Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-wisconsin-badgers-preview-and-prediction
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With Ohio State ineligible to win the Big Ten title, it’s not crazy to think Saturday’s matchup between Wisconsin and Nebraska could be a preview of the conference’s title game in early December. The Badgers dominated last season’s matchup, winning 48-17 in Madison. In last year’s game, Russell Wilson threw for 255 yards, while Wisconsin gashed Nebraska for 231 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

There’s plenty of differences for both teams since last season’s meeting, and both have experienced some early turmoil. Wisconsin fired offensive line coach Mike Markuson after a slow start, while Nebraska coach Bo Pelini left the game against Arkansas State due to illness and its defense isn't playing at a high level. However, the Cornhuskers are in a more stable situation going into Big Ten play, especially since the Badgers are still adjusting to the changes on the coaching staff.

Four Storylines to Watch in Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

Can Wisconsin get its ground game on track?
Was last week’s performance against UTEP a sign of things to come for the Badgers’ rushing attack? Wisconsin recorded a season high of 213 yards against the Miners, with Melvin Gordon and James White leading the way with Montee Ball sidelined due to a concussion. Ball is expected to return this Saturday, and the senior should be able to find some rushing lanes against a Nebraska defense that ranks 86th nationally against the run. Although quarterback Joel Stave played well in his first start last week, Nebraska would like to load up the box and force the young quarterback to win. It will be important for Ball, Gordon and White to get yardage on the early downs to keep Stave out of third-and-long situations. Which brings us to the next question…

How much can the Badgers ask of Stave?
Wisconsin was looking for a spark when it decided to bench Danny O’Brien in favor of Stave. O’Brien never seemed to find his rhythm in the Badgers’ offense, which opened the door for Stave to start against UTEP. The redshirt freshman came to Madison as a walk-on but played well against the Miners and should give the coaching staff confidence for Saturday night’s game. Another good sign for Wisconsin’s offense was the return of Jared Abbrederis last week, who caught six passes against UTEP and is one of the Big Ten’s best receivers. Stave won’t be asked to throw for 300 yards, but he needs to get off to a good start. The Cornhuskers rank 20th nationally in pass defense but are averaging four sacks per game. Nebraska wants to force the Badgers to lean on Stave to win, which is why Wisconsin needs to establish balance will be critical on Saturday night.

Can Wisconsin slow down Taylor Martinez?
The competition hasn’t been overwhelmingly strong, but the Cornhuskers lead the Big Ten in total and scoring offense, while ranking in the top 10 nationally for both categories. Quarterback Taylor Martinez is off to a hot start, throwing for 878 yards and nine touchdowns, while adding 191 yards and two scores on the ground. The junior quarterback is a much-improved passer and should test a Wisconsin secondary that is allowing 245.3 yards per game. In last year’s matchup, Martinez threw three interceptions and completed 50 just percent of his throws. Big Ten teams considered Martinez more of a threat on the ground in recent years, but that’s no longer the case. Wisconsin hasn’t generated much of a pass rush this season, and if Martinez gets time, the junior will have a chance to pick apart this secondary.

The turnover battle
It seems cliché to say it, but the turnover battle will be crucial in this game. The Badgers have lost only five turnovers but have forced only one this year. Nebraska is tied for ninth in the Big Ten with nine turnovers lost but has forced seven on defense. Although Stave wasn’t bad in his first start last week, Nebraska’s defense will have chances to add to their turnover total.

Final Analysis

Expect revenge to be on Nebraska’s mind on Saturday night. The Cornhuskers were thoroughly embarrassed in last year’s game against Wisconsin, but the tables are turned in 2012. Nebraska is the better team, and running back Rex Burkhead showed no ill-effects in his return from a knee injury in last week’s game against Idaho State. The Badgers should be able to run the ball against the Cornhuskers’ front seven, but Stave will have to make plays in order to give his team a chance to win.

Wisconsin seems to have things going back in the right direction, but it’s a lot to ask Stave in his second career start to win in Lincoln.

Prediction: Nebraska 31, Wisconsin 20


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven
 

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Teaser:
<p> Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-mountaineers-vs-baylor-bears-preview-and-prediction
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Saturday marks a new era in West Virginia football. The Mountaineers technically joined the Big 12 in July, but reality will sink in with Baylor visiting Morgantown. West Virginia is off to a hot 3-0 start, which includes wins over Marshall, James Madison and Maryland. Although the schedule hasn’t been that difficult, the Mountaineers’ offense looks to be in midseason form, and the defense is making progress under new co-coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson.

Replacing Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was no easy task, but Baylor remains a threat to win the Big 12 title. New quarterback Nick Florence is off to a good start, and the talent level has been on the rise during Art Briles’ tenure. The Bears dodged a bullet the last two weeks, as they trailed FCS opponent Sam Houston State in Week 3 and held off a pesky Louisiana-Monroe team for a 47-42 victory in Week 4.

Five Storylines to Watch in Baylor vs. West Virginia

1. Can West Virginia establish its ground attack?
With quarterback Geno Smith and one of the nation’s top receiving corps, the rushing attack is almost an afterthought. However, with running back Shawne Alston dealing with a thigh injury against Maryland, the Mountaineers managed only 25 rushing yards on 25 attempts. Alston is expected to play, and Andrew Buie (144 yards, one touchdown) is having a nice season so far. Dustin Garrison suffered a significant knee injury in Orange Bowl workouts last year but had two carries in the win over Maryland. It’s not critical for West Virginia to rush for 200 yards, however, Baylor is allowing 177.7 yards per game on the ground, and the Mountaineers need to establish some balance to reduce the pressure on Smith.

2. Will Baylor be able to get stops on defense?
Veteran coordinator Phil Bennett is a well-respected defensive coach, but the numbers haven’t been pretty under his watch. Baylor ranked 116th nationally in total defense last season and allowed 37.2 points per game. So far this year, the Bears are allowing 492.7 yards and 29.7 points per game. West Virginia’s passing attack has been on fire through the first three games of the season, and it will be impossible for Baylor to completely slow down Geno Smith and his receivers. However, the Bears need to generate a pass rush, as well as force a few turnovers. Baylor ranks second in the Big 12 with 10 turnovers gained through three weeks, but the pass rush has been relatively quiet (1.7 sacks per game).

3. What should we expect from West Virginia’s defense?
As mentioned previously, the Mountaineers’ defense is still a work in progress. West Virginia has allowed more than 20 points twice this season, which will only climb now that the heart of the Big 12 schedule has arrived. The Mountaineers rank 103rd nationally against the pass and have yet to be tested against some of the top offenses in college football. Marshall’s Rakeem Cato threw for 413 yards in the opener, while Maryland freshman quarterback completed 20 of 29 throws for 305 yards in last week’s game. Baylor’s Nick Florence will be toughest test for West Virginia’s secondary, especially with two All-Big 12 candidates at receiver in Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese. Both players are averaging over 20 yards per catch, while Levi Norwood and Lanear Sampson shouldn’t be overlooked.

4. Will Baylor quarterback Nick Florence get off to a slow start once again?
Although the Bears won last week’s game against Louisiana-Monroe, Florence’s slow start has to be a concern for the coaching staff going into Saturday’s game. The senior threw two picks in the first quarter, and even though Baylor has a lot of firepower on its sideline, it cannot afford to fall too far behind West Virginia. Florence doesn’t have Griffin’s athleticism, but he’s not a statue either. In last week’s game, the senior rushed for 55 yards and has 159 on the season. Don’t be surprised if Baylor gets Florence into the game with a few runs, especially if the passing game stalls out early in the first quarter.

5. How many times will West Virginia WR Tavon Austin touch the ball?
In last week’s win over Maryland, Austin was the team’s top playmaker, catching 13 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns. He also recorded two carries for four yards and had four overall returns for 42 yards. There’s no question Austin is one of the nation’s most dynamic playmakers with the ball in its hands, and Baylor can expect a few reverses or handoffs to the senior. Austin is as dangerous as anyone in the nation with the ball in the open field, but junior Stedman Bailey shouldn’t be overlooked on the outside. The Bears need to find a way to keep Austin in check but also not allow Bailey to surpass the 13 catches for 173 yards and three scores he recorded against James Madison.

Final Analysis

Is this the start of a special season for West Virginia? The Mountaineers are a legitimate contender for the national championship, and their road to a potential spot in the BCS title game begins on Saturday against Baylor. West Virginia’s offense is deadly, but it won’t sneak up on any Big 12 teams this year, especially considering Oklahoma State and Texas Tech run similar variations.

If you like offense, this will be the game to watch this Saturday. Both teams should have no trouble moving the ball, but it’s hard to pick against West Virginia at home. The Mountaineers’ defense will give up a lot of yards but finds a way to force a turnover or key play late to seal the victory, while quarterback Geno Smith pads his Heisman stats with another game of 300+ passing yards.

Prediction: West Virginia 41, Baylor 31
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven
 

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Teaser:
<p> West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Baylor Bears Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:03
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-buckeyes-vs-michigan-state-spartans-game-preview-and-prediction
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The Big Ten has an easy target for criticism through the first four weeks of the season. The conference doesn’t have a team ranked inside of the top 10 and the lack of a marquee win in non-conference play has been a black eye. However, Week 5 brings a much-needed change of scenery for all 12 teams. Conference play begins this Saturday and there are a few games that will draw national interest, which should help stop the bleeding from the awful start to the season.

Ohio State is the Big Ten’s only undefeated ranked team and is arguably the best team in the conference. Michigan State is off to a 3-1 start, with the only defeat coming to Notre dame. However, the Spartans looked sluggish in wins over Boise State and Eastern Michigan.

Five Things to Watch in Ohio State vs. Michigan State

1. Will Ohio State stop Le’Veon Bell?
Expect the Buckeyes to employ a simple gameplan on defense this Saturday. Ohio State will load the box to stop Bell, which will force Michigan State to lean on quarterback Andrew Maxwell. Bell rushed for 210 yards in the win over Boise State and 253 against Eastern Michigan but was held in check against Notre Dame (77 yards). The Buckeyes rank 33rd nationally against the run and only one opponent has managed more than 150 rushing yards against them this year (California, 224). Ohio State’s defensive line is one of the toughest in college football, especially with 322-pound tackle Johnathan Hankins in the middle. If the Buckeyes stop Bell, Michigan State will have a hard time moving the ball on Saturday afternoon. Which brings us to our next question…

2. Is this the game Andrew Maxwell steps up for Michigan State?
Replacing Kirk Cousins was no easy task, but most expected Maxwell would play better through the first four games of the season. The junior is completing 56.6 percent of his throws and has failed to eclipse more than 200 yards in each of his last two starts. Maxwell hasn’t thrown an interception since the season opener, but his performances have been uninspiring so far. He can’t be blamed for all of the woes in the passing game, especially with a revamped receiving corps that could feature two sophomore starters on Saturday. With the Buckeyes loading up to stop Bell, Maxwell will need to have the best game of 2012 in order to lead Michigan State to victory.

3. Can the Buckeyes take some of the workload off Braxton Miller?
As expected, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has been a perfect fit in Urban Meyer’s spread offense. The sophomore has rushed for 441 yards and seven touchdowns while throwing for 754 yards and seven scores this year. Despite his strong start, the Buckeyes want to reduce his workload. Miller is averaging 17 rushes a game and may not last a full season at this pace. The sophomore is still developing as a passer but has thrown for 754 yards and seven touchdowns. Michigan State’s defense leads the Big Ten in total, scoring and rush defense so far this year and ranks 13th nationally against the pass. Miller needs to make a few big plays with his legs, but he also has to have some help from the supporting cast. Running back Jordan Hall has been steady in his first two games back from a foot injury, recording 192 yards and two receptions. Hall’s emergence should be a huge positive for Ohio State’s offense, and Carlos Hyde could return from injury this week. With Michigan State’s defense looking to stop Miller, it’s up to Hyde and Hall to step up on the ground.

4. Who will win the battle in the trenches?
Although Braxton Miller needs his supporting cast to step up, and Le’Veon Bell has to have more help from Andrew Maxwell, neither player will have much of an opportunity to succeed if the offensive lines don’t perform. Ohio State’s line entered the year as a question mark and has allowed nearly two sacks a game. Michigan State’s front five is allowing just one a game, but four came against Notre Dame. Although senior Nathan Williams has been dealing with the effects from knee surgery, the Buckeyes still have plenty of talent up front, including Johnathan Hankins at tackle and John Simon at end. Both players will have opportunities to take over the game this Saturday. Michigan State’s defensive line is stocked with talent, including All-American candidate William Gholston. End Marcus Rush is another player to watch (three tackles for a loss), while there’s plenty of size on the interior. This will be the toughest challenge for Ohio State’s offensive line and could be the perfect opportunity for Gholston to get on track this year.

5. Special teams
With Saturday’s matchup is expected to be a close one, a play on special teams could decide the outcome. Michigan State kicker Dan Conroy has connected on 7 of 11 attempts but is just 3 of 7 from 30-49 yards. Ohio State kicker Drew Basil hit his only attempt of the season, while punter Ben Buchanan is averaging 41.3 yards per punt. In last week’s win over UAB, the Buckeyes had a punt that was blocked and returned for a score. Can Michigan State find something on tape that UAB was able to exploit? Considering this game probably won’t be decided until deep in the fourth quarter, one mistake on special teams could be very costly.

Final Analysis

With a light week of games this Saturday, Ohio State-Michigan State has a chance to be the best game on the slate. The Buckeyes have won seven out of the last eight contests in this series, with the Spartans winning 10-7 in Columbus last year. Points should be at a premium in this matchup, with Braxton Miller outdueling Anddrew Maxwell to earn a hard-fought win for Ohio State.

Ohio State 23, Michigan State 20


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven
 

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Teaser:
<p> Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans Game Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/kansas-state-football-where-does-bill-snyder-rank-among-all-time-coaches
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Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has to be considered one of college football's best coaches. Snyder is credited with a "Miracle in Manhattan," turning the Wildcats into a consistent winner and a top-10 team in some seasons. After three years in retirement, Snyder has returned to the sidelines and has Kansas State back in contention for a Big 12 title. 

Where does Bill Snyder rank among all-time coaches? 

Coach Bobby Ross, former head coach of Maryland, Georgia Tech and Army and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I got to know Bill some years back when I was an NFL head coach for the Chargers.  He brought his coaching staff to study what we were doing in San Diego and exchanged ideas with him and his staff.  I was very impressed by him and have followed his career since that time. Bill is a no-nonsense type of coach and a great communicator. He built the program from the bottom up.  They were at ground zero when he got there in Manhattan.  And not only did he do it once, he went back a few years ago and has Kansas State playing like a top ten team again. On our Legends Poll weekly conference call, R.C. Slocum said, "I think Bill Snyder ought to be Coach of the Century!"   I would rank him up near the top as well.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Snyder hasn’t had the national championship breakthrough. He doesn’t run the most exciting schemes. And he doesn’t have the public persona of a Steve Spurrier, Bobby Bowden or even Nick Saban. But the results warrant mentioning him among the greats. Maybe he’s in a second tier after Bear Bryant, Bowden and the like, but he needs to be mentioned among the top 10 or so. Snyder has swooped in to rescue the Kansas State program twice. Say what you want about the light non-conference schedules over the years, but given its history and perennial talent gap with Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska over the years, Kansas State doesn’t have a whole lot of business being consistently competitive against those schools. Yet it’s happened. I’m not a fan of the “they just find ways to win” cliche, but it’s true for Snyder’s teams and it’s been true over the course of two decades.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
It is virtually impossible to rank Bill Snyder all-time against coaches from 100 years worth of football. But against active coaches? He is easily top ten if not top five. Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer are likely the only coaches I would definitively rank ahead of Snyder. He would be on par with Frank Beamer, Chris Peterson, Chip Kelly and (gasp) Bobby Petrino. The Kansas State coach does more with less than possibly any other head coach in the nation, but at the end of the day, the resume isn't the same as those who have won national championships. Stoops has dominated the head-to-head record with Snyder and has seven Big 12 titles. Spurrier has seven conference championships. Meyer and Saban claim five of the last nine national titles. Snyder is a truly great football coach, and an extremely interesting man, who is entirely responsible for all that Kansas State football is today. But one conference championship in 21 seasons, despite the disadvantages at KSU, keeps him from the top tier of coaches in my opinion. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
There are few coaches who could do what Snyder has done at Kansas State. When he arrived in Manhattan, Kansas State was one of the worst programs in the nation. The Wildcats were coming off back-to-back winless seasons and had just three victories over the last four years. Since Snyder’s arrival at Kansas State, the program has become a consistent winner and nearly played for the national title in 1998. As if his first tenure wasn’t good enough, Snyder returned out of retirement and has Kansas State in the mix to win the Big 12 title this year. It’s always difficult to place where coaches rank among their counterparts, as each job presents different challenges. However, it’s clear Snyder is currently one of the best coaches in college football and has to rank among the best of all-time. I wouldn’t put Snyder in the same class as Bobby Bowden, Nick Saban or Bear Bryant, but he wouldn’t be far behind in the next group.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
He’s clearly an all-time great. He has to be considered one of the great program builders of all-time for what he did during his first stint at Kansas State. He inherited a program that was perceived by many to be the worst in the nation — and rightfully so. The Wildcats went winless in the two previous seasons prior to his arrival. They won one game in his first season, five the next and then broke through with a 7–4 record in Year 3. After a step back in 1992, K-State began a stretch in which it won at least nine games in 10 of 11 seasons. That, alone, is an incredible accomplishment. But Snyder rebuilt the program once again, returning to the sidelines in 2009 after a three-year retirement. Last season, the Cats won 10 games — for the first time since 2003 — with a roster that was probably middle of the pack (at best) in the Big 12. And he has the Cats off to a 4–0 start in ’12, highlighted by last week’s upset win at Oklahoma. As I Tweeted late Saturday night: “Kansas State is amazing. Never picking against the Cats again.”

