Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/after-beating-missouri-south-carolina-favorite-sec-east

With one month to go in the 2013 college football season, there’s still not much clarity in the SEC East. Missouri, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida are still in the mix, and each team has been forced to navigate through the season with key injuries.

Missouri was on the doorstep of winning the East Division last week, but South Carolina rallied in the fourth quarter behind quarterback Connor Shaw. The Gamecocks are 4-2 in SEC play and have a favorable two-game stretch to finish their SEC slate with Mississippi State and Florida coming to Williams-Brice Stadium.

Georgia isn’t out of the mix, but the Bulldogs have to beat Florida and hope for two losses by Missouri.

Who will represent the East Division in Atlanta? Athlon’s experts debate the SEC East champion.

After Beating Missouri, is South Carolina the Favorite to Win the SEC East?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
South Carolina’s win over Missouri significantly changed the outlook of the East Division. Had the Tigers won on Saturday night, a division title and a trip to Atlanta would have been a near certainty for Gary Pinkel’s team. Instead, it’s back to square one. South Carolina has to be in the driver’s seat for the division crown, as its final two SEC games – Florida and Mississippi State – are at home. Missouri is the only team with one SEC loss in the East, but the Tigers have to go to Ole Miss and still have to play Texas A&M. Although Missouri is clearly improved from last season, I think this team stumbles once in its final two games. Georgia was my preseason pick to win the SEC East, but I’m not sure I can take the Bulldogs to win the division, especially with a road date at Auburn looming on Nov. 16. If healthy, Georgia might be the best team in this division. However, I think the Gamecocks have to be considered the favorite after Saturday’s win at Missouri. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
South Carolina is in the driver's seat now with the critical tiebreaker over Mizzou. The Gamecocks have two games left in the SEC, and both contests are winnable home matchups (Mississippi State, Florida). That puts South Carolina in the SEC East clubhouse at 6-2, while Missouri will have two games left to play. The Tigers should defeat both Tennessee at home and Kentucky on the road to reach 4-2 in SEC play. But the final two games — after Carolina is finished with SEC play — are extremely difficult. Gary Pinkel's bunch likely has to win out to get to Atlanta and its hard to see Mizzou defeating both Ole Miss on the road and Texas A&M at home. Odds are Mizzou is 6-1 with Johnny Manziel coming to town on the SEC's final regular season weekend, so how much fun is it that two "Big 12" teams could determine the SEC East on the final Saturday?

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
South Carolina certainly has an opportunity to win the SEC East, but I will stick with my original pick from the beginning of the season – Georgia. The Bulldogs will have to win out, which is very doable. I think Georgia will beat Florida this week, win at Auburn on Nov. 16 (the Tigers will be coming off consecutive road games) and take care of Kentucky to finish out SEC play. If that happens and Missouri loses two of its final four games (three of them are losable), Georgia will be back in Atlanta playing Alabama for the SEC title. South Carolina’s remaining schedule is very favorable and a Georgia stumble would put the Gamecocks in great position to win the division. But I think Georgia will win out and get the breaks it needs to once again win the SEC East.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Amazing how things have changed in the SEC East. A week ago, I was on the Missouri bandwagon, ready to see the Tigers head to Atlanta. This week, I’ve all but given up on Mizzou. Maybe it’s not a rational swing, considering the Tigers still have a lead in the division. But it’s tough to see Missouri regain the momentum to beat Ole Miss and Texas A&M to finish the season. If the Tigers held that 17-0 lead against South Carolina, they could have afforded a loss to the Rebels or Aggies. That’s not the case anymore. South Carolina has Mississippi State and Florida both at home and that’s it for the SEC. With Jadeveon Clowney rounding back into form and Connor Shaw proving he’s healthy, this may be the Gamecocks’ division to lose.

After beating Missouri, is South Carolina the favorite in the SEC East?
Post date: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-freshmen-2013-after-week-9

Projecting which freshmen will make an impact in any college football season is no easy task. But after nine weeks, there's enough data to know how the top newcomers are playing, so it’s time to examine how some of the top true and redshirt freshmen have performed this year.

Florida State’s Jameis Winston is a special talent that could have started right away but took a redshirt in their first season. Not only is Winston one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy, but the freshman is already one of the top players in college football.

Winston’s performance through nine weeks in 2013, along with Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel’s 2012 Heisman victory,illustrate what can happen when a special, elite freshman earns a starting spot under center.

But there’s another side to recruiting and incoming freshmen. Some players may take a couple of years to develop. And some players simply never live up to their lofty recruiting rankings.

Recruiting and talent evaluation is no exact science, which is why there are always a few names from outside of the top 100 or 200 of incoming freshmen that always seem to make an impact each year.

Athlon will update this list at the conclusion of 2013, but for now, here’s a look at the top freshmen nationally after nine weeks.

College Football's Top 25 Freshmen After Week 9

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Not only is Winston the top freshman in college football, he could make a strong case to be the No. 1 overall player. The Alabama native leads the ACC with an average of 311 passing yards per game, and his 11.9 yards per attempt ranks second nationally to Baylor’s Bryce Petty. Winston has tossed only four picks on 183 attempts and is completing 69.9 percent of his throws. Against ACC competition, Winston has thrown for at least three touchdowns in every game. As long as Famous Jameis continues at this pace, Florida State should finish unbeaten and in the mix for a spot in the national championship.

2. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Considering Florida already had Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson at cornerback, Hargreaves wasn’t necessarily guaranteed a prominent role in Florida’s secondary this year. However, the true freshman has been one of the Gators’ top defenders through the first seven games, recording 19 tackles, three interceptions and seven pass breakups. According to advanced data by, Hargreaves has allowed just 10 catches on 36 targets this year. And another indication of how good Hargreaves has been this year was his recent selection as one of the 15 finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award.

3. Kendall Fuller/Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech
We usually list one player per slot, but Fuller and Facyson are almost interchangeable as key cogs in Virginia Tech’s secondary. With Antone Exum missing the first seven games recovering from knee surgery, the Hokies threw Fuller and Facyson into the fire. Both freshmen responded and played at a high level from the opening snap. Fuller has more tackles than Facyson (31 to 17) and owns a slight edge in interceptions (5 to 4). However, Facyson missed one game due to injury. Thanks in part to the performance of Fuller and Facyson, the Hokies rank second nationally against the pass and have allowed just six touchdown tosses in eight games. With Exum and Kyle Fuller expiring their eligibility at the end of the year, Fuller and Facyson will headline the secondary in 2014.

4. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
New Arkansas coach Bret Bielema brought the same run-first mentality to Fayetteville that he used at Wisconsin, and Collins has been a perfect fit in the new offense. The Florida native leads the Razorbacks with 797 yards and has four rushing scores on 141 attempts. Collins is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and his 797 yards rank third in the SEC. The freshman had four 100-yard efforts in his first five games and had a solid showing against Alabama (77 yards). Expect Collins to be one of the key pieces in Bielema’s rebuilding effort.

5. A’Shawn Robinson, DE, Alabama
Robinson has quickly emerged as one of Alabama’s top defensive linemen this season. In eight appearances, the true freshman has 23 tackles (five for a loss) and four sacks. Robinson also has four quarterback hurries. In Saturday’s win over Tennessee, Robinson started at nose guard and started at end against Georgia State. At 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, the Texas native certainly doesn’t resemble a true freshman, and he will only get better with another offseason in Alabama’s weight room.

6. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Hackenberg’s numbers aren’t as impressive as Florida State’s Jameis Winston, but the Penn State starter has been solid in his first season on campus. The true freshman has started all seven games for the Nittany Lions, throwing for 1,784 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hackenberg has eight interceptions but is averaging 254.9 passing yards per game. The Virginia native has not completed more than 54.5 percent of his passes in a Big Ten contest. However, Hackenberg will get better with more time under the tutelage of coach Bill O’Brien.

7. Su’a Cravens, S, USC
Cravens ranked as the No. 5 recruit in the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100, and the California native is already one of USC’s top defenders. In eight games, Cravens has 37 tackles (1.5 tackles for a loss), three interceptions and one forced fumble. Cravens enrolled early at USC and the experience paid off, as he has started all eight games and will be one of the centerpieces for the Trojans’ new coach to build around in 2014.

8. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Treadwell was the top wide receiver recruit in the 2013 signing class and has been as good as advertised. In eight games, Treadwell has 41 catches for 385 yards and two scores. The freshman is averaging only 9.4 yards per reception, but his emergence at the start of the season was valuable for an offense that was dealing with the absence of Vince Sanders. If Donte Moncrief leaves for the NFL after this season, Treadwell will be the Rebels’ No. 1 target in 2014.

9. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Ramsey’s versatility has already paid dividends for Florida State’s defense, as the Tennessee native started the season at cornerback and moved to safety after Tyler Hunter’s neck injury. In seven games, Ramsey has 29 tackles, one sack, one interception and a forced fumble. Florida State’s secondary boasts an impressive collection of speed, talent and athletic ability, and Ramsey has been a key reason why the Seminoles rank first nationally against the pass, allowing just 9.9 yards per completion this year.

10. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
Boyd has been the perfect complement to No. 1 receiver Devin Street in the Steel City, and the true freshman has added another big-play element to Pittsburgh’s offense. Through seven games, Boyd has 34 catches for 526 yards and five touchdowns. The Pennsylvania native also has 106 rushing yards and one touchdown, while averaging 20.3 yards on kickoff returns. Boyd had three consecutive 100-yard games in September but has not topped 46 yards in each of his last three contests.

11. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
With Anthony Barr and Jack anchoring the outside linebacker spots in UCLA’s 3-4 scheme, the Bruins have a dynamic duo capable of getting to the quarterback on any play. Jack has six starts this season and has recorded 45 tackles (four for a loss), one interception and six pass breakups. The freshman had a strong performance in the Bruins trip to Oregon, forcing one fumble and blocking a punt in the first half. With Barr expiring his eligibility at the end of 2013, Jack will become an even bigger part of UCLA’s defense next year.

12. Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU
LSU returned a veteran core for its offensive line this year, but this unit was forced to shuffle its starting five after guard Josh Williford ended his career before the 2013 season started. Hawkins has been a steady presence on the right side for coach Les Miles, starting all eight games, including one at left tackle against Furman. Hawkins played 87 snaps in the opener against TCU and has at least 60 in every SEC game this year.

13. Addison Gillam, LB, Colorado
The Buffaloes are in rebuild mode with first-year coach Mike MacIntyre, and Gillam should be one player Colorado’s new staff can build around. In six games, Gillam leads the team with 67 tackles (five for a loss), has two sacks and three pass breakups. If he continues at his current pace, the California native will set a Colorado record for tackles by a freshman. Gillam has been a key force on third downs and has started all six games at middle linebacker.

14. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss
There’s no denying Nkemdiche’s talent. The true freshman was the No. 1 recruit in the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100 and was pegged for a huge role in Ole Miss’ defensive line rotation before the season started. Injuries have plagued the Rebels’ defense, including Nkemdiche, who suffered a hamstring injury in the narrow loss to Texas A&M. In six games, Nkemdiche has 15 tackles (four for a loss), two pass breakups and one quarterback hurry. Stats are always a misnomer for defensive players, and Nkemdiche’s impact goes beyond the box score. And when healthy, the freshman lineman would rank higher on this list.

15. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
The Rebels were forced to shuffle their offensive line after guard Aaron Morris was lost for the season in the opener against Vanderbilt. Tunsil was slated for a key role before Morris’ injury, but the coaching staff needed an even bigger contribution from the freshman. Tunsil has started five out of the last six games at left tackle and has been stellar in pass protection. Tunsil should anchor Ole Miss’ line for the next three seasons.

16. John O’Korn, QB, Houston
Houston has experienced quite a turnaround in coach Tony Levine’s second season. After a 5-7 mark in 2012, the Cougars are 6-1 and will be in the mix for the American Athletic Conference title. O’Korn’s emergence has been huge for the offense, especially after starter David Piland was forced to retire due to concussions. In seven games, O’Korn has 1,858 yards and 19 scores, while tossing just four picks on 220 attempts. The freshman is coming off his best performance of the season, completing 24 of 30 passes for 364 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-14 win over Rutgers.

17. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish’s defense isn’t quite as dominant as the 2012 version, but Notre Dame is still holding opponents to just 21.6 points a game. Smith ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100, and the Indiana native hasn’t disappointed. Smith has started all eight games for the Fighting Irish, recording 39 tackles (4.5 for a loss), one interception and one forced fumble.

18. Alex Redmond, OG, UCLA
Injuries and roster turnover have prompted a handful of freshmen to see immediate playing time for the Bruins’ offensive line. Redmond ranked as the No. 228 overall prospect in the 2013 signing class by 247Sports and has started all seven games at right guard in 2013. UCLA’s line is anchored by standout Xavier Su’a-Filo, but Redmond has been a key cog in a unit that is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and 469.1 yards per game this season.

19. Davis Webb, QB, Texas Tech
The Red Raiders have been forced to start two true freshmen at quarterback this year, and both players (Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield) have performed well in their first collegiate action. Webb has started the last three games for Texas Tech, throwing for at least 385 yards in each start. The true freshman’s season high for yardage (462) came against West Virginia, but throwing for 385 yards and two touchdowns on the road against Oklahoma is a solid showing as well.

20. Steve Longa, LB, Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights have struggled to stop the pass this year, but largely due to the front seven, this defense ranks 12th nationally against the run. Longa leads all Rutgers defenders with 69 tackles, and the redshirt freshman has six tackles for a loss, three sacks, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles. If Longa continues at his current pace, he could be a first- or second-team all-conference selection at the end of the season.

21. Montravius Adams/Carl Lawson, DL, Auburn
Adams and Lawson were two of Auburn’s top pickups on the recruiting trail and have combined for three sacks so far this year. With Dee Ford and Nosa Eguae expiring their eligibility at the end of 2013, Adams and Lawson should move into starting roles in 2014.

22. Darian Claiborne, LB, Texas A&M
There’s a youth movement for the Texas A&M defense this season. The Aggies only list four seniors on the defensive two-deep, with two freshmen listed as starters for Saturday’s game against UTEP. Claiborne has made five consecutive starts at middle linebacker and ranks third on the team with 49 stops. The freshman also has six tackles for a loss and one interception. With all of the new faces stepping into key roles, Texas A&M’s defense has struggled, allowing four of its five SEC opponents to score at least 30 points. However, the experienced gained for Claiborne in 2013 should help this unit improve in '14 and '15.

23. Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
The Wildcats had one of the Pac-12’s worst defenses in 2012, ranking 11th or 12th in the four major categories. But with nearly everyone back from last season, and the emergence of young talent, Arizona has improved, ranking fifth in the Pac-12 in total defense. Wright has added athleticism to the linebacking corps and leads all Wildcat defenders with 49 tackles.

24. Tony Conner, LB/DB, Ole Miss
Conner is another true freshman with a prominent role for Ole Miss. In eight games, Conner has 40 tackles (two for a loss), one sack and one interception. Conner is also credited with two quarterback hurries and four pass breakups. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound hybrid safety/linebacker is improving with every snap, and his presence has been critical for a defense that is short on depth due to injuries.

