Articles By Steven Lassan

All taxonomy terms: Michigan State Spartans, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/michigan-states-leveon-bell-hurdles-indiana-player
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Michigan State had to work a little harder than expected to beat Indiana. The Spartans needed a huge second half comeback to knock off the Hoosiers, which included a big game from running back Le'Veon Bell.

Bell provided one of the game's best highlights, hurdling an Indiana defender in the fourth quarter to move Michigan State a little closer to the goal line.

The junior has been one of the Big Ten's top performers this season and has provided plenty of highlight moments by jumping over players against Indiana, Boise State and Notre Dame.

Teaser:
<p> Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell Hurdles Indiana Player</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 7, 2012 - 21:31
All taxonomy terms: ACC, News
Path: /news/virginia-techs-dyrell-roberts-finds-pair-scissors-against-north-carolina
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So far, 2012 has not gone according to plan for Virginia Tech. The Hokies have lost three out of their last four games, including Saturday's 48-34 shootout at North Carolina.

While both teams put up some big numbers in Saturday's game, the strangest part of the matchup might have been Virginia Tech wide receiver Dyrell Roberts' discovery of a pair of scissors on the field in the first quarter.

Needless to say, this might be the most bizarre play of the 2012 college football season.

Teaser:
<p> Virginia Tech's Dyrell Roberts Makes An Interesting Discovery Against North Carolina</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 15:26
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-mountaineers-vs-texas-longhorns-preview-and-prediction
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West Virginia officially christened its new home in the Big 12 with a 70-63 shootout victory over Baylor last Saturday. While last week was the first conference game of the year, playing at Texas is truly a “Welcome to the Big 12” moment. The Mountaineers last met the Longhorns in 1956 and their last game in the state of Texas came in the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl.

Just like West Virginia, Texas built some momentum last week, beating Oklahoma State 41-36. The win in Stillwater was huge for the confidence of the Longhorns, especially sophomore quarterback David Ash.

The loser of this game isn’t out of the Big 12 title picture but this matchup will help provide some separation. With both teams ranked among the top 12, a loss would effectively end any hope of contending for a national title.

Storylines to Watch in West Virginia vs. Texas

West Virginia’s offense vs. Texas’ defense
Coming into the season, Texas was pegged as the Big 12’s best defense. So far, the Longhorns have yet to live up to the hype, allowing 390.3 yards per game and ranking 40th nationally in scoring defense. The secondary has been one of the defense’s biggest concerns through four games, as they rank 43rd nationally and have struggled to tackle. Oklahoma State had its way with this secondary last week, which is a concern for Texas against West Virginia. The Mountaineers run a similar offense and have more weapons than the Cowboys do this season. Quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are three of college football’s top performers and won’t be easy to keep in check for all four quarters. Although the Longhorns can’t completely shut down the Mountaineers’ offense, they need to make them earn every yard and not allow any big plays.

Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor vs. West Virginia’s offensive line
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith hasn’t been stopped by anyone on its schedule this year, but Maryland managed to get some pressure on the senior and “held” him to 338 yards and three touchdowns. The Mountaineers’ offensive line was a concern last season and has yet to be tested by a strong defensive line. Texas will be one of the best defensive fronts West Virginia will play all year, with ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor both ranking as potential first-round picks in the NFL Draft. The key to keeping Smith in check starts up front, as the Longhorns need to pressure the quarterback and not allow him to get comfortable in the pocket. West Virginia needs to counter with quick passes but this offense also wants to take shots downfield, which means the line needs to keep Jeffcoat and Okafor out of the backfield.

Can West Virginia’s defense get stops against Texas?
Although Baylor’s offense is one of the best in the Big 12, West Virginia’s defensive effort left a lot to be desired last week. The Mountaineers aren’t going to completely shut down teams like Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech but tackling and getting into better positions on defense would cure a chunk of the errors. West Virginia’s defense will be under fire once again this Saturday, as Texas is one of the most-improved offenses in the nation. Quarterback David Ash ranks second nationally in passing efficiency, while the backfield is one of the deepest in college football. Despite Malcolm Brown’s ankle injury, the Longhorns can lean on Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray to lead the way on the ground. While Baylor’s offense was centered more on the pass, Texas brings more balance and an offensive line that is allowing just one sack per game. Playing a team that doesn’t throw 45 times a game will probably help West Virginia in terms of matchups, but this unit still has a lot of holes and is adapting to new co-coordinators Keith Patterson and Joe DeForest.

Final Analysis

West Virginia’s offense enters Saturday matchup on fire. The Mountaineers lead the nation in passing offense and rank third nationally with an average of 53 points per game. However, Texas’ defense will be the toughest West Virginia has played this year, which will present plenty of challenges for the offense. Can the line keep Jeffcoat and Okafor from pressuring Smith in the pocket? Can the Mountaineers’ receivers get open against a secondary that’s capable of playing better than it has through the first four games?

While Texas is still finding its rhythm on defense, the offense has started to come into its own over the last few weeks. Quarterback David Ash is no longer a question mark, and the rushing attack is pounding opponents for 228 yards per game.

West Virginia will score, and quarterback Geno Smith will top 300 yards once again. However, Texas makes just enough stops on defense to win this game and keeps its national title hopes alive with a close victory over the Mountaineers.

Final Prediction: Texas 34, West Virginia 31
 

by Steven Lassan

 

@athlonsteven

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Teaser:
<p> West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Texas Longhorns Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 08:59
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-vs-south-carolina-gamecocks-preview-and-prediction
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It’s only Week 6 of the 2012 college football season, but Saturday’s game between South Carolina and Georgia will go a long way in determining the SEC East champion. In fact, it could be an elimination game in the division, especially since the Gamecocks still have road trips to LSU and Florida. Although the Bulldogs have to play Florida, their schedule is much more manageable.

Georgia dominated this series in the early 2000s, but the Gamecocks have won the last two games. Last season’s matchup was a crazy 45-42 battle, with South Carolina using 22 fourth-quarter points to seal the victory. Both offenses are averaging over 35 points a game this year, so it would not be a surprise to see a shootout once again in 2012.

Storylines to Watch in Georgia vs. South Carolina

Will Georgia’s defense continue to struggle?
Considering the Bulldogs returned nearly everyone from last season’s unit, most expected Georgia would have one of the nation’s best defenses. However, the Bulldogs have underachieved so far, allowing 370 yards and 22 points per game. This unit missed linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo through the first four games, but both players returned against Tennessee and the defense allowed a season-high 44 points. Georgia is capable of playing much better than it has shown through the first five games and Saturday would be a good time to find last season’s form.

Can Georgia’s offensive line protect Aaron Murray?
Murray has been one of the top quarterbacks in college football through the first five weeks, ranking third nationally in passing efficiency and throwing at least two touchdowns in every contest. The Bulldogs rebuilt offensive line has performed well this season, but South Carolina will be the toughest challenge this unit has faced all year. End Jadeveon Clowney has been terrorizing opposing quarterbacks this season, recording 5.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss. If he continues to perform at his current pace, the sophomore should be a first-team All-American at the end of 2012. Clowney isn’t the only threat on South Carolina’s defensive line, as Devin Taylor has 3.5 tackles for a loss and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles has 2.5 sacks. South Carolina is averaging 4.4 sacks and is allowing just 77.6 rushing yards per game. Georgia’s offensive line has to play well on Saturday to allow Murray time to throw, as well as open up holes for running backs Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. If the Bulldogs can’t block the Gamecocks’ front four, Georgia will have a hard time moving the ball.

How will Georgia replace Michael Bennett?
The Bulldogs suffered a huge loss in practice this week, as receiver Michael Bennett was lost for the year with a torn ACL. Bennett was the team’s leading receiver through five games with 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns. Although he was a huge part of Georgia’s receiving corps, this team isn’t short on options for quarterback Aaron Murray. Seniors Tavarres King and Marlon Brown will have to step up, while the team expects sophomore Malcolm Mitchell to play more on offense after spending most of the first five games on defense. The Bulldogs have plenty of names and proven options but one needs to step up as the clear No. 1 threat for Murray. 

Which team wins the rushing battle?
Georgia clearly owns the edge on the stat sheet, ranking 11th nationally in rushing offense with 248.8 yards per game. Although South Carolina ranks 56th nationally, running back Marcus Lattimore is the best in the SEC and looks nearly 100 percent in his return from a torn ACL. Lattimore hasn’t been needed to shoulder a heavy workload in the first five games but that could change in Week 6. In two games against the Bulldogs, Lattimore has 358 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Don’t be surprised if Lattimore has 30 carries and pushes for 150 yards. Although Lattimore should shine on Saturday, Georgia’s freshmen duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall shouldn’t be overlooked. Both players are averaging over seven yards per carry and can be a factor on passes out of the backfield.

Final Analysis

This matchup should be one of the best games of Week 6. Both teams are still in the national title mix, and a victory on Saturday would give one squad an early edge in the battle to win the SEC East.

An x-factor to watch will be South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, who is dealing with a shoulder injury and missed one game earlier this season. Playing through the injury isn’t affecting Shaw, but the Gamecocks’ offensive line needs to keep Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones or any other defender from getting any shots on the junior passer.

South Carolina’s home crowd should give the Gamecocks some early momentum. However, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray will hit a few plays in the fourth quarter against a suspect Gamecocks' secondary, which will be the difference in the game.

Final Prediction: Georgia 31, South Carolina 27


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

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Teaser:
<p> Georgia Bulldogs vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 08:49
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-florida-gators-preview-and-prediction
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Every week is a big one in the SEC but there’s a little more intrigue around this league this Saturday. Four of the league’s top five teams meet, as Florida hosts LSU, while Georgia visits South Carolina.

Although LSU is off to a 5-0 start, it has fallen in the polls over the last two weeks. Back-to-back lackluster showings against Auburn and Towson raised question marks about this team, but a win over Florida would certainly show LSU is still one of the top two or three teams in the nation.

Although Florida has scored road wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee, this team is still searching for national respect. The Gators had a bye week last Saturday but blanked Kentucky 38-0 in their last game. Is Florida a threat to win the SEC title? Most think the Gators can, however, beating a team like LSU would erase any doubt and signal Will Muschamp’s team is clearly on the way back to being an annual top 5-10 program.

Storylines to watch in LSU vs. Florida

Jeff Driskel vs. LSU’s secondary
If the Gators are going to knock off LSU, it starts with Driskel’s success against the Tigers’ secondary. LSU has allowed only five passing scores this season and ranks sixth nationally in passing yards allowed per game (134.8). The secondary doesn’t feature a senior in the two-deep, while freshmen Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins hold down the cornerback spot vacated by Tyrann Mathieu. Driskel has shown steady improvement since the season opener, completing 14 of 20 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Tennessee. The sophomore also gives Florida an extra threat on the ground, rushing for 148 yards on 33 attempts this year. While Driskel has been efficient and careful with the football, the Gators don’t have an abundance of playmakers at receiver. Tight end Jordan Reed leads the team with 16 catches for 193 yards and one touchdown, with Quinton Dunbar the top target at receiver with 10 catches. Florida won’t be able to lineup and pound LSU with its rushing attack, which adds an extra emphasis on getting the receiving corps to step up. The Gators don’t need to throw it 50 times to win, but Driskel and his receiving corps has to hit a few big plays against the Tigers.

Can Florida stop LSU’s rushing attack?
Florida’s front seven was supposed to be one of the best in the SEC this year, but this group still has a ways to go to be considered among the nation's elite. The Gators are allowing 119.3 rushing yards per game and rank 98th nationally with an average of 1.3 sacks per contest. The defensive line should get better as the year progresses, especially as end Dominique Easley gets closer to full strength from a torn ACL suffered late last season. The linebacking corps suffered a setback earlier in the year, with Jelani Jenkins suffering a broken hand against Texas A&M. Jenkins is expected to return against LSU, and he figures to be tested immediately on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers have one of the deepest backfields in the nation and rank 18th nationally with an average of 229.6 rushing yards per game. The key to beating LSU starts with stopping the run, and Florida was steamrolled for 238 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in last season’s matchup. Expect the Gators to load the box and force quarterback Zach Mettenberger to win, which brings us to our next storyline…

Time for Zach Mettenberger to step up
The preseason buzz around LSU revolved around Mettenberger and how he was supposed to ignite the passing attack. Five games into the season, the jury is still out on whether or not Mettenberger is ready to carry this team to a victory with his arm. The junior has thrown for six touchdowns and only two interceptions but struggled in LSU’s last two games. The Tigers’ offense feeds off the rushing attack, but opposing defenses will load the box and force Mettenberger to prove he can beat them with his arm. Florida should employ a similar strategy on Saturday afternoon, and it’s up to Mettenberger to hit a few throws and open up rushing lanes for LSU’s talented group of running backs.

The battle in the trenches
The biggest concern for Florida in Saturday’s matchup has to be the battle in the trenches. LSU’s offensive and defensive line are two of the best in the nation and the edge in these two areas could be the deciding factor. The Gators rank 98th nationally with 1.3 sacks generated per game, while the offensive line is allowing three sacks a contest. LSU’s defensive line boasts two potential All-American candidates at end with Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, which figure to be a handful for Florida’s line. Having a mobile quarterback like Driskel will help the Gators’ line, but this group needs to get a push on the ground. Running back Mike Gillislee is averaging 100.5 yards per game but running room could be limited against LSU. Considering LSU’s pass rush, Florida will look to move Driskel around the pocket and create opportunities for him to make plays with his legs.

Final Analysis

Florida has already passed two SEC tests and Saturday’s game against LSU is an even bigger challenge. The Gators have lost their last two games to the Tigers but have won two out of the last three in Gainesville.

Even though LSU has struggled in its last two games, the Tigers have the edge in talent and depth. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has to step up his game in the Swamp, especially as Florida will look to eliminate the rushing attack.

If the Gators can force Mettenberger into a few mistakes, they should win this matchup. However, the Tigers’ defense will keep Florida’s offense in check, especially as the Gators are struggling to find playmakers on the outside.

Florida is a much-improved team in Will Muschamp’s second season, but the Tigers are the better team in 2012.

Final Prediction: LSU 24-20

 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

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Teaser:
<p> LSU Tigers vs. Florida Gators Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 08:48
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-6-preview-match-ups-upset-picks-and-storylines-watch
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College football's Week 6 slate is filled with plenty of intriguing games, starting in the SEC with Florida-LSU and Georgia-South Carolina. These two match-ups will play a key role in determining the SEC division winners. Ohio State and Nebraska both won close games last week and meet in Columbus this Saturday. West Virginia won its Big 12 opener against Baylor, but the stakes are even higher against Texas on Saturday night.

Top Storylines to Watch in Week 6

1. SEC East Supremacy
The first weekend of October is a big one in the SEC. Florida may have something to say about the SEC East title race, but Georgia and South Carolina were the preseason favorites and enter Saturday’s game ranked among the top six teams in the nation. Both teams have been impressive this year, but the real test to win the SEC starts this Saturday. Although the SEC is regarded as college football’s top defensive conference, there should be plenty of points between these two teams. The Bulldogs’ defense has been a disappointment, ranking 55th nationally in yards allowed and 46th in points allowed. This unit will be tested by South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, who looks closer to 100 percent (torn ACL) as each week passes. South Carolina has won the last two matchups in this series, including a 45-42 shootout in Athens last season. However, the Gamecocks’ secondary will be under fire from Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who could vault to a Heisman frontrunner with a victory in Columbia. There’s not much separating these two teams, but Murray’s poise and the emergence of freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall should be enough for Georgia to edge the Gamecocks and take an early lead for the SEC East title.

2. Which LSU team will show up this week?
Thanks to back-to-back underwhelming performances against Auburn and Towson, LSU has dropped in the polls and there are plenty of question marks about this team heading into a road date against Florida. Are the Tigers the team that demolished their first three opponents or is LSU closer to the squad that struggled to beat Towson last week? It’s still early in the season but some of the same concerns this team had in the preseason continue to show up. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been far from spectacular this season, throwing for 169 yards against Auburn, while struggling out of the gates against Towson. Mettenberger and the Tigers can’t afford to get off to a slow start this Saturday, especially against a Florida team that is already battle tested with wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee. For the Gators to knock off LSU, they have to win the battle in the trenches. Florida’s offensive line is allowing three sacks a game – a bad sign against one of the nation’s deepest defensive fronts. The Tigers may not be playing at a dominant level yet, but if Les Miles’ team gets their ground game on track, LSU should find a way to pull out a close victory against Florida.

3. Another Big 12 shootout?
Last week’s West Virginia-Baylor matchup was one of the year’s most entertaining games – if you like offense. Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith is the Heisman frontrunner and against Texas will have the chance to impress a national television audience to build on his early lead. The Longhorns are coming off an impressive 41-36 road win against Oklahoma State and Saturday night’s matchup against West Virginia will be crucial to determining the winner of this conference. Texas’ defense has been a disappointment so far, ranking 63rd nationally in yards allowed and 43rd in pass defense. The key to this match-up should be along the line of scrimmage, especially since the Mountaineers have yet to play a defense with two potential first-round picks at defensive end. Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor need to get pressure on Smith, which in turn will help take some of the pressure off of the secondary and eliminate some of the big plays West Virginia has accumulated this season.

4. Can Miami upset Notre Dame?
With a 42-36 win over Georgia Tech in Week 4 and a 44-37 shootout victory over NC State last week, Miami has been one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the nation. Quarterback Stephen Morris has thrown for 1,002 yards in those two games, while running back Duke Johnson leads the ACC in all-purpose yards per game. Although the Hurricanes have been red hot on offense over the last two weeks, Saturday’s game against Notre Dame will be a different challenge. The Irish are averaging 3.5 sacks a game and rank third nationally in scoring defense. If Miami can protect Morris, there should be opportunities to make plays against the Irish’s secondary. However, Notre Dame’s pass rush will be difficult to slow down, and the edge in the trenches will be enough for the Irish to improve to 5-0.

