Articles By Steven Lassan
The ACC lacked a marquee game for Week 12, but there was plenty of intrigue in the six-game slate.
Duke defeated Miami 48-30 to assume sole possession of first place in the Coastal Division. The Blue Devils still have to play Wake Forest and North Carolina, but coach David Cutcliffe’s team is in the driver’s seat to play Florida State in Charlotte in early December.
North Carolina moved one step closer to bowl eligibility with a 34-27 win at Pittsburgh, while Boston College earned the all-important sixth victory by knocking off NC State 38-21.
Florida State and Clemson handled their opponents with ease, and Maryland got bowl eligible with a 27-24 upset of Virginia Tech.
The ACC had plenty of highlights from individual players in Week 12, including Duke quarterback Brandon Connette and Clemson signal-caller Tajh Boyd, but here are Athlon’s picks for the award winners in the conference from Saturday’s action.
ACC Week 12 Awards and Recap
Offensive Player of the Week: Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
Boston College continued its impressive first season under new coach Steve Addazio, as the Eagles defeated NC State to 38-21 to improve to 6-4 overall. Williams has carried the offense this season, and the senior gashed the Wolfpack defense for 339 yards and two touchdowns. The 339 yards were an ACC single-game record. Williams has 634 yards in his last two games and has rushed for at least 166 in each of his last four contests. Even though Williams is considered a power back, he has at least one run of 56 yards or longer in each of his last four games. The senior has 1,810 yards in 2013, which is a Boston College single-season record. With three games left, Williams has a chance to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark.
Defensive Player of the Week: Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
The Tar Heels’ defense has struggled at times this season, but this unit has played better in recent weeks, and Martin delivered the ACC’s top defensive performance in the 34-27 win at Pittsburgh. The senior wrecked havoc on the Panthers’ young offensive line, recording eight tackles (three tackles for a loss), 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Martin recovered one fumble, picked up two quarterback hurries and broke up one pass. After 10 games, Martin has 10 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss and ranks second among Tar Heel defenders in tackles.
Team of the Week: Duke
After 12 weeks, Duke is stands alone atop the ACC Coastal standings. No, that’s not a misprint. Under coach David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils have made significant improvement over the last two seasons, and after a 48-30 victory over Miami, Duke is on the doorstep of its first ACC Championship appearance. The Blue Devils rallied from a 17-7 deficit after the first quarter to lead 21-20 at halftime. Miami led 30-28 late in the third quarter, but Duke owned the final quarter, scoring 17 unanswered points to close out the victory. With a struggling passing attack, the Blue Devils turned to their ground game. Four players recorded at least seven carries, including quarterback Brandon Connette (37 yards, four touchdowns), and Shaquille Powell, who scored on a 33-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. By beating Miami, Duke earned its 14 win in its last two years, which is more than the program recorded from 1999-2007.
Coordinator of the Week: Kurt Roper, Duke
Largely due to the play of their offense, the Blue Devils assumed control of the Coastal Division with a 48-30 win over Miami on Saturday. With Anthony Boone struggling in recent weeks, Roper and coach David Cutcliffe turned to a two-quarterback system and the ground attack to beat the Hurricanes. Boone completed 11 of 15 passes (with no interceptions), while backup Brandon Connette threw for 81 yards and one touchdown and added four touchdowns on 11 rushing attempts. The Blue Devils gashed Miami for 358 yards, with Josh Snead (15.3 ypc) leading the way. The 358 yards were the most under Cutcliffe, while the five rushing touchdowns were the most since 2010.
Freshman of the Week: Ryan Switzer, WR, UNC
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was solid once again in the blowout win over Syracuse, but North Carolina receiver Ryan Switzer edges Winston for the freshman of the week honor. The freshman didn’t make much of an impact on offense, catching just two passes for 21 yards. However, Switzer returned two punts for touchdowns, including one for 61 yards with less than five minutes remaining, which proved to be the game-winning score for North Carolina.
ACC Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
|Rank||Team||Record||This Week||Next Week|
|1||10-0, 8-0||W, Syracuse 59-3||Idaho|
|2||9-1, 7-1||W, Georgia Tech 55-31||Citadel|
|3||8-2, 4-2||W, Miami 48-30||at Wake Forest|
|4||7-3, 3-3||L, Duke 48-30||Virginia|
|5||7-4, 4-3||L, Maryland 27-24||Bye Week|
|6||6-4, 5-3||L, Clemson 55-31||Alabama A&M|
|7||5-5, 4-3||W, Pittsubrgh 34-27||Old Dominion|
|8||6-4, 3-3||W, NC State 38-21||at Maryland|
|9||5-5, 2-4||L, North Carolina 34-27||at Syracuse|
|10||5-5, 3-3||L, Florida State 59-3||Pittsburgh|
|11||6-4, 2-4||W, Virginia Tech 27-24||Boston College|
|12||4-6, 2-5||Bye Week||Duke|
|13||3-7, 0-7||L, Boston College 38-21||East Carolina|
|14||2-8, 0-6||Bye Week||at Miami|
Texas Tech receiver Eric Ward gave the Red Raiders a 21-7 lead over Baylor with this nifty one-handed grab on Saturday:
College football has produced its share of awesome catches in 2013, but UCF’s J.J. Worton might have made the grab of the year against Temple in Week 12.
Worton’s touchdown catch might have saved the Knights’ BCS bowl hopes, as this score allowed UCF to tie the game and eventually kick the game winning field goal on the next drive.
Oklahoma started slow but finished fast in Saturday’s 48-10 win over Iowa State.
The Sooners had a few highlights on the field, but the best play of the day might be a tackle by a state trooper. A fan ran onto the field and was completely blindsided by the state trooper.
Perfect form on the tackle, and most importantly, he avoided the dreaded 15-yard penalty and ejection for targeting.
Illinois’ lost its 20th straight Big Ten game, dropping a 60-35 matchup to Ohio State. As if the losing wasn’t enough, head coach Tim Beckman and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit had to be separated following an argument on the sidelines.
Of course, things like this happen all of the time during the season, but Beckman is on the hot seat, and this is another bad moment in his tenure.
ILLINI COACHES HAVING WORDS pic.twitter.com/UEU7gTH8hM— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) November 16, 2013
Washington quarterback Keith Price was forced to exit Friday’s loss to UCLA with a shoulder injury, and his status for next week’s game against Oregon State is uncertain.
Price’s x-ray was negative, but the senior will have a MRI performed to discover the extend of the injury.
Price left during the first half, but prior to his injury, the senior completed 10 of 18 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown.
In his absence, Cyler Miles completed 15 of 22 throws for 149 yards and two touchdowns. If Price cannot play, Miles would get the start next week.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was sharp in Thursday night’s win over Georgia Tech, completing 20 of 26 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns. Boyd also added 43 yards and one score on the ground.
However, Boyd was injured in the third quarter and did not return to the game.
The senior suffered a bruised sternum and collarbone but avoided a significant injury.
Boyd has some extra time to heal before Clemson’s Nov. 23 scrimmage against Citadel.
Even if Boyd isn’t 100 percent, next Saturday is his final home game and should see a handful of snaps before giving way to Chad Kelly and Cole Stoudt.
Clemson has two weeks to get Boyd healthy for the Nov. 30 showdown against South Carolina.
It’s been a long season for Tim Beckman and Illinois, but the Fighting Illini unveiled some sharp alternate helmets for Saturday’s game against Ohio State.
The helmets feature the outline of the state, with 10 stars representing 10 players who died in combat.
Here are the Illinois’ alternate helmets for Saturday’s game against Ohio State:
SMU plans to wear an alternate helmet for Saturday’s game against UConn, as the Mustangs will switch from a white to red scheme.
Here are the SMU helmets for Saturday’s game against the Huskies:
Here's a look at SMU's helmets for Sat pic.twitter.com/0UGV0yLeBj— Bill Nichols (@BillNicholsDMN) November 15, 2013
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry takes center stage on Saturday, as Georgia travels to Auburn in a pivotal SEC contest. The Bulldogs need to win to keep their SEC East title hopes alive, while the Tigers are riding a six-game winning streak and a victory over Georgia would keep their BCS bowl hopes intact.
The Bulldogs have been hit hard by injuries this year, but Mark Richt’s team received some reinforcements in recent weeks. Running back Todd Gurley played against Florida on Nov. 2, and receiver Michael Bennett also returned to the lineup against the Gators. Two more of quarterback Aaron Murray’s targets may also return against Auburn, as receiver Chris Conley and tight end Arthur Lynch are expected to be game-time decisions.
