Articles By Steven Lassan

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Although the annual meeting between Alabama and LSU has lost a little bit of appeal, this is still one of 2012’s most-anticipated games. The Tigers’ loss to Florida in early October prevented these two teams from meeting as No. 1 versus No. 2 once again. However, there’s no question this game will have a significant impact on the national title race and should decide the champion of the SEC West. With LSU already having one loss, another defeat would knock it out of the national title chase. If Alabama loses, the Crimson Tide’s championship hopes would take a huge hit but are unlikely to fall outside of the top five in the BCS standings.

These two teams met twice last season, with LSU claiming a 9-6 victory in Tuscaloosa, and Alabama won the rematch 21-0 in the national title game. The Crimson Tide have won three out of the last five in this series, but the Tigers claimed back-to-back victories in 2010 and 2011. LSU holds an edge against Alabama in Baton Rouge recently, winning four of the last six matchups at Tiger Stadium.

In addition to the national title picture, there are plenty of other factors in play on Saturday night. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron could significantly improve his Heisman hopes with a strong performance against LSU, while the Tigers have revenge on their mind after a disappointing showing in the national title game last season.

Storylines to watch in Alabama vs. LSU

Which team can establish the run?
It’s a simple statement, yet will have a large impact on this game. LSU won the ground attack in last year’s first matchup, outgaining Alabama 148 to 96. And there’s not much separating these two teams in the stat column this year, as the Crimson Tide rank 22nd nationally in rushing offense (214.4 ypg) and the Tigers rank 25th (208.4 ypg). While both squads have been imposing their will with the ground attack, neither has allowed opposing teams to establish any rushing game. Alabama has not allowed an opponent to gain more than 100 yards on the ground this season, while LSU has allowed three – Towson, Florida and Texas A&M. Considering Alabama’s run defense ranks No. 1 nationally, and the Tigers have had to shuffle some personnel around their offensive line, the Crimson Tide should have an edge in the trenches. And the matchup between Alabama’s offensive line versus LSU’s defensive line is a must-see battle in terms of NFL talent. Expect a lot of three or four-yard gains early on, but both teams have to continue to run the ball to help set up the passing attacks.

AJ McCarron versus LSU’s secondary
The biggest advantage for Alabama in Saturday’s game is the play of quarterback AJ McCarron. The junior leads the nation in passing efficiency and has yet to throw an interception this season. McCarron threw for 199 yards and one interception in the first meeting between these two teams but exploited LSU’s secondary for 234 yards and 23 completions in the rematch. The Tigers don’t have Morris Claiborne or Tyrann Mathieu roaming in the secondary anymore but are allowing just 148.5 passing yards per game. Slowing McCarron and emerging star Amari Cooper at receiver isn’t just on LSU’s secondary, as the defensive line needs to get pressure to disrupt the passing attack. The Crimson Tide are allowing two sacks per game, while the Tigers are generating nearly three each contest (2.9). If McCarron has time to throw, he will have opportunities to take advantage of LSU’s youth at cornerback (freshmen Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins). The Tigers hope to counter with pressure to keep the junior quarterback from establishing a comfortable rhythm.

Can Zach Mettenberger get on track?
The biggest disappointment in LSU’s season has to be the play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The junior was expected to give the offense a much-needed boost, but the Tigers rank 12th in the SEC in passing offense. Mettenberger has been very average in SEC games, throwing for only 97 yards against Texas A&M and 158 in a loss to Florida. He hasn’t made many mistakes (four interceptions), however, Alabama will be his toughest test of the season. Mettenberger doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards every week, but he needs to step up and deliver strikes to the LSU receivers. Considering the Crimson Tide will load up the box to stop the run, the Tigers may need Mettenberger to connect on a few throws early on to loosen up the defense.

Special Teams
Special teams hurt Alabama in the first matchup last year. The Crimson Tide missed four field goals, while LSU kicker Drew Alleman connected on all three of his attempts. Punter Brad Wing also placed four punts inside of the 20 and hit a 73-yard bomb for the Tigers. Considering how much this area cost the Crimson Tide a shot at winning last November, it could play a huge role in deciding the outcome of this game. As they were last season, Alleman and Wing are performing at an All-SEC level for LSU. Alabama’s special teams are also having a strong season, as kicker Jeremy Shelley has connected on all nine of his attempts, and punter Cody Mandell is averaging 41.7 yards per punt. The Crimson Tide own a slight edge on kickoff returns, as Christion Jones has returned one touchdown for a score and is averaging 30.3 yards per return. Odell Beckham has a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown for LSU and is averaging 8.3 yards on 21 attempts. There’s not a huge advantage for either team in this department, but one error could prove very costly.

Turnover battle
As with any matchup between top-five teams, any mistake will play a huge factor in determining the outcome of this game. Both teams have been opportunistic in the turnover battle, with Alabama ranking second in turnover margin and LSU checking in ninth. The Crimson Tide has lost just six turnovers and has forced 23. Considering how difficult it will be move the ball against both defenses, a turnover and a short field for a score would be a huge opportunity.

Final Analysis

The Tigers should have some extra momentum with this game in Baton Rouge, but can they generate enough offense to win this game? Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has yet to prove he can hit key throws with the game on the line, and LSU won’t have an easy time establishing its rushing attack against the Crimson Tide defense. Alabama certainly won’t match its scoring average (40.6), but this offense has more balance than it did last season, especially as quarterback AJ McCarron continues to get more starts under his belt. Both defenses will play well and a low-scoring first half should be expected. However, thanks to McCarron’s steady play and the tough running of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, the Crimson Tide will pull away in the final two quarters to keep Alabama ranked No. 1 heading into next week.

Final Prediction: Alabama 27-13


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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<p> Alabama Crimson Tide vs. LSU Tigers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 07:18
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With Nebraska’s 23-9 victory over Michigan last Saturday, the race to win the Big Ten Legends’ Division title is still a wide-open battle. The Cornhuskers own a slight lead in the division but a loss to Michigan State would bring Michigan back into the picture. The Spartans are 2-3 in Big Ten play, so they need some help to reclaim the top spot. However, if Michigan State can beat Nebraska, it should be favored to knock off Northwestern and Minnesota in its last two games.

These two teams have met only six times, but Nebraska has a commanding 6-0 lead in the series. The Cornhuskers won last season’s meeting 24-3 and claimed a 17-3 victory over the Spartans in the 2003 Alamo Bowl. This will only be the second meeting between Nebraska and Michigan State as Big Ten foes.

Storylines to Watch in Nebraska vs. Michigan State

Can Nebraska stop Le’Veon Bell?
Stopping the run has been the biggest problem for Nebraska’s defense this season. The Cornhuskers rank 82nd nationally against the run but that stat is slightly skewed by allowing 344 yards to UCLA and 371 yards to Ohio State. Against traditional running teams, Nebraska has fared much better in defending the run. The Cornhuskers held Wisconsin to 56 yards and Michigan to 95. This unit will face another tough test on Saturday, as Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell ranks 15th nationally with an average of 117.9 rushing yards per game. The junior has been held under 100 yards in the last two games but rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against Boise State. Considering Michigan State has struggled to establish a consistent passing attack this year, expect Nebraska to load the box and try to takeaway Bell from the gameplan.

Taylor Martinez vs. Michigan State’s secondary
The matchup between Nebraska’s receiving corps and Michigan State’s secondary will be one of the most intriguing battles to watch in the Big Ten this Saturday. The Cornhuskers own the conference’s top receiving corps but will be facing a tough Michigan State secondary. Johnny Adams and Darqueze Dennard are two of the best cornerbacks in the Big Ten, but the Spartans could be without backup safeties RJ Williamson and Jairus Jones due to injury. Adding another element to this battle will be what happens in the trenches. Michigan State has surprisingly struggled to generate a pass this year, averaging just 1.2 sacks a game. The Cornhuskers are allowing two sacks per contest, which figures to be tested by ends William Gholston and Marcus Rush.

No Rex Burkhead?
Nebraska’s rushing attack has been without the services of Rex Burkhead for nearly all of the last two games and most of the season. The senior aggravated a knee injury against Northwestern and did not play against Michigan. Burkhead’s status for Saturday’s game is uncertain, but the Cornhuskers are in good shape if he is unable to play. Ameer Abdullah has thrived with more opportunities, rushing for 100 yards in back-to-back weeks and totaling 716 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. Abdullah won’t have much running room available, especially considering Michigan State ranks seventh nationally against the run. Even if Burkhead can play, expect Abdullah to see the majority of carries, with quarterback Taylor Martinez also expected to have around 15 rushing attempts as well.

Andrew Maxwell…ready to emerge?
Was last week’s game a sign of things to come from Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell? The junior has struggled in his first season as a starter, throwing for 2,015 yards, nine touchdowns and completing just 55.9 percent of his throws. However, Maxwell led the offense on a game-tying drive in the fourth quarter and threw a 12-yard touchdown toss to Bennie Fowler to win in overtime. Nebraska has done a good job against the pass this season, allowing just 160.1 yards per game. If the Spartans want to get back into the Big Ten title picture, Maxwell has to pickup where he left off against Wisconsin and continue to build on that the rest of the year.

Final Analysis

While Nebraska-Michigan State may not register on the national radar like Alabama-LSU or USC-Oregon, this game should play a key role in deciding the Big Ten Legends’ Division. Michigan State has fought its way back into the race after beating Wisconsin last week, but the Spartans still have a lot of ground to make up. If the Cornhuskers can beat Michigan State, it’s hard to see a loss the rest of the way with Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa the remaining opponents. Expect this game to be decided on whichever team can establish its strength – Michigan State’s defense or Nebraska’s offense. Although the Spartans found some life on offense at the end of last week’s game, the Cornhuskers escape East Lansing with a victory.

Final Prediction: Nebraska 24-20  


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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<p> Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Michigan State Spartans Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:10
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Before the season started, this Pac-12 matchup was targeted as a potential top-five showdown and a game that would have major national title implications. There’s still plenty on the line this Saturday but USC’s two losses have taken some of the appeal away from the matchup in Los Angeles.

The Trojans are out of the national championship picture but have an opportunity to play the role of spoiler. With matchups against Oregon and Notre Dame remaining, USC still has a chance to work itself into an at-large spot for a BCS bowl. Oregon ranked No. 4 in the latest release of the BCS standings and is only a few decimal points behind Notre Dame for third place. The Ducks have some work to do to catch Kansas State, but if they win out, Chip Kelly’s team should eventually take the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings. However, a loss to USC would knock Oregon out of the national title picture, especially with Kansas State likely to finish unbeaten.

Neither team has been able to gain a huge advantage in the overall series in recent years. USC snapped a two-game losing streak with a 38-35 victory in Eugene last season. The Ducks have lost two out of the last three games in Los Angeles, including a 44-10 defeat in 2008. USC owns a 38-18-2 edge in the overall series.

Storylines to watch in Oregon vs. USC

Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee vs. Oregon secondary
In last season’s matchup, Barkley torched the Ducks’ secondary for 323 yards and four touchdowns on 26 completions. And those numbers are even more impressive when you consider Robert Woods wasn’t 100 percent at the end of last year. With Woods back to full strength, and Marqise Lee coming off a huge performance against Arizona (16 catches, 345 yards), the Trojans will be the best passing attack Oregon has faced this year. The Ducks rank 45th nationally in pass defense and 13th in pass efficiency defense. Considering the style of play in the Pac-12, the numbers can be a bit deceiving. Oregon has allowed just 10 touchdown passes and held opponents to under 60 percent completion percentage. The Ducks have also intercepted 14 passes, taking four of those back for touchdowns. Cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will have their hands full trying to slow down Woods and Lee, but they will also have plenty of help from the front seven. Oregon is averaging nearly three sacks a game (2.9) and faces a USC offensive line that has struggled at times. If the Ducks can get pressure on Barkley and not allow him to get comfortable in the pocket, the secondary should be able to prevent any big plays by the Trojans’ receivers.

USC’s run defense vs. Oregon’s rushing attack
Despite losing a couple of key contributors on the defensive line, USC’s rush defense has been solid this season. The Trojans have allowed only two teams to rush for more than 150 yards in a game and have given up just six touchdowns on the ground all year. Those statistics will be put to the test by Oregon’s offense, which is averaging 330.6 rushing yards per game. Kenjon Barner is the team’s workhorse, recording 974 yards and 10 touchdowns so far this season. Sophomore De’Anthony Thomas is one of the nation’s most explosive players and is averaging 8.6 yards per carry. As if stopping those two players won’t be enough of a challenge for USC, quarterback Marcus Mariota has 378 yards and three rushing touchdowns in 2012. The Trojans did a good job of holding the Ducks’ rushing attack in check last season, allowing LaMichael James only 78 yards on 20 attempts, and De’Anthony Thomas had just three yards on three carries. It’s impossible to stop Oregon considering all of the weapons at its disposal. However, the Trojans have to limit the big plays by the Ducks’ trio, as well as hold them to field goals once they get into the redzone.

How will Marcus Mariota play on the road?
The Ducks’ redshirt freshman signal-caller has passed every test so far this year. Mariota has thrown for 1,483 yards and 18 touchdowns, while rushing for 378 yards and three scores. Although this is his first year as Oregon’s starter, he has thrown only five picks and has emerged as a team leader. Mariota’s road resume is limited, as the Ducks played Washington State at a neutral site (Seattle) and at Arizona State on Oct. 18. The redshirt freshman was off against the Cougars, completing 21 of 32 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown. He wasn’t needed for a big game against Arizona State and finished with just 46 passing yards and one score. Considering how easy Mariota has transitioned into the starting role, there’s little reason to believe he will struggle on Saturday night. Oregon’s receiving corps doesn’t have a true No. 1 standout, but there’s plenty of depth and options for the passing game to click. And if the redshirt freshman has an impressive performance, he should have a chance to vault himself into Heisman contention.

Discipline
Penalties played a huge role in USC’s loss to Arizona last week and could factor into this game. The Trojans rank last in the nation with 10.3 penalties per game, while Oregon is committing 7.9 each contest. Although penalties aren't solely to blame for a loss, the yellow flags could stop a crucial drive or put one of these offenses in a third-and-long situation late in the game.

Can Silas Redd get on track for USC?
The passing offense is going to lead the way for the Trojans, but Lane Kiffin’s team needs to have more balance if it wants to win. After running for 155 yards against Washington and 158 yards versus California, Silas Redd has been a non-factor the last two weeks. Oregon ranks 39th nationally against the run and has allowed each of its last three opponents to record at least 150 yards. The Trojans won’t need Redd to have 175 yards, but the offense could benefit from more balance this week, especially as it looks to keep Oregon’s high-scoring offense off the field and give its defense some time to rest.

