Articles By Steven Lassan

All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-week-9-emergency-starters
Body:

This list was originally designed to assist fantasy owners with injury-riddled rosters, bye-week dilemmas, and unfavorable matchups, but the Emergency Starters has evolved into our Waiver Wire 2.0.  Over the past six weeks, many players listed in our Emergency Starters earned spots in our Waiver Wire report the following week, so don’t underestimate their long-term value. 

 

Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)

Quarterback

Mike Glennon, North Carolina St at North Carolina

Garrett Gilbert, SMU vs Memphis

Keenan Reynolds, Navy at ECU

Austin Brown, UAB at Tulane

Andrew Manley, New Mexico St vs LA Tech

 

Running Backs

Devonta Freeman, Florida St vs Duke

James Wilder, Florida St vs Duke

Darrin Reaves, UAB at Tulane

Germi Morrison, New Mexico St vs LA Tech

Shontrelle Johnson, Iowa St vs Baylor

                 

Receivers

Aaron Horne, WR Iowa St vs Baylor

Eric Monette, Western Michigan vs Northern Illinois

Ryan Grant, Tulane vs UAB

Bryan Underwood, North Carolina St at North Carolina

Kenny Bell, Nebraska vs Michigan

 

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

 

Steven Lassan(@AthlonSteven)

 

Quarterbacks

David Ash, Texas at Kansas

Trevone Boykin, TCU at Oklahoma State

David Fales, San Jose State vs. Texas State

Ryan Radcliff, Central Michigan vs. Akron
 

Running Backs

Dennis Johnson, Arkansas vs. Ole Miss

Brian Kimbrow, Vanderbilt vs. UMass

Latavius Murray, UCF at Marshall
 

Wide Receivers

Mike Davis, Texas at Kansas

Mike Evans, Texas A&M at Auburn

Jordan Leslie, UTEP at Houston

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 9 Emergency Starters</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 01:26
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-or-missouri-will-either-team-make-bowl-2012
Body:

The SEC has 10 guaranteed slots for both teams but there's a chance the conference has at least 11 or 12 squads eligible for the postseason. Ole Miss and Missouri are two teams on the edge of bowl eligibility, as the Rebels sit at 4-3 and the Tigers are 3-4. 

Ole Miss or Missouri: Will Either Team Make a Bowl In 2012?

Barrett Sallee, Lead SEC Blogger for Bleacher Report (@BarrettSallee):
Ole Miss is the better team, but the stretch run is too tough for the Rebels to make a bowl game. They are getting Arkansas at the wrong time this week, and if they want to go bowling, they'll need to get that win and vs. Vanderbilt to secure a six-win season and a bowl trip. I don't think they can get a win over the resurgent Hogs this weekend.

Missouri, on the other hand, has a better shot at the postseason. The need three wins down the stretch, but games vs. Kentucky, Tennessee and Syracuse could get them there. The season will hinge on the Tennessee game. Missouri doesn't play a lot of defense and the Vols can sling it all over the field. Gary Pinkel's crew will have to play old school, Big 12-style football to have a shot. I don't think they get it done though, and fall just short of making a bowl game in their first season in the SEC.

David Fox (@DavidFox615):
The chances look much better for Ole Miss than Missouri. With quarterback James Franklin out against Kentucky -- a team that has been competitive with South Carolina and Georgia -- I’m not sure if Missouri is going to win another game in the SEC. Ole Miss’ schedule shapes up much nicer for a postseason trip, despite the next two road games. Arkansas is getting better, but the Hogs are still vulnerable. And who knows what we’re going to see out of Georgia on a week-to-week basis? When Ole Miss returns home, it should have a good chance against Vanderbilt in Oxford. And while I would not pick Ole Miss to win in Baton Rouge, it’s just been that kind of year at LSU. Then there’s a home finale in the Egg Bowl. I don’t know how Ole Miss is going to do it, but the Rebels are going to win two of those games and reach a bowl. The Rebels have shown they can beat up on bad SEC teams (Auburn) and play with resilience against good ones (Alabama, Texas A&M). Meanwhile, none of the teams left on Ole Miss’ schedule can make me say without a doubt that they’ll be able to defeat the Rebels easily. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
I will go with neither. Ole Miss would likely have to beat both Vanderbilt and Mississippi State at home in order to get to six wins. Otherwise, three road games to Arkansas, Georgia and LSU are almost certain losses. One upset at home is possible, but two feels highly unlikely. Mizzou has a clear path to five wins with Syracuse and Kentucky at home but would also have to win one of three brutal road games at Florida, Texas A&M or Tennessee. If I had to place a bet on one or the other, I would take the Rebels. Is it possible for both to get to bowl eligibility? Yes. Will it happen? I say no. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
Both teams have a good chance to get bowl eligible, but I’m going to say neither will get to six wins. Ole Miss is a much-improved team under new coach Hugh Freeze and has winnable games against Arkansas and Vanderbilt remaining, along with the Egg Bowl showdown against Mississippi State in the finale. Making the Rebels’ quest to get to six wins even more difficult is the Razorbacks have won two in a row, while the Commodores have won two out of their last three games. Although Ole Miss is an improved team, I just don’t think it can muster six wins out of the remaining schedule.

Missouri’s remaining schedule isn’t as difficult as Ole Miss’, especially with home games left against Kentucky and Syracuse. If the Tigers win those two games, they would need to pickup a win at Florida, Tennessee or Texas A&M. Not exactly easy. Missouri’s best bet might be picking up a victory against former Big 12 foe Texas A&M or against a Tennessee team that could be distracted by its coaching situation. The Tigers have a better chance than the Rebels to get to six wins, but I think they fall just short and finish 5-7.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
My guess is no. Ole Miss is vastly improved under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, but the Rebels have a difficult closing schedule. They are 4–3 overall, with wins over Central Arkansas, UTEP, Tulane and Auburn. It’s tough to find two wins on their remaining schedule — at Arkansas, Georgia and LSU and home vs. Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. They will be an underdog in at least four of the five games, and potentially all five if Vanderbilt continues to play well. Missouri has been a bit of a disappointment in its first year in the league. Injuries have hurt — both at quarterback and on the offensive line — but nobody envisioned an 0–4 start in league play. The Tigers should take care of Kentucky on Saturday (even without James Franklin at quarterback) to improve to 4–4 overall, but three of their final four games are on the road — at Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M. My guess is that Mizzou ends the year 5–7 overall and 1–7 in the SEC.   

Mark Ross: 
It's kind of a shame these two don't play each other to end the regular season in what could have been a bowl-elimination game. That said, if I had to choose, I would give Ole Miss a better shot at sneaking into the postseason rather than Missouri. The Tigers have had a rough introduction to the SEC and have suffered too many key injuries, most notably to quarterback James Franklin, to finish with six wins. I think five is the best they can hope for this season. On the other hand, Ole Miss only needs two more victories to get to six and I think can get there, provided they beat Arkansas in Fayetteville this Saturday. If the Rebels can beat the Hogs, who are riding a modest two-game winning streak of their own, then their bowl fate likely comes down to the Nov. 10 home game against Vanderbilt. Wins over the Hogs and Commodores would make the Rebels bowl eligible. However, should they stumble in either of these games, I don't see Hugh Freeze going to the postseason in his first season in Oxford because the Rebels' other three remaining games are against teams ranked in the top 11 of the BCS standings — at Georgia (No. 10), at LSU (No. 6) and against Mississippi State (No. 11). The opportunity is there for the Rebels to get back to a bowl for the first time in three seasons, it's just up to them to capitalize on it.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I think the Rebels (4-3) find a way to get to 6-6, while the Tigers (3-4) first SEC campaign looks destined for a 5-7 finish. Coach Hugh Freeze has done an amazing job in Oxford this season, and he will need a strong finish to chalk up two bowl-clinching wins in five games where Ole Miss will be an underdog. The Rebs’ road is difficult, but I think Freeze and staff will “coach’em up” this weekend at Arkansas and grab a win over either Vanderbilt or Mississippi State. Meanwhile, the Tigers have struggled on offense and with injuries this year. The Kentucky and Syracuse games are the top candidates for wins, but I’m not sure Mizzou can score enough points to keep up in road contests versus Tennessee and Texas A&M. The odds probably favor both teams finishing 5-7, but I’ll take Ole Miss to surprise down the stretch and get back to the postseason.

 

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 8
Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections

SEC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

Post-Week 8 Heisman Contenders

Teaser:
<p> Ole Miss or Missouri: Will Either Team Make A Bowl In 2012?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/should-jeff-tedford-return-california-2013
Body:

Jeff Tedford is the winningest coach (overall victories) in California football history. However, the program has been in a backslide over the last few seasons, going 5-7 in 2010 and 7-6 in 2011. The Golden Bears have played a difficult schedule in 2012 but another losing season won't sit well in Berkeley. 

Should Jeff Tedford Return to California in 2013?

Kyle Kensing (@Kensing45), SaturdayBlitz.com:
Jeff Tedford is the winningest coach in Cal history, with just a single losing campaign in his tenure. He’s also the highest paid state employee in an economically turbulent California, and last month the university christened Memorial Stadium after its controversial $321 million renovation. Losing that first game in the revamped facility cast an ominous shadow. Cal made Rose Bowl-quality investments for Sun Bowl-level returns.

At 3-5 and with Oregon and Oregon State still to come, Tedford may be a lame duck. But consider this: he’s won 82 games in his 10½ seasons as Cal’s head coach, the same amount the five head coaches prior to him from 1983 through 2001 compiled. Aside from Bruce Snyder and Pappy Waldorf, he’s the only post-War era Golden Bear coach to reach multiple bowl games. Unlike Snyder, Tedford never bolted for green pastures elsewhere in the Pac; unlike Waldorf, Tedford won a postseason game. So the $6.9 million (amount Cal would owe Tedford should it cut ties with him) question is, who can the university brass attract that will be more successful?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
The expectations are higher at Cal than they’ve ever been. But the reason they’re higher is because Tedford has raised them over the past decade. That's quite the conundrum.  But look at it this way: If Tedford left when he was in high demand after the 2006 season, and his replacement went 41-33 overall and 22-27 in conference as Cal has the last six seasons, the replacement probably wouldn’t coach an extra year. Cal was ranked as high as No. 2 in 2007 but hasn’t made an appearance in the polls since 2009. The administration, despite its own struggles with cash, has followed through with facility upgrades, but the Bears are headed to their third consecutive losing season within conference play. Meanwhile, the majority of the Pac-12 seems to be on the upswing. Cal’s going to be hard-pressed to keep up, but right now, its coach is just treading water.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Jeff Tedford’s tenure at Cal is developing into one of the most complex and intriguing in the nation. He has coached more games than any head coach in Cal history (127), he has won more games than any coach in Cal history (79),, has had one losing season in a decade on the job and earned the school’s first conference championship (2006) since 1975. Additionally, he has accounted for eight of the program’s 21 bowl appearances and five of the program’s 10 bowl wins. And the NFL is littered with elite Tedford superstars — Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, Desmond Bishop, DeSean Jackson, Thomas DeCoud and Alex Mack to name a few.
Yet, the program has gotten stale while the rest of the Pac-12 has seemingly improved across the board. His record is 15-17 over the last two-and-a-half seasons and hasn’t had a 10-win season since the league co-championship in 2006. Cal still has to face both Oregon schools, Utah and Washington. A 2-2 mark the rest of the way in 2012 means his second losing season in three years and a parting of the ways in Berkeley. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
How quickly things can change. Jeff Tedford was previously one of the hottest coaching candidates in college football and now heads into the final games of 2012 fighting for his job. After going 25-13 in his first three seasons at California, Tedford appeared poised to move up the coaching ladder. However, his last three full years have resulted in a 20-18 record, and the Golden Bears are off to a disappointing 3-5 start. Although Tedford has an 82-53 overall record during his tenure at California, it’s probably time for a coaching change in Berkeley. The Golden Bears seemed to have peaked and have been passed in the Pac-12 pecking order by Stanford, and Washington is capable of closing the gap with Steve Sarkisian as head coach. There’s not a ton of candidates that make sense for California, but this program could use an infusion of energy. Tedford can win a lot of games at another school, but sometimes a coaching tenure runs its course and it’s time for a change. Barring a four-game winning streak to end the season, I think California will have a new head coach going into 2013. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
I think it’s time for a change. Tedford has no doubt done a tremendous job in Berkeley, but things have gotten a bit stale. The Golden Bears, 3–5 overall in 2012, have now lost at least five games in five of the past six seasons. Tedford built Cal into an upper-echelon Pac-12 program in the mid-2000s, but the Bears have slipped down a few notches on the league’s food chain in recent years. It hasn’t helped that Cal’s chief rival, Stanford, won 12 games in 2010 and 11 games last fall. I don’t know if it’s realistic to expect Cal to contend for the Pac-12 title on an annual basis, but the program should be more relevant, both in the league and nationally. I’d be reluctant to call this a firing — it doesn’t feel right to fire a guy who is 82–53 overall and 50–41 in league play. It just seems like the time is right for a mutual parting of ways.

Mark Ross: 
It's still possible for Tedford to get his team to a bowl game, but it won't be easy. The Golden Bears have four Pac-12 games left, and while the first two (at Utah, home against Washington) appear winnable, ending the regular season with games against the two Oregon schools will be a tough challenge. If Tedford can somehow find a way to lead his team to a 3-1 finish, it will secure a ninth bowl bid in his 11 years at the helm in Berkeley. With that type of sustained success, if you will, I think it would be hard for the powers that be to not bring him back for at least one more season. However, should the Bears finish 2-2 or worse and miss out on the postseason, then the timing could be right for a change of direction and leadership for the Golden Bears program.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
It’s difficult for Cal fans to see a solid era of Golden Bears football fading, but that is the case in Tedford’s 11th season. We all know how the veteran coach rescued a depressed program under Tom Holmoe and went 43-20 during his first five years. The momentum has shifted in Strawberry Canyon, however, as Cal has gone 36-28 over the last five seasons including a missing bowl game in 2010. That declining record precedes a 3-5 start to this season, one where the Bears are in jeopardy of missing another postseason. Tedford is a solid football mind, but his program has regressed recently. Losing top recruiter Tosh Lupoi — someone who defines Cal football — in a lateral move to Washington this offseason was an ominous sign of where the program is headed, and losing to Stanford three years in a row and four out of the last six seasons doesn’t help either. It may be time for a fresh voice at Cal, but it is difficult to see anyone having the impact that Tedford has had on the Golden Bears program.

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 8
Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections

Pac-12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

Post-Week 8 Heisman Contenders

Teaser:
<p> Should Jeff Tedford Return to California in 2013?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/north-carolina-duke-virginia-tech-or-miami-who-wins-coastal-division
Body:

After eight weeks of the 2012 college football season, there is very little clarity in the battle to win the ACC Coastal. North Carolina is ineligible to play in the postseason but can finish No. 1 in the standings. Duke currently ranks at the top, but Virginia Tech and Miami aren't far behind.

Which Team Will Win the ACC Coastal Division?

Ryan Tice (@RyanTice), TheWolfpacker.com
Call me crazy, but I’m picking Miami in the Coastal Division, which is kind of funny because during our last ACC Roundtable, I think I was in the minority when declaring the Hurricanes an ACC contender. I expect I’ll be in the minority once again.

6-2 Duke, who is 3-1 so far against conference foes, has the hardest part of their schedule coming up, and I don’t think they can keep the pace that they have set so far. The Blue Devils will have their work cut out for them just to get another win, although you can never say never in the ACC in 2012.

North Carolina is obviously not eligible for the postseason or the Coastal Division title, so once you rule them out, it really comes down to Miami or Virginia Tech. I think it’s smart to say that wins next weekend’s matchup between the two will find themselves in Charlotte. Miami’s defense can’t stop anybody, but I think their offense finds a way to score more than the Hokies in Coral Gables. This isn’t the typical Virginia Tech defense we’re used to seeing.

Miami is clearly not a top-tier team in the country — their recent three game losing streak proves that — but a team doesn’t need to be to win the Coastal Division. If the Hokies find a way to pull out a win on the road this weekend, expect to see Frank Beamer’s squad in Charlotte for the sixth time since the birth of the Championship game in 2005. I suspect Tech will be the popular pick, but if there’s one thing that this ACC season has taught all of us, it is to expect the unexpected, and that’s why I’m picking Al Golden’s Hurricanes to win the Coastal.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Duke sure is tempting. The Blue Devils are the flavor of the moment after digging deep to beat North Carolina, but the toughest game are ahead with Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami. Perhaps if Duke played a little closer in its losses (50-13 to Stanford, 41-20 to Virginia Tech), I’d be more enthusiastic. Miami has lost three in a row, but the Hurricanes may find a way to sneak into the title game. Quarterback Stephen Morris got hurt in a four-point loss to North Carolina and returned for a surprise start against Florida State, a game that was much closer than expected. Miami’s defense is still struggling, but the Hurricanes don’t play any teams (Virginia Tech, Virginia and Duke) who run the ball particularly well. And by the the time Duke faces Miami in the finale, the Blue Devils may already be out of the race.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Duke Polytechnic Institute of Florida? Can I take a three-way tie between Duke, Virginia Tech and Miami? Georgia Tech is still in the mix but would have to win out and then get some help. Duke doesn’t own any key tiebreakers yet as it lost to the Hokies and has a nasty four-game end to the season (at Florida State, Clemson, at Georgia Tech, Miami). Therefore, I think it comes down to Miami or Virginia Tech. The Hokies, who already own tiebreakers over Duke and Georgia Tech, will finish the year with two wins (at Boston College and Virginia at home) and should finish no worse than 4-4. Miami, who has lost three straight games, finishes with two road trips to Virginia and Duke. So it all comes down to Thursday, Nov. 1 when Virginia Tech visits Miami. If the Hokies win at Miami, both will likely finish 5-3 and Frank Beamer will have his sixth Coastal Division title in eight seasons.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
After nine weeks, there’s really no clarity in the race to win the Coastal Division. Surprisingly, Duke sits atop the division with a 3-1 record, but the Blue Devils still have games against Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami remaining. North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech each have two losses in ACC play and there are plenty of landmines on the schedule for all three teams. The Tar Heels are ineligible to win the ACC crown but could finish with a 5-3 record and own victories over Miami and Virginia Tech to claim the Coastal Division crown. With North Carolina unable to play for the title, the race to represent the Coastal in the title game is likely between Miami and Virginia Tech, who meet on Nov. 1 in Sun Life Stadium. Although the Blue Devils could certainly get into the mix, the winner of the Miami-Virginia Tech game should decide who plays the Atlantic champ. The Hokies have been inconsistent this year, but I think their defense steps up, while the offense does just enough to finish 5-3 in conference play and win the division. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
Five wins will be enough to win the division — maybe even four. At this point, I’d give the slight edge to Miami. Duke and Miami both have three wins, but Duke’s closing schedule (at FSU, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami) is more difficult. Miami has this week off before hosting Virginia Tech next Thursday in a huge game for both teams. After playing Tech, the Canes have two more league games — at Virginia and at Duke. Virginia Tech can play its way back in to the mix with a win at Miami, but the Hokies still have to play Florida State. One thing to note: Virginia Tech has a win over Duke, so the Hokies have the edge in a two-team tiebreaker. This is a mess.

Mark Ross:
As great a story as Duke has been this season, I see the Blue Devils losing at least two of their remaining four ACC games, if not more. One thing's for sure, we will certainly find out how good David Cutcliffe's team is as the Blue Devils will face Florida State and Clemson the next two Saturdays. So if I have Duke with at least three conference losses, who does that leave atop the Coastal? I think it comes down to Miami and Virginia Tech, with the winner most likely decided when these two get together next Thursday night in south Florida. The Hurricanes have two conference losses already, but end their regular season in Durham. The Hokies also have two ACC losses, but hold the tiebreaker over Duke by virtue of their 41-20 victory two weeks ago, and can do the same to the Hurricanes by beating them on the road next week. As bad as the Hokies have looked, I think they will use the bye this week to straighten some things out and will find a way to finish their conference slate 3-1, which is good enough to get them back to Charlotte for their third straight ACC Championship Game berth. 

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I am going to take North Carolina to beat NC State for the first time since 2006 this weekend, a victory that will propel the Tar Heels to the division’s best record — even though there will be no trip Charlotte in December. UNC may seem like an unusual choice after losing to Duke and Wake Forest this season, but I believe the excellent offense and favorable November schedule of Larry Fedora’s club will leave UNC atop the divisional standings. The Blue Devils lead the Coastal currently, but still have to play conference top dogs Florida State and Clemson. And despite UNC’s earlier defeats, the Tar Heels do have victories over Virginia Tech and Miami in the race for the Coastal’s best record. As far as who makes it to the league title game, I see it coming down to the winner of the Miami-Virginia Tech battle on Thursday November 1 with the Hokies prevailing.

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 8
Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections

Post-Week 8 Heisman Contenders

Teaser:
<p> North Carolina, Duke, Virginia Tech or Miami: Who Wins the Coastal Division?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-9-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 9

Best Fantasy Matchups(Games with the most fantasy potential)
 

Baylor at Iowa St

Line:  Iowa St -2.5(O/U-71)

Projected score based on point spread:  Iowa St 37-34

Best plays:

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

Iowa St (WR-Aaron Horne)

Also consider:

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

Iowa St (QB-Jared Barnett, RB-Shontrelle Johnson)

theCFFsite projects:  Baylor 35-28

 

Nevada at Air Force

Line:  Nevada -3(O/U-65.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Nevada 34-31

Best plays:

Air Force (QB-Connor Dietz, RB-Wes Cobb)

Nevada (QB-Cody Fajardo, RB-Stefphon Jefferson, TE-Zach Sudfield)

Also consider:

Air Force (WR-Ty MacArthur)

Nevada (WRs-Brandon Wimberly, Richy Turner)

theCFFsite projects:  Nevada 31-30

 

Central Florida at Marshall

Line:  UCF -2.5(O/U-68.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  UCF 36-33

Best plays:

Central Florida (QB-Blake Bortles, RB-Latavius Murray)

Marshall (QB-Rakeem Cato, WRs-Tommy Shuler, Antavious Wilson, TE-Gator Hoskins)

Also consider:

Central Florida (RB-Storm Johnson, WR-JJ Worton)

Marshall (RB-KevinGrooms, WR-Aaron Dobson)

theCFFsite projects:  UCF 35-31

 

USC at Arizona

Line:  USC -6.5(O/U-65.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  USC 36-30

Best plays:

USC (QB-Matt Barkley, RB-Silas Redd, WRs-Marqise Lee, Robert Woods)

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

Also consider:

USC (TE-Xavier Grimble, K-Andre Heidari)

Arizona (WR-Dan Buckner)

theCFFsite projects:  USC 38-28

 

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

Utah St at Texas-San Antonio

Line:  Utah St -22(O/U-50.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Utah St 36-14

Stay away from:

UTSA (RB-Evans Okotcha)

theCFFsite projects:  Utah St 34-10

 

Memphis at SMU

Line:  SMU -20.5(O/U-48.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  SMU 35-14

Stay away from:

Memphis (RB-Jai Steib)

theCFFsite projects:  SMU 42-21

 

Washington St at Stanford

Line:  Stanford -23.5(O/U-51)

Projected score based on point spread:  Stanford 37-13

Stay away from:

Washington St (QBs-Connor Halliday, Jeff Tuel)

theCFFsite projects:  Stanford 30-14

 

Colorado at Oregon

Line:  Oregon -46(O/U-68.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oregon 58-11

Stay away from:

Colorado (RB-Tony Jones)

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon 58-3

 

Must Watch Games(The games with the biggest headlines)

Michigan at Nebraska

Line:  Nebraska -2.5(O/U-57.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Nebraska 30-27

Outlook:  This may not be the Nebraska and Michigan of old, but the Big Ten Legends division lead is on the line and the winner has the inside track to the conference title game.

theCFFsite projects:  Nebraska 28-21

 

Mississippi St at Alabama

Line:  Alabama -24(O/U-48)

Projected score based on point spread:  Alabama 43-12

Outlook:  It seems odd looking at a matchup between two 7-0 teams from the SEC playing in a game with a point spread so high, but the Bulldogs don’t have a signature win on their schedule.  Mississippi State faces a tough five-game slate to close the season and this game may reveal their true identity.

theCFFsite projects: Alabama 31-14

 

Florida vs Georgia

Line:  Florida -6.5(O/U-48)

Projected score based on point spread:  Florida 27-21

Outlook:  The Gators have the best resume of any team in the country and a win this week will all but assure them a spot in the SEC title game.

theCFFsite projects:  Florida 31-21

 

Notre Dame at Oklahoma

Line:  Oklahoma -10.5(O/U-48.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oklahoma 30-19

Outlook:  After two consecutive physical wins at home, the Irish must win in Oklahoma to keep their perfect season dreams alive.  The Notre Dame defense will attempt to hold it together one more time as they face their biggest test of the season.

theCFFsite projects:  Oklahoma 31-14

 

theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (15-11)  ATS: (11-15)

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

 

by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

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Follow us on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email us:   theCFFsite@thecollegefantasyfootballsite.com

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 9 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 03:09
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-8-rankings
Body:

Week 8 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 second week in a row. The hot seat watch claimed its first coach of the year, as Idaho's Robb Akey was fired on Sunday and replaced by former Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser as its interim head coach. 

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 8 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
1
Record at Kentucky: 12-21 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
Although the Wildcats are out of the mix for a bowl game and have lost six consecutive games, Phillips deserves some credit for keeping this team together. Kentucky gave Georgia all it could handle on Saturday night before falling 29-24. With injuries taking its toll on the depth chart, along with a handful of young players stepping into key roles, the Wildcats have managed to at least be competitive in games against Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Whether or not it’s enough to save Phillips’ job remains to be seen but winning a SEC game before the year is over certainly wouldn’t hurt.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Boston College: 21-25 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-6
The Eagles continued their dismal 2012 season with a 37-17 loss to Georgia Tech. Boston College trailed 28-3 at halftime but was able to cut the lead to 31-17 early in the fourth quarter. Despite the second-half turnaround, the Eagles couldn’t slow down the Yellow Jackets’ option attack and dropped their fifth consecutive game. Spaziani is now 21-25 during his four seasons at Boston College and is just 5-14 since the start of the 2011 campaign.

3. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
3
Record at Auburn: 31-16 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-6
With a 17-13 loss to Vanderbilt, Auburn is in danger of its first losing season since 2008. The Tigers have lost four consecutive games and the road doesn’t get any easier with match-ups against Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama still to come. Auburn should beat New Mexico State and Alabama A&M in November, but a 3-9 mark will make it difficult for Chizik to return in 2013. Even though this has been mentioned frequently, Chizik’s record without Cam Newton is just 17-16 and his overall mark is just 36-35 in six overall seasons as a head coach.

4. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
4
Record at Tennessee: 14-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-4
There weren’t many who expected the Volunteers to give Alabama much of a game, but Dooley needed to show his team was closing the gap on the Crimson Tide. Tennessee trailed 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, but the Crimson Tide rolled to a 44-13 victory, adding even more pressure to Dooley’s hot seat. The Volunteers take on South Carolina this Saturday, before closing with four winnable games: Troy, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Finishing with a 7-5 record nearly matches the preseason expectations for this team, but that may not even be enough for Tennessee to keep Dooley around for one more year.

5. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
5
Record at Central Michigan: 8-23 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-5
The Chippewas’ slide continued with a 41-30 loss to Ball State on Saturday. The defeat dropped Enos to 4-15 in MAC play and 8-23 overall in three seasons in Mount Pleasant. While the losses are starting to add up for Enos, Central Michigan has a very manageable schedule the rest of the way, including back-to-back home games against Akron and Western Michigan. And its not out of the question the Chippewas could finish with five consecutive victories, provided they find the form that was good enough to beat Iowa in late September. 

6. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
6
Record at Buffalo: 6-25 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-6
The Bulls have been a tough team to get a read on this year. They played well against Georgia in the opener but allowed 34 points to Morgan State the next Saturday. Buffalo lost to Connecticut and Ohio by only seven points and dropped a 20-6 game to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Although this team has shown some promise, Quinn needs to pick up a couple of wins the rest of the way to save his job. Unfortunately, victories could be hard to find, as Toledo visits Buffalo this Saturday and the Bulls host Miami (Ohio) and Western Michigan the following two weeks.

7. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
15
Record at California: 82-53 (11th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
After back-to-back wins seemed to quiet some of the hot seat talk surrounding Tedford, a disappointing showing in the rivalry game against Stanford only ratcheted up the pressure once again. The Golden Bears were dominated by the Cardinal, losing 21 to 3 and were outgained 475 to 217. With four games remaining, California needs three victories to get bowl eligible, which won’t be easy with Utah, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State on the schedule. Tedford could survive if the Golden Bears finish 5-7, but the program is trending in the wrong direction and it’s probably time for a change.

8. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
7
Record at New Mexico State: 10-35 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
The Aggies’ bye week didn’t seem to help much against Utah State, as New Mexico State was pounded 41-7 in Logan. The Aggies have lost six consecutive games, including match-ups against Idaho and UTSA. With Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, BYU and Auburn left on the schedule, New Mexico State likely has only one more shot at a win this year – Texas State on Dec. 1. Walker inherited a difficult situation and it's not easy winning in Las Cruces. However, finishing with a 1-11 record and winning just 10 games in five years would make it difficult to keep Walker around for 2013.

9. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
9
Record at Rice: 25-44 (6th season)
2012 Record: 2-6
With Tulsa missing two of its key offensive performers, Saturday was a prime opportunity for Rice to score an upset victory. The Owls led for most of the game, but the Golden Hurricane scored the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to go, dropping Rice to 0-4 in Conference USA play this season. Bailiff’s future is still up in the air, and he will have a chance to save his job over the final four games of the season. Remaining games against Southern Miss, Tulane, SMU and UTEP are very winnable and getting to 5-7 or 4-8 might be enough for Bailiff to return in 2013.

10. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
12
Record at Southern Miss: 0-7
2012 Record: 0-7
Even though Johnson is in his first season at Southern Miss, it’s fair to wonder if he will get a second year in Hattiesburg. The Golden Eagles dropped to 0-7 with a 59-24 defeat to Marshall on Saturday night. The loss to the Thundering Herd assured Southern Miss of its first losing season since 1993, and the Golden Eagles rank as one of the nation’s worst teams in total offense and scoring defense. The schedule does get easier for this team, especially with UAB, UTEP, Memphis and Rice still to come. It’s tough to pull the plug on a coach after just one season, but Johnson was a poor hire and clearly a bad fit for Southern Miss.

11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
10
Record at UNLV: 5-28 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
As expected, the Rebels didn’t have a shot to beat Boise State on Saturday. UNLV’s offense managed only 210 yards and failed to reach the end zone for the first time this season. The loss dropped the Rebels to 1-7 and there’s not a guaranteed win remaining on the schedule. UNLV is at San Diego State this Saturday and one of the few winnable games in the preseason (New Mexico), suddenly looks like a game the Rebels will be underdogs in.

12. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
14
Record at South Florida: 15-17 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-5
The last few weeks haven’t been easy for Holtz and South Florida’s coaching staff. There’s plenty of unrest surrounding the program, and the Bulls have opened the year 0-3 in Big East play. However, South Florida played Louisville tough on Saturday, losing 27-25 to the Cardinals. Even though the Bulls are in danger of missing out on a bowl game once again, this team has three very winnable home games left and is capable of beating Miami in mid-November. All is not lost for South Florida this year, but Holtz and his staff need to build on Saturday’s close call against Louisville.

13. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
Last Week’s Rank:
19
Record at Connecticut: 8-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
The Huskies were thoroughly embarrassed at Syracuse on Friday night. The Orange defense didn’t allow any points in the second half and held Connecticut to -6 rushing yards. Even though Pasqualoni is just in his second season in Storrs, finishing with a 3-9 record will be very difficult to survive. The Huskies rank as one of the worst offensive teams in the nation, while the defense is not as dangerous with end Jesse Joseph sidelined for the year with an Achilles tear. Connecticut has a bye week this Saturday and returns to action on Nov. 3 at South Florida.

14. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
18
Record at Western Michigan: 50-44 (8th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
A season that started with high expectations has quickly gone downhill for Western Michigan. The Broncos were a popular pick to win the MAC West in the preseason but have lost three out of their last four games. Not having All-MAC quarterback Alex Carder is a big reason why this team has faltered, but Western Michigan has lost two conference games by at least 17 points. The final three games of the season are very winnable but even finishing 6-6 would be a disappointment for Cubit.

15. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
16
Record at Colorado: 4-16 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-6
The Buffaloes were heavy underdogs in their Week 8 matchup against USC and they fell behind 19-0 just six minutes into the first quarter. It’s hard to find many positives for Embree in a game like that, especially as his team committed six turnovers and failed to score a touchdown. It’s one thing to start 1-6 with some competitive losses. And it’s another to lose by at least 28 points in three consecutive conference games and fail to show much improvement as the year has progressed. Embree will be back for 2013, but he needs to show marked improvement to stick around for more years in Boulder.

16. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank:
11
Record at UTEP: 47-58 (8 years)
2012 Record: 2-6
It wasn’t pretty, but the Miners held off Tulane for a 24-20 victory on Saturday. The win over the Green Wave was UTEP’s first in a conference game this season and sets up the team to build some momentum in the final four games of the season. The Miners play Houston and UCF the next two weeks but close with Southern Miss and Rice. Price is a veteran coach with a lot of experience. However, UTEP has failed to win more than six games in its last six seasons and has struggled to gain on Houston and Tulsa in the West Division.

17. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank:
17
Record at Syracuse: 20-24 (4th season)
2012 Record: 3-4
The Orange improved to 2-1 in Big East play with an easy 40-10 victory over Connecticut on Friday night. Although two wins in conference play isn’t much to get excited about, Syracuse has already surpassed its win total in Big East games from last season. A closer look at the Orange’s resume also reveals this team has lost three games by eight points or less, including a 23-15 defeat to Rutgers on Oct. 13. With four road contests in their next five games, Syracuse will have trouble getting to six wins. However, Marrone should be safe to return to the sidelines in 2013.

18. Mack Brown, Texas
Last Week’s Rank:
13
Record at Texas: 146-41 (15th season)
2012 Record: 5-2
After back-to-back losses, beating Baylor 56-50 was a much-needed win for Brown and his coaching staff. The Longhorns’ defense struggled once again, but the offense used five touchdowns from running back Joe Bergeron to snap the two-game losing streak. As the hot seat watch has mentioned before, barring a complete disaster to end the season, Brown isn’t really in danger of losing his job. However, at a program like Texas – arguably the No. 1 job in college football – going 13-12 from 2010-11 is simply unacceptable.

19. June Jones, SMU
Last Week’s Rank:
20
Record at SMU: 27-32 (5th season)
2012 Record: 3-4
A week after an inexplicable loss to Tulane, the Mustangs bounced back into the win column with a 72-42 victory over Houston. SMU is still in the mix for Conference USA’s West Division title but it needs to win out, which includes a date against Tulsa on Nov. 24. Although Jones is a good coach, the marriage between he and SMU hasn’t provided huge results and there’s little doubt he wants to move on after missing out on the Arizona State job last season.

20. Danny Hope, Purdue
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at Purdue: 19-25 (4th season)
2012 Record: 3-4
Hope was granted a contract extension after the 2011 season, so it would take a disastrous close to the year for him to lose his job. Purdue took Ohio State into overtime on Saturday but the loss dropped the Boilermakers to 0-3 in Big Ten play this season. Purdue’s non-conference wins also came against Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Marshall – not exactly the most challenging of slates. The Boilermakers have never won more than seven games in a season under Hope and eclipsing that mark in 2012 seems unlikely. 


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content

Post-Week 8 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 8 Big East Power Rankings

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Post-Week 8 Big Ten Power Rankings

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College Football Week 8 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 8 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 05:58
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-8-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 eight weeks of results in the books, it's still too early to make long-term projections about teams. 

The post-Week 8 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks. 

2012-2013 Post-Week 8 College Football Bowl Projections

Bowl Date Tie-In Projected Matchup
New Mexico Dec. 15 MWC vs. Pac-12 Washington vs. Nevada
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. Troy*
New Orleans Dec. 22 Sun Belt vs. C-USA UL Monroe vs. Marshall
Las Vegas Dec. 22 MWC vs. Pac-12 Arizona vs. Boise State
Hawaii Dec. 24 C-USA vs. MWC Fresno State vs. SMU
Little Caesars Dec. 26 Big Ten vs. MAC Minnesota vs. Toledo
Military Dec. 27 ACC vs. Army Maryland vs. Kent State*
Belk Dec. 27 ACC vs. Big East NC State vs. Cincinnati
Holiday Dec. 27 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Stanford vs. Texas
Independence Dec. 28 ACC vs. SEC Duke vs. La. Tech*
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 ACC vs. Big East Miami vs. Rutgers
Meineke Car Care Dec. 28 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Michigan State vs. Baylor
Armed Forces Dec. 29 C-USA vs. MWC Tulsa vs. Air Force
Kraft Fight Hunger Dec. 29 Pac-12 vs. Navy Navy vs. Arizona State
Pinstripe Dec. 29 Big East vs. Big 12 Pittsburgh vs. Okla. State
Alamo Dec. 29 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Oregon State vs. West Virginia
Buffalo Wild Wings Dec. 29 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Northwestern vs. TCU 
Music City Dec. 31 SEC vs. ACC Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech
Sun Dec. 31 ACC vs. Pac-12 UCLA vs. Virginia Tech
Liberty Dec. 31 SEC vs. C-USA Arkansas vs. UCF**
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 ACC vs. SEC Clemson vs. Georgia
Heart of Dallas Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Purdue vs. Iowa State
TaxSlayer.com Gator Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Texas A&M vs. Iowa
Capital One Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Wisconsin vs. LSU
Outback Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Nebraska vs. South Carolina
Cotton Jan. 4 Big 12 vs. SEC Miss. State vs. Texas Tech
BBVA Compass Jan. 5 SEC vs. Big East Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas State*
GoDaddy.com Jan. 6 MAC vs. Sun Belt W. Kentucky vs. Ohio
       
BCS Bowls      
Rose Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Michigan vs. USC
Orange Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Florida State vs. Louisville
Sugar Jan. 2 BCS vs. BCS Florida vs. Oklahoma
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. 23, 2012)

Related College Football Content

Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 8
Post-Week 8 ACC Power Rankings

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Post-Week 8 SEC Power Rankings
College Football Week 8 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 05:55
Path: /college-football/acc-post-week-8-power-rankings
Body:

Week 8 featured a full slate of action in the ACC. Florida State got a big win over rival Miami, while Clemson knocked off Virginia Tech. NC State escaped College Park with a close win, and Duke got bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 with an upset victory over North Carolina.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – The sophomore has been on fire over the last three weeks and has 795 rushing yards and 24 receptions this season.

2. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – Although Manuel’s performance against NC State was shaky, he has thrown for 2,033 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. The senior leads the ACC in passing efficiency and is completing 71.5 percent of his throws.

3. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd did not play well against Virginia Tech but leads the ACC in 308.4 yards of total offense per game.
 

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner abused Miami’s offensive line for three tackles, two sacks and 1.5 tackles for a loss. The junior has eight sacks and 11.5 tackles this season.

2. Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland – Vellano is a big reason why Maryland ranks 11th nationally in total defense and sixth against the run. The senior recorded 10 tackles and one sack against NC State in Week 8.

3. Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke – Cockrell continued his strong season with two tackles for a loss and one pass breakup against North Carolina. The junior has 14 passes defended and four interceptions this year.
 

Coach of the Year Standings

1. David Cutcliffe, Duke – Even if Duke loses its final four games this year, Cutcliffe will be tough to unseat as the winner of this award. The Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 and have legitimate Coastal Division title hopes.

2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – Since losing to NC State on Oct. 6, the Seminoles have outscored their last two opponents 84-27.

3. Randy Edsall, Maryland – The Terrapins are no longer unbeaten in ACC play but this is a much-improved team in Edsall’s second season.

Post-Week 8 ACC Power Rankings

1. Florida State (7-1, 4-1 ACC)
Last Week:
1
Week 8 Result: Beat Miami 33-20
It wasn’t a perfect effort, but the Seminoles did just enough to leave Miami with a 33-20 victory. Florida State committed 12 penalties (some very questionable calls by the officials) and had two turnovers, but used a stellar defensive effort and 229 passing yards from quarterback EJ Manuel to cruise in the second half to the win. Florida State still needs a loss by NC State to take control of the ACC Atlantic, but the Seminoles are clearly the best team in the conference after eight weeks of the season.
Next Game: Duke

2. Clemson (6-1, 3-1 ACC)
Last Week:
2
Week 8 Result: Beat Virginia Tech 38-17
With the offense struggling to get on track, the Tigers needed a big effort from their much-maligned defense to beat Virginia Tech. After allowing at least 30 points in its three previous games, the defense stepped up and created four turnovers, while taking an interception back for a touchdown in the second quarter. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for a season-low of 160 yards, but the defensive effort and 96 rushing yards from running back Andre Ellington was enough to knock off Virginia Tech 38-17. The Tigers have a short turnaround this week, as they travel to Wake Forest on Thursday night.
Next Game: at Wake Forest

3. NC State (5-2, 2-1 ACC)
Last Week:
3
Week 8 Result: Beat Maryland 20-18
Even though the Wolfpack had a bye week after beating Florida State, coach Tom O’Brien still had to be worried about a letdown against Maryland. It wasn’t easy, but NC State squeaked out a 20-18 win in College Park. Quarterback Mike Glennon led the way with 307 passing yards, while NC State’s defense forced two turnovers. However, the biggest moment in the game came in the final seconds, as Maryland missed a game-winning field goal, which gave the Wolfpack the win and kept their ACC Atlantic title hopes alive.
Next Game: at North Carolina

4. Duke (6-2, 3-1 ACC)
Last Week:
 8
Week 8 Result: Beat North Carolina 33-30
Finally. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe and his staff have to be breathing a little easier this week, as a 33-30 victory over North Carolina in Week 8 has the Blue Devils bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. The Tar Heels took the lead with just over three minutes to go, but Duke quarterback Sean Renfree led a clutch drive to get the Blue Devils in position for the score. On fourth and goal from the five, Renfree hit Jamison Crowder for the winning touchdown, which was just enough for Duke to edge rival North Carolina 33-30. While the Blue Devils have to be happy getting to six wins, they have a legitimate chance to win the Coastal Division. The path isn’t easy, beginning with a road trip on Saturday at Florida State.
Next Game: at Florida State

5. Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week:
6
Week 8 Result: Lost to Duke 38-17
The Hokies had no answer for Clemson last season and fell 38-17 in Death Valley on Saturday afternoon. The defense has struggled to live up to its preseason hype but held its own against the Tigers. Clemson managed only 160 passing yards, while running back Andre Ellington managed 96 rushing yards on 19 attempts. Although the defensive effort was solid, the offense struggled to get production from running back J.C. Coleman and committed four turnovers. As disappointing as this season has been for Virginia Tech, it can still get to the ACC title game. The Hokies are off this Saturday and play Miami in a crucial conference game on Nov. 1.
Next Game: at Miami (Nov. 1)

6. North Carolina (5-3, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week:
4
Week 8 Result: Lost to Duke 33-30
The Tar Heels had their eight-game winning streak against Duke snapped on Saturday night, losing 33-30 to the Blue Devils. Running back Giovani Bernard recorded his third 100-yard effort of the season, gashing Duke for 143 yards and one touchdown. Despite Bernard’s success, it wasn’t enough for North Carolina’s offense. Quarterback Bryn Renner threw for only 198 yards and the offense had two turnovers. The Tar Heels struggled to find answers on defense, as Duke recorded 276 yards through the air and 234 on the ground. After losing to the Blue Devils, North Carolina can salvage some in-state bragging rights with a win over NC State next week.
Next Game: NC State

7. Miami (4-4, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week:
5
Week 8 Result: Florida State 33-20
It’s pretty clear the Hurricanes aren’t as talented as Florida State, but Al Golden’s team found a way to make things interesting for a half on Saturday night. However, Miami’s porous defense eventually caved, and the offense struggled to get on track behind an injured quarterback. The loss to the Seminoles was the third consecutive defeat for the Hurricanes, which evened their record at 4-4 for the season. Miami has a bye this Saturday and has a crucial Coastal Division game against Virginia Tech on Nov. 1.
Next Game: Virginia Tech (Nov. 1)

8. Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-3 ACC)
Last Week:
7
Week 8 Result: Beat Boston College 37-17
The Yellow Jackets got a much-needed 37-17 victory over Boston College in Week 8, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Although the Eagles aren’t the ACC’s most explosive offense, the change in defensive coordinators seems to have paid off for coach Paul Johnson. Georgia Tech gave up just 296 yards – the second fewest this season – and forced two turnovers and two sacks. The Yellow Jackets step out of conference for a matchup against BYU this Saturday.
Next Game: BYU

9. Maryland (4-3, 2-1 ACC)
Last Week:
9
Week 8 Result: Lost to NC State 20-18
With a freshman quarterback and revamped schemes on both sides of the ball, the Terrapins were one of the ACC’s biggest surprises in the first half of the season. Maryland nearly continued its surprise start with an upset victory over NC State, but the Wolfpack rallied to a 20-18 win. Despite losing quarterback Perry Hills to a knee injury, the offense moved the ball behind Devin Burns and Caleb Rowe. Burns threw for 47 yards, while adding 50 on the ground. Rowe led the team into field goal position with seconds remaining, but kicker Brad Craddock missed a 33-yard attempt for the win.
Next Game: at Boston College

10. Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3 ACC)
Last Week:
11
Week 8 Result: Beat Virginia 16-10
In what could be an elimination game for bowl eligibility, the Demon Deacons knocked off Virginia 16-10 to improve their record to 4-3 this season. Quarterback Tanner Price completed just 7 of 19 passes for 102 yards, while Josh Harris and Deandre Martin combined for 75 yards and one touchdown. Wake Forest’s defense played well, allowing only 48 rushing yards to Virginia and forcing three turnovers. The Demon Deacons have a short week to prepare for Clemson on Thursday night and aren’t expected to get receiver Michael Campanaro back from a hand injury.
Next Game: Clemson

11. Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC)
Last Week:
10
Week 8 Result: Lost to Wake Forest 16-10
After starting 2-0, the Cavaliers have slumped to six consecutive losses, including four in ACC play. Virginia lost 16-10 to Wake Forest on Saturday, which put Mike London’s team in danger of missing a bowl game. The Cavaliers have yet to find their rushing attack, while turnovers have plagued this team through the first eight weeks of the season. Virginia has a bye this Saturday and needs to win its final four games – at NC State, Miami, North Carolina, at Virginia Tech – to get bowl eligible. It’s unlikely the Cavaliers can win their final four games, but this team needs to close with some momentum to build for 2013.
Next Game: at NC State (Nov. 3)

12. Boston College (1-6, 0-4 ACC)
Last Week:
12
Week 8 Result: Lost to Georgia Tech 37-17
With five consecutive losses, the Eagles are firmly entrenched as the No. 12 team in the power rankings. Boston College trailed Georgia Tech 28-3 at halftime but cut the lead to 31-17 early in the fourth quarter. However, the Eagles couldn’t get any closer, and the Yellow Jackets finished with a 37-17 victory. With games against Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and NC State remaining, Boston College has only two legitimate chances for a victory – Maryland (Oct. 27) and at Wake Forest (Nov. 3).
Next Game: Maryland


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content

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Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

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<p> ACC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 05:01
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-8-power-rankings
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If there was any doubt Kansas State was the No. 1 team in the Big 12, those questions were erased with a convincing 55-14 win over West Virginia in Week 8. The Wildcats improved to 7-0 and have a commanding lead in the conference, especially with a win over Oklahoma earlier this year. The Mountaineers have faded over the last two weeks, but the Sooners are on the rise. Oklahoma has won three Big 12 games in a row and is back in the national title mix. Texas Tech is one of the conference's most-improved teams this year and will have a shot at Kansas State this Saturday. 

Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

1. Kansas State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
1
Week 8 Result: Beat West Virginia 55-14
There’s no debate for the No. 1 team in the Big 12 standings. With the Wildcats' 55-14 win over West Virginia, they clearly own the top spot in the power rankings and are squarely in the mix for a national title appearance. Quarterback Collin Klein bolstered his Heisman campaign with seven touchdowns against the Mountaineers, while the defense held West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith to 143 passing yards. The Wildcats play their next two games at home, before finishing the season with three matchups against teams from Texas.
Next Game: Texas Tech

2. Oklahoma (5-1, 3-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
2
Week 8 Result: Beat Kansas 52-7
Coming off a win over Texas and a huge contest next Saturday against Notre Dame, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had to be wary of a letdown against Kansas. However, the Sooners came out firing on all cylinders, opening a 38-0 lead at halftime and cruising to a 52-7 victory. Quarterback Landry Jones threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns, while Oklahoma scored twice on special teams to easily dispatch of the Jayhawks. Since scoring only 19 points in a loss to Kansas State, the Sooners have scored at least 41 in each of their last three contests.
Next Game: Notre Dame

3. Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
4
Week 8 Result: Beat TCU 56-53
Letdown. That was the dreaded word tossed around Lubbock this week, as the Red Raiders hoped to avoid a road loss after beating West Virginia 49-14 last Saturday. However, Texas Tech quickly forgot about the win over the Mountaineers and outlasted TCU for a 56-53 win in three overtimes. The defense allowed over 500 yards, but quarterback Seth Doege threw for 318 yards and seven touchdowns, including an eight-yard score to Alex Torres to win the game. The victory over the Horned Frogs gave the Red Raiders back-to-back wins in Big 12 play for the first time since 2009.
Next Game: at Kansas State

4. West Virginia (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
3
Week 8 Result: Lost to Kansas State 55-14
A promising season has gone by the wayside for West Virginia. The Mountaineers were one of the nation’s top title contenders through the first six weeks but have lost back-to-back games in blowout fashion. Quarterback Geno Smith’s Heisman hopes have taken a huge hit, as he has only two touchdown passes over the last two contests. While the offense isn’t playing well, the biggest culprit for West Virginia’s struggles is the defense. The Mountaineers rank 113th nationally in yards allowed, 115th in scoring defense and 120th passing defense. Even though West Virginia’s national title hopes are finished, it can still salvage a 10-win season and maybe a BCS bowl. However, the rest of the schedule isn’t easy, as TCU and Oklahoma visit Morgantown, with a road trip to Oklahoma State coming up on Nov. 10.
Next Game: TCU

5. Texas (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
6
Week 8 Result: Beat Baylor 56-50
The Longhorns snapped a two-game losing streak with a 56-50 win over Baylor. The defense was shredded for 607 yards, but Texas’ offense used five touchdowns from running back Joe Bergeron to hold off a late charge by the Bears. The victory was crucial to get the Longhorns back on track after a rough two-game patch. Barring a surprise collapse by Kansas State, Texas is out of the mix for a Big 12 title. However, this team can finish with 10 wins and can play spoiler with a matchup against the Wildcats on Dec. 1.
Next Game: at Kansas

6. Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
7
Week 8 Result: Beat Iowa State 31-10
A week after a sluggish performance against Kansas, the Cowboys got back on track with a 31-10 win over Iowa State. Oklahoma State recorded over 600 yards of offense, including 153 on the ground from running back Joseph Randle. Quarterback J.W. Walsh was sharp, completing 32 of 47 passes for 413 yards and one touchdown. The Cowboys were short-handed at receiver with Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson out, but Charlie Moore, Josh Stewart and Blake Jackson stepped up in their absence. The news from Saturday's game wasn't all positive, as coach Mike Gundy announced on Sunday Walsh was done for the year with a knee injury.
Next Game: TCU

7. TCU (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
5
Week 8 Result: Lost to Texas Tech 56-53
The Horned Frogs found themselves on the losing end of one of Week 8’s most entertaining games. TCU trailed 36-26 with five minutes to go but rallied behind quarterback Trevone Boykin. The redshirt freshman connected with LaDarius Brown on a 60-yard touchdown and later led the team into scoring position for a field goal to send the game into overtime. The Horned Frogs pushed the Red Raiders into the third overtime but lost when Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege found receiver Alex Torres for an eight-yard touchdown.
Next Game: at Oklahoma State

8. Iowa State (4-3, 1-3 Big 12)
Last Week:
8
Week 8 Result: Lost to Oklahoma State 31-10
The Cyclones jumped out to a 10-7 lead in the first quarter but failed to score a point the rest of the game and lost 31-10 to Oklahoma State. Both sides of the ball share blame, but the offense failed to find a rhythm after the first 15 minutes. Quarterback Jared Barnett completed only 19 of 39 throws and led the team with 49 rushing yards. Iowa State’s defense has been solid all season, but Oklahoma State simply had too much firepower to hold in check. The Cyclones have lost three out of their last four games.
Next Game: Baylor

9. Baylor (3-3, 0-3 Big 12)
Last Week:
9
Week 8 Result: Lost to Texas 56-50
Once again, the Bears had enough offense to win, but the defense failed to make key stops in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Nick Florence recorded four total touchdowns and had 352 passing yards, but his effort was overshadowed by a Baylor defense that gave up 525 yards. The Bears have allowed at least 500 yards in five out of their six games this season. Baylor has yet to win a conference game this year and the road won’t get any easier with a trip to Iowa State next week. Considering the Bears close with Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, beating Iowa State and Kansas the next two weeks is a must.
Next Game: at Iowa State

10. Kansas (1-6, 0-4 Big 12)
Last Week:
10
Week 8 Result: Lost to Oklahoma 52-7
The Jayhawks continued their downward spiral with a 52-7 defeat to Oklahoma. Kansas has played well in the first half og games throughout the year, but the Sooners jumped out to a 38-0 lead after two quarters. Michael Cummings replaced Dayne Crist at quarterback, but he threw for only 116 yards and tossed two picks. The lone bright spot for Kansas’ offense has been the play of running back James Sims, who recorded 102 yards on 28 attempts on Saturday. The Jayhawks play their next three games against opponents from Texas, before finishing the year with Iowa State and West Virginia.
Next Game: Texas
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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Big East Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
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Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 05:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-8-waiver-wire-report
Body:

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?  That theme seems to play out in our waiver report this week as a few listed names below, if available in your league, were probably on rosters at some point earlier this season. 

Chuckie Keeton, QB-Utah State

Statistically, Keeton had been rather average from a fantasy point of view throughout the non-conference portion of Utah State’s schedule.  However, the sophomore quarterback has thrown for 530 yards, rushed for another 128 yards, and has accounted for eight total touchdowns in two WAC games.

Ameer Abdullah, RB-Nebraska

We’re no longer confident that Rex Burkhead will shake the injury bug that has plagued him for most of this season.  If Abdullah is still floating around on the waiver wire, pick him up because he has potential to serve as a solid RB#2 as long as Burkhead stays on the sideline.

Latavius Murray, RB-Central Florida

Murray seems to have reassumed the starting running back spot after his 23-carry performance against Memphis this past weekend.  It is very likely that Murray was tossed backed into the waiver pool after his injury earlier in the season.  Given UCF’s upcoming schedule, Murray could be a tremendous asset for owners looking to make a late-season surge.

Jordan Parker, RB-Middle Tennessee

We were wondering who would shoulder the load at running back for the Blue Raiders after Ben Cunningham was lost for the season with a knee injury.  Jordan Parker rushed for a team-high 66 yards on 13 carries at Mississippi State on Saturday.  His modest numbers did not draw any attention and fantasy owners may not even have to put in a waiver claim for the freshman running back.

Antavious Wilson, WR-Marshall

Wilson’s value continues to rise in deep PPR leagues as the senior receiver has caught at least six passes in five-of-seven games this season and has a touchdown reception in each of Marshall’s previous three games.

Josh Schaffer, WR-Western Michigan

Since Tyler Van Tubbergen took over at quarterback for the injured Alex Carder, Schaffer has emerged as the Broncos’ leading receiver, catching 15 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns the past two weeks.

Charlie Moore, WR-Oklahoma St

Moore was a player we had high hopes for before the season began, but he managed only six receptions in the Cowboys’ first four games.  The junior receiver should be back on everyone’s radar after hauling in 13 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns the last two weeks.


by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email:  joe@thecffsite.com

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 8 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 04:48
Path: /news/streaker-runs-field-during-stanford-california-game
Body:

2012 has been a rough season for California and it only got worse with a 21-3 loss to rival Stanford. The Golden Bears are 3-5, and coach Jeff Tedford is squarely on the hot seat after the team's disappointing performance. 

While the action on the field was dull, a streaker ran onto the field during halftime. The streaker was chased off the field by one of the California players and was quickly caught by security after he reached midfield. 

Teaser:
<p> Streaker Runs Onto Field During Stanford-California Game</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 23:01
Path: /news/fan-runs-field-during-florida-state-miami-game
Body:

The Miami-Florida State rivalry has produced plenty of instant classics over the years and while Saturday night's game wasn't the best in the series, it provided one of the most bizarre moments in recent memory.

The game was interrupted in the first quarter when a fan somehow made his way onto the field during a Florida State drive. The play was largely over when the fan ran onto the field but it was an interesting moment to say the least.

The best part of the video? The security guys at the end making a pretty solid tackle in the endzone. Considering how bad Miami's defense has been this year, maybe Al Golden should see if the security guard has any eligibility left. 

Teaser:
<p> Fan Runs Onto Field During Florida State-Miami Game</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 22:53
Path: /news/wyoming-coach-dave-christensen-goes-air-force-coach-troy-calhoun
Body:

Wyoming coach Dave Christensen was not a happy man after losing to Air Force on Oct. 13. Christensen believed the Falcons faked an injury and used the timeout to setup their next play, which just happened to be a touchdown. 

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun approached Christensen for the post-game handshake, and the Wyoming coach exploded with a tirade against the Falcons' head man. 

Christensen questioned Calhoun's integrity and ethics, along with calling him "Mr. Howdy Doody."

Christensen later apologized for the incident, but let's just say these two won't exchange Christmas cards later this year.

Caution: The video contains explicit language

Teaser:
<p> Wyoming Coach Dave Christensen Goes Off At Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 22:43
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-mountaineers-vs-kansas-state-wildcats-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Just like last week’s matchup between Oklahoma and Texas, Saturday’s game between Kansas State and West Virginia will play a key role in helping to clear the Big 12 title picture. The conference crown won’t be decided this week, but there’s a clear pecking order starting to form. The Wildcats are the Big 12’s only unbeaten team and scored a huge road win over Oklahoma earlier this season. The Mountaineers watched their national title hopes fade in a disappointing loss to Texas Tech last Saturday. However, all is not lost for West Virginia, as it remains a viable Big 12 title contender and should be in the mix for one of the at-large BCS bowl spots.

These two teams have met only twice, with the last meeting occurring in 1931. West Virginia won 23-7 in 1930, while Kansas State claimed a 19-0 victory in 1931. Both games in this series have been played in Morgantown.

Storylines to Watch in West Virginia vs. Kansas State

Will Stedman Bailey play this Saturday?
Lost in the shuffle of West Virginia’s loss to Texas Tech was the injury to receiver Stedman Bailey. The junior caught six passes for 56 yards and one touchdown in the first half but did not play in the final two quarters due to an ankle injury. Bailey is one of the nation’s top deep threats and helps to stretch the field, which allows Tavon Austin to work underneath. If Bailey cannot go, West Virginia will need contributions from a couple of young players. Freshmen Travares Copeland, Jordan Thompson and Dante Campbell have combined for 15 receptions but could be counted on for a bigger role this Saturday. Bailey's status isn't officially known but most signs out of Morgantown seem to indicate he will be able to play in some capacity aginst Kansas State.

Does West Virginia have an answer for Kansas State’s offense?
The Mountaineers have struggled to get stops in Big 12 play this season, giving up at least 45 points in all three of their conference games. To emphasize how bad this defense has been: West Virginia ranks 114th nationally in total defense, 109th in points allowed and 118th in pass defense. Kansas State will present a different challenge than the ones the Mountaineers have played so far, as the Wildcats are a run-first team and aren’t as prolific through the air. Kansas State is averaging 31:47 minutes in time of possession each game, and coach Bill Snyder hopes to control the clock and keep West Virginia’s high-powered offense on the sidelines. The Mountaineers’ rush defense ranks 43rd nationally but opponents have scored 12 touchdowns on the ground. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is averaging 264 total yards per game and will be a tough assignment for West Virginia’s defense. The Mountaineers need to load the box and force Klein and the Wildcats to win this game through the air. If Kansas State controls the time of possession, it will wear down West Virginia’s defense.

Can Geno Smith get back on track this week?
Although his performance against Texas Tech wasn’t awful, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith had his worst game of the season. The senior completed 29 of 55 throws for 275 yards and one touchdown. Smith was widely believed to be the Heisman favorite, but his mediocre performance opened the door for Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Kansas State’s Collin Klein to close the gap. Smith takes on a Kansas State secondary that ranks 74th nationally in yards allowed and 42nd in pass efficiency defense. The Wildcats allowed Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones to throw for 299 yards in late September, so there are plenty of plays to be made for Smith and West Virginia’s receiving corps. Considering how well the senior has played this season, last week’s game figures to be a small bump in the road. The senior will have to dodge a Kansas State pass rush that is averaging 2.3 sacks per game, but Smith should top 300 passing yards for the fifth time this year.

The x-factors…players not named Geno Smith and Collin Klein
With all of the focus on the two quarterbacks (Geno Smith and Collin Klein), there are plenty of opportunities for other skill players to step up in this game. West Virginia’s rushing attack has shown flashes of promise behind sophomore Andrew Buie, while Kansas State’s John Hubert is one of the nation’s most underrated players. On the defensive side, keep a close watch on the linebackers. Wildcats’ linebacker Arthur Brown is having an All-American-caliber season, while the Mountaineers have a budding star in redshirt freshman Isaiah Bruce. There’s no question Smith and Klein will play a huge role in determining the outcome of the game, but some of the other players will need to step up for their team. 

Final Analysis

Whichever team can dictate the tempo should gain the upper hand in this game. Kansas State wants to grind the clock and limit West Virginia’s possessions, while the Mountaineers hope to use their high-powered passing attack to jump out to an early lead and keep the pressure on the Wildcats’ offense. Kansas State is not built to rally from 14 or 17 points down, so it’s important for Bill Snyder’s club to control the tempo.

Another factor that could determine how this game goes is the health of West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey. Although the Mountaineers can move the ball without Bailey, the junior is a key cog in the passing attack and helps to relieve the pressure on Tavon Austin. If Bailey can’t go, Kansas State can focus more on stopping Austin. And that means West Virginia’s young receivers have to have their best game of the year.

As usual, turnovers will play a key role in this game. Kansas State ranks seventh nationally in turnover margin, while West Virginia checks in 14th.

Even though the Mountaineers have struggled on defense, facing a run-first Kansas State squad is a good matchup for a team with secondary question marks. This one should be a tossup and will be decided late in the fourth quarter. It’s hard to pick against the Wildcats, but the Mountaineers find a way to rebound at home.

Final Prediction: West Virginia 38, Kansas State 34


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

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Teaser:
<p> West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Kansas State Wildcats Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 20, 2012 - 08:40
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-texas-am-aggies-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Texas A&M and LSU have played 50 times, but the 2012 meeting will be the first as SEC foes. These two campuses are separated by less than 400 miles, and this is a crucial game in the fertile recruiting area of Texas and Louisiana.

So far, Texas A&M’s debut season in the SEC has been a success. The Aggies suffered a three-point loss to Florida in the opener but have won their last two conference games. Texas A&M rallied to beat Ole Miss on Oct. 6 and destroyed Arkansas 58-10 on Sept. 29.

LSU suffered a 14-6 loss to Florida two weeks ago but rebounded with a 23-21 victory over South Carolina last Saturday. Not only was the win over the Gamecocks a huge confidence boost, but also the Tigers were able to keep pace with Alabama in the SEC West standings.

Storylines to Watch in LSU vs. Texas A&M

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel vs. LSU’s defense
It’s not often a redshirt freshman quarterback comes into the SEC and makes a run at the Heisman Trophy but that’s exactly what Manziel has done through the first seven weeks of the season. Johnny Football leads the SEC with 676 rushing yards and is tied with South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore for the No. 1 spot in rushing touchdowns with 10. Manziel is completing 67.4 percent of his throws and ranks third in the conference with an average of 280 passing yards a game. Although the redshirt freshman has been one of this season’s breakout players and one of the top-10 candidates to win the Heisman after seven weeks, Saturday’s matchup against LSU is easily his toughest assignment. The Tigers are the fastest defense Texas A&M has played since the season opener against Florida and rank second nationally in pass defense and total yards allowed per game. Manziel is certainly a special player and will have his moments against the Tigers’ defense. However, expect LSU to counter with several different looks to confuse Manziel, as well as keeping him in the pocket to not allow him to get to the edge to make plays with his feet. Helping Manziel’s cause on offense is two NFL tackles in Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. These two linemen will be in charge of keeping two of the best pass-rush ends (Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo) away from Manziel.

Can LSU get its passing game on track?
It’s no secret the Tigers build their offense on a punishing ground attack and rely on timely plays from their passing game to keep the chains moving. After watching Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee struggle last season, most LSU fans expected Zach Mettenberger to be an upgrade at quarterback. However, that hasn’t been the case, as the junior college recruit ranks 10th in the conference in SEC-only games with 158.3 yards per game and ranks 12th in passing efficiency. Although LSU doesn’t want to throw it 40 times a game, as Louisiana Tech showed against Texas A&M last week, there are holes in the Aggies’ secondary. Texas A&M ranks 107th nationally against the pass, but its defensive line has helped to make up for some of the struggles by registering 3.2 sacks a game. Mettenberger may not top 200 passing yards in this game, but he needs to be efficient and play mistake-free ball to give LSU a chance to win.

Texas A&M’s defensive line vs. LSU’s offensive line
LSU’s offensive line was a huge concern going into last week’s game against South Carolina, but the unit responded with one of its best showings of the season. With Alex Hurst and Chris Faulk out – two potential All-American tackles – the Tigers gashed the Gamecocks for 258 yards and two scores. This unit will be under pressure once again, as it will be greeted by a hostile environment in College Station, along with one of the nation’s most underrated defensive ends in Damontre Moore. The junior has 8.5 sacks and 15 tackles for a loss through the first six weeks and will be a tough assignment for LSU left tackle Josh Dworaczyk. Texas A&M is allowing 147.7 rushing yards per game in SEC play, which is one area the Tigers will look to exploit. LSU has one of the deepest backfields in college football and received a boost from true freshman Jeremy Hill in the win over South Carolina last week. The Aggies aren’t bad against the run, but this is one area LSU should be able to take advantage of on Saturday afternoon.

Final Analysis

With a raucous home crowd for Texas A&M, LSU needs to weather the early storm and avoid any big mistakes in the first quarter. The Aggies need quarterback Johnny Manziel to be a playmaker but also need a big day from running backs Ben Malena and Christine Michael. If the Tigers control the line of scrimmage and keep Manziel contained in the pocket, the Aggies will struggle to get their offense on track.

When LSU has the ball, look for the Aggies to load the line of scrimmage and force Mettenberger to win this game through the air. The Tigers will have opportunities to make plays in the passing game but need to contain Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore.

Expect a tight game into the fourth quarter, but LSU’s edge in depth will show, as it will take control of the trenches in the second half and wear down the Aggies.

Final Prediction: LSU 27, Texas A&M 20 


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

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Teaser:
<p> LSU Tigers vs. Texas A&amp;M Aggies Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 06:08
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-gamecocks-vs-florida-gators-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Even with South Carolina’s loss to LSU last week, Saturday’s game between Florida and South Carolina is one of the marquee games for Week 8. The Gamecocks still have national and SEC title aspirations but another loss would eliminate those possibilities. Florida ranked No. 2 in the first release of the BCS standings and needs a victory over South Carolina to strengthen its grip on the No. 1 spot in the SEC East. The Gators take on Georgia next Saturday, so wins over the Gamecocks and Bulldogs would likely assure Will Muschamp’s team a spot in Atlanta in early December.  

Florida dominated South Carolina in the 1990s and early 2000s, but the Gamecocks have won the last two matchups. The Gators fell 17-12 in Columbia last season, while South Carolina won 36-14 in Gainesville in 2010.

While much of the focus for this matchup will be on the field, let’s not forget about the old ball coach’s return to the Swamp. Gainesville is certainly a special place for South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, but there’s no doubt he wants to go into the Swamp and exit with a victory. Spurrier is 3-4 in seven career games against Florida and is 1-2 in games played in Gainesville.

Storylines to Watch in South Carolina vs. Florida

Will South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore play?
In last week’s loss to LSU, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore ran for a season-low of 35 yards on 13 attempts. However, that wasn’t the only bad news, as the junior back suffered a hip injury and may not be able to play in this Saturday’s game against Florida. If Lattimore cannot go, it would be a huge setback for the Gamecocks’ offense. Of course, there’s always the thought coach Steve Spurrier is playing mind games with the Gators, and the junior back will play in Saturday’s game. Freshman Mike Davis and senior Kenny Miles  - a combined 217 yards this season - will carry the workload if Lattimore cannot play. Quarterback Connor Shaw ranks second on the team with 280 rushing yards and will figure more into the rushing attack if Davis and Miles are forced into action. Florida ranks 20th nationally against the run, so it’s unlikely South Carolina would be able to have a huge day on the ground. However, Lattimore’s presence would be a huge boost to the Gamecocks’ offense and is a significant setback if he is unable to play.

Will South Carolina’s defense hold Florida’s Mike Gillislee in check?
There’s really no secret what Florida wants to do on offense. The Gators are averaging 233.3 rushing yards per game and rank 114th nationally in passing offense. Running back Mike Gillislee has been one of the nation’s best running backs through the first half of the season, recording 615 yards and seven touchdowns on 120 attempts. Gillislee rushed for 146 yards in the victory against LSU and seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. South Carolina has been stout against the run this year but allowed LSU to record 258 yards and two scores last week. In addition to trying to shore up last Saturday’s problems, the Gamecocks could be shorthanded this week. Defensive tackles Byron Jerideau and J.T. Surratt are nursing ankle injuries, while Kelcy Quarles may not play due to a shoulder problem. Additionally, South Carolina's top pass rusher (Jadeveon Clowney) is also questionable with a foot injury. At full strength, the Gamecocks’ defensive line should be able to hold their own against Gillislee and the Gators’ offensive line. However, the injuries are adding up, and Florida should own an edge in the trenches.

Which quarterback will make the most plays: Connor Shaw or Jeff Driskel?
With two of the SEC’s best defenses and running backs squaring off, it’s not crucial for either quarterback to have a huge game throwing the ball. However, it’s about timely plays and not making big mistakes. South Carolina’s Connor Shaw ranks 14th nationally in passing efficiency and has thrown only two interceptions in four SEC games. Florida’s Jeff Driskel has not thrown for more than 100 yards in each of his last two contests, but the sophomore is making big plays on the ground, including a 70-yard scamper against Vanderbilt. Neither quarterback will throw for 300 yards in this game but converting third downs and keeping drives alive with their legs will be two areas both quarterbacks can make an impact. Shaw has the edge in playmakers at receiver, which will be crucial with this matchup expected to be undecided deep into the fourth quarter.

Special teams…the x-factor
As with every big game, keep a close eye on the special teams. South Carolina punt returner Ace Sanders is averaging 17.4 yards per punt return and took one for a touchdown against Missouri. The Gators don’t have a standout on returns this season but have the edge on field goals and punts. Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis has converted 11 of 13 attempts, while punter Kyle Christy is averaging 46.4 yards per kick.

Can Florida’s defensive line take advantage of South Carolina’s offensive line?
Even though the Gamecocks are 6-1 and clobbered Georgia 35-7 two weeks ago, the offensive line is a significant question mark for this team. Line coach Shawn Elliott has shuffled some players around, but the front five is allowing 2.6 sacks a game. Florida’s defensive line seems to be getting stronger as the year goes on and it has allowed just one rushing touchdown in the last two games. With concerns on the offensive line, expect South Carolina to move quarterback Connor Shaw around the pocket. However, the Gamecocks have to be able to move Florida’s defensive front in short-yardage situations, as well as paving the way for Lattimore, Davis and Miles to gain ground on first and second downs.

Final Analysis

Considering both teams are allowing less than 20 points a game, expect a low-scoring defensive struggle on Saturday afternoon. Injuries will play a key role in deciding the outcome of this matchup, especially with South Carolina potentially missing running back Marcus Lattimore, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and a couple of defensive tackles. The Gamecocks have the edge at quarterback, but Florida’s defense has allowed only six points in two SEC home games. Expect the Gators to once again establish their rushing attack in the second half, which will be just enough for Florida to edge South Carolina and setup a huge showdown against Georgia next week that could decide the SEC East title.

Final Prediction: Florida 20, South Carolina 17
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

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Teaser:
<p> South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Florida Gators Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-northwestern-wildcats-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The Big Ten is having a rough 2012 campaign, and the news only got worse with the first release of the BCS standings. The conference failed to have a team inside of the top 25 and only one squad is ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. While the Big Ten has seemingly dealt with only bad news this year, the battle to win the conference title should be one of the nation’s most intriguing races. The Legends Division is a wide-open battle, with Michigan and Iowa undefeated at 2-0. Northwestern and Nebraska each have one loss, while Michigan State isn’t out of the mix at 1-2.

Considering how tight the battle is at the top of the Big Ten, Saturday’s matchup between Nebraska and Northwestern should be a crucial game to sort out the pecking order in the division. The Cornhuskers are coming off a bye week but lost 63-38 to Ohio State in its last appearance. Northwestern won 21-13 at Minnesota last week and is 10-2 in its last 12 regular season games.

These two teams have met only five times and once as Big Ten foes. Northwestern upset Nebraska 28-25 in Lincoln last year, which was its first victory over the Cornhuskers since 1931. The Cornhuskers claimed an easy victory in the 2000 Alamo Bowl against Northwestern and won the only matchup in Evanston (1931) between these two teams.

Storylines to watch in Nebraska vs. Northwestern

Can Nebraska stop Northwestern’s rushing attack?
Stopping the run has been a huge issue for the Cornhuskers this season. The off week should have allowed Bo Pelini and his defensive staff a chance to examine his team’s performance in the first half of the season and find a few answers. Will it make a difference? Nebraska’s defense is uncharacteristically ranked 91st nationally against the run and is giving up 27.7 points a game. Northwestern’s rushing attack ranks 18th nationally and has found a spark behind Venric Mark and quarterback Kain Colter. Mark has 797 yards and eight scores through seven games, while Colter ranks second on the team with 421 yards. Considering Northwestern rushed for 207 yards last season, an improved Wildcats’ ground attack is a bad sign for Nebraska’s defense.

Can Trevor Siemian get back on track for Northwestern?
Siemian and Kain Colter form a dangerous one-two combination for the Wildcats at quarterback, and both will be expected to see significant snaps on Saturday. Northwestern’s offense seems to be at its best when Colter is used in an all-purpose role, while Siemian starts at quarterback. In last week’s win over Minnesota, Siemian completed only 1 of 7 throws for four yards. Although it’s just a one-game struggle, the sophomore is a key piece in the Northwestern attack and needs to be sharp on Saturday. However, Nebraska ranks 15th nationally against the pass and won’t give the Wildcats many easy opportunities through the air. The Cornhuskers are generating 3.5 sacks a game, so Northwestern’s quarterbacks (Siemian or Colter) needs to get rid of the ball quickly and on target.

Which Taylor Martinez will show up for Nebraska this weekend?
There’s no question Martinez is a much-improved passer. The junior is on pace to set a career-high in passing yards and is just two touchdown passes away breaking his total from last season (13). Despite his improvement, Martinez has struggled in Nebraska’s two losses. He tossed one interception and threw for 179 yards against UCLA, while throwing three picks on 25 attempts against Ohio State. Martinez is completing 72.2 percent of his throws at home but only 57.1 percent on the road. The Cornhuskers don’t need 300 passing yards from their junior quarterback, but he needs to be more efficient than he has in his career on the road. Northwestern’s secondary is allowing 270.9 yards per game, so the opportunities for big plays will be there. As Martinez goes, so goes Nebraska. Hitting some easy throws and allowing Martinez to make plays with his legs early on should help the junior ease into the game and erase some of the road demons.

Is Rex Burkhead 100 percent?
Rex Burkhead’s senior year hasn’t gone according to plan, as he suffered a knee injury in the opener and missed the next two contests. Burkhead reinjured his knee against Ohio State but is expected to play against Northwestern. However, it’s fair to wonder if Burkhead is at full strength or if he can handle 25-30 carries. Against the Buckeyes, the senior averaged 8.5 yards per carry and appeared to be close to 100 percent. Even if Burkhead isn’t at full strength, Nebraska has depth in the backfield. Ameer Abdullah leads the team with 514 yards and seven rushing scores, while averaging six yards per carry. Imani Cross and Braylon Heard are also capable of contributing, while quarterback Taylor Martinez is averaging five yards per carry this season. Even though Burkhead is ready to assume 20 carries, don’t be surprised if Abdullah gets a share of the touches.

Final Analysis

This is a crucial game for positioning in the Big Ten Legends Division and there should be no shortage of points with two of the conference’s top offenses. Nebraska is also out for revenge after Northwestern won in Lincoln last season, but there’s also plenty of focus to get things pointed in the right direction after losing at Ohio State on Oct. 6

Both offenses should be able to move the ball, with a turnover or late defensive stop likely deciding this game.

Nebraska should be motivated after losing to Ohio State, and the Cornhuskers make a late defensive stand to win and remain alive for the Big Ten Legends Division title.

Final Prediction: Nebraska 34, Northwestern 31

 

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ACC Week 8 Preview and Predictions
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Big 12 Week 8 Preview and Predictions

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SEC Week 8 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Northwestern Wildcats Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 05:54
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Last week’s goal-line stand against Stanford moved Notre Dame to 6-0 and one step closer to getting the Irish back to a BCS bowl. With six contests remaining, Notre Dame has four games it should be heavy favorites in, while tough road matchups await the Irish against USC and Oklahoma.

With a tough road trip to Oklahoma next week, Notre Dame has to be careful not to overlook this week’s opponent: BYU. The Cougars are 4-3 but have lost to Oregon State and Boise State - a combined 10-1 record – along with rival Utah.

These two teams are the nation’s top Independent squads but have played only six games. Notre Dame holds a 4-2 edge on BYU, with the last matchup coming in 2005. The Cougars claimed victories in 1994 and 2004, but their four losses to the Irish have come by 19 points or more.  

Storylines to Watch in Notre Dame vs. BYU

Winning the turnover battle
Turnovers were a big problem for Notre Dame’s offense last season, but the Irish rank 10th nationally in turnover margin and have lost only four fumbles. The Cougars have been quite generous with turnovers this year, tossing 10 interceptions and losing four fumbles through the first seven games. Quarterback Riley Nelson has been slowed by a back injury the last few contests and has tossed six picks over his last two games. If BYU continues to give the ball away, it will have no shot to leave South Bend with a victory. The weather certainly was a factor last week, but Notre Dame lost three fumbles against Stanford, which has to be a focus for Brian Kelly and his staff this week. Although the Irish are a big favorite, losing the turnover battle is a good way to allow an underdog to hang around until the fourth quarter.

Will BYU be able to run the ball on Notre Dame’s defense?
Establishing the ground attack against Notre Dame has been nearly impossible for opposing offenses this season. The Irish rank 25th nationally in rush defense, allowing only 113.5 yards per game. Also, only three opponents have managed more than 100 yards in a game, and Notre Dame has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season. BYU ranks 52nd nationally in rushing offense, and starting running back Michael Alisa is out indefinitely due to a broken arm suffered against Utah State. With Alisa and backup dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill out, the Cougars have struggled to find a spark on the ground. True freshman Jamaal Williams has big-play potential but was held in check by Oregon State’s defense last week (36 yards). Establishing balance will be critical to BYU's upset hopes, but considering Notre Dame’s rush defense is a strength, that’s easier said than done.

Everett Golson or Tommy Rees?
Notre Dame’s quarterback carousel continued to spin last week, as Everett Golson was forced to leave the game due to a concussion. However, the redshirt freshman was cleared to practice on Wednesday and if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks, should be the starting quarterback on Saturday afternoon. Golson hasn’t posted eye-popping numbers, but he hasn’t made any huge mistakes to cost his team a chance to win and is completing 58.5 percent of his throws. Tommy Rees has been effective as a change of pace option and shined in relief duty against Stanford, completing all four of his passes for 43 yards and one touchdown. Regardless of who starts or finishes this week, it’s crucial for Notre Dame to build some confidence in Golson, especially with a trip to Oklahoma next week. BYU’s defense ranks 24th nationally against the pass but was torched by Oregon State’s backup quarterback for 332 yards last week. The Irish will have plenty of opportunities to make plays through the air, but it’s up to Golson or Rees to deliver.

Can Riley Nelson attack the Notre Dame secondary?
A back injury slowed Nelson in late September and had an underwhelming performance in his return to the lineup. Against Oregon State, Nelson threw for 305 yards but tossed three picks and completed only 28 of 51 passes. The Cougars have some weapons in the receiving corps, led by receiver Cody Hoffman and tight end Kaneakua Friel. However, Nelson won’t have an opportunity to deliver the ball downfield to his receivers if the offensive line continues to struggle. BYU’s offensive line is allowing 2.6 sacks per game, which is a bad sign against Notre Dame’s defensive front. Even though the Irish have some inexperienced players stepping into key roles at cornerback, the secondary is allowing only 173.5 yards per game. If Nelson has time to throw, Hoffman and Friel will have opportunities to make plays downfield. However, Notre Dame’s defense will certainly have other plans, as it looks to copy Oregon State's gameplan last week and force Nelson into a few mistakes to give its offense a short field and easy points. 

Final Analysis

As each week passes, the stakes get a little higher for Notre Dame. The Irish are squarely in the national title mix and next Saturday’s game against Oklahoma will be a huge measuring stick and opportunity. However, the Irish have to focus on BYU this Saturday, a team that is dangerous despite its 4-3 record.

The Cougars should be able to hang around early, especially with a defense that ranks fifth nationally in yards allowed and seventh in scoring defense. However, expect a strong performance from Notre Dame’s defense, while the offense will find its rhythm in the second half. Considering next week's opponent (Oklahoma) will be the Irish's toughest challenge of the season, this is an important game for the offense to get on track and most importantly, build some confidence for quarterback Everett Golson.

Final Prediction: Notre Dame 31, BYU 13

 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 


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Teaser:
<p> Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. BYU Cougars Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 13:48
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-second-half-predictions
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The first half of the college football season provided plenty of twists and turns, but the second half is really when the national championship and the conference title races will be decided. With most teams finished with their non-conference games, the focus shifts to conference play, which is arguably the best stretch of the season. And the best news for college football fans? None of the six BCS conferences is decided, which means there are plenty of big games in the second half of the year.

If you can’t watch any more games the rest of the season, don’t worry: We have predicted how the conference and national title races will play out, along with a few random predictions to monitor over the next seven weeks.

ACC Second-Half Preview and Prediction

Barring a lot of chaos, the ACC won’t have a team play for the national title this season. However, the conference title race could be one of the nation’s most intriguing battles. North Carolina has the inside track on the Coastal Division but is ineligible to play for the conference championship. Miami and Virginia Tech would be next in line, but neither team has seized the No. 1 spot. Until a surprising 17-16 loss at NC State, Florida State was in the mix for the national championship. The Seminoles are the favorites to win the Atlantic title but need NC State to lose at least once. Surprisingly, the only undefeated team in ACC play is Maryland. After a disastrous first season, Randy Edsall has the Terrapins moving in the right direction.

Predicted Atlantic Division Winner: Florida State

Predicted Coastal Division Winner: Virginia Tech (North Carolina ineligible)

Predicted ACC Championship: Florida State over Virginia Tech


Key Conference Games to Watch:

Virginia Tech at Clemson (Oct. 20)
Florida State at Miami (Oct. 20)
Virginia Tech at Miami (Nov. 1)
Florida State at Virginia Tech (Nov. 8)
NC State at Clemson (Nov. 17)

Big East Second-Half Preview and Predictions

The Big East has unfairly been a national punching bag for the last two seasons, but this season the conference has three teams ranked inside of the top 25 in the BCS standings. Louisville was the preseason favorite, but Rutgers and Cincinnati are a combined 11-0 through the first seven weeks. The middle of the conference is jumbled, but newcomer Temple is a surprising 2-0, and Pittsburgh has shown flashes of promise. The Bearcats have quietly flown under the radar, thanks to a relatively soft schedule. However Cincinnati's Oct. 26 date at Louisville will provide a better assessment of where this team stands. If Rutgers and Louisville continue on their current respective courses, these two teams should be unbeaten for a Nov. 29 showdown in New Jersey, which should decide the champion of the Big East.

Predicted Champion: Louisville
 

Key Conference Games to Watch:

Cincinnati at Louisville (Oct. 26)
Rutgers at Cincinnati (Nov. 17)
Rutgers at Pittsburgh (Nov. 24)
Louisville at Rutgers (Nov. 29)

Big Ten Second-Half Preview and Predictions

With NCAA sanctions banning Ohio State and Penn State from postseason play, the Big Ten is without a team in the top 25 of the BCS standings. The conference also struggled to earn respect in the non-conference portion of the schedule, which makes bowl season even more important for this league. After Wisconsin’s win over Purdue last Saturday, the Badgers are the clear frontrunner in the Leaders Division. The Legends Division race should be one of the most intriguing battles the rest of the way, with Michigan, Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan State and Nebraska all harboring division title hopes. Michigan is getting better on defense, while its offense remains deadly with Denard Robinson at quarterback. The Big Ten has taken some hits this year but expect at least two teams to finish in the top 25 of the BCS standings.

Predicted Leaders Division Champion: Wisconsin (Ohio State ineligible)

Predicted Legends Division Champion: Michigan

Predicted Big Ten Championship: Michigan over Wisconsin

 

Key Conference Games to Watch:

Nebraska at Northwestern (Oct. 20)
Michigan State at Michigan (Oct. 20)
Michigan at Nebraska (Oct. 27)
Ohio State at Penn State (Oct. 27)
Nebraska at Michigan State (Nov. 3)
Ohio State at Wisconsin (Nov. 17)
Michigan at Ohio State (Nov. 24)


Big 12 Second-Half Preview and Predictions

With nine teams likely to get bowl eligible, the Big 12 isn’t far behind the SEC in terms of overall depth. Kansas State is the conference’s only unbeaten team, but five teams have just one conference loss, including West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. The Mountaineers host the Wildcats this Saturday and can jump back into the Big 12 title picture with a victory. Oklahoma’s win over Texas last week clearly shows the Sooners will be a factor in the second half of the season, while Texas Tech is a much-improved team, especially on defense where it ranks fourth nationally in yards allowed. With six one-loss teams still in the mix for the conference title, this race will likely go down to the final week of the season. Kansas State’s match-up with West Virginia this Saturday will be huge, but the Oklahoma-West Virginia and Texas Tech-Kansas State games also will be critical to the title picture. Considering how tight this conference is, it’s unlikely the champion will make it through with just one loss.

Predicted Big 12 Champion: Kansas State
 

Key Conference Games to Watch:

Kansas State at West Virginia (Oct. 20)
Texas Tech at Kansas State (Oct. 27)
TCU at West Virginia (Nov. 3)
West Virginia at Oklahoma State (Nov. 10)
Oklahoma at West Virginia (Nov. 17)
Texas at Kansas State (Dec. 1)
 

Pac-12 Second-Half Preview and Predictions

The Pac-12 was widely believed to be a two-team race in the preseason, but there’s more depth than expected, especially with Oregon State’s rise into the top 10 of the polls and Arizona State’s 5-1 start. USC suffered an early setback against Stanford, but the Trojans have won three in a row and should be 7-1 heading into a Nov. 3 showdown against Oregon. The Ducks have cruised to a 6-0 start, but the schedule gets considerably tougher in the second half of the season, as they have to hit the road to play Arizona State, USC, California and Oregon State. If the Trojans want to get back in the national title discussion, they have to beat Oregon on Nov. 3. However, if the Ducks can knock off USC in the regular season and in the Pac-12 title game, they will have a strong resume and a likely spot in the BCS Championship.

Predicted Pac-12 North Champion: Oregon

Predicted Pac-12 South Champion: USC

Predicted Pac-12 Championship: Oregon over USC
 

Key Conference Games to Watch:

Oregon at Arizona State (Oct. 18)
UCLA at Arizona State (Oct. 27)
Oregon at USC (Nov. 3)
Oregon State at Stanford (Nov. 10)
Arizona State at USC (Nov. 10)
Stanford at Oregon (Nov. 17)
USC at UCLA (Nov. 17)
Oregon at Oregon State (Nov. 24)

SEC Second-Half Preview and Predictions

The toughest conference in college football features seven ranked teams, including four among the top 10 in the BCS standings. The East Division appeared to be a two-team race between Georgia and South Carolina in the preseason, but at this point Florida looks like the team to beat. The Gators have already knocked off LSU and Texas A&M but must play South Carolina and Georgia in the next two weeks. The Gamecocks have a chance to stake their claim for the division title in Gainesville this week and already own a tiebreaker over the Bulldogs. Alabama and Mississippi State are the only unbeaten teams in the West, but the Crimson Tide are an overwhelming favorite to win the division title.

Predicted East Division Winner: Florida

Predicted West Division Winner: Alabama

SEC Championship Prediction: Alabama over Florida

 

Key Conference Games to Watch:

LSU at Texas A&M (Oct. 20)
South Carolina at Florida (Oct. 20)
Florida at Georgia (Oct. 27)
Mississippi State at Alabama (Oct. 27)
Texas A&M at Mississippi State (Nov. 3)
Alabama at LSU (Nov. 3)
Texas A&M at Alabama (Nov. 10)


10 Random Predictions for the Second Half of the 2012 Season

National Championship will be...Alabama vs. Oregon
The SEC’s streak of national champions will continue for one more season. The Crimson Tide will survive a road date at LSU and the SEC title game to finish 13-0 and should be heavily favored in the national championship. Oregon will have to beat USC twice, but the Ducks should find a way to make their second BCS title appearance under coach Chip Kelly.
Predicted National Champion: Alabama

BCS Bowl Predictions:

Rose: USC vs. Michigan
Fiesta: Notre Dame vs. Kansas State
Sugar: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Orange: Florida State vs. Louisville

The Heisman winner will be...Geno Smith
Sure, Smith had an off day in Saturday’s loss to Texas Tech, but every candidate gets a mulligan. The senior will have a couple of opportunities to regain the lead, especially in match-ups against Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma. Smith’s first-half resume is rock solid, as he has yet to throw an interception and leads the nation in passing efficiency. Expecting the senior to not throw an interception the rest of the way is nearly impossible, but as long as West Virginia keeps winning, Smith should be the No. 1 candidate to hoist the Heisman in early December.

Ohio State will finish unbeaten
The Buckeyes are far from a perfect team, but the schedule sets up favorably for a 12-0 record. Home games against Purdue and Illinois should be easy wins, while road trips to Wisconsin and Penn State will be swing games, along with the finale against rival Michigan. Winning in Madison and Happy Valley won’t be easy, but the Buckeyes should emerge victorious, and there’s plenty of incentive to avenge last season’s loss to Michigan. If Ohio State finishes 12-0, the decision not to take a bowl ban after a disappointing 6-6 regular season in 2011 will be a colossal failure by the athletic department.

Notre Dame will finish 10-2 and play in a BCS bowl
With wins over Michigan State, Michigan, Miami and Stanford, the Irish have to be considered a legitimate national title contender. The defense is one of the nation’s best and has not allowed an opponent to score more than 17 points in a game this year. Although the defense is capable of winning a BCS title, the offense has been inconsistent, and redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson is still developing as a passer. With a schedule that features BYU, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest, the Irish should easily reach 10 victories but losses against Oklahoma and USC will end any hope of playing for the national championship.

Oregon State’s Mike Riley will win coach of the year honors
The Beavers were picked by many to finish last in the Pac-12 North this season, but Riley and his staff have developed Oregon State into one of the most-improved teams in the nation. The Beavers are off to a 5-0 start, which includes a victory at BYU with their backup quarterback. The schedule sets up nicely for a run at 10 wins, especially with only two road games remaining the rest of the year. Even if Oregon State finishes 9-3 or 8-4, Riley will be a clear favorite to take home coach of the year honors. 

Derek Dooley and Gene Chizik will return for 2013
Dooley and Chizik rank near the top of the hot seat watch after seven games and how well their respective teams perform in the second half of the season will be crucial for their long-term future. Dooley is just 14-17 through his third season, while Chizik is 31-15 in his fourth year. Although Chizik has a winning record, take out the 14-0 national title season in 2010 and his record stands at a mediocre 17-15. Dooley didn’t inherit a great situation at Tennessee, but the Volunteers are 1-10 in their last 11 SEC games. Even though both coaches will fail to meet preseason expectations, a coaching change at either school would be a surprise. The Volunteers really can’t afford to have their fourth head coach in six seasons, while Chizik’s national title probably buys him another year. Assuming both coaches survive for 2013, they will have to win early to save their job for 2014.

No BCS Buster in 2012
Boise State was the only team outside of one of the big six conferences to crack the first release of the BCS standings. The Broncos should climb in the rankings, especially with four out of their next five opponents having only one win this year. The biggest obstacle will be a road date at Nevada in the season finale, which could decide whether or not Boise State will climb high enough in the standings to make a BCS bowl. However, the Broncos lost their last meeting in Reno and struggled on the road against New Mexico and Michigan State this season. If Boise State doesn’t qualify, Louisiana Tech and Ohio are the only other candidates who could potentially crash the BCS. Losing to Texas A&M likely ended any hopes the Bulldogs had, while Ohio’s narrow victories against MAC bottom-feeders UMass, Buffalo and Akron won’t be enough to push it high enough in the polls. Boise State is the non-AQs best shot at a BCS bowl, but the Broncos may not escape Reno with a victory.

Boston College’s Frank Spaziani will be the first BCS coach fired
Spaziani was already in serious trouble with Boston College’s 1-5 start, but the school recently hired a new athletic director and all signs point to a coaching change at the end of the year. Spaziani is 21-24 through four seasons, and the program’s win total has declined every year since 2009. Boston College isn’t an easy job, but the Eagles made a bowl game every season from 1999-2010.

There will be an unexpected BCS job become available this offseason
Even though all signs point to a relatively quiet coaching carousel this offseason, there’s always a job that becomes unexpectedly available. No one expected Todd Graham to leave Pittsburgh after one season and of course, Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle incident in April. Who knows, maybe Chip Kelly decides to revisit the NFL again? Maybe Steve Spurrier decides to retire at South Carolina? Expect one surprise BCS job to be open at the end of the season. 

Conference realignment is over…for now
The days of crazy realignment rumors should be over at least for the next few months. The Big 12 is committed to 10 teams, and the ACC isn’t likely to add any other members unless Notre Dame wants to join for football. The Big East wants to add another team for football, but the conference isn’t in any rush since Navy doesn’t join until 2015. College football’s landscape will have more changes but at least for the rest of this season, conference realignment will stay in the background. 
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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Teaser:
<p> College Football's Second-Half Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 08:07
Path: /college-football/acc-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

There's a full slate of games in the ACC this week, as all 12 teams are in action on Saturday afternoon. Although there are no marquee top-25 games, there are some crucial conference matchups, including Florida State-Miami and Virginia Tech-Clemson. Duke hopes to get bowl eligible against North Carolina, while Virginia looks to end a five-game losing streak with a win over Wake Forest.

Other Week 8 Previews and Predictions

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

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 8

Is this the week Duke gets bowl eligible?
The Blue Devils need just one more win to get bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. However, the schedule is considerably tougher over the second half of the season, and the team is reeling just a bit from the 41-20 loss to Virginia Tech last Saturday. Injuries have plagued this team this year, but coach David Cutcliffe continues to find the right answers. If the Blue Devils want to their sixth win on Saturday night, the defense will have to have one of their best efforts of the season. North Carolina has defeated Duke eight consecutive times and brings to Durham an offense averaging 40.3 points a game. The Blue Devils appear to be a much-improved team on defense, but the Tar Heels will be the best offense they have faced in 2012. Duke should be able to move the ball on North Carolina’s defense, but if it cannot slow down the Tar Heels’ combination of quarterback Bryn Renner and running back Giovani Bernard, the Blue Devils will have to wait another week to get bowl eligible.

Is Maryland a trap game for NC State?
The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for NC State coach Tom O’Brien. With a huge win over Florida State on Oct. 6, the Wolfpack could enjoy that upset a little longer and not have to worry about a letdown last Saturday. With that victory clearly in the rearview mirror, NC State has to refocus and prep for a much-improved Maryland team. The Terrapins have already doubled their win total from last season and are the only unbeaten team remaining in the ACC. Winning in College Park has been a challenge for NC State in recent years, as the Wolfpack have lost three in a row at Maryland. Although the Terrapins are an improved team, they are still limited offensively. If NC State quarterback Mike Glennon can get on track against a Maryland secondary ranked 18th nationally against the pass, the Wolfpack should snap their losing streak in College Park. However, if Maryland controls the tempo and keeps this a low-scoring game, the Terrapins will pull off the upset.

Does Miami have any shot to beat Florida State?
The Hurricanes dominated the series with Florida State in the early 2000s, but Florida State has won five out of the last seven matchups. The Seminoles are clearly the better team but with this being a huge rivalry game, Miami will have extra motivation. Any upset bid for the Hurricanes has to hinge on the health of quarterback Stephen Morris and a defense that has been among the nation’s worst. Morris suffered an ankle injury in last week’s loss against North Carolina and is questionable to play on Saturday night. If he cannot go, Memphis transfer Ryan Williams will make his first start at Miami. Even though the quarterback play is a huge concern, the Hurricanes’ porous defense is a bigger issue. Miami ranks 117th nationally in total defense and has allowed at least 30 points in three out of four ACC games. In Florida State’s loss to NC State, coach Jimbo Fisher took a lot criticism for being too conservative on offense. The Seminoles rebounded with 649 yards and 51 points against Boston College and need to be aggressive once again. If Miami doesn’t fix its defense issues, Florida State will score at will on Saturday night. Expect the Hurricanes to try to control the clock to keep their defense off the field, but the Seminoles rank fifth nationally against the run. Never rule out an upset in a rivalry game such as this one, but Miami’s path to a victory is very, very steep.

Can Virginia Tech’s defense slow down Clemson?
The Hokies’ defense was gashed in two meetings against Clemson last season, allowing 61 combined points and surrendering 451 yards in the 38-10 loss in the ACC Championship. Virginia Tech’s defense was touted as one of the nation’s best in the preseason but has failed to live up to the hype so far. The Hokies are allowing 381.3 yards and 22 points per game and are averaging just 1.9 sacks per contest. The Tigers have been strong on offense all year, scoring at least 37 points in each of their last five games, while leading the conference in passing yards per contest. Cornerbacks Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller figure to have their hands full, especially as they try to cover receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. It’s unlikely Virginia Tech will be able to completely shut down the Tigers, but they need to get pressure on quarterback Tajh Boyd to throw off the timing of this offense and not allow any big plays.

Is this the week Virginia Tech’s offense gets on track?
Statistically, the numbers for Virginia Tech’s offense aren’t awful. The Hokies rank 54th nationally in scoring and are averaging nearly 400 yards per game (398). However, a deeper look into the statistics shows Virginia Tech ranks just seventh in ACC in total offense in conference-only games. The Hokies have picked it up on offense the last two weeks, scoring 34 points against North Carolina and 41 versus Duke last Saturday. The rushing attack has sputtered this season, but freshman J.C. Coleman ignited the ground game last week, rushing for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Although Virginia Tech may have found its answer on the ground, the offensive line has been hit hard by injuries and will be without center Andrew Miller for the rest of the year. Clemson’s defense hasn’t slowed many teams this season and has allowed at least 31 points in each of its three ACC contests. Stopping quarterback Logan Thomas will be a challenge for the Tigers defense, but if the Hokies want to win in Death Valley, they need the offensive line to step up a notch this weekend.

Which defense will step up: Boston College or Georgia Tech?
There should be no shortage of points when Boston College and Georgia Tech meet this Saturday. These two teams rank near the bottom of the ACC in total, rushing and scoring defense. This will be the Yellow Jackets’ first game after the firing of defensive coordinator Al Groh, and coach Paul Johnson promoted assistant Charles Kelly to call the plays for the rest of the year. Boston College has allowed at least 40 or more points in three of its games this season, while ranking 117th nationally against the run. Considering Georgia Tech ranks third nationally against the run, and the Eagles struggled to stop another option team earlier this year (Army), Boston College will need their best effort of the season to contain the Yellow Jackets’ rushing attack. When Boston College has the ball, it should be able to exploit Georgia Tech’s secondary (267.7 ypg). This is a critical matchup for both team’s bowl hopes and whichever defense can turn things around will help score a key victory for their team.

Can Virginia find a spark on offense against Wake Forest?
Saturday’s Wake Forest-Virginia matchup is crucial for both team’s bowl hopes. The Cavaliers have a five-game losing streak entering Saturday’s game, while the Demon Deacons have a 3-3 record and still have to play Clemson, NC State and Notre Dame. Needless to say, the loser of this game probably won’t make a bowl. Virginia’s offensive production has been puzzling this season, as the Cavaliers are averaging 423.1 yards per game but rank 10th in the ACC in scoring offense. Turnovers have been a big problem for Mike London’s team, and the rushing attack has been stuck in neutral most of the year. Alabama transfer Phillip Sims has started the last two games but has just one touchdown pass, while tossing three picks and completing less than 50 percent of his throws. Considering how Sims has played over the last two games, Virginia will likely give former starter Michael Rocco a chance to play in a relief role this week. The Demon Deacons haven’t been the toughest defense in the ACC this year but have played some quality offensive teams, including Florida State, North Carolina and a difficult team to prepare for in Army. Wake Forest ranks 10th in the ACC against the run, which should be a good sign for Virginia’s struggling ground attack. The Demon Deacons don’t usually beat themselves, which adds even more pressure for the Cavaliers to win the turnover battle this week. 

ACC Week 8 Predictions

Week 8 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Virginia Tech at Clemson Clemson 38-28 Clemson 34-30 Clemson 34-24 Clemson 33-20
Wake Forest at Virginia Wake 21-14 Virginia 24-21 Virginia 28-24 Wake 27-23
Boston College at Ga. Tech Ga. Tech 28-10 Ga. Tech 30-20 Ga. Tech 38-27 Ga. Tech 34-20
NC State at Maryland Maryland 17-10 NC State 31-24 NC State 27-20 NC State 24-17
North Carolina at Duke UNC 35-28 UNC 48-31 UNC 34-24 UNC 24-20
Florida State at Miami FSU 41-21 FSU 30-17 FSU 38-17 FSU 41-24
Last Week: 3-1 3-1 3-1 4-0
Season Record: 48-11 47-12 45-14 49-10


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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Teaser:
<p> ACC Week 8 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 06:03
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-8-upset-predictions
Body:

Week 8 of the college football season features a handful of intriguing top 25 matchups, including South Carolina-Florida and West Virginia-Kansas State. While those games will grab the national headlines, Athlon's editors give a look at the top upset picks to watch this Saturday.

College Football's Week 8 Upset Picks

Dave Bartoo (@CFBMatrix), CFBMatrix.comMaryland +3.5 vs. NC State
In a week in which my March game picks matched all but 4 FBS Vegas favorites, it is slim pickings for any CFBMatrix upset alerts. This should be a very close game.  Coach O’Brien of NC State is strong after week 7 of each college football season and their talent is equal to that of Maryland. The Terps are struggling for consistency but the key will be the home field.  When you look at the numbers for both teams home and away the average score is 23-22 in 2012.  Maryland covers and wins by one.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Northwestern (+6) over Nebraska
I have no doubt Nebraska will be motivated to avenge last season’s loss at home to Northwestern. The question, though, is if motivation will matter against the Northwestern offense. The matchup of Kain Colter and Venric Mark against the Cornhuskers defense remains a mismatch, despite the Wildcats sputtering last week against Minnesota. Nebraska’s defense can’t seem to stop the run and Nebraska is still struggling in the turnover department (minus-7 since the Southern Miss opener). Seems to be a recipe for another Northwestern upset.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Penn State (+3) at Iowa
The Hawkeyes defense has played well of late. But that was against a back-up quarterback in Minnesota's Max Shortell and Michigan State's scuffling Andrew Maxwell. I can't believe I am saying this, but Matt McGloin is the best passer of the football in the Big Ten and Iowa's defense hasn't seen one like him all season. He is taking care of the football, getting his power running game involved and letting Michael Mauti and the defense do the rest. Penn State, under Bill O'Brien, has been reenergized and is the better team. I will take the Nittany Lions to win the battle of the Big Ten unbeatens on the road. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Penn State (+3) over Iowa
Even though the Hawkeyes are coming off a huge road victory against Michigan State, I am surprised to see them favored over Penn State. The Nittany Lions have lost four in a row in Iowa City but won last season’s meeting 13-3 in Happy Valley. Penn State’s defense ranks 15th nationally, allowing just 16 points a game. Iowa has struggled to find consistency on offense all year and surprisingly, quarterback James Vandenberg has thrown only two touchdowns and has failed to top 200 yards in back-to-back games. The Hawkeyes got a spark from walk-on Mark Weisman at running back, but the sophomore is questionable to play with an ankle injury. It’s a huge concern for Iowa if Weisman cannot go, especially with Damon Bullock out with a concussion. The Hawkeyes own one of the Big Ten’s stingiest defenses but will be tested by a Penn State passing offense averaging 251.8 yards per game. Both teams have a solid defense, but the Nittany Lions are better on offense, which will be the difference in a low-scoring game.  

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Washington (+7.5) at Arizona
Washington has faced arguably the most difficult schedule in the nation to date. The Huskies have played teams ranked third (Oregon), sixth (LSU), 10th (USC) and 20th (Stanford) in the initial BCS standings. They are 1–3 in those games, with the one win coming vs. Stanford. This is not a bad team, despite its rather ordinary 3–3 overall record. Arizona got off to a 3–0 start under new coach Rich Rodriguez but has since lost three straight, all in league play. The Wildcats, too, have faced a tough slate, with Pac-12 games against Oregon (No. 3), Oregon State (No. 8) and Stanford (No. 20). One of those losses, vs. Oregon State, came by three points; another, vs. Stanford, went to overtime. Arizona is also 3–3, and like Washington, not a bad team. So which “not bad” 3–3 team is better? Well, the home-standing Wildcats are favored by more than a touchdown, and that seems a bit high. Washington 27-21  

Mark Ross: Eastern Michigan (+3.5) over Army
Yes, Eastern Michigan is still searching for its first win, but Army only has one, a three-point home victory over a Boston College team that will be under new leadership next season, if not sooner. So it's not exactly like the Eagles, who are playing at home, are going up against a Black Knight juggernaut here. Granted, Army is No. 1 in the nation in rushing (385.32 ypg), while Eastern Michigan is dead last when it comes to stopping the run (296.8 ypg), but the Knights are giving up close to 240 (114th) on the ground themselves. The Eagles also are coming off of their best performance yet, as they collected 624 yards of total offense in a 52-47 loss to Toledo last week. They piled up more than 300 yards both rushing and passing, by far their best offensive effort of the season, and the five points were their closest margin of defeat yet. It may not be pretty, but a win is a win, and that's exactly what Ron English and his team will finally get this Saturday.  

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Washington (+7.5) at Arizona
This upset seems pretty unlikely at first glance, but the struggling Huskies have played one of the most difficult schedules in the nation at the halfway point of the season. Washington quarterback Keith Price has not been the same behind a banged-up offensive line, but playing the likes of LSU, Stanford, Oregon and USC can make many players struggle. I think Price and running back Bishop Sankey will be able to move the ball against a porous Arizona defense and stay in this road game. Arizona signal caller Matt Scott has flourished under Rich Rodriguez, but the Wildcats have dropped three in a row — albeit to a trio of quality opponents. The Wildcats had a bye week to fix their defense and prepare for a much-improved Huskies defensive unit, and both teams need this win badly to build momentum in the latter half of the Pac-12 campaign. I’ll take the better defense of Washington to shock Arizona in Tucson.

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SEC Week 8 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 8 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-8-emergency-starters
Body:

This list was originally designed to assist fantasy owners with injury-riddled rosters, bye-week dilemmas, and unfavorable matchups, but the Emergency Starters has evolved into our Waiver Wire 2.0.  Over the past six weeks, many players listed in our Emergency Starters earned spots in our Waiver Wire report the following week, so don’t underestimate their long-term value. 

 

Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)

Quarterback

Cameron Coffman, Indiana vs Navy

Trent Steelman, Army at Eastern Michigan

Keenan Reynolds, Navy at Indiana

Ryan Katz, San Diego St at Nevada

Cody Vaz, Oregon St vs Utah

 

Running Backs

Zach Zwinak, Penn St at Iowa

Montel Harris, Temple vs Rutgers

Keith Marshall, Georgia at Kentucky

Rushel Shell, Pitt at Buffalo

Ray Holley, LA Tech vs Idaho

Johnathan Gray, Texas vs Baylor

                 

Receivers

JJ Worton, UCF at Memphis

Richy Turner, Nevada vs San Diego St

Ryan Grant, Tulane at UTEP

Antavian Wilson, Marshall at USM

Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech at Clemson

 

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

 

Steven Lassan(@AthlonSteven)
 

Quarterback

Shane Carden, ECU at UAB

Tyler Russell, Mississippi St vs MTSU

Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech vs Boston College

 

Running Backs

Larry Dixon, Army at Eastern Michigan

Rushel Shell, Pitt at Buffalo

George Winn, Cincinnati at Toledo
 

Receivers

Jamison Crowder, Duke vs North Carolina

Marcus Davis, VA Tech at Clemson

Mike Davis, Texas at Baylor

Richy Turner, Nevada vs San Diego St

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 8 Emergency Starters</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 04:53
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-8-sit-or-start-report
Body:

The first official BCS standings have been released and that means we are nearing the finish line.  However, there is still plenty of time remaining in the fantasy season, especially if you are one of those teams trying to separate from the middle of the pack and qualify for a playoff spot.  By now, the weekly top ten positional players look very similar from week-to-week, but it’s the guys with the favorable matchups that can be the difference at this stage of the game. 

Start

Cody Vaz, QB-Oregon St vs Utah

Vaz was an impressive 20-for-32 for 332 yards and three touchdowns on the road last week in Provo.  Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton are legitimate scoring threats every time they touch the ball.
 

Carlos Hyde, RB-Ohio St vs Purdue

Hyde has taken his game to another level over the past two weeks, rushing for 296 yards and five touchdowns.  This week, Hyde and the Buckeyes face a Purdue defense giving up 198.7 rushing yards per game.
 

Andre Williams, RB-Boston College at Georgia Tech

Williams has gotten 20-plus carries for three consecutive games and topped the 100-yard mark last week against Florida State.  He should have an easier time running the ball against a Georgia Tech defense giving up 163.3 rushing yards per game.  
 

Stephen Houston, RB-Indiana at Navy

Houston averages a touchdown every ten touches from scrimmage.  The problem is that he hasn’t had more than 16 touches in any one game this season.  We’re projecting that he tops his season-high of 102 rushing yards back in week three.
 

Raymond Maples, RB-Army at Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan has the worst rushing defense in the nation by far, giving up 296.8 yards per game.  Odds are very good that Maples reaches 100 yards and he could finish the week as a top ten back if he can find the end zone against the Eagles.
 

Silas Redd, RB-USC vs Colorado

Redd has scored a touchdown in four straight games and has averaged 21 carries over the past three games.  Plus, Colorado is giving up 181.5 rushing yards per game this season.
 

Marcus Davis, WR-Virginia Tech at Clemson

Clemson is giving up over 240 yards per game through the air and Davis is quarterback Logan Thomas’ favorite target.  The Hokies will have to put the ball in the air often if they are to keep pace with the Tigers’ high-scoring offense.
 

Devin Street, WR-Pitt at Buffalo

Street has caught at least ten passes and gone over 100 yards receiving in the Panthers’ last two games.  He leads the team with 39 receptions and has scored a touchdown in three of his last four games.

 

Bench

Tyler Bray, QB-Tennessee vs Alabama

In three SEC games this year, Bray has thrown six touchdown passes and six interceptions.  The absence of running back Rajion Neal this week puts a bigger target on Bray’s back against a ferocious Alabama defense.
 

Tim Cornett, RB-UNLV at Boise St

Boise State is giving up over 160 yards per game on the ground, but Cornett has only found the end zone twice in the past five games and UNLV doesn’t figure to score many points this weekend on the blue turf.
 

Fitzgerald Toussaint at Michigan St

The Spartans will try to contain quarterback Denard Robinson and his big-play ability, which should create some opportunities for Toussaint.  However, the junior running back is only averaging 46 rushing yards per game and faces a defense ranked 8th nationally against the run.
 

John White, RB-Utah at Oregon St

In three PAC-12 games this season, White is averaging 43 yards per game and has not scored a touchdown.  In fact, the senior tailback has not topped the 100-yard mark or scored a touchdown since the opening game of the season against Northern Colorado. 
 

Jamaal Williams, RB-BYU at Notre Dame

Williams has certainly proved himself as a freshman and has been a fantasy factor up until this point, but don’t expect too much this week when the Cougars travel to South Bend to take on the undefeated Irish.
 

Justin Hunter, WR-Tennessee vs Alabama

How different is the competition in the SEC?  In three non-conference games this season, Hunter has caught 25 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns, compared to 10-157-0 in three conference games.
 

Marcus Lattimore, RB-South Carolina vs Mike Gillislee, RB-Florida

The defenses of South Carolina and Florida are both giving up slightly over 105 yards on the ground and 12 points per game.  If both of those numbers hold true, fantasy owners with quality depth may want to turn elsewhere at the running back position.
 

Cody Fajardo, QB-Nevada vs San Diego St AND Brett Smith, QB-Wyoming at Air Force

Both players are listed high in our weekly rankings, but the rankings were published with the assumption health would not be a concern by the end of the week.  Both head coaches have stated that their starting quarterback should be ready to play this weekend, but if either is listed as a game-time decision, owners must put them on the bench.  Keep in mind that both players are participating in the weekend’s two latest scheduled games, which means if either quarterback becomes a last-minute scratch, fantasy owners will get burned.  Check back later in the week for a status update regarding both players, but prepare for the worst until we know for sure.
 

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

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football Week 8 Sit or Start Report</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 04:22
Path: /college-football/should-derek-dooley-return-tennessee-2013
Body:

Coaching in the SEC is no easy task. Even though Derek Dooley is entering the halfway point of his third season in Knoxville, he is squarely on the hot seat and needs a strong finish to 2012 to save his job. The Volunteers weren't in great shape when Dooley came to Knoxville but has the team improved under his watch?

Should Derek Dooley Return to Tennessee in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
I’ll be the first to say that Derek Dooley inherited a mess of a situation at Tennessee, one that requires time to clean up. But by Year Three, Tennessee should be looking for signs of real progress. One SEC win -- in overtime over Vanderbilt, no less -- in the last 11 games is not it. This team is better under Dooley than it was a year ago, and it would be fair to give him one more season and one class of his seniors to see it through. But the wins are what counts, and Dooley is running out of time to pick up those wins. Unless the Volunteers can defeat Alabama or South Carolina, what is his chance for a tenure-defining win? Missouri? Vanderbilt? Kentucky? That said, all Tennessee has to do is to win two of those games (plus Troy) to reach a bowl. That won’t make Tennessee fans happy, but we’re looking at a team that could reasonably finish with seven or eight wins. I still think that’s the threshold for Dooley sticking around.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Derek Dooley's tenure in Knoxville is quickly becoming one of the most bizarre and complex to evaluate in the history of college football. He took over a complete dumpster fire and has obviously improved the program as a whole. He also is 0-13 against ranked opponents and is 1-10 in his last 11 SEC games. Even over the last month and a half of the season, fans will be on a rollar coaster of emotion. If things fall the way they should, Tennessee will lose to Alabama and South Carolina over the next two weeks bringing the Vols record to 3-5. And the fans will burn down talk show phone lines. Then the Vols will win four straight to end the year 7-5 on a roll with a bid to a solid bowl game. And the fans will want to give their coach an extension. Is Dooley the long-term answer in Knoxville? That remains to be seen, but a upset win in the next two — or bad losses in the last four — could seal his fate either way. For now, I think he finished 7-5 (two games better than last year) and keeps his job.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
This will be an interesting debate for Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart. The Volunteers will likely be 3-5 at the end of October but play Troy, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky in November. Barring an unlikely loss, Tennessee should finish 7-5, which would be the best mark of Dooley’s career with the Volunteers. While 7-5 isn’t awful, the standards are higher in Knoxville. Dooley didn’t inherit a full cupboard when he took over for Lane Kiffin, but Tennessee is just 1-10 in its last 11 SEC games. Even if coaching in Knoxville isn’t as good of a job as some may believe, that record simply won’t get it done. Even if Dooley returns for 2013, Tennessee could have a rebuilding project on its hands, as quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson could all leave for the NFL. If Hart decides to make a change, this is a hire he needs to get right and one that can add some much-needed long-term stability to the program. Even though the Volunteers may not finish the season ranked in the top 25, going through a coaching change is not what this program needs right now. I think Dooley survives at least one more season in Knoxville. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
My guess is that Derek Dooley will not be back at Tennessee for a fourth season. The numbers simply don’t add up: Heading into this week’s game vs. Alabama, Dooley is 14–17 overall and 4–15 in the SEC in his two-plus seasons as the boss in Knoxville. The Vols have lost 10 of their last 11 league games, with the only win coming in overtime at home vs. Vanderbilt. Barring a significant upset this week vs. Alabama or the following week at South Carolina, Dooley will be a combined 0–12 vs. Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida. Not good.

Mark Ross: 
Barring a complete and total collapse, I think Dooley will be back for at least one more season in Knoxville. An upset win over either Alabama or South Carolina, Tennessee's next two opponents, certainly wouldn't hurt his case, but I think Dooley's focus needs to be on the Volunteers' final four games - home against Troy, Missouri and Kentucky and on the road against Vanderbilt. At 3-3 right now, going 4-0 to close the season will give the Vols seven wins, which would be the most in three seasons under Dooley, and more importantly, guarantee a bowl bid. If Dooley doesn't get this team bowl eligible this season, I think it will be very hard for him to convince athletic director Dave Hart, who didn't hire Dooley in the first place, to give him another one on Rocky Top.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
This is a very difficult call, and it is a more complex decision for athletic director Dave Hart than many football fans believe. Constant change and attrition can kill a program once it’s down, and a new boss in Knoxville would equal four Tennessee head coaches in six seasons. Derek Dooley inherited a severely damaged roster and culture, and the likeable head coach has improved the talent level of the Vols. The on-field evaluation in Dooley’s third season is tough, because his club has competed fairly well against three ranked SEC opponents but has lost all three. That trend should continue against Alabama and South Carolina the next two weeks, but close defeats will still leave Tennessee at 0-5 in conference play. While the rushing game has improved greatly, the defense under new coordinator Sal Sunseri has been awful. The Vols can score points but still seem to make too many critical errors at exactly the wrong times when trying to rally in big games.

I believe Hart wants to give Dooley another season to fix the program, along with saving millions of dollars in buyouts and coaching-search costs for a budget that has been squeezed in recent years. If November becomes a disaster (like losing multiple games or too many empty seats), Hart may have no choice but to make a change. Vols fans have every right to demand a better win-loss record, but I think Dooley may survive unless the Vols finish .500 or worse.

 

Related College Football Content

College Football 2012 Midseason Recap and First Half Awards
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College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 7

Teaser:
<p> Should Derek Dooley Return to Tennessee in 2013?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 06:58
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-midseason-bcs-championship-predictions
Body:

With the first half of the season in the books, it's time to evaluate the preseason picks and make a few changes. Athlon's predicted a LSU-USC showdown in August but things have changed over the last seven weeks. 

2012 Midseason Predictions: Who Plays for the National Title?

Coach Gene Stallings, former head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I would say it would be Alabama and Oregon to play in the Championship game.  I think Alabama is the best team in the country.  They can run the football. Alabama has three or four good running backs. The quarterback is getting better and better. Defensively, they play very sound and don't miss tackles. Their kicking game all around is good.  They've got lots of depth. I don't see any weaknesses.

Coach Dick MacPherson, former head coach of the Syracuse Orange, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Alabama and who ... that is my answer.  Who is that other team going to be ... probably Oregon. Oregon has a great scheme and do a really good coaching but I would give the edge to Alabama because of Coach Saban.  He can solve problems other teams can't.  Plus, I think talent-wise Alabama has more than Oregon. 

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Oregon vs. Alabama
I started with Oregon and South Carolina in the beginning of the season, and, boy, did that look good after the Gamecocks’ win over Georgia. I still think South Carolina’s going to win the SEC East, but I’m going to switch out South Carolina for Alabama in the title game. The Tide have more than answered questions about the new starters on defense. This program is on a similar run of invincibility we saw out of USC this decade. Oregon will benefit this season from not playing a challenging nonconference game and will have plenty of time to make up ground in the BCS standings. The Pac-12 is deeper than we thought at the start of the season -- Arizona State, Oregon State and Stanford will be tougher outs than perhaps we thought -- but the top challenger, USC, doesn’t look like a title contender at this point.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Oregon vs. Alabama
I had Alabama over Oregon in the preseason and I have seen nothing over the first seven weeks to change my mind. In fact, those are the best two teams I have seen thus far, only upping my confidence in the Crimson Tide-Ducks championship bout in Miami Gardens. The Ducks offense is well-known but the defense is the best Chip Kelly has had in Eugene and it has been making big plays of its own. Meanwhile, Alabama has abused any and all takers in demoralizing fashion. I don't give Oregon too much of a chance to beat Alabama in a national title setting but it would be fun to see the high-flying Ducks attack go up against a spread-loathing Nick Saban with a chance at immortality.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Oregon vs. Alabama
My preseason pick was Alabama-USC, but I’m going to make a slight change at the midpoint of the season. I still like Alabama to finish unbeaten and play for the national championship, but I will switch USC for Oregon. I think the Ducks could lose their Nov. 3 matchup to the Trojans but still play for the BCS title, especially if these two teams rematch in the Pac-12 title game. Even though Oregon had to replace its starting quarterback, the offense continues to fire on all cylinders, especially with Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas headlining one of the nation’s top running back corps. Although the defense doesn’t statistically rank near Alabama, the Ducks are registering 2.8 sacks per game and have forced 17 turnovers. Also, Oregon is allowing only 4.6 yards per play, which would place it fifth in the SEC. If these two teams met in Miami for the national title, I’d pick the Crimson Tide to win, but I’d like to see what Oregon’s offense can do against Nick Saban’s defense.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Oregon vs. Alabama
I’m not really going on a limb here, but I’ll take Alabama and Oregon to meet in the BCS Championship Game. The Crimson Tide have been dominant on defense and more than good enough on offense through the first half of the season. Assuming AJ McCarron’s knee doesn’t become an issue, I just don’t see this team losing a game. The trip to LSU will be difficult, and the opponent in the SEC title game will be formidable, but Bama will be the better team in each contest. Oregon has more hurdles to climb — including road trips to Arizona State, USC, Cal and Oregon State — but I believe the Ducks are the most complete team in the Pac-12. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Oregon stub its toe once in the regular season and still reach the BCS title game (assuming Notre Dame doesn’t get in the way.

Mark Ross: Oregon vs. Oklahoma
I am sure this is probably going to surprise some people, including my own colleagues, since Oklahoma came in at No. 9 in the initial BCS standings and has already lost a game. But hear me out. In my opinion, Oregon has the clearest path to the BCS Championship Game as the Ducks are undefeated, No. 3 in the BCS standings and in control of their own destiny. Provided they take care of business against USC, most likely twice, and can defeat a surprising Oregon State team in The Civil War, Oregon will be in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Jan. 7. I would even go so far to say that even if the Trojans were to beat the Ducks in the regular season, as long as Chip Kelly's team returned the favor in the Pac-12 title game, they will still get their chance at a national title. As far as Oregon's opponent goes, I'm leaning towards Oklahoma because I think, at least for this season, not having a conference championship game will help the Sooners. They still have several tough games remaining on their schedule, most notably an Oct. 27 visit from Notre Dame and a trip to Morgantown to play West Virginia on Nov. 17, but I think Bob Stoops has his team peaking at the right time and they will navigate the rest of their schedule undefeated. I also think the SEC is going to continue to beat itself up, leaving you with a situation where the eventual conference champion will have at least one loss, if not more. Under this scenario, I think there will be enough changes in the polls, computer rankings, etc. that in the end the BCS standings will have Oregon at No. 1 and Oklahoma at No. 2. Once these two get to south Florida and play each other in January, I like Kelly and the Ducks to do what they weren't able to two years ago - take the crystal football back to Eugene. BCS Champion: Oregon 31, Oklahoma 24

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Oregon vs. Alabama
I think you have to project Alabama and Oregon at this point, although USC and LSU still have a good shot to get to the title game. It is difficult for me to project anyone from the Big 12, even though Kansas State would be a popular choice for many voters. Notre Dame still has tough road contests against Oklahoma and USC, and unbeaten SEC clubs will knock each other off as the season progresses. Mark it down fans: November 3. That’s when the Crimson Tide travels to Baton Rouge, and when the Ducks head south to face USC. Alabama has been so dominant in 2012, but some forget that Les Miles’ bunch did win the SEC last year. Chip Kelly’s crew was derailed by the Trojans last season but appears to be the better team with its usual high-octane offense and an underrated defense. While the Tide and Ducks could slip, they are definitely the top two candidates at the midseason point to play in Miami in January.

 

Related College Football Content

College Football 2012 Midseason Recap and First Half Awards
College Football's Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 7

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Midseason BCS Championship Predictions</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 06:08

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