Articles By Steven Lassan
Florida and Florida State don’t require much motivation when it comes to the annual meeting for bragging rights in the Sunshine State. However, there’s a little more motivation for both teams in 2012.
Florida ranks No. 4 in the latest BCS standings and with a little help, could make it to the national championship game. The Gators won’t play in Atlanta for the conference title but could climb to No. 2 in the BCS standings with a Georgia loss to Georgia Tech and a Bulldogs victory over Alabama in the SEC Championship.
Florida State needs a lot of help to get into the conversation for the national title. The Seminoles haven’t made much progress in the BCS standings and rank 10th overall going into Week 13. A weak non-conference schedule, as well as a bad year in the ACC is hurting Florida State in the computer rankings. The Seminoles likely need nine teams to lose ahead of them in the BCS, so it’s unlikely they will be able to get into one of the top two spots. However, considering what transpired last week, Florida State still has a chance.
Florida State has won the last two matchups in this series by a combined score of 52-14. Florida won six consecutive from 2004-09 but has been dominated in the last two games.
When the Florida Gators have the ball:
In last season’s matchup, Florida’s offense managed only 184 yards and just 11 first downs. Considering Florida State’s defense is just as strong as it was last year, the Gators have to be concerned. Florida’s offense has been very average for most of the season and scored just 23 points in its last two SEC games.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel suffered an ankle injury against Louisiana-Lafayette and did not play against Jacksonville State. However, the sophomore is expected to be in the lineup for Saturday’s game. Driskel gives Florida the best chance to win, as his mobility is a valuable asset for an offense that is struggled to generate much of a passing attack.
Driskel is completing 64.8 percent of his throws and has tossed only three picks on 193 attempts. However, the Gators have a lack of proven playmakers in the receiving corps. Tight end Jordan Reed is the team’s go-to target, but the top two receivers – Quinton Dunbar and Frankie Hammond – don’t scare many defenses.
If the Gators are going to win on Saturday, they need a big effort on the ground from running back Mike Gillislee. The senior leads the Gators with 964 rushing yards and eight touchdowns and is coming off a 122-yard effort against Jacksonville State. However, there won’t be much room to run against Florida State, as the Seminoles rank first nationally in rush defense. Getting Gillislee going, as well as letting Driskel make plays with his legs is crucial to Florida’s shot at a victory.
Much of the success for Florida State’s defense starts up front. The Seminoles have one of the nation’s most talented lines in college football, which will be a problem for Florida’s offensive line (allowing 2.9 sacks per game). Expect the Seminoles to crowd the box and force Driskel to win this one with his arm.
When the Florida State Seminoles have the ball:
While Florida’s offensive numbers were awful in last season’s game, Florida State’s were even worse. The Seminoles managed only 95 yards on 59 plays and had just seven first downs. Even though the Gators have a solid defense, don’t expect Florida State to repeat those totals this year.
The Seminoles have scored at least 30 points in all but two games this year and rank 14th nationally in total offense. The biggest reasons for Florida State’s improvement on offense this year has been the health of quarterback EJ Manuel and an offensive line that has made significant strides since 2011. Manuel dealt with a shoulder injury for much of last season but has managed to stay healthy this year, throwing for 2,785 yards and 21 scores. Florida State’s offensive line has struggled at times, but this unit has shown big improvement from last season and should hold its own against Florida's active front seven.
There’s no shortage of weapons around Manuel, starting in the backfield with Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. Losing Chris Thompson to a torn ACL in October was a tough blow for the running game, but Freeman and Wilder have easily picked up the slack over the last few games. The Seminoles have five players with at least 20 catches this year, including Rashad Greene who leads the team with five touchdown tosses.
Although Florida State’s offense has thrived this year, Florida’s defense will be the best it has played all year. The Gators rank fourth nationally in total defense and are allowing just 11.7 points per game. There’s plenty of strength in the front seven, but Florida has allowed just four passing scores this season.
Yards and points will be difficult to come by on Saturday afternoon. Florida and Florida State both rank in the top five of total defense and each are generating at least two sacks per game.
While the defenses are even, there’s a clear edge on the offensive side. Florida State is simply the better team on offense and that’s the difference in the game. And with this being the final game for quarterback EJ Manuel in Tallahassee, expect the senior to deliver Florida State’s third straight win over its biggest rival.
Prediction: Florida State 24, Florida 17
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If you play in a deep league and are in a pinch this week, take a look at this week’s Emergency Starters. As always, if you have any start/bench questions or need additional insight on roster decisions, please reach out to us via emailor twitter.
Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
Sam Richardson, Iowa St vs West Virginia
Sean Mannion, Oregon St vs Oregon
Crawford Jones, Houston vs Tulane
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss vs Mississippi St
Kelly Page, Ball St at Miami, OH
Jeremy Wright, Louisville vs Connecticut
Marlin Lane, Tennessee vs Kentucky
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor vs Texas Tech
Kenny Miles, SC at Clemson
Shane Wynn, Indiana at Purdue
Chris McNeill, Wyoming vs San Diego St
Chandler Jones, San Jose St vs LA Tech
Chris Gallon, Bowling Green vs Buffalo
For Start/Bench advice from Joe DiSalvo, send an email to: email@example.com
Blake Bortles, Central Florida vs UAB
Terrance Broadway, LA vs South Alabama
Cameron Coffman, Indiana at Purdue
Eric Soza, UTSA vs Texas St
Donnell Alexander, Colorado St vs New Mexico
Brandon Hayes, Memphis vs USM
Shadrach Thornton, NC St vs Boston College
Mike Evans, Texas A&M vs Missouri
Chris Coyle, Arizona St at Arizona
Harry Peoples, LA vs South Alabama
The 2012 college football season has officially entered the home stretch. With bowl games officially around the corner, there's not much time for teams to get eligible or make up ground in a conference title race.
College Football's Week 13 Upset Predictions
David Fox (@DavidFox615): Duke (+6.5) over Miami
Remember a few weeks ago when it seemed the winner of this game would go to the ACC championship game? Me neither, but it happened. Then Duke lost three in a row to Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech. And Miami self-imposed a bowl ban. Certainly, this is a mismatch for Duke. The Blue Devils’ defense isn’t very good, and Miami can be explosive on offense. But there’s too much history of Miami flopping when the moment is right. I’m thinking of the 24-17 loss to Boston College to end last season. Or the 41-40 loss earlier this season to Virginia. With the ACC and bowl possibilities gone, this seems like a game tailor made for the ‘Canes to show up uninspired. Despite Duke's struggles the last three weeks, the Blue Devils are good enough to upset Miami. And with the guarantee of a winning season ahead of them, they have the motivation.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Wisconsin (+3) over Penn State
With the Leaders Division title wrapped up, there’s very little for Wisconsin to play for in Week 13. However, I think the Badgers will escape Happy Valley with a win on Saturday. Considering this is the final home game for Penn State, there’s certainly an emotional edge for the Nittany Lions. But this matchup seems to slightly favor Wisconsin. The Badgers fell just short of knocking off Ohio State last week but all four of their losses this year are by seven points or less. Quarterback Curt Phillips also seems to be finding his rhythm under center, while running back Montee Ball will test a Penn State defense that won’t have linebacker Michael Mauti this week. Wisconsin hasn’t won in Happy Valley since 2003, but I think that streak ends and the Badgers head into the Big Ten Championship with a little momentum with a solid road victory.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Oklahoma State (+7.5) at Oklahoma
They aren’t in the national spotlight this season, but the Oklahoma State Cowboys are still scoring a ton of points. The Pokes have scored a total of 114 points in the last two weeks — wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech — and rank third nationally with 45.4 points per game. And they have done all of this while playing three quarterbacks. Junior Clint Chelf is expected to start this weekend, but both redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh and true freshman Wes Lunt are also available. Oklahoma has rebounded from its loss at home to Notre Dame by beating Iowa State, Baylor and West Virginia. The Sooners blew a late lead in Morgantown on Saturday but scored with 24 seconds remaining to claim a 50–49 win. Landry Jones broke his own school record by throwing for 554 yards, and he tied his own record with six touchdown passes. The Sooners would love to exact some revenge after losing in Stillwater 44–10 last December. Won’t happen. Take the Pokes on the road. Oklahoma State 41–37
Mark Ross: Ohio (+10.5) over Kent State
Even though Kent State has two more wins than Ohio and is headed to the MAC title game next week, I think a 10 1/2-point spread to begin with is entirely too much. For starters, it's not like Ohio is a "bad" team, as the Bobcats have eight wins of their own, including a season-opening victory at Penn State. They also are ranked 35th in the nation in total offense behind dual-threat quarterback Tyler Tettleton. While Kent State has 10 wins, including an impressive 35-23 win at Rutgers on Oct. 27, and hasn't lost a conference game, this is still a team that lost 47-14 to Kentucky. Don't forget Kentucky has just two wins on the season, its second coming last week courtesy of FCS member Samford. That said, these two teams are very similar in terms of statistics, so I see a much closer game than the spread predicts. On top of that, I think Tettleton and the Bobcats will be able to take advantage of what appears to be Kent State's defensive weakness - pass defense. The Golden Flashes are 113th in the nation in pass defense (286.5 ypg), while the Bobcats are averaging 233.6 yards per game through the air. Ohio has struggled recently, losing three out of its last four, but this is still a team that has a shot to win 10 games and would like nothing more than to make a final statement before the bowl selection process by beating a ranked (No. 23 in BCS standings, AP poll) Kent State team. I also think the Golden Flashes may be looking ahead to their MAC title game showdown next Friday with Northern Illinois. So between the motivation and letdown factors, I'm picking Ohio to come away with a hard-fought road victory over Kent State this Friday in Dix Stadium.
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ACC Week 13 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 13 Preview and Predictions
Big Ten Week 13 Preview and Predictions
Big 12 Week 13 Preview and Predictions
Pac-12 Week 13 Preview and Predictions
SEC Week 13 Preview and Predictions
With Florida State and Georgia Tech set to meet in the ACC Championship next Saturday, Week 13 is all about bowl positioning and getting a few marquee non-conference wins. Florida State, Clemson, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech take on SEC opponents, which is a chance for the ACC to get some much-needed national respect. Duke-Miami, Boston College-NC State, Virginia-Virginia Tech and Maryland-North Carolina are the final conference games for 2012.
Other Week 13 Previews and Predictions
ACC's Top Storylines for Week 13
Will Florida State’s offense struggle to move the ball against Florida?
The Seminoles’ 21-7 win over Florida last season wasn’t exactly an offensive clinic for either team. Florida State managed only 95 yards, while the Gators posted 184 in a loss. With both defenses ranked in the top five nationally in yards allowed, don’t be surprised if this season’s matchup is another low scoring game. However, if there’s one offense that’s capable of producing big plays, it has to be Florida State. The Seminoles have scored at least 40 points in two out of their last three games and rank 14th nationally in total offense. Although the schedule hasn’t been as challenging as playing in the SEC, Florida State has the better quarterback and playmakers on the outside. Don’t expect the Seminoles to match their average yards per game (493.6) but they should be able to generate enough offense to win.
Can Duke get its first ACC win over Miami?
The Blue Devils and Hurricanes have met only nine times and most of the matchups have been a one-sided affair. Duke’s only win in this series came in 1976, but the Blue Devils have yet to beat Miami as a member of the ACC. With NCAA sanctions looming from the Nevin Shapiro scandal, the Hurricanes self-imposed a bowl ban earlier this week. If last year was any evidence, motivation is a concern for Miami. After announcing the bowl ban in 2011, the Hurricanes lost 24-17 to Boston College in their next game. Duke has been trending in the wrong direction over the last few weeks, winning just one game out of its last four matchups. The Blue Devils’ rush defense is a huge concern, especially against Miami freshman running back Duke Johnson. Duke is already locked into a bowl game but with wins over the Hurricanes and in the postseason, the Blue Devils will have a chance to match the program’s eight-win mark from 1994.
Can Georgia Tech’s offense keep it going?
Since a 41-17 loss to BYU, the Yellow Jackets are averaging 47.7 points a game and are riding a three-game winning streak. The late-season surge propelled Georgia Tech into a spot in the ACC Championship against Florida State. However, there’s a little business to take care of first. The Yellow Jackets take on rival Georgia this week and hope to reverse the recent trend in this series. Georgia Tech has lost 10 out of its last 11 games to Bulldogs and was defeated by 14 points last year. Georgia’s defense already had some practice for the Yellow Jackets’ option attack, as it played Georgia Southern last week. These two teams have been involved in a few shootouts in recent years, including a 45-42 matchup in 2008. Although Georgia’s defense had a chance to tune its gameplan last week, the Yellow Jackets should be able to keep this one much closer than some may expect.