Final Analysis

There’s no question USC is disappointed to be 6-2. The Trojans expected to compete for a national championship and are instead just fighting to get into a BCS game. If Oregon can win on Saturday night, the road to an appearance in the national championship will likely hinge on the season finale against Oregon State. Expect this game to go back and forth and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team with the ball last pull out a close victory. Barkley, Lee and Woods will hit on a few big plays, but the Ducks eventually have too much firepower on offense and make a timely stop on defense to seal the victory.

Final Prediction: Oregon 45, USC 38


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:05
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With only a couple of weeks of conference play remaining, it's crunch time for several teams in the ACC. Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech and Duke are fighting it out for the Coastal Division title, while Florida State holds a one-game advantage over Clemson. Maryland and Wake Forest are trying to get bowl eligible, while NC State is trying to win eight games for the third consecutive season.

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Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 10

Will the winner of Virginia Tech-Miami represent the Coastal in the ACC title game?
With North Carolina ineligible to win the Coastal Division, it’s essentially a three-team race between Duke, Virginia Tech and Miami. Georgia Tech can’t be counted out, but the Yellow Jackets have lost to the Hokies and Hurricanes and still have a trip to Chapel Hill in mid-November. Although the Blue Devils have been the best story in the ACC this year, they have to play Clemson this Saturday and close out the year with a home game against Miami. Considering the upcoming schedules for each team, it’s not out of the question the winner of Thursday night’s game will play for the Coastal title. Virginia Tech already has a win over Duke and even though it has to play Florida State next week, would be favored to beat Boston College and Virginia. If Miami wins on Thursday, it should be in good shape to win its last two ACC games – at Virginia and at Duke – while playing South Florida on Nov. 17. The balance of power clearly resides in the Atlantic with Florida State and Clemson. However, getting to the ACC Championship gives Miami or Virginia Tech at least a shot to make a BCS bowl, as well as erasing some of the memories from an average season.

Can Miami’s Stephen Morris exploit the Hokies’ secondary?
Virginia Tech’s defense has been a slight disappointment this season, ranking 48th nationally in points allowed and 49th with 370.5 yards allowed per game. While the defense hasn’t quite played up to preseason expectations, the secondary held North Carolina to only 194 passing and Clemson to 160. This unit will be tested on Thursday night, as Miami quarterback Stephen Morris ranks third in the ACC with an average of 276.8 passing yards per game. The Hurricanes don’t have a true No. 1 receiver, but there’s plenty of depth with Phillip Dorsett, Rashawn Scott, Davon Johnson and Allen Hurns all catching at least 20 passes this year. Morris suffered an ankle injury against North Carolina and had limited mobility against Florida State. However, all signs point to the junior being at full strength on Thursday night. With Miami’s defense struggling, the Hurricanes need to jump on Virginia Tech early, and Morris has to find ways to exploit the Hokies’ secondary. If Miami struggles to get its passing game on track, Virginia Tech will win this game and take command of the ACC Coastal.

Can Duke’s secondary slow down Clemson’s passing offense?
In last week’s win over Wake Forest, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd had the best outing of his career, throwing for 428 yards and five scores. The Tigers have recorded at least 37 points in seven consecutive games and take on a Duke defense that allowed 48 points to Florida State last Saturday. The Blue Devils rank 81st nationally against the pass and has allowed each of their last three opponents to throw for two touchdown passes. After struggling to stop Florida State last week, Duke will have its hands full with Clemson’s offense, especially with receiver Sammy Watkins starting to find his rhythm after a slow start. Matching up against the Tigers’ receiving corps is no easy task but winning the battle in the secondary has to start in the trenches. Duke is averaging 2.1 sacks per game, while Clemson is surrendering 1.8 each contest. The Blue Devils need to disrupt Boyd’s timing, as well as win the turnover battle. Duke ranks second in the ACC with 19 forced turnovers, but the Tigers have lost just eight this season. It’s a tall task to keep Boyd, Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins in check. And the statistics suggest Duke will need a lot of breaks on Saturday night to knock off Clemson.

Is Tom O’Brien coaching for his job in the last four weeks of the season?
Last week’s 43-35 loss to North Carolina isn’t sitting well with the Wolfpack fanbase, and there are plenty of fans ready to send O’Brien packing at the end of the year. However, with a schedule that features Virginia, Wake Forest, Boston College and Clemson, NC State should be able to finish 8-4. If the Wolfpack can get to that record, it will mark the third consecutive year they have finished with at least eight victories. O’Brien’s overall mark at NC State is 38-33 and has made three bowl appearances in his six years. Is it overly impressive? No. However, after going 16-21 through his first three years with the Wolfpack, this team has gone 22-12 from 2010 through the first eight games of the year. While O’Brien deserves heat for not elevating this program into ACC title contention, he shouldn’t be in any danger of losing his job if NC State finishes 8-4. The real test will come next season, as Mike Glennon departs and cornerback David Amerson is likely headed to the NFL Draft. An unexpected loss Boston College, Virginia or Wake Forest the rest of the way could change the direction of O’Brien’s future. But for now, it looks like he should be in no danger of losing his job after this year.

Is it time for Georgia Tech to switch quarterbacks?
Tevin Washington has made 25 consecutive starts for Georgia Tech but could be in danger of losing his job this week. Redshirt freshman Vad Lee has played well in limited action this season and led the Yellow Jackets to their only offensive points in last week’s game against BYU. Georgia Tech’s offense hasn’t been awful this season, as it ranks fourth nationally in rushing, 30th in total yardage and 28th in scoring offense. However, the Yellow Jackets are looking for a spark and giving Lee a chance to play more isn’t a bad idea. Washington hasn’t been awful throughout his career but has struggled to find consistency as a passer. The quarterback spot isn’t completely to blame for this offense, as the receiving corps doesn’t have any playmakers, and the defense has put a lot of pressure on the Yellow Jackets to score nearly every time they touch the ball. Georgia Tech needs three wins to get bowl eligible but will likely need to upset North Carolina or Georgia to get to 6-6. Considering all of the issues on the roster, inserting Lee into the lineup may not make a huge difference. However, the Yellow Jackets need a spark and giving the redshirt freshman a chance to play makes a lot of sense.

Can Maryland generate any offense with a new quarterback?
It seems like a broken record, but once again, Maryland will have a new starting quarterback this week. With Caleb Rowe suffering a torn ACL against Boston College, the Terrapins are down to converted linebacker Shawn Petty and former tight end Brian McMahon. This will be the third consecutive week Maryland will have a new quarterback under center, and it’s starting to take a toll on the offense. Considering Petty ran an option scheme in high school and has yet to throw a pass in live action this year, the Terrapins need to allow him to have a healthy dose of designed runs early and often in this game. Additionally, coordinator Mike Locksley has to find a way to get the ball in the hands of receiver Stefon Diggs. The true freshman is the team’s best playmaker and caught 11 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown in last week’s game. Although coach Randy Edsall doesn’t want to use Diggs at quarterback, he needs to touch the ball at least 20 times to give the Terrapins a chance to win. In addition to getting the ball to Diggs, the offense has to establish the run (115th nationally), as well as win the turnover battle. With a solid defense, being conservative in third-and-long situations and punting the ball away is not a bad formula for Maryland to use this week.

Must-win for Wake Forest?
The Demon Deacons are on the verge of making their sixth bowl game under coach Jim Grobe. However, if Wake Forest wants to return to the postseason, beating Boston College on Saturday is a must. The Demon Deacons don’t have much margin for error with NC State, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt in the final three games of the year. With injuries taking its toll on the Wake Forest offensive line, a matchup against Boston College’s defense should be a relief. The Eagles are allowing 248 rushing yards per game and rank 11th in the ACC in scoring and total defense. Receiver Michael Campanaro returned to the lineup in last week’s loss against Clemson and caught six passes for 52 yards. The junior isn’t 100 percent in his recovery from a hand injury, but his presence will help open up the Wake Forest passing game. After struggling to matchup against Clemson’s receiving corps last week, the Demon Deacons should find Boston College’s offense easier to defend.

Can Virginia’s offense get on track?
A bye week late in the season is usually not a coach’s favorite decision, but it could pay dividends for Virginia. The Cavaliers have struggled to find the right mix on offense all season, averaging just 21.5 points a game. Phillip Sims and Michael Rocco have shared the quarterback duties, while the rushing attack has yet to get on track. With an off week to sort through some of the problems, the Cavaliers hope they have found some answers for the last four games of the season. Virginia still has bowl aspirations, but going 4-0 with a schedule that features games against NC State, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech is unlikely. While the Cavaliers will struggle to get to six wins, it’s more important for this team to find the right pieces on offense and build some momentum for 2013.

Can Boston College build off last week’s victory?
Last week’s 20-17 win over Maryland was a small glimmer of hope for a Boston College team that has struggled mightily this year. The Eagles are 2-6 and have just one win over a FBS team. With a schedule that features Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and NC State, getting to six wins and a bowl is very unlikely. However, this team has a chance to build some momentum over the final few weeks, starting with a matchup against Wake Forest this Saturday. Boston College lost 27-19 to the Demon Deacons last season but won 23-13 in 2010. Wake Forest needs to win this game to keep its bowl hopes alive, making this matchup will be a crucial game for both teams in terms of positioning within the conference. Both teams rank near the bottom of the ACC in scoring offense, so points will be at a premium on Saturday afternoon.

Week 10 ACC Predictions

Week 10 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Virginia Tech at Miami Miami 35-28 Va. Tech31-24 Va. Tech 31-27 Miami 24-21
Georgia Tech at Maryland Ga. Tech 38-14 Ga. Tech 27-24 Ga. Tech 27-17 GT 20-10
Virginia at NC State NC State 21-10 NC State 30-14 NC State 31-17 NC State 35-14
Boston College at Wake Forest Wake 24-17 Wake 24-20 Wake 24-20 Wake 21-20
Clemson at Duke Clemson 42-31 Clemson 42-20 Clemson 45-24 Clemson 34-21
Last Week: 4-1 3-2 2-3 4-1
Season Record: 56-14 54-16 51-19 58-12


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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<p> ACC Week 10 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 06:03
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The 2012 college football season is entering its final full month of action. There's plenty of twists and turns still to come in the road to the national championship and there could be a few top-25 teams that fall this Saturday. Check out Athlon's upset picks for Week 10:

College Football's Week 10 Upset Predictions

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Ole Miss (+14) at Georgia
Georgia is a two touchdown favorite against Ole Miss after defeating Florida by 12 on a neutral field. That’s fair. Yet I don’t have much reason to trust Georgia this season. Just look at the the last month or so: Georgia won a shootout with Tennessee, lost by 28 to South Carolina, squeaked by Kentucky, then overcame three Aaron Murray interceptions against Florida only because the Gators coughed up six turnovers of their own. Even after a 30-27 win over Arkansas last week, Ole Miss is going to need to overcome Jarvis Jones but this is a dangerous game for a far-from perfect Georgia team coming off the high of defeating Florida. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Washington (+4) at California
The Huskies and Golden Bears have been two of the hardest teams to figure out in the Pac-12 this season. California deserves some slack for playing a difficult schedule, but this team has been inconsistent, as evidenced by the 49-27 loss to Utah last week. Washington has struggled away from Seattle, losing 41-3 to LSU, 52-21 to Oregon and 52-17 to Arizona. Both teams are fighting for bowl eligibility, with California in worse shape at 3-6. The Huskies could win their final four games, especially considering the schedule features matchups against California, Utah, Colorado and Washington State. Not only is this week’s matchup with the Golden Bears about bowl eligibility, there’s also plenty of familiarity between these two teams. Washington hired defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi and offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau away from California in the offseason. Even though the Huskies have struggled to win on the road, I think they get the victory on Friday night. California could be without receiver Keenan Allen, and you have to wonder about this team with the rumor mill churning about Jeff Tedford’s future uncertain. If Allen is out, it’s a huge loss for the Golden Bears and one that could be just enough to swing the balance of power in favor of the Huskies to take home a close victory. 

Mark Ross: UAB (+3) over Southern Miss
Let's not kid ourselves here, neither team is very good as UAB and Southern Miss have combined to win a grand total of one game. That lone victory by UAB came against Southeastern Louisiana, an FCS school. However, that will change this Saturday in Hattiesburg, Miss., as either the Blazers will double their win total or the Golden Eagles will finally get first-year head coach Ellis Johnson into the win column. Unfortunately for coach Johnson and the Eagles, I think the losing streak continues as the Blazers have too much offense for them to overcome. UAB is averaging 422 yards of offense per game, good for 51st in the nation, while Southern Miss comes in at No. 104 with only 322.6 yards per game. That's a difference of nearly 100 yards. Both defenses have struggled to stop opponents on offense, and even though the Golden Eagles have fared better in this category (431.5 ypg compared to 461.1 for UAB), I just don't think they will be able to solve their offensive issues in this game. I wouldn't be surprised to see Southern Miss score considerably more than the 19.3 points per game it is averaging, but likewise I also expect UAB to pile up the points since the Golden Eagles are allowing nearly 40 per contest. If you like offense, this game should feature plenty, just don't expect it to end in a Southern Miss victory.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Mississippi State (+6.5) vs. Texas A&M
The Bulldogs are coming off their first loss of the season, a 38-7 spanking at No. 1 Alabama. The Aggies had a drastically different result in the Yellowhammer State last week, crushing Auburn by a 63-21 mark. So will Johnny Manziel, the SEC’s newest sensation, lead Texas A&M’s offense to big points and a win at Mississippi State? I’m not so sure. Dan Mullen’s crew is pretty tough to beat in Starkville, and the Bulldogs should use a raucous home crowd and an advantage in turnover margin to their favor. MSU does not give the ball away very often, and the Aggies defense does not tend to take it away. And if the Bulldogs can ride LaDarius Perkins (5.4 YPC and eight TDs) and an efficient Tyler Russell (15 TD passes and two INTs) into winning the time of possession, they can keep “Johnny Football” and the high-octane Aggies off the field. In their first matchup since the 2000 Independence Bowl (a 43-41 Bulldogs victory during a rare Louisiana snowstorm), I’ll take the “Bell” over the “Yell” at Davis Wade Stadium.

