Articles By Steven Lassan
Midweek MAC games in November are must-see television for starving college football fans.
However, midweek games can be tough on attendance, but that’s the trade-off for the added exposure on television.
The crowd for Tuesday night’s Miami (Ohio)-Buffalo game was incredibly small, which is no surprise considering how bad the RedHawks have been this year (0-11).
Here are a few crowd shots from last night’s game:
Texas Tech is set to close out its regular season schedule with a trip to Texas on Thanksgiving night. And the Red Raiders will break out an alternate uniform against the Longhorns, unveiling a “Lone Star” look for next Thursday’s game.
Here’s a look at Texas Tech’s uniforms for the Nov. 28 game:
See more photos of Texas Tech's Lone Star uniforms here.
Ohio State-Michigan is one of the top rivalry games in college football each season, and the Buckeyes plan to wear an alternate uniform for this year’s meeting.
Ohio State will wear all white uniforms, which are a tribute to the 1950 “snow bowl” game played between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.
Here are the Ohio State rivalry uniforms for next week’s game versus Michigan:
With 12 weeks in the books, college football’s bowl and national title picture is starting to come into focus.
Alabama and Florida State are headed for an intriguing national championship in Pasadena - provided both teams finish the season without a loss. The Crimson Tide still has to play Auburn, while the Seminoles’ toughest game is a desperate Florida team in the Swamp or the ACC Championship.
With Stanford’s loss to USC, Oregon jumps back to projected Pac-12 champion. The Ducks are projected to play Ohio State, while Wisconsin earns a second spot for the Big Ten in our BCS picks.
Washington State’s upset win over Arizona means the Cougars are just one win away from bowl eligibility. If Mike Leach’s team can knock off Utah this week, Washington State should find a home as an at-large selection. The Pac-12 will likely have more teams bowl eligible than available spots. However, with an opening in the Poinsettia and potentially the Hawaii Bowl, the Pac-12 should be able to find spots for its bowl-eligible teams.
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 12 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 12 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 Syracuse and Utah from BCS conferences. And Texas State, Arkansas State, Ohio, FAU, ULM and Troy from the non-BCS ranks.
College Football's Post-Week 12 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. Bowling Green|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Boise State vs. USC|
|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. Maryland*|
|Poinsettia||Dec. 26||Army vs. MWC||Utah State vs. Buffalo*|
|Military||Dec. 27||CUSA vs. ACC||E. Carolina vs. Boston College|
|Texas||Dec. 27||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||K-State vs. Iowa|
|Fight Hunger||Dec. 27||BYU vs. Pac-12||BYU vs. Washington|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 28||American vs. Big 12||Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame|
|Belk||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Houston vs. North Carolina|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Louisville vs. Miami|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Dec. 28||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||Texas vs. Michigan|
|Armed Forces||Dec. 30||MWC vs. Navy||Navy vs. SDSU|
|Music City||Dec. 30||ACC vs. SEC||Georgia vs. Pittsburgh|
|Alamo||Dec. 30||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Oklahoma vs. Stanford|
|Holiday||Dec. 30||Pac-12 vs. Big 12||Arizona State vs. Texas Tech|
|AdvoCare V100||Dec. 31||ACC vs. SEC||Georgia Tech vs. Arizona*|
|Sun||Dec. 31||Pac-12 vs. ACC||UCLA vs. Virginia Tech|
|Liberty||Dec. 31||SEC vs. CUSA||Tennessee vs. Marshall|
|Chick-fil-A||Dec. 31||SEC vs. ACC||South Carolina vs. Duke|
|Gator||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Ole Miss vs. Minnesota|
|Heart of Dallas||Jan. 1||Big Ten vs. CUSA||North Texas vs. Washington State*|
|Outback||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Missouri vs. Nebraska|
|Capital One||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Michigan State vs. Texas A&M|
|Rose||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Ohio State vs. Oregon|
|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. Wisconsin|
|BBVA Compass||Jan. 4||SEC vs. American||Vanderbilt vs. Rutgers|
|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.