25. Daquawn Brown, CB, Washington State
Mike Leach is in rebuild mode at Washington State, and the Cougars have promising young talent on both sides of the ball. Brown has already proven he is one of the key cogs for the future, starting three games this season, including on the road at USC and Oregon. In eight overall appearances, Brown has 45 tackles, two interceptions and five pass breakups. Look for Brown to emerge as one of the top cornerbacks in the Pac-12 over the next three seasons.

Other Top Freshmen

Dominique Alexander, LB, Oklahoma
Athletic, quick linebacker has 40 tackles in eight games.

Joey Bosa, DL, Ohio State
Has played in all eight games and recorded 18 tackles and two sacks.

Stacy Coley, WR, Miami
Will be a future star for the Hurricanes and has 17 receptions for 278 yards and three touchdowns in six games this year.

James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
Rushed for 326 yards through first three games but has just 56 in last three appearances.

Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
Pass-rush specialist for the Bulldogs, recording four sacks and 13 quarterback hurries in seven games.

Jacoby Glenn, CB, UCF
Tied for American Athletic Conference lead with 11 passes defended.

Jared Goff, QB, California
Goff has thrown for 2,592 yards this season, but the true freshman has tossed seven picks and has only one touchdown toss in his last three games.

Isaiah Golden, DT, Texas A&M
Never easy starting as a true freshman at defensive tackle in the SEC, but Golden has 19 stops in seven games.

Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Ranks second on the team with 17 catches for 318 yards and one score.

O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Has played in all eight games and has caught 10 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown.

Germain Ifedi, OG, Texas A&M
Ifedi has started eight games at right guard for the Aggies this year.

Eddie Jackson, CB, Alabama
Has played in nine games (with three starts), recording nine tackles and one interception.

Ryan Janvion, S, Wake Forest
Redshirt freshman leads the team with 59 tackles.

Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State
Will be a future star for the Bulldogs. Has 17 tackles and five quarterback hurries in seven games.

Desmond King, CB, Iowa
True freshman has grabbed a starting role in Iowa’s secondary, recording 43 tackles and four pass breakups.

Hardy Nickerson, LB, California
Ranks second on the defense with 51 stops and has one forced fumble in eight games.

Shock Linwood, RB, Baylor
All-name team selection and top backup to Lache Seastrunk. The freshman has 443 yards and seven touchdowns on 55 attempts.

Johnny Mundt, TE, Oregon
The Ducks haven’t missed a beat with Colt Lyerla’s departure, as Mundt has picked up the slack. Mundt has 12 catches for 216 yards and two scores in eight games.

Marquez North, WR, Tennessee
Already the Volunteers’ No. 1 receiver, made key grabs in the win over South Carolina.

Caleb Peterson, OG, North Carolina
Peterson has started all seven games for the Tar Heels in 2013.

Darius Philon, DT, Arkansas
Pressed into starting role after injury to Robert Thomas, recording 26 tackles (six for a loss) and three sacks in eight games this year.

Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma
Redshirt freshman has started all eight games for the Sooners, recording 31 tackles and 10 pass breakups. Sanchez has been a key player in Oklahoma’s secondary, which ranks ninth nationally against the pass.

Dan Skipper/Denver Kirkland, OG, Arkansas
Freshmen duo has started in each of the last four games for the Razorbacks.

Sojourn Shelton, CB, Wisconsin
Has started all seven games for the Badgers, recording 20 tackles and three interceptions thus far.

Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee
Sutton was only a three-star prospect but has been a key piece in Tennessee’s secondary this year. He returned an interception for a touchdown against Western Kentucky and has 25 tackles and five pass breakups in eight appearances.

Thomas Tyner, RB, Oregon
Tyner will be a standout performer for Oregon in time, but playing time is limited with Byron Marshall and De’Anthony Thomas ahead on the depth chart. The true freshman has played in seven games, rushing for 437 yards and eight touchdowns. Tyner also has nine catches for 105 yards.

Ben Weaver, LB, Boise State
Leads all Boise State defenders with 72 tackles.

Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
White could be the next in LSU’s run of standout defensive backs. The true freshman has 39 tackles, one interception and six pass breakups in 2013.

Dontre Wilson, RB, Ohio State
Dynamic playmaker averaging 9.6 yards per touch.

College Football's Top 25 Freshmen in 2013 After Week 9
Post date: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-coach-hot-seat-rankings-post-week-9-edition

After a flurry of activity in late September/early October, the college football coach carousel has been quiet in the last few weeks. But is a period of calm signaling a busy offseason? It’s not out of the question.

Texas’ Mack Brown ranked No. 1 in the hot seat rankings just a few weeks ago, but the Longhorns have rallied with four consecutive victories. Although Texas has made some improvement, the schedule is going to get tougher, including a date at Baylor in the regular season finale.

Charlie Weis didn’t inherit a roster full of talent at Kansas, but the Jayhawks haven’t made much progress in his two seasons. The Jayhawks have lost 25 Big 12 games in a row and appear unlikely to win a conference matchup in 2013.

Nebraska’s Bo Pelini rebounded from a non-conference loss against UCLA with three consecutive victories, and the pressure on the program was on the way down. But a loss at Minnesota has Pelini back under the spotlight, as the Cornhuskers are 6-2 and have yet to play the toughest portion of their schedule.

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

RkCoachTeam2013 RecordAnalysis
1Ron English1-7Eagles have eight-game losing streak.
2Mike London2-6Schedule only getting tougher for Cavaliers.
3Charlie Weis2-5Jayhawks have lost 25 Big 12 games in a row.
4Bo Pelini5-2Will Pelini coach at Nebraska in 2014?
5Norm Chow0-7Warriors have lost four in a row by 10 points or less.
6Dana Holgorsen3-5WVU rebuilding, but missing bowl would not sit well.
7Charley Molnar1-7Minutemen have won just two games under Molnar.
8Ron Turner1-6Panthers headed for dismal 1-11 season.
9Dan Enos3-5Easy upcoming schedule could help save Enos' job.
10Tim Beckman3-4Fighting Illini have lost 17 straight Big Ten games.
11Doc Holliday4-3Season finale against ECU will decide C-USA East.
12Todd Monken0-7USM has lost 55-14 in back-to-back weeks.
13Mack Brown5-2Pressure has cooled with four consecutive victories.
14Skip Holtz3-5 
15P.J. Fleck1-8Finally broke into the win column. 
16Matt Rhule1-7Freshman QB P.J. Walker continues to impress.
17Garrick McGee2-5Blazers just 5-14 in two years under McGee.
18Sean Kugler1-6 
19Doug Martin1-7Barely avoided bad loss against Abilene Christian.
20June Jones3-4Can the Mustangs rally for a bowl?
21Rich Ellerson3-5
22Randy Edsall5-3Bye week should help Terps' regroup.
23Carl Pelini2-6Forced to resign this week.
24Bill Blankenship2-5Golden Hurricane in danger of missing bowl.
25Kevin Wilson3-4Can the Hoosiers find answers on defense?
26Dave Christensen4-4Loss to SJSU hampers Wyoming's bowl hopes.
27Bobby Hauck5-3Win over Nevada was program's first since 2004.
28Dan Mullen4-3
29Troy Calhoun1-7
30Rocky Long3-4
31Terry Bowden2-7Zips improving, but still a ways off.
32Paul Petrino1-7
33Joey Jones3-4
34Bobby Petrino4-44-4 record a disappointment for WKU.
35Kyle Flood4-3Scarlet Knights struggling with turnovers.
36Brian Polian3-5
37Jim Grobe4-4 
38Rick Stockstill4-4
39Jeff Quinn6-2Favorable schedule, but Bulls have won six in a row.
40Tony Levine6-1Quite a turnaround for Levine and Houston in 2013.
41Kirk Ferentz5-3
42Paul Haynes2-7
43Will Muschamp4-3
44Bob Davie2-5
45Sonny Dykes1-7
46Darrell Hazell1-6
47Scott Shafer3-4
48Bryan Harsin3-4
49Larry Fedora2-5
50Mike Leach4-4
51Trent Miles0-8
52Paul Chryst4-3
53Jim McElwain4-4McElwain has Rams moving in the right direction.
54Ron Caragher4-3
55Paul Johnson5-3
56Matt Wells4-4
57Bret Bielema3-5Bielema vs. Malzahn should be interesting this week.
58Willie Taggart2-5Taggart searching for answers on offense.
59Mark Stoops1-6UK playing hard for Stoops.
60Dave Doeren3-4
61Dennis Franchoine5-3Bobcats one win away from bowl eligibility.
62Ruffin McNeill5-2
63George O'Leary6-1
64David Bailiff6-2
65Dan McCarney5-3Quietly doing a good job in third season. 
66Tommy Tuberville5-2
67Larry Blakeney5-3
68Brady Hoke6-1
69Frank Solich6-2
70Jerry Kill6-2
71Steve Sarkisian5-3
72Mark Richt4-3
73Justin Fuente1-5
74Dave Clawson5-3
75Butch Jones4-4
76Dabo Swinney7-1
77Kyle Whittingham4-4
78Ken Niumatalolo4-3
79Paul Rhoads1-6
80Larry Coker3-5
81Mark Dantonio7-1
82Curtis Johnson6-2Johnson in mix for national coach of the year.
83Bob Stoops7-1
84Matt Campbell5-3
85Todd Berry4-4QB Kolton Browning back in the lineup.
86Steve Addazio3-4
87Rod Carey8-0
88Brian Kelly6-2
89Gary Pinkel7-1
90Mark Helfrich8-0Strong showing in second half for Helfrich.
91Al Golden7-0
92Rich Rodriguez5-2
93Todd Graham5-2
94Jim Mora5-2
95Mike MacIntyre3-4
96Bronco Mendenhall6-2
97Frank Beamer6-2
98Les Miles7-2
99Gus Malzahn7-1
100Mike Riley6-2
101James Franklin4-4
102Hugh Freeze5-3
103Tim DeRuyter7-0
104Gary Andersen5-2
105Jimbo Fisher7-0
106David Cutcliffe6-2Should make bowl for second consecutive season.
107Mike Gundy6-1
108Pete Lembo8-1
109Mark Hudspeth5-2
110Bill O'Brien4-3
111Gary Patterson3-4
112Pat Fitzgerald4-4
113Kevin Sumlin6-2
114Bill Snyder3-4
115Charlie Strong7-1
116Steve Spurrier6-2
117Chris Petersen5-3
118David Shaw7-1
119Kliff Kingsbury7-1
120Art Briles7-0
121Urban Meyer8-0
122Nick Saban8-0
NREd Orgeron2-1
NRT.J. Weist0-3
NRMike Bath0-3

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Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
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College Football's Coach on the Hot Seat Rankings: Post-Week 9 Edition
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:16
Path: /college-football/will-bo-pelini-coach-nebraska-2014

After a loss to UCLA in early September, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini started to feel the temperature on his seat increase by a few degrees. However, the Cornhuskers rebounded by winning three games – albeit against overmatched opponents – and had some momentum going into a road date at Minnesota.

But any momentum Nebraska had was lost on Saturday, as the Cornhuskers lost 34-23 to the Golden Gophers.

The Cornhuskers have problems on both sides of the ball, and quarterback Taylor Martinez now has a hip pointer and is questionable to play in Week 10. If Martinez doesn’t start, freshman Tommy Armstrong will take the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.

While the offense is a concern, the defense is a bigger issue for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are allowing 5.8 yards per play and have allowed 20 or more points in four games.

Pelini is feeling the heat once again after losing to Minnesota. Even at 5-2, Pelini can’t be too confident about his job status, especially with a brutal November slate that features games against Northwestern, Penn State, Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan.

Will Bo Pelini Coach at Nebraska in 2014?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
After losing to Minnesota, Bo Pelini is coaching for his job in the final month of the season. Under Pelini, Nebraska has won at least nine games in every season but doesn’t have a BCS bowl appearance and has just one top-15 finish (2009) in the final Associated Press poll. And the defense – Pelini’s strong suit – ranks ninth in the Big Ten in yards allowed. It’s fair to wonder if the expectations in Lincoln are a tad too high, especially as the program transitions to the Big Ten. However, this is Nebraska and championships are expected. The Cornhuskers could be without quarterback Taylor Martinez this Saturday against Northwestern, and the schedule won’t get easier with games against Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa to close out the year. None of those five games are guaranteed victories for Nebraska. Even though Pelini seems to be losing ground, I think he will be back for another year in 2014. However, that’s banking on the Cornhuskers getting to eight or nine wins in 2013. And if Pelini returns next year, expect him to be on a short leash in terms of job security.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I’d imagine the only way Bo Pelini remains at Nebraska is if the Cornhuskers win the Big Ten and reach the Rose Bowl. That’s still a possibility, of course. The Huskers still have games to play against Michigan and Michigan State for the division, and 7-1 in the Legends would be a pretty big feat. But the reality is that things look pretty dire for Pelini. The program has plateaued, and part of that plateau the last five seasons has included ranked Nebraska teams losing to unranked opponents. The defense, supposedly Pelini’s strong suit, isn’t getting any better, and the Huskers are looking at a new quarterback in 2014. Pelini has put the program on steadier footing since the Bill Callahan era, but there’s no momentum left. If Pelini is still the coach in 2014 and he doesn’t have a Big Ten title, it’s going to be awfully difficult for him to recruit or keep the support of people outside the program. Nebraska may not want to look for a coach when USC and potentially Texas are open, but the Huskers may have no choice.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Needless to say, the next five weeks are critical for Bo Pelini's future at Nebraska. Best case scenario, the Huskers win four of the final five games, finish 9-3, clinch the Legends Division title and get crushed in the Big Ten title game by Ohio State. That would give Pelini his fourth division crown, an 0-4 record in conference title games and a sixth consecutive season with at least four losses. That might be the BEST case scenario for a team that just got run (literally) out of the building by Minnesota. That situation would offer one of the more unique coaching resumes ever constructed: Four division crowns and 24 losses in six seasons. Frankly, that is difficult to do and it would mean a major decision has to be made in Lincoln. However, odds are the much-maligned Nebraska defense costs the Huskers more than just one game the rest of the way, and Pelini misses out on the Big Ten title game altogether. That’s not good news for a coach who already has a tenuous relationship with his fanbase, administration and media. It feels like both parties might be benefit from an amicable divorce.

Mark Ross
Make no mistake, Saturday's road loss to Minnesota did Pelini no favors, but Nebraska still is very much in the hunt for the Legends Division title. That was the Cornhuskers' first conference setback with games against Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa left. If Big Red runs the table then guess who's going to Indianapolis? I know this may seem far-fetched right now, but the only two road games are in Ann Arbor and State College. The rest, including the pivotal meeting with the Spartans in the middle of November, are at home. At worst, Nebraska looks to have a reasonable shot at nine wins, either before or including the bowl game, which is what Pelini has done ever since he took over in 2008. I know that Husker fans have lofty expectations, and Pelini has had his share of inexplicable losses, head-shaking moments and stuck his foot in his mouth on more than one occasion. However, the bottom line is he is 54-22 overall and 31-12 in conference play as Nebraska's head coach. Does it really make sense to fire someone who has won more than 70 percent of his games? Can you guarantee me that this program will be better off in 2014 with someone other than Pelini? You would certainly be hard-pressed to find someone as colorful, that's for sure.