Clemson’s offensive line vs. South Carolina’s defensive line
There’s a lot on the line when Clemson and South Carolina meet this Saturday. With a win, the Tigers would finish 11-1 and have a realistic shot at an at-large BCS bid. Clemson has lost its last three games against the Gamecocks, with each of those matchups decided by at least 17 points. For the Tigers to snap the three-game losing streak, protecting quarterback Tajh Boyd is the No. 1 priority. The junior has been on fire the last four weeks, recording 18 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Clemson has done a good job when it comes to pass protection this year, allowing just 1.8 sacks per game. However, South Carolina’s defensive line registered five sacks in last season’s matchup and sophomore end Jadeveon Clowney is only getting better with more snaps. If Boyd has time to throw, he should have opportunities to make plays against the Gamecocks’ secondary. The junior’s increased mobility in 2012 should make a difference with the pass rush but this will be his toughest test since taking on Virginia Tech in mid-October.
Tom O’Brien’s Future?
Even though NC State coach Tom O’Brien is 23-14 in his last three seasons, there is plenty of discontent from the fanbase about the direction of the program. The Wolfpack were a trendy preseason pick to surprise in the ACC Atlantic but a loss to Boston College on Saturday would drop them to a 6-6 overall mark. Although there are plenty of grumblings about O’Brien, NC State is on the verge of making its third consecutive bowl appearance. Needless to say, Saturday’s game against Boston College is a big one for O’Brien. Get to 7-5 and a victory in the bowl means the veteran coach should probably return for 2013. However, a 6-6 finish could force NC State to consider a change.
Bowl Eligibility for Wake Forest
With Miami and North Carolina ineligible for the postseason, the ACC is going to struggle to fill out its bowl allotment. The situation could get even worse if Wake Forest fails to knock off Vanderbilt this Saturday. The Demon Deacons are a double-digit underdog to the Commodores, a team they lost 41-7 to last season. Vanderbilt is coming off a 41-18 victory over in-state rival Tennessee, so there’s the slight possibility of a letdown. However, for Wake Forest to get its sixth victory, it must generate something on offense. Injuries on the offensive line have taken a toll in pass protection and have prevented the rushing attack from finding many open lanes. Receiver Michael Campanaro was held in check in last week’s loss to Notre Dame, but he will need a big performance for the Demon Deacons to get to 6-6.
Maryland or North Carolina…all about building momentum for 2013?
All things considered, Maryland and North Carolina can’t be disappointed after the final whistle in Saturday’s game. Sure, the Terrapins had bowl aspirations after a 4-2 start but injuries wrecked havoc on their offense, especially at the quarterback position. For the Tar Heels, a postseason ban had to be a concern for Larry Fedora when it came to the motivation of his team. However, North Carolina had a solid season in Fedora’s debut year and is on the cusp of its second season of eight wins over the last three years. This series has been dominated by Maryland recently, as the Terrapins have won five out of the last six meetings. Although Maryland ranks second in the ACC in total defense, it will be hard to slow down North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard and quarterback Bryn Renner. And this could be the final game for Bernard in Chapel Hill, as he is projected to be one of the first running backs off the board in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Will Virginia Tech get bowl eligible or will Virginia play spoiler?
In addition to Wake Forest, there’s a lot of interest in the ACC and from its bowl partners on what happens in Blacksburg this Saturday. Surprisingly, the Hokies are 5-6 and still need one victory to get bowl eligible. Virginia Tech avoided a bad loss to Boston College last week, but the road to six wins doesn’t get easier this Saturday. The Hokies have won the last eight in this series and Virginia would like nothing more than to snap that streak, as well as end Virginia Tech’s quest to get bowl eligible. For the Cavaliers to pull off their first win in Blacksburg since 1998, they need to find a spark on offense once again. After scoring 33 points against NC State and 41 in a win over Miami, Virginia’s offense went dark against North Carolina (13 points). For the Hokies, it’s all about getting quarterback Logan Thomas on track. If the junior has around 275-300 yards of total offense, that should be good enough for Virginia Tech to get win No. 6.
Week 13 ACC Predictions
|Week 13 ACC Games||David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
|Virginia at Virginia Tech||Va. Tech 24-10||Va. Tech 34-20||Va. Tech 30-20||Va. Tech 24-20|
|Georgia Tech at Georgia||Georgia 35-17||Georgia 30-17||Georgia 34-24||Georgia 34-23|
|Miami at Duke||Miami 31-24||Miami 41-30||Miami 38-34||Miami 38-20|
|Boston College at NC State||NC State 24-13||NC State 34-20||NC State 38-13||NC State 34-13|
|Maryland at North Carolina||UNC 28-17||UNC 42-14||UNC 38-17||UNC 31-10|
|Vanderbilt at Wake Forest||Vanderbilt 31-21||Vanderbilt 34-13||Vanderbilt 31-17||Vanderbilt 30-20|
|Florida at Florida State||FSU 28-10||FSU 24-20||FSU 24-17||FSU 27-17|
|South Carolina at Clemson||Clemson 35-21||Clemson 27-20||Clemson 30-27||Clemson 30-20|
by Steven Lassan
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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.
Best Fantasy Matchups(Games with the most fantasy potential)
Texas Tech vs Baylor
Line: Baylor -2.5(O/U-78)
Projected score based on point spread: Baylor 41-38
Baylor (QB-Nick Florence, WR-Terrance Williams)
Texas Tech (QB-Seth Doege, WRs-Eric Ward, Darrin Moore)
Baylor (RBs-Lache Seastrunk, Glasco Martin, WR-Tevin Reese)
Texas Tech (RB-Kenny Williams, K-Ryan Bustin)
theCFFsite projects: Baylor 48-42
Oklahoma St at Oklahoma
Line: Oklahoma -7.5(O/U-72.5)
Projected score based on point spread: Oklahoma 40-33
Oklahoma (QB-Landry Jones, RB-Damien Williams, WR-Kenny Stills)
Oklahoma St (QB-Clint Chelf, RB-Joseph Randle, WR-Josh Stewart)
Oklahoma (WRs-Justin Brown, Jalen Saunders)
Oklahoma St (WRs-Isaiah Anderson, Charlie Moore, K-Quinn Sharp)
theCFFsite projects: Oklahoma St 31-28
Marshall at East Carolina
Line: Marshall -3.5(O/U-76)
Projected score based on point spread: Marshall 40-37
Marshall (QB-Rakeem Cato, WRs-Tommy Shuler, Antavious Wilson)
East Carolina (QB-Shane Carden, WR-Justin Hardy)
Marshall (RB-Kevin Grooms, TE-Gator Hoskins)
East Carolina (RB-Vintavious Cooper)
theCFFsite projects: Marshall 38-34
Louisiana Tech at San Jose State
Line: Louisiana Tech -5(O/U-75)
Projected score based on point spread: LA Tech 40-35
Louisiana Tech (QB-Colby Cameron, RB-Kenneth Dixon, WR-Quinton Patton)
San Jose St (QB-David Fales, WRs-Noel Grigsby, TE-Ryan Otten)
Louisiana Tech (RB-Ray Holley, WR-Myles White, K-Matt Nelson)
San Jose St (DeLeon Eskridge, WR-Chandler Jones)
theCFFsite projects: Louisiana Tech 45-31
One-Sided Matchups(Using the odds to find a dominating ‘D’)
Auburn at Alabama
Line: Alabama -31(O/U-46)
Projected score based on point spread: Alabama 39-8
Stay away from:
Auburn (RB-Tre Mason, WR-Emory Blake)
theCFFsite projects: Alabama 38-10
Idaho at Utah St
Line: Utah St -39(O/U-57.5)
Projected score based on point spread: Utah St 49-9
Stay away from:
Idaho (WR-Mike Scott)
theCFFsite projects: Utah St 49-10
BYU at New Mexico St
Line: BYU -29(O/U-48.5)
Projected score based on point spread: BYU 39-10
Stay away from:
New Mexico St (WR-Kemonte Bateman)
theCFFsite projects: BYU 45-14
Utah at Colorado
Line: Utah -23(O/U-53)
Projected score based on point spread: Utah 38-15
Stay away from:
Colorado (RB-Christian Powell)
theCFFsite projects: Utah 31-10
Must Watch Games(The games with the biggest headlines)
Michigan at Ohio St
Line: Ohio St -4(O/U-54.5)
Projected score based on point spread: Ohio St 29-25
What’s at stake: The Buckeyes are playing for an undefeated season, while the Wolverines need a win and a Nebraska loss to earn a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.
theCFFsite projects: Ohio St 27-21
Stanford at UCLA
Line: Stanford -2(O/U-53)
Projected score based on point spread: Stanford 28-26
What’s at stake: If UCLA wins, they get Oregon in the PAC-12 Championship Game, but a Bruins loss will result in a rematch next week in the conference title game.
theCFFsite projects: Stanford 31-17
Florida at Florida St
Line: Florida St -6(O/U-NA)
Projected score based on point spread: N/A
What’s at stake: An outside shot to play in the BCS Championship Game.
theCFFsite projects: Florida 24-20
Notre Dame at USC
Line: Notre Dame -6(O/U-NA)
Projected score based on point spread: N/A
What’s at stake: A win by the Irish lands them in the BCS Championship Game.
theCFFsite projects: Notre Dame 31-14
theCFFsite in Must Watch games:
2012 Season: Straight Up (22-17) ATS: (18-21)
2011 Season: Straight Up (40-9) ATS: (35-14)
by Joe DiSalvo
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Even though Jeff Tedford had the most wins in California school history, it was clearly time for a change. Tedford was fired on Tuesday, ending a tenure that spanned 11 seasons and compiled 82 victories. Although Tedford had a successful run, the program had dipped in recent years and culminated in a disappointing 3-9 finish this season.
15 Coaching Candidates to Replace Jeff Tedford at California
Gary Andersen, head coach, Utah State – Andersen is the perfect example of why records can be misleading when judging a head coach. In four seasons at Utah State, his record is just 24-24 overall. However, he inherited a program that won just six games in the three years prior to his arrival. The Aggies went to a bowl game last season and will win the WAC title with a win over Idaho this Saturday.
Mike Bellotti, former Oregon head coach – Bellotti has been out of coaching since 2008 but that shouldn’t stop California from calling if interested. In 14 years at Oregon, the California native went 116-55 and led the Ducks to one BCS bowl appearance. Bellotti will be 62 years old in December, so this isn’t a long-term hire for the program. However, Bellotti is a capable coach and would be a good fit at California.
Ron Caragher, head coach, San Diego – Caragher is a longshot but is a name that’s starting to generate some interest in open jobs. In six seasons with San Diego, he has a solid 43-22 record. Caragher also has experience on the FBS level, spending time as an assistant with UCLA and Kentucky.
Tim DeRuyter, head coach, Fresno State – DeRuyter has been a successful hire at Fresno State, recording an 8-3 mark and having a shot at the Mountain West title in his first season with the Bulldogs. Although he has done a good job in a short amount of time, DeRuyter has only one year of head coaching experience.
Sonny Dykes, head coach, Louisiana Tech – Along with Gary Andersen and Mike MacIntyre, Dykes is one of the top non-BCS coaches that will be in the mix for some of the open vacancies around college football this offseason. Dykes is 22-14 in three seasons at Louisiana Tech and should lead the Bulldogs to a bowl game in 2012. He also has a solid resume as an assistant, making stops at Texas Tech, Arizona and Kentucky.
Mark Helfrich, offensive coordinator Oregon – Helfrich doesn’t have any head coaching experience but is a rising star in the assistant ranks. The Oregon native has spent time as an assistant at Oregon, Boise State, Arizona State and Colorado, so he is familiar with what it takes to win in the Pac-12. Helfrich doesn’t call the plays with Chip Kelly on the sidelines, but he is certainly involved with the Ducks’ offense. Assuming Helfrich wants to be a head coach, he would be wise to hold off on leaving Oregon, especially with Kelly rumored to be in the mix for NFL jobs.
Hue Jackson, assistant coach with the Cincinnati Bengals – Jackson has a wealth of experience as an assistant in college and in the NFL but went 8-8 in his only season as the Oakland Raiders’ head coach in 2011. He also has previous experience at California, working as Steve Mariucci’s offensive coordinator in 1996. Jackson also served as USC’s offensive coordinator from 1997-2000. Although Jackson was fired from the Raiders’ job, he is an intriguing candidate to watch in this coaching search.
Bryan Harsin, offensive coordinator, Texas – Much like Mark Helfrich or Justin Wilcox, Harsin is due for his shot to run a BCS program. The former Boise State quarterback has quickly climbed the ladder in the coaching ranks, working at Eastern Oregon in 2000 and at Boise State from 2001-2010. Harsin oversaw some of the nation’s top offenses at Boise State and has brought improvement to Texas’ offenses over the last two years.
