has been sacked the most in the league, 10 times.

• Missouri tailback Henry Josey leads the league in rushes of at least 10 yards (20), 20 yards (seven) and 30 yards (five).
 

Teaser:
<p> Bill Snyder's Kansas State Wildcats are once again exceeding expectations</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 11:21
Path: /college-football/auburn-gets-defensive
Body:

By Mitch Light

The Auburn Tigers averaged 41.3 points in their first 25 victories of the Gus Malzahn era. But in the 26th win — arguably one of the most unlikely — the Tigers scored only 16 points and managed only 358 yards despite running a season-high — by 29 snaps — 92 offensive plays. Still, despite those offensive struggles, Auburn found a way to get it done, edging South Carolina 16–13 in Columbia for a precious SEC road win.

The Tigers, shockingly, won this game on defense. A unit that entered the weekend ranked 110th in the nation in total defense, 112th in rushing defense and 90th in scoring defense, somehow, some way found a way to slow down a South Carolina offense that features elite offensive talent in the form of tailback Marcus Lattimore and wideout Alshon Jeffery. The same Auburn defense that gave up 38 points and 448 total yards to a Utah State team that featured a true freshman quarterback limited South Carolina to a season-low 289 yards. The same Auburn defense that gave up 34 points to Mississippi State (which, by the way, has averaged 14 points since playing the Tigers) and 38 points to Clemson held South Carolina to its lowest total since a 20–7 loss to UConn in the 2009 Papajohns.com bowl.

Auburn’s plan of attack on the defensive end was to slow down Lattimore, who entered the weekend averaging 152.8 yards per game. That, however, is easier said than done — especially for a defense that was giving up 226.5 yards per game on the ground.

“I knew for all intents and purposes we had to stop 21 (Marcus Lattimore) running it, or it would be hard to win,” head coach Gene Chizik said after the game.

Mission — somehow — accomplished.

Lattimore was held to season lows of 17 carries and 66 yards. As a whole, the South Carolina offense struggled to sustain drives all game long. The Gamecocks only had one drive that went for more than 50 yards and only one drive that lasted more than five plays.

Clearly, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier envisioned his team having more success.

“(Auburn) hadn’t been playing very well defensively,” Spurrier said. “We made them look like about the best defense in the league most of the night. I think we had two long balls and that was about it. We got nothing consistently.”

South Carolina will have an opportunity to get back in the win column next week when struggling Kentucky visits Columbia, while Auburn braces for a three-game gauntlet that features trips to Arkansas and LSU sandwiched around a home game vs. Florida.

Can Chizik and the Tigers keep the magic going?

AROUND THE SEC

• Vic Ballard only had eight carries in Mississippi State’s 24–10 loss at Georgia, his fewest against an FBS opponent since his Week 2 last season vs. Auburn.

• LSU only gave up 155 yards of offense to Kentucky, and almost half of those (70) came on a fourth quarter drive with the Tigers holding a 35–0 lead.

• Consider this: Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense (8.4 ppg) and has already played Florida, Arkansas and Penn State.

• Kentucky (139.4 ypg) and Vanderbilt (124.3 ypg) combined are averaging 263.2 passing yards per game — a total that would rank third in the SEC behind Arkansas and Tennessee.

• Stephen Garcia has now thrown 50 interceptions in his South Carolina career.

• Tennessee continues to lead the SEC in third down conversions at 62.1 percent. Next on the list is LSU at 46.5 percent. The Vols were 10th in the league last year at 36.5 percent.

• Ole Miss should get Fresno State on the schedule every year. Over the last two years, the Rebs are 5–10 vs. FBS opponents, with two of the wins coming against Fresno State. Last year, Ole Miss scored a season-high 55 points vs. the Bulldogs (averaged 26.4 vs. all other FBS team). Last Saturday, Ole Miss broke out with 38 points vs. FSU after averaging 11.0 points in three previous games vs. FBS competition.
 

Teaser:
<p> Auburn's win at South Carolina headlines Week 5 SEC Notebook</p>
Post date: Monday, October 3, 2011 - 16:29
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-5
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here's a look at every game of the Week 5 college football schedule.

