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The 2012 college football season kicked off with South Carolina beating Vanderbilt on Thursday night. The Gamecocks weren't particularly impressive but did just enough to knock off the Commodores. Derek Dooley's seat got a little cooler in Knoxville after beating NC State on Friday night. Alabama was the most impressive team in Week 1, thrashing Michigan 41-14.

Post-Week 1 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina — Making his first appearance since injuring his knee last fall, Lattimore ran for 110 yards and two scores on 23 carries against a solid run defense at Vanderbilt.

2. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee — It was quite a debut for the junior college transfer. He combined for 165 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns — one on a 41-yard toss from Tyler Bray and one on a 67-yard run from scrimmage.

3. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee — The junior quarterback completed 27-of-41 passes for 333 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Vols’ win vs. NC State.

 

Post-Week 1 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama — Milliner had four pass deflections and an interception to lead Alabama’s dominant defensive effort against Michigan.

2. Jadaveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina — The sophomore had four total tackles, including two for a loss (and one sack) in the Gamecocks’ 17-13 win at Vanderbilt.

3. Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt — Ladler shined in a losing effort for Vanderbilt, recording nine tackles, one interception and a sack as the Commodores held South Carolina to 272 total yards. 

 

Post-Week 1 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Nick Saban, Alabama — The Crimson Tide completely dominated Michigan, a team that won 11 games in 2011.

2. Derek Dooley, Tennessee — His seat is a whole lot cooler after the Vols’ impressive win over NC State in Atlanta.

3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina — He’s the only coach in the league with a 1-0 record in the SEC.

 

Post-Week 1 SEC Power Rankings

1. Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
2
Week 1 Result: Beat Michigan 41-14
Alabama was perhaps the most impressive team in the nation in the opening week of the season. The Crimson Tide completely dominated both sides of the ball against a Michigan team ranked in the top 10 heading into the season. The Bama defense did a masterful job on Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who completed only 11-of-26 passes and rushed for 27 yards on 10 attempts. True freshman T.J. Yeldon was the star on offense for the Tide, rushing for 111 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries. This was complete domination.
This Week: Western Kentucky

2. LSU (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
1
Week 1 Result: Beat North Texas 41-14
The Tigers disposed of North Texas in predictable fashion, leaning on a rushing attack that churned out 316 yards on 46 carries for an impressive 6.9-yard average. Zach Mettenberger put up solid numbers in his debut at quarterback (19-of-26 for 192 yards with one TD and one INT), but he missed some throws that he will need to hit against better competition. Tailbacks Kenny Hilliard (141) and Alfred Blue (123) both went over the 100-yard mark, and Odell Beckham returned a punt 70 yards for a TD in the first quarter.
Next Game: Washington

3. Georgia (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
3
Week 1 Result: Beat Buffalo 45-23
The result was never in doubt, but Georgia didn’t exactly dominate Buffalo (3–9 last season) as thoroughly as most Bulldog fans would have liked. There was a lot to like on offense — especially the 100 yards on eight carries from freshman tailback Todd Gurley — but Georgia couldn’t have been thrilled about giving up 347 total yards (199 on the ground). Tavarres King caught six passes for 117 yards to lead the Dawgs’ receiving corps.
Next Game: at Missouri

4. South Carolina (1-0, 1-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
4
Week 1 Result: Beat Vanderbilt 17-13
South Carolina managed only 272 yards of offense, including just 67 through the air, but it was good enough to escape Nashville with a 17-13 win over Vanderbilt. Marcus Lattimore ran for 110 yards and two scores on 23 attempts in his return from a torn ACL. He might not be 100 percent just yet, but Lattimore is ready to carry to the load for the Gamecocks’ offense. And with Connor Shaw’s injury — the junior quarterback is questionable this week with a left shoulder bruise — South Carolina will lean on Lattimore quite a bit in the ensuing weeks. It was clear on Thursday night that Dylan Thomas, the No. 2 quarterback, isn’t ready to get the job done against a quality defense.
Next Game: East Carolina

5. Arkansas (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
5
Week 1 Result: Beat Jacksonville State 49-24
After a sluggish start — Arkansas trailed 14-7 early in the second quarter — the Razorbacks surged past Jacksonville State to claim a comfortable win in Fayetteville. Playing for the first time since the Sugar Bowl two years ago, tailback Knile Davis carried the ball 18 times for 70 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Mitchell, the No. 2 quarterback last year, caught four passes for 122 yards in his debut at wide receiver, and tight end Chris Gragg caught seven passes for 110 yards and two scores.
Next Game: UL Monroe

6. Tennessee (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
9
Week 1 Result: Beat NC State 35-21
Derek Dooley’s third season began with an impressive win over a quality ACC opponent. The Volunteers were terrific in the passing games and just good enough on the ground —  UT’s three tailbacks combined for 128 yards on 33 attempts — to keep the Wolfpack defense off balance. Quarterback Tyler Bray was sharp (333 yards and two touchdowns), but junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson was the story at the Georgia Dome. With Da’Rick Rogers now at Tennessee Tech, the Vols needed Patterson to live up to expectations — and he delivered by catching six passes for 93 yards and a TD and adding a 67-yard touchdown run.
Next Game: Georgia State

7. Missouri (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank: 8
Week 1 Result: Beat SE Louisiana 62-10
The Tigers raced out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 62-10 win in a tune-up for their SEC opener on Saturday vs. Georgia. James Franklin, who underwent major shoulder surgery in the spring, completed 13-of-21 for 131 yards and one touchdown. He will have to play better this week against a ferocious Georgia defense that will force him to prove his shoulder is 100 percent.
Next Game: Georgia

8. Texas A&M (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
9
Week 1 Result: Game with Louisiana Tech was postponed.
Next Game: Florida

9. Florida (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:

Week 1 Result: Beat Bowling Green 27-14
Florida fans hoping that the Gators’ offense, under new coordinator Brent Pease, would show dramatic improvement in Week 1 were sorely disappointed. The final numbers (365 yards and 27 points) weren’t terrible, but the Gators are going to struggle to move the ball once they get into league play. Jeff Driskel, who will start this week at Texas A&M, completed 10-of-16 for 114 yards and one touchdown. Florida had only one pass play that went for more than 18 yards.
Next Game: at Texas A&M

10. Auburn (0-1, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank: 7
Week 1 Result: Lost to Clemson 26-19
Auburn’s defense remains a work in progress. The Tigers, who gave up an average 421.1 yards in 10 games vs. AQ conference opponents in 2011, struggled to stop Clemson — despite giving up only 26 points. The biggest issue was defending the run; Clemson’s Andre Ellington rushed for 231 yards on an 8.9-yard average. Kiehl Frazier, making his first start at quarterback for Auburn, completed only 11-of-27 passes for 194 yards. The Tigers, however, did run the ball well. Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb combined for 188 yards on 26 carries.
Next Game: at Mississippi State

11. Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-1 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
11
Week 1 Result: Lost to South Carolina 17-13
The Commodores held a 13­-10 lead into the fourth quarterback but were unable to hold off South Carolina on Thursday night. Vanderbilt’s defense was strong, limiting the Gamecocks to 272 yards, but the offense didn’t make enough plays. The Dores came away with zero points on three drives that began in South Carolina territory, and they came away with a total of three points on two trips to the red zone.
Next Game: at Northwestern

12. Mississippi State (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
12
Week 1 Result: Beat Jackson State 56-9
The Bulldogs barely broke a sweat in a win over in-state “rival” Jackson State. Mississippi State’s offense showed nice balance, with 202 yards rushing and 193 yards passing. We will learn far more about this team when Auburn visits on Saturday.
Next Game: Auburn

13. Kentucky (0-1, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
14
Week 1 Result: Lost to Louisville 32-14
Joker Phillips didn’t need to win this game, but he needed his team to be competitive. Didn’t happen. The Cats had no answer for a balanced Louisville offense that moved the ball at will for the first two-and-a-half quarters. There were some positive signs. Sophomore quarterback Maxwell Smith looked decent, completing 35-of-50 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. Kentucky’s tailbacks also ran well, but the Cats were forced to abandon the running game after falling behind.
Next Game: Kent State

14. Ole Miss (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Preseason Rank:
13
Week 1 Result: Beat Central Arkansas 49-27
Ole Miss averted disaster by seizing control of the game with a 35-point second half. The Rebels trailed 20-14 until midway through the third quarter before scoring twice in a three-minute period. Bo Wallace, who beat out Barry Brunetti for the start, completed 20-of-24 passes for 264 yards with two TDs and one interception. 
Next Game: UTEP

by Mitch Light

@athlonmitch

Related College Football Content

ACC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Big 12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

College Football Week 1 Recap

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The first weekend of action in the ACC was a mixed bag of results. NC State missed an opportunity to earn the conference national respect in Friday night’s loss to Tennessee, but Clemson picked up a key win over Auburn on Saturday. Florida State dominated as expected in the matchup against Murray State. Miami and Virginia Tech earned the only two victories in conference play in Week 1.

Post-Week 1 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson – With a revamped offensive line, no one knew what to expect out of Clemson’s ground game in the opener. However, Ellington rushed for 228 yards on 25 attempts to lead the Tigers to a victory over Auburn.

2. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – A knee injury ended Bernard’s day a little early, but he scored three times and recorded 203 yards of total offense.

3. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson – Hopkins, Tajh Boyd or Logan Thomas are all worthy of this spot. Hopkins shined in Clemson’s victory over Auburn, catching 13 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown.

 

Post-Week 1 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – With Brandon Jenkins sidelined for the rest of the year, Werner needs to take his play up another notch.

2. Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland – The Terrapins’ new 3-4 scheme didn’t slow down Vellano, as he recorded 11 tackles and one interception in the win over William & Mary.

3. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina – There were few standout defensive performances in Week 1 in the ACC. Williams recorded two sacks in the Tar Heels’ victory over Elon.

 

Post-Week 1 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – The Seminoles were the preseason favorite to win the ACC and handled their business with a 69-3 thrashing of Murray State.

2. Dabo Swinney, Clemson – The defending ACC champs claimed a key non-conference victory with a 26-19 win over Auburn.

3. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech – Monday night’s win against Georgia Tech doesn’t guarantee a Coastal Division title, but it puts the Hokies in great shape after the first weekend of action.

 

Post-Week 1 ACC Power Rankings

1. Florida State (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
1
Week 1 Result: Beat Murray State 69-3
The outcome of the Week 1 matchup against Murray State was never in doubt. Florida State cruised to a 69-3 victory and even though the game was a one-sided affair, the contest allowed the coaching staff to get a good look at the revamped offensive line. The front five did not allow a sack and led the way for rushers to record 285 yards on the ground. The biggest news coming out of the opener was the loss of end Brandon Jenkins to a season-ending foot injury. Florida State has one more tuneup before ACC play, taking on another FCS opponent (Savannah State) this Saturday.
This week: Savannah State

2. Clemson (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
2
Week 1 Result: Beat Auburn 26-19
The Tigers had the most impressive victory among ACC teams in Week 1. Behind 266 total yards and one passing touchdown from quarterback Tajh Boyd, Clemson knocked off Auburn 26-19. The victory was huge for Clemson, but also the ACC as it looks to earn national respect. With star receiver Sammy Watkins suspended, DeAndre Hopkins emerged as the No. 1 target, catching 13 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown. Running back Andre Ellington was stellar, gashing Auburn for 231 yards on 26 attempts. The offensive line needs to work on pass protection but upcoming games against Furman and Ball State should allow the front five to jell before playing Florida State on Sept. 22.
This week: Ball State

3. Virginia Tech (1-0, 1-0 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
3
Week 1 Result: Beat Georgia Tech 20-17
The Hokies took an early lead in the battle to win the Coastal Division, edging Georgia Tech 20-17 in overtime. Virginia Tech’s offense struggled to get on track most of the night, with quarterback Logan Thomas making a few key plays late to send the game into overtime. The debut of running back Michael Holmes was solid, earning 54 yards on 12 carries. The Hokies have some time to work out the kinks on offense, as their next ACC game is Oct. 6 against North Carolina.
This week: Austin Peay

4. North Carolina (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
5
Week 1 Result: Beat Elon 62-0
Larry Fedora’s debut in Chapel Hill was a success. The Tar Heels recorded 62 points (the most by a North Carolina team since 1995) and the first shutout since 1999. Running back Giovani Bernard left early due to a minor knee injury but finished with 93 yards on the ground and three overall scores. The defense held Elon to 170 yards and recorded two sacks. North Carolina opens ACC play this Saturday with a matchup against in-state rival Wake Forest.
This week: at Wake Forest

5. Georgia Tech (0-1, 0-1 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
6
Week 1 Result: Lost to Virginia Tech 20-17
The Yellow Jackets nearly escaped Blacksburg with a victory, but instead return home with a 0-1 record in ACC play. The Hokies kept Georgia Tech’s rushing attack in check for most of the night, but quarterback Tevin Washington made a few key plays through the air to give his team a chance to win. However, his interception in overtime ended any hopes the Yellow Jackets had of pulling off the upset. s also had some bright spots on defense but failed to stop Virginia Tech on the final drive in the fourth quarter. Although the season is far from over, this is a huge loss in the race to win the ACC Coastal.
This week: Presbyterian

6. Virginia (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
Preseason Rank: 7
Week 1 Result: Beat Richmond 43-19
The Cavaliers continue to build momentum under coach Mike London, opening the 2012 season with a convincing 43-19 victory over Richmond. Michael Rocco edged Phillip Sims for the No. 1 quarterback spot in the fall and tightened his grip on the job, throwing for 311 yards and one touchdown on 25 completions. Running backs Kevin Parks and Perry Jones had a light workload but combined for 101 yards and three scores. The schedule gets a little tougher for Virginia this Saturday, as it hosts Penn State in the first meeting between these schools since 2002.
This week: Penn State

7. NC State (0-1, 0-0 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
4
Week 1 Result: Lost to Tennessee 35-21
Even though the result wasn’t that one-sided, the Wolfpack had to be the biggest disappointment in the ACC for Week 1. Quarterback Mike Glennon had a bad performance, tossing four picks on 46 attempts, while the rushing attack never really got on track. The secondary was expected to be among the best in the ACC but allowed 333 yards and two touchdowns to Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray. NC State looks to get back on track in Week 2 against Connecticut.
This Week: at Connecticut

8. Miami (1-0, 1-0 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
8
Week 1 Result: Beat Boston College 41-32
With a lot of youth and inexperience stepping into the starting lineup, Miami was a difficult team to get a read on in the preseason. The Hurricanes showed flashes of promise in the opener against Boston College, recording 415 yards and forcing three turnovers on defense. Quarterback Stephen Morris was a steady 28 of 45 for 207 yards, while freshman running back Duke Johnson was impressive, rushing for 135 yards on seven attempts. Miami’s defense struggled to stop the Eagles’ passing attack, which will be a concern against some of the teams in the ACC.
This week: at Kansas State

9. Duke (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
11
Week 1 Result: Beat FIU 46-26
The Blue Devils No. 1 goal for 2012 is to get to a bowl game, and the team took a step in the right direction with a 46-26 victory over FIU on Saturday. The Blue Devils allowed 513 yards to the Golden Panthers but made timely plays, including a blocked field goal return for a score at the end of the first half. The rushing attack still needs work, but quarterback Sean Renfree is off to a good start after throwing for 290 yards against FIU. Duke has a difficult test ahead in Week 2, as it travels west to take on Stanford.
This week: at Stanford

10. Wake Forest (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
9
Week 1 Result: Beat Liberty 20-17
There’s not much to say about the Demon Deacons’ Week 1 performance other than it was a victory. Squeaking by a FCS opponent is concerning, but Wake Forest’s Week 2 matchup against North Carolina will provide more insight into this team. Quarterback Tanner Price was steady in the opener, throwing for 195 yards and one score, while running back Josh Harris left early due to a concussion. The Demon Deacons allowed 363 yards to Liberty but recorded two sacks and generated two turnovers.
This week: North Carolina

11. Boston College (0-1, 0-1 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
12
Week 1 Result: Lost to Miami 41-32
There were positive signs for Boston College in the season opener against Miami but with a challenging schedule, the Eagles couldn’t afford to lose their first game. Quarterback Chase Rettig was missing two key players from the receiving corps but threw for 441 yards and two touchdowns. While Rettig’s play was a bright spot, Boston College’s defense had no answer for Miami. The Eagles allowed 41 points and 415 yards and gave up a few big plays to the Hurricanes’ offense. Boston College should get a victory in Week 2 against Maine, but the schedule doesn’t let up with Northwestern in Week 3 and Clemson in Week 5.
This week: Maine

12. Maryland (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
Preseason Rank:
10
Week 1 Result: Beat William & Mary 7-6
Ugly. That’s really the only way to describe the Terrapins’ opener against William & Mary. With quarterback C.J. Brown lost for the year with a torn ACL, true freshman Perry Hills took over as the starter. Hills completed 16 of 24 passes but tossed three picks. The offense managed only 236 yards but was bailed out by a defense that held the Tribe to just 229 yards and six points. With two new coordinators and a freshman quarterback, there will no doubt be growing pains for Maryland. However, the schedule only gets tougher from here, as the Terrapins visit Temple in Week 2.
This week: at Temple

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Related College Football Content

Big 12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
@athlonsteven</a></strong></span></p>" target="_blank">College Football Week 1 Recap

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Week 1 in the Big 12 was filled with non-conference games and some surprises. Oklahoma struggled in a 24-7 win at UTEP, while Texas Tech’s defense appears to be improved after a solid performance in the opener against Northwestern State. West Virginia was impressive against Marshall, while Baylor did not miss Robert Griffin against SMU.

Post-Week 1 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia – Smith was nearly perfect in Saturday’s win over Marshall, as he threw only four incompletions and passed for 323 yards and four touchdowns.

2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State – Klein didn’t have to do much with Kansas State in control in the second half against Missouri State, finishing with 223 total yards and two touchdowns.

3. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State – Randle barely broke a sweat in Saturday’s win over Savannah State, rushing for 107 yards and two touchdowns on six attempts.

Post-Week 1 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas – Jeffcoat didn’t have a spectacular debut, but he led the team with six tackles and recorded one quarterback hurry.

2. Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State – The Cyclones have one of the best linebacking corps in the nation, and Knott picked up where he left off last year. He recorded 11 tackles and one forced fumble in the win over Tulsa.

3. Isaiah Bruce, LB, West Virginia – Bruce turned in an impressive performance in the first game of his West Virginia career, recording 16 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one fumble recovery.

Post-Week 1 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia – The Mountaineers’ offense will be a handful for Big 12 defenses, but the defense has to get better if this team wants to win the conference championship.

2. Art Briles, Baylor – Robert Griffin will be missed, but Baylor has more depth than it has in years, and the defense showed improvement in Sunday’s win against SMU.

3. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State – Beating Savannah State won’t win Gundy any coach of the year honors, but he should be in the mix for this award if the Cowboys push for the Big 12 title once again.

Post-Week 1 Big 12 Power Rankings

1. Oklahoma (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Preseason Rank: 1
Week 1 Result: Beat UTEP 24-7
It wasn’t pretty, but the Sooners left El Paso with a 24-7 victory over UTEP. The offseason concerns about the offense continued in Saturday’s win, as Landry Jones was sacked three times, and this unit never seemed to find its rhythm. Dominique Whaley returned to the lineup after missing the final five games of last season with a significant ankle injury and rushed for 54 yards on 11 attempts. The rush defense struggled to slow down the Miners, especially with Casey Walker and Stacy McGee missing the game. Week 1 was a less than perfect effort, but the Sooners still have plenty of time to find the right answers.
This week: Florida A&M

2. Texas (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Preseason Rank: 2
Week 1 Result: Beat Wyoming 37-17
The Longhorns weren’t particularly impressive in the season opener but turned in an overall solid effort. The rushing attack generated 280 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback David Ash was an efficient 20 of 27 for 156 yards and one touchdown. Texas’ defense allowed Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith to throw for 276 yards but held the Cowboys’ offense to just eight points in the second half. The Longhorns will get another tuneup in Week 2 with New Mexico visiting Austin.
This week: New Mexico

3. West Virginia (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week’s Rank:
3
Week 1 Result: Beat Marshall 69-34
The Mountaineers’ offense picked up where it left off in the Orange Bowl, scoring 69 points to easily defeat Marshall. Quarterback Geno Smith was unstoppable, throwing for 323 yards and four touchdowns on 32 completions. He added 65 yards and one score on the ground. The offense wasn’t just about the pass, as Shawne Alston added 123 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The Mountaineers’ new 3-4 defense still needs some work, but the offense should score plenty of points in 2012.
Next Game: James Madison (9/15)

4. Oklahoma State (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Preseason Rank: 4
Week 1 Result: Beat Savannah State 84-0
Savannah State was one of the worst FCS teams last season, so it’s hard to takeaway much for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys easily cruised to an 84-0 victory and was able to play a ton of players thanks to the blowout. True freshman quarterback Wes Lunt was perfect in his first start, completing all 11 of his passes for 129 yards. Running back Joseph Randle was also effective in limited work, rushing for 107 yards and two touchdowns on six attempts. The road gets tougher for Oklahoma State this Saturday, as it travels to Tucson to take on Arizona. The Cowboys beat the Wildcats 37-14 last year, but this will be a huge test for Lunt in his first road start.
This week: at Arizona

5. TCU (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Preseason Rank: 5
Week 1 Result: Did not play
The Horned Frogs had the rare Week 1 bye, so they will have to wait until this Saturday to play their first game as a Big 12 member. TCU will open a newly renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium with FCS opponent Grambling, a team that lost 22-21 to Alcorn State in Week 1. The Horned Frogs should have no trouble opening up the 2012 season with a victory, but the coaching staff will be eager to see how much a revamped offensive line and linebacking corps will perform.
This week: Grambling

6. Kansas State (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Preseason Rank: 6
Week 1 Result: Beat Missouri State 51-9
Bill Snyder kept things basic in the Wildcats’ 51-9 blowout win over Missouri State. Kansas State led only 9-6 at halftime but scored 42 points in the second half to cruise to the victory. Quarterback Collin Klein threw for 169 yards and two scores, while adding 54 yards on the ground. The Wildcats’ secondary was tested by FBS transfer quarterback Ashton Glaser, as he threw for 257 yards on 22 completions. Expect Kansas State to pickup the intensity in Week 2, as it hosts Miami this Saturday.
This week: Miami (Fla.)