5. Big Ten Showdown in Columbus
The Big Ten finally had some good news last week. There were no disappointing non-conference losses and most importantly, Ohio State-Michigan State and Nebraska-Wisconsin were two of Week 5’s best games. Nebraska and Ohio State are the top two ranked teams from the Big Ten, so Saturday’s game in Columbus should provide plenty of intrigue. Nebraska has emerged as the early favorite in the Legends Division, while the Buckeyes might be the Big Ten’s best team but won’t be eligible for the postseason due to NCAA penalties. Both teams have been getting tremendous quarterback play this season, as Braxton Miller and Taylor Martinez rank No. 2 and No. 3 in the Big Ten in total offense. The key to this game is all about the supporting cast. Ohio State has leaned heavily on Miller to win games, which is a strategy that may not hold up for a full season. The Cornhuskers have a better supporting cast, but running back Rex Burkhead will have trouble getting on track against a Buckeye defense that ranks 19th nationally against the run. This matchup also marks the return of Bo Pelini to Columbus. Pelini played at Ohio State from 1987-90 and has downplayed his return this week. However, there has to be a little extra motivation to lead his team to a victory against his alma mater.

6. A Breakout Game for Purdue?
With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible to play in the postseason, the battle to win the Leaders Division title is wide open. Purdue has quietly flown under the radar, racking up wins against Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Marshall, while suffering a 20-17 loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 8. The Boilermakers have been solid statistically on defense, which figures to be put to the test by Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. The senior is coming off of a horrendous performance against Notre Dame, throwing four interceptions and for only 138 yards. Although Robinson is capable of playing a lot better, the Wolverines have to give him a little help. The defense ranks 88th nationally against the run, and the offensive line is still working out a few kinks. Purdue’s offense is still a work in progress as well but could get quarterback Robert Marve back in the lineup after missing the last two games with a knee injury. If the Boilermakers can win this game, they will take a huge step towards solidifying their spot as a Big Ten title contender, while also gaining some national respect in the process.

7. Is Texas Tech a Big 12 title contender?
It’s still very early in the 2012 season but one of the most impressive stats through the first five weeks has to be Texas Tech’s No. 1 ranking in total defense. The Red Raiders were atrocious on defense last season, but have not allowed more than 14 points in a game this year. Saturday night will be the biggest test for Texas Tech’s rebuilt defense, as Oklahoma visits Lubbock. The Sooners have lost their last three games in Lubbock and struggled in a 24-19 loss to Kansas State in Week 4. Oklahoma’s offense is averaging 491.7 yards per game but looked out of sync against the Wildcats. With a win over the Sooners, the Red Raiders would have to be considered, along with Kansas State, West Virginia and Texas, as one of the favorites to win the Big 12. On the other side, after losing to the Wildcats, Saturday’s game in Lubbock is a must-win situation for Oklahoma. While this game isn’t as big as West Virginia-Texas, this match-up will be crucial for both teams and should provide a gauge of where they stack up in the Big 12.

Under the Radar Match-ups

Georgia Tech at Clemson – After a disappointing loss to MTSU, the Yellow Jackets will be a desperate team on Saturday in Death Valley. Georgia Tech has won seven out of the last nine meetings in this series, but its defense will have a tough time slowing down Clemson’s passing attack, which is averaging 311.2 yards per game. The Yellow Jackets should have success on the ground but they will have a hard time keeping pace with the Tigers’ potent offense.

Virginia at Duke – Don’t look now, but the Blue Devils just might snap their bowl drought and finish 2012 with six victories. Duke moved to 4-1 with a win over Wake Forest last Saturday and host Virginia this week. The Cavaliers have made a change at quarterback, going with Alabama transfer Phillip Sims over Michael Rocco. The Blue Devils’ injury concerns only got worse last week, as quarterback Sean Renfree suffered an elbow injury and is questionable to play Saturday.

Northwestern at Penn State – Are the Wildcats a Big Ten title contender? Although the Nittany Lions aren’t an elite team, this road test in Happy Valley should be a good barometer for where Northwestern stacks up against the rest of the conference.

Virginia Tech at North Carolina – The Hokies have lost two out of their last three games but remain the team to beat in the ACC Coastal. After struggling to stop Cincinnati’s offense last week, Virginia Tech will have its hands full trying to slow down the Tar Heels, who boast two of the ACC’s top playmakers in quarterback Bryn Renner and running back Giovani Bernard.

Arizona at Stanford – How will the Cardinal bounce back after a 17-13 loss to Washington? Quarterback Josh Nunes didn’t have a lot of help from his receiving corps against the Huskies, but he needs to play better if Stanford will have any shot at pushing Oregon for the Pac-12 North title. If the Cardinal struggle to move the ball once again, Arizona could pull off the upset, especially with an offense that is averaging 34.8 points per game.

Navy at Air Force – Anytime the service academies meet, it’s absolutely worth a mention as a must-watch game.
 

Top Five Teams on the Road

Florida State at NC State – The Seminoles avoided a letdown loss against South Florida last week and is heavily favored to beat NC State this Saturday. The Wolfpack will be without three offensive line starters, which is a huge issue against one of college football’s best defensive lines.
Prediction: Florida State 41-20

Washington at Oregon – The Huskies are coming off an upset win over Stanford, while the Ducks took control in the second half and eventually pulled away from Washington State for a 51-26 victory. Although Washington’s improving defense may keep this one close in the first half, Oregon simply has too much firepower to be held in check.
Prediction: Oregon 45-24
 

Five Quarterbacks Under Pressure

Perry Hills, Maryland – Hills has been steady as a true freshman, throwing for 749 yards and six touchdowns. However, if the Terrapins want to knock off Wake Forest on Saturday, Hills needs to pick up where he left off against West Virginia (305 yards, three touchdowns).

Landry Jones, Oklahoma – Jones has been heavily criticized since throwing for 299 yards and one pick against Kansas State on Sept. 22. Although he has struggled on the road at times during his career, it’s unfair to blame Jones for all of Oklahoma’s offensive struggles. A good performance against Texas Tech would go a long way to get Jones back in rhythm before a showdown against Texas next week.

Zach Maynard, California – It’s unfair to pin all of California’s struggles on Maynard, especially with an offensive line that is allowing five sacks a game. However, the senior quarterback has to play better, as he has not thrown for more than 173 yards in each of the last two games.

Josh Nunes, Stanford – Nunes didn’t have a lot of help from his receiving corps last week, but the junior is also capable of playing better. Nunes completed only 18 of 37 passes for 170 yards and one interception against Washington.

Trevor Siemian, Northwestern – The Wildcats will continue to use Siemian and Kain Colter at quarterback, but Siemian seemed to pull slightly ahead in terms of snaps under center against Indiana. Colter will be used as more of an all-purpose threat, which adds even more pressure to Siemian against a solid Penn State defense.
 

Four Teams Desperate for a Victory

Arkansas and Auburn – Whichever team wins this game won’t turn its season around but it will certainly help build some positive momentum after a disappointing start. Auburn is still searching for answers on offense but meets an Arkansas defense that ranks 116th in scoring defense.

California – The pressure on head coach Jeff Tedford is only increasing and Saturday’s game against UCLA is another must-win situation. The Golden Bears are off to a 1-4 start and still have to face Stanford, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State this year.

Virginia – The schedule won’t get any easier for the Cavaliers the rest of the way, and Duke could be without quarterback Sean Renfree. Virginia enters Saturday’s action with three consecutive losses.
 

Upsets to Watch

Utah State (+9) at BYU
Thanks to a victory over Utah in Week 2, the Aggies could claim the Beehive Boot with a win at BYU on Friday night. The Cougars expect quarterback Riley Nelson to return after missing last week with an injury, but running back Michael Alisa is out indefinitely with a broken arm. The Cougars caught a few lucky breaks to win last season’s game, but those bounces go in Utah State’s favor this year.
Prediction: Utah State 27, BYU 24

Boston College at Army (+8)
Preparing for an option team is never an easy task. Boston College’s rush defense has struggled this season, which should allow the Black Knights an opportunity to win this game in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Boston College 34, Army 31

Virginia Tech (+5.5) at North Carolina
It wouldn’t be that big of an upset if the Hokies win on Saturday, but the point spread has increased from North Carolina a two-point favorite to 5.5 by Thursday. Virginia Tech’s offense has gotten off to a slow start this year, which is a huge concern against a Tar Heel team that is averaging 43.2 points a game.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 27-24

Iowa State (+10) at TCU
With quarterback Casey Pachall suspended, the Horned Frogs will be forced to go with redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin under center. Iowa State’s offense will struggle against TCU’s defense, but the Cyclones have a good chance to score the upset with Pachall out of the lineup.
Prediction: TCU 24, Iowa State 20
 

Injuries/Suspensions to Monitor

Shawne Alston, RB, West Virginia – Alston did not play against Baylor due to a thigh bruise and has been ruled out for Saturday's game against Texas. With Alston out, Andrew Buie will get the nod at running back.

Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas - Brown suffered a sprained ankle in the win over Oklahoma State and whas been ruled out for Saturday's game against West Virginia.

Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest – Campanaro suffered a broken hand in last week’s loss to Duke and won’t play against Virginia this Saturday. With Campanaro sidelined, the Demon Deacons will turn to senior Terence Davis, redshirt freshman Sherman Ragland and sophomore Brandon Terry as the top options for quarterback Tanner Price.

Rob Crisp, OT, NC State – Crisp has not played since the season opener due to a back injury. Crisp won’t play against Florida State, which means NC State will be without three offensive line starters against one of the best defensive lines in college football.

Jordan Hall, RB, Ohio State – Hall suffered a partial tear of his PCL against Michigan State and is unlikely to play against Nebraska. With Hall likely sitting out Saturday’s game, Carlos Hyde and Bri’onte Dunn will help quarterback Braxton Miller shoulder the workload on the ground.

Casey Pachall, QB, TCU – Pachall was arrested for DWI on Thursday morning and has been suspended indefinitely. With Pachall out of the lineup, redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin will get thenod under center.

Maxwell Smith, QB, Kentucky – Smith suffered a knee injury in last week’s loss to California and is out indefinitely. With Smith sidelined, true freshmen Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow will share the quarterback duties for Kentucky.

Sean Renfree, QB, Duke – Renfree suffered an elbow injury against Wake Forest last week and is questionable to play in Saturday’s matchup against Virginia. If the senior can’t start, Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette will share the quarterback duties for Duke.
 

Four Games to Avoid

Kansas at Kansas State
Bill Snyder is 16-4 in his tenure against the Jayhawks and that success should continue this Saturday in Manhattan.

Boise State at Southern Miss
The Broncos haven’t been overly impressive this year, but Southern Miss is off to an 0-4 start and ranks 100th nationally in scoring defense.

Mississippi State at Kentucky
The Bulldogs should have no trouble going to 5-0 with Kentucky starting a true freshman at quarterback (Jalen Whitlow).

Michigan State at Indiana
Kevin Wilson has the Hoosiers pointed in the right direction, but the Spartans defense will keep Indiana from making this one interesting.


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 6 Preview: Match-Ups, Upset Picks and Storylines to Watch</p>
Post date: Friday, October 5, 2012 - 06:37
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-buckeyes-vs-nebraska-cornhuskers-preview-and-prediction
Body:

After a rough start to the season, the Big Ten finally had something positive happen last weekend.  There were no disappointing non-conference losses, while Ohio State-Michigan State and Wisconsin-Nebraska were two of the best games from a light slate of action in Week 5.

There’s plenty of intrigue on the field for this matchup, but this game also marks the return of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini to Columbus. Pelini played at Ohio State from 1987-1990 and was born in Youngstown. Although Pelini has downplayed the return to Columbus, there has to be a little extra incentive to win on Saturday night.

Even though Ohio State is ineligible to win the Big Ten crown, this is a huge game for both teams. A win over the Cornhuskers would continue to strengthen the Buckeyes’ case as the best team in the Big Ten. Nebraska scored a key win over Wisconsin last week but this is another tough test for a team that could be the best in the Legends Division.

Storylines to Watch in Nebraska vs. Ohio State

Will Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller have any help?
After watching Miller record 90 rushing attempts through the first five games, Urban Meyer and his offensive staff have to find ways to reduce the workload on their sophomore quarterback. Keeping Miller healthy is the top priority for the Buckeyes, especially if they want to make a run at an unbeaten record. However, Ohio State hasn't been able to find many weapons around him, and that task got a little tougher with running back Jordan Hall suffering a knee injury against Michigan State. Hall will be sidelined for Saturday night’s game, which forces Carlos Hyde and Bri’onte Dunn to shoulder more of the workload in the backfield. Two of Ohio State’s biggest preseason concerns – the offensive line and receiving corps – have played relatively well, so the biggest task for the Buckeyes will be to find more playmakers in the backfield to spell Miller. Although the sophomore is one of the top Heisman contenders, relying on him to have 15-20 carries a game is a lot to ask. Expect Nebraska’s defense to do all it can to keep Miller in check, while forcing Hyde or Dunn to carry the rushing attack.

Taylor Martinez vs. Ohio State’s secondary
There’s no question Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez is one of college football’s most-improved players. The junior is completing 67.8 percent of his throws and has 11 touchdowns on 121 attempts. Ohio State’s secondary has been a disappointment this season, allowing 275.6 yards per game. Martinez should have opportunities to take advantage of the Buckeyes’ pass defense but also needs to make plays with his legs. The junior has 298 yards on the ground through the first five weeks of the season, which is a valuable asset against an Ohio State defense that has two of the best linemen in the nation (end John Simon and tackle Johnathan Hankins) attacking the quarterback. 

Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah vs. Ohio State’s front seven
Although you never want to lose a player due to an injury, Burkhead’s absence against UCLA and Arkansas State allowed Abdullah to show he is capable of taking some of the pressure off of the senior back. The sophomore has 486 yards and five scores this season and will team with Burkhead to form one of the nation’s top running back duos. The Cornhuskers won’t find much running room against Ohio State, as the Buckeyes rank 19th nationally against the run and held Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell to 45 yards on 17 carries last week. Nebraska’s offensive line is playing well but moving Ohio State’s defensive line is no easy task. Taylor Martinez should have an opportunity to move the ball against the Buckeyes' secondary. However, the Cornhuskers can't afford to abandon the run and have Martinez throw over 35 times.

Final Analysis

Last season’s matchup between these two teams featured 61 points and 774 total yards and considering the firepower on both sidelines, we could see similar totals on Saturday.

Nebraska is more balanced on offense than Ohio State, and its defense has played well after struggling in a 36-30 loss to UCLA. The Buckeyes’ secondary is capable of playing better than it has this year, and it’s a group that needs to be challenged by the Cornhuskers. However, Ohio State’s front four is going to be the best that Nebraska has played and establishing Burkhead and Abdullah won’t be easy. 

Ohio State seems to be getting better each week under new coach Urban Meyer. However, the Buckeyes still need to take some of the pressure off of quarterback Braxton Miller. The sophomore simply won’t last all year if he has 20-25 carries a game. When Miller does run, Nebraska has to keep him contained and not allow a big play.

There’s not much that separates these two teams, so one play on special teams or a turnover could decide the outcome. Although Nebraska has more balance on offense, the Buckeyes defense will keep Martinez and Burkhead in check, which should be just enough for Ohio State to edge the Cornhuskers and move to 6-0.

Final Prediction: Ohio State 27, Nebraska 24


by Steven Lassan

 

@athlonsteven

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Teaser:
<p> Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 5, 2012 - 06:35
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-kansas-state-or-texas-which-team-best-big-12
Body:

The SEC is college football's top conference but the Big 12 isn't far behind. The Big 12 could have nine bowl teams this season and the battle to win the conference will be one of the tightest races in the nation. Kansas State fired the first shot in the title picture, winning at Oklahoma on Sept. 22. With Oklahoma taking on Texas Tech and West Virginia visiting Texas this Saturday, the Big 12 will have some separation after Week 6.

West Virginia, Kansas State or Texas: Which Team is the Best in the Big 12?

David Fox (@DavidFox615):  
We need to see more out of every team. Can West Virginia put together a competent defense to make sure Geno Smith doesn’t have to throw eight touchdowns each week? Will Texas’ defense return to last season’s form (and is David Ash for real)? Can Kansas State be this dominant over the course of a full season? When the season ends, I think Texas is going to be standing above the fray. Ash does look like the real deal. Consider the Oklahoma State game: The defense struggled, the run game didn’t do much until the fourth quarter, and Ash still led the way to a win. The Longhorns’ defense and run game should rebound, perhaps as early as this week. If Texas is the most balanced and complete team in the Big 12, they’ll win the league.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
I think Texas is the best all-around football team in the league but since I think West Virginia will go into Austin and win this weekend, I guess I have to go with the Mountaineers. This offense is operating in the stratosphere of college football and Texas' defense has struggled this season to live up to the preseason hype. Kansas State has also played extremely well against the Longhorns of late and could easily knock Burnt Orange nation out of the running as well So Kansas State's visit to Morgantown could decide the league crown and I'll take the Mountaineers to win that one as well. The most likely scenario? A 1-1 round robin for all three teams with one or two random upsets deciding the Big 12 championship.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
The battle to win the Big 12 is going to be one of the most competitive races in college football over the final two months of the season. West Virginia, Texas and Kansas State appear to be the frontrunners, but Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech can’t be counted out. However, between the trio mentioned in the question, I like Texas. The Longhorns are capable of playing better defense than they have through the first four games, but the offense has come to life under quarterback David Ash. The sophomore ranks second nationally in passing efficiency, and his emergence will open up rushing lanes for a talented trio of running backs. West Virginia’s offense is one of the best in the nation, but the defense has a lot of question marks, which will cost them a game or two at some point this year. Kansas State is always seems to overachieve under Bill Snyder and hosts Texas in the season finale. Expect a close race, but I think the Longhorns find barely edge the Mountaineers and Wildcats for the top spot.