Friday

No. 85 Utah State at No. 58 BYU
The Cougars are looking for revenge after losing last year at Utah State, 31–16, on national television. It won’t be easy, but BYU should survive.
BYU 27, Utah State 21

Saturday

No. 1 Alabama at No. 11 Florida
The key for the Alabama offense is to get a lead early so it can lean on its running game and not put quarterback AJ McCarron in a position where he has to make plays to win the game. Not saying he can’t do it, but Nick Saban would feel much more comfortable with the ball in the hands of Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.
Alabama 24, Florida 17

No. 73 Kentucky at No. 2 LSU
Kentucky gave up 405 rushing yards in a 48–10 loss at home to Florida last week. Expect to see a lot of Spencer Ware and Michael Ford for the red-hot Tigers.
LSU 30, Kentucky 14

No. 81 Ball State at No. 3 Oklahoma
Pete Lembo is doing a fantastic job in his first season at Ball State. The Cardinals are 3–1 with wins over Indiana, Buffalo and Army. Should Oklahoma, which is plays Texas in two weeks, be on upset alert? Don’t think so.
Oklahoma 34, Ball State 10

No. 80 Nevada at No. 4 Boise State
Nevada is the only team that has defeated Boise State in the regular season since the start of the 2008 season. That Wolf Pack team, however, had Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. This one does not.
Boise State 41, Nevada 17

No. 7 Nebraska at No. 10 Wisconsin
Wisconsin has been outstanding on both sides of the football in the early going, ranking No. 8 in the nation in total offense and No. 7 in total defense. Quarterback Russell Wilson, a transfer from NC State, could be the missing piece in a national title run for the Badgers. This team, on paper, has very few weaknesses.
Wisconsin 28, Nebraska 21

No. 14 Clemson at No. 8 Virginia Tech
I don’t trust Clemson. I want to trust the Tigers. I want to believe that this year’s club is different, but Clemson has been one of the most schizophrenic programs in the nation over the past decade (or more). Whenever you fall in love with the Tigers, you end up getting hurt. I don’t want to get hurt.
Virginia Tech 22, Clemson 17

No. 12 Texas at No. 39 Iowa State
Iowa State has won its three games by a total of eight points. Texas has won its three games by a total of 55 points. Go with Texas.
Texas 31, Iowa State 14

No. 69 UCLA at No. 9 Stanford
The Bruins’ specialty is running the ball. Stanford leads the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 36.0 yards per game.
Stanford 41, UCLA 14

No. 13 Texas A&M vs. No. 15 Arkansas
Both teams are explosive on offense, with a ton of talent at the skill positions. The key for Arkansas will be finding some balance; against Alabama, Ronnie Wingo Jr. ran for only 35 yards on 11 carries. The Hogs will have to be better in the running game to remain a threat in the SEC West.
Arkansas 34, Texas A&M 30

No. 27 Auburn at No. 16 South Carolina
Marcus Lattimore will get the ball early and often against an Auburn rush defense that is allowing 226.5 yards per game.
South Carolina 37, Auburn 27

No. 97 Bowling Green at No. 17 West Virginia
Bowling Green has been a bit of a surprise in 2011, with a 3–1 mark highlighted by last week’s 37–23 win at Miami (Ohio). The Falcons, however, have not faced a team with West Virginia’s level of talent.
West Virginia 48, Bowling Green 21

No. 18 Georgia Tech at No. 66 NC State
Note to Athlon staff (which picked Tech to finish fourth in the ACC Coastal): Never doubt a Paul Johnson-coached team.
Georgia Tech 38, NC State 20

No. 20 Baylor at No. 31 Kansas State
The stat of the year so far: Robert Griffin III has more touchdown passes (13) than incomplete passes (12). That won’t continue, but the Bears’ winning ways should.
Baylor 30, Kansas State 27

No. 53 SMU at No. 21 TCU
SMU is 5–16 vs. TCU since returning from the Death Penalty in the late 1980s. None of the last four games — all won by the Frogs — has been decided by less than 14 points.
TCU 35, SMU 21

No. 55 Northwestern at No. 23 Illinois
Dan Persa is scheduled to make his 2011 debut — and that is a very good thing for the Northwestern offense. Persa has missed the first three games of the season while recovering from an Achilles injury sustained late last season. Will his return be enough for the Cats? The guess here is no.
Illinois 31, Northwestern 24

No. 101 Minnesota at No. 24 Michigan
Not much has gone well for the Golden Gophers in 2011 — from Jerry Kill’s medical problems to the losses at home to New Mexico State and North Dakota State.
Michigan 48, Minnesota 21

No. 99 Oregon State at No. 25 Arizona State
Oregon State expects freshman tailback Marcus Agnew back in the lineup this weekend. It will help — but not enough.
Arizona State 37, Oregon State 17

No. 26 Notre Dame at No. 87 Purdue
The Irish are 0–2 when gaining over 500 yards of offense and 2–0 when gaining under 400 yards.
Notre Dame 35, Purdue 17