Mark Ross: 
Snyder is without a doubt the greatest head coach in Kansas State's history. Not only is the football stadium named after him, but he also has more than 120 career wins than any other coach in the program's history. Snyder deserves a lot of credit and a great deal of respect for turning what was a moribund football program into a consistent winner, not once, but twice as he first retired following the 2005 season only to return three seasons later. Snyder has 163 wins and counting in his K-State tenure, which is now in its 21st season, and has a career winning percentage of nearly 66 percent. He has won only one conference title in his career, however, and is 6-7 in bowl games. Snyder is still several good years away from reaching the 200-victory milestone, and considering he will turn 73 in two weeks, you wonder how much longer he will keep going. I don't think he measures up to the all-time greats, but there's certainly no shame in leaving your lasting mark and legacy on a program and university, which is what he has done in Manhattan, Kan.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
Before Coach Snyder arrived in Manhattan, Kansas State had played over 90 years of football and never won a bowl game. In fact, a 1982 loss in the Independence Bowl was the lone postseason appearance in the history of the Wildcats program. The job that Snyder and his staff did in building KSU in to a consistent winner has to rank as the best ever in taking a moribund program and making it relevant. It’s difficult for me to rank Snyder among the top 20 all-time coaches because of a lack of conference or national titles (one Big 12 crown in 2003), but he definitely belongs in the next tier of great coaches and in the College Football Hall of Fame. 

 

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Teaser:
<p> Kansas State Football: Where does Bill Snyder rank among all-time coaches?&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 05:51
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-5-emergency-starters
Body:

This piece is intended to assist those college fantasy loyalists who have stuck with us the entire week.  Whether you have an injury to a key player, a tough matchup at a particular position, or play in a deep league, this one is for you.  Good luck!  

Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)

Quarterback

Taysom Hill, BYU vs Hawaii

Tyler Van Tubbergen, Western Michigan vs Toledo

Driphus Jackson, Rice vs Houston

Trent Steelman, Army v Stony Brook

Trey Miler, Navy vs San Jose St
 

Running Backs

Kenneth Dixon, LA Tech at Virginia

Jyruss Edwards, ULM at Tulane

DJ Foster, Arizona St at Colorado

Alonzo Harris, Louisiana vs FIU

Antoine Jimmerson, North Texas at FAU

Dri Archer, Kent St vs Ball St

Zach Laskey, GA Tech vs MTSU
 

Receivers

Willie Snead, Ball St at Kent St

Marcus Lucas, Missouri at Central Florida

Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa at UAB

Ty MacArthur, Air Force vs Colorado St

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

Steven Lassan(@AthlonSteven)

Quarterback

David Fales, San Jose St at Navy

Kawaun Jakes, Western Kentucky at Arkansas St

Tanner Price, Wake Forest vs Duke
 

Running Backs

Shawne Alston, West Virginia vs Baylor

Dri Archer, Kent St vs Ball St

JaTerian Douglas, Tulsa at UAB
 

Receivers

Brelan Chancellor, North Texas at FAU

Brandin Cooks, Oregon St at Arizona

Brent Leonard, UL-Monroe at Tulane

Martel Moore, Northern Illinois vs Central Michigan

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 5 Emergency Starters</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 03:45
Path: /college-football/lsu-alabama%E2%80%99s-biggest-threat-national-title
Body:

The college football season is only four weeks old, but the general feeling from most of the nation is there is a clear No. 1 team - Alabama. A lot will happen and plenty can change between now and the end of the season, but is LSU the biggest obstacle to another title by the Crimson Tide?

Is LSU Alabama's Biggest Threat to a National Title?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Although LSU did not look great in a 12-10 win over Auburn on Saturday, the Tigers still appear to be the biggest threat to another Alabama national title. Any team that’s going to defeat Alabama needs to have an elite defense, and that’s still the Tigers. The road trip to LSU may be the only threat to Alabama during the regular season, but Georgia or South Carolina could be problematic as well in a potential SEC championship game. Either way, Alabama’s biggest threat would seem to come from the SEC rather than any potential foe in the title game -- assuming that opponent isn’t an SEC team again.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
A road trip to LSU on Nov. 3 is the toughest current game left on the schedule, but I am not ready to say that it will be the toughest challenge. Georgia, Florida and South Carolina all have defensive lines that match-up well Bama in a potential SEC title game with the Bulldogs also offering an offense that could put the Tide defense to the test as well. Florida State could provide an equally tricky match-ups should they all get to the national title game. But my pick for the national title game was Alabama and Oregon this summer, so the Ducks are in the mix as well. If I had to rank "biggest threats" to Alabama's third national title in four years: 1) Georgia in SEC title game 2) Oregon or Florida State in the BCS title game 3) LSU.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
LSU was unimpressive in a 12-10 win against Auburn, but I still believe the Tigers are Alabama’s toughest obstacle to a national championship. Outside of LSU, Florida State and Oregon seem to be the most likely candidates for the No. 2 spot in the polls. The Seminoles’ defense is one of the best in the nation, and quarterback EJ Manuel appears to be peaking at the right time. However, is the offensive line up to the task? Oregon has the offense to win a title, but how well would its defense matchup against a physical team like Alabama in the trenches? LSU gets a shot against Alabama in Baton Rouge, and it has defeated the Crimson Tide the last two times during the regular season.  The Tigers are a perfect match for Alabama in the trenches, and their offense should be better by early November. I still think the Crimson Tide wins the national championship, but LSU will be their toughest test in 2012.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
LSU hasn’t looked quite as dominant as we expected — though the Tigers are 4–0 with an average margin of victory of 29 points — but I’d still call the Tigers the biggest threat to Alabama’s quest for a second straight national title. The reason? Alabama must beat LSU in Baton Rouge to continue its perfect season. (And yes, I realize that Bama could lose this game and still play in the national title game). There might be some teams who have looked better to date — Oregon, Georgia and Florida State come to mind — but Alabama won’t have to play any of those teams on their home field. That’s a big difference. 

Mark Ross: 
Not if they play the same LSU team that eked out a two-point victory at Auburn last Saturday. That said, the Tigers are the biggest threat to Alabama's repeat national title hopes in that the two will meet on Nov. 3 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in a game that will more than likely determine who wins the SEC West. It's still early, but I don't see a repeat of last season happening, meaning the best way for either the Crimson Tide or the Tigers to be in the best position to earn a berth in the BCS Championship Game is by winning the SEC Championship Game. So in my mind, that first Saturday in November is essentially an elimination game. Lose and your title dreams, both SEC and national, are pretty much dashed. But getting into the SEC title game is just the first step, winning it is the second. To that end, I think Alabama's biggest threat, assuming they win the West, to a national title is whoever makes it out of the East. Right now I give the edge to Georgia, but South Carolina is just as capable, and who knows, Florida could be there in the end if the offense continues to develop and can complement an already stout defense. It may not seem like it at this point, but I think that either the Bulldogs or the Gamecocks can match up pretty well against the Crimson Tide, provided they are healthy and clicking on all cylinders come Dec. 1. So while it does seem highly likely at this point that the SEC will be represented in the BCS title game for the seventh straight season, don't be surprised if the team that plays in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Jan. 13, 2013, comes from the East and not the West.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
Absolutely. I would not discount LSU chances of beating Alabama once again in the regular season just because the Tigers had to win a 12-10 slugfest at Auburn. Wild things happen in SEC night games, and coming into last Saturday the visitor in the LSU-Auburn series had gone 1-11 in the last 12 matchups. Plus, Les Miles’ crew has battled multiple injuries (Alfred Blue, Spencer Ware, P.J. Lonergan and Josh Dworaczyk) to key players. Alabama looks like the better team, but LSU has proven it can play in a defensive battle with the Tide. Additionally, this year’s much-anticipated contest is in Baton Rouge. If the Tide makes it to Atlanta, there will a tough and tested East opponent to beat. But a talented LSU bunch is still the biggest obstacle to the Tide repeating as national champions. 

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Teaser:
<p> Is LSU Alabama’s Biggest Threat to a National Title?&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 15:49
All taxonomy terms: Purdue Boilermakers, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/purdues-punter-cody-webster-throws-behind-back-touchdown-pass
Body:

Purdue has experienced some bad luck with quarterback injuries over the last couple of seasons, but the Boilermakers might have a secret weapon in punter Cody Webster.

Webster is one of the Big Ten's top punters but made quite an impression at quarterback during a flag football game at Purdue.

The punter tossed an impressive behind-the-back 30-yard touchdown pass, which was a key play in leading his team to a 30-7 victory. 

Who says punters can't be weapons on offense?

Teaser:
<p> Purdue's Punter Cody Webster Throws Behind-the-Back Touchdown Pass</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 07:24
Path: /college-football/acc-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The ACC was in the spotlight last week, as Florida State and Clemson squared off in Tallahassee for a meeting of top-10 teams. Week 5 doesn't have many marquee matchups in the ACC, but there are enough games to provide some intrigue. Miami hosts NC State in a critical conference game for both teams, while Virginia hopes to hold off an upset bid by Louisiana Tech, and Florida State travels to Tampa to take on South Florida. 

Other Week 5 Previews and Predictions

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

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 5

Which defense will make enough plays to win: NC State or Miami?
In two ACC games this year, Miami has scored a combined 83 points. NC State scored 21 in the opener against Tennessee and 10 against Connecticut in Week 2 but has recorded at least 31 points in each of its last two games. Both teams have momentum on their side this week, especially as both sport a 3-1 record after last Saturday’s action. The Hurricanes seem to be hitting on all cylinders on offense, as quarterback Stephen Morris threw for a career-high 436 yards against Georgia Tech, while freshman Duke Johnson is averaging eight yards per carry. NC State’s offense isn’t as flashy, but quarterback Mike Glennon is one of the best in the nation, and the rushing attack got a boost with freshman Shadrach Thornton rushing for 145 yards in the win over Citadel. With both offenses capable of scoring over 30 points, this game will be decided by a few stops on defense. The Hurricanes need to get pressure on Glennon, and the Wolfpack’s offensive line is allowing 3.5 sacks per game. If Miami is able to get to Glennon, NC State will have a hard time winning this game. When the Hurricanes have the ball, keep an eye on the matchup of Morris versus the Wolfpack’s secondary. NC State cornerback David Amerson is one of the best in the nation, and Morris has thrown one pick in three out of Miami’s four games this year.

Can Virginia Tech get its rushing game on track?
Throw out games against Austin Peay and Bowling Green, and the Hokies are averaging just 77.5 rushing yards per game and has yet to score a touchdown on the ground. Contributing to the struggles is a reworked offensive line and the lack of a standout running back. In last week’s game against Bowling Green, the running back rotation had a shakeup, with Tony Gregory leading the way with 11 carries. Redshirt freshman Michael Holmes was expected to be the team’s No. 1 back, but he has just 151 yards on 35 attempts so far this season. Saturday’s matchup against Cincinnati will be the final tune-up for Virginia Tech, as the schedule the rest of the way features just ACC matchups. Cincinnati’s defense is allowing 123.5 rushing yards per game but is averaging four sacks a contest. Even though the Bearcats had some key personnel depart from the line, this group isn’t a pushover. Virginia Tech can win this game without a big day from the running backs, but it’s crucial this group develops a pecking order among the running backs and finds some consistency from the offensive line with the rest of the ACC schedule approaching.

Will Florida State avoid a letdown against South Florida?
On paper, everything points to a blowout win by Florida State on Saturday night. The Seminoles clearly showed they are one of the best teams in the nation in last week’s win over Clemson, but there’s that pesky letdown word that always seems to circulate after a big victory. The Seminoles lost to South Florida in their only meeting, dropping a 17-7 game in Tallahassee in 2009. There’s no question the talent level has increased for Florida State since then, while the Bulls enter Saturday’s game with nine losses in their last 12 games. In his first career start, South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels totaled 341 yards and two touchdowns against Florida State, but he’s also failed to fully develop into one of the nation’s top 25 quarterbacks. Another problem for South Florida has been its defense, which is allowing 384.5 yards a game. Florida State is clicking on all cylinders on both sides of the ball right now, and unless the Seminoles turn in an uninspired, flat performance, the Bulls won’t pull off another upset over their in-state foe.

Does Boston College have any answer for Clemson’s offense?
After a 1-2 start and road games against Army, Florida State and Georgia Tech upcoming, Saturday’s game against Clemson is a big one for Boston College. The Eagles still have slim bowl hopes, but a loss to the Tigers would put them at 1-3 with five road games remaining and a late season home date against Notre Dame in mid-November. Boston College’s offense has shown improvement under coordinator Doug Martin, averaging 26.3 points and 412.7 yards per game. Quarterback Chase Rettig has not thrown an interception the last two weeks and ranks first in the ACC in total offense per game. But is that enough to beat Clemson? Probably not. The Tigers scored 37 points on one of the nation’s best defenses last week and face a Boston College defense allowing nearly 400 yards per game. The Eagles should be able to move the ball, but their defense will have a hard time slowing down Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (QB), Andre Ellington (RB) and DeAndre Hopkins (WR). The Tigers suffered a blow to their receiving corps on Thursday night, as receiver Sammy Watkins won't play due to abdominal virus.

Is it time for Virginia to switch quarterbacks?
Throw out the Cavaliers’ performance against FCS opponent Richmond and the statistics for Virginia’s offense are rather pedestrian. The Cavaliers rushed for just 32 yards against Penn State and have thrown just as many interceptions (4) as touchdowns (4) in their last two games. Quarterback Michael Rocco is completing 60.2 percent of his passes but has struggled in back-to-back games. Backup Phillip Sims has played in every game this year, throwing for 174 yards and three touchdowns on 18 completions. Although Rocco has struggled, the offensive line has failed to open rushing lanes for the running backs, and the Cavaliers rank 97th in rushing offense going into Week 5. Rocco will start this Saturday, but Mike London could have a quick hook if the offense is stuck in neutral early in the game. With a high-scoring Louisiana Tech team coming to Charlottesville, the Cavaliers can’t afford to fall behind 20-0 once again.

Can Duke move closer to bowl eligibility?
The Blue Devils are off to a 3-1 start for the first time since 2008 and making a bowl game isn’t too far out of reach. Duke needs to catch a few breaks the rest of the way, beginning this Saturday against Wake Forest. The Blue Devils have not defeated the Demon Deacons since 1999, but there have been close calls along the way, including last year’s 24-23 loss in Durham. Although the rushing attack still needs work, Duke’s defense is showing signs of improvement, ranking 19th nationally with three sacks per game and allowing 106.5 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Sean Renfree is also off to a good start, throwing for nine touchdowns and 1,078 yards. However, the biggest concern for the Blue Devils has to be a secondary that ranks 74th nationally and has yet to face a quarterback/receiver combination like Wake Forest’s Tanner Price and Michael Campanaro. This is David Cutcliffe’s best team in his tenure at Duke, and the pieces are in place to get six wins. However, if the Blue Devils want to go bowling, they have to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Demon Deacons, especially with the schedule only getting tougher the rest of the year.

Easy Wins for North Carolina, Georgia Tech
After back-to-back losses against Wake Forest and Louisville, North Carolina got back into the win column with a solid 27-6 victory over East Carolina. Even more important for the Tar Heels was the return of running back Giovani Bernard, who rushed for 50 yards and chipped in 52 yards on six receptions. North Carolina should have no trouble moving to 3-2 this Saturday, as 0-4 Idaho visits Chapel Hill. The Vandals are coming off a three-point loss to Wyoming in overtime but were handled 63-14 by LSU on Sept. 15. After blowing a 36-19 lead against Miami, MTSU should be the perfect Week 5 opponent for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets should be able to take out their frustrations against the Blue Raiders, while figuring out a few answers on defense. Georgia Tech allowed Miami to throw for 436 yards, while adding 173 on the ground last week. 

Week 5 ACC Predictions

Week 5 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
MTSU at Georgia Tech GT 42-10 GT 37-17 GT 45-13 GT 48-10
NC State at Miami Miami 21-17 NC State 24-21 NC State 27-24 Miami 27-10
Duke at Wake Forest Duke 28-21 Wake 34-31 Wake 30-27 Duke 21-20
Idaho at North Carolina UNC 35-7 UNC 37-14 UNC 48-13 UNC 41-3
Louisiana Tech at Virginia La. Tech 28-14 La. Tech 31-28 La. Tech 38-31 La. Tech 41-23
Clemson at Boston College Clemson 42-21 Clemson 42-20 Clemson 38-17 Clemson 31-14
Virginia Tech vs. Cincy (Landover) VT 28-21 VT 31-21 VT 30-20 VT 27-24
Florida State at South Florida FSU 38-14 FSU 34-14 FSU 38-13 FSU 31-13
Last Week: 8-1 8-1 8-1 8-1
Season Record: 35-5 36-4 35-5 35-5


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Teaser:
<p> ACC Week 5 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:46
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-5-upset-predictions
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College football's Week 5 schedule is relatively quiet in terms of top 25 matchups. Although there are few marquee games to watch this Saturday, it's weekends like this one that can spring a few upsets. Athlon's panel of editors is back, along with a guest contributor to give you the top upset predictions for Week 5. 

