Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/college-football-2012-midseason-awards-and-recap

With the completion of Week 7, the first half of the 2012 college football season is officially in the books. As expected, there have been plenty of surprises from the first two months of action and no shortage of preseason picks gone awry. With West Virginia's loss on Saturday, the race to win the Heisman Trophy is wide open, with Ohio State's Braxton Miller taking a slight lead over Geno Smith. Alabama and Oregon are the favorites to play for the national championship, but both teams still have plenty of hurdles left to clear the rest of the way. While a lot will happen over the second half of the year, it's time to step back and take a look at some of the top performers and disappointments for 2012. 

College Football's Midseason Awards for 2012

Heisman frontrunner: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Geno Smith’s Heisman hopes didn’t completely disappear in Lubbock, but they certainly took a hit, especially considering West Virginia lost by 35 points to an unranked team. Due to Smith’s setback, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller takes a slight edge as the new Heisman frontrunner. The sophomore has thrown for 1,271 yards and 11 scores, while adding 912 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Miller ranks 17th nationally with 311.9 total yards per game and also places third nationally in rushing yards by a quarterback. Most importantly, the sophomore has delivered in the clutch this season. With Ohio State still searching for playmakers around him, Miller has produced big plays late in games against California, Michigan State and Nebraska to lead his team to victory. The Ohio State coaching staff would like to reduce Miller’s workload to keep him fresh for the final five games of the year, but the sophomore is simply too valuable and too much of a playmaker to take away his touches.

The Next Four Candidates:

2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
4. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
5. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon

Offensive Player of the Year – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Since Braxton Miller is listed as our Heisman favorite, we thought we would spread the wealth and give Smith the nod as our offensive player of the year for the first half of the season. Despite the disappointing showing at Texas Tech, the senior has thrown for 2,271 yards and 25 scores this year. Smith is completing 75.3 percent of his passes and has yet to toss an interception through the first six games. With match-ups against Kansas State and Oklahoma in the second half of the year, the senior will have a chance to climb back into the Heisman mix, along with pushing West Virginia into contention for a BCS bowl.

Honorable Mention:

Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State

Defensive Player of the Year: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Te’o has been simply outstanding this year, as he is the heart and soul for one of the nation’s best defenses through the first seven weeks of the season. The senior leads Notre Dame with 59 stops, has recorded two tackles for a loss, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Te’o’s impact goes beyond the box score, especially in terms of leadership and was a key cog in Notre Dame’s goal-line stand over Stanford in Week 7. It’s not often a defensive player is a serious Heisman contender, but if Te’o continues to perform at this level, he should be one of the five finalists for college football’s most prestigious award.

Honorable Mention:

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Coach of the Year: Mike Riley, Oregon State
After finishing 2011 with a 3-9 record, the expectations were low in Corvallis. Even though Mike Riley had resurrected the program from one of the worst in the nation to respectability, some wondered if he should be on the hot seat if Oregon State got off to a slow start this season. Fast forward to October, and the Beavers are in the thick of the Pac-12 title hunt. Oregon State is one of 12 unbeaten teams and quietly has one of the best resumes in the nation with victories over Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona, Washington State and BYU. The Beavers are a much-improved team in the stat box, ranking fourth nationally against the run and are averaging 83.9 yards more per game on offense. Oregon State has a shot to be unbeaten when it plays Oregon on Nov. 24, but the biggest takeaway through the first seven weeks is Riley remains one of the Pac-12’s best coaches.

Honorable Mention:

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Will Muschamp, Florida
Bill Snyder, Kansas State

Best Coaching Hire: Urban Meyer, Ohio State
As expected, Meyer and Ohio State have been a perfect combination. The Buckeyes had plenty of talent last season, but the uncertainty surrounding the coaching staff and inexperience of quarterback Braxton Miller contributed to a disappointing 6-7 record. Meyer’s spread attack has ignited an offense that was conservative under former coach Jim Tressel, while turning Miller into a Heisman frontrunner. Ohio State’s defense still needs some work but help is on the way from another impressive recruiting class. Even though the Buckeyes are banned from postseason play, Meyer has this team poised to claim a top-five finish at the end of the year.

Honorable Mention:

Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Biggest surprise: Notre Dame
It’s a tossup between Oregon State and Notre Dame for this honor, but since we gave Mike Riley the coach of the year spot, let’s give some credit to the Irish. Notre Dame is off to its best start since beginning 8-0 in 2012. High expectations surrounded the Irish last season, but Brian Kelly’s team didn’t quite meet those goals, finishing 8-5 with a loss to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl. However, the Irish are on track to finish with at least 10 victories and make a BCS bowl appearances. Kelly developed an impressive resume at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati with high-scoring offenses, but it has been the defense leading the way for Notre Dame in 2012. The Irish rank second nationally in scoring defense and are allowing just 287 yards per game. The offense needs to show improvement if Notre Dame wants to challenge for a national title, but a 10-2 season and a BCS bowl would go a long way towards making the Irish a yearly top-10 team once again.

Honorable Mention:

Oregon State
Penn State

Biggest disappointment: Auburn
No one anticipated Auburn would compete for the national title in 2012, but the Tigers weren’t expected to be this bad either. Auburn is off to its worst start since 1998, opening the year 1-5 with a narrow 31-28 win over Louisiana-Monroe as its only bright spot of the season. Both sides of the ball are to blame, as the Tigers rank 115th nationally in scoring offense and 78th nationally in total defense. Auburn’s quarterback play has been a disaster, and there’s too much talent on this defense to be ranked 12th in the SEC in yards allowed after six games. The Tigers have recruited as well as anyone in the SEC but the results on the field aren’t matching up. With only two winnable games remaining on the schedule, Auburn will likely miss out on a bowl game for the first time since 2008. Even though Gene Chizik won a national title in 2010, he may not be back for 2013.

Honorable Mention:

Michigan State
South Florida
Virginia Tech

Breakout player: Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
Although Florida’s defense has been stingy this year, the real reason for the Gators’ turnaround has been the offense. Gillislee had 920 career rushing yards coming into the season but has been a workhorse through the first six games. The senior has 615 yards and seven rushing scores on 120 attempts, while catching four passes for 26 yards. Gillislee’s best performance came in the win over LSU, rushing for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 34 attempts. The senior’s performance is a key reason why Florida is second in the BCS standings and is one of college football’s top national title contenders.

Honorable Mention:

Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern

Top Freshman: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Life in the SEC was supposed to be tough for Texas A&M. However, the emergence of Johnny Manziel has quickly turned the Aggies from a likely .500 finish into a solid top-25 team. The redshirt freshman has thrown for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns, while adding 676 yards and 10 scores on the ground. Manziel has tossed only three picks and is completing 69.3 percent of his throws. In addition to his stats, Johnny Football has produced several highlight-reel plays and will be a handful for the rest of the SEC over the next three-plus seasons.

Honorable Mention:

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Devonte Fields, DE, TCU

Coach on the Hot Seat: Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Phillips has experienced some bad luck this season, as the offense has lost two quarterbacks (Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles), while several young players have been forced to step into significant playing time on both sides of the ball. However, the Wildcats haven’t been competitive in SEC competition and suffered a crushing 32-31 defeat to Western Kentucky in Week 3. Although Phillips led Kentucky to a bowl game in his first season, he is just 6-13 since 2010 and the program has fallen behind Vanderbilt in the new 14-team SEC.

Honorable Mention:

Gene Chizik, Auburn
Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Jeff Tedford, California

Worst Coaching Hire: Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Johnson seemed like a strange fit at Southern Miss when he was hired and so far, the results have matched those initial feelings. The Golden Eagles have played a difficult schedule but are off to a miserable 0-6 start. Southern Miss has struggled to be competitive most of the year, before taking UCF to two overtimes in Week 7. Johnson’s career record as a head coach is 17-34, with previous stints at Gardner-Webb and The Citadel resulting in four .500 or worse seasons. It’s unlikely Johnson will be fired after one year; however, he may not last past 2013 if Southern Miss has another losing season.

Honorable Mention:

Tim Beckman, Illinois
Norm Chow, Hawaii
Carl Pelini, FAU
Charlie Weis, Kansas

From Hot Seat to Low Pressure:  Randy Edsall, Maryland
Edsall had a disastrous start to his tenure at Maryland, as the Terrapins went 2-10 last season and 25 players have left the team since his arrival. However, Maryland appears to be one of the most-improved teams in the ACC, doubling its win total from last season with a 4-2 record through six games. With starting quarterback C.J. Brown sidelined for the year with a torn ACL, the Terrapins have been forced to start true freshman Perry Hills at quarterback, but the young passer has held his own and continues to get better with each snap. Even if Edsall doesn’t lead Maryland to a bowl game this season, it’s clear the program is headed back in the right direction.

Honorable Mention:

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech

National Title frontrunners: Alabama vs. Oregon
There’s a lot of football left, but Alabama and Oregon hit the halfway point of the season as the favorites to meet in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Jan. 7. The Crimson Tide’s schedule is very favorable, with a road trip to LSU on Nov. 3 the toughest game the rest of the year. The Ducks have a few more landmines on their schedule, starting with a Thursday night game at Arizona State this week. Oregon also travels to USC, California and Oregon State in the regular season. If both teams manage to navigate the rest of the schedule unbeaten, each will have to survive a conference title game. Alabama has avoided the top teams from the East Division this year, but a match-up against Florida or South Carolina is no cupcake. If Oregon makes it to the Pac-12 title game, a rematch against USC appears likely. If this is the national title match-up, these two teams have never met and it will be Oregon’s second championship appearance against an SEC squad.

Newcomer (JUCO) – Morgan Breslin, DE, USC
The defensive line was one of USC’s top concerns in the preseason, but Breslin has emerged as a force in his first season out of the junior college ranks. The Diablo Valley (Calif.) transfer has 26 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss and seven sacks through the first six games. Breslin has been one of the Pac-12’s top defenders through the first half and his play will be especially critical down the stretch, as USC takes on Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA and Notre Dame in November.

Honorable Mention:

Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Will Smith, LB, Texas Tech
Deion Belue, CB, Alabama

Coach on the Rise: Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky
When the coaching carousel begins later this year, expect Taggart’s name to be floated for many of the top vacancies. The Hilltoppers have won 12 out of their last 14 games, with the only losses coming to Alabama and LSU. In the two seasons prior to Taggart’s arrival, Western Kentucky was 2-22. The Hilltoppers are in good position to make their first bowl appearance since moving to the FBS level in 2008, but keeping Taggart will be a challenge with a couple of marquee jobs likely to be open at the end of the year. 

Honorable Mention:

Gary Andersen, Utah State
Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech
Darrell Hazell, Kent State
Mike MacIntyre, San Jose State

by Steven Lassan


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Big East Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big Ten Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big 12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

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SEC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

College Football Week 7 Recap

<p> College Football 2012 Midseason Awards and Recap</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 11:50
Path: /college-football/big-12-2012-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review

The first half of the Big 12 season is in the books. It’s been a strong first seven weeks for the conference, as four teams are ranked in the Associated Press poll and only one team is out of bowl contention (Kansas). The Big 12 still has a legitimate national title contender, along with two players who could get into the Heisman mix (Geno Smith and Collin Klein). It’s still a wide-open battle to win the conference, but Kansas State, West Virginia and Oklahoma appear to be the frontrunners. However, Texas Tech cannot be ignored after last week’s win over the Mountaineers.

Coach of the Year – Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Underrate the Wildcats at your own risk. Kansas State was picked by most to finish outside of the top four in the preseason, yet hit the midpoint of the year as the No. 1 team in the conference. Once again, Snyder’s team isn’t overwhelming or overly impressive on paper but always finds ways to win games. Kansas State simply isn’t beating itself, as the Wildcats are averaging just three penalties per game and rank seventh nationally in turnover margin. Quarterback Collin Klein has carried this offense, averaging 264 yards per game, but running back John Hubert is quietly averaging 101 yards per contest. Kansas State is 3-0 in Big 12 play after seven weeks and has a huge test at West Virginia next Saturday. Snyder isn’t flashy and will never have the nation’s most prolific offense. However, the Wildcats are a national title contender and can take a commanding lead in the Big 12 standings with a win in Morgantown.

Freshman of the Year – Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
Fields was one of TCU’s top recruits and has lived up to the hype through the first six weeks of the season. The true freshman leads the Big 12 with 6.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss. In the 42-21 win over Baylor, Fields recorded five tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. With Stansly Maponga on the other side, TCU has one of the nation’s most dangerous end combinations.

Newcomer of the Year – Damien Williams, RB, Oklahoma
Williams came to Oklahoma via the junior college ranks and has helped to spark a rushing attack that ranked seventh in the Big 12 last year. The junior had back-to-back 100-yard efforts to open the season and gashed Texas for 167 yards and one score on 22 attempts last Saturday. The Sooners have one of the Big 12’s top passing attacks but needed to establish more balance this year. If Williams continues to average 7.7 yards per carry, he should be a lock for first-team All-Big 12 honors, and Oklahoma’s rushing offense should be in great shape the rest of the year.

Offensive Player of the Year – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Even though Smith didn’t have a standout performance against Texas Tech, he still gets the edge for the top spot in this category. Smith has thrown 25 touchdowns and 2,291 yards, while tossing no interceptions through the first six games. Although the win over Texas looks worse with its loss to Oklahoma, Smith threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns in a key road victory against the Longhorns. Although West Virginia is out of the national title picture, there’s still plenty (Big 12 title and BCS bowl) for Smith and his team to play for in the second half of the year.

Defensive Player of the Year – Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
This is a tough award to hand out after the first half of the season. The Big 12 has produced a handful of solid defensive performances so far but none that standout as the clear No. 1 pick. However, let’s give a slight nod to Brown, who has 47 stops, four tackles for a loss, one sack and three passes broken up this year. While Brown’s stats aren’t eye-popping, his presence has been a big reason why Kansas State ranks 15th nationally against the run and no opponent has scored more than 21 points this year. In addition to Brown, Iowa State linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein, Texas defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor, Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin, and TCU end Devonte Fields all deserve consideration for this spot.

Midseason Disappointment (Team) – Texas
With 12 returning starters and a three-win improvement from 2010 to 2011, most expected the Longhorns would return to a spot among the top 10 teams in college football. That’s still possible but would seem like a longshot for Texas at this point of the year. The Longhorns have allowed 111 points in the last two games, which is a shock considering this unit was hailed as one of the nation’s best in the preseason. Although quarterback David Ash has played better this year, he was off against Oklahoma and the rushing attack has been average the last two weeks. If Texas continues to struggle the rest of the year, it’s fair to wonder if coach Mack Brown will be back on the sidelines next season.

Midseason Disappointment (Player) – Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas
No one expected Crist to lead Kansas to the Big 12 title but most expected he would be an upgrade over last year’s quarterbacks. However, Crist has been awful so far, throwing for 1,088 yards and three touchdowns, while tossing seven interceptions. Redshirt freshman Michael Cummings replaced Crist against Oklahoma State and may see more playing time the rest of the year. 