No. 28 Mississippi State at No. 36 Georgia
You would never know it because of all of the talk about Mark Richt’s job security, but Georgia is actually playing pretty decent football. The Dawgs are 2–2, with the losses coming to Boise State and South Carolina, two teams ranked in the top 10 in the AP poll.
Georgia 28, Mississippi State 20

No. 20 North Carolina at No. 75 East Carolina
Good news for East Carolina: Its defense, statistically the worst in the nation last season, appears to be much improved. Bad news: The Pirates’ offense, among the best in the nation in 2010, has taken a few steps backward.
North Carolina 31, East Carolina 21

Bethune-Cookman at No. 32 Miami (Fla.)
Miami has scored exactly 24 points in all three games this season. Prediction: Miami will score more than 24 points this week.
Miami (Fla.) 48, Bethune-Cookman 14

No. 33 Penn State at No. 104 Indiana
Kevin Wilson’s first season in Bloomington hasn’t quite gone as planned. The Hoosiers are 1–3 with losses to Ball State, Virginia and North Texas.
Penn State 31, Indiana 10

No. 64 Toledo at No. 34 Temple
Temple is fresh off one of the most impressive first-half performances you will see by any team this season. The Owls led Maryland 31–0 in College Park at the break.
Temple 34, Toledo 24

No. 35 Michigan State at No. 37 Ohio State
It’s tough to get an accurate read on Michigan State. The Spartans have dominated three very weak opponents (Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic and Central Michigan) and got beat handily by the one solid team they have faced (Notre Dame).
Michigan State 21, Ohio State 10

No. 38 Washington at No. 45 Utah
Utah has had two weeks to celebrate its surprisingly easy 54–10 win over BYU in the Holy War. The Utes have nice balance on offense with Jordan Wynn at quarterback and junior college transfer John White emerging as the primary ball-carrier. The defense, as usual, is solid.
Utah 28, Washington 27

No. 107 Buffalo at No. 40 Tennessee
The Vols have a tune-up with Buffalo before beginning a four-week stretch that features games with Georgia, LSU, Alabama and South Carolina.
Tennessee 41, Buffalo 9

No. 56 Arizona at No. 41 USC
Arizona has now lost its last eight games against FBS competition. This year, the Cats’ three losses have been by an average of 25 points.
USC 35, Arizona 21

No. 44 Wake Forest at No. 84 Boston College
The Eagles picked up their first win of the season, but they had to step out of FBS play to do so, beating in-state rival UMass 45–17. The pressure is mounting on third-year coach Frank Spaziani. A loss at home to Wake Forest won’t help his cause.
Wake Forest 31, Boston College 17

No. 46 Texas Tech at No. 70 Kansas
Kansas is last in the nation in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense and scoring defense. That is hard to do.
Texas Tech 51, Kansas 30

No. 47 Cincinnati at No. 102 Miami (Ohio)
Cincinnati has won five straight in this rivalry that dates back to 1888 — and none has been very competitive.
Cincinnati 37, Miami (Ohio) 20

No. 51 Air Force at No. 49 Navy
Air Force snapped a painful seven-year losing streak to Navy last season with a 14–6 win in Colorado Springs. The Falcons’ winning streak will not reach two.
Navy 31, Air Force 24

Towson at No. 50 Maryland
After the Terps’ 38–7 loss at home to Temple last week, first-year coach Randy Edsall said the following: “This is a process. It wasn’t going to get changed overnight.” Change what? Maryland won nine games last season. This isn’t a rebuild.
Maryland 41, Towson 14

No. 86 Rice at No. 57 Southern Miss
Rice is just now playing its first opponent not in a BCS conference after opening with losses to Texas and Baylor and a win vs. Purdue. Southern Miss recovered nicely from its surprising loss at Marshall by pounding SE Louisiana and posting a quality win at Virginia.
Southern Miss 31, Rice 27

No. 79 Duke at No. 59 FIU
FIU didn’t handle success well, losing at home to UL-Lafayette a week after improving to 3–0 with a win at Louisville. Duke has righted the ship a bit after losing to Richmond and Stanford to open the season. Going with Duke in an upset — yes, FIU is favored.
Duke 27, FIU 20

No. 103 North Texas at No. 61 Tulsa
After facing Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State in the first month of the season, Tulsa gets a break with a visit from North Texas. But don’t chalk this up as a sure win; the Mean Green beat Indiana last week.
Tulsa 38, North Texas 20