Kliff Kingsbury, offensive coordinator, Texas A&M – Kingsbury’s stock has been on a steady rise since the start of the 2012 season. The former Texas Tech quarterback has helped to engineer one of the nation’s top offenses at Texas A&M, which comes one year after leading Houston the No. 1 overall rank in scoring last year. Kingsbury could use a little more seasoning as an assistant, but his high-scoring offense would certainly spark some interest in the fanbase.
Mike MacIntyre, head coach, San Jose State – Considering MacIntyre’s work less than 60 miles away from Berkeley at San Jose State, he has to be the early favorite to be California’s next coach. After spending time as an assistant at Temple, Ole Miss, Duke and in the NFL with the Jets and Cowboys, MacIntyre has transformed the Spartans into a potential 10-win team in 2012. After going 1-12 in 2010, San Jose State showed big improvement in a 5-7 season in 2011 and has carried that momentum into 2012.
Chris Petersen, head coach, Boise State – Petersen’s name seems to pop up with every opening, and it’s very unlikely he leaves Boise State. However, with the uncertainty surrounding Boise State’s conference future, California at least has to inquire to see if he has any interest in leaving. Petersen is 82-8 in seven seasons at Boise State and led the Broncos to two BCS bowls.
Bobby Petrino, former Arkansas head coach – Although this may be a strange fit for Petrino to land at California, this is a good landing spot for the embattled coach. Petrino was born in Montana and coached at Arizona State for two seasons, so he’s certainly familiar with life in the Pac-12. Considering what transpired at Arkansas, landing at a job away from the SEC and out of the spotlight may not be a bad idea. Also, even though Petrino has a tremendous track record at Arkansas and Louisville, he may be available at a discount price. And that’s certainly of interest to a program that doesn’t have a huge budget to hire a coach.
Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers – Along with Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw, Roman helped to spark Stanford’s turnaround from 2007-2010. Although he has no head coaching experience, Roman has a well-rounded resume with stops in the NFL with the Panthers, Ravens, Texans and the 49ers. He is also a bright offensive mind, which is needed in California with some promising receivers and a young quarterback waiting in the wings.
Willie Taggart, head coach, Western Kentucky – With three consecutive losses by Western Kentucky, Taggart’s stock has dropped some over the last couple of weeks. However, he still remains one of college football’s rising stars on the non-BCS level. Taggart is 15-20 in three seasons at Western Kentucky and worked for three seasons under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.
Justin Wilcox, defensive coordinator, Washington – Wilcox has been a successful defensive coordinator at three different stops – Boise State, Tennessee and Washington. Under his watch in Seattle, the Huskies have improved from one of the worst defenses in college football to one that ranks 29th nationally in yards allowed. The only downside? Wilcox has never been a head coach. However, Wilcox’s experience on the West Coast certainly has to be attractive.
by Steven Lassan
Other Names to Watch
Beau Baldwin, head coach, Eastern Washington – Baldwin has thrived on the FCS level, leading Eastern Washington to a 33-16 record from 2008-2011. The California native also led the program to a FCS title in 2010.
Herm Edwards, former NFL coach – Edwards played at California for two seasons but was just 54-74 during his NFL coaching career. A real longshot.
June Jones, head coach, SMU – Jones nearly landed the Arizona State job last season, so there’s no question he would be interested in leaving SMU. However, after going 76-41 at Hawaii, a 29-34 mark at SMU and a potential 5-7 record this season has not helped his stock in 2012.
Mike Norvell, offensive coordinator, Arizona State – Norvell is a rising star but has no head coaching experience and probably needs a little more seasoning as an assistant.
Brent Pease, offensive coordinator, Florida – Pease is a well-traveled assistant and has worked as an offensive coordinator at Boise State, Florida, Baylor and Kentucky. However, he has never been a head coach.
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College football has been on a wave of non-stop realignment over the last two years, and the dominoes continued to fall with the Big Ten’s addition of Rutgers. Maryland was announced as the Big Ten’s 13th team on Monday, while the Scarlet Knights will join as team No. 14 in 2014.
Just as the Big Ten did with Maryland, picking up Rutgers adds another team in a valuable television market. The Scarlet Knights won’t completely bring in the New York City television market but it certainly helps to have a team within 100 miles of the city.
In addition to a prime location, another reason Rutgers was an attractive candidate for Big Ten expansion has the improvement on the gridiron. The Scarlet Knights went 15-63 from 1996-2002 but are 65-34 in their last eight seasons. Former coach Greg Schiano did a good job of rebuilding the program, while new coach Kyle Flood has done a good job of maintaining that success in 2012.
What’s Next for the Big East?
Rutgers’ decision to leave is another blow for the Big East. The conference is losing Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC in 2013, while West Virginia left for the Big 12 for the 2012 season.
To offset the losses of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia, the Big East added UCF, Memphis, SMU, Houston, Boise State, San Diego State and Temple as its new football members. Temple joined in time for 2012, while all of the others were scheduled to join for 2013. Navy is expected to join the Big East in 2015.
The conference was planning on going with a 12-team alignment in 2013, with UCF, South Florida, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Louisville in the East Division and Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State, SMU and Temple headlining the West Division.
However, all of those plans are on hold after Rutgers’ departure.
Not only is the Big East losing another member, the departure of Rutgers will be felt in the pocketbook. Although the Scarlet Knights may not completely capture the New York City market, it’s an important bargaining chip in television contract negotiations.
Before jumping into realignment scenarios, this is an important question to consider: Can the Big East stick together?
It’s no secret the ACC is going to expand to a 14th team. Is that Louisville or Connecticut? Could the ACC take both and Cincinnati to get to 16 teams? Nothing is off the table at this point.
If the Big East loses Louisville or Connecticut, the conference isn’t finished but it could force Boise State and San Diego State to rethink its future. The Broncos and Aztecs could head back to the Mountain West, which would be a huge blow to the Big East.
Here’s a few possible replacements for Rutgers in the Big East, as well as any team that leaves for the ACC:
Army: The Big East has expressed some interest in the past in getting the three service academies into the conference. However, the Black Knights would likely struggle to be consistently competitive in the conference.
East Carolina: The location is a negative, but the Pirates have good fan support and has five winning seasons out of the last seven years. Although the Big East needs to add to its Western footprint, the Pirates would be an addition to replace Rutgers in the East Division, provided the conference doesn’t want to move Temple.
UMass: The Minutemen are just in their first season of FBS play but would help to replace some of the Northeast presence lost by Rutgers. UMass would need some time to be competitive in football and plays its games at Gillette Stadium.
Or…More Western Expansion?
If the Big East wants to keep Boise State and San Diego State in the conference, adding more teams out west is probably a must.
How about UNLV or Fresno State? Both programs would probably have to find somewhere to park its non-football sports but would help to add to the Western footprint of the conference. Outside of UNLV and Fresno State, Air Force and Tulsa might be the only two other viable candidates to pickup from another conference.
There’s no question the biggest prize is BYU. However, the Cougars seem to be happy with their independence, and the instability of the Big East has to be a concern for BYU. Although the money and access to bowls would be better in a conference, it’s hard to see the Cougars giving up their independence anytime soon.
Needless to say, the Big East has to be concerned about the departure of Rutgers and the potential loss of Connecticut or Louisville to the ACC. The conference can survive if it loses two teams. However, losing San Diego State and Boise State back to the Mountain West would be a significant setback.
Needless to say, college football realignment isn't going away anytime soon.
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Week 12 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. And it was a busy week in the coaching carousel, as Tennessee's Derek Dooley and Western Michigan's Bill Cubit were fired after Saturday's games. UTEP's Mike Price also announced his retirement, which means there are five FBS open jobs going into Week 13.
College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 12 Rankings
1. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Record at Boston College: 22-28 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-9
In what will be the final home game in the Frank Spaziani era, Boston College lost 30-23 in overtime to Virginia Tech. Although the Eagles aren’t packing it in after a tough season, this program is on the verge of having its first year of double-digit losses since 1978. Spaziani guided Boston College to back-to-back winning seasons in his first two years, but the Eagles are just 6-17 after going 15-11 from 2009-10.
2. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Auburn: 33-18 (4th season)
2012 Record: 3-8
Auburn closed out its 2012 home slate with a dominant 51-7 victory over Alabama A&M. The Tigers easily outmatched their FCS opponent, which provided some good news in a season that has been downright awful. If Chizik has any hope of returning to Auburn next season, a good showing in Saturday’s Iron Bowl is a must. The Crimson Tide is a heavy favorite, but rivalry games usually bring out the best in the underdog.
3. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank: 3
Record at California: 82-57 (11th season)
2012 Record: 3-9
After a 3-9 season, Tedford wasn’t given much of a chance to return to California for 2013. However, signs out of Berkeley seem to indicate he will be back for another year. The Golden Bears were dominated in a 62-14 loss to Oregon State on Saturday, which was their fifth consecutive defeat and seventh overall loss in Pac-12 play. Helping Tedford’s cause to return has to be a lack of appealing replacements for California, as well as a small budget that would make a buyout very difficult. If Tedford is back in 2013, he will likely be the coach at the top of the hot seat rankings.
4. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank: 5
Record at Southern Miss: 0-11
2012 Record: 0-11
The Golden Eagles came up just short in a 34-33 loss to UTEP on Saturday. The defeat dropped Southern Miss to 0-11, which is the worst season in school history. Johnson is only in his first season in Hattiesburg but there should be doubts about his future at Southern Miss. After winning the Conference USA title last year, the Golden Eagles have struggled to be competitive and are likely to finish the season at 0-12. Even if Johnson returns next season, he’s shown nothing to suggest he can help lead Southern Miss back to a winning record in 2013.
5. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Record at New Mexico State: 10-38 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-9
The Aggies had a bye in Week 12 and return to action this Saturday against BYU. Since beating Sacramento State in the opener, New Mexico State has lost its last nine games. And with a date against the Cougars this week and a road matchup against Texas State upcoming, there’s no guaranteed victory on the schedule. Walker inherited a difficult situation at New Mexico State, but the program has yet to make much progress under his watch.
6. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank: 8
Record at UNLV: 6-31 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-10
With Saturday’s 28-23 loss to Wyoming, the Rebels clinched their third consecutive season of at least 10 or more defeats. Hauck has brought some improvement to UNLV, and it hung tough in losses to Minnesota, Washington State, Nevada and San Diego State. However, the Rebels were blown out by Colorado State and have only six wins over the last three years. A win over Hawaii in the season finale would certainly help Hauck’s case to return for 2013.
7. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank: 10
Record at Colorado: 4-20 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-10
The 2012 season has been a miserable one for the Buffaloes, and the bad news continued with a 38-3 loss to Washington in Week 12. Colorado has major issues on both sides of the ball but none bigger than finding a quarterback. Jordan Webb, Nick Hirschman and Connor Wood have played but each has struggled to give the passing attack any consistency. Another problem is the defense, which ranks 120th in points allowed and is giving up 502.4 yards per game. Although this season has been a disaster, all signs point to Embree returning for 2013.
8. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank: 15
Record at South Florida: 16-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-7
A 40-9 loss to Miami was bad enough, but there’s been plenty of criticism about Holtz for his poor game management and the ongoing issues at quarterback. With B.J. Daniels sidelined, the Bulls decided to take the redshirt off of Bobby Eveld – in the 10th game of the season. Eveld was knocked out in the first half, which prompted Matt Floyd’s insertion into the lineup. As expected, Floyd’s first extended game action was inconsistent but taking the redshirt off of Eveld this late into the year makes zero sense. With Cincinnati and Pittsburgh up next on the schedule, South Florida is likely looking at a 3-9 finish.
9. Danny Hope, Purdue
Last Week’s Rank: 9
Record at Purdue: 21-27 (4th season)
2012 Record: 5-6
With back-to-back wins over Iowa and Illinois, Purdue is making a late case for Hope to return in 2013. The Boilermakers haven’t exactly earned a marquee victory this year but has close losses to Notre Dame and Ohio State. Hope is just 21-27 in his career and does not have a season over .500 in Big Ten play. However, if Purdue beats Indiana to get to 6-6, it might be tough for the Boilermakers to make a change.
10. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank: 11
Record at Buffalo: 9-26 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 4-7
Just like Purdue’s Danny Hope, Quinn is making a late-season surge to return in 2013. The Bulls are riding a three-game winning streak headed into the season finale at Bowling Green and has lost by seven points or less to Connecticut, Toledo and Ohio. Even if Buffalo fails to knock off the Falcons, a 4-8 mark would be the best record in Quinn’s three-year tenure.
11. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank: 14
Record at Iowa: 100-74 (14th season)
2012 Record: 4-7
With a huge buyout, Ferentz doesn’t appear to be in any danger at Iowa. However, there’s no question the rumblings from the fanbase won’t get any quieter over the next few weeks. Iowa was blown out 42-17 by Michigan on Saturday, which was its fifth consecutive defeat. Losses to Indiana and Purdue certainly didn’t sit well in Iowa City, along with an early season defeat to Central Michigan. Although Ferentz has led Iowa to 10 bowl games during his tenure, the program seems to be headed in the wrong direction, especially after hiring Greg Davis as the team’s offensive coordinator last offseason.