Midseason Surprise (Team) – Texas Tech
After the disastrous finish to last season, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville was on the hot seat and the Red Raiders were picked by many to finish in the bottom three spots in the Big 12. A soft non-conference schedule allowed Texas Tech to build some early confidence, but it’s clear this team is no fluke. The Red Raiders owned one of the nation’s worst defenses last year but held West Virginia to 14 points and have allowed only one opponent to manage more than 20 points this season. New defensive coordinator Art Kaufman has been one of the best assistant hires in college football and has finally brought some stability to that side of the ball. As usual, the offense is deadly, but the defense has been a key point of the turnaround. Texas Tech still has games remaining against TCU, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma State, but getting to eight wins and a solid bowl game is a good sign for Tuberville and his staff.

Midseason Surprise (Player) – David Ash, QB, Texas
Anytime a true freshman plays the way Fields has through the first six weeks, it’s certainly notable and worth a mention in this space. However, since Fields earned the freshman of the year award, let’s spread the wealth a little bit and give Ash a mention. Sure, his performance against Oklahoma was forgettable and he may be out with an injured wrist this week, but Ash has thrown for 1,389 yards and 11 touchdowns through the first six games. The sophomore’s emergence gave Texas’ offense more balance than it had last year, but Ash still needs to play better than he did against the Sooners (113 yards, two picks) if the Longhorns want to get back to a BCS bowl.

What Athlon Sports got right: With so much uncertainty still surrounding the Big 12 standings, it’s hard to call much right or wrong at this point of the year. However, Athlon predicted Oklahoma would finish as the conference champ, which is still possible after its win over Texas. And it should be no surprise Kansas was picked to finish last in the conference and is clearly on its way to end up in 10th this year.

What Athlon Sports got wrong: As we mentioned with the other section, the Big 12 still has a lot to sort out in the second half of the year. However, it’s clear we missed on Kansas State, who we picked to finish sixth in the final standings. The Wildcats are the only Big 12 team without a loss in conference play and appear to be the favorite to win the conference crown in 2012. Also, picking Texas Tech to finish eighth seems low after the Red Raiders knocked off West Virginia in Week 7.

Second Half Predictions

Here's how Athlon predicts the standings will look at the end of the regular season.

1. Kansas State
2. West Virginia
3. Oklahoma
4. Texas
5. Oklahoma State
6. Texas Tech
7. TCU
8. Baylor
9. Iowa State
10. Kansas

Three Things to Watch in the Second Half

Who Wins the Big 12? – Through seven weeks, there isn’t a ton of clarity in the battle to win the Big 12. Kansas State is the conference’s only unbeaten team, but it has a showdown against West Virginia next Saturday. Thanks to a blowout win over Texas, Oklahoma cannot be counted out of the title picture. Don’t be surprised if the top contenders in this league each has at least one conference loss, which could make it difficult for the Big 12 to have a representative in the national title game.

Heisman Winner? – Even though West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith had an off day against Texas Tech, the senior still has to be considered one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman. Smith has 25 touchdown passes and has yet to throw an interception through the first six games. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein continues to inch his way into the Heisman discussion, recording 292 overall yards and three scores against Iowa State. If Smith and Klein continue to perform like they have, it’s possible the Big 12 has two players in New York City for the trophy presentation.

Where does Texas go? – After a 4-0 start, it looked like Texas was back on track. However, after the last two weeks, there’s plenty of unrest starting to creep back into Austin. The Longhorns have allowed 111 points in their last two games and there’s simply no excuse for losing to Oklahoma 63-21. If Mack Brown and his staff can’t find some answers in the second half of the year, is it possible a coaching change could be coming?

Five Games to Watch in the Second Half

Kansas State at West Virginia (Oct. 20) – This matchup has lost some of its appeal after the Mountaineers’ loss in Week 7. However, with a win, West Virginia can climb back into Big 12 title contention.

Notre Dame at Oklahoma (Oct. 27) – Barring an unexpected loss, the Irish should be 7-0 when they visit Norman.

West Virginia at Oklahoma State (Nov. 10) – Dana Holgorsen returns to Stillwater, which comes one week before West Virginia’s matchup against Oklahoma.

Oklahoma at West Virginia (Nov. 17) – If the Mountaineers beat Kansas State this Saturday, this game figures to be an elimination game in the Big 12 standings.

Texas at Kansas State (Dec. 1) – The Wildcats have won the last four matchups against Texas.

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Kansas State (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) – It’s not pretty, but the Wildcats always find a way to win. Kansas State’s victory over Iowa State sets up a huge showdown against West Virginia next Saturday.

2. Oklahoma (4-1, 2-1) – The Sooners have thrashed Texas by a combined score of 118-38 in their last two meetings. Not only was it a huge victory to beat their rival, Oklahoma stays alive for the Big 12 title.

3. West Virginia (5-1, 2-1) – The Mountaineers were due for a letdown after beating Texas last Saturday and having to make back-to-back long road trips. However, losing 49-14 is certainly worse than most expected and knocks West Virginia out of the national title picture.

4. Texas Tech (5-1, 2-1) – New coordinator Art Kaufman has made a huge difference in Lubbock, as Texas Tech’s defense shut down West Virginia and propelled the Red Raiders to an upset 49-14 victory.

5. TCU (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) – After losing to Iowa State, the Horned Frogs appeared to be in a lot of trouble, especially with quarterback Casey Pachall sidelined for the rest of the year. Not so fast. TCU rebounded with an impressive 49-21 victory over Baylor to move to 5-1 on the year.

6. Texas (4-2, 1-2 Big 12) – There’s still a long way to go in the 2012 season, but it’s fair to wonder if this program is any better than it was from last year. The Longhorns are out of the Big 12 title mix and now have to set their sights on getting to 10 wins and a BCS bowl.

7. Oklahoma State (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) – A weather delay certainly didn’t help, but Saturday’s victory over Kansas was an overall sluggish performance for the Cowboys.

8. Iowa State (4-2, 1-2 Big 12) – The Cyclones had a chance to knock off Kansas State, but the offense just couldn’t make enough plays late in the fourth quarter to get into scoring position.

9. Baylor (3-2, 0-2 Big 12) – After winning their first three games to start the year, the Bears have lost two in a row, including a surprise defeat to TCU in Week 7.

10. Kansas (1-5, 0-3 Big 12) – The Jayhawks gave Oklahoma State all it could handle but are winless in Big 12 play since beating Colorado on Nov. 6, 2010. 

by Steven Lassan


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SEC Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

<p> Big 12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:21
Path: /college-football/acc-2012-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review

The first half of the season has been an up and down affair for the ACC. After watching Florida State climb into the top five of the polls, the Seminoles suffered a disappointing loss to NC State, effectively ending any national title hopes. While the ACC is without a national championship contender, this conference still has a lot of intrigue to follow in the second half of the year. The Coastal Division is wide open, while the Seminoles, Clemson and NC State figure to be locked in a tight battle for the Atlantic crown.

Coach of the Year – David Cutcliffe, Duke
Despite the 41-20 loss to Virginia Tech in Week 7, Cutcliffe takes this award at the midpoint of the season. The Blue Devils are in the thick of the Coastal title race with a 2-1 record and need just one victory to get bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. Duke doesn’t have a marquee win, but it also doesn’t have a bad loss. With upcoming games against North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami, the Blue Devils won’t have an easy time getting to six victories. However, this is clearly Cutcliffe’s best team at Duke and should be able to find one more win to get bowl eligible.

Freshman of the Year – Duke Johnson, RB, Miami/Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
There’s not really much separating Johnson and Diggs, so we’ll give them each a share of the award. Johnson leads Miami with 428 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while adding 447 yards on kick returns. He ranks second in the ACC with 151 all-purpose yards per game. Diggs seems to be getting stronger as the year progresses, and he leads the conference with an average of 168.8 all-purpose yards per game.

Newcomer of the Year – Eddie Johnson, LB, Miami
The Hurricanes have struggled all season on defense, but this unit is playing a lot of young players, which will pay dividends for future seasons. Johnson has been a bright spot for this team, ranking second on the team with 39 tackles, along with recording 5.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and three forced fumbles.

Offensive Player of the Year – Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
There’s really not a clear standout for this award through the first seven weeks of the season. Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel and North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard each could stake a claim for the top spot, but Boyd gets a slight nod over his teammates (Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins). The junior quarterback has thrown for 1,748 yards and 14 touchdowns, while adding 224 yards and two scores on the ground. Boyd is an improved runner and is completing an impressive 68.2 percent of his throws.   

Defensive Player of the Year – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
With Brandon Jenkins sidelined for the year, the Seminoles needed a big season from Werner and fellow end Tank Carradine. Both players have responded with huge seasons, as Florida State’s defense ranks fifth nationally against the run and fourth in scoring defense. Werner ranks second in the ACC with 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss.

Midseason Disappointment (Team) – Virginia Tech
Even with Saturday’s win over Duke, the Hokies are still 4-3 – a far cry from what most expected in the preseason. With eight starters returning, Virginia Tech expected to have one of the nation’s best defenses. However, the Hokies allowed at least 20 points in each of their last three games and rank 73rd nationally in stopping the run. Quarterback Logan Thomas has accounted for 16 touchdowns but hasn’t had much help from the running backs or offensive line. J.C. Coleman appeared to give the offense a spark against Duke, but the rushing attack has to be more of a factor the rest of the season. Despite the early struggles, Virginia Tech still has a chance to win the Coastal, especially with North Carolina ineligible to win the division title. With a schedule that features games against Clemson, Miami and Florida State, it’s important the Hokies find some answers for the second half of the season.

Midseason Disappointment (Player) – David Amerson, CB, NC State
The overall numbers for Amerson aren’t bad, as he has recorded 24 tackles, three interceptions and three pass breakups. However, the junior cornerback struggled in the opener against Tennessee and gave up a few big plays in the loss to Miami. For a player that had All-American potential in the preseason, Amerson has not lived up to the hype so far.

Midseason Surprise (Team) – Maryland
After a disastrous 2-10 campaign last year, no one could have predicted the Terrapins would be the only unbeaten team in ACC play after the first seven weeks of the season. True freshman quarterback Perry Hills has done just enough to keep the offense moving, while the defense ranks ninth in the nation in yards allowed. Maryland may not eclipse the seven-win mark, but it’s clear Randy Edsall has this team moving in the right direction.  

Midseason Surprise (Player) – Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
A big reason for Duke’s five victories this season has been the play of its defense. While the Blue Devils don’t have a lockdown defense, this unit has made significant progress over the last couple of years. Cockrell had 23 starts coming into this season but is having his best year. The junior ranks second on the team with 38 tackles but leads all defenders with four picks and 13 passes defended. Cockrell is a strong candidate to earn first-team All-ACC honors at the end of the year.

What Athlon Sports got right: It’s still too early to declare how the Coastal Division will shape out, but we had a pretty good feel for the Atlantic in the preseason. While Maryland is currently at the top of the division, Athlon’s top three teams – Florida State, Clemson and NC State – are still in the mix for the Atlantic crown. As expected, Boston College is ticketed for a sixth-place finish in the division. 

What Athlon Sports got wrong: As mentioned above, the Coastal Division is difficult to sort out after seven weeks. If Miami and Duke continue on its path, we would have clearly missed on both teams in the preseason. We also thought Virginia would build on its promising 2011 season and threaten seven or eight victories in 2012. However, the Cavaliers will struggle just to get bowl eligible in 2012.

Second Half Predictions

Here's how Athlon sees the standings looking at the end of the regular season:


1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. NC State
4. Maryland
5. Wake Forest
6. Boston College


1. North Carolina
2. Virginia Tech
3. Miami
4. Georgia Tech
5. Duke
6. Virginia

ACC Championship Game: Florida State over Virginia Tech

Three Things to Watch in the Second Half

The Coastal Division – With North Carolina ineligible to play for the ACC title, can either Virginia Tech or Miami wrestle control of the division? Since the Tar Heels have wins over the Hokies and Hurricanes, they will likely finish with the best record in the division. However, someone has to represent the Coastal in the championship game, which leaves Miami and Virginia Tech as the most likely candidates.

A crucial moment in the Paul Johnson era at Georgia Tech? – Despite recording 19 wins in his first two years at Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson could be sitting on the hot seat at the end of 2012. The Yellow Jackets are just 16-16 in their last 32 games and are no lock to get bowl eligible with BYU, North Carolina, Duke and Georgia remaining on the schedule. Johnson canned defensive coordinator Al Groh and shuffled his defensive staff to find some answers for one of the ACC’s worst units. If Johnson finishes with a 5-7 or 6-6 record, he could be one of the top coaches on the hot seat entering 2013.

Will Florida State win the ACC title? – Even though the Seminoles lost to NC State last week, most still believe this is the best team in the ACC. The schedule isn’t too difficult, but Florida State plays three of its next four games on the road. Although the Seminoles missed out on a chance to remain in the national title hunt, winning the ACC Championship and finishing in the top five of the BCS would be a good season. While Florida State may not be ready to be “back” as a national championship team, there’s still a lot of talent on this team and a subpar finish to the season won’t sit well in Tallahassee.

Five Games to Watch in the Second Half

Virginia Tech at Clemson (Oct. 20) – The Tigers smacked the Hokies twice last season. Can Virginia Tech return the favor this year?

NC State at North Carolina (Oct. 27) – Can the Tar Heels snap a five-game losing streak to the Wolfpack?

Virginia Tech at Miami (Nov. 1) – Could this game decide who represents the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship?

Florida State at Virginia Tech (Nov. 8) – The Hokies are struggling, but a Thursday night matchup in Blacksburg won’t be an easy victory for Florida State.

NC State at Clemson (Nov. 17) – If the Wolfpack avoid a loss until Nov. 17, a victory over Clemson could put them in the ACC Championship.

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Florida State (5-1, 2-1 ACC) – The Seminoles bounced back after a disappointing loss to NC State, crushing Boston College 51-17 to move to 5-1 on the season.

2. Clemson (5-1, 2-1 ACC) – The Tigers had a bye week on Saturday and return to action next Saturday against Virginia Tech.

3. NC State (4-2, 1-1 ACC) – The bye week came at a good time for the Wolfpack, as Tom O’Brien’s team had plenty of time to forget about the win over Florida State. NC State takes on Maryland in Week 8.

4. North Carolina (5-2, 2-1 ACC) – With Saturday’s 18-14 win over Miami, the Tar Heels control their destiny to win the Coastal Division. However, there’s just one problem – North Carolina is ineligible to win the division title.

5. Miami (4-3, 3-1 ACC) – The Hurricanes’ defense held North Carolina to just 18 points, but an injury to quarterback Stephen Morris prevented any shot at a comeback victory late in the fourth quarter.

6. Virginia Tech (4-3, 2-1 ACC) – It wasn’t a particularly impressive first half, but the Hokies rallied to get a key 41-20 victory over Duke. The win over the Blue Devils snapped a two-game losing streak.

7. Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3 ACC) – The Yellow Jackets’ defense is in desperate need of a turnaround, which coach Paul Johnson hopes a change in coordinator will provide a spark.

8. Duke (5-2, 2-1 ACC) – The Blue Devils need one more win to get bowl eligible, which won’t be easy with a schedule that features North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami.

9. Maryland (4-2, 2-0 ACC) – With the 27-20 win over Virginia, the Terrapins have doubled their win total from last season (two).