Related College Football Content
ACC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Big 12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Big Ten Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Pac-12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
SEC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Stats to Know from Week 12
With three weeks left in the 2013 season, college football’s coaching carousel is set to begin. There were no coaching changes over the last week, but with the end of the year coming for a few teams, expect to see more movement over the next three weekends.
Texas’ Mack Brown and Nebraska’s Bo Pelini have moved up and down the hot seat watch this season, and both are back in the top 10 after losses in Week 12. The Longhorns were easily handled by Oklahoma State, while the Cornhuskers committed five turnovers in a loss to Michigan State.
Virginia’s Mike London, Hawaii’s Norm Chow and Illinois’ Tim Beckman take the top three spots in this week’s coach on the hot seat watch. However, all three are likely to return in 2014. London has two of the nation’s top recruits headed to Virginia, and athletic director Craig Littlepage continues to give the embattled coach a vote of confidence. The Fighting Illini has made a little progress this year, but Beckman cannot afford a loss to Purdue in Week 13.
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 coaches, it’s all about the pressure on a program. While some coaches – like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Indiana’s Kevin Wilson and Maryland’s Randy Edsall – 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||All signs point to London returning for 2014.|
|2||Norm Chow||0-10||Hawaii's worst season since 1998 (0-12).|
|3||Tim Beckman||3-7||Beckman under pressure but should return for 2014.|
|5||Dave Christensen||4-6||Cowboys have lost four in a row.|
|6||Dana Holgorsen||4-7||Will miss out on bowl for the first time since 2001.|
|7||Bo Pelini||7-3||Is Pelini coaching for his job in the last two games?|
|9||Garrick McGee||2-8||Blazers have lost 119-28 in last two games.|
|10||Mack Brown||7-3||Longhorns likely out of the Big 12 title picture.|
|11||Bobby Hauck||5-5||Rebels have two winnable games remaining.|
|12||Kevin Wilson||4-6||Hoosiers need to find some answers on defense.|
|14||Will Muschamp||4-6||Will need upset over FSU to make bowl.|
|15||Charlie Weis||3-7||Win over WVU snapped 27-game Big 12 losing streak.|
|17||Dan Enos||4-6||Weak November schedule should get CMU to 6-6.|
|19||Dan Mullen||4-6||Bulldogs battled against Alabama.|
|20||Randy Edsall||6-4||Win over Va. Tech should get Terps in bowl.|
|21||June Jones||4-6||QB Garrett Gilbert quietly having good season.|
|22||Kyle Flood||5-4||Lost 3 out of last 4; Recruiting class falling apart.|
|26||Paul Petrino||1-9||Vandals play at Florida State this week.|
|31||Jim Grobe||4-6||Demon Deacons can play spoiler against Duke.|
|34||Bob Davie||3-7||Lobos could be without RB Kasey Carrier rest of year.|
|35||Dave Doeren||3-7||Wolfpack has one more chance to avoid winless ACC record.|
|37||Tony Levine||7-3||Levine having a solid second season in Houston.|
|43||Ron Caragher||5-5||Spartans need to beat Navy or Fresno to make bowl.|
|47||Steve Sarkisian||6-4||Huskies headed for another 7-6 season?|
|50||Rocky Long||6-4||Aztecs have won six out of last seven games.|
|53||Matt Rhule||1-9||Back-to-back three-point losses for Temple.|
|54||Terry Bowden||4-7||Zips have won more games in 2013 than 2010-12.|
|57||Mike Leach||5-5||Cougars picked up impressive road win over Arizona.|
|59||Frank Solich||6-4||Bobcats outscored 79-3 in last two games.|
|60||Larry Fedora||5-5||Future looks bright for Tar Heels.|
|62||Jim McElwain||6-5||Rams have won four out of last five games.|
|68||Bryan Harsin||6-4||ASU is bowl eligible for third year in a row.|
|78||Dabo Swinney||9-1||Tigers in good shape to play in BCS bowl.|
|100||James Franklin||6-4||Commodores bowl eligible for third year in a row.|
|101||Mark Dantonio||9-1||Spartans in driver's seat for Legends Division title.|
Related College Football Content
ACC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Big 12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Big Ten Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Pac-12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
SEC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Stats to Know from Week 12
Fresno State and Northern Illinois are a combined 19-0 heading into Week 13. The Bulldogs rank No. 15 in the latest release of the BCS standings, while the Huskies check in at No. 16.