College Football's Week 5 Upset Picks

Dave Bartoo (@CFBMatrix), CFBMatrix.com, Missouri (+3) over Central Florida
This was the pick in my pre-season selections in March and there is no reason to change it (not that I ever do).  I about fell out of my chair when I saw Mizzou getting +3 to open the week.  In the last 6 years, the Tiger, when the Matrix picks them to win in on the road have just 2 losses.  Conversely, UCF under O’Leary is an underachieving train wreck.  Everything I see points to Mizzou.  They have a coaching advantage and a huge talent gap advantage.  Don’t let the last 2 weeks set a Gambler Fallacy into your mind.  Missouri was supposed to lose those two games against elite teams.  In essence, those are two losses they cashed in exchange for the SEC payday.  While I prefer the home dog, the Tigers roll into UCF and roll over the Knights.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Iowa State (+2.5) over Texas Tech 
So we’re really making Iowa State and Paul Rhoads underdogs at home against Texas Tech. OK. If you insist. Texas Tech is second in the nation in total offense and first in total defense. No doubt, the Red Raiders are improved, but they’ve played Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. Iowa State will be much tougher. The Cyclones’ most impressive win might not even be the 95 victory at Iowa. Maybe it’s 38-23 over Tulsa, which is a much closer gauge of what Iowa State will see against Texas Tech. In that game, Iowa State held Tulsa quarterback to 23-of-49 passing with two interceptions. Seth Doege is a veteran quarterback with better receivers, but I’ll put my trust in the Iowa State defense.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
These two teams are very well coached, are very physical along the line of scrimmage and have arguably the top two defenses ni the Big Ten. But the Buckeyes have one major advantage and you can bet Urban Meyer will take advantage of it. Braxton Miller will be the best player on the field and when the play breaks down, he has been brilliant. Meanwhile, Andrew Maxwell has yet to prove he can win a game with his arm. Expect Meyer to stack the box against Le'Veon Bell in an effort to force Maxwell into key third-down situations. Give me the Bucks to win a close one on the road.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): NC State (+3) at Miami
Is it time to buy into Miami? Only time will tell but last week’s win over Georgia Tech was impressive. The Hurricanes’ defense struggled to get stops, but the offense scored a season-high 42 points and recorded 609 yards. NC State has flown under the radar since losing to Tennessee in the season opener. The Wolfpack have picked up wins over Connecticut, South Alabama and Citadel the last three weeks, and cornerback David Amerson seems to have his confidence back after a disappointing performance in the opener. Although the Hurricanes have scored 38 or more points three times this season, the Wolfpack will present a tougher challenge on defense, especially in the trenches where they are averaging 3 sacks per game. Miami’s secondary has yet to face a quarterback of Mike Glennon’s caliber, which should test a unit that is allowing 226.3 yards per game. Expect a close matchup, but NC State’s edge on defense should be the difference.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Rice (+5) over Houston
Houston has arguably been the most disappointing team in the nation. Yes, record-setting quarterback Case Keenum is gone, but the Cougars welcomed back 12 starters (including seven on defense) from a team that won 13 games last season. But the 2012 season, under the direction of first-year coach Tony Levine, has been a disaster. Houston has lost all three games, most notably a 30–13 decision at home in Week 1 to FBS upstart Texas State. Rice, meanwhile, has played relatively well. The Owls are 1–4 with a win at Kansas and losses to UCLA, Louisiana Tech and Marshall (in double-overtime). As expected, Rice has been horrible on defense, but the offense has been solid; the Owls have scored at least 24 points in all four games and are averaging over 220 yards rushing and passing. Houston has the more talented roster, but Rice might be the better team. Rice 41, Houston 37

Mark Ross: Rice (+5) over Houston
This Conference USA battle of in-state rivals features two of the worst defenses in the nation, statistically anyways, so expect lots of offense. Rice is second-to-last among the 120 FBS teams in total defense (546.8 ypg), while Houston is just one spot ahead of them at No. 118 (536.3 ypg). The Owls are dead last in scoring defense with the Cougars coming in at No. 117, as both teams are giving up more than 40 points per game. The difference here is with the offenses, which is surprising since Houston has more of a reputation on that side of the ball. Make no mistake, however, this is not the same Cougars' offense that we've seen in recent years, as they and the Owls are basically even when it comes to total offense numbers. The Owls' offense, which is scoring nearly 12 more points per game than the Cougars, is led by dual-threat quarterback Taylor McHargue, who is currently 13th in the nation in total offense (321 ypg). Cougars quarterback David Piland is fourth in the nation in this category, as he's averaging nearly 350 yards passing per game, but the offense has had all sorts of issues with ball security (No. 105 in turnover margin). In the end, Rice's more-balanced offense, led by McHargue, will out-gain and out-score Piland and the Cougars in what figures to be a high-scoring affair. In other words, I wouldn't hesitate to start any Owls or Cougars I have on my fantasy roster and may even have to check to see if any are available to pick up.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
This will be the Buckeyes first road contest under Urban Meyer, but I believe OSU’s quarterback advantage will be able to overcome the raucous atmosphere in East Lansing. Obviously these are two physical teams built around running the ball and solid defense, so expect a tight, low-scoring affair. The Ohio State defense has had some issues against the pass (104th in the nation) this season, but I do not see Spartans signal caller Andrew Maxwell being able to consistently move the ball through the air. The difference in this one will be Buckeyes dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller, who is electric in the open field and can make big plays at any time. Special teams will also play a critical role in a close game, and I’ll take Ohio State to prevail on the road and go to 5-0 on the season.

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 5 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 5 Preview and Predictions

 

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 5 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:07
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-5-start-or-sit
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Many readers have asked if we can expand our weekly rankings.  We could, but what we strive to do is use our Start/Bench and Emergency Starters lists to expand our ranking in a creative way.  What makes theCFFsite unique is that in articles such as the one you are about to read, we will never include the obvious selections.  Simply put, you will rarely see players ranked in our top ten listed on a Start/Bench or Emergency Starters list.  We want to help you make the tough decisions of deciding on a RB#2, WR#3, or FLEX.  You guys, the readers, have helped make pieces like this one and the Emergency Starters list extremely well received.  Your feedback has been tremendously helpful in growing theCFFsite.  Our goal is to be the most interactive college fantasy football resource.  Please, keep the emails and twitter interactions coming.                 

Start

Colby Cameron, QB-Louisiana Tech at Virginia

Cameron leads a Bulldogs attack that is third in the nation in scoring at 54.7 points per game.  In three games this season, the senior quarterback has thrown eleven touchdowns without an interception.

Charles Sims, RB-Houston at Rice

Now that Sims is back and participating at full speed, he should find plenty of running room against a Rice defense giving up over 300 yards rushing per game.

Todd Gurley, RB-Georgia vsTennessee

Gurley may not be getting more than 20 touches per game, but the freshman has topped the century mark three times and has scored in every game.

Mark Weisman, RB-Iowa vs Minnesota

Fellow running back Damon Bullock will most likely miss this week’s game against the Gophers, so expect the bruising sophomore to carry the ball another 20-25 times.

Alex Amidon, WR-Boston College vs Clemson

Amidon has at least six catches and 99 yards receiving in every game this season and should get a lot of opportunities this week, as the Eagles will try to keep pace with the Clemson offense.

Mike Evans, WR-Texas A&M vs Arkansas

We’re expecting the 6-5 freshman to have one of his biggest games of the season against an Arkansas defense giving up over 312 passing yards per game.

Josh Stewart, WR-Oklahoma St vs Texas

After back-to-back nine-catch games, Stewart is starting to become the most consistent receiving threat the Cowboys have.

Michael Edwards, WR-UTEP at East Carolina

Running back Nathan Jeffery received a lot of attention after his big game against Oklahoma to open the season, but receiver Michael Edwards is starting to become a legitimate fantasy factor.  This week, the Miners face an East Carolina defense giving up 312 yards passing per game.


Bench

Kain Colter, QB-Northwestern vs Indiana

Colter injured his wrist last game, but is expected to start this week against Indiana.  However, he has not thrown a touchdown pass since the first week of the season and the Wildcats’ offense goes through running back Venric Mark.

Taylor Martinez, QB-Nebraska vs Wisconsin

Even though Martinez has thrown for nine touchdowns and has improved his accuracy as a passer, we expect the Huskers to give Wisconsin a heavy dose of Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah.

Knile Davis, RB-Arkansas at Texas A&M

Davis’ best rushing performance this season was in Week One when he ran for 70 yards against Jacksonville State.  This week, Davis and the Razorbacks hit the road to face the nation’s 18th ranked rushing defense.

Jordan Hall, RB-Ohio St at Michigan St

We expect Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller to do most of his damage outside of the pocket, but the Spartans’ 11th ranked rushing defense should keep Hall bottled up between the tackles.

Cameron Marshall, RB-Arizona St at Cal

If Marshall wasn’t scoring touchdowns, he’d be dropped in almost every league format.  Expect freshman running back D.J. Foster to lead the Sun Devils in rushing at the end of the season.

Bishop Sankey, RB-Washington vs Stanford

Sankey had an impressive showing two weeks ago against Portland State when he ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns, but this week he faces the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense.

Michael Holmes, RB-Virginia Tech vs Cincinnati

Holmes has been named the starter for this week’s game against the Bearcats, but Tony Gregory led the Hokies in rushing last weekend and may be on the field more than any other back this Saturday.

Devin Smith, WR-Ohio St at Michigan St

If quarterback Braxton Miller can create some opportunities outside the pocket, Smith could be in line for some big plays.  However, we expect those opportunities to be limited in East Lansing against the nation’s 13th ranked pass defense.

Alex Neutz, WR-Buffalo at Connecticut

Last week, Neutz only caught two passes against Kent State and one reception was a Hail Mary pass that went for a touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half.  This Saturday, the Bulls will be without running back Branden Oliver, which means the nation’s 11th ranked pass defense will zero in on the Bulls’ next-best playmaker. 

 

by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

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

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

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<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 5 Start or Sit</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 03:56
Path: /college-football/louisville-or-rutgers-which-team-best-big-east
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Through the first four weeks of the season, it seems clear Louisville and Rutgers are the top two teams in the Big East. The Cardinals were picked by many to win the league in the preseason, but have opinions changed after watching Rutgers this year?

Louisville or Rutgers: Which team is the best in the Big East?

Coach Dick MacPherson, former head coach of the Syracuse Orange, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Rutgers is a big surprise. They had their coach leave for the NFL and brought in a new coaching staff there this year. They are playing really well and had a big win at Arkansas this past weekend. This is the best looking Rutgers team in a long time. That being said, I would still pick Louisville to be the team to win the Big East. I have the Cardinals ranked No. 16 in our Legends Poll. I really like Coach Strong and the staff he has put together.  They have a young kid at quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, who is playing outstanding football for them. They are the most complete football team in the Big East.

Mark Ennis, Manager of Big East Coast Bias (@Mengus22)
It's funny that this has even become a question after a month of the season, but it has, and for good reason. Louisville looked sharp in blowing out rival Kentucky, Missouri State, and in the first half against North Carolina. After that, six quarters of pretty unenthusiastic football (though they keep winning). Rutgers looked thoroughly bored in its opener at Tulane and home against Howard before going on the road to beat South Florida and Arkansas. At this point I still think Louisville is the better team because it has had its fair share of at least halves of football where it looked absolutely dominant. Louisville owned Kentucky from the opening kickoff and the 32-14 score could've been much worse had they not taken Teddy Bridgewater out midway through the third quarter. And yes, the team that nearly blew a 36-7 second half lead is still the team that also ran up a 36-7 halftime lead as well. Rutgers, is closing the gap, but, like some of Louisville's early wins, we still don't know how meaningful Rutgers' wins over USF and Arkansas are considering Arkansas already lost to Louisiana-Monroe and South Florida followed its loss to Rutgers up by losing at Ball State. Rutgers is improving weekly, Louisville is inconsistent, but has shown more of its upside through four games and for that reason is still the best team in the Big East.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Rutgers had two major questions coming into the season, at least for its on-the-field personnel: quarterback play and its offensive line. After four games, the Scarlet Knights have proven those two positions are no longer glaring weakness. Gary Nova has been a third-down whiz and he’s proven he can win on the road. Sophomore Kaleb Johnson has locked down the left tackle spot, and sophomore Betim Bujari has secured the problematic center spot. That’s led to four 100-yard games for Jawan Jamison and only two sacks allowed in four games. Even without Greg Schiano, the defense remains solid. I’m a little suspicious of Louisville as well. Teddy Bridgewater is the best offensive player in the league, but I’m concerned about the Cardinals’ defense. It’s been un-Charlie Strong like in the last two games. Ranking 91st in pass efficiency defense? Four sacks all season? That’s might be tough to overcome for a Big East title.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
I have been talking up the Scarlet Knights all summer long as the top Big East contender to Louisville. Rutgers had the best defense in the league last year and has shown vast improvement at quarterback and on offense as a whole. A balanced offense offense, stellar group of talented freshman (possibly the best in school history) and an easy early schedule makes the Knights a dangerous team. This squad could easily begin the season 9-0 before a nasty final three games will determine the Big East's BCS bowl bid: at Cincinnati, at Pitt and Louisville at home. It appears the league will crown a champ when the Cardinals visit Piscataway on the final Thursday night of the season. It this is how the league plays out, I will take the Knights to win on November 29 and clinch the program's first BCS bowl appearance.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
The biggest question mark surrounding Rutgers going into this year was how well it would handle the coaching transition from Greg Schiano to Kyle Flood. So far, the results have been positive, as the Scarlet Knights are 4-0 and have solid road victories against South Florida and Arkansas. Considering the upcoming schedule, it’s not crazy to think Rutgers could be 9-0 going into a Nov. 17 road date at Cincinnati. Despite how well the Scarlet Knights have performed, I have to stick with my preseason favorite: Louisville. The Cardinals had a sluggish performance against FIU in Week 4 but have the Big East’s best quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater), and the defense is capable of playing much better than it has performed so far this year. Louisville’s schedule is just as favorable as Rutgers, so it’s not crazy to think both teams could be unbeaten for their Nov. 29 meeting.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
Tough call. Right now, I’d still give the slight edge to Louisville. Rutgers, the only team in the nation with three road wins, is more battle-tested, but that doesn’t mean the Scarlet Knights are the better team. Through the first two-plus games of the season, Louisville looked like a top-10 team. The Cards, at that time, had convincing wins over Kentucky and Missouri State and led North Carolina 36–7 at the half. Since, however, the Cards haven’t been the same team. They almost blew that 29-point halftime lead vs. UNC and struggled to beat a disappointing FIU team this past Saturday night. Teddy Bridgewater, who was nearly flawless through three games, was not as sharp vs. FIU, completing 19-of-36 for 194 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Cards need him to be the best quarterback in the Big East. Rutgers was surprisingly offensive in its big win at Arkansas last weekend, with Gary Nova leading the way with nearly 400 yards passing and five touchdowns. If Nova continues to play well, Rutgers will remain in the Big East race all season long. And the Big East race might not be decided until Nov. 29, when Louisville visits Rutgers in the season-finale. We might need to wait until that Thursday night to answer this question.

Mark Ross: 
For now, I'll take Louisville mainly because of the emergence of Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The sophomore signal caller has to be considered the early frontrunner for Big East Offensive Player of the Year as he's entered himself into the Heisman Trophy discussion in some circles. Bridgewater has been efficient (23rd in the nation in passing efficiency) and productive (43rd in total offense) in leading the Cardinals to a 4-0 start and Top 20 national ranking. Both teams have been impressive on defense so far, but I give Louisville the edge over Rutgers on offense because of Bridgewater. The good news is, the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights will get the chance to size one another up on the field. The bad news is that everyone has to wait until the final game of the regular season as that's when Louisville makes the trip to Piscataway, N.J., for a game that could likely decide both the Big East conference race and a BCS bid.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I’ll stick with preseason favorite Louisville for now, although Rutgers has the more impressive September resume with wins at USF and Arkansas. We knew that Khaseem Greene and the Scarlet Knights would play solid defense, but new coach Kyle Flood has also found an answer at quarterback in Gary Nova. The sophomore signal caller had a stellar 397-yard, five-touchdown performance versus the Razorbacks last week, and his play combined with runner Jawan Jamison (four 100-yard games) has Rutgers fans thinking about a league title. Meanwhile, Louisville is also undefeated but has looked sluggish in doing it. I’ll give the Cards a pass on almost blowing a 36-7 halftime lead against North Carolina, but the close decision at FIU last week was too close for Cardinal comfort. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a solid backfield tandem should give the UL offense enough punch, but Charlie Strong and staff must repair a talented but inconsistent defense to win the conference. The Cardinals have too much talent on the defensive unit to be giving up so many yards and third-down conversions. I see Louisville getting by Southern Miss this week, and then getting the defense repaired during the bye before league play begins. The good news for the Big East is that it has two ranked schools that could both win double-digit games this season.

Related College Football Content

Are Late Kickoffs Ruining College Football?
College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 4

Post-Week 4 Bowl Projections

Post-Week 4 Heisman Voting

Teaser:
<p> Louisville or Rutgers: Which team is the best in the Big East?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/are-late-kickoffs-ruining-college-football
Body:

An interesting trend is starting to develop each Saturday during the college football season. The schedule has been stacked with quality late games, while the slate of matchups early in the day is rather ordinary. And this isn't going unnoticed, as college football fans are beginning to complain a little louder each week.