10. Virginia (2-5, 0-3) – The Cavaliers look to snap a five-game losing streak with a home date against Wake Forest this Saturday.

11. Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3 ACC) – The Demon Deacons had a bye in Week 7 and return to action against Virginia this Saturday.

12. Boston College (1-5, 0-3 ACC) – The Eagles’ miserable season continued with a 51-7 loss at Florida State.

by Steven Lassan


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<p> At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it's time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the ACC.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /news/ball-states-crazy-tip-drill-interception-highlights-win-over-wmu

The MAC is a conference known for its offensive fireworks, but Ball State used a little creativity on defense to beat Western Michigan on Saturday.

With Western Michigan ready to punch in a score to take a lead, the Cardinals tipped a pass intended for a receiver in the endzone. One tip is usually enough for a pass to be intercepted or caught, but this time, the ball was tipped twice and picked off. Another element to the play was another Ball State defender ripping the ball from a defensive lineman in an attempt to take it back for a score.

<p> Ball State's Crazy Tip Drill Interception Highlights Win over WMU</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 05:17
Path: /news/streaker-interrupts-texas-tech-west-virginia-game

Saturday's West Virginia-Texas Tech matchup was supposed to be one of the weekend's best games. However, the Red Raiders scored an easy 49-14 win, effectively ending any hopes the Mountaineers had of making the national title game.

Although the game had a few highlights, one of the best moments was when a streaker jumped onto the field in the second half. Although the streaker managed to make his way around the field, he was quickly nabbed before he removed all of his clothing.

The best part of this video? Watching the police in cowboy hats trying to catch and tackle the streaker.

<p> Streaker Interrupts Texas Tech-West Virginia Game</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 05:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-7-waiver-wire-report

This week's Waiver Wire may be the weakest of the season in regards to past fantasy performance, but the list offers several names with a lot of fantasy potential over the final six weeks of the season.  For those of you jockeying for a playoff spot, do not sleep on anyone listed below because you must assume that your opposition will not.

Trevone Boykin, QB-TCU

Boykin was impressive commanding the offense against Baylor on Saturday and his dual-threat ability adds extra value for owners needing quality depth at the quarterback position.

Taylor Kelly, QB-Arizona St

Kelly has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three consecutive games and has rushed for at least 40 yards in three of his six starts.

James Sims, RB-Kansas

Since his return from suspension, Sims has rushed for 344 yards and four touchdowns in three games and has carried the ball at least 27 times the past two weeks.

Jeff Scott, RB-Ole Miss

Scott has three 100-yard performances to his credit this season and has scored a touchdown in five of the six games in which he has played.

Bronson Hill, RB-Eastern Michigan

When a guy comes out of nowhere and rushes for 283 yards and four touchdowns this late in the season, we’re going to make room on our roster for him, especially when he plays in the MAC

Jeremy Hill, RB-LSU

We know the Tigers are loaded at running back, but don’t leave him on the waiver wire and let someone else have a shot at the talented freshman, especially if you play in a BCS-only league.

Devin Street, WR-Pitt

Street has caught at least ten passes in his last two games and has scored a touchdown in three of his last four.  Even better, the junior receiver should continue his hot streak over the next two weeks as the Panthers play Buffalo and Temple.

Richy Turner, WR-Nevada

Turner has caught at least seven passes in four of Nevada’s previous five games and has found the end zone two weeks in a row.

Jordan Leslie, WR-UTEP

Leslie is averaging five catches and 83 yards per game and has scored in four of seven contests.  UTEP’s six losses have all been by ten points or more, so expect the Miners’ to be playing from behind for most of the remainder of the season.

by Joe DiSalvo

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email:  [email protected]

<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 7 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 04:22
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-south-carolina-gamecocks-preview-and-prediction

Another week, another big showdown in the SEC. This matchup lost some of its appeal when LSU lost to Florida last week, but this game still features two of the nation’s top-10 teams.

South Carolina blasted Georgia last Saturday, dominating from the opening snap and finishing with a 35-7 victory. Although the win over the Bulldogs was huge for positioning in the SEC, the Gamecocks can’t afford to be overconfident, especially with Florida emerging as a top-five team.

Night games in Baton Rouge have provided some memorable moments, and the home crowd should give LSU plenty of momentum after last week’s disappointing road loss. The Tigers have not lost back-to-back games since 2008 and in 19 matchups against South Carolina, LSU has lost just two times.

Storylines to Watch in South Carolina vs. LSU

South Carolina’s defensive line vs. LSU’s offensive line
This was supposed to be a strength versus strength matchup. However, LSU’s offensive line has suffered a few setbacks this year, as starting left tackle Chris Faulk was lost for the year with a torn ACL, and guard Josh Williford left last week’s game against Florida due to injury. Tackle Alex Hurst missed practice time due to personal issues and may not play on Saturday night. The Tigers’ injury and personnel concerns on the line will be magnified this week, especially with South Carolina’s defensive front coming to town. The Gamecocks rank ninth nationally in rush defense and are averaging 4.2 sacks per game. End Jadeveon Clowney is one of the top players in the nation and has plenty of help around him. LSU needs its offensive line to step up after struggling to generate a push against Florida’s defense. If the Gamecocks dominate the line of scrimmage, LSU will once again have a hard time moving the ball on offense.

Can LSU get quarterback Zach Mettenberger on track?
While it wasn’t expected to be overly prolific, LSU’s passing offense was expected to show improvement in 2012. However, the Tigers have sputtered once again, as they rank 12th in the SEC in passing offense and are averaging just 195.7 yards per game. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has thrown for 1,174 yards and six touchdowns but failed to throw a score against Florida and completed less than 50 percent of his passes. The junior doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards every game, but he has to hit more big plays than LSU has connected on so far. South Carolina’s secondary ranks 28th nationally in pass defense, while its pass rush never allows opposing quarterbacks to get comfortable in the pocket.

Marcus Lattimore vs. LSU’s run defense
As each week passes, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore looks more and more comfortable in his return from a torn ACL. The junior has three 100-yard games this year and has reached paydirt in all six contests. LSU will be Lattimore’s toughest test this season, as the Tigers rank 14th nationally against the run and have allowed only five rushing touchdowns. The Gamecocks’ offensive line has struggled at times this season and matching up against one of the nation’s best defensive fronts will be a challenge. Lattimore is the glue to South Carolina’s offense, as his success helps take the pressure off of quarterback Connor Shaw. Even if running room is limited early on, the Gamecocks need to give Lattimore 20-25 touches. While LSU has plenty of depth on the defensive line, South Carolina’s rushing attack figures to get stronger as the game progresses.

Final Analysis

This is a crucial game for both teams, but there is more pressure on LSU to win on Saturday night. The Tigers can’t afford to fall two games behind Alabama in the SEC West standings.

For South Carolina, a win in Baton Rouge would keep alive its national title hopes, as well as move the Gamecocks one step closer to booking a trip to Atlanta to play for the SEC title in December.

There’s no question LSU is a desperate team and it has to have this game. Although quarterback Zach Mettenberger has struggled to find his rhythm, the homefield edge and defense should be enough for the Tigers to beat the Gamecocks on Saturday night.

However, with a tight game expected, the team with the better quarterback will find a way to win.

Final Prediction: South Carolina 20, LSU 17

by Steven Lassan


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<p> LSU Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 08:56
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-7-preview-match-ups-upset-picks-and-storylines-watch

Week 7 of the college football season doesn't feature a ton of prominent match-ups, but there are a lot of games that will set the table for the rest of the year. West Virginia scored a huge victory over Texas last week but has a potential trap game at Texas Tech this Saturday. In addition to the West Virginia-Texas Tech pairing, the Big 12 also features Texas-Oklahoma and Baylor-TCU. As usual, the SEC isn't short on intrigue, as South Carolina-LSU is one of the must-watch games for Week 7. 

Top Storylines to Watch in Week 7

Elimination Game in the Big 12?
With West Virginia and Kansas State off to 2-0 starts in Big 12 play, Texas and Oklahoma cannot afford to fall two games behind in the standings. The stakes in the Red River Rivalry are always high, but with this year’s meeting essentially an elimination game for the conference title, there’s even more pressure on both teams to win on Saturday. One of the season’s biggest surprises has been the struggles of Texas’ defense, which ranks 74th nationally in yards allowed and 83rd against the run. Although the Longhorns are allowing over 400 yards per game, this defense will cause problems for Oklahoma’s offense, especially in the trenches with Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor – two of the nation’s best defensive ends – lining up on the outside. Texas could also get a boost with the return of linebacker Jordan Hicks, who has missed the last two games due to an injury. Although quarterback Landry Jones has played well in the last two meetings against the Longhorns, the Sooners have to establish balance if they want to win. Considering how well quarterback David Ash has played this season, the Sooners will have their hands full trying to slow down a much-improved Texas offense. Texas-Oklahoma is usually the Big 12’s most-important game of the season. However, West Virginia and Kansas State appear to be the frontrunners for the Big 12 title, which makes this year’s game in Dallas a must-win if either team wants to be a conference champion.

Showdown in Baton Rouge
With LSU’s loss to Florida, Saturday’s match-up between the Tigers and South Carolina lost a bit of its appeal. However, this is still a huge game on the national scene and will have an impact on who wins the SEC East. LSU desperately needs to win, as a loss to the Gamecocks would put the Tigers two games behind Alabama in the SEC West standings. With a win over LSU, South Carolina would set up a huge showdown on Oct. 20 against Florida, which will likely decide the winner of the East Division. Although quarterback play is always important, it’s even more crucial for Saturday’s game. The Tigers struggled to establish their passing attack in last week’s loss to Florida and need to find a spark against the Gamecocks. Considering both defenses rank in the top 10 in scoring defense, whichever team finds a spark on offense first should emerge from this SEC clash with a victory.   

BCS defining game for Notre Dame?
There’s a lot of football left and anything could happen in the second half of the season, but Saturday’s game could be a defining contest for Notre Dame’s BCS bowl hopes. With a schedule that features winnable games against BYU, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest, a victory over Stanford would likely lock Notre Dame into 10 wins and a BCS bowl. The Cardinal are anything but a guaranteed victory for the Irish, especially after Stanford’s offense got on track in last week’s win over Arizona. Although the Wildcats aren’t one of the Pac-12’s best defenses, it was a critical performance for quarterback Josh Nunes to build some confidence for the second half of the year. Notre Dame’s secondary has played well despite the new faces, but the key to this match-up will be the battle in the trenches. Stanford wants to pound the ball at opposing defenses, but Notre Dame ranks 17th nationally against the run and is the only team not to allow a rushing touchdown through the first six weeks of action. If Notre Dame controls the line of scrimmage, Nunes will have to show he can play well on the road, something he did not do in the loss to Washington. Notre Dame probably isn’t thinking about the BCS implications of this game, but a win against Stanford will go a long ways towards the Irish earning their first BCS bowl berth since 2007.

Wisconsin vs. Purdue…A Big Game?
Don’t laugh, this is an important game in the Big Ten standings. With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible to win the Leaders Division, Wisconsin and Purdue are the two favorites to play the Legends Division winner in Indianapolis. After a slow start, the Badgers seem to be on the right track. Joel Stave has stabilized the quarterback position, while running back Montee Ball has five touchdowns in his last two games. The Boilermakers are reeling after a 44-13 loss to Michigan and have yet to beat an opponent from a BCS conference this season. Purdue quarterback Robert Marve is dealing with a torn ACL, but played in last week’s game against the Wolverines, completing 5 of 8 passes for 43 yards. Wisconsin has won the last six meetings in this series, including a 62-17 beatdown in Madison last year. The Boilermakers are capable of playing better than they did last week, but the Badgers seem to have found the right answers on offense and still hold the edge in this game.

Under the Radar Games

Louisiana Tech vs. Texas A&M (Shreveport)
This game was originally scheduled for the first week of the season, but Hurricane Isaac forced it to be postponed. The Bulldogs are ranked in the Associated Press and USA Today polls and need to keep winning to have a shot at a BCS game. This match-up shouldn’t be hurting for points, as both teams are averaging over 40 points a contest.

North Carolina at Miami
It’s unfortunate that the Tar Heels are ineligible to play for the ACC Championship, as this team might be the best in the Coastal Division. North Carolina beat Virginia Tech 48-34 last week and its offense should have no trouble moving the ball against a Miami defense allowing 510 yards a game.

Auburn at Ole Miss
What a difference a year makes. Last season, the Rebels were the worst team in the SEC West and lost to Auburn 41-23. Could we see that score reversed on Saturday? Ole Miss is a much-improved team under new coach Hugh Freeze, while the Tigers continue to search for answers on both sides of the ball. If Auburn struggles to generate its offense once again, the Rebels should be able to add to the Tigers’ misery this season.

Duke at Virginia Tech
In a bit of a surprise, Duke enters this game with a better ACC record than Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils also need just one more victory to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. The Hokies have lost three out of their last four games and a defense that was expected to be among the nation’s best is allowing nearly 400 yards per game.

TCU at Baylor
These two teams met for a 50-48 shootout game last season and there should be plenty of fireworks once again this Saturday. TCU will be without quarterback Casey Pachall for the rest of the season, but Baylor’s defense ranks dead last (120th out of 120 FBS schools) nationally in yards allowed. The Horned Frogs rank 19th nationally in pass defense but have yet to be tested by a passing attack as potent and produtive as Baylor's.

Utah State at San Jose State
Both teams are looking up at Louisiana Tech in the WAC pecking order, but this is still a huge game. Utah State has a win over Utah this year, along with a two-point loss to Wisconsin and a three-point defeat to BYU. The Spartans are off to a 4-1 start and nearly beat Stanford in the opener. This game also features two of the nation’s rising stars in the coaching ranks – Gary Andersen (Utah State) and Mike MacIntyre (San Jose State).

Oregon State at BYU
The Beavers will be without quarterback Sean Mannion, but don’t write off the Beavers in Provo. The Cougars expect to have quarterback Riley Nelson back under center, but BYU’s offense struggled mightily against Boise State and Utah State. Expect a low-scoring game, with a play or two on defense likely deciding the outcome.

USC at Washington
Although USC has a clear edge in talent, this game may be closer than some expect. The Huskies won the last meeting  played in Seattle, and two out of the last three games in this series have been decided by three points or less. The two coaches in this game (Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin) are certainly familiar with each other, which will help keep this one close into the fourth quarter.

Tennessee at Mississippi State
Could this game decide Derek Dooley’s future at Tennessee? It’s unlikely, but this still is a must-win game for the Volunteers. With match-ups against Alabama and South Carolina coming up the next two weeks, a loss to Mississippi State would more than likely leave the Volunteers with a 3-5 mark heading into the final month of the season. The Bulldogs are 5-0 but have played a soft schedule.

