Articles By Steven Lassan

All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-8-2015
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Numbers and statistics are a huge part of . Every Sunday, reading updated box scores and stats is like Christmas for fans and media members. Some stats like total offense and total defense are overrated, but each help paint a picture for a team or particular game.

 

Whether the stats are historic, advanced or just an observation from a box score, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

 

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 8
 

58-0: Miami’s Worst Loss in Program History

Al Golden’s tenure at Miami hit rock bottom in Saturday’s 58-0 loss to Clemson. The Hurricanes were thoroughly dominated by the Tigers on the stat sheet on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Brad Kaaya suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return. As a result, the offense managed only 146 total yards, converted six first downs, went 4 of 18 on third downs and lost three turnovers. The defense gave up 6.4 yards per play, 416 rushing yards, 33 first downs and 58 points. It’s only a matter of time before Miami makes a coaching change. And after the worst lost in program history, the timetable for a change is speeding up.

 

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12: Points Scored by Missouri in its Last Three Games

Missouri’s offense wasn’t overly prolific last year (22.7 points per game in SEC contests), but this unit is struggling mightily in 2015. The Tigers have scored only 12 points in their last three games and have not scored an offensive touchdown since the third quarter of the 24-10 win against South Carolina on Oct. 3. The problems for this offense starts up front with an offensive line that has allowed 20 sacks, a lackluster rushing attack, while true freshman quarterback Drew Lock is experiencing growing pains in his first year in the program.

 

108: Points Scored in Friday’s Memphis-Tulsa Game, Most of any FBS Game in 2015

Two of the American Athletic Conference’s best offenses were on display Friday night. Memphis and Tulsa combined for 108 points in the Tigers’ 66-42 victory, which was the highest-scoring FBS game in 2015. Behind a rising star at quarterback in Paxton Lynch and a deep group of skill players, Memphis ranks third nationally in scoring offense (48.9 points per game).

 

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12: Touchdowns by Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett in Last Three Games

Urban Meyer made the switch from Cardale Jones to J.T. Barrett as Ohio State’s starting quarterback prior to Saturday’s game against Rutgers. While the offense was productive behind Jones, Barrett seems to be the best fit for Meyer’s attack. The numbers back Meyer’s switch, as Barrett recorded 324 total yards against the Scarlet Knights and five overall touchdowns. In his last three games, Barrett has scored 12 touchdowns – more than Jones has all year – and Ohio State is 16 for 18 in its red-zone trips in that span.

 

1,433: Yards Needed by Christian McCaffrey to Break All-Purpose Record

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey continued his run at the Heisman Trophy in Saturday’s win over Washington. The sophomore recorded 300 all-purpose yards against the Huskies, which is the second consecutive game McCaffrey has posted at least 300 all-purpose yards. Through seven contests, McCaffrey has 1,818 all-purpose yards and is on pace to break the single-season record by former Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders (3,250 in 1988).

 

28: Florida State’s Win Streak Over ACC Teams Ends at Georgia Tech

Florida State’s 28-game winning streak against ACC opponents ended on Georgia Tech’s blocked field goal return for a touchdown as time expired on Saturday night. The loss to the Yellow Jackets was Florida State’s first in an ACC game since Oct. 6, 2012 and prevented coach Jimbo Fisher’s team from tying the conference record (29 consecutive wins) set by the Seminoles from 1992-95.

 

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28: Career Pass Attempts by Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham

With Seth Russell sidelined indefinitely due to a neck injury, Baylor will hand the keys to its high-powered offense to Jarrett Stidham. The freshman was a top 50 recruit in the 2015 signing class and has looked sharp in limited action. Stidham has completed 24 of 28 passes for 331 yards and six touchdowns in seven appearances this year. It’s a small sample size, but Stidham’s totals and overall talent are impressive. Baylor’s playoff hopes hinge on how quickly Stidham settles into the starting role.

 

5: Nebraska Losses by 5 Points or Less in 2015

Nebraska might have the worst luck in close games of any team in college football this season. The Cornhuskers lost their fifth game of the year on Saturday, dropping a 30-28 matchup to Northwestern. Nebraska needs to win three of its last four to get to a bowl, but this team is just a couple of plays away from having a 5-3 or 6-2 record. All five of the Cornhuskers’ losses were by five points or less in 2015, including three by two points or less.

 

288: Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott Throws First Interception in 288 Passes

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott turned in one of Week 8’s top performances by recording 465 overall yards and six total scores in the 42-16 win over Kentucky. However, Prescott tossed an interception against the Wildcats, ending a streak of 288 passes without a turnover. The streak was the third-longest in SEC history and a school record. With Prescott and Florida State’s Everett Golson tossing their first picks of the year, only two starters – LSU’s Brandon Harris and Arizona’s Anu Solomon – have yet to throw an interception in 2015.

 

100: Wins in a Row by Division III Powerhouse Mount Union

The stats in this column usually focus on the FBS level, but Mount Union’s impressive win streak deserves a mention in this space. The Purple Raiders earned their 100th consecutive victory on Saturday by defeating Wilmington 69-0 and have a chance to break their previous 110-game winning streak that stretched from 1994-05. 

Teaser:
10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 8 2015
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/20-must-see-moments-college-footballs-week-8-games
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Week 8 of the  season is officially in the books. Saturday's slate of games was underwhelming on paper, but the Week 8 schedule produced plenty of crazy finishes, overtime battles and outstanding plays.

 

Miss anything from Week 8? Here’s 20 must-see plays, moments or post-game celebrations from the weekend of action:

 

20 Must-See Moments from College Football's Week 8 Games

 

1. Georgia Tech stuns Florida State on blocked field goal returned for a touchdown:

 

 

2. Clemson hands Miami worst loss in program history:

 

3. Alabama holds off upset-minded Tennessee to remain in playoff mix:

 

4. Peyton Manning looked puzzled after Tennessee fell short against Alabama:

5. Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller makes an outstanding catch against Rutgers:

6. USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster delivers a monster stiff arm to a Utah defender:

7. LSU cheerleaders have fun on the soaked sidelines of Tiger Stadium:

8. Stanford guard Joshua Garnett destroys Washington defenders on a running play:

9. Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell destroys a Texas A&M defender while blocking:

10. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder takes a tumble on a kickoff return:

 

11. This nifty fake punt helped Pittsburgh defeat Syracuse:

 

12. Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins rumbles (and hurdles) a player for a touchdown:

 

13. Bowling Green receiver Roger Lewis makes a one-handed touchdown catch:

 

14. This random photo of Japan popped up in ESPNU's broadcast of WKU-LSU:

 

15. A member of the media fell asleep watching the Penn State-Maryland game:

 

16. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn's reaction to a late play against Arkansas:

 

17. This punt was a really bad idea by Kansas:

18. Utah receiver Britain Covey recorded one of the best punt returns from 2015 in Week 8:

 

19. Tulsa receiver Keyarris Garrett grabs the Hail Mary pass before halftime against Memphis:

 

20. UCF's mascot quietly rides scooter in background while Houston scores touchdown:

 

Bonus: UMass player leveled against Toledo:

Teaser:
20 Must-See Moments from College Football's Week 8 Games
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/georgia-tech-stuns-florida-state-last-second-blocked-field-goal-return-touchdown
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Florida State’s 28-game winning streak in ACC contests ended in stunning fashion on Saturday night.

 

The Seminoles turned to kicker Roberto Aguayo for a game-winning 56-yard field goal on the final play of the game. However, Aguayo’s kick was blocked by Georgia Tech and returned by Lance Austin 78 yards for the winning score.

 

College football has produced some crazy endings this year, and the Yellow Jackets “block six” return certainly ranks high on the list of insane finishes: 

Teaser:
Georgia Tech Stuns Florida State on Last-Second Blocked Field Goal Return for Touchdown
Post date: Saturday, October 24, 2015 - 22:22
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/former-miami-players-and-fans-rip-al-golden-after-embarrassing-performance-against
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Al Golden’s tenure at hit rock bottom on Saturday. The Hurricanes were thoroughly dominated in a 58-0 loss to Clemson, which was the worst defeat in program history.

 

Miami lost quarterback Brad Kaaya to a concussion in the first half, but the Tigers were in firm control of the game before the sophomore’s departure.

 

Needless to say, Miami’s fanbase is unhappy with its coaching staff. Former players and high-profile fans took to Twitter on Saturday to unleash their frustrations.

 

Here’s a rundown of some of the conversation on social media:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Saturday, October 24, 2015 - 15:34
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-midseason-breakout-players-2015
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With the first half of the 2015 season completed, it’s time to take a look back at the first seven weeks and examine some of the new stars across the nation. Breakout players are hard to predict in the preseason, but the emergence of new stars are a huge boost for a team’s win total or the opportunity to compete for a playoff spot.

 

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Houston quarterback Greg Ward are two of college football’s top breakout players from the first half of 2015, and both show no signs of slowing down. McCaffrey has elevated the Cardinal’s offense since the opening week loss to Northwestern, while Ward could help the Cougars earn the Group of 5 bowl spot in one of the New Year’s Six bowls.

 

Expect to see more stars and standouts emerge over the next seven weeks of action, but here’s a look at 10 breakout players from the first half of 2015.

 

College Football's Top 10 Breakout Players at Midseason

 

Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

It should be no surprise a Mike Leach-coached quarterback is posting huge passing totals. After starting the final three games last year, Falk stepped into the full-time role this spring and ranks as one of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks midway through the 2015 season. The sophomore has completed 235 of 325 throws for 2,371 yards and 21 scores. Falk also recorded at least three games of 400 passing yards or more this season, while his 72.3 completion percentage ranks second nationally. 

 

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Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

The rapid development of Harris is another example of why Missouri’s line coach Craig Kuligowski is one of the top defensive assistants in the nation. The Tigers entered 2015 looking to replace Shane Ray and Markus Golden at end, but Harris has eased any concerns this coaching staff had at defensive end. Through seven contests, Harris has recorded 29 tackles (12.5 for a loss), five sacks, four quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. 

 

Willie Henry, DT, Michigan

Henry is just one of a handful of players having a standout year for Michigan’s defense. The Wolverines are giving up only 9.3 points per game and rank second nationally by holding opponents to 3.45 yards per play. Henry accumulated 3.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss in his first two years of playing time in Ann Arbor and has already exceeded those totals seven games into 2015. The junior has 19 tackles (nine for a loss), six sacks and two pass breakups.

 

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Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Kirk is another dynamic addition to Texas A&M’s high-powered offense, and the Arizona native is arguably the nation’s top true freshman midway through the 2015 season. Kirk leads the team with 39 catches for 609 yards and four scores, while his per game average (101.5) is the best in the SEC. The freshman is also second in the conference with an average of 195 all-purpose yards per game.

 

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Stanford’s run of six consecutive 1,000-yard rushers ended last season, but the Cardinal will start a new streak in 2015 with the emergence of McCaffrey. The sophomore is one of the nation’s top all-purpose performers, averaging 253 total yards per game and 8.9 yards per touch. McCaffrey has 844 rushing yards and five scores through the first six games of 2015.

 

Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State

Despite the loss of Deion Barnes and C.J. Olaniyan, the Penn State defensive staff felt confident in its defensive ends this offseason. So far, that prediction is holding true. Nassib is one of the nation’s top overall defensive performers in the first half of 2015, recording 35 tackles (15.5 for a loss), 11.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. The senior is a former walk-on and only had 19 career tackles entering the 2015 season.

 

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Ejuan Price, DE, Pittsburgh

New coach Pat Narduzzi is already making an impact on Pittsburgh’s defense. The Panthers are holding opponents to 21.7 points per game, 5.04 yards per play and lead the ACC with 22 sacks. Headlining the rush off the edge at defensive end for Narduzzi is Price, who has registered 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss through the first six games. Additionally, Price has 13 tackles, one blocked kick and one forced fumble in 2015.

 

C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame

A season-ending knee injury to Tarean Folston in the opener against Texas pushed Prosise into the No. 1 role. The Virginia native converted from receiver to running back after the 2014 campaign and entered this fall with just 10 career rushing attempts. Through seven games, Prosise has ensured there was no drop in production from Folston. The junior has rushed for 922 yards and 11 scores and caught 18 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown. Prosise’s 11 rushing touchdowns is tied for sixth nationally. 