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 10 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-10-start-or-sit-report
Body:

Depending on your league format, Week 10 is either the final week or second-to-last week in your regular season.  If you are still fighting for a playoff spot, each roster decision you make could determine your playoff fate.  Once again, we’ve tried to identify as many on-the-fence players as we could to help with some of the tougher roster decisions.  As always, if you have any start/bench questions or need additional insight on roster decisions, please reach out to us via emailor twitter.

Start

James Sims, RB-Kansas at Baylor

Sims has carried the ball at least 27 times and rushed for over 100 yards in each of the past four games.  This week, that streak should continue when he faces a Baylor defense giving up 194.1 rushing yards per game.

 

Damon Bullock, RB-Iowa at Indiana

Fullback Mark Weisman is doubtful to play this week against Indiana, which leaves Bullock to carry the load against a defense giving up 222.5 rushing yards per game.

 

Alex Singleton, RB-Tulsa at Arkansas

The Razorbacks are ranked 31st in the nation against the run, giving up a respectable 123 rushing yards per game.  However, they are giving up 30.9 points per game and have given up more rushing touchdowns than any of the 35-best run defenses in the country.
 

Storm Woods, RB-Oregon St vs Arizona St

Look for Woods to get a lot of work against a defense giving up 173.6 rushing yards per game.  In fact, the Arizona State defense is allowing an average of 43.3 rushing attempts per game, the 16th-highest rate in the FBS.
 

Eric Monette, WR-Western Michigan at Central Michigan

Last week, we identified Josh Schaffer as the favorite target of quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen, but with fellow receiver Jamie Wilson sidelined with a groin injury, Monette has posted two consecutive eight-catch games. 
 

Justin Hunter, WR-Tennessee vs Troy

We’ve suggested benching Hunter the past two weeks against Alabama and South Carolina, but we are inserting him into a starters role this week against Troy, especially since all four of his touchdowns this season have been scored against non-BCS schools.
 

Jalen Saunders, WR-Oklahoma at Iowa St

It is nearly impossible to suggest sitting Saunders after he caught 15 passes last week, especially when his offense may be without its best running back (Damien Williams) against Iowa State.
 

Ryan Grant, WR-Tulane vs Rice

Grant’s success has a lot to do with the return of Ryan Griffin at quarterback.  Over the past two weeks, the junior receiver has caught 12 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns.
 

Bench

Taylor Martinez, QB-Nebraska at Michigan St

Martinez is having the best passing season of his three-year career in Lincoln, but his fantasy value is minimized if his ability to run the football is neutralized.  The Spartans have the seventh-best rushing defense in the country and we expect they will force Martinez to beat them with his arm instead of his legs.
 

Ray Graham, RB at Notre Dame

We were just about ready to write off Graham until he had his most productive week of the season last Saturday.  Not only does he lose carries to the freshman running back Rushel Shell, but he’ll go up against the nation’s eighth-best rushing defense in Week 10.
 

Adam Muema, RB-San Diego St at Boise St

After scoring a touchdown in each of the first seven weeks of the 2012 season, Muema faces the possibility of going scoreless for a third consecutive game.  The odds are certainly against him this week when he faces a Boise State defense that gives up less than 14 points per game.
 

Kendial Lawrence, RB-Missouri at Florida

In Missouri’s four wins this season, Lawrence has rushed for 395 yards and seven touchdowns.  In four losses, the senior running back has only mustered 237 yards and has been held out of the end zone.  Simple math tells us that we’re looking at a 60-yard day on the road in The Swamp this Saturday.
 

Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon, RBs-Alabama at LSU

Lacy and Yeldon will go up against a LSU defense that is giving up less than 100 yards per game.  Even if the two backs combine for 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns, they will most likely split that production.
 

Taylor Kelly, QB-Arizona St at Oregon St

Besides the game against Oregon a couple of weeks ago, Kelly has thrown for 15 touchdowns in his other four PAC-12 contests.  This week, the Sun Devils travel to Oregon State, a team that is allowing 260.7 passing yards per game.  However, the Beavers have only allowed seven passing touchdowns this season, tied for ninth-best in the FBS.


by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

For Start/Bench advice from Joe DiSalvo, send an email to:  joe@thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 10 Start or Sit Report</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 05:42
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-10-emergency-starters
Body:

We have identified a few players that may be floating around in your league’s waiver pool that have favorable Week 10 matchups.  If a fantasy league playoff berth is at stake, take a look at a few alternative options in this week’s Emergency Starters.

 

Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)


Quarterback

Ryan Griffin, Tulane vs Rice

Matt McGloin, Penn St @ Purdue

Austin Brown, UAB at at Southern Miss

Trent Steelman, ARMY vs Air Force
 

Running Backs

Dareyon Chance, Western Michigan at Central Michigan

Wes Cobb, Air Force @ Army

Monterrell Washington, ULM vs Louisiana

Vantavious Cooper, ECU vs Houston

Theo Riddick, Notre Dame vs Pitt
                

Receivers

LaDarius Brown, TCU @ West Virginia

William Dukes, FAU @ Navy

Lanear Sampson, BAY vs Kansas

Shaquelle Evans, UCLA vs Arizona

 

For Start/Bench advice from Joe DiSalvo, send an email tojoe@thecffsite.com

 

Steven Lassan(@AthlonSteven)

Quarterback

Shane Carden, ECU vs Houston

Ryan Griffin, Tulane vs Rice

Keenan Reynolds, Navy vs FAU
 

Running Backs

Damon Bullock, Iowa at Indiana

Latavius Murray, UCF vs SMU

Darrin Reaves, UAB at USM

 

Receivers

Emory Blake, Auburn vs New Mexico St

Ryan Grant, Tulane vs Rice

Lanear Sampson, Baylor vs Kansas

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 10 Emergency Starters</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 04:21
Path: /college-football/arizona-arizona-state-ucla-or-usc-which-team-wins-pac-12-south
Body:

The Pac-12 South was expected to be a one-team race in the preseason. USC was a heavy favorite in August but already has two losses in Pac-12 play. The Trojans, UCLA and Arizona State all have two losses within the conference and Arizona isn't far behind with a 2-3 record. 

Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA or USC: Which Team Wins the Pac-12 South?

David Fox (@DavidFox615):
Shockingly, this may be Arizona’s to lose. USC’s third conference loss may come against Oregon this week, which would tie the Trojans with the Wildcats in the loss column. Arizona finishes with UCLA in the Rose Bowl, Colorado, Utah on the road and Arizona State. The Wildcats have proven then can defeat teams better than their final four opponents, even when their starting quarterback spent the final minutes being tested for a concussion. Arizona’s surge has been weeks in the making, starting with going toe-to-toe with Stanford in a wild 54-48 overtime loss on the road. Then, Arizona overwhelmed Washington’s improved defense 55-17 before completing the statement against USC last week. Certainly, Arizona is vulnerable against UCLA, Arizona State and perhaps Utah, particularly against the run. But I’m starting to believe more in Arizona than a USC team that may get trounced by Oregon this week. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
This race got a lot more interesting with Arizona's win over USC this weekend didn't it? The Trojans have to be considered the favorites still, however, as a 2-1 record the rest of the way likely gives them the Division Crown. UCLA hosts Arizona — whose margin for error is slim and none — this weekend, and a Bruins win over the Cats would give Rich Rodriguez a fourth Pac-12 loss. Meanwhile, Arizona State's schedule is clearly the toughest of the bunch with three nasty road trips in the final four games and a second straight upset over the Men of Troy is highly unlikely considering how ASU has played of late. That leaves USC's game UCLA left to determine who gets sacrificed to Oregon on December 1. The Trojans were 50 points better than the Bruins last fall and UCLA hasn't closed the gap enough. So while a 6-3 Pac-12 mark and potential 8-4 overall record isn't exactly what USC fans were hoping for this fall, it could still be could enough to give them a shot at the Rose Bowl.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
With USC’s loss to Arizona, the battle to win the Pac-12 South is wide open. The Trojans were a heavy favorite to win this conference in the preseason but have suffered two disappointing road losses. After looking at the remaining schedules, I believe this race won’t be settled until the final weekend. The Wildcats are at a bit of a disadvantage with three conference losses, while USC, Arizona State and UCLA each have two. The Trojans will likely lose to Oregon and should be favored to beat Arizona State and UCLA to close out the Pac-12 portion of their schedule. Arizona is in good shape, but the Wildcats have to go on the road to play UCLA and being one-game behind the rest of the pack could be too much to overcome. Arizona State seems to have the toughest path to the title, especially with road trips against Oregon State, USC and Arizona remaining. UCLA has a favorable schedule and will have opportunities to beat Arizona and USC in the Rose Bowl. Even though USC has been a major disappointment, I think the Trojans finish Pac-12 play at 6-3, which is just enough to edge UCLA and Arizona for first place in the South (and the right to lose to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game).

Mark Ross: 
I think it's pretty safe to remove Colorado and Utah from the discussion right away, so that leaves the two Los Angeles schools and the two Arizona schools. There are still plenty of games to be played, but I can't help but look at the Nov. 23 match up between Arizona State and Arizona and think this game will decide the Pac-12 South winner. Arizona already holds the tiebreaker over USC thanks to last week's win and still has the aforementioned Buffaloes and Utes on the schedule. If the Wildcats can beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl on Saturday, they are looking at a 5-3 mark headed into their game against the Sun Devils. Arizona State has to take on Oregon State and USC on the road these next two Saturdays, but as long as they split those games and beat Washington State, the Sun Devils will have an identical 5-3 conference mark entering that Thanksgiving Friday showdown in Tuscon. The Trojans and Bruins still have a say in this, but one is going to essentially take the other out of the running when they face off on Nov. 17. And don't forget that USC plays Oregon this Saturday, while UCLA ends its regular season against Stanford. Call me a sucker for symmetry, but I just like the way this appears to be shaping up for the two Arizona schools. Besides what better way to decide a division title than a head-to-head desert duel on the Friday after Thanksgiving? And if this match up does in fact occur under the circumstances I have outlined? I like Rich Rodriguez in his first season at Arizona to lead his Wildcats to the Pac-12 title game by beating their arch rivals in front of a raucous home crowd.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
While three South teams — USC, UCLA and Arizona State — only have two league losses, I’m going with the Arizona Wildcats despite a 2-3 Pac-12 record. Rich Rodriguez has rallied the team after three straight losses earlier this year, and I think Arizona wins out while also owning the tiebreaker over preseason favorite USC. As long as intrepid quarterback Matt Scott is healthy, the Wildcats should be able to win high-scoring contests against the Bruins and Sun Devils. The Trojans have to deal with undefeated Oregon this week, while UCLA and ASU still have to play USC as well as the Wildcats. It should be a fun race until the end, and I’ll go with the dynamic duo of Scott and Ka’Deem Carey to lead Arizona to the league title game.

Related College Football Content

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Is it time for Texas to make a coaching change?

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat

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15 Scariest Players in College Football

Teaser:
<p> Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA or USC: Which Team Wins the Pac-12 South?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/kansas-state-oregon-or-notre-dame-which-team-has-best-chance-beat-alabama
Body:

All signs point to Alabama cruising to another appearance in the national title game. The Crimson Tide have dominated all of their opponents so far this year but get their toughest test of 2012 against LSU this Saturday. While Alabama appears to be the clear No. 1 team, it's too early to guarantee another national title. Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Georgia and LSU are the top contenders but will any of those teams have enough to dethrone Alabama at No. 1 at the end of the year? 

Kansas State, Oregon, Notre Dame or another team from the SEC: Can anyone beat Alabama?

Coach Terry Donahue, former head coach of the UCLA Bruins, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I think that Oregon would have the best chance to beat Alabama. I have not seen a team in the last thirty years that can run offense like Oregon.  Also, Oregon's Coach Kelly has said this is the best defense that he has had while coaching in Eugene.

Coach Gene Stallings, former head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
If I had to pick one of those three teams (Notre Dame, Kansas State or Oregon) to beat Alabama, it would be Notre Dame.  I think they are the only one of those three teams that is physically strong enough to play against Alabama and beat them. I don't think Oregon could slow down Alabama when they have the ball.

David Fox (@DavidFox615):
The team with the best chance to knock off Alabama is a team the Crimson Tide may not face: Kansas State. The Wildcats are the only team that can match Nick Saban’s trademark preparation, intensity and attention to detail. The Wildcats won’t match Alabama in talent level, but Kansas State is sound in offense, defense and special teams. Now, I don’t know how Collin Klein would handle the physical Alabama defense, but I’d cast by lot with Klein against the Tide over a freshman quarterback at Oregon, the two-QB system at Notre Dame and Zach Mettenberger. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that Oregon is the second best team in the nation. Does that mean they are best constructed to defeat the Crimson Tide in a one-game situation with the championship on the line? No. Notre Dame, Kansas State and Florida are the three teams best built to defeat the massive front line and offensive balance that Alabama boasts. Notre Dame still has a question mark at QB that Nick Saban would exploit. Kansas State is a special story with two special leaders but isn't nearly talented enough anywhere on the roster to topple Bama. For my money, the Gators are the team best built to compete with the Tide in the trenches on defense and are physical enough along the offensive line to run the football. Unfortunately, there is a good shot the Gators and Tide won't face each other this fall. Oregon will get and deserves the right to play in the national title game but being equipped to slow down the massive Alabama running game is an entirely different issue.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I don’t see any team beating Alabama this year, but I think Oregon has the best chance to knock the Crimson Tide from the No. 1 spot in the national title game. Notre Dame’s defense would give Alabama’s offense fits, but I don’t think the Fighting Irish would be able to generate many points on the Crimson Tide defense. Kansas State doesn’t beat itself, but getting Collin Klein on track against Alabama seems unlikely. LSU and Georgia won’t be easy outs, but the Tigers have struggled to generate anything on offense all year, while the Bulldogs’ offensive line would be a mismatch against the Crimson Tide’s front seven. The Ducks seem to be in the best position to challenge Alabama this year, as Chip Kelly has assembled a team complete with depth, speed and talent. Oregon’s offense can beat you in many ways, and quarterback Marcus Mariota is only going to get better. Although the defense may not rank statistically as high as Alabama’s, the Ducks are allowing 4.5 yards per play – equal to Notre Dame and South Carolina. It’s going to be hard for any team to knock off the Crimson Tide, but with a dangerous offense and a defense that’s better than the stats might indicate, Oregon would be the best matchup. Chip Kelly vs. Nick Saban. De’Anthony Thomas vs. Alabama’s defense. Talk about a heck of a (potential) matchup in Miami for the national title. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
I think it still has to be LSU. The Tigers have been a bit underwhelming so far this season — their three SEC wins have come by a combined nine points — but we can’t forget this team still has an elite defense and an outstanding rushing game. Alabama has been extremely impressive and no doubt deserves its No. 1 ranking, but the Crimson Tide have yet to face a great defense in 2012. I have supreme confidence in AJ McCarron, Eddie Lacy and Co., but moving the ball and scoring points against teams like Michigan and Mississippi State is one thing. Doing it against LSU, at night in Tiger Stadium, is a different animal. My pick to win this game is still Alabama, but I believe LSU has to considered the biggest threat to knock off the defending champs.