Will Bo Pelini Coach at Nebraska in 2014?
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:16
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-9-bowl-projections-2013

With nine weeks in the books, college football’s bowl picture is starting to clear.

The second release of the BCS standings saw an expected change, as Oregon passed Florida State for the No. 2 spot. The Ducks have the edge in strength of schedule for the second half of the season, which should help Mark Helfrich’s team hold onto the No. 2 position over the Seminoles – assuming both teams win out.

The SEC’s East Division continues to be a nightmare to sort out. Missouri lost to South Carolina, which puts the Gamecocks back in the mix for the division crown. And the bowl bids for the SEC will be a battle, especially to be the team that replaces Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Texas A&M, Auburn, LSU, Missouri and South Carolina all have a case to be projected for that spot, but a slight edge goes to the Aggies for now.

With the Big 12 likely short on bowl-eligible teams, a spot should open for Notre Dame in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Fighting Irish do not have a guaranteed bowl spot for 2013, but the Fighting Irish won’t be left out of the postseason.

The bowl season doesn’t start until December, but with 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 9 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 nine weeks of action. Expect more changes over the next few weeks.

A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including West Virginia, TCU, NC State and Boston College from BCS conferences. And Texas State, Buffalo, Toledo, Western Kentucky and Arkansas State from the non-BCS ranks.

As the season progresses, it will be easier to project which teams will get to the six-win mark or finish below.

College Football's Post-Week 9 Bowl Projections for 2013

New MexicoDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCColorado State vs. USC
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 21MAC vs. MWCBowling Green vs. UNLV
Las VegasDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCBoise State vs. Arizona
New OrleansDec. 21Sun Belt vs. CUSAUL Lafayette vs. Tulane
Beef 'O' Brady'sDec. 23American vs. CUSAOhio* vs. MTSU
HawaiiDec. 24MWC vs. CUSASJSU vs. Rice
Little Caesars PizzaDec. 26MAC vs. Big TenNo. Illinois vs. N'Western
PoinsettiaDec. 26Army vs. MWCSDSU vs. North Carolina*
MilitaryDec. 27CUSA vs. ACCMarshall vs. Maryland
TexasDec. 27Big 12 vs. Big TenK-State vs. Indiana
Fight HungerDec. 27BYU vs. Pac-12BYU vs. Washington
PinstripeDec. 28American vs. Big 12Rutgers vs. Notre Dame*
BelkDec. 28American vs. ACCHouston vs. Duke
Russell AthleticDec. 28American vs. ACCLouisville vs. Clemson
Buffalo Wild WingsDec. 28Big 12 vs. Big TenOkla. State vs. Nebraska
Armed ForcesDec. 30MWC vs. NavyNavy vs. Utah State
Music CityDec. 30ACC vs. SECGa. Tech vs. Ole Miss
AlamoDec. 30Big 12 vs. Pac-12Texas Tech vs. UCLA
HolidayDec. 30Pac-12 vs. Big 12Arizona State vs. Texas
AdvoCare V100Dec. 31ACC vs. SECPittsburgh vs. Vanderbilt
SunDec. 31Pac-12 vs. ACCVa. Tech vs. Oregon State
LibertyDec. 31SEC vs. CUSATennessee vs. E. Carolina
Chick-fil-ADec. 31SEC vs. ACCMiami vs. Auburn
GatorJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenGeorgia vs. Iowa
Heart of DallasJan. 1Big Ten vs. CUSANorth Texas vs. Minnesota
OutbackJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenMichigan vs. Missouri
Capital OneJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenMich. State vs. S. Carolina
RoseJan. 1BCS vs. BCSOhio State vs. Stanford
FiestaJan. 1BCS vs. BCSFresno State vs. Baylor
SugarJan. 2BCS vs. BCSTexas A&M vs. UCF
CottonJan. 3SEC vs. Big 12LSU vs. Oklahoma
OrangeJan. 3BCS vs. BCSFlorida State vs. Wisconsin
BBVA CompassJan. 4SEC vs. AmericanFlorida vs. Cincinnati
GoDaddyJan. 5MAC vs. Sun BeltBall State vs. Troy
National TitleJan. 6BCS vs. BCSAlabama vs. Oregon

* 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

Stats to Know from Week 9
ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

College Football's Post-Week 9 Bowl Projections
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/texas-tech-unveils-new-uniform-lone-survivor-game

When Texas Tech and Kansas State meet on Nov. 9, the Red Raiders will be wearing an alternate jersey, which was created to bring awareness for the Lone Survivor Foundation. The foundation helps wounded service members and their families with various areas of support.

The Red Raiders’ jerseys from the matchup on Nov. 9 will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Lone Survivor Foundation.

This is a sharp look for Texas Tech for a great cause:



Texas Tech Unveils New Uniform for "Lone Survivor Game"
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 16:07
Path: /college-football/houston-unveils-halloween-themed-uniforms

Houston is off to a 6-1 in the second year under coach Tony Levine, and the Cougars’ only loss is a one-point defeat to BYU. Levine's team also has momentum after a 49-14 blowout victory at Rutgers last week.

The Cougars have a key American Athletic Conference game on Halloween night, and Levine unveiled new uniforms for the Thursday matchup.

But in the spirit of Halloween, Levine had a nice trick planned for his players. Check out this video from the jersey unveiling and the photo just below of the actual jerseys:

Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 12:47
Path: /college-football/rutgers-unveils-new-helmets-hurricane-sandy-relief

Rutgers will have a new helmet for Saturday’s game against Temple, as coach Kyle Flood unveiled a new look to support the relief efforts from Hurricane Sandy.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, and the helmet features the Rutgers “R” logo on the state of New Jersey.

This is the second tribute Rutgers has done this year to promote the relief efforts. In the spring game, Rutgers wore these special jerseys and helmets.

Rutgers Unveils New Helmets for Hurricane Sandy Relief
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 12:27
Path: /college-football/2013-acc-post-week-9-power-rankings

The ACC was short on intriguing matchups for Week 9. Florida State suffered no letdown from its win against Clemson, dominating NC State for a 49-17 victory. The Tigers got back into the win column with a 40-27 win at Maryland.

Miami needed another late comeback, this time against Wake Forest. The Hurricanes trailed 14-3 to the Demon Deacons but rallied behind running back Duke Johnson.

Duke didn’t do much on offense, but it was enough to upset Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The loss against the Blue Devils isn’t too damaging to the Hokies, as the November showdown against Miami will decide the Coastal Division.

Also in ACC action, Georgia Tech beat Virginia 35-25, and North Carolina defeated Boston College 34-10.

Pittsburgh suffered a loss at Navy, which dropped the Panthers to 4-3 overall.

More Post-Week 9 Power Rankings: Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

11Florida State (7-0, 5-0): No letdown here. After a big win at Clemson, it was easy to think the Seminoles might not follow up last week’s victory with the same effort against NC State. Florida State quickly erased any doubts, as the offense scored 35 points in the first quarter and cruised to a 49-17 victory. While NC State scored 17 points in the second half, the bigger takeaway for coach Jimbo Fisher was the valuable snaps for his backups. Quarterback Jameis Winston continued to make his case for the Heisman, throwing for 292 yards and three touchdowns on 16 completions. Barring a huge turnaround by Florida, Florida State’s last ranked opponent until the ACC Championship will be Miami next Saturday. Next Week: Miami
22Clemson (7-1, 5-1): The final score may have been a little closer than some expected, but Clemson erased a few of the bad feelings from last week’s 51-14 loss to Florida State with a 40-27 victory at Maryland. The Tigers’ committed three turnovers, which allowed the Terrapins to hang around. But quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 304 yards and one score, while running back Roderick McDowell delivered his best performance of the year with 161 yards and two touchdowns on 30 attempts. The defense allowed a 71-yard touchdown in the first quarter but held Maryland out of the endzone again until just under six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Clemson still has a chance to make a BCS bowl as an at-large selection. However, the Tigers’ likely need to go 11-1 for that to happen, which means they need to win at South Carolina in the regular season finale. Next Week: at Virginia
33Miami (7-0, 3-0): With Florida State up next, the Hurricanes may have looked past Wake Forest. Whether it was a case of overlooking the Demon Deacons or not, Saturday’s performance didn’t inspire much confidence that Miami can win at Tallahassee next week. Quarterback Stephen Morris threw for 191 yards, but the difference maker was running back Duke Johnson, who rushed for 168 yards and two scores. For the second consecutive game, Miami scored the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining. Next Week: at Florida State 
44Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2): Despite five turnovers, the Yellow Jackets scored a 10-point victory at Virginia to earn their fifth win of the season. Georgia Tech’s offense recorded 507 yards, gashing the Cavaliers for 7.6 yards per carry. Virginia recorded 32 first downs, but the Yellow Jackets held the Cavaliers to just 4.8 yards per play. Safety Jemea Thomas was a bright spot for Georgia Tech’s defense, recording 15 stops and two pass breakups. After losing three consecutive games, the Yellow Jackets have won two in a row and host Pittsburgh next Saturday in a key game for positioning within the Coastal Division. Next Week: Pittsburgh
58Duke (6-2, 2-2): It wasn’t pretty, but style points matter little for Duke coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils upset Virginia Tech 13-10, earning their first win in Blacksburg. Also, the victory was Duke’s sixth of the season, which should ensure this team is back in a bowl game. The stat sheet was a one-sided affair in favor of the Hokies. The Blue Devils didn’t convert a third down, and quarterback Anthony Boone failed to complete a pass in the second half. However, Duke simply found a way to win, with its defense stepping up in the final two quarters for the second week in a row. The Blue Devils have a bye to regroup, and with the way Cutcliffe’s team is playing, it could easily win any of their final four games. Next Week: Bye Week
64Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1): It’s hard to envision a loss when you hold a team to just 198 yards and force four turnovers. But that’s what transpired in Blacksburg on Saturday, as Virginia Tech lost 13-10 to Duke. The Hokies easily outgained the Blue Devils (387 to 198) and didn’t allow a third-down conversion, but it wasn’t enough to win. Duke’s four turnovers resulted in only two field goal attempts by Virginia Tech, and the Hokies struggled to get any production from their running backs. Quarterback Logan Thomas tossed four picks, including one with less than five minutes to go, which sealed the victory for Duke. Although the loss is a setback for Virginia Tech, this team remains alive in the Coastal Division – assuming it doesn’t lose next week at Boston College. Next Week: at Boston College
76Pittsburgh (4-3, 2-2): With a second-half schedule that features Miami, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, the Panthers have very little room for error after losing to Navy on Saturday afternoon. Pittsburgh’s offense averaged 5.2 yards per play, but the rushing attack was largely held in check (3.6 ypc, 135 overall yards), while quarterback Tom Savage didn’t connect on a pass longer than 28 yards. The defense forced four three-and-outs in the first three quarters, but Navy’s final three drives resulted in 17 points and each spanned longer than 10 plays. The only good news for Pittsburgh is playing the Midshipmen will prepare this team for next week’s matchup against Georgia Tech. Next Week: at Georgia Tech
811North Carolina (2-5, 1-3): A disappointing start to the season has cooled some of the momentum on coach Larry Fedora’s tenure, but the Tar Heels took out some of their early-season frustration with a 34-10 victory against Boston College on Saturday. The win over the Eagles was North Carolina’s first in conference play in 2013. A struggling run defense allowed Boston College running back Andre Williams to rush for 172 yards. However, the Tar Heels held the Eagles’ passing attack to just 59 yards. A bright spot for North Carolina’s offense was backup quarterback Marquise Williams, who threw for one touchdown and ran for 55 yards and one score. Next Week: at NC State 
97Boston College (3-4, 1-3): After starting 2-1, the Eagles have dropped four out of their last five games. A tough schedule has contributed to the recent struggles, as there’s no shame in losing at USC, Clemson and North Carolina, along with a home defeat to Florida State. As expected, Boston College was able to run on North Carolina (202 yards), but the passing attack struggled. Quarterback Chase Retting threw for only 57 yards on 20 attempts. The Eagles’ defense limited the Tar Heels to 5.4 yards per play, but despite four sacks, was unable to force a turnover. After next week’s game against Virginia Tech, the schedule lightens in the final four games, which should allow Boston College to get bowl eligible. Next Week: Virginia Tech
109Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3): The Demon Deacons had their two-game winning streak snapped with a last-minute loss at Miami. Behind a steady diet of short passes from quarterback Tanner Price, Wake Forest jumped out to a 14-3 lead. However, Miami rallied in the second half, scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes to win 24-21. Although the Demon Deacons lost, it’s clear Jim Grobe and his coaching staff have made the right adjustments after a sluggish 1-2 start. Wake Forest needs two wins to get bowl eligible and with Syracuse, Duke and Vanderbilt left, this team will have a chance to get to six wins. Next Week: at Syracuse
1110Maryland (5-3, 1-3): The Terrapins’ midseason slide continued with a 40-27 loss to Clemson. Injuries have taken a toll on both sides of the ball for Maryland, and it clearly showed on Saturday. Backup quarterback Caleb Rowe threw for 282 yards but completed just 19 of 45 passes. The defense did a good job of holding the Tigers to field goals in the first half. However, Clemson pulled away in the second half, with quarterback Tajh Boyd and running back Roderick McDowell leading the way. Considering all of the injuries that Maryland has suffered, next Saturday's bye week is timely and should allow this team to regroup for its final four games. Next Week: Bye Week 
1212Syracuse (3-4, 1-2): The Orange had a bye in Week 9 and return to action on Nov. 2 against Wake Forest. Syracuse needs three wins to get bowl eligible, and three home games will give coach Scott Shafer a chance to earn a postseason trip in his first season. The Orange play Wake Forest on Saturday and finish the season with back-to-back home games against Pittsburgh and Boston College. Next Week: Wake Forest
1314NC State (3-4, 0-4): As expected, the Wolfpack were simply outmanned against Florida State. The Seminoles didn’t suffer any letdown after beating Clemson a week ago, gashing NC State for 35 points in the first quarter. The Wolfpack were able to score 17 points on the Seminoles’ backups in the second half, and quarterback Brandon Mitchell made his return to the lineup. The senior missed five games due to a foot injury and showed some rust in the loss to Florida State (17 of 33, 128 yards). Although the loss in Tallahassee wasn’t pretty, NC State has a favorable schedule in the final month of the season and still has a shot at bowl eligibility. Next Week: North Carolina
1413Virginia (2-6, 0-4): The Cavaliers’ miserable season continued with a 35-25 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday. Virginia’s defense forced five turnovers, but the offense was unable to score any points off the Yellow Jackets’ mistakes. Quarterback David Watford threw for 376 yards and two scores. However, the rushing attack went nowhere, as running back Kevin Parks managed just 54 yards and one touchdown on 13 attempts. After five consecutive losses, the heat on coach Mike London is starting to build. Although London got a vote of confidence from athletic director Craig Littlepage, it’s tough to imagine he can survive if the final record is 2-10. Next Week: Clemson


ACC Week 9 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
For the second week in a row with the game in doubt, Miami turned to its ground attack to earn the victory. And the Hurricanes’ running backs and offensive line delivered once again, as the Miami scored with less than a minute remaining to beat Wake Forest 24-21. Running back Duke Johnson was the difference in the game for the Hurricanes, rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 30 rushes. And it was a gutty performance from the sophomore, as he appeared to be less than 100 percent in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes will need a similar performance from Johnson in next week’s huge showdown against Florida State.