After a miserable 3-9 record last year, Auburn is still alive in the SEC West, largely due to the hire of Gus Malzahn. The Tigers need to beat Georgia on Saturday to setup a one-game showdown with Alabama for the division title.
The all-time series between Auburn and Georgia is tied at 54 with eight ties. The Bulldogs have won six out of the last seven in this series. The Tigers’ last victory against Georgia was in 2010. The last two matchups between these two teams have been a one-sided affair in favor of the Bulldogs (83-7).
Georgia at Auburn
Kickoff: 3:30 ET
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Auburn -3
Three Things to Watch
Auburn’s rushing offense vs. Georgia’s rush defense
Auburn’s rushing attack is averaging 278.5 yards per game and has recorded over 400 yards in two out of the last three contests. The Tigers barely used the forward pass in wins over Arkansas and Tennessee, combining for just 16 attempts in those two games. Can that continue on Saturday? Auburn likely needs more balance to beat Georgia, especially since the Bulldogs rank fourth in SEC-only games against the run, limiting opponents to 149.7 yards per contest. Georgia has allowed 15 touchdowns in six SEC games but is holding opponents to just 3.9 yards per carry. Running back Tre Mason leads the Tigers with 1,038 yards and 16 touchdowns. But the Auburn backfield isn’t a one-man show, with quarterback Nick Marshall (7.1 ypc), and running backs Cameron Artis-Payne (6.6 ypc) and Corey Grant (10.1 ypc) expected to get involved. Expect the Bulldogs to stack the box and force the Tigers out of their gameplan.
Aaron Murray’s supporting cast
A key element in Georgia’s losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt were the rash of injuries on offense. Over the last few weeks, the Bulldogs’ injury report has shortened, and quarterback Aaron Murray has a few more weapons at his disposal. Running back Todd Gurley is one of the best in the nation when healthy, and the sophomore has rushed for 175 yards on 30 attempts in his last two games. After a light workload against Appalachian State, Gurley should be closer to full strength. Gurley’s return is huge for an offense that is still shorthanded at receiver, but Michael Bennett is back, and receivers Chris Conley and tight end Arthur Lynch are likely to be gametime decisions. Assuming Conley and Lynch can play, the Bulldogs will have a solid group of options for Murray. However, if Conley and Lynch are limited in any way, Auburn’s defense can shade more of its attention in the secondary on Bennett.
Auburn QB Nick Marshall
In his first year as Auburn’s starting quarterback, Marshall hasn’t been spectacular, but he’s the perfect fit to run Gus Malzahn’s offense. Marshall is only averaging 139 passing yards in SEC games and has tossed five picks to six interceptions. However, the junior has been dynamic on the ground, averaging 7.2 yards per carry in conference play. Marshall only completed three passes against Tennessee, but he rushed for 214 yards and two touchdowns on 14 attempts. In Auburn’s only loss this year, Marshall threw 33 times and tossed two picks. The Tigers are clearly at their best on offense when the ground attack is able to lead the way. If Auburn falls behind, can Marshall pass the offense back into the game?
Key Player: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
It’s a small sample size, but Georgia is 4-0 this season when Gurley rushes for at least 73 yards this year. Even if Gurley may not be 100 percent, his presence is a huge boost for the Bulldogs. The sophomore helps provide balance, and caught a 73-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Aaron Murray against Florida. In six conference games, Auburn is allowing an average of 189.2 rushing yards per game. Gurley should be able to find space against the Tigers’ defense, and the Bulldogs should plan to give their sophomore back 25-30 carries.
Week 12 isn’t full of elite matchups, but Auburn-Georgia should be one of the best this Saturday. Both teams have a lot on the line, and with the firepower on the sidelines, a high-scoring affair should be expected. Auburn’s rushing offense has been on fire the last few weeks, but quarterback Nick Marshall will have to throw more for the Tigers to win on Saturday. This one is a tossup, with home-field advantage giving Auburn a slight edge.
Prediction: Auburn 34, Georgia 31
The Big Ten Legends Division title could be decided on Saturday, as Michigan State travels to Lincoln to play Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers have experienced an up and down 2013 season, starting with a 41-21 loss to UCLA. Nebraska rebounded with three consecutive victories but lost at Minnesota 34-23, which prompted more speculation about the future of coach Bo Pelini.
However, Pelini's team has rallied with back-to-back wins, including a 17-13 victory at Michigan last Saturday.
While Nebraska has been on a roller-coaster ride in 2013, Michigan State has flown under the radar for much of the season. The Spartans are 8-1, with the only defeat coming at Notre Dame.
Michigan State has dominated its last three opponents (Purdue, Illinois and Michigan) by a combined score of 85-9.
Nebraska and Michigan State have met seven times, with the Cornhuskers winning every matchup. These two teams have played only twice as Big Ten foes, with last year’s meeting decided by four points.
Michigan State at Nebraska
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 ET
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Michigan State -6.5
Three Things to Watch
Michigan State’s defensive line vs. Nebraska’s offensive line
Led by sophomore end Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State’s defensive line has been one of the best in the nation. The Spartans are holding opponents to just 227.4 yards per game in Big Ten contests and have allowed only six touchdowns in conference play. Each unit of the defense can be considered a strength, and the line is led by Calhoun and Marcus Rush at end, while Damon Knox and Micajah Reynolds help anchor the interior. Nebraska’s offensive line ranked as one of the best in the Big Ten this preseason, but the Cornhuskers lost guard Spencer Long early in the year due to injury. Mike Moudy has stepped into the lineup in place of Long, but there’s even more questions about the line in Week 12 due to injuries. Tackle Jeremiah Sirles is unlikely to play due to a sprained MCL, which means Zach Sterup is expected to start on the right side. Nebraska has allowed 10 of its 12 sacks in conference play, and Northwestern and Michigan held the Cornhuskers below four yards per carry. With Nebraska’s injuries and Michigan State’s pass rush (25 sacks in nine games), this is shaping up to be a mismatch in the trenches in favor of the Spartans.
Nebraska’s secondary vs. Michigan State QB Connor Cook
Michigan State seems to have found its quarterback in sophomore Connor Cook. After the Spartans failed to throw a touchdown pass in their first two games, Cook has tossed 13 over the last seven games. Although Cook has provided a spark for the passing attack, Nebraska will be the toughest secondary he has faced in 2013. The Cornhuskers have allowed just three passing touchdowns in Big Ten play, and opponents are completing just 48.5 percent of their passes. Senior cornerbacks Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste have combined to start 44 games in their careers, while safety Corey Cooper ranks second on the team with 60 tackles. Michigan State does not have a receiver over 30 catches, but three players have at least 24. The Spartans prefer to lean on their ground attack, so unless they get behind, Cook won’t throw 40 times on Saturday. This matchup favors the Cornhuskers, especially if end Randy Gregory continues to wreck havoc on opposing offensive lines. The junior has 7.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss this season, which figures to test a Michigan State offensive line that has allowed only four sacks in Big Ten play.
Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong Jr.
With Taylor Martinez sidelined indefinitely, Armstrong Jr. and Ron Kellogg III will get the nod at quarterback for Nebraska. Armstrong Jr. – a redshirt freshman – has yet to throw for over 200 yards in a game this season but was steady in the Cornhuskers’ 17-13 win over Michigan last week. Michigan State’s defense has intercepted 10 passes this season, which is a concern for the Nebraska coaching staff after Armstrong threw three against Northwestern. The Cornhuskers can’t rely on Armstrong to win this game on his arm, but the freshman’s mobility will be especially valuable when Michigan State’s pass rush collapses the pocket. Considering Nebraska’s defense has played well in its last two games, Armstrong has to limit his mistakes and keep his team in this game until the fourth quarter.
Key Player: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
With an inexperienced quarterback (Tommy Armstrong) starting against one of the Big Ten’s best defense, Nebraska’s offensive gameplan shouldn’t be too aggressive. Armstrong needs some early throws to get into the flow of the game, but the Cornhuskers have to find ways to get Abdullah involved. The junior leads the Big Ten with 149.6 yards per game in conference play and needs another 100-yard effort for Nebraska to earn the victory.
This series has been dominated by Nebraska, but Michigan State is the better team in 2013. Points could be at a premium, and in any close game, turnovers and special teams could play a huge role in the outcome. Michigan State’s defense has allowed only one opponent to score more than 20 points this season (Indiana), and coordinator Pat Narduzzi will throw several different looks at Armstrong. The Cornhuskers won’t ask Armstrong to win the game, but he will have to hit on a few throws early on to keep the Spartans from stacking the box against Abdullah. Nebraska gets this game to the fourth quarter, but the Spartans find just enough offense to win.