Upset Watch

Fresno State (+7) at Boise State
The Broncos have lost only three games at home since 2000, and the Bulldogs have not fared well on the blue turf in recent years. However, Boise State is still trying to find the right answers after losing a handful of key contributors from last season’s team, while Fresno State boasts two of the nation’s most underrated players in quarterback Derek Carr and running back Robbie Rouse.
Prediction: Fresno State 31, Boise State 27

Kansas State at Iowa State (+6.5)
The Cyclones are always good for an upset or two, and the last four meetings in this series have been decided by eight points or less. Kansas State is the better team, but Iowa State’s run defense will be a tough test for Wildcats’ quarterback Collin Klein.
Prediction: Kansas State 31, Iowa State 24

Louisville at Pittsburgh (+3)
The Big East is unpredictable, so nothing in this game would be a surprise. Pittsburgh has won the last four games in this series, including a 21-14 win in Louisville last year. The Cardinals are clearly the better team, but the Panthers are capable of getting hot at the right time.
Prediction: Louisville 27, Pittsburgh 20

Letdown Alert?

West Virginia at Texas Tech
After a big win at Texas last Saturday, the Mountaineers should be wary of this week’s trip to Lubbock. Texas Tech is coming off a loss to Oklahoma, but the Red Raiders’ offense will test a shaky West Virginia defense. Back-to-back road games are never easy, especially for a team that has never played in Lubbock.

California at Washington State
The Golden Bears desperately needed a win last week, and they responded with a surprising 43-17 blowout victory over UCLA. The second half schedule features a handful of tough games, including road trips to Oregon State and Utah, along with home contests against Stanford, Washington and Oregon. If California wants to go to a bowl game, it can’t afford a letdown on the road at Washington State.

Florida at Vanderbilt
Coming off a big win against LSU and with a key SEC East showdown against South Carolina next Saturday, the Gators have to be careful not to overlook the Commodores. Even though Vanderbilt is 2-3, the Commodores nearly beat Florida last season (26-21) and have some momentum after beating Missouri 19-15 last week. It’s a longshot, but a road game in the SEC is never easy.

Injuries to Watch

James Franklin, QB, Missouri – Franklin suffered a knee injury in last week’s loss to Vanderbilt and is out indefinitely.

MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota – Gray has not played since suffering a high ankle sprain against Western Michigan on Sept. 15. However, the senior quarterback is close to 100 percent and is expected to play against Northwestern this Saturday.

Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas - Hicks has missed the last two games with a hip injury but is expected to return for Saturday's game against Oklahoma. The junior's return should help the Longhorns' defense, which struggled against Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

Alex Hurst, OT, LSU – The Tigers’ offensive line has not played up to preseason expectations and could have even bigger issues on Saturday, as Hurst is dealing with personal issues and may not play against South Carolina.

Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State – Lunt is still recovering from a knee injury suffered against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15. J.W. Walsh filled in admirably for Lunt against Texas and appears to be in line to get the start once again this week.

Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State – Mannion suffered a knee injury in last week’s win over Washington State and is out indefinitely after surgery. Cody Vaz will get the start under center for Oregon State.

Sean Renfree, QB, Duke - Renfree missed last week's game against Virginia due to an elbow injury but all signs point to the senior returning this Saturday against Virginia Tech.

Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State – Sims suffered an ankle injury against Indiana last week and is out for this Saturday’s game against Iowa.

Patrick Towles, QB, Kentucky – A bad season only got worse for Kentucky last Saturday. Towles, who led the Wildcats on a scoring drive in his first collegiate action, suffered an ankle injury against Mississippi State is out indefinitely.

Josh Williford, OL, LSU – Williford was banged up in last week’s loss to Florida and is questionable to play this week due to a head injury.

Games to Avoid

Alabama at Missouri
With quarterback James Franklin sidelined, Missouri will have a tough time moving the ball against Alabama’s defense. With the Crimson Tide having two weeks to prepare and a well-rested team after an off date, this one should get ugly early.

Boston College at Florida State
Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses, but the situation is more dire for Boston College, especially after slumping to a 1-4 start, including last Saturday's loss to a struggling Army team. Expect an angry Florida State team to handle its business and keep its ACC title hopes alive with an easy win over the Eagles.

Oklahoma State at Kansas
Thanks to two off dates, this will be Oklahoma State’s second game in four weeks. The Jayhawks hung tough for a half against Kansas State but dropped their fourth consecutive game of the year. The Cowboys might be a rusty early on, but it’s hard to see this one being close in the fourth quarter.

Illinois at Michigan
The Tim Beckman era is off to a horrendous start at Illinois. The Fighting Illini are 2-4, with their only wins coming over Western Michigan and Charleston Southern. Illinois has been blown out in all four losses, and Michigan seems to be finding its stride after beating Purdue 44-13 last week.

Fordham vs. Cincinnati
The Bearcats are quietly flying under the radar with a 4-0 start and should remain unbeaten with an easy victory over Fordham.

by Steven Lassan


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<p> College Football Week 7 Preview: Match-Ups, Upset Picks and Storylines to Watch</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-sooners-vs-texas-longhorns-preview-and-prediction

With Texas and Oklahoma each having one loss in Big 12 play this season, Saturday’s annual matchup in Dallas is essentially an elimination game. The winner keeps its Big 12 title hopes alive, while the loser is not only out of the mix for the conference championship but is also likely out of the picture for an at-large spot in a BCS game.

Oklahoma bounced back after losing to Kansas State on Sept. 22, beating Texas Tech 41-20. The win was huge for the Sooners’ offense, which had four turnovers and never established a rushing attack in the loss to the Wildcats. The Longhorns find themselves in Oklahoma’s position this week, as they hope to rebound from a 48-45 loss to West Virginia.

The Sooners have won the last two matchups in this series and have claimed three out of the last five. Oklahoma’s 55-17 victory last season was Texas’ worst showing in this game since losing 65-13 in 2003.

Not only is this game big for positioning in the conference standings and in the polls, this is a huge matchup for recruiting purposes. While a win on the field isn’t necessarily going to guarantee players landing at a particular school, it doesn’t hurt to have a good showing against a rival school.

Storylines to Watch in Texas vs. Oklahoma

Can Oklahoma lean on Landry Jones to win this game?
In Oklahoma’s last two games against Texas, Jones has been solid, throwing for five touchdowns and 603 yards. However, Jones has been inconsistent at times throughout his career and did not play well in the 24-19 loss to Kansas State. Even though the senior may not be a Heisman Trophy contender or the Big 12’s first-team quarterback, he does have 100 touchdown passes and 13,411 passing yards in his career. In order for Jones to lead Oklahoma to a victory on Saturday, he has to get help from his supporting cast. The Sooners have a young receiving corps but has to be optimistic about its passing attack after watching Texas allow 268 yards and four touchdowns to West Virginia’s Geno Smith. The key battle for Oklahoma to win will be in the trenches and with the rushing attack. Although the Sooners are averaging 190.5 yards per game, they have not rushed for more than 121 yards against a BCS opponent in 2012. While Jones is capable of throwing for 350 yards and four touchdowns against Texas, Oklahoma’s best plan should be balance, especially with the emergence of Damien Williams at running back.

Is Texas’ defense ready to turn things around?
One of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season has to be Texas’ defense. The Longhorns were supposed to have one of the nation’s best, especially with the Big 12’s No. 1 secondary and defensive line returning. However, this unit has not met expectations, allowing 404.2 yards per game, while ranking 83rd nationally against the run. The defense could get one piece of good news this Saturday, as linebacker Jordan Hicks could be ready to return to the lineup. Hicks’ leadership should help the defense correct some of the assignment problems it has experienced over the last few games. All of the pieces are in place for the Longhorns to have their best defensive effort in Big 12 play this year. The defensive line seemed to find its rhythm last week and with Hicks returning, the linebacking corps should be in better shape. If there’s ever a week for Texas to turn its defense around, Saturday’s matchup against Oklahoma would be the one.

Which team will win the battle on the ground?
Although both teams can win this game by throwing 35-40 passes, expect both offenses to strive for balance. Oklahoma’s rushing attack ranks ninth in the Big 12 in conference-only games, while Texas checks in at No. 5. Junior college recruit Damien Williams helped to provide a spark to Oklahoma's rushing attack in the first two games, but he has just 82 yards over the last two contests. The Longhorns may not have Malcolm Brown available for this game, which means Joe Bergeron and true freshman Johnathan Gray will handle the majority of the carries. Texas clearly has the edge in talent at running back, but the Sooners have been slightly tougher against the run, allowing 142.5 yards per game. The matchup favors Texas, but Oklahoma will be geared to stop the Longhorns’ rushing attack and hopes to force David Ash to win this game through the air.

Final Analysis:

The stakes are usually high in the Red River Rivalry but there’s even more pressure on both teams to win on Saturday afternoon. Even with one loss, Texas and Oklahoma still have legitimate Big 12 title hopes but can’t afford to drop another contest.

The Longhorns’ passing attack has improved from a weakness to a strength, especially considering quarterback David Ash has thrown just one interception on 138 attempts this year. The sophomore has a handful of quality weapons at receiver, including Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Marquise Goodwin and Daje Johnson.

This matchup will likely come down to how quickly Texas’ defense can turn things around against a potent Oklahoma offense. Even though Landry Jones has struggled at times during his career, he has a solid group of weapons – led by junior receiver Kenny Stills – and has played well against Texas in his previous two matchups.

The Longhorns are more balanced on offense, and their defensive line should get enough pressure to make things uncomfortable on Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. Expect a close game, but Texas snaps a two-game losing streak to the Sooners on Saturday afternoon.

Final Prediction: Texas 31, Oklahoma 27

by Steven Lassan


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<p> Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-fighting-irish-vs-stanford-cardinal-preview-and-prediction

As each week passes, the pressure only increases on college football’s top 10 teams. Notre Dame finds itself in that position each week, as this team has a legitimate chance to play for the national title. The Irish rank seventh in the Associated Press and USA Today polls and have opportunities to pickup quality wins with games against USC and Oklahoma later this season. Outside of those two games, Notre Dame figures to be heavily favored in its other matchups, which makes Saturday’s game against Stanford even more important. If the Irish take care of business against BYU, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Boston College as expected, this team is only one win short of getting to 10 victories and likely securing a spot in a BCS bowl.

The last three matchups in the Notre Dame-Stanford series have gone in favor of the Cardinal. However, Stanford is still going through growing pains at quarterback without Andrew Luck and lost its only road matchup of the season (Washington 17-13 in Week 5). The Cardinal rebounded after a disappointing showing against the Huskies, edging Arizona 54-48 in overtime. Although Luck and a couple of other key pieces from last season's team are gone, Stanford is still one of the Pac-12's most-talented teams. 

Storylines to Watch in Notre Dame vs. Stanford

Can Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes build off his Week 6 performance?
After struggling in a 17-13 loss to Washington, Nunes was crucial to Stanford’s victory over Arizona. The junior completed 21 of 34 throws for 365 yards and two touchdowns. Nunes has been steady in his first year as the starter but struggled in his only road appearance and playing in South Bend is no easy task. While Stanford’s passing game took off against the Wildcats, Notre Dame’s defense is one of the best in the nation and there won’t be as many open targets for Nunes. The key to getting Stanford’s passing game on track is not only efficient play by the quarterback, but the offensive line also needs to step up its protection. The Irish are averaging 2.8 sacks a game and will try to make Nunes as uncomfortable as possible in the pocket.

Will Stanford establish its rushing attack against Notre Dame?
There’s no secret what Stanford wants to do on offense. Even though quarterback Josh Nunes showed progress in the win over Arizona, the Cardinal want to lean on their ground attack to win games. Running back Stepfan Taylor has rushed for 100 yards in back-to-back contests against the Irish and is averaging 111 yards per game this season. Running against Notre Dame’s defense has been nearly impossible this season, as the Irish rank 17th nationally in rushing yards allowed per game (106.8). Expect Notre Dame to stack the box and force the Cardinal to throw to win. Even though running room will be limited, Stanford still needs to get Taylor – one of the offense’s top playmakers – 25-30 carries.

A breakout game for Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson?
Golson did not start against Miami due to a violation of team rules but finished with 186 yards on 17 completions. Through the first five games of the year, the redshirt freshman is completing 60.4 percent of his throws, while tossing three touchdowns and three picks. Golson has topped 200 passing yards only once this year but that could change against Stanford. The Cardinal ranks 113th in pass defense, allowing 302.4 passing yards per game. The pass defense numbers are slightly skewed for Stanford, especially after Arizona torched the secondary for 506 yards last week. Even though the averages might be slightly off, as the Wildcats showed, the opportunities will be there for Golson to make plays. Considering Stanford ranks sixth nationally against the run, the Irish will need the passing attack to lead the way on offense.

Tyler Eifert vs. Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz
This matchup features three of college football’s top tight ends and each figure to play a key role in deciding the outcome of this game. Eifert has been the subject of a lot of defensive attention so far this year, recording only 11 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown. Toilolo and Ertz have combined for 34 receptions through five games and will be counted upon even more this Saturday, as Stanford likely won’t have receiver Ty Montgomery due to a knee injury. It’s rare to see three of the NFL Draft’s top tight end prospects in one game and their performance will be crucial to the success of the passing attacks on Saturday afternoon.

Final Analysis

There’s still a lot of football to be played, but Notre Dame has to win out to have any shot at reaching the national championship. Stanford is out of the BCS title mix but has an opportunity for a huge win in South Bend, which would help build confidence for a team that is breaking in a new quarterback and replacing a couple of key offensive linemen.

Stanford’s defense was torched in a loss to Arizona, but Notre Dame is a much better matchup. Expect the Cardinal to pressure Golson and try to force him into mistakes, which should allow the Irish to hit a few big plays in the passing game.

When Stanford has the ball, Notre Dame will load the box and force quarterback Josh Nunes to prove he is ready to win on the road with his arm. If the Irish can shut down Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor, they should be able to contain a passing attack that lacks playmakers at receiver.

Both defenses will make it difficult for the offenses in the first half, but Notre Dame should take control of this game in the second half. Golson should find his rhythm against Stanford’s secondary, while the rushing attack will make a few plays in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

Final Prediction: Notre Dame 30, Stanford 20

by Steven Lassan


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<p> Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Stanford Cardinal Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 13:49
Path: /college-football/acc-week-7-preview-and-predictions

With only four games on the Week 7 slate, it's a relatively quiet Saturday of action in the ACC. Florida State looks to bounce back after last week's disappointing loss to NC State, as struggling Boston College visits Tallahassee. The North Carolina-Miami is the ACC's best matchup for Week 7 and should be an entertaining offensive affair with both teams averaging over 30 points a game.

Other Week 7 Previews and Predictions

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

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 7

Can Florida State get back on track?
Last week’s loss against NC State was a crushing defeat for Florida State. Any shot the Seminoles had of competing for a national title is over, and the team must refocus its goals on winning the ACC Championship and finishing in the top five of the BCS at the end of the year. Florida State simply has too much talent to be losing on the road to NC State, but this team still has a lot to play for, starting with this week’s game against Boston College. The Seminoles need some help to win the ACC Atlantic title, but they should be 8-1 heading into a Thursday night matchup against Virginia Tech on Nov. 8. Florida State shouldn’t have to sweat much to beat the Eagles on Saturday, especially after Boston College lost 34-31 to Army last week. In last season’s matchup in Chestnut Hill, the Seminoles crushed the Eagles 38-7. Even if Florida State gets off to a slow start because of last week’s disappointment, this team should pull away for an easy victory in the second half.