7. Baylor (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Preseason Rank:
7
Week 1 Result: Beat SMU 59-24
Robert who? Nick Florence showed Baylor’s offense still has plenty of firepower, throwing for 342 yards and four touchdowns in the 59-24 rout over SMU. The senior quarterback also completed 70 percent of his throws and did not toss an interception. Florence had plenty of help from his receiving corps, and a rushing attack that was led by Jarred Salubi. Baylor’s defense allowed over 500 yards but showed signs of improvement after struggling in 2011. The Bears do not play in Week 2 and will return to action in Week 3 against Sam Houston State.
This week: Sam Houston State (9/15)

8. Iowa State (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Preseason Rank: 9
Week 1 Result: Beat Tulsa 38-23
The Cyclones weren’t given much respect going into the Week 1 matchup against Tulsa, as the folks in Vegas listed Iowa State as a home underdog. However, the Cyclones rallied from a 16-7 deficit after the first quarter to win 38-23. Steele Jantz won a close competition with Jared Barnett for the starting quarterback spot, and he responded with 281 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Shontrelle Johnson showed no ill-effects from a neck injury that sidelined him most of last year, rushing for 120 yards and one score on 18 attempts. Beating Tulsa is just one victory, but with a difficult schedule, Iowa State needed this one to have any shot at making a bowl.
This week: at Iowa

9. Texas Tech (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Preseason Rank: 8
Week 1 Result: Beat Northwestern State 44-6
Northwestern State wasn’t the toughest of Week 1 tests, but Texas Tech has to be pleased with its performance. The defense did not allow a touchdown and limited the Demons to just 84 yards. After struggling on defense the last two years, Saturday’s performance was a welcomed sight for coach Tommy Tuberville. The other good sign was the return of running back Eric Stephens. After suffering a significant knee injury last season, Stephens looked ready for Big 12 play by rushing for 58 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts.
This week: at Texas State

10. Kansas (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Preseason Rank: 10
Week 1 Result: Beat South Dakota State 31-17
The Jayhawks opened up the Charlie Weis era with a much-needed 31-17 victory over South Dakota State. The win snapped a 10-game losing streak and should help this team build some confidence. Quarterback Dayne Crist completed 17 of 36 throws for 169 yards and one touchdown in his Kansas debut, while running back Tony Pierson chipped in 124 yards and two scores. The defense was awful last season, and there’s still plenty of work to be done after allowing 411 yards in the opener.
This week: Rice

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Related College Football Content

ACC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
@athlonsteven</a></strong></span></p>" target="_blank">College Football Week 1 Recap

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We’re not afraid to admit that we swing and miss on quite a few players leading up to Week 1.  The college game does not have a preseason, and as a result, many players slip under the radar and burst onto the scene during the opening weekend.  Take advantage of the players available because the waiver wire will become shorter and shorter as the season progresses.  If you do not have a lot of confidence in your roster after Week 1, this is the perfect time to start rebuilding.  If you feel great about you team right now, grab some depth and play keep-away from your league adversaries.  

College Fantasy Football's Best Pickups Post-Week 1

Taylor McHargue, QB-Rice

UCLA’s defense is a lot better than those in C-USA and McHargue threw two TD passes and ran for another score, while carrying the ball 22 times for 95 yards against the Bruins.

Jeremy Wright, RB-Louisville

Wright took advantage of teammate Dominique’s Brown pre-game injury by running for 105 yards and three scores against Kentucky.  If Brown does not return this week, Wright should do even more damage against Missouri State in Week 2.

Jarred Salubi, RB-Baylor

We rolled the dice with Seastrunk on draft day.  We were wrong.  Salubi got the nod in Week 1 and ran for 91 yards and a score on only 13 carries against SMU.

Ameer Abdullah, RB-Nebraska

Abdullah filled in nicely for starter Rex Burkhead, who sprained his MCL in the first half against Southern Miss.  If Burkhead cannot go in Week 2, Abdullah is more than capable of shouldering the load at UCLA.

Shawn Southward, RB-Troy

Southward was on our radar leading up to the season, but little did we know he was going to carry the ball 28 times for 204 yards and three touchdowns against UAB.

Beau Blankenship, RB-Ohio

Blankenship proved to be a workhorse against Penn State by toting the rock 31 times for 109 yards and the schedule should only get easier.

Trey Watts, RB-Tulsa

We liked Watts during the preseason because of his versatility, and he didn’t disappoint by running for 125 yards and adding another 31 yards on three receptions against Iowa State in Week 1.

Duke Johnson, RB-Miami

Some were wise to scoop up the freshman on draft day, but Johnson may have gone undrafted in some leagues.  Two scoring runs of 50-plus yards against Boston College in Week 1 only fueled the preseason hype.

Damon Bullock, RB-Iowa

We listed Bullock on our Emergency Starters list Friday and he responded by running for 150 yards and a score on 30 carries against Northern Illinois. 

Deandre Martin, RB-Wake Forest

Starting running back Josh Harris left in the first quarter with an injury, which seems to be a recurring theme.  Freshman Deandre Martin filled in nicely by running for 74 yards and a touchdown.  Maybe it’s time to move on from the oft-injured Harris.

Kenny Hilliard, RB-LSU

We had Hilliard rated the highest of all LSU running backs leading up to draft day.  The sophomore is making us look good after running for 141 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1.

LaDarius Perkins, RB-Mississippi State

The fantasy potential is there in the Bulldogs’ spread attack.  Perkins has the ability to duplicate Vick Ballard’s numbers from a year ago.

David Oku, RB-Arkansas State

We jumped on Oku in every draft this season, especially after Auburn transfer Michael Dyer was denied immediate eligibility and was eventually booted from the program.  He looks to be the second-best fantasy back in the Sun Belt behind FIU’s Kendrick Rhodes.

Lanear Sampson, WR-Baylor

We debated Sampson or Tevin Reese as Baylor’s WR#2 in the preseason.  After Week 1, we think the speedy senior has more fantasy potential.

Jackie Williams, WR-UAB

Williams was one of our under-the-radar receivers in the preseason.  After catching 6 passes for 157 yards against Troy in Week 1, Williams should be owned in every league.

Demetrius Fields, WR-Northwestern

While all of the preseason attention was focused on quarterback Kain Colter, Fields has quietly emerged as Jeremy Ebert’s replacement at the inside receiver position.

Marcus Sales, WR-Syracuse

While fellow receiver Alec Lemon missed Week 1 with an injury, Sales caught 11 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, and showed why we were so high on him in 2011 before his season-long suspension.

Jaime Wilson, WR-Western Michigan

We were wondering who Alex Carder’s favorite target would be this season.  After Week 1, Wilson had as many catches as Eric Monette and Josh Schaffer combined. 

Davante Adams, WR-Fresno State

We all know that the Fresno State offense revolves around running back Robbie Rouse, but Adams emerged as the big-play receiver quarterback Derek Carr needs.

Austin Hill and Dan Buckner, WRs-Arizona

The Wildcats are going to put the ball in the air often, especially in Rich Rodriguez’s spread attack.  In Week 1, Buckner led the team in receptions (10), and Hill led the team in receiving yards (139).  Neither may be a WR#1 or WR#2, but either could be a legitimate fantasy WR#3.


by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

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Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football Post-Week 1 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 05:17
Path: /college-football/florida-state-loses-brandon-jenkins-national-title-hopes-take-hit
Body:

Florida State cruised to an easy 69-3 victory over Murray State in Week 1, but the win came at a heavy price. Senior defensive end Brandon Jenkins suffered a season-ending foot injury, which is a huge blow to one of the nation’s best defenses.

In his first three seasons in Tallahassee, Jenkins recorded 21.5 sacks and 36.5 tackles for a loss. He also forced two fumbles and registered 116 tackles.

Even though Florida State has depth on the defensive line, losing a player of Jenkins’ caliber will hurt its chances of making a run at the national title. And it's the second departure on the Seminoles' defense, as Greg Reid was dismissed from the team in the preseason.

Junior Bjoern Werner is an underrated performer on one side of the line, and he will be forced to pickup more of the pass rush the rest of the season. Werner had five tackles for a loss and four sacks in Saturday’s victory over Murray State. With Jenkins out, look for Werner to see more attention from opposing offensive lines the rest of the year.

While losing Jenkins doesn’t eliminate or knock out Florida State from the national title picture, it definitely hurts its chances. The Seminoles still have one of college football’s top defenses, but with an offense that’s finding its footing, the defense needs to carry this team early in the year.

Werner is clearly locked into one spot, but the other end position will be watched closely the rest of the season. The Seminoles listed redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry as Jenkins’ backup for the opener against Murray State, but senior Cornellius Carradine is expected to slide into the starting role. Newberry ranked as one of the top 100 prospects coming out of high school and recorded two tackles in the opener. Carradine was a huge junior college recruit and played in all 13 contests last year, registering 38 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

Considering it usually takes a year for junior college recruits to adjust to FBS play, Carradine’s performance in 2011 was impressive. And he continued to build on that performance with nine tackles and one sack in the season opener against Murray State. Carradine could be an All-ACC player for Florida State this season, but the Seminoles should be concerned about the depth.

With Carradine sliding into a starting role, senior Toshmon Stevens and true freshman Mario Edwards Jr. will have to see a few more snaps each week. Edwards was one of the top recruits in the country and was expected to redshirt before Jenkins’ injury. Although Edwards is talented, it may take him a couple of weeks to get acclimated to FBS play.

Even though Florida State is equipped to handle the loss of Jenkins, an injury to Werner or Carradine would be devastating.

Jenkins has a redshirt season available, so he could return to the team in 2013. However, he was expected to be a top defensive prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft and may not decide to return to Tallahassee.

Jenkins was one of the nation’s top returning defenders, as he ranked as Athlon’s No. 9 defensive end for 2012 and the No. 6 overall player in the ACC. He was also a third-team Athlon Sports All-American for 2012 and a first-team All-ACC selection.
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Related College Football Content

ACC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

SEC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

College Football Week 1 Recap

Teaser:
<p> Brandon Jenkins: Star Florida State DE's Injury Hampers National Title Hopes</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 05:07
All taxonomy terms: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/nebraskas-rex-burkhead-suffers-knee-injury-against-southern-miss
Body:

Nebraska's offense suffered a huge loss during Saturday's game against Southern Miss. Running back Rex Burkhead suffered a sprained MCL in the first half against the Golden Eagles and was ruled out for the remainder of the opener.

During his limited work against Southern Miss, Burkhead rushed for 68 yards and one touchdown on three attempts.

Without Burkhead, Nebraska will have to lean on Ameer Abdullah and Mike Marrow to carry the workload on the ground. 

Burkhead is one of the nation's top running backs after rushing for 1,357 yards and 15 scores last season. He is expected to be one of the Big Ten's top performers in 2012 and his status will be something to watch over the next couple of days.

With a road trip to UCLA coming up in Week 2, Nebraska has to be concerned about Burkhead's health. If he can't go against the Bruins, quarterback Taylor Martinez will have to shoulder more of the load on offense.

And there's the possibility that Burkhead could be out even longer than Week 2 with a knee injury. However, Nebraska's first Big Ten game isn't until Sept. 29, which should give plenty of time for Burkhead to heal if the injury is one that could keep him out a few weeks.

Teaser:
<p> Nebraska's Rex Burkhead Suffers Knee Injury Against Southern Miss</p>
Post date: Saturday, September 1, 2012 - 17:03
Path: /news/ohio-states-devin-smith-makes-ridiculous-catch-against-miami-ohio
Body:

It's only Week 1 of the 2012 college football season, but Ohio State's Devin Smith might have made one of the best plays we will see all season. 

Smith grabbed this one-handed catch from quarterback Braxton Miller in the second quarter of Saturday's game against Miami (Ohio). 

One of the biggest questions facing Ohio State's offense was the receiving corps, but Smith should become a bigger weapon if he continues to make catches like this one.

Teaser:
<p> Ohio State's Devin Smith Makes a Ridiculous Catch Against Miami (Ohio)</p>
Post date: Saturday, September 1, 2012 - 13:29
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-1-preview-match-ups-upset-picks-and-storylines-watch
Body:

Week 1 of the college football season features several interesting matchups, storylines and new faces stepping into playing time. Athlon gets you ready for the opening Saturday of action with an in-depth look at Week 1.

Top Storylines to Watch for Week 1

1. Two of the weekend’s most intriguing games take place in Atlanta, starting with NC State-Tennessee on Friday night. The Wolfpack are a popular sleeper pick in the ACC, while the Volunteers look to get back on track after a disappointing 5-7 record last season. Even though receiver Da’Rick Rogers was a head case, his departure will impact Tennessee’s offense. Without Rogers, NC State can shift All-American cornerback David Amerson to Hunter, leaving talented, but unproven junior college recruit Cordarrelle Patterson as the Volunteers’ No. 2 receiver. Tennessee’s Tyler Bray and NC State’s Mike Glennon are two of the top 15 quarterbacks in the nation, but whichever offense can establish the run (and some balance) will likely come out on top. The ACC’s needs marquee non-conference wins, and NC State could give the conference one on Friday night.

2. Even with significant personnel losses, Boise State will be in the mix for a BCS bowl in 2012. However, the Broncos have a huge opening week test at Michigan State. The Spartans will be breaking in a new quarterback (Andrew Maxwell), but the defense could be the best in the Big Ten. Michigan State will test Boise State in the trenches, especially on defense where the Broncos are replacing all four starters from last year. The Broncos have never lost an opener under coach Chris Petersen. However, that record will be put to the test against a talented and deep Michigan State roster. Considering the new faces stepping into playing time, could we see Boise State pull out a few trick plays to keep the Spartans on their toes?

3. Saturday’s matchup between Ohio State and Miami (Ohio) should be a one-sided affair. However, it’s a big day in Columbus, as the Buckeyes open up play under new coach Urban Meyer. A postseason ban has left Ohio State with nothing to play for, but this team should contend for the Big Ten’s best overall record. This game will be the first opportunity to see how the Buckeyes’ new spread offense looks and how much quarterback Braxton Miller has improved over the offseason. In addition to Miller’s improvement, Ohio State has a core of young players expected to see significant snaps, while the offensive line was a question mark after spring practice. It’s a long ways away from thinking about 2013. However, if the Buckeyes improve as expected, this team could be in the top five when next year’s preseason polls are released.

4. The second of the ACC-SEC Week 1 clashes in Atlanta features a Clemson team hoping to rebound after a disappointing end to 2011, while Auburn looks to get back on track after an 8-5 record last year. Both teams will be without key players, as Clemson’s Sammy Watkins is facing a two-game suspension, while starting center Reese Dismukes is suspended for Auburn. Even with Watkins suspended, Clemson has plenty of firepower to win this game. However, the key battle to watch will be in the trenches, as Clemson’s offensive line is a question mark, and Auburn’s defensive line could be one of the best in the SEC. Getting pressure on quarterback Tajh Boyd is Auburn’s best chance to win, but Clemson will counter with a quick-strike passing attack. Just like NC State matching up against Tennessee, this game represents an opportunity for Clemson to earn a key win for the ACC.

5. Speaking of conferences and key victories, the Big Ten has an opportunity to earn a huge non-conference win against the SEC on Saturday night. Michigan faces an uphill battle to beat Alabama, but a win by the Wolverines would help bolster the Big Ten’s reputation and place them squarely in the mix as a national title contender. However, the Crimson Tide’s strengths (offensive and defensive lines) are also where Michigan has question marks. Winning the battle in the trenches will be crucial to the Wolverines’ chances at an upset bid.

6. It’s been a long offseason in Happy Valley, so Saturday’s game against Ohio can’t get here fast enough for Penn State. There’s some momentum with a new coaching staff, but the Nittany Lions need to find weapons on offense, while finding a way to slow down Bobcats’ quarterback Tyler Tettleton. New coach Bill O’Brien will have his work cut out for him over the next couple of years, and if the offense struggles to find its footing, Ohio will have a chance to exit Happy Valley with a victory.

7. With Texas being a heavy favorite against Wyoming, it’s hard to glean much from the Longhorns opener. However, this game will be a good opportunity for quarterback David Ash to show he’s clearly the No. 1 quarterback over Case McCoy. Ash doesn’t need to throw 30-40 times every game, but he has to stretch the field and give Texas some balance. If the sophomore can cut down on his mistakes, the Longhorns will push for the Big 12 title. If Ash struggles on Saturday, the door will be open for McCoy to steal snaps away for Week 2.

8. Quarterbacks Making Their First Start

Brett Hundley, UCLA – Hundley shined in his debut against Rice, recording over 300 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. The Owls weren’t exactly the toughest competition, but Hundley looked poised and in control.

Kiehl Frazier, Auburn – Frazier played in all 13 games last season but was recruited to run Gus Malzahn’s up-tempo offense. How will the sophomore transition to a pro-style offense? His first test won’t be easy, as Auburn takes on Clemson Saturday night in Atlanta.

Everett Golson, Notre Dame – Golson has yet to take a snap on the FBS level, but there’s a lot of confidence in him going into Saturday’s game against Navy. The dual-threat quarterback should thrive in Brian Kelly’s offense.

Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State – Repeating as Big 12 champs won’t be easy, but the Cowboys should be in good hands with Lunt under center.

Marcus Mariota, Oregon – The Hawaii native is a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s offense and should have a monster debut against Arkansas State.

Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State – Not only was Kirk Cousins one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks, but he was a valuable leader for this team. Maxwell has very little experience but can lean on a solid rushing attack and offensive line.

Zach Mettenberger, LSU – After watching Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee struggle to stretch the field last season, Mettenberger appears to be the missing piece for LSU’s passing attack.

Josh Nunes, Stanford – Nunes has some of the biggest shoes to fill in college football as he looks to replace Andrew Luck.

Joe Southwick, Boise State – There’s really no way Boise State can replace Kellen Moore in 2012. Southwick will be making his first start this season and drew a tough opener on the road against Michigan State.

David Piland, Houston – Case Keenum is gone, but Houston’s high-powered offense shouldn’t drop too far with Piland at the controls.

Perry Hills, Maryland – With C.J. Brown out for the year due to a torn ACL, Hills (a true freshman) will get the controls to Maryland’s offense. After a disappointing 2-10 season last year, there’s a lot of pressure on the Terrapins to turn things around in 2012.

Bo Wallace, Ole Miss – New Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze coached Wallace at Arkansas State, and the sophomore edged Barry Brunetti for the starting nod this fall.
 

9. 6 Potential Upsets

Ohio at Penn State
It’s a new era at Penn State, but the Nittany Lions lost a handful of key players after the NCAA sanctions were handed down. An offense that struggled to move the ball last season will have some trouble adjusting to a new scheme, especially with the departure of running back Silas Redd. The Bobcats won 10 games last year and bring back quarterback Tyler Tettleton, who threw for 3,302 yards and 28 scores last year.
My pick: Ohio 24-20

Western Michigan at Illinois
Another Big Ten-MAC matchup ranks high on the list of possible upsets for Week 1. The Broncos are led by senior quarterback Alex Carder, but the Fighting Illini will counter with a defense that led the Big Ten in pass defense last season. Keep a close watch on Illinois’ offense. There’s some talent returning, but a new scheme could provide for some headaches early.
My pick: Illinois 27-24

FIU at Duke
The Blue Devils are dealing with a handful of injuries, including a couple to key contributors on defense. FIU nearly knocked off Duke last season, losing 31-27 in early October. The Golden Panthers return 17 starters and should give the Blue Devils all they can handle.
My pick: Duke 31-28

Indiana State at Indiana
The Sycamores were one of the worst teams in FCS play from 2005-2008, winning just one game during that span. Indiana State has improved under coach Trent Miles and could give its in-state rivals trouble on Saturday. The Hoosiers struggled in their first season under coach Kevin Wilson but should be improved in 2012.
My pick: Indiana 34-20

Toledo at Arizona
Expect a lot of points in this Week 1 battle. The Rockets no longer have Eric Page catching passes, but the offense returns two proven quarterbacks and a breakout player at running back in David Fluellen. The Wildcats may need some time to adjust to their new schemes but should find a way to edge Toledo on Saturday.
My pick: Arizona 37-30

NC State vs. Tennessee (Atlanta)
No one would really be surprised if Tennessee lost this game, but the Volunteers are the favorite. Without Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee needs a big performance from receiver Justin Hunter, who is coming off a torn ACL.
My pick: NC State 31-27
 

10. Notable player absences

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – Watkins is the biggest absence for Week 1. The sophomore is suspended for the first two games of the season due to an offseason arrest, and there’s no question he will be missed. Clemson has depth at receiver, but it won’t be easy replacing an All-American.

Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh? – Graham hasn’t been officially ruled out, but all signs point to him sitting out the opener. The Panthers have capable backups in Isaac Bennett and Rushel Shell.

Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame – Rees is suspended for the first game of the year due to an off-the-field incident in early May. Barring a complete collapse by Everett Golson, Rees may not start again for Notre Dame this season.

Cierre Wood, RB, Notre Dame – Wood is suspended for the first two games, which leaves a gaping hole in the Notre Dame backfield. USC transfer Amir Carlisle is not ready to play, leaving Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III as the top two backs.

Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan? – Brady Hoke has not decided whether or not Toussaint will sit out Saturday night’s game against Alabama. If Toussaint does not play, look for Thomas Rawls, Vincent Smith and Justice Hayes to carry the Wolverines’ ground attack.

Georgia suspensions – Cornerback Sanders Commings is suspended for the first two games, but the coaching staff has yet to announce any penalties for linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo for offseason incidents.

James Sims, RB, Kansas – Sims is suspended for the opener due to an off-the-field incident. Tony Pierson will fill in as Kansas’ No. 1 back.

Jeff Scott, RB, Ole Miss – One of the few offensive playmakers for the Rebels will miss the season opener against Central Arkansas due to a back injury.

Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami – Henderson has been a bust since coming to Miami and will sit out the opener after missing practices in August.
 

11. Three Mystery Teams to Watch in Week 1

1. Florida - Is it Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel at quarterback? Also, do the Gators have any playmakers at wide receiver or running back?

2. Iowa – The Hawkeyes have a new offensive coordinator (Greg Davis) and several new faces in the front four on defense.

3. Miami – The Hurricanes have a lot of youth stepping into key roles on both sides of the ball and there’s a NCAA investigation still hanging over the program. It’s not crazy to think the opener against Boston College could decide whether or not Miami gets to a bowl game.
 

12. First-year coaches who should start off with a bang

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State (vs. Miami (Ohio)
Buckeyes shouldn’t have much trouble with Miami (Ohio).

2. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh (vs. Youngstown State)
Look for the Panthers to allow quarterback Tino Sunseri to build some confidence, as he should throw early and often against Youngstown State.

3. Larry Fedora, North Carolina (vs. Elon)
The Tar Heels are ineligible to play for the conference title or in a bowl game, but Fedora’s up-tempo offense should be fun to watch in Chapel Hill in 2012.

4. John L. Smith, Arkansas (vs. Jacksonville State)
After a tumultuous offseason, the Razorbacks will be glad to see the 2012 season begin.

5. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss (vs. Central Arkansas)
Victories will be tough for the Rebels to find this year, but Freeze should get his tenure in Oxford off to a good start with an easy win over Central Arkansas.


13. Familiar faces, new places

Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas (from Colorado) vs. South Dakota State
Crist is a key piece in the rebuilding efforts at Kansas. The senior knows Charlie Weis’ system and should give the Jayhawks a spark on offense. Kansas has lost 10 consecutive games, but that streak will end on Saturday night with Crist under center.

Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU (from Texas) vs. Baylor
Gilbert returns to the Big 12 with a non-conference matchup against Baylor. The Bears struggled on defense last season, but the Mustangs could struggle to exploit those question marks with a rebuilt offensive line.

Cody Green, QB, Tulsa (from Nebraska) vs. Iowa State
In a bit of a surprise, Tulsa is a slight favorite against Iowa State on Saturday. Green should be a good fit as G.J. Kinne’s replacement under center and certainly won’t be intimated after playing at Nebraska.

Montel Harris, RB, Temple (from Boston College) vs. Villanova
With Bernard Pierce moving onto the NFL, Harris is the perfect complement to Matt Brown in the backfield. Harris has battled knee injuries the last two seasons and will get a chance to show he is 100 percent on Friday night against the Wildcats.

Ryan Katz, QB, San Diego State (from Oregon State) vs. Washington
Katz struggled last year after a promising 2010 season. If he can get back on track, the Aztecs will test Washington’s defense and new coordinator Justin Wilcox.

Danny O’Brien, QB, Wisconsin (from Maryland) vs. Northern Iowa
The Badgers hope another transfer from the ACC is the answer under center. O’Brien won’t match Russell Wilson’s effectiveness, but he should be a solid option for Wisconsin this season. Expect O’Brien to get off to a good start in the opener against Northern Iowa.

Silas Redd, RB, USC (from Penn State) vs. Hawaii
Redd is the highest-profile name on the list and will play a key role in USC’s run at a national title. The Trojans are heavy favorites against Hawaii, so the junior probably won’t see a heavy workload. However, it will be interesting to see how Redd and Curtis McNeal share carries on Saturday.

Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor (from Oregon) vs. SMU
Yes, Robert Griffin will be missed, but the cupboard isn’t bare in Waco. Seastrunk’s big-play ability will help Baylor’s offense overcome the absence of the Heisman Trophy winner. Seastrunk did not play at Oregon but was one of the nation’s top recruits in 2010. SMU’s run defense allowed 118.3 yards per game last season but that will be tested by the Texas native on Sunday.

Jordan Webb, QB, Colorado (from Kansas) vs. Colorado State
Webb edged Texas transfer Connor Wood for the starting job in the fall. In two years as Kansas’ quarterback, he threw for 3,079 yards and 20 touchdowns.


Week 1 Predictions

Alabama 31, Michigan 13
Arizona 37, Toledo 30
Arkansas 52, Jacksonville State 13
Baylor 38, SMU 24
California 31, Nevada 27
Clemson 27, Auburn 24
Colorado 27, Colorado State 20
Duke 31, FIU 28
Florida 37, Bowling Green 17
Florida State 48, Murray State 10
Georgia 49, Buffalo 13
Illinois 27, Western Michigan 24
Indiana 34, Indiana State 20
Iowa 27, Northern Illinois 20
Iowa State 30, Tulsa 27
Kansas 38, South Dakota State 13
Kansas State 45, Missouri State 7
Louisville 27, Kentucky 17
LSU 51, North Texas 10
Maryland 34, William & Mary 14
Miami 24, Boston College 20
Michigan State 27, Boise State 17
Mississippi State 40, Jackson State 10
Missouri 45, SE Louisiana 7
NC State 31, Tennessee 27
Nebraska 38, Southern Miss 13
North Carolina 45, Elon 10
Northwestern 31, Syracuse 27
Ohio 24, Penn State 20
Ohio State 45, Miami (Ohio) 13
Oklahoma 45, UTEP 10
Oklahoma State 55, Savannah State 3
Ole Miss 38, Central Arkansas 10
Oregon 51, Arkansas State 20
Pittsburgh 41, Youngstown State 13
Purdue 41, Eastern Kentucky 10
Rutgers 38, Tulane 13
South Florida 45, Chattanooga 7
Stanford 44, San Jose State 7
Temple 40, Villanova 10
Texas 38, Wyoming 10
Texas Tech 52, Northwestern State 7
USC 55, Hawaii 10
Virginia 38, Richmond 7
Virginia Tech 31, Georgia Tech 24
Wake Forest 38, Liberty 13
Washington 40, San Diego State 17
West Virginia 44, Marshall 20
Wisconsin 45, Northern Iowa 7

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 1 Preview: Match-Ups, Upset Picks and Storylines to Watch</p>
Post date: Friday, August 31, 2012 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /news/kent-states-andre-parker-pulls-jim-marshall-fumble-return-against-towson
Body:

Kent State linebacker Andre Parker made the news for all of the wrong reasons on Thursday night. In a game Kent State had clear control of, Parker picked up a muffed punt in the first half and returned it the wrong way. 

It's the first week of the season, so mistakes are going to be made. However, it's hard to understand why Parker never realized he was headed the wrong way.

The ball was technically dead after Parker touched it, but the referees did not blow the whistle, which allowed one of the strangest plays we might see all year to occur.

An underrated part of the video is Parker appears to get up after the run and talk trash to the Towson defenders. 

Needless to say, this is a play Parker would probably like to forget.

Teaser:
<p> Kent State's Andre Parker Pulls a Jim Marshall With Fumble Return Against Towson</p>
Post date: Friday, August 31, 2012 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/sec-week-1-preview-and-predictions-2012
Body:

The first week of action in the SEC features an interesting slate of games. South Carolina-Vanderbilt open conference play on Thursday night, while Auburn and Alabama have a chance to earn key non-conference victories on Saturday. Tennessee takes on NC State on Friday night, and Kentucky travels to in-state rival Louisville on Sunday. 

SEC's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 1

1. What can Alabama do to slow down Denard Robinson?
Robinson will be the most dangerous offensive player Alabama will face this season. But Michigan’s senior quarterback has struggled throwing the ball against elite defenses — he completed 9-of-24 against Michigan State and 9-of-21 against Virginia Tech last season — and Alabama will make the man called Shoelace prove that can he move the ball by throwing it downfield. I would expect Nick Saban, Kirby Smart & Co. will make it very difficult for Robinson to pick up large chunks of yards on ground. Sure, Robinson will make some plays scrambling out of the pocket, but I’d be surprised if he has much success on designed running plays.

2. Can Tennessee get its ground game going?
Recently, much has been made about the dismissal of All-SEC wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers, but the focus for Tennessee has to be on the running game. Last season, the Vols ranked last in the SEC in rushing and averaged an anemic 2.3 yards per carry vs. conference foes. That simply has to improve. It’s very difficult to beat good teams if you can’t run the ball — no matter how potent you might be in the passing game. There is talent on the offensive line, but the group has underachieved in recent years. New position coach Sam Pittman, formerly of North Carolina, must get his linemen to play with more physicality if the Vols are to show significant improvement in the running game.

3. Kiehl Frazier makes his first start for Auburn
Frazier was hand-picked by former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn to run Malzahn’s no-huddle attack. Well, Malzahn is now the head coach at Arkansas State, and Scot Loefler — who runs a pro-style offense — is calling the plays at Auburn. Frazier played in every game last year but was used almost exclusively as a runner. He attempted only five passes (completing two) while running the ball 76 times for 327 yards. It will be interesting to see how much Frazier is asked to do Saturday night vs. Clemson at the Georgia Dome.

4. Florida’s quarterback derby
Will Muschamp announced earlier this week that both quarterbacks — Jacoby Brisett and Jeff Driskel — will play Saturday vs. Bowling Green. One will play the first quarter and the other will play in the second quarter. At the half, Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease will decide who plays the rest of the way. This doesn’t sound promising, but don’t forget that Alabama was in a similar situation last season. AJ McCarron and Philip Sims both played against Kent State in the opener, allowing the staff to get a look at each quarterback in game situations. McCarron was tabbed the starter for Week 2 and went on to enjoy an outstanding season. Could it happen in Gainesville?

5. James Franklin’s right shoulder
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has assured us that Franklin, his standout junior quarterback, will be completely recovered from surgery on his throwing shoulder in the spring. Franklin has looked good in preseason camp and is said to be making all the throws. Still, he needs to prove he can get it done in a real game, so it’s important that Franklin plays well Saturday night against Southeastern Louisiana. Missouri will no doubt win the game and roll up a ton of yards, but keep an eye on Franklin. If he is truly 100 percent, the Tigers will have an opportunity to knock off Georgia in the program’s first-ever SEC game in Week 2.

6. Kentucky’s rushing yards
How important is it for Kentucky to run the ball well vs. Louisville? Well consider the following: The team that has won the rushing battle has won the last 13 Kentucky-Louisville games. Also, the Wildcats are 8–0 under Joker Phillips when rushing for 200-plus yards. UK ranked 90th in the nation and 11th in the SEC in rushing last season, but the coaching staff believes the 2012 Cats will be much-improved on the ground thanks to the return of veterans CoShik Williams, Raymond Sanders and Jonathan George.

7. Zach Mettenberger’s first start
When he signed with Georgia as a 4-star recruit in 2009, Mettenberger probably didn’t think it would be four years before he would be starting his first game in the FBS ranks. But that is the reality for the 6-5, 230-pound fourth-year junior who arrived at LSU after a stop at Butler (Kan.) Community College. The strong-armed Mettenberger could be the missing link on an offense that struggled to throw the ball against quality competition last season. The Tigers boast one of the nation’s top offensive lines, are loaded at tailback, and feature some quality young weapons at wide receiver. If Mettenberger plays well, this offense will be very difficult to stop.  

8. Georgia starting a true freshman at right tackle
The Bulldogs are the popular pick to repeat in the SEC East, but this still a team with some issues heading into the 2012 season. The biggest concern could be on the offensive line, where Georgia must replace three seniors. This weekend, all eyes will be on John Theus, a true freshman who will get the start at right tackle. There will obviously be more difficult tests down the road, but Buffalo features some decent talent on defense, especially on its front seven. It’s a safe bet that UB defensive coordinator Lou Tepper — yes, the former Illinois head coach is still around — will try to confuse Theus and the Dawgs’ offensive line. 


Week 1 SEC Predictions
 

Week 1 SEC PredictionsDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
South Carolina (-8) at VanderbiltSouth Carolina 28-14South Carolina 31-21South Carolina 27-24South Carolina 28-24
Tennessee (-3) vs. NC State (Atlanta)NC State 17-14Tennessee 34-31NC State 31-27Tennessee 34-27
Buffalo at Georgia (-38)Georgia 42-7Georgia 49-10Georgia 49-13Georgia 41-10
Bowling Green at Florida (-29)Florida 28-7Florida 24-0Florida 37-17Florida 31-14
SE Louisiana at MissouriMissouri 42-3Missouri 41-13Missouri 45-7Missouri 51-6
Jacksonville State at ArkansasArkansas 35-7Arkansas 45-7Arkansas 52-13Arkansas 38-14
Clemson (-3) vs. Auburn (Atlanta)Clemson 31-24Clemson 31-27Clemson 27-24Clemson 30-20
North Texas at LSU (-43)LSU 42-10LSU 52-7LSU 51-10LSU 44-14
Central Arkansas at Ole MissOle Miss 24-13Ole Miss 24-7Ole Miss 38-10Ole Miss 30-7
Jackson State at Mississippi StateMississippi State 28-10Mississippi State 35-10Mississippi State 40-10Mississippi State 41-10
Michigan vs. Alabama (-13.5) (Arlington)Alabama 28-21Alabama 31-17Alabama 31-13Alabama 27-13
Kentucky at Louisville (-13)Louisville 31-14Louisville 24-13Louisville 27-17Louisville 30-20


by Mitch Light

@athlonmitch

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Big Ten Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Big 12 Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Pac-12 Week 1 Previews and Predictions
College Football Week 1 Upset Picks
Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections
Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> SEC Week 1 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/acc-week-1-preview-and-predictions-2012
Body:

Most of the 12 teams in the ACC will be playing easy non-conference openers, but two games stand out as marquee matchups. In Atlanta, NC State plays Tennessee, while Clemson matches up against Auburn on Saturday night. Although neither game means anything for the ACC Championship, it's an opportunity for both teams to earn a huge non-conference victory.

ACC's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 1:

1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T
After finishing 9-16 in games against BCS conference opponents last year, the ACC has a chance to earn some national respect with two huge non-conference games in Atlanta. NC State plays Tennessee on Friday night, while Clemson takes on Auburn on Saturday. Outside of these two games, there’s much in the way of marquee non-conference tests for the ACC in Week 1. Most consider the ACC the No. 5 conference in college football and for it to move up the pecking order, its teams need to win non-conference games such as the ones taking place this weekend in Atlanta.

2. ACC Coastal Championship on the line?
With Miami rebuilding and North Carolina ineligible for the Coastal title, the division is essentially a three-team battle between Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Virginia. Considering the Cavaliers have to play both teams on the road, the Hokies and Yellow Jackets have to be considered the favorites to win the Coastal. The winner of this matchup has went on to play for the ACC Championship every year since the conference split into two divisions. The Hokies have won four out of the last five, including a 37-26 contest in Atlanta last season. Having a full offseason to prepare for Georgia Tech’s option attack should give Virginia Tech an edge in this game.

3. Will Clemson’s offense struggle without Sammy Watkins?
An arrest in early May will force Watkins to miss the first two games of the season. As a freshman last year, Watkins was one of the conference’s top players, recording 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns. The good news for Clemson? Quarterback Tajh Boyd is back, while the receiving corps still has plenty of weapons. Junior DeAndre Hopkins is an All-ACC candidate, and sophomore Charone Peak is capable of a breakout season. The biggest question mark for the Tigers’ offense is a line that must replace three starters, especially against a talented and deep Auburn defensive line. Clemson has plenty of skill players to makeup for the loss of Watkins. However, if Auburn’s defensive line spends most of the night in the backfield, Boyd will struggle to find his rhythm, and Clemson will start the year 0-1.

4. How much has Florida State’s offensive line improved?
The biggest question mark facing the Seminoles is an offensive line that struggled mightily last season. The line barely opened up any holes for the rushing attack, as Florida State rushers averaged only 3.3 yards per carry on 437 attempts. EJ Manuel and Clint Trickett were sacked 41 times last season, which ranked 110th nationally. Youth and injuries played a large role in the struggles, but this unit needs to make major strides for Florida State to contend for a national championship. Although Murray State won’t be the toughest challenge in the trenches, this will be an important game for the Seminoles to evaluate their new starting five. Left tackle Cameron Erving switched from defensive in the spring, while right tackle Menelik Watson has never played a snap on the FBS level. The other three starters (Josue Matias, Bryan Stork and Tre’ Jackson) have a combined 12 starts. With a huge ACC test against Clemson on the horizon, Florida State needs the game action against Murray State and Savannah State to find the right mix up front.

5. The first start for Maryland quarterback Perry Hills
After another spring filled with players leaving the team, things appeared to be headed in the right direction for Maryland. The Terrapins had a relatively quiet fall camp, until quarterback C.J. Brown suffered a torn ACL. Brown was the team’s only experienced quarterback, leaving freshmen Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe to battle for the No. 1 spot. Hills edged Rowe in fall camp and will make his first start on Saturday against William & Mary. The Tribe is coming off a losing season (5-6) but should not be taken lightly, especially with Maryland starting a true freshman. This will also be the Terrapins’ first look at how both sides of the ball will respond with new coordinators (Mike Locksley and Brian Stewart). While there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the freshmen quarterbacks, Locksley and his offensive staff are ready to unleash freshman receiver Stefon Diggs. With a young signal-caller, expect to see Diggs and the running backs lay a huge role in the offense. After a disappointing 2-10 season, there’s a lot of pressure on coach Randy Edsall to produce in 2012 – which won’t be easy with a true freshman starting at quarterback.

6. What to expect out of Boston College and Miami?
Considering these two teams played each other in the 2011 season finale, there should be plenty of familiarity on Saturday. The Hurricanes and Eagles are coming off disappointing 2011 campaigns, and it’s hard to get a read on both teams going into 2012. Boston College is looking for a spark on offense but has been hit hard by injuries in fall camp. The Hurricanes have some promising young talent, but there’s a NCAA investigation hanging over the program and a lot of inexperience on the depth chart. While it may seem crazy to be thinking about bowl eligibility in Week 1, both teams have a tough schedule this year, which makes this game even more important. It’s also important for both teams to get the year started off with a victory, especially after both teams did not finish above .500 in 2011.

7. Larry Fedora’s debut at North Carolina
With a ban on postseason play and a bowl game, the Tar Heels really have nothing to play for in 2012. It’s fair to wonder how motivated this team will be, but the offense could be one of the best in the ACC. New coach Larry Fedora will bring a new spread, up-tempo attack to Chapel Hill, which should score plenty of points. Quarterback Bryn Renner quietly had a good season last year, throwing for 3,086 yards and 26 scores. He will be joined by All-ACC running back Giovani Bernard and the conference’s best offensive line. Elon finished 5-6 last season, so the Tar Heels should have no trouble winning easily on Saturday night. Even though there’s nothing to play for in 2012, if North Carolina is motivated, this team could push for nine wins.

8. Injuries adding up at Duke - faces key non-conference test against FIU
If the Blue Devils want to end a bowl drought that has lasted 17 seasons, Saturday’s game against FIU is a must-win contest. Duke has a non-conference trip to Stanford in Week 2, while playing Florida State and Clemson in crossover games with the Atlantic Division. The Blue Devils will be without 11 scholarship players on Saturday against the Golden Panthers. Projected defensive starters Jamal Bruce (DT), Jordon Byas (S), and Kelby Brown (LB) are huge losses for a defense that allowed 31.2 points a game last year. Even without T.Y. Hilton at receiver, FIU is still a dangerous Week 1 opponent. It’s a long season, but a loss to the Golden Panthers in the opener would be a huge setback to Duke’s chances at a winning record and bowl appearance.

Week 1 ACC Predictions

Week 1 ACC GamesDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Tennessee (-3) vs. NC State (Atlanta)NC State 17-14Tennessee 34-31NC State 31-27Tennessee 34-27
Elon at North CarolinaUNC 35-10UNC 41-13UNC 45-10UNC 33-14
William & Mary at MarylandMaryland 28-10Maryland 24-10Maryland 34-14Maryland 28-13
Richmond at VirginiaVirginia 35-14Virginia 27-13Virginia 38-7Virginia 28-10
Miami (Fla.) (-2) at Boston CollegeMiami 10-7Miami 17-10Miami 24-20Miami 24-20
Murray State at Florida StateFlorida State 42-7Florida State 38-3Florida State 48-10Florida State 44-10
Liberty at Wake ForestWake Forest 35-13Wake Forest 34-10Wake Forest 38-13Wake Forest 31-17
FIU at Duke (-3.5)Duke 28-21Duke 27-24Duke 31-28Duke 28-22
Clemson (-3) vs. Auburn (Atlanta)Clemson 31-24Clemson 31-27Clemson 27-24Clemson 30-20
Ga. Tech at Va. Tech (-7.5)Virginia Tech 28-14Virginia Tech 31-21Virginia Tech 31-24Virginia Tech 24-17


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Related College Football Content

Big East Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Big Ten Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Big 12 Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Pac-12 Week 1 Previews and Predictions
SEC Week 1 Previews and Predictions
College Football Week 1 Upset Picks
Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections
Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> ACC Week 1 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 06:01
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-1-preview-and-predictions
Body:

It's a relatively quiet opening week in the Big 12. Nine teams will play non-conference games, while TCU has a bye for Week 1. Although there are no conference games, there is some intrigue in Ames, where Tulsa is a road favorite against Iowa State, while Texas hopes to find an answer at quarterback against Wyoming.

Big 12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 1

1. Can Texas find any clarity at quarterback?
Quarterback play has been an issue at Texas for the last two seasons, and the Longhorns enter 2012 with more uncertainty under center. David Ash finished 2011 as the starter but still needs to prove he can consistently beat teams through the air. He finished with eight picks last season, a number the coaching staff would like to see decrease this season. Ash finished fall practice atop the depth chart, but backup Case McCoy will play in Saturday’s game against Wyoming. With the Big 12’s best defense and a talented trio of running backs, the Longhorns won’t need to throw for 300 yards every game. However, Ash needs to show he can make some plays through the air, while eliminating some of the mistakes he made last year. With games against Wyoming, New Mexico and Ole Miss to start the season, it’s important for Ash to get off to a good start and clearly assume the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.

2. Upset alert at Iowa State?
Under Paul Rhoads, the Cyclones have pulled off their share of upsets, but this team should be on upset alert this Saturday. Iowa State hosts Tulsa, a team that returns 13 starters from an 8-5 season in 2011. The Golden Hurricane also has Nebraska transfer Cody Green starting at quarterback, and his experience will be valuable for a team that won’t be an easy out for Iowa State. Considering the Cyclones’ remaining schedule, it’s important to start the season 1-0. With a matchup against rival Iowa next week and a challenging Big 12 slate, it’s not unreasonable to think this game will have major bowl implications. Another factor for Iowa State to watch will be quarterback play. Steele Jantz edged Jared Barnett for the starting job, and it will be important for him to get off to a good start on Saturday. The Cyclones are a home underdog, which should certainly give Rhoads and this team plenty of motivation.

3. How will Wes Lunt perform in his first start at Oklahoma State?
The schedule couldn’t have worked out better for Oklahoma State. With true freshman Wes Lunt making his first start, the Cowboys should have no trouble scoring points against Savannah State. The Tigers were one of the worst FCS teams last season, ranking 120th in total offense and 117th in total defense. Although it’s tough to learn much from this lopsided affair, this matchup is a good opportunity for Lunt to acclimated to FBS play and get comfortable in game action with a trip to Arizona coming on Sept. 8. Expect an impressive debut for the freshman but the best judge of Lunt’s effectiveness will come on Sept. 29 against Texas.

4. Charlie Weis’ debut at Kansas
The Jayhawks enter Saturday night’s game against South Dakota State tied for the nation’s longest losing streak at 10 games. New coach Charlie Weis was one of the offseason’s most curious hires after struggling at Notre Dame, and he has plenty to prove this year. The Jayhawks can only go up after a disastrous 2011 season and should have plenty of help from a group of transfers, led by quarterback Dayne Crist. Kansas still has issues on defense, but the offense should be solid if Crist can stay healthy. Don’t expect a winning year, but the Jayhawks should get the Weis’ era off to a good start with a victory over the Jackrabbits on Saturday night.

5. Life without Robert Griffin at Baylor
There’s no question Robert Griffin will be missed at Baylor. However, the cupboard is far from bare on offense, especially with Nick Florence taking over under center. The senior started seven games for Griffin in 2009 and has thrown for 1,992 yards in his career. While Florence doesn’t have Griffin’s mobility, he should keep this offense among the best in the Big 12. The Bears are loaded at receiver, return three starters on the line and gain the services of Oregon transfer Lache Seastrunk at running back. Baylor takes on SMU, who will be quarterbacked by former Texas passer Garrett Gilbert. The Bears' defense suffered a setback this week when defensive tackle Kaeron Johnson was lost for the year. Look for the Mustangs to exploit Baylor's rush defense with running back Zach Line. The Bears should win this one, but the defense will be tested.

6. Can Kansas State develop balance on offense?
Quarterback Collin Klein carried the Wildcats’ offense last season, accounting for 40 overall scores and 3,059 yards. Although Klein dealt with various injuries throughout the year, he started all 13 games and led Kansas State to a Cotton Bowl appearance. Keeping the senior quarterback healthy is the Wildcats’ best shot at getting to 10 wins once again. Klein doesn’t need to handle 300 carries in 2012, which is why the offense needs to establish balance and develop more weapons. Running back John Hubert returns after rushing for 970 yards last season, and he should threaten 1,000 once again in 2012. The coaching staff would like to see more big plays from the rushing attack, but Hubert is a reliable option. The Wildcats have a solid group of receivers, but this unit needs to be a bigger part of the offense. Sophomore Tyler Lockett’s 2011 season ended early due to injury, but he could be a breakout playmaker. With a matchup against Missouri State this Saturday, it’s a good time for Kansas State to work on the passing game and save some wear and tear on Klein.

7. Is Oklahoma running back Dominique Whaley 100 percent?
Dominique Whaley’s rise from Langston University to the starting running back at Oklahoma was one of the best storylines last season. However, an ankle injury ended his year early, as he was forced to sit out the final five games of 2011. Despite not playing during that stretch, Whaley finished as Oklahoma’s leading rusher with 627 yards. The Sooners’ offense sputtered without Whaley and receiver Ryan Broyles in the lineup over the final weeks of 2011, but Whaley is on track to play in Saturday’s opener against UTEP. The senior is listed on the top spot on the depth chart, but is he 100 percent? Whaley’s ankle injury was a significant one, and the Sooners brought in talented junior college recruit Damien Williams to compete for playing time. Oklahoma should have its way against the Miners, but the offense needs to get a good look at Whaley and see if he can handle 20-25 carries a week.

8. Will Texas Tech’s defense show signs of improvement?
It’s hard to have a dominating defense in the Big 12, but Texas Tech has to be better than it has the last two years. The Red Raiders have finished 114th nationally in total defense in 2010 and 2011 and enter 2012 with their fourth coordinator in four seasons. It will be hard to glean much from the opener against Northwestern State, especially since it averaged only 21.3 points a game last year. However, the opener will be a good test for Texas Tech’s defense, as it looks to work out the kinks in the new scheme. Junior college recruit Will Smith has shined at middle linebacker all offseason, and this will be his first opportunity to showcase his talent on the FBS level. With Texas State and New Mexico coming up, it’s important for the Red Raiders to build some confidence on defense before Big 12 play begins on Sept. 29.