Mark Ross: 
Geno Smith is far and away the runaway choice for the Heisman Trophy right now as he has the West Virginia offense firing on all cylinders. The Mountaineers enjoyed a triumphant and impressive Big 12 debut, beating Baylor 70-63 and piling up more than 800 yards of offense. However, they still have eight conference games to play, and it's the second number, not the first, in that score that concerns me. Offense is nice and fun to watch, especially when it puts up the video game-esque totals that Smith and Mountaineers are right now, but I don't put much stock into a team's title aspirations when it is ranked near the bottom of the nation in defense. West Virginia is currently 106th out of 120 FBS schools in total defense, giving up 474 yards and 32.5 points (94th) per game. That's just not going to get it done over the long haul in my opinion, in the Big 12 or really any other conference for that matter. Not when you have some teams that are capable of doing a similar amount of damage on offense. And that is what you have in the Big 12 as Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas Tech are ranked among the top 10 nationally, along with West Virginia. Even Texas (23rd) and Kansas State (48th) are among the top 50, and both of these teams' respective defenses have performed considerably better to this point. The Wildcats are currently 45th in total defense, while the Longhorns are 63rd nationally. The Wildcats have already made a statement with its win over Oklahoma in Norman two weeks ago and will get their shot at West Virginia in Morgantown on Oct. 20. However, it's the Longhorns, who welcome the Mountaineers this Saturday to Austin, that I am picking as the conference's top team. Texas has a talented and athletic defense that's capable of slowing down West Virginia provided they execute their schemes and make the Mountaineers have to drive down the field rather than rely on the big plays. The Longhorns also have an offense that's been better than expected thanks to the emergence of quarterback David Ash. This will allow Texas to stay with West Virginia close throughout before wearing down the defense and frustrating the offense and sealing the win in the fourth quarter. 

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
This is a tough call, but I would go with the Texas Longhorns at the current time. All three teams have been very productive on offense, but the Horns defense should be the difference in league play. During September, Kansas State’s defense played well while quarterback Collin Klein continued making plays on the ground. However I see the lack of a Wildcats passing game and some deficiencies in pass defense catching up with K-State in a couple of upcoming games. The Mountaineers aerial attack is fun to watch, and Hesiman frontrunner Geno Smith’s 656 yards and eight touchdowns against Baylor topped all of the highlight shows. But I see the porous WVU defense and a limited running game becoming a major liability against a club like Texas this week. The Longhorns have finally found a quarterback in David Ash, and the power running tandem of Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron will be able to keep Smith and company off the field. The Horns defense will give up some yardage, but the UT secondary and pass rush is worlds better than the Baylor defense. With the most talented and balanced squad, I’ll take Texas in the Big 12.

 

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Teaser:
<p> West Virginia, Kansas State or Texas: Which Team is the Best in the Big 12?</p>
Post date: Friday, October 5, 2012 - 06:00
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With a combined record of 8-1 and both teams riding a wave of momentum after key wins over the last few weeks, Miami-Notre Dame is one of Week 6’s most intriguing games. These two teams haven’t met in a regular season game since 1990 but there’s plenty of history in this series. The Irish and Hurricanes met 19 times from 1972-90, including the infamous “Catholics vs. Convicts” game in 1988.

With Notre Dame teaming with the ACC for a football scheduling agreement, these two teams will meet more regularly in the future. Games between these two teams are currently scheduled for 2016 and 2017 but that could change as ACC’s alignment with Notre Dame takes shape.

There’s plenty at stake on Saturday, as the Irish need to win to keep their BCS hopes alive, while Miami hopes to add to its three-game winning streak. Notre Dame has not allowed more than 17 points this season, but the Hurricanes have scored at least 38 in each of their last three games.

Storylines to Watch in Notre Dame vs. Miami

Can Miami’s passing attack test Notre Dame’s secondary?
Scoring on the Irish defense has been nearly impossible this year. Notre Dame ranks third nationally in points allowed and is giving up under 300 yards per game (291.3). The success of this defense starts up front, as junior Louis Nix III, sophomore Stephon Tuitt and senior Kapron Lewis-Moore are playing as well as any defensive line in the nation. The Irish are averaging 3.5 sacks a game, and the last three opponents have recorded less than 300 yards of total offense. Linebacker Manti Te’o is off to a terrific start, recording 38 tackles, two forced fumbles and three interceptions through the first four weeks of the season. However, if there’s one weakness of the defense, it’s a secondary that has yet to be tested. Notre Dame has played two quarterbacks in their first year of starting, while Purdue’s Caleb TerBush and Michigan’s Denard Robinson aren’t the best pocket passers. Miami quarterback Stephen Morris has been on fire the last two weeks, throwing for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns. If Morris has time to throw, he should be able to hit a few big plays to his receivers. However, if Notre Dame’s pass rush gets to Morris, the inexperience in the secondary won’t be a concern.

Everett Golson or Tommy Rees?
Redshirt freshman Everett Golson is going to be a future star in South Bend, but is he the best quarterback to beat Miami? In the win over Michigan, Golson took a back seat to Rees, as the sophomore threw for 115 yards on eight completions. Rees also filled in against Purdue and led the Irish to a game-winning field goal. Golson was expected to take his lumps in 2012 and all things considered, he’s played relatively well considering this is his first year under center. Barring an injury or struggles by Golson, he should be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback against Miami. However, don’t be surprised if Rees is brought in to provide a spark. Considering the Hurricanes are allowing 269 passing yards a game, regardless of who starts at quarterback, the Irish should move the ball through the air with ease.

Duke Johnson…Miami’s X-Factor?
Miami’s roster is littered with youth but there’s also plenty of promise as this team looks to 2013 and 2014. Running back Duke Johnson has been one of the nation’s top true freshmen, leading the ACC with 184 all-purpose yards per game. Johnson will share carries with Mike James, but the freshman is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Johnson has double-digit carries in each of the last three games and will need at least 20 touches on Saturday night. Although the Hurricanes think they can exploit Notre Dame’s secondary, Johnson has to be a key piece in the gameplan.

Will Notre Dame get its rushing game on track?
The Irish can lean on their defense to win games, but the offense needs to pickup its production if this team wants to make a BCS bowl. Notre Dame ranks 84th nationally in rushing offense, averaging 140.3 yards per game and 3.8 yards per rushing attempt. Three players have received a chunk of carries this season, with Theo Riddick leading the way with 242 yards on 63 attempts. As mentioned above with the quarterbacks, Miami’s defense isn’t exactly a shutdown group. The Hurricanes rank 112th nationally in run defense, which should ample opportunities for Notre Dame to establish its running backs. The Irish don’t need to rush for 300 yards, but getting consistent production from Cierre Wood and Riddick would reduce the pressure on Golson.

Final Analysis

With a struggling defense and a surging offense, Miami has been one of the most entertaining teams to watch over the last few weeks. However, the Hurricanes have yet to face a defense of Notre Dame’s caliber, which will be the difference in the game. Although the Irish aren’t a high-scoring offense right now, the opportunities will be there against a Miami defense that is struggling mightily.

The Hurricanes might make this one more interesting than some expect, but Notre Dame’s defense eventually puts the clamps on Morris and his receivers late in the game, while Golson and tight end Tyler Eifert have a big day against Miami’s defense.

Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Miami 24

 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

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Teaser:
<p> Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Miami Hurricanes Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 5, 2012 - 05:43
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
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Another week is in the books and the midpoint of the 2012 college football season is approaching. The arrival of October means more conference play, which often creates plenty of upset picks each week. Athlon's editors like Virginia, Georgia, Purdue, West Virginia and Utah State as solid upset predictions for Week 6.

College Football's Week 6 Upset Picks

Dave Bartoo (@CFBMatrix), CFBMatrix.com, Virginia (+1.5) over Duke
In very odd fashion, all but two of the AQ favorites this week match the CFBMatrix picks done back in March for week 6.  The strongest of the two dogs is Virginia.  After allow 30 unanswered at home last week to Louisiana Tech, the Cavaliers find themselves underdogs on the road at Duke.  The numbers show talent and coaching in favor of UVA, so they are the pick to pull a week 6 upset.  Too bad an SEC or Big Ten teams isn’t a good dog as the March picks are 95-10 year to date. 

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Utah State at BYU (-7)
Confession: I’m all in on the Utah State bandwagon. The Aggies have already defeated Utah in overtime and gave Wisconsin a scare in Madison, and that was before playmaking running back Kerwynn Williams started to heat up as he has the last two games. BYU is a solid team with the home-field advantage, but this is a special year for Utah State. Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton has proven he’s plenty comfortable on the road, and he should be comfortable in Provo.  

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): West Virginia (+7) over Texas
Georgia is technically an underdog and I like them to win over South Carolina, but the spread is 1-2 points and that doesn't really count as an upset. So I will go big and take the West Virginia Mountaineers to go into Texas and shock the college football world. Their offense is clicking on an unprecedented number of cylinders, but it's the Texas defense I have been surprised by this fall. And not in a good way. The Horns were supposed to dominate on that side of the ball this year but the rushing defense is 9th in the Big 12, the passing defense is 4th, the total defense is 7th and the scoring defense is 6th. This will be a high-flying affair with loads of points (no, not quite 133) as both quarterbacks will keep it rolling. But Geno Smith could take a stranglehold of the Heisman Trophy with a win this weekend. Give me the Mounties to stun Bevo in Austin.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Georgia (+2.5) over South Carolina
Nothing in Saturday’s Georgia-South Carolina game would surprise me. These two teams have played some crazy games in recent years, so it’s only fair the spread is right around three points. The Bulldogs have lost their last two matchups to the Gamecocks but have won seven out of the last 10. Although both defenses aren’t bad, this game could be a shootout. Georgia is averaging 48.2 points a game, but the offensive line will be tested by South Carolina’s defensive line, which is one of the best in the nation. If Aaron Murray has time to throw, the Bulldogs should be able to take shots at the Gamecocks’ cornerbacks. Neither team is particularly impressive in turnover margin, but a few mistakes could decide this game. Expect Saturday’s matchup to be close, but I think Georgia finds a way to earn a close win. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Michigan at Purdue (+3)
Purdue might be the most undervalued team in the nation through the first one-third of the season. The Boilermakers are 3–1 with their only loss coming by three points at Notre Dame. They did have some trouble with Marshall last weekend, but the final score (51–41) was a bit deceiving. Purdue led 42–14 at the half and 51–35 midway through the fourth quarter. We still don’t know too much about Michigan; the Wolverines are 2–2 with wins over Air Force and UMass and losses to Alabama and Notre Dame. Denard Robinson is doing his thing — he’s averaging over 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing — but the rest of the offense is lacking playmakers. In its two losses, Michigan  averaged only 284 yards and scored a total of two touchdowns. Purdue 34, Michigan 20 

Mark Ross: Virginia (+1.5) over Duke
Duke is 4-1, off to its best start since 1994 and needs just two more wins to be bowl eligible for the first time in nearly two decades. The Blue Devils can move that magic number to one by beating Virginia in Durham, N.C., on Saturday, for what would be the third straight time. Last season, Duke was devastated by injuries to key players as it simply didn't have the depth to overcome those losses. This year's team appears to be deeper, but I think the injury issue will raise its ugly head again as senior starting quarterback Sean Renfree's status is unknown after suffering an elbow injury in last week's win over Wake Forest. Even though the Blue Devils have done a better job of running the ball this season, this is still primarily a passing-oriented offense and Renfree is the one who makes it hum. Without him, I don't see Duke's offense being as efficient or productive. On the other side, Virginia may turn its offense completely over to sophomore Phillip Sims, who has out-played junior Michael Rocco and served as a spark for the Cavaliers whenever he's been on the field. I think the switch happens Saturday and helps jump start a Cavaliers offense that's been inconsistent, but did pile up 38 points and 625 yards in their loss to Louisiana Tech last week. Virginia also has played tougher competition than Duke to this point, as its non-conference schedule featured games against Penn State, TCU and the aforementioned Bulldogs. Duke's non-conference slate saw the Blue Devils lose 50-13 to Stanford, and defeat FIU and Memphis, who are a combined 1-8. Duke has a better record and has performed better statistically to this point, but I think Virginia is more battle tested and will leave Durham on Saturday victorious.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Vanderbilt (+6.5) at Missouri
In the much-anticipated James Franklin vs. James Franklin battle, I believe the Commodores may surprise the Tigers. Vanderbilt has limped out of the gate to a 1-3 start, but those three losses were to teams who are 15-0. The much-needed VU bye week should help quarterback Jordan Rodgers and the offense get into a better rhythm, especially in the red zone where the Dores have struggled mightily. The Missouri attack has been limited as well, battling injuries to quarterback James Franklin and the offensive line. Both teams are very similar in offensive and defensive rankings, and this one should come down to a few plays in the fourth quarter. I’ll take Vanderbilt to make the difference with an improved passing game and surprise Missouri in Columbia, 23-20. 

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 6 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:11
Path: /college-football/acc-week-6-preview-and-predictions
Body:

As the calendar turns to October, the focus shifts from non-conference games to winning a conference title. The ACC had one marquee game in Week 4, as Florida State beat Clemson to remain in the mix for the national title. Week 6 is the perfect balance for the ACC, as there are solid conference games between Clemson-Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech-North Carolina and Florida State-NC State, while Notre Dame-Miami is a non-conference game with plenty of national interest. 

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

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 6

Clemson or Georgia Tech: Which defense steps up?
The Clemson-Georgia Tech series has produced several entertaining games in recent memory, including a 39-34 matchup in the 2009 ACC Championship. With both teams struggling on defense this year, Saturday’s game could be one of the ACC’s highest-scoring games of 2012. The Yellow Jackets enter this week’s game reeling from a 49-28 loss to MTSU, which came one week after blowing a 36-19 lead against Miami. The Tigers have scored at least 37 points in each of their last four games and posted 45 without receiver Sammy Watkins against Boston College last Saturday. Considering Georgia Tech’s secondary ranks 75th nationally in yards allowed and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd will be the best quarterback it has faced this season, the Yellow Jackets’ secondary is in real trouble. The bad news only gets worse for the Yellow Jackets, especially since all signs point to Watkins returning this Saturday. The Tigers rank 81st nationally against the rush, which is a concern with Georgia Tech’s option attack coming to Death Valley. Considering the Yellow Jackets have struggled to contain opposing passing games, expect to see Paul Johnson’s team try to control the clock and keep Boyd, Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins on the sideline. Neither defense needs to be spectacular, but a late turnover or stop on third down could be the difference in this game.

Will Virginia Tech slow down North Carolina’s offense?
Although neither team is ranked, the Virginia Tech-North Carolina matchup is an intriguing under-the-radar matchup this weekend. The Hokies were picked by nearly everyone as the Coastal champ and opened the year with a 20-17 win over Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech has played four consecutive non-conference games and lost two out of its last three games. North Carolina enters Saturday’s matchup with momentum, as it has outscored its last two opponents 93-6. Of course, the competition steps up with a visit from the Hokies, but the Tar Heels have been impressive on offense, averaging 43.2 points a game this year. Virginia Tech’s defense was expected to be one of the best in the ACC this season, but this unit ranks 53rd nationally in yards allowed and its last two opponents have scored at least 27 points. Quarterback Bryn Renner and running back Giovani Bernard are two of the ACC’s top playmakers and will be a handful for Bud Foster’s defense. While getting stops on defense against another spread offense is a concern, the Hokies also need help from an offense that is struggling to get off to a good start each week. North Carolina is ineligible to win the ACC title, but if it knocks off Virginia Tech, the race to win the Coastal will be wide open.

Will Mike Glennon have success against Florida State’s defense?
The 2012 season has been an up and down affair for quarterback Mike Glennon, as he threw four picks in the opener against Tennessee and gashed Miami for 440 yards and four touchdowns last Saturday. The senior will have his hands full on Saturday night, as Florida State leads the ACC in total and scoring defense. An even bigger concern for Glennon has to be his offensive line, which is giving up 3.2 sacks a game. The Seminoles’ defensive line is one of the deepest in college football and is generating three sacks a game. For NC State to have any shot at winning on Saturday, the offensive line has to keep Glennon upright and allow him time to take shots downfield. In last season’s matchup, the senior threw for only 130 yards and was picked off twice. If Glennon posts similar numbers on Saturday night, NC State won’t have a chance to win. However, if the Wolfpack give him some time to throw – which won’t be easy with an offensive line missing three starters – NC State will have a shot to pull off the upset. While getting Glennon on track is crucial, the Wolfpack need a lot of bounces to go their way to win on Saturday.

Who will step up at receiver for Wake Forest?
Not only was last week’s loss to Duke damaging for Wake Forest’s bowl hopes and a winning season, but receiver Michael Campanaro suffered a broken hand and will likely miss the next three games. Campanaro was one of the ACC’s top receivers through the first five weeks of the season, catching 38 passes for 429 yards and three touchdowns. With Campanaro sidelined, it’s up to redshirt freshman Sherman Ragland III, senior Terence Davis and sophomore Brandon Terry to step up for quarterback Tanner Price. Terry ranks behind Campanaro with 191 receiving yards, while Davis ranks second on the team with 11 catches. Although Maryland isn’t going to threaten Florida State for the best defense in the ACC, the Terrapins rank 18th nationally against the pass and are allowing just 22 points a game. Replacing Campanaro won’t be easy for Wake Forest, especially against a defense that is playing well and “held” West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith to 338 yards and three scores on Sept. 22.