No. 65 Rutgers at No. 63 Syracuse
The Orange are among the least-impressive 3–1 teams in the nation. They were fortunate to beat Wake Forest (Deacs’ quarterback got hurt with a 29–14 second-half lead) and Toledo (the extra point was no good) at home, and also struggled with Rhode Island.
Rutgers 24, Syracuse 21

No. 112 Idaho at No. 67 Virginia
Virginia has lost some momentum with back-to-back losses after its 2–0 start, Mike London’s team is clearly better in Year 2. If they plan on reaching a bowl game — which is still very possible — beating Idaho at home is a must.
Virginia 33, Idaho 10

No. 93 Marshall at No. 68 Louisville
Marshall has scored a total of two offensive touchdowns in its three losses — not a huge surprise with a true freshman (Rakeem Cato) at quarterback. Louisville has trouble scoring, as well, but the Cards should do enough to win this one at home.
Louisville 24, Marshall 13

No. 113 Kent State at No. 71 Ohio
Ohio lost its first game of the season last week, falling at Rutgers 38–26. This is a very good team that will challenge Temple in the MAC East. Kent State? Not a good team.
Ohio 41, Kent State 3

No. 72 Northern Illinois at No. 110 Central Michigan
Points are very hard to come by for the once-powerful Chippewas, who are averaging 11.3 points in three games vs. FBS competition.
Northern Illinois 38, Central Michigan 13

No. 74 Hawaii at No. 98 Louisiana Tech
Hawaii’s 40–20 loss at UNLV two weeks ago remains the most surprising result of the year so far. Last week, UNLV lost at home to Southern Utah, 41–16.
Hawaii 41, Louisiana Tech 33

No. 77 Washington State at No. 76 Colorado
Washington State is vastly improved, but I’m not quite sure the Cougars, without starting quarterback Jeff Teul, can go on the road and win this game.
Colorado 31, Washington State 20

No. 78 Arkansas State at No. 116 Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky opened the season with a relatively impressive 14–3 loss to Kentucky in Nashville but has since lost to Navy and Indiana State at home by a combined score of 84–30. This one could get ugly.
Arkansas State 41, Western Kentucky 14

No. 108 San Jose State at No. 82 Colorado State
San Jose Sate snapped a 13-game losing streak last week with a 34–24 win over New Mexico State. A new streak will begin Saturday.
Colorado State 28, San Jose State 20

No. 90 Western Michigan at No. 83 Connecticut
Connecticut has been brutal on offense, and I’m not sure the Huskies will score enough points to beat Western Michigan, even at home.
Western Michigan 24, Connecticut 17

No. 89 Ole Miss at No. 88 Fresno State
Ole Miss scored a season-high 55 points against Fresno State last season. That game, however, was in Oxford, and the Rebels had Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback.
Fresno State 28, Ole Miss 24

No. 105 UAB at No. 91 Troy
UAB is one of seven winless teams in the nation. It’s likely they will be on that list after this week’s action.
Troy 31, UAB 20

No. 120 Memphis at No. 94 Middle Tennessee
The Tigers are more than a three-touchdown underdog at Middle Tennessee — and it’s still not enough. I don’t think the boys in Vegas, who don’t miss much, realize how bad this team is.
Middle Tennessee 41, Memphis 10

No. 95 Tulane at No. 93 Army
One week after posting a huge win over Northwestern, the Black Knights were pounded at Ball State, 48–21. Tulane, too, has been inconsistent, following up a 49–10 win at UAB with a 48–27 loss at Duke.
Army 30, Tulane 20

No. 118 Florida Atlantic at No. 100 Louisiana-Lafayette
FAU showed enough last week at Auburn — the Owls scored 14 points and managed over 300 yards of offense — to move from No. 120 to No. 118 in our rankings.
Louisiana-Lafayette 31, Florida Atlantic 3

No. 109 New Mexico State at No. 119 New Mexico
It’s time once again for the biggest game in the Land of Enchantment. The 2011 edition, however, will be without Mike Locksley, who was dumped after a coaching tenure that can only be described as a debacle. The Aztecs will be looking for their third straight in the series.
New Mexico State 21, New Mexico 20

No. 117 Akron at No. 114 Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan, an 8.5-point favorite, has not been favored over another FBS team since Sept. 5, 2009, when Army visited Ypsilanti. (Army won, 27–14). The last time the Eagles were more than a touchdown favorite? You have to go back to Nov. 11, 2000, when they beat Central Michigan 31–15 as a 9.5-point favorite.
Eastern Michigan 28, Akron 20

Last week — 41-16
Season — 232-38

Teaser:
<p> Wisconsin hosts Nebraska; Bama visits Florida; Clemson takes on Virginia Tech</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 16:40
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-5
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

Here are previews and predictions for the 10 best college football games this weekend.