Bowl elimination game between Maryland and Virginia?
Even though there’s a lot of football to be played in the second half of the year, Saturday’s game between Maryland and Virginia will be crucial to both team’s bowl hopes. Thanks to a 19-14 win over Wake Forest last week, the Terrapins have already surpassed 2011’s win total and have a manageable upcoming stretch of games. Although the offense has struggled, the defense ranks seventh nationally in yards allowed. Virginia desperately needs to get into the win column, as it has lost four consecutive games and is still searching for its first win in ACC play this season. After this week’s game against the Terrapins, the Cavaliers take on Wake Forest and NC State, so a win on Saturday would help build momentum for a must-win stretch of games. Quarterback play and turnovers will be crucial to the outcome of this contest. Both teams rank at the bottom of the NCAA in turnover margin, while Maryland ranks 117th nationally in offensive yards per game. Virginia tried to jumpstart its offense by inserting Alabama transfer Phillip Sims into the lineup at quarterback and he finished with 268 yards on 21 completions against Duke. While the Cavaliers have been able to throw the ball this year, the rushing attack and offensive line still need work. This isn't a back against the wall game for either team, but it's a crucial one, especially at the midpoint of the 2012 season.

Miami or North Carolina: Which defense can make key stops?
If you like offense, then Saturday’s Miami-North Carolina matchup should be the game of the week in the ACC. The Tar Heels are averaging 44 points per contest, while the Hurricanes have averaged 42.3 points per game in ACC play this season. Both quarterbacks have been stellar at times this season, as North Carolina’s Bryn Renner is completing 62.7 percent of his throws, while Miami’s Stephen Morris leads all ACC quarterbacks with 1,836 yards this year. Not only will the Hurricanes have their hands full trying to slow down Renner, they will need to find an a way to stop running back Giovani Bernard. Miami is allowing 250.7 rushing yards per game and Bernard gashed Virginia Tech for 262 yards last Saturday. With two potent offenses likely to control the tempo of the game, timely stops will be crucial on Saturday afternoon. Miami isn’t generating much pressure on opposing quarterbacks but has forced 12 turnovers. The Tar Heels have allowed at least 28 points in games against BCS conference foes, with matchups against Elon, East Carolina and Idaho slightly skewing their overall numbers. Expect plenty of points between these two teams – Vegas has the over/under set at 68 – but it’s up to the defenses to get a timely stop or turnover to decide the outcome.

Can Duke get bowl eligible?
With six weeks in the books, it’s fair to say Duke's David Cutcliffe is the early leader in the clubhouse for ACC Coach of the Year. The Blue Devils haven’t knocked off a top-25 team but have wins over Virginia and Wake Forest and need just one more victory to get bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. Despite an elbow injury to quarterback Sean Renfree last week, Duke didn’t miss a beat on offense. Backup Anthony Boone completed 18 of 31 passes for 212 yards and four scores and will likely see time this week, even if Renfree returns to the lineup. Although the rushing attack hasn’t been prolific, the Blue Devils have shown signs of life on the ground, while the defense ranks 50th nationally in yards allowed. Duke has never won in Blacksburg and has been outscored 162-37 in its last five road matchups against Virginia Tech. While the odds are against them, the Blue Devils are an improved team and will catch the Hokies at a good time, especially after losses in three out of their last four games.

What’s Wrong at Virginia Tech?
With a 3-3 start and losses in three out of their last four games, the Hokies are one of the nation’s biggest disappointments in the first half of the season. Both sides of the ball share blame, but a defense that returned eight starters and ranked second in the conference in points allowed last season is struggling. Virginia Tech ranks 64th nationally in total defense and is allowing nearly 200 rushing yards per game (196.7). Quarterback Logan Thomas threw for 354 yards in last week’s loss to North Carolina, but as thrown seven interceptions and isn’t getting much help from the rushing attack. With problems on both sides of the ball, there’s no guarantee this is a fix that can happen during the 2012 season. However, there’s still plenty of time to right the ship, but the Hokies’ schedule isn’t easy, as Duke and Florida State visit Blacksburg, while they hit the road for games against Clemson and Miami. Before the season, it would have been almost unthinkable to consider Saturday’s game against Duke a must-win for Virginia Tech. However, if this team wants to claim the ACC Coastal title once again, the Hokies need to beat the Blue Devils and build some momentum for the final five games of the season.

The last games of the Frank Spaziani era at Boston College?
Coming into 2012, Boston College coach Frank Spaziani probably needed to get to a bowl game to save his job. The Eagles still have a chance to play their way into the postseason but a 1-4 start and a difficult upcoming schedule make six wins nearly impossible. The biggest setback to this team was the 34-31 loss to Army last week. Although the Black Knights are a difficult team to prepare for, that’s a game Boston College could not afford to lose if it wants to reach a bowl. Spaziani’s overall record is just 21-23 and will be evaluated by new athletic director Brad Bates at the end of the year. Although he started out with back-to-back bowl games in his first two years, Spaziani’s team is trending in the wrong direction and is just 5-12 in its last 17 games.

Week 7 ACC Predictions

Week 7 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Duke at Virginia Tech VT 21-14 VT 31-28 VT 31-24 VT 27-17
UNC at Miami Miami 35-31 UNC 30-28 UNC 38-34 Miami 37-33
Maryland at Virginia Maryland 14-10 Virginia 24-23 Virginia 24-20 Maryland 17-13
Boston College at Florida State FSU 41-14 FSU 38-14 FSU 41-10 FSU 38-13
Last Week: 4-3 4-3 3-4 4-3
Season Record: 45-10 44-11 42-13 45-10

by Steven Lassan


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<p> ACC Week 7 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News, Big East
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-7-upset-predictions

College football's week 7 slate features a handful of games with upset potential. Athlon's editors predict Boise State will fall to Fresno State, while Wisconsin will score a key victory on the road against Purdue. It's never easy predicting which upsets will happen each week, but keep an eye on these games this Saturday:

College Football's Week 7 Upset Picks

Dave Bartoo (@CFBMatrix), CFBMatrix.comOregon State Beavers +6 at BYU
When I picked this game in March in favor of the Beavers I saw this as a very clear pick as they have a significant talent and coaching advantage in the Matrix charts.  In my opinion, the Beavers should be the favorites. For those that want more details keep the following in mind: BYU has not played anyone this year near the OSU talent levels.  BYU is struggling to score against inferior teams.  Their #1 and #2 QBs are hurt or out.  Oregon State is a run first, defensive minded team.  While the loss of their starting QB takes away a dimension, it is my opinion that is the third most important one for Beaver team.  Better coaching, better talent = Week 7 Upset Alert

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Temple (+5.5) over Connecticut
I didn’t think Temple could be all that competitive in the Big East in its first season in its second stint in the league. The win over USF didn’t totally change that outlook, but I still like this matchup with Connecticut. The Huskies’ defense hasn’t been the same in the last three games since defensive end Jesse Joseph was lost for the season. UConn’s run defense has been vulnerable the last two weeks, which creates an interesting matchup against Montel Harris, who had his breakout game of the season last week. And with UConn’s sputtering offense, Temple won’t need much on offense to score the upset.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Wisconsin (+3) at Purdue
The de facto Leaders Division championship game will take place in West Lafayette this weekend (Get excited!). And a field goal point spread doesn't exactly scream upset, but Wisconsin feels like the better team. Joel Stave has stabilized the quarterback position and the ground game is starting to show signs of life behind Montee Ball. After the Boilermakers got torched on the ground by Denard Robinson last week (235 yards rushing), Danny Hope's squad faces another physical test this weekend against the thick and burly Badger warriors. I'll take UW to outscore the Steamers with a trip to Indianapolis on the line in Ross-Ade Stadium.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Fresno State (+7) at Boise State
Winning at Boise State has been nearly impossible for the visiting team. The Broncos are 76-3 at home since 2000 and have defeated Fresno State by a combined score of 108-7 in the last two meetings. The Bulldogs’ last victory in Boise came in 1984, but I think that streak ends on Saturday. Boise State had a ton of talent to replace coming into this season and has been unimpressive in wins over New Mexico and BYU. The Broncos demolished Southern Miss last week, but the Golden Eagles are a disaster right now. New coach Tim DeRuyter has brought some much-needed energy to Fresno State, and the defense has shown significant improvement since last season. The Bulldogs have two of the nation’s most underrated offensive players in quarterback Derek Carr and running back Robbie Rouse. Boise State’s defense is allowing 182.4 rushing yards per game and even though it’s a new season, this secondary was vulnerable to big plays last year. The Broncos will get better as the season goes along, but this is a very winnable game for Fresno State. I never doubt Boise State on the blue turf, but the Bulldogs are the better team right now. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Oregon State (+4) at BYU
Oregon State received a dose of bad news early this week when starting quarterback Sean Mannion was ruled out indefinitely after hurting his knee in the Beavers’ win over Washington State last week. The next man up is junior Cody Vaz, who hasn’t thrown a pass since his redshirt freshman season in 2010. With the inexperienced Vaz taking snaps, expect to see the Beavers lean on tailbacks Storm Woods and Marcus Agnew. That sounds like a solid plan … until you realize that BYU is ranked No. 1 in the nation against the run. The schedule hasn’t been too difficult, but the Cougars are only allowing 59.6 yards per game and 1.93 yards per rush through six games. Boise State (116 yards) and Weber State (115 yards) are the only two teams that have rushed for more than 100 yards on Bronco Mendenhall’s team. That won’t be the case after the Beavers take care of business in Provo this weekend. Oregon State 24, BYU 14

Mark Ross: UTSA (+3) over Rice
Pop quiz — what do Ohio State and UTSA (Texas-San Antonio) have in common? The answer is both teams are undefeated and won't be playing in a bowl game this season. Actually, the Roadrunners have a chance, albeit very slim, at going to the postseason, although they will need a lot of help to get there. Regardless, the same can't be said for the banned Buckeyes. However, there's no debate regarding which team is getting more attention, as very few college football observers are paying attention to Larry Coker's squad, which has won its first five games and has out-scored opponents 189-78. Even though they won't be a full-fledged FBS member until 2014, the Roadrunners have already beaten two FBS schools (South Alabama and New Mexico State) and still have four WAC games remaining. Before that, however, is Saturday's trip to Houston to take on Rice, a C-USA school whose only victory so far is a one-point win over a Kansas team that also has only one victory (and that came against a FCS school). The Owls are ranked 117th in the nation in total defense, 114th in scoring defense and they are coming off of a deflating 14-10 loss to Memphis last week. UTSA has done a much better job on defense (allowing less than 270 yards, 16 points per game) and has a balanced offensive attack that's averaging more than 400 yards per game. UTSA may be the new kids on the block in the FBS, but they are going to treat Rice just like Wile E. Coyote from "Looney Tunes." Meep Meep!

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Iowa State (+6.5) over Kansas State
Bill Snyder’s club has played excellent football this season, with Heisman contender Collin Klein leading the Wildcats to a perfect 5-0 start. However the Cyclones are known for upsets at Jack Trice Stadium, and KSU may be ripe for a surprise with next week’s showdown at West Virginia looming. ISU has played solid defense this season, but the challenge of stopping Klein and the K-State running attack will be a tough one. The Cyclones offense got a lift from quarterback Jared Barnett against TCU, as the sophomore threw three touchdown passes in the 37-23 victory. I’ll take Iowa State to rally around the home crowd and shock the undefeated Wildcats, 27-24.

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<p> College Football Week 7 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 05:58
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-7-emergency-starters

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

We appreciate the commitment that Steven Lassan of Athlon Sports has made to contribute to this valuable piece.

Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)


Trevone Boykin, TCU at Baylor

Devin Combs, Nevada vs UNLV

Shane Carden, ECU vs Memphis

Munchie Legaux, CIN vs Fordham

Ryan Katz, San Diego St vs Colorado St


Running Backs

Ben Malena, Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech

Montel Harris, Temple at UConn

Jeff Scott, Ole Miss vs Auburn

Carlos Hyde, Ohio St at Indiana

Evans Okatcha, UTSA vs Rice

Dennis Johnson, Arkansas vs Kentucky


Josh Stewart, Oklahoma St at Kansas

Jeremy Johnson, SMU at Tulane

Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech vs Duke

Jordan Leslie, UTEP at Tulsa

For Start/Bench advice from Joe DiSalvo, send an email to[email protected]

Steven Lassan(@AthlonSteven)


Munchie Legaux, Cincinnati vs Fordham

Eric Soza, UTSA at Rice

JW Walsh, Oklahoma St at Kansas

Running Backs

Kasey Carrier, New Mexico at Hawaii

Carlos Hyde, Ohio St at Indiana

Jeff Scott, Ole Miss vs Auburn


Quinshad Davis, North Carolina at Miami

Mike Evans, Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech

Brent Leonard, UL-Monroe vs FAU

<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 7 Emergency Starters</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 04:18
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-7-sit-or-start-report

As the season starts to make the turn towards the home stretch, many fantasy owners are facing a crucial Week 7 with fantasy studs Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, and Todd Gurley occupying bench spots.  Truth be told, this is why we love the college fantasy game.  Utilizing the waiver wire and analyzing weekly matchups is critical to your success.  We just try to help you eliminate some of the guess work.  Good luck!


Bryn Renner, QB-North Carolina at Miami

The Vegas total in the game between the ‘Heels and the ‘Canes is set at 69.  If that total holds true, Renner should reward fantasy owners for starting him in Week 7.

Seth Doege, QB-Texas Tech vs West Virginia

Doege is a must-start this week as the Red Raiders will have to keep pace with the high-powered West Virginia offense in Lubbock.

Adam Muema, RB-San Diego St vs Colorado St

Muema has scored a touchdown in every game this season and should perform well against a Colorado State defense that gives up over 215 rushing yards per game.

Dennis Johnson, RB-Arkansas vs Kentucky

Johnson rushed for 76 yards and two touchdowns last week against Auburn and may have taken over the lead role at running back in the Hogs’ offense. 

Jyruss Edwards, RB-UL-Monroe vs Florida Atlantic

Edwards has scored at least one touchdown in four of the Warhawks’ five games this season and faces a Florida Atlantic defense ranked 109th against the run.

Zurlon Tipton, RB-Central Michigan vs Navy

Tipton has scored a touchdown in four of his five starts this season, but hasn’t run for 100 yards since the opening week of the season.  Look for the junior running back to top the 100-yard mark against a Navy defense that gives up over 190 yards rushing per game.

Bishop Sankey, RB-Washington vs USC

Sankey surprised us two weeks ago when he ran for 144 yards against Stanford in a nationally televised Thursday night game.  The sophomore from Spokane has topped 100 yards in three consecutive games and has scored five touchdowns in that span.

Brandon Carter and Josh Boyce, WRs-TCU at Baylor

Quarterback Trevone Boykin has had a full week to prepare for this game and the Horned Frogs will face the nation’s worst pass defense.

JD McKissic, WR-Arkansas St vs South Alabama

McKissic has passed Josh Jarboe as Ryan Aplin’s favorite target and leads the Red Wolves in receptions (39) and receiving yards (460).

Mike Evans and Ryan Swope, WRs-Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech

The Vegas total in the game between the Aggies and Bulldogs has reached 80, so start Quarterback Johnny Manziel’s top two receivers against the nation’s second-worst pass defense.