9. West Virginia shouldn’t overlook Marshall
This is the final game in the scheduled Friends of the Coal Bowl series between West Virginia’s two FBS universities. With the Mountaineers moving to the Big 12 and playing nine conference games, these two teams aren’t scheduled to play anytime in the near future, and West Virginia’s non-conference schedule appears to be full until 2017. The Mountaineers have won all 11 meetings, including last season’s weather-shortened 34-13 game. Marshall is headed back in the right direction under coach Doc Holliday, and the Thundering Herd should not be taken lightly. Marshall’s secondary is a question mark, but the offense could have some success against a West Virginia defense that has a new scheme and must replace a handful of key contributors from last year. The Mountaineers should win this one, but the Thundering Herd will give them their best shot.  

Week 1 Big 12 Predictions
 

Big 12 Week 1 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Marshall at West Virginia (-24) West Virginia 42-14 West Virginia 45-17 West Virginia 44-20 West Virginia 38-14
Tulsa (-1) at Iowa State Iowa State 28-21 Iowa State 21-20 Iowa State 30-27 Iowa State 33-28
Savannah State at Oklahoma State Oklahoma State 38-10 Oklahoma State 42-10 Oklahoma State 55-3 Oklahoma State 51-6
South Dakota State at Kansas Kansas 21-14 Kansas 21-14 Kansas 38-13 Kansas 37-10
Northwestern State at Texas Tech Texas Tech 31-17 Texas Tech 38-21 Texas Tech 52-7 Texas Tech 48-7
Missouri State at Kansas State Kansas State 35-10 Kansas State 45-10 Kansas State 45-7 Kansas State 41-0
Wyoming at Texas (-30.5) Texas 35-10 Texas 34-7 Texas 38-10 Texas 34-13
Oklahoma (-31) at UTEP Oklahoma 42-7 Oklahoma 49-14 Oklahoma 45-10 Oklahoma 41-14
SMU at Baylor (-10.5) Baylor 28-21 Baylor 28-21 Baylor 38-24 Baylor 38-20


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 1 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 1 Previews and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 1 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 1 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 1 Upset Picks

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Week 1 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 05:55
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big Ten, Independents, MAC, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-1-upset-picks
Body:

Week 1 of the college football season officially kicks off on Thursday night, headlined by a SEC showdown between South Carolina and Vanderbilt, while BYU and Washington State close out the night with a shootout in Provo. The favorites can't win every game each week, so it's no surprise one of the most popular discussion points every Saturday is upset picks. Each week on AthlonSports.com, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.

College Football's Week 1 Upset Picks

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Indiana State (off) over Indiana
Indiana State of the Missouri Valley used to be one of the worst teams in Division I football, but the Sycamores have slowly become more competitive -- enough so that they’ve cracked the preseason FCS coaches’ top 25. The Sycamores also return FCS’ leading rusher from last season, Shakir Bell. It seems we see an FCS over a major conference program upset each opening week. This may be it. Indiana improved as last season went along, but the Hoosiers are still in bad shape.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Washington State (+13.5) at BYU
The best two (and only two quality) offenses BYU faced last fall, Utah and TCU, dropped a combined 92 points in two easy wins over the Cougars. Mike Leach, who graduated from BYU and studied offense under the great LaVell Edwards, is now leading the way for an offense that boasts all the necessary pieces for his Air Raid attack to instantly succeed. This was the nation's No. 9-rated passing attack last year and Leach could claim the best passing offense in the nation this fall. In primetime on national television in a game that could decide bowl eligibility, Leach will have his Cougs ready to compete against a solid, but not great BYU team. It would likely be the biggest upset of the weekend so it might be a long shot, but don't sleep on Wazzu.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Ohio (+6) at Penn State
2012 begins a new era in Happy Valley, as Bill O’Brien takes over as head coach and the Penn State uniforms will feature the names of the players. While there is some excitement around the new coaching staff and a new look on offense, the Nittany Lions can’t play in a bowl due to NCAA sanctions and lost a handful of players due to transfer. Ohio is a dangerous Week 1 opponent, as it won 10 games and played for the MAC title last season. The Bobcats gave Rutgers all it could handle last year and returns 12 starters from that team, including All-MAC quarterback Tyler Tettleton. Even though the Nittany Lions have a solid defense, there will be some growing pains on offense, which gives Ohio an excellent shot at an upset on Saturday.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Western Michigan (+9.5) over Illinois
Western Michigan went 1–3 outright vs. teams vs. BCS conferences in 2011, with a win at UConn, a lopsided loss at Michigan (34–10) and close losses at Illinois (23–20) and vs. Purdue (37–32) in the Little Caesers Pizza Bowl. This is a team with a senior quarterback (Alex Carder) and a veteran offensive line that will not be intimidated by playing on the road at a Big Ten school. The big key for Western is finding a way to stop the run; last year, Illinois rolled up 296 yards on the ground in its win over the Broncos. Western Michigan 30, Illinois 27

Mark Ross: NC State (+3) over Tennessee
No one needs an opening win more than embattled Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, but I just don’t think NC State will oblige him and the Volunteers on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome. On offense, the Vols will lean heavily on the duo of quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receiver Justin Hunter, especially now that All-SEC wideout Da’Rick Rogers is no longer on the roster. However, this strategy plays right into the hands of NC State’s defensive strength. The Wolfpack have one of the best secondaries in the nation led by All-American David Amerson. On offense, NC State has a strong-armed quarterback of its own in senior Mike Glennon, who will lead an attack that’s not near as one-dimensional as UT’s.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Ohio (+6) over Penn State
This may seem like an anti-Penn State selection because of scandals and roster depletion, but Franks Solich’s Ohio Bobcats are a quality team with a good chance of repeating last season’s 10-win campaign. Despite winning its first bowl game in school history last December, Ohio will still be a hungry team after blowing a 20-point lead in the MAC Championship Game. Quarterback Tyler Tettleton (38 touchdowns accounted for in 2011) is a great fit for the no-huddle attack, and the Bobcats defense should be the best unit Ohio has had during Solich’s tenure. Penn State should still have a quality defense despite the offseason personnel attrition, but I just don’t see where the points are going to be produced. In a surreal setting in Happy Valley, I’ll take the Bobcats over the Nittany Lions, 16-13.

 

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 1 Previews and Predictions

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SEC Week 1 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 1 Upset Picks

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 1 Upset Picks</p>
Post date: Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 05:33
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
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Body:

The 2012 college football season is finally here!  Thanks to those of you who have returned for another season, and welcome to those of you who have finally found us.  If you are playing college fantasy football for the first time, we’re glad to have you in the fraternity.

Start/Bench—Week 1

Start

Everett Golson, QB-Notre Dame vs Navy
Golson gets to start his career with the easiest opponent on the Irish’s schedule this season.


Derek Carr, QB-Fresno State vs Weber State
The Bulldogs will iron out the wrinkles in their new spread attack before travelling to Eugene, Oregon to take on the Ducks in Week 2.


Wes Lunt, QB-Oklahoma State vs. Savannah State
If Lunt is talented enough to win the starting job, then there shouldn’t be any hesitation starting him in his collegiate debut against Savannah State.


Tim Cornett, RB-UNLV vs Minnesota
Running behind an experienced offensive line, Cornett should shoulder the load while the Rebels break in a freshman quarterback.


Shawne Alston, RB-West Virginia vs Marshall
While questions surround Dustin Garrison’s return, Alston is more than capable of carrying the Mountaineers’ ground game.


Akeem Shavers, RB-Purdue vs Eastern Kentucky
Shavers proved in last year’s Little Ceasars Bowl that he is ready to become the Boilermakers’ primary running back.


John Hubert, RB-Kansas State vs Missouri State
Quarterback Collin Klein will get all of the attention, but Hubert will get more than enough touches in this matchup to be a fantasy factor.
 

Zach Line, RB-SMU at Baylor
Until the Bears’ defense proves they are vastly improved, owners shouldn’t shy away from this C-USA vs. Big XII matchup.


Onterio McCalebb, RB vs Clemson
We know that Clemson’s offense will put points on the board, but have they made enough improvements to a defense that gave up 176 yards rushing per game in 2011?
 

Stefon Diggs, WR-Maryland vs William & Mary
Diggs spurned offers from Florida and Ohio State.  Now, he gets to be Mr. Everything for a Terps team that needs him on the field as much as possible.
 

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR-Missouri vs Southeastern Louisiana
After leading the team in receiving yards in two fall scrimmages, Green-Beckham is ready for his coming-out party.

 

Bench

Joe Southwick, QB-Boise State at Michigan State
This matchup will probably be the Broncos’ toughest test of the season.  Consider holding out Southwick until his Week 3 matchup against Miami, Ohio.
 

Jordan Lynch, QB-Northern Illinois at Iowa
We have heard that Lynch will prove to be a better runner than former Huskies quarterback Chandler Harnish, but we have our doubts against a Big Ten opponent.


Brett Smith, QB-Wyoming at Texas
Smith is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, but playing on the road against a unit that ranked 11th in the nation in total defense in 2011 is way too risky.
 

Ryan Aplin, QB-Arkansas St at Oregon
Aplin and the offense should get a lot of possessions, but their inability to put the ball in the end zone makes him a risky fantasy play.
 

Branden Oliver, RB-Buffalo at Georgia
Fantasy owners will hope and pray that their prized fantasy possession survives this matchup without injury.
 

Anthon Samuel, RB-Bowling Green at Florida
See Branden Oliver above.
 

Ray Graham, RB-Pitt vs Youngstown St
It’s never easy to see one of your backs miss out on such a mismatch, but Graham is unlikely to play in what figures to be a tune up for their conference opener next Thursday at Cincinnati.
 

Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB-Michigan vs Alabama
It doesn’t seem likely that Toussaint will miss any game time following his suspension in July after a DUI arrest, but we’ll sit anyone who plays against the Bama D.
 

Orleans Darkwa, RB-Tulane vs Rutgers
Darkwa has been nursing an ankle injury and is questionable to play, so owners would be wise to look for a safer option this week.
 

Nathan Jeffery, RB-UTEP vs Oklahoma
Owners will not get a true gauge of Jeffery’s fantasy potential until the Miners start conference play.
 

Alec Lemon, WR-Syracuse vs Northwestern
The latest reports have Lemon listed as questionable with a leg injury.  Unless his status is upgraded, owners would be wise to find another option for Week 1.

 

The College Fantasy Football Site

by Joe DiSalvo

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football Week 1 Start or Sit</p>
Post date: Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 04:47
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-players-2012
Body:

The 2012 college football season kicks off on Thursday night, and it's time to rank the top 50 players for the upcoming year. USC's Matt Barkley made a surprising decision to return to USC for his senior season and should be the nation's No. 1 player. Barkley isn't the only quarterback in the top 10, as West Virginia's Geno Smith checks in at No. 5. The SEC owns the most players in the top 10 (four), including No. 2 overall Barrett Jones. 

College Football's Top 50 Players for 2012

1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
After throwing 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions over his final four games in 2011, the consensus was Barkley was gone to the NFL. Instead, he surprised a lot of folks with his decision to return for one more shot at a national title and has USC poised to play for the championship in January. Barkley enters 2012 with 9,054 yards and 80 touchdowns and is Athlon’s first-team All-American quarterback for 2012. The senior ranks third in school history with 9,013 career yards, and his 80 touchdown passes are fifth in Pac-12 history. The only missing pieces on Barkley’s resume? A Pac-12 title, national championship and Heisman. All three are certainly within reach in 2012.

2. Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
Three years, three different positions. That’s how valuable Jones has been to Alabama’s offensive line during his career in Tuscaloosa. The Tennessee native started the first 25 games of his career at right guard and shifted to left tackle last season. He earned first-team All-SEC honors in each of the last two years and will slide inside to man the center spot with the departure of William Vlachos. Jones is the nation’s most versatile offensive lineman and the defending Outland Trophy winner should be one of college football’s top performers in 2012.

3. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina 
It is hard to argue that any one player in the nation has more upside than this 6-foot-6, 260-pound freak of nature. As only a freshman, Clowney posted 8.0 sacks and forced five fumbles. He earned Defensive Freshman of the Year honors in the SEC and claimed a spot on the Freshman All-American team after his 36-tackle, 11.5-tackles for a loss debut season. The only thing keeping the star defensive end from being the top player in the league is his mental grasp of the game. He is still an underclassmen and still has some maturing to do before he becomes the most dominate defensive player in the nation. It may not take too long, however.

4. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Before his season ending knee injury on Oct. 15, Lattimore was a Heisman frontrunner. The week before the injury, Lattimore was sixth in the nation in rushing with 129.8 yards per game. Lattimore’s health will be one of the major storylines in the SEC. If he’s fully healthy, the Gamecocks could make a run at their first SEC championship. Although Montee Ball's production has outweighed Lattimore so far in his career, the South Carolina back is the nation's most talented all-around back.

5. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
After throwing for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns in his first year working in Dana Holgorsen’s spread attack, Smith is primed for an even bigger 2012 season. He finished 2011 by throwing for 407 yards and six touchdowns in the 70-33 rout over Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Smith tied or set 21 career, season or game school records last year and earned first-team All-Big East honors. With one of the nation’s top receiving corps returning, the senior quarterback should be in for an even bigger statistical season. The Big 12 is known for its offense, and West Virginia should fit in well in 2012, especially with Smith more comfortable in the second year of Holgorsen’s offense.

6. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
When the guys who are trying to block you officially vote you as the best defensive lineman in the league, it’s pretty hard to argue. Lotulelei earned such an honor last year when he was given the Morris Trophy, the award given to the best D-Lineman in the Pac-12 as voted on by starting offensive linemen. His 6-foot-4, 320-pound frame has NFL written all over it, as Utah hopes its Star in the middle can lead what was the league’s top scoring defense last year. The senior from South Jordan, Utah is a first-team All-American and looks to build on his 9.0 tackles for a loss and 44 total tackles.

7. Robert Woods, WR, USC
One half of USC’s impressive receiver duo, Woods was one of eight players in the country to catch more than 100 passes -- and he was the only one to do so in 12 games thanks to USC’s bowl ban. Woods will get his chance to play in the postseason after accounting for 176 catches for 2,084 yards and 21 touchdowns (15 last season) in his first two years at USC.

8. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The powerful defensive end was named first-team All-SEC last season, and the junior will be one of the top players in the country this year. Montgomery made 49 tackles (with 13.5 for loss) in 2011 and led the Tigers with nine sacks. The South Carolina native is the latest in a long line of stellar LSU defensive lineman. He will combine with fellow pass rusher Barkevious Mingo to form one of the best defensive end tandems in the country in 2012.

9. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
Ball emerged as one of the elite tailbacks in his junior season at Wisconsin, leading the nation with 1,923 rushing yards and an astounding 33 rushing touchdowns. His 39 total TDs last year tied the NCAA record originally set by Barry Sanders in 1988. Ball has rushed for at least 100 yards in 16 of the last 20 games dating back to November 2011. Don’t be surprised if Ball is on the podium in New York in early December accepting the Heisman Trophy.

10. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
In a bit of a surprise, Te’o turned down the NFL Draft for his senior year at Notre Dame. The Irish defensive staff certainly isn’t complaining, as Te’o’s play is deserving of the accolades and hype that is thrown his direction. He has posted back-to-back seasons of at least 100 tackles and has 28.5 career tackles for a loss. Te’o was a finalist for the Lott Trophy and Butkus Award last season and earned second-team All-American honors by the Associated Press. The senior is one of the top defensive players in the nation and should close out his career with another season of at least 100 tackles.

11. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
This pass-rushing outside linebacker was sensational in his first season with the Bulldogs. He led the SEC with 13.5 sacks on his way to consensus All-American honors. Jones totaled 70 tackles last season, with a conference-leading 19.5 of them behind the line of scrimmage. He also added two forced fumbles and two pass breakups for a Georgia defense that ranked No. 5 in the country a year ago. Look for Jones and the Bulldogs defense to wreak more havoc on opponents in 2012.

12. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Despite his two-game suspension to start 2012, Watkins checks in as Athlon’s No. 1 player in the ACC. High expectations surrounded Watkins from the moment he arrived on campus, and he quickly emerged as Clemson’s top target, catching 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 scores. The Florida native was also a dangerous weapon on special teams, averaging 25 yards per kickoff return and taking one back for a touchdown in the win over Maryland. Although Watkins could have trouble matching last season’s totals, expect the sophomore to finish as a first-team All-American.

13. Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
Entering his third season in the starting lineup, Wagner will anchor what should be the best offensive line in the Big Ten from the all-important left tackle spot. A 6-6, 322-pound fifth-year senior from West Allis, Wis., Wagner arrived in Madison as a walk-on tight end but has made a successive transition to the offensive line. He started at right tackle in 2010 but made the move to the left side last fall to replace former All-American Gabe Carimi. 

14. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M 
Not too many players step into a BCS conference and start all 13 games as a true freshman. Joeckel did just that back in 2010 before earning first-team All-Big 12 honors last fall. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound bookend has played in all 26 possible career games and helped lead an O-Line that finished fourth nationally in sacks allowed per game last fall (0.69). The Aggies will experience growing pains shifting into the SEC, but the Joeckel-led offensive line shouldn’t be an issue.

15. John Simon, DE, Ohio State
Simon is the key player on a veteran Ohio State defensive line, ranked by Athlon as the best in the Big Ten. This wrecking ball is as difficult as anyone in the country to block from the outside. He’s improved each year, topping out at 16 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and three pass deflections last season. Urban Meyer’s background is on offense, but he has a knack for utilizing great pass rushers like Carlos Dunlap, Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss at Florida.

16. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Few players ever enter the college ranks ready to play like Jeffcoat was. Obviously, his long-standing NFL legacy helps, as his fundamental understanding of the game is superior to most players his age. His 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame helps too. Jeffcoat started all 13 games as a sophomore, earning second-team All-Big 12 honors after recording 54 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. With another stellar season on the 40 Acres, JJ-44 will likely take his talents to the next level.

17. David Amerson, CB, NC State
At 6-foot-3, 194 pounds, Amerson has uncommon size for a cornerback. He also put up uncommon results last season. His 13 interceptions last season were an ACC record and one short of the FBS record held by Washington’s Al Worley. Amerson had four multi-interception games last season and returned two picks for touchdowns. Hard to believe, but Amerson did not have any interceptions in his first season in 2010.

18. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
The man they call Shoelace has been one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football over the past two seasons. Robinson has struggled at times with consistency in the passing game, but he led the nation last year by averaging 15.3 yards per completion and ranked fourth in the Big Ten in passing efficiency. Robinson does his best work on the ground, however; he has rushed for 3,229 yards on a 5.9-yard average in his three years in Ann Arbor.

19. Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska
Burkhead thrived in his first full season as Nebraska’s No. 1 back, rushing for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns. He averaged 106 yards per game in Big Ten play and earned first-team all-conference honors last season. Although quarterback Taylor Martinez should get better as a passer in 2012, the Cornhuskers will lean heavily on Burkhead to win games. The senior is capable of recording 300 overall carries and will also be a factor in the passing game, as evidenced by his 21 receptions last year. Burkhead is a sleeper candidate to watch in the Heisman race and should be one of the Big Ten’s top offensive players this season.

20. Alex Hurst, OT, LSU
The 6-foot-6, 340-pound senior right tackle was a force last season in paving the way for the powerful LSU running game. Three different Tigers running backs reached the 500-yard mark last season, and LSU compiled 35 touchdowns on the ground. Hurst was recognized as first-team All-SEC by the league’s coaches in 2011, and he will be a top All-America candidate this season. Hurst and Chris Faulk should form the best tackle duo in the country in 2012.

21. Chris Faulk, OT, LSU 
After redshirting in 2009, the big left tackle from Slidell, La., worked his way into a starting spot by the end of his freshman season. Despite dealing with a severe ankle sprain against Mississippi State, Faulk still started 13 of the 14 games en route to the BCS national championship game. He earned second-team All-SEC honors while protecting the blindside of both Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. Behind Faulk and company, LSU finished second in the run-heavy SEC in rushing offense at 202.6 yards per game.

22. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
It’s a close call for the No. 1 quarterback spot in the SEC. Murray and Tyler Wilson are both deserving, but with Arkansas losing coach Bobby Petrino and receivers Joe Adams and Jarius Wright, the edge goes to the Bulldogs’ signal-caller. Through Murray’s first two years in Athens, he has thrown for 6,198 yards and 59 touchdowns. His interception total increased last year (8 as a freshman, 14 as a sophomore), which will be one area the coaching staff wants to see him improve in 2012. The Bulldogs have to replace a couple of key offensive line starters, and receiver Malcolm Mitchell may spend the majority of the first part of the year at cornerback. There are concerns about Murray, but we think he will end up with first-team All-SEC honors at the end of 2012.

23. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Wilson successfully stepped into Ryan Mallett’s shoes as Arkansas’ starting quarterback last season, carrying on the Razorbacks’ best run of passers in program history. Wilson’s 3,638 yards was the second-highest total in school history as he became the program’s first All-SEC first-team quarterback. After the sudden coaching change, Wilson also was a stabilizing presence on the roster. He and Mallett are the only two quarterbacks to pass for 3,000 yards in school history.

24. Keenan Allen, WR, California
Few players in the nation have as much raw physical talent and skill as Allen possesses. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound stud from Greensboro, N.C., flashed first-round NFL talent as only a sophomore last year by catching 82 passes for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns. He is the half-brother of quarterback Zach Maynard and clearly has an unspoken rapport with Cal signal caller. Look for this to be Allen’s final year in a Golden Bear uniform.

25. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
With Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon playing on Sundays now, Randle will have to carry the offense. He rushed for 1,216 yards and 24 scores, while catching 43 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns last year. Randle earned second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2011 and is an Athlon Sports first-team All-Big 12 selection for 2012. With freshman Wes Lunt taking over under center, defenses will be gearing up to stop Randle, but the junior back’s all-around ability makes him one of the top 10 players in the Big 12 for 2012.

26. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Even at Oregon, where speed and explosiveness runs aplenty, Thomas found a way to stand out as a freshman. The 5-foot-9, 173-pound running back from Los Angeles averaged a 16-yard gain every time he touched the ball. That was half a yard more than any other Ducks’ regular and twice as much as either LaMichael James or Kenjon Barner. Thomas scored 18 total touchdowns as a rookie (nine rushing, seven receiving, two on kickoff returns).

27. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
At 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds, Austin isn’t your prototypical wide receiver. Don’t be fooled though, the Baltimore native is one of college football’s top playmakers and will give Big 12 defenses plenty of headaches in 2012. He led the team with 101 receptions, ranked second with 1,186 yards, while catching eight touchdowns and taking two returns for a score on special teams. Austin closed out 2011 on a high note, catching 12 passes for 123 yards and four touchdowns in the Orange Bowl victory over Clemson. The senior is one of college football’s top all-purpose threats and should top 100 receptions once again in 2012.

28. William Gholston, DE, Michigan State
Entering his junior season, Gholston appears to be only scratching the surface of his potential. The Michigan State coaching staff wasted no time in getting the Detroit native involved as a freshman, as Gholston played in 10 games and recorded 13 stops. In his first year as a starter in 2011, he recorded 70 tackles, five sacks and 16 tackles for a loss last season. Gholston earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last season and should be in the mix to earn All-American honors in 2012. Without Jerel Worthy plugging the middle, opposing offensive lines will devote more attention to Gholston’s side. Despite a few more double teams coming in his direction, the junior is poised to have his best overall season, which could be his last in East Lansing with NFL scouts already raving about his potential.

29. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
Most Pac-12 fans are familiar with Wilson but expect to see him become a household name nationally after 2012. With Mike Leach’s pass-first attack coming to Pullman, the Cougars should be one of the top offenses in the nation. Wilson has recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and caught 18 touchdown passes over the last two years. His best performance came against San Diego State in 2011, grabbing six passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. With Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Keenan Allen returning, it will be a battle to get first-team all-conference honors. However, there’s no question Wilson will have the stats to get in the mix for first-team All-Pac-12 and All-American honors.

30. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
With Robert Woods posting a record-setting season on the other side, it was easy to overlook Lee’s performance in 2011. As a true freshman, he finished with 73 receptions for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. Lee came on strong over the second half of the season, catching at least seven passes in each of the final five games. Woods is still USC’s No. 1 receiver, but Lee will see plenty of passes in his direction. Expect the sophomore to surpass last season’s totals, while pushing for All-American honors.

31. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
While LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu will grab headlines for being one of the nation’s top playmakers at cornerbacks, Banks is quietly the SEC’s No. 1 coverman. He started all 13 games last season and earned first-team All-SEC honors, while recording 71 tackles and three forced fumbles. Banks is already drawing significant interest from the NFL, especially with his 6-foot-2 frame. The Mississippi native is an Athlon Sports first-team All-American for 2012.

32. T.J. McDonald, S, USC
The USC legacy — his father Tim was a two-time All-American at USC from 1983-1986 — is a powerful hitter at the back end of the No. 1 team in the nation. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior has 23 career starts, 163 career tackles and six career interceptions. The Fresno (Calif.) Edison product is an Athlon Sports All-American and Thorpe Award candidate heading into his final season.

33. Eric Reid, S, LSU
The hard-hitting safety became a force during his sophomore season, tying for the team lead in tackles (76) with cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. Reid also forced two fumbles, had two interceptions and recovered a fumble last season for John Chavis’ stellar defense. Reid was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after an excellent performance in LSU’s 9-6 victory at Alabama during the regular season. His critical fourth-quarter interception in that game was a top play of the 2011 campaign.

34. Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn
As only a sophomore, the former top 100 recruit realized his potential by leading the Tigers with 9.5 sacks. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound rush end finished his second season on The Plains with 47 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss and 15 QB hurries. He was the lone star on a defense that struggled mightily a year ago, but could emerge as an All-American superstar now that new coordinator Brian VanGorder is running the ship. Look for him to build around the future NFL draftee from Hialeah, Fla.

35. Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU 
As a sophomore on an undefeated team, Mingo finished second on the team in sacks (8.0) and led the team in tackles for a loss (15.0). While he may not be as complete a player as his defensive end counterpart Montgomery, Mingo might possess more explosiveness off the edge. He is long at 6-foot-5 and 240 pound and can get up the field with great quickness. He has first-round NFL potential and should only build upon his second-team All-SEC performance of 2011.

36. Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
Few players exhibit as much raw athletic ability as the 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety. After playing a hybrid safety position which required much more time in the box, Jefferson has moved to his natural position of free safety. He will be allowed to flow all over the field and make plays now that Mike Stoops and Tim Kish are calling the plays. Jefferson has loads of talent supporting him, so the Sooners should be vastly improved in the secondary this fall.

37. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Lewan, a 6-8, 302-pound junior, has started 22 games over the past two seasons at left tackle. A second-team All-Big Ten pick last season (by the coaches), Lewan will be asked to be the leader of the Wolverines’ offensive line following the graduation of Rimington Award-winning center David Molk.

38. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Klein emerged from obscurity last season to account for 40 total touchdowns, leading the Wildcats to 10-3 season and the Cotton Bowl. Kansas State’s emotional leader, Klein rushed for 27 touchdowns, tying the Division I record held by Navy’s Ricky Dobbs, and became the first Big 12 quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards since Missouri’s Brad Smith in 2005. The Wildcats also learned they could rely more on his arm as the season went along.

39. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Jackson Jeffcoat’s partner in crime hails from an Austin suburb called Pflugerville. “Big Oak” has played in 39 games in his Longhorn career and is coming off his best season. The 6-foot-4, 265 pound end set career highs in tackles (56), tackles for a loss (14.0) and sacks (7.0) to go with 14 quarterback hurries. He earned AFCA All-American honors and was a unanimous first-team All-Big 12 selection. Okafor and Jeffcoat might form the best defensive end duo in the nation this fall.

40. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
The senior from Piedmont, Calif., has had an up and down career at Stanford. He has NFL potential, a savvy on-the-field toughness that has helped the Cardinal develop into a West Coast power. He has also dealt with major injuries on more than one occasion and an off-the-field issue. The DUI will cost him one game with a suspension this fall, but should he stay healthy, the 6-foot-3, 242-pounder could be an All-American this fall.

41. Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
Expectations are high for Davis to return to the lineup at full speed after missing the 2011 season with a broken ankle. In 2010, Davis emerged over the final seven games of the season to rush for 1,028 yards and 12 touchdowns during that span. The Hogs’ will look forward to his power, speed and vision to return to the lineup after Arkansas ranked ninth in the SEC in rushing last season.

42. Khaled Holmes, C, USC
With Matt Kalil moving onto the NFL, it’s up to Holmes to become the leader for USC’s offensive line. That shouldn’t be a problem for the California native, as he has started in each of the last two years and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors last season. Holmes made a seamless transition from guard to center in 2011 and should be one of the top linemen in college football this year. 

43. Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin
After starting most of last season at left guard, Frederick slides over to center to replace Peter Konz, a second-round pick by the Falcons in the 2012 NFL Draft. Frederick is not entirely new to the position, however; he started two games at center in ’11 — vs. Penn State on Nov. 26 and the Big Ten Championship Game vs. Michigan State. A 6-4, 328-pound junior, Frederick earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last fall. 

44. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Fluker has started 21 games in his first two years in Tuscaloosa but is on the verge of a breakout year. The Alabama native was a key cog in the Crimson Tide’s rushing attack, allowing backs to average 5.5 yards per carry and record 34 scores on the ground. At 6-foot-6 and 335 pounds, Fluker has the strength to dominate on the right side of the line and continues to improve as a pass blocker. Look for the junior tackle to push for first-team All-SEC honors this season.

45. Gerald Hodges, LB, Penn State
The exodus of quality players at Penn State has just begun, but so far the Nittany Lions’ star linebacker is staying put. An outside linebacker, Hodges led Penn State with 106 tackles last season as the defense ranked 20th nationally in yards allowed per game (323.9). When the dust settles with the roster at Penn State, Hodges, who also had 10 tackles for a loss last season, might be one of the few in contention for All-Big Ten honors or more.
 
46. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
A highly regarded recruit when he signed with Miami in 2008, he struggled to earn regular playing time before he transferred to Kansas State. Back in his home state, Brown anchored the Kansas State linebacker group. He finished with 101 tackles and 9.5 tackles for a loss, using his speed to help K-State finish 37th nationally in rush defense. 
 
47. Nickell Robey, CB, USC
An All-State second-team baseball player and district long jump champion, Robey faced no mystery of where he’d fit at USC. The junior has started every game in the secondary since he arrived on campus. Robey will make a bid at All-America status after recording 63 tackles, nine pass breakups and two interceptions last season (including one returned for a touchdown in the triple-overtime loss to Stanford).

48. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
With his combination of size and athleticism, Short is drawing attention from NFL scouts and is expected to be a first-round pick in 2013. The East Chicago native has started all three seasons at Purdue and is coming off his best year, recording 54 stops, 17 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks. Improving the run defense is one of the top priorities for coach Danny Hope this season, but Short’s return to West Lafayette should help the Boilermakers improve on last year’s statistics (9th in the Big Ten in rushing defense). Short was named Purdue’s team defensive MVP last season and is an Athlon second-team All-American for 2012. 

49. Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Hankins is developing into the next great defensive lineman to come out of the Ohio State program. In his first year as a starter last fall, the Michigan native recorded 67 total tackles, including 14 for a loss and three sacks. The large but nimble Hankins has slimmed down to 317 pounds for his junior season. “Hank is now a little less of an immovable object and more of an unstoppable force,” says Ohio State center Corey Linsley. 

50. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford
The outside linebacker from Marietta, Ga., became an instant playmaker on on the Stanford defense the last three seasons, recording 46 tackles for a loss during that span. He led the Pac-12 last season with 2.1 tackles behind the line last season while forcing five fumbles. With Shayne Skov back, he and Thomas could be one of the nation’s best linebacker tandems.
 

 

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Every year, college football fans are introduced to a handful of players that become household names by the end of the season. Predicting which players will breakout any year is never an easy task. 

Defining what is a breakout player is nearly impossible. Everyone has a different perspective on how players are viewed around the conference and nationally. Athlon's list of breakout players for 2012 tries to take into account which names will be known nationally by the end of season. 

College Football's Top 15 Breakout Players for 2012

Stephone Anthony, LB, ClemsonAnthony was a big-time recruit and didn’t disappoint for Clemson’s defense last season. As a true freshman, he played in all 13 games and recorded 32 tackles for a loss and two sacks. The Tigers suffered some key losses on the defensive line, which will force even more pressure on Anthony and the linebacking corps to stuff the run. The sophomore is having a solid fall camp and will start at middle linebacker in 2012. 

Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona – It’s a loaded year for running backs in the Pac-12, but Carey could finish near the top of the Pac-12 in rushing yards. Arizona returns all five starters on the offensive line, and new coach Rich Rodriguez is implementing his spread attack, which has produced big rushing totals at West Virginia and Michigan. Carey rushed for 425 yards and six touchdowns last season, while also catching 15 passes for 203 yards and two scores. With a full complement of carries (200 or more), look for Carey to easily surpass 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Blake Countess, CB, Michigan One of the biggest reasons for Michigan’s improvement on defense last season was the play of the secondary. The Wolverines allowed 261.9 passing yards per game in 2010 but gave up only 190.5 yards per contest in 2011. Countess was a key factor in the defense as a true freshman, starting the last six games and recording 44 tackles, one force fumble and six passes defended. With another offseason to learn under coordinator Greg Mattison, expect Countess to push for All-Big Ten honors and emerge as one of Michigan’s top defenders.

Trey DePriest/Adrian Hubbard/Xzavier Dickson, LB, Alabama – Rather than single out one of these three sophomores, we are highlighting the entire trio as breakout candidates. DePriest, Hubbard and Dickson will be part of Alabama’s rebuilding effort on defense, as the Crimson Tide must replace Donta Hightower, Courtney Upshaw and Jerrell Harris at linebacker. DePriest had the best statistical season last year, recording 25 tackles in 13 games. If Alabama’s defense wants to finish No. 1 in the nation once again, it needs a big year from this sophomore linebacking trio.

Steve Edmond, LB, Texas Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho were one of the best linebacker duos in college football last season, so there’s no question they will be missed. However, Texas is never short on talent, and Edmond looks like a future star in the Big 12. He played in 12 games and recorded 16 stops last season, while also forcing one fumble. Edmond ranked as one of the top 100 prospects in the 2011 signing class by most recruiting services and is slated to start at middle linebacker in 2012. At 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, the sophomore has the size and strength to help immediately against the run.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa With injuries taking its toll on the running backs and the return of quarterback James Vandenberg, the Hawkeyes will likely lean more on the pass in 2012. Keenan Davis is set as the team’s No. 1 receiver, but Fiedorowicz is expected to be featured prominently under new coordinator Greg Davis. In his first two years in Des Moines, Fiedorowicz has 16 receptions for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Considering the Hawkeyes plan to throw the ball more in 2012, it would not be a shock to see Fiedorowicz surpass 16 receptions after the first four games.

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State - If college football fans weren’t familiar with Jernigan after his standout freshman season, it might be time to get acquainted. He quickly emerged as Florida State’s top defensive tackle, recording 30 stops and six tackles for a loss. Jernigan is already garnering plenty of attention this preseason, as he was named to the Outland Trophy watchlist and is an Athlon Sports third-team All-ACC selection. With another offseason to work in the weight room and with coordinator Mark Stoops, look for Jernigan to build off his impressive debut season.  

Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State Lunt has some of the biggest shoes to fill in the Big 12. Brandon Weeden led Oklahoma State to a Big 12 championship last season and threw for 9,260 yards and 75 touchdowns during his career in Stillwater. Lunt enrolled in time to participate in spring practice and impressed the coaching staff enough to earn the No. 1 spot over J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf. Asking Lunt to repeat Weeden’s success as a true freshman is nearly impossible, but Oklahoma State has a track record of developing good quarterbacks, and the offense can lean on running back Joseph Randle. Don’t expect Lunt to contend for All-American honors, but the Cowboys shouldn’t suffer much of a drop in production with the freshman at the controls.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon Even though Mariota has no game experience, he should keep Oregon’s offense among the nation’s best in 2012. The Hawaii native turned in a strong performance in the spring, finishing with 202 passing yards and 106 yards on the ground in the final scrimmage. Mariota held off Bryan Bennett once again in the fall and was named the team’s starter for the opener against Arkansas State. The Ducks have had a successful run of quarterbacks (Dennis Dixon, Jeremiah Masoli, Darron Thomas) and Mariota should continue that streak in 2012. 

Gabe Marks, WR, Washington State It’s no secret Mike Leach wants to throw the ball, and the Cougars are perfectly equipped to become one of college football’s top passing teams. Quarterback Jeff Tuel and receiver Marquess Wilson are two underrated players on a national level, while Marks has emerged as a solid No. 2 in fall practices. The true freshman is expected to join Marquess Wilson as a starter at one of the outside receiver spots. Even with Wilson expected to dominate the receptions, there should be plenty of passes coming in Marks’ direction. 

Trey Metoyer, WR, Oklahoma Finding weapons for quarterback Landry Jones is the biggest fall priority for the Sooners’ offense. Kenny Stills is one of the Big 12’s top receivers, but after that is where the question marks begin. Metoyer did not qualify last season and attended Hargrave Academy in preparation for 2012. He was one of the top receivers in the 2011 recruiting class and did not disappoint in spring practice, catching six passes for 72 yards in the Red-White game. Although Ryan Broyles will be missed, Metoyer’s emergence should ease concerns about the Oklahoma receiving corps.

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri – Richardson’s path to Missouri took a slight detour, as he spent two years at the College of the Sequoias, before making his first appearance at Missouri last season. Richardson made a huge impact in his first year in Columbia, recording 37 stops, three sacks, eight tackles for a loss and one forced fumble. A shoulder injury sidelined him in the spring but all signs point to a return to full strength in the fall. With another offseason under his belt, look for Richardson to pickup his performance even more in 2012.

Shaq Thompson, S, Washington – If Washington wants to have any shot at competing for the Pac-12 North title, the defense has to show major improvement from 2011. Although the Huskies probably aren’t ready to lean on their defense to win games, this unit should be much better in 2012. New coordinator Justin Wilcox is an improvement over Nick Holt, and Thompson’s arrival gives Washington a difference maker in the secondary. He ranked as the No. 6 overall recruit in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100 and will be expected to start from the opening snap.

Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame - With Aaron Lynch’s decision to transfer, Tuitt will have to take on a bigger role on the defensive line in 2012. As a freshman in 2011, Tuitt played in nine games and recorded 30 tackles and two sacks. He needed some time to transition from high school to college, but Tuitt was one of the defensive line’s top players at the end of the year, registering 26 of his 30 tackles over the final six games. The sophomore will is expected to start on the outside in 2012 and will be one of the team’s top pass-rush threats on the line. Notre Dame will miss Lynch, but Tuitt’s development could help the Irish own one of the nation’s top 10 defensive lines. 

George Uko, DT, USC – With the departures of Christian Tupou and DaJohn Harris at tackle, the interior of the line is a big concern for coordinator Monte Kiffin. Uko was a top 100 recruit coming out of high school and was a key member of the line rotation in 2011. He recorded 18 tackles and two starts, while also earning 1.5 sacks. Uko is expected to step in the starting lineup and will be a key cog in USC’s rush defense in 2012.
 

by Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Related College Football Content

Ranking College Football's Top 25 Quarterbacks for 2012
Ranking College Football's Top 30 Running Backs for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 30 Wide Receivers for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 15 Tight Ends for 2012

Ranking College Football's Offensive Linemen for 2012

Ranking College Football's Defensive Linemen for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 25 Linebackers for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top Defensive Backs for 2012

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 15 Breakout Players for 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 06:33
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-1-emergency-starters
Body:

So, you drafted Ryan Aplin, Brett Smith, or Jordan Lynch, and didn’t realize they have unfavorable matchups in Week 1.  We understand.  You play in a 20-team league or a league that requires two starting quarterbacks, so you are probably searching the waiver wire looking for a last-minute addition to complete your starting roster.  Check back every week and take a look at our Emergency Starters, a list of players most likely available in your league worthy of a one-week addition.

Emergency Starters—Week 1


Joe DiSalvo: (@theCFFsite on Twitter)


Quarterback

Ryan Radcliff-Central Michigan vs SE Missouri State

MarQueis Gray-Minnesota at UNLV

Chris Coyer-Temple vs Villanova

Jonathan Perry-UAB vs Troy

Corey Robinson, Troy at UAB

Nathan Scheelhaase-Illinois vs Western Michigan

 

Running Backs

Johnathan Franklin-UCLA vs Rice

Storm Woods-Oregon St vs Nicholls State

Damon Bullock-Iowa vs Northern Illinois

Akeem Shavers-Purdue vs Eastern Kentucky

Isaac Bennett-Pitt vs Youngstown State

Kenny Hilliard-LSU vs North Texas

Kendial Lawrence-Missouri vs SE Louisiana

Alonzo Harris-Louisiana vs Lamar

 

Receivers

DeVonte Christopher-Utah vs N. Colorado

Reese Wiggins-ECU vs Appalachian State

Alex Torres-Texas Tech vs Northwestern State

Brandon Coleman-Rutgers at Tulane

Josh Huff-Oregon vs Arkansas State              

 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

Quarterbacks

Dayne Crist-Kansas vs. South Dakota State

Ryan Nassib-Syracuse vs. Northwestern

Tanner Price-Wake Forest vs. Liberty

Tre Roberson-Indiana vs. Indiana State
 

Running Backs

Shawne Alston-West Virginia vs. Marshall

Tony Jones-Colorado vs. Colorado State

Brandon Ross-Maryland vs. William & Mary


Wide Receivers

Dan Buckner-Arizona vs. Toledo

MeKale McKay-Arkansas vs. Jacksonville State

T.J Moe-Missouri vs. SE Louisiana

Devin Street-Pittsburgh vs. Youngstown State

 

For more college fantasy news and information, check out: The College Fantasy Football Site

Find us on facebook

Follow us on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email us:   theCFFsite@thecollegefantasyfootballsite.com

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 1 Emergency Starters</p>
Post date: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 04:57
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-1-odds-vegas-play
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 1 What are the odds?

Best Fantasy Matchups (Games with the most fantasy potential)

Toledo at Arizona

Line:  Arizona -10(O/U-70)

Projected score based on point spread:  Arizona 40-30

Best plays:

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

Arizona (QB-Matt Scott, RB-KaDeem Carey, WR-Dan Buckner)

theCFFsite projects:  Arizona 31-28

 

San Diego State at Washington

Line:  Washington -14.5(O/U-62)

Projected score based on point spread:  Washington 39-24

Best plays:

San Diego St (QB-Ryan Katz, WRs-Colin Lockett, TE-Gavin Escobar)

Washington (QB-Keith Price, WR-Kasen Williams, TE-Austin Seferian-Jenkins)

Also consider:

San Diego St (RBs-Adam Muema, Walter Kazee)

Washington (RBs-Jesse Callier, Bishop Sankey)

theCFFsite projects:  Washington 42-28



Troy at UAB

Line:  Troy -5.5 (O/U-60)

Projected score based on point spread:  Troy 33-27

Best plays:

Troy (QB-Corey Robinson, RB-Shawn Southward, WR-Eric Thomas)

UAB (QB-Jonathan Perry, WR-Jackie Williams)

Also consider:

Troy (WR-Chip Reeves)

UAB (RB-Greg Franklin, WR-Patrick Hearn)

theCFFsite projects:  Troy 31-28

 

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

Buffalo at Georgia

Line:  Georgia -37.5(O/U-53.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Georgia 45-8

Stay away from:

Buffalo (RB-Branden Oliver)

theCFFsite projects:  Georgia 45-9

 

Bowling Green at Florida

Line:  Florida -29(O/U-48)

Projected score based on point spread:  Florida 39-9

Stay away from:

Bowling Green (QB-Matt Schilz, RB-Anthon Samuel)

theCFFsite projects:  Florida 38-10

 

Central Florida at Akron

Line:  UCF -24(O/U-46.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  UCF 35-11

Stay away from:

Akron (RB-Jawon Chisholm)

theCFFsite projects:  UCF 35-14

 

Kentucky at Louisville

Line:  Louisville -14(O/U-41)

Projected score based on point spread:  Louisville 28-13

Stay away from:

Kentucky (WR-LaRod King)

theCFFsite projects:  Louisville 27-14

 

Hawaii at USC

Line:  USC -39.5(O/U-65)

Projected score based on point spread:  USC 52-13

Stay away from:

Hawaii (All players)

theCFFsite projects:  USC 59-15

 

Arkansas State at Oregon

Line:  Oregon -35.5(O/U-67.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Oregon 52-16

Stay away from:

Arkansas St (QB-Ryan Aplin, RB-David Oku)

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon 63-20

 

Oklahoma at UTEP

Line:  Oklahoma -31(O/U-62)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oklahoma 47-16

Stay away from:

UTEP (RB-Nathan Jeffery)

theCFFsite projects:  Oklahoma 59-16
 

Must Watch Games

Clemson vs Auburn

Line:  Clemson -3(O/U-62)

Projected score based on point spread:  Clemson 33-30

The Tigers will undoubtedly miss the play-making ability of Sammy Watkins, who is serving a two-game suspension.  If Clemson improves on the defensive side of the ball this season, they will emerge as a dark horse title contender.

theCFFsite projects:  Clemson 34-24
 

South Carolina at Vanderbilt

Line:  South Carolina -7(O/U-46)

Projected score based on point spread:  South Carolina 27-20

The Commodores are looking to make a statement at home Thursday night, but the Gamecocks have too much depth and should grab an early lead in the SEC East standings.

theCFFsite projects:  South Carolina 31-21
 

Boise State at Michigan State

Line:  Michigan St -7(O/U-55)

Projected score based on point spread:  Michigan St 20-14

This may be a favorable matchup for the Broncos as the Spartans’ bruising style of play should shorten the game and allow Boise State a chance to hang around long enough to spring an upset. 

theCFFsite projects:  Michigan State 20-17
 

Michigan vs Alabama

Line:  Alabama -12.5(O/U-42.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Alabama 28-15

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is a special talent, but the Alabama defense will be ready for the challenge.  Expect the Tide to control the lines of scrimmage and wear down the Wolverines in the second half.

theCFFsite projects:  Alabama 31-13

 

theCFFsite in Must Watch games (2011):

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

 

The College Fantasy Football Site

By:  Joe DiSalvo

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Odds to Determine Best Week 1 Matchups</p>
Post date: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 03:26
Path: /college-football/10-players-will-decide-college-footballs-2012-national-title
Body:

Every college football team has personnel issues that will be a question mark going into the season, but some have national title implications. LSU fell short of winning a national title last year, largely due to the struggles of quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee against Alabama. Zach Mettenberger could be the missing piece to LSU's title run in 2012, especially if he can help the Tigers stretch the field. However, Mettenberger isn't the only question mark among teams in the top 10, as Oregon will have a new starting quarterback, and USC has significant issues on the defensive line.