With both programs in the top 16 of the BCS standings, the opportunity is there for a bid to one of college football’s premier bowl games.
Northern Illinois played Florida State in the Orange Bowl last year and lost 31-10. Fresno State has never played in a BCS bowl.
Both teams will be favored in their remaining games, but the path isn’t completely clear. Northern Illinois has to play at Toledo, and assuming the Huskies win the division, will play Buffalo or Bowling Green in the MAC title game. Fresno State plays at San Jose State in the regular-season finale, followed by a potential rematch against Boise State in the Mountain West title game.
Fresno State and Northern Illinois: Does either team deserve a spot in a BCS bowl?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Tough to say. For the most part, Northern Illinois and Fresno State have dominated within their conferences. The Huskies handled a solid Ball State team 48-27 last week and defeated Eastern Michigan and UMass by a combined score of 122-39. The Bulldogs had to withstand a late rally to beat Hawaii, but Tim DeRuyter’s team has only two other conference games decided by a touchdown or less. What’s lacking on both resumes is a marquee non-conference win. Yes, Northern Illinois beat Iowa and Fresno State beat Rutgers, but both of those BCS teams are hovering around .500. Looking at the BCS standings, Arizona State, Wisconsin, LSU and Louisville are all ranked behind Fresno State and Northern Illinois. I think all four of those teams are better than the Bulldogs or Huskies, but that’s not what the BCS is designed to take into account. With the limitations on how many teams per conference, and Louisville and UCF – the frontrunners to win the American Athletic title – behind both teams, Northern Illinois and Fresno State have done all that has been asked of them to make a BCS game. I don’t think either team is one of the top 10-15 in the nation. But in this setup, if Northern Illinois and Fresno State win out, one will be in a BCS bowl.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
The answer I suppose is supposed to be no. Whether Fresno State or Northern Illinois reaches the BCS, that team will be one of the worst non-major conference teams to play in the BCS, joining 2012 Northern Illinois and 2007 Hawaii. Neither Fresno State nor Northern Illinois are nearly as good as the Boise State, TCU or Utah teams that reached the BCS in years past. Still, I’ve always been a proponent of seeing non-AQs in major bowl games. We’re supposed to believe a bowl game is a reward, and an undefeated season deserve a reward even if it occurs in the MAC or Mountain West. I know many people yawn at non-traditional powers in the BCS, but I like seeing an undefeated non-AQ team get its shot against one of the big boys — even if some of them in routs.
As two of the remaining undefeated teams left standing in college football, the Bulldogs and Huskies are both having impressive seasons. Each has a legitimate shot of running the table, including a win in their respective conference championship games. From a resume standpoint, neither Fresno State nor Northern Illinois has really beaten anyone of significance this season. The Bulldogs have a non-conference win over Rutgers, who is just 5-4 and fighting for bowl eligibility, and have already beaten Boise State once. The Bulldogs could play the Broncos again for the Mountain West Conference title, but even two victories over Boise doesn't look as impressive as it would in years past. The Huskies have run roughshod over their Mid-American Conference competition to this point, but their other wins have come against Iowa and Purdue, who are a combined 7-13 overall and 3-9 in the Big Ten, and 1-9 Idaho.