Will a quarterback change spark Virginia’s offense?
With a three-game losing streak and an offense that is ranked 10th in the ACC in scoring, Virginia coach Mike London is ready to give Phillip Sims a chance to start against Duke this Saturday. The Alabama transfer is the most talented quarterback on the roster but lacks Michael Rocco’s experience. Sims has played well in limited action, completing 28 of 46 throws for 340 yards and five touchdowns. The sophomore sparked Virginia’s offense against Louisiana Tech last week but is also dealing with a leg injury. If Sims can start, it will be a much-needed boost to an offense that needs something positive. In addition to generating more big plays in the passing game, the Cavaliers are still searching for the right mix on the offensive line, and the rushing attack is averaging nearly 40 yards fewer than it did last season. Although adding Sims to the lineup would be a start in the right direction, quarterback play isn’t the only thing holding Virginia’s offense back. The offensive line and rushing attack have struggled through the first five games, which is adding even more pressure to Sims or Rocco under center.

Is Saturday’s game at Army a must-win for Boston College?
The halfway point of the season isn’t until after Week 7, but Boston College faces a must-win situation against Army this Saturday. With a 1-3 record and games remaining against Florida State, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, if the Eagles want to have any shot at a winning record, beating the Black Knights is a must. However, Army is a difficult opponent to prepare for and a rushing attack that is averaging 367.5 yards per game will test a Boston College rush defense that ranks 94th nationally. The Eagles brought in coordinator Doug Martin to spark the offense and the results have been positive so far, as they rank 13th nationally in passing offense and are averaging 27.5 points a game. Boston College coach Frank Spaziani is sitting on one of the hottest seats in college football, so a loss to Army would only increase the pressure on this team for the second half of the season.

Can Miami move the ball on Notre Dame?
The Hurricanes’ passing attack has been on fire the last two weeks. Quarterback Stephen Morris combined to throw for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns against Georgia Tech and NC State and ranks 13th nationally in total offense. Although Morris shined over the last two weeks, Saturday night’s matchup against Notre Dame will be the toughest defense he has played this season. The Irish rank third nationally in scoring defense and are averaging 3.5 sacks a game. However, Notre Dame’s secondary has yet to be tested, and would appear to be vulnerable with freshman Kei’Varae Russell starting on one side, along with the season-ending injury of safety Jamoris Slaughter. If Miami can protect Morris and give him time to throw, the Hurricanes should be able to take some shots down the field and allow running back Duke Johnson to get the ball in open space. If the Irish defense wins the battle at the line of scrimmage, Miami will have its hands full trying to get its offense on track.

Can Duke beat Virginia without Sean Renfree?
The Blue Devils are off to their best start since 1994 and are in position to make a run at a winning record and a bowl appearance. This team has been hit hard by injuries this season, including quarterback Sean Renfree in Saturday’s 34-27 win over Wake Forest. Renfree’s status (elbow injury) is uncertain for Saturday’s game against Virginia, and the Blue Devils desperately need him available to play. Backup Anthony Boone has played relatively well in limited action in his career, completing 13 of 21 passes for 147 yards in a loss against Stanford earlier this season. If Renfree can’t go, jack-of-all-trades quarterback Brandon Connette will likely see his role expand as well. The rushing attack will also need to step up, but true freshman Jela Duncan has provided a spark with three consecutive games of at least 50 rushing yards. Not having Renfree in the lineup would be a huge loss for the Blue Devils, but there’s enough experience and talent in place for the offense to score over 30 points for the fourth consecutive game.

Week 6 ACC Predictions

Week 6 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Boston College at Army BC 28-3 BC 31-14 BC 34-24 BC 37-10
Va. Tech at UNC Va. Tech 35-28 Va. Tech 27-24 Va. Tech 27-24 Va. Tech 27-20
Virginia at Duke Duke 27-21 Duke 24-21 Virginia 24-20 Duke 21-20
Ga. Tech at Clemson Clemson 42-21 Clemson 42-21 Clemson 41-31 Clemson 37-24
Wake Forest at Maryland MD 17-13 MD 30-27 MD 20-17 MD 13-10
Miami vs. Notre Dame (Chicago) ND 31-21 ND 24-10 ND 31-24 ND 24-21
Florida State at NC State FSU 35-14 FSU 42-28 FSU 41-20 FSU 30-20
Last Week: 6-2 4-4 4-4 6-2
Season Record 41-7 40-8 39-9 41-7


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 5
Post-Week 5 Bowl Projections

College Football's Top 15 Freshmen After Week 5

Top Heisman Trophy Contenders After Week 5

Teaser:
<p> ACC Week 6 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:02
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-6-sit-or-start
Body:

We’ve reached the midway point of most fantasy league regular-season schedules.  Gone are the non-conference mismatches, as the weekly schedule shifts into conference play overload.  No more Oregon versus Tennessee Tech.  No more Florida State versus Savannah State.  No more SEC versus Sun Belt Conference……bad example.  No more Big Ten versus MAC…….another bad example.  For those of you who loaded your rosters with non-BCS players, your time is finally here.

Start

Chase Rettig, QB-Boston College vs Army

Rettig should shred an Army defense giving up 38.8 points and nearly 475 yards per game this season.
 

Tyler Van Tubbergen, QB-Western Michigan vs Massachusetts

Van Tubbergen’s first start of the season did not go as planned last week, but look for the junior to bounce back against a Minutemen defense allowing 41.8 points and 494 yards per game.
 

Tevin Washington, QB-Georgia Tech at Clemson

Clemson is giving up more than 175 yards per game on the ground and that number figures to climb after the Yellow Jackets leave town.
 

Cody Green, QB-Tulsa at Marshall

Expect Cody Green to fill up the stat sheet through the air and on the ground against a Marshall defense allowing 44.4 points per game, worst in the FBS.
 

Terrance Broadway, QB-Louisiana vs Tulane

Terrance Broadway has taken over for starting quarterback Blaine Gautier, who may miss the rest of the regular season with a hand injury.  Broadway’s confidence should continue to grow as he faces a Tulane defense allowing 42.8 points per game.
 

Zac Stacy, RB-Vanderbilt at Missouri

Stacy’s only 100-yard game of the season came against Presbyterian three weeks ago, but we’re expecting the Vandy offense to rely heavily on its senior tailback this week at Missouri
 

Trayion Durham and Dri Archer, RBs-Kent St at Eastern Michigan

This thunder and lightning combination has scored nine of the Golden Flashes’ thirteen offensive touchdowns.  Expect another 2-3 scores this week against an Eastern Michigan defense that gives up 36.3 points per game.
 

John White, RB-Utah vs USC

This decision was not an easy one, but White should be well rested and healthy when the Trojans come to Rice-Eccles Stadium for a nationally televised Thursday night contest.
 

Todd Gurley, RB-Georgia at South Carolina

Gurley’s touches have increased over the past two weeks and the freshman should get another heavy workload on the road at South Carolina.
 

Jared Abbrederis, WR vs Illinois

Since his return from injury two weeks ago, Abbrederis has gone for 6-147-1 and 7-142-1 in back-to-back weeks.  We believe he will reach the century mark for the third week in a row.
 

Keyarris Garrett, WR-Tulsa at Marshall

Last week, Garrett was posted on our Emergency Starters list and caught six passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.  In an up-tempo game against Marshall, Garrett has the potential to post bigger numbers this week.
 

Bench

Shane Carden, QB-East Carolina at Central Florida

The Pirates defeated UTEP by ten points last week, despite three interceptions by the sophomore quarterback Shane Carden.  Expect a lot pressure from a Central Florida defense that held Missouri to 21 point last week.
 

James Franklin, QB-Missouri vs Vanderbilt

You can’t convince us that Franklin is the same quarterback since his shoulder injury.  For the season, he has rushed for 52 yards and zero touchdowns in 50 attempts.
 

James Sims, RB-Kansas at Kansas St

Sims was impressive two weeks ago in his debut against Northern Illinois, but this week he faces a Kansas State defense ranked 15th ranked in the country against the run.
 

Lyle McCombs, RB-UConn at Rutgers

McCombs has only eclipsed the 100-yard mark once in 2012 and this week he faces the nation’s No. 1 ranked rush defense.
 

Mike Gillislee, RB-Florida vs LSU

You can make worse roster moves than starting Gillislee against an LSU defense that is only giving up 86 yards rushing per game, but a roster with solid depth may have more favorable options. 
 

Dominique Whaley, RB-Oklahoma at Texas Tech

Whaley has only rushed for 168 yards and one touchdown this season, so we’re going to take a wait-and-see approach with a player on the verge of being dropped, if he hasn’t already been thrown back into your league waiver pool.
 

Orleans Darkwa, RB-Tulane at Louisiana

Darkwa made his return last week and rushed for seven yards on seven carries against LA-Monroe.  In four games this season, Tulane has run the ball for a total of 20 yards, averaging 5 yards per game.  Five!
 

Phillip Dorsett, WR-Miami at Notre Dame

Dorsett was listed in our Waiver Wire on Monday, but we’re not sure he’s a solid play against the Irish’s 19th ranked pass defense.

 

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

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 6 Sit or Start</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 04:56
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-15-freshmen-after-week-5
Body:

With the halfway point of the 2012 college football season approaching, it's time to take a look at some of the top freshmen performers so far this season. For the purpose of this article, Athlon included true and redshirt freshman, with an emphasis on the offensive and defensive performers. Quarterbacks grabbed three of the top five spots, as UCLA's Brett Hundley barely edges Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel for No. 1.
 

College Football's Top 15 Freshmen After Week 5

1. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
The Bruins are off to their best start since 2005, largely due to the play of running back Johnathan Franklin and the emergence of Hundley. The redshirt freshman has been the perfect triggerman for coordinator Noel Mazzone’s spread attack, throwing for 1,470 yards and 11 touchdowns. Hundley has recorded 165 yards and four scores on the ground, including 53 in a 36-30 upset win over Nebraska. With a favorable schedule that features home games against Arizona, Stanford and USC, the Bruins could push the Trojans for the Pac-12 South crown. It's a tossup between Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Hundley for the No. 1 spot. Although Manziel has the edge in completion percentage and has yet to throw an interception, Hundley has less of a supporting cast, which is the tiebreaker in this vote for No. 1.

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Aggie fans had high hopes for Manziel, and he hasn’t disappointed through the first four games of the season. “Johnny Football” has thrown for 1,094 yards and 10 touchdowns, while rushing for 366 yards and six scores. While those stats are impressive, Manziel has yet to throw an interception and is completing an impressive 70.2 percent of his throws. The competition will get tougher in the second half of the season, but Manziel is clearly a player Texas A&M will be able to build around over the next couple of seasons, and he could be one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks going into 2013.

3. Todd Gurley/Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia
For the purposes of this article, we will count the Marshall-Gurley duo as one player. This freshman duo has been dynamic for Georgia this season, with Gurley leading the team with 536 yards and nine touchdowns. Marshall ranks just behind Gurley with 428 yards and five touchdowns but leads the team with an 8.2 yards per carry average. Both players contribute in the passing game, while Gurley is averaging 34.7 yards per kickoff return and took one for a score in the season opener against Buffalo. Gurley and Marshall's numbers are even more impressive when you consider Georgia had a couple of holes to fill up front, and helping to lead the way for the rushing attack is true freshman right tackle John Theus.

4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Thanks to Oregon putting most of their opponents away by halftime, Mariota hasn’t been called upon to do much in the second half. However, the redshirt freshman has shown flashes of ability when called upon, throwing for 1,103 yards and 11 touchdowns, while adding 181 yards and one score on the ground. Oregon has played in only one road game this year (Washington State), and even though he tossed two picks, Mariota showed poise and never seemed to get rattled. Expect the redshirt freshman to get more comfortable over the second half of the season, and his solid play could be crucial to helping Oregon reach a spot in the national title game. 

5. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
With Lamar Miller leaving early for the NFL, Johnson was expected to immediately contribute and so far, he’s been one of the ACC’s top playmakers. The true freshman has recorded 359 rushing yards and five scores, while catching 15 passes for 147 yards and one touchdown. Johnson has been a factor on special teams as well, averaging 29.6 yards per kickoff return on 14 attempts. Through five games, he leads the ACC with 184 total yards per game. Johnson will continue to share carries with Mike James, but he should be a lock for ACC Rookie of the Year honors.

6. Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
All of the preseason hype on TCU’s defense centered on defensive end Stansly Maponga, but Fields has quickly emerged as one of the Horned Frogs’ top defenders. Fields leads the team with five sacks and ranks fourth with 17 tackles. The true freshman has also started all four games and leads the Big 12 with 8.5 tackles for a loss. Fields is a big reason why TCU ranks as one of the top defenses in the nation and could be in the mix for first-team All-Big 12 honors at the end of the season. 

7. Wes Lunt/J.W. Walsh, QB, Oklahoma State
No Brandon Weeden, no problem for Oklahoma State. Wes Lunt started the first three games of the year for the Cowboys, but he suffered a knee injury in the first quarter against Louisiana-Lafayette. With Lunt sidelined, J.W. Walsh stepped up and threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns against the Ragin’ Cajuns and played well in the 41-36 loss to Texas. Oklahoma State may not repeat as Big 12 champions but the future looks bright with Lunt and Walsh competing for the starting job for the next couple of seasons.

8. Isaiah Bruce, LB, West Virginia
Baylor gashed the Mountaineers’ defense for 700 yards and 63 points in Week 5, but it’s hard to overlook Bruce’s performance so far this season. The redshirt freshman leads the team with 43 tackles and has one fumble recovery. In the season opener against Marshall, Bruce recorded 16 stops and earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. Bruce has good speed and athleticism, which allows him to be one of West Virginia’s most active playmakers on defense.

9. Isaac Seumalo, C, Oregon State
It’s not often a true freshman cracks the starting lineup at center, but that’s exactly what Seumalo has done this season. The Corvallis native was one of the nation’s top 150 recruits coming out of high school and is a big reason why Oregon State’s offensive line is improved from last season. The Beavers rank 97th nationally in rushing offense but that’s an improvement from finishing 118th last season. Seumalo is the first true freshman to start at center for Oregon State since Roger Levasa in 1978.

10. Leonard Williams, DL, USC
The defensive line was considered USC’s biggest weakness in the preseason, but thanks to Williams and the play of junior college recruit Morgan Breslin, the Trojans’ front four has emerged a strength. Williams has nine tackles and three sacks through the first four games and made his first career start against Stanford. With another offseason in the weight room, Williams could make a run at preseason All-American honors in 2013.

11. Jalen Mills, CB, LSU
Mills was thrown into the fire this season, as LSU’s secondary suffered a setback with the dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu before spring practice. The true freshman has passed every test so far, ranking fourth on the team with 25 tackles and tying for the team lead with two interceptions. Mills has started all five of LSU’s games so far and will be a key cog in the Tigers’ run to repeat as SEC champs. The true freshman will take his lumps every now and then, but Mills looks like another star at cornerback for LSU.

12. Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
With a true freshman directing Maryland’s offense, it’s easy to see why Diggs has only 12 catches for 259 yards and three touchdowns. However, the numbers don’t really indicate how well Diggs has play, as he has 20 yards on rushing attempts and is averaging 11.8 yards per punt return and 26.6 on kickoffs. The true freshman also leads the team in scoring and all-purpose yardage this season. Expect Diggs to be a bigger factor in the offense in the second half of the year, especially as freshman quarterback Perry Hills gets more snaps under his belt.  

13. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama
The Crimson Tide has one of the deepest backfields in the nation, so the stat sheet doesn’t show just how effective Yeldon has been this season. The true freshman has one 100-yard effort, rushing for 111 yards and one touchdown against Michigan in the season opener. Yeldon has at least 10 carries in four out of the five games this year and ranks just behind Eddie Lacy in rushing yards (314 to 292).

14. Shaq Thompson, S, Washington
Thompson was practically handed a starting job when he committed to Washington and has played a key role in turning the Huskies’ defense around in 2012. The true freshman ranks third on the team with 20 tackles through four games and also has three tackles for a loss and one blocked kick. Thompson has started every game this year and ranked second on the team with seven stops in Washington’s upset victory over Stanford in Week 5.

15. Jaime Wilson, WR, Western Michigan
With the departure of All-MAC receiver Jordan White and two other key pass catchers, the Broncos were searching for new playmakers for quarterback Alex Carder this season. Wilson was a three-star recruit coming out of Glades Central and has been one of the conference’s top performers through the first five weeks. The true freshman has 47 receptions for 533 yards and five touchdowns and has four consecutive 100-yard efforts heading into Saturday’s game against Massachusetts.

Other Notable Freshmen

QB Perry Hills, Maryland
RB Storm Woods, Oregon State
WR Quinshad Davis, North Carolina
WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
OL Evan Boehm, Missouri
OL Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech
OL John Theus, Georgia
DE Deion Barnes, Penn State
LB Jabari Hunt-Days, Georgia Tech
LB Sir Thomas Jackson, Arizona
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
LB Eddie Johnson, Miami
LB Darryl Monroe, Washington State
LB Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
LB Nate D. Smith, Temple
CB Jalen Collins, LSU
CB De’Vante Harris, Texas A&M
CB Nick VanHoose, Northwestern
SS Micah Eugene, LSU
K Ross Martin, Duke
P Will Monday, Duke

 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

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College Football's Top 15 Freshmen After Week 5

College Football Bowl Projections After Week 5

ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
S
EC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 15 Freshmen After Week 5&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:26
Path: /college-football/arkansas-or-auburn-which-team-can-turn-it-around-2012
Body:

Arkansas and Auburn are the SEC's most disappointing teams through the first five weeks of the season. The Razorbacks had SEC title hopes in the preseason but have struggled to overcome the loss of head coach Bobby Petrino. Auburn wasn't expected to challenge LSU or Alabama in the SEC but this team was expected to show some improvement off of last season's 8-5 record. The Tigers head into Week 6 with a 1-3 record and could miss out on a bowl appearance if they don't turn things around.

Arkansas or Auburn: Which Team Can Turn Things Around in 2012?

Coach Pat Dye, former head coach of Auburn and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I don't know how you can say you're going to turn it around against Auburn or turn it around against Arkansas. One of them is going to win this weekend ... but I don't know if that is going to turn it around for either team. You go back and take the Clemson game and the LSU game and just one play made by Auburn would've made a difference in the outcome of the ball game. That is not the case in the Arkansas play this year. Based on how both teams have played so far this year, I am not sure either team will turn it around.