 

Greg Ward, QB, Houston

New Houston coach Tom Herman is widely regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football. Under Herman’s direction, Ohio State’s offense never missed a beat last season after injuries sidelined Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, forcing Cardale Jones to start the final three games of 2014. Ward showed promise last season, and the junior has thrived under Herman’s watch and developed into one of the top Group of 5 quarterbacks. Ward has passed for 1,524 yards and nine scores in 2015 and rushed for 631 yards and 14 touchdowns. The junior’s 359.2 total yards per game average ranks seventh nationally.

 

Marcus Williams, S, Utah

Williams had his share of ups and downs as a true freshman for the Utes last season, but the sophomore is on pace to finish 2015 as one of the top safeties in the Pac-12. After six games, Williams ranks fourth on the team with 29 tackles but leads the Utes with four interceptions. The sophomore also has five passes defended and one fumble recovery. Williams is a key cog in a Utah secondary that held Arizona State without a passing score in last week’s win and has limited the last four teams on its schedule to less than 55 percent completion percentage.

Teaser:
College Football's Top 10 Midseason Breakout Players for 2015
Post date: Friday, October 23, 2015 - 09:07
Path: /college-football/texas-am-aggies-vs-ole-miss-rebels-preview-and-prediction-2015
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and both enter Saturday night’s matchup in Oxford hoping to get back on track after suffering a loss last week. Memphis defeated the Rebels 37-24 in Week 7, while the Aggies gave away four turnovers in a 41-23 loss in College Station against Alabama.

 

Both teams are still smarting from last Saturday’s performances, but a win on Saturday night would help keep pace with Alabama and LSU in the West. Ole Miss has one loss in league play (Florida) and owns a potential key conference victory over Alabama. It’s a bit early to consider West Division scenarios, but if the Rebels win out, the September win over Alabama would be huge for tiebreaker purposes. Texas A&M’s only SEC loss in 2015 came against the Crimson Tide last Saturday. If the Aggies win in Oxford, the rest of the conference slate is manageable. Coach Kevin Sumlin’s team hosts South Carolina and Auburn before stepping out of conference to play Western Carolina on Nov. 14. After the matchup with the Catamounts, the Aggies play at Vanderbilt and then LSU to close out the regular season. Texas A&M should be favored in all but one of its remaining games (at LSU) after Saturday night. If the Aggies win in Oxford, the Nov. 28 game at LSU could decide the West winner.

 

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Ole Miss and Texas A&M have met three times as SEC foes. The Aggies own a 2-1 series edge in those matchups, but the Rebels won 35-20 in College Station last season.

 

Texas A&M at Ole Miss

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Ole Miss -6

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The Rushing Attack

It seems odd to focus on this area with all of the explosive and big-play threats at receiver in this game, and two talented quarterbacks in Ole Miss junior Chad Kelly and Texas A&M sophomore Kyle Allen. Even though both teams have explosive passing attacks, establishing the run and generating production from the ground game is critical to keep the offense out of third-and-long situations or to reduce the pressure on Kelly and Allen. A consistent ground attack has been a problem for both teams in conference play this year, as Texas A&M ranks 14th in the SEC (97 yards per game) and Ole Miss at 10th. Additionally, the Rebels average just 2.9 yards per carry in SEC games. Neither team has to run for 200 yards a contest to be successful, but more balance – especially on first and second downs – would allow both offenses to stay out of third-and-long and obvious passing down situations. Which team will find the right answers on Saturday? The Rebels have an advantage here, as Texas A&M allows 228.7 rushing yards per game in league play.

 

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2. Turnovers

As referenced in the opening, a significant reason for Texas A&M’s loss to Alabama has to do with turnovers. The Aggies lost four in last week’s game after giving away just three in the prior five matchups. The Rebels are in a similar predicament, as coach Hugh Freeze’s team has lost at least two turnovers in each of the last four games, including six in losses against Memphis and Florida. The outcome of this matchup is more complicated than just the turnover margin. However, whichever team can finish on the positive side of this stat is probably going to win on Saturday night.

 

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3. The Offensive Lines and Quarterbacks

Ole Miss is getting a huge addition to its offense this Saturday. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil was suspended for the first seven games but is slated to return for Week 8. Tunsil is one of the nation’s top linemen and will help to stabilize a line that lost Robert Conyers to a torn ACL against Memphis and allowed 13 sacks in 2015. Tunsil’s return is good news for Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly against a Texas A&M defensive front that is among the nation’s most active groups at the line of scrimmage. Sophomore end Myles Garrett was arguably the No. 1 defender in college football through the first half of 2015, but if he can’t get to Kelly, the Rebels will have opportunities for big plays downfield to receivers Laquon Treadwell, Cody Core, and Quincy Adeboyejo. Ole Miss’ defensive line hasn’t been as stout as most predicted this offseason, but there was some good news for this unit announced on Thursday. Standout ackle Robert Nkemdiche will play against Texas A&M after suffering a concussion against Memphis. The Rebels rank ninth in the SEC with 11 sacks, and the secondary has allowed its share of big plays (eight plays of 30 yards or more in 2015). If Texas A&M’s line keeps the pass rush off quarterback Kyle Allen, the Aggies have plenty of options at receiver - standout true freshman Christian Kirk is the go-to target - to exploit the leaky pass defense.

 

Final Analysis

 

College football’s weekend slate is relatively light on must-see matchups, but this meeting between the Rebels and Aggies in Oxford has to be one of the better games for Week 8. Both teams need to win this game to stay alive in the West title mix and keep within striking distance of LSU and Alabama. There should be no shortage of points scored on Saturday night. Which team makes a critical stop on defense or forces a timely turnover? Considering the yards and points expected between the two high-powered offenses, one stop on defense in the second half may decide this game.

 

Prediction: Ole Miss 34, Texas A&M 31
Teaser:
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Ole Miss Rebels Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, October 23, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-8-predictions-indiana-aims-upset-michigan-state-nebraska-hosts
Body:

Matching the intensity and overall interest level of last week’s Michigan-Michigan State game won’t be easy for the with its Week 8 slate of matchups. Indiana-Michigan State and Northwestern-Nebraska are the league’s must-see games for Saturday, with the Spartans hoping to avoid a letdown after the chaotic end to the win over Michigan. The Wildcats need to rebound after back-to-back losses and have been outscored 78-10 in their last two games. Elsewhere in the Big Ten this Saturday, Ohio State travels to Rutgers, with J.T. Barrett getting the start over Cardale Jones at quarterback for the Buckeyes. Wisconsin plays at Illinois and Penn State meets Maryland in a neutral site matchup in Baltimore to round out the Week 8 action. 

 

Related:

 

Athlon Sports offers its  Week 8 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (), Mitch Light (), David Fox (), and Braden Gall ()

 

Big Ten Week 8 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Indiana at Michigan State

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2

Spread: Michigan State -16.5

 

Predictions for Indiana at Michigan State

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

41-2744-2849-3138-31

 

Related:

 

2. Northwestern at Nebraska

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Nebraska -7.5

 

Predictions for Northwestern at Nebraska

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

27-2026-1335-1030-28

 

3. Ohio State at Rutgers

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Ohio State -21

 

Predictions for Ohio State at Rutgers

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

45-1744-1749-2145-7

 

4. Wisconsin at Illinois

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Wisconsin -6.5

 

Predictions for Wisconsin at Illinois

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

34-2028-2228-1430-20

 

5. Penn State vs. Maryland (Baltimore)

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Penn State -6.5

 

Predictions for Penn State vs. Maryland

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

30-1326-1724-1433-10
Teaser:
Big Ten Week 8 Predictions: Indiana Aims for Upset at Michigan State, Nebraska Hosts Northwestern
Post date: Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-8-predictions-oklahoma-texas-tech-shootout-texas-hosts-kansas-state
Body:

The ’s Week 8 slate is relatively quiet, but the intrigue level in this conference will increase once November arrives with a handful of huge league matchups. Oklahoma rebounded from a loss to Texas with an blowout victory over Kansas State last Saturday, and the Sooners are poised for a high-scoring matchup against Texas Tech in Week 8. Outside of Norman, the other must-see matchup on the Big 12’s schedule is Texas hosting Kansas State. Both teams need this game in order to reach bowl eligibility, and the Longhorns have momentum after beating Oklahoma in Dallas in Week 6. Baylor should have an easy win against Iowa State, while Oklahoma State is a heavy favorite against winless Kansas.

 

Related:

 

Athlon Sports offers its  Week 8 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (), Mitch Light (), David Fox (), and Braden Gall ()

 

Big 12 Week 8 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Texas Tech at Oklahoma

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2

Spread: Oklahoma -14.5

 

Predictions for Texas Tech at Oklahoma

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Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

45-3444-3149-3538-34

 

Related:

 

2. Kansas State at Texas

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at Noon ET

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

Spread: Texas -4

 

Predictions for Kansas State at Texas

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

27-2421-1428-2127-23

 

3. Iowa State at Baylor

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Baylor -37

 

Predictions for Iowa State at Baylor

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

60-1766-1666-2155-23

 

4. Kansas at Oklahoma State

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

Spread: Oklahoma State -33.5

 

Predictions for Kansas at Oklahoma State

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

55-1358-751-1730-10
Teaser:
Big 12 Week 8 Predictions: Oklahoma-Texas Tech Shootout, Texas Hosts Kansas State
Post date: Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/acc-week-8-predictions-clemson-and-florida-state-face-road-tests-duke-travels
Body:

Florida State and Clemson are inching closer to a huge showdown on Nov. 7 in Death Valley, but both teams have road tests coming up on Saturday in Week 8 action. The Seminoles pulled away from Louisville in the second half of last week’s game and have a tough assignment in preparing for Georgia Tech’s option attack this weekend. The Yellow Jackets might be the ’s biggest disappointment through Week 7, but a win over the Seminoles would help this team build momentum for the second half of 2015. Clemson handled Boston College last Saturday and has to turn its attention to Miami. The Hurricanes could use a win over the Tigers to help reduce the pressure on coach Al Golden. Elsewhere in the ACC, Virginia Tech hosts Duke, Pittsburgh travels to Syracuse and Boston College looks to find a spark for its offense in a game at Louisville. 

 

Related:

 

Athlon Sports offers its  Week 8 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (), Mitch Light (), David Fox (), and Braden Gall ()

 

ACC Week 8 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Clemson at Miami

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at Noon ET

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Clemson -6.5

 

Predictions for Clemson at Miami

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

34-2433-3038-2134-31

 

Related:

 

2. Florida State at Georgia Tech

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Florida State -6

 

Predictions for Florida State at Georgia Tech

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

34-2741-2431-2135-21

 

3. Duke at Virginia Tech

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: Virginia Tech -2.5

 

Predictions for Duke at Virginia Tech

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

24-2021-2021-1317-14

 

4. Boston College at Louisville

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: Louisville -8

 

Predictions for Boston College at Louisville

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

24-1324-1024-1027-20

 

5. Pittsburgh at Syracuse

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: Pittsburgh -7

 

Predictions for Pittsburgh at Syracuse

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

31-1724-1328-1727-14

 

6. Virginia at North Carolina

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: North Carolina -17.5

 

Predictions for Virginia at North Carolina

Steven

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Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

38-1738-2135-2040-20

 

7. NC State at Wake Forest

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: NC State -10

 

Predictions for NC State at Wake Forest

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

24-1720-1724-1034-23
Teaser:
ACC Week 8 Predictions: Clemson and Florida State Face Road Tests, Duke Travels to Virginia Tech
Post date: Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-8-predictions-usc-hopes-spoil-utahs-season-stanford-rides-momentum
Body:

Stanford and Utah appear to be on a collision course for a matchup in the Championship, but both teams still have plenty of obstacles to overcome, starting this Saturday in Week 8 action. The Cardinal have a few extra days to prepare for Washington after defeating UCLA on Thursday night last week. Utah’s assignment is tougher this weekend, as the Utes travel to Los Angeles to take on USC. The Trojans are 3-3, but this is still one of the league’s most talented teams. Points should be aplenty in other league matchups this weekend, including a Thursday night game between California and UCLA, while Arizona hosts Washington State on Saturday. Colorado looks to end a 14-game losing streak in Pac-12 matchups on Saturday night against Oregon State.