Nebraska (+9) at Wisconsin
It’s a likely preview of the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game as Nebraska invades Madison for the first time since 1974. Neither team has been forced to break much of a sweat en route to their respective 4–0 records, though Nebraska did have a bit of a challenge two weeks ago against Washington. Wisconsin has been outstanding on both sides of the football in the early going, ranking No. 8 in the nation in total offense and No. 7 in total defense. Quarterback Russell Wilson, a transfer from NC State, could be the missing piece in a national title run for the Badgers. This team, on paper, has very few weaknesses.
Wisconsin 28, Nebraska 21

Alabama (-3.5) at Florida
Alabama has been tested twice this season, and Nick Saban’s club has passed each test with ease, beating Penn State 27–11 in Happy Valley and dismantling Arkansas, 38–14, last weekend in Tuscaloosa. Now, it’s a trip to Gainesville to face a Florida team that has cruised to a 4–0 record with an average margin of victory of 31.3 points per game. Florida has been living off the big play, with running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps doing most of the damage. Big plays, however, are tough to come by against Alabama — Arkansas had just one that went for more than 19 yards on Saturday. The key for the Alabama offense is to get a lead early so it can lean on its running game and not put quarterback AJ McCarron in a position where he has to make plays to win the game. Not saying he can’t do it, but Saban would feel much more comfortable with the ball in the hands of Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.
Alabama 24, Florida 17

Texas A&M (-3) vs. Arkansas
The third annual Southwest Classic pits two teams who must rebound from very disappointing performances last weekend. Arkansas proved to be no match for powerful Alabama in a 38–14 loss in Tuscaloosa. Meanwhile, Texas A&M jumped out to a 20–3 lead against Oklahoma State in College Station, but the Pokes responded with 27 straight points in the second half to hand the Aggies a painful 30–29 loss. Both teams are explosive on offense, with a ton of talent at the skill positions. The key for Arkansas will be finding some balance; against Alabama, Ronnie Wingo Jr. ran for only 35 yards on 11 carries. The Hogs will have to be better in the running game to remain a threat in the SEC West.
Arkansas 34, Texas A&M 30

Clemson (+7) at Virginia Tech
Clemson, off to a 4–0 start, has been one of the most impressive teams in the nation. The Tigers are averaging 37.8 points per game, led by first-year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd and an outstanding set of skill-position players. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins is emerging as one of the elite true freshmen in the nation, averaging 7.3 receptions and 108.3 receiving yards per game. Now, it’s time to see if Clemson can take its show on the road. Virginia Tech has been good, but not great, en route to its 4–0 start. The offense is leaning heavily on tailback David Wilson, who is seventh in the nation in rushing at 129.0 yards per game. The defense has put up very good numbers against a soft schedule. We’ll find out a lot more about Bud Foster’s group this weekend.
Virginia Tech 22, Clemson 17

Auburn (+9.5) at South Carolina
Auburn gave up an average of 534.3 yards in its first three games, but the most alarming stat so far this season might be the 307 yards the Tigers allowed to FAU in last weekend’s 30–14 Auburn win. Prior to Saturday, the Owls had a total of 185 in their first two games, lopsided losses at Florida and Michigan State. The AU defense has serious issues. South Carolina, however, isn’t quite right on offense, despite the presence of a fifth-year senior quarterback (Stephen Garcia) and elite talent at running back (Marcus Lattimore) and receiver (Alshon Jeffery). In Saturday’s 21–3 win vs. Vanderbilt, Garcia was picked off four times and Lattimore was held to 77 yards on 20 carries. Steve Spurrier, to no one’s surprise, is not happy with the play of his team’s offense. The Gamecocks will have a great opportunity to get back on track this week.
South Carolina 37, Auburn 27

Baylor (-3.5) at Kansas State
It kind of flew under the national radar, but Kansas State picked up a very impressive road win over the weekend, edging Miami (Fla.) 28–24 on the strength of a brilliant goal line stand. The Hurricanes had a 1st-and-goal at the K-State 2-yard line with 1:52 remaining but failed to score on four straight plays, the last of which ended with quarterback Jacory Harris being tackled inside the 1-yard line. The Wildcats, now 3–0, return home with a ton of confidence to face a Baylor team that is also 3–0. The Bears rolled past Rice, 56–31, on Saturday and have won their three games by a combined score of 154–79. The stat of the year so far: Robert Griffin III has more touchdown passes (13) than incomplete passes (12). That won’t continue, but the Bears’ winning ways should.
Baylor 30, Kansas State 27