Barrett Sallee, Lead SEC Blogger for Bleacher Report (@BarrettSallee):
Auburn is more likely to get things turned around this season primarily due to the small bit of momentum that the Tigers were able to generate vs. LSU two weeks ago. LSU was criticized mightily for it's sluggish performance vs. a "bad Auburn defense," but it wasn't a bad defense on that particular night. Auburn's strength—its pass rush—plays right into one of Arkansas' primary weaknesses, which is an inability to pass block. Plus, if Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier is ever going to get things headed in the right direction, it will be against the Arkansas pass defense which is ranked 121st out of 124 teams in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Plus, with games against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt following this weekend's matchup, there's a real opportunity for Auburn to build some momentum for the stretch run.

David Fox (@DavidFox615):  
I look at both teams and think the chances are slim either can rebound and make a bowl game, but if one of the two is going to pull itself together and win six games, I’m going to pick Auburn. It’s really tough to bet against a team quarterbacked by Tyler Wilson for one quarterbacked by Kiehl Frazier, but the Tigers have at least been close to eking out an extra win or two this season. Meanwhile, Arkansas has been a mess since Day One this season. Auburn lost by seven to Clemson in a game Clemson took over late, and Auburn played LSU close in a 12-10 loss last week. We’re talking about two games where a break or two could have led to improbable Auburn wins. You can’t say the same of Arkansas against Alabama or Texas A&M. Although Arkansas has the new head coach, Auburn has the two new coordinators. I could see the Tigers executing game plans from Scot Loeffler and Brian Van Gorder a little better as the season goes along. A team that plays within one score of Clemson and LSU could certainly play well enough to defeat Ole Miss and Vanderbilt on the road, as Auburn will after this week.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Neither. Arkansas players and coaches have completely packed it in so there is little chance the Hogs can turn around this season — even with Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tulsa coming up after Auburn. Optimistically, Arkansas will be 5-7 (with a win over Auburn). Auburn has a better chance to salvage the year after, if they can play the way they did against LSU and not like they have in every other game. Optimistically, Auburn will be 6-6 (with wins over Arkansas and Vanderbilt), so if six wins and a bowl game is saving the season, then I would guess the Tigers. But make no mistake, 2012 will be viewed as a failure by both programs.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I have very low expectations for both teams the rest of the season, but I think Auburn ends up with a better record and maybe squeaks out a bowl appearance. Arkansas just has too many issues to address, starting with a defense that is allowing 40.6 points a game. The offense isn’t playing at a high level either, but there’s some potential as long as Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis remain in the lineup. Auburn’s offense ranks as the worst in the SEC, but the offensive line is young and should improve over the second half of the season. The defense has some nice pieces but has to tackle better and force a few more turnovers. The Tigers are no better than a 5-7 or 6-6 team this season. However, there’s more talent and potential for Auburn to turn things around in the second half of 2012. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
Neither. Arkansas has been the nation’s most disappointing team to date. The Razorbacks have yet to defeat an FBS opponent thanks in large part to a defense that is incapable of stopping the forward pass. Throw in the off-the-field issues — i.e. the John L. Smith sideshow — and it’s hard to envision this team winning more than three more games. There’s not as much drama at Auburn — though Gene Chizik isn’t on the firmest of ground — but this edition of the Tigers simply isn’t good enough to be much of a factor in the SEC West. Auburn might scratch and claw to get to six wins and reach bowl-eligibility, but that’s hardly a reason to celebrate for a program that won the national title two years ago.

Mark Ross: 
Whichever team wins on Saturday would certainly get off to the right start towards that goal, but I'm not sure either team can truly salvage its season at this point. That's not to say that neither won't earn a postseason invitation, mind you. I just think it's fair to say that unless one is able to completely turn things around, neither team will be able to match preseason expectations, especially as far as Arkansas is concerned. Both teams have several winnable games on their remaining schedules, but both teams also have obvious question marks and weaknesses, so I think it's a stretch to call many of these, especially when it comes to SEC plays, "guaranteed" victories. Arkansas gets Kentucky and Ole Miss at home following Saturday's visit to Auburn, but faces a November slate of Tulsa and LSU along with road games at South Carolina and Mississippi State. The defense has to start playing better, and soon, and the offense needs to find a rhythm both passing and running the ball or I'm afraid it's going to be a long and dreary fall for Hog fans. On the other side, Auburn has to travel to Ole Miss and Vanderbilt following Saturday's game with Arkansas and still has Texas A&M, Georgia and the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa left on its conference slate. The Tigers also have home games against New Mexico State and Alabama A&M to break up the SEC dates. As good as the Tigers' defense has been at times, they will have to find a way to score more than 18 points a game if they want to win many of these. Preseason expectations have obviously been thrown out the window, but I am still very leery of either team being able to finish with any more than six wins. Using that as the new measuring stick, I give Auburn a slightly better chance to get there because of those two remaining non-conference games, But again even these so-called "cupcake" opponents are guaranteed walkovers, at least not based on how this Tigers team has played so far.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
The Tigers showed signs of life in the close LSU loss and could still make a bowl game, while I see the Arkansas season as a dumpster fire that will only be extinguished with new leadership. Auburn will probably continue to struggle at quarterback throughout the season, but the solid running tandem of Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb and a talented defense should allow the Tigers to win close games. If Gene Chizik’s crew plays well over the next month, there is a good possibility of Auburn winning four of its next five contests. As far as the Razorbacks, it’s difficult to see any positives when your defense allows over 40 points per game. That’s just scary bad. And how do you rank 111th nationally in rushing with Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson in the backfield? Maybe Tyler Wilson and company will find a way to turn it around, but I do not see the Arkansas program moving forward until a new coach is hired.

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College Football Bowl Projections After Week 5

ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
S
EC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> <strong>Arkansas or Auburn: Which Team Can Turn Things Around in 2012?</strong></p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:20
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/miami-hurricanes-football-can-hurricanes-win-acc-2012
Body:

Thanks to a 4-1 start and three wins in ACC play, Miami has some momentum entering its Week 6 matchup against Notre Dame. The Hurricanes were picked by many to finish fifth in the Coastal but are in position to make some noise in the division. 

Is Miami a Legitimate ACC Title Contender?

Coach George Welsh, former head coach of Navy and Virginia and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Miami's coach Al Golden has a horseshoe back there in his pocket somewhere.  Those miracle catches at the end of the game have won two for him.  They're liable to win the Coastal Division. The other contender in the Coastal, Virginia Tech, has been very disappointing.  I don't think either of those two teams are very good this year, especially on defense.  At this point in the season, unless Miami improves dramatically on the defensive side of the ball they will not be to win the ACC title against either FSU and Clemson.

Ryan Tice (@RyanTice), TheWolfpacker.com
How can Miami not be considered an ACC title contender? In my mind, they’re clearly the favorite in the Coastal Division, especially since Virginia Tech is having such a down year. The Hurricanes are the only squad with a 3-0 record against ACC competition, and quarterback Stephen Morris looks to be the real deal after throwing for 1,002 yards in the past two games. The squad is a young and inconsistent one, which explains how they’ve let Georgia Tech and NC State back in games despite big leads, but their offense is an explosive one that can score from anywhere at anytime. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and since the ACC’s top two teams reside in the Atlantic Division, if Miami takes care of business and gets to the Championship game, I’ll give that offense a chance. We’ll learn a lot this weekend about the Canes when they face Notre Dame — who looks to be back, as well — but as long as they keep winning league contests, there’s always a chance to hoist the trophy in Charlotte.

David Fox (@DavidFox615):  
Miami is a solid team, exceeding all expectations this season, but Miami still has work to do to be an ACC contender. At the start of the season, I wondered where Miami would be without Duke Johnson, the Hurricanes’ playmaking freshman running back. In the last two weeks Mike James, Phillip Dorsett and, most of all, Stephen Morris have emerged on offense. Against Georgia Tech and NC State, Morris put up passing numbers Miami hasn’t seen since the days of Gino Torretta, Bernie Kosar and Craig Erickson. This is a fun offense to watch, for sure. But that defense, wow. Giving up 32 points to Boston College and 37 to NC State, that’s not good, never mind 52 to Kansas State. Take out the win over Bethune-Cookman, and Miami is allowing 530 yards per game. That’s not going to be good enough to win the ACC. With the exception of Florida State, Miami has the ability to beat any ACC team left on the schedule. That’s enough to win a division, but my guess is that the Hurricanes’ leaky defense catches up with them at some point.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Let me ask you this: If Miami wins the Coastal but no one is there to see it, does it really happen? Miami football has been a roller-coaster of emotion this season, and while this team is clearly atop the standings after two huge wins over Georgia Tech and NC State, the tracks are about to hit a pretty nasty spiral. Notre Dame in Chicago, North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech are the next four. If this team finishes 2-2 in that stretch, it would be a major victory for Al Golden. There are way too many questions for me to put this team in the championship mix, but that doesn't mean there is any excuse for the lack of support the pathetic fans in South Florida are showing this hard-working upstart. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I’ve been impressed with Miami this season, but I still think this team has a lot of work to do before we can seriously call it a contender for the ACC crown. The Hurricanes have scored 38 or more points in four games this season but haven’t exactly faced the gauntlet of defenses in the ACC. Boston College, Georgia Tech and NC State are all struggling on defense, so Miami’s numbers are slightly inflated. However, the play of quarterback Stephen Morris and true freshman running back Duke Johnson is impressive and they will only get better with more snaps. The Hurricanes’ defense is filled with youth and inexperience, but this group should not be allowing 494.6 yards and 33.4 points per game. Al Golden is a good coach, but Miami is probably a year or two away from contending for the ACC. However, playing in a weak Coastal Division might allow the Hurricanes to make some noise, but the two best teams in the ACC rest in the Atlantic with Florida State and Clemson. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
The Hurricanes are clearly a contender to win the ACC Coastal Division — they are already 3–0 in the league and Virginia Tech has been a disappointment — but I’m reluctant to call them a true contender to win the ACC title because Florida State and Clemson, the top two teams in the Atlantic Division, would be considerable favorites over Al Golden’s club in a hypothetical ACC Championship Game. Give Miami credit; this team has shown tremendous resolve in recent weeks, but the defense is a major concern and the quarterback (Stephen Morris) is too inconsistent.

Mark Ross: 
Miami could be a contender to win the Coastal division, especially given Virginia Tech's struggles on offense, but there's still a long ways to go and I need to see more from the Hurricanes, particularly on defense, before I am convinced. It's quite impressive that the Hurricanes are 4-1 as the calendar turns to October. However, they got destroyed 52-13 by Kansas State, the only ranked team they have played so far, and the collective record of the other three FBS teams they have defeated, which also happen to be ACC teams, is 6-8. Further, these teams — Boston College, Georgia Tech and NC State — are a combined 1-5 in the conference and are ranked 64th and lower in the nation in total defense. Miami has made most of its noise thus far on offense, ranking 35th in the nation in total offense (472.6 ypg) and scoring 35.6 points per game. However, the defense is giving up nearly 500 yards a game, which ranks them 114th out of 120 FBS teams, and surrendering nearly as many points (33.4 per game) as they are scoring. Given the competition they have played so far, Miami will be hard-pressed to continue to have success if they run into a defense that is capable of slowing the 'Canes offense down. To that end, Miami's next three opponents — Notre Dame (Chicago), North Carolina, Florida State — each rank among the top 16 nationally in total defense. Barring a complete collapse or late ruling by the NCAA, Miami should win enough games to make it back to a bowl this season, but this is not an ACC title contender.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
Al Golden and staff have done a solid job in getting the Hurricanes to a 4-1 record, but I do not see The “U” as a league title contender. Miami’s offense has been impressive with the marked improvement in quarterback Stephen Morris’ game, and running back Duke Johnson is one of the best freshmen in the country. However the Hurricanes defense ranks 114th in the nation and is giving up over 33 points per game, and that fact will keep them from competing for the ACC crown. Despite’s Virginia Tech’s “Big East” troubles this season, I still see the Hokies as the team to beat in the Coastal Division. Frank Beamer’s program has a way of turning early-season problems into solutions by conference play, and the Hokies-Hurricanes Thursday night clash on November 1 should be exciting to watch. Give credit to the Canes for a great start, but the next four games (vs. Notre Dame in Chicago, North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech) will be very difficult for Golden’s crew.

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Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
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S
EC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> Miami Hurricanes Football: Can the Hurricanes Win the ACC in 2012?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-6-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 6

Best Fantasy Matchups (Games with the most fantasy potential)

Georgia Tech at Clemson

Line: Clemson -10 (O/U-73.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Clemson 42-32

Best plays:

Georgia Tech (QB-Tevin Washington, RB-Orwin Smith)

Clemson (QB-Tajh Boyd, RB-Andre Ellington, WRs-Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, TE-Brandon Ford)

Also consider:

Georgia Tech (RB-Zach Laskey)

Clemson (K-Chandler Catanzaro)

theCFFsite projects: Clemson 49-28
 

Tulsa at Marshall

Line: Tulsa -3.5(O/U-67.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Tulsa 36-32

Best plays:

Tulsa (QB-Cody Green, RB-Alex Singleton, WR-Keyarris Garrett)

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

Also consider:

Tulsa (RBs-Trey Watts, K-Daniel Schwarz)

Marshall (RB-Kevin Grooms, WRs-Aaron Dobson, Antavious Wilson)

theCFFsite projects: Tulsa 41-40

 

Northern Illinois at Ball St

Line: Northern Illinois -2.5(O/U-67.5)

Projected score based on point spread: NIU 35-32

Best plays:

Northern Illinois (QB-Jordan Lynch, RB-Leighton Settle)

Ball St (QB-Keith Wenning, WR-Willie Snead, K-Steven Schott)

Also consider:

Northern Illinois (WR-Martel Moore, K-Mathew Sims)

Ball St (RB-Jahwan Edwards, WR Jamill Smith)

theCFFsite projects: Northern Illinois 45-40

 

Louisiana-Monroe at Middle Tennessee

Line: LA-Monroe-3(O/U-66.5)

Projected score based on point spread: LA-Monroe 35-32

Best plays:

LA-Monroe (QB-Kolton Browning, RB-Jyruss Edwards, WR-Brent Leonard)

MTSU (QB-Logan Kilgore, RB-Ben Cunningham)

Also consider:

LA-Monroe (WR-Tavarese Maye)

MTSU (WR-Anthony Amos)

theCFFsite projects: LA-Monroe 45-28

 

Central Michigan at Toledo

Line: Toledo -10.5(O/U-66.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Toledo 39-28

Best plays:

Central Michigan (QB-Ryan Radcliff, RB-Zurlon Tipton, WR-Titus Davis)

Toledo (QB-Terrence Owens, RB-David Fluellen, WR-Bernard Reedy)

Also consider:

Central Michigan (WR-Cody Wilson)

Toledo (WR-Alonzo Russell)

theCFFsite projects: Toledo 42-31

 

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

Kansas at Kansas St

Line: Kansas St -24(O/U-53.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Kansas St 39-15

Stay away from:

Kansas (RB-James Sims)

theCFFsite projects: Kansas St 31-10

 

Michigan St at Indiana

Line: Michigan St -15.5(O/U-48)

Projected score based on point spread: Michigan St 32-16

Stay away from:

Indiana (RB-Stephen Houston)

theCFFsite projects: Michigan St 32-16

 

Tulane at Louisiana

Line: Louisiana -23.5(O/U-56.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Louisiana 40-16

Stay away from:

Tulane (RB-Orleans Darkwa)

theCFFsite projects: Louisiana 41-10

 

Connecticut at Rutgers

Line: Rutgers -9(O/U-40.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Rutgers 25-16

Stay away from:

Connecticut (RB-Lyle McCombs)

theCFFsite projects: Rutgers 24-13

 

Must Watch Games (The games with the biggest headlines)

Nebraska at Ohio St

Line: Ohio St -3.5(O/U-57.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Ohio St 31-27

Outlook: If the Nebraska team that showed up in the second half against Wisconsin plays four quarters in Columbus, the Buckeyes are in for a dogfight. However, the Cornhuskers’ inability to take care of the football will lead to too many easy scoring opportunities for Ohio State.

theCFFsite projects: Ohio St 27-24
 

West Virginia at Texas

Line: Texas -6.5(O/U-74.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Texas 41-34

Outlook: West Virginia’s Geno Smith comes into this contest as the early-season Heisman front-runner. If the senior quarterback can lead the Mountaineers to an impressive victory on the road, he’ll distance himself from the field.

theCFFsite projects: West Virginia 41-37

 

LSU at Florida

Line: LSU -2.5(O/U-44.5)

Projected score based on point spread: LSU 24-21

Outlook: The Gators have had two weeks to prepare for the Tigers, who have looked anything but impressive in their previous two games. Can Florida keep the LSU offense under wraps and put enough points on the board to upset the nation’s No. 3 ranked team?

theCFFsite projects: LSU 24-21

 

Georgia at South Carolina

Line: South Carolina -2.5(O/U-57)

Projected score based on point spread: South Carolina 30-27

Outlook: The Georgia offense is finely tuned right now and has enough explosive playmakers to go into Columbia and pull out a victory in a critical SEC East showdown.

theCFFsite projects: Georgia 31-28


theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season: Straight Up (10-5) ATS: (8-7)

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

 

 

By Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Find us on facebook

Email us:

theCFFsite@thecollegefantasyfootballsite.com

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 6 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 04:34
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-5-bowl-projections
Body:

College football's bowl season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With only three weeks of results in the books, it's hard to make long-term projections about teams, especially with several teams still playing overmatched non-conference games. 

With little data to work with, the post-Week 5 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a small dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks, especially as we see how teams perform in conference games. 