 

Related:

 

Athlon Sports offers its  Week 8 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (), Mitch Light (), David Fox (), and Braden Gall ()

 

Pac-12 Week 8 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Utah at USC

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: USC -3.5

 

Predictions for Utah at USC

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Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

31-2727-2131-2830-24

 

Related:

 

2. California at UCLA

Date: Thursday, Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: UCLA -3.5

 

Predictions for California at UCLA

Steven

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Mitch

Light

David

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Braden

Gall

38-3437-3334-3138-34

 

3. Washington State at Arizona

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

Spread: Arizona -7.5

 

Predictions for Washington State at Arizona

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

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4. Washington at Stanford

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 10:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Off

 

Predictions for Washington at Stanford

Steven

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Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

34-1331-1742-2040-24

 

5. Colorado at Oregon State

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 10:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

Spread: Oregon State -2.5

 

Predictions for Colorado at Oregon State

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

31-3024-2035-2830-17

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 8 Predictions: USC Hopes to Spoil Utah's Season, Stanford Rides Momentum Against Washington
Post date: Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/sec-week-8-predictions-alabama-hosts-tennessee-ole-miss-and-texas-am-look-rebound
Body:

The Week 8 slate of action isn’t nearly as appealing as last Saturday, but Tennessee-Alabama and Ole Miss-Texas A&M are still two must-see matchups this weekend. The Volunteers have lost the last eight matchups against the Crimson Tide and none of the last four contests in this series were decided by less than 14 points. Can Tennessee reverse that trend and give Alabama all it can handle on Saturday? Ole Miss has lost two out of its last three games after a 4-0 start, but the Rebels are still alive in the West Division. However, the division title hopes of coach Hugh Freeze’s team could disappear for good with a loss to Texas A&M. It’s not out of the question to think the Aggies-Rebels matchup is an elimination game in the West. WKU visits LSU, Mississippi State hosts Kentucky, Missouri travels to Vanderbilt and Arkansas hosts Auburn in a key game for both team’s bowl hopes to round out the Week 8 slate.

 

Related:

 

Athlon Sports offers its  Week 8 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (), David Fox (), Mitch Light () and Braden Gall ()

 

SEC Week 8 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Tennessee at Alabama

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Alabama -15.5

 

Predictions for Tennessee at Alabama

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

34-1724-1441-2834-27

 

Related:

 

2. Texas A&M at Ole Miss

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Ole Miss -5.5

 

Predictions for Texas A&M at Ole Miss

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

34-3137-2042-3535-30

 

3. Auburn at Arkansas

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at Noon ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Arkansas -5.5

 

Predictions for Auburn at Arkansas

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

31-2428-2035-2424-21

 

4. WKU at LSU

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: LSU -17

 

Predictions for WKU at LSU

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

45-2041-1735-2840-14

 

5. Kentucky at Mississippi State

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Mississippi State -11

 

Predictions for Kentucky at Mississippi State

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

34-2721-1431-2830-27

 

6. Missouri at Vanderbilt

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Missouri -3

 

Predictions for Missouri at Vanderbilt

Steven

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Mitch

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David

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Braden

Gall

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Teaser:
SEC Week 8 Predictions: Alabama Hosts Tennessee, Ole Miss and Texas A&M Look for Rebound Win
Post date: Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: AAC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/predictions-every-college-football-game-week-8
Body:

Week 8 of the 2015 season kicks off with three intriguing games on Thursday night. Temple hopes to keep its unbeaten record intact against East Carolina, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State meet in a critical Sun Belt showdown, while California travels to UCLA to cap the Thursday action. Memphis plays at Tulsa and Utah State visits San Diego State on Friday night. The Saturday slate isn’t the best of the 2015 season, but there are plenty of interesting games for Week 8. Texas A&M hosts Ole Miss in a potential SEC West elimination game, Florida State and Clemson hit the road for conference matchups in the ACC, while Utah is considered an underdog for its matchup against USC.

 

Related:

 

Which teams will come out on top in every FBS game for Week 8? Athlon's editors predict the winners for every game this week:

 

College Football Week 8 Predictions
 

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

Mark

Ross

Temple at

East Carolina

Ga. Southern at

Appalachian State

California at

UCLA

Memphis at

Tulsa

Utah State at

San Diego State

SMU at

South Florida

Houston at

UCF

Central Michigan at

Ball State

Ohio at

Buffalo

BGSU at 

Kent State

Toledo at

UMass

South Alabama at

Texas State

Fresno State at 

Air Force

Wyoming at 

Boise State

Florida State at

Georgia Tech

Boston College at

Louisville

Penn State vs. 

Maryland

Clemson at 

Miami

Indiana at

Michigan State

Virginia at 

North Carolina

Pittsburgh at 

Syracuse

Duke at 

Virginia Tech

NC State at

Wake Forest

Southern Miss at

Charlotte

UConn at 

Cincinnati

Tennessee at 

Alabama

Auburn at 

Arkansas

Iowa State at 

Baylor

WKU at 
LSU

Kentucky at 

Miss. State

Northwestern at

Nebraska

Texas Tech at 

Oklahoma

Kansas at 

Oklahoma State

Texas A&M at 

Ole Miss

Army at 

Rice

Kansas State at

Texas

Missouri at

Vanderbilt

Tulane at 

Navy

Miami, Ohio at

W. Michigan

Washington State at

Arizona

Colorado at

Oregon State

Washington at 

Stanford

Utah at 
USC

Wagner at 

BYU

Wisconsin at 

Illinois

North Texas at

Marshall

MTSU at

Louisiana Tech

E. Michigan at

Northern Illinois

Hawaii at

Nevada

ULM at

Idaho

Old Dominion at

FIU

FAU at

UTEP

New Mexico at

SJSU

Ohio State at

Rutgers

Troy at 

NMSU

 

Teaser:
Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 8
Post date: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-2015-midseason-awards
Body:

The first half of the 2015 season is officially in the books. And at the midpoint of 2015, it’s time to look back at the first seven weeks, revisit preseason predictions and take a glimpse at what the second half of the season has to offer.

 

With half of a season still to go, plenty of changes, surprises and disappointments should be expected. The playoff picture is just starting to clear, and the November slate is loaded with key matchups and critical games to shape the top four teams.

 

The first half of 2015 has been the Leonard Fournette show. The LSU running back has been the best player in the nation through the first seven weeks and is the frontrunner to win the Heisman. Outside of Fournette and the overall uncertainty at the top of the rankings, some of the nation’s biggest storylines at the midway point are Utah and Iowa, coaching changes at South Carolina and USC, along with new coaches at Michigan and Florida.

 

Let’s take a look back at some of the top players, coaches and freshmen from Weeks 1-7. 

 

Midseason Reviews and Second-Half Predictions

 

 |  |  |  |

 

College Football’s 2015 Midseason Awards

 

Coach of the Year
 

1. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Whittingham continues to raise the bar for Utah in the Pac-12. After recording its first winning conference record (5-4) since joining the league in 2011, the Utes are the favorite to win the South Division and earn a playoff spot in 2015. Whittingham is the driving force behind Utah’s emergence and has the Utes ranked among the nation’s best after a 6-0 start, including wins against Michigan, California, Oregon and Arizona State.

 

2. Jim McElwain, Florida

3. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

4. Justin Fuente, Memphis

5. Matt Rhule, Temple

 

Offensive Player of the Year

 

1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Fournette has been college football’s best player through the first seven weeks. The sophomore has rushed for 1,202 yards and 14 scores on 150 carries, averaging a healthy 8.01 yards per carry. Fournette also rushed for three consecutive 200-yard efforts and has posted at least 158 yards in every game.

 

2. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

3. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

5. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

6. Seth Russell, QB/Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

 

Related:

 

Defensive Player of the Year

 

1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Garrett has been unstoppable off the edge for new coordinator John Chavis, recording 30 tackles (11.5 for a loss) and 8.5 sacks through six games. The sophomore also has three forced fumbles and two pass breakups. With Garrett and Daeshon Hall coming off the edge, Texas A&M ranks third in the SEC with 20 sacks so far this year.

 

2. Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State

3. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

4. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

5. Jeremy Cash, S, Duke

 

Heisman Frontrunner

 

1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Fournette is the clear frontrunner, but Boykin and Cook will have opportunities to close the gap in November. The key game in Fournette’s Heisman resume is the Nov. 7 showdown against Alabama.

 

2. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

3. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

 

Best Assistant Coach Hire of Offseason

 

1. D.J. Durkin, Defensive Coordinator, Michigan

Durkin is one of the rising stars in the assistant ranks and joined coach Jim Harbaugh’s staff after spending five years at Florida. The Wolverines are tied for first nationally in scoring defense (9.3 points per game) and have allowed only two plays of 40 yards or more in 2015.

 

2. Gene Chizik, Defensive Coordinator, North Carolina

3. John Chavis, Defensive Coordinator, Texas A&M

4. Barry Odom, Defensive Coordinator, Missouri

5. Lincoln Riley, Offensive Coordinator, Oklahoma

 

Related:

 

Best First-Year Coach

 

1. Jim McElwain, Florida

It’s a close call between McElwain, Harbaugh and Herman for this award at the midpoint of the season. The Gators lost their first game last Saturday, but McElwain still has this team on track to win the SEC East. Talent wasn’t an issue at Florida. However, the Gators had major question marks on the offensive line and at quarterback. Even though the line is still an issue, and quarterback Will Grier is suspended for the rest of the year, Florida is the favorite to win the East and has a chance to finish the regular season with wins over rivals Georgia and Florida State.

 

2. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

3. Tom Herman, Houston

4. Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh

5. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

6. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa

 

Best True Freshman

 

1. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Kirk is another dynamic addition to Texas A&M’s offense. The true freshman leads the team with 39 catches for 609 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 15.6 yards per reception. Kirk also averages 25.1 yards per punt return and has scored on two opportunities this season.

 

2. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

3. Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

4. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

5. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

6. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

 

Best Redshirt Freshman

 

1. Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan

Peppers helps to anchor one of the nation’s top defensive backfields, recording 23 tackles (4.5 for a loss) and five pass breakups through the first seven games of 2015. The Wolverines’ secondary has allowed only three passing scores this season. Peppers has also played a limited role on offense, catching two passes for 35 yards versus Michigan State and averages 10.3 yards per punt return.

 

2. Walter Brady, DL, Missouri

3. Mike Warren, RB, Iowa State

4. T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

5. Brent Stockstill, QB, MTSU

 

Biggest Surprise (Team)

 

1. Utah

Not only is Utah’s Kyle Whittingham our pick for coach of the year at the midway point of the season, the Utes are also the biggest surprise. While Utah was expected to be a factor in the South Division, no one predicted this team would be in the playoff hunt.

 

2. Iowa

3. Florida

4. Michigan

5. Temple

 

Biggest Disappointment (Team)

 

1. Auburn

Auburn started the year as a playoff contender, but the Tigers are 4-2 and nearly lost to FCS opponent Jacksonville State. Both sides of the ball have been problematic for coach Gus Malzahn. The offense is averaging only 5.3 yards per play and has only nine plays of 30 yards or more. New coordinator Will Muschamp was supposed to fix a defense that surrendered 32.8 points per game in SEC contests last season. However, Auburn isn’t much better in 2015, as this defense is giving up 29.7 points in league games and 5.8 yards per play.

 

2. USC

3. Oregon

4. Georgia Tech

5. Arkansas

 

Coach on the Hot Seat

 

1. Mike London, Virginia

London likely needs to get Virginia to a bowl to return in 2016, and the odds are stacked against the Cavaliers after a 2-4 start. London’s tenure started with a lot of promise after an 8-5 record in 2011, but Virginia has recorded three consecutive losing seasons and has only four ACC wins over the last three years.

 

2. Al Golden, Miami

3. Kyle Flood, Rutgers

4. Darrell Hazell, Purdue

5. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

 

Breakout Players

 

1. Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State

Penn State coaches were high on Nassib’s potential entering 2015, and the former walk-on has been one of the nation’s top defenders through the firsts even weeks. Nassib leads all defenders with 11.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles.