Prediction: Michigan State 27, Nebraska 20
Art Briles has transformed Baylor from a struggling Big 12 program to a national title contender. And the 58-year-old coach has inked an extension with Baylor, bumping his salary to over $4 million a season.
The deal extends Briles’ contract with Baylor until 2023.
Considering Texas might be looking for a head coach in December, smart move on Baylor’s part to get this done and eliminate any doubt regarding Briles’ future in Waco.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is reportedly under investigation for sexual battery. The redshirt freshman is considered the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy, and is one of the key reasons why the Seminoles are in the national title mix this season.
Even though this story appeared on the radar on Wednesday, there is no change in Winston’s status, and he will play in Saturday’s game against Syracuse.
Although Winston is believed to be under investigation, there are a couple of important factors to note.
Winston has not been charged and was never questioned by the police about this incident.
Winston’s attorney indicated this investigation was previously closed.
The police description indicates the attacker is between 5'9 and 5'11 and 240 pounds. According to Florida State's roster, Winston is 6'4 and 228 pounds. Big difference.
Also, Florida State allowed Winston to speak the media on Wednesday night (about football matters only).
While that may not seem like a big deal, the program and coach Jimbo Fisher would not allow him to speak if there was concern about his status for the rest of the year.
Week 12 of the 2013 college football season will have a hard time matching the anticipating of Week 11. With national spotlight games in Oregon-Stanford, Oklahoma-Baylor and Alabama-LSU, Week 11 played a huge role in shaping the national championship picture.
Even if the slate is a little light in Week 12, there are still plenty of big games. And a few surprise outcomes should be expcted from around the nation on Saturday.
Athlon’s editors are back with another edition of the upset picks, and there are plenty of teams on alert this week.
The favorites can't win every game each week, so it's no surprise one of the most popular discussion points every Saturday is upset picks. Each week on AthlonSports.com, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.
College Football Week 12 Upset Predictions
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): South Florida (+1.5) over Memphis
It’s really hard to call this an upset with a spread of just 1.5 points, but I’m surprised to see South Florida listed as an underdog. The Bulls started 0-4 but have two wins in American Athletic Conference play, and after losing 34-3 to Louisville, this team nearly won at Houston. South Florida has found a quarterback in freshman Mike White, who completed 26 of 41 throws for 311 yards and two touchdowns against the Cougars. The Bulls are holding opponents to just 24.8 points a game, but turnovers have been a huge problem for the offense, giving away 17 through three games. Much like South Florida, Memphis is struggling on offense (20.5 ppg in conference play), and the Tigers have lost 12 turnovers in American Athletic games. Points could be at a premium, but I’ll take South Florida and an improving offense to win on Saturday.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Georgia (+4.5) over Auburn
The Dawgs are starting to get healthy and still have a good shot at the SEC Championship game if and when Missouri loses. Aaron Murray's supporting cast is as complete as it has been since the early weeks of the season and he should have his full compliment of weapons on Saturday. Gus Malzahn has done an extremely good job rebuilding Auburn in short order, but his team will need to complete more than three passes to defeat Georgia — a team that has beaten the Tigers 83-7 the last two years. Both teams should be able to run the ball effectively but Murray has the ability to make big plays with his arm when needed where Nick Marshall still needs to prove his ability to create balance. And, frankly, the look ahead factor might be in play for Auburn with Alabama as their next game (in two weeks).
Mark Ross: USC (+3.5) over Stanford
I know what you're thinking. How could I possibly pick a USC team that fired its head coach earlier in the season over a Stanford squad that is still riding high off of last week's upset win over previously undefeated Oregon? Well for one, interim Trojans head coach Ed Orgeron has his boys playing pretty good football. The Men of Troy have won three in a row and have looked more and more impressive with every game. It never was about a lack of talent for USC, it was a matter of getting everyone on the same page, reducing the mistakes (especially the mental ones) and rediscovering that competitive fire. Somehow, someway Orgeron has done just that, as the Trojans are already guaranteed of a bowl berth and still have an outside shot of winning the Pac-12 South division. USC is basically playing with house money, which means the Trojans really have nothing to lose Saturday night in the Coliseum. The same can't be said for Stanford, which can't afford another loss as it applies to both the Pac-12 North race and the Cardinal's BCS hopes. There's no question all of the pressure is on Stanford, which makes the Cardinal a prime candidate for an emotional letdown. Orgeron has proven that this USC team is talented enough to win. If the Trojans can capitalize on this seemingly ideal opportunity for an upset, he will have made a strong case for shedding the "interim" tag in his title as well.
David Fox (@DavidFox615): Kansas (+7) over West Virginia
I will start by saying this is not a great crop of potential upsets this week, especially once you get past the three-point spreads. Kansas at home against West Virginia may be as good an upset pick as any. West Virginia has been dreadful away from Morgantown. The Mountaineers’ only road/neutral win this season was over a lackluster TCU team, and the Mountaineers coughed up a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead to go to overtime. The injuries have piled up for West Virginia all year, and now starting quarterback Clint Trickett is returning from a shoulder injury. Throw in the deflating loss in overtime to Texas last week, and all the ingredients are there for a West Virginia letdown. Kansas isn’t even an average team by any means, but the Jayhawks have returned two of their best players in Ben Heeney and Tony Pierson in recent weeks.
Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler): Michigan (+3) over Northwestern
Want to know the last time Northwestern was favored over Michigan? Over the course of 71 all-time meetings starting in 1892, Northwestern has NEVER been favored in this matchup between two Big Ten founding members. The Wildcats will get three points at home despite being losers of five straight games. Northwestern hasn't won since September 21 against Maine and has opened conference play at 0-5. Despite the struggles, four of the team's five losses have been by an average of 5.75 points, including Nebraska's Hail Mary two weeks ago. Michigan hasn't looked too hot as of late, especially on the offensive side of the ball where they managed just 19 points and -69 rushing yards over the last two games. It's the first time in Michigan history where they have recorded back-to-back games with negative rushing totals. From 2000-12, Michigan had one game with negative rushing yards. In fact, before the two-game slide the Wolverines had gone 12 consecutive contests by rushing for at least 100 yards. After absorbing his first loss ever at Michigan Stadium, I expect Brady Hoke to have his team prepared and hungry for some redemption. Despite their rushing struggles, I simply like this Michigan offense, which still averages 35 points per game, better than the Northwestern offense. Ultimately, I think Northwestern is even more of a mess than Michigan right now and will miss out on a sixth-straight bowl appearance.
Hawaii is looking for a spark after an 0-9 start, and the Warriors plan to go retro for Saturday’s game against San Diego State.
Norm Chow’s team will break out the Rainbow Warrior look on Saturday night. Check out these retro uniforms that Hawaii plans to wear against the Aztecs:
It’s another light week of games in the ACC for Week 12. Florida State clinched the Atlantic Division title with last Saturday’s win over Wake Forest, and the Seminoles can bolster their national championship position with an impressive win over Syracuse this week.
While the Atlantic Division is already decided, the Coastal Division is up for grabs. Virginia Tech’s win over Miami created a four-way tie atop the Coastal, with four teams having two losses heading into Week 12.
There could be some separation in the Coastal this week, as Miami travels to Duke and Georgia Tech plays at Clemson. The Yellow Jackets are a double-digit underdog to the Tigers, but an upset win would keep their Coastal title hopes alive.
Outside of the title picture, North Carolina-Pittsburgh and Boston College-NC State are key ACC games this week. Both contests will help to shape the conference’s bowl picture.