2012-2013 Post-Week 5 College Football Bowl Projections

Bowl Date Tie-In Projected Matchup
New Mexico Dec. 15 MWC vs. Pac-12 Arizona 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. South Florida
New Orleans Dec. 22 Sun Belt vs. C-USA UL Lafayette vs. Marshall
Las Vegas Dec. 22 MWC vs. Pac-12 Washington 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 Duke vs. Connecticut*
Belk Dec. 27 ACC vs. Big East NC State vs. Cincinnati
Holiday Dec. 27 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 UCLA vs. Texas Tech
Independence Dec. 28 ACC vs. SEC Wake Forest vs. Missouri
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 ACC vs. Big East Miami vs. Rutgers
Meineke Car Care Dec. 28 Big Ten vs. Big 12 TCU vs. Purdue
Armed Forces Dec. 29 C-USA vs. MWC Houston vs. Air Force
Kraft Fight Hunger Dec. 29 Pac-12 vs. Navy Navy vs. Stanford
Pinstripe Dec. 29 Big East vs. Big 12 Baylor vs. Pittsburgh
Alamo Dec. 29 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Oregon State vs. Oklahoma
Buffalo Wild Wings Dec. 29 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Okla. State vs. Mich. State 
Music City Dec. 31 SEC vs. ACC Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech
Sun Dec. 31 ACC vs. Pac-12 Arizona State vs. Va. Tech
Liberty Dec. 31 SEC vs. C-USA Auburn vs. UCF**
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 ACC vs. SEC Clemson vs. Texas A&M
TicketCity Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. C-USA Tulsa vs. Iowa
TaxSlayer.com Gator Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Miss. State vs. Northwestern
Capital One Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Georgia vs. Michigan
Outback Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Wisconsin vs. Florida
Cotton Jan. 4 Big 12 vs. SEC West Virginia vs. So. Carolina
BBVA Compass Jan. 5 SEC vs. Big East Vanderbilt vs. Louisiana Tech*
GoDaddy.com Jan. 6 MAC vs. Sun Belt W. Kentucky vs. Ohio
       
BCS Bowls      
Rose Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Nebraska vs. USC
Orange Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Florida State vs. Louisville
Sugar Jan. 2 BCS vs. BCS LSU vs. Kansas State
Fiesta Jan. 3 BCS vs. BCS Texas 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. 2, 2012)

Related College Football Content

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Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
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Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
College Football Week 5 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football Post-Week 5 Bowl Projections</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-5-rankings
Body:

Week 5 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. One new coach makes an appearance in this week's top 20 (Ellis Johnson), while Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville drops out after beating Iowa State to move to 4-0 this season.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 5 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
1
Record at Kentucky: 12-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
The Wildcats showed some signs of life in Saturday’s loss to South Carolina. Despite an injury to quarterback Maxwell Smith in the first quarter, Kentucky held a 17-7 lead at halftime. However, the Gamecocks were simply a better team in the second half and pulled away for a 38-17 victory. With Smith sidelined, true freshman Jalen Whitlow stepped in at quarterback and played relatively well considering the circumstances. However, Kentucky had an opportunity to score points at the end of the first half, but a disastrous sequence cost the team of at least a shot at a field goal. Although the Wildcats still would have lost the game with those points, it’s a coaching blunder that Phillips has to avoid.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Boston College: 21-22 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Eagles put up a fight against Clemson, but the Tigers simply had too much firepower on offense and pulled away in the second half for a 45-31 victory. While the offense has made progress since last season, the defense ranks ninth in the ACC in yards allowed, pass defense and points allowed. Spaziani is still searching for his first win over a FBS team this season, and Boston College has a tricky road date at Army this Saturday.

3. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
6
Record at California: 80-52 (11th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
The Golden Bears’ disappointing start to 2012 continued with a 27-17 loss to Arizona State. For a coach that is known for his offensive background, it has been a surprise to see California struggle the last two seasons. The Golden Bears rank ninth in the Pac-12 in passing offense, while they are averaging 25.6 points a game (seventh in the conference). California’s only win of 2012 came against FCS opponent Southern Utah, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with UCLA, Washington State, Stanford and Utah coming up in October.

4. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
4
Record at Rice: 24-42 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
It’s hard to penalize Bailiff much for Saturday’s 35-14 loss to rival Houston. The Owls were without quarterback Taylor McHargue, who is averaging 321.5 yards of total offense per game. Without McHargue, the offense struggled to move the ball, while the defense allowed over 600 yards for the third time this year. The good news for Bailiff is the next two games are very winnable, with a road date at Memphis and a home game against future C-USA foe UTSA.

5. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank:
3
Record at Idaho: 19-48 (6th season)
2012 Record: 0-5
As expected, Idaho’s trip to Chapel Hill was ugly. North Carolina blanked Idaho 66-0, and the Vandals managed only 189 yards of offense and committed five turnovers. Idaho is one of only eight teams without a win this season, but the schedule lightens over the next two months, as the Vandals host New Mexico State this Saturday and play at Texas State on Oct. 13. Considering Idaho’s uncertain conference future, it’s important for this team to finish the second half of the season on a high note.

6. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
8
Record at Buffalo: 6-22 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Bulls gave Connecticut all it could handle but were stopped around midfield late in the fourth quarter for a potential game-tying touchdown. Buffalo has had an interesting 2012 season, as it played well against Georgia and Connecticut but lost to Kent State and gave up 34 points to Morgan State. The Bulls have back-to-back road games the next two weeks, as they travel to Ohio and Northern Illinois – two of the MAC’s best teams. Running back Branden Oliver could return for this Saturday’s game against the Bobcats, which would be a huge boost to a team averaging 199.5 rushing yards per game.

7. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
14
Record at Central Michigan: 8-20 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-2
After a huge win against Iowa, the Chippewas came back to Earth with a 55-24 defeat at Northern Illinois. There’s no doubt Central Michigan would struggle to match last week’s intensity, but the loss to the Huskies drops Enos to 8-20 in his third season in Mount Pleasant. Although the win over the Hawkeyes was huge, Enos is still in a lot of trouble, especially with a trip to Toledo this Saturday, followed by games against Navy and Ball State. The Chippewas could still get to six wins, which might be the mark needed to save Enos’ job.

8. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
13
Record at UNLV: 5-25 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
A week after picking up their first win of 2012, the Rebels were soundly defeated 35-13 at Utah State. UNLV has showed progress this season but Saturday’s loss was the biggest margin of defeat for the Rebels in 2012. Although Hauck seems to have the program on the right track, wins could be difficult to come by in the next few weeks, as Louisiana Tech, Nevada and Boise State are UNLV’s next three opponents. The Rebels finish the year with New Mexico, Colorado State, Wyoming and Hawaii, which are all winnable games. Hauck didn’t inherit a full cupboard but needs to show a little more progress before guaranteeing himself a fourth season.

9. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
10
Record at Tennessee: 14-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-2
In some ways, Saturday’s 51-44 loss to Georgia was a good sign for Tennessee. The Volunteers rallied from a 27-10 deficit in the first half and eventually held a 30-27 late in the second quarter. The Bulldogs pulled away in the second half, but Tennessee hung tough and had a chance to tie late in the game. While close losses are good for morale, it’s still another defeat for the Volunteers. At 0-2 in the SEC, Tennessee’s East title hopes are probably over. A challenging schedule awaits this team in October, as the Volunteers play at Mississippi State and South Carolina, while hosting Alabama on Oct. 20. It’s clear Tennessee is a better team in 2012. However, Dooley has to show more progress to guarantee his return in Knoxville for 2013.

10. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
16
Record at New Mexico State: 10-33 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
Although New Mexico State is a difficult place to win and Walker is in a tough position with an uncertain conference future, there’s really no excuse for the performance against UTSA on Saturday night. The Aggies were blown out 35-7 by a team playing only its second season of football. Ouch. The Roadrunners are a promising program, but that’s a game New Mexico State has to have. The Aggies are running out of chances for wins, with a date at Idaho on Oct. 6 as their best shot the rest of the way.

11. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank:
5
Record at Iowa: 99-68 (14th season)
2012 Record: 3-2
A disappointing season in Iowa City got a little better with a 31-13 win over Minnesota. The victory over the Golden Gophers returned the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy to Iowa after a two-year absence. Ferentz is under a lot of pressure to win, but a schedule that features games against Michigan State, Penn State and Northwestern in October will be difficult to navigate unbeaten. Considering he is closing in on his 100th win in his Iowa tenure, Ferentz has built up some goodwill, but the Hawkeyes are just 4-4 in their last eight games. Still, barring a complete disaster, Ferentz will be back in Iowa City in 2013.

12. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank:
9
Record at Syracuse: 18-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Orange had their only bye week of 2012 in Week 5 and return to action against Pittsburgh this Saturday. Syracuse has lost seven consecutive games to Pittsburgh and has been defeated by 10 points or more in the last four matchups against the Panthers. Unless the Orange suffers a major collapse over the next eight games, Marrone is probably safe to return to Syracuse in 2013. However, the Orange need to avoid another one-win season in Big East play.

13. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at Maryland: 4-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 2-2
Some coaches may not like an early bye week, but this setup might work out best for Maryland. With true freshman quarterback Perry Hills starting, the off date should allow Edsall and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley some time to work out a few kinks before ACC play begins this Saturday. The Terrapins have matched their win total from last season but still need to show a lot of improvement to make a bowl game in 2012.

14. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at Southern Miss: 0-4
2012 Record: 0-4
Johnson makes his first appearance in the hot seat rankings. The first-year coach is off to a horrible start, as Southern Miss is 0-4 with losses to Nebraska, East Carolina, Western Kentucky and Louisville. While the competition hasn’t been bad, it’s never a good sign when your athletic director has to release a video asking for people to show support for a team just four games into a coach’s tenure. With Boise State coming to Hattiesburg this Saturday and a trip to UCF on Oct. 13, the Golden Eagles are staring at an 0-6 start.

15. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
15
Record at Colorado: 4-14 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
A week after picking up a win against Washington State, the Buffaloes lost 42-14 against UCLA. The loss to the Bruins continued to highlight how much work Colorado needs on defense, as UCLA recorded 281 yards through the air and 211 on the ground. The Buffaloes have a bye this Saturday, which is a much-needed break considering Arizona State, USC and Oregon are the next three opponents.

16. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
19
Record at Western Michigan: 49-42 (8th season)
2012 Record: 2-3
Last week was one to forget for Cubit and Western Michigan. Although the Broncos pulled off an upset over Connecticut in Week 4, they lost quarterback Alex Carder to hand surgery, and his absence was clearly felt in the loss to Toledo on Saturday night. Backup Tyler VanTubbergen threw for 232 yards but tossed three picks. With Carder sidelined, Western Michigan needs to regroup this week, but it catches a favorable match-up against UMass this Saturday.

17. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
17
Record at Auburn: 31-13 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
While you never want to enter a bye week off of a loss, Auburn had to be feeling better about itself after a 12-10 defeat to LSU on Sept. 22. While the offense is still a work in progress, the defense held LSU’s rushing attack to 182 yards and forced two turnovers. The next few weeks will be critical for this team, as Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M are the next four opponents. All of those games are winnable but if the offense doesn't show any improvement, the Tigers could easily be staring at a 6-6 or 5-7 finish to the 2012 season.

18. Tony Levine, Houston
Last Week’s Rank:
11
Record at Houston: 2-3 (1st full season)
2012 Record: 1-3
There’s no question Levine is breathing a little easier this week. Houston snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday, beating Rice 35-14 for its first win of the season. The Cougars have struggled at times on both sides of the ball, but Saturday’s performance was a step in the right direction. Houston has a good chance to be 3-3 after its next two games, as North Texas and UAB visit Robertson Stadium in the next two weeks.

19. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank:
7
Record at MTSU: 38-41 (7th season)
2012 Record: 3-1
It’s still early in the 2012 season, but Stockstill probably assured himself of another season at MTSU with a huge 49-28 win over Georgia Tech in Week 5. After losing to McNeese State in the season opener, the Blue Raiders have won three consecutive games and have already surpassed their win total from last season. MTSU looks to go 2-0 in Sun Belt play this week, as Louisiana-Monroe visits Murfreesboro this Saturday.

20. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
18
Record at South Florida: 15-15 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-3
Holtz drops two spots in this week’s hot seat watch, but he’s still feeling plenty of heat after five games. The Bulls have a three-game losing streak and have back-to-back upcoming road contests against Temple and Louisville. Although South Florida lost to Florida State, the Bulls hung around and trailed one of the best teams in college football 13-10 early in the third quarter. Holtz is in no real danger of getting fired, but the Bulls need to avoid a repeat of last season’s 5-7 record and just one win in Big East play.
 

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas:
1-4
2012 Record: 1-4
As we mention each week in the hot seat watch, Smith is essentially on a one-year contract, so he was never expected to return for 2013. Since he’s not going to be fired, we’ll keep Smith in his own space each week. Arkansas’ miserable 2012 season continued in Week 5, as the Razorbacks lost 58-10 to Texas A&M.


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Related College Football Content

Post-Week 5 Bowl Projections
College Football Week 5 Recap

ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 5 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-5-power-rankings
Body:

Week 5 provided plenty of excitement in the Big 12. West Virginia and Baylor met for a 70-63 shootout in Morgantown, while Texas and Oklahoma State matched up for a thriller in Stillwater. The Longhorns rank as Athlon's No. 1 team, but the top three aren't separated by much. 


Post-Week 5 Big 12 Power Rankings

1. Texas (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
1
Week 5 Result: Beat Oklahoma State 41-36
After throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns against Oklahoma State, David Ash appears to be one of the most-improved quarterbacks in the nation. The sophomore’s poise and timely throws were crucial to beating the Cowboys, as Texas remained unbeaten and rank as Athlon’s No. 1 Big 12 team for another week. The Longhorns’ defense gave up 576 yards to Oklahoma State, but the offense was able to match each score by the Cowboys, with the game-winning touchdown coming with less than 30 seconds left. Texas has a difficult two-game stretch coming up, as West Virginia visits Austin this Saturday, and the Longhorns meet Oklahoma in Dallas on Oct. 13. 
Next Game: West Virginia

2. Kansas State (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
2
Week 5 Result: Bye Week
The Wildcats had a bye in Week 5 and return to action against Kansas on Saturday. Kansas State should be ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation, especially after beating Oklahoma 24-19 in Norman. The Wildcats have won three in a row against their in-state rival and will be heavy favorites once again this week.
Next Week: Kansas

3. West Virginia (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
3
Week 5 Result: Beat Baylor 70-63
The first Big 12 game in West Virginia history was a success. The Mountaineers scored 70 points, while quarterback Geno Smith threw for 656 yards and eight touchdowns to outlast Baylor. While the offense clicked on all cylinders on Saturday, the defense showed there is major work to be done. New co-coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson have their work cut out for them over the next few weeks. Although Baylor’s offense is one of the best in the Big 12, West Virginia’s secondary did not cover or tackle well, and the defense needs to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Next Week: at Texas

4. Oklahoma (2-1, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
4
Week 5 Result: Bye Week
An early bye week probably isn’t a coach’s favorite idea, but the off date came at a good time for Oklahoma. After a 24-19 loss to Kansas State, the Sooners needed to regroup and find the right answers to contend in the Big 12. Atop the priority list for Bob Stoops has to be getting quarterback Landry Jones comfortable, while stopping the run on defense. The offense clearly misses receiver Ryan Broyles, but Oklahoma has capable targets in Trey Metoyer, Kenny Stills and Sterling Shepard. The good news for the Sooners? It’s early, so there is plenty of time to rebound.
Next Week: at Texas Tech

5. TCU (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
5
Week 5 Result: Beat SMU 24-16
Thanks to a 24-16 win over SMU, the Iron Skillet is headed back to Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs got revenge on the Mustangs for last season’s 40-33 win at TCU. Thanks to a downpour, the playing conditions on Saturday night were less than ideal. The Horned Frogs had only 156 yards of offense, but their defense limited SMU to just 12 first downs and forced six turnovers. Despite the victory, TCU coach Gary Patterson isn't happy, as his team has blown a few opportunities and ranks ninth in the Big 12 in penalties committed. The schedule will only get tougher over the next few weeks for the Horned Frogs, starting with a home date against Iowa State on Saturday.
Next Week: Iowa State

6. Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
6
Week 5 Result: Lost to Texas 41-36
Even though the Cowboys have a 2-2 record, it’s hard to place this team any lower in the Big 12 power rankings. Despite not having starting quarterback Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State gave Texas all it could handle last Saturday. Backup J.W. Walsh was solid in his first start, completing 18 of 27 passes for 301 yards and two scores, while adding 57 yards on the ground. Running back Joseph Randle gashed Texas for 199 yards and two scores, but the defense was unable to come up with a key stop late in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys have a bye week in Week 6, before returning to action against Kansas on Oct. 13.
Next Game: Bye Week

7. Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
9
Week 5 Result: Beat Iowa State 24-13
With a weak schedule to open the season, no one was quite sure how much Texas Tech had improved since last year. After beating Iowa State 24-13 in Week 5, it’s pretty clear the Red Raiders are significantly better on defense. Good enough to win the Big 12? We'll see about that, but new coordinator Art Kaufman has at least made this unit respectable. The Cyclones managed only 189 yards, while Texas Tech’s defense helped its offense by forcing four turnovers. Quarterback Seth Doege tossed two picks but threw for 331 yards and three scores. Just how high can the Red Raiders climb in the Big 12? With matchups against Oklahoma and West Virginia the next two weeks, Texas Tech has a chance to make a big statement in conference play.
Next Game: Oklahoma

8. Baylor (3-1, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
7
Week 5 Result: Lost to West Virginia 70-63
It’s not often a team scores 63 points and comes out on the losing end. However, that’s what happened to Baylor on Saturday afternoon, as the Bears dropped a 70-63 shootout in Morgantown against West Virginia. Quarterback Nick Florence set a school record with 581 passing yards, with receiver Terrance Williams as his favorite target (17 catches, 314 yards, two touchdowns). While the Bears moved the ball with ease, they struggled to get stops on defense. Allowing over 800 yards is never a good thing, regardless of the opponent. The bye week comes at a good time for Baylor, as the off date should allow coordinator Phil Bennett a chance to figure out what went wrong in Morgantown.
Next Game: Bye Week

9. Iowa State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
8
Week 5 Result: Lost to Texas Tech 24-13
The Cyclones were dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 24-13 loss to Texas Tech in Ames. Iowa State’s defense did enough to win the game, as it limited the Red Raiders to 63 rushing yards and scored on an interception return in the first quarter. However, the offense was awful, starting with quarterback Steele Jantz. The senior threw for 73 yards and tossed three picks, while Iowa State’s ground attack managed only 116 yards. The Cyclones won’t have much time to think about this loss, as they travel to TCU in Week 6.
Next Game: at TCU

10. Kansas (1-3, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
10
Week 5 Result: Bye Week
The Jayhawks had their first bye of the season in Week 5. Kansas is clearly the Big 12’s worst team and would be a shock if it gets bowl eligible. The Jayhawks have issues on both sides of the ball, as the passing offense ranks 100th nationally and the defense is giving up 439 yards per game. Kansas’ defense is doing a good job of forcing turnovers, but the offense needs to be more opportunistic when provided opportunities.
Next Game: at Kansas State


Related College Football Content

College Football Week 5 Recap
ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

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Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/acc-post-week-5-power-rankings
Body:

Week 5 of ACC action didn't have a marquee game like Florida State-Clemson but still provided plenty of intrigue. Miami-NC State was one of the weekend's most entertaining games, while Florida State and Clemson took care of business on the road. On the downside, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech lost non-conference games. Duke improved to 4-1 with a victory over Wake Forest.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – Manuel wasn’t flashy against South Florida but did enough to get the victory. The senior threw for 242 yards and one touchdown and has not thrown an interception since the season opener.