Mark Ross: 
I'm guessing most of my colleagues are viewing this question in light of who Alabama will play in the BCS National Championship Game. I, however, am not convinced that the Crimson Tide won't fall before we get to that point. I'm not saying LSU will be the one to beat 'Bama this Saturday, but I'm not ready to crown Nick Saban's team as SEC champs just yet either. As it stands now, Alabama and Georgia appear to be on a collision course to play in Atlanta in December. Both still have business to attend to, but if this match up is the end result, I think the Bulldogs have the necessary ingredients - namely a physical, athletic defense that can make big plays and a veteran quarterback leading an offense that can run and pass - to beat the Crimson Tide. That said, it still will probably require a near-flawless effort on Georgia's part, and probably a lucky bounce here or there, to do so. Since discipline is not necessarily a hallmark of Mark Richt's teams, I will agree with my colleagues who say the toughest opponent Alabama will face will be in the title game in Miami Gardens in January. As good as Kansas State and Notre Dame have looked thus far, I think Oregon offers the best opponent for Alabama in that the Ducks have the same ingredients I outlined earlier and they are probably one of the few teams in the nation whose offense could provide a challenge for the Tide's defense. I for one would love to see Chip Kelly and Saban square off mano a mano to determine this season's national champion.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
The answer to this question is probably Oregon (if the Ducks make it) in the BCS Championship, but since we do not know if that game will happen, I’ll go with LSU in this weekend’s top matchup. The Tigers have the defense to lead LSU to another low-scoring victory like the one last year in Tuscaloosa, although the offense will needs its best effort by far just to even the time of possession. The Tigers offensive line has been rifled with key injuries this season, so it’s difficult to see LSU doing much on offense. However if Zach Mettenberger and the running game can make a few plays and keep it close until the fourth quarter, then the Death Valley crowd might work some of its famous voodoo. I’m not predicting Les Miles’ bunch to win this weekend, but the Tigers have the speed and physical potential to upset the Tide.


Related College Football Content

Who will win the Pac-12 South?
Is it time for Texas to make a coaching change?

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Teaser:
<p> Kansas State, Oregon, LSU, Georgia or Notre Dame: Which Team Has the Best Chance to Beat Alabama?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 06:03
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas Longhorns, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/should-texas-replace-mack-brown-end-2012-season
Body:

Even though Texas won 21-17 in last Saturday's game against Kansas, the victory isn't sitting well with many folks in Austin. Struggling to beat the worst team in the conference is never a good sign, and the Longhorns don't seem to be much better from last season's 8-5 squad. Mack Brown has had a successful stint as Texas' head coach, but is it time for a coaching change?

Is it time for Texas to make a coaching change?

David Fox (@DavidFox615):
No question, Texas is not where it used to be. The Longhorns aren’t where they should be by any means, either. That said, it’s almost a surprise to look at the standings and see Texas at 6-2. Seems like the record should be much worse -- that’s because the Oklahoma rout felt like two losses, and a 21-17 win over Kansas may as well be a loss. But in the end, Texas is poised for a second consecutive eight-win season or better after going 5-7 two years ago. That three-year span gets coaches fired at Michigan and Florida, and perhaps it should at Texas under normal circumstances. But Mack Brown has too much credibility built up with nine consecutive 10-win seasons and two national title game appearances. And don’t forget: Parting ways with the coach is the easy part. Just ask Tennessee or Florida State. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Before last weekend I would have laughed at this question. But inching past Kansas in extremely unimpressive fashion has raised my eyebrows. Mack Brown has never burnt the midnight oil drawing up game plans to out-scheme the other guy. He has never been an ultra gameday motivator. His value lies in his Gubernatorial talents as CEO of the nation's largest football program and working the "rubber chicken circuit" — aka boosters, recruit’s homes, high school banquets, etc. Most football coaches should be able to win at a place like Texas, so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the Longhorns should never lose to Kansas. Brown has earned plenty of equity with two national title appearances since 2005. And with Texas Tech, Iowa State and TCU up next on the schedule, his team should be much closer to 9-2 than, say, Auburn's 1-7. I am okay with Brown getting another year in Austin (if he wants it)...unless Art Briles is interested in moving 100 miles down I-35 South.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I don’t think Mack Brown is in any danger of losing his job this season, but there’s no question the pressure is starting to build. It’s never easy for any program to stay on top forever, but since recording nine consecutive seasons of at least 10 victories from 2001-09, the Longhorns are just 19-14 over the last three years. Revamping the staff gave Texas an initial bump last season, but the defense has regressed, and the quarterback position is still a question mark. Brown is the perfect CEO for this program and continues to reel in top-five recruiting classes. So where has Texas gone wrong? The Big 12 has gotten better, but the talent hasn’t developed as quickly as most expected. In the three seasons prior to his arrival, the Longhorns were 22-14 and struggled to find consistency in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Texas is college football’s premier job, so there should be high expectations every year. Considering what Brown has done, he deserves another year to get this team back in the mix for a BCS title. And it’s also hard to envision Brown getting fired at the end of 2012 or 2013. Maybe he steps down to take an athletic department position or retires, but I don’t see Mack Brown ever getting fired from Texas. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
I would hate to see Mack Brown fired — the man has done too many great things at Texas — but it might be time for a change at Texas. The Longhorns showed signs of progress in 2011 but have since reverted back to ’10 form. Their last four games have been especially alarming —  losses to West Virginia (48–45) in Oklahoma (63–21) and wins vs. Baylor (56–50) and Kansas (21–17). Brown has pointed to his team’s youth, but being “too young” should never be an acceptable excuse at a school like Texas. The roster should always be stocked with talent in every class. It might be unrealistic to expect Texas to compete for a national title every season, but it’s not asking too much for this program to be nationally relevant. And that has not been the case since Colt McCoy went down with an injury in the 2009 national title game.

Mark Ross: 
As they say, everything's bigger in Texas, especially when it comes to expectations surrounding the football team. As bad as the back-to-back losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma have looked, especially the 63-21 beatdown by the Sooners, this Texas team will still probably finish with no fewer than eight wins, and has a chance to make some noise late and get back into the BCS conversation. The Longhorns will have to take care of business, but if they go 4-0 the rest of the way, which would include a win over Kansas State, who is currently undefeated and No. 2 in the BCS standings, that would bring their record to 10-2. However, considering the defense's consistent struggles this season, another loss or two before the bowl season seems a little more realistic. Still, an eight- or nine-win season is something most programs would gladly take, and even though this is Texas, where they eat, drink and breathe football, I see no reason to make a coaching change. That is, unless Mack Brown is the one making the decision to step down. I think he's at least earned that right having won more than 140 games in his 15 seasons in Austin. Do Longhorn fans really think there's someone out there, who would take the job if offered, that would be better for the program, as a whole, than Brown? I don't.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
I think the UT program has been inexcusably average for the last three seasons, but the Longhorns still have a shot at a double-digit win total this year. The Texas offense was horrid in 2010-11 but has improved this season; however, a talented defense has suddenly become a sieve under Manny Diaz in 2012. There were high hopes in Austin coming into this season, after the Longhorns totaled just 13 wins over the last two years. It has not been pretty — especially a 63-21 loss against Oklahoma — but Texas is still 6-2. If Mack Brown can get to 9-10 victories, he should be allowed to fix the recent slippage in a program that has every resource imaginable. If the Horns falter late by losing three or four more, a change may be needed.

Related College Football Content

Which team has the best chance to beat Alabama?
Is it time for Texas to make a coaching change?

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat

College Football's Post-Week 9 Bowl Projections

15 Scariest Players in College Football 

Teaser:
<p> Should Texas Replace Mack Brown at the end of the 2012 season?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-10-plays
Body:

In the world of fantasy football, some team owners are relentless in their search for information that will give them a competitive edge over their competition.  Others just simply rely on projections from so-called experts, who try to convince everyone they have devised a computer program that accurately projects player stats by using a scientific formula so complicated that it makes the Drake equation seem elementary.  Eventually, those computer-driven computations prove no more accurate than an old-fashioned gut feeling.  However, in a quest to find a formula for fantasy success, one should just ask the question, “What are the odds?”

Quite simply, Vegas odds could give you all of the necessary insight to make smart roster decisions on a week-to-week basis.  In this weekly article, theCFFsite considers the point spreads and totals(over/under) in order to give our readers a unique perspective into some of the week’s most interesting fantasy matchups.

Week 10

Best Fantasy Matchups(Games with the most fantasy potential)

Kansas at Baylor

Line:  Baylor -17(O/U-71)

Projected score based on point spread:  Baylor 44-27

Best plays:

Baylor (QB-Nick Florence, WR-Terrance Williams)

Kansas (RB-James Sims)

Also consider:

Baylor (RB-Jared Salubi, WRs-Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson)

Kansas (RB-Tony Pierson)

theCFFsite projects:  Baylor 42-28

 

TCU at West Virginia

Line:  West Virginia -7(O/U-68)

Projected score based on point spread:  West Virginia 38-30

Best plays:

TCU (QB-Trevone Boykin*-inj, WRs-Josh Boyce, LaDarius Brown)

West Virginia (QB-Geno Smith, WRs-Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey)

Also consider:

TCU (RBs-BJ Catalon, Matthew Tucker, K-Jaden Oberkrom)

West Virginia (RB-Andrew Buie)

theCFFsite projects:  West Virginia 42-28

 

Houston at East Carolina

Line:  Houston -3.5(O/U-67)

Projected score based on point spread:  Houston 35-32

Best plays:

Houston (QB-David Piland, RB-Charles Sims)

East Carolina (QB-Shane Carden,  WR-Justin Hardy)

Also consider:

Houston (WRs-Daniel Spencer, Larry McDuffey, Deontay Greenberry)

East Carolina (RB-Vintavious Cooper)

theCFFsite projects:  Houston 41-31

 

Arizona at UCLA

Line:  UCLA -3(O/U-70)

Projected score based on point spread:  UCLA 37-34

Best plays:

UCLA (QB-Brett Hundley, RB-Johnathan Franklin)

Arizona (QB-Matt Scott, RB-KaDeem Carey, WR-Austin Hill)

Also consider:

UCLA (WR-Shaquelle Evans)

Arizona (WR-Dan Buckner)

theCFFsite projects:  Arizona 31-30

 

One-Sided Matchups(Using the odds to find a dominating ‘D’)

Texas St at Utah St

Line:  Utah St -22(O/U-50.5)Utah St -26(O/U-53)

Projected score based on point spread:  Utah St 40-13

Stay away from:

Texas St (RB-Marcus Curry)

theCFFsite projects:  Utah St 42-14
 

Hawaii at Fresno St

Line:  Fresno St -33.5(O/U-47)

Projected score based on point spread:  Fresno St 47-13

Stay away from:

Hawaii (RB-Will Gregory)

theCFFsite projects:  Fresno St 45-14

 

Stanford at Colorado

Line:  Stanford -28(O/U-51)

Projected score based on point spread:  Stanford 40-11

Stay away from:

Colorado (RB-Christian Powell)

theCFFsite projects:  Stanford 34-10

 

Massachusetts at Northern Illinois

Line:  NIU -35(O/U-56.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  46-10

Stay away from:

UMass (RB-Michael Cox)

theCFFsite projects:  Northern Illinois 45-13

 

Must Watch Games(The games with the biggest headlines)

Alabama at LSU

Line:  Alabama -9.5(O/U-42.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Alabama 26-16

Outlook:  Considering how well Kansas State, Oregon, and Notre Dame are playing, a win by the Tigers could dampen the SEC’s chances of playing for another BCS Championship.  Death Valley will present the most hostile environment the Tide will play in all season, but the Tigers inconsistencies on offense will be their demise.

theCFFsite projects:  Alabama 24-14

 

Oregon at USC

Line:  Oregon -7.5(O/U-70)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oregon 39-31

Outlook:  It’s scary to think what the Oregon offense can do if they stay on the field an entire sixty minutes, but the Duck’s defense will make a statement of their own and prove why they are one of the two best teams in the nation.

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon 63-24

 

theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (17-13)  ATS: (12-18)

2011 Season:  Straight Up (40-9) ATS: (35-14)


By Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

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Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 10 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 04:29
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-15-scariest-players-2012
Body:

Goblins, zombies, witches and skeletons. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Pinhead. Pick any combination of those and you have a recipe for nightmares and sleepless nights.

While those may bother some college football players and coaches, what about the actual on-field frights? Here’s a look at 15 players that have scared players and coaching staffs this season.

15 Scariest Players in College Football

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Vitals: 6-foot-6, 256 pounds
2012 stats: 40 tackles, 15 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 4 QBH
No player defines the physical freak category more than Clowney. The South Carolina defensive end has all of the physical attributes to start right now in the NFL, but he will have to make do with terrorizing SEC quarterbacks instead. At 6-foot-6 and 256 pounds, Clowney has the size to be one of the nation’s elite run stuffers, while possessing the necessary speed to blow offensive tackles right off the line of scrimmage. The sophomore is a headache for offensive coordinators to gameplan around and gives opposing quarterbacks’ nightmares throughout the season. Another scary thought for quarterbacks? Clowney is just a sophomore and will be back for South Carolina in 2013.
 

Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 255 pounds
2012 stats: 80 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack, 5 INT
There’s simply no defender playing at a higher level in college football this season. Te’o leads the Fighting Irish with 80 tackles and five interceptions and is a lock to earn first-team All-American honors at the end of the year. The senior is one of Notre Dame’s leaders and while he might be soft spoken, don’t let that fool you on the field. Te’o lets his play on the field do all of the talking and he is a player you have to account for at all times.


Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Vitals: 6-foot-5, 226 pounds
2012 stats: 1,630 pass yards, 12 TDs, 634 rush yards, 16 TDs
If Klein was planning on getting a Halloween costume, his decision was made easier when he gained the nickname “Optimus Klein” earlier this year. The senior is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy after eight weeks and is the heart and soul of Kansas State’s offense. He has 28 total touchdowns and improved passing skills have made him nearly impossible to stop. Do you load up and stop the run and allow Klein and receivers to have 1-on-1 matchups on the outside? Or do you take away the pass and allow Klein to grind away yards on the ground? Good luck defensive coordinators. Best wishes trying to get to sleep with visions of No. 7 haunting your dreams.
 

Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 320 pounds
2012 stats: 29 tackles, 8 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 FF
There are few 6-foot-4, 320-pound linemen who can move like Lotulelei. The Utah native keeps plenty of Pac-12 offensive linemen up at night, as they try to keep Lotulelei from destroying their quarterback. The senior moves well for someone for his size and his quick feet allow him to blow linemen right off the ball – just ask USC.
 

Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Vitals: 6-foot-8, 280 pounds
2012 stats: 18 tackles, 6 TFL, 5 sacks, 6 QBH, 3 blocked kicks
Hailing from Estonia, Hunt is one of college football’s hidden gems. The senior ranked as the No. 1 athletic freak by CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman and has been a monster on defense and special teams. Hunt won gold medals in the shot put and discus throw at the 2006 World Junior Championships. Additionally, he blocked seven kicks as a freshman, three as a sophomore and four as a junior. Whether he’s on special teams on lining up across offensive linemen, Hunt is a true terror on the field and a nightmare to match up against.
 

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 255 pounds
2012 stats: 27 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 5 QBH
The “Germanator” has lived in opposing backfields all year and has left ACC quarterbacks running for their lives this season. Werner has been the ACC’s top defensive player so far, recording 12.5 tackles for a loss and eight sacks. Whether it’s an offensive lineman or a quarterback, there’s no question Werner is not someone you want to see coming in your direction after the ball is snapped. And anytime a player has a nickname like the “Germanator,” you know he has to be a bad, bad man.


Jesse Williams, DL, Alabama
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 320 pounds
2012 stats: 14 tackles, 2 PBU
Just take a look at Williams – doesn’t he look like someone who is ready to inflict pain on opposing offensive linemen? The native Australian started his career at Arizona Western College and immediately made an impact in his first season in Tuscaloosa in 2011. Williams isn’t asked to generate much in the way of stats but the 6-foot-4 lineman is a beast for any opposing offensive lineman to handle, especially after recording a 600-pound bench press in the offseason.
 

T.J. McDonald, S, USC
Vitals:
6-foot-3, 205 pounds
2012 stats: 66 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT, 3 PD
Catching a pass over the middle is not necessarily high on a receiver's wish list, especially with a safety ready to deliver a blow lurking just a few yards behind. McDonald is the eptiome of this worst-case scenario for opposing wideouts, as he is one of college football’s biggest hitters and is a well-built safety at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. With McDonald ready to lower the boom after a catch, it’s enough to make any receiver think twice about catching a slant or curl route over the middle.
 

John Simon, DE, Ohio State
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 263 pounds
2012 stats: 37 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4 sacks
At 6-foot-2 and 263 pounds, Simon isn’t necessarily the biggest defensive end in college football. However, don’t let that size fool you. Simon has been a terror off the edge throughout his career and has 16 sacks in four seasons. He is also one of college football’s biggest workout warriors and is relentless when it comes to spending time in the weight room.                                                                                                                                                                                              

Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 200 pounds
2012 stats: 47 rec., 657 yds., 4 TDs
A torn ACL ended Hunter’s 2011 season after three games, but the Virginia native has shown no ill effects from the injury and remains one of the best receivers in the SEC. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Hunter has the size to be an elite red zone threat, while possessing the speed to outrun opposing defensive backs. The junior has 4.4 speed and posted a mark of 26 feet, 1.5 inches in the long jump during his freshman season.


Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Vitals: 5-foot-9, 171 pounds
2012 stats: 74 rec., 788 yards, 9 TDs; 90 rush yards, 1 kickoff return for a TD
Austin is one player you do not want to encounter in the open field. The Baltimore native has 248 career receptions for 2,912 yards and 26 scores, while also adding 478 rushing yards and three touchdowns. In addition to his production, Austin’s speed and quick-change ability is a defensive back’s worst nightmare, especially if they don’t want to be embarrassed on highlight reels for the entire college season.
 

Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Vitals: 6-foot-0, 197 pounds
2012 stats: 1,319 passing yards, 9 TDs, 946 rush yards, 6 TDs
Just like Tavon Austin, “Shoelace” is a player that opposing defenders hate to see in the open field. Robinson reportedly runs a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash and even though he can be inconsistent at times, the senior can also beat defenses with his arm. Anytime a defense gets ready to take the field, there’s always that thought Robinson could be ready to run by them all for a long touchdown or connect with a receiver for a big play.
 

De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Vitals: 5-foot-9, 176 pounds
2012 stats: 499 rush yards, 7 TDs, 24 rec., 218 yards, 1 TD
Anytime a running back has a nickname like “Black Mamba,” he already has the full attention of defenses. And when defensive coordinators put on the tape to watch Oregon, Thomas is exactly the type of player they spend countless hours trying to gameplan around. The sophomore averaged 10.8 yards per carry in 2011 and scored 18 overall touchdowns. Here’s the real problem for defenders and coaches facing Oregon: Blink and Thomas will run right by you. Talk about a scary thought.


Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
Vitals: 6-foot-8, 360 pounds
2012 Stats: 27 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 QBH
McCullers is in his first season at Tennessee but his sheer size and mere presecen on the filed is enough to cause  any offensive lineman or quarterback to panic. The junior checks in at a massive 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds. McCullers may not have Jadeveon Clowney’s speed, but he isn’t a statue around the line of scrimmage either. Can you imagine this beast running at you?
 

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Vitals: 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
2012 stats: 32 rec., 404 yards, 1 TD, 102 rush yards, 1 TD
Watkins got off to a slow start in 2012, but as evidenced in the win over Wake Forest, it appears he's coming alive. The sophomore caught eight passes for 202 yards and one touchdown against the Demon Deacons and is on his way to regaining the form that allowed him to catch 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 scores last season. Watkins isn’t just a weapon in the passing game, as he can hurt teams on the ground and on special teams. Try being a defensive coordinator attempting to stop Watkins, quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver DeAndre Hopkins. How do you slow down, let alone stop, this offense? Whether it’s athleticism or game-changing ability, Watkins is one of the nation’s most dangerous players with the ball in his hands and is constantly striking fear in opposing defensive backs.
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


(published Oct. 30, 2012)

Related College Football Content

Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 9
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Post-Week 9 SEC Power Rankings
College Football Week 9 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football's 15 Scariest Players for 2012</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 10:02
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-9-bowl-projections
Body:

College football's bowl season is inching closer, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With nine weeks of results in the books, it's beginning to get easier to make long-term projections about teams. 

The post-Week 9 bowl projections are a mixture between how things would look if the season ended today, a look at future schedules, and a dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks. 

2012-2013 Post-Week 9 College Football Bowl Projections

Bowl Date Tie-In Projected Matchup
New Mexico Dec. 15 MWC vs. Pac-12 Arizona State vs. Fresno State
Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 15 MAC vs. WAC Utah State vs. N. Illinois
Poinsettia Dec. 20 BYU vs. MWC BYU vs. San Diego State
Beef 'O'Brady's Dec. 21 Big East vs. C-USA East Carolina vs. MTSU*
New Orleans Dec. 22 Sun Belt vs. C-USA UL Monroe vs. Tulsa
Las Vegas Dec. 22 MWC vs. Pac-12 Arizona vs. Nevada
Hawaii Dec. 24 C-USA vs. MWC San Jose State vs. SMU
Little Caesars Dec. 26 Big Ten vs. MAC Purdue vs. Toledo
Military Dec. 27 ACC vs. Army Wake Forest vs. Marshall*
Belk Dec. 27 ACC vs. Big East Duke vs. Cincinnati
Holiday Dec. 27 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Stanford vs. Texas
Independence Dec. 28 ACC vs. SEC Arkansas State* vs. La. Tech*
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 ACC vs. Big East Miami vs. Rutgers
Meineke Car Care Dec. 28 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Oklahoma State vs. Iowa
Armed Forces Dec. 29 C-USA vs. MWC Houston vs. Air Force
Kraft Fight Hunger Dec. 29 Pac-12 vs. Navy Navy vs. Washington
Pinstripe Dec. 29 Big East vs. Big 12 Pittsburgh vs. TCU
Alamo Dec. 29 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 USC vs. Texas Tech
Buffalo Wild Wings Dec. 29 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Northwestern vs. West Virginia
Music City Dec. 31 SEC vs. ACC Ole Miss vs. Duke
Sun Dec. 31 ACC vs. Pac-12 UCLA vs. Virginia Tech
Liberty Dec. 31 SEC vs. C-USA Tennessee vs. UCF**
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 ACC vs. SEC Clemson vs. Texas A&M
Heart of Dallas Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Minnesota vs. Iowa State
TaxSlayer.com Gator Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Miss. State vs. Michigan State
Capital One Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Florida vs. Michigan
Outback Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
Cotton Jan. 4 Big 12 vs. SEC LSU vs. Oklahoma
BBVA Compass Jan. 5 SEC vs. Big East Vanderbilt vs. Kent State*
GoDaddy.com Jan. 6 MAC vs. Sun Belt W. Kentucky vs. Ohio
       
BCS Bowls      
Rose Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Nebraska vs. Oregon State
Orange Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Florida State vs. Boise State
Sugar Jan. 2 BCS vs. BCS Georgia vs. Louisville
Fiesta Jan. 3 BCS vs. BCS Kansas State vs. Notre Dame
National Title Jan. 7 BCS vs. BCS Oregon vs. Alabama


* Indicates an at-large team due to a conference unable to fill bowl slots according to Athlon's projections.

** UCF is appealing a postseason ban and for now, is eligible to compete in the 2012 postseason.

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

(published Oct. 30, 2012)

Related College Football Content

Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 9
Post-Week 9 ACC Power Rankings

Post-Week 9 Big East Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big Ten Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 SEC Power Rankings
College Football Week 9 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football Post-Week 9 Bowl Projections</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-9-rankings
Body:

Week 9 of the 2012 college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches saw the temperature on their seat increase by a few degrees. Kentucky's Joker Phillips and Boston College's Frank Spaziani continue to hold down the top two spots in the rankings. SEC coaches own three of the top four spots, as Auburn's Gene Chizik and Tennessee's Derek Dooley both join Phillips in the top tier of this list for the third week in a row. California's Jeff Tedford jumps into the top five, while Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson makes his first appearance in the hot seat watch.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 9 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
1
Record at Kentucky: 12-22 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-8
With Missouri struggling in its first season of SEC play, the Wildcats had a chance to pull off an upset in Columbia. Instead, Kentucky committed three costly turnovers and allowed the Tigers to win by throwing for just 87 yards. Although Phillips has a young team, it’s hard to find much improvement from game one to now. Unless Kentucky beats Vanderbilt and Tennessee in its final two SEC games, the Wildcats will have a new coach in 2013.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Boston College: 22-25 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-6
In an overall disappointing season, the Eagles finally had some good news to talk about on Sunday. Boston College knocked off Maryland 20-17 to score its first win over a FBS team in 2012. The victory also snapped a four-game losing streak in ACC play. Although the win was crucial to this team’s confidence heading into the last few weeks of the season, it’s unlikely to make any difference in Spaziani’s future. Boston College plays Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and NC State to close the year, which likely means the Eagles finish with a 2-10 mark.

3. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
3
Record at Auburn: 31-17 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-7
The adjectives to describe just how bad Auburn has performed this season are beginning to run short. The Tigers were demolished by Texas A&M 63-21 on Saturday night, dropping Auburn to 1-7 overall and 0-6 in SEC play. The Tigers should beat New Mexico State this Saturday and Alabama A&M on Nov. 17, but this team will be a heavy underdog against Georgia and Alabama. Chizik is only two years removed from a national title. But the rest of his tenure has been largely mediocre and a likely 3-9 season should be enough to force a coaching change.

4. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
4
Record at Tennessee: 14-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Close, but not good enough. That’s been the motto for Dooley and Tennessee this year. The Volunteers have played a difficult schedule and lost to Georgia by seven points and South Carolina by three. With the toughest part of the schedule out of the way, Tennessee should be favored to win its final four games and will likely be 7-5 heading into a bowl. Will that be enough to save Derek Dooley’s job?

5. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
7
Record at California: 82-54 (11th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
If there were any doubts about Tedford’s future at California, they were sealed after Saturday’s 49-27 loss to Utah. The Golden Bears trailed 42-6 before tacking on a few late touchdowns to make the final more respectable. Since winning 17 games from 2008-09, California has been trending in the wrong direction. The Golden Bears are just 15-19 over the last three seasons and are unlikely to make a bowl game this year. It seems Tedford and California both would benefit from a fresh start.  

6. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
10
Record at Southern Miss: 0-8
2012 Record: 0-8
Not many first-year coaches have jumped onto the hot seat watch over the past couple of seasons, but it’s clear Southern Miss made a bad decision when it hired Johnson. The schedule and roster turnover is to blame for part of the struggles, but the Golden Eagles haven’t been competitive in most of their games and were blown out 44-17 by Rice on Saturday. Considering the upcoming schedule – UAB, at SMU, UTEP and at Memphis – is it possible this team goes winless? UAB, UTEP and Memphis are winnable but with the way Southern Miss is playing, there’s no guaranteed win on the schedule.

7. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Record at Buffalo: 6-26 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
The Bulls have had some chances to beat quality teams this year but just can’t seem to make enough plays to turn those into victories. Buffalo lost 25-20 to Toledo on Saturday, dropping its record to 1-7 and 0-4 in MAC games. The Bulls have lost by seven points or less to Connecticut, Ohio and Toledo. With a 6-26 mark, Quinn needs to win a couple of games over the final four weeks to save his job. The remaining schedule isn’t daunting but there’s not a guaranteed win.

8. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
8
Record at New Mexico State: 10-36 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-6
After suffering a 41-7 defeat to Utah State in Week 8, the Aggies weren’t expected to put up much of a fight against Louisiana Tech. However, New Mexico State gave the Bulldogs all they could handle before losing 28-14. With the loss to Louisiana Tech, the Aggies were eliminated from bowl contention and could struggle to win another game the rest of the season with a difficult schedule ahead. With an uncertain conference future, it’s hard to envision many coaching candidates being interested in New Mexico State if Walker is fired. However, a new coach might help spark this struggling program get to a winning season.

9. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
5
Record at Central Michigan: 9-23 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
The Chippewas kept their slim bowl hopes alive with a 35-14 victory over Akron. The win over the Zips was Central Michigan’s first in MAC play this season and sets this team up for a favorable four-game stretch to close the year. The Chippewas host Western Michigan this Saturday, before taking on Eastern Michigan, Miami and UMass. All four of those games are winnable and a 6-6 mark is probably good enough for Enos to return in 2012. However, a 4-8 record or 5-7 should be enough for a coaching change.

10. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
9
Record at Rice: 26-44 (6th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
After narrowly losing to Tulsa in Week 8, the Owls won their first Conference USA game of the season with a 44-17 victory over Southern Miss. And considering the upcoming schedule – at Tulane, SMU and at UTEP – Rice should have a chance to finish 5-7 or 6-6. It’s not easy winning at Rice, but Bailiff has shown very little progress in his tenure. If the Owls can get to .500, it would be a good sign that the program is headed in the right direction going into 2013.

11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
11
Record at UNLV: 5-29 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-8
The Rebels are showing signs of life under Hauck, but the win column hasn’t gotten much better this season. UNLV dropped its fifth consecutive game with a 24-13 defeat to San Diego State in Week 9. The Rebels have lost five games by 11 points or less and suffered a disappointing defeat to Northern Arizona in Week 2. The next four games – New Mexico, at Colorado State, Wyoming and at Hawaii – are very winnable for UNLV. And it’s not out of the question to suspect Hauck’s future could rest on the team’s performance in the next few games.

12. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at South Florida: 15-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-6
The Bulls’ disappointing season continued with another close loss. Syracuse scored on the final offensive play of the game, dropping South Florida to 0-3 in games decided by four points or less this season. After the Bulls’ second-half collapse last season, Holtz and his staff need to show some progress in the final few games of 2012. South Florida hosts Connecticut this Saturday but take on Miami, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to close out the year. Holtz signed a huge contract extension at the end of last year, but the Bulls are just 7-13 over the last two seasons.

13. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank:
16
Record at UTEP: 47-59 (8 years)
2012 Record: 2-7
The Miners were officially eliminated from bowl contention with a 45-35 loss to Houston in Week 9. With the loss to the Cougars, UTEP will have at least seven losses for the seventh consecutive season. Price did a good job of leading the Miners to back-to-back bowl games in 2004-05, but the program hasn’t made much progress. Considering the lack of improvement, Price is not expected to return to El Paso in 2013.

14. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
Last Week’s Rank:
13
Record at Connecticut: 8-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
The Huskies had a much-needed bye in Week 9 and return to action at South Florida this Saturday. The off date came at a good time for Pasqualoni and his team, especially after the offense has managed just 27 points over its last three games. Connecticut still has a chance to make a bowl game, but the bigger question to be decided over the final four matchups is what direction this program is headed. The Huskies have wins over UMass, Buffalo and Maryland this season and have yet to face Louisville and Cincinnati – two of the top three teams in the Big East.

15. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
14
Record at Western Michigan: 50-45 (8th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
The Broncos haven’t had much luck in the way of injuries this season, as leading receiver Jaime Wilson missed Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois, and quarterback Alex Carder is not expected back for the Week 10 matchup against Central Michigan. All of the injuries have taken a toll on Western Michigan’s offense and its record, as Cubit’s team is 3-6 and has a three-game losing streak. The last three contests are very winnable – at Central Michigan, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan – but 6-6 might not even be enough for Cubit to return for 2013.

16. Danny Hope, Purdue
Last Week’s Rank:
20
Record at Purdue: 19-26 (4th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Hope is on a steady climb in the hot seat watch and even though he received a contract extension at the end of last year, he is in jeopardy of being fired at the end of the year. Since starting 3-1, the Boilermakers have lost their last four games, including a 44-28 dismantling at Minnesota in Week 9. If Purdue can salvage a bowl game, Hope will probably be safe to return for 2013. However, the schedule isn’t particularly easy, as Purdue hosts Penn State and an improving Indiana team, along with a road trip to Iowa.

17. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
15
Record at Colorado: 4-17 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
Embree drops two spots in this week’s hot seat watch but that’s only due to other coaches moving higher on the list. Colorado’s miserable 2012 season continued with a 70-14 loss at Oregon, dropping the Buffaloes' record to 1-7. Embree has done little to suggest the program is headed in the right direction but all signs point to the second-year coach returning in 2013. Colorado wants to hire more support personnel for the football program, but coaching changes – especially on defense – might be the only way this team is more competitive in 2013.

18. Mack Brown, Texas
Last Week’s Rank:
18
Record at Texas: 147-41 (15th season)
2012 Record: 6-2
There’s really only one word to describe Texas’ victory against Kansas on Saturday: Ugly. The Longhorns needed a touchdown with less than a minute to go to knock off a Jayhawks’ team that lost to Rice and has just one victory this year. Considering the grumblings from the Texas fan base after a win, the calls for Brown’s job would have been almost deafening had the Longhorns lost. Texas could surpass last season’s eight-win mark, but it’s also fair to question whether or not this team is headed in the right direction.

19. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at Georgia Tech: 37-24 (5th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Johnson started his Georgia Tech career with a bang. The Yellow Jackets went 20-7 through his first two years and played in the 2010 Orange Bowl. However, the program hasn’t made much progress since, recording a 17-17 mark over the last three years. The Yellow Jackets are also in danger of missing out on a bowl game this season and their only two wins over FBS teams came against Boston College and Virginia – a combined 4-12. Another reason Johnson could be in trouble? Athletic director Dan Radakovich left his post at Georgia Tech for Clemson.

20. June Jones, SMU
Last Week’s Rank:
19
Record at SMU: 28-32 (5th season)
2012 Record: 4-4
The Mustangs evened their 2012 record to 4-4 with a victory over Memphis in Week 9. With just one loss in conference play, SMU still has Conference USA title aspirations and hosts frontrunner Tulsa in the season finale. Although Jones has transformed the Mustangs into a bowl team, he hasn’t raised the program like many expected. And of course, there are still some hard feelings after he nearly landed the Arizona State job last year. Could Jones throw his name into the mix for more jobs this offseason? A fresh start might be a good idea for both parties.


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content

Post-Week 9 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big East Power Rankings

Post-Week 9 Big 12 Power Rankings

Post-Week 9 Big Ten Power Rankings

Post-Week 9 Pac-12 Power Rankings

Post-Week 9 SEC Power Rankings

College Football Week 9 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 9 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:04
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-9-0
Body:

With another lopsided victory against a ranked opponent, Kansas State received enough votes to edge Oregon for the No. 2 spot in the Legends Poll.

Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein continued his phenomenal play, leading Kansas State to a 55-24 win over Texas Tech.

“I think (coach and former Legends Poll voter) Bill Snyder is doing a great job,” Legends Poll voter John Cooper said. “Kansas State is a very, very well coached football team.  Those good teams, Alabama and Kansas State, teams like that, you’ve got to beat them.  They’re not going to beat themselves.”

Top-ranked Alabama continued to roll against Mississippi State and remained the unanimous No. 1 team.

Notre Dame proved its worth on Saturday, going on the road and stifling Oklahoma, 23-13. With the victory, the Irish moved up two spots to No. 4 in the Legends Poll.

Idle LSU remained the highest ranked one-loss team and rounded out the top five.

No. 7 Georgia moved up five spots in the rankings and back into the top 10 after knocking off Florida. The Gators dropped six spots to No. 8.

No. 9 Clemson moved up two spots, followed by unbeaten Louisville, which made its first top 10 appearance of the season.

No. 12 Oregon State suffered its first loss of the season at Washington and dropped three spots. However, no team fell more in the rankings than USC. The Trojans dropped eight spots to No. 18 in the Legends Poll after suffering an upset at Arizona.

No. 19 Nebraska, No. 23 Northwestern and No. 25 Louisiana Tech returned to the top 25 this week.

Michigan, TCU and Wisconsin dropped out of the rankings.

To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.

THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25

 

RK TEAM RECORD POINTS PV RK
1 AlabamaAlabama (17) 8-0 425 1
2 Kansas StateKansas State 8-0 398 4
3 OregonOregon 8-0 397 2
4 Notre DameNotre Dame 8-0 375 6
5 LSULSU 7-1 356 5
6 Florida StateFlorida State 8-1 336 8
7 GeorgiaGeorgia 7-1 327 12
8 FloridaFlorida 7-1 294 3
9 ClemsonClemson 7-1 284 11
10 LouisvilleLouisville 8-0 257 14
11 South CarolinaSouth Carolina 7-2 248 15
12 Oregon StateOregon State 6-1 225 9
13 StanfordStanford 6-2 209 18
14 Texas A&MTexas A&M 6-2 202 19
15 OklahomaOklahoma 5-2 185 7
16 Mississippi StateMississippi State 7-1 170 13
17 Boise StateBoise State 7-1 166 21
18 USCUSC 6-2 135 10
19 NebraskaNebraska 6-2 95 -
20 Texas TechTexas Tech 6-2 94 16
21 Oklahoma StateOklahoma State 5-2 84 25
22 West VirginiaWest Virginia 5-2 51 23
23 NorthwesternNorthwestern 7-2 46 -
24 RutgersRutgers 7-1 45 17
25 Louisiana TechLouisiana Tech 7-1 38 -

Others Receiving Votes

Texas 16, Kent State 13, Arizona 10, UCLA 8, Cincinnati 8, Utah State 7, North Carolina 5, Arizona State 5, TCU 4, Wisconsin 3, Iowa State 2, Toledo 1, Northern Illinois 1

Teams Dropped Out from Last Week's Poll

Michigan, TCU, Wisconsin

 

* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.

Teaser:
<p> The Legends Poll Top 25: College Football Week 9</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 20:27
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-9-power-rankings
Body:

Kansas State continues to separate itself from the rest of the teams in the Big 12. The Wildcats cruised to a 55-24 victory over Texas Tech in Week 9, improving Bill Snyder's team to 8-0 this year. Oklahoma suffered its second loss of the season, dropping a 30-13 game to Notre Dame in Norman. The defeat to the Irish knocks the Sooners out of the national title picture once again, but Oklahoma still has a chance to win the Big 12 crown. Iowa State moved within one game of bowl eligibility with a victory over Baylor, while Oklahoma State defeated TCU to improve to 5-2 overall.

Post-Week 9 Big 12 Power Rankings

1. Kansas State (8-0, 5-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
1
Week 9 Result: Beat Texas Tech 55-24
The Wildcats solidified their place atop the Big 12 power rankings with a 55-24 win over Texas Tech. Collin Klein led the way with 233 yards through the air and 83 on the ground, while recording four overall scores. Although the defense gave up some yards, it forced three turnovers, including one that was returned for a score in the fourth quarter. Kansas State is the clear favorite to win the Big 12 and is in the mix to play for the national title.
Next Game: Oklahoma State

2. Oklahoma (5-2, 3-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
2
Week 9 Result: Lost to Notre Dame 30-13
With Texas Tech losing and West Virginia on bye, Oklahoma retains the No. 2 spot in the Big 12 power ranks by default. The Sooners lost 30-13 to Notre Dame on Saturday night, which was their second home loss of the season. Quarterback Landry Jones threw for 356 yards but never managed to hit any big plays. The Irish defense also kept running back Damien Williams in check and forced a key interception. Although the loss officially knocks Oklahoma out of the mix for the national title, the Sooners still have a chance to win the Big 12 – provided Kansas State loses twice.
Next Game: at Iowa State

3. Texas Tech (6-2, 3-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
3
Week 9 Result: Lost to Kansas State 55-24
A week after scoring a key road win at TCU, the Red Raiders fell 55-24 to the Big 12’s No. 1 team – Kansas State. Texas Tech took an early 7-3 lead but three turnovers and an inability to stop the Wildcats’ offense didn’t allow any chance to stick around in the game. Quarterback Seth Doege had thrown 13 touchdowns in the two previous games, but Kansas State’s defense held him to two scores on 35 completions. Texas Tech plays its next two games at home, starting with a date with Texas this Saturday.
Next Game: Texas

4. West Virginia (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
4
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
After back-to-back losses, West Virginia’s bye week came at the right time. The Mountaineers need to regain their rhythm on offense, along with finding some answers for a defense that is allowing 39.8 points per game. West Virginia has a difficult three-game stretch upcoming, starting with a home date against TCU this Saturday, followed by a road trip at Oklahoma State and then a home game against Oklahoma.
Next Game: TCU

5. Texas (6-2, 3-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
5
Week 9 Result: Beat Kansas 21-17
Ugly. That’s about the only way to describe the Longhorns’ victory over Kansas on Saturday. Texas trailed 17-14 with just over two minutes to play but used a nine-play drive to score the game-winning touchdown. Quarterback David Ash was benched after a slow start, and Case McCoy rallied the team with 68 passing yards and one touchdown. The offense wasn’t the only issue, as Texas didn’t have an answer for Kansas’ ground game. The Longhorns’ struggling secondary will be under fire this week against Texas Tech's potent passing attack.
Next Game: at Texas Tech

6. Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
6
Week 9 Result: Beat TCU 36-14
Wes Lunt started slow in his return to the lineup, but the true freshman quarterback found his rhythm in time to lead Oklahoma State to a 36-14 victory. Lunt finished with 324 passing yards, while running back Joseph Randle recorded 126 yards and one touchdown on 32 attempts. The Cowboys’ defense stepped up in the second half and held TCU without a point. Oklahoma State has won three consecutive games and has a chance to stamp its place in the Big 12 title picture with a matchup over Kansas State this Saturday.
Next Game: at Kansas State

7. Iowa State (5-3, 2-3 Big 12)
Last Week: 8
Week 9 Result: Beat Baylor 35-21
The Cyclones moved one game closer to bowl eligibility with a 35-21 win over Baylor. Iowa State’s offense gashed the Bears for 557 yards, while the defense forced four turnovers and made enough timely plays to limit Baylor to 21 points. A big reason for the success of Iowa State’s offense was the play of quarterback Steele Jantz, who threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns on 36 completions. The Cyclones host Oklahoma this Saturday, before playing at Texas on Nov. 10.
Next Game: Oklahoma

8. TCU (5-3, 2-3 Big 12)
Last Week:
7
Week 9 Result: Lost to Oklahoma State 36-14
The Horned Frogs dropped their second consecutive Big 12 game with a 36-14 loss at Oklahoma State. And an even bigger storyline from the game is quarterback Trevone Boykin, who suffered a knee injury against the Cowboys. If Boykin has to miss any snaps, Matt Brown will become TCU’s third starting quarterback of 2012. The Horned Frogs don’t catch any breaks on the upcoming schedule, hosting Kansas State and Oklahoma, while taking on West Virginia and Texas on the road. Considering the final four opponents, TCU will have trouble just getting to .500.
Next Game: at West Virginia

9. Baylor (3-4, 0-4 Big 12)
Last Week:
9
Week 9 Result: Lost to Iowa State 35-21
The Bears dropped their fourth consecutive game with a 35-21 defeat to Iowa State. With an offense averaging 395.7 yards per game, Baylor’s defense needs to step up and make a few stops if this team wants to make a bowl game in 2012. The Bears allowed Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz to throw for a season-high of 381 yards and five touchdowns, while giving up 176 yards on the ground. The only good news for Baylor? The Bears should get a win over Kansas this Saturday. However, the schedule is very difficult over the final four weeks, as Baylor takes on Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Next Game: Kansas

10. Kansas (1-7, 0-5 Big 12)
Last Week:
10
Week 9 Result: Lost to Texas 21-17
For the most part, Charlie Weis’ first season in Lawrence has been miserable. The Jayhawks are 1-7 and lost to Rice in Week 2. However, let’s give Kansas a little credit this week. The Jayhawks gave Texas all it could handle and just fell short of a victory. Weis and his staff did a good job of exploiting the Longhorns’ defensive weaknesses, while the defense forced two turnovers and held Texas to just 131 yards through the air. The Jayhawks may not win a game the rest of the year, but Saturday’s loss should give this team some much-needed confidence for the final four contests.
Next Game: at Texas Tech



by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content


Big East 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

Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:04
Path: /college-football/acc-post-week-9-power-rankings
Body:

Week 9 of ACC action was highlighted by North Carolina’s 43-35 win over NC State and Florida State’s 48-7 blowout victory over Duke. Clemson defeated Wake Forest 42-13, while Boston College earned its first win over a FBS team by knocking off Maryland 20-17.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – Bernard recorded his fourth consecutive game of at least 100 rushing yards on Saturday, while taking a punt back with less than a minute to go to give North Carolina the victory over NC State.

2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd was sharp in Clemson’s easy 42-13 win over Wake Forest on Thursday night. He completed 27 of 38 passes for 428 yards and five touchdowns.

3. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – Manuel had an off game against Duke but leads the ACC in passing efficiency (174) and is completing 70 percent of his throws.
 

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner recorded only three tackles and one tackle for a loss against Duke but still claims the No. 1 spot in the defensive player of the year rankings.

2. Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland – Vellano dominated the line of scrimmage in Saturday’s game against Boston College, recording five tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

3. Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke – Cockrell and Duke’s defense struggled against Florida State, but he ranked third on the team with seven tackles and forced one fumble.
 

Coach of the Year Standings

1. David Cutcliffe, Duke – Even though the Blue Devils lost to Florida State, this team still has a chance to win the Coastal Division title. Cutcliffe is a heavy favorite to take home ACC Coach of the Year honors.

2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – The Seminoles continue to rank as the ACC’s No. 1 team in the power rankings. Florida State crushed Duke 48-7 in Week 9.

3. Larry Fedora, North Carolina – With no postseason possibilities, Fedora has done a good job of keeping the Tar Heels motivated to play. North Carolina improved its record to 6-3 with a huge win over rival NC State in Week 9.

Post-Week 9 ACC Power Rankings

1. Florida State (8-1, 5-1 ACC)
Last Week:
1
Week 9 Result: Beat Duke 48-7
Thanks to NC State’s loss to North Carolina and a convincing 48-7 win over Duke, Florida State moved back into the driver’s seat for the ACC Atlantic title. The Seminoles lost four turnovers but held Duke to just 232 yards of total offense. Quarterback EJ Manuel was off for most of the game but connected with Rashad Greene on a 71-yard bomb to opening the scoring and a 35-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin in the third quarter. The Seminoles have an off date in Week 10 and are back in action on Nov. 8 at Virginia Tech.
Next Game: at Virginia Tech (Nov. 8)

2. Clemson (7-1, 4-1 ACC)
Last Week:
2
Week 9 Result: Beat Wake Forest 42-13
The Tigers’ offense led the way for this team throughout the first half of the season, but the defense has come on strong over the last two weeks. After holding Virginia Tech to 17 points last week, Clemson limited Wake Forest to 13 points and under 300 yards of total offense. Quarterback Tajh Boyd found Sammy Watkins eight times for 202 yards and one touchdown, while DeAndre Hopkins caught six balls for 64 yards and one score. If the Tigers can win their final four games, they should have a good shot at making a BCS bowl.
Next Game: at Duke

3. North Carolina (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 6
Week 9 Result: Beat NC State 43-35
With North Carolina ineligible to play in the postseason, Saturday’s game against NC State was essentially this team’s Super Bowl. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 25-14 lead, but the Wolfpack led 35-25 going into the fourth quarter. However, North Carolina roared back and tied the game at 35 deep in the fourth quarter. After NC State failed to run out the clock with just over a minute to go, running back Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the game winning score. The win snapped a five-game losing streak to NC State and gives the Tar Heels some in-state bragging rights until next season.
Next Game: Georgia Tech (Nov. 10)

4. NC State (5-3, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 3
Week 9 Result: Lost to North Carolina 43-35
The Wolfpack’s recent run of domination against North Carolina ended with a 43-35 loss. NC State rallied from a 25-14 deficit at the end of the first to hold a 35-25 lead going into the fourth quarter. However, the Wolfpack allowed the Tar Heels to score 10 unanswered to tie the game with just over two minutes to go. After NC State tried to run out the clock, Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the game winning score. Not only was this a huge loss for bragging rights in the state, but the Wolfpack no longer control their destiny in the ACC Atlantic title race.
Next Game: Virginia

5. Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 5
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
The Hokies had a bye in Week 9 and return to action against Miami this Thursday. The off date came at a good time for Frank Beamer’s team, especially after losing to Clemson 38-17 on Oct. 20. Virginia Tech still has a good chance to win the Coastal title but can’t afford to have two more losses. The Hokies play at Miami and Boston College, while hosting Florida State and Virginia. Virginia Tech will be an underdog against the Seminoles, which makes Thursday night’s game against Miami even more important for Coastal positioning.
Next Game: at Miami (Thursday)

6. Duke (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 4
Week 9 Result: Lost to Florida State 48-7
Although the Blue Devils are an improved team, they are still a long ways away from winning at Florida State. Duke was easily handled 48-7 by the Seminoles, managing only 232 offensive yards in the process. Quarterback Sean Renfree left early due to a head injury, and his status for this Saturday’s game against Clemson is uncertain. Despite the loss, the Blue Devils are still in the mix for the ACC Coastal title.
Next Game: Clemson

7. Miami (4-4, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 7
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
With a Thursday night showdown against Virginia Tech up next, Miami had an off date in Week 9. The bye week came at a good time for the Hurricanes, especially with quarterback Stephen Morris looking to recover from an ankle injury suffered in the 18-14 loss to North Carolina. And after playing eight consecutive weeks, there’s plenty of bumps and bruises that a bye can help to heal. Miami can still win the Coastal Division but Thursday night’s game will be critical to those title hopes.
Next Game: Virginia Tech (Thursday)

8. Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3 ACC)
Last Week: 8
Week 9 Result: Lost to BYU 41-17
After showing some improvement on defense in the win over Boston College last Saturday, the Yellow Jackets reverted back to their porous ways. Georgia Tech gave up over 400 yards to BYU and allowed over 40 points for the fourth time this season. The defense wasn’t the only culprit, as the offense never got on track and was held without a touchdown. The loss to the Cougars dropped the Yellow Jackets to 3-5 and in serious jeopardy of missing out on a bowl game. Maryland and Duke would seem to be the most winnable matchups, but Georgia Tech would need to beat North Carolina or Georgia to get to six wins. Needless to say, the Yellow Jackets have to quickly find some answers on both sides of the ball to reach the postseason.
Next Game: at Maryland

9. Maryland (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 9
Week 9 Result: Lost to Boston College 20-17
After beginning ACC play 2-0, the Terrapins have lost back-to-back games and received even more bad news about their quarterback position on Sunday night. Maryland fell 20-17 to Boston College on Saturday, which dropped Randy Edsall’s squad to 4-4 overall. True freshman Caleb Rowe made his first start on Saturday and threw for 241 yards but also tossed three picks. Although Rowe performed admirably in his first start, he suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. With Rowe out, Maryland has lost its top four quarterbacks to injuries. True freshman (and converted linebacker) Shawn Petty will start against Georgia Tech.
Next Game: Georgia Tech

10. Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4 ACC)
Last Week:
10
Week 9 Result: Lost to Clemson 42-13
Even though receiver Michael Campanaro returned to the lineup, it wasn’t enough for the Demon Deacons to knock off Clemson. Wake Forest trailed only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, but the Tigers opened up a 35-7 lead by halftime. Quarterback Tanner Price threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns but was under duress from the Clemson defense for most of the night. The Demon Deacons’ defense struggled to keep up with the Tigers’ speedy receivers, allowing Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd to set a school record with 428 passing yards.
Next Game: Boston College

11. Boston College (2-6, 1-4 ACC)
Last Week:
12
Week 9 Result: Beat Maryland 20-17
The 2012 season has been a disappointment for Boston College, but Saturday provided at least one bright spot. The Eagles defeated Maryland 20-17 to claim their first victory against a FBS team this year. Trailing by four points with just over five minutes to go, Boston College drove from its own 15-yard line to score the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to go. Quarterback Chase Rettig completed only 55 percent of his throws but tossed two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The win over Maryland keeps Boston College’s slim bowl hopes alive.
Next Game: at Wake Forest

12. Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC)
Last Week:
11
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
The Cavaliers had a bye in Week 9 and return to action against NC State this Saturday. Virginia is riding a six-game losing streak and has yet to win in ACC play this season. Considering how much this team improved last year, the Cavaliers are one of the ACC’s biggest disappointments so far. Mike London’s team has struggled to find a spark on the ground, while the defense has yet to find its pass rush. Getting back to a bowl won’t be easy, but Virginia needs to find something to build on for 2013.
Next Game: at NC State


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content

College Football Week 9 Recap
Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

Big East 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

Teaser:
<p> ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-9-waiver-wire-report
Body:

The fantasy playoffs are right around the corner and owners at the bottom of the standings have just about thrown in the towel.  As a result, there is not as much competition for waiver wire claims with the season drawing to a close.  Take a look at some late-season waiver gems as we head into Week 10.

 

Ryan Griffin, QB-Tulane

Since his return from injury, Griffin has passed for 1,100 yards and ten touchdowns in three games.  Fantasy owners should get solid production from the senior quarterback as the Green Wave play Rice, Memphis, East Carolina, and Houston to close the season.

Ray Holley, RB-Louisiana Tech

Holley isn’t a bad acquisition if you play in a deep league because the senior running back is averaging over 95 total yards from scrimmage, three receptions, and a touchdown per game 

Damon Bullock, RB-Iowa

Damon Bullock opened the season as the starter, but Mark Weisman took over when Bullock was lost for several weeks due to a head injury.  Now, Weisman is the one that is injured and the running back position in Ames may be Bullock’s once again.

Jalen Saunders, WR-Oklahoma

We are going to use the logic that we did a couple of weeks ago with Bronson Hill of Eastern Michigan when he ran for 283 yards against Toledo.  When a receiver catches 15 passes for 181 yards in a single game at this point of the season, you should claim him off of waivers and keep Saunders away from other owners. 

Eric Monette, WR-Western Michigan

Last week, we identified Josh Schaffer as the favorite target of quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen, but with fellow receiver Jamie Wilson sidelined with a groin injury, Monette has posted two consecutive eight-catch games.

Bryan Underwood, WR-North Carolina St

Underwood only has 28 catches, but he has caught at least one touchdown in every game this season and has posted back-to-back 100-yard games. 

Myles White, WR-Louisiana Tech

White is the second-leading receiver for the Bulldogs behind Quinton Patton and has at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in back-to-back games.

Ryan Grant, WR-Tulane

Grant’s success has a lot to do with the return of Ryan Griffin at quarterback.  Over the past two weeks, the junior receiver has caught 12 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns.


Did you miss last week’s waiver report?  See it here.


by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email:  joe@thecffsite.com

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 9 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 03:57
All taxonomy terms: Ohio State Buckeyes, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/braxton-miller-displays-crazy-moves-one-yard-touchdown-run
Body:

Ohio State's Braxton Miller is having a Heisman-caliber season. The sophomore has thrived under new coach Urban Meyer, throwing for 1,527 yards and 12 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,093 yards and 12 scores. 

Miller has provided plenty of highlights this season but none better than the one in Saturday's win over Penn State. Facing a third and goal from the one-yard line, the sophomore juked a Nittany Lion defender and then hurdled into the endzone for six points. 

Needless to say, this might be the best one-yard touchdown run college football has seen in a long time.

Teaser:
<p> Braxton Miller Displays Crazy Moves on One-Yard Touchdown Run</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 21:57
All taxonomy terms: Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /news/deanthony-thomas-shows-ridiculous-moves-punt-return
Body:

Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas is one of college football's most exciting players, so Saturday's ridiculous punt return shouldn't have been a surprise. However, this return has to be one of the best in recent memory and maybe one of his most electrifying plays in his short Oregon career.

Thomas had to backtrack and field a punt off a bounce but broke a tackle and patiently followed his blocks down the sideline, before turning on the jets right around midfield. 

This return was just another big play in Thomas' career and a reason why the Ducks are one of the most dangerous teams in the nation.

Teaser:
<p> De'Anthony Thomas Shows Off Ridiculous Moves In Punt Return&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 20:10
Path: /news/south-carolinas-marcus-lattimore-suffers-nasty-leg-injury-against-tennessee
Body:

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore exited Saturday’s game against Tennessee due to a serious leg injury. Although there has been no official announcement from the school, Lattimore will likely miss the rest of the season.

The junior took a handoff with just over five minutes to go in the second quarter and was tackled high by Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers, before cornerback Eric Gordon went low and hit Lattimore’s right knee.

The seriousness of the injury was magnified as both teams came out to console Lattimore as he was being loaded onto the cart. And this situation is only made worse by the fact Lattimore was just returning to full strength from a torn ACL last season.

Before his injury, Lattimore rushed for 64 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries. The junior entered Saturday’s game with 597 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while also catching 24 passes for 165 yards. 

The injury to Lattimore is a tough blow to one of the nation’s best players and arguably the No. 1 running back prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft.

South Carolina has depth at running back with Kenny Miles and Mike Davis, but there’s simply no way to replace Lattimore’s leadership and production. Quarterback Connor Shaw may also have to help pickup the slack on the ground, but South Carolina’s offense certainly won’t be the same the rest of the year.

With losses to LSU and Florida, the Gamecocks’ SEC East title hopes were essentially finished. However, this team now has to regroup after losing its best player and offensive weapon for the second consecutive season. 

Photo of Lattimore's injured leg:

Teaser:
<p> South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore Suffers Nasty Leg Injury Against Tennessee</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 12:56
Path: /news/north-carolina-unveils-new-chrome-helmet-against-nc-state
Body:

Coaches are always looking for some extra motivation when it comes to rivalry games. So it's no surprise when new helmets and uniforms are unveiled for those matchups. 

North Carolina is ineligible for postseason play this year, which means Saturday's game against NC State has some extra meaning. The Tar Heels wore a white helmet earlier this season but unveiled an interesting chrome (as tweeted by @InsideCarolina) look for Saturday's matchup against the Wolfpack:

Teaser:
<p> North Carolina Unveils New Chrome Helmet Against NC State</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 11:47
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-mississippi-state-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction
Body:

While most of the attention in the SEC will be focused on Georgia-Florida, Alabama-Mississippi State is a game that shouldn’t be overlooked this Saturday. The Bulldogs are off to their best start since opening 8-0 in 1999 under Jackie Sherrill. Alabama enters this matchup ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings and is a heavy favorite to repeat as national champions.

These two teams have met 96 times, with the Crimson Tide claiming the last four victories in this series. Mississippi State won back-to-back games in 2006-07, but this series has been largely dominated by Alabama. The Crimson Tide has won the last four matchups against the Bulldogs by at least 17 points. 

With a looming showdown against LSU next week, Alabama has to be careful not to overlook Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have played a weak schedule but are a dangerous team and should not be taken lightly.

Storylines to Watch in Alabama vs. Mississippi State

Tyler Russell vs. Alabama’s secondary
Coming into the season, most expected a Tyler (Wilson or Bray) would make All-SEC honors. However, not many placed Tyler Russell into the top half of the SEC in quarterback rankings. The junior has been one of the conference’s top quarterbacks so far, throwing for 1,573 yards and 15 touchdowns. Russell has tossed only one interception and is averaging 260.7 passing yards per game in conference play. Although Russell is off to an impressive start this year, Alabama will be the toughest secondary he has faced. The Crimson Tide rank second nationally in pass defense and has allowed just two passing touchdowns in 2012. Opposing quarterbacks are also completing just 50.8 percent of their passes against Alabama. The Crimson Tide shut down Tennessee’s offense last week and held Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson to just five catches for 95 yards. Not only does Russell need to have his best game for Mississippi State to pull off the upset, he has to continue playing mistake-free ball. 

The turnover battle
One look at the turnover margin stats for 2012 reveals a surprising No. 1 team: Mississippi State. The Bulldogs ranked 59th nationally last season but have forced 21 turnovers in 2012. Alabama isn’t far behind, ranking third nationally in turnover margin with 20 forced turnovers. With both teams ranked atop this category, something has to give on Saturday. If Mississippi State can win the turnover battle, it should have a good chance to pull off the upset. If Alabama wins, the Crimson Tide should roll to an easy victory.

Mississippi State’s secondary vs. AJ McCarron
Just as Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell is taking on his toughest test of the year, the same could be said for Alabama passer AJ McCarron. The Bulldogs rank 21st nationally in pass defense and have allowed only five passing scores this year. Additionally, no SEC opponent has thrown for more than 200 yards on this defense in 2012. In last season’s game, McCarron threw for 163 yards on 14 completions but has improved significantly from the end of 2011. There’s no question Mississippi State’s secondary will be able to challenge Alabama receivers, so repeating last week’s performance against Tennessee (306 yards and four touchdowns) seems unlikely.

Will Mississippi State slow down Alabama’s rushing attack?
The Bulldogs haven’t faced a rushing attack like the one Alabama will bring to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. The Crimson Tide have gashed opponents for 219.4 yards per game and the backs are running behind one of the nation’s best offensive lines. Mississippi State’s run defense ranks 47th nationally but opponents are averaging 4.1 yards per carry. With Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon both averaging over six yards per carry, Alabama should be able to move the ball on the ground against the Bulldogs. Matching the Crimson Tide’s physical presence in the trenches will be critical for Mississippi State, as well as winning the battle on first and second down against the run.

Final Analysis

This matchup will be a good measuring stick for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are clearly getting better under coach Dan Mullen but have yet to be tested this season. With a difficult close to the season, a good showing in this game would give Mississippi State some confidence. Although the Bulldogs are improved, beating the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa will be very difficult. Alabama is playing well on both sides of the ball and its defense will be a handful for Bulldogs’ quarterback Tyler Russell and running back LaDarius Perkins. Mississippi State will keep it close in the first half but eventually Alabama has too much firepower and pulls away in the final two quarters.

Final Prediction: Alabama 31, Mississippi State 13


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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Teaser:
<p> Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 09:28
Path: /college-football/florida-gators-vs-georgia-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The annual matchup between Florida and Georgia at the The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville is usually one of the most-anticipated SEC games every season. This season is no different, as both teams enter with a combined 13-1 record and a division title on the line.

Most division titles aren’t decided until the month of November but that’s not the case in the SEC this Saturday. With a 6-0 conference record and a win over South Carolina already, Florida can clinch the SEC East title with a victory over Georgia. After Saturday’s meeting with the Bulldogs in Jacksonville, the Gators play three home games (Missouri, UL Lafayette and Jacksonville State), along with a road date against Florida State. 

While Georgia’ SEC title hopes took a hit with the loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs can jump back into the race with a win over Florida. Mark Richt’s team still has to play Ole Miss and Auburn but will be heavily favored to win both games. The Bulldogs have one of the SEC’s top offenses, but the defense has yet to find its form from last season.

This series has been dominated by Florida since 1990. The Gators have won 18 out of the last 22 matchups but lost last season’s game 24-20. The last two games in this rivalry have been decided by four points or less.

Storylines to watch in Florida vs. Georgia

Can Georgia stop Florida’s rushing attack?
The Bulldogs’ defense has been one of the SEC’s most underachieving units in 2012. After allowing just 101.2 yards per game last season, Georgia ranks 72nd nationally in rush defense and is giving up 167.9 yards per game this year. The Bulldogs front seven suffered a setback this week, as end Abry Jones could miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Losing Jones is another setback for a Georgia defense that has allowed rushing seven touchdowns over the last three games and faces a tough test against a Florida offense that is averaging 212.7 rushing yards per game. Mike Gillislee is the lead back for the Gators but has been held under 100 yards in each of his last two contests. While Gillislee should see 20-25 carries, the Bulldogs have to be wary of Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel. The sophomore has 321 yards on this season, and his mobility only adds another dimension to the Gators’ much-improved rushing attack. Considering Georgia’s struggles against the run and the loss of Jones, coordinator Todd Grantham will have his hands full trying to stop Gillislee and Driskel. 

Will Aaron Murray find success against Florida’s secondary?
After a dismal performance against South Carolina, Murray rebounded with 427 yards and four touchdowns in the 29-24 win over Kentucky. The junior quarterback has been sharp most of the season, completing 65.3 percent of his throws and tossing only four picks. Although Murray seemed to find rhythm last week, Florida’s defense represents the toughest challenge the Bulldogs have seen this year. The Gators are allowing less than 200 passing yards per game and have given up only three passing scores in seven contests. Another key to the success of Florida’s secondary has been a pass rush averaging two sacks a game. Murray didn’t have much time to throw against South Carolina, which didn’t allow the offense to take any shots downfield. For the Bulldogs to win, they have to provide Murray with more protection, along with establishing freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall on the ground.

Will Jeff Driskel throw for more than 100 yards?
The formula for Florida’s turnaround this year is pretty simple. The Gators are winning the battle in the trenches and the turnover battle. With a shutdown defense and a stout running game, quarterback Jeff Driskel hasn’t been asked to do much over the last three games. The sophomore quarterback has not topped 100 passing yards over the last three contests but ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Vanderbilt. Although Driskel hasn’t been much of a factor in recent weeks, he will be needed more against Georgia. The Bulldogs rank 28th nationally against the pass and with a lack of proven playmakers for Georgia on the outside, the Bulldogs should own an edge in pass defense. Driskel has been careful with the ball (only one interception on 127 attempts) but this will be a huge test after three games where he didn’t need to do much through the air. Georgia's pass rush is expected to get a boost this week, as linebacker Jarvis Jones is expected to return to the lineup after missing last Saturday's game against Kentucky. 

Final Analysis

Even though Georgia was handled by South Carolina, this team is capable of winning this game. The battle in the trenches will be critical, especially for a Bulldogs’ offensive line that struggled to block the Gamecocks’ defensive front. Florida doesn’t have a difference maker off the edge like Jadeveon Clowney, but what the Gators lack in star power is made up in quality depth. If Georgia can protect quarterback Aaron Murray and open up some holes for running back Todd Gurley, this will be a close game until the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs’ defense has to step up after underachieving this year, which could have a hard time slowing down the Florida rushing attack. Georgia should be motivated to win this one, but the Gators are on a roll and should once again find a way to win.

Final Prediction: Florida 24, Georgia 20
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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Teaser:
<p> Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/michigan-wolverines-vs-nebraska-cornhuskers-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The battle to win the Big Ten Legends Division is still one of the most clouded races in college football. However, there could be some clarity after this weekend’s games. Michigan is the Legends Division’s only unbeaten team in conference play so far, recording wins over Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State. Nebraska and Iowa are tied for second with a 2-1 mark, while Northwestern checks in fourth at 2-2.

With Michigan State off to a 1-3 start, the Wolverines and Cornhuskers appear to be the class of the division. And the winner of Saturday’s game should take a huge step forward in claiming the division title. Michigan has a very manageable schedule the rest of the season, as it should be favored to win every game except the season finale against Ohio State. Nebraska’s schedule features a few more landmines, especially with a road trip to Michigan State and a home game against Penn State.

These two teams have met seven times, with Michigan owning a slight 4-2-1 edge over the Cornhuskers. Nebraska’s only win since 1962 came in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. This last year’s matchup will only be the second between these two teams as Big Ten foes.

Storylines to watch in Michigan vs. Nebraska

Will Rex Burkhead play?
High expectations surrounded Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead coming into this season, but the senior suffered a knee injury against Southern Miss and has been limited to 47 rushing attempts in 2012. Burkhead aggravated his knee injury in last week’s win at Northwestern and is questionable to play against Michigan. With Burkhead likely out or less than 100 percent, the Cornhuskers will turn to a talented trio of young running backs in Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard and Imani Cross to pickup the slack. Abdullah led the team with 101 yards against the Wildcats last week and is expected to start this Saturday. Heard and Cross should see an increased role, especially as both bring more size and punch to the rushing attack. As usual, quarterback Taylor Martinez will figure into the ground game, and he rushed for 65 yards on 18 attempts last week. Even though Burkhead will be missed, Nebraska should be able to run the ball against Michigan’s defense. The Wolverines rank 49th nationally against the run but held Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell under 70 yards last Saturday. After struggling to stop Alabama and Air Force, Michigan has tightened its rush defense, but Nebraska will be a huge test for this unit.

Containing Denard Robinson
In last season’s matchup, Robinson accounted for 263 overall yards and four touchdowns. Nebraska can’t afford to let Robinson have his way again this season, and there’s a lot of pressure on coach Bo Pelini and coordinator John Papuchis to find the right answers this week, especially after the defense has allowed 11 rushing touchdowns in the last three games. Nebraska’s defense managed to hold Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter to just 35 rushing yards last week and a similar effort is needed against Robinson if the Cornhuskers want to knock off the Wolverines.

Winning the turnover battle
Holding onto the ball has been a big problem for both teams this season. Michigan is ninth in the Big Ten in turnover margin and has lost 14 turnovers. Nebraska is last in the conference, losing 18 turnovers in 2012. Most of the Wolverines’ turnover problems came in the non-conference portion of their schedule, while the Cornhuskers have forced only two fumbles in Big Ten play. Turnovers are always a key part of any game but with both teams struggling in this department, generating points on a short field would be a huge advantage on Saturday night.

Can Michigan establish its ground game against Nebraska’s rush defense?
Take out Denard Robinson’s 900 yards and Michigan is a very average rushing offense. Fitzgerald Toussaint has just 283 yards and four touchdowns on 81 attempts, with Thomas Rawls ranked third on the team with 174 yards. Robinson will have opportunities to make plays with his legs against the Cornhuskers, but the Wolverines also need Toussaint or Rawls to step up. Nebraska’s rush defense ranks 90th nationally and has allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of the last two games. Michigan’s offensive line has improved significantly from the season opener, which is a bad sign for the Cornhuskers’ struggling front seven. The Wolverines won’t need 100 yards from Toussaint, but this offense needs to take some of the pressure off of Robinson’s shoulders.

Taylor MartinezTaylor Martinez vs. Michigan’s secondary
Statistically, the Wolverines have been very good against the pass this year. Michigan ranks fourth nationally in pass defense and has allowed only four passing scores. However, this secondary has not faced a legitimate passing attack since the season opener against Alabama. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez struggled in last season’s meeting between these two teams but is a much-improved passer. The junior has thrown for 15 touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception at home this season. Considering the progress Martinez has made this season, he should easily outperform last season’s abysmal showing in Ann Arbor. Nebraska also has one of the deepest groups of receivers in the Big Ten, which should allow Martinez and coordinator Tim Beck opportunities to see if Michigan’s secondary is as good as the stats indicate.  

Final Analysis

This matchup is relatively even, but a slight edge goes to Michigan. Taylor Martinez and his receivers will test the Wolverines’ secondary, but Nebraska’s defense will struggle to stop Denard Robinson. Expect Michigan’s defense to make one play late in the game that seals the victory for the Wolverines.

Final Prediction: Michigan 31-27
 

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Teaser:
<p> Michigan Wolverines vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00

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