 

2. Greg Ward, QB, Houston

3. C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame

4. Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss

5. Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

 

Head Coaches on the Rise

 

1. Justin Fuente, Memphis

Fuente inherited a program that went 3-21 in two seasons (2010-11) under Larry Porter and has transformed Memphis into one of the American Athletic Conference’s top teams over the last two years. The Tigers are 16-3 since the start of 2014, finished No. 25 in last year’s final Associated Press poll and just scored a huge non-conference victory over Ole Miss. Prior to taking over at Memphis, Fuente worked for five seasons as an assistant under Gary Patterson at TCU.

 

2. Tom Herman, Houston

3. Matt Wells, Utah State

4. Matt Campbell, Toledo

5. Bryan Harsin, Boise State

 

Related:

 

Best Catch From the First Half: Stanford’s Francis Owusu Against UCLA

 

Best Finish From the First Half: Michigan State Shocks Michigan

 

 

10 Must-See Games for the Second Half

 

1. LSU at Alabama (Nov. 7)

2. Baylor at TCU (Nov. 27)

3. Michigan State at Ohio State (Nov. 21)

4. Ohio State at Michigan (Nov. 28)

5. Florida State at Clemson (Nov. 7)

6. Notre Dame at Stanford (Nov. 28)

7. Florida State at Florida (Nov. 28)

8. Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville – Oct. 31)

9. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (Nov. 28)

10. TCU at Oklahoma (Nov. 21)

 

5 Must-See Games from Group of 5 Conferences

 

1. Houston at Memphis (Nov. 14)

2. Bowling Green at Toledo (Nov. 17)

3. Memphis at Temple (Nov. 21)

4. Navy at Houston (Nov. 27)

5. Navy at Memphis (Nov. 7)

 

Others to Watch: Notre Dame at Temple (Oct. 31), BYU at Utah State (Nov. 28), Utah State at Air Force (Nov. 14), Georgia Southern at Appalachian State (Oct. 22), Arkansas State at Appalachian State (Nov. 5), Utah State at San Diego State (Oct. 23)

Teaser:
College Football 2015 Midseason Awards
Post date: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review-2015
Body:

The was left out of last year’s playoff, but the conference is in good shape to get at least one team in college football’s top four this season. Baylor and TCU are two of the nation’s top teams after a combined 13-0 start and are on a collision course for a huge showdown in Fort Worth on Nov. 27. The Horned Frogs are still working to find the right pieces on a revamped defense, but quarterback Trevone Boykin helps to cover for a lot of flaws. The Bears are the more complete team at this point, but the schedule will get a lot tougher for coach Art Briles’ team in November.

 

Outside of TCU and Baylor, the state of Oklahoma is in focus for the Big 12. The Sooners and Cowboys are the biggest threats to the Horned Frogs and Bears, and both teams will play a key role in how the final order of the conference plays out. Elsewhere in the league, Texas is off to a 2-4 start, but coach Charlie Strong’s team has momentum after a win against Oklahoma. Kansas State has lost three in a row and has a tough rebound matchup in Austin this Saturday. 

 

Related:

 

Here are some award winners, plus second-half predictions from the Big 12 in 2015: 

 

Big 12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

 

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

TCU is still working to find the right pieces on defense, and injuries have hit this team hard across the board, but there’s one constant keeping this team in the mix for a playoff bid: Boykin. The senior has passed for 2,539 yards and 25 touchdowns in seven games and rushed for 440 yards and five scores.

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

Ogbah leads the Big 12 with 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss after six games. He’s also forced two fumbles and recorded 33 tackles. 

 

Related:

 

Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson, TCU

Despite injuries to a handful of key players and new starters on defense, TCU is 7-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play. The Horned Frogs still have plenty of big tests ahead, including the Nov. 27 showdown against Baylor.

 

Freshman of the Year: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson is one of the building blocks for the future for coach Charlie Strong. The true freshman ranks second on the team with 37 tackles (5.5 for a loss), is tied for first on the defense with two sacks and has two pass breakups and five quarterback hurries in six games.

 

Newcomer of the Year: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Mayfield has provided a spark for Oklahoma’s passing attack and is the right fit for new coordinator Lincoln Riley’s offense. Mayfield has passed for 1,980 yards and 19 scores and added 166 yards and four touchdowns on the ground through six games.

 

Three Things to Watch in the Second Half

 

1. TCU-Baylor Showdown Looms Large

All signs suggest the Nov. 27 showdown between Baylor and TCU will decide the Big 12 title. But both teams have a few obstacles to cross before then, including Baylor’s road trip to Oklahoma State, and the Horned Frogs have to visit Oklahoma that same weekend. Will both teams make it through unscathed until the Nov. 27 matchup? And how much progress can both teams make by then?

 

Related:

 

2. Which Team Plays Spoiler?

As we mentioned above, TCU and Baylor won't have an easy path to an unbeaten regular season. Could Oklahoma or Oklahoma State spoil the unbeaten season for TCU or Baylor? The Cowboys host both teams in November, while Oklahoma hosts TCU a week before its showdown against Baylor. Even if both teams fall short of playing spoiler, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are the top contenders to finish third in this league and the Nov. 28 meeting in Stillwater should have plenty of intrigue and importance.

 

3. Will Texas Make a Bowl?

The Longhorns are 2-4 going into Week 8, and the goal for coach Charlie Strong over the second half of the year is to get this team into a bowl. Texas has winnable games – Kansas State, at Iowa State, Kansas, Texas Tech and at West Virginia – but it needs four victories out of that group. There’s little margin of error for Strong.

 

Top Five Games in the Second Half

 

1. Baylor at TCU (Nov. 27)

No doubt about this one. Playoff and Big 12 title implications are on the line on Fort Worth.

 

2. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (Nov. 28)

Bedlam. That’s about all you need to know to tune into this one.

 

3. Oklahoma at Baylor (Nov. 14)

Oklahoma dominated this matchup from 1996-2010, but the Bears have won three out of the last four in this series.

 

4. TCU at Oklahoma (Nov. 21)

The Horned Frogs visit Oklahoma a week before the showdown against Baylor. Letdown alert?

 

5. Baylor at Oklahoma State (Nov. 21)

Similar theme to No. 4. Letdown possibility for Baylor? The Bears are on the road a week before the matchup against TCU.

 

Predicting the Final 2015 Big 12 Standings
 

Steven

Lassan

David

Fox

Mark

Ross

Braden

Gall

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

 

Teaser:
Big 12 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Post date: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - 14:16
Path: /college-football/pac-12-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review-2015
Body:

The halfway mark of the 2015 season has arrived, and it's been a busy and newsworthy first seven weeks for this league. Most of the storylines in the Pac-12 have resonated from Los Angeles, as USC is off to a disappointing 3-3 start and coach Steve Sarkisian was fired after taking a leave of absence prior to Week 7. The Trojans are now under the direction of interim coach Clay Helton, and while this team has underachieved, there’s no shortage of talent to play spoiler the rest of 2015.

 

In the North Division, Stanford has rebounded from an opening week loss to Northwestern to emerge as a playoff team. The Cardinal rebounded behind quarterback Kevin Hogan and running back Christian McCaffrey, while the defense – despite eight new starters – is allowing 21.3 points per game. Elsewhere in the North Division, Oregon is off to a slow start (4-3), and California has been a surprise with a 5-1 record. 

 

Here are some award winners, plus second-half predictions from the Pac-12 in 2015: 

 

Pac-12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

 

Offensive Player of the Year: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

The emergence of McCaffrey is a big reason why Stanford has is the team to beat in the Pac-12 North. After rushing for 124 yards through the first two games of 2015, McCaffrey has at least 115 in each of his last four games, including 243 yards against UCLA last Thursday. The sophomore leads the Pac-12 in all-purpose production with an average of 253 yards per game.

 

Related:

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Gionni Paul, LB, Utah

It’s a close call between UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark, Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, USC linebacker Su’a Cravens and Paul for this honor, but the midseason award heads to Salt Lake City. Paul leads the Utah defense with 50 stops through six games and has recorded three takeaways, four passes defended and two fumble recoveries. 

 

Coach of the Year: Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Whittingham continues to raise the bar for Utah in the Pac-12. After recording its first winning conference record (5-4) since joining the league in 2011, the Utes are the favorite to win the South Division and earn a playoff spot in 2015. Whittingham is the driving force behind Utah’s emergence and has the Utes ranked among the nation’s best after a 6-0 start, including wins against Michigan, California, Oregon and Arizona State.

 

Related:
 

Freshman of the Year: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

It’s never easy starting as a true freshman quarterback for a Power 5 program, but Rosen has started all six games for the Bruins this season and passed for 1,568 yards and 12 scores. Rosen threw for 350 yards in his collegiate debut (Virginia) and is fourth among Pac-12 quarterbacks with three passing plays of 50 yards or more.

 

Newcomer of the Year: Shalom Luani, DB, Washington State

Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams is a strong candidate here, but the Eastern Washington transfer has missed a couple of games due to injury. Luani has been a key pickup for new Washington State coordinator Alex Grinch, as the junior college recruit is tied for second on the team with 46 tackles, ranks first with three interceptions and has recorded three pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

 

Biggest Surprise: Utah and California

While Utah is arguably one of the top surprise teams in the nation after seven weeks, let’s also give a tip of the cap to California. The Golden Bears are 5-1 and 2-1 in conference play so far and appear poised to make their first bowl appearance since 2011. Even if California finishes 7-5, there’s clear progress being made by coach Sonny Dykes in his third year.

 

Related:

 

Biggest Disappointment: Oregon and USC

USC and Oregon were picked by the media as the preseason favorites in July. After seven weeks, the Trojans and Ducks have combined for a 7-6 record, and both teams have work to do in order to reach a bowl game. Not only is USC dealing with its on-field struggles, but there’s also uncertainty and turmoil after coach Steve Sarkisian was fired prior to Week 7. The Ducks are dealing with the transition in the post-Marcus Mariota era, youth in the secondary, as well as an injury to quarterback Vernon Adams. Oregon and USC should get bowl eligible, but both teams had significantly higher expectations.

 

Three Things to Watch in the Second Half

 

1. Will the Pac-12 Produce a Playoff Team?

Going into Week 8, Utah and Stanford are the Pac-12’s best hopes to have a playoff team in 2015. However, could the Pac-12 have too many good teams and not a clear standout? The Cardinal cannot afford another loss after dropping their opener to Northwestern, while the Utes still have obstacles to clear, including road trips to USC, Washington, Arizona and a home date against UCLA.

 

2. Improvement at Oregon

Assuming quarterback Vernon Adams can stay healthy the rest of the year, Oregon has a chance to build momentum over the second half of the season. The Ducks’ offense operates more effectively with Adams under center, but the Eastern Washington transfer has been dealing with a finger injury for most of the year. Road trips to Arizona State and Stanford won’t be easy for Oregon, but Oregon State, USC and California visit Eugene. How much progress will the Ducks make over the final five games with Adams under center and more experience from the new starters on defense?

 

3. What’s Next for USC?

Steve Sarkisian’s tenure ended abruptly after 18 games. How quickly will USC move to fill this vacancy at the end of the season? And for the short-term concerns, how big of a distraction will this be for the Trojans over the final six games?

 

Top Five Games in the Second Half

 

1. Notre Dame at Stanford  (Nov. 28)

A potential playoff elimination game? Last three matchups in this series have been decided by seven points or less.

 

2. UCLA at USC (Nov. 28)

Some of the appeal of this matchup has diminished with USC’s 3-3 start, but this is still a big rivalry.

 

3. California at Stanford (Nov. 21)

The Big Game could have North Division title implications. Of course, California needs to navigate a tough stretch of games – at UCLA, USC at Oregon – to have a shot at the division title. The Cardinal have won the last five in this series.

 

4. Utah at USC (Oct. 24)

While Utah is unbeaten and USC is 3-3, the good folks in Vegas installed the Trojans as a slight favorite in this game. The Utes knocked off USC last season 24-21 in Salt Lake City.