10 Players Who Will Decide College Football's 2012 National Title

1. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
With one of college football’s best defenses and rushing attacks, Mettenberger won’t need to win games on his own this year. However, the Tigers’ biggest weakness last season was the passing attack, which was clearly on display in the national title loss to Alabama. Mettenberger has thrown only 11 passes in his LSU career but ranked as one of the top quarterbacks coming out of high school in 2009. Mettenberger should give LSU a much-needed boost in the passing game, which will allow the Tigers to stretch the field more in 2012. However, if Mettenberger struggles, Alabama could surpass LSU for the SEC West title.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Considering the recent success of Oregon quarterbacks, and Chip Kelly’s no-huddle, spread offense, all signs point to Mariota becoming a future star. The Hawaii native edged sophomore Bryan Bennett for the starting nod in the fall and assumes the controls of one of the nation’s top offenses. Although Mariota should be one of college football’s top breakout players, his performance in the Nov. 3 game against USC could decide whether the Pac-12 Championship is in Eugene or Los Angeles. A first-year starter always has an adjustment period, but if Mariota can avoid any major hiccups, the Ducks could be playing for the national title in January.

3. George Uko, DT, USC
There’s no question USC should have one of college football’s best offenses. However, the defense is under the microscope after ranking 102nd nationally against the pass last season. The Trojans should be better in the back seven this year, but the line is a major concern. USC lost key contributors Nick Perry, Christian Tupou and DaJohn Harris, leaving the depth chart thin on experience and depth. Uko played in all 12 games last year, recording 18 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The sophomore needs help from the rest of the players on the interior, but if USC wants to win a national title, Uko will have to play a key role in stopping opposing rushing attacks.

4. Cameron Erving, LT, Florida State
There’s really no way to sugarcoat it: Florida State’s offensive line was a disaster last season. The Seminoles allowed 3.2 sacks per game and averaged just 112.2 rushing yards per contest. A big reason for the issues up front was youth, as Florida State started four freshmen in the bowl win over Notre Dame. The Seminoles hope they found some answers in the spring, as Erving shifted from defensive tackle to left tackle and will protect quarterback EJ Manuel’s blindside. Florida State is the favorite to win the ACC title but contending for the national championship rests heavily on a young line and how quickly Ervin develops at left tackle.

5. Trey Metoyer, WR, Oklahoma
After losing receiver Ryan Broyles in early November, Oklahoma’s passing attack was never the same. The Sooners posted 447 passing yards against Baylor but didn’t post more than 256 in each of the final three games. Although quarterback Landry Jones deserves some of the blame for the struggles, he needs more help from the receiving corps. Kenny Stills is a solid No. 1 target, but Metoyer is expected to emerge as one of the Big 12’s top receivers. The Texas native had a huge spring and all signs point to a monster season. If Metoyer is as good as advertised, the Sooners won’t miss Broyles in 2012.

6. David Ash, QB, Texas
Just like LSU, Texas boasts one of the nation’s best defenses and rushing attacks. The Longhorns led the Big 12 in total defense last season and have three backs that could start in 2012 – Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray. Texas doesn’t need Ash to be Colt McCoy, but he has to give Texas a spark through the air. Ash threw for 1,079 yards and four touchdowns on 174 attempts, but he also tossed eight picks and completed 56.9 percent of his throws. The sophomore will start the opener against Wyoming, but backup Case McCoy is also expected to play. With weapons like Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis on the outside, Texas should be able to stretch the field more in 2012. Not only does Ash need to jumpstart the passing game, but he also has to be more careful with the ball.

7. Danny O’Brien, QB, Wisconsin
A transfer quarterback from the ACC (Russell Wilson) turned out well for Wisconsin last season. Will the Badgers find the same magic in 2012? O’Brien had a terrific freshman season, throwing for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns in College Park in 2010. However, a change in coaching staffs prevented O’Brien from building on his freshman campaign, and he managed only 1,648 yards and seven touchdowns. The junior doesn’t have Wilson’s mobility, but he is a proven starter and a reliable option. With running back Montee Ball and the Big Ten’s best offensive line returning, O’Brien can be eased into the lineup. If O’Brien finds his freshman form, the Badgers should push for another Big Ten title.

8. John Theus, OT, Georgia
With the departures of center Ben Jones and tackle Cordy Glenn, the Bulldogs have huge question marks up front. Keeping quarterback Aaron Murray healthy and upright in the pocket is Georgia’s best hope at playing for a national title, and the coaching staff is putting a lot of faith in Theus. The true freshman from Jacksonville ranked as the No. 2 offensive lineman by Athlon Sports in the 2012 signing class and earned the starting right tackle spot in fall practice. Junior Kenarious Gates will start at left tackle, but Theus’ emergence will be just as critical to keeping Georgia’s offense among the best in the SEC.

9. Adrian Hubbard/Xzavier Dickson, LB, Alabama
With the departure of Courtney Upshaw on the outside, the Crimson Tide needs a new playmaker to emerge off the edge. Hubbard and Dickson didn’t play a ton of snaps last season, but both are physically ready for life in the SEC. Hubbard recorded 1.5 sacks in limited action, while Dickson picked up three tackles in seven games. Matching Upshaw’s production (9.5 sacks) may not come from one player, but both sophomores need to play a huge role in establishing Alabama’s pass rush.

10. Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina
Shaw made nine starts last season and finished with an impressive 8-1 record. After a sluggish performance in the opener against East Carolina, Shaw returned to the lineup on Oct. 8 against Kentucky and threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns. He finished the final three games of the season with three 200-yard efforts and eight touchdowns, while tossing only one pick. With Alshon Jeffery departing for the NFL, the Gamecocks need to find a new go-to target, but the offense will get a boost with the return of running back Marcus Lattimore. With Lattimore returning to full strength and a solid defense, Shaw doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards every game. However, assuming he continues to improve, South Carolina will have a chance to win the East and challenge Alabama or LSU for the SEC title.
 

by Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

 

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012
Ranking College Football's Top 25 Quarterbacks for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 30 Running Backs for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 30 Wide Receivers for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 15 Tight Ends for 2012

Ranking College Football's Offensive Linemen for 2012

Ranking College Football's Defensive Linemen for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 25 Linebackers for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top Defensive Backs for 2012

Teaser:
<p> 10 Players Who Will Decide College Football's 2012 National Title</p>
Post date: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - 05:39
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-2012-0
Body:

The 2012 college football season kicks off on Thursday night and the next 14 weeks are crucial to the job status of several coaches around the nation. Boston College's Frank Spaziani tops Athlon's post-fall practice hot seat rankings, while Kentucky's Joker Phillips checks in at No. 2. 

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post Fall-Practice Edition

1. Frank Spaziani, Boston College (20-19, 3 years)
The Eagles have watched their win total decline in each of the last three seasons and missed out on a bowl game for the first time since 1998 last year. Spaziani faces an uphill battle to keep his job after this season, as a challenging schedule will make a bowl appearance difficult, while the school will have a new athletic director in 2013.

2. Joker Phillips, Kentucky (11-14, 2 years)
The good news for Phillips? Kentucky has some momentum going into this season, especially after beating Tennessee in the 2011 season finale. However, the program has watched its win total decline over the last two years and getting to six wins in 2012 will be tough with a schedule that features matchups against Louisville, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Phillips deserves more time, but Kentucky can’t afford to fall behind in the SEC, especially with Missouri joining the East and Vanderbilt’s recent rise under James Franklin.

3. Derek Dooley, Tennessee (11-14, 2 years)
Another 5-7 season won’t be tolerated in Knoxville. The Volunteers have only one season of more than nine wins since 2005 (10 in 2007) and have failed to make a bowl game in two out of the last four years. Of course, Dooley isn’t to blame for all of the struggles since he has been in Knoxville only two seasons, but there are high expectations at Tennessee. With quarterback Tyler Bray and receiver Justin Hunter returning, the Volunteers should have one of the SEC’s top offenses. However, a rushing attack that ranked last in the SEC last season will have to improve if Tennessee wants to challenge Georgia or South Carolina for first in the East.

4. David Bailiff, Rice (23-38, 5 years)
Throw out a 10-win season in 2008 and Bailiff has just 13 victories in four seasons with the Owls. There’s far less scrutiny at Rice than there is at a BCS job, but Bailiff needs to show this program is heading back in the right direction after winning four games in 2010 and 2011.

5. George O’Leary, UCF (50-51, 8 years)
O’Leary is the first coach on this list that could win a conference championship in 2012 – sort of. UCF is appealing its NCAA sanctions, which have banned the Knights from postseason play and participating in the Conference USA title game. However, if UCF manages to win the appeal, this team is the favorite to represent C-USA’s East Division in the conference championship. O’Leary has had an up and down career at UCF, winning 10 games in 2007 and 11 in 2010 but recorded just five victories in 2011. With the Knights moving to the Big East in 2013, another mediocre season could spell the end of O’Leary’s tenure in Orlando.

6. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo (5-19, 2 years)
It’s been tough to find success in Buffalo, as the Bulls have only one winning season over the last 10 years. Quinn took over after Turner Gill left for Kansas but has managed only five overall wins, with three coming in MAC play. Buffalo showed some progress last year, nearly beating Northern Illinois (MAC West champ) and defeating Ohio (MAC East champ) 38-37. Branden Oliver is the MAC’s top returning running back, and the Bulls have six starters back on defense. If Buffalo can get more consistent play from its quarterbacks, the Bulls should improve on last season’s win total (3).

7. Dan Enos, Central Michigan (6-18, 2 years)
Enos has been unable to build on the success Brian Kelly and Butch Jones had at Central Michigan from 2004-09. The Chippewas have recorded back-to-back three-win seasons and lost six out of their last seven games in 2011. Central Michigan returns plenty of firepower on offense this year, as quarterback Ryan Radcliff and receivers Titus Davis and Cody Wilson are back. However, Radcliff must be more careful with the ball, and the defense has to improve after ranking 11th in the conference last year. With games against Michigan State, Iowa, Northern Illinois and Toledo in the first five weeks of the season, Enos has a chance to save his job by pulling an upset over either Big Ten foe or by beating two division rivals.

8. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech (13-12, 2 years)
Tuberville seemed like a perfect fit for Texas Tech when he was hired after the 2010 season. However, the results on the field have been mixed. Despite beating No. 1 Oklahoma on Oct. 22 last year, the Red Raiders did not play in a bowl game for the first time since 1999 last year. Texas Tech’s win total has declined in each of the last three years, and the defense will have its fourth coordinator in four seasons. With three easy non-conference games, the Red Raiders should open up 3-0. However, another 5-7 season will make it difficult for Tuberville to return to Lubbock in 2013.

9. Bobby Hauck, UNLV (4-21, 2 years)
Hauck inherited a program that had just one season over .500 since 2000, so it’s unfair to pin all of the struggles on him. However, the Rebels have shown little progress in his first two years in Las Vegas, winning just two games and were blown out in most Mountain West contests last season. UNLV has some promising talent on the team, but there is also lot of youth. Barring a complete disaster, Hauck should return for 2013. However, the Rebels need to take some steps in the right direction in 2012.

10. Mike Price, UTEP (45-52, 8 years)
Since posting back-to-back seasons of eight wins in 2004-05, the Miners have failed to finish over .500. However, UTEP surprised many by winning five games last year and could be in the mix for a bowl game in 2012. Price is in the final year of his contract, so there’s plenty of pressure to perform. Considering the personnel losses at Houston, Tulsa and SMU, the Miners have potential to surprise in Conference USA’s West Division.

11. Randy Edsall, Maryland (2-10, 1 year)
Edsall had a disastrous debut in College Park, and it will be a struggle to improve on last season’s record in 2012. The Terrapins will start a true freshman quarterback, and both sides of the ball have new coordinators. Edsall deserves more than two years, but he will be under heavy scrutiny going into 2013 if Maryland fails to win more than three games.

12. Rick Stockstill, MTSU (35-40, 6 years)
Stockstill was once considered a rising star in the coaching ranks but is coming off a disappointing 2-10 season.

13. Robb Akey, Idaho (19-43, 5 years)
Akey led the Vandals to 14 wins from 2009-10 but slumped to a disappointing 2-10 mark in 2011. With an uncertain future at the FBS level, Idaho needs to win to be more attractive for a spot in a conference.

14. Dewayne Walker, New Mexico State (9-29, 3 years)
Just like fellow WAC foe Idaho, New Mexico State is slated to be a FBS Independent in 2013. It’s questionable that an Independent schedule can work for the Aggies over the long haul but it has to be done to stay on the FBS level in 2013. New Mexico State is one of the toughest jobs in the nation, but the Aggies have lost at least nine games in each of Walker’s three seasons in Las Cruces.

15. Jeff Tedford, California (79-48, 10 years)
The Golden Bears have been up and down in Tedford’s tenure, recording 10 wins in 2006 but have 12 wins over the last two years. Only adding to Tedford’s hot seat is the opening of a renovated Memorial Stadium, while the Pac-12 North isn’t getting any easier with the arrival of Mike Leach at Washington State and Washington on the rise under Steve Sarkisian.

16. Dave Clawson, Bowling Green (14-23, 3 years)
Clawson had an impressive debut with the Falcons in 2009, winning seven games and earning a bowl trip to Boise. However, the Falcons have failed to build on that success, recording seven victories over the last two seasons. Bowling Green has a promising core returning for 2012, and the younger players this team had to play in 2010 and 2011 should be ready to lead this team back to a winning record.

17. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan (47-39, 7 years)
Cubit has four winning seasons and three bowl appearances during his tenure in Kalamazoo. Despite his success, the Broncos have not played for a MAC title since 2000, and some believe the program has underachieved during his tenure.

18. Todd Berry, Louisiana-Monroe (9-15, 2 years)
After winning five games in four years at Army from 2000-03, Berry was a curious hire at Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks have nine wins in his tenure, and it will be important for Berry to show progress in his third season.

19. Doug Marrone, Syracuse (17-20, 3 years)
With a move to the ACC on the horizon for 2013, Marrone hopes to show the program is back on track in 2012. The Orange won eight games in 2010 but slipped back to 5-7 last year. Marrone is a good fit at Syracuse but another disappointing season will have him squarely on the hot seat entering 2013.

20. Mack Brown, Texas (141-39, 14 years)
Even though Brown needs just 27 victories to become Texas’ all-time winningest coach, there’s always pressure to perform in Austin. The Longhorns are on the right track but another 5-7 or 6-6 season will make the fanbase even more restless.


by Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

 

Related College Football Content

Ranking College Football's Top 25 Quarterbacks for 2012
Ranking College Football's Top 30 Running Backs for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 30 Wide Receivers for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 15 Tight Ends for 2012

Ranking College Football's Offensive Linemen for 2012

Ranking College Football's Defensive Linemen for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 25 Linebackers for 2012

Ranking College Football's Top Defensive Backs for 2012

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012</p>
Post date: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - 05:37
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It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak during the year. In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2012, Athlon asked coaches around each conference to talk anonymously about their opponents. Below is a collection of quotes from Athlon's conference-by-conference scouting for teams in Athlon's Top 25 

College Football Coaches Talk Anonymously About Top 25 Teams

1. USC

Opposing coaches size up the Trojans: 

“I don’t know how many people I talked to that laughed, yes laughed, when Lane Kiffin got the USC job. Then they got a two-year bowl ban and it was only a matter of time before the program imploded on itself. Well, Kiffin proved everyone wrong. The Trojans made drastic improvement last season, posting 10 victories, probably should have been 11. They let the Stanford game get away. The only stinker was at Arizona State. And now here comes this year. Watch out. The Trojans are loaded. They are the clear-cut favorites in the Pac-12, and if anyone has a chance to dethrone the SEC as national champions, I’m going with the Trojans.

Call it East Coast bias, but (quarterback) Matt Barkley should have received more Heisman consideration last season. That won’t be a problem this year. He’s got Robert Woods and Marqise Lee back at receiver along with tailback Curtis McNeal. They are absolutely loaded at wide receiver. Those guys are really, really good.

Safety T.J. McDonald and cornerback Nickell Robey give the Trojans one of the nation’s top secondaries. It all will come down to Nov. 3 when Oregon visits USC. At this point I wouldn’t bet against Kiffin.”

2. LSU

Opposing coaches size up the Tigers: 

“They have the best secondary in college football probably, even without Morris Claiborne. They did lose their secondary coach, Ron Cooper; he went to coach the Tampa Bay Bucs with Greg Schiano, and they brought the guy from Nebraska (Corey Raymond) in. I’m not sure losing Cooper is a big deal.

They are big and very, very good up front on defense. They have so many guys who can play.

Their performance in the national title game was disappointing. They should have played better. They were a better team than they showed that day.

One thing that is amazing about what they did last year — they scored nine non-offensive touchdowns. We used that as an example to our team throughout the spring. You can score points in so many other ways than just on offense.

I’ve heard good things about Zach Mettenberger. He’s a big kid who can make all of the throws. If he settles in, watch out. If that team gets really good play from the quarterback position, I’m not sure anyone can beat them.

John Chavis always does a good job. He’s well-respected. He has great players, but he is a very good coach.

They have so many good running backs it’s ridiculous. They can come at you with so many different looks. They will go five deep this year. They might not have the one All-American, but they have five who could start for 90 percent of the teams in the country.”

3. Alabama

Opposing coaches size up the Crimson Tide:

“The dropoff from Trent Richardson to Eddie Lacy might not be as much as people think. Lacy is actually bigger, I think, and he had some runs against North Texas, when we were breaking them down, where he looked like a clone of Richardson. He is very, very capable of being an 1,100- or 1,200-yard rusher next year.

They are so big and strong on defense. They can cover so much ground. They might not be the fastest, but they are all really good. They are long. Their secondary is unbelievable. They do a great job of recognizing run vs. pass, and when it is run, the safeties were awesome. The corners were awesome. Their defensive line, they weren’t great at rushing the passer; they were more middle-rush type guys and read-and-react guys. But they got the job done. And they are so well-coached.

Defensively, the just don’t make many mistakes. It’s hard to drive the ball up the field on them, but it’s also so hard to hit them with a big play.

I thought (tight end) Brad Smelley was great for them last year. Very underrated. He will be missed.

The quarterback (AJ McCarron) was underrated. Their receivers were underrated. Those guys made plays for the quarterback when they needed to make plays.

Alabama had the best offensive line in the league. They just pummeled you. They were awesome. Getting Barrett Jones back is huge. That’s like signing the No. 1 recruit in the nation, getting him to return.”

4. Oregon

Opposing coaches size up the Ducks:

“I was very surprised that Chip Kelly nearly bolted to the NFL. He has a great situation at Oregon, and for him to nearly leave that for the uncertainty of the Tampa Bay Bucs tells me one of two things: He was trying to get out of Dodge before the NCAA came calling, or he really has a strong desire to prove he could coach in the NFL. I’m honestly still not sure which one I believe. 

Now that Kelly finally decided to stay, he has to find a way to fill some serious holes. Quarterback Darron Thomas left early to the NFL, and running back LaMichael James also is gone. Those are two huge key cogs in Oregon’s offense. I think James can easily be replaced. They’ve got Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas to plug in at running back. How well they replace (Darron) Thomas I think will determine if they win a fourth consecutive Pac-12 title. They like the guys they have there, but Thomas knew what he was doing in that offense.

Defensively, I think Nick Aliotti is vastly, vastly underrated. Oregon’s defense is better than most people give them credit for. He’s got a good nucleus back with six regulars returning. They will be good on that side of the ball.”

5. Oklahoma

Opposing coaches size up the Sooners: 

“Landry Jones decided to return for his senior year, and Mike Stoops is back in Norman. Good times indeed. Last year I thought Jones was the league’s best quarterback. (Oklahoma State’s) Brandon Weeden proved me wrong. I think Jones decision to come back will pay huge dividends for the Sooners. 

Last year was a major disappointment in Norman. I know that. Everyone knows that. The preseason No. 1 team ending up in the Insight Bowl is not good. Ryan Broyles won’t be back, but Jones will be just fine. The Sooners offense will continue clicking. They’ve got some really good young receivers that will be a big part of the offense.

The biggest question marks are on the defense, but that’s where Mike Stoops comes into play. The Sooners lost some studs on that side of the ball. Guys like Travis Lewis, Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis. I still think Oklahoma is the most skilled team and most physical team in our conference. And I have a strong feeling after the bad taste in their mouth from last year, they’re going to prove it this year.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this team this year. They should be very, very hungry after what happened late last year. Their performance against Oklahoma State was not good. In a rivalry game? That surprised me.”

6. Ohio State

Opposing coaches size up the Buckeyes:

“Last season, they had to deal with the suspensions of Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, Boom Herron and others to start the year. This time they have to deal with the realization that they are banned from playing in the postseason. Even with no hopes for a bowl game, Urban Meyer will quickly learn firsthand the expectations of coaching at Ohio State.

Meyer’s got most of the key contributors back from last season’s disappointing six-win team. Quarterback Braxton Miller is obviously the key to running Meyer’s spread attack. And Meyer’s got a good one. I have no doubt Miller will thrive in that system.

As promising as the offense looks with Miller at the controls, the defense could be even better. All but two starters return, led by defensive lineman John Simon and safety C.J. Barnett.

They are recruiting at a very high level. The first season might not be great, but they are set up to win at a high level in the next few years.

The schedule sets up very favorably for Meyer. Ohio State shouldn’t even be tested in its first four games before consecutive games against Michigan State and Nebraska. After that, the Buckeyes’ biggest challenge is their final two games against Wisconsin and Michigan. Ohio State should easily post eight wins under Meyer in his first season, and reaching double digits isn’t that much of a stretch.”

7. Michigan

Opposing coaches size up the Wolverines: 

“I wonder what Brady Hoke can do for an encore. It was not a bad Michigan debut for Hoke by winning 11 games, beating Ohio State and winning the Sugar Bowl. Although I’m sure Michigan fans would not list them in that order of importance. Now how can Hoke follow that up or improve on it? It won’t take long to find out as we’ll certainly get a good idea if Michigan can be a legitimate national title contender when they open the season against Alabama in Dallas.

Quarterback Denard Robinson is back, along with running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and wide receiver Roy Roundtree. Junior Hemingway, who was Robinson’s favorite and sometimes only target, is gone, as well as defensive stopper Mike Martin. There’s no way to overemphasize his importance to the Wolverines’ defense last season. Martin is one of three defensive line starters that are gone, but basically the rest of the defense returns. They made huge strides under first-year coordinator Greg Mattison, but it’s imperative that they are able to consistently stop the run, especially against Alabama in the first game of the season and in Big Ten play.

I think Michigan can be even better than last season, but now that they’re expected to be better, can they handle the added expectations? That is the key for them.”

8. Georgia

Opposing coaches size up the Bulldogs:

“If you look up quarterback in the dictionary, you would find a picture of Aaron Murray. He has nice composure, good leadership and a good handle of what they want to do. They might not be as sophisticated on offense as a team like Arkansas, but Murray knows what they want. He is a winner and has all the intangibles. From their perspective, the one thing I think they would say is that he has to cut down on his interceptions. He had some bad interceptions last year.

Orson Charles and Aron White will be big losses at tight end. Charles had the unique ability to flex out and be a wide receiver and create mismatches. He improved his blocking ability, too. He was also a dominant special teams player. He covered kicks. He did so much for them that a lot of people didn’t see. He is a high-character guy, too, from what I’ve heard.

I think Malcolm Mitchell and Tavarres King are an underrated wide receiver duo. Those guys are pretty good. Nobody talks about them as being among the best in the league, but they are very good.