Defensive Player of the Week: Kelby Brown, LB, Duke
Brown and fellow linebacker David Helton anchored Duke’s strong defensive effort against Virginia Tech. Brown recorded 14 stops, which ranked second on the team behind Helton’s 19. One of Brown’s tackles for a loss, but his biggest contribution was an interception with less than five minutes remaining, which sealed the victory for Duke. Brown ranks third on the team with 61 stops this season and has recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss. The junior missed 2012 due to injury but has been a key contributor for Duke’s defense in 2013.

Coordinator of the Week: Jim Knowles, Duke
The Blue Devils’ defense had some help from a sluggish Virginia Tech offense, but for the second week in a row, Duke’s defense has stepped up when it mattered. The Blue Devils didn’t allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s victory over Virginia and held the Hokies to just 55 yards in the fourth quarter, which was just enough for Duke to score a 13-10 win in Blacksburg. The Blue Devils forced four interceptions off Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and generated four tackles for a loss. Duke has held its last three opponents to five yards or less per play, and only one team in the last three games against the Blue Devils has scored more than 10 points. Knowles has pushed the right buttons this season, and the key stops on defense are a key reason why Duke is 6-2.

Team of the Week: Duke
Despite four turnovers, 198 yards of offense and zero third-down conversions, Duke defeated Virginia Tech 13-10. Saturday’s win in Blacksburg was the first in school history, and the Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the second straight year. Duke’s defense has taken a lot of criticism over the last few years, but this unit has delivered with the game on the line in back-to-back weeks. The Blue Devils did not allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s win against Virginia, and this unit held Virginia Tech to just 24 yards on its final two drives to secure the win. It wasn’t pretty, but the victory in Blacksburg shows how far Duke has progressed under David Cutcliffe. After going 6-18 from 2010-11, the Blue Devils are 12-9 in their last 21 games. And Saturday’s win over Virginia Tech was the program’s first on the road over a ranked team since 1971.

Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
A tip of the cap needs to go to Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller, who recorded three picks in Saturday’s loss to Duke. However, this award should take permanent residence in Tallahassee this season. Winston did most of his damage in the first half against NC State and finished with 16 completions for 292 yards and three scores. The freshman tossed just two passes in the second half against the Wolfpack and has at least three touchdown passes in four consecutive games.

5th Down

• Clemson running back Roderick McDowell rushed for 161 yards on 30 carries against Maryland. The 100-yard effort was his first since the season opener.

• In Saturday’s win at Virginia Tech, Duke did not convert a third down or complete a pass in the second half.

• Wake Forest freshman safety Ryan Janvion led the defense with 14 tackles in Saturday’s loss to Miami.

• Maryland linebacker Cole Farrand recorded 23 tackles in Saturday’s loss against Clemson.

• After missing five games due to a foot injury, quarterback Brandon Mitchell returned to the lineup for NC State. Mitchell completed 17 of 32 passes for 128 yards.

• Pittsburgh receiver Devin Street caught nine passes against Navy, giving him 186 career receptions. Street’s 186 career receptions are a school record.

• Freshman linebacker E.J. Levenberry led Florida State with eight tackles.

• Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins set a single-game school record with 14 catches in Saturday’s win over Maryland.

• Georgia Tech had three players – Zach Laskey, Robert Godhigh and David Sims – rush for 100 yards against Virginia.

• Florida State has averaged at least seven yards per play in every game this year.

• Duke did not complete a pass in the second half in Saturday’s 13-10 victory over Virginia Tech.

• Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro has three consecutive games of at least 10 catches.

• Pittsburgh’s defense allowed 17 points on Navy’s final three possessions, which was just enough for the Midshipmen to score a 24-21 upset.

• Virginia receivers Darius Jennings and Tim Smith became the first duo in school history to catch at least 10 passes in the same contest.

ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-post-week-9-power-rankings

Stanford and Oregon are the Pac-12’s only options for a team in the national championship game, and with both programs avoiding an upset loss in Week 9, the stage is set for a huge showdown on Nov. 7.

The Ducks were tied with UCLA at halftime but used a strong second half from running back Byron Marshall to pull away from the Bruins. Even with a struggling offense, Stanford was able to keep Oregon State’s high-powered offense out of the endzone until the final minute of the third quarter.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, USC’s depleted roster had just enough talent remaining to beat Utah 19-3. Arizona knocked off Colorado 44-20, and Washington beat California 41-17.

More Post-Week 9 Power Rankings: ACC Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings 

11Oregon (8-0, 5-0): With the score tied at 14 at halftime, Saturday’s game against UCLA was the biggest test of the Mark Helfrich era. If there were any doubts about Helfrich’s leadership for the Ducks, they should have been answered in the second half. Oregon outscored the Bruins 28-0 in the final two quarters, cruising to a 42-14 win. The final yardage (555) wasn’t as eye-popping as some of the Ducks’ previous totals, but it was more than enough. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was steady, while running back Byron Marshall led the way on offense with 133 yards and three touchdowns. The Ducks’ defense held UCLA to 64 passing yards and sacked quarterback Brett Hundley three times. Next Week: Bye Week
22Stanford (7-1, 5-1): With the offense struggling, Stanford’s defense delivered. The Cardinal held Oregon State to just 288 yards of offense (3.6 yards per play), and the Beavers scored only one touchdown in a 20-12 Stanford victory. The connection of quarterback Sean Mannion and receiver Brandin Cooks is one of the best in the nation, but the Cardinal held Cooks to just nine receptions for 80 yards, while Mannion was sacked eight times. Stanford’s performance on offense left a lot to be desired, but the bye week should allow coach David Shaw and his staff an opportunity to regroup. Next Week: Bye Week
33Arizona State (5-2, 3-1): The Sun Devils were off on Saturday and a trip to Pullman for a Thursday night matchup against Washington State is on tap this week. Arizona State is in the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 South title, but three of its final five games are on the road, including a Nov. 23 date at UCLA. The Sun Devils lost 37-27 in their last trip to Washington State in 2011. Next Week: at Washington State (Thursday)
44UCLA (5-2, 2-2): For a half, the Bruins gave Oregon its toughest test of the season. But the final two quarters were a different story. UCLA did not score a point in the second half, losing to the Ducks 42-14. The Bruins’ passing attack was stuck in neutral against Oregon, and no UCLA drive in the second half amassed more than 37 yards. Quarterback Brett Hundley threw for just 64 yards, which was the lowest total in his career. One bright spot for UCLA was the play of senior linebacker Anthony Barr, who recorded two sacks and one forced fumble. Next Week: Colorado
55Oregon State (6-2, 4-1): Despite losing to Stanford, the Beavers maintain their No. 5 spot in the power rankings. Oregon State’s high-powered offense was held in check by the Cardinal, as quarterback Sean Mannion threw for 271 yards, and receiver Brandin Cooks was held under 100 yards (80). The Beavers have struggled to establish a consistent rushing attack this year and managed only 17 yards against Stanford. But the biggest concern for coach Mike Riley has to be a line that allowed eight sacks. Oregon State doesn’t have a ton of time to regroup with a date against USC on Friday night. Next Week: USC (Friday)
66Washington (5-3, 2-3): After three consecutive losses, the Huskies needed a rebound performance before the bye week. Mission accomplished. Washington jumped to a 17-0 lead over California in the first quarter and pulled away for a 41-17 victory. Quarterback Keith Price showed no ill-effects from a thumb injury, completing 20 of 32 passes for 376 yards. Running back Bishop Sankey was held in check by Arizona State, but the junior gashed the Golden Bears for 241 yards and two scores. The Huskies should be favored to beat Colorado and Washington in November. However, can Washington beat UCLA or Oregon State to get over seven wins for the first time under coach Steve Sarkisian? Next Week: Bye Week 
77USC (5-3, 2-2): Despite a shorthanded roster, the Trojans managed to do just enough to beat Utah 19-3. USC had only 40-50 players available for this game due to NCAA sanctions and injuries, but the patchwork roster held together. The Trojans’ defense limited Utah to just 201 yards and forced four turnovers. USC quarterback Cody Kessler was sacked five teams but completed 21 of 32 throws for 230 yards. The Trojans have combined for just 29 points in their last two games, and this unit has a quick turnaround with a date next Friday at Oregon State. However, USC is just one win away from bowl eligibility, and with a week to heal, the Trojans could get some of their injured players back for Week 10. Next Week: at Oregon State (Friday)
88Arizona (5-2, 2-2): The Wildcats started 0-2 in Pac-12 play but have rebounded with back-to-back wins. Colorado battled Arizona, but the Wildcats simply had too much on offense and pulled away in the second half for a 44-20 victory. Arizona took advantage of a struggling Colorado rush defense, gashing the Buffaloes for 405 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Ka’Deem Carey recorded 119 yards on 23 attempts, and the junior now has nine consecutive 100-yard efforts. The Wildcats’ defense was a trouble spot last season but has held five of their seven opponents under 25 points this year. Next Week: at California 
99Utah (4-4, 1-4): Since the upset victory over Stanford on Oct. 12, things have been trending in the wrong direction for the Utes. Utah lost 35-24 to Arizona last week and suffered a 19-3 defeat at USC on Saturday. The loss to the Trojans is puzzling considering the injury issues for USC. Utah’s offense never got on track, averaging a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. Quarterback Travis Wilson has showed flashes of promise, but the sophomore has tossed 12 interceptions in five Pac-12 games. Wilson hasn’t been 100 percent, and the bye next Saturday should help this offense regroup before the final stretch of the season. Next Week: Bye Week 
1010Washington State (4-4, 2-3): The Cougars had a bye in Week 9 and return to action on Thursday night against Arizona State. Washington State has made strides in coach Mike Leach’s second season in Pullman, but the Cougars still need two wins to get bowl eligible. With Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and Washington on the schedule, Washington State may need an upset or two in order to reach the postseason. Next Week: Arizona State (Thursday)
1111Colorado (3-4, 0-4): A 24-point loss is never a good thing, but the Buffaloes managed to hang around for three quarters against Arizona. That last statement may not seem like much, but under new coach Mike MacIntyre, it’s clear Colorado is improving. Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau threw for 212 yards and one touchdown on 17 completions, while receiver Paul Richardson grabbed seven passes for 132 yards and one score. The Buffaloes’ biggest issue is their defense, which was gashed for 405 yards and four touchdowns against the Wildcats. Colorado’s schedule won’t get any easier in the next few weeks, as road trips to UCLA and Washington are up next. Next Week: at UCLA
1212California (1-7, 0-5): The Golden Bears continued to struggle in Pac-12 play with a 41-17 loss against Washington. California’s offense recorded 483 yards against the Huskies, as quarterback Jared Goff completed 32 of 54 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown. But the Golden Bears’ biggest trouble spot is the defense, which allowed the Huskies to average 8.2 yards per play. Injuries and inexperience have been a driving force behind California’s struggles, and the schedule isn’t going to get any easier in the final month of the season. Next Week: Arizona 

Pac-12 Week 9 Recap and Awards

by Braden Gall

Offensive Player of the Week: Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
After a monster performance against UCLA at home, Gaffney backed it up with another stellar showing against a team that had yet to lose in Pac-12 play. On the road against Oregon State, Gaffney carried 22 times for 145 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. He accounted for all of Stanford's scoring in Corvallis and is now third in the Pac-12 in rushing (894 yards, 111.8 ypg). His 12 touchdowns are tied for the lead in the conference.

Defensive Player of the Week: Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford
Murphy, much like the rest of the Cardinal defense, was all over the field against Oregon State. Murphy posted eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks against the nation's leading passer. He leads the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss after back-to-back stellar showings against UCLA and Oregon State. The Cardinal's defensive performance — holding the Beavers to a season-low 288 yards — on the road was a championship-style performance. 

Team of the Week: Oregon
Just like it did against Washington, Oregon played a relatively tight game against UCLA for the better part of three quarters. And just like it did against the Huskies, the Ducks put their foot on the gas pedal for the final quarter and pulled away from a ranked team in impressive fashion. Oregon scored 28 unanswered points to make a 14-14 game a blowout. Oregon has scored at least 42 points in every game and produced another 555 yards of total offense. The win for the Ducks and Stanford's subsequent victory over Oregon State has set up the Thursday night battle in Palo Alto between the last two Pac-12 champs.

Coordinator of the Week: Derek Mason, Stanford
After dominating at home last week against UCLA by holding the Bruins to a season-low in yards and points, Mason's bunch was at it again. Against yet another elite offensive attack, this time on the road, Stanford dominated the Oregon State front line. The Cardinal registered eight sacks against the nation's leading passer in Sean Mannion and held the nation's most productive wide receiver to a season-low 90 yards. The Cardinal defense appears to be well past its early season "slump" and has produced two of the most impressive showings in the nation the last two weekends.

Freshman of the Week: Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Arizona moved to within a game of bowl eligibility and got its second conference win with a victory over Colorado on the road. Wright posted nine total tackles and helped the Wildcats hold the Buffs to just 349 yards of offense and only 3.3 yards per carry. He is Arizona's leading tackler and is third among Pac-12 freshmen in tackles for the season.

Fifth Down

• Washington's Bishop Sankey got back on track against Cal by rushing for a career-high 241 yards on 27 carries for a sturdy 8.9 yards per carry.

• Arizona's B.J. Denker and Ka'Deem Carey combined for 311 yards and four touchdowns on the ground against Colorado. Carey scored all four touchdowns, and Denker averaged 12.8 yards per carry (192 yards).

With less than 50 scholarship players, USC defeated Utah 19-3. The Trojans allowed 201 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers.

• Byron Marshall rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns for Oregon in the win over UCLA. He also caught a pass for 23 yards.

• Sean Mannion was averaging more than 400 yards passing per game. He attempted 57 passes in the loss to Stanford and managed just 271 yards for a 4.8-yard per attempt average.

Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:16
Path: /college-football/2013-acc-week-9-recap-and-awards

The ACC was short on marquee games for Week 9, but the conference provided some intrigue.

Duke upset Virginia Tech to earn bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season.

Florida State and North Carolina cruised to easy victories, while Miami needed another late comeback to stay unbeaten.

Pittsburgh suffered an upset loss to Navy, which puts the Panthers’ bowl hopes in jeopardy.