12. June Jones, SMU
Last Week’s Rank: 20
Record at SMU: 29-34 (5th season)
2012 Record: 5-6
Barring an upset win over Tulsa this week, SMU will miss out on its first bowl game since 2008. Although Jones has brought some improvement, the Mustangs have struggled to take the next step under his watch. A 5-7 record would be a disappointment, especially with the program making the jump to the Big East in 2013.
13. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at Rice: 28-44 (6th season)
2012 Record: 5-6
Thanks to three consecutive wins, Bailiff has been sliding down the hot seat rankings over the last few weeks. Considering Rice started 1-5, it’s quite an accomplishment for the Owls to be one victory away for bowl eligibility. A win over UTEP this Saturday should ensure Rice goes to a bowl game, especially with Conference USA struggling to have enough eligible teams for the postseason. Bailiff is just 28-44 in six years but getting to a bowl game would be enough for the Texas native to return in 2013.
14. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 13
Record at Central Michigan: 11-24 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 5-6
A soft late-season schedule might be just enough for Central Michigan to get bowl eligible. Wins over Akron, Eastern Michigan and Miami (Ohio) have the Chippewas sitting at 5-6 with one game remaining at UMass. Enos went 6-18 through his first two years and appeared to be in danger of getting fired at the end of 2012 after a 2-5 start. Even though the schedule has been easy, getting to a bowl game would be good news for Enos.
15. Tom O’Brien, NC State
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at NC State: 39-35 (6th season)
2012 Record: 6-5
The Wolfpack were a trendy preseason pick to surprise in the ACC this year but have failed to reach expectations. NC State is just 1-3 in its last four games but is a lock to make a bowl appearance. O’Brien’s future will be an interesting storyline to watch this offseason, especially if the Wolfpack lose in Week 13 to Boston College. Although O’Brien isn’t a flashy coach, he is 23-14 over the last three years. The fanbase is getting a little restless, which could make for an interesting offseason in Raleigh.
16. Tim Beckman, Illinois
Last Week’s Rank: 17
Record at Illinois: 2-9 (1st season)
2012 Record: 2-9
Beckman’s miserable first season at Illinois continued with a 20-17 loss to Purdue. The Fighting Illini enter their season finale with an eight-game losing streak and are winless in Big Ten play. Although Beckman’s debut has been a disaster, he deserves another season to get the program pointed in the right direction. Staff changes should be considered, especially on an offense that ranks 118th nationally in scoring.
17. Tony Levine, Houston
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at Houston: 5-7 (1st season)
2012 Record: 4-7
Despite a solid core coming back for Levine’s debut season, Houston has failed to reach expectations. The Cougars dropped to 4-7 with a loss to Marshall on Saturday, which is just their second losing season in since 2005. Houston opened its season with a loss to Texas State, lost by 30 to SMU, 34 to Tulsa and is riding a three-game losing streak. With a move to the Big East on the horizon next year, this will be an important offseason for Levine to find the right answers to get the program back on track.
18. Ron English, Eastern Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 18
Record at Eastern Michigan: 10-37 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-9
Eastern Michigan might be the toughest job in college football, and the program has struggled to establish any consistent success. Although English led the Eagles to a 6-6 mark in 2011, he is just 4-31 during the other three seasons during his tenure. English should be back at Eastern Michigan for 2013 but likely needs to get five or six victories to ensure his return for 2014.
19. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
Last Week’s Rank: 19
Record at Connecticut: 9-13 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 4-6
The Huskies had an off date on Saturday and return to action against Louisville in Week 13. Connecticut has some momentum as the season enters its final stretch, especially after beating Pittsburgh 24-17 on Nov. 9. Pasqualoni is just 9-13 in his two years in Storrs and has yet to lead Connecticut to a bowl game. During his tenure, the offense has been awful and has scored more than 24 points only once this season. However, all signs point to the former Syracuse coach returning to the Huskies’ sideline in 2013.
20. Lane Kiffin, USC
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at USC: 25-11 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 7-4
Kiffin has already been assured he is returning to USC in 2013, which is the right move for the program. However, there’s no question he will be under immense pressure next season. And the Trojans will lose quarterback Matt Barkley to the NFL, while still dealing with scholarship reductions from NCAA sanctions. Kiffin has done a good job on the recruiting trail but a 6-6 finish next season would not sit well in Los Angeles.
by Steven Lassan
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College Football Post-Week 12 Bowl Projections
The Derek Dooley era at Tennessee is over. Dooley was fired after Saturday's 41-18 loss to Vanderbilt, which dropped his overall record in Knoxville 15-21. Under Dooley's watch, the Volunteers were just 4-19 in SEC play and made only one bowl appearance. Tennessee has fallen behind Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in recent years, so this is an important hire for athletic director Dave Hart.
Who Should Tennessee Hire to Replace Derek Dooley?
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
For just about any job in the SEC, I’d say Louisville’s Charlie Strong should get one of the first calls. After Bobby Petrino left Louisville, the Cardinals were a mess for three years under Steve Kragthorpe. Strong rebuilt a disciplined and tough program over the last three seasons, last week’s loss to Syracuse notwithstanding. Simply put, he knows how to build a quality program. The talent base is better (see: Teddy Bridgewater), the off-field problems have been cleaned up, and the program is back where it was at the end of the Petrino era. Strong is a no-nonsense coach whose not afraid to light into his players with fire and brimstone speeches, as he did early in his tenure with the Cardinals. Given the tumult at Tennessee, Strong's demeanor will be a major asset. And I haven’t even mentioned his decade in the SEC at South Carolina and Florida, where he was the architect of two national championship defenses. But competition is going to be crowded if Strong is going to leave U of L.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
There is a benchmark I would have in my mind if I am a Tennessee fan. The phone log for Dave Hart should read as follows: Chip Kelly, Al Golden, Dan Mullen, Chris Petersen, Jon Gruden, Bobby Petrino, Jimbo Fisher, Gary Patterson and Mike Gundy. Any name "below" that list would feel like a failure on Hart's part. Tennessee will force Gruden to say no (who isn't a sure-fire home run) and Gundy, Kelly, Petersen or Patterson won't be leaving their current employers anytime soon. And Hart's "integrity" statement seems to eliminate Petrino. That leaves Golden, Mullen and Fisher as the best and most viable options. If am a Tennessee fan and either Al Golden or Dan Mullen is coaching in Knoxville next fall, I am ecstatic.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
This is a critical hire for Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart. The Volunteers have had too much coaching turnover in recent years, so this hire needs to be one that can bring some stability. Bobby Petrino and Jon Gruden will be tossed around in Knoxville, but I think Tennessee would be wise to go after one of three coaches: San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre, Miami’s Al Golden or Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen. I'd also throw Charlie Strong into the mix, but I'm not sure he is ready to leave Louisville. MacIntyre has turned San Jose State from one of the worst teams in college football to a potential 10-win squad in 2012. Golden resurrected Temple’s program and has brought improvement to Miami over the last two years. Mullen is 29-20 in four seasons at Mississippi State and could thrive at a program with a bigger budget and more resources. Tennessee would be in good shape with any of those three, but I’d give Mullen a slight edge over MacIntyre or Golden if I were hiring the next coach.
One of the names you keep hearing to take over in Knoxville is Jon Gruden. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see why Gruden would leave his plush job with ESPN and "Monday Night Football" to return to coaching, unless it's the NFL. It certainly looks like there will be a number of openings on the pro level, so if Gruden has the chance to hand-pick his next pro job, why would he go to the collegiate ranks, where he has a grand total of two seasons of coaching experience, which came as a graduate assistant? No, I think Tennessee is best served by hiring an experienced head coach who has had success at a BCS school. Enter Charlie Strong, who has won at least seven games in all three of his seasons at Louisville and could lead his Cardinals to a Big East title and BCS bowl bid this season. Strong has plenty of experience coaching in the SEC, highlighted by his eight seasons at Florida where he served as defensive coordinator for the Gators' two BCS championship teams, and he has shown that he can recruit and bring in talent like quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at a lesser known, if you will, program like Louisville. Strong has a defensive background, and it's pretty apparent that Tennessee needs all the help it can get there, and he's not going to be intimidated by making the jump to the big bad SEC. Hiring Strong may not "win the press conference," as they say, but I think he will win plenty of games, which is what matters most to Volunteer fans and supporters.
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Expansion never stops in college football and another domino fell on Monday: Maryland will be leaving the ACC to become the 13th member of the Big Ten.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh are set to join the ACC in 2013, which would have given the conference 14 teams. However, with the Terrapins set to depart, the ACC is back to 13 teams and unbalanced divisions for its long-term outlook.
Maryland’s official departing date from the ACC will be after the 2013 season but it will have to pay a hefty exit fee. The conference raised the exit fee to $50 million earlier this season but that number will likely be negotiated.
So now the big question is…what’s next for the ACC?
Simple answer: Uncertainty. The rumors about Florida State and Clemson potentially leaving for the Big 12 will likely start again, while the ACC will have to add another team.
Rutgers is the most likely 14th team for the Big Ten, but North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia Tech are also believed to be on commissioner Jim Delany’s radar. Even if the Big Ten stops at 14 teams for now, don’t be surprised if the conference moves to 16 in the future.
With Maryland officially leaving for the Big Ten, Louisville and Connecticut are expected to be the top targets for the ACC to get back to 14 teams. Here’s a look at the pros/cons for each school.
Pros: In the ACC’s quest to become college football’s premier conference on the East Coast, the Huskies would be another solid addition to bolster that claim. Connecticut’s football program isn’t a national powerhouse, but its men’s basketball team has three national titles. Also, the women’s basketball program is one of the top-10 teams in the nation. Connecticut also has an attractive location for television, as it is less than three hours outside of New York City.
Cons: Considering the ACC has struggled to become a football power, why add another program that is just 83-83 since 1999? While the Huskies are located in a prime spot in the Northeast, would they really deliver the highly-valued television markets?
Pros: Louisville is a well-rounded athletic department, which includes top 25 teams in football and women’s and men’s basketball. The Cardinals also are in better shape than Connecticut in terms of an athletic budget. With the ACC needing a boost in football, Louisville would be the perfect fix. The facilities are in place for the Cardinals to win big, especially if coach Charlie Strong sticks around for the immediate future.
Cons: The Cardinals don’t have as strong of a television market as Connecticut, which matters when it comes to realignment. Also, Louisville ranks behind the Huskies in the U.S. News College rankings, which is important for an academic conference like the ACC.
Who should be the ACC’s 14th team? Louisville
When it comes to realignment, it’s all about money and long-term potential. While Connecticut has the better television market and academics, the ACC needs to add a program like Louisville to bolster its football product. The Cardinals are 113-59 in football since 1999 and the potential is there to win big. Louisville isn’t a perfect geographic fit but that matters little in realignment.
It’s not crazy to think Florida State and Clemson would want to look for a way out of the ACC in the near future and adding a program like Louisville would help the conference show its commitment to football, especially after passing on West Virginia last year.
Outside of adding Connecticut or Louisville, the ACC's other options would appear to be standing pat at 13 teams for the near future or convincing Notre Dame to join as a full-time member. While the ACC would like the Fighting Irish as a full-time member, it doesn't appear they want to give up their independence. And staying at 13 football programs doesn't make sense with two viable options on the table.
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After Saturday’s 41-18 loss to Vanderbilt, Tennessee decided to pull the plug on the Derek Dooley era. Dooley went 6-7 in his first season in Knoxville but went 9-14 over the next two years. Also, the Volunteers were just 4-19 in SEC play under his watch and was off to a 0-7 start in 2012. Dooley didn’t inherit a full cupboard to work with in 2010, but the program hasn’t made considerable progress under his watch.
15 Coaching Candidates to Replace Derek Dooley at Tennessee
Sonny Dykes, head coach, Louisiana Tech – Dykes is one of the hottest names for BCS vacancies this offseason. The Texas native is 22-14 in three years at Louisiana Tech and has previous SEC experience at Kentucky in 1997 and 1999. Dykes also has stops as an assistant at Texas Tech and Arizona. Even though Dykes has proven he is a good coach, would Tennessee shy away from hiring someone else from Louisiana Tech?
Larry Fedora, head coach, North Carolina – Fedora is just in his first season at North Carolina, but he is a name to watch in this coaching search. An ongoing academic scandal prior to Fedora’s arrival is a concern, especially if the NCAA decides to get involved. Fedora went 34-19 in four seasons at Southern Miss, leading the Golden Eagles to four bowl games. The Texas native is 7-4 in his first season at North Carolina and has previous SEC experience with a stint as Florida’s offensive coordinator from 2002-04.