Are Late Kickoffs Ruining College Football?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
A college football Saturday should overload us. But the experience is at its best with a slow and consistent overload from noon Eastern to midnight or later. The Saturday viewing experience should be more like a Crock Pot than a microwave. That’s not what we got last week. Every nationally important game was crammed into the time slot from 7 p.m. Eastern and 10:30 p.m.: Florida State-Clemson, LSU-Auburn, Kansas State-Oklahoma, and Cal-USC, not to mention the upset watch games of Rutgers-Arkansas and Akron-Tennessee.  We’re not at a breaking point yet -- I believe last week’s late night-heavy schedule was the extreme -- but more weeks like that will damage the sport. Watching college football is at its best when it almost mirrors the first day of the NCAA Tournament. A day that has top games all day from beginning to end, but with enough space to allow a Louisiana-Monroe or other upset bid to take center stage for a few minutes. The networks, especially now that Fox is in the mix, all want a piece of the late-night pie. But if we have more weekends like we did last week, it’s going to hurt the sport as a whole. If all the games kickoff after 7 p.m., why should fans without a rooting interest bother to watch noon and 3:30 kickoffs? At least the SEC generally keeps its top game in the afternoon -- something for the other leagues to consider.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
It is unfortunate that the three biggest games of Week 4 all took place at the same time last weekend. Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Florida State likely stretched the viewing audience rather thin, but that feels more coincidental and unlucky than worrisome long-term trend. Otherwise, call me crazy, but I love having one or two late night Pac-12 showdowns to check out on Saturday night. And in the case of this past weekend, we were, again, more unlucky than anything as Arizona State hammered Utah while Oregon shutout Arizona. My biggest issue with scheduling? November 3 when Alabama-LSU and Oregon-USC will take place at exactly the same time. Boo on you greedy TV executives.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
The late kickoffs have been my biggest complaint about the college football season. It’s ridiculous there are so few games on during the early slots and 20-30 games on at night. Trying to watch Notre Dame-Michigan, Florida State-Clemson, Georgia-Vanderbilt, LSU-Auburn and Kansas State-Oklahoma at one time is simply impossible. I don’t understand the logic behind the scheduling of so many night games, but I hope it changes next year. With every conference having a big television contract, having top-notch primetime games are great exposure. However, I think conferences/teams/television networks are scheduling too many games at night and turning the college football Saturday’s into a four-hour block in the evening. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
I wouldn’t say the abundance of late games is ruining college football, but it sure makes it difficult to watch all of the best games on any given Saturday. I don’t care how many TVs you have set up in your living room or Man Cave, it’s difficult to really pay close attention to more than two games at a time. This past Saturday night, there were simply too many good games on at the same time. It would have been much better had a couple of them — maybe Rutgers at Arkansas and Kansas State at Oklahoma — been played during the 3:30 EST window. I really hope this is something that is addressed next year.

Mark Ross: 
The late kickoffs are certainly ruining the amount of sleep I get on Saturday nights, but I don't think they are ruining college football. Let's face it college football has followed the path that the four major sports have in that the schedule is littered with prime-time match ups. Even more so than any of the professional sports, however, the west coast is full of teams whose home games, when played at night, are really only "late" if you live in the Eastern or Central time zones. That said, although I haven't checked the ratings, my guess is NBC's primetime game between Michigan and Notre Dame this past Saturday, which was played in South Bend, Ind., did fairly well, and it didn't kickoff until 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. CT. In the end, the key factor here is the product itself. Just as it is with sporting events like the MLB playoffs, Monday Night Football, the NBA Finals or the Stanley Cup, as long as it's something worth watching, people will tune in, no matter how late it gets started.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
Primetime kickoffs are quite fun for many fans, but the television networks and conferences do need to make an effort to spread quality games throughout the day. I believe last week’s “overloaded with great matchups” night schedule was a little bit of an aberration and not a huge problem. Thankfully for college football, it’s good to have a product where there are “too many good options.” The powerful SEC usually has its best game in the 3:30pm EST slot, and big-brand schools like Notre Dame and Michigan have not traditionally played many night games like they did the last two seasons. As conference TV contracts get larger, there may be a desire to press too many games up against each other on the primetime schedule. However over time, it would be good to see the networks stagger start times a little more so that the best games are not directly competing.

Related College Football Content

Louisville or Rutgers: Which team is the best in the Big East?
College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 4

Post-Week 4 Bowl Projections

Post-Week 4 Heisman Voting

Teaser:
<p> Are Late Kickoffs Ruining College Football?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 05:44
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-5-plays
Body:

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

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

Week 5

Best Fantasy Matchups (Games with the most fantasy potential)

Baylor at West Virginia

Line:  West Virginia – 12.5(O/U-79.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  West Virginia 46-34

Best plays:

Baylor (QB-Nick Florence, WR-Terrence Williams, Tevin Reese, K-Aaron Jones)

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

Also consider:

Baylor (RB-Glasco Martin, WR-Lanear Sampson)

West Virginia (RBs-Shawne Alston, Andrew Buie)

theCFFsite projects:  West Virginia 38-28

 

Houston at Rice

Line:  Houston -5 (O/U-74)

Best plays:

Houston (QB-David Piland, RB-Charles Sims, WRs-Dewayne Peace, Daniel Spencer)

Rice (QB-Taylor McHargue-inj, K-Chris Boswell)

Also consider:

Houston (K-Matt Hogan)

Rice (RB-Turner Petersen, WR-Jordan Taylor)

theCFFsite projects:  Houston 41-30

 

Fresno St at Tulsa

Line:  Tulsa -5.5(O/U-69.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Tulsa 38-32

Best plays:

Fresno St (QB-Derek Carr, RB-Robbie Rouse, WRs-Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse)

Tulsa (QB-Cody Green, WR-Keyarris Garrett)

Also consider:

Fresno St (K-Quentin Breshears)

Tulsa (RBs-Trey Watts, JaTerian Douglas)

theCFFsite projects:  Fresno St 35-34

 

Oregon at Washington St

Line:  Oregon -28.5(O/U-70.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oregon 50-21

Best plays:

Washington St (QB-Connor Halliday, WRs-Marquess Wilson, Gabe Marks)

Oregon (QB-Marcus Mariota, RBs-Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas)

Also consider:

Washington St (WR-Isaiah Myers, K-Andrew Furney)

Oregon (TE-Colt Lyerla)

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon 56-14

 

Marshall at Purdue

Line:  Purdue -15.5(O/U-64.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Purdue 40-25

Best plays:

Marshall (QB-Rakeem Cato, WRs-Aaron Dobson, Tommy Shuler)

Purdue (QB-Caleb TerBush, RB-Akeem Shavers, RB-Antavian Edison)

Also consider:

Marshall (RB-Kevin Grooms, K-Justin Haig)

Purdue (RB-Akeem Hunt, WR-OJ Ross)

theCFFsite projects:  Marshall 31-28

 

Texas at Oklahoma St

Line:  Texas -2.5(O/U-66)

Projected score based on point spread:  Texas 34-32

Best plays:

Texas (RB-Malcolm Brown, WR-Mike Davis)

Oklahoma St (QB-JW Walsh, RB-Joseph Randle, WRs-Tracy Moore, Josh Cooper, TE-Blake Jackson, K-Quinn Sharp)

Also consider:

Texas (QB-David Ash, WR-Jaxon Shipley)

Oklahoma St (RB-Jeremy Smith)

theCFFsite projects:  Oklahoma St 24-20

 

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

Ole Miss at Alabama

Line:  Alabama -31(O/U-54.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Alabama 43-12

Stay away from:

Ole Miss (QB-Bo Wallace, RB-Jeff Scott)

theCFFsite projects:  Alabama 49-14

 

Boise St at New Mexico

Line:  Boise St -26.5(O/U-51.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Boise St 39-12

Stay away from:

New Mexico (All players)

theCFFsite projects:  Boise St 38-7

 

Hawaii at BYU

Line:  BYU -27.5(O/U-50.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  BYU 39-11

Stay away from:

Hawaii (QB-Sean Schroeder)

theCFFsite projects:  BYU 31-7

 

Buffalo at Connecticut

Line:  Connecticut -17.5(O/U-42.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Connecticut 30-12

Stay away from:

Buffalo (RB-Branden Oliver)

theCFFsite projects:  Connecticut 28-7

 

South Carolina at Kentucky

Line:  South Carolina -21(O/U-47.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  South Carolina 35-13

Stay away from:

Kentucky (WR-La’Rod King)

theCFFsite projects:  South Carolina 30-6

 

Must Watch Games (The games with the biggest headlines)

Ohio St at Michigan St

Line:  Michigan St -3(O/U-43.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Michigan St 23-20

Outlook:  Even though the Buckeyes are not eligible to win the conference and play in a bowl game, they may be the best team in the Big Ten.  However, Braxton Miller’s game-winning drive will come up as the Spartans’ defense will save the day in East Lansing.

theCFFsite projects:  Michigan St 21-17

 

Tennessee at Georgia

Line:  Georgia -13.5(O/U-61.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Georgia 38-24

Outlook:  Two teams headed in opposite directions, the Bulldogs will eventually impose their will and pull away late with their ground attack.

theCFFsite projects:  Georgia 34-21

 

Oregon St at Arizona

Line:  Arizona -3(O/U-56.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Arizona 30-27

Outlook:  The Wildcats are looking to rebound after an abysmal loss in Eugene last week, but the Beavers’ defense looks as if they are in mid-season form.

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon St 31-24

 

Wisconsin at Nebraska

Line:  Nebraska -13.5(O/U-50.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Nebraska 32-19

Outlook:  Week Five’s slate of games must be weak when we feature two Big Ten games on our ‘Must Watch’ list, but it should be interesting to watch Rex Burkhead and Montee Ball in the same game.

theCFFsite projects:  Nebraska 31-14

 

theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (7-4)  ATS: (6-5)

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

 

By Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 5 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 04:49
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, MLB, Overtime, News
Path: /college-football/15-worst-officiating-moments-sports-history
Body:

Monday night's Green Bay-Seattle game featured one of the most controversial endings in sports history. However, the finish of the Packers-Seahawks game isn't the only moment in sports history that featured a questionable call. Here are 15 (and a few extra) moments that officials changed the course of the game.

15 Worst Officiating Moments in Sports History

2012: Green Bay vs. Seattle: Golden Tate’s Hail Mary "Catch"
Replacement officials made plenty of glaring errors through the first three weeks of the 2012 NFL season but none bigger than the one that occurred between the Seattle-Green Bay matchup on Monday night. With the Seahawks trailing 12-7 with seconds remaining, quarterback Russell Wilson heaved a pass to the corner of the endzone, which appeared to be intercepted by Green Bay defensive back M.D. Jennings. However, the officials ruled Seattle receiver Golden Tate wrestled away control and award the catch to the Seahawks. Making matters worse for Green Bay, Tate clearly pushed off on a defensive back, which allowed him to get into position for the catch. 


1972 Russia vs. United States Olympic Basketball Gold Medal Game
The United States Olympic basketball team entered the 1972 Games in Munich having never suffered a loss in the history of the Games, and it looked as if their streak would continue with a 50-49 win over the Soviets in the gold medal game. The officials had other ideas. In perhaps the most controversial sports ending ever, the Soviets got three attempts to score. After two questionable clock resettings, a length-of the floor pass was thrown to Alexander Belov, who made a layup at the buzzer for what remains in the record books a 51-50 win — even if the members of the U.S. team refuse to acknowledge it.


Tuck Rule – Oakland vs. New England in 2001 AFC Divisional Playoffs
It’s not unusual for the rules to be changed, tweaked or adjusted from season to season, depending upon the circumstances. For the most part, the changes go largely unnoticed unless something happens to bring them into the spotlight. That was certainly the case in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoffs as the entire world was introduced to what would become known simply as the “Tuck Rule.” Playing in a driving snowstorm at home, New England trailed Oakland 13-10 in the fourth quarter with less than two minutes remaining. Still out of field goal range, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dropped back to pass and dropped the football after being hit. The Raiders recovered and seemingly put an end to the Patriots’ hopes. However, upon further review, referee Walt Coleman reversed the call on the field of a fumble, according to the “Tuck Rule,” which was introduced in 1999. Coleman explained on national TV that Brady had started to throw a forward pass and then lost possession of the ball as he was trying to bring it back, tuck it, into his body. The overturned call made it an incomplete pass and Brady was able to put Adam Vinatieri into position to make a game-tying 45-yard field goal with 27 seconds left on the clock. The Patriots would go on to win in overtime and eventually capture the first of their three Super Bowl titles during the 2000s.

 

1999 Pittsburgh vs. Detroit: Thanksgiving Day Coin Toss
Normally, the refs’ eyesight is called into question, but on Thanksgiving Day 1999, an official’s hearing was the issue. As the Steelers-Lions game headed into overtime, Luckett conducted the coin toss. Steelers captain Jerome Bettis called “tails,” but somehow Luckett heard “heads,” awarding possession to the Lions, who took advantage and won the game. The blunder caused the league to change its coin toss procedure — too little, too late for the Steelers.

 

Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga’s Near-Perfect Game
Detroit starter Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game on June 2, 2010 in Comerica Park against Cleveland when the Indians Jason Donald stepped up to the plate. Donald hit an easy grounder to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera who flipped the ball to Galaragga covering first, only to watch helplessly as first base umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled Donald safe. Galaragga would retire the next batter for the one-hit shutout, but in the minds of the Tigers team and fans in attendance, the damage had already been done. After the game, Joyce willingly and profusely admitted his mistake and took it upon himself to personally apologize to Galaragga. Both men deserve credit for how each of them handled the situation, as they will be forever linked because of it.

Jerry Meals’ Bad Call at Home Ends 19-inning marathon between Braves and Pirates
No one wants to see any baseball game end on a bad call at home, let alone one that lasted 19 innings, but that’s what happened in Atlanta on July 26, 2011. Actually, the game didn’t officially end until July 27 as the Braves and Pirates started on Tuesday night and played into the early hours of Wednesday morning to settle this one. And in the end, the only reason it ended in the bottom of the 19th was because home plate umpire Jerry Meals egregiously called Julio Lugo safe at home although Pirates catcher Michael McKenry clearly applied the tag before Lugo’s foot crossed the plate. What exactly Meals saw only he can answer, but all you need to do is listen to the contrasting calls by the teams’ respective broadcasts and realize that there’s little doubt he missed this one.

 

The Fifth Down Game – 1990 – Colorado at Missouri
The Buffaloes claimed a share of the 1990 national championship with Georgia Tech, but the season was overshadowed by a controversial finish against Missouri. Colorado was awarded a fifth down late in the game, which allowed it to score the game-winning touchdown. Quarterback Charles Johnson spiked the ball on first down, while running back Eric Bieniemy was stopped at the one-yard line on second down. On third down, Bieniemy was stopped at the goal-line, which forced Johnson to spike the ball on “fourth down”. However, Johnson’s spike on first down apparently went unnoticed, as the Buffaloes scored on a touchdown run on "fifth down" to seal the victory. The Buffaloes went on to finish the year with an 11-1 record and a 10-9 victory over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl.


Mike Renfro Ruled out of Bounds in 1979 AFC Championship Game
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the NFL’s team of the 1970s winning four Super Bowls in a span of six seasons (1974-79). The team they defeated to get to the last two during this run was the Houston Oilers. While the Oilers put up little resistance in the 1978 AFC Championship Game, losing 34-5, it’s the one that took place the following season that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Oilers fans. Leading 17-10 in the third quarter, Houston wide receiver Mike Renfro appeared to put the Oilers in a position to tie the game, when he made an incredible catch in the back corner of the end zone. Television replays confirmed the catch, but the officials, who did not have the benefit of instant replay back then, ruled it an incompletion. The Oilers had to settle for a field goal and the Steelers would go on to a 27-13 victory.

 

Kent Hrbek’s “Hard Tag” on Ron Gant in 1991 World Series
Who says baseball is not a contact sport? In Game 2 of the 1991 World Series Minnesota first baseman Kent Hrbek and Atlanta outfielder Ron Gant were involved in a play that not only would have made a wreslter proud, but turned out to a be a pivotal play when all was said and done. Trailing by one run in the top of the third, Gant singled to left off of Twins starter Kevin Tapani to seemingly put runners on first and third with two outs and David Justice on deck. The throw from the outfield rolled away from the fielder briefly, however, resulting in Gant taking a fairly wide turn around first. After retrieving the ball, Tapani threw to Hrbek at first in hopes of catching Gant off base. Even though Gant made it safely back to the bag before Hrbek could apply the tag; the burly first baseman lifted Gant off of the first all the while keeping his glove on Gant. Umpire Drew Coble called Gant out, ending the Braves’ threat, and the Twins would go on to win Game 2 by one run, 3-2, and the World Series in seven. Tapani made the out possible by throwing back to first, with Hrbek receiving two points for a textbook takedown.

 

1998 – Seahawks vs. Jets – Vinny Testaverde’s "touchdown"
Although the Seahawks benefitted from a blown call on Monday night, they were the victim of poor officiating in 1998. In an early December matchup in New York, Seattle lost 32-31 on a phantom touchdown run by Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde. With no instant reply, the Seahawks were unable to challenge the call, even though it was clear Testaverde never crossed the goal-line.

 

1986 World Cup: Argentina vs. England
The 1986 World Cup Finals between Argentina and England was one of the most incredible soccer matches in the history of the sport, due in no small part to Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal. Maradona punched the ball with his left hand past the English keeper and into the goal during Argentina’s 2-1 win, and referee Ali Bin Nasser failed to see the infraction. Afterward, Maradona famously commented that his goal came “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God,” and the phrase entered the sports lexicon. 

 

Cardinals-Royals: 1985 World Series
The Cardinals were three outs away from winning the 1985 World Series, when umpire Don Denkinger infamously intervened. The Cardinals led the Royals three games to two and took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning of Game 6. The inning's leadoff batter, Jorge Orta, sent a chopper to first baseman Jack Clark, who tossed the ball to pitcher Todd Worrell at first base, clearly beating Orta by a half-step. Clearly, that is, to everyone but Denkinger, who called Orta safe, leading to a two-run rally. The Royals went on to win Game 7 over the deflated Cards 11-0.

 

2006 Oregon vs. Oklahoma: Onside Kick Error
The Sooners suffered a huge blow to their national title hopes in 2006, as bad officiating cost Oklahoma a win in Eugene. The Sooners led 33-20 with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but Oregon scored on a 16-yard touchdown run by Dennis Dixon with just over a minute to go. The Ducks recovered the onside kick, but replay clearly showed the kick hit one of their players before going 10 yards. Although instant replay was used, Oregon kept the ball, and Dennis Dixon hit Brian Paysinger for a 23-yard touchdown pass to win the game. The officials from the Oklahoma-Oregon matchup were suspended one game due to the missed calls late in the fourth quarter.