 

5. Oregon at Stanford (Oct. 14)

This matchup was expected to decide the North Division title, but the outlook on his game has changed significantly over the last two months. Oregon is fighting to get back on track after a 4-3 record at the halfway point of the season, while Stanford is pushing for a playoff spot. Even though the appeal has diminished, this is still one of the North’s must-see matchups. 

 

Predicting the Final 2015 Pac-12 Standings
 

Steven

Lassan

David

Fox

Mark

Ross

Braden

Gall

North
1
2
3
4
5
6
     
South
1
2
3
4
5
6
Pac-12 Championship
 

over

over

over

over

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review 2015
Post date: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - 13:30
Path: /college-football/big-ten-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review-2015
Body:

The ended 2014 in the spotlight after Ohio State claimed the national championship and Jim Harbaugh arrived at Michigan. And through seven weeks in 2015, it’s safe to say this conference has been worthy of all of the offseason attention and more.

 

The Buckeyes are putting together the necessary pieces and working through a few early-season kinks to make a run at the national championship, while the Wolverines made a quick turnaround under Harbaugh and emerged as one of the top 10-15 teams in the nation. Although the attention and accolades for Michigan is certainly deserved, in-state rival Michigan State should not be overlooked. After last Saturday’s crazy, last-second victory over the Wolverines, the Spartans are back in the driver’s seat as Ohio State’s top challenger in the East Division.

 

While the preseason favorites have matched expectations in the East, the West is led by Iowa – picked by most to finish third or fourth in this division. Wisconsin is the Hawkeyes’ top challenger, but new coach Paul Chryst needs some help to get to Indianapolis after Iowa defeated the Badgers in Week 5.

 

Here are some award winners, plus second-half predictions from the Big Ten in 2015: 

 

Big Ten Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

 

Offensive Player of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

Elliott closed out 2014 by rushing for at least 200 yards in each of Ohio State’s final three games. The junior has picked up where he left off in the Buckeyes’ championship run, recording 988 yards and 11 rushing scores through the first seven games. Elliott has rushed for at least 100 yards in every contest this season and has three games of at least two rushing scores. He is also tied for fifth nationally with four rushing plays of 40 yards or more.

 

Related:

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State

Nassib – a former walk-on – has emerged as one of the nation’s top defenders. In seven appearances this year, Nassib has recorded 35 tackles (15.5 for a loss), one interception and five forced fumbles. Additionally, Nassib’s 11.5 sacks are the most by any player at the FBS level after seven weeks.

 

Coach of the Year: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

Ferentz entered 2015 on the hot seat and had plenty of doubters on whether he could elevate Iowa’s program out of its recent 8-5/7-6 win totals. Fast forward to October and Ferentz is a coach of the year candidate. The Hawkeyes are 7-0 and 3-0 in the Big Ten after seven weeks and the frontrunner to represent the West Division in the conference championship game in early December. With two more wins, Iowa will clinch its best season since 2009 (11-2).

 

Related:

 

Freshman of the Year: Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan

A strong argument could be made for Penn State running back Saquon Barkley or Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Edwards here, but let’s go with Peppers for the Big Ten’s top freshman at the midway point of the season. Peppers helps anchor one of the nation’s top defensive backfields, recording 23 tackles (4.5 for a loss) and five pass breakups through the first seven games of 2015. The Wolverines’ secondary has allowed only three passing scores this season. Peppers has also played a limited role on offense, catching two passes for 35 yards versus Michigan State and averages 10.3 yards per punt return. 

 

Newcomer of the Year: Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana

Howard was a huge pickup prior to spring practice after UAB disbanded its football team after the 2014 season. Filling Tevin Coleman’s shoes was no easy assignment, but Howard recorded 709 yards and four touchdowns in his first five games of 2015. An ankle injury has sidelined the junior the last two games, but he should record over 1,000 yards as Indiana makes a push for a bowl.

 

Related:

 

Biggest Surprise: Iowa

The Hawkeyes were picked by most to finish third or fourth in the Big Ten’s West Division, but coach Kirk Ferentz’s team enters its bye week at 7-0 and ranked No. 12 in the latest Associated Press poll. Iowa missed on playing one of the top four teams from the East Division in crossover play, but this team has solid road wins over Wisconsin and Northwestern and claimed a three-point victory over Pittsburgh in mid-September. The driving force behind the improvement this season? The emergence of quarterback C.J. Beathard helped to provide more big-play ability to the offense, while the offensive and defensive lines are among the best in the Big Ten.

 

Team That’s Due for Better Luck: Nebraska

Before we take a look at the second half of the season, Nebraska’s 3-4 record in the first seven weeks is worth a look under the spotlight. Simply, the Cornhuskers are due for better luck. All four of Nebraska’s losses came by five points or less, including a last-second Hail Mary defeat against BYU. New coach Mike Riley has plenty of work to do in order to get Nebraska back in contention for the Big Ten West Division title. However, a manageable second-half slate should ensure this team goes bowling in 2015.

 

Five Things to Watch in the Second Half

 

1. Ohio State’s Quest to Repeat

Repeating as a national champion isn’t easy. Ohio State has experienced its share of ups and downs so far in 2015, but this team is still loaded with talent and on the verge of putting all of the pieces together. The Buckeyes will be heavy favorites in their next three games – at Rutgers, Minnesota and at Illinois – before a huge two-game stretch against Michigan State and then a road trip to Michigan.

 

2. Ohio State’s Quarterback Situation

The calls for J.T. Barrett to start over Cardale Jones are getting louder. Will the Buckeyes continue to go with a two-quarterback system? Or is Barrett poised to take the job?

 

3. Iowa’s Quest for 12-0

Iowa entered the year with low expectations after a 7-6 record. However, the Hawkeyes are just one of 10 teams from the Power 5 conferences with an unbeaten mark and should be 11-0 headed into the Nov. 27 showdown against Nebraska. Even if Iowa doesn’t finish with an unbeaten regular season, this has been quite the turnaround for coach Kirk Ferentz.

 

4. Michigan and Nebraska

It’s going to take Michigan a few days to get over the heartbreak from Saturday’s loss against Michigan State, but Jim Harbaugh’s first season in Ann Arbor is still a huge success. And here’s the intriguing part: Michigan could play spoiler and end Ohio State’s unbeaten season on Nov. 28. For Nebraska, new coach Mike Riley has also experienced plenty of heartbreak and bad luck in his first year, but the Cornhuskers could rally with a solid finish in the second half. With the return of dynamic receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El from injury, along with three home games (and winnable road trips to Purdue and Rutgers), Nebraska’s final five games provide an opportunity for Riley to close out his debut with momentum.

 

5. Coaching Searches

The Big Ten already has two open head coaching jobs – Illinois and Maryland – and there could be more openings at the end of the season. How quickly will teams fill their vacancy?

 

Top Five Games in the Second Half

 

1. Michigan State at Ohio State (Nov. 21)

This matchup was pegged as Ohio State’s toughest game in the preseason and nothing has changed that line of thinking. After the Spartans’ last-second win over Michigan last Saturday, this game should decide which team represents the East Division in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title.

 

2. Ohio State at Michigan (Nov. 28)

One of college football’s best rivalries is only going to increase in intensity with the arrival of Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. Can the Wolverines spoil Ohio State’s unbeaten season?

 

3. Michigan at Penn State (Nov. 21)

Points should be at a premium when two of the Big Ten’s top defenses square off in Happy Valley.

 

4. Iowa at Nebraska (Nov. 27)

This Black Friday showdown in Lincoln is the toughest remaining obstacle in Iowa's hopes for a 12-0 record.

 

5. Michigan State at Nebraska (Nov. 7)

The Cornhuskers made a late rally in East Lansing last season and lost by only five (27-22). Can Nebraska find a way to pull off the upset?

 

Bonus: Penn State at Michigan State (Nov. 28)

If – and this is a huge if – Michigan State beats Ohio State on Nov. 21, the Spartans will have to avoid a letdown against Penn State. 

 

Predicting the Final 2015 Big Ten Standings
 

Steven

Lassan

David

Fox

Mark

Ross

Braden

Gall

East
    
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
     
West
    
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Big Ten Championship
 

over

over

over

over

 

Teaser:
Big Ten Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review 2015
Post date: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/acc-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review-2015
Body:

The was considered by some to be the weakest of the Power 5 leagues in 2015, but at the halfway point of the 2015 college football season, this conference features two playoff contenders – Florida State and Clemson – as well as an entertaining race once again in the Coastal Division. The Seminoles and Tigers are 6-0 headed into Week 8, and both teams are improving with each snap and more development from the young players on both sides of the ball.

 

The Coastal Division has experienced its share of crazy finishes over the last few seasons. And after seven weeks, Pittsburgh, Duke and North Carolina are the three unbeaten teams in conference play – not Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech. Just like everyone predicted, right?

 

Here are some award winners, plus second-half predictions from the ACC in 2015: 

 

ACC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

 

Offensive Player of the Year: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Cook’s play has made life after Jameis Winston a little easier for coach Jimbo Fisher. The sophomore ranks second nationally with 159.2 rushing yards per game, averages 8.7 yards per carry and has two 200-yard efforts this season. Despite suffering a hamstring injury against Wake Forest, Cook has rushed for 385 yards in his last two games.

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Jeremy Cash, S, Duke

Cash is a big reason why Duke leads the ACC in scoring defense through Week 7. The senior has accumulated 47 stops, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, two pass breakups and three forced fumbles in 2015.

 

Coach of the Year: Dabo Swinney, Clemson

The ACC has a couple of worthy candidates here, but a tip of the cap goes to Swinney. Clemson had to replace one of the nation’s top offensive assistants (Chad Morris) prior to 2015, but the offense hasn’t missed a beat (35.2), and the defense has quickly reloaded despite returning only two starters. Through seven weeks, Swinney has the Tigers at 6-0 and poised to challenge for a playoff spot.

 

Related:

 

Freshman of the Year: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

A strong argument could be made for Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead or Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson here, but Hyatt has started all six games at left tackle for a Clemson offense averaging 35.2 points per game.

 

Newcomer of the Year: Everett Golson, QB, Florida State

With each snap, Golson is getting more comfortable in Florida State’s offense, and the Notre Dame transfer has yet to throw an interception on 177 attempts in 2015. Golson has connected on 119 of 177 passes for 1,449 yards and 11 scores and is completing nearly 70 percent (69.6) of his passes after halftime.

 

Biggest Disappointment: Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets won the Coastal Division last year and were picked by some to repeat and contend for the ACC title. However, Georgia Tech is off to a 2-5 start and is 0-4 in conference play. The culprits for the slow start? Injuries and transition to the skill players took a toll, the offense has lost 10 turnovers, and the defense is giving up 27.4 points a game. Once thought to be a lock for a bowl game, Georgia Tech may need an upset over Florida State or Georgia just to get to 6-6 this year.

 

Biggest Surprise: Coastal Trio of North Carolina, Duke and Pittsburgh

Take a look at the Coastal standings after Week 7. The usual contenders – Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech – are at the bottom, while Pittsburgh, Duke and North Carolina have combined for a 10-0 start in conference play. While there’s a lot to be settled, the Coastal Division could have a first-time representative in the ACC Championship. These three teams are the surprise of the ACC through seven weeks.

 

Three Things to Watch in the Second Half

 

1. Florida State or Clemson?

Everything suggests Florida State and Clemson are on a collision course for a huge showdown in Death Valley on Nov. 7. Assuming both teams are still unbeaten by then, the Nov. 7 showdown will have national title, playoff and ACC Championship implications. Clemson ranks as the better team so far in most polls, but Florida State has not lost an ACC game since Oct. 6, 2012.

 

2. Which Team Steps Up in the Coastal Division?

As we mentioned above, the favorites to contend in the offseason are at the bottom of the Coastal Division, while Duke, North Carolina and Pittsburgh are the frontrunners to play in the conference title game. It’s unlikely any of the Coastal teams make it through the rest of the way without a loss, so a 6-2 record in conference play could win the division. Which team steps up in the Coastal in the second half? Or will the ACC have to examine the tiebreakers for a three-way tie at the end of the year?