However, this may not matter, as long as either the Bulldogs or Huskies ends up running the table and finishes in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings or in the top 16 and ahead of a conference champion from one of the automatic qualifying (AQ) conferences — AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC. The former is very unlikely to happen, but don't count out the latter as UCF is in the driver's seat to win the AAC. The Knights currently sit 18th in the BCS Standings and are behind both Fresno State (15th) and Northern Illinois (16th). So does either team "deserve" a spot in a BCS bowl? Honestly, no, but because of the BCS system and the numerous twists and turns that have already shaped this season, the path for either the Bulldogs or Huskies to get one of the 10 highly covered, not to mention profitable, BCS bowl spots is clearly laid out. It also appears to be realistic goal for Fresno State or Northern Illinois to attain, and in the end that's all that matters to either "mid-major" program.
USC knocked off Stanford 20-17 on Saturday, improving to 5-1 under interim coach Ed Orgeron.
The Trojans’ only loss under Orgeron’s watch was a 14-10 defeat at Notre Dame.
It’s clear USC is playing with a renewed sense of energy and optimism under Orgeron, which has only complicated athletic director Pat Haden’s decision.
Orgeron replaced Lane Kiffin after USC’s 62-41 defeat against Arizona State, and USC has responded well to the coaching change.
Haden has the necessary resources to pay big for USC’s next coach, and there will be plenty of candidates interested in moving to the West Coast.
But considering Orgeron’s success this year, should he get more consideration for the full-time spot?
Should USC Hire Ed Orgeron as its Next Head Coach?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
No, I don’t think Orgeron should be hired as USC’s next head coach. Anytime an interim coach takes over, it seems most teams get an extra boost in terms of energy and emotion, but that’s tough to capture the next season. That’s exactly what USC is going through now. This level of performance is what is expected out of the Trojans each year, as despite the NCAA sanctions, there’s no shortage of talent on the roster. Orgeron deserves credit for what he’s done this year, and there’s no question he’s learned a thing or two from his time at Ole Miss. However, USC can pay big and will have plenty of interested candidates at the end of the year. Maybe Orgeron can stay on staff and help bridge the transition. The next head coach at USC should be someone that’s currently coaching elsewhere - and should be someone other than Jack Del Rio.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is the only interim coach from a fired head coach I can remember that has had any success after he was promoted. I can safely say this: There aren’t many like Dabo. Perhaps in many ways Orgeron is like Dabo. He’s clearly an emotional leader, and his recruiting track record precedes him. But USC should fight the emotions of the moment and look beyond Coach O. Orgeron was one of the worst hires in recent SEC history. Even counting his 5-0 record in the Pac-12 as USC’s coach, Orgeron still has an 8-21 record in conference games in his career. The Trojans must aim higher. That said, if I’m an athletic director at a Conference USA, Mountain West or Sun Belt school, I’m reconsidering Orgeron as a head coach. That, in itself, is an amazing statement. In September, the ceiling for Orgeron seemed to be recruiting ace and defensive assistant. He should be a head coach again if he wants to be. Just not at USC.
Orgeron's doing what Lane Kiffin couldn't — get the most out of this scholarship-strapped team — and suddenly finds himself with an outside shot at a Pac-12 South title. That's quite remarkable considering where this program was back in late September when Kiffin was fired following a 62-41 loss to Arizona State. Fast forward to the present and USC is 8-3 after a last-minute upset of then-No. 4 Stanford, something that no doubt thrilled the home crowd at the Coliseum. I've always been a believer in that you shouldn't fire someone if you don't have the next guy lined up and who knows, maybe athletic director Pat Haden had this succession plan in mind after all? Orgeron has been a head coach before (10-25 at Ole Miss from 2005-07) and as Kiffin's recruiting coordinator at both Tennessee and USC, he's largely responsible for the players he's now leading. With USC still dealing with NCAA-mandated scholarship reductions, maximizing the talent on the roster is critical as it relates to the Trojans' success moving forward. Orgeron has done just that since becoming the interim head coach. Why not drop the "interim" tag and see what he can do with a little more security? Besides, who else would be perfect for coaching in Los Angeles than a guy who has already proven his acting chops? After all it was Orgeron, not Nick Saban, who got more screen time in "The Bilnd Side." That's got to count for something, right?
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 12.