Defensively, they might be 3-4 from a personnel standpoint, but they do a lot of four-down linemen fronts, so it’s a little deceiving. They have the one guy (Jarvis Jones) who is considered a linebacker, but they like him rushing the passer a lot.

Their secondary was outstanding last year. Made a lot of plays for them.”

9. Florida State

Opposing coaches size up the Seminoles:

“Expectations again will be sky-high for (Jimbo) Fisher. Can the Seminoles finally live up to them this year? I’d hate to have those expectations to have to compete for a national title or bust every season, but I guess it’s better than the alternative.

If quarterback EJ Manuel can stay healthy this year, I think this is the year the Seminoles break through and make a national title run. Manuel is a very good quarterback in a league with a lot of nice quarterbacks.

The reason I like the Seminoles a lot this year is because of all the talent they return — nearly their entire offensive and defensive starting units are back.

What’s scary is that the defense can be even better than last season when they were dominating at times. After their midseason hiccup in consecutive losses to Oklahoma, Clemson and Wake Forest, they didn’t allow more than 19 points in their final eight games.

Defensive end Brandon Jenkins could have left early for the NFL, but instead returned for his senior season. That’s huge for them.

If FSU is ever going to live up to the lofty expectations, this is the year. They’ve got the talent. But we’ve heard that before.”

10. South Carolina

Opposing coaches size up the Gamecocks: 

“When you play South Carolina, you have to stop 21 (Marcus Lattimore). Their gameplan was to turn and hand the ball to him. So from a scheme perspective, they weren’t that hard to defend.

I have the utmost respect for them. They won with a different formula last season. They had an outstanding defense. They found unique ways to move the football. It wasn’t the pass-happy teams that we saw from Steve Spurrier at Florida in the ’90s. They utilized the strengths that Connor Shaw has, which are his feet and his mobility.

From an offensive standpoint, South Carolina was the most difficult team to prepare for. They were just so good up front. They can play guys that are defensive ends and put them in as tackles and that can really screw up your plan. You don’t know where they are going to be, so it’s hard to get a double-team on them.

(Defensive end) Jadeveon Clowney was very good. He is long, and he is athletic off the edge, and if he doesn’t get a rush he can knock a lot of balls down. He can beat you in so many ways.

I’m not so sure how much they will miss Alshon Jeffrey. The Alshon Jeffrey from 2010 was a great player. The Jeffrey from 2011, I’m not sure how much they will miss him. I thought he got a little bit out of shape. From what people tell me, (freshman) Shaq Roland will be a guy who can step in and produce.”

11. Texas

Opposing coaches size up the Longhorns: 

“You see all that talent, all those resources, all that money and wonder why in the hell they aren’t winning big every year? The past two years Texas has been basically a .500 team. They haven’t been that physical, which surprises you, and they have some issues trying to find a quarterback.  

Last year (Mack) Brown figured he had to shake things up, bringing in Bryan Harsin and Manny Diaz as his new coordinators. Texas was a little bit improved last year with those guys, but I don’t think the natives are going to settle for 7–5 regular seasons for any extended amount of time. While they had so much talent, a lot of it has been green.  

I think they could make a big jump this season if a quarterback can take control and command of the team. David Ash and Case McCoy will battle it out. They both have their bright spots and limitations. … Running back Malcolm Brown is going to be a good one. He’s scary. He had a super freshman season.  

For the most part the defense played well last year. They were fairly consistent, but were on the field a lot because of the inconsistency of the offense.”

12. West Virginia

Opposing coaches size up the Mountaineers: 

“Well, I guess that head coach-in-waiting arrangement worked out after all for (Dana) Holgorsen. He was thrown into the head coaching position a year early after West Virginia fired Bill Stewart. For a guy who had never been a head coach and didn’t have the year-long transition that he expected, I thought he did an exceptional job. Everyone knows he can run an offense, but taking control of an entire team is another matter.  

Bad news for Big 12 defensive coordinators is that the Mountaineers return plenty of talent from last season in quarterback Geno Smith and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. They’ve also had a year to experience Holgorsen’s system so they’re only going to be that much more efficient. 

The biggest thing I’m interested to see is how the Mountaineers adjust to life in the Big 12 instead of the Big East. It will be a big difference facing teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas each week as opposed to the Big East teams. I think what will help Holgorsen is his time in the league as Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator. That will help with his familiarity with the league, but it’s still going to be a big adjustment making the upgrade in leagues and playing a much more difficult schedule. It will be a matter of will the Big 12 adjust to West Virginia or will West Virginia have to adjust to the Big 12.”

13. Arkansas

Opposing coaches size up the Razorbacks:

“They have a great scheme and great personnel. Losing Coach (Bobby) Petrino is a tough blow.  He is a unique playcaller, has a great feel for the game and a good command of the game. They still have the players, but his loss will be felt.

They have a great one in Tyler Wilson. They have tremendous amount of speed at the skill positions and gifted tight ends.

Here’s how good they were last year on offense: They lost Knile Davis, a first-team All-SEC running back from the year before, and they still had the No. 1 offense in the league.

Wilson gets beat up a lot. They have a lot of five-man protection packages where they are getting people out in routes quickly, and he recognizes that he has to get the ball off, and he knows that he is going to get hit. That being said, I don’t think they have an upper-level offensive line. That is one area on offense that can get better.

They can spread you out all over the field and still run the ball with some success.

They didn’t play well enough on defense, so I’m not really surprised they made a move and fired (Willy Robinson). The team was good, but the defense was just okay. They didn’t do a whole lot that confused you.

They are losing two really good players on defense in the end (Jake Bequette) and the linebacker (Jerry Franklin).”

14. Nebraska

Opposing coaches size up the Cornhuskers:

“Most places, if they had a choice, would take nine wins a year. Nebraska is not one of those places. Bo Pelini’s nine-win season was viewed somewhat as a disappointment — okay, it was viewed as a major disappointment.

The Cornhuskers thought the Big Ten would have to adjust to them, but it was the other way around. Nebraska’s only signature victory was against a Michigan State team playing the week after an emotional Hail Mary upset against Wisconsin. The losses were brutal. They were blown out by Wisconsin and Michigan and upset at home by Northwestern. The Capital One Bowl loss to South Carolina summed up the year.

Will the Huskers bounce back or will they regress? They have nearly everyone back, at least most of the key contributors, such as quarterback Taylor Martinez, I-back Rex Burkhead and wide receiver Kenny Bell. I like Burkhead. He is really good. Tough kid.

The defense also returns nearly intact, but last year they were simply porous at times. I can’t remember the last time a Nebraska defense allowed that many points. Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini moved on to take the head coaching position at FAU, so we’ll get to see if John Papuchis, who was their defensive line coach, can fare any better as Nebraska’s new coordinator.”

15. Clemson

Opposing coaches size up the Tigers: 

“Everyone is going to start with the Orange Bowl blowout. How in the world do you give up 70 points — in a football game? I think (Dabo) Swinney actually can use that game as a positive this year. Obviously it will be a major source of motivation, and he’ll certainly have to spin it the right way or the Tigers could regress this season.

Don’t feel too bad for Swinney: He’s gonna be just fine, especially with what he has back on offense. By no means is quarterback Tajh Boyd an unknown, but I really think he’s still vastly underrated. A terrific dual-threat that continues to get better and better and better.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins was a beast last year. It’s scary to think how much better he can get. With Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson’s got two of the nation’s top receiving threats. And don’t forget about running back Andre Ellington. The Tigers have some serious talent on the offensive side of the ball.

The defense had some issues last year, surrendering a ton of points late in the regular season. New coordinator Brent Venables needs to have an immediate impact.

The sad thing for Clemson is last year’s 8–0 start seems like it was five years ago. Has a conference championship ever felt so dissatisfying?"

16. Virginia Tech

Opposing coaches size up the Hokies: 

“Logan Thomas has slowly developed into one of the top quarterbacks in the country. I really believe that. He grew so much mentally last season and his game is at such a different level. With him back for his second season as a starter, the Hokies have to be considered one of the favorites to win the ACC.

Last year was supposed to be the year for Virginia Tech and Frank Beamer, but they couldn’t beat Clemson in the regular season or in the ACC title game. They have historically had a stud at tailback, but now with David Wilson gone early for the NFL, the Hokies might actually be a little down at the position.

Thomas is among a few returning starters on offense, so the defense might have to carry them, and with nearly everyone back, that is entirely possible.

While they had no solution for stopping Clemson, they did a good job handling their other opponents. They will be tough up front, returning the entire defensive line of James Gayle, J.R. Collins, Derrick Hopkins and Antoine Hopkins. I think they’ll have the ACC’s best defense. The biggest questions are if they can find a way to beat Clemson and will Thomas receive enough support from an unproven offense?”

17. Wisconsin

Opposing coaches size up the Badgers:

“What has happened to Wisconsin is fascinating. The Badgers have lost six assistants since last year. They’re now scattered all over the country. It will be interesting to see how the staff comes together this year, with some new faces.

They also lost quarterback Russell Wilson, who was basically a one-year free agent, but Bret Bielema’s managed to bring in another quarterback in Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien. I don’t think O’Brien will put up the numbers that Wilson did, but he doesn’t have to — his main duty will be turning around and handing the ball to Montee Ball.

Ball’s decision to return for his senior season is a huge boost for the Badgers. I think most people, including myself, thought he would be gone to the NFL. I think the fact that Ball returns keeps the Badgers in the running for a third consecutive Rose Bowl trip.

Returning linebackers Mike Taylor and Chris Borland lead what I thought was an underrated defense. For the most part, other than the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State and the Rose Bowl loss to Oregon, the defense shut down a lot of offenses.

If not for surrendering a couple of last-minute Hail Mary passes against Michigan State and Ohio State, the Badgers could have had an unbeaten regular season. The Badgers get both teams at home this year.”

18. Michigan State

Opposing coaches size up the Spartans:

“Kirk Cousins might not have been the most talented quarterback and he certainly wasn’t the most elusive in the pocket, but Cousins was the quintessential team leader and pulse of the Spartans. You don’t simply throw a new starter in there and replace someone with his character and integrity and all the intangibles he meant to the team. But that’s what Mark Dantonio’s got to try to do. Andrew Maxwell has the unenviable task of trying to replace Cousins as the Spartans’ quarterback.

If replacing Cousins isn’t daunting enough, the Spartans also must replace their top two receivers, B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin, and running back Edwin Baker.

While the offense takes some time to develop a new identity, the defense will be expected to do most of the heavy lifting. And the Spartans will be loaded on defense. Eight starters are back, including defensive backs Isaiah Lewis and Johnny Adams, linebackers Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, and defensive lineman William Gholston, all of which are All-Big Ten-caliber players.

I’ll be interested to see if the Spartans can return to the Big Ten Championship Game and also what kind of start they get off to with three tough home games early against Boise State, Notre Dame and Ohio State.”

19. Oklahoma State

Opposing coaches size up the Cowboys: 

“Hats off — make that Cowboy hats off — to the job done by Mike Gundy. What he accomplished last year was remarkable. Just look at Oklahoma State’s history. You simply do not win like he did last year, winning the league title and nearly getting a shot at the national title. Obviously the money Boone Pickens has poured into facilities has made Gundy’s job a little easier, but still you can’t minimize the job Gundy has done in building a program.  

Now the fun starts for Gundy: How can he follow up last year’s record-breaking season without the duo of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon? One thing is for sure, you don’t have to worry about how Todd Monken will be as the offensive coordinator after replacing Dana Holgorsen. So who replaces Weeden? I don’t think it matters: Clint Chelf, Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh. They won’t measure up to Weeden, but the offense will still scare you. They still have running back Joseph Randle. He’s big time. Will have a very good year for them.  

The defense sometimes is hit or miss, but it didn’t miss much last season. Bill Young’s group takes a lot of chances, but they pay off big-time. They also have eight starters back.

I think most people expect a huge drop-off for Oklahoma State. I don’t think it will be that drastic.”

20. Notre Dame

Opposing coaches size up the Fighting Irish:

“So the Fighting Irish hired Brian Kelly to turn in consecutive 8–5 seasons? I don’t think so. Kelly’s been an improvement since taking over for Charlie Weis, but I believe the Irish have been a little bit underwhelming.

Last year they probably deserved better than 8–5, but they beat themselves in so many games.

I still can’t figure out how Notre Dame lost to South Florida or Michigan. The close Champs Sports Bowl loss to Florida State summed up the season.

The quarterback position obviously draws the most attention. I’ll be interested to see what Kelly does there. Does he stay with Tommy Rees or give Gunner Kiel a shot? It probably doesn’t matter; the way Kelly pulls his quarterbacks, they’re all going to play or not play the same amount.

I think it’s imperative Kelly picks a starting quarterback and stays with him. It’s tough to play that position, especially at Notre Dame, if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder.

The schedule has its share of minefields such as Michigan, USC, Stanford, Michigan State and Oklahoma. So maybe another 8–5 record wouldn’t be so bad this season, even if the alums won’t like it.”

21. Stanford

Opposing coaches size up the Cardinal:

“I have to admit I was wrong about David Shaw. I thought with him replacing Jim Harbaugh, the Cardinal would lose their toughness and personality and would flounder last season. Even with Andrew Luck at quarterback, I just didn’t think they could be as good as they were with Harbaugh. Well, I’m officially an idiot. Shaw did a tremendous job leading Stanford to an 11-win season and it should have been 12. There’s no way they should have lost to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. This year, though, I’m afraid Stanford will take a little dip. Of course, it’s got nothing to do with Shaw, but having to replace Andrew Luck will not be easy. There isn’t a clear cut favorite to replace him, and that’s something they certainly must get settled sooner than later.

Besides Luck, they also lost some hosses up front. They had some great offensive linemen.

I expect running back Stepfan Taylor to have to carry the offense with an unproven quarterback and some new starters on the offensive line. The question is, how effective can he be without an Andrew Luck-type at quarterback?

Defensively, I think they’ll be just fine with linebacker Chase Thomas back. He’s one of the nation’s best. Ben Gardner is one of the league’s top defensive ends. They’ve got some players on that side of the ball.”

22. TCU

Opposing coaches size up the Horned Frogs: 

“I think everybody is interested to see how they do in the Big 12 this season. I think they will be fine, but you never know. It’s a lot different when you’ve got to play three or four tough games in a row. They’ve beaten some good teams over the years, but they have not played a schedule like the one they will be playing this season.  

It was shocking to see their defense early last season. That Baylor game (TCU gave up 564 total yards) was very interesting. We all just assumed they could plug guys in. Didn’t happen. They got better late in the year, but that was clearly not what we were used to seeing from a Gary Patterson defense. 

They’ve got really good talent at the skill positions. They are loaded at running back. I like (Matthew) Tucker a lot. Their wide receivers aren’t as well known, but they have some guys who can play. We will find out this year.  

I thought (Casey) Pachall was pretty good last year. Taking over for Andy Dalton was not going to be easy, but the kid did a nice job. He will be even better this season.

Losing Tanner Brock (in the drug scandal) is big. That kid was good. And he was going to have a big season for them. … They’ve got some good players coming in. (Devonte) Fields, the defensive end, can really play. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him get on the field early. The quarterback, Tyler Matthews, is a good get, as well.”

23. Louisville

Opposing coaches size up the Cardinals:

"Two years, two bowl games for Charlie Strong. Good for him. I’m glad he’s having success because I think a lot of athletic directors missed the boat on him when he was defensive coordinator at Florida. Only Tom Jurich had the guts and was smart enough to take a chance on him and it’s paying off.

Not surprisingly Strong is winning at Louisville with defense. Last year the Cardinals only allowed more than 25 points twice and nobody scored more than 35 all season. Now they return virtually their entire lineup on the defensive side.

They’re also loaded on offense. Eight starters are back, but none are as significant as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He was thrown into the fire as a freshman last year and I thought he performed tremendously. Defenses sort of figured him out later in the season, but that’s to be expected for a first-year guy. I really think he is a terrific player and his performance can be the difference between Louisville winning the Big East and being a top 25 team or just languishing finishing with another seven-win season."

24. Boise State

Opposing coaches size up the Broncos:

"Losing Kellen Moore and Doug Martin, I think that hurts a ton. They’ve got their system going and they’ve kept their coaches around. The system with Peterson is still there, but Moore was one of the best quarterbacks in the country. When you lose a guy of that caliber, they’re just not going to be the same.

It doesn’t matter who you plug in; you lose experience, you lose leadership, you lose that swagger that those kind of guys bring to your team. It’s going to be a big test to see what they can do.

I have no idea who was behind Moore at Boise. I don’t know how they’ll keep it going at that level. But they do a great job of developing guys.

The first time you see Kellen Moore in person, he’s 5-11, 200, he looks like a Backstreet Boy. But the dude can ball. They do a great job developing their skills and talent.

That’s always a tough spot in the schedule when you’ve got those guys. I think their cupboard’s pretty full."

25. Washington

Opposing coaches size up the Huskies: 

“What a way for Nick Holt to go out. That Alamo Bowl loss (67–56 defeat vs. Baylor) gave me whiplash. It reminded me of six-man football. That was possibly the worst defensive game I’ve seen so it’s not surprising that (Steve) Sarkisian fired the defensive coordinator after laying a major egg. They also looked defenseless against Stanford (allowing 65 points) and Nebraska (allowing 51 points). Sarkisian got a good one to replace Holt, bringing in Justin Wilcox from Tennessee. That’s a nice hire. I think Wilcox will do well out West. He also brought in Peter Sirmon to coach linebackers; he’s been at Tennessee with Wilcox. He’s a good recruiter and he played in the NFL.

Running back Chris Polk is off to the NFL. He carried the Huskies at times last season. They’ll experience a drop-off at running back but have a number of capable replacements in Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey.

Keith Price is a good quarterback, and he will be even better this year if he can stay healthy. He was banged up a lot last year. If they keep him upright, he will have a monster season.”

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<p> College Football Coaches Anonymously Scout 2012 Top 25 Teams</p>
Post date: Monday, August 27, 2012 - 06:29
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-football-irish-make-right-decision-start-everett-golson
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With Week 1 just around the corner, college football’s fall quarterback battles are winding down. On Thursday, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly officially made the decision most expected he would make all offseason: Everett Golson will be the No. 1 quarterback for the season opener against Navy.

Finding a spark on offense is one of the top offseason priorities for Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. The numbers weren’t that bad for the Irish last season, ranking 49th nationally in scoring and 35th in total yards per game. However, the offense struggled over the final three games of 2011, scoring less than 20 points in each of those contests. The Irish also ranked 118th in turnover margin - something that has to change if this team wants to have any shot at making a BCS bowl in 2012.

When looking at the four candidates to start on the roster, Kelly really had no choice but to go with Golson as the starter. Tommy Rees wasn’t awful last season, throwing for 2,871 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, he threw 14 picks and is more of a caretaker than a playmaker. Sophomore Andrew Hendrix has good mobility but is still developing as a passer. True freshman Gunner Kiel ranked as the No. 2 quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class but needs another offseason to develop.  

Looking back at Kelly’s offenses at Cincinnati and Central Michigan, both teams thrived with a dual-threat quarterback. Dan LeFevour threw for 12,905 yards and 102 touchdowns during his Chippewa career, while rushing for 2,948 yards and 47 scores. The Bearcats had two pocket passers (Tony Pike and Ben Mauk) in Brian Kelly’s first two years, but Zach Collaros played a key role in leading Cincinnati to the 2009 Big East title.

No matter which quarterback Kelly chose to start, it probably wouldn’t change Notre Dame’s win total this season. The Irish have one of the most difficult schedules in college football, as they host Michigan, Stanford and BYU, while playing at Michigan State, Oklahoma and USC.

Considering Rees had his chance last season and isn’t much of a difference maker, going with Golson made the most sense for Notre Dame. Sure, the redshirt freshman will make mistakes, but there’s a lot to like in terms of upside.

Golson doesn’t have prototypical quarterback size, as he checks in at 6-foot and 185 pounds. The South Carolina native was a finalist to win the state’s Mr. Football award in 2010 and threw 151 touchdown passes during his high school career. Golson ranked among the top 25 quarterbacks in the 2011 recruiting class but spent last year redshirting and learning the offense.

Golson won’t have to win games solely on his own, especially with Notre Dame landing USC transfer Amir Carlisle to team with Cierre Wood at running back. While Golson may struggle early to find his rhythm as a passer, his dual-threat ability should provide a much-needed spark on offense.

Considering the inconsistency of the offense last season, turning to Golson and living with the ups and downs is the correct answer for Notre Dame. The only way the redshirt freshman quarterback is going to learn is with on-field experience, and he will get plenty of that with a challenging schedule.

As usual, Notre Dame’s 2013 slate isn’t much easier, as games against Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, USC and Stanford could all be top-25 battles. However, the Irish bring back a solid core, and Golson will be better with a full year under his belt. 

It was the obvious choice for Brian Kelly but choosing Golson to start in 2012 will pay off for Notre Dame over the next couple of years.


by Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

 

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Teaser:
<p> Notre Dame Football: Irish Make Right Decision To Start Everett Golson</p>
Post date: Friday, August 24, 2012 - 06:50
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-linebackers-2012
Body:

Notre Dame's Manti Te'o was expected to be a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft but made a surprising decision to return back to South Bend for one more year. Te'o is one of college football's top players and should lead a tough Notre Dame rush defense. Not far behind Te'o is Georgia's Jarvis Jones. The USC transfer was an impact player for the Bulldogs last season, recording 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss. After Jones, some of the top returning linebackers include Stanford's Shayne Skov and Penn State's Gerald Hodges.

When compiling the rankings, Athlon considered how each player will perform in 2012, some past performance, personnel losses around the quarterback, conference difficulty and pro potential. 

College Football's Top 25 Linebackers for 2012

1. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
In a bit of a surprise, Te’o turned down the NFL Draft for his senior year at Notre Dame. The Irish defensive staff certainly isn’t complaining, as Te’o’s play is deserving of the accolades and hype that is thrown his direction. He has posted back-to-back seasons of at least 100 tackles and has 28.5 career tackles for a loss. Te’o was a finalist for the Lott Trophy and Butkus Award last season and earned second-team All-American honors by the Associated Press. The senior is one of the top defensive players in the nation and should close out his career with another season of at least 100 tackles.

2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
This pass-rushing outside linebacker was sensational in his first season with the Bulldogs. He led the SEC with 13.5 sacks on his way to consensus All-American honors. Jones totaled 70 tackles last season, with a conference-leading 19.5 of them behind the line of scrimmage. He also added two forced fumbles and two pass breakups for a Georgia defense that ranked No. 5 in the country a year ago. Look for Jones and the Bulldogs defense to wreak more havoc on opponents in 2012.
 
3. Shayne Skov, Stanford
The senior from Piedmont, Calif., has had an up and down career at Stanford. He has NFL potential, a savvy on-the-field toughness that has helped the Cardinal develop into a West Coast power. He has also dealt with major injuries on more than one occasion and an off-the-field issue. The DUI will cost him one game with a suspension this fall, but should he stay healthy, the 6-foot-3, 242-pounder could be an All-American this fall.
 
4. Gerald Hodges, Penn State
The exodus of quality players at Penn State has just begun, but so far the Nittany Lions’ star linebacker is staying put. An outside linebacker, Hodges led Penn State with 106 tackles last season as the defense ranked 20th nationally in yards allowed per game (323.9). When the dust settles with the roster at Penn State, Hodges, who also had 10 tackles for a loss last season, might be one of the few in contention for All-Big Ten honors or more.
 
5. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
A highly regarded recruit when he signed with Miami in 2008, he struggled to earn regular playing time before he transferred to Kansas State. Back in his home state, Brown anchored the Kansas State linebacker group. He finished with 101 tackles and 9.5 tackles for a loss, using his speed to help K-State finish 37th nationally in rush defense. 
 