ACC Week 9 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
For the second week in a row with the game in doubt, Miami turned to its ground attack to earn the victory. And the Hurricanes’ running backs and offensive line delivered once again, as the Miami scored with less than a minute remaining to beat Wake Forest 24-21. Running back Duke Johnson was the difference in the game for the Hurricanes, rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 30 rushes. And it was a gutty performance from the sophomore, as he appeared to be less than 100 percent in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes will need a similar performance from Johnson in next week’s huge showdown against Florida State.

Defensive Player of the Week: Kelby Brown, LB, Duke
Brown and fellow linebacker David Helton anchored Duke’s strong defensive effort against Virginia Tech. Brown recorded 14 stops, which ranked second on the team behind Helton’s 19. One of Brown’s tackles for a loss, but his biggest contribution was an interception with less than five minutes remaining, which sealed the victory for Duke. Brown ranks third on the team with 61 stops this season and has recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss. The junior missed 2012 due to injury but has been a key contributor for Duke’s defense in 2013.

Coordinator of the Week: Jim Knowles, Duke
The Blue Devils’ defense had some help from a sluggish Virginia Tech offense, but for the second week in a row, Duke’s defense has stepped up when it mattered. The Blue Devils didn’t allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s victory over Virginia and held the Hokies to just 55 yards in the fourth quarter, which was just enough for Duke to score a 13-10 win in Blacksburg. The Blue Devils forced four interceptions off Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and generated four tackles for a loss. Duke has held its last three opponents to five yards or less per play, and only one team in the last three games against the Blue Devils has scored more than 10 points. Knowles has pushed the right buttons this season, and the key stops on defense are a key reason why Duke is 6-2.

Team of the Week: Duke
Despite four turnovers, 198 yards of offense and zero third-down conversions, Duke defeated Virginia Tech 13-10. Saturday’s win in Blacksburg was the first in school history, and the Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the second straight year. Duke’s defense has taken a lot of criticism over the last few years, but this unit has delivered with the game on the line in back-to-back weeks. The Blue Devils did not allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s win against Virginia, and this unit held Virginia Tech to just 24 yards on its final two drives to secure the win. It wasn’t pretty, but the victory in Blacksburg shows how far Duke has progressed under David Cutcliffe. After going 6-18 from 2010-11, the Blue Devils are 12-9 in their last 21 games. And Saturday’s win over Virginia Tech was the program’s first on the road over a ranked team since 1971.

Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
A tip of the cap needs to go to Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller, who recorded three picks in Saturday’s loss to Duke. However, this award should take permanent residence in Tallahassee this season. Winston did most of his damage in the first half against NC State and finished with 16 completions for 292 yards and three scores. The freshman tossed just two passes in the second half against the Wolfpack and has at least three touchdown passes in four consecutive games.

5th Down

• Clemson running back Roderick McDowell rushed for 161 yards on 30 carries against Maryland. The 100-yard effort was his first since the season opener.

• In Saturday’s win at Virginia Tech, Duke did not convert a third down or complete a pass in the second half.

• Wake Forest freshman safety Ryan Janvion led the defense with 14 tackles in Saturday’s loss to Miami.

• Maryland linebacker Cole Farrand recorded 23 tackles in Saturday’s loss against Clemson.

• After missing five games due to a foot injury, quarterback Brandon Mitchell returned to the lineup for NC State. Mitchell completed 17 of 32 passes for 128 yards.

• Pittsburgh receiver Devin Street caught nine passes against Navy, giving him 186 career receptions. Street’s 186 career receptions are a school record.

• Freshman linebacker E.J. Levenberry led Florida State with eight tackles.

• Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins set a single-game school record with 14 catches in Saturday’s win over Maryland.

• Georgia Tech had three players – Zach Laskey, Robert Godhigh and David Sims – rush for 100 yards against Virginia.

• Florida State has averaged at least seven yards per play in every game this year.

• Duke did not complete a pass in the second half in Saturday’s 13-10 victory over Virginia Tech.

• Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro has three consecutive games of at least 10 catches.

• Pittsburgh’s defense allowed 17 points on Navy’s final three possessions, which was just enough for the Midshipmen to score a 24-21 upset.

• Virginia receivers Darius Jennings and Tim Smith became the first duo in school history to catch at least 10 passes in the same contest.

ACC Week 9 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 12:48
Path: /college-football/nebraska-rb-ameer-abdullah-hurdles-minnesota-defender

Nebraska suffered a disappointing loss at Minnesota on Saturday, but running back Ameer Abdullah turned in one of the few bright spots for the Cornhuskers.

In the fourth quarter, Abdullah hurdled a Minnesota defender to put the Cornhuskers into scoring position. Abdullah finished with 165 rushing yards on 19 attempts.

Check out this play by Nebraska’s No. 1 running back:

Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah Hurdles Minnesota Defender
Post date: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 17:41
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/miami-wr-stacy-coley-makes-juggling-catch-against-wake-forest

First it was Clive Walford. And now it’s Stacy Coley. Miami’s receivers provided plenty of highlight-reel plays against Wake Forest.

Coley’s catch was a huge play in terms of momentum for the Hurricanes, which survived an upset bid of Wake Forest to win 24-21.



Miami WR Stacy Coley Makes Juggling Catch Against Wake Forest
Post date: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 15:50
Path: /college-football/ball-state-wr-willie-snead-makes-one-handed-td-grab

Ball State’s Willie Snead is quietly one of the nation’s most-productive receivers, and the junior made one of 2013’s top catches against Akron.


Ball State WR Willie Snead Makes One-Handed TD Grab
Post date: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 14:43
Path: /college-football/mike-gundy-not-impressed-iowa-states-pass-coverage

After going up 21-0 against Iowa State, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was caught by the cameras with a few comments about the Cyclones’ pass defense.

It’s a short vine from @PistolsGuy, but it sums up what the Oklahoma State coach thought about the start of his offense against the Iowa State secondary.

Mike Gundy Is Not Impressed With Iowa State's Pass Coverage
Post date: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 14:31
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/miamis-clive-walford-makes-awesome-one-handed-catch-against-wake-forest

Miami tight end Clive Walford made a nifty one-handed grab in the first half of Saturday’s game against Wake Forest.

With the Hurricanes trailing 14-3, Walford grabbed a pass by quarterback Stephen Morris for a big gain, which helped Miami move into scoring position.


Miami's Clive Walford Makes Awesome One-Handed Catch Against Wake Forest
Post date: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 13:58
Path: /college-football/stanford-cardinal-vs-oregon-state-beavers-2013-preview-and-prediction

Oregon is considered a heavy favorite to win the Pac-12 North, but Stanford and Oregon State are still in the mix. The Cardinal’s national title hopes took a hit with a loss to Utah on Oct. 12, while the Beavers are still trying to recover in the polls from a defeat to Eastern Washington in the season opener.

It’s probably too early to say this is an elimination game for the North Division, but Stanford cannot afford another loss. The Cardinal had some help in the national title picture with an array of upsets last week. However, winning the Pac-12 and playing in a BCS bowl appears to be the more attainable goal.

Stanford has won four out of the last five meetings in this series. Oregon State’s last victory against the Cardinal came in 2009, winning a 36-28 matchup in Corvallis. 

Stanford at Oregon State

Kickoff: 10:30 ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Stanford -4

Three Things to Watch

Mannion to Cooks
What a difference a couple of months can make. Oregon State’s Sean Mannion wasn’t guaranteed to be the No. 1 quarterback in fall practice, but the junior leads the nation with an average of 427.4 passing yards per game. Mannion has just three interceptions and is completing 68.6 percent of his throws. His favorite target is Brandin Cooks, who has 76 receptions for 1,176 yards and 12 scores this year. Cooks and Mannion have been two of college football’s top players through the first half of the season, but Stanford’s defense will be their toughest opponent of 2013. The Cardinal rank sixth in the Pac-12 in pass defense efficiency, but this group is loaded with talent. Alex Carter and Wayne Lyons form a solid pair at cornerback, while safeties Ed Reynolds and Jordan Richards both have All-American potential. Richards has three picks this season, and Reynolds ranks second on the team with 50 stops. Can Cooks and Mannion be stopped? If any defense can find an answer for this duo, it should be the Cardinal, especially with a pass rush that has generated 19 sacks in 2013.

Oregon State’s rushing attack
With a prolific passing attack, Oregon State’s struggles on the ground have been overlooked. However, the numbers aren’t pretty. The Beavers are averaging just 2.9 yards per carry and 86 yards per game in Pac-12 games. Running back Storm Woods finished 2012 with 940 yards and 13 touchdowns, but the sophomore has just 193 yards in 2013. Although quarterback Sean Mannion has been sharp through the first seven games, Oregon State needs to have some balance to beat Stanford. But that’s easier said than done against the Cardinal, who leads the Pac-12 in rush defense at 99 yards per game in conference-only contests. One wildcard to watch: Keep an eye on Woods on swing passes out of the backfield.

Stanford’s offensive line
The Cardinal has one of the best offensive lines in the nation, and this unit will be under the microscope on Saturday night. Oregon State’s defense has improved since allowing 46 points to Eastern Washington in the opener, but the Beavers are still susceptible to the run. Utah gashed Oregon State for 260 yards and Stanford is averaging 4.8 yards per attempt. The Cardinal’s defense can hold their own against anyone in the nation but having a good offense – especially one that can play keep-away – could be the key to stopping Mannion and Cooks. If Stanford is able to get running back Tyler Gaffney going early on, it could be a long night for Oregon State's front seven.

Key Player: Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
In Stanford’s 27-21 loss to Utah, Hogan completed 15 of 27 passes for 246 yards and one touchdown. That performance is certainly enough to win most Pac-12 games, especially with the strength of Stanford’s defense. However, Oregon State’s offense has been on fire this year. A 45-41 shootout seems unlikely, but if the Beavers’ connection of Mannion to Cooks gets on track, Hogan’s play could be the difference between a Stanford win or second Pac-12 loss.

Final Analysis

If Oregon State knocks off Stanford, the Beavers could be 10-1 heading into the season finale at Oregon. However, the Cardinal is the better team and should leave Corvallis with the victory. Stanford’s balance on offense should be the difference in the game, while the defense does just enough to keep Mannion and Cooks below their season averages.

Prediction: Stanford 31, Oregon State 27

Stanford Cardinal vs. Oregon State Beavers 2013 Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/missouri-tigers-vs-south-carolina-gamecocks-2013-preview-and-prediction

In the preseason, Missouri-South Carolina appeared to be just a typical SEC contest. There was some upset talk surrounding this game, especially since this was slated to be the Gamecocks’ third consecutive road test. But fast forward to October, and the storylines have changed dramatically.

Missouri has quickly erased any bad feelings from last year’s 5-7 mark. The Tigers have a two-game lead on the rest of the division and with a matchup against 1-6 Kentucky still to come, Missouri can essentially clinch the SEC East with a win on Saturday.

Since the Tigers already have wins over Georgia and Florida, South Carolina might be the only team with a realistic shot at knocking Missouri from the top spot in the East. However, the Gamecocks’ division title hopes took a huge hit in last week’s loss to Tennessee. If South Carolina loses in Columbia on Saturday night, its hopes of winning the East Division are essentially finished.

These two teams have met only three times. Missouri owns a 2-1 series edge, but South Carolina has claimed the only victory as SEC opponents.

South Carolina at Missouri

Kickoff: 7 ET
TV Channel: ESPN 2
Spread: Missouri -2.5

Three Things to Watch

Backup Quarterbacks
Injuries have wrecked havoc on quarterbacks in the SEC East. After Saturday, only one team (Georgia) will have started the same player under center all year. With James Franklin sidelined indefinitely, redshirt freshman Maty Mauk will make his second start for Missouri. Against Florida last week, Mauk completed 18 of 36 passes for 295 yards and one touchdown. Florida’s defense is slightly better than South Carolina in terms of allowed yardage per game, but the Gamecocks lead the SEC in pass defense (conference games only). With Connor Shaw nursing an injured knee, Dylan Thompson will make his third career start for South Carolina. Last season, Thompson threw for 1,027 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 appearances. Both quarterbacks will be under the microscope on Saturday night. With very little separating these two teams, any mistake will be magnified. Will it be Thompson or Mauk that delivers with a better performance?

South Carolina’s Offensive Line vs. Missouri’s Defensive Line
Missouri’s defensive line has been one of the biggest surprises in the SEC this year. After losing tackle Sheldon Richardson to the NFL, most preseason rankings had the Tigers’ line pegged for the bottom of the conference. However, behind the direction of line coach Craig Kuligowski, Missouri has been one of the SEC’s best in the trenches. The Tigers are allowing just 117.7 yards per game on the ground in SEC play, and opponents have scored just three rushing scores. Missouri also has 15 sacks against conference foes. End Michael Sam was a midseason All-American, and there’s plenty of depth and talent at the other three spots. Quality line play is always a priority in the SEC, but with both teams starting backup quarterbacks, it’s takes on even more importance this Saturday. South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson doesn’t have Connor Shaw’s mobility, and the Gamecocks need to give the junior time to throw and test a Missouri secondary that may not have standout cornerback E.J. Gaines. In addition to giving Thompson time to throw, South Carolina’s ground attack could be the difference in this game. Running back Mike Davis averages 119.4 yards per game  in 2013, but the Tigers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher since the season opener. The Gamecocks’ front five averages 322.4 pounds a player, and the matchup against Missouri’s athletic, quick line will be the toughest test (so far) of 2013.

Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney is arguably the most-talented player in college football. However, the junior got off to a slow start in 2013, as injuries sidetracked his season. But in last week’s game against Tennessee, Clowney looked like the player everyone expected to see in the preseason, as he recorded five tackles, with 2.5 going for a loss. Was last Saturday’s performance the start of a strong second half for Clowney? He dominated the Missouri line for two sacks and four tackles last season, and a similar game could be enough for the Gamecocks to win.

Key Player: Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Anytime a team has to turn to a backup quarterback, the immediate focus shifts to the running backs and offensive line to pickup the slack. Missouri has three running backs over 350 yards this season, but Josey leads the team with 494 yards. The junior missed all of 2012 recovering from a serious knee injury, but Josey hasn’t missed a beat, averaging six yards a carry on 83 attempts. Even though Mauk impressed in his first start last week, the Tigers need to have balance against a solid South Carolina defense.

Final Analysis

This matchup is a tossup. Missouri is one step away from essentially clinching the SEC East, while South Carolina desperately needs a win to keep its division title hopes alive. Mauk and Thompson are plenty capable, but turnovers and the supporting cast may have a bigger impact on the outcome. Running back Mike Davis should be the difference in this game for the Gamecocks, which finds a way to win a close matchup that should be decided in the final minutes.

Prediction: South Carolina 27, Missouri 24

Missouri Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks 2013 Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/missouri-or-auburn-which-team-biggest-surprise-sec-2013

In the preseason, Missouri and Auburn were picked as borderline bowl teams. Missouri was coming off a 5-7 record last year, while Auburn went 3-9 in 2012 and had an offseason coaching change.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was also tabbed for the hot seat after last year, but the Tigers are a surprising 7-0 and are the favorite to win the SEC East in 2013. Even though quarterback James Franklin was sidelined due to a shoulder injury, the offense hasn’t missed a beat under redshirt freshman Maty Mauk.

New Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has made an immediate impact on the offense, as the Tigers average 494.3 yards per game and have scored at least 20 points in every contest this year.

With both teams poised to contend for a double-digit win total, Missouri and Auburn are two of the biggest surprise teams in college football for 2013. 

Missouri or Auburn: Which Team is the Biggest Surprise in the SEC in 2013?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This is a tough call, but I’d give a slight edge to Missouri. I thought Auburn had the talent in place to rebound back to a six or seven-win season. With Gus Malzahn returning to campus, and both sides of the ball possessing a ton of talent from top-15 recruiting classes, a bowl game and finishing fourth or fifth in the SEC West wasn’t out of the question. Missouri was a tougher team to get a read on in the preseason. Coach Gary Pinkel was tabbed for the hot seat, and the Tigers had a handful of key injuries that played a role in the 5-7 record from 2012. Although I expected Missouri to be better, I thought the projected win ceiling was lower than it was at Auburn. Regardless of how this season ends for Missouri, Pinkel deserves a lot of credit for getting the program back on track and showing Missouri can compete (and win) in the SEC.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I’d still have to say Missouri. The Tigers are a win over South Carolina away from all but clinching the SEC East. That says as much about the SEC East and its injury issues than anything. But when Missouri entered the SEC, the Tigers never looked like a program that could win an SEC division at any time in the foreseeable future, much less in Year 2. This was a program that had to wait until it beat Kentucky to sell T-shirts celebrating its first SEC win. Missouri is not only sailing past the field in the SEC East, it’s doing so convincingly. The Tigers have a defense this season that is as good as any in the league. And it’s offense, with or without James Franklin, has been prolific. Auburn, more often than not, was going to have a competitive team in the SEC, even if this year’s turnaround is a surprise. I had misgivings about Missouri being able to say the same. At least this season, Missouri has proven doubters like me wrong.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Both teams control their own destiny in their respective divisions and could meet in the SEC title game. And while it is shocking to see the Mizzou defensive line play so well without NFL star and first-round pick Sheldon Richardson, it's the Yellowhammer Tigers that have to be considered the bigger surprise. Historic injuries have only weakened the already inferior SEC East and Gary Pinkel is an established coach with an established program. Gus Malzahn is a first-year coach with a first-year quarterback in much tougher division taking over a program that was winless in the SEC last year. Both may lose games down the stretch but Auburn has been and likely will continue to be the much bigger surprise. At least, until the Iron Bowl.

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
It has to be Missouri. The Tigers entered the season picked by the media to finish sixth in the SEC East. Reaching a bowl game would have been considered a successful season by most outsiders. Instead, Missouri has an undefeated record and two-game lead in the division after its first seven games. The Tigers have proven many doubters wrong. Just four weeks ago, several participants on an Athlon Sports roundtable – this writer included – denied Missouri was a contender in the SEC. The Tigers might not win their division, but they are certainly a contender to do so. Missouri’s offense has legitimate playmakers and its defense is disruptive. That doesn’t take away from Auburn’s 6-1 start. The Tigers have been terrific under first-year head coach Gus Malzahn, and last week’s win at Texas A&M provided a huge boost for the program. But Auburn was a popular pick to take a step forward this season. No one predicted Missouri would be ranked in the top five of the initial BCS standings. That’s where the Tigers find themselves heading into a big game against South Carolina.

Mark Ross
While Missouri has certainly earned my respect in getting off to a 7-0 start, I'm going to pick the Tigers that call the SEC West home, and no I don't mean LSU. What Gus Malzahn has done in his first season back on the Plains is nothing short of miraculous. Auburn won three games in 2012, and one of those was against a FCS team. Last season's Tigers barely managed 300 yards of offense a game. This season, with pretty much the same roster, they are averaging that many on the ground alone (300.5 rushing yards per game). The offense has done a complete 180, while the defense has played very well in its own right. The end result, bowl eligibility before the final game of October with a realistic shot at reversing 2012's 3-9 mark. In fact, if Auburn maintains its level of play it could enter the Iron Bowl against Alabama the final Saturday in November with a spot in the SEC Championship game on the line. While Missouri has just about clinched the SEC East title and has looked quite impressive in the process, those Tigers went 2-6 in conference play last season. The fact that Auburn could possibly go from 0-8 in the nation's toughest conference one season to dethroning Alabama the next is something that no one, including the most die-hard of Tiger fans, probably even dreamed of this year

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler)
Auburn has the biggest surprise win, beating Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M at Kyle Field last week; however, the Missouri Tigers are the surprise team in the SEC. Last year, the Tigers finished 5-7, with just two SEC victories over Kentucky and Tennessee. They appeared overmatched in a superior conference, and Gary Pinkel was firmly on the hot seat coming into this year. While I didn’t think it would happen so fast, I knew the hiring of Gus Malzahn would lead to large improvements for Auburn. I don’t think many people thought a big improvement was in the cards for Missouri this year. James Franklin has had a resurgent year after a down 2012, and the defense looks fierce with Michael Sam terrorizing quarterbacks. Perhaps even more shocking is Missouri’s success without Franklin, as they look impressive with freshman Maty Mauk under center. If the Tigers can take down South Carolina on Saturday, the 8-0 start would best Pinkel’s 7-0 start with his 2010 Missouri team.

Missouri or Auburn: Which Team is the Biggest Surprise in the SEC in 2013?
Post date: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 07:16
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-2013-midseason-all-america-team

The 2013 college football season features an awkward 15 week schedule, which creates a few scheduling headaches for some teams.

Some programs – Florida State and Baylor – have played just six games. However, Missouri, Oregon, Alabama, Texas Tech and Ohio State have all played seven games. And winless Western Michigan has already played in eight contests.

So with no clear midpoint of the season, Athlon Sports waited a week after most midseason All-America teams circulated to give all teams a chance to play six games.

As expected, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is the top quarterback, but Florida State redshirt freshman Jameis Winston closed the gap with an impressive performance against Clemson.

While Mariota was a clear No. 1 selection at quarterback, some positions – wide receiver, defensive end, linebacker and safety – were more difficult to select the top players from.

College Football's 2013 Midseason All-America Team

 First TeamSecond Team
QBMarcus Mariota, Oregon Jameis Winston, Florida State
RBMelvin Gordon, Wisconsin Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
RBLache Seastrunk, BaylorMike Davis, South Carolina
WRBrandin Cooks, Oregon StateJordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
WRMike Evans, Texas A&MAllen Robinson, Penn State
TEJace Amaro, Texas TechEric Ebron, North Carolina
CHroniss Grasu, OregonGabe Ikard, Oklahoma
GCyril Richardson, BaylorGabe Jackson, Miss. State
GDavid Yankey, StanfordXavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
TJake Matthews, Texas A&MTyler Johnstone, Oregon
TCyrus Kouandjio, AlabamaJack Mewhort, Ohio State
DEVic Beasley, ClemsonShilique Calhoun, Michigan State
DEMichael Sam, MissouriLorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
DTAaron Donald, PittsburghDerrick Hopkins, Virginia Tech
DTLeonard Williams, USCTimmy Jernigan, Florida State
LBAnthony Barr, UCLAChris Borland, Wisconsin
LBC.J. Mosley, AlabamaKhalil Mack, Buffalo
LBKyle Van Noy, BYURyan Shazier, Ohio State
CBJason Verrett, TCUKyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
CBIfo Ekpre-Olomu, OregonLamarcus Joyner, Florida State
SDeone Bucannon, Wash. StateJimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
SCalvin Pryor, LouisvilleEd Reynolds, Stanford
Special Teams 
KMichael Hunnicutt, OklahomaAndy Phillips, Utah
PKirby Van Der Camp, Iowa StateZac Murphy, Miami (Ohio)
KRTy Montgomery, StanfordDuke Johnson, Miami
PRKevonte Martin-Manley, IowaBralon Addison, Oregon


College Football's 2013 Midseason All-America Team
Post date: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-october-24

Gearing up for another busy week of college football action...

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 Thursday, October 24th

Vanderbilt will turn to Patton Robinette at quarterback against Texas A&M with Austyn Carta-Samuels injured.

Florida State defensive back Lamarcus Joyner gets highlighted for his standout performance against Clemson.

The injuries are beginning to add up at USC: Linebacker Lamar Dawson and running back Justin Davis are done for the year.

A good read from Lost Lettermen: The Miami scandal is the NCAA's O.J. trial.

What makes Florida State's offense so dangerous? Here's a good breakdown from SB Nation's Football Study Hall.

Good reads from Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich on Louisville's decision to keep assistant Clint Hurtt. 

LSU freshman running back Jeryl Brazil has been suspended indefinitely.

Pittsburgh linebacker Ejuan Price is out indefinitely with a back injury.

Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum is slated to return to the lineup against Duke.

West Virginia conducted an internal review into assistant Joe DeForest after Sports Illustrated's story detailed possible infractions during his tenure at Oklahoma State. 

Why is Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro not on the Mackey Award watchlist?

Here's a breakdown of Syracuse's play calling against Georgia Tech - and it's not pretty.

UNLV running back Tim Cornett is doubtful to play in Saturday's game against Nevada.

Indiana safety Antonio Allen is out for the year after suffering an ACL tear against Michigan.

College Football's Link Roundup: October 24
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 14:59
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-week-9-upset-predictions

The final weekend of college football action in October is upon us, which means the 2013 season is about to enter the home stretch.

Conference play is in full swing, and as last week in the SEC showed, upsets can happen at any moment.

Athlon’s editors are back with another edition of the upset picks, and there are plenty of teams on alert this week.

Utah, Oregon State and Texas are underdogs this week, but are three popular upset selections.

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, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions: ACC Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

College Football Week 9 Upset Predictions

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Utah (+6.5) over USC
Both teams enter this matchup with key injuries, so a low-scoring, ugly game isn't out of the question on Saturday. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson suffered a hand injury against Arizona last week but is expected to play against the Trojans. But the picture isn’t so promising in Los Angeles. USC’s injury report is lengthy, and the roster is simply depleted this week. Receiver Marqise Lee is nursing a knee injury and is questionable to play. Running back Justin Davis and linebacker Lamar Dawson are out for the year, while all three scholarship tight ends are injured and may not suit up against Utah. While both teams are dealing with injuries, USC’s problems are clearly more severe than the Utes. Even though Utah is 1-5 in its last six Pac-12 road games, with the Trojans dealing with a myriad of injuries and a struggling offense, the Utes’ defense should do just enough for Kyle Whittingham’s team to earn their fifth win of the season.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Oregon State (+4.5) over Stanford
The Beavers lost an emotion, physical battle with the Cardinal 27-23 in Palo Alto last season. Sean Mannion didn't play in that game other than one late fourth-quarter pass attempt, so this bout should look much different. The Cardinal are coming off a dominating performance over the UCLA Bruins at home, but Mannion is playing at an elite level and is at home. The Beavers have won six straight and have been blowing teams out by 30 and 40 points. Without a bizarre first week loss to Eastern Washington, this game might be viewed totally differently by the Vegas oddsmakers. This will be a test of strength (Stanford's front seven) on strength (Oregon State's dynamic passing attack) and the Corvallis crowd might play the deciding factor. Give me the Beavers.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Texas (+2) over TCU
Case McCoy joked this week that Texas is a favorite of TCU because of him. At least the younger McCoy has a self-deprecating sense of humor. As bad as Texas was early in the season, TCU has been almost as bad this year, only TCU’s offense has been as ineffective as the Longhorns’ defense was in September. TCU is averaging 4.5 points in the first half against FBS teams in 2013. The only teams worse? UMass and Georgia State, teams that have one win between them. The Horned Frogs’ defense is about where it was the last two seasons (but nowhere near where it was during the BCS runs). Still, Texas has improved enough since early in the season I’m willing to trust the Longhorns on the road against a halfway decent defense.

Mark Ross: Wyoming (+7) over San Jose State
These two teams are similar in many ways, as both have the same conference record (2-1) and are very close in several different statistical categories. Two departments in which Wyoming does have the edge over San Jose State, however, is scoring (35.4 to 24.0 ppg) and running the ball (202.7 to 119.7 ypg). The Spartans have fared better in stopping the run, but the Cowboys boast the Mountain West Conference's top pass defense. Wyoming is coming off a bad home loss to Colorado State last week, while San Jose State was on bye, but I still like the Cowboys on the road. Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith is among the most productive dual threats in the country, and I think he will be too much for the Spartans to handle, while the Cowboys' defense is able to limit the damage SJSU quarterback David Fales does through the air.

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler): Boston College (+7) over North Carolina
It’s hard to see how a 3-3 Boston College team is an underdog to a 1-5 Tar Heels squad that has only beaten Middle Tennessee. The Golden Eagles’ three losses are against USC, Clemson and Florida State. They only lost to the Seminoles and Tigers by an average of just 11 points. The North Carolina defense allows over 30 points per game, while the offense has struggled to consistently run the ball. In a matchup of senior quarterbacks, I actually like Chase Rettig to play a cleaner game than Bryn Renner thanks to a superior rushing attack. Boston College RB Andre Williams, who is eighth in the country with 838 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the season, is the key to this game. Steve Addazio has brought a fresh energy to Chestnut Hill and should improve to 2-2 in ACC play.

2013 College Football Week 8 Upset Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 12:23
Path: /college-football/2013-acc-week-9-preview-and-predictions

After a week in the spotlight for the anticipated Florida State-Clemson matchup, the ACC lacks a marquee game for Week 9.

Florida State ranks No. 2 in the first release of the BCS standings, and the Seminoles look to stay unbeaten with NC State coming to Tallahassee this Saturday. The Wolfpack upset Florida State last season, but it seems unlikely NC State will make it two in a row.

Clemson looks to get back on track, traveling to College Park to take on Maryland for the final time as an ACC opponent. The Terrapins are reeling after back-to-back losses and have a plethora of injuries on both sides of the ball.

In a week without a game drawing national interest, matchups like Boston College-North Carolina and Duke-Virginia Tech get the nod as the top contests for Week 9. While neither will register on the national radar, there is some intrigue within the conference. The Blue Devils’ offense will give the Hokies a battle on defense. And the Boston College-North Carolina game is huge for both program’s bowl hopes.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions: Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC Week 9 Game Power Rankings

1. Boston College (+7) at North Carolina (3:30 ET, ACC RSN)
With a light week of action in the ACC, there’s not an easy pick for the No. 1 must-see game. However, this battle in Chapel Hill is crucial for both teams, as the jockeying for bowl positioning is underway. Boston College has made significant progress under first-year coach Steve Addazio, already surpassing last year’s win total (2) with three wins, and close losses to Clemson and Florida State. The Eagles have not defeated North Carolina since joining the ACC, and this is only the seventh meeting between these two schools. The Tar Heels nearly upset Miami last week, but coach Larry Fedora’s team is desperately in need of a win, as a 1-5 start has this team in danger of missing out on the postseason. North Carolina’s rush defense ranks last in the ACC (203.3 ypg) and will be challenged by Boston College running back Andre Williams, who leads the ACC with an average of 139.7 yards per game. The Tar Heels aren’t as explosive on offense as they were last season, but the emergence of freshman running back T.J. Logan should help this unit establish more balance. On paper, North Carolina’s offense should move the ball against Boston College’s defense, which is allowing 425.5 yards per game. However, the Eagles’ numbers are slightly skewed on defense after playing the ACC’s best offenses in Clemson and Florida State.