 

3. Coaches on the Hot Seat

Will the ACC have an active coaching carousel this offseason? The next six weeks are critical for a handful of coaches, namely Virginia’s Mike London, Miami’s Al Golden and Syracuse’s Scott Shafer.

 

Top Five Games in the Second Half

 

1. Florida State at Clemson (Nov. 7)

The ACC’s best teams square off in Death Valley, with the winner staying alive for a spot in college football’s four-team playoff.

 

2. Florida State at Florida (Nov. 28)

If Florida State gets by Clemson, the Seminoles should be 11-0 headed into Gainesville for a matchup against their in-state rival.

 

Related:

 

3. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (Nov. 7)

Could the Panthers spoil Notre Dame’s playoff hopes with a win on Nov. 7? A must-see matchup between Pat Narduzzi’s defense against Brian Kelly’s offense.

 

4. Clemson at Miami (Oct. 24)

The ACC’s top quarterbacks – Deshaun Watson (Clemson) and Brad Kaaya (Miami) square off in a key game for both teams. This is only Clemson’s second road trip of the year, and Miami needs a win to move coach Al Golden off the hot seat.

 

5. Pittsburgh at Duke (Nov. 14), Duke at North Carolina (Nov. 7)

We could mention a few Coastal matchups here, but let’s group two in the No. 5 slot. A week after a road trip to North Carolina, Duke has a home date against Pittsburgh on Nov. 14. It’s a safe bet there’s clarity in the Coastal after these two games. 

 

Predicting the Final 2015 ACC Standings
 Steven
Lassan

David

Fox

Mark

Ross

Braden

Gall

Atlantic    
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
     
Coastal    
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
ACC Championship
 

over

over

over

over

 

Teaser:
ACC Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review 2015
Post date: Monday, October 19, 2015 - 17:15
Path: /college-football/sec-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review-2015
Body:

With seven weeks completed, the midpoint of the 2015 season has officially arrived. And at the halfway point of the season, it’s time to take a look back at what’s transpired in the SEC so far and look ahead to the second half of 2015.

 

LSU running back Leonard Fournette is the biggest storyline in the from the first seven weeks, as the sophomore is the frontrunner to win the Heisman and has guided the Tigers to a 6-0 start. Alabama stumbled against Ole Miss, but the Crimson Tide have rebounded with wins over Georgia and Texas A&M, setting up a huge showdown against LSU for the SEC West title on Nov. 7.

 

There’s still plenty to be decided in the SEC East as well. Florida and Georgia are the frontrunners, while Kentucky and Tennessee have two conference losses headed into Week 8.

 

Here are some award winners, plus second-half predictions from the SEC in 2015: 

 

SEC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

 

Offensive Player of the Year: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Fournette is the driving force behind LSU’s 6-0 start and playoff hopes this season. The sophomore has rushed for 1,202 yards and 14 touchdowns and has surpassed at least 150 yards in every game in 2015. Fournette recorded three straight games of at least 200 yards this season and ranks first nationally with an average of 200.3 rushing yards per game. The sophomore is also the frontrunner to win the Heisman.

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Garrett has been unstoppable off the edge for new coordinator John Chavis, recording 30 tackles (11.5 for a loss) and 8.5 sacks through six games. The sophomore also has three forced fumbles and two pass breakups. With Garrett and Daeshon Hall coming off the edge, Texas A&M ranks third in the SEC with 20 sacks so far this year.

 

Coach of the Year: Jim McElwain, Florida

McElwain has pushed all of the right buttons in his first season in Gainesville. The Gators are off to a 6-1 start and emerged as the frontrunner to represent the East Division in Atlanta. Despite breaking in a new quarterback (Will Grier and now Treon Harris) and overcoming preseason question on the offensive line, Florida’s offense is averaging 31.6 points per game. The Gators fell short on the road against LSU (35-28) for their first loss of the year, but McElwain’s team picked up a win over Tennessee and a 38-10 rout over Ole Miss. 

 

Freshman of the Year: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for Texas A&M in recent seasons, and this offense only got better with the addition of Kirk. The talented true freshman leads the team with 39 catches for 609 yards and four scores. He also averages 25.1 yards per punt return (with two touchdowns). Kirk leads all SEC receivers by averaging 101.5 receiving yards per game.

 

Related:

 

Newcomer of the Year: Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss

Kelly started fast in his first season at Ole Miss, tossing nine touchdowns and recording back-to-back 300-yard games through the first three contests of 2015. Despite two losses over the Rebels’ last three matchups, Kelly continues to put up big numbers, as he threw for 372 yards in a loss to Memphis and completed 26 of 40 passes for 259 yards in the 38-10 defeat at Florida. Through seven games, Kelly is completing 65.5 percent of his passes and leads SEC quarterbacks by averaging 9.5 yards per attempt.

 

Biggest Disappointment: Auburn

Auburn started the year as a playoff contender, but the Tigers are 4-2 and nearly lost to FCS opponent Jacksonville State. Both sides of the ball have been problematic for coach Gus Malzahn. The offense is averaging only 5.3 yards per play and has only nine plays of 30 yards or more. New coordinator Will Muschamp was supposed to fix a defense that surrendered 32.8 points per game in SEC contests last season. However, Auburn isn’t much better in 2015, as this defense is giving up 29.7 points in league games and 5.8 yards per play.

 

Biggest Surprise: Florida

Plenty of question marks surrounded Florida in the preseason. Whether it was quarterback play, coaching transition or the performance of the offensive line, new coach Jim McElwain had his hands full. However, the Gators have emerged as the team to beat in the East and are 6-1 at the midpoint of the season. With quarterback Will Grier suspended for the rest of the year, Treon Harris is back in the starting role and completed 17 of 32 throws for 271 yards against one of the SEC’s top defenses. The offensive line isn’t perfect, but the Gators are still finding ways to show improvement on offense. McElwain may have to lean even more on his defense over the second half of 2015, but this unit is allowing only 17.3 points per game.

 

Four Things to Watch in the Second Half

 

1. Battle to Win East and West Divisions

A lot can change over the next few weeks, but Georgia and Florida are the favorites in the East, with Alabama and LSU at the top in the West. How will these divisions play out over the second half of the season? Can the Crimson Tide win out and play their way back into playoff contention? Or will LSU run the table? If Florida wins out, the Gators will be in the discussion for a playoff bid as well.

 

2. Leonard Fournette’s Heisman Chase

LSU running back Leonard Fournette is a heavy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at the midpoint of the 2015 season. Fournette still has a few obstacles in his path, as the Tigers have a huge showdown ahead against Alabama and remaining games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Even if LSU stumbles against the Crimson Tide, can Fournette put up enough numbers to stay ahead of the pack?

 

3. Quarterback Play

Quarterback was considered a weak position for the SEC this preseason. So far, it’s hard to say quarterback play is a strength. However, the second half will be a proving ground for a couple of names. LSU’s Brandon Harris has showed promise, Florida has to go with Treon Harris after Will Grier’s suspension, while Greyson Lambert (Georgia) and Jake Coker (Alabama) are entrenched as the starter. These four quarterbacks will have a chance to answer some of the doubters in the next six weeks. 

 

4. South Carolina's Coaching Search

Will South Carolina be the only SEC team with a head coaching vacancy this offseason? Shawn Elliott won his debut last Saturday as the interim coach, but the road will get tougher for the Gamecocks with matchups against Texas A&M, Tennessee and Clemson the rest of the way. How quickly will South Carolina move to fill this job at the end of the year?

 

Related:

 

Top Five Games in the Second Half

 

1. LSU at Alabama (Nov. 7)

Huge showdown in Tuscaloosa should decide winner of the SEC West. Leonard Fournette versus Alabama’s defense is a must-see matchup.

 

2. Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville – Oct. 31)

Florida’s upset over Georgia last season knocked the Bulldogs out of the top spot in the East Division. Can Georgia return the favor in 2015? Winner of this game should claim East Division title.

 

3. LSU at Ole Miss ((Nov. 21)

If LSU wins in Tuscaloosa, it still has to navigate a trip to Oxford and a home date against Texas A&M the following Saturday. The Tigers lost their last road date at Ole Miss (27-24) in 2013. Could the Rebels play spoiler?

 

4. Texas A&M at LSU (Nov. 28)

LSU has Texas A&M’s number since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012. Could that change in 2015? There’s also the intriguing storyline of Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis against his former team in this matchup.

 

5. Ole Miss at Mississippi State (Nov. 28)

Pencil in any of the rivalry matchups on the Nov. 28 Saturday here. The Ole Miss-Mississippi State showdown may not mean anything in terms of the SEC West title picture, but the Egg Bowl shouldn’t disappoint.

 

Predicting the Final 2015 SEC Standings
 

Steven

Lassan

David

Fox

Mark

Ross

Braden

Gall

East
    
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
     
West
    
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
SEC Championship
 
 

over

over

over

over

 

Teaser:
SEC Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review 2015
Post date: Monday, October 19, 2015 - 15:30
Path: /college-football/arkansas-state-red-wolves-vs-ul-lafayette-ragin-cajuns-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

’s midweek slate continues on Tuesday night, as Arkansas State and UL Lafayette look to remain unbeaten in conference play in this critical league matchup. The Sun Belt has experienced plenty of changes during the recent realignment period in college football, but the top of the league has remained the same. The Ragin’ Cajuns and the Red Wolves have emerged as two of the Sun Belt’s top programs over the last four seasons, and the winner of Tuesday night’s matchup will take a step forward in the competition with Georgia Southern and Appalachian State as the league’s 2015 favorite.

 

improved to 2-0 in league play last week with a 49-31 victory over South Alabama. The Red Wolves have won three out of their last four games and are poised for a run at the league title with a healthy Fredi Knighten back at quarterback. gave Kentucky all it could handle in its season opener but proceeded to lose two out of its next three games. The Ragin’ Cajuns rebounded with a 49-27 victory over Texas State on Oct. 10 in their Sun Belt opener.

 

UL Lafayette holds a 23-19-1 edge over Arkansas State in the all-time series history. The Ragin’ Cajuns have won two in a row over the Red Wolves and five out of the last seven between these two teams.

 

UL Lafayette at Arkansas State

 

Kickoff: Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Arkansas State -6.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The Quarterbacks

After missing three games due to a groin injury, Arkansas State quarterback Fredi Knighten returned to the starting lineup last Tuesday. Knighten was steady in the win over the Jaguars, completing 10 of 17 passes for 119 yards and two scores and adding 40 rushing yards. After a week to knock some of the rust off, Knighten should be sharper in Tuesday night’s game against the Ragin’ Cajuns. UL Lafayette is fourth in the Sun Belt in pass efficiency defense, but the secondary will be tested by Knighten and a solid group of receivers, headlined by J.D. McKissic (29 catches). While Knighten is one of the league’s top quarterbacks, the Ragin’ Cajuns are looking for stability and production under center. Brooks Haack started the first three games, but Jalen Nixon has started the last two contests. Nixon has showed promise in his first two starts, including 238 yards and three touchdowns against Texas State. The Red Wolves lead the Sun Belt in pass efficiency defense. Can Nixon take care of the ball, make plays with his legs and pickup where he left off against Texas State?

 

2. Stopping the Run

The focal point of UL Lafayette’s offense is running back Elijah McGuire, and the Arkansas State defense will have its hands full in trying to slow down the talented junior. In two career games against the Red Wolves, McGuire has rushed for 375 yards and averaged 12.9 yards per carry. Arkansas State’s defense ranks third in the Sun Belt against the run this year, limiting opponents to 4.2 yards per play and 145.7 yards per game. UL Lafayette’s offensive line suffered a setback in early October, as standout lineman Mykhael Quave was lost for the year with a shoulder injury. Even with Quave out and some shuffling of the starting five, McGuire is going to be a tough matchup for Blake Anderson's defense. Arkansas State’s rushing attack will present its own share of problems for the Ragin’ Cajuns. The Red Wolves have rushed for at least 333 yards in two out of its last four games and posted 226 against South Alabama last Tuesday. Michael Gordon and Warren Wand suffered minor injuries in last week’s game, but both are expected to play against the Ragin’ Cajuns. Gordon leads the team with 490 yards, while Wand (293) is second. Knighten’s mobility is also a huge asset for the Arkansas State offense. Which team will establish the ground attack and take the pressure off its signal-caller on Tuesday night?