Mississippi State (+6.5) at Georgia
You would never know it because of all of the talk about Mark Richt’s job security, but Georgia is actually playing pretty decent football. The Dawgs are 2–2, with the losses coming to Boise State and South Carolina, two teams ranked in the top 10 in the AP top 25. Aaron Murray is playing extremely well at quarterback, and freshman Isaiah Crowell is emerging as a reliable every down back. Mississippi State is in a bit of a funk. There is no shame in losing at home to LSU, but it had to be a bit troubling that West Virginia rolled up 543 yards of offense against LSU one week after MSU managed only 192 in a 17–6 loss to the Tigers. Then, Dan Mullen’s club avoided disaster by surviving in overtime against a mediocre (at best) Louisiana Tech team.
Georgia 28, Mississippi State 20

Northwestern (+8) at Illinois
Dan Persa is scheduled to make his 2011 debut — and that is a very good thing for the Northwestern offense. Persa has missed the first three games of the season while recovering from an Achilles injury sustained late last season. You can make a strong case that no player in the country meant more to his team than Persa did to the Wildcats last season. Illinois remained unbeaten with a tougher-than-expected 23–20 win at home vs. Western Michigan last week. The Illini have a relatively soft Big Ten schedule and some people have thrown out the possibility that Ron Zook’s club could run the table in the regular season.
Illinois 31, Northwestern 24

Michigan State (+3) at Ohio State
This game had the potential to be huge — a possible Big Ten title game preview. But with Ohio State’s relative struggles coupled with Michigan State’s disappointing showing at Notre Dame two weeks ago, this has clearly taken a backseat to the Nebraska vs. Wisconsin epic clash in Madison. It’s tough to get an accurate read on Michigan State. The Spartans have dominated three very weak opponents (Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic and Central Michigan) and got beat handily by the one solid team they have faced (Notre Dame). Ohio State has issues on offense (despite its 37-point effort against Colorado). The Buckeyes are starting a true freshman quarterback in Braxton Miller who will have to deal with a Michigan State defense that is solid on all three levels.
Michigan State 21, Ohio State 10

Washington (+7.5) at Utah
Keith Price isn’t getting a lot of attention nationally, but Jake Locker’s replacement at Washington is off to a great start. In his first season as the starter, Price has guided the Huskies to a 3–1 start, with the only loss coming in a 51–38 decision at Nebraska in a game in which he threw for 274 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, Price has completed 75-of-112 passes (67.0 percent) for 983 yards with 14 touchdowns (the most in the nation) and only three interceptions. Those numbers are good enough to rank him No. 2 in the Pac-12 and No. 9 in the nation with a passing efficiency rating of 176.58. Utah has had two weeks to celebrate its surprisingly easy 54–10 win over BYU in the Holy War. The Utes have nice balance on offense with Jordan Wynn at quarterback and junior college transfer John White emerging as the primary ball-carrier. The defense, as usual, is solid.
Utah 28, Washington 27

Last week — 7–3 (4–6 vs. spread)
Season — 25–15 (18–21–1 vs. spread)

Teaser:
<p> Previews and predictions on 10 key games in Week 5.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 09:57
Path: /college-football/sleeping-giant-stillwater-awake
Body:

By Mitch Light

We may have just witnessed the most important 25 minutes in the history of Oklahoma State football. With a national television audience watching, the high-flying Pokes turned a 20–3 deficit into a 30–20 lead in 25 minutes of breathtaking football in front of a stunned crowd at Kyle Field. Oklahoma State improved to 4–0 on the season and recorded a breakthrough win that vaulted it into the top-5 in the Associated Press poll.

The sleeping giant in the Big 12 is no longer asleep. A program with tremendous facilities and seemingly unlimited financial resources is well-positioned to be a major player in a reconfigured league that no longer includes Nebraska and Texas A&M.

“You should be able to recruit there,” said one Big 12 assistant coach in the ‘Scouting the Cowboys’ section in our 2011 preview magazine. “Their facilities are unbelievable. They have a very personable head coach. They have a good recruiting base. In my opinion, they should be able to recruit better than Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Their facilities are like the Taj Mahal.”

The Pokes have been consistently competitive throughout the past four decades with some pockets of tremendous success — Pat Jones won 10 games three times in a five-year stretch in the ‘80s — but the program has never been a major player on the national level.

That could be changin, as Athlon's Braden Gall writes. The right coach is in place. The school has solid leadership. And the team is winning big games and doing so in exciting fashion — with an explosive offense. This will only help the Cowboys continue to attract top-flight talent to Stillwater.