2. Duke (+13.5) at Virginia Tech (3:30 ET, ESPNU)
The Blue Devils enter Saturday’s contest against Virginia Tech riding a three-game winning streak. While Navy, Troy and Virginia certainly isn’t the toughest of schedules, Duke is one win away from securing its sixth win and likely back-to-back bowl trips for the first time in school history. But the Blue Devils may have to wait a week on their sixth victory, especially since they have never won in Blacksburg and five of the last six losses at Virginia Tech have been by 20 or more points. The Hokies aren’t setting the world on fire on offense, but quarterback Logan Thomas has not tossed an interception in three games and is completing 65.5 percent of his passes in ACC contests. Thomas faces a Duke defense allowing 383.1 yards per game (5.3 yards per play) and has held opponents to only 216.3 passing yards a contest. While the yardage totals indicate a struggling defense, the Blue Devils have stepped up in the second half the last two weeks, as they held Navy and Virginia without a point the final two quarters. Duke does most of its damage through the air with quarterback Anthony Boone, but an offensive line that has allowed just nine sacks deserves credit. Virginia Tech’s defense might be the best in the nation, and its secondary is expected to regain the services of cornerback Antone Exum, who has missed all of 2013 recovering from a torn ACL.

3. Pittsburgh (-5.5) at Navy (1 ET, CBS Sports Network)
Playing an option team with a week to prepare is no easy assignment, but Saturday’s trip to Annapolis could work out for Pittsburgh, especially with a conference game against Georgia Tech in Week 10. The Panthers struggled to put away Old Dominion last week, eventually winning 35-24. Injuries to running back James Conner and receiver Devin Street prevented both players from suiting up, but both are expected to return to the lineup against the Midshipmen. Navy already played one ACC opponent this season, losing 35-7 to Duke on Oct. 12. Pittsburgh’s rush defense ranks fifth in the ACC against the run, allowing just 3.8 yards per attempt and 136 yards per game. The Panthers have not played an option team since 2009, so there will be an adjustment period for this defense. Assuming Street and Conner are healthy, the Panthers should have no trouble moving the ball against Navy’s defense. The Midshipmen’s secondary is allowing 204.7 yards per game. However, against BCS competition (Indiana and Duke), Navy allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 63 of 82 throws for 658 yards and seven touchdowns. Pittsburgh’s best strategy is to score early and force the Midshipmen out of their element on offense.

4. Clemson (-14) at Maryland (3:30 ET, ESPN)
A week after a blowout loss to Florida State, Clemson heads to College Park looking to get back on track. Although the Tigers need a lot of help to win the Atlantic Division, a BCS bowl as an at-large selection is still within reach. In order for that to happen, Clemson has to win out. Three weeks ago, Maryland appeared to be the No. 3 team in the Atlantic Division. But injuries have decimated this team on both sides of the ball, with receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long suffering season-ending injuries in last week’s loss to Wake Forest. Quarterback play is also a concern for the Terrapins, as C.J. Brown was pulled last Saturday due to injury, and the junior has struggled in his last two outings (21 of 38, 219 yards and two picks). If Brown struggles or can’t go due to injury, backup Caleb Rowe is a capable option. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is coming off one of the worst performances in his career, as Florida State’s defense held the senior to just 156 passing yards, 45.9 completion percentage and forced two interceptions. Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins should find Maryland’s defense more accommodating, especially with the Terrapins down both starting cornerbacks from their preseason depth chart. 

5. NC State (+31.5) at Florida State (3:30 ET, ABC/ESPN2)
After a huge road win over Clemson, it’s easy to pencil Saturday’s matchup against NC State as a trap game for the Seminoles. But there’s a different feeling surrounding Florida State this year. The Seminoles ranked No. 2 in the first release of the BCS standings, and this team is on track to win the Atlantic Division and finish with an unbeaten record in the regular season. Revenge should be on the mind for Florida State against NC State, especially after the Wolfpack won 17-16 in Raleigh last year. NC State has won two out of the last three meetings in this series but has lost three in a row at Tallahassee. The Wolfpack will have some reinforcements for their struggling offense this week, as quarterback Brandon Mitchell is slated to return from a broken foot. Mitchell was injured against Louisiana Tech and has missed the last five games. The senior is the best fit for NC State’s spread attack, but rust is an issue since he has not played since August. While the offense has struggled, the Wolfpack’s defense has been respectable, allowing 17 touchdowns through six games. But Saturday’s game against Florida State will be NC State’s toughest challenge of the season, as stopping quarterback Jameis Winston and the Seminoles’ plethora of skill players is something no defense has been able to do. And as if Florida State needed any extra motivation to have a good showing, former coach Bobby Bowden will make his return to Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday. 

6. Wake Forest (+23) at Miami (12 ET, ESPNU)
With a showdown looming against Florida State next week, is Miami on upset alert against an improving Wake Forest team? The Demon Deacons started 2-3 but has rebounded with back-to-back ACC victories, including a 34-10 blowout over Maryland last Saturday. Quarterback Tanner Price has led the turnaround for Wake Forest, throwing for 499 yards and four touchdowns over his last two games, with only one interception. Miami’s defense has improved after a disastrous 2012 campaign, but the Hurricanes are still allowing 5.6 yards per play and have managed only four sacks in ACC games. Price and receiver Michael Campanaro need to have a big game for the Demon Deacons to hang around, especially with Wake Forest’s struggling ground game (69 yards per game in ACC play). Miami quarterback Stephen Morris is off to a slow start and has already surpassed his interception total (seven) from last year with eight picks in six games. The Hurricanes hold a talent edge on the Demon Deacons’ defense, but Wake Forest has allowed only one opponent (Clemson) to score more than 13 points in three out of its last four games. This will be the first meeting between these two teams since 2008, and the last two matchups in this series have been decided by a touchdown or less.

7. Georgia Tech (-10) at Virginia (12:30 ET, ACC)
With four straight losses, Virginia is looking for something positive. Georgia Tech snapped a three-game losing streak last week and needs to beat the Cavaliers to keep its faint ACC Coastal title hopes alive. Virginia has won eight out of the last nine matchups against Georgia Tech in Charlottesville, including a 24-21 victory in 2011. Stopping the run is always critical with a matchup against the Yellow Jackets, and the Cavaliers are allowing just 108 yards per game in ACC contests this season. But the defense is shorthanded this week, as defensive tackle Brent Urban is expected to sit out Saturday’s game due to a lower extremity injury. Without Urban, Virginia will have its hands full against Georgia Tech, who is averaging 305.2 rushing yards per game in conference play. As if the defensive concerns weren’t enough, the Cavaliers have struggled mightily on offense. After three ACC games, Virginia has scored just five touchdowns and ranks 11th in the conference with an average of 17 points a game. Quarterback David Watford has played better recently, but Georgia Tech’s defense has been stingy under the direction of new coordinator Ted Roof, with only one ACC opponent scoring more than 20 points against the Yellow Jackets in 2013.

ACC Week 9 Pivotal Players

Takoby Cofield/Laken Tomlinson, OL, Duke
The Blue Devils’ offensive line has made significant improvement over the last few years, and this unit is a big reason why Duke is likely headed for another postseason appearance in 2013. Cofield and Tomlinson are two of the key cogs, combining for 54 career starts. Virginia Tech has one of the nation’s best defensive lines, with potential all-conference selections at end (James Gayle and J.R. Collins) and at tackle (Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy). For Duke to have a chance at winning, the front five needs to give quarterback Anthony Boone time to throw, along with opening up lanes for the Blue Devils’ backfield. 

Levern Jacobs, WR, Maryland
With Stefon Diggs and Deon Long out for the rest of the season, Jacobs has to assume the No. 1 role in Maryland’s receiving corps. The sophomore ranks fourth on the team with 13 catches for 245 yards and one touchdown, and he will have a chance to improve on those numbers Saturday against Clemson’s secondary that allowed 444 passing yards to Florida State last week. The Tigers are thin on depth in the defensive backfield, and even with some uncertainty at quarterback, Jacobs has a chance to make plays against the Tigers.

Brandon Mitchell, QB, NC State
NC State is a longshot to win at Florida State on Saturday, but there’s hope behind Mitchell’s return under center. In the opener against Louisiana Tech, Mitchell completed all three of his passes for 93 yards and rushed for 19 yards on five attempts. However, the senior suffered a broken foot and missed the Wolfpack’s next five games. If NC State has any shot at winning, Mitchell has to have a mistake-free performance, while providing a spark on offense.

Nikita Whitlock, DT, Wake Forest
Miami’s offensive line has played a big role in the team’s 6-0 start. The front five has helped rushers average 5.7 yards per carry, and Miami quarterbacks have been sacked just five times. Led by Whitlock – one of the nation’s most underrated defenders – Wake Forest’s front seven has held its own this year. Opponents are averaging just 3.8 yards per carry, and the Demon Deacons have allowed only five rushing scores. Controlling the line of scrimmage will be critical to Wake Forest’s upset bid. Whitlock has 13.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks this year and will face a strong interior line for Miami, which features guard Jon Feliciano and center Shane McDermott. If Whitlock has a strong showing, the Demon Deacons will have a chance to keep quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnson in check.   

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
The ACC’s leading rusher has to be licking his chops for a chance at North Carolina’s defense. The Tar Heels rank last in the ACC against the run, and opponents are averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Williams leads the ACC in rushing and has at least 140 yards in two out of his last three games. Boston College is 0-2 away from Chestnut Hill, but with a struggling Tar Heel rush defense, Williams has a chance to carry the Eagles to their fourth win of the season. 

ACC Week 9 Predictions

GameDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Wake (+23) at MiamiMiami 35-10Miami 35-17Miami 38-17Miami 27-17
Ga. Tech (-10) at VirginiaGa. Tech 28-10Ga. Tech 31-21Ga. Tech 31-20Ga. Tech 34-21
Pittsburgh (-5.5) at NavyNavy 28-21Pitt 41-31Pitt 31-24Pitt 28-20
Clemson (-14) at MarylandClemson 42-21Clemson 42-14Clemson 41-17Clemson 34-14
Duke (+13.5) at Va. TechVa. Tech 38-14Va. Tech 27-10Va. Tech 30-13Va. Tech 27-7
NC State (+31.5) at Florida StateFSU 35-14FSU 34-17FSU 45-17FSU 41-17
Boston College (+7) at N. CarolinaUNC 24-17UNC 31-20UNC 27-24UNC 21-20
Final Record54-1455-1355-1357-11


2013 ACC Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/grading-college-footballs-2013-first-year-coaches-after-week-8

With eight weeks of the 2013 college football season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the new coaches and how they have performed so far this year.

While every coach wants to win big in his first season, it’s just not possible with some programs. Roster turnover, change in schemes, coaching transition and a lack of talent are four reasons most programs struggle in the first year under a new coach.

And in looking at the 31 new hires for 2013, it’s clear this is not shaping up to be a banner season for first-year coaches.

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury, Oregon’s Mark Helfrich and Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen are the top-four hires after eight weeks of the season. Helfrich and Kingsbury are unbeaten, while Malzahn’s only loss came at LSU, and Andersen has defeats to Arizona State and Ohio State.

After those four names, Boston College’s Steve Addazio and Northern Illinois’ Rod Carey are the next in the rankings, while Tennessee’s Butch Jones is rising after an upset win over South Carolina.

Athlon Sports will grade all of the new coaches at the end of the year, but for now, here’s a look at how all 31 new hires have performed so far in 2013.
Grading College Football's New Coach Hires for 2013 After Week 8

1Gus Malzahn




Auburn went 3-9 and was largely uncompetitive in SEC action last season. Malzahn has made a huge difference this year, as the Tigers have already won six games and could be 9-1 heading into rivalry contests against Georgia and Alabama. Auburn’s offense is one of the most improved units in the nation, averaging 35.9 points a game after mustering only 18.7 per contest in 2012. Malzahn inherited some nice talent, but he’s done a good job of blending the returning core with his up-tempo offense, along with breaking in a new quarterback in Nick Marshall. Auburn’s defense ranks 12th in yards allowed the SEC, but this unit has generated 19 sacks and is holding opponents to just 22 points a game.
2Kliff Kingsbury



The former Red Raider quarterback has returned to Lubbock, guiding Texas Tech to a 7-0 record and top-10 ranking in the first release of the BCS standings. Even though Kingsbury had no head coaching experience prior to this season, the 34-year-old head coach was the perfect hire for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders’ schedule will get tougher, starting on Saturday with a date at Oklahoma. But with Kingsbury (one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the nation), Texas Tech will be in the Big 12 title mix.
3Mark Helfrich



Chip who? The Ducks haven’t missed a beat with Helfrich in control, cruising to a 7-0 mark and spot among the top-three teams in the nation. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is the frontrunner to win the Heisman, and the offense has scored at least 40 points in every game in 2013. The biggest test of Helfrich’s tenure will come on Nov. 7, as Oregon travels to Stanford in a game that should decide the Pac-12 North champion. 
4Gary Andersen



Andersen inherited a program coming off three consecutive Rose Bowls, and the Badgers haven’t missed a beat under his watch. Wisconsin opened the year with blowout wins over UMass and Tennessee Tech and was robbed of a chance to win by poor officiating in the loss to Arizona State. The Badgers handled Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue in Big Ten play and only lost by seven to Ohio State. If Wisconsin wins out, Andersen’s first season could result in a BCS bowl.
5Steve Addazio



Addazio inherited a team that won just six games from 2011-12, but the Eagles have showed marked improvement in his first season. Boston College lost by only 14 to Florida State and by 10 to Clemson, and with a favorable schedule, the Eagles should make their first bowl appearance since the 2010 season. Addazio inherited a solid core of talent on offense, and running back Andre Williams ranks fifth nationally with an average of 139.7 yards per game. 
6Rod Carey



Carey stepped into a situation built for success, as the Huskies returned 10 starters – including standout quarterback Jordan Lynch – from last year’s team that finished 12-2 and played in the Orange Bowl. Northern Illinois is back in the mix for a BCS bowl once again, beating Iowa and Purdue in route to a 7-0 start. 
7Butch Jones



Even though Tennessee’s record is just 4-3, there are plenty of signs the program is on the right track. The Volunteers took Georgia to overtime on Oct. 5 and followed up that performance with an upset victory over South Carolina last Saturday. Tennessee’s offense is starting to show some signs of life, and the Volunteers rank second in the SEC with a +4 in turnover margin. The upcoming schedule isn’t easy, but Tennessee should play in a bowl this year.
8Mike MacIntyre