Al Golden, head coach, Miami – Considering the NCAA hammer is about to drop on Miami, Golden may look to escape for a better job this offseason. The New Jersey native has spent most of his career on the East Coast, playing for Penn State from 1987-91 and coaching as an assistant at Virginia, Boston College and Penn State. Golden resurrected Temple and led the Owls to a 17-8 record during his final two years in Philadelphia. Miami is just 11-11 in his two years, but the program did not have an abundance of talent when he arrived.
Jon Gruden, former NFL head coach – Gruden’s name has been mentioned prominently among Tennessee fans over the last year. The former NFL head coach has some connections to Rocky Top, as he worked as a graduate assistant in Knoxville from 1986-87 and his wife went to Tennessee. Gruden went 95-81 during his time in the NFL, which included a Super Bowl victory in 2002. He is also highly regarded for his work on offense, but the West Coast offense is a difficult scheme to implement in college. Two key questions for Tennessee to ponder: Would Gruden enjoy recruiting? How about the lure of the NFL: Would he stick around for five years?
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Darrell Hazell, head coach, Kent State – Hazell has only been a head coach for two seasons, but he has clearly made a difference at Kent State. In two years with the Golden Flashes, Hazell is 15-8 and won the MAC East title in 2012. Before coming to Kent State, the New Jersey native made stops as an assistant at Western Michigan, Army, West Virginia, Rutgers and Ohio State. Hazell has no experience in the SEC but is a rising star in the coaching ranks.
Kliff Kingsbury, offensive coordinator, Texas A&M – Kingsbury has helped to coordinate one of the nation’s top offenses this season and oversaw the development of Johnny Manziel. He also thrived as an offensive coordinator at Houston and played under Bill Belichick during his NFL career. The only downside to Kingsbury? He has no head coaching experience.
Mike MacIntyre, head coach, San Jose State – MacIntyre has turned San Jose State into one of the WAC’s worst teams into a bowl team in just three years. The Spartans went 1-12 in 2010, improved to 5-7 in 2011 and have climbed to 9-2 this season. MacIntyre has stops as an assistant at Temple, Ole Miss, Duke and in the NFL with the Cowboys and Jets. MacIntyre isn’t a flashy or a big name, but as the results have shown at San Jose State, he’s capable of leading a BCS program.
Gus Malzahn, head coach, Arkansas State – Malzahn has made a quick rise through the coaching ranks. The Texas native was a high school head coach in 2005 and joined Arkansas’ coaching staff in 2006. After one season in Fayetteville, Malzahn joined Tulsa and spent two years working under Todd Graham. Malzahn moved to Auburn in 2009 and was a key piece in the Tigers’ national championship. Arkansas State is 8-3 in Malzahn’s first season and as expected, ranks near the top of the Sun Belt in scoring, passing, total and rushing offense. The only downside to Malzahn? Only one year of head coaching experience on the collegiate level.
Dan Mullen, head coach, Mississippi State – Even though Mullen has yet to beat Alabama or LSU during his tenure in Starkville, there’s no doubt Mississippi State is an improved team. The Bulldogs will be making their third consecutive bowl appearance in 2012 and has a 13-18 mark in SEC play over the last four years. Mullen also has assistant experience from stops at Bowling Green, Notre Dame, Utah and Florida. Considering what Mullen has done in four years at Mississippi State, he could thrive at a program with more resources.
Bobby Petrino, former Arkansas head coach – There’s no question Petrino is the most polarizing name in coaching searches this offseason. Petrino has been successful at each of his stops in college, leading Louisville to a 41-9 mark in four years and a 34-17 record in four seasons at Arkansas. The Montana native is highly regarded for his work with quarterbacks and offenses and has four years of NFL experience. While those are the positives, Petrino had a messy exit from Arkansas after lying to athletic director Jeff Long about the details of a motorcycle crash in late March. Petrino has already indicated he is ready to work and considering what happened at Arkansas, it’s a safe bet he doesn’t make the same mistakes that ended his tenure in Fayetteville.
Kirby Smart, defensive coordinator, Alabama – Although Smart is due for his shot to run a program, you have to wonder if Tennessee will shy away from hiring another Nick Saban assistant after firing Derek Dooley. Smart is well-versed in the SEC, as he was born in Alabama, played at Georgia and has made stops as an assistant at LSU, Georgia and Alabama.
Mark Stoops, defensive coordinator, Florida State – Stoops is one of the nation’s best assistants and like Kirby Smart, it’s only a matter of time before he gets a chance to become a head coach. Stoops made stops as an assistant at South Florida, Wyoming, Houston, Miami and Arizona before coming to Florida State. The Seminoles have been one of the nation’s top defenses during his watch in Tallahassee, which includes a No. 1 overall rank in 2012.
Charlie Strong, head coach, Louisville – Even though Strong has mentioned he his committed to Louisville, the uncertainty surrounding the Big East could be enough to make a move. Strong has been a home-run hire for Louisville, leading the Cardinals to a 23-13 mark during his three seasons. He also has SEC experience, spending time at Florida, Ole Miss and South Carolina. Strong’s recruiting connections in Florida would be appealing for any athletic director, while his background on defense has to be attractive for Tennessee after the disastrous 2012 season.
Willie Taggart, head coach, Western Kentucky – Taggart was one of the hottest names in the coaching rumor mill earlier this season, especially after Western Kentucky opened 5-1 with a win over Kentucky. However, the Hilltoppers have tailed off in recent weeks, losing their last three games and dropping to 6-5 overall. Despite the recent setback, Taggart is a good coach and will get a chance to run a BCS program in the near future.
Tommy Tuberville, head coach, Texas Tech – Tuberville already has two tours of duty through the SEC, coaching at Ole Miss from 1995-98 and at Auburn in 1999-2008. In four seasons with the Rebels, he recorded a 25-20 mark and went 85-40 at Auburn. Tuberville is 20-15 in three seasons at Texas Tech and has the Red Raiders back on track after a 5-7 mark in 2011. Tuberville isn’t flashy, but he’s a proven winner and a steady option for Tennessee.
Other Names to Watch
David Cutcliffe, head coach, Duke – Cutcliffe is a name that’s certainly familiar around Knoxville. He worked as an assistant coach in Knoxville from 1982-98 and then again from 2006-07. Cutcliffe has two stops as a head coach, working from 1998-2004 at Ole Miss with a 44-29 mark. Since 2008, Cutcliffe has been the head coach at Duke and led the Blue Devils to their first bowl game since 1994 this season. Cutcliffe isn’t a flashy hire but has previous experience at Tennessee and is highly regarded for his work with quarterbacks. However, Cutcliffe has mentioned he is committed to staying at Duke for 2013.
Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State – Lembo has been a consistent winner at three different stops, posting a 44-14 mark at Lehigh, a 35-22 record at Elon and a 14-9 mark in two seasons at Ball State. He’s ready for a shot to run a BCS program.
Gary Patterson, head coach, TCU – The rumor mill will throw Patterson’s name out there, but he’s not leaving TCU.
Todd Monken, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State – Monken has never been a head coach but over the last two years, has helped to coordinate one of the nation’s best offenses at Oklahoma State.
Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson - Morris has emerged as one of the top offensive minds in college football, leading Clemson's offense to an average of 44.6 points a game this season. Morris has no head coaching experience and already has a salary of $1.3 million, so it would take a significant raise to leave Clemson.
Brent Pease, offensive coordinator, Florida – Pease is a long-time assistant that is expected to get into the mix for a head coaching job this offseason. He has stops as an assistant at Kentucky, Baylor, Boise State and Florida.
by Steven Lassan
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The Coastal Division was still up for grabs after Saturday's action, but the Atlantic Division title was clinched by Florida State in Week 12. The Seminoles dominated Maryland to claim their second division title under Jimbo Fisher, while Clemson kept its at-large BCS hopes alive with a victory over NC State. Although the action on the field didn't sort out the Coastal, the champion was declared on Monday, as Miami self-imposed a postseason ban, which means Georgia Tech will meet Florida State in Charlotte.
Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd climbs to the No. 1 spot after another strong performance. The junior threw for 426 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 103 yards and three scores on the ground against NC State.
2. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – Bernard failed to record 100 yards for the second consecutive game but still finished with 104 overall yards and one touchdown in the win over Virginia.
3. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – Manuel didn’t have a standout performance against Maryland, throwing for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 17 completions. However, the senior is completing 68.8 percent of his throws this season and has just six interceptions on 295 passes.
Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State – It’s a tossup between Carradine and teammate Bjoern Werner for the top spot. Carradine recorded five tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss against Maryland.
2. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner and Carradine are really neck-and-neck for the No. 1 ranking. Werner picked up four tackles and two tackles for a loss against Maryland.
3. Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland – Vellano recorded just two tackles and was very quiet in Saturday’s loss to Florida State.
Coach of the Year Standings
1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – The Seminoles clinched their third ACC Championship appearance with a 41-14 victory over Maryland. Fisher is 29-9 in three seasons in Tallahassee.
2. David Cutcliffe, Duke – The Blue Devils have slipped in recent weeks, but Cutcliffe still has this team on track to make its first bowl appearance since 1994.
3. Dabo Swinney, Clemson – The Tigers are quietly on a roll, winning each of their last seven games by at least 14 points.
ACC Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
1. Florida State (10-1, 7-1 ACC)
Last Week: 1
Week 12 Result: Beat Maryland 41-14
With an ACC Atlantic title on the line, the Seminoles took care of business in a 41-14 rout over Maryland. Florida State outgained the Terrapins 397 to 170, while the defense forced five sacks and two turnovers. Quarterback EJ Manuel completed 17 of 23 throws, and Devonta Freeman gashed Maryland for 148 yards on 16 carries. The Seminoles didn’t allow a point until the third quarter and held the Terrapins to just 3.2 yards per play. Florida State will be making its third appearance in the ACC Championship and its second under Jimbo Fisher. However, the Seminoles have a little business to handle before that game, as they have a huge showdown against rival Florida next Saturday.
Next Game: Florida
2. Clemson (10-1, 7-1 ACC)
Last Week: 2
Week 12 Result: Beat NC State 62-48
The Tigers kept their at-large BCS hopes alive with a 62-48 shootout victory over NC State. Quarterback Tajh Boyd continued his red-hot play with 529 overall yards and eight touchdowns. Boyd didn’t do it alone on offense, as running back Andre Ellington chipped in 124 rushing yards, while receiver Sammy Watkins had 11 catches for 110 yards and one touchdown. The defense gave up 48 points but picked off NC State quarterback Mike Glennon once and sacked him four times. The Tigers close out their 2012 regular season with a matchup against in-state rival South Carolina.
Next Game: South Carolina
3. Georgia Tech (6-5, 5-3 ACC)
Last Week: 8
Week 12 Result: Beat Duke 42-24
After a 2-4 start, things looked bleak for Georgia Tech and its chances of making a bowl game. However, the Yellow Jackets have rallied with three wins in their last four games and are still alive to play for the ACC Championship. Quarterback Tevin Washington turned in a solid performance against Duke, throwing for three touchdowns and adding 62 yards and one score on the ground. The defense also stepped up, holding the Blue Devils to 275 yards and just one touchdown after halftime. The good news for Georgia Tech? Miami self-imposed a postseason ban, which means the Yellow Jackets will meet Florida State for the ACC title.
Next Game: at Georgia
4. North Carolina (7-4, 4-3 ACC)
Last Week: 3
Week 12 Result: Beat Virginia 37-13
After a bad all-around outing against Georgia Tech, the Tar Heels rebounded with a 37-13 win over Virginia on Thursday night. Running back Giovani Bernard failed to record 100 rushing yards for the second consecutive game, but quarterback Bryn Renner was sharp, completing 29 of 36 throws for 315 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman receiver Quinshad Davis is quickly emerging as a potential star next year in the ACC, catching 16 receptions for 178 yards against the Cavaliers. Although the offense was solid, the defensive performance was an even bigger highlight, holding Virginia to 350 yards, picking up two turnovers and four sacks.
Next Game: Maryland
5. Miami (6-5, 4-3 ACC)
Last Week: 4
Week 12 Result: Beat South Florida 40-9
With Saturday’s win over South Florida, Miami reached the all-important six-win mark. And on Monday, the school decided to self-impose a postseason ban, which means the Hurricanes won't play in the ACC Championship. Miami’s offense was sharp in the win over South Florida, recording 548 total yards and 40 points. Quarterback Stephen Morris threw for 413 yards, while Duke Johnson added 66 and one score on the ground. The Hurricanes close out the regular season against Duke next Saturday.
Next Game: at Duke
6. Virginia Tech (5-6, 3-4 ACC)
Last Week: 5
Week 12 Result: Beat Boston College 30-23
Considering how well the Hokies played against Florida State last week and Boston College’s 2-8 record, Saturday’s trip to Chestnut Hill was supposed to be an easy trip for Frank Beamer’s team. However, Virginia Tech had a tougher battle than most expected, as it had to escape with a victory in overtime. Quarterback Logan Thomas was held in check on the ground and completed 16 of 33 passes for 247 yards and two scores. The Hokies used a 41-yard field goal from kicker Cody Journell to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, while Thomas hit Randall Dunn for a seven-yard touchdown for the winning score in overtime. Virginia Tech hosts Virginia next Saturday, with a win giving the Hokies six victories and another trip to the postseason.