Phillip Dorsett, WR-Miami vs North Carolina

Dorsett had some critical drops last week when the Hurricanes visited South Bend.  Look for the sophomore receiver to bounce back in a contest that should produce a ton of points.


Landry Jones, QB-Oklahoma vs Texas

Jones has not thrown for more than 300 yards in any game this year, a feat he achieved eight times last season.  Additionally, he has not thrown more than two touchdown passes in a single game since the Sooners’ eighth game of the 2011 season.

Kendial Lawrence, RB-Missouri vs Alabama

Lawrence has been the best fantasy option on the Tigers’ roster this season, but starting him against Alabama is like giving points to your opponent. 

Zac Stacy, RB-Vanderbilt vs Florida

Stacy failed to reach the 100-yard mark last week against Missouri (72 rushing yards), but he was able to cross the goal line a couple of times.  We’re not so sure that fantasy owners will get that much out of the senior tailback this Saturday against a stingy Florida defense.

Andre Williams, RB-Boston College at Florida St

If the Eagles weren’t playing at Florida State this week, Williams would have made our Waiver Wire list (;).  Owners must sit Williams against the ‘Noles, but if you have room on your roster, he could be valuable next week against Georgia Tech.

Knile Davis, RB-Arkansas vs Kentucky

We had lofty expectations in the preseason for Davis, but it seems he has taken a backseat to Dennis Johnson and his playing time will be significantly reduced.

Chris Nwoke, RB-Colorado St at San Diego St

Nwoke turned in his best performance of the season last week against Fresno State, rushing for 68 yards on 16 carries.  However, fantasy owners must temper their expectations for the junior running back this week because the Rams are ranked 118th in the nation in rushing yards and 117th in points scored.

Rashad Greene, WR-Florida St vs Boston College

Last week, Green caught a season-high six passes for 60 yards against North Carolina State.  However, the sophomore receiver has been too inconsistent for fantasy owners this year, averaging three receptions and 40 yards per game.

by Joe DiSalvo,

For Start/Bench advice from Joe DiSalvo, send an email to:  [email protected]

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 7 Sit or Start Report</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 03:41
All taxonomy terms: Auburn Tigers, College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/it-time-auburn-fire-gene-chizik

Auburn is off to a miserable 1-4 start and the pressure is beginning to build on coach Gene Chizik. Since winning the 2010 national championship, the Tigers are just 9-9 and struggled to beat Louisiana-Monroe earlier this year. Is it time for Auburn to make a coaching change?

Is It Time for Auburn to Fire Gene Chizik?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Firing a coach two years removed from a national title would be unprecedented. Even Larry Coker got three subpar (for Miami) years and five after his national title. I could see a case to be made for letting the two new coordinators, Scot Loeffler and Brian Van Gorder, have another year to implement their systems, but Auburn has to ask itself if the national championship year was due more to Cam Newton and Gus Malzahn than any buttons Gene Chizik pushed in 2010. Take away the Newton season from Chizik’s career, and this is a coach who has struggled at Auburn despite strong recruiting classes and at Iowa State, where Paul Rhoads has built a competitive program after Chizik left. Barring an unlikely turnaround this season, 2013 will be an extremely difficult year, both with the Auburn faithful on Chizik’s back and on a recruiting trail that is already dominated by Alabama.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Gene Chizik has done a horrendous job at Auburn the last two seasons. His average national recruiting ranking in the last three classes is 8.0 — meaning, only five teams in the nation have recruited "better" than the Tigers over the last three cycles. So the lack of overall production and development from that level of talent is completely unacceptable. As a comparison, Arkansas, who is having its worst season in years and just stomped Auburn at Jordan-Hare, has an SEC average recruiting ranking (9.7) worse than Auburn's national rank. Auburn ranks last in the SEC in total offense, scoring offense, passing efficiency, rushing defense and turnover margin. But despite my absolute disgust in Chizik — who is 22-33 as a head coach and 7-12 in the SEC without Cam Newton — my conservative roots pertaining to coaching changes say no to making a coaching change immediately. By the end of the season, I will be singing a different tune, but it does this program no good to fire Chizik in Week 7. Dissension in the coaching ranks, turmoil off the field, atrocious play on the field all point to an eventual change on the Plains, but with seven games still left to play, that time isn't now.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
Yes, I think Auburn needs to make a coaching change at the end of the season. Gene Chizik has recruited as well as anyone in the SEC but outside of going 14-0 and winning a national championship, he is a mediocre 17-14 and could easily be 0-5 this year. Let’s not forget a 5-19 record at Iowa State, which looks even worse now after Paul Rhoads went 12-13 in the two seasons after his departure. While winning the BCS title in 2010 should buy him some time, Auburn hasn’t gotten any better over the last two years. The offense has regressed since last season, and the defense – Chizik’s strongsuit – ranks 12th in the SEC in yards allowed, ninth in pass defense and last against the run. When you are bringing in top 10-15 recruiting classes and those players aren’t producing, it’s a clear sign the coaching staff isn’t getting the job done. Giving Chizik another year would only prolong the inevitable and force Auburn to wait until 2014 to start turning the program back in the right direction.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
It’s easy to make an argument that Gene Chizik is not getting it done as the head coach at Auburn. His record in three-plus seasons with the Tigers is 31–14 overall and 15–12 in the SEC. But when you remove the national championship season of 2010, his record isn’t so impressive — 17–14 overall and 7–12 in league play. It might not seem fair to remove that one season, but it’s clearly an outlier when you look at his entire career. In five full seasons as a head coach (three at Auburn and two at Iowa State), Chizik has only lost less five games overall once (in 2010) and lost less than four conference games once (in ’10). While Chizik has a national title on his resume, he hasn’t shown that he can be a championship coach on a consistent basis. He was the head coach of the team that won the crown, but that title was more about Cam Newton and Gus Malzahn than Gene Chizik. That being said, Chizik probably deserves one more season as the boss at Auburn. He has recruited very well in recent years — though there has been quite a bit of attrition — and should have the opportunity to coach this young core for one more season. It’s a tough call for the Auburn administration, which is dealing with a demanding fan base with a short memory.

Mark Ross: 
Things have certainly not gone like any one associated with the program had hoped or even expected, but I don't think it's time to pull the plug on Gene Chizik... yet. There's no doubt this season is a lost cause, as the extremely disappointing showing last Saturday against Arkansas cemented that, but this doesn't mean that the team can't start building for next year now. The quarterback is young, inexperienced and having to learn and adapt to a completely different offensive system, and do his on-the-job training in the toughest conference in college football. That's a tall task in and of itself, but when you ask him to do this behind an equally young and inexperienced offensive line on a team devoid of play makers, I don't think anyone's really surprised the Tigers are 113th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense and 117th in scoring offense. Still I would give Chizik and the staff the rest of this year to continue teaching the players the new offense and also work on fixing the defensive issues. Obviously there's a lot to work on, but there are still seven games to go, five of these being conference ones. If the team can find a way to finish the rest of season with a 4-3 mark, which would mean at minimum two SEC wins, that has to be considered progress. Then you can evaluate the coaching staff after the season. However, if the bottom drops out and the Tigers finish the year winless in the SEC and with only two or three victories overall, then a coaching change is more than likely a matter of when and not if.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I think there may be a change on the Plains after this season, even though Auburn power brokers like Pat Dye seem to swear by Gene Chizik. The biggest issue for me when analyzing the Tigers program is that it seems lost, without an identity. The AU defense should eventually get better under Brian VanGorder, but why has Chizik (a proven coordinator at Auburn and Texas) had trouble on that side of the ball as a head coach? And then there is the Tigers offense, which ranks as the worst in the SEC and 113th in the nation. Scot Loeffler has no answer at quarterback, and his offense only scored seven points against an Arkansas defense that had been torched in four straight Razorback losses.

Many in the media give Chizik and staff credit for quality recruiting rankings, but that potential is not playing out on the field. Too many of Auburn’s “high-star” recruits have left school or have struggled to play up to their potential. The Arkansas debacle makes it very likely that the Tigers miss the postseason, and the AU fan base may not stand for that in year four of the Chizik regime.

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<p> Is It Time for Auburn To Fire Gene Chizik?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/who-best-bowl-eligible-team-big-ten

With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for the postseason, the Big Ten will be missing two of its top teams in bowl games. The conference did not have a team ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll this week, while the Buckeyes are really the only team that merits consideration in the top 10 of any poll they are eligible to be ranked.

Who Is the Big Ten's Best Bowl-Eligible Team in 2012?

Coach John Cooper, former head coach of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Arizona State Sun Devils and Ohio State Buckeyes, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I thought Nebraska would be that team but their defense has been awful. They gave a lot yardage to Ohio State and UCLA earlier this year. I don't know what happened to the black shirt defense. I would have to pick Michigan at this point in the season. They are starting to show the most improvement in the Big Ten.

Kevin McGuire,, (@KevinonCFB)
Picking the best bowl-eligible team out of the Big Ten is difficult because there are huge holes everywhere you look. No bowl eligible team in the conference has come up big in the spotlight this season, and that should be very alarming for the conference moving forward. But now that we are in conference play the question will be which team will rise to the top and that is why I am suggesting Michigan. After getting trounced by Alabama in week one Michigan's defense has been pretty solid, holding their last three opponents under 14 points. In conference play the offense should be able to get by, although a home game against Michigan State could be tough. Even if they slip up against the Spartans, I think they somehow manage to end the regular season as the best bowl-eligible team in the Big Ten.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
What a mess. I guess we’re down to Michigan and Nebraska, whose signature wins this season are over Purdue and Wisconsin, respectively. When Nebraska gets a good game from Taylor Martinez and when the mix of Ameer Abdullah and Rex Burkhead are moving the ball, the Cornhuskers are pretty tough to beat. But I’ve given up on that defense. Not many teams in the Big Ten are as good on offense Ohio State, but two of them -- Michigan and Northwestern -- face Nebraska in the next two games. Where Nebraska had to come back to beat a subpar Wisconsin team, at least we saw Michigan dominate Purdue, a solid team with an elite defensive tackle, Kawann Short. That’s a good sign for the Wolverines. We may have overreacted to Michigan’s two losses as well. Alabama and Notre Dame are two of the nation’s elite defenses, if not the top two. Michigan won’t see teams that good the rest of the season until Ohio State -- and that includes Nebraska.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Bueller? Bueller? Anyone in the Big Ten want to take this one? Michigan and Michigan State have looked really strong at times and really poor at others. Nebraska had a chance to put its stamp on the league last weekend but allowed 63 points to Ohio State. And Wisconsin and Purdue will battle this weekend for what should be the Leaders Division title in West Lafayette. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are beginning to look like the best two teams in the league, so that means the eventual champion — and Rose Bowl participant — will be the third best team in the league at best. A two-week round robin between the Wolverines, Cornhuskers and Spartans will start next weekend and a 1-1 finish for all three is likely. I will tentatively take the Maize and Blue after the very impressive showing on the road against the Boilermakers, but road games at Nebraska and Ohio State likely make 6-2 in the Big Ten the high water mark for any bowl eligible team. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
I think the answer to this question boils down to two teams: Nebraska and Michigan. Although Michigan State has to be in the conversation, the Spartans still have road trips to Michigan and Wisconsin, and I still need to see more from quarterback Andrew Maxwell. I’m going to give a slight edge to the Wolverines over the Cornhuskers, but my opinion might change from week-to-week. Michigan has one of the nation’s most dynamic playmakers (Denard Robinson) but needs other parts of the offense to step up. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has only 169 yards in four games, while the defense is allowing 156.8 rushing yards per game. Although the Wolverines are allowing some yards, the defense has not given up more than 13 points to an opponent in each of the last three games. Michigan isn’t perfect but I think this team will finish as the Big Ten’s best bowl-eligible squad at the end of the year. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
I’ll stick with Michigan. The Wolverines are 3–2 on the season, but two of the losses have come away from home against teams ranked in the top five in the nation — Alabama (in Arlington, Texas) and at Notre Dame. Michigan played its best game of the season last week, rolling past Purdue 44–13 in West Lafayette. That’s probably the best win for any of the bowl-eligible teams in the Big Ten. Michigan was obviously manhandled in the loss to Alabama in Week 1 and had some trouble with the Air Force option the following week, but the Wolverines have been solid defensively over the last few weeks. They gave up 13 points to both Notre Dame and Purdue, which will be good enough for this team to win on most Saturdays. 

Mark Ross: 
For me, I considered four teams, all of which reside in the Legends division, but in the end it came down to the two from the state of Michigan. The Wolverines have been a little under the radar since getting beat soundly by Alabama in their opener and then losing to Notre Dame 13-6 a couple of weeks ago. However, the Maize and Blue reasserted themselves in convincing fashion in their 44-13 dismantling of Purdue last week. Denard Robinson still makes his share of mistakes and isn't the most polished passer, but there's no denying his ability to make plays. The defense also has been solid as they are currently No. 19 in the nation. Meanwhile Michigan State has been fine defensively (No. 8 overall), it's the offense that has been the issue. That said, the Spartans' two losses have been by one point to Ohio State and a 20-3 defeat to Notre Dame. Between the Wolverines and the Spartans, all three teams they have collectively lost to are currently ranked among the top 8 in the country. But since I have to choose one, I give a slight edge to the Spartans over the Wolverines. The Spartans are a little better on defense, especially against the run, and when these two teams meet next Saturday in Ann Arbor, it will be Sparty's ability to contain Robinson and company that will be the difference in the game. As long as the Spartans continue to play good defense, I think the offense will continue to develop under quarterback Andrew Maxwell with a healthy assist from running back Le'Veon Bell and the Spartans will earn a second straight trip to the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
With Ohio State on sanctions, I would have to go with Michigan State as the league’s best postseason team. The Spartans schedule will be difficult with trips to Michigan and Wisconsin remaining, but Pat Narduzzi’s defense should make the difference in the end. Despite sleepwalking through some of last week’s game at Indiana, the Spartans have the ability to run the ball (Le’Veon Bell) and stop the run (10th nationally) better than anyone else in the Big Ten. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell should improve in the second half of the season, especially if heralded freshman receiver Aaron Burbridge plays like he did versus the Hoosiers.

Michigan obviously has the talented Denard Robinson as a top playmaker, but the Wolverines passing game and run defense are major concerns. Nebraska can scare opponents with Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead on offense, but unfortunately the Huskers defense is scaring the fan base for a second straight season. With the league’s top defense and a physical run game, I’ll take Sparty to top the B1G’s bowl list.

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<p> Best bowl eligible team in Big Ten?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 06:11
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-or-florida-which-team-best-sec-east

With South Carolina's blowout win over Georgia and Florida's victory over LSU, the Gamecocks and Gators seem to be the top two teams in the SEC East. Georgia may have a chance to get back in the race, but the division title could come down to the Oct. 20 meeting between Florida and South Carolina.  

South Carolina or Florida: Who is the best team in the SEC East?