Colorado was downright awful last year. The Buffaloes lost to Sacramento State and had four defeats by 40 points or more. MacIntyre has made a big difference, as the Buffaloes have already won three games, which nearly exceeds the total this program had from 2011-12 (four). A bowl could be too much to ask for, but Colorado should be more competitive against its Pac-12 opponents than it was last season. 
9Bobby Petrino



Petrino’s first season at Western Kentucky started with a win over Kentucky, but the Hilltoppers lost their next two games, including a turnover-filled 52-20 defeat at Tennessee. Western Kentucky is 3-1 in its last four games and should be favored in its final five contests. After what transpired at Arkansas, a quiet start to the season isn’t a bad thing for Petrino.
10Tommy Tuberville



Tuberville was a nice catch for Cincinnati after Butch Jones left for Tennessee, and the veteran coach has the Bearcats positioned to finish with at least eight wins for the eighth time in nine seasons. Losing to Illinois and South Florida was surprising, but Cincinnati will likely be favored against SMU, Houston and Memphis, with games against Rutgers and Louisville presenting the biggest challenge the rest of the season. Tuberville’s first year with the Bearcats hasn’t received much national attention, but Cincinnati is quietly on its way to its seventh bowl game in eight years. 
11Matt Wells



With quarterback Chuckie Keeton lost for the season, it’s hard to give Wells a complete grade for his work through eight games. When Keeton was in the lineup, Utah State lost by four points to Utah and by three to USC, beat San Jose State by 28 points and Air Force by 32. With four winnable games to finish the year, Wells’ first season would be a success if he gets Utah State back to the postseason for the third consecutive year. 
12Bryan Harsin



Considering Harsin is Arkansas State’s fourth head coach in four seasons, some transition time is needed for the former Texas offensive coordinator. The Red Wolves won 20 games from 2011-12, but with four losses, the best this team can do is 9-4 – assuming it wins a bowl game. Arkansas State’s wins came against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Troy and Idaho, and its losses against Auburn, Missouri and UL Lafayette are nothing to be ashamed about. Ranking Harsin this high might be a bit generous, but then again, there aren’t many coaches behind him worthy of a promotion on this list.
13Bret Bielema



This is probably a little high for Bielema, but it’s not a particularly deep year for success among first-year coaches. Bielema didn’t inherit a ton of talent to work with, but the Razorbacks have been outscored 134-17 in their last three SEC games. Arkansas does have some promising pieces for the future, including freshmen running back Alex Collins, defensive tackle Darius Philon and offensive linemen Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper. With a bowl game nearly out of reach, Bielema’s top priority for the last four games is to build momentum for 2014, along with being more competitive against its conference foes.
14Willie Taggart



Taggart inherited a mess left behind by former coach Skip Holtz. South Florida went 8-5 in Holtz’s first season but finished 8-16 in the last two years, and the cupboard on offense was bare. As a result, the Bulls are averaging just 16.2 points a game. Six combined turnovers against McNeese State and FAU cost South Florida a chance at two winnable games and a likely bowl appearance. Taggart was a good hire and will get the program back on track. However, he will need some time to recruit and upgrade the talent level on offense. 
15Mark Stoops



Expectations were low for Stoops in his first year, and the Wildcats’ only victory came against one of the worst FBS teams in the nation (Miami, Ohio). On a positive note, Kentucky lost by only seven to South Carolina, and its margin of defeat against Louisville and Florida decreased from 2012. The Wildcats may only win one more game this season, but Stoops is bringing in a solid recruiting class, which should help immediately upgrade the talent next year in Lexington. 
16Dave Doeren



Similar to Utah State’s Matt Wells, Doeren has been dealing with a significant injury at quarterback. Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell broke his foot in the opener and has not played since, which significantly hampered NC State’s offense through the first six games. The Wolfpack are searching for their first win in the ACC but had a respectable showing in a loss to Clemson (26-14) and went 3-0 in non-conference play. Due to Mitchell’s injury, we will give Doeren a slight curve on his grade.
17Scott Shafer



Shafer’s first seven games have produced a mix bag of results. The Orange was impressive in non-conference wins against Wagner and Tulane and beat NC State 24-10 on the road in mid-October. However, Syracuse was outscored in conference play by Clemson and Georgia Tech by a combined score of 105-14. Stopping the pass on defense is a huge concern, and the Orange has been unable to get consistent play from Terrel Hunt or Drew Allen at quarterback. With home games against Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Boston College, Syracuse still has a chance to get bowl eligible. 
18Darrell Hazell



Hazell didn’t inherit a wealth of talent to work with on offense, and the Boilermakers have already turned the reigns over to freshman quarterback Danny Etling, which only adds to the growing pains in West Lafayette. Purdue’s only win came against Indiana State, but Hazell’s team lost by just 14 to Michigan State and by seven to Notre Dame. It’s hard to find a guaranteed win on the schedule the rest of the way for the Boilermakers, but Hazell went 5-7 in his first year at Kent State, only to rebound with an 11-3 mark the following season.  
19Ron Caragher



So far, the Spartans’ season has played out as most expected. San Jose State lost to Stanford, Minnesota and Utah State, while defeating Sacramento State, Colorado State and Hawaii. The Spartans won 11 games last season and returned 12 starters, including standout quarterback David Fales, leaving plenty of hope for this team to push Fresno State and Boise State for the conference title. San Jose State’s schedule is favorable over the final six games, and if Caragher guides this team to nine wins, the season will be a success. However, 7-5 or 6-6 would be a disappointment.
20Brian Polian



Much like his Mountain West counterpart Ron Caragher, Polian has played a difficult schedule in his first season. Nevada played BCS foes UCLA and Florida State, along with road games against conference foes San Diego State and Boise State. The Wolf Pack’s offense has remained explosive, averaging 34.3 points a game in conference action. However, Nevada’s defense is struggling and could prevent the Wolf Pack from making their ninth consecutive bowl.
21Sonny Dykes



In addition to dealing with a rash of injuries on defense and a true freshman starting at quarterback, the Golden Bears have played one of the toughest schedules in the nation. With those three factors in play, it’s easy to see why California has just one win (Portland State). And with a tough schedule the rest of the way, the Golden Bears could be headed for their worst finish since an 0-11 record in 1999. Considering all of the factors working against California this year, this team would be a good candidate for a rebound in 2014. 
22Trent Miles



In fairness to Miles, we have to grade his first season on a curve. Georgia State is transitioning to the FBS level and doesn’t have the necessary talent to compete for a winning season. The Panthers lost to three FCS teams but have played better in their last two games, losing to Troy and Texas State by just a touchdown. Miles engineered quite a turnaround at Indiana State, and in time, he will do the same thing at Georgia State.  
23Paul Haynes



Haynes inherited 10 starters from a team that went 11-3 last season. And even with a tougher schedule, a bowl game was a reasonable expectation for the Golden Flashes. However, Kent State’s only wins this season came against an FCS team (Liberty) and winless Western Michigan. The Golden Flashes were competitive against Ball State and Northern Illinois, but this team needs to win out in order to play for a bowl in 2013. 
24Skip Holtz



The Bulldogs lost a plethora key players from last year’s team and only one starter returned from an offense that averaged 51.5 points a game in 2012. Louisiana Tech beat Lamar and UTEP this season and has chances to pickup wins against FIU and Southern Miss in its next two games. Holtz was a retread hire, looking to prove his 16-21 record at South Florida was a fluke. So far, the early returns haven't been positive. However, with the roster and league transition, it's unfair to blame Holtz for all of the struggles in 2013. 
25Paul Petrino



Much like New Mexico State’s Doug Martin, Petrino has a tough job in 2013 with Idaho competing as an FBS Independent. The Vandals managed to give Northern Illinois a fight (45-35), but Petrino’s team lost by 34 to North Texas, 24 to Arkansas State and 32 to Wyoming. Idaho’s only win came against Temple, which gives Petrino a slight edge over Matt Rhule in the midseason new coach grades. 
26Matt Rhule



Rhule started his tenure with six consecutive defeats, including a disappointing 30-29 loss to FCS opponent Fordham. The Owls broke into the win column with a 33-14 victory over Army on Saturday, and freshman quarterback P.J. Walker is a promising player for Rhule to build around. Temple won only four games last season and was picked near the bottom of the American Athletic Conference for 2013. Rhule didn’t have a total rebuild project on his hands, but he also didn’t inherit a ton of talent to work with. 
27Sean Kugler



Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for UTEP, ranking third in Conference USA with an average of 31.2 points a game. But stopping opposing offenses has been a real challenge for the Miners, as opponents are scoring 37.7 points a game against Kugler’s team. UTEP’s only win came against New Mexico State, but it has lost two games by a touchdown or less. Quarterback Jameill Showers and freshman running back Aaron Jones are two promising pieces for Kugler to build around for the second half of 2013. 
28Doug Martin



This is not an easy job. New Mexico State has only two winning seasons since 1995 and has not won more than four games since 2004. Martin needs time to upgrade the talent and change the culture in Las Cruces and moving to the Sun Belt next year will help. The Aggies lost by 20 or more points in six out of their seven losses, but the schedule lightens in the second half with games against Abilene Christian, Idaho and FAU. 
29Ron Turner



Firing Mario Cristobal for Ron Turner is still one of the biggest head-scratchers in recent coaching moves. The Panthers had a lot of roster turnover from last year, and it was expected this team would struggle against its BCS opponents. However, FIU was dominated by FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman, and if it wasn’t for a sloppy effort by Southern Miss, the Golden Panthers would be 0-6. The program is also struggling at the ticket office, as FIU ranks 122nd nationally with an average of 15,492 fans per game.
30Todd Monken



A once-proud program has fallen on hard times. Ellis Johnson was fired after losing all 12 games at Southern Miss last year, and Monken has been forced to clean up the mess. The Golden Eagles were dominated by Boise State, Nebraska, Arkansas and East Carolina and lost by a touchdown or less to Texas State and FIU. Losing to FIU – a team that lost to FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman earlier in the year – was inexcusable. Southern Miss has an 18-game losing streak headed into Week 9. 
31P.J. Fleck



Fleck brought some much-needed enthusiasm and energy to Western Michigan. However, the product on the field hasn’t quite matched the offseason buzz. The Broncos lost a few key players to injury – namely sophomore receiver Jaime Wilson – but are 0-8 and lost to FCS opponent Nicholls State in Week 2. Western Michigan has lost by 20 or more points five times in 2013. 


Grading College Football's First-Year Coaches After Week 8
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/oregon-or-florida-state-which-team-should-be-ranked-no-2

With the first release of the BCS standings, the debate over who should play in the national championship has already started.

Alabama is a clear No. 1 in the BCS standings, but Florida State and Oregon aren’t separated by much for the No. 2 spot. The Seminoles are No. 2 after destroying Clemson 51-14 last Saturday, but the Ducks have ground to gain in the computer polls.

A lot can happen in college football over the next seven weeks, so it’s no guarantee the Seminoles and Ducks finish unbeaten. However, if those two teams and Alabama have a perfect record in December, it will be an intriguing debate to see who plays in Pasadena in early January.

Oregon or Florida State: Which Team Should be Ranked No. 2 Behind Alabama?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I would give a slight edge to Florida State for the No. 2 spot – for now. The Seminoles’ win over Clemson on Saturday was the most-convincing victory over a top-10 team so far this year. Florida State is no longer rebuilding when personnel departs for the NFL, as the Seminoles have better depth than at any point under coach Jimbo Fisher. Quarterback Jameis Winston is outstanding, but the defense deserves some credit, especially with a new coordinator and seven new starters stepping into the lineup this year. If you throw out the FCS opponents both teams have played, Florida State’s opponents have a tougher win/loss record 21-12 to 18-24 for Oregon. However, the upcoming schedule favors the Ducks, as Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA should all be ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation when they play Oregon. The Seminoles still have to play Miami and could rematch against the Hurricanes or face Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship, but there’s not another likely top-25 matchup, and rival Florida is struggling just to get bowl eligible. I’m not a huge fan of the playoff, but it would be a shame to see Florida State or Oregon get left out of the picture if both finish unbeaten this year. As I mentioned previously, the edge at No. 2 for now needs to go to Florida State. But at the end of the year, if both teams are unbeaten, the resume favors the Ducks.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Right now, it’s understandable that Florida State is No. 2 in the BCS, and a great debate could be had as to which team is more talented, better coached, etc. But if both teams run the table and win their conference championships, then the Oregon Ducks deserve to be ahead of the Seminoles in the final standings. The Ducks play a dramatically more difficult schedule as games with UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State, Utah and Arizona still remain, while Florida State has Miami and a reeling Florida team. The quarterbacks are comparable. The head coaches are comparable. The offensive numbers and margins of victory are comparable. But the strength of schedule is not even close. Oregon went on the road and beat ACC foe Virginia 59-10 in Week 2 and that might be the 11th toughest game the Ducks play this season. Florida State has six "Virginias" on its schedule by the name of Boston College, Wake Forest, Syracuse, NC State, Pitt and Maryland.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I am going to do some major equivocating here. Florida State deserves to be No. 2 right now. However, if both teams remain undefeated, Oregon won’t just have a claim to being No. 2, but a legitimate claim for the top spot. If you’re asking which team is the better one, it’s impossible to know at this point of the season. Certainly, we’ve seen this nucleus at Oregon succeed over a longer period of time than the one at Florida State. I may pick Oregon on a neutral field. That said, Florida State has achieved more this season so far than Oregon. The schedules are comparable, if Florida State’s hasn’t been a bit tougher so far. The Clemson win alone was more impressive than any single win by a title contender against another good team that we’ve seen this season. As much as Jameis Winston deserves accolades, the defense was just as dominant on the road against the Tigers. Oregon was just as dominant against rival Washington on the road, but the Huskies haven’t distinguished themselves since. That said, Oregon over the final five games faces five teams ranked in the top 30 of Jeff Sagarin’s predictor rankings (i.e., the rankings taking margin of victory into account, not the ranking used in the BCS). Florida State faces three of those teams all year. Provided every possible undefeated team stays that way at the end of the year, Oregon deserves that No. 1 spot as much as any ... just not No. 2 as of Oct. 23.

Mark Ross
No team was more impressive this past weekend in college football than Florida State. The Seminoles, behind redshirt freshman sensation Jameis Winston, completely and utterly dominated the then-No. 3 ranked Tigers in Death Valley. That said, I would still side with Oregon for the No. 2 position behind Alabama because the Ducks have been just as dominant as the 'Noles, and I think, the Pac-12 conference, top-to-bottom, is better when compared to the ACC this season. As good as Jimbo Fisher's team looked this past Saturday, they got a bit of a scare at Boston College a few weeks ago, eventually pulling away in the second half for a 48-34 win. Oregon's smallest margin of victory so far has been a 21-point win at then-No. 16 Washington. There are a lot of similarities between both of these teams (Heisman-contending, dual-threat quarterbacks, explosive offenses, solid, all-around defenses), so I don't think you can go wrong with either team at No. 2. Still, if I had to cast my vote, I would take Mark Helfrich and his high-flying Ducks.

Oregon or Florida State: Which team should be ranked No. 2?
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 07:15