 

3. Turnovers

Turnovers played a huge role in the outcome of last Tuesday’s game. Arkansas State forced five South Alabama turnovers, finishing with a plus-four margin in the 49-31 victory. Additionally, the Red Wolves scored two defensive touchdowns on turnovers in the fourth quarter, which helped propel Anderson’s team to the victory after trailing 31-20 at the start of the final 15 minutes. Could a similar scenario play out on Tuesday night once again? UL Lafayette is minus-seven in turnover margin through five games. The Ragin’ Cajuns have forced just four turnovers this season but lost zero in their last outing (Texas State). Arkansas State is minus-one in turnover margin after last week’s effort and are tied for first in the Sun Belt with 15 forced takeaways. With both teams possessing enough firepower to make this a high-scoring game, a turnover or two in the second half could be the difference.

 

Final Analysis

 

As most anticipated in the preseason, the Sun Belt’s top four teams are clear: Arkansas State, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and UL Lafayette. After seven weeks, those four teams are the only remaining unbeaten teams in conference play within the Sun Belt. After Tuesday night, the list of unbeaten teams will be cut by one. The Ragin’ Cajuns have won the last two meetings, but the edge on Tuesday night goes to the Red Wolves. Knighten knocked the rust off in last week’s game against South Alabama and should test a UL Lafayette defense giving up six yards per play. The Ragin’ Cajuns should be able to get McGuire on track, but Nixon has to make plays on the road in his third career start. The edge at home goes to Knighten and Arkansas State with a late fourth-quarter drive to seal the victory.

 

Prediction: Arkansas State 34, UL Lafayette 31
Teaser:
Arkansas State Red Wolves vs. UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, October 19, 2015 - 14:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-7-awards
Body:

Week 7 of the  season is in the books. The weekend slate provided plenty of highlights, big plays, standout performances and surprises. Saturday’s outstanding slate of games started with Baylor’s 62-38 win over West Virginia, Memphis’ upset over Ole Miss and continued into the afternoon with huge showdowns between Alabama-Texas A&M and Michigan-Michigan State. Saturday night’s action featured LSU’s 35-28 victory over Florida, Ohio State’s 38-10 win against Penn State and Utah’s 34-18 victory over Arizona State.

 

With another weekend of action in the books, it’s time to hand out the hardware to honor the best of the best from Week 7. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, freshman and unsung hero from Week 7:

 

College Football Week 7 Awards
 

Offensive Player of the Week: Seth Russell, QB, Baylor

There were several standout performances in Week 7, including Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey. However, Russell earns our vote as the top offensive player. In a 62-38 win over West Virginia, Russell torched the Mountaineers’ secondary for 380 passing yards and five scores. The junior also led the offense with 160 rushing yards and added a 16-yard rushing score on the ground in the first quarter.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Alabama’s secondary was the biggest question mark entering 2015, but this unit is emerging as a strength. The Crimson Tide’s pass defense limited Texas A&M to 284 yards on Saturday, with Fitzpatrick playing a key role in keeping the high-powered offense in check. The freshman recorded two tackles and returned two interceptions for scores. In seven games this season, Fitzpatrick has recorded 24 tackles (three for a loss), two sacks and six pass breakups.

 

Freshman of the Week: Ryan Willis, QB, Kansas

Minkah Fitzpatrick was the top freshman in Week 7, but with the Crimson Tide corner checking in as our defensive player of the week, let’s spread the wealth and give Willis a tip of the cap for his performance against Texas Tech. The true freshman completed 35 of 50 passes for 330 yards and two scores and nearly guided the Jayhawks to a huge upset over the Red Raiders.

 

Coordinator of the Week: Kevin Clune, Defensive Coordinator, Utah State

Utah State jumped into the driver’s seat for the Mountain West title with a huge victory over Boise State on Friday night. The Aggies’ defense led the way in the upset win against the Broncos, forcing eight turnovers and limiting Boise State to 4.16 yards per play. The 4.16 yards per play mark was the lowest of the season for Boise State. Additionally, Clune’s defense held the Broncos to just 5 of 16 on third-down conversions, 34 rushing yards and generated four sacks.

 

Unsung Hero of the Week: Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa

Despite losing starter Jordan Canzeri in the first half due to an ankle injury, Iowa’s rushing attack didn’t miss a beat against Northwestern’s solid defense. Wadley picked up where Canzeri left off, recording 204 yards and four scores on 26 carries. The 204 yards against the Wildcats were a career high for Wadley.

Teaser:
College Football Week 7 Awards
Post date: Sunday, October 18, 2015 - 13:54
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-7-2015
Body:

Numbers and statistics are a huge part of . Every Sunday, reading updated box scores and stats is like Christmas for fans and media members. Some stats like total offense and total defense are overrated, but each help paint a picture for a team or particular game.

 

Whether the stats are historic, advanced or just an observation from a box score, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

 

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 7

 

0:00: The First and Only Time Michigan State Led Against Michigan

Saturday’s Michigan-Michigan State game produced one of the craziest finishes by any game in college football history. After Michigan punter Blake O’Neill bobbled and fumbled the snap with less than 10 seconds to go, Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson returned the fumble for a 38-yard touchdown as time expired. The score by Watts-Jackson gave the Spartans their first lead of the day against the Wolverines – with no time left on the clock.

 

Related:

 

4: 20-Game Winning Streaks by Urban Meyer in Coaching Career

Ohio State’s 38-10 victory over Penn State on Saturday night improved the Buckeyes’ record to 7-0 this season and 45-3 overall under coach Urban Meyer. Additionally, Ohio State has not lost a Big Ten regular season game under Meyer and enters Week 8 on a 20-game winning streak. During Meyer’s career as a head coach, he’s recorded four streaks of at least 20 consecutive victories. If the Buckeyes win the national championship this season, Meyer would finish 2015 on a 28-game winning streak. Ohio State’s last loss was against Virginia Tech on Sept. 6, 2014.

 

3: Interceptions Returned by Alabama Against Texas A&M

Alabama’s secondary has taken its share of criticism over the last year, but this unit stepped up in Saturday’s 41-23 win over Texas A&M. In addition to limiting quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray to just 284 passing yards, the Crimson Tide returned three interceptions for scores. Freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick opened the scoring with a 33-yard return in the first quarter and later returned a 55-yard pick for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Safety Eddie Jackson also returned an interception 93 yards for a score in the second quarter.

 

Related:

 

2: Teams That Have Scored On Every Opening Drive in 2015

The state of Texas is home to some of college football’s best offenses this season. Four out of the five top scoring offenses are from the Lone Star State, with Baylor (63.8 points per game) leading the way nationally. In addition to the Bears’ lead in scoring average, coach Art Briles’ team and Houston are the only two programs to score on every opening drive this season.

 

12: Receiving TDs Needed by Baylor WR Corey Coleman to Set Single-Season Record

Baylor’s high-scoring offense has been unstoppable through the first six games of 2015. The Bears lead the nation by averaging 63.8 points per game and 8.94 yards per play. New quarterback Seth Russell has been nearly flawless this season, and the junior has developed a big-play rapport with receiver Corey Coleman. The junior caught three touchdowns in Saturday’s 62-38 win over West Virginia, which gives him 16 – a Baylor single-season record – in 2015. Former Louisiana Tech star Troy Edwards owns the NCAA single-season record at 27, and Coleman is on pace to shatter that record after catching 16 through the first six games.

 

Related:

 

0: Interceptions by Florida State QB Everett Golson in 2015

Golson struggled with turnovers during his 2014 campaign at Notre Dame, but the senior is taking better care of the ball through six games at Florida State. Golson has yet to toss an interception on 177 pass attempts and is also on pace to set a career high in completion percentage (67.2 in 2015). While it’s tough to ask Golson to keep a zero in the interception column all year, he’s doing exactly what coach Jimbo Fisher needs out of his quarterback right now and can only get better with more snaps in this offense.

 

8: Turnovers by Boise State in Friday’s Loss Against Utah State

Boise State’s hopes of reaching a New Year’s Six Bowl and winning the Mountain West took a huge hit on Friday night. The Broncos lost eight turnovers in a 52-26 loss against the Aggies. In coach Bryan Harsin’s 21-game tenure, Boise State has lost 38 overall turnovers. 22 of those lost turnovers took place in four games – Ole Miss, BYU, Air Force and Utah State. And this should come as no surprise, but all four of those games were losses.

 

1996: The Last Win by Memphis Over a Ranked Team Prior to Victory in Week 7

Memphis continued its rise under coach Justin Fuente, defeating Ole Miss 37-24 to improve to 6-0 and extending its winning streak to 13 games. The impressive victory over the Rebels gave Memphis its first win over a ranked team since 1996. While the Tigers entered Week 7 unranked, it’s safe to say that will change when the polls are released on Sunday. Keeping Fuente is going to be a challenge for Memphis, but this team is going to make plenty of noise the rest of the way and is the frontrunner to claim the top Group of 5 bowl spot in a New Year’s Six bowl.

 

6: Passing TDs by Washington State QB Luke Falk in First Half Against Oregon State

Washington State’s offense has been on fire since a 17-point showing in a surprising loss to Portland State in the opener. Quarterback Luke Falk is a big reason why the Cougars are 4-1 in their last five games, and the sophomore tied a school record with six touchdown passes in the 52-31 victory over Oregon State in Week 7. Falk did all of his damage in the first half, as his six touchdown tosses helped Washington State hold a 45-17 lead at the break. Falk is the only player in school history to pass for six scores in a half.

 

24: LSU’s Special Teams Touchdowns Under Les Miles

LSU coach Les Miles and his penchant for rolling the dice on special teams paid off in a big way on Saturday night against Florida. The Tigers scored the game-winning touchdown on a 16-yard fake field goal touchdown run by kicker Trent Domingue. According to LSU’s sports information department, the touchdown run by Domingue was LSU’s 24th special teams’ touchdown under coach Les Miles. 

Teaser:
10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 7 2015
Post date: Sunday, October 18, 2015 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/15-must-see-moments-college-football-week-7
Body:

Week 7 of the  season is officially in the books. And as usual, the weekend slate of games didn’t disappoint. Saturday’s action started with Memphis knocking off Ole Miss 37-24 and continued into the afternoon with Michigan State’s crazy last-second victory over Michigan and Alabama’s 41-23 win over Texas A&M. The Week 7 slate concluded with a solid round of games at night, including Florida-LSU, Utah-Arizona State and Notre Dame-USC. 

 

Miss anything from Week 7? Here’s 15 must-see plays, moments or post-game celebrations from the weekend of action:

 

15 Must-See Moments from College Football's Week 7 Games

 

1. Michigan State beats Michigan after scoring touchdown on final play of game:

Only adding to the crazy finish was Michigan State's Jalen Watts-Jackson suffered a season-ending injury on the touchdown return:

 

Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook perfectly summed up everyone's thoughts right after the play:

 

2. Stanford wide receiver Francis Owusu makes the catch of the year against UCLA:

How awesome was Owusu's catch? Stanford coach David Shaw's reaction sums it up:

 

 

3. Les Miles strikes again! Fake field goal helps propel LSU over Florida:

 

4. Utah receiver Kenneth Scott makes an awesome one-handed catch against Arizona State:

 

5.Texas Tech offensive lineman Le'Raven Clark scores on a two-point play against Kansas:

 

6. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin enjoyed this big hit during Saturday's win over Iowa State:

 

7. Alabama coach Nick Saban wants to call a timeout...Lane Kiffin says no:

 

8. Texas A&M defensive tackle Daylon Mack destroys the entire Alabama backfield:

 

9. Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway makes a one-handed catch against LSU:

 

10. Western Michigan receiver Daniel Braverman makes an outstanding catch against Ohio:

 

11. Utah has a costly mistake in the end zone for a safety:

 

12. Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey hurdles a defender:

 

13. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley hurdles an Ohio State defender:

 

14. Tom Cruise was casually hanging out at LSU's game on Saturday night:

 

15. Ohio State receiver Braxton Miller's last name was misspelled on his jersey against Penn State:

 

A Few Additional Must-See Moments from Week 7

Teaser:
Must-See Moments from Week 7
Post date: Sunday, October 18, 2015 - 08:15
Path: /college-football/michigan-state-shocks-michigan-incredible-touchdown-last-play
Body:

The ending of Saturday’s Michigan-Michigan State game probably won’t be topped this season.