2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd has been steady all season and has back-to-back games of three touchdown tosses. The junior has improved significantly as a rusher, recording 161 yards and one touchdown through five games.

3. Stephen Morris, QB, Miami – Morris had a slow start to the season but has seven touchdowns and 1,002 passing yards over his last two games. The junior probably won’t continue this pace, but he’s deserving of a mention after the last two weeks.

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner has been relatively quiet the last two weeks but leads the conference in tackles for a loss (9) and ranks second in sacks (6.5).

2. Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State – Carradine has been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks this year and led Florida State with nine tackles and two sacks against South Florida.

3. Joe Vellano, DL, Maryland – The Terrapins were off in Week 5, but Vellano ranks fifth in the conference with 6.5 tackles for a loss.

Coach of the Year Standings

1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – The Seminoles continue to hang in the national title picture with a 30-17 win over South Florida.

2. David Cutcliffe, Duke – Can the Blue Devils snap their bowl drought? Thanks to a win over Wake Forest, Duke needs two victories to get to bowl eligible.

3. Al Golden, Miami – The Hurricanes have been involved in a few shootouts this year, but it’s time to take this team seriously as an ACC Coastal contender.

Post-Week 5 ACC Power Rankings

1. Florida State (5-0, 2-0 ACC)
Last Week:
1
Week 5 Result: Beat South Florida 30-17
After a huge win over Clemson last week, the Seminoles were on letdown alert against South Florida in Week 5. Florida State didn’t have its best game of the season but finished with a comfortable 30-17 victory over the Bulls. Quarterback EJ Manuel finished with 242 passing yards, while Chris Thompson added 74 yards on the ground. The defense forced three turnovers, including a fumble return for a touchdown at the end of the third quarter. Florida State has another tricky road trip in Week 6, as it travels to Raleigh to take on NC State.
Next Game: at NC State

2. Clemson (4-1, 1-1 ACC)
Last Week:
2
Week 5 Result: Beat Boston College 45-31
When you suffer a tough defeat like Clemson experienced in Week 4, it’s easy to let a team beat you twice. However, the Tigers erased some of the disappointment from the loss to Florida State, beating Boston College 45-31. Despite Sammy Watkins missing the game due to a virus, quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Andre Ellington chipped in 132 on the ground. Clemson needs a few breaks to catch the Seminoles in the Atlantic but plays its next two games at home, before taking on Wake Forest and Duke on the road.
Next Game: Georgia Tech

3. Miami (4-1, 3-0 ACC)
Last Week:
4
Week 5 Result: Beat NC State 44-37
The Hurricanes have been involved in two of college football’s most bizarre games of the 2012 season over the last two weeks. Miami opened a 23-7 lead against NC State on Saturday, but watched the Wolfpack rally to a 37-37 tie with less than two minutes remaining. After Mike Glennon tossed an interception, Stephen Morris hit Phillip Dorsett on a 62-yard touchdown pass for the win. While the Hurricanes are giving up a lot of yards and points, they are simply finding ways to win. Miami sits atop the ACC Coastal with a 3-0 record and host North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech in its next three conference games. Considering where the Hurricanes were predicted to finish in the preseason, Al Golden deserves a ton of credit for leading this team to a 4-1 record.
Next Game: Notre Dame (Chicago)

4. Virginia Tech (3-2, 1-0 ACC)
Last Week:
3
Week 5 Result: Lost to Cincinnati 27-24
Here’s one bit of good news for the Hokies: They have no more games against the Big East scheduled for 2012. Virginia Tech dropped its second game to a Big East team in 2012, losing 27-24 to Cincinnati at FedEx Field. Both teams struggled to find their footing on offense through the first three quarters but combined for 31 points in an exciting fourth quarter. Virginia Tech is a team still searching for a spark on offense, but redshirt freshman running back Michael Holmes seemed to take a step forward against the Bearcats. Despite the two losses this year, the Hokies are still in control of their destiny in the ACC Coastal.
Next Game: at North Carolina

5. NC State (3-2, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week:
6
Week 5 Result: Lost to Miami 44-37
Despite recording 664 total yards, the Wolfpack dropped their ACC opener to Miami. NC State’s offense moved the ball with ease, but 14 penalties and six turnovers are simply too much to overcome. Cornerback David Amerson appeared to be back on the right track after a rough performance against Tennessee, but he struggled against the Hurricanes’ receivers and did not record an interception. The Wolfpack return home to face Florida State in Week 6 and a loss would drop it to 3-3 at the halfway point of the season.
Next Game: Florida State

6. Georgia Tech (2-3, 1-2 ACC)
Last Week:
5
Week 5 Result: Lost 49-28 to MTSU
It’s fair to say the Yellow Jackets are deserving of a spot lower in the power rankings after losing to MTSU 49-28. However, Athlon’s power rankings are more of a season grade, so Georgia Tech deserves a little credit for overtime losses against Virginia Tech and Miami. However, after back-to-back defeats, the Yellow Jackets desperately need to turn things around against Clemson in Week 6. The defense has been the primary culprit for the struggles, but even though the offense doesn’t throw it much, not having playmakers at receiver is hurting this team. Paul Johnson may not be on the hot seat yet but a loss to Clemson would put this team at 2-4 halfway through the year.
Next Game: at Clemson

7. North Carolina (3-2, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week:
8
Week 5 Result: Beat Idaho 66-0
The Tar Heels cruised to an easy 66-0 win over Idaho in Week 5. Quarterback Bryn Renner threw only 19 passes, while running back Giovani Bernard recorded 70 yards on just two carries. North Carolina’s defense forced five turnovers against the Vandals and has allowed only six points over the last two weeks. The stakes get a little higher for the Tar Heels next Saturday, as Virginia Tech visits Chapel Hill. Even though North Carolina is ineligible to win the conference crown, there’s still plenty to play for against its ACC rivals.
Next Game: Virginia Tech

8. Duke (4-1, 1-0 ACC)
Last Week:
10
Week 5 Result: Beat Wake Forest 34-27
The Blue Devils moved one step closer to bowl eligibility, beating Wake Forest 34-27 for the first time since 1999. Quarterback Sean Renfree left Saturday’s game with an elbow injury, and his status is uncertain for the Week 6 matchup against Virginia. Renfree’s play has been crucial to Duke’s 4-1 record, while the rushing attack is showing signs of life behind freshman Jela Duncan. The Blue Devils have a tough schedule the rest of the way but could be looking at their first bowl appearance since 1994.
Next Game: Virginia

9. Wake Forest (3-2, 1-2 ACC)
Last Week:
7
Week 5 Result: Lost to Duke 34-27
The Demon Deacons dropped their second ACC game of the year, which was also their first loss to Duke since 1999. However, the on-field performance wasn’t the only setback, as receiver Michael Campanaro suffered a broken hand and is likely out for the next three games. Campanaro’s loss is huge, as he was one of the top receivers in the ACC and was averaging eight catches a game. Wake Forest has four road games over its next six contests.
Next Game: at Maryland

10. Virginia (2-3, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week:
9
Week 5 Result: Lost to Louisiana Tech 44-38
Allowing 24 unanswered points to Louisiana Tech was simply too much to overcome in the fourth quarter for the Cavaliers. Virginia led 24-20 at halftime but was unable to hold onto that lead, largely due to two interceptions by quarterback Michael Rocco in the third quarter. Phillip Sims replaced Rocco late, finishing with 166 yards and two touchdowns. Sims may get the start in Week 6, but the key to Virginia’s offense will be establishing a rushing attack that has been stuck in neutral most of the year. The Cavaliers enter Week 6 action with a three-game losing streak.
Next Game: at Duke

11. Boston College (1-3, 0-2 ACC)
Last Week:
11
Week 5 Result: Lost to Clemson 45-31
The Eagles remained winless in ACC play with a 45-31 loss to Clemson. Quarterback Chase Rettig continued his solid start, completing 25 of 43 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns. However, Rettig tossed two interceptions, and the rushing attack never got on track against Clemson’s athletic front seven. New coordinator Doug Martin has made some solid adjustments to the offense, but the defense has allowed two teams to score over 40 points. The Eagles have a tough matchup in Week 6, as they travel to West Point to take on Army.
Next Game: at Army

12. Maryland (2-2, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week:
12
Week 5 Result: Bye Week
Some coaches aren’t in favor of an early bye week, but the off date came at a good time for Maryland. Coming off back-to-back losses and starting a true freshman quarterback, the time off will allow this team to regroup and make a few adjustments. The Terrapins have already matched their win total from last season but face an uphill battle to get bowl eligible. Maryland opens ACC play against Wake Forest this Saturday.
Next Game: Wake Forest

 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

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Teaser:
<p> ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-5-waiver-wire-report
Body:

We’ve reached the midway point of most fantasy league regular season schedules.  Gone are the non-conference mismatches, as the weekly schedule shifts into conference play overload.  For those of you who loaded your rosters with non-BCS players, your time is finally here.

Terrance Broadway, QB-Louisiana

Starter quarterback Blaine Gautier will have surgery on his throwing hand this week and will miss a minimum of four weeks.  On Saturday, Broadway was excellent in relief throwing for 228 yards and a touchdown, while adding another 28 yards and two scores rushing.

Austin Brown, QB-UAB

The freshman quarterback was impressive in his first start of the season, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-42 loss to Tulsa.  Given UAB’s remaining schedule, Brown becomes an intriguing fantasy option should he remain the starter the rest of the season.

Storm Woods, RB-Oregon St

We were waiting to see who would emerge as the workhorse back for the Beavers.  Woods rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown at Arizona and may have answered our question with a 29-carry outing.

Trayion Durham, RB-Kent St

Durham is the thunder and fellow running back Dri Archer is the lightning in the Kent State offense.  As long as Durham is toting the rock 20-plus times per game, the sophomore running back will be a fantasy factor in MAC games.

Jamaal Williams, RB-BYU

After Michael Alisa left Friday’s game with an injury, the 17-year-old freshman stepped in and ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns.  If Williams continues to improve, he’ll be extremely valuable at the end of the season when the Cougars play Idaho, San Jose State, and New Mexico State in the final three weeks.

Ben Cunningham, RB-Middle Tennessee

Anyone that scores seven touchdowns in two weeks definitely jumps onto our radar.  After the Blue Raiders opened the season with a loss to McNeese State, they have put together a nice three-game winning streak by averaging 212 rushing yards per game.

Phillip Dorsett, WR-Miami

In the last two games, Dorsett has caught 16 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns.  The sophomore receiver has hauled in at least 6 receptions the past three weeks.

Michael Edwards, WR-UTEP

Edwards landed on our Start list last week, but we never listed him on any previous Waiver Wire piece.  After 27 receptions for 455 yards and three touchdowns in the previous four games, we’re listing him as a formality.

Rashad Evans, WR-Fresno St

After missing the first four games of the season, Evans added his name to the list of receiving threats in a potent Fresno State offense by catching ten passes for 100 yards and three touchdowns against San Diego State.

Dawan Scott, WR-Miami (OH)

Over the past two weeks, Scott has caught 14 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 21.4 yards per reception.  As long as Nick Harwell remains absent, Scott and Andy Cruse remain the best receiving threats for quarterback Zac Dysert.

 

by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email:  joe@thecffsite.com

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 5 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 04:53
All taxonomy terms: West Virginia Mountaineers, Big 12, News
Path: /news/west-virginias-jd-woods-makes-ridiculous-one-handed-catch
Body:

The 70-63 shootout between West Virginia and Baylor was one of college football's most exciting games from Week 5. Thanks to over 800 yards of offense, the Mountaineers edged the Bears, which only adds to Geno Smith's Heisman campaign.

Smith had three receivers cross the 100-yard mark on Saturday - Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and J.D Woods.

Although there were plenty of highlights during the game, Woods' one-handed grab in the fourth quarter might be the best play from Saturday's matchup.

Teaser:
<p> West Virginia's J.D. Woods Makes Ridiculous One-Handed Catch</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 20:25
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /news/miami-hurricanes-have-pathetic-crowd-against-nc-state
Body:

It's no secret Miami has had trouble drawing fans since its home games have moved to Sun Life Stadium. However, Saturday's game against NC State might have been a new low. 

This picture tweeted by @ByCasagrande shows a ridiculously sparse crowd just after the first quarter.

The school announced the attendance was 38,510, but the pictures clearly indicate a crowd less than that number.

Considering Miami was one of college football's premiere programs in the 1990s and early 2000s, the attendance numbers at Sun Life Stadium have to at least stir some discussion about building a venue that's closer to campus.  

Teaser:
<p> Where have Miami Hurricanes' fans gone?</p>
Post date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 - 11:20
Path: /college-football/texas-longhorns-vs-oklahoma-state-cowboys-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Kansas State fired the first shot in the Big 12 title race last weekend, and the focus shifts to Oklahoma State and Texas this Saturday. As the Wildcats’ victory over Oklahoma showed last week, the race to win the Big 12 title is wide open. The Cowboys are the defending Big 12 champs, but winning the conference crown won’t be easy with a freshman quarterback. Texas is a team on the rise, but just like Oklahoma State, its title hopes rest on an unproven quarterback.

This will be the first Big 12 contest for both teams and even though it’s still the first month of the season, there’s plenty on the line in this matchup. The Cowboys lost to Arizona in non-conference play, while Texas is 3-0 with wins over Ole Miss, Wyoming and New Mexico.

Storylines to Watch in Texas vs. Oklahoma State

Who will start at quarterback for Oklahoma State?
True freshman Wes Lunt started all three of Oklahoma State’s games this season but suffered a knee injury in the win over Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cowboys did not release an injury report on Friday, so there’s not much clarity in his status. If Lunt can’t play, redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh will get the nod under center. Walsh threw for 347 yards on 21 completions against the Ragin’ Cajuns and added 73 yards and one score on the ground. Lunt is a better pocket passer, while Walsh is more capable of making plays with his legs. By not releasing an injury report, the Cowboys will keep everyone guessing until pregame warmups.

Is Texas' defense ready to dominate?
The Longhorns expected to have one of college football’s best defenses coming into 2012, but they are off to a slow start through the first three games of the season. Texas ranks 34th nationally in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed per game. The numbers aren’t terrible, but this unit is capable of playing at a higher level. The Longhorns suffered a huge blow on Friday night, as linebacker Jordan Hicks was ruled out of Saturday’s game with a hip injury. Considering the non-conference competition wasn’t all that tough, Texas’ coordinator Manny Diaz likely saved a few tricks for Big 12 play. Expect an aggressive gameplan from the Longhorns, while the defensive end combination of Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor will test Oklahoma State’s offensive line.

Can David Ash continue his strong start?
Quarterback play was Texas’ biggest unknown coming into 2012. However, the coaching staff has to feel pretty good about their situation going into Week 5. David Ash has thrown for 703 yards and seven touchdowns through the first three games, while adding 58 yards and one score on the ground. With the depth at running back and talent on defense, Texas doesn’t need Ash to be Colt McCoy. However, he needs to make a few big plays and most importantly, take care of the ball. Oklahoma State’s defense is allowing 27.7 points per game and gave up 320 passing yards to Arizona’s Matt Scott. With those numbers in mind, Ash will have opportunities to make plays through the air, and he may need to hit a few passes to help open up rushing lanes.

Final Analysis

It’s only the first Big 12 game for both teams, but this is a key contest in the conference title picture. This matchup is a good barometer of where both teams stand on a national level and provide a little clarity to a Big 12 title race that should be very competitive. Oklahoma State is still an unknown, largely due to the uncertain quarterback situation. With a win in Stillwater, Texas can stamp its place as a top-10 team and a national title contender.

Expect the Longhorns to turn up the intensity on defense, as they will key on stopping Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle. Stopping Randle is no easy task, but Texas wants Walsh or Lunt to prove they can win this game through the air. The Longhorns' offense won’t hit many big plays, but quarterback David Ash will do just enough to win. 