Some might claim that Oklahoma State has a ceiling due to the presence of the University of Oklahoma — a top-5 program nationally — in its own state. I don’t buy it. Auburn recently won a national title, and the Tigers are a clear No. 2 in their own state. Florida and Florida State each won a national title in a four-year stretch in the late 1990s. (And yes, I realize that Florida produces a ton more talent than the state of Oklahoma, but both OU and OSU make a killing in nearby Texas, equally as fertile as Florida.)

Obviously, we don’t know how the rest of the 2011 season will play out, but if O-State continues to win games — and take a look at the schedule; it’s not overly taxing — we could be looking back at the comeback in College Station as the defining moment of a special season in Stillwater.

Also Read: Our Week 4 Big 12 Power Rankings

Around the Big 12

• K-State quarterback Collin Klein is very quietly having a great junior season. Klein has been efficient throwing the ball (34-of-57 for 335 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception) and is averaging over 100 yards per game rushing. In last week’s win at Miami (Fla.), Klein threw for 133 yards and two touchdowns and added 93 yards rushing and one TD.

• Missouri tailback Henry Josey’s 12.4 yards-per-attempt average leads the nation among players with at least 20 attempts. Josey has 533 yards on 43 carries.

• The Kansas defense has given up 14 plays of 30 yards or longer. That is tied with Clemson and North Texas for the most in the nation.

• In three games, Kansas has not forced a turnover. The Jayhawks’ offense has only committed one turnover.

• Baylor’s Robert Griffin III leads the nation with a completion percentage of 85.4, but the Bears have also completed five of the six passes that Griffin has not attempted this season. Backup quarterback Bryce Petty is 3-of-4 for 53 yards, and receiver Kendall Wright is 2-of-2 for 55 yards and one touchdown.

• Texas Tech ranks 111th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing an average of 225.7 yards in wins against Texas State (256 yards), New Mexico (109) and Nevada (312 yards). Good thing the Raiders don’t have Georgia Tech on the schedule.
 

Teaser:
<p> Oklahoma State has what it takes to be one of the elite programs in the nation.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 17:21
Path: /college-football/price-has-been-right-washington
Body:

By Mitch Light

He was one of the most decorated players in school history. The face of Washington football for four seasons, Jake Locker became the first quarterback from the UW ever selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Locker’s gone, yet quarterback is still a position of strength for the Huskies. The man to thank for that is Keith Price, a sophomore from Compton, Calif. In his first season as the starter, Price has guided the Huskies to a 3–1 start, with the only loss coming in a 51–38 decision at Nebraska in a game in which he threw for 274 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, Price has completed 75-of-112 passes (67.0 percent) for 983 yards with 14 touchdowns (the most in the nation) and only three interceptions. Those numbers are good enough to rank him No. 2 in the Pac-12 and No. 9 in the nation with a passing efficiency rating of 176.58.

Price was at his best in last Saturday’s win over California in the Pac-12 opener, completing 19-of-25 passes for 292 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He has completed at least 57 percent of his attempts in each game and has thrown at least three touchdowns in each game.

Last season, Locker completed only 55 percent of his passes and threw for at least three touchdowns only twice.

This isn’t to say that Price is a better player than Locker — though surely some Washington fans are making that argument — but it’s clear that the Huskies are getting more production from the quarterback position with Price running the show.

“He’s playing phenomenal football for us right now,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said after the Nebraska game. “He’s been lights-out. He’s got an innate ability to extend plays and keep his vision and find open receivers downfield.”

Price is thriving despite playing on two injured knees. He sprained his right knee in the second quarter of a Week 1 win against Eastern Washington and sprained the left knee against Nebraska. It hasn’t hindered him in the passing game too much, but he hasn’t been able to use his legs as much as planned.

In four games, Price has netted only 12 yards rushing.

“The only thing mechanically is just not being able to really run,” Sarkisian said last week. “He’s still quick and elusive. We see that in the pocket. We see it in some suddenness on the about 6-, and 7-yard runs. He just hasn’t been able to open up and go like the way he can.”

AROUND THE PAC-12

• Oregon State is 0–3 for the first time since 1996. The Beavers were 0–3 12 times from 1972 through 1990.

• UCLA completed only seven passes in its 22–19 win over Oregon State. It is the fifth time since the start of last season that the Bruins have completed fewer than 10 passes. They are 3–2 in those games, with wins over Houston, Texas and Oregon State and losses to Kansas State and Washington.