 

The Wolverines were all set to celebrate a huge rivalry victory over the Spartans. With just 10 seconds left on the clock, Michigan was set for a routine play: A punt. However, what was supposed to be a routine play turned into disaster.

 

Michigan’s punter mishandled the snap, and in the process of trying to pick up the ball and kick again, the ball was fumbled and ended up in the hands of Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson. And Watts-Jackson etched a place in this rivalry’s history by returning the fumble for a touchdown, giving the Spartans a 27-23 victory. Crazy.

 

Here’s the crazy play that transpired in Ann Arbor as the clock expired:

Teaser:
Michigan State Shocks Michigan With Incredible Last Play
Post date: Saturday, October 17, 2015 - 19:34
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-texas-am-aggies-preview-and-prediction-2015
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As the midway point of the 2015 season approaches, conference title races and playoff positioning takes center stage, and Saturday’s massive showdown between and will help provide clarity and insight into how the rugged SEC West will play out over the next seven weeks.

 

Alabama lost earlier this season to Ole Miss, and coach Nick Saban’s team cannot afford another defeat. While the Crimson Tide still has another huge showdown against LSU in November, a loss to Texas A&M likely ends any hope of making the playoffs. It’s a different theme in College Station, as coach Kevin Sumlin has Texas A&M on the rise after a 5-0 start. The Aggies scored a key non-conference win against Arizona State in the season opener and continued the momentum to easy wins over Ball State and Nevada, followed by conference victories against Arkansas and Mississippi State.

 

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While Texas A&M has three quality wins (Arkansas, Mississippi State and Arizona State), Alabama is the best team it has faced so far in 2015. A win over the Crimson Tide would setup Sumlin’s team for an opportunity to win the SEC West. Remaining road trips to Ole Miss and LSU will be a challenge, but Texas A&M should be favored – and likely by double-digits – in its other remaining contests.

 

In addition to earning a statement win, revenge is also on the mind for Texas A&M after last year’s 59-0 loss in Tuscaloosa.

 

Alabama owns a 5-2 series edge over Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide is 2-1 over the Aggies since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012.

 

Alabama at Texas A&M

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Alabama -4

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Myles Garrett vs. Alabama’s Offensive Line

Alabama’s offensive line returned two starters this preseason – center Ryan Kelly and left tackle Cam Robinson – and this unit has experienced its share of ups and downs so far this year. The Crimson Tide has allowed only seven sacks, but rushers are averaging only 4.6 yards per carry. This group needs its best performance of the season so far against an aggressive Texas A&M defensive front. The Aggies rank second in the SEC with 19 sacks and fifth in the conference with 42 tackles for a loss. Sophomore end Myles Garrett (7.5 sacks) is the headliner, with Daeshon Hall (five sacks) also a prominent force off the edge. Who will win the battle up front on Saturday afternoon?

 

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2. Alabama’s Secondary vs. Texas A&M’s Passing Attack

The biggest knock on Alabama’s defense in recent years has been its secondary. Going back to the 2013 season, the Crimson Tide struggled in the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma and surrendered 19 passing scores in 2014. Texas A&M passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a surprising 29-24 upset over Alabama in 2012 and gashed the Crimson Tide for 464 yards and five scores in a 49-42 loss in 2013. But in last year’s matchup, Alabama held the Aggies to 141 yards and zero touchdowns in a 59-0 rout. And so far this season, the Crimson Tide ranks 11th nationally in pass efficiency defense, with only one opponent (Ole Miss) eclipsing 230 yards through the air. After giving up 341 passing yards to the Rebels in mid-September, will Alabama’s secondary pass the test in Saturday’s game? Senior Cyrus Jones is the top cornerback for coordinator Kirby Smart, while freshmen Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey have major roles in this secondary. Texas A&M’s receiving corps is loaded with talent and is arguably one of the top groups in the nation. Junior Josh Reynolds and freshmen Christian Kirk are the top options for quarterback Kyle Allen, but the overall depth of this group will stretch the Alabama secondary. Can the Crimson Tide limit the big plays allowed through the air? The key to stopping the Aggies’ passing attack starts up front. Alabama’s defensive line has registered 16 sacks and can generate pressure with just its front three and by rushes from the edge by linebackers. If the Crimson Tide gets to Allen with its base package, that’s a good sign for Smart and Saban as they look to alleviate some of the pressure on the secondary and prevent big passing plays.

 

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3. Alabama QB Jake Coker and RB Derrick Henry

As mentioned above, Alabama’s offensive line has to win the battle up front against an aggressive (and incredibly talented) Texas A&M defensive line for its offense to click. Assuming the Crimson Tide’s line keeps Hall and Garrett in check, the focus then shifts to Coker and Henry. Alabama doesn’t need Coker to throw for 350 yards to win. However, the senior can’t afford mistakes, especially when you consider the Crimson Tide’s only loss (Ole Miss), he tossed three picks. Helping Coker’s cause is the development of receiver Calvin Ridley (31 catches), along with the steady play of running back Derrick Henry. The junior is one of the nation’s top backs and has 665 yards and 10 scores through the first six games. In SEC play, Henry is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 25.3 carries per game. While Texas A&M has the edge in talent coming off the edge, this defense has been vulnerable against the run. The Aggies are 12th in the SEC in rush defense, surrendering 182.6 yards per game. The gameplan for Alabama is simple: Get Henry on track, keep the Aggies’ offense on the sidelines and allow Coker to hit some easy throws to keep the chains moving.

 

Final Analysis

 

This game is just one of a handful of huge SEC contests over the next eight weeks. A loss to Texas A&M doesn’t necessarily knock Alabama out of the playoff picture. However, two losses would be incredibly difficult to overcome. With that in mind, the Crimson Tide have their backs against the wall. The Aggies are a team on the rise and are a contender for the SEC title. Quarterback Kyle Allen leads an explosive offense, but the real story for this program is the development of the defense behind coordinator John Chavis. This game is likely to come down to two aspects: Which team wins the battle in the trenches and which one dictates the style of play? Texas A&M wants to play up-tempo and get Alabama out of its element. The Crimson Tide would prefer to slow the game down and let Henry control the clock with 25-30 carries. Alabama wins the battle up front on offense to establish the run and grinds out a 31-27 victory to stay in the thick of the playoff chase and SEC West title picture.

 

Prediction: Alabama 31, Texas A&M 27
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Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Texas A&M Aggies Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, October 16, 2015 - 09:10
Path: /college-football/michigan-state-spartans-vs-michigan-wolverines-preview-and-prediction-2015
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There’s always plenty at stake when and renew their annual rivalry, but the stakes are even higher for 2015. The Spartans and Wolverines are both playoff contenders, and the winner of this game can push Ohio State for the top spot in the Big Ten.

 

Michigan has experienced a quick turnaround under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh. While Harbaugh’s background is on offense, the Wolverines have developed one of the nation’s top defenses. Michigan has not allowed a point in three weeks and is limiting opponents to 6.3 points per game. Michigan State grabbed the early headlines with a win over Oregon (ranked No. 7 at the time), but the Spartans are flying a little under the radar. The Ducks are struggling just to get bowl eligible, and Michigan State wasn’t sharp against Purdue (24-21) and won by only seven at Rutgers.

 

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Is Michigan State’s sluggish performances just a matter of stepping up to the level of competition? Or are the Spartans a flawed team? While Michigan has shut out its last three opponents, Michigan State is a significantly tougher opponent than UNLV and BYU. This matchup should provide a better gauge of how far the Wolverines have developed in Harbaugh’s first season, while also providing insight into the Spartans after some less-than-stellar performances.

 

Michigan leads the all-time series 68-34-5. However, the Spartans have claimed six out of the last seven meetings. Michigan State has also claimed two out of the last three in Ann Arbor.

 

Michigan State at Michigan

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Michigan -7.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Connor Cook vs. Jake Rudock

Quarterback play is always under the microscope in any game, but it’s magnified in the bigger contests. Michigan State’s Connor Cook was regarded as one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks this preseason, while Michigan’s Jake Rudock was considered a question mark after transferring in from Iowa. After six weeks, it’s far to say those narratives held up from the preseason. Cook has largely played well this season, overcoming injuries to a few key players in his supporting cast, including left tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Josiah Price. Despite some uneven play at times, Cook has been among the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks, throwing for 1,344 yards and 12 scores. Rudock has not eclipsed more than 194 passing yards in each of his last five starts, but the senior has limited his mistakes (just one interception in the last three games) and is completing 62 percent of his passes. Can Michigan State’s defense force Rudock to make a few plays through the air to win this one? Or will Cook find the right connection with receiver Aaron Burbridge to crack a Michigan secondary that has allowed only two scores this year? Rudock hasn’t had to be a difference maker for the Wolverines so far. That may have to change on Saturday.

 

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2. Getting Defensive

Points could be at a premium on Saturday afternoon thanks to the strength of both defenses. Michigan ranks as the No. 1 defense in Football Outsiders’ S&P rankings after six weeks, as coordinator D.J. Durkin’s unit is limiting opponents to just 3.1 yards per play and 6.3 points per game. The Wolverines have not allowed a point over the last three contests and wreak plenty of havoc around the line of scrimmage with 48 tackles for a loss. Each level of the defense has been a strength for Durkin, but cornerback Jourdan Lewis has been a standout and is a big reason why Michigan’s pass defense is holding opposing quarterbacks to just 45.5 percent on completion percentage. Without Pat Narduzzi calling the plays and a standout secondary, Michigan State’s defense hasn’t been as dominant as this group was in 2014. However, the Spartans are giving up 5.6 yards per play and 21.3 points per game – both respectable totals.

 

Can either unit dominate the line of scrimmage from the opening snap and control the flow of the game? Michigan State’s defensive line has registered 21 sacks this year and will be a handful for Michigan’s improving offensive line. It wouldn’t be a surprise if either defense ends up forcing a key turnover or returns an interception or fumble for a touchdown. Also, red stops are critical. This game isn’t expected to be an offensive shootout, and when offenses get into scoring position, it’s a win if the defenses hold the points allowed to just three – and not seven. Trading seven for three is a win for both defenses in a tight game.

 

3. Michigan State’s Offensive Line

The play of Michigan State’s offensive line could be the biggest x-factor in the outcome of this game. The Spartans were projected to have one of the nation’s best groups in the nation this preseason, but injuries have hit this unit through the first six weeks. Left tackle Jack Conklin suffered a knee injury against Central Michigan and missed the last two games. Center Jack Allen is one of the best in the nation, but he’s questionable due to an ankle injury suffered last week against Rutgers. On a positive note for the Spartans, Kodi Kieler returned from a knee injury last week and should flip back to the right side if Conklin returns at left tackle. If the Spartans are back at full strength up front, it’s a huge boost against a Michigan defense allowing only 65.8 rushing yards per game. Michigan State is not expected to have Madre London, but there’s depth at running back with LJ Scott (5.9 yards per carry), Gerald Holmes and Delton Williams. Getting protection up front is critical for Cook to stretch the defense. However, the Spartans cannot afford to consistently have third-and-long situations without the threat of a rushing attack.  

 

Final Analysis

 

Michigan State has dominated this series in recent years, but this is Michigan’s chance to reverse the momentum and claim a huge conference win. While the Spartans are undefeated, this team has been underwhelming at times through the first six weeks. Is this the week Michigan State flips the switch and plays at a high level? Or is there too much hype on Michigan after three shutout victories? The Spartans have a clear edge at quarterback and should have an advantage on the offensive line. But the Wolverines have the momentum, and the defense is arguably the best in the nation. This one is a coin flip, but the edge here goes to the home team after a late defensive stop.

 

Prediction: Michigan 24, Michigan State 20
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Michigan State Spartans vs. Michigan Wolverines Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, October 16, 2015 - 09:00

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