ACC Stats to Know from Week 12
1990: The last time NC State finished with less than 10 touchdown passes in a season
With two games left this year, NC State has thrown for just eight touchdown passes. Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas have combined for just five of those scores, with receiver Rashard Smith tying Mitchell with one this year. The Wolfpack threw for at least 31 touchdown passes in three out of the last four seasons and have not had a season of fewer than 10 since 1990. With games against East Carolina and Maryland remaining, NC State should get to 10 before the final snap. However, the drop-off in production at quarterback is largely why NC State will miss out on a bowl game for the first time in three years.
7.1: Yards per carry by Duke running back Josh Snead – second in school history
An underrated cog in Duke’s turnaround this season has been the rushing attack and its offensive line. The Blue Devils have five players with at least 41 carries, including quarterbacks Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette. Jela Duncan and Josh Snead are the team’s top running backs, combining for 965 yards on 159 attempts. Snead has been the team’s home-run threat, averaging 7.1 yards per carry on 68 attempts. The junior ranks second in school history with a 7.1 average, with Ace Parker (1935) owning the school record at 7.4. If Snead continues to perform as he did against Miami (138 yards), he could finish 2013 with the school record in yards per carry.
257: Total yardage by Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown against Virginia Tech
The Terrapins did not put on an offensive clinic against the Hokies, as the offense managed just 319 yards on 65 plays. With a receiving corps short on options due to injuries, Maryland put the game in the hands of quarterback C.J. Brown. The senior responded by recording 257 of the Terrapins’ 319 yards. Brown’s 122 rushing yards tied his season high, while his touchdown pass against the Hokies was his first since Sept. 21 against West Virginia.
2.4: Pittsburgh’s yards per carry in its last seven games
The Panthers’ offensive line was a huge question mark coming into 2013, and this unit has struggled through the first 10 games. The Panthers have allowed 37 sacks, which ranks as the most in the ACC. Pass protection isn’t the only issue for this unit, as Pittsburgh is averaging 2.4 yards per carry in its last seven games. The Panthers rushed for only 46 yards against North Carolina and were held to -5 against Georgia Tech. Only once in ACC play this year has Pittsburgh rushed for more than 100 yards (Duke). In order for the Panthers to get bowl eligible, the offensive line and rushing attack has to perform better in the final two games.
2001: The last time North Carolina had a five-game winning streak
The Tar Heels earned their fourth consecutive victory of 2013, defeating Pittsburgh 34-27 in Week 12. The win over the Panthers moved North Carolina one step closer to bowl eligibility and improved Larry Fedora’s team to 4-3 in ACC play. The Tar Heels have won four games in a row for the second time under Fedora, and with a victory over Old Dominion this Saturday, would have their first five-game winning streak since 2001.
40: Points allowed by Miami in three consecutive losses
Miami’s three-game losing streak has likely ended any hopes the Hurricanes had of winning the Coastal Division. But that’s not all of the bad news coming out of Coral Gables for coach Al Golden. For the first time in school history, Miami has allowed at least 40 points in three consecutive games. The Hurricanes rank 11th in the ACC against the run, ninth against the pass and 10th in the conference in yards allowed. Coordinator Mark D’Onofrio has coached with Golden since 2004, so there’s little reason to expect a coaching change this offseason. However, if this unit doesn’t improve in 2014, Golden may be forced to change coordinators.
12-1: Wake Forest’s record against Duke in its last 13 games
Duke’s path to a Coastal Division championship still has two difficult hurdles to clear. The Blue Devils play rival North Carolina in the season finale, while a trip to Winston-Salem to play Wake Forest awaits this Saturday. Duke hasn’t had much luck in Winston-Salem recently, losing six out of its last seven trips. However, the Blue Devils won 34-27 at Wake Forest last year. A win over the Demon Deacons would move Duke one step closer to bowl eligibility, while also giving David Cutcliffe’s team a chance to win 10 games for the first time in school history.