Coach Vince Dooley, former head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I think South Carolina is really good.  Their defense is terrific and they were ready to play against Georgia.  They shocked them early the other night getting 21 points.  I think they can beat LSU at Baton Rouge this coming weekend. But I don't think they can beat Florida the following weekend.  Florida is about as disruptive a defensive team as I've seen.  It will be too difficult for South Carolina to win those three games in a row away from home. I would say that Florida will be the best team in the SEC East.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
The nod for me still goes to South Carolina, though Florida has been awfully impressive through the first half of the season. The Gamecocks are just too good at too many things. First, there’s the elite defensive line led by Jadeveon Clowney. Then there’s special teams with two big returns in the first two weeks from Ace Sanders. On offense, Connor Shaw isn’t going to confuse anyone for a Steve Spurrier quarterback of old, but he can win with both his arm and his legs. Meanwhile, South Carolina has been this dominant without a true jaw-dropping dominant game from Marcus Lattimore. South Carolina hasn’t needed it. Florida has proven it can look like an elite team for a half. But this is also a team that can be incapable of protecting quarterback Jeff Driskel at times, and this is a team that is prone to stupid, drive-killing penalties. Against a team as balanced as South Carolina, those kinds of errors could cost Florida.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Six of one, half a dozen of the other. These two teams are not only evenly matched but virtually identical. They have unreal defensive front sevens stocked with NFL talent. They have hard-nosed running backs who have carried their teams to marquee SEC wins this fall. They have game-manager quarterbacks who are protecting the football and can make things happen with their legs. And they both lack elite offensive play-makers on the outside. The head coaching edge clearly falls on the Gamecocks' side of the ledger, so I will give the slight edge to South Carolina. That said, with a road trip to LSU and having to face the Gators in Gainesville makes Florida the pick to win the East.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
With South Carolina’s win over Georgia, the Gamecocks and Gators appear to be the teams to beat in the SEC East. The Bulldogs might be able to work their way back into the mix but need to catch a couple of breaks. It’s a really a tossup between Florida and South Carolina for the No. 1 spot, but I’ll give a slight edge to the Gamecocks. While Jeff Driskel will only get better with more snaps, South Carolina has an edge at quarterback with Connor Shaw. The Gamecocks also have a few more playmakers at receiver, including Ace Sanders, Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd. South Carolina’s defensive line is also one of the best in the nation, which helps to compensate for a secondary that had to break in three new starters this season. Florida’s defense isn’t statistically far behind the Gamecocks, but its pass rush hasn’t quite matched South Carolina’s this year. The matchup between the Gamecocks and Florida should be one of the SEC’s best games this year, and my early lean is that South Carolina is the better team. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
Great question, and it’s very tough to answer at this point in the season. If I had to pick one — and I will since the question is being asked — I’d go with South Carolina. Florida is probably a little more battle-tested, with road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee and a home win vs. LSU, but South Carolina also has some quality victories. Both teams are outstanding on defense. I’d probably give South Carolina the slight edge on offense (due in large part to Connor Shaw’s experience) and you have to give the Gamecocks the edge in coaching. Will Muschamp has done a great job with his second Florida team, but Steve Spurrier is an all-time great.

Mark Ross: 
Right now, I will give the slightest of edges to South Carolina, based on their impressive win over Georgia. Both teams are similar in that they have stout defenses and rely more on running the ball rather than passing it. Their quarterbacks are also similar in that they can make plays with either their arm or legs, but even here, I would give a slight edge to South Carolina because I think Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw is a little more polished as a passer compared to Florida's Jeff Driskel. Bottom line is I think these are two evenly matched teams and provided both take care of business this week (South Carolina at LSU, Florida at Vanderbilt) we should find out who's better next Saturday in Gainesville.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
Both of these undefeated teams have a stingy defense and power running game, and I would give a slight edge — very slight — to the Gators based on the head-to-head contest being in the Swamp and their ability to succeed late in games. Florida’s defense has not allowed a single point in the fourth quarter this season, and the Gators have only given up a combined six second-half points in their four SEC wins. Quarterback Jeff Driskel still struggles in the passing game and takes too many sacks, but he is a quality athlete who seems to make just enough of the right plays when UF needs it. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease will find creative ways as the season goes on to complement the physical running attack led by Mike Gillislee.

Obviously South Carolina has the same type of resume with top back Marcus Lattimore on offense and a ferocious pass rush led by Jadeveon Clowney on defense. The Gamecocks, however, have brutal back-to-back road trips to LSU and Florida the next two weeks. Both South Carolina and Florida have the roster and mentality to win the East and challenge Alabama for the SEC crown. For now, I’ll take the physical Gators to be in Atlanta this December.

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<p> South Carolina or Florida: Which Team is the Best In the SEC East?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 06:05
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-7-plays

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 7

Best Fantasy Matchups(Games with the most fantasy potential)

West Virginia at Texas Tech

Line:  West Virginia -3.5(O/U-78)

Projected score based on point spread:  West Virginia 41-37

Best plays:

West Virginia (QB-Geno Smith, RB-Andrew Buie, WRs-Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey)

Texas Tech (QB-Seth Doege, RB-Eric Stephens, WRs-Darrin Moore, Eric Ward)

Also consider:

West Virginia (K-Tyler Bitancurt)

Texas Tech (TE-Jace Amaro)

theCFFsite projects:  West Virginia 52-35


Oklahoma St at Kansas

Line:  Oklahoma St -23(O/U-74.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oklahoma St 49-25

Best plays:

Oklahoma St (QB-JW Walsh, RB-Joseph Randle, WR-Josh Stewart, K-Quinn Sharp)

Kansas (QB-Dayne Crist, RB-James Sims)

Also consider:

Oklahoma St (RB-Jeremy Smith, WR-Tracy Moore, TE-Blake Jackson)

Kansas (RB-Tony Pierson)

theCFFsite projects:  Oklahoma St 42-28


Western Michigan at Ball St

Line:  Ball St -3(O/U-66)

Projected score based on point spread:  Ball St 35-32

Best plays:

Western Michigan (QB-Tyler Van Tubbergen, WR-Jaime Wilson)

Ball St (QB-Keith Wenning, WRs-Willie Snead, Jamill Smith, K-Steven Schott)

Also consider:

Western Michigan (RB-Dareyon Chance, WR-Josh Schaffer)

Ball St (RB-Jahwan Edwards)

theCFFsite projects:  Western Michigan 35-31


North Carolina at Miami

Line:  North Carolina -6.5(O/U-69)

Projected score based on point spread:  UNC 38-31

Best plays:

North Carolina (QB-Bryn Renner, RB-Gio Bernard, TE-Eric Ebron, K-Casey Barth)

Miami (QB-Stephen Morris, RBs-Duke Johnson, WR-Philip Dorsett)

Also consider:

North Carolina (WRs-Erik Highsmith, Sean Tapley)

Miami (RB-Mike James)

theCFFsite projects:  UNC 38-30


Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech

Line:  Texas A&M -7.5(O/U-80)

Projected score based on point spread:  Texas A&M 44-36

Best plays:

Texas A&M (QB-Johnny Manziel, RB-Ben Malena, WRs-Ryan Swope, Mike Evans)

Louisiana Tech (QB-Colby Cameron, RB-Kenneth Dixon, WR-Quinton Patton, K-Matt Nelson)

Also consider:

Texas A&M (WR-Uzoma Nwachukwu)

Louisiana Tech (RB-Ray Holley, WRs-DJ Banks, Myles White)

theCFFsite projects:  Louisiana Tech 45-42


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

Alabama at Missouri

Line:  Alabama -21.5(O/U-43.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Alabama 33-11

Stay away from:

Missouri (RB-Kendial Lawrence)

theCFFsite projects:  Alabama 31-13


Illinois at Michigan

Line:  Michigan -23(O/U-49.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Michigan 36-13

Stay away from:

Illinois (QB-Nathan Scheelhaase)

theCFFsite projects:  Michigan 31-14


Boston College at Florida St

Line:  Florida St -28(O/U-54)

Projected score based on point spread:  Florida St 41-13

Stay away from:

Boston College (RB-Andre Williams)

theCFFsite projects:  Florida St 34-21


Florida Atlantic at Louisiana-Monroe

Line:  Louisiana-Monroe -24(O/U-54)

Projected score based on point spread:  ULM 39-15

Stay away from:

Florida Atlantic (RB-Damian Fortner)

theCFFsite projects:  ULM 38-13


Must Watch Games(The games with the biggest headlines)

Texas vs Oklahoma

Line:  Oklahoma -3(O/U-61.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oklahoma 32-29

Outlook:  Both teams will be fighting to stay alive in the Big 12 title chase as they square off in this neutral site rivalry game.  We’re expecting the Longhorns to bounce back from last week’s loss to West Virginia by slowing down the Oklahoma offense with a solid defensive performance.

theCFFsite projects:  Texas 31-20

USC at Washington

Line:  USC -12.5(O/U-55.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  USC 34-22

Outlook:  One week after knocking off an undefeated Stanford team, the Huskies were embarrassed in a 52-21 loss at Oregon.  Washington should keep the game close, but the big-play ability of Marqise Lee will be the difference in this one.

theCFFsite projects:  USC 31-28


Stanford at Notre Dame

Line:  Notre Dame -9(O/U-45.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Notre Dame 27-18

Outlook:  The Irish begin the toughest three-game stretch on their schedule when they host Stanford this weekend.  We don’t think they will win three consecutive games against Stanford, BYU, and Oklahoma, but the Irish should be fresh and healthy enough to squeeze past the Cardinal at home.

theCFFsite projects:  Notre Dame 24-21


South Carolina at LSU

Line:  LSU -2.5(O/U-40.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  LSU 21-18

Outlook:  South Carolina demolished an undefeated Georgia squad that was clicking on all cylinders heading into last week’s showdown in Columbia.  Expect the Gamecocks to win the time of possession battle and eventually wear down the Tigers defense with a heavy dose of Marcus Lattimore.

theCFFsite projects:  South Carolina 24-17


theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (12-7)  ATS: (9-10)

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

By Joe DiSalvo,

Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)

<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 7 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 03:47
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-6-rankings

Week 6 of the 2012 college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches saw the temperature on their seat increase by a few degrees. Kentucky's Joker Phillips and Boston College's Frank Spaziani continue to hold down the top two spots in the rankings. Phillips' Kentucky team is off to a 1-5 start, while Spaziani and Boston College are coming off of a disappointing loss to Army. 

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 6 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Record at Kentucky: 12-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-5
The bad news for Phillips only got worse on Saturday. Highly touted true freshman quarterback Patrick Towles led a touchdown drive on his first series but left shortly after with an ankle injury. With Maxwell Smith and Towles sidelined indefinitely, Kentucky is down to true freshman Jalen Whitlow and struggling senior Morgan Newton at quarterback. The Wildcats are playing a lot of young players, which would seem to help Phillips’ case that he should get another year. However, with six games to go, Kentucky needs to be competitive and pull out an upset or two to give Phillips enough cache to return for 2013.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Boston College: 21-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
If there was any doubt Spaziani was gone at the end of the year, Saturday’s loss to Army clinched his fate. Boston College dropped its third game in a row, falling 34-31 to the Black Knights. Spaziani is known for his background on defense, but the Eagles have struggled on that side of the ball this year, ranking 117th nationally against the run and 104th in total yards allowed. Barring a couple of upsets, Boston College will miss out on a bowl game for the second consecutive season.

3. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Rice: 24-43 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
After beating Kansas in Week 2, Bailiff appeared to have Rice on the right track and was moving off the hot seat. However, it’s been all downhill since then, as the Owls have lost four consecutive games, including a disappointing 14-10 loss to Memphis on Saturday. Rice’s offense averaged 34.3 points a game through the first four weeks but is averaging just 12 points over the last two contests. Outside of an Oct. 20 date at Tulsa, every remaining game on Rice’s schedule is winnable. Needless to say, the next six contests will likely decide Bailiff’s fate.

4. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Buffalo: 6-23 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
Quinn jumps two spots in this week’s coaches on the hot seat ranking, but let’s give the Bulls a little credit. Buffalo gave Ohio all it could handle before losing 38-31. The Bulls have pushed Connecticut and Ohio in the last two weeks and played relatively well in the opener against Georgia. While Buffalo has shown flashes of promise, Quinn needs to get this team over the hump and convert close games into victories. The Bulls won’t have an easy road over the next three games, as they take on Northern Illinois, Pittsburgh and Toledo.

5. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 8-21 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-3
The momentum that Central Michigan established with a win over Iowa has quickly eroded over the last two weeks. The Chippewas fell to 2-3 with a 50-35 loss to Toledo on Saturday, which is the third game the defense has allowed 40 or more points. Central Michigan returns home for its next four games, including a nationally televised game against Navy this Friday.

6. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-14 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
After losing 12-10 to LSU in Week 4, most thought Auburn had found some answers on both sides of the ball and was ready to turn things around in the second half of the season. However, the Tigers were awful in Saturday’s game against Arkansas, losing 24-7 and falling to 0-3 in the SEC. Although Auburn has plenty of issues, the Razorbacks came into this game in a freefall and thoroughly handled the Tigers. While Chizik’s overall record (31-14) is impressive, take out the 14-0 national championship season and Auburn is just above a .500 team (17-14) – which won’t get it done in the SEC.

7. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-34 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
As we have mentioned in this space about Walker this year, New Mexico State is a difficult job and this program needed a lot of work when he became head coach. However, the Aggies have lost four in a row, including a 35-14 blowout defeat to UTSA (a program in its second year of football) and a 26-18 loss to Idaho. With the uncertainty over New Mexico State’s future conference, Walker is probably safe for another year. However, a 1-11 or 2-10 record this season would be a major disappointment.

8. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Idaho: 20-48 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
The Vandals finally cracked the win column, beating New Mexico State 26-18 in Week 6. Idaho’s schedule hasn’t afford many opportunities for victories, but this team played well in a loss against Bowling Green and nearly beat Wyoming on Sept. 22. The win over the Aggies snapped an eight-game losing streak and should allow this team to build some momentum for WAC play in the second half of the season. Akey is in a difficult position with Idaho’s uncertainty surrounding its conference. However, just like New Mexico State’s DeWayne Walker, this program can’t afford to fall too far behind and a 1-11 season might bring a coaching change for 2013.

9. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 81-52 (11th season)
2012 Record: 2-4
With their backs against the wall, the Golden Bears responded with a 43-17 victory over UCLA on Saturday night. The win not only snaps a three-game losing streak, but should reduce some of the pressure on Tedford. The veteran coach has taken a lot of heat this year and still needs a few more wins to keep his job. Although California’s 2-4 record is disappointing, its schedule has been one of the most difficult in the nation through the first six weeks of 2012.

10. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 14-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-2
With an upcoming schedule that features games against Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina, the bye week came at a good time for Tennessee. Although Volunteers’ fans want to be undefeated, this team simply lost to better teams so far (Georgia and Florida) and have not played bad in either game. While the next three contests could all be losses, Tennessee could finish out 2012 on a four-game winning streak, as Troy, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky should all be victories. Dooley’s team has made some progress, but the next seven games will be crucial for his future in Knoxville.