 

1979 Rose Bowl – USC vs. Michigan: Charles White’s "touchdown"
The 1979 Rose Bowl matchup was a much-anticipated game between two top-five teams. USC entered the 1979 Rose Bowl at 11-1, while Michigan was 10-1. In the second quarter, Charles White appeared to score, which would give USC a 14-3 lead. However, a closer look revealed White fumbled before he reached the endzone and was incorrectly ruled a touchdown by the officiating crew. Considering the final score was 17-10, the “touchdown” proved to be the difference and propelled USC to a finish of No. 1 in the UPI poll.

 

Dallas vs. Buffalo Stanley Cup: Goal or No Goal?
Brett Hull of the Dallas Stars scored the Stanley Cup series-clinching goal in triple overtime of game six against the Buffalo Sabres. Too bad it was apparently illegal, even if the officials allowed it to stand. When Hull scored, his foot was in the crease, but the puck was not — a no-no, even though the NHL tried a semantics tap-dance around the issue by claiming they had issued a memo allowing goals when the scorer had control of the puck prior to his skate entering the crease. The Sabres' reply? "No goal," which became the franchise rallying cry. 

 

Honorable Mention

2005 – Florida vs. Vanderbilt – Earl Bennett’s “celebration penalty”
Winning at Florida is never easy for any team in the SEC, but Vanderbilt’s last win in Gainesville occurred in 1945. The Commodores were on the verge of an upset victory in 2005, as Jay Cutler hit receiver Earl Bennett on a six-yard touchdown pass with less than one minute to go to bring Vanderbilt within one point. The Commodores were prepared to go for two, however, the officials flagged Bennett for excessive celebration, which forced the Commodores to kick the extra point and play for overtime. Bennett’s penalty is one of the most egregious celebration flags in recent memory and prevented Vanderbilt from a two-point conversion that could have won and allowed the Commodores to get bowl eligible. 

 

Chuck Knoblauch’s Phantom Tag in 1999 ALCS
The Red Sox were trailing the Yankees by one when they batted in the bottom of the eighth in Game 4 of the 1999 ALCS. With one out, Jose Offerman singled off of Andy Pettitte to seemingly start a rally. It was quickly snuffed out, however, when John Valentin grounded into an inning-ending double play, one that was made possible by Knoblauch’s now-infamous “Phantom Tag” of Offerman at second, with an assist from second base umpire Tim Tschida. The Yankees would go on to score six more runs in the top of the ninth to put the game away and then put the Red Sox away in with a series-clinching win the next night in Fenway Park. The hated Yankees would break the hearts or Red Sox nation yet again in the 2003 ALCS, this time in seven games, before exacting some revenge the next year in a season that would finally put an end to the “Curse of the Bambino” after 86 years.

Teaser:
<p> 15 Worst Officiating Moments in Sports History</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-4-rankings
Body:

Week 4 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. Thanks to a lackluster showing at Florida, Kentucky's Joker Phillips holds down the No. 1 spot once again. With a surprising loss to Central Michigan, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz makes a big jump in the rankings. While UNLV's Bobby Hauck, Colorado's Jon Embree and Central Michigan's Dan Enos fall after important victories in Week 4.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 4 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Record at Kentucky: 12-17 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-3
Considering Florida is one of college football’s top 10-15 teams, there is no shame in losing in Gainesville. However, it’s a problem when a team looks disorganized and looks as bad as Kentucky played on Saturday. With quarterback Maxwell Smith sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Wildcats managed only 60 passing yards and tossed three interceptions. Kentucky’s offense was shut out for the first time since 2006 in SEC play, and the defense had no answer for Florida’s ground or passing attack. As each game passes, it becomes less and less likely Phillips will back in Lexington in 2012.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank:
2
Record at Boston College: 21-21 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
The Eagles had an off date in Week 4 and return to action this Saturday against Clemson. Boston College’s schedule isn’t going to get any easier, especially with road dates against Army, Florida State and Georgia Tech coming up after this week’s matchup against the Tigers. Spaziani needs to get this team into a bowl to save his job. Considering the upcoming schedule, that’s no sure thing.

3. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank:
5
Record at Idaho: 19-47 (6th season)
2012 Record: 0-4
With victories by Dan Enos, Bobby Hauck and Jon Embree, Akey moves up to the No. 3 spot in the hot seat rankings. In fairness to Akey, the Vandals have played better in the last two games against non-BCS competition, including taking Wyoming to overtime in Week 4. Idaho has another tough road game at North Carolina this Saturday, before returning home for a winnable game against New Mexico State.

4. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
8
Record at Rice: 24-41 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
An early season victory over Kansas was supposed to give Rice some momentum going into Conference USA play. However, the Owls have lost back-to-back games, including their C-USA opener against Marshall. Although the defense continues to be an issue, Rice is averaging 34.3 points a contest, and quarterback Taylor McHargue ranks 13th nationally in total offense per game. While the Owls would prefer to have a 4-0 record, they have been competitive in every game so far this year. Rice takes on rival Houston this Saturday, which is another opportunity for Bailiff to show the program is headed in the right direction.

5. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank:
15
Record at Iowa: 98-68 (14th season)
2012 Record: 2-2
There were plenty of grumblings about Ferentz among the Iowa fanbase before Saturday’s 32-31 defeat to Central Michigan. After losing to the Chippewas in Week 4, it’s fair to wonder if the program is in a slide and if Ferentz can pull out a winning season. Despite the return of quarterback James Vandenberg, Iowa ranks 91st nationally in passing offense and is averaging a pedestrian 20.5 points a game. The Hawkeyes are 3-5 in their last eight games, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with matchups against Minnesota, Michigan State, Penn State and Northwestern. Ferentz has been a solid coach during his time in Iowa State, but it’s time to wonder whether the program has gone too stale.

6. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
10
Record at California: 80-51 (11th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
Considering California has played one of the best non-BCS teams (Nevada) and two top 10-15 teams in Ohio State and USC, a 1-3 record isn’t a complete shock. However, the Golden Bears have not looked good at times and struggled to beat FCS opponent Southern Utah in Week 2. Since posting a 17-9 record from 2008-09, California is just 13-16 and has a tough back-to-back homestand against Arizona State and UCLA the next two weeks. Tedford is the winningest coach in school history. Will that be enough to buy him another year if the Golden Bears miss out on the postseason?

7. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank:
7
Record at MTSU: 37-41 (7th season)
2012 Record: 2-1
The Blue Raiders had an off date in Week 4 and return to action at Georgia Tech this Saturday. MTSU’s loss to McNeese State in the season opener was a huge disappointment, but the team has rebounded to win back-to-back games. The Blue Raiders are overmatched against the Yellow Jackets but saving Stockstill’s job will likely rest on how well this team performs in Sun Belt play.

8. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
16
Record at Buffalo: 6-21 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-2
Quinn had a primetime opportunity in Week 4 to showcase this program is on the right track, but the Bulls were easily handled 23-7 by Kent State. Running back Branden Oliver was sidelined in the second half due to a leg injury, and Buffalo’s offense finished with just 265 yards against the Golden Flashes. The Bulls are just 3-10 in their last 13 games, which includes victories over a bad Akron team last season and Morgan State in Week 2 this year. With games coming up against Connecticut, Ohio, Northern Illinois, Pittsburgh and Toledo, Buffalo could be 1-7 heading into the final month of the season.

9. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank:
14
Record at Syracuse: 18-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
Although Syracuse is 1-3, its schedule hasn’t been the easiest in college football, as evidenced by an 11-1 record by its BCS opponents. However, Saturday’s loss to Minnesota was discouraging for Marrone and the fanbase, especially after watching the team commit 10 penalties, and the offense give away four turnovers. The Orange has not beat a BCS opponent since a surprising 49-23 victory over West Virginia on Oct. 21, 2011. Considering Marrone is a Syracuse alum, he may have a little more job security than most coaches with an 18-23 record. However, the reality is the Orange have two losing seasons under Marrone and are on their way to No. 3.

10. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
12
Record at Tennessee: 14-15 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-1
Despite improving to 3-1, Dooley climbs a few spots in the hot seat watch. The Volunteers trailed Akron – one of the worst FBS teams last season – 23-20 late in the second quarter. Although Tennessee earned the victory, it was an uninspiring performance and there were plenty of empty seats in Neyland Stadium at kickoff. The Volunteers begin a tough stretch of SEC play this Saturday at Georgia, followed up by a road date at Mississippi State on Oct. 13. Dooley has Tennessee positioned to return to a bowl game but a 6-6 finish would raise plenty of doubts on whether or not he should return for 2013. 

11. Tony Levine, Houston
Last Week’s Rank:
9
Record at Houston: 1-3 (1st full season)
2012 Record: 0-3
Considering how the first three weeks of the season played out for Houston, the bye week came at a good time for Levine. The Cougars have two losses by at least 17 points and rank 118th nationally in total defense. The offense ranks sixth nationally with 346.7 passing yards per game but has 10 turnovers through three games. Levine’s first season has been a disappointment, and he could use a win over inter-city rival Rice this Saturday.

12. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank:
11
Record at Maryland: 4-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 2-2
As the hot seat watch has indicated throughout this year, there has been noticeable improvement for Edsall’s team through the first four games. The Terrapins played well against West Virginia, losing by only 10 points, while freshman quarterback Perry Hills threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the fact Maryland has already matched its win total from last year, its record is still 2-2 and the schedule won’t get any easier the rest of the way. A bowl game seems out of reach, but the Terrapins should be able to finish with four wins.

13. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
6
Record at UNLV: 5-24 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-3
A week after giving Washington State all it could handle, the Rebels cracked the win column with a 38-35 victory over Air Force. The upset over the Falcons was UNLV’s first win since Oct. 29, 2011. Oddly enough, the Rebels have won all five games under Hauck at home, with their last road victory coming on Oct. 24, 2009. Hauck has a dismal record, but all three of the Rebels’ losses this season have been by eight points or less.

14. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
4
Record at Central Michigan: 8-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-1
Could Saturday’s win over Iowa be enough to save Enos’ job? The Chippewas pulled off a huge upset in Iowa City, beating the Hawkeyes 32-31 and giving Enos his best win in his three-year tenure. While Central Michigan has to be riding high after the upset, it needs to quickly refocus with key MAC games against Northern Illinois and Toledo upcoming. Enos has the Chippewas positioned to make a run at a winning season after a 2-1 start but another losing record could spell the end of his tenure at Central Michigan. 

15. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
3
Record at Colorado: 4-13 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-3
Even though Embree climbed to No. 3 in the hot seat rankings last week, he had enough job security to survive another season. And Saturday’s win over Colorado certainly gives Embree and the coaching staff enough of a boost to show the program is making some (albeit small) progress. The Buffaloes were big underdogs against Washington State but scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to claim a 35-34 victory. Oddly enough, three of Embree’s four career wins in Boulder have come in the Pac-12, including two on the road. Colorado still has a long way to go to be competitive every week in the conference, but Saturday’s win should give this team some confidence going into Week 5 against UCLA.

16. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
17
Record at New Mexico State: 10-32 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Aggies had their three-game winning streak against rival New Mexico snapped on Saturday, losing 27-14 in Las Cruces. Walker has one of college football’s most difficult jobs, so it’s hard to expect 7-5 or 8-4 seasons. Progress has been slow under Walker’s tenure, but the Aggies won four games last season and seem to be on the right track heading into 2012. Considering New Mexico State’s uncertain conference affiliation, it’s hard to see Walker getting fired, unless this team completely bombs in the second half of 2012.

17. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
13
Record at Auburn: 31-13 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
Despite the loss to LSU, Auburn showed some signs of life in Week 4. The defense limited LSU to 182 yards on the ground and never allowed Zach Mettenberger to get comfortable in the pocket. While the offense continued to struggle, Auburn’s defense showed it can keep this team in plenty of games this year. The Tigers have a bye week this Saturday and continue SEC play with a home game against Arkansas on Oct. 6.

18. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at South Florida: 15-14 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-2
Barring a complete collapse, Holtz is probably in no real danger of losing his job. However, South Florida was expected to be one of the frontrunners for the Big East title in 2012 and is off to a disappointing 2-2 start. The Bulls have a road loss at Ball State, a 10-point defeat to Rutgers and a narrow one-point win over Nevada. After losing seven out of its final eight games last year, combined with the slow start in 2012, the pressure is beginning to build on Holtz in South Florida.

19. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
19
Record at Western Michigan: 49-41 (8th season)
2012 Record: 2-2
After falling just short of beating their first two BCS opponents of 2012 (Illinois and Minnesota), the Broncos picked up a 30-24 victory over Connecticut in Week 4. Quarterback Alex Carder suffered a hand injury but still finished with 237 yards and one touchdown. The defense delivered late, as Desmond Bozeman returned a fumble 53 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Western Michigan was expected to be the frontrunner for the MAC West title in 2012. So far, the Broncos have done nothing to lower those expectations.

20. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
Last Week’s Rank:
19
Record at Texas Tech: 16-12 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-0
The Red Raiders are off to a solid 3-0 start and had an off date in Week 4 to prepare for their Big 12 opener against Iowa State. Texas Tech is riding a five-game losing streak in Big 12 games entering Saturday’s date against the Cyclones, with its last conference victory coming against Oklahoma on Oct. 22. After a dismal showing on defense last year, the Red Raiders’ coaching staff has to be pleased to be ranked No. 1 in the nation after four weeks. However, the real test for this unit begins on Saturday in Ames.

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas:
1-3
2012 Record: 1-3
As we mention each week in the hot seat watch, Smith is essentially on a one-year contract, so he was never expected to return for 2013. However, he is worthy of a mention in this space, especially as Arkansas is off to a disappointing 1-3 start. Of course, not having quarterback Tyler Wilson for the second half against UL Monroe and for any snaps against Alabama hurts, but the Razorbacks were expected to challenge for the SEC title. 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

(published Sept. 25, 2012)
 

Related College Football Content

College Football's Post-Week 4 Bowl Projections
ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
College Football Week 4 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 4 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-4-bowl-projections
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College football's bowl season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With only three weeks of results in the books, it's hard to make long-term projections about teams, especially with several teams still playing overmatched non-conference games. 

With little data to work with, the post-Week 4 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a small dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks, especially as we see how teams perform in conference games. 

2012-2013 Post-Week 4 College Football Bowl Projections

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


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


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

(published Sept. 25, 2012)

Related College Football Content

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Pac-12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
College Football Week 4 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football Post-Week 4 Bowl Projections</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-4-waiver-wire-report
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Four weeks into the season, we are looking for consistency or the ability of a player to take advantage of an opportunity.  The former is the reason why Brandon Carter and Allen Robinson land on this week’s list, while Tony Gregory capitalized on his first career start in Blacksburg.

Waiver Wire: Post-Week 4 Pickups

Dominique Blackman, QB-Idaho

Blackman has attempted at least 36 passes in each of his three starts and the Vandals have two decent matchups in the next three weeks, as they host New Mexico State on October 6 and travel to Texas State October 13.

Tony Gregory, RB-Virginia Tech

Gregory could end up being a one-week wonder, but the potential to be the Hokies’ main back makes him an intriguing mid-season addition.

James Sims, RB-Kansas

We wondered how Sims would be utilized when he returned from suspension.  Rushing for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries against TCU answered that question.

Adam Muema, RB-San Diego St

Muema has landed on our Emergency Starters list a couple of times and has been productive when the matchups were favorable.  After a road trip to Fresno State this week, Muema and the Aztecs return home to host Hawaii and Colorado State.

Donnell Kirkwood, RB-Minnesota

Kirkwood made our Emergency Starters list last week and after two straight games with 20-plus carries, he should add some depth to your backfield rotation.

Chris Thompson, RB-Florida St

The Seminoles have had the luxury of using many backs this season, but we found out Saturday night against Clemson that Thompson will get a heavy workload when the game is on the line.

Brandon Carter, WR-TCU

After catching five passes for 128 yards and a touchdown Saturday against Kansas, Carter may be a better fantasy option than fellow receivers Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson as the Horned Frogs head into conference play.

Brandin Cooks, WR-Oregon St

In two games, Cooks has caught 12 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns.  He and Markus Wheaton form what may be the second-best receiving duo in the PAC-12 behind Robert Woods and Marqise Lee of USC.

Allen Robinson, WR-Penn St

Shame on us for leaving Robinson off this list the past couple of weeks, but he is the best thing the Nittany Lions have on offense and should produce in the defensively-challenged Big Ten.

 

Last Week’s Waiver Wire Suggestions

Kolton Browning, QB-UL-Monroe (272 pass yards, 2TD, 49 rush yards, TD vs Baylor—28 points)

Rakeem Cato, QB-Marshall (259 pass yards, 2TD at Rice—18 points)

Terrence Owens, QB-Toledo (290 pass yards, 3TD, rush TD vs Coastal Carolina—29 points)

Jawan Jamison, RB-Rutgers (118 rush yards, 23 receiving yards, TD at Arkansas—21 points)

Dreyon Chance, RB-Western Michigan (66 rush yards, TD vs Connecticut—12 points)

Antonio Andrews, RB-Western Kentucky (136 rush yards, 74 receiving yards, 2TD vs USM—35 points)

Jordan Hall, RB-Ohio St (105 rush yards, 21 receiving yards vs UAB—14 points)

Tevin King, RB-LA Tech (37 rush yards, 2TD at Illinois—16 points)

Andre Davis, WR-South Florida (21 receiving yards, TD at Ball St—10 points)

Devin Smith, WR-Ohio St (4 receptions for 39 yards vs UAB—7 points—16 points)

Marquelo Suel, WR-Akron (12 receptions for 92 yards at Tennessee—21 points)

Mike Evans, WR-Texas A&M (5 receptions for 41 yards vs SC St—9 points)

Chris Coyle, TE-Arizona St (5 receptions for 62 yards vs Utah—11 points)

 

by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email:  joe@thecffsite.com

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 4 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 22:26
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The ACC's chance in the national spotlight didn't disappoint. Florida State-Clemson provided one of 2012's most entertaining games, with the Seminoles coming out on top. Miami's overtime win over Georgia Tech headlined the rest of the action in the conference.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – Manuel earned his signature win at Florida State, recording 482 total yards in a huge win over Clemson.

2. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson – Ellington was held largely in check against Florida State (55 yards) but leads the ACC with an average of 95.8 rushing yards per game.

3. Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest – Campanaro has been Tanner Price’s go-to target this year, recording at least nine receptions in three out of four games. The junior has 36 catches through four contests.
 

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner suffered a hand injury against Clemson and was relatively quiet on the stat sheet with four tackles.

2. Joe Vellano, DL, Maryland – Vellano continued his solid season with six tackles (two for a loss) against West Virginia.

3. David Amerson, CB, NC State – Amerson has stepped up since a bad season opener, recording three tackles and one interception against Citadel in Week 4.
 

Coach of the Year Standings

1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – The Seminoles officially stamped their place in the national title mix with a big win over Clemson on Saturday night.

2. Al Golden, Miami – The Hurricanes are far from a perfect team, but Golden deserves some credit for leading Miami to a 42-36 victory over Georgia Tech in Week 4.

3. David Cutcliffe, Duke – The Blue Devils are halfway to bowl eligibility and are coming off a big 38-14 victory over Memphis in Week 4.

Post-Week 4 ACC Power Rankings

1. Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
1
Week 4 result: Beat Clemson 49-37
Is Florida State back? That question will seemingly continue to hang around the program until the Seminoles make an appearance in the national title game. However, after Saturday night’s win against Clemson, Florida State has to be taken seriously as a national title contender. The Seminoles fell behind early but rallied behind quarterback EJ Manuel. The senior was nearly flawless on Saturday night, throwing for 380 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 102 yards on 12 attempts. Although the defense gave up 37 points, it put the clamps on Clemson’s high-powered attack in the second half. Not only was the win huge for Florida State’s national title hopes, but it is clearly in the driver’s seat for the ACC Atlantic crown.
Next Game: at South Florida

2. Clemson (3-1, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
2
Week 4 result: Lost to Florida State 49-37
Even after a loss in Tallahassee, it’s hard to penalize the Tigers in the power rankings. Clemson led Florida State 28-14 in the third quarter but was simply overpowered by a better opponent in the second half. The Tigers did a good job of using misdirection and formations to slow down the Seminoles’ defense, however, the offense was bottled up in the final two quarters. Clemson’s defense was gashed for 287 rushing yards, while the secondary allowed 380 yards to Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel. The Tigers should bounce back in Week 5 against Boston College.
Next Game: at Boston College

3. Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
4
Week 4 result: Beat Bowling Green 37-0
A week after a surprising loss to Pittsburgh, Bowling Green was the perfect medicine for the Hokies. Thanks to a solid performance from quarterback Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech jumped out to a 21-0 lead at halftime and never looked back. Thomas finished with three overall scores, while the defense held the Falcons under 300 yards. The Hokies step out of conference for the final time of the season, playing Cincinnati at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
Next Game: Cincinnati (Landover, Md.)

4. Miami (3-1, 2-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
9
Week 4 result: Beat Georgia Tech 42-36
Somehow, the Hurricanes pulled out a 42-36 win over Georgia Tech in Week 4. In one of the strangest games of the season, Miami jumped out to a 19-0 lead, only to fall behind 36-19 late in the third quarter. However, the Hurricanes scored 23 unanswered points, including the game-winning score in overtime to seal the upset. Miami’s defense has struggled all season, and it allowed Georgia Tech to rush for 287 yards. The Hurricanes made up for their struggles on defense with a potent offense, including 436 passing yards and two touchdowns by quarterback Stephen Morris.
Next Game: NC State

5. Georgia Tech (2-2, 1-2 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
3
Week 4 result: Lost to Miami 42-36
As we indicated above with the Miami writeup, Georgia Tech’s loss on Saturday was one of college football’s most bizarre outcomes of the season. The Yellow Jackets fell behind 19-0 but held a 36-19 lead late in the third quarter. That wasn’t enough to hold off the Hurricanes, as they rallied for a 42-36 victory in overtime. As expected, Georgia Tech’s offense had its way with Miami, but the Yellow Jackets struggled to get stops on defense. With two ACC losses, Georgia Tech faces an uphill battle to win the Coastal.
Next Game: MTSU

6. NC State (3-1, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
5
Week 4 result: Beat Citadel 52-14
The Wolfpack have rebounded nicely since losing to Tennessee in Week 1. Tom O’Brien’s team has recorded three straight victories, including a 52-14 win over Citadel in Week 4. Quarterback Mike Glennon has not tossed an interception in the last three weeks, and the defense has allowed only 28 points during that stretch. The competition steps up for NC State this Saturday, as it travels to Miami to take on the Hurricanes and hosts Florida State in Week 6.
Next Game: at Miami

7. Wake Forest (3-1, 1-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
7
Week 4 result: Beat Army 49-37
The Demon Deacons had a tough assignment in Week 4. After a brutal 52-0 beatdown at the hands of Florida State, Wake Forest had to take on a tricky Army team last Saturday. The Black Knights gave the Demon Deacons all they could handle, rushing for 429 yards and four touchdowns. However, Wake Forest’s balanced offense was simply too much in the end and held on for a 49-37 victory. The Demon Deacons will play two of their next three games on the road but host ACC rival Duke this Saturday.
Next Game: Duke

8. North Carolina (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
8
Week 4 result: Beat East Carolina 27-6
After back-to-back close losses, the Tar Heels returned to the win column with a solid 27-6 victory over East Carolina. The offense got a huge boost with the return of running back Giovani Bernard. The sophomore rushed for 50 yards and one touchdown and added six receptions for 52 yards and one score. North Carolina’s defense had rough performances against Wake Forest and Louisville but allowed only 233 yards to the Pirates.
Next Game: Idaho

9. Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Week 4 result: Lost 27-7 to TCU
The Cavaliers’ struggles on offense continued with a 27-7 loss in Fort Worth against TCU. Quarterback Michael Rocco completed only 13 of 28 throws and tossed two interceptions. Backup Phillip Sims moved the offense late in the fourth quarter and could see more time in Week 5. Virginia’s defense had no answer for TCU quarterback Casey Pachall, giving up 305 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday afternoon. The Cavaliers won’t have much time to regroup, especially with an upset-minded and dangerous Louisiana Tech team coming to town in Week 5.
Next Game: Louisiana Tech

10. Duke (3-1, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
10
Week 4 result: Beat Memphis 38-14
Going into the season, most felt this was David Cutcliffe’s best team at Duke. So far, the Blue Devils have handled their business, capped by a dominating 38-14 victory over Memphis in Week 4. Duke’s defense has been hit hard by injuries but allowed just 152 yards to the Tigers. Quarterback Sean Renfree had a strong game for the Blue Devils, throwing for 314 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Jela Duncan gave the ground game a spark, recording 88 yards on nine attempts. Duke is halfway to bowl eligibility, but the schedule gets tougher the rest of the way with all ACC games on the schedule.
Next Game: at Wake Forest

11. Boston College (1-2, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
11
Week 4 result: Bye Week
The Eagles had an off date in Week 4 and return to the field this Saturday against Clemson. The upcoming stretch is an important one for Boston College, as its bowl hopes could ride on the next three or four games. The Eagles will be underdogs in three of its next four games, and this team cannot afford to get blown out and slump to 2-6 or 1-7 record at the end of October.
Next Game: Clemson

12. Maryland (2-2, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
12
Week 4 result: Lost to West Virginia 31-21
Even though it was a loss, Maryland deserves some credit for its Week 4 performance. The Terrapins were not blown out as some expected and gave West Virginia a good fight through all four quarters. Quarterback Perry Hills bounced back from a brutal blindside hit at the end of the first half and finished with 305 yards and three touchdowns. As expected, West Virginia’s offense was eventually too much, but the Terrapins did a good job of limiting the Mountaineers’ rushing attack and getting after quarterback Geno Smith.
Next Game: Wake Forest (Oct. 6)
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Related College Football Content

Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

Big 12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

College Football Week 4 Recap

Teaser:
<p> ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 06:00
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Week 4 provided a few surprises in Big 12 play. Kansas State shocked Oklahoma in Norman, allowing the Wildcats to jump from No. 5 in Athlon's power rankings to No. 2. Kansas State is one of the least flashy teams in the nation but always finds a way to win. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas and Iowa State had a bye week, while West Virginia knocked off Maryland and TCU beat Virginia. 
 

Post-Week 4 Big 12 Power Rankings

1. Texas (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
2
Week 4 Result: Bye Week
It’s a close call between the Longhorns and Kansas State for the No. 1 spot in the Big 12. Texas gets the slight edge, but it’s really team 1A and 1B at this point.  The Longhorns had a bye in Week 4 and return to action this Saturday at Oklahoma State. The biggest question mark for Texas entering Big 12 play is quarterback David Ash. The sophomore has 703 yards and seven touchdowns through the first three weeks but a road game at Oklahoma State will be his biggest test. With Oklahoma suffering a loss to Kansas State, the race to win the Big 12 title is wide open.
Next Game: at Oklahoma State

2. Kansas State (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Last Week: 5
Week 4 Result: Beat Oklahoma 24-19
Just as we mentioned above, it’s essentially a 1A and 1B situation in Athlon’s Big 12 power rankings. The Wildcats scored one of Week 4’s most impressive victories, beating Oklahoma 24-19 in Norman. Quarterback Collin Klein carried the offense, throwing for 149 yards and adding 79 yards and one score on the ground. The defense limited the Sooners to 88 rushing yards and forced three turnovers. Kansas State isn’t the Big 12’s flashiest team but always finds a way to win. With upcoming games against Kansas and Iowa State, the Wildcats could be 6-0 before an Oct. 20 showdown against West Virginia.
Next Game: Kansas (Oct. 6)

3. West Virginia (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week: 3
Week 4 Result: Beat Maryland 31-21
It wasn’t the blowout some expected, but the Mountaineers were never really in any danger of losing to the Terrapins. West Virginia jumped out to a 24-14 halftime lead and held on for a 31-21 victory. Quarterback Geno Smith completed 30 of 43 throws for 338 yards, with receiver Tavon Austin catching 13 passes for 179 yards and three touchdown tosses. The Mountaineers gave up 351 yards to Maryland’s offense but scored on a 51-yard fumble return in the first quarter. With a new scheme and a handful of new starters, West Virginia’s defense will be a work in progress through the first half of the season.
Next Game: Baylor

4. Oklahoma (2-1, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week: 1
Week 4 Result: Lost 24-19 to Kansas State
After a sluggish performance against UTEP to open the season, most expected the Sooners would figure things out before Big 12 play arrived. Apparently not. Oklahoma dropped its first game of the year on Saturday, as Kansas State posted a 24-19 victory in Norman. Quarterback Landry Jones had a sluggish performance, completing 28 of 43 throws for 298 yards and one touchdown. The rushing attack was invisible, and the defense had no answer for Kansas State’s ground game. Oklahoma has another bye week this Saturday, which comes at a good time considering the performance against the Wildcats.
Next Game: at Texas Tech (Oct. 6)

5. TCU (3-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Last Week: 4
Week 4 Result: Beat Virginia 27-7
Three weeks, three impressive showings for the Horned Frogs. TCU held Virginia scoreless for 55 minutes, before the Cavaliers punched in a five-yard touchdown pass to end the shutout. Quarterback Casey Pachall threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns, while Matthew Tucker led the way with 52 yards on the ground. After three games, TCU leads the nation in scoring defense and ranks ninth in yards allowed.
Next Game: at SMU

6. Oklahoma State (2-1, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
6
Week 4 Result: Bye Week
The Cowboys had a bye week in Week 4 and return to action against Texas this Saturday. The biggest question mark facing Oklahoma State against the Longhorns has to be who starts under center. Wes Lunt suffered a knee injury against Louisiana-Lafayette, and his status for Week 5 is uncertain. If Lunt can’t play, J.W. Walsh will get the nod. The Cowboys are looking for their third consecutive win over the Longhorns.
Next Game: Texas

7. Baylor (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
7
Week 4 Result: Beat UL-Monroe 47-42
As expected, Baylor’s Friday night road test against ULM was no easy matchup. The Bears fell behind 21-7 but rallied to take a 24-21 halftime lead. Quarterback Nick Florence had an uneven start, before finding his rhythm and throwing for 351 yards and four touchdowns. The Bears got a nice boost on the ground from Glasco Martin, who rushed for 58 yards and one touchdown on 18 attempts. The defense allowed 560 yards but forced three turnovers and picked up two sacks. While Baylor has needed comebacks to beat Sam Houston State and ULM the last two weeks, the true test for this team will come in Big 12 play, starting this week at West Virginia.
Next Game: at West Virginia

8. Iowa State (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
8
Week 4 Result: Bye Week
The Cyclones finished the non-conference portion of their schedule 3-0 and open Big 12 play this Saturday against Texas Tech. Iowa State’s defense has been rock solid so far, allowing just 280 yards per game. The offense has room to improve, especially in limiting turnovers. The Cyclones have won the last two matchups against the Red Raiders, including a 41-7 blowout victory in Lubbock last year.
Next Game: Texas Tech

9. Texas Tech (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week: 9
Week 4 Result: Bye Week
The Red Raiders were off in Week 4 and open Big 12 play in Week 5 against Iowa State. Although it’s way too early to make any final assessments about Texas Tech’s defense, the early results have been positive. The Red Raiders are allowing just 160.3 yards per game and no opponent has managed more than 14 points through three games. Texas Tech’s schedule gets tougher the next few weeks, but the early results have been positive for the defense.
Next Game: at Iowa State

10. Kansas (1-2, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
10
Week 4 Result: Lost to Northern Illinois 30-23
The Jayhawks held a 23-13 lead going into the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to beat Northern Illinois. The Huskies scored 17 points in the final period to give Kansas its third consecutive loss and a defeat in 12 out of its last 13 games. Running back James Sims returned from a three-game suspension to lead the Jayhawks with 89 yards and two touchdowns. However, quarterback Dayne Crist struggled (10 of 26), and the defense allowed Northern Illinois’ quarterback Jordan Lynch to record 370 total yards and two scores. Charlie Weis and his staff clearly has a lot of work to do, and the Jayhawks will struggle just to earn a win in Big 12 play.
Next Game: at Kansas State (Oct. 6)

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Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 05:58
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-vs-clemson-tigers-preview-and-prediction
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College football’s premier matchup for Week 4 takes place in Tallahassee. Florida State and Clemson have combined for a 6-0 start, but this will be the first ACC contest for both teams.

Are the Seminoles back? That’s the question hovering over this team for the past couple of years. Although it’s early, Florida State looks like a serious contender for the national title. Sure, the competition has been light through the first three weeks, but the depth and talent in the program is getting back to the levels Florida State had in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Clemson is the defending ACC champs but has won only one matchup in Tallahassee since 1992. The Tigers opened the year with a solid victory over Auburn and handled Ball State and Furman in their next two matchups.

Five Things to Watch in Clemson vs. Florida State

1. Florida State’s defensive line vs. Clemson’s offensive line
There is plenty of firepower for both teams at the skill positions, but the matchup in the trenches will decide this game. Florida State owns one of college football’s top defensive lines and has allowed just 33.7 rushing yards per game through three contests. The headliner is junior Bjoern Werner, who has recorded nine tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks this season. Clemson’s offensive line has not allowed a sack the last two weeks but gave up four in the opener against Auburn. The Tigers have the ACC’s top trio – quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington and receiver Sammy Watkins – but will struggle to get on track if the offensive line does not perform. Werner isn’t the only standout up front, as Florida State’s line is overflowing with depth, including senior Tank Carradine and sophomore Timmy Jernigan. Considering Clemson’s uncertainty on the offensive line, Florida State should be able to win the battle up front on defense.

2. Clemson’s receivers vs. Florida State’s secondary
With Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins leading the way, the Tigers have one of college football’s best receiving corps. Watkins missed the first two weeks of the season due to a suspension but caught four passes for 52 yards in his return. Hopkins has 26 receptions through the first two weeks, including 13 in the season opener against Auburn. Florida State’s secondary has yet to be tested but leads the nation by allowing just 69.7 passing yards per game. Junior Xavier Rhodes is one of the ACC’s top cover corners, but Clemson will test sophomore Nick Waisome on the other side. With Greg Reid’s dismissal from the team in the offseason, the Seminoles are short on experience at the spot opposite of Rhodes. If Clemson gives quarterback Tajh Boyd enough time to throw, he will have opportunities to find Watkins or Hopkins for big plays downfield.

3. Can Florida State protect EJ Manuel?
The offensive lines are clearly under the microscope on Saturday night. Clemson’s front five will be tested by a deep Florida State defensive front, while the Seminoles are anxious to see how their line performs against the Tigers. Florida State’s offensive line was a question mark all last season and is still a work in progress. This unit paved the way for the Seminoles to rush for 385 yards and four touchdowns last week, but pass protection was an issue. The Tigers are reloading on the defensive front but will be Florida State’s toughest test so far. Expect coach Jimbo Fisher to move Manuel out of the pocket and call some designed runs to slow down Clemson’s pass rush.