• USC is last in the Pac-12 and 113th in the nation in turnover margin (-1.5 per game). The Trojans have forced three turnovers — only seven teams have forced fewer.

• When not playing LSU, Oregon is averaging 600 yards per game and 9.0 yards per play. The Ducks averaged 4.1 yards per play against LSU.

• Arizona has allowed teams to score on 20 of 22 trips inside the red zone, with 16 touchdowns and four field goals.

• Colorado ranks 118th in the nation with 9.5 penalties per game.

• Despite playing only three games, the Stanford defense leads the nation in yardage lost on sacks. The Cardinal have recorded 14.0 sacks for a combined 114 yards lost.

• Washington ranks last in the Pac-12 in passing defense by more than 60 yards per game. The Huskies are giving up 327.5 yards per game; Stanford is next at 265.7 per game.
 

Teaser:
<p> Jake Locker is now in the NFL, but quarterback is still a position of strength for Washington.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 12:59
Path: /college-football/big-plays-fuel-florida-offense
Body:

By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)

We are only four games into his first season as the offensive coordinator at Florida, but the sample size is big enough to declare the hiring of Charlie Weis a success at Florida.

Weis, the former head coach at Notre Dame and most recently the offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, has breathed new life into a Florida offense that stagnated for much of Urban Meyer’s final season in Gainesville. Fresh off of a 48–10 win at Kentucky, the Gators rank 22nd in the nation in total offense (461.8 ypg), up from 82nd last season (350.9 ypg).

The 2011 Gators are getting it done with the big play. Last season, Florida had 180 plays from scrimmage that went for 10-plus yards (ranking 50th in the nation) and 49 plays that went for 20-plus yards (tied for 78th in the nation). This year, under Weis’ guidance, those numbers are way up — 75 plays of 10-plus yards in only four games (tied for fifth nationally) and 23 plays of 20-plus yards (12th in the nation).

Weis is putting the ball in the hands of his playmakers, which is why most of the Gators’ big plays are coming in the running game. Chris Rainey already has 17 runs of at least 10 yards — five more than he had all last season. And fellow running back Jeff Demps currently leads the nation with eight rushes of 20 yards or more.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp, a defensive coach, praised the way his offensive coordinator is using Rainey and Demps after the duo each topped 100 yards vs. Kentucky.

“The thing that concerns you (as a defensive coach) is that Charlie does a great job of creating space plays for them that creates a lot of one on ones,” says Muschamp. “One missed tackle against those two guys, and they can take it the distance. They are great guys, have great speed, great in the open field, catch the ball well, run the ball hard, they are competitive and tough. They have all the intangibles that good football players have.”

Now comes the hard part.

Rainey, Demps and the rest of the Florida offense are about to embark on as difficult of a two-week stretch as possible, with dates against No. 2 Alabama and No. 1 LSU looming in the next two weeks. A year ago, the Gators were swept by the two SEC West powers thanks largely to an offense that managed only 281 yards against Alabama and 243 against LSU.

Weis will have a chance to earn his reported $765,000 salary in the coming weeks.

Also Read: Our SEC Power Rankings for Week 4.

AROUND THE SEC

• Vanderbilt’s Trey Wilson leads the nation with 109 yards in interception returns, while fellow starting cornerback Casey Hayard is tied for third with 96 yards in returns. The Commodores as a team have intercepted 14 passes, five more than the No. 2 team in the nation, Ohio. One more stat: Vanderbilt has intercepted 11.5 percent of its opponents’ passes.

• Alabama has given up 15 points or less in 23 of its 31 games since the start of the 2009 season.

• Alabama is giving up 1.8 yards per rushing attempt to lead the league. Kentucky is last at 5.1 per attempt.

• Ole Miss quarterbacks Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt combined to complete 12-of-30 attempts in the Rebels’ loss to Georgia. In two SEC games, Mackey and Stoudt are 27-of-60 with seven interceptions.

• Georgia freshman Isaiah Crowell is living up to the hype. The Columbus, Ga., native is tied for fourth in the SEC in rushing with 411 yards, an average of 102.8 per game.

• SEC teams have combined to convert 33 of their 64 fourth down attempts. South Carolina and Kentucky lead the league with 10 fourth down tries each; the Gamecocks are 6-of-10, while the Cats are only 2-of-10.

but also allowed seven drives of at least 30 yards. In their first three games, the Tigers gave up a total of eight drives of at least 30 yards.
 

Teaser:
<p> Charlie Weis is Pushing the Right Buttons for New-Look Gators</p>
Post date: Monday, September 26, 2011 - 17:11

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