ACC Week 12 Game Power Rankings
1. Miami (-3) at Duke (3:30 ET, ESPNU)
At the beginning of the season, not many expected Miami-Duke to be one of the ACC’s marquee games in November. But with a wide-open Coastal Division, and the Blue Devils recording their first winning season since 1994, this game will factor prominently into the division title. The Hurricanes have owned this series, winning nine out of the ten matchups against Duke. The Blue Devils’ last victory came in 1976 and only one out of the last six meetings has been decided by a touchdown. Duke’s defense has stepped up at key moments this year, scoring two touchdowns in the second half to beat NC State last week, while the last four opponents have been held to 22 points or less each game. The Blue Devils need another inspired effort on defense this week, as Miami is the best offense Duke has played this year. In last week’s loss against Virginia Tech, Miami rushed for only 28 yards on 24 attempts. With Duke Johnson sidelined, Dallas Crawford and Gus Edwards have to shoulder the workload in the backfield against a Duke defense allowing 191 rushing yards per game in conference play. Quarterback Stephen Morris averaged 20.3 yards per completion against Virginia Tech, but the senior has eight picks in conference play. If Morris and the rushing game are back on track, Duke will have a tough time slowing down Miami’s offense. But the Blue Devils will have opportunities to move the ball on a Hurricane defense allowing 290.8 passing yards per game. Quarterback Anthony Boone struggled against NC State, and Duke will likely go to a two-quarterback system against Miami, with Brandon Connette mixing into the lineup. Last year’s meeting between these two teams featured 97 points and 1,229 yards of total offense. Saturday’s meeting may not feature the same point total, but this is clearly the best game of the week in the ACC.
2. North Carolina (-1) at Pittsburgh (12:30 ET, ACC)
The first meeting between North Carolina and Pittsburgh as ACC opponents is a huge matchup for both team’s bowl prospects. The Tar Heels have a three-game winning streak and need two victories to get bowl eligible. The Panthers defeated Notre Dame last Saturday to snap a two-game losing streak and to move to 5-4 overall. North Carolina’s offense is averaging 35.3 points a game in its last three matchups, and sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams was steady in his second start of 2013, completing 15 of 28 passes for 185 yards against Virginia. Williams faces a Pittsburgh defense that struggled early in the year but has held its last six opponents to 24 or fewer points. The offense hasn’t been the only side of the ball improving for North Carolina in recent weeks. The Tar Heels’ defense has limited their last three opponents to 321.7 yards per game. But Pittsburgh is the best offense this unit will have faced since playing Miami on Oct. 17. The Panthers average 225.6 yards per game through the air, and if he has time to throw, quarterback Tom Savage is capable of hitting big plays downfield to receivers Devin Street and Tyler Boyd. North Carolina’s run defense is last in the ACC (194 ypg), so expect to see plenty of James Conner and Isaac Bennett, especially as Pittsburgh hopes to keep some of the pressure off of Savage (sacked 30 times in 2013).
3. Georgia Tech (+10.5) at Clemson (Thursday, 7:30 ET, ESPN)
Florida State has clinched the Atlantic Division title, but Clemson still has plenty to play for. The Tigers are in position to play in a BCS bowl and rank No. 8 in the latest BCS standings. With recent losses by Miami and Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech is back in the Coastal Division title picture. The Yellow Jackets have a three-game winning streak after losing three consecutive matchups earlier this year. Clemson catches a break by playing Georgia Tech after a bye, as defensive coordinator Brent Venables had an extra week to prepare for the option. This series has produced quite a few entertaining games and 12 out of the last 18 matchups were decided by five points or less. The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC in rushing offense (311.2 ypg), which will test a Clemson defense holding opponents to 140.8 yards per game on the ground. The Tigers are athletic and fast in the front seven, but this unit has to be disciplined against an offense that is difficult to defend. Georgia Tech’s defense has improved under first-year coordinator Ted Roof, ranking third in the ACC in yards allowed per game (329.6) and third in scoring defense (18.8). However, the secondary is a concern for Roof. The Yellow Jackets are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 62.9 percent of their throws. With one of the nation’s top pass-catch duos ahead in Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins, Georgia Tech has to generate pressure and prevent the Tigers from hitting on big plays.
4. Maryland (+15) at Virginia Tech (12:30 ET, ACC)
The all-time series between Maryland and Virginia Tech is tied at 15. With the Terrapins moving to the Big Ten next season, this is likely the final matchup between these two teams for the foreseeable future. Virginia Tech’s win in Miami last week has changed the outlook of the Coastal Division once again. The Hokies need help to win the division, but Frank Beamer’s team is in better shape than it was just a week ago. Maryland heads to Blacksburg reeling after losses in four out of its last five games. The Terrapins started 4-0, but injuries and a tougher slate of opponents have caused this team to slide to 1-4 in conference play. Maryland’s offense scored 159 points through the first four games but has just 67 through the last five. Getting the offense back on track on Saturday will be tough, especially with Virginia Tech’s defense leading the ACC in fewest yards allowed per game (263.1). The Hokies lead the way in rush defense (95.2) and have recorded 31 sacks this season. The Terrapins need a near-perfect effort from both sides of the ball to score the upset, while Virginia Tech hopes to have another mistake-free performance from quarterback Logan Thomas. In the 42-24 win over Miami, Thomas threw for 366 yards and two scores, while adding 42 yards on the ground. If Thomas continues to play like he did last week, the Hokies will finish the regular season at 9-3.
5. NC State (+7.5) at Boston College (12:30 ET, RSN)
This matchup is the second of two critical games for bowl hopes in the ACC. Behind 295 yards from running back Andre Williams, Boston College survived New Mexico State’s upset bid in Las Cruces. With three games remaining, the Eagles need one win to get bowl eligible for the first time since the 2010 season. The Wolfpack still has faint bowl hopes but must win their final three games to get to 6-6. Points could be at a premium on Saturday, as both teams are averaging less than 24 points a game in ACC contests. NC State running back Shadrach Thornton has two 100-yard efforts in his last three games, but the passing attack has struggled. The Wolfpack have ditched their two-quarterback system for this week, with senior Brandon Mitchell (1 TD, 6 INTs, 48.7%) expected to play the full game. Mitchell has the ability to make a difference on the ground, but he has to give the offense more punch through the air. When Boston College has the ball, expect to see plenty of Andre Williams. NC State is tied for 12th in ACC-only games against the run, with opponents averaging 5.3 yards per carry. These two teams have played 10 times, and Boston College is 4-0 against NC State in Chestnut Hill.
6. Syracuse (+39) at Florida State (3:30 ET, ABC/ESPN2)
Another week, another game where Florida State is a heavy favorite. The Seminoles were favored by 35 points against Wake Forest last week and won by 56. Syracuse beat the Demon Deacons 13-0 earlier this year, but the Orange still face an uphill battle on Saturday. Syracuse does have momentum by winning three out of its last four games. However, the Orange lost 49-14 to Clemson and 56-0 to Georgia Tech - two of the top six teams in the ACC this year. Syracuse’s strength on offense is its rushing attack, which is averaging 244.4 yards per game in its five victories. Florida State’s rush defense allowed 151.5 yards per game through the first four games of 2013, but coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has made a few tweaks to his defense, and the Seminoles are allowing just 106 yards per contest over the last five games. After throwing for only 159 yards and two touchdowns against Wake Forest last week, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston should have an opportunity to pad his stats against the Orange – provided the defense doesn’t score twice in the first half. Syracuse’s secondary ranks 11th in the ACC against the pass and will have its hands full against the Seminoles’ dynamic offense. The Orange are heavy underdogs, so shortening the game with the run and forcing the Florida State offense to sustain long drives instead of hitting on big plays might be the only shot at hanging around.
ACC Week 12 Pivotal Players
Jeremiah Attaochu, DE, Georgia Tech
Clemson’s offensive line has allowed 17 sacks in ACC play, and Georgia Tech’s best shot at limiting quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins starts with a good pass rush. Attaochu has started all nine games for the Yellow Jackets, recording 9.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks. The senior also has one forced fumble. In last year’s meeting, Attaochu recorded 13 tackles and two sacks. Georgia Tech needs a similar effort from Attaochu on Thursday night to keep Boyd from his third consecutive 300-yard passing effort.
Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina
North Carolina’s offensive line will have its hands full with Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald on Saturday. Donald leads the nation by averaging 2.2 tackles for a loss a game and is one of the top defensive players in the ACC. Bodine has started all nine games in 2013 and has 23 starts in his career. The junior was named to the Rimington Trophy watch list earlier this year, and he could be matched against Donald for a good chunk of snaps on Saturday.
Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
With running back Duke Johnson sidelined, Miami struggled to run the ball in last week’s loss to Virginia Tech. Without their top rusher for the rest of the year, the Hurricanes could ask more of quarterback Stephen Morris. The senior averaged 20.3 yards per completion against the Hokies last week and threw for 324 yards and two scores. Cockrell is one of the ACC’s top cornerbacks, recording 33 stops and two interceptions in 2013. Expect Cockrell to be matched up against Allen Hurns or Stacy Coley most of the game, and it’s up to the senior to keep those two receivers in check, as well as force Morris into a few bad throws.