4.  Which team will make a play on special teams?
As with any big game, the battle on special teams will be something to monitor. Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins is one of the best kickers in college football, while Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro has connected on all six of his attempts, and punter Spencer Benton hit a 61-yard field goal against Ball State. Returns are slightly in Clemson’s favor, especially with Watkins’ return to the lineup. The sophomore averaged 25 yards on kick returns last season and took one back for a score. Florida State will counter with Rashad Greene on punt returns, who is averaging 19.6 yards per return and has taken two for scores this year.

5. Chris Thompson vs. Andre Ellington
Neither team was able to generate much of a rushing attack in last season’s game. Florida State managed just 29 yards, while Clemson had 99 on 50 attempts. The Tigers will look to get Andre Ellington involved a little more this season, and the senior is off to a strong start. In the opener against Auburn, he rushed for 228 yards and has four touchdowns in his last two games. Chris Thompson is one of the best stories in college football, as he missed nearly all of last season with a broken back and has shown no ill-effects from that injury, gashing Wake Forest for 197 yards and two touchdowns last week. The team that wins the rushing battle won’t necessarily win the game, but both squads need to get the ball to Ellington and Thompson to give them opportunities to make big plays.

Final Analysis

Not only is this a huge game for the ACC, but both teams need to win to keep alive in the national title hunt. For Florida State, an impressive win over Clemson would help signal this team is officially back as a national title contender. If the Tigers win, it would be a huge boost to their hopes of repeating as ACC champions.

Florida State didn’t have EJ Manuel in last season’s game, yet nearly won in Death Valley. If the Seminoles can protect Manuel, while the defense holds Watkins, Boyd and Ellington in check, Florida State should move to 4-0 and take a commanding lead for the ACC Atlantic title.

Prediction: Florida State 31-24
 

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<p> Florida State Seminoles vs. Clemson Tigers Game Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, September 22, 2012 - 08:28
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-4-preview-match-ups-upset-picks-and-storylines-watch-0
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College football's Week 4 slate doesn't feature a ton of huge matchups, but there's plenty of impact games. Florida State-Clemson is a marquee ACC battle between two top-10 teams, while Michigan travels to Notre Dame. As usual, the SEC always has a few intriguing contests that are must-see games. Vanderbilt travels to Georgia, LSU hits the road for a matchup against Auburn and new SEC member Missouri takes on South Carolina. 

Top Storylines to Watch in Week 4

1. Who will stake an early claim for the ACC title: Clemson or Florida State?
The ACC hasn’t had many big games on a national scale in recent years, but Saturday night’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson will have BCS title implications. The loser of this game is probably out of the picture when it comes to a national title, while the winner takes a huge step towards winning the ACC title. Clemson has been tested a little more this season, as the Tigers beat Auburn in the season opener, while Florida State played two FCS teams (Murray State and Savannah State) to start the year. The battle in the trenches will be especially important for this game. Clemson and Florida State’s offensive line came into the year with question marks, and both units have yet to emerge as a strength. If the Seminoles’ defensive line controls the line of scrimmage, it will be tough for the Tigers to get quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins on track.

2. Oklahoma looks to take early control of the Big 12
Most of the Big 12 teams have played only non-conference games thus far, so this week’s Oklahoma-Kansas State matchup is an early opportunity to seize control of the conference. The Sooners have dominated the recent series, as Kansas State’s last win in a regular-season meeting came in 1997. For the Wildcats to have any shot at winning on Saturday night, quarterback Collin Klein has to get on track. In last season’s meeting, Klein had just 150 yards of total offense, which won’t get it done this time around. The Sooners will gear up to stop Klein, while looking to get its passing game on track. Kansas State’s secondary has struggled in the first three weeks of the season and will be tested against Landry Jones and his receivers.

3. Is Notre Dame ready to be a national title contender?
After a 20-3 win over Michigan State last week, Notre Dame has positioned itself for a run at a BCS bowl. It’s early, so the Irish still have a lot to prove. However, if the first three games have shown anything, Notre Dame seems to have corrected its turnover program from last season and fixed its quarterback issues. Redshirt freshman Everett Golson still has a lot to learn, but is a clear upgrade over Tommy Rees. This Saturday presents another challenge for the Irish, with Michigan set to visit South Bend. The Wolverines are still trying to find the right pieces on the offensive and defensive lines, but Denard Robinson has torched Notre Dame in the last two meetings. This is a relatively even matchup, so once again, turnovers are crucial. If the Irish don’t turn the ball over and win the battle in the trenches, they should be able to hold Robinson in check and snap a three-game losing streak to Michigan.

4. Does Auburn have any chance to beat LSU?
So far, Auburn has shown nothing to suggest it can beat LSU this week. The offense has struggled to get anything going through the air, while the defense ranks a disappointing 94th in yards allowed. LSU is dealing with a few injuries on the offensive line and in the backfield, but remains one of college football’s top teams. This will be the first big road test for quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who should be a big upgrade under center for LSU over Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. With a road date against Florida in two weeks, it’s important for the Tigers to get Mettenberger comfortable before the competition increases. Winning on the road in the SEC is never easy, but all signs point to a LSU rout on Saturday night.

5. Oregon… the new Pac-12 favorite?
With USC losing to Stanford, the focus shifts to Oregon as the Pac-12’s best hope at playing for a national title. However, the Ducks have yet to be tested, as Arizona will be their toughest game through the first four weeks of the season. The scoreboard operator should be busy, especially with both teams averaging over 45 points a game. Oregon redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota has been solid through the first three starts of his career, recording 782 overall yards and eight touchdowns. The Wildcats should be able to move the ball, especially with quarterback Matt Scott and running back Ka’Deem Carey combining to average over 450 yards a game. Both teams won’t field a dominant defense in this matchup but getting timely stops is crucial to the outcome. Look for Oregon to make a few more stops than Arizona, which will help the Ducks pull away in the fourth quarter.

Six Intriguing Under-the-Radar Games to Watch

Louisiana Tech at Illinois
The Bulldogs are one of the best non-BCS teams and has won nine of their last 10 games. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is expected to return after missing the last two weeks with an ankle injury. The Fighting Illini owns one of the Big Ten’s best defenses, but they will be tested by a Louisiana Tech offense averaging 56 points a game.

Miami at Georgia Tech
Can the Hurricanes slow down Georgia Tech? Miami’s defense has been invisible against BCS competition, allowing 32 points to Boston College and 52 to Kansas State. The Hurricanes rank 102nd nationally against the run – a bad sign against a Georgia Tech team averaging 374 rushing yards per game.

Fresno State at Tulsa
These teams are quietly two of the best from the non-BCS conferences. The Bulldogs ran wild over Colorado last week, winning 69-14 to move to 2-1 this season. Tulsa lost to Iowa State in the opener, but looks like the favorite to win Conference USA’s West Division. With both teams averaging over 40 points a game, this matchup could be one of the highest-scoring games of Week 4.

Utah at Arizona State
The Sun Devils have experienced some interesting luck this year, as Saturday’s game against Utah will be their third consecutive matchup against a team with a backup quarterback. The Utes are coming off of a huge win against rival BYU last Saturday and should get injured running back John White back in the lineup this week. Arizona State is 2-0 at home this year and with games coming up against California, Oregon and UCLA, this is a must-win game to keep pace with the Bruins in the Pac-12 South.

Rutgers at Arkansas
The Razorbacks aren’t going to win a national title, but there’s plenty for this team to salvage the rest of the way. Arkansas will have its hands full with Rutgers this Saturday, especially if quarterback Tyler Wilson isn’t able to play. The Scarlet Knights own one of the Big East’s top defenses, while their offense is rapidly improving under sophomores Gary Nova (QB) and Jawan Jamison (RB).

Vanderbilt at Georgia
These two teams met for an entertaining 33-28 matchup in Nashville last season, but the real fireworks started after the game. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham exchanged words after the final whistle, and there’s no love lost between these two teams.

Teams Looking to Bounce Back

North Carolina – With East Carolina visiting Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels should snap a two-game losing streak. However, the bigger concern is the health of running back Giovani Bernard. The sophomore has missed the last two games due to a knee injury, and his status is up in the air for this week’s contest.

Tennessee – There’s no shame in losing to Florida, but the Volunteers’ second-half performance left a lot to be desired. Akron won’t present much of a challenge, which is good news for a Tennessee team looking to build confidence with Georgia and Mississippi State up next.

Virginia Tech – The Hokies’ performance against an 0-2 Pittsburgh team was one of the biggest surprises from Week 3. Both sides of the ball struggled, especially a rushing attack that generated just 59 yards. Virginia Tech should get back into the win column against Bowling Green, but it’s important for this team to find some answers.

USC – If the Trojans want to have any shot at playing for the national title, they have to win out and look impressive in the process. The road to climbing back in the national title picture starts against California – a team USC has won eight consecutive matchups against.

Virginia – The Cavaliers were steamrolled in last week’s 56-20 loss to Georgia Tech, allowing the Yellow Jackets to rush for 461 yards and seven touchdowns. Virginia has struggled to get its rushing game on track, which is bad news for an offense that lacks a dynamic passing attack. With a trip to TCU on tap this Saturday, the Cavaliers will have a tough time getting back into the win coloumn.

Wake Forest – A week after picking up a solid win against North Carolina, the Demon Deacons were demolished 52-0 by Florida State. Wake Forest should beat Army this Saturday, but the Black Knights are never an easy matchup.

Teams Desperate For a Win

Arkansas – After last week’s 52-0 loss to Alabama, the Razorbacks need something positive before SEC play picks back up on Sept. 29 at Texas A&M. Quarterback Tyler Wilson is close to returning, which should help spark the offense against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights’ defense is allowing only 8.3 points a game, so it’s no guarantee Wilson’s return will be enough for Arkansas to win this game.

Auburn – Sure, the Tigers won last week, but it wasn’t exactly the most impressive showing. Auburn needed overtime to beat Louisiana-Monroe, and this team still has plenty of question marks, which loom large against LSU this Saturday. To win in Baton Rouge, Auburn will need a flawless effort from quarterback Kiehl Frazier and for its defense to slow down LSU’s rushing attack. It’s possible, but unlikely considering how much Auburn has struggled through the first three weeks.

California – Jeff Tedford’s seat isn’t getting any cooler, especially as the Golden Bears are off to a 1-2 start. California played tough at Ohio State, but moral victories aren’t going to get it done. The Golden Bears play at USC this Saturday, where they have not won at since 2000. As Stanford showed last week, the Trojans are vulnerable. Can California take advantage of the question marks and pull off a key victory this Saturday?

Quarterbacks Under Pressure

Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt – Carta-Samuels transferred to Vanderbilt after starting two years at Wyoming. He was an efficient 13 of 20 for 195 yards and one touchdown in the win over Presbyterian, but the competition (Georgia) will be much tougher this Saturday.

Kiehl Frazier, Auburn – It seems Frazier gets mentioned in this section each week, but his performance against Louisiana-Monroe didn’t do much to ease the concerns about the Tigers' quarterback play. The sophomore completed 10 of 18 passes for 130 yards, one touchdown and one interception, with a chunk of his yardage coming on a 33-yard Hail Mary scoring strike to end the first half.

Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State – Maxwell deserves time to grow into the starting job, but his first three starts have produced mixed results. He threw for 248 yards and three interceptions in the 17-13 win over Boise State and completed 23 of 45 passes for 187 yards in the loss to Notre Dame. Since Eastern Michigan visits East Lansing this Saturday, the Spartans will have an opportunity to work out the kinks in the passing game.

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech – Thomas is in no danger of losing his starting job, but he needs a good performance to erase last weekend’s awful showing. The junior completed 14 of 31 passes for 265 yards and three interceptions in the loss to Pittsburgh. With Bowling Green up next, all signs point to Thomas putting up a big performance on Saturday.

Michael Rocco, Virginia – With a struggling rushing attack, it’s up to Rocco to take on a bigger role in Virginia’s offense. The junior hasn’t been awful through three weeks, throwing for 712 yards and four touchdowns, but he has tossed three picks and is coming off of a forgettable performance against Georgia Tech. If the Cavaliers want to knock off TCU this Saturday, they need a big game from Rocco.

Joel Stave, Wisconsin – The Badgers are desperately looking for a spark on offense. Danny O’Brien threw for 454 yards and three touchdowns in the first three games but was benched in favor of Stave against Utah State. The redshirt freshman was just 2 of 6 for 15 yards, but the coaching staff will give him a chance to ignite the offense against UTEP this Saturday.

Injuries to watch

Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – Bernard has missed the last two games due to a knee injury. Larry Fedora doesn’t say much about injuries, so Bernard’s status could be in question until kickoff. Even if Bernard plays this week against East Carolina, the Tar Heels can afford to limit his touches.

Damon Bullock, RB, Iowa – Depth in the Hawkeyes’ backfield took another hit with Bullock’s injury against Northern Iowa last week. Bullock is not expected to play against Central Michigan this Saturday.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska – Burkhead left the season opener against Southern Miss with a knee injury and is expected to return to the field for this week’s game against Idaho State.

James Franklin, QB, Missouri – Franklin sat out last week’s game against Arizona State due to a shoulder injury. The junior is expected to play this Saturday, which is a crucial game for Missouri, as it looks to avoid an 0-2 start in the SEC.

MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota – Gray suffered a high ankle sprain in last week’s win over Western Michigan. Backup Max Shortell has experience and is a capable replacement. However, the Golden Gophers will miss Gray’s playmaking ability on the ground if he can’t start.

Montel Harris, RB, Temple – Harris has not played since posting 12 yards on five carries against Villanova in the season opener. The senior is dealing with a hamstring injury but could return this Saturday against Penn State.

Khaled Holmes, C, USC – Holmes was clearly missed last week, as USC struggled to block Stanford’s aggressive front seven. The senior may not be able to play this week, which means junior Abe Markowitz will get the call at center.

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia – Jones missed last week’s game against FAU due to a groin injury. The junior is expected to play this Saturday, especially with a key SEC East game against Vanderbilt on the schedule.

John White, RB, Utah – White missed last week’s rivalry game against BYU due to an ankle injury. The Utes need the senior back in the lineup if they want to win on the road against Arizona State.

Nikita Whitlock, DT, Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons clearly missed Whitlock last week, as Florida State rushed for 385 yards and four touchdowns against Wake Forest. Whitlock is not expected to play this Saturday, which is bad news for the Demon Deacons against one of the nation’s top rushing offenses.

Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas – In order for Arkansas to get back into the win column, Wilson has to play on Saturday against Rutgers. The senior sat out against Alabama due to a concussion and could be a game-time decision on Saturday.

Upset Watch

Baylor at Louisiana-Monroe (+7) (Friday)
The Warhawks beat Arkansas in Week 2 and nearly knocked off Auburn last Saturday. Louisiana-Monroe should have no shortage of confidence after its performances against SEC teams, so this will be no easy matchup for Baylor.
Prediction: Baylor 41-31

Kansas (+9) at Northern Illinois
It’s a little strange to see a BCS team as a nine-point underdog, but the Jayhawks lost to Rice in Week 2 and barely beat the Huskies last season. Although Kansas is an underdog, it should hold Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch in check long enough to win.
Prediction: Kansas 31-27

South Florida at Ball State (+10)
The Bulls are reeling after last week’s 23-13 loss to Rutgers, while the Cardinals are riding a wave of momentum thanks to the last-second win over Indiana last week. The battle in the trenches will be crucial, as South Florida’s defensive line could dominate the line of scrimmage and limit Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning and running back Jahwan Edwards.
Prediction: South Florida 34-31

Syracuse (+1) at Minnesota
Considering the line has hovered around one point all week, it’s hard to consider this an upset. However, Minnesota will likely be without quarterback MarQueis Gray, and Syracuse suffered close back-to-back losses against Northwestern and USC to open the year.
Prediction: Syracuse 31-27

Connecticut at Western Michigan (+1)
Just like Syracuse-Minnesota, it’s hard to call a one-point spread much of an upset. However, the Broncos knocked off Connecticut in Storrs last season, and a high-powered offense led by senior quarterback Alex Carder will give the Huskies all they can handle.
Prediction: Connecticut 27-24

Six Games to Avoid this Saturday

Maryland at West Virginia
At first glance, the Terrapins would seem to have a shot against the Mountaineers, especially with a defense that ranks sixth nationally against the pass. However, a deeper look into the numbers reveals Maryland has yet to play an offense with a developed passing attack. The Terrapins’ offense is averaging only 258.3 yards per game – a number West Virginia should equal at halftime.

FAU at Alabama
Talk about a coaching mismatch: Carl Pelini vs. Nick Saban.

Colorado at Washington State
If the Buffaloes continue on their current path, they could finish 2012 with the worst season by a team in a BCS conference since 1998. Colorado’s offense is averaging 19.7 points a game, while the defense is allowing 479.7 yards and 40.3 points a game. Washington State is struggling to find the right mix under new coach Mike Leach, but the Buffaloes are in for a long afternoon against the Cougars’ offense.

Idaho State at Nebraska
The Cornhuskers still have concerns about the defense, but running back Rex Burkhead is back, and Idaho State shouldn’t present much of a challenge for Bo Pelini’s team.

UAB at Ohio State
The only storyline to monitor in this game is Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller. The sophomore is averaging 19 rushing attempts per game – a number Urban Meyer and his staff would like to see decrease the rest of the year.

Kentucky at Florida
Even though the Gators are coming off of a huge road win at Tennessee, don’t expect any letdown against Kentucky. Florida has not lost to the Wildcats since 1986 and only five matchups since 1990 have been decided by 10 points or less. 


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 4 Preview: Match-Ups, Upset Picks and Storylines to Watch</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:31
Path: /college-football/nebraska-football-are-cornhuskers-best-team-big-ten
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It's early, but it's not a stretch to say the Big Ten has been one of the most disappointing conferences in college football. Michigan wasn't competitive in its season opener against Alabama, Nebraska fell on the road to UCLA, and Michigan State was dominated by Notre Dame. 