Next Game: Virginia
7. NC State (6-5, 3-4 ACC)
Last Week: 7
Week 12 Result: Lost to Clemson 62-48
After a solid 5-2 start, the Wolfpack have been one of the ACC’s biggest disappointments in the second half of the season. NC State has lost three out of its last four games, with two of those matchups decided by at least 14 points. The Wolfpack had no answer for Clemson’s offense in Saturday’s loss, giving up 62 points and allowing the Tigers to record 754 yards. Receiver Tobais Palmer set an ACC record with 496 all-purpose yards, and quarterback Mike Glennon threw for 493 yards and five touchdowns. Considering the late-season losses, Tom O’Brien’s status for next season has to be in doubt.
Next Game: Boston College
8. Duke (6-5, 3-4 ACC)
Last Week: 6
Week 12 Result: Lost to Georgia Tech 42-24
The Blue Devils’ command of the ACC Coastal race has slipped over the last few weeks. Duke’s 42-24 loss to Georgia Tech dropped it to 3-4 in the ACC and was the fourth defeat in five games. The Blue Devils were unable to take advantage of a suspect Yellow Jackets’ defense, only managing 275 yards. Duke’s defense struggled to stop Georgia Tech’s rushing offense, allowing 330 yards and three scores on the ground. The Blue Devils won’t represent the Coastal in the title game but are still headed to their first bowl game since 1994.
Next Game: Miami
9. Virginia (4-7, 2-5 ACC)
Last Week: 9
Week 12 Result: Lost to North Carolina 37-13
The Cavaliers’ late-season surge was stopped on Thursday night. Virginia held onto slim bowl hopes after beating NC State and Miami, but it fell 37-13 to North Carolina, which ended any shot at qualifying for the postseason. Both sides of the ball failed to deliver against the Tar Heels. The offense struggled to get consistent quarterback play, while the defense didn’t have an answer for North Carolina’s passing attack. Virginia closes out its 2012 season with a date at rival Virginia Tech.
Next Game: at Virginia Tech
10. Maryland (4-7, 2-5 ACC)
Last Week: 10
Week 12 Result: Lost to Florida State 41-14
As expected, the Terrapins couldn’t put up much of a fight against Florida State and lost 41-14. With injuries taking its toll on offense, Maryland has been reduced to a very limited attack on offense, especially with freshman Shawn Petty at quarterback. The Terrapins managed just 10 first downs and finished with 170 yards. Maryland has lost five consecutive games but has shown progress in Randy Edsall’s second season in College Park.
Next Game: at North Carolina
11. Wake Forest (5-6, 3-5 ACC)
Last Week: 11
Week 12 Result: Lost to Notre Dame 38-0
The bad news started early and often for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons quickly fell behind on a 68-yard touchdown run by Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood and trailed 31-0 at halftime. Wake Forest managed just 209 yards and could only muster 55 of that on the ground. Quarterback Tanner Price was an efficient 22 of 33 for 153 yards, but the Demon Deacons never hit on a pass longer than 16 yards. Wake Forest still has one more chance to get bowl eligible, as it hosts Vanderbilt next Saturday.
Next Game: Vanderbilt
12. Boston College (2-9, 1-6 ACC)
Last Week: 12
Week 12 Result: Lost to Virginia Tech 30-23
Even though the Eagles are in the midst of an awful season, credit the players for not giving up. Boston College dropped to 2-9 with a 30-23 overtime loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Eagles led 23-20 late in the fourth quarter, but the Hokies scored a field goal with just over a minute to go to send in the game into overtime. Boston College’s offense has struggled to find a rushing attack this year, but Deuce Finish rushed for 138 yards on 26 attempts against Virginia Tech. The defense also did a good job on quarterback Logan Thomas, holding the junior to seven rushing yards on 13 attempts. Boston College closes out its 2012 season against NC State.
Next Game: at NC State
by Steven Lassan
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SEC Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Kansas State remains atop the Big 12 power rankings, but the Wildcats are no longer in the driver's seat to play for a national title. Despite the loss to Baylor, Kansas State still maintains an edge for the Big 12 title. Oklahoma survived a shootout win over West Virginia to control the No. 2 spot in the power rankings and remains alive for an at-large spot in the BCS. Oklahoma State is one of the Big 12's hottest teams, crushing Texas Tech 59-21 to move to 7-3 this season. Iowa State picked up a key win on Saturday night, as the Cyclones got bowl eligible with a victory over Kansas.
Post-Week 12 Big 12 Power Rankings
1. Kansas State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12)
Last Week: 1
Week 12 Result: Lost to Baylor 52-24
Despite Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma, the Wildcats still deserve the No. 1 spot in the Big 12 power rankings. What went wrong for Kansas State on Saturday? Just about everything. Quarterback Collin Klein had an off night, and the defense didn’t have an answer for Baylor’s offense. The Wildcats are likely finished as a national title contender but can still win the Big 12 with a victory over Texas.
Next Game: Texas (Dec. 1)
2. Oklahoma (8-2, 6-1 Big 12)
Last Week: 2
Week 12 Result: Beat West Virginia 50-49
The Sooners won perhaps the craziest game of Week 12. A late touchdown pass from quarterback Landry Jones to receiver Kenny Stills was just enough for Oklahoma to claim a 50-49 victory over West Virginia. The Sooners surrendered 778 yards to the Mountaineers and allowed a season high of 320 passing yards to Geno Smith. However, Oklahoma’s offense answered the bell against a porous Mountaineers’ defense, which keeps the Sooners’ BCS bowl hopes alive for another week.
Next Game: Oklahoma State
3. Texas (8-2, 5-2 Big 12)
Last Week: 3
Week 12 Result: Bye Week
The Longhorns had the weekend off and are set to return to action against TCU on Thanksgiving night. Since losing back-to-back games in early October, Texas has rebounded with four consecutive wins. Quarterback David Ash has been sharp the last two weeks, throwing five touchdowns and no interceptions. The sophomore’s improvement is crucial, especially with upcoming matchups against TCU and Kansas State.
Next Game: TCU (Nov. 22)
4. Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2 Big 12)
Last Week: 5
Week 12 Result: Beat Texas Tech 59-21
The Cowboys continued to climb in the Big 12 power rankings with a convincing 59-21 win over Texas Tech. Despite three quarterbacks making a start this year, Oklahoma State still ranks No. 3 nationally in scoring offense and is averaging 553.7 yards per game. The Cowboys will play their next two games on the road, including Saturday’s date at Oklahoma. Oklahoma State has won five out of its last six games, and coach Mike Gundy deserves a ton of credit for getting this team in a position to win nine games this year, especially considering the personnel losses from last season.
Next Game: at Oklahoma
5. Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4 Big 12)
Last Week: 4
Week 12 Result: Lost to Oklahoma State 59-21
After a promising 6-1 start, the Red Raiders have been headed in the wrong direction over the last four weeks. Texas Tech was defeated 59-21 by Oklahoma State on Saturday, which dropped it to 4-4 in the Big 12 with one game remaining. In the loss to the Cowboys, the Red Raiders lost three turnovers and had a punt that was blocked and returned for a touchdown. Texas Tech closes out its 2012 regular season with a matchup against Baylor.
Next Game: at Baylor
6. TCU (6-4, 3-4 Big 12)
Last Week: 6
Week 12 Result: Bye Week
The Horned Frogs had an off date on Saturday and return to action on Thanksgiving night against Texas. TCU is just 1-3 in its last four games but has played a difficult stretch of opponents, including Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. The Horned Frogs have played only one matchup against Texas since 1996, losing 34-13 in 2007. After Thursday night’s game against the Longhorns, TCU has to quickly regroup with a home game against Oklahoma coming up on Dec. 1.
Next Game: at Texas (Nov. 22)
7. West Virginia (5-5, 2-5 Big 12)
Last Week: 7
Week 12 Result: Lost to Oklahoma 50-49
The Mountaineers’ late-season slide continued with a 50-49 loss to Oklahoma. Receiver Tavon Austin had a heck of a performance in a losing effort, rushing for 344 yards and two touchdowns and catching four passes for 82 yards. Austin’s 572 all-purpose yards were the most in Big 12 history. Although West Virginia has tailed off since winning a 48-45 shootout at Texas, it has a chance to finish with some momentum with matchups against Iowa State and Kansas the next two weeks.
Next Game: at Iowa State
8. Iowa State (6-5, 3-5 Big 12)
Last Week: 8
Week 12 Result: Beat Kansas 51-23
The Cyclones got bowl eligible with a 51-23 win over Kansas on Saturday night. The big surprise in the victory was the play of quarterback Sam Richardson. The redshirt freshman completed 23 of 27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns and added 43 yards and one score on the ground. The Cyclones defense allowed 252 rushing yards but forced four turnovers and held the Jayhawks to just 5 of 15 on third-down attempts. If Iowa State can beat West Virginia, it will have its second seven-win season under coach Paul Rhoads.
Next Game: West Virginia
9. Baylor (5-5, 2-5 Big 12)
Last Week: 9
Week 12 Result: Beat Kansas State 52-24
The Bears scored one of college football’s top upsets of 2012 on Saturday night, knocking off Kansas State 52-24. Quarterback Nick Florence tossed two picks but finished with 238 passing yards and two touchdowns. Running back Lache Seastrunk has ignited the rushing attack in recent weeks and recorded 185 yards and one touchdown on 19 attempts. Not only did Baylor’s win shake up the national title picture but kept its bowl hopes alive. The Bears need a win over Texas Tech or Oklahoma State to get to six victories.
Next Game: Texas Tech
10. Kansas (1-10, 0-8 Big 12)
Last Week: 10
Week 12 Result: Lost to Iowa State 51-23
The Jayhawks held an early 14-10 lead over Iowa State but quickly fell behind 38-17 by halftime. With an offense that has a limited passing attack, Kansas was unable to mount a serious comeback on Saturday night. One overlooked aspect of the loss was running back James Sims had his six-game 100-yard rushing streak ended with just 81 yards on 20 attempts. The Jayhawks have not won a conference game since Nov. 6, 2010 and their hopes of scoring a victory are slim, especially with a trip to West Virginia on the schedule.
Next Game: at West Virginia (Dec. 1)
by Steven Lassan
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Georgia Southern defensive back Valdon Cooper had a rough Saturday. Not only was he supposed to matchup against Georgia's receivers, Cooper suffered a nasty finger injury - and the picture isn't pretty.
Needless to say, fingers aren't supposed to bend like this:
Saturday's 41-35 win over Ole Miss was a huge victory for LSU. The Tigers kept their slim SEC title hopes alive but most importantly, remain in the mix for a spot in a BCS bowl.
The LSU-Ole Miss game was a crazy back and forth affair, so it was no surprise Les Miles was quite animated after the game.
In other words...it's vintage Les Miles.
Lost in the struggles of Maryland's offense and quarterback injuries this year has been the play of receiver Stefon Diggs. The true freshman has been a dynamic playmaker and could be a first-team All-ACC selection by the end of 2013.
Diggs continued his solid freshman campaign with a ridiculous one-handed catch against Florida State. The true freshman knew a big hit was coming from the Florida State defender, yet hung on for the reception.
Utah came up short in its Saturday night matchup against Arizona, losing 34-24 to drop to 4-7 on the season. However, the Utes left it all on the field, as they used a creative trick play to score an early touchdown.
The Utes lined up for an easy field goal early in the second quarter. But the holder pitched it between his legs to kicker Coleman Petersen, who ran it in for the touchdown.
West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen can be one of the most animated coaches in college football. Of course, this is also the coach who drinks Red Bull like it's water during the week too.
And Holgorsen didn't disappoint during Saturday's game against Oklahoma, as the cameras and audio caught him dropping a f-bomb right before the end of the first half.
Bad officiating has been a problem in the ACC this year, and it appears the refs might have missed another call in Week 12.
Virginia Tech defensive back Kyle Fuller deflected a poorly thrown pass by Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig and appeared to bounce it off his hands just before it hit the ground. Linebacker Alonzo Tweedy caught the deflection for the interception.
However, the refs did not give the interception to Virginia Tech, which took away a prime opportunity around midfield for its offense.
Kent State running back Dri Archer has been one of the nation's top all-purpose players this season and is a key piece in the Golden Flashes' run to the MAC East title.
Archer has showcased his speed and ridiculous moves all season but might have had his best performance on Saturday against Bowling Green.