Tracy Howard, CB, Miami
Miami’s secondary has been under fire in its last four games. The Hurricanes limited their first five opponents to just two passing scores. But over the last four games, Miami has allowed four consecutive opponents to reach at least 300 passing yards. The Hurricanes were gashed by Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas for 366 yards and two scores, which prompted coach Al Golden to open up the competition on the depth chart. Regardless of whether he starts or not, Howard will play a critical role in slowing down Duke receiver Jamison Crowder. The junior is tied for first in the ACC with 67 receptions and is averaging 13.5 yards per catch. Even with quarterback Anthony Boone struggling, Crowder is still a dangerous matchup for Miami.
Brandon Mitchell, QB, NC State
The two-quarterback system at NC State is gone – at least for now. After Pete Thomas shared snaps against Duke, coach Dave Doeren has decided to hand the reigns solely to Mitchell this week. Mitchell is completing only 48.7 percent of his throws and has six interceptions, but his rushing ability could be a difference-maker for NC State’s offense (172 yards on 51 attempts). With a tight game expected at Boston College, Mitchell needs to limit his mistakes and deliver his best passing performance of the year for the Wolfpack to win their first conference game of 2013.
ACC Week 12 Predictions
|Game||David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
|Ga. Tech (+10.5) at Clemson||Clemson 31-28||Clemson 42-28||Clemson 38-27||Clemson 30-21|
|Maryland (+16) at Va. Tech||Va. Tech 24-13||Va. Tech 27-11||Va. Tech 34-13||Va. Tech 28-13|
|UNC (-1) at Pittsburgh||Pitt 28-14||Pitt 34-33||Pitt 27-24||Pitt 23-20|
|NC State (+7.5) at Boston College||BC 21-14||BC 31-24||BC 27-20||BC 28-14|
|Miami (-3) at Duke||Duke 28-24||Duke 27-23||Miami 31-27||Miami 31-23|
|Syracuse (+39) at Florida State||FSU 42-7||FSU 56-17||FSU 52-10||FSU 41-13|
Catching up on the news from around the nation....
Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)
College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Wednesday, November 13th
Lost Lettermen wonders: Does Mack Brown have a deal with the devil?
Who are college football's most overpaid coaches?
How much will it cost Florida State to extend Jimbo Fisher's contract?
A couple of Boston College defenders were highlighted for their performance against Virginia Tech.
Will Nebraska have quarterback Taylor Martinez back in the lineup this year?
UConn is making a change at quarterback after losing to Louisville last Friday.
Is Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell to blame for the offensive issues in Norman?
Virginia Tech will have a new athletic director in 2014.
Some theories as to why Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin won't completely squash any rumors about interest in other jobs.
Why is Virginia football struggling?
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is definitely playing this week against Utah.
Good takes on Florida coach Will Muschamp here and here.
A film study on South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney with a look to the NFL.
Arkansas and Kentucky are the only winless teams in SEC play, combining for an 0-11 mark through Week 11. Both programs are in the midst of a rebuild project behind first-year coaches.
Bret Bielema went 68-24 in seven seasons at Wisconsin, leading the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances at the end of his tenure in Madison.
But Bielema has found life in the SEC more difficult than the week-to-week grind in the Big Ten.
Arkansas is 3-7 and has a seven-game losing streak entering next week’s game against Mississippi State.
Kentucky is in a similar situation under first-year coach Mark Stoops. The Wildcats won two non-conference games but lost to Western Kentucky and Louisville in games outside of the SEC.
Kentucky has been more competitive in conference games this season, but with Vanderbilt, Georgia and Tennessee remaining, it’s hard to see the Wildcats earning a victory in SEC play.
Arkansas or Kentucky: Which program has a tougher rebuilding project ahead?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This is a tough call, as both programs and new coaches have a significant rebuilding effort ahead in 2014 and beyond. The balance of power in the SEC has shifted from the East to the West. With Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Auburn all likely to be picked among the top 15-20 teams in the nation next year, the Razorbacks will have a tough time getting bowl eligible. The schedule for Arkansas is just brutal, which features road trips to Auburn, Texas Tech, Mississippi State and Missouri. One positive for coach Bret Bielema is the emergence of a couple of key freshmen, including running back Alex Collins, defensive tackle Darius Philon and offensive linemen Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland. Kentucky is playing better under new coach Mark Stoops, but the Wildcats are likely to go winless in SEC play for the second consecutive season. Stoops is recruiting at a high level, which should allow Kentucky to close the gap in the SEC East. Considering the current climate of the SEC, it’s hard to envision either program taking a huge step forward in 2014. However, I would give Kentucky a slight edge to turn things around faster, especially since the West appears to be the tougher division for the next couple of years.
Both teams are currently languishing in the basement of their respective divisions in the nation's toughest conference. Neither job is going to be easy, but for me the difference comes down to three words - location, location, location. Arkansas is the tougher rebuilding job in the SEC because the Hogs are in the same division as the two-time defending national champions, as well as LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Auburn. Those five teams are bigger brands than Arkansas and appear to have more momentum than the Hogs right now, whether that be related to on the field success or off of it, or a combination of the two. Even Mississippi State is capable of making some noise in one area or the other in any given year.
As far as the East is concerned, I see a much clearer path for Kentucky to work its way up the food chain, if you will, as Georgia and South Carolina are by far the most solid and established programs at the moment, although Florida is capable of righting the ship fairly quickly. Otherwise, the Wildcats have to contend with a rebuilding Tennessee program that's lost plenty of its luster in recent years, the new kids on the SEC block in Missouri and a Vanderbilt team that has made some strides in recent years, but still has a long ways to go and some natural obstacles (such as facilities, academics, tradition, etc.) it will always have to overcome. Kentucky may be at the bottom right now, but I think it's path of resistance isn't anywhere near as clogged as Arkansas' appears to be. Bret Bielema took a solid Wisconsin program and helped it reach the next level during his tenure in Madison. He's starting over in Fayetteville with far less in the cupboard and an even bigger hill to climb in the SEC West than what he faced on a yearly basis in the Big Ten.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
My first instinct is that Kentucky is always the tougher rebuilding job, but I’m not so sure in this landscape. First, “rebuilding” is different at Kentucky than it is at Arkansas. Rich Brooks is beloved at UK after winning seven games every year and going to bowls. Arkansas believes it should compete for national championships every year, whether or not that’s realistic. Kentucky is following a clear recruiting blueprint of going into Ohio and grabbing players who Ohio State didn’t want or those who’d rather play in the SEC for Kentucky than play for a second-tier team in the Big Ten. That’s a formula proven to work at Kentucky, even if it might tougher with Louisville in the ACC. Arkansas, though, has to recruit Texas and the Southeast. The best Texas kids are going to go to Texas or Oklahoma, and if they want to play in the SEC, they can go to Texas A&M. Evaluation is going to be paramount for Arkansas, especially as teams like Auburn and Ole Miss are on the rebound in the West.
Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), CollegeFootballTalk.com and Crystal Ball Run
Rebuilding at Kentucky is always going to be the biggest project to take on. While things look bleak for Arkansas right now, the Razorbacks are in a position where football comes first and there is a history of actual success on the football field to build off of. Arkansas does seem to have some bigger challenges in terms of recruiting by sharing the same division as Alabama, LSU and now Texas A&M but sometimes that can be a positive as well. All Arkansas needs is the right coach, and it is premature to suggest Bret Bielema is not that guy. The Razorbacks have the facilities and the fan base to help support the program and it should be an easier program to bring in recruits capable of turning things around in a relatively short period of time.
Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler)
Arkansas is by far the better program; however, many point to the rigors of the West as a big reason why Bret Bielema will be unable to turn things around in Fayetteville. Let's not act like the SEC East is a cakewalk. With stable programs like Florida, Georgia and South Carolina along with improving programs in Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, Mark Stoops doesn't have any easy wins on the schedule. Sure Stoops is recruiting better at the moment, but I think the lack of true interest and support behind football at Kentucky will eventually hurt recruiting during his tenure. Kentucky has always been basketball first and will always be that way. Make no bones about it, Arkansas is all about their football team. In the coming years, the Razorbacks should be able to move ahead of teams like Mississippi State and Ole Miss and remain on the level of an Auburn on a consistent basis. And who knows what happens to Texas A&M after Johnny Manziel leaves or Alabama if Saban bolts to Texas. I think Kentucky will still be relegated to the last two or three teams in the East, while I see more potential for the Razorbacks to finish in the middle of the pack in the West.