14-10: Virginia Tech’s record over the last two years
While 14-10 represents a winning record, it’s a clear drop-off for a program that recorded at least 10 wins for eight consecutive years (2004-11). Under Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech has not recorded back-to-back seasons of fewer than eight wins since 1991-92. The Hokies are just 8-7 in ACC play over the last two years and a loss to Virginia on Nov. 30 would equal the program’s losses in conference play from 2004-08.
24: Points needed by Florida State to break single-season record by an ACC team
Florida State’s offense is on a record-setting pace this year and needs only 24 points to set an ACC record for most points scored in a season. The Seminoles set the conference mark last year, recording 550 in 14 games. But this year’s offense is on pace to shatter that mark in 2013. Florida State should easily record 24 points against Idaho this Saturday and may have 600 overall points by the bowl game.
272.7: Amount of yards Andre Williams needs to average in final three games to break NCAA single-season record
It’s probably unrealistic to expect Boston College running back Andre Williams to average 272.7 yards per game over his final three contests. But after rushing for 339 yards against NC State, anything is possible for this senior back. Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders set the single-season rushing record with 2,628 yards in 1988, and UCF’s Kevin Smith, TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson, Tulane’s Matt Forte, Penn State’s Larry Johnson, Connecticut’s Donald Brown, California’s J.J. Arrington and Rutgers’ Ray Rice are the only players since 2000 to top 2,000 yards. Williams plays Maryland and Syracuse to close out ACC play, and both teams rank near the bottom of the conference against the run. The senior will also have a bowl game to chase Sanders’ record. It’s unlikely, but Williams is on a roll and should easily top 2,000 yards.
1982: The last time Virginia won two games
Can Virginia avoid its first season of double-digit losses since 1981 this year? The Cavaliers close 2013 with a road trip to Miami, followed by a home matchup against rival Virginia Tech. Virginia desperately needs something good to happen in the final two games to build momentum for the offseason, and coach Mike London continues to get a vote of confidence from his athletic director. While London is expected to return in 2014, 2013 is shaping up to be one of Virginia’s worst seasons in recent memory. The Cavaliers are likely to finish 2-10, which is the program’s worst record since 1982. And Virginia has not lost 10 games since 1981.
117: Yards Syracuse had before its final two possessions against Florida State
Just how dominant was Florida State’s defense against Syracuse? The Orange had only one drive over 20 yards until the fourth quarter, and four of their first-half possessions resulted in a three-and-out. Once the Seminoles began to substitute on defense, Syracuse was able to move the ball more in the fourth quarter. The Orange recorded 130 yards on 31 plays on their final two drives, which was more than the 117 yards the team had through its first 11 drives.
1: Wins needed by Clemson to record three consecutive double-digit win seasons
Clemson is off to a 9-1 start and should earn victory No. 10 with a matchup against Citadel this Saturday. Even with quarterback Tajh Boyd likely less than full strength due to a collarbone injury suffered against Georgia Tech, the Tigers should have little trouble improving to 10-1. With a win over Citadel, Clemson will earn its third consecutive season of double-digit victories. That’s only the second time in program history the Tigers have accomplished this feat, as Danny Ford led Clemson to 10 wins in each season from 1987-89.
13.2: Yards per touch by Georgia Tech running back Robert Godhigh
Georgia Tech’s offense has been inconsistent at times this season, but senior Robert Godhigh has been one of the team’s most-explosive players. Godhigh is averaging 13.2 yards per touch and has seven touchdowns this year. According to Georgia Tech’s game notes, 55 percent of Godhigh’s touches have resulted in a first down or touchdown. And consider this: Godhigh is a former walk-on.
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson has been ruled out for the remainder of 2013 with a concussion. Wilson suffered the concussion against Arizona State and did not play in the loss at Oregon.
Wilson’s career is also in jeopardy, as neurological testing revealed a pre-existing condition. More will be known about Wilson’s status in the future, but the Utah signal-caller will be out for the rest of the year, forcing backup Adam Schulz into the starting lineup.
Wilson finishes 2013 with 1,827 yards and 16 touchdowns, while he rushed for three scores in a 51-48 loss against Oregon State this year.
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|