Is Nebraska the best team in the Big Ten?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Only if you slept through the weekend of Sept. 8 and UCLA’s 36-30 win over the Cornhuskers. The Big Ten’s not great, but not bad enough for a team with an erratic quarterback and porous run defense to win the league. I asked myself this: Where will Nebraska stand after the first weekend in November? One Big Ten loss? Two? Three? In that span, Nebraska goes to Ohio State, which may have the best team in the Big Ten despite its postseason ban. Then Nebraska faces Michigan in Lincoln and Michigan State on the road. All have good run games. Ohio State can force a turnover or two, and Michigan State, the Notre Dame loss notwithstanding, may have the best defense in the Big Ten. And I haven’t even mentioned a road trip to Northwestern, a team that beat Nebraska 28-25 in Lincoln last season. I’m not ready to make the leap for Nebraska as the league’s best team.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
No, but can I reserve the right to change my opinion? Ohio State seems like it has the best all-around combination of talent, coaching and schedule to finish the regular season with the best record. Nebraska and Michigan both have to visit the Horseshoe and trips to East Lansing and Madison don't seem as daunting today as they appeared in Week 1. Urban Meyer also has the best player in the league in quarterback Braxton Miller, who, if he survives the entire season, could be in New York come December. Nebraska is very good and could very well win the Big Ten crown against some fledgling Leaders Division place-holder, but the Buckeyes should be the best team at season's end.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I thought Ohio State was the best team in the Big Ten going into the season, and I’ve seen nothing that makes me want to change my opinion. As long as Denard Robinson stays healthy, Michigan should push for nine or ten wins, but the offensive and defensive lines are a concern. Michigan State might have the conference’s best defense, while running back Le’Veon Bell could challenge for All-American honors. However, quarterback Andrew Maxwell has struggled and needs more time to develop a rapport with an inexperienced receiving corps. Quarterback Taylor Martinez has looked great for Nebraska, but surprisingly, the defense has question marks. I think the Cornhuskers have a great chance to win the Legends Division, but still believe Ohio State is the No. 1 team in the conference.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
I’d have to go with Ohio State as the best team in the Big Ten at this point in the season — almost by default. The Buckeyes haven’t always looked great, but they beat a solid UCF team in Week 2 and then survived a scare from California last Saturday. Ohio State doesn’t have an abundance of talent at the skill positions, but the Buckeyes will have the best player on the field in almost every game they play. Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller is thriving under first-year coach Urban Meyer, and don’t be surprised if he makes the trip to New York in December as a Heisman finalist. Regarding Nebraska, it’s hard to proclaim a team that gave up 653 yards of offense to UCLA as the best in any league. I credit the Huskers for testing themselves on the road — something Ohio State has yet to do — but that was an alarming defensive performance in Week 2.

Mark Ross: 
Nebraska has been fairly impressive so far, but the Cornhuskers will only go as far as quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead can carry them. Burkhead has missed the last two games with a knee injury, but is expected to be back on the field perhaps as early as this week. As long as he's not limited too much by the knee, his presence only helps Martinez, who has done a much better job in the pocket and with ball security this season. For now, given the questions surrounding Michigan State's quarterback situation and struggling offense and Michigan's issues on both lines, Nebraska, if healthy, appears to have the upper hand in the Legends division.

The Leaders is entirely up for grabs mainly because of Ohio State being ineligible for postseason play. My vote for the Big Ten's best team right now would go to the Buckeyes, who are 3-0 thanks to the arm and legs of quarterback Braxton Miller and gotten just enough out of their defense thus far. Urban Meyer's squad is the most balanced team in my opinion right now, but it matters little since the Buckeyes can't play in the Big Ten title game. When is a championship game not a true title game? When the best team in the league can't play in it, and just like the Pac-12 had to go through last season with USC ineligible, that's the scenario the Big Ten appears headed for this season with Ohio State.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I would say no after three games, but that could change in a few weeks. Ohio State has been the most impressive B1G club so far, even though tackling was an issue in the close home win over Cal. Since the Buckeyes are ineligible for the postseason, let’s look at the best team that can win the league title in Indianapolis. I would give Michigan State the slight edge (just by one of Zeke’s frisbees) over Michigan and Nebraska right now, but MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell must show marked improvement soon. Obviously Denard Robinson is a big-time playmaker against most defenses, but the Wolverines’ struggles against the run — something the Spartans and Cornhuskers do very well — are very concerning.  Nebraska could be the team in the Legends if the defense can to start performing better for new coordinator John Papuchis. Will Compton and crew played well against Arkansas State, but I still can’t get those 653 total yards in the UCLA loss out of my head. Taylor Martinez has been a solid passer through three games, and we know that his running combined with excellent tailbacks Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah will put points on the board. If the NU defense can rise to the occasion against division opponents, the Huskers will be right there to play for the Big Ten championship.

 

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Teaser:
<p> Nebraska Football: Are the Cornhuskers the Best Team in the Big Ten?</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:11
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Notre Dame is 3-0 and ranked among the top 15 teams in the nation. After a win at Michigan State, the Irish are in position to make a run at a BCS bid. However, can the Irish start to think about a national title berth? A tough schedule that features games against Oklahoma, USC and Stanford will test this team, but does Notre Dame have the personnel to go 12-0?

Is Notre Dame a National Title Contender?

Coach Bill Mallory, former head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I’ve got a son a Curt Mallory who is the secondary coach at Michigan. He feels they’re definitely improved from last year. And I’ve been watching them get better, too. They’ve been very good on defense. They’re more sound. They’re better balanced with the run and the pass. It’s more complete. They’re better against the run and the pass. I see more maturity there. To me it looks like a sounder defense. That was very evident last week. They really shut Michigan State down. Going into the season, we [the Legends Poll] felt Michigan State was the best team in the Big Ten. I would rank Notre Dame now around 15th in the country. I don’t feel that strong about being a top 10 team. They’re going with the young quarterback. That offense will get better as the season goes along. It’s a team that has to be watched. I’d think they have makings of being a very good football.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
A BCS contender, maybe. A national championship contender, not yet. Don’t get me wrong, the Michigan State win was a notable feat -- no turnovers against that defense, holding the Spartans to a field goal on the road. But we still don’t know how Notre Dame will fare against an elite passer, not when the Irish has faced Caleb TerBush and Andrew Maxwell. Road trips to face Landry Jones and Matt Barkley are on a brutal schedule. The Michigan State win is to be applauded for sure, but it’s going to be tough to win many games if Notre Dame continues to convert only 1 of 14 third downs. There’s reason to be optimistic, but not enough to start feeling confident about a big bowl game, much less a national title.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
No, Notre Dame isn't a national title contender. At least, no yet. Quarterback play has been this team's undoing for years and I am not sure Brian Kelly has plugged that leak entirely. I'm a huge fan of Everett Golson and think he has a chance to be a perfect fit for Kelly's spread offense, but he will make a couple of key mistakes along the way because that is what freshman do. The defense is downright nasty and few teams will be able to run the ball against them, which gives ND an intriguing Xs and Os match-up against, say, an SEC champ. Or Oregon. But the schedule seems too difficult for the Irish to finish the season unblemished — something they would likely have to do to be in the national title game. Is Notre Dame back, however? It certainly seems that way.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I don’t think Notre Dame is ready to challenge for a national title this season, but it can certainly make a BCS bowl. The Fighting Irish are clearly headed in the right direction, spearheaded by a defense that has allowed just 30 points through three games and is generating 3.7 sacks a game. Redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson will only get better with more playing time, especially as some of the young receivers in the program (DaVaris Daniels, Davonte’ Neal and Chris Brown) have a chance to pickup Brian Kelly’s system. While the early results for Notre Dame are promising, a schedule that features games against Michigan, Stanford, Oklahoma and USC is simply too much to navigate for a national title this year. However, Kelly is the right coach and will have the Irish in the mix for an at-large BCS bid this year.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
No. The Fighting Irish are better than they were a year ago and are showing signs of returning to elite status, but I’m not ready to put them in national championship race. This team is still limited offensively — though Everett Golson is showing a lot of positive signs at quarterback — and the secondary will be an issue when Notre Dame meets a team with a legitimate passing attack. You have to be impressed with the Irish’s performance at Michigan State on Saturday night, but they are not quite ready to beat teams like Alabama, LSU or Oregon.

Mark Ross: 
As long as the Fighting Irish keep winning, they will be in the discussion as a national title contender. Because of its schedule, Notre Dame is in the best position of any non-BCS conference school to crash the party, if you will, and steal a spot in the national championship game from an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC school, although it will be difficult. That said, Notre Dame will certainly get plenty of opportunities to state its case. Starting with this Saturday's tilt with Michigan, Notre Dame has games remaining against teams from every BCS conference with the exception of the SEC. Besides the Wolverines, these games include road games at Oklahoma and USC, along with a home date against Stanford. Those are four opportunities at signature victories that the Irish must capitalize on if they want to remain in the discussion. If they can come up big when the spotlight is on, such as they did in beating Michigan State in East Lansing last Saturday night, both the voters and computers will have to give Brian Kelly's team its due. The onus, however, is also on the Fighting Irish, who can't afford any slip ups against its other remaining opponents, which include Miami (Fla.), Brigham Young and Pittsburgh. One of the unique things about college football, at least until the new playoff system starts in 2014, is that the regular season really does matter as it's No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the end. That's even more true for Notre Dame as the Irish don't have a conference championship game to support its win total or body of work when it comes to the BCS standings. If Notre Dame runs the table and finishes 12-0, I think it will be very difficult, but not impossible by any means as we have seen, to not present the Irish with a shot at their 14th national title.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I do not see Notre Dame as part of the BCS title conversation yet, but Brian Kelly does have the Fighting Irish program headed back towards elite status. The ND schedule still has many tough opponents, but Bob Diaco’s defense should keep the Irish in most games. However to put Notre Dame in the national championship hunt, I will need to see a little more explosiveness on offense and the secondary hold up against a solid passing attack. Redshirt freshman Everett Golson seems to be the answer at quarterback, but there is immense room for growth with both him and the receivers. Oklahoma and USC will challenge ND’s inexperienced corners, and the loss of senior safety Jamoris Slaughter is significant. Michigan and Stanford will also be challenging, but Notre Dame fans should be pleased with the current momentum after dominating Michigan State.

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<p> Notre Dame Football: Are the Fighting Irish a National Title Contender?</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 13:11
All taxonomy terms: Penn State Nittany Lions, Big Ten, News
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The Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State is one of the worst in NCAA history. Although Sandusky's trial is over, and the Nittany Lions have learned their fate from the NCAA, this story won't be going away anytime soon.

Former coach Joe Paterno has been the subject of criticism since the allegations came to the surface. However, he still has plenty of of support in State College. 

This billboard recently popped up in State College, pledging support for the former coach amid the NCAA sanctions and allegations since they broke last season.

Here's a look at the billboard, tweeted by @OnwardState

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<p> Penn State Football: New Billboard Shows Support for Joe Paterno</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 12:35
Path: /college-football/acc-week-4-preview-and-predictions
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The ACC will be under the spotlight this weekend. Clemson and Florida State meet in Tallahassee on Saturday night, and the winner of this matchup will take an early, but commanding lead for the ACC Atlantic crown. Miami and Georgia Tech meet in a key Coastal contest, while Virginia travels to TCU and Maryland plays at West Virginia.

Other Week 4 Previews and Predictions

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ACC's Top Storylines for Week 4

1. Can Clemson’s offensive line block Florida State?
The biggest question mark surrounding Clemson’s offense coming into the season was its line. With the departure of three key performers, the Tigers had big concerns about protecting quarterback Tajh Boyd. The line has been a mixed bag of results through the first three weeks, as Clemson is averaging 5.2 yards per rush and has scored seven rushing touchdowns. The Tigers have allowed only four sacks but all of them came in the opener against Auburn. Considering Florida State’s defensive line is even better than Auburn, Clemson’s coaching staff has to be worried. The Tigers have the ACC’s best set of playmakers on offense, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington and receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. However, if the line can’t protect Boyd, Clemson’s offense will struggle to move the ball against the Seminoles.

2. Will Florida State’s offensive line protect EJ Manuel?
Just like Clemson, the biggest question surrounding Florida State in the preseason was its offensive line. This unit was a major weakness last season and features three sophomore starters for Saturday’s matchup. Florida State has yet to be tested by a top-25 team, but the line showed promise in last week’s victory over Wake Forest, recording 385 rushing yards and four touchdowns. However, quarterback EJ Manuel was sacked three times, and the Demon Deacons were able to get consistent pressure in the pocket. Clemson’s defensive line is inexperienced and has generated only three sacks through the first three games. This is the biggest test for Florida State’s offensive line, and a passing grade would go a long way to helping the Seminoles remain in the national title picture.

3. Can Miami’s defense slow down Georgia Tech?
The combination of youth and inexperience has produced some awful results for Miami’s defense so far this season. The Hurricanes rank 102nd against the run, 86th against the pass and are allowing 463.3 yards per game. Making matters worse for Miami is the loss of linebacker Denzel Perryman, who will sit out this week’s game due to an ankle injury suffered in last week’s win over Bethune-Cookman. Considering the struggles through the first three weeks of the season, Georgia Tech’s option attack is the worst possible matchup for the Hurricanes. The Yellow Jackets rank third nationally in rushing offense and had two scoring plays over 70 yards in last week’s win over Virginia. Miami has plenty of speed and athleticism to matchup against the option attack, but it will need its best effort of the year to slow down Georgia Tech this Saturday.

4. Can North Carolina win without Giovani Bernard?
Larry Fedora doesn’t say much about injuries, so it’s hard to know how serious Giovani Bernard’s knee really is. However, the sophomore running back hasn’t played in the last two games, and North Carolina has lost back-to-back contests. Bernard’s status isn’t as critical for this week’s game against East Carolina and the Week 5 matchup against Idaho. However, the sophomore will be needed for the Oct. 6 showdown against Virginia Tech. Considering he really has only one half under his belt in Fedora’s new offense, North Carolina probably would like to get Bernard some game action over the next couple of weeks. Bernard doesn’t need to play for the Tar Heels to beat East Carolina, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get him prepared for ACC competition.

5. Does Maryland have any shot of beating West Virginia?
It’s hard to envision the Terrapins having the firepower to pull off an upset over West Virginia this Saturday. Maryland’s offense ranks 119th in the nation with an average of just 258.3 yards per game, and freshman quarterback Perry Hills isn't putting much fear into defenses so far. However, the Terrapins have options at running back, and receiver Stefon Diggs is a playmaker. Despite having some promising young talent, it’s unrealistic to expect the Terrapins to be able to match West Virginia’s scoring ability. For Maryland to have any shot at winning on Saturday, the defense has to force a few turnovers and create pressure on Mountaineers’ quarterback Geno Smith. The Terrapins ranks sixth nationally in pass defense but have yet to face a quarterback with as much ability as Smith. Anything can happen, but Maryland faces an uphill battle just to keep this game close going into the second half.

6. What’s wrong with Virginia’s offense?
A year after finishing fourth in the ACC in rushing offense, the Cavaliers’ ground attack ranks 107th nationally, and Perry Jones has barely been involved in the offense over the last two weeks (29 yards). It’s no secret Virginia doesn’t have a dynamic passing attack, which only adds to the importance of establishing the ground game. With Jones and Kevin Parks struggling to find running room, quarterback Michael Rocco has gotten off to a sluggish start, tossing three interceptions and throwing for only 143 yards in the 56-20 loss to Georgia Tech. It’s not fair to blame Rocco for all of Virginia’s struggles, especially with an offensive line that is struggling to open up rushing lanes for Parks and Jones. Getting back on track won’t be easy for the Cavaliers this Saturday, as TCU has allowed only six points through the first two weeks of the season.  

7. Wake Forest, Virginia Tech look to get back on track
The Demon Deacons and Hokies suffered tough losses last week, and both look to get back on track in Week 4. Wake Forest was a heavy underdog against Florida State, and the Seminoles made quick work of the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest was blown out 52-0, managed only 126 yards and gave up 385 rushing yards. The Hokies were heavy favorites against Pittsburgh – a team that lost to Youngstown State and Cincinnati open the year – but didn’t put up much of a fight against the Panthers, losing 35-17. Both teams should get back into the win column this Saturday, as the Demon Deacons take on Army and Virginia Tech hosts Bowling Green. While these matchups aren’t as exciting as Clemson-Florida State, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech need to get back on track with key games ahead in Week 5.  
 

ACC Week 4 Predictions

ACC Week 4 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Bowling Green at Virginia Tech VT 28-14 VT 38-13 VT 34-13 VT 34-13
Maryland at West Virginia WVU 52-10 WVU 41-21 WVU 45-17 WVU 41-10
Virginia at TCU TCU 21-17 TCU 31-21 TCU 30-13 TCU 27-17
Army at Wake Forest WF 35-21 WF 34-13 WF 34-17 WF 30-10
Miami at Georgia Tech GT 42-21 GT 31-17 GT 38-24 GT 37-24
East Carolina at North Carolina UNC 35-14 UNC 31-17 UNC 38-17 UNC 27-10
Citadel at NC State NC State 42-10 NC State 42-10 NC State 41-13 NC State 41-3
Memphis at Duke Duke 35-21 Duke 34-14 Duke 42-17 Duke 38-10
Clemson at Florida State FSU 35-21 FSU 34-28 FSU 31-24 FSU 34-24
Last Week: 9-1 8-2 9-1 9-1
Season Record: 27-4 28-3 27-4 27-4

 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 


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Teaser:
<p> ACC Week 4 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 06:02

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