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
The answer most often is Kentucky. But right now, I think Arkansas is the tougher rebuilding job. The Razorbacks play in a division that features Alabama and LSU at the top and has Auburn and Texas A&M climbing the ranks of the most powerful in the conference. Ole Miss is in great shape and appears to be improving under head coach Hugh Freeze. That leaves Arkansas and Mississippi State to battle it out for the last spot in the West. Arkansas does have a proven head coach in Bret Bielema and talent-rich states like Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas nearby to recruit. But it’s a bad time to be rebuilding considering the state of the other programs inside Arkansas’ division. Kentucky’s road isn’t much easier, but there are spots up for grabs in the SEC East. If quarterback commitment Drew Barker pans out for Kentucky, the Wildcats could be a tough out in the next few years.
Alabama and Florida State are in the driver’s seat to play for the national title, but there’s a spirited debate to find the top one-loss team in college football.
Is it Stanford? The Cardinal rank as the highest one-loss team in the BCS (No. 4), and David Shaw’s team is coming off a huge win on Thursday night against Oregon. Stanford’s only loss in 2013 was at Utah.
After Stanford, Oregon, Auburn, Clemson and Missouri are all in the mix. Auburn might be playing as well as anyone outside of Alabama, Florida State and Baylor right now, but the Tigers rank No. 7 in the BCS.
Who is College Football's Best One-Loss Team in 2013?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Could go a couple of different directions in this answer, but on a neutral field, I would take Stanford as the best one-loss team in the nation. The Cardinal convincingly beat Oregon last Thursday and rank as the highest one-loss team in the BCS standings at No. 4. Stanford’s passing attack doesn’t scare most opposing defenses (averaging only 177.4 ypg in Pac-12 play), but the Cardinal boast one of the nation’s best defenses, holding the last 18 opponents under 30 points. The offensive line also has an argument as one of the best in college football, and running back Tyler Gaffney is averaging 116.4 yards per game in conference play. Stanford isn’t necessarily going to win any style points most weeks or impress anyone with flash, but the bottom line with David Shaw’s teams is they are stout on defense and find just enough offense to win.
My choice comes with a caveat. With a healthy Marcus Mariota, I believe Oregon is the best one-loss team in the nation. Yes, I know that Stanford beat Mariota and the Ducks last Thursday, somewhat convincingly at that, but the Heisman Trophy contender wasn't at 100 percent and Oregon still had a chance to win a game in which they were thoroughly dominated for three quarters. Even with a loss, which could end up ruining the Ducks' national title hopes, I still think Oregon is one of the nation's top teams. It's certainly one of the most talented teams, one that is capable of getting the job done on either side of the ball. However, taking into consideration Mariota's knee injury, I would lean towards Clemson over Stanford as the best one-loss team. Clemson's lone defeat was against Florida State, a team that is seemingly headed to the BCS National Championship Game, as it has pretty much dominated the rest of its opponents. While the Seminoles absolutely manhandled the Tigers on their own home field, I like Clemson's offense, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and feels its defense is not getting the credit it deserves. I know that Stanford arguably "earned" this title by virtue of its victory over Oregon, but the Tigers get my paw, er stamp, of approval when it comes to this debate.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
To me, it’s pretty clear that’s Stanford. I’m not sure if I would’ve said that a week ago before the Cardinal defeated Oregon. Sometimes teams like Oregon, Florida State and Alabama spoil us. Even Baylor is doing the same. They’re making it look too easy to pile up points quickly. Stanford’s not built the same way, and sometimes it’s easy to overlook Stanford that way. Stanford is as brutally efficient and overpowering as Alabama. Stanford is more of a classic SEC team on the field than most of the SEC this season. And the SEC-like quality of the schedule is why Stanford needs to be taken most seriously. According to Jeff Sagarin’s ratings, Stanford is 4-1 against top-30 teams right now. Part of that is because Sagarin is far higher on Arizona State and Washington than the rest of the BCS or the pollsters. Granted, there’s little excuse for Stanford to have lost to Utah, but anyone paying close attention knows how difficult Utah is in Salt Lake City.
Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), CollegeFootballTalk.com and Crystal Ball Run
Stanford has exactly the kind of overall team that can cause problems for everybody in the country. They may not be a team capable of beating a team like Alabama or a Florida State, but as we saw against Oregon Stanford has proven they have a very good defense capable of shutting down even the most explosive offenses. Auburn’s running game is phenomenal but what will happen when a team shuts that down? I also can’t trust their defense too much against better competition. Missouri is a bit of a wild card for me but I’m paying attention to them. For now, I feel comfortable counting on Stanford to come out on top if paired up against any other one-loss team, including Clemson.
Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler)
Despite their loss to Stanford last week, I'm still going to say Oregon is the best one-loss team. The Cardinal match up very well against Oregon, but on a neutral field I would put my money on Mark Helfrich's squad as the better overall team. In fact, I think this is actually the best team Oregon has had in the last decade. Marcus Mariota has had a Heisman-caliber season, but he just wasn't 100 percent last week and, as a result, the Ducks seemed off rhythm all game. Despite this, they still almost beat Stanford. If I look at Oregon compared to the other one-loss teams I think the only one they would have trouble with is Stanford, while I think the Cardinal would struggle against Missouri, Clemson and Auburn.
Northwestern running back Venric Mark was expected to be one of the top playmakers in the Big Ten this season. Unfortunately for Mark, injuries have limited the standout running back to just three games and 31 carries. The senior has 97 rushing yards and five receptions for 48 yards.
On Monday, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald announced Mark would miss the rest of the 2013 with a broken ankle. Mark suffered the injury against Wisconsin and was unable to recover in time to return this year.
If there’s any bright spot for Northwestern, it appears the senior will be able to get a medical redshirt and return in 2014. The Wildcats have been one of the nation’s most disappointing teams in 2013 but having Mark return next season will help this team rebound in the Big Ten.
A handful of college football teams have worn patriotic helmets and uniforms in recent weeks (largely in support of Veterans Day), and South Florida will continue that trend on Saturday.
The Bulls unveiled this helmet to wear against Memphis on Nov. 16:
USC and Texas were two of the biggest disappointments after the first month of the college football season.
USC started 3-2, with wins over Hawaii, Boston College and Utah State. The Trojans had a disappointing 10-7 home loss to Washington State and were dominated in a 62-41 defeat at Arizona State.
After the loss to Arizona State, Lane Kiffin was fired and Ed Orgeron was promoted to head coach.
Under Orgeron’s watch, USC is 4-1 and is back in the Pac-12 South title picture.
Texas started 1-2, losing by at least 19 points to both BYU and Ole Miss.
Coach Mack Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and promoted Greg Robinson to call the defensive signals. The Longhorns enter Week 12 on a six-game winning streak, but the toughest portion of their schedule is still to come.
Texas or USC: Which turnaround has been more impressive in 2013?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
This one is a tossup, but I give a slight edge to USC. When Ed Orgeron took over for Lane Kiffin in late September, the Trojans were 0-2 in conference play, injuries and scholarship issues were starting to show in the lineup, and most figured it would be a struggle for USC just to get bowl eligible. Since Orgeron’s promotion, USC almost looks like what we expect from this program on a yearly basis. The Trojans have won four out of their last five, with the only defeat coming in South Bend against Notre Dame – a game USC could have easily won. With Stanford and UCLA remaining on the schedule, the Trojans aren’t out of the Pac-12 South title picture and could work their way into one of the conference’s top bowl games. Both sides of the ball have been impressive under Orgeron, as the offense has scored at least 30 points in three out of the last five games, and the defense held three opponents under 14 points or less. Texas’ turnaround has been impressive, but even after a 1-2 start, this team had yet to play a Big 12 game and still had a favorable schedule upcoming. Credit to both Orgeron and Texas coach Mack Brown for pushing the right buttons since the slow starts, but USC’s turnaround has been more impressive.