With the game tied at 17 early in the fourth quarter, Archer took a handoff and darted to the left side and appeared to be tackled around midfield. However, Archer bounced out of the pile and cut it back to the opposite side of the field. After the midfield escape, Archer dodged a few defenders and scored to give Kent State a 24-17 lead.
College football's bowl season is inching closer, and it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With 12 weeks of results in the books, it's beginning to get easier to make projections about which teams will be eligible for the postseason.
The post-Week 12 bowl projections are a mixture between how things would look if the season ended today, future schedules, and a dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next two weeks.
2012-2013 Post-Week 12 College Football Bowl Projections
|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||UCF** vs. UL Lafayette*|
|New Orleans||Dec. 22||Sun Belt vs. C-USA||UL Monroe vs. East Carolina|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 22||MWC vs. Pac-12||USC vs. Boise State|
|Hawaii||Dec. 24||C-USA vs. MWC||Fresno State vs. SJSU*|
|Little Caesars||Dec. 26||Big Ten vs. MAC||W. Kentucky* vs. Toledo|
|Military||Dec. 27||ACC vs. Army||Ball State* vs. Arizona State*|
|Belk||Dec. 27||ACC vs. Big East||Duke vs. Cincinnati|
|Holiday||Dec. 27||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||West Virginia vs. UCLA|
|Independence||Dec. 28||ACC vs. SEC||Ohio* vs. La. Tech*|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||ACC vs. Big East||Virginia Tech vs. Rutgers|
|Meineke Car Care||Dec. 28||Big Ten vs. Big 12||Iowa State vs. Minnesota|
|Armed Forces||Dec. 29||C-USA vs. MWC||Rice vs. Air Force|
|Kraft Fight Hunger||Dec. 29||Pac-12 vs. Navy||Navy vs. Washington|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 29||Big East vs. Big 12||Syracuse vs. TCU|
|Alamo||Dec. 29||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Stanford vs. Okla. State|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Dec. 29||Big Ten vs. Big 12||Mich. State vs. Texas Tech|
|Music City||Dec. 31||SEC vs. ACC||Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas State*|
|Sun||Dec. 31||ACC vs. Pac-12||Oregon State vs. NC State|
|Liberty||Dec. 31||SEC vs. C-USA||Tulsa vs. Ole Miss|
|Chick-fil-A||Dec. 31||ACC vs. SEC||South Carolina vs. Ga. Tech|
|Heart of Dallas||Jan. 1||Big Ten vs. Big 12||Baylor vs. Purdue|
|TaxSlayer.com Gator||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Northwestern vs. Miss. State|
|Capital One||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Michigan vs. Georgia|
|Outback||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Florida vs. Wisconsin|
|Cotton||Jan. 4||Big 12 vs. SEC||Texas vs. Texas A&M|
|BBVA Compass||Jan. 5||SEC vs. Big East||Troy* vs. Bowling Green*|
|GoDaddy.com||Jan. 6||MAC vs. Sun Belt||MTSU vs. Kent State|
|Rose||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Nebraska vs. Oregon|
|Orange||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Florida State vs. Louisville|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||BCS vs. BCS||LSU vs. Oklahoma|
|Fiesta||Jan. 3||BCS vs. BCS||Kansas State vs. Clemson|
|National Title||Jan. 7||BCS vs. BCS||Notre Dame 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.
Bold indicates a team has accepted bowl bid.
by Steven Lassan
(published Nov. 18, 2012)
Week 12 isn’t the strongest slate in the 2012 college football season, but the Pac-12 features a couple of matchups that could have national title implications. Thanks to Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M, Oregon ascended to the No. 1 spot in the human polls and ranks No. 2 in the BCS behind Kansas State. If the Ducks win out, there’s no question they will play for the national title in early January.
Although Oregon is a heavy favorite in Saturday’s matchup, Stanford is a team built to give the Ducks problems. If the Cardinal can win in Eugene, they will have an opportunity to clinch the Pac-12 North title with a victory over UCLA on Nov. 24. Despite the departure of Andrew Luck to the NFL, Stanford has remained a factor in the Pac-12 title race, with its only two losses coming by four points against Washington and by seven in overtime against Notre Dame.
Oregon has won nine out of the last 10 meetings in this series. Stanford won 51-42 in 2009 but has lost by at least 20 points in each of the last two matchups.
When the Oregon Ducks have the ball:
Speed versus power. That’s the main battle in this game. Oregon is one of college football’s fastest teams, while Stanford is arguably the Pac-12’s most physical team. The Ducks have scored at least 50 points in each of the last two meetings against the Cardinal, and the 2012 version of Chip Kelly’s offense could be even deadlier than the one Stanford played last season.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has emerged as a Heisman contender this season, throwing for 2,164 yards and 28 touchdowns, while adding 516 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The redshirt freshman has thrown only five interceptions. Mariota was banged up in the win over California but is not expected to be limited in any way against Stanford. Mariota doesn’t have a standout No. 1 receiver, but he’s surrounded by plenty of capable targets, including Josh Huff, Colt Lyerla, Bralon Addison and Keanon Lowe.
Mariota isn’t the only weapon in the backfield for Kelly, as running back Kenjon Barner ranks among the nation’s best with 1,360 yards and 19 touchdowns so far this year. The senior injured his wrist in last week’s win but is not expected to miss any snaps. Sophomore De’Anthony Thomas isn’t going to match Barner’s 20-25 carries a game but is the team’s top breakaway threat on offense.
Stopping Oregon is no easy task. The Ducks have scored at least 30 points in 23 consecutive games and rank first nationally with an average of 54.8 points per contest so far this season. The Cardinal has to find a way to slow down Barner on early downs, while limiting Mariota’s big plays through the air. Not only is stopping Oregon difficult, but Stanford has to find a way to keep up with the Ducks’ quick pace.
Stanford’s rush defense ranks as the best in college football, allowing just 58.6 points per game. The Cardinal also lead the way in sacks per game, averaging 4.2 each week. Linebackers Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas are two of the best in the nation and have to be active around the line of scrimmage in order for Stanford to slow down Oregon’s rushing attack. If the Ducks struggle to get their running game on track, there should be plays to be made in the passing game, especially since the Cardinal ranks 99th nationally against the pass. Although Stanford’s physical approach works well against most of the teams on its schedule, the speed of Oregon will be very difficult to match up against.
When the Stanford Cardinal have the ball:
Replacing Andrew Luck has been no easy task for coach David Shaw. The Cardinal turned to Josh Nunes for the first nine games, and he threw for 1,643 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, Nunes was benched in the win over Colorado, and Shaw elevated Kevin Hogan to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. The freshman responded well in his first start, throwing for 254 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 49 yards on the ground against Oregon State. Hogan’s emergence should give Stanford more balance on offense over the final few games.
The biggest problem for the Cardinal offense is a lack of playmakers at receiver. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo are two steady options but there’s not much at receiver to help Hogan. Drew Terrell, Jamal-Rashad Patterson and Ty Montgomery are the team’s top three options and this trio needs to step up this week, especially with a banged up Oregon secondary.
When Stanford has the ball, expect to see a lot of Stepfan Taylor. The senior ranks 22nd nationally with 106.1 yards per game and has to have a big game for the Cardinal to have any shot at a victory. The offensive line isn’t as good as last season’s group, but this unit is physical and can clear plenty of lanes for Taylor and Hogan.
The matchup in the trenches favors Stanford, especially considering the injuries to Oregon’s front seven. The Ducks allowed 236 rushing yards to California last week but expect a couple of contributors to return. Linemen Dion Jordan, Isaac Remington, Ricky Heimuli and Taylor Hart are all nursing injuries but all could play on Saturday. If the Ducks are shorthanded, stopping the run will be a real challenge against Stanford’s physical offense.
Even though the Ducks have some injuries on defense, it’s going to be a tall task for Stanford to win in Eugene. The Cardinal has to control the tempo and keep Oregon’s on the sidelines. If Taylor and Hogan are able to chew up the clock, expect this game to be decided late in the fourth quarter. However, Stanford manages to keep it close for a half, but the Ducks make the right adjustments at halftime and pull away in the final two quarters.
Prediction: Oregon 45, Stanford 27
by Steven Lassan
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Bragging rights in Los Angeles and a spot in the Pac-12 Championship will be on the line when USC and UCLA meet on Saturday afternoon. This season has not gone according to plan for the Trojans, as most expected USC to contend for the national title and for quarterback Matt Barkley to rank among the top Heisman contenders. However, USC has slipped to a 7-3 record and with the Bruins and a date against Notre Dame coming up, a 7-5 final mark isn’t out of the question.
While USC has been a disappointment, UCLA has been one of the top surprises in the Pac-12. Although there was a lot of returning talent, it was uncertain how it would mesh with the new coaching staff. New coach Jim Mora has done a good job of blending the talent with the new schemes on both sides of the ball and has the Bruins poised to make a return trip to the Pac-12 title game.
USC has dominated this series in recent years, as UCLA’s last victory came in 2006 in Pasadena. The Trojans have won 12 out of the last 13 games against the Bruins, including a 50-0 shutout last season.
When the USC Trojans have the ball:
Even though USC quarterback Matt Barkley hasn’t had the year most expected, he has still thrown for 2,972 yards and 33 touchdowns. That’s the positive. The bad news? Barkley has already exceeded his interception total from last year (7) with 13 so far this season. The senior has thrown seven picks over the last three games, which has led some to wonder if he’s pressing too much with the Trojans struggling to reach expectations.
Despite the turnovers and not meeting preseason expectations, the USC passing attack is one of the toughest to stop in college football. Sophomore receiver Marqise Lee has played his way into the Heisman mix over the last few weeks and ranks second nationally with 9.8 receptions per game. Lee has at least 10 receptions in each of his last three games and torched Arizona for 345 yards and two touchdowns. While Lee has thrived, Robert Woods has taken a step back this season. The junior has only 61 receptions and has failed to record at least 100 yards in each of his last three contests. Even though Woods’ numbers have dropped, he remains one of the Pac-12’s top targets. The Trojans also have capable weapons in tight end Xavier Grimble and freshman receiver Nelson Agholor.
UCLA’s secondary has been under fire this year, allowing 266.4 yards per game. Although the Bruins will give up some yards against the pass, this defense can get after the quarterback (averaging 3.7 sacks per game) and has held opponents to just 24.7 points per game.
USC running back Silas Redd did not play in last week’s win over Arizona State but expects to see snaps against UCLA. The junior leads the Trojans with 732 yards and nine touchdowns, while backup Curtis McNeal rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns in Redd’s absence last week. The Bruins are allowing 144.6 yards per game on the ground, but USC has a tendency to rely too much on the pass, which has limited the opportunities for Redd and McNeal this year.
The best way for the Bruins to slow down USC’s offense will be to get pressure on Barkley. Stanford’s 3-4 attack gave the Trojans fits earlier this year, and UCLA should be able to use a similar approach on Saturday.
When the UCLA Bruins have the ball:
The key to UCLA’s improvement on offense in 2012 has been the play of quarterback Brett Hundley. The redshirt freshman is completing 69 percent of his throws and has tossed only nine picks on 329 attempts. In addition to Hundley’s emergence, coordinator Noel Mazzone has been the perfect hire to run the Bruins’ offense. Hundley’s favorite target has been Shaquelle Evans (39 receptions), but Joseph Fauria, Steven Manfro and freshman Jordan Payton have been key players in UCLA’s arsenal.
Although running back Johnathan Franklin has yet to match his back-to-back 100-yard efforts since the first two weeks of the season, the senior has 1,270 yards and eight touchdowns and has 24 receptions for 276 yards and two scores. Franklin has two 100-yard games in his last three contests and ranks sixth nationally with an average of 127 yards per game.
Outside of giving up 426 yards and five touchdowns to Oregon’s rushing attack, USC’s run defense has played well this season. Take out the defensive debacle against the Ducks, and the Trojans have allowed only six rushing scores through nine contests. USC’s defensive line has also been active in getting to the quarterback, recording 37 sacks this year. In UCLA’s two losses this year, Franklin combined to rush for 147 yards. If the Trojans can slow down Franklin and keep him under 100 yards, they should win this game.
Spread offenses have given USC’s defense the most trouble in 2012, and this is another tricky matchup for the Trojans. Hundley isn’t as dynamic of a runner as Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, but he has 272 yards and six touchdowns on 111 carries this season. Combine Hundley’s mobility and Franklin’s big-play ability and USC will have its hands full trying to stop this offense. The Trojans allowed 43 points to Mazzone’s offense last year at Arizona State but should have a better idea of what to expect in 2012.
Expect plenty of points in this matchup. With the Pac-12 South title on the line, both teams will get their best shot from the other squad. Even though USC has been a disappointment this year, this is its last chance to rally and erase some of the bad feelings from 2012. UCLA is clearly on the right track under Jim Mora but will fall just short of making a return trip to the Pac-12 title game.