6. Chase Thomas, Stanford
The outside linebacker from Marietta, Ga., became an instant playmaker on on the Stanford defense the last three seasons, recording 46 tackles for a loss during that span. He led the Pac-12 last season with 2.1 tackles behind the line last season while forcing five fumbles. With Shayne Skov back, he and Thomas could be one of the nation’s best linebacker tandems.
 
7. Chris Borland, Wisconsin
After missing most of the 2010 season with shoulder injuries, Borland returned to action last fall and developed into a big-time playmaker at middle linebacker. The Ohio native led the team in tackles for a loss (19) and forced fumbles (5) and ranked second in the Big Ten in total tackles (143). Borland was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten pick in ’11 and has been named a third-team 2012 preseason All-American by Athlon Sports.
 
8. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers 
Shifting Greene from safety to linebacker paid big dividends for Rutgers’ defense in 2011. He led the team with 141 tackles, recorded 14 tackles for a loss and forced two fumbles. Greene was named a first-team All-Big East selection and shared the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year honor with Cincinnati’s Derek Wolfe. Even with a new defensive coordinator, Greene is primed for another big season and is projected as an Athlon Sports second-team All-American for 2012.

9. Jake Knott, Iowa State
If not for a nagging injury last year that eventually required surgery and kept him out of spring practice, Knott was on the verge of back-to-back All-American caliber seasons. Over the last two years, the Waukee, Iowa native has 245 total tackles, 10.0 tackles for a loss, eight forced fumbles and six interceptions. And he helped led Iowa State to a bowl berth last fall. He is a watch list candidate for every major defensive national award and should have his best season to date alongside A.J. Klein.

10. A.J. Klein, Iowa State
The combination of Jake Knott and A.J. Klein might be the best one-two linebacking duo in college football. Klein earned Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, recording 116 tackles, two sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss. He delivered a key performance in Iowa State’s biggest win over 2011, recording 14 tackles in the 37-31 overtime upset of Oklahoma State. He will shift from outside to man the middle linebacker spot in 2012.

11. Dion Bailey, USC
As only a freshman, Bailey proved to be an invaluable member of the Trojan defense. He posted 81 tackles, a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions en route to freshman All-American honors. Now, as a sophomore, Bailey has Butkus Award potential and the chance to lead the his team to a national championship.
 
12. Mike Taylor, Wisconsin
The other half of one of the most devastating linebacking duos in the nation, Taylor is entering his fourth season as a starter. Last year, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors after leading the Big Ten (and ranking third in the nation) with 150 tackles. With some issues on the defensive line and in the secondary, Taylor and fellow backer Chris Borland will need to be at their best in 2012. 
 
13. Michael Clay, Oregon
Clay is one of the Pac-12’s most underrated players heading into 2012. Despite missing two games last season, he recorded 102 tackles, three sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles. Despite his standout year, Clay didn’t even earn honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. Expect that to change in 2012, as the San Jose native will be in the mix for first-team All-Pac-12 honors as the leader of Oregon’s linebacking corps.  
 
14. Jordan Hicks, Texas
Few linebackers have the sheer explosiveness of the West Chester, Ohio native. He saw his first significant starting action last fall and should be ready to step into a bigger role as a junior. He racked-up 64 tackles in only eight starts and will undoubtedly make more plays in 2012.
 
15. Max Bullough, Michigan State
With Denicos Allen, Bullough makes up half of an elite linebacker tandem, and with the rest of the Spartans ‘backers, he’s in the middle of the best unit in the Big Ten. Bullough is a standout play-caller on the field and excelled as a run-stuffer for a unit that allowed 100.5 rushing yards per game (first in the Big Ten, ninth nationally). 
 
16. Jonathan Brown, Illinois
In a league that features Gerald Hodges, Mike Taylor and Chris Borland, it’s easy for Brown to be overlooked for preseason accolades. However, the junior should be one of Illinois’ top players in 2012. Brown recorded 108 tackles and 19.5 tackles for a loss last season, along with earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. Look for the Memphis, Tenn. native to raise his profile even more in 2012.
 
17. Denicos Allen, Michigan State
After playing mostly on special teams in 2010, Allen was one of the Big Ten’s top breakout performers last year. He played in all 14 contests, recording 83 stops, 18.5 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks. Allen doesn’t have prototypical size, but his speed and athletic ability allows him to wreck havoc in opposing backfields.
 
18. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
Reddick is a four-year starter at linebacker who finished second on team in tackles last season with 71 total stops, 39 of those solo. He was the Tar Heels' leading tackler in 2010 with 74 (48 solo stops) and was named to The Sporting News' All-ACC Freshman team in 2009.
 
19. Jon Bostic, Florida 
The Wellington, Fla., prospect is now the elder statesman leader of the Gators defense. He led the team in tackles a year ago with 94 total stops and finished tied with second 10.0 tackles for a loss. He has played in 38 total games and made 19 career starts. His 6-foot-1, 250-pound frame makes him the most physical tackler on the Florida defense — a unit that will have to lead the team should it expect to compete in the East.
 
20. Nico Johnson, Alabama 
The forgotten man of the 2011 Alabama linebacking corps, Johnson finished fourth on the team in tackles. This on a defense that allowed an astonishing 183.6 total yards per game and 8.2 points per game. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder from Andalusia, Ala., will be the veteran presence on the reworked Bama defense in 2012.
 
21. Sean Porter, Texas A&M
Porter was Texas A&M’s top defender last season, recording 79 stops, 9.5 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss. He earned first-team All-Big 12 honors and is expected to be the leader on the Aggies’ defense in 2012. Porter will have to adjust to a new scheme, as Texas A&M is shifting from a 3-4 to a 4-3 attack. New coordinator Mark Snyder still needs to find ways to let Porter attack off the edge, but the new scheme may prevent him from recording 17 tackles for a loss once again.
 
22. Tom Wort, Oklahoma
Entering his third season as a starter, Wort has become a complete linebacker over the years. He’s topped 60 tackles both seasons and added his first two career interceptions last season. He’s tough and physical, but he’s filling a leadership void left by Travis Lewis.
 
23. Jelani Jenkins, Florida
The Northeastern prospect was an elite recruit and has proven to have athleticism to match. The only thing left for Jenkins to develop is a physical, nasty streak. Should he develop this aspect of his game, he has All-American potential – especially, with 23 career starts in two seasons under his belt.
 
24. Steve Beauharnais, Rutgers
It’s easy to overlook Beauharnais considering he plays next to All-American candidate Khaseem Greene. However, the senior is one of the Big East’s premier defenders, as evidenced by his 16 tackles for a loss and five sacks last year. Beauharnais will have to adjust to a new coordinator but he should close out his Rutgers’ career with a standout senior season.
 
25. Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech
Taylor led the team in tackles in 2010 and was doing the same through the first eight games of last season before suffering a leg injury that cut his junior campaign short. Despite missing the last six games, Taylor still earned honorable mention All-ACC recognition after posting a total of 53 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and five sacks in less than eight full games.
 
Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 25 Linebackers for 2012</p>
Post date: Friday, August 24, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-defensive-backs-2012
Body:

Interception totals can be fluky, but even when you take away his 13 picks from last season, NC State's David Amerson is one of college football's top defenders. At 6-foot-3 Amerson has the size to match up against any receiver in the ACC or across the nation. Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks has quietly emerged as one of the top corners in college football and is an Athlon Sports first-team All-American for 2012. USC's T.J. McDonald leads the way at safety but LSU's Eric Reid, Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson and Oregon's John Boyett will push him for the No. 1 ranking this season.

When compiling the rankings, Athlon considered how each player will perform in 2012, some past performance, personnel losses around the quarterback, conference difficulty and pro potential. 

College Football's Top 20 Cornerbacks for 2012

1. David Amerson, NC State
At 6-foot-3, 194 pounds, Amerson has uncommon size for a cornerback. He also put up uncommon results last season. His 13 interceptions last season were an ACC record and one short of the FBS record held by Washington’s Al Worley. Amerson had four multi-interception games last season and returned two picks for touchdowns. Hard to believe, but Amerson did not have any interceptions in his first season in 2010.

2. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
While LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu will grab headlines for being one of the nation’s top playmakers at cornerbacks, Banks is quietly the SEC’s No. 1 coverman. He started all 13 games last season and earned first-team All-SEC honors, while recording 71 tackles and three forced fumbles. Banks is already drawing significant interest from the NFL, especially with his 6-foot-2 frame. The Mississippi native is an Athlon Sports first-team All-American for 2012.

3. Nickell Robey, USC
An All-State second-team baseball player and district long jump champion, Robey faced no mystery of where he’d fit at USC. The junior has started every game in the secondary since he arrived on campus. Robey will make a bid at All-America status after recording 63 tackles, nine pass breakups and two interceptions last season (including one returned for a touchdown in the triple-overtime loss to Stanford).

4. Quandre Diggs, Texas
Just a freshman, Diggs stepped into one of the best defensive backfields in the country last season and fit right in. The younger brother of former Longhorn and San Diego Charger Quentin Jammer, Diggs had four interceptions last season. With Diggs a year older, the Texas secondary could be even better than the one that finished 10th nationally in pass efficiency defense.

5. Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
The Astoria, Ore., cornerback is one of the most underrated players in the entire country. As a lockdown cover corner, few in the league can match the Oregon State Beaver who has returned an interception for a touchdown in two straight seasons. He also took a punt back for a score against UCLA last fall. His special teams prowess make Poyer one of the biggest impact players in all of the Pac-12.

6. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
While Greg Reid will be missed, Rhodes was Florida State’s top cover corner and should keep the Seminoles ranked among the top 25 in pass defense in 2012. Rhodes had a strong freshman year, recording 58 stops and four interceptions and earning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. His play in 2011 dropped off a bit, but at 6-foot-2, 217 pounds, Rhodes should easily bounce back into All-American contention.

7. Johnny Adams, Michigan State
A third-year starter, Adams leads the top secondary in the Big Ten. NFL scouts will watch Adams closely in his final season on campus, a year after the Spartans ranked 18th nationally in pass efficiency defense. He doesn’t have the gaudy interception numbers (though he had three in each of the last two seasons), but he’s an elite cover corner and stands out in run support.

8. Tharold Simon, LSU 
When is comes to NFL upside and potential, few nickelbacks have as much talent as the sophomore from Eunice, La. He finished third in the SEC with 10 pass break-ups in only two starts. He has a huge frame for a corner at 6-foot-3 and 193 pounds and many believe he is the best coverman on the LSU roster. In fact, much like Morris Claiborne did last fall, Simon will likely be locked-up with the opposition’s top wide receiver. It won’t take long for Simon to become a household name nationally in 2012.

9. Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State
It’s never easy being a cornerback in the Big 12, especially when you have to face offenses at Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and now West Virginia. Brown has been one of the league’s top corners over the last two years, earning first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2011. The senior isn’t the biggest corner (5-foot-8), but he broke up 15 passes and is a physical presence on the outside.

10. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
A second-team All-ACC selection last season, Fuller established himself as the next great Virginia Tech defensive back in 2011. After playing primarily in the Hokies’ nickel package in 2010, Fuller started all 14 games last season – half of those at nickel back/whip linebacker and the other seven at cornerback. Fuller led the team with 14.5 tackles for a loss and also added 4.5 sacks and two interceptions.

11. Carrington Byndom, Texas
The Lufkin, Texas native has appeared in 25 games during his two-year career. He started every game last fall and recorded 57 tackles, 8.0 tackles for a loss and two interceptions.

12. Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Tide lose three starters in the secondary, including two first-round draft picks, but Milliner has experience with 16 starts in the last two seasons. Like many on the Alabama roster, he’s a one-time stud recruit taking his turn in the spotlight. Three interceptions last season indicate he might be ready.

13. Ricardo Allen, Purdue
Since stepping onto campus in 2010, Allen has been an impact player for the Boilermakers’ defense. He earned freshman All-American accolades in 2010 by starting 12 games and returning two interceptions for a touchdown. Allen followed up his standout freshman year with a solid sophomore season, recording 81 tackles and three interceptions. Allen has been picked to the Thorpe Award watch list (the nation’s top defensive back) and is an Athlon first-team All-Big Ten selection for 2012. 

14. Logan Ryan, Rutgers
As a Thorpe and Benarik Award watch lister, Ryan might be the top pure coverman in the Big East. The in-state product (New Berlin, N.J.) posted 67 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 14 pass break ups and three interceptions as only a sophomore on what was easily the league’s top defense. Ryan is getting plenty of NFL attention and could be tempted to leave for the next level with another stellar year of play in Piscataway.

15. Micah Hyde, Iowa
Hyde has been a mainstay in the Hawkeyes’ secondary over the past two seasons, with 25 starts at cornerback and two at safety. Last season, he tied for first in the Big Ten in passes defended (11) and added three interceptions. He is a 2012 preseason second-team All-Big Ten pick by Athlon Sports.

16. Nigel Malone, Kansas State
The senior from Manteca, Calif., didn’t take long to prove to be another JUCO gem for Bill Snyder. The first-year player led the Big 12 in interceptions a year ago with seven and is the leading returnee in what is a depleted secondary. Expect quarterbacks to avoid Malone’s side of the field this time around.

17. Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma
Improving the pass defense is one of the top priorities for new coordinator Mike Stoops. The Sooners allowed 241.5 yards per game through the air last season, including 485 in the loss to Baylor. Hurst was a second-team All-Big 12 selection last season and has started 27 games over the last two years. The senior should be Oklahoma’s top corner, but this unit will have an uphill battle to earn first-team all-conference honors with Quandre Diggs, Brodrick Brown, Nigel Malone and Carrington Byndom all returning.

18. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Gilbert’s ability to cover wide receivers on the edge isn't the only thing he does extremely well. He is one of the league's fastest players and can be a dangerous return specialist as well — as indicated by his OSU record four kick return touchdowns.

19. Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Roby was a consensus three-star recruit out of Suwanee, Ga., but he must have learned something in his redshirt season in Columbus. The sophomore stepped right into the starting cornerback job last season. After finishing with 47 tackles and three interceptions in 2011, the new staff hopes to take advantage of Roby’s playmaking ability in his second season on the field.

20. Merrill Noel, Wake Forest
Jim Grobe’s penchant for redshirting freshmen paid off again as Noel was widely recognized as a freshman All-American last season. The ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year had an astonishing 19 pass breakouts to go with 66 tackles and two picks.
 

College Football's Top 20 Safeties for 2012

1. T.J. McDonald, USC
The USC legacy — his father Tim was a two-time All-American at USC from 1983-1986 — is a powerful hitter at the back end of the No. 1 team in the nation. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior has 23 career starts, 163 career tackles and six career interceptions. The Fresno (Calif.) Edison product is an Athlon Sports All-American and Thorpe Award candidate heading into his final season.

2. Eric Reid, LSU
The hard-hitting safety became a force during his sophomore season, tying for the team lead in tackles (76) with cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. Reid also forced two fumbles, had two interceptions and recovered a fumble last season for John Chavis’ stellar defense. Reid was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after an excellent performance in LSU’s 9-6 victory at Alabama during the regular season. His critical fourth-quarter interception in that game was a top play of the 2011 campaign.

3. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
Few players exhibit as much raw athletic ability as the 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety. After playing a hybrid safety position which required much more time in the box, Jefferson has moved to his natural position of free safety. He will be allowed to flow all over the field and make plays now that Mike Stoops and Tim Kish are calling the plays. Jefferson has loads of talent supporting him, so the Sooners should be vastly improved in the secondary this fall.

4. John Boyett, Oregon
Playing for an underrated defense, Boyett’s status as one of the nation’s best safeties does not get much attention. Entering his fourth-season as a starter, Boyett has 276 career tackles. He fell one tackle short in 2010 of leading the Ducks in tackles in each of his three seasons on campus. Boyett is a touchdown-saving safety who also has nine career interceptions.

5. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
A stable force at the back end of Mack Brown’s defense since 2009, Vaccarro has played in 38 games in three seasons. The Brownwood, Texas safety nearly claimed the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award (honorable mention POY). He did a little bit of everything for Manny Diaz last fall as he set career highs in tackles (82) but also proved to be able to get into the opponent’s backfield with 8.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks. With loads of starting experience, and plenty of talent around him, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder is easily one of the best safeties in the nation.

6. Matt Elam, Florida
Elam is the key player in a secondary that could be one of the SEC’s best. Elam was one of only five Gators to start every game last season, recording 78 tackles with 11 for a loss and seven pass break ups.

7. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
After playing in all 14 games at cornerback as a true freshman in 2010, Joyner moved back to safety in time for 2011 and emerged as one of the ACC’s top defensive backs. He recorded 54 stops and four interceptions, while earning first-team All-ACC honors. At 5-foot-8 and 195 pounds, Joyner is a tad undersized for safety, but his physical presence, speed and range make up for any concerns about his height.

8. Robert Lester, Alabama
With Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick off to the NFL, the secondary needs a big year from Lester. The Alabama native been a starter over the last two years, earned second-team All-SEC honors in 2010 and has picked off 10 passes in his career. With inexperience at cornerback, Lester’s leadership will be valuable to a unit that could be under attack early in the year with games against Michigan and Arkansas. The senior is an Athlon Sports second-team All-SEC selection for 2012.

9. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
Rambo may be absent for the start of the season due to a suspension, which would be a major blow to the Georgia defense. Rambo was an AP first-team All-American last season after recording 55 tackles with a team-leading eight interceptions. Rambo was the key playmaker for a secondary that helped Georgia finish fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense.

10. C.J. Barnett, Ohio State
Barnett missed all but two games of 2010 but didn’t miss a beat when he returned to the Buckeyes last season. He led Ohio State with 75 tackles and provided his share of thundering hits in the secondary. He also had interceptions against Miami and Michigan State.

11. Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State
Lewis quietly earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last season, recording 74 tackles and four interceptions in his first year as a starter. The junior is regarded as one of the biggest hitters in the Big Ten and will have to assume more of a leadership role in 2012 with the departure of Trenton Robinson. 

12. Hakeem Smith, Louisville
After a Big East Rookie of the Year award back in 2010, Smith turned in a first-team All-Big East season as only a sophomore last fall. The Jonesboro, Ga., native has quickly supplanted himself as one of the most versatile safeties in the country. The junior has posted back-to-back 80-tackle seasons and has a chance to enter the NFL Draft in 2013 with another great campaign this year. Especially, if he can lead the Cardinals defense to a Big East Championship.

13. Shaq Thompson, Washington
This special freshman is a once in a decade type of prospect and it won't take long for wide receivers and running backs to take note of the massive safety. He should start right away and will be a force in run support as well as a head hunter in the passing game.

14. Jarred Holley, Pittsburgh
Holley is entering his fourth season as a starter for his third head coach with the Panthers. Holley set a career high in tackles last season with 67, but he’s also proven to be a ball hawk with five interceptions as a sophomore and three as a redshirt freshman. 

15. Terence Garvin, West Virginia
Garvin has been a steady performer for West Virginia over the last three years and will play a key role in the new 3-4 scheme in 2012. The Baltimore native has 158 tackles in his career and recorded two picks last season. With the Mountaineers moving to the Big 12, the defense will be facing more pass-first offenses in 2012. Sliding Garvin from safety to linebacker should help West Virginia counter some of those passing attacks, while also allowing him to roam around the line of the scrimmage a little more.

16. Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
Dixon was a huge catch for Baylor on the recruiting trail and the former top 100 recruit is poised for his best season in Waco. He made 89 stops and recorded one interception last year, while earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors. Dixon will man Baylor’s hybrid linebacker/defensive back position and should make a push for first or second-team all-conference honors.

17. Earl Wolff, NC State 
In one of the nation’s top secondaries, Wolff locks down the back end. He is a physical player at 6-foot-0 and 207 pounds and it showed with his 105 tackles last year — good for second on the team. He intercepted three passes while playing for a defense that led the ACC in turnover margin (+1.08/game). The senior from Raeford, N.C., returns for his final season with eyes on a conference championship.

18. Duron Harmon, Rutgers
After spending his first two years as a backup, Harmon emerged as one of the leaders in the secondary in 2011. He made 49 tackles and picked off five passes, en route to earning first-team All-Big East honors. With another offseason to work as the starter, Harmon build upon last year's success with another All-Big East campaign in 2012.

19. Isaiah Johnson, Georgia Tech
Johnson is a player on the rise after starting all 13 games as a sophomore last season. The Georgia native recorded 78 stops and three interceptions last year and is an Athlon Sports second-team All-ACC selection for 2012. Expect Johnson to be active around the line of scrimmage, as well as contributing significantly to Georgia Tech's pass defense.

20. Brian Blechen, Utah
Blechen improved upon his standout freshman season as a sophomore, recording 78 tackles with two sacks, nine tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and three interceptions.
 

 

Writeups compiled by David Fox (@DavidFox615), Braden Gall (@BradenGall), Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), Mark Ross and Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

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Post date: Friday, August 24, 2012 - 05:54
Path: /news/tennessees-offense-suffers-huge-loss-darick-rogers-suspension
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No matter how talented a player is, there comes a point where you just have to let them go. Tennessee may have reached that point with receiver Da’Rick Rogers. The junior has been suspended indefinitely from the team, putting his status for SEC play and the entire 2012 season in doubt.

Making matters worse for Tennessee is this isn’t Rogers’ first incident. The junior missed a portion of spring practice and there was some thought he may be transferring out of the program. However, Rogers came back to the team and was expected to be the Volunteers’ No. 1 receiver early in the year.

Rogers was one of the top receivers in the SEC last season, catching 67 passes for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns. He recorded six 100-yard efforts in 2011, including 116 yards and two scores in the 27-21 win over Vanderbilt. Rogers earned first-team All-SEC honors last year and was ranked as one of Athlon’s top 15 receivers for 2012.

Without Rogers, Tennessee will have to rely even more on Justin Hunter and junior college recruit Cordarrelle Patterson. Hunter is returning from an ACL tear but if healthy, should be one of the top receivers in the SEC. Patterson was one of the top junior college recruits but it will take him some time to adjust to the FBS level.

Losing Rogers will be felt immediately in the season opener, as the Volunteers take on NC State. The Wolfpack own one of the nation’s top defensive backfields, led by All-American cornerback David Amerson. With Rogers suspended, NC State can leave Amerson on Hunter, forcing Patterson or one of the other Volunteer receivers to become the No. 1 target for quarterback Tyler Bray.

Rogers’ suspension is just another distraction for Tennessee going into 2012. The Volunteers are coming off a disappointing 5-7 season, and coach Derek Dooley is squarely on the hot seat with a 11-14 record over the last two years. Tennessee still has plenty of firepower on offense to make some noise in the SEC, but Rogers was expected to be a key part of the passing game.

Considering Rogers’ incident in the spring and his fall suspension, Dooley and the coaching staff has to wonder whether he is worth the trouble anymore. Although Rogers is one of the best receivers in the SEC, dealing with a constant distraction just isn’t worth it – especially for a coaching staff that needs a big year to save their jobs.

Even if Rogers returns during the year, there’s no telling how rusty he will be. It will take some time for Bray and Rogers to develop a connection once again, which could slow down Tennessee’s offense. Considering the Volunteers’ schedule, there’s no time for the offense to jell. After the opener against NC State, Tennessee takes on Florida in Week 3 and Georgia in Week 5.

Eliminating Rogers as a distraction would be the best move for Dooley and the Tennessee staff. However, considering what Rogers brings to the field, it’s a tough decision facing the Volunteers, especially in a make-or-break season.

 

by Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

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Teaser:
<p> Tennessee's Offense Suffers Huge Loss With Da'Rick Rogers Suspension</p>
Post date: Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 09:00

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