11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 5-26 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-5
As the hot seat watch has mentioned in previous editions, Hauck seems to have UNLV pointed in the right direction. However, the harsh reality remains: The Rebels are 1-5 and lost to Northern Arizona in Week 2. UNLV’s schedule hasn’t been particularly easy and the next two games are daunting: Nevada and at Boise State. Looking ahead to the last month of the season, the Rebels should have a chance to win all four games, which would help Hauck make a case for another year in 2013.

12. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Iowa: 99-68 (14th season)
2012 Record: 3-2
Ferentz has experienced a roller coaster ride on the hot seat rankings this season, as he climbed into the top 10 with a bad loss to Central Michigan but tumbled down the list after beating Minnesota on Sept. 29. With Iowa’s next victory, Ferentz will top 100 victories in his career in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes travel to Michigan State this week and host Penn State on Oct. 20, which won’t make it any easier for Ferentz to hit that milestone.

13. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Southern Miss: 0-5
2012 Record: 0-5
The disastrous start to Johnson’s tenure at Southern Miss continued with a 40-14 loss to Boise State. In fairness to the Golden Eagles, the schedule hasn’t been easy, as all five of their opponents should be bowl teams. However, Southern Miss’ offense has not scored more than 17 points in each of its last four games and the defense ranks 105th nationally in points allowed. With a game at UCF this Saturday and a home date against Marshall on Oct. 20 coming up, the Golden Eagles could be 0-7 heading into a road trip to Rice at the end of October.

14. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at South Florida: 15-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-4
The Bulls are one of college football’s biggest disappointments through the first six weeks of the season. With a roster that returned 13 starters, South Florida was expected to be in the mix for the Big East title, while erasing the disappointment from a 5-7 finish last year. Instead, the Bulls have slumped to a 2-4 start, which includes losses at Ball State and Temple. South Florida simply has too much talent to be 2-4, leaving Holtz and his coaching staff with much of the blame. Holtz signed a hefty contract extension in the offseason, so it’s unlikely the school will make a change. However, another 5-7 or 4-8 year won’t sit well in Tampa.

15. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at UTEP: 46-57 (8 years)
2012 Record: 1-5
Although UTEP has close calls against Oklahoma and Wisconsin this season, the Miners have only one win at the midpoint of 2012 and are 0-2 in C-USA play. UTEP’s second half schedule doesn’t provide a ton of relief, especially with road trips to Tulsa and Houston, along with a visit from UCF. Price has not had a winning year since 2005 and the Miners appear to be headed for their seventh consecutive season of at least seven or more losses.

16. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank: 15
Record at Colorado: 4-14 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
Colorado had a bye week on Saturday and return to action against Arizona State on Thursday night. The off date came at a good time for the Buffaloes, as they had a handful of injured players and had a full week to make some much-needed adjustments. Colorado is going to struggle to win another game this year, but Embree doesn’t appear to be in any danger of losing his job.

17. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at MTSU: 38-42 (7th season)
2012 Record: 3-2
The week after beating Georgia Tech on the road, it was no surprise MTSU lost to Louisiana-Monroe. The Blue Raiders had a letdown performance, but the Warhawks are also one of the best teams in the Sun Belt this year. Stockstill’s seat was scalding hot after losing the season opener to McNeese State, but MTSU rebounded and could make a run at six victories.

18. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 16
Record at Western Michigan: 50-42 (8th season)
2012 Record: 3-3
With quarterback Alex Carder sidelined with a hand injury, backup Tyler VanTubbergen led Western Michigan to an easy 52-14 win over UMass. VanTubbergen threw for five touchdowns and 283 yards, while the Broncos’ defense limited the Minutemen to 135 passing yards. Cubit entered this season with a lot of pressure on his shoulders, as Western Michigan has yet to win the MAC West under his watch. The Broncos were picked by many to win the division but need some help after losing to Toledo 37-17. Western Michigan’s next five games – including four on the road – will decide whether or not this team can play in Detroit for the conference championship in early December.

19. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at Syracuse: 19-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-3
Marrone is one of the biggest winners from the Week 6 action. The Orange got a much-needed victory over Pittsburgh, edging the Panthers 14-13. The win was Syracuse’s first over a FBS team since beating West Virginia 49-23 on Oct. 21 last season. Barring a disastrous finish to 2012, Marrone shouldn’t be in any danger of losing his job. However, the Orange needs to show more progress in the second half of the season, especially as a move to the ACC is on the horizon for 2013.

20. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Maryland: 5-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 3-2
Saturday’s 19-14 win over Wake Forest wasn’t pretty, but the victory ensured Maryland would finish 2012 with a better record than it did last season. Edsall has been under fire since he took the job in College Park, but the Terrapins are making progress, which has been made possible by a true freshman quarterback (Perry Hills) and a dynamic playmaker at receiver (Stefon Diggs). Maryland still needs some help to get to a bowl game, but upcoming match-ups against Virginia and Boston College are very winnable.

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas:
2012 Record: 2-4
As the hot seat watch has mentioned every week, Smith is on a one-year contract, so he’s not really in any danger of being fired. After a 24-7 victory at Auburn, the Razorbacks are building some momentum for the second half of the season, and they still have a chance to make a bowl game. Arkansas has winnable games against Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tulsa but would need to pull off an upset over Arkansas, Mississippi State or LSU to get to six wins. Although Smith has taken a lot of heat over the last few weeks, he deserves credit for Saturday’s win over Auburn. 

by Steven Lassan


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<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 6 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-6-bowl-projections

College football's bowl season is inching closer, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With six weeks of results in the books, it's hard to make long-term projections about teams, especially with several teams just getting into conference play. 

With little data to work with, the post-Week 6 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks, especially as we see how teams perform in conference games. 

2012-2013 Post-Week 6 College Football Bowl Projections

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

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

** UCF is appealing a postseason ban and for now, is eligible to compete in the 2012 postseason.

by Steven Lassan


(published Oct. 9, 2012)

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<p> College Football Post-Week 6 Bowl Projections</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-6-power-rankings

Thanks to Saturday's 48-45 win in Austin, it's clear West Virginia is ready to challenge for a national title. The Mountaineers are in the thick of the BCS title discussion, while quarterback Geno Smith is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy. Not far behind West Virginia is Kansas State, who easily beat Kansas in Week 6. Oklahoma rebounded from losing to the Wildcats with a key road win over Texas Tech, while Iowa State knocked off TCU.

Post-Week 6 Big 12 Power Rankings

1. West Virginia (5-0, 2-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Beat Texas 48-45
There’s a new No. 1 in the Big 12 power rankings. The Mountaineers used a balance attack on offense, while the defense made timely stops in the second half to score a huge 48-45 win against Texas. The win over the Longhorns firmly places West Virginia in the mix to play for a national title. Quarterback Geno Smith was sharp once again, throwing for 268 yards and four touchdowns, but running back Andrew Buie was the real surprise, recording 207 yards and two rushing touchdowns. The Mountaineers will be on upset alert in Week 7, as they travel to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech.
Next Game: at Texas Tech

2. Kansas State (5-0, 2-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Beat Kansas 56-16
As expected, the Sunflower Showdown was a one-sided affair. Kansas State got off to a slow start and led only 21-14 at halftime. However, the Wildcats outscored the Jayhawks 35-2 in the second half, which improved coach Bill Snyder to 17-4 against Kansas State’s in-state rival. Quarterback Collin Klein continues to stamp his name as one of the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy, recording 245 yards and four touchdowns against Kansas. The Wildcats hit the road for the next two weeks, playing at Iowa State in Week 7 and at West Virginia in Week 8.
Next Game: at Iowa State

3. Texas (4-1, 1-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost to West Virginia 48-45
The Longhorns’ Big 12 title hopes took a step back with a 48-45 loss to West Virginia. While the offense came into the season as a concern, it’s the defense the coaching staff has to be worried about. Playing two great offenses (Oklahoma State, West Virginia) certainly hurts the numbers, but the Longhorns are capable of playing better than they have shown so far. Texas has to regroup quickly, as it has a huge showdown against Oklahoma this Saturday.
Next Game: Oklahoma (Dallas)

4. Oklahoma (3-1, 1-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Beat Texas Tech 41-20
After a disappointing 24-19 loss to Kansas State, the Sooners bounced back with a convincing 41-20 win at Texas Tech. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak in Lubbock and kept Oklahoma’s Big 12 title hopes alive. Quarterback Landry Jones was efficient, completing 25 of 40 throws for 259 yards and two touchdowns. The defense kept Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege in check, while taking an interception for a score in the third quarter. The Sooners need to keep winning to keep the pressure on Kansas State and West Virginia for first place in the Big 12, which raises the intensity for this Saturday’s game against Texas.
Next Game: Texas (Dallas)

5. Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Bye Week
The Cowboys are coming off another bye week and will play only their second game in four weeks against Kansas this Saturday. Oklahoma State’s last game was a 41-36 loss to Texas, but this week’s matchup against Kansas should provide a different outcome. The biggest question mark for the Cowboys will be the quarterback position. Will Wes Lunt return from a knee injury or will J.W. Walsh make his second start?
Next Game: at Kansas

6. Iowa State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Beat TCU 37-23
Thanks to a convincing 37-23 win at TCU, the Cyclones make a leap in the power rankings after six weeks of action. Iowa State’s victory was certainly helped by the Horned Frogs losing quarterback Casey Pachall to a suspension, but the Cyclones never trailed and committed only one turnover. The win was a huge boost to Iowa State’s bowl hopes, as it needs to win two more games to get eligible for the postseason. The Cyclones should beat Kansas in late November, but the rest of the schedule has no guaranteed wins. However, as the Big 12 has witnessed since Paul Rhoads took over in Ames, Iowa State should find a way to get to six or seven wins at the end of the year.
Next Game: Kansas State

7. Baylor (3-1, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Bye Week
The bye week came at a perfect time for the Bears. After giving up 70 points and 807 yards in a loss to West Virginia, Baylor had some extra time to figure out what went wrong and find some much-needed answers on defense. Through four games, the Bears are allowing 571.3 yards and 39.8 points per game. Baylor hosts TCU in Week 7 and travels to Texas in Week 8.
Next Game: TCU

8. Texas Tech (4-1, 1-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost to Oklahoma 41-20
The Red Raiders missed out on a chance to make a statement in the Big 12 title race, losing 41-20 to Oklahoma in Week 6. Texas Tech cruised through its first three non-conference games and won a tough 24-13 game at Iowa State last week, but it was never able to get on track against the Sooners. Quarterback Seth Doege was held without a touchdown pass, while the Red Raiders’ defense allowed a season-high 41 points and 380 yards. Texas Tech’s No. 1 pass defense ranking will be put to the test against a West Virginia offense that is averaging 406.8 passing yards per game.
Next Game: West Virginia

9. TCU (4-1, 1-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost to Iowa State 27-23
It was a week to forget for TCU and head coach Gary Patterson. The Horned Frogs suffered a huge setback on Thursday, as quarterback Casey Pachall was arrested on DWI charges and is suspended indefinitely. With Pachall out, redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin made his first start against Iowa State and finished with 270 passing yards and one score. However, Boykin tossed three picks and the Horned Frogs lost their first Big 12 home game. The schedule doesn’t lighten up any for TCU over the next few weeks, as a trip to Baylor is ahead this Saturday, followed by games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
Next Game: at Baylor

10. Kansas (1-4, 0-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost to Kansas State 56-16
The Jayhawks got off to a good start, as they jumped out to a 14-7 lead against Kansas State early in the second quarter. However, the Wildcats are simply the better team on both sides of the ball and pulled away for a 56-16 win. Kansas coach Charlie Weis did everything he could to motivate his team, which included expressing his frustration at the school paper. Although the Jayhawks had some initial energy, this team is short on talent and having five turnovers certainly won’t win many games in the Big 12.
Next Game: Oklahoma State

by Steven Lassan


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Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 06:10
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With Florida State's loss to NC State, the ACC is officially out of the national title race. The Seminoles were the conference's best hope at finishing No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS, but the championship dreams will have to wait another year. Clemson kept its ACC title hopes alive with a victory over Georgia Tech, while Duke improved to 5-1 with a win over Virginia. 

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – Bernard missed two games with a knee injury but has been nearly unstoppable this season. The sophomore has 475 yards and five scores on 52 attempts and has 15 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd threw two picks in the win over Georgia Tech but completed 26 of 41 throws for 397 yards and two scores.

3. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson – There’s not much separating the three names in this category, and Hopkins could make a case for the No. 1 spot. He has 49 catches for 777 yards and eight touchdowns this year.

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – A patchwork NC State line held Werner in check, but the junior leads the ACC with 10 tackles for a loss and ranks second with 6.5 sacks this year.

2. Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke – Cockrell is flying under the radar on a national level but is having quite the season. The junior leads the ACC with 13 passes defended and has four interceptions.

3. Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State – Carradine led all Florida State defensive linemen with eight tackles against NC State. The senior leads the ACC with seven sacks this season.

Coach of the Year Standings

1. David Cutcliffe, Duke - The Blue Devils are just one win away from being eligible to play in a bowl. Duke doesn’t have a win over a FBS team with a winning record, but this team is poised to breakthrough in 2012.

2. Larry Fedora, North Carolina – Even with no bowl game or conference championship to play for in 2012, Fedora has kept this team on track. The Tar Heels handled Virginia Tech 48-34 in Week 6.

3. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – A disappointing loss to NC State ends the Seminoles’ national title hopes.

Post-Week 6 ACC Power Rankings

1. Florida State (5-1, 2-1 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost 17-16 to NC State
Despite the surprising loss to NC State, the Seminoles maintain the No. 1 spot in the power rankings. Although the Wolfpack are a dangerous team at home, this is a game Florida State should not lose, especially after it jumps out to a 16-0 lead. Even though the Seminoles are out of the national title picture, this team still has to be the favorite to win the ACC crown. Florida State plays three of its next five games on the road but hosts Boston College this Saturday.
Next Game: Boston College

2. Clemson (5-1, 2-1 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Beat Georgia Tech 47-31
As expected, the Yellow Jackets gave Clemson all it could handle early on, but the Tigers scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Quarterback Tajh Boyd had two interceptions but finished with 397 passing yards and two touchdowns. The defense allowed 339 rushing yards but forced one turnover and recorded a safety early in the fourth quarter. With Florida State’s loss to NC State, the ACC Atlantic division is up for grabs again. Clemson needs another loss by the Seminoles, but the Tigers head into a bye week with momentum and an opportunity to get back into the conference title race.
Next Game: Virginia Tech (Oct. 20)

3. NC State (4-2, 1-1 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Beat Florida State 17-16
The Wolfpack pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 college football season, beating Florida State 17-16 to knock the Seminoles out of the national title picture. NC State trailed 16-0 but rallied behind quarterback Mike Glennon. The senior finished with 259 yards and two touchdowns and made crucial plays on third and fourth downs late in the game to lead the Wolfpack to the upset. The win over the Seminoles was not only huge for momentum purposes, but NC State controls its destiny in the ACC Atlantic. If the Wolfpack can win out and beat Clemson on Nov. 17, they will play for the conference championship in early December.
Next Game: at Maryland (Oct. 20)

4. Miami (4-2, 3-0 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost to Notre Dame 41-3
After posting 86 combined points in wins over Georgia Tech and NC State, the Hurricanes’