Prediction: USC 38, UCLA 34
by Steven Lassan
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In any other season, a matchup between the top two teams in the Big Ten’s Leaders Division would draw some national interest. With Ohio State ineligible to win the division title and the conference struggling as a whole, this game has lost some of its appeal.
Urban Meyer’s tenure in Columbus is off to a great start. The Buckeyes are 10-0 for the first time since 2007. And despite a trip to Madison and the huge rivalry game against Michigan on Nov. 24, this team has a good shot at finishing 12-0. Even though Ohio State can’t play in the Big Ten title game, Meyer has done a good job of navigating through this season and keeping the team motivated to play each week.
With Ohio State out of the picture, Wisconsin was a heavy favorite to win the Leaders Division in the preseason. The Badgers started off slow with a 3-2 record but have won four out of their last five games.
Ohio State has won four out of the last five in this series, with Wisconsin’s only victory during that stretch coming in 2010. The Badgers lost last season’s matchup 33-29 in Columbus.
When the Ohio State Buckeyes have the ball:
The Badgers are quietly one of the nation’s best defenses. Wisconsin is allowing just 17.2 points a game, while ranking 15th nationally in yards allowed. The Badgers have not allowed their last five opponents to score more than 16 points a game and only one team has managed more than 27 points this season.
Those numbers will be put to the test against Ohio State’s offense, especially as Wisconsin tries to find a way to slow down Braxton Miller. The sophomore has carried the Buckeyes’ offense this year, recording 2,919 yards and 27 overall scores. Miller is still developing as a passer but is a dangerous runner and will have 15-20 carries on Saturday night.
Although Miller is one of college football’s top quarterbacks, he needs help from his supporting cast. Running back Carlos Hyde has three 100-yard efforts over his last five games and has 11 scores during that stretch. Corey Brown leads the way at receiver, catching 48 passes for 526 yards and two touchdowns. The Buckeyes are looking for more playmakers to step up in the passing game but that figures to come over time, especially with only one senior (Jake Stoneburner) in the two-deep at receiver.
Even though the Buckeyes are finding more help for Miller, the key to beating Ohio State remains stopping the sophomore quarterback. The Badgers have two of the Big Ten’s top linebackers (Mike Taylor, Chris Borland) who will be very active around the line of scrimmage. It’s important for Wisconsin to make Ohio State drive the field, rather than hit on a few big plays for short scoring drives. The Badgers haven’t had many matchups against dual-threat quarterbacks this year, but they allowed 288 total yards against Taylor Martinez and 256 to Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton.
When the Wisconsin Badgers have the ball:
Just as the Badgers appeared to be finding their rhythm in the passing attack, quarterback Joel Stave was lost for the season with a collarbone injury. With Stave sidelined and Danny O’Brien struggling earlier this year, the Wisconsin coaching staff turned to Curt Phillips under center. The senior has battled knee injuries throughout his career but turned in a solid performance against Indiana, throwing for 41 yards and adding 68 on the ground.
With Phillips still getting comfortable under center, expect a run-heavy approach from Wisconsin. The Badgers have a deep collection of running backs, led by Montee Ball. The senior has 1,226 yards and 16 touchdowns this season and will be spelled by James White (7.3 ypc) and Melvin Gordon (8.2 ypc).
Ohio State’s defense has allowed at least 20 or more points in five Big Ten games this season. This unit has struggled to stop the pass (259.7 ypg), but the rush defense has been steady most of the year. Only two opponents have managed more than 150 yards, and Ohio State has held its last two opponents to less than 75 rushing yards. The Buckeyes have struggled to stop teams that run the spread, but Wisconsin should be an easier matchup with its limited passing game.
Expect the Buckeyes to load up against Wisconsin’s rushing attack and force Philips to win this game through the air. The Badgers don’t need to throw it 30 times, but they need to hit on a few passes early on to keep Ohio State from loading up the box against Ball, White and Gordon.
Establishing the rushing attack is crucial to Wisconsin’s chances at winning. The Badgers don’t want to put the game on Curt Phillips’ shoulders, but he has to throw for more than 41 yards this week. If Wisconsin struggles to establish the run, it will be an uphill battle to win on Saturday. The Badgers defense will keep Braxton Miller in check for a half, but the Buckeyes’ offense eventually gets on track, which is just enough to escape Madison with an 11-0 record.
Prediction: Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 20
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With the season winding down, the Week 12 slate in the ACC could bring some much-needed clarity to the conference title game. If Florida State beats Maryland, the Seminoles would clinch the Atlantic Division title. The Coastal Division is still murky, but Duke and Miami would appear to have the inside track. However, Georgia Tech's late-season surge has it in the mix, while there's still uncertainty on whether or not the Hurricanes will be able to play in any postseason game this year.
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Can Virginia keep the momentum going?
The Oct. 27 bye week seems to have rejuvenated Virginia. The offense scored 74 points in its last two games, which is easily the best two-game stretch in 2012. Quarterback Michael Rocco sparked the passing attack last week, throwing for 300 yards and four scores against Miami. The rushing attack has four touchdowns over the last two weeks, which is nearly as many as the team had through the first eight games (6). While the late-season surge has moved Virginia closer to a winning record, it still needs two wins to get bowl eligible. Thursday night’s matchup with North Carolina is the 117th meeting between these two schools and there’s a lot on the line for both teams. The Cavaliers need a win to stay alive for a bowl game, while the Tar Heels can still win the Coastal Division – even though they are ineligible for the postseason. After allowing 40 points to Miami last week, Virginia’s defense will be under fire once again, especially as it tries to stop North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard. If the Cavaliers knock off the Tar Heels, it would setup a showdown with rival Virginia Tech, with the loser staying home for the postseason.
Duke or Georgia Tech: Which defense will make enough plays to win?
With two weeks remaining, it’s anyone’s guess which team will come out on top in the Coastal Division. Duke controls its destiny in the division but needs to beat Georgia Tech this Saturday and Miami next week to play for the ACC Championship. While getting to 6-4 and their first bowl game since 1994 is a great accomplishment for coach David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils, this team has lost three out of its last four games and has been outscored 104-27 in its last two matchups. Duke’s defense struggled to contain the playmakers Florida State and Clemson had on offense, but Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech is a different type of problem for co-coordinators Jim Knowles and Jim Collins. The Yellow Jackets average 324.4 yards per game on the ground and have scored at least 30 points in four out of their last five games. Georgia Tech’s offense has also found a spark from backup quarterback Vad Lee, who has four rushing scores over the last two contests. Duke has not defeated the Yellow Jackets since 2003. However, the last two matchups have been decided by 10 points or less, including a 38-31 shootout in Durham last year. There’s no question the Blue Devils should be able to score on Georgia Tech’s defense. However, considering the success the Yellow Jackets have had against Duke’s defense the last few years, the defense needs to step up if the Blue Devils want to earn their seventh win and remain in the driver’s seat for the Coastal Division title.
Does NC State’s defense have an answer for Clemson’s offense?
Even though Florida State is expected to handle Maryland and clinch the ACC Atlantic crown on Saturday, there’s still plenty for Clemson to play for against NC State. If the Tigers win their last two games, they should have a good shot at claiming an at-large spot in one of the BCS bowls. Clemson’s offense has been on fire this season, scoring at least 37 points in every ACC game. Quarterback Tajh Boyd ranks second nationally in passing efficiency and has thrown 13 touchdowns over the last three games. With Boyd and receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins hitting on all cylinders, it’s a tough assignment for NC State’s secondary to slow down Clemson’s passing offense. The Wolfpack rank 95th nationally in pass defense but have allowed just 13 passing touchdowns this year. It may seem like a tired cliché but stopping the Tigers’ offense starts in the trenches. NC State is averaging three sacks a game and has to disrupt Boyd’s timing if it wants to have a shot at the upset. The Wolfpack have been a difficult team to figure out this year. With a win over Florida State and a loss to Virginia, Tom O’Brien’s club has been hard to figure out. Can the Wolfpack make it two in a row over Clemson? It’s unlikely, but you just never know what will happen in the ACC.
Will Virginia Tech snap its three-game losing streak?
Even though the Hokies still have a chance to finish 6-6 and make a bowl game, there’s no question this is one of the most disappointing teams in the nation. Virginia Tech was picked by many to finish in the top 15 and was a heavy favorite to win the Coastal. Instead of setting up a rematch against Florida State or Clemson in the ACC Championship, the Hokies need wins over Boston College and Virginia just to get 6-6. Virginia Tech enters Saturday’s contest with a three-game losing streak but has won the last four matchups against the Eagles. While the Hokies have something to play for, Boston College is just trying to salvage any bit of good news from a 2-8 start this year. Even though the Eagles won their last ACC game at home, it’s hard to see Virginia Tech losing in Chestnut Hill. Quarterback Logan Thomas will be a handful for a Boston College defense allowing 228.4 rushing yards per game, while the Hokies’ shouldn’t have much trouble slowing down an Eagles’ offense that is very one-dimensional.
Who will claim bragging rights in South Florida?
Miami steps out of conference for the final time this season, as it hosts USF on Saturday. These two teams have met four times, with the Hurricanes holding a 3-1 edge in the series. There’s been no shortage of intrigue over the last two matchups, especially with both games decided by three points. The Bulls have been one of the Big East’s top disappointments and lost quarterback B.J. Daniels for the season in their last game against Connecticut. Although Miami is still fighting to get bowl eligible and lost last week at Virginia, it still has a chance to play for the ACC title. With Daniels sidelined, redshirt freshman Matt Floyd or junior Bobby Eveld will get the start for USF. However, the bigger concern for the Bulls could be trying to stop a Miami offense that has scored 70 points in its last two games. The Hurricanes are also struggling on defense, but with a USF offense that’s breaking in a new quarterback and lacks a breakaway threat at running back, Miami shouldn’t allow 30 points this week. Even though the Bulls are shorthanded, don't expect Skip Holtz's team to go quietly on Saturday afternoon. While both teams need a victory, there are two underlying storylines to this matchup - bragging rights in South Florida and as usual, the battle for recruits within the state.
Does Maryland have any shot to beat Florida State?
Anything can happen each Saturday during the college football season, but let’s be realistic: Barring a complete collapse by the Seminoles, the Terrapins aren’t going to beat Florida State. With a matchup against in-state rival Florida next week, there’s a chance the Seminoles could be caught peeking ahead. However, Maryland would need a lot of breaks to go its way, which includes finding an offense after scoring just 23 points the last two weeks. Shawn Petty has stepped into a difficult situation at quarterback, so it’s hard to fault the true freshman for the struggles on offense. And his job could be even more difficult on Saturday, especially if receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Wes Brown are out due to injuries once again. If the Terrapins want to keep this one close, the defense will need its best effort of the season. Maryland ranks 16th nationally in total defense and is allowing 24 points a game. If the defense can force a few turnovers and keep the offense within striking range, there’s a chance for the Terrapins to hang around. However, with the firepower on Florida State’s sideline, Maryland will need the perfect effort to score a huge upset.
Wake Forest’s offense vs. Notre Dame’s defense
With two games remaining, Wake Forest still needs one victory to get bowl eligible. Unfortunately for the Demon Deacons, there’s very little room to breathe on the schedule, as they play at Notre Dame this week and take on Vanderbilt on Nov. 24. The Demon Deacons lost 24-17 to the Fighting Irish last year, so this team should have some confidence going into Saturday’s game in South Bend. However, if Wake Forest wants to have any shot at an upset, it has to find a way to spark the offense. The Demon Deacons rank 106th nationally in scoring and 111th in total offense per game, which also ranks near the bottom of the ACC in both categories. Notre Dame has one of college football’s best defenses, and Wake Forest’s patchwork offensive line will be tested by a talented Irish’ front seven. If the Demon Deacons can protect quarterback Tanner Price, he should have some opportunities to connect with go-to receiver Michael Campanaro. Although the passing game needs to click, the rushing attack is important, especially since Wake Forest needs to find a way to slow down the Notre Dame pass rush and keep the defense off balance.
Week 12 ACC Predictions
|Week 12 ACC Games||David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
|UNC at Virginia||UNC 32-24||UNC 35-21||UNC 34-30||UNC 37-34|
|Florida State at Maryland||FSU 49-7||FSU 45-10||FSU 38-7||FSU 41-0|
|Virginia Tech at Boston College||Va. Tech 21-14||Va. Tech 38-21||Va. Tech 31-13||Va. Tech 23-13|
|USF at Miami||Miami 35-10||Miami 34-24||Miami 30-20||Miami 27-14|
|Duke at Georgia Tech||Ga. Tech 35-31||Ga. Tech 34-28||GT 45-34||GT 44-30|
|NC State at Clemson||Clemson 31-21||Clemson 41-28||Clemson 38-24||Clemson 37-21|
|Wake Forest at Notre Dame||Notre Dame 28-10||Notre Dame 24-10||Notre Dame 34-10||Notre Dame 24-6|
by Steven Lassan
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