Credit to Ed Orgeron for rescuing the sinking ship that was USC, and with a limited crew no less, but as the saying goes, "everything is bigger in Texas" and it's no different when it comes to turnarounds. Back in September, the cries were loud and clear that it was time for Mack Brown to head out to pasture, as his Longhorns were coming off of back-to-back drubbings to BYU and Ole Miss. Since then, Brown's herd has reeled off six straight victories, none bigger than the 36-20 win over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry that pretty much no one saw coming. Now while the games haven't always been pretty, such as a one-point win over lowly Iowa State and an overtime road victory against West Virginia on Saturday, Texas has taken care of business and as a result controls its own destiny in the Big 12. The Longhorns have three big games remaining, starting with Saturday's home date with Oklahoma State and culminating with the regular-season finale at Baylor, but the path is clear — win out and Texas claims the conference title and automatic BCS bowl bid. From the hot seat to the driver's seat in two months is pretty impressive, especially in the football-crazed hotbed that is the Lone Star State.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I have to give the credit to Texas on this one. The expectations on USC were pretty low entering the season, especially on offense. The assumption for Texas, however, was that the Longhorns had the talent to make a run at the Big 12 title even after they underachieved last season. That looked ridiculous after the BYU and Ole Miss gashed the Texas defense early this season. The Longhorns also lost linebacker Jordan Hicks again to injury, a player who was described as they key cog to their run defense. Of course, both programs brought in a failed head coach to take the reins, Ed Orgeron at USC and Greg Robinson as defensive coordinator at Texas. Both are major surprises, but Texas really could have given up on the season, but now we’re looking at the Longhorns as a potential Big 12 champion. Crazy as it sounds, but Mack Brown might deserve league coach of the year for that.
Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), CollegeFootballTalk.com and Crystal Ball Run
While it has been remarkable for the ways both USC and Texas have seemed to save their seasons, I think what the Trojans have done is slightly more impressive. Both teams got off to a rough start and made changes on the staff, but USC went so far as to fire their head coach while Texas changed defensive coordinators. I had no idea if USC would be able to turn things around under Ed Orgeron, but he has certainly found a way to give everyone associated with the Trojans a new outlook on what they are doing, and it shows. USC has regained its swagger, they are playing to their strengths as they get healthier on offense, and the defense has regained their footing as well. USC still has a good way to go and they may not be a Pac 12 contender at this point, but they are one of the teams nobody will want to be paired up with any week from this point out.
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the ACC to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 11.
ACC Stats to Know from Week 11
296: Florida State’s total offense against Wake Forest
With a final score of 59-3, it was a bit of a surprise to see Florida State’s offense only record 296 yards against Wake Forest. However, the Seminoles played a chunk of the game with backups and eight drives started in Demon Deacon territory. With its first-team offense, Florida State scored on its opening possession by going 80 yards in 13 plays. The 296 yards of total offense were the lowest of 2013 and the first time under 300 since recording 290 in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl victory over Notre Dame. The overall yardage isn’t something to be concerned about, but this total illustrates just how dominant the Seminoles can be in all three phases of the game.
256: Yards needed by Boston College RB Andre Williams for a school single-season record
Boston College’s passing offense ranks 12th in ACC-only games with an average of 132.8 yards per game, but there’s not much of a need to throw the ball with Williams carrying the load. The senior has benefited from the coaching change to Steve Addazio, setting a career high of 1,471 yards on 246 attempts this year. Williams has three consecutive games of at least 160 yards and has three 200-yard games in 2013. Mike Cloud set the single-season school record with 1,726 yards in 1998. With three regular season games (and likely a bowl) remaining in 2013, Williams should record 256 yards to break Cloud’s record.
1994: Before 2013, 1994 was Duke’s last season with a winning record
Saturday’s 38-20 win over NC State assured Duke of its first winning record since 1994. The Blue Devils could add to their win total, as games against Miami, Wake Forest and North Carolina are very winnable. Duke has not won nine games since 1941 and does not have a season of double-digit wins in school history. The Blue Devils have 13 wins over the last two years, which is the same amount the program recorded from 1999-2007.
5-11: Miami’s record versus Florida State and Virginia Tech since 2005
In terms of job hierarchy, Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech are three of the top four programs in the ACC. The Hurricanes have never played for the ACC Championship since joining the league in 2004 and have struggled to beat Florida State and Virginia Tech on a consistent basis. Miami is just 5-11 against both schools since 2005, with the last victory against the Seminoles coming in 2009. The Hurricanes defeated Virginia Tech in 2012 but have lost four out of the last five meetings. If Miami is going to rejoin college football’s elite, it has to start beating Florida State and Virginia Tech on a more consistent basis.
2.2: Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald leads the nation in tackles for a loss per game
Donald has dominated the line of scrimmage and wrecked havoc on opposing offensive lines all year. The senior has 19.5 tackles for a loss through nine games and is averaging 2.2 per contest. Donald recorded six in a loss against Georgia Tech and four in a win against New Mexico.
244.4: Syracuse’s rushing average in five wins
With a first-year quarterback (Terrel Hunt) under center, it’s clear Syracuse’s offensive gameplan has to rest on the ground game. In five victories, the Orange is averaging 244.4 rushing yards per game. In Syracuse’s four losses, it is averaging just 150.5 yards per content, with that number skewed slightly by 323 yards against Clemson. The Orange is four-deep at running back, with three out of the four options averaging at least five yards a carry. The only rusher averaging less than that mark is starter Jerome Smith (4.9 ypc).
0-16: Maryland’s record after Oct. 13 under Randy Edsall
Edsall is just 11-22 in his Maryland tenure, but games after Oct. 13 have been especially problematic. The Terrapins have suffered a rash of injuries over the last two years, which has played a huge role in the team’s late-season struggles. However, 10 of the 16 losses suffered after Oct. 13 has been by 15 points or more.
8: Losses by Virginia in a season in three out of four years under Mike London
After an 8-5 mark in 2011, the arrow seemed to be pointing up for London’s tenure at Virginia. However, the Cavaliers have regressed the last two years, recording a 6-16 mark in that span. Virginia’s win over BYU in Week 1 is one of the more puzzling results of 2013, especially with the Cavaliers’ performance in ACC play. Virginia has lost at least seven games in six out of the last seven years. London got a vote of confidence from athletic director Craig Littlepage earlier this year, but is a 2-10 finish too much to overcome?
6: Touchdowns scored by freshmen or sophomores for North Carolina against Virginia
In North Carolina’s 45-14 win over Virginia, most of the damage was done by a promising core of young players for coach Larry Fedora. With Bryn Renner out for the year with a shoulder injury, sophomore Marquise Williams stepped into the lineup at quarterback, and the offense didn’t miss a beat. Williams threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 46 yards and one score. Williams also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from receiver Quinshad Davis. Freshman running back Khris Francis caught a touchdown pass, and freshman receiver Ryan Switzer returned a punt 85 yards for a score. Freshman safety Dominique Green returned an interception 62 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
6: Clemson WR Sammy Watkins has six 100-yard games in 2013
Watkins has been the preferred target for Clemson, catching 66 of the quarterback’s 244 completions in 2013. The junior has six 100-yard games in 2013 and has at least 163 receiving yards in back-to-back games. The six 100-yard games in 2013 is a career-best for Watkins.
1984: The last time NC State won fewer than two games in conference play
With two conference games remaining, NC State is a disappointing 0-6 in ACC play. The Wolfpack are in transition under new coach Dave Doeren, and quarterback play has been a problem with an early injury to Brandon Mitchell. However, this wasn’t the season most expected from NC State, especially with a favorable schedule. The Wolfpack play at Boston College this Saturday and close the regular season with a home game against Maryland. NC State’s last winless season conference play occurred in 1959.
5-2: Georgia Tech’s record against Clemson in the last seven matchups
The Tigers have won two out of the last three meetings in this series, but Georgia Tech has a 5-2 edge in the last seven matchups. The Yellow Jackets defeated Clemson in the ACC Championship in 2009 but have not won in Death Valley since 2008. These two teams have met for some entertaining affairs, but the last three matchups were decided by at least 14 points.
2: Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas has back-to-back 300-yard games
For the first time in his career, Thomas has thrown for 300 yards in back-to-back games. The senior threw for 391 yards in a loss to Boston College but rebounded with 366 yards and two scores in a win over Miami. Thomas’ solid performance against the Hurricanes was a key cog in the Virginia Tech victory, which put Frank Beamer’s team back in the mix for the Coastal Division title.
With 11 weeks in the books, college football’s bowl and national title picture is starting to come into focus.
The fourth release of the BCS standings saw another change at the top. With Stanford’s victory over Oregon on Thursday night, Florida State is in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 spot and a shot at Alabama in the national championship. With a schedule that features games against Idaho, Syracuse and Florida in the regular season, it’s hard to find a loss on the Seminoles’ schedule. The ACC Championship should be the toughest remaining game, but Florida State will be favored by at least two touchdowns over every possible opponent.
Losing to Stanford knocked Oregon out of the national title picture, but the Ducks are still in good shape for a BCS bowl – if they win out. Although there’s a lot of football left this year, Clemson and Oregon could meet in the Orange Bowl, which could be one of the more intriguing BCS bowl matchups in recent years.
The SEC continues to be the toughest conference to sort out for bowl bids. Auburn gets a slight edge over South Carolina, Missouri and Texas A&M for the second BCS bowl spot. But this order is likely to change in the next few weeks, especially since Texas A&M still has to play Missouri and LSU, while South Carolina hosts in-state rival Clemson in the regular season finale. With Vanderbilt's win over Florida, the Commodores are one win away from bowl eligibility and still have Kentucky and Wake Forest on the schedule.
The bowl season doesn’t start until December, but with less than one month to go in the season, it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like.
The post-Week 11 bowl projections are a mixture between projections for the next few weeks, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first 11 weeks of action. Expect more changes over the next few weeks. With several teams projected to be right around the six-win mark, more at-large spots in bowls should open in the next month.
A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including Maryland and Utah from BCS conferences. And Texas State, UTSA, Ohio, Bowling Green, Troy and Arkansas State from the non-BCS ranks.
College Football's Post-Week 11 Bowl Projections for 2013
|New Mexico||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Colo. State vs. Oregon State|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Dec. 21||MAC vs. MWC||UNLV vs. Buffalo|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Utah State vs. Arizona|
|New Orleans||Dec. 21||Sun Belt vs. CUSA||UL Lafayette vs. Tulane|
|Beef 'O' Brady's||Dec. 23||American vs. CUSA||Toledo* vs. MTSU|
|Hawaii||Dec. 24||MWC vs. CUSA||SJSU vs. Rice|
|Little Caesars Pizza||Dec. 26||MAC vs. Big Ten||No. Illinois vs. Syracuse*|
|Poinsettia||Dec. 26||Army vs. MWC||Boise State vs. Notre Dame*|
|Military||Dec. 27||CUSA vs. ACC||E. Carolina vs. Boston College|
|Texas||Dec. 27||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||K-State vs. Minnesota|
|Fight Hunger||Dec. 27||BYU vs. Pac-12||BYU vs. USC|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 28||American vs. Big 12||Rutgers vs. West Virginia|
|Belk||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Houston vs. Duke|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Louisville vs. Miami|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Dec. 28||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||Texas vs. Nebraska|
|Armed Forces||Dec. 30||MWC vs. Navy||Navy vs. SDSU|
|Music City||Dec. 30||ACC vs. SEC||Ga. Tech vs. Ole Miss|
|Alamo||Dec. 30||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Oklahoma vs. UCLA|
|Holiday||Dec. 30||Pac-12 vs. Big 12||Arizona State vs. Texas Tech|
|AdvoCare V100||Dec. 31||ACC vs. SEC||Pittsburgh vs. ULM*|
|Sun||Dec. 31||Pac-12 vs. ACC||North Carolina vs. Washington|
|Liberty||Dec. 31||SEC vs. CUSA||Tennessee vs. Marshall|
|Chick-fil-A||Dec. 31||SEC vs. ACC||Virginia Tech vs. Missouri|
|Gator||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Georgia vs. Michigan|
|Heart of Dallas||Jan. 1||Big Ten vs. CUSA||North Texas vs. Iowa|
|Outback||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Michigan State vs. South Carolina|
|Capital One||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Wisconsin vs. Texas A&M|
|Rose||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Ohio State vs. Stanford|
|Fiesta||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Fresno State vs. Baylor|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||BCS vs. BCS||Auburn vs. UCF|
|Cotton||Jan. 3||SEC vs. Big 12||LSU vs. Oklahoma State|
|Orange||Jan. 3||BCS vs. BCS||Clemson vs. Oregon|
|BBVA Compass||Jan. 4||SEC vs. American||Vanderbilt vs. Cincinnati|
|GoDaddy||Jan. 5||MAC vs. Sun Belt||Ball State vs. Western Kentucky|
|National Title||Jan. 6||BCS vs. BCS||Alabama vs. Florida State|
* Indicates conference is not expected to fill its alloted bowl slots, leaving an at-large spot available.
Bold indicates team has accepted bid to bowl.
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Another week, another college football coach fired. Ron English was dismissed a day before Eastern Michigan was set to take on Western Michigan last week. Eastern Michigan is one of the toughest jobs in the nation, but English’s teams showed little progress, and language used in an audio recording during a meeting was the final straw in his tenure in Ypsilanti.
With English’s dismissal, Virginia’s Mike London moves to the top of the hot seat watch. London has lost eight games for the third time in his tenure. The Cavaliers are likely headed for a 2-10, as they will be underdogs against Miami and Virginia Tech. London and his assistants have a significant buyout, so the former ACC Coach of the Year is likely to return for 2014.
Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and Texas’ Mack Brown have ranked near the top of the hot seat watch all year, but both teams have moved down after recent victories. The Cornhuskers won at Michigan in Week 11, which keeps Pelini’s team alive in the Legends Division. The Longhorns survived a trip to West Virginia with an overtime win, but running back Johnathan Gray and defensive tackle Chris Whaley were lost for the year. The schedule is about to get tougher for Texas, so Brown will have his work cut out for him in the final few weeks of 2013.
Each week, we will take a look at the hot seat/pressure on a program for all 125 coaches. Some new coaches will rank high due to poor performances but aren't in any danger of losing their job.
And another important note when reading our coach on the hot seat rankings: Outside of the top 10-15 coaches, it’s all about the pressure on a program. While some coaches – like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Indiana's Kevin Wilson – aren’t in any danger of being fired. However, both coaches need to continue to show the program is headed in the right direction.
Ranking All 125 CFB Coaches on Hot Seat/Pressure on Program to Win in 2013
|1||Mike London||2-8||UVA has lost 8 games in 4 out of last 5 years.|
|2||Charlie Weis||2-7||Freshman QB Montell Cozart has potential.|
|3||Norm Chow||0-9||Warriors look to avoid first winless season since '98.|
|4||Ron Turner||1-8||FIU has not scored in three games this year.|
|6||Tim Beckman||3-6||Illini has lost 19 straight Big Ten games.|
|7||Will Muschamp||4-5||Gators headed for first losing season since 1979.|
|8||Dave Christensen||4-5||Wyoming just 8-13 since playing in bowl in 2011.|
|9||Dana Holgorsen||4-6||Mountaineers showing signs of improvement.|
|10||Garrick McGee||2-7||UAB's last winning record was in 2004.|
|11||Bobby Hauck||5-5||Rebels still need a win to get bowl eligible.|
|12||Randy Edsall||5-4||Terrapins have lost 4 out of last 5 games.|
|14||Bo Pelini||7-2||Still alive in the Legends Division title mix.|
|16||Bill Blankenship||2-7||Headed for worst finish since 1-11 mark in 2002.|
|17||Kevin Wilson||4-5||Hoosiers' bowl hopes require big upset.|
|23||Doug Martin||1-9||Aggies gave Boston College all it could handle.|
|24||Skip Holtz||4-5||Bulldogs have won three out of last four.|
|27||Jim Grobe||4-6||Demon Deacons simply overmatched against FSU.|
|28||Troy Calhoun||2-8||AFA has not won fewer than 4 games since 1980.|
|29||Mack Brown||7-2||Injuries starting to pile up in Austin.|
|31||Brian Polian||3-7||Wolf Pack will miss bowl for the first time since 2004.|
|37||Tony Levine||7-2||Cougars much-improved in Levine's second year.|
|39||Kirk Ferentz||6-4||Good rebound season for Ferentz.|
|44||Jeff Quinn||7-2||Bulls in driver's seat for MAC East title.|
|46||Rocky Long||5-4||Aztecs won five out of last six games.|
|52||Brady Hoke||6-3||Wolverines continue to struggle up front.|
|55||Kyle Whittingham||4-5||Utes need to win at Wazzu to have a shot at bowl.|
|57||Scott Shafer||5-4||Orange has allowed just 3 points in last two games.|
|64||Larry Fedora||4-5||Tar Heels have won three in a row.|
|69||Frank Beamer||7-3||Hokies back in the Coastal Division title mix.|
|71||Curtis Johnson||6-4||Green Wave has lost two in a row.|
|78||Bob Stoops||7-2||Does OU have an offensive identity?|
|82||Mark Helfrich||8-1||Ducks still alive for a BCS bowl.|
|84||Larry Coker||5-5||Roadrunners quietly impressive.|
|91||Dan McCarney||7-3||McCarney should be in National COY discussion.|
|NR||Stan Parrish||1-0||Parrish went 2-30-1 as K-State's coach from 1986-89.|
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