Prediction: Texas 31-24
 

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Teaser:
<p> Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 - 07:53
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-5-preview-match-ups-upset-picks-and-storylines-watch
Body:

The final weekend of college football action in September certainly won't win many awards for the best slate of games. The Week 5 schedule features some intriguing games (Ohio State-Michigan State), but nothing like college football fans experienced last Saturday with Clemson-Florida State, Kansas State-Oklahoma and Notre Dame-Michigan. However, it's the weeks we least expect to be exciting that end up producing several upsets and close calls among teams ranked in the top 25.

Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5

1. Big Ten Showdown: Ohio State vs. Michigan State
It’s been a difficult first four weeks of the season for the Big Ten. With no marquee non-conference win and no team ranked inside of the top 10, the conference is desperately looking for some good news. Saturday’s Week 5 action should help erase some of the bad memories of non-conference play, especially due to the Ohio State-Michigan State match-up. The Buckeyes appear to be the Big Ten’s No. 1 team but struggled to beat UAB last week. Quarterback Braxton Miller is one of the Heisman frontrunners and takes on a Spartan defense ranked sixth nationally in yards allowed. The Buckeyes want to reduce the pressure on Miller, but the supporting cast needs to step up. Michigan State’s offense has been stuck in neutral for most of the year, with running back Le’Veon Bell averaging 152.5 yards per game despite a lackluster passing attack. Although Ohio State doesn’t want Miller to record 17-20 carries, it may be unavoidable against Michigan State. This one will be close because of the defenses, but Miller should be the difference in this game.

2. Is Texas the Big 12’s frontrunner?
Kansas State’s win over Oklahoma last Saturday shook up the Big 12 pecking order. The Sooners were thought to be the frontrunner, but the door is open for Texas, TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma State to win the conference title. The Longhorns are off to a solid 3-0 start, with their offense averaging 49.3 points a game. Of course, the competition hasn’t been spectacular, but quarterback David Ash is showing signs of progress. The Cowboys enter Saturday's contest with uncertainty under center. Starter Wes Lunt suffered a knee injury against Louisiana-Lafayette and may not be able to play against Texas. If he can’t go, redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh will get the start. Oklahoma State has won the last two games in this series, but the momentum seems to be shifting back to Texas – especially if Ash continues to take care of the ball, and the defense cuts down on the yards and points allowed.

3. A Big (12) Welcome in Morgantown
West Virginia officially joined the Big 12 on July 1, but reality will sink in on Saturday afternoon. The Mountaineers kick off their first season in the Big 12 with a home date against Baylor. And if you like offense, this is definitely one of the weekend’s must-watch games. West Virginia is averaging 47.3 points a game, while Baylor ranks fifth nationally with an average of 51.3 points a game. Although the Mountaineers are stepping into a new conference and a schedule full of different opponents, this offense should feel right at home in the Big 12. Quarterback Geno Smith should have an opportunity to pad his Heisman resume against a Baylor secondary allowing 315 yards per game, while West Virginia’s new 3-4 scheme will get a test from the Bears’ offense. With a road date at Texas next week, this will provide the Mountaineers a barometer of just how their offense and defense stacks up in their new conference.

4. No letdown for Florida State
Let's go ahead and say it: The Seminoles are back. It’s early, so a lot can change in the national title race, but Florida State announced its presence as a BCS Championship contender with a convincing win over Clemson. Now comes the hard part for the Seminoles – avoiding a letdown. South Florida beat Florida State in its only previous match-up in 2009, but this is a case of programs headed in opposite directions. The Bulls are 19-19 since defeating the Seminoles and are off to a disappointing 2-2 start this season. Although Florida State is coming off of a huge victory, there’s not much to suggest South Florida can hang around in this game. The Bulls rank 64th nationally in total defense, and quarterback B.J. Daniels has been inconsistent. The Seminoles may have a sluggish start, but expect them to pull away from South Florida in the second half. 

5. Big Ten Championship Game Preview?
As mentioned previously with Ohio State-Michigan State, the race to win the Big Ten is wide open. With the Buckeyes banned from the postseason, Wisconsin appears to be the frontrunner to claim the Leaders Division title, but the Badgers haven’t looked like a championship team this year. Joel Stave replaced Danny O’Brien as Wisconsin’s starting quarterback and completed 12 of 17 passes for 210 yards against UTEP. Stave’s performance should give the Badgers some confidence on offense, especially as it appears running back Montee Ball will return from the concussion he suffered against the Miners. Nebraska’s defense has struggled to stop the run this year (177 yards per game), but its offense leads the Big Ten in scoring, total and rushing offense. The Badgers got the best of Nebraska last season, but beating the Cornhuskers in Lincoln won’t be easy. Considering both teams will be in the mix to win the Big Ten title, this could be an early preview of the conference title game in Indianapolis in early December.

6. Georgia on upset alert?
The Bulldogs passed their biggest test so far this year, beating Missouri 41-20 in Week 2. Georgia has the pieces to contend for a national title, but this team will be tested over the next couple of weeks with road games at South Carolina and a neutral site meeting with Florida. The Bulldogs are expected to have some reinforcements this week, as safety Baccari Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree are expected to return from a four-game suspension. Rambo’s return to the lineup is huge, especially against a Tennessee offense that leads the SEC in passing yards per game. Although the Volunteers might be able to hang around with their offense, the defense ranks near the bottom of the conference in points and yards allowed, which is bad news against Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and freshman running back Todd Gurley. This still doesn't mean the Volunteers aren't a dangerous opponent for the Bulldogs, especially with next week’s SEC East showdown against South Carolina looming large. 

Under the Radar Match-ups

Western Kentucky at Arkansas State – Louisiana-Lafayette and FIU should both be a factor, but Western Kentucky and Arkansas State are the favorites to win the Sun Belt title. The Red Wolves have been tested in road trips to Nebraska and Oregon, while the Hilltoppers have wins over Kentucky and Southern Miss. Even though this match-up may not have top 25 implications, these two teams are two of the best from the non-BCS ranks.

Louisiana Tech at Virginia – After demolishing Illinois last week, Louisiana Tech is favored to beat Virginia. The Bulldogs lost running back Tevin King with a knee injury in last week’s game, but this offense is loaded with weapons, including receiver Quinton Patton and quarterback Colby Cameron. The Cavaliers have struggled to find their rhythm on offense and can’t afford to fall behind against one of the nation’s top offenses.

Texas Tech at Iowa State – Oklahoma State at Texas and Baylor at West Virginia will draw more national interest, but this match-up could be one of the most intriguing games in Week 5. The Red Raiders lead the nation in total defense and rank second nationally in total offense. However, this will be Texas Tech’s toughest challenge this year, and the Cyclones have beat the Red Raiders two consecutive seasons.

Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech (Landover, Md.) – FedEx Field will host its second college football game this year, as the Hokies and Bearcats meet in Landover, Md. Virginia Tech’s offense ranks 10th in the ACC with 366.3 yards per game, while the Bearcats rank third nationally by allowing only 8.5 points per contest. Tech has struggled to get its rushing game on track, and Cincinnati’s active front seven won’t make it any easier for the Hokies to establish the ground game.

NC State at Miami – With Clemson-Florida State taking center stage in the ACC last week, the Hurricanes’ victory over Georgia Tech was overlooked. Miami is still a young team with a lot of personnel issues. However, if the Hurricanes knock off NC State, it might be time to consider this team as the biggest threat to Virginia Tech in the Coastal title race.
 

Are These Teams for Real?

Baylor (3-0) – The Bears will get a rude welcome to Morgantown, as West Virginia is ready for its Big 12 debut. Baylor needed strong second halves to put away Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe, but there is still plenty of firepower on offense, led by senior quarterback Nick Florence.

Duke (3-1) – Is this the year the Blue Devils get back to a bowl game? Duke is off to a 3-1 start for the first time since 2008 and this appears to be David Cutcliffe’s best team since he arrived in Durham. A win over Wake Forest this Saturday would put Duke within two wins of getting to a bowl game.

Minnesota (4-0) – The Golden Gophers are off to a good start in coach Jerry Kill’s second season, but they are largely untested. A road trip to Iowa should give us a better gauge of where Minnesota fits into the Big Ten bowl picture.
 

Five Quarterbacks Under Pressure

David Ash, Texas – Ash is off to a solid start but Saturday’s match-up against Oklahoma State will be his toughest yet.

Tyler Bray, Tennessee – Saturday’s match-up against Georgia is a good barometer test for Tennessee. The Volunteers fell apart in the second half against Florida, but hanging tough against Georgia would be a good sign for Derek Dooley. Bray has thrown 12 touchdowns so far but had his worst game overall against the Gators.

Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State – If the Spartans want to have any shot at beating Ohio State, Maxwell has to play much better than he has through the first four games.

Zach Mettenberger, LSU – Towson won’t give LSU much of a struggle, but it’s important for Mettenberger to build some confidence with a road date at Florida next Saturday.

Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois – Scheelhaase has been dealing with an ankle injury since the season opener and left last week’s loss against Louisiana Tech early. If the Fighting Illini want to win the Leaders Division, Scheelhaase needs to stay healthy and be a difference maker on offense.
 

Teams Looking to Bounce Back

Arizona – It wasn’t a surprise Arizona lost to Oregon, but the Wildcats had several chances to score and came up empty-handed, losing 49-0 to the Ducks. Arizona hosts rising Oregon State this Saturday, with the Beavers coming off of an impressive win at UCLA in Week 4.

Clemson – The Tigers were unable to capitalize on their halftime lead against Florida State, eventually losing 49-37. If Clemson wants to have any shot at winning the ACC Atlantic, it needs some help in the form of a few losses from the Seminoles in ACC play, but also needs to take care of business on the road against Boston College. 

Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets’ blew a 36-19 lead last week against Miami, which dropped Georgia Tech’s ACC record to 1-2 and likely ends any hope it had of winning the Coastal. The Yellow Jackets should get back into the win column with MTSU visiting Atlanta this Saturday.

UCLA – The Bruins suffered their first defeat of 2012, losing 27-20 to Oregon State last Saturday. UCLA shouldn’t have much trouble getting back into the win column this week, as the Bruins will travel to Boulder to take on Colorado.
 

Desperate for a Victory

Arkansas – Can the Razorbacks stop the downward spiral? Arkansas is in the midst of a three-game losing streak and faces a tough road trip to Texas A&M. The Razorbacks have won the last three match-ups against the Aggies, but have not played in College Station since 1991.

California A 1-3 start with a lackluster win over Southern Utah has Jeff Tedford squarely on the hot seat. However, the Golden Bears can get things going back in the right direction with a win over Arizona State this Saturday.

Iowa – Last week’s loss to Central Michigan isn’t sitting well in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes already have a loss to rival Iowa State this season, and the offense ranks last in the Big Ten in scoring. If Iowa loses to Minnesota this Saturday, Kirk Ferentz’s seat is only going to approach scalding hot levels.

Kentucky – After last week’s performance against Florida, do the Wildcats have any fight left? The good news is quarterback Maxwell Smith should start, even though he is dealing with a separated shoulder. The bad news? Kentucky is a heavy underdog and is playing a top-10 team in South Carolina.

Missouri – The Tigers are in a different situation than most of the teams in this category, but Saturday’s game at UCF is a big one for Missouri. The Tigers were easily handled in a road loss against South Carolina last week and need to build some confidence before getting back into SEC play.
 

Five Upsets to Watch

Marshall (+17) at Purdue
Here’s a stat that may surprise you: Marshall leads the nation in passing offense with 383.5 yards per game. The Thundering Herd has struggled on defense, but their offense is capable of putting a scare into Purdue. The Boilermakers are 2-1, but the victories have been against Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan.
Prediction: Purdue 31-27

Minnesota (+7) at Iowa
Even though the Golden Gophers are 4-0, there are some doubts about this team, especially with a schedule featuring games against UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan and Syracuse. However, Iowa’s offense is struggling under new coordinator Greg Davis, and the Hawkeyes are coming off of a disappointing loss to Central Michigan. The Golden Gophers have beat Iowa two years in a row, but have not won in Iowa City since 1999.
Prediction: Iowa 27-24

Missouri (+3) at UCF
It’s a little surprising to see Missouri as an underdog, but UCF is a dangerous team. The Knights destroyed Boston College in Orlando last season and hung tough against Ohio State in Columbus earlier this year. The Tigers need to jumpstart their offense, as they managed just 10 points in a loss to South Carolina last week.
Prediction: Missouri 27-24

NC State (+3.5) at Miami
The Wolfpack have flown under the radar since losing to Tennessee in Week 1, and quarterback Mike Glennon will give a porous Miami defense all it can handle. The Hurricanes should score on NC State’s defense, but the edge goes to the team with the better quarterback (Glennon).
Prediction: NC State 27-24

Arizona State (+2) at California
The Sun Devils are a slight underdog for Saturday’s match-up against the Golden Bears, as they have not won at California since 1997. California’s offensive line is giving up four sacks a game, which is bad news against an aggressive Arizona State defense.
Prediction: Arizona State 31-27
 

Bye Week Regrouping

Auburn (1-3) – The Tigers played LSU tough, but moral victories won’t get it done for Auburn. Expect Gene Chizik and his staff to evaluate and tweak the offense, starting wtih quarterback Kiehl Frazier.

Florida (4-0) – So far, so good for the Gators. Florida has emerged as one of the teams to beat in the SEC East and host LSU on Oct 6.

Michigan (2-2) – Despite their lackluster performances against Alabama and Notre Dame, the Wolverines still remain one of the favorites to win the Big Ten title.

Oklahoma (2-1) – Last week’s loss to Kansas State likely knocks Oklahoma out of the national title race, but the Sooners are still in the mix for the Big 12 title.

Rutgers (4-0) – Starting 4-0 wasn’t an unrealistic expectation in the preseason, but not many predicted Rutgers would win at South Florida and Arkansas. The Scarlet Knights are one of the top contenders for the Big East crown and return to action against Connecticut on Oct. 6.

USC (3-1) – Although Lane Kiffin doesn’t say much about injuries, the off date comes at a good time for the Trojans. Center Khaled Holmes will have nearly two weeks to get healthy, while USC can use the practice time to work on its rushing game.

Utah (2-2) – The Utes are reeling after last week’s loss against Arizona State and host USC next Thursday night. The bye week comes at a good time, especially as Utah looks to get running back John White back to full strength from an ankle injury.

Vanderbilt (1-3) – The Commodores can still reach a bowl game, but the offense needs a spark from Jordan Rodgers or Austyn Carta-Samuels at quarterback.
 

Injuries to Monitor

Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan – Carder is one of the MAC’s top quarterbacks, but he will be sidelined indefinitely with a hand injury. Western Michigan takes on Toledo in a critical MAC West game this Saturday.

MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota – A high ankle sprain sidelined Gray against Syracuse, and he’s unlikely to play this Saturday against Iowa. Backup Max Shortell fared well in his absence, so Minnesota’s offense should not suffer much of a drop in production.

Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State – Lunt’s status has been up in the air since he left the Week 3 game against Louisiana-Lafayette with a knee injury. Although the injury isn’t as bad as initially feared, Lunt may not be able to start this week.

Maxwell Smith, QB, Kentucky – Smith was sorely missed in last week’s loss to Florida, but an injured throwing shoulder was simply too much to overcome. The sophomore is expected to return to the lineup against South Carolina this week. However, if he can’t start, Kentucky will have to lean on true freshman Jalen Whitlow under center. 

Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio – Tettleton sat out last week’s win over Norfolk State due to a hand injury. Although he won’t be needed much for Ohio to beat UMass, Tettleton is expected to return to the lineup.

Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss – Whether or not Ole Miss has Wallace under center really won’t matter against Alabama. However, the junior college recruit ranks 34th nationally in passing efficiency and averages 224 yards per game. Despite a shoulder injury, Wallace is expected to play.

Shawne Alston, RB, West Virginia – A thigh bruise limited Alston in last week’s game against Maryland, but he is expected to play in West Virginia’s Big 12 opener this Saturday.

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin – Ball suffered a concussion in last week’s win over UTEP but is cleared to play for Saturday’s game against Nebraska.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - Watkins was ruled out for Saturday's game against Boston College due to an abdominal virus. 

Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas - The Razorbacks' 2012 season only got worse last week, as Gragg suffered a knee injury against Rutgers and did not return. He won't play in Saturday's game at Texas A&M.

Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas – The Longhorns could be without one of their top defensive players this Saturday, as Hicks is nursing a hip injury and is questionable to play.
 

Games to Avoid

Ole Miss at Alabama
The Rebels’ last victory in this series came in 2003 and the last three match-ups between these two teams haven’t been close. Alabama rolled 52-7 in Oxford last year, and it would be a surprise to see Ole Miss keep this one within 25 points. With a bye week coming up, expect Alabama coach Nick Saban to work out all of the kinks before emptying the bench in the fourth quarter.

Towson at LSU
Considering last week’s close call at Auburn, Towson is the perfect Week 5 opponent for LSU. The Tigers should be able to use this game as a tune-up, especially with match-ups against Florida and South Carolina coming up in the next two weeks.

South Carolina at Kentucky
This is a classic case of two programs headed in opposite directions. The Gamecocks could win the SEC title this year, while Kentucky will struggle just to win a game in SEC play. After last week’s dismal showing in the Swamp, the Wildcats need some early momentum in this one – or it could get really ugly.

UCLA at Colorado
Even though the Buffaloes cracked the win column with an upset win over Washington State, they are still one of the worst BCS teams. UCLA suffered its first defeat of the season against Oregon State but should have no trouble putting away Colorado early.

Oregon at Washington State
On paper, this matchup between two of college football’s brightest offensive minds – Washington State’s Mike Leach and Oregon’s Chip Kelly – would figure to provide some fireworks. However, those fireworks may only be from Oregon, as the Ducks pitched a shutout against Arizona last week, while the Cougars are coming off of a disappointing loss to Colorado. This Pac-12 North match-up should get better in the coming seasons, but Oregon simply has too much firepower for Washington State in 2012. 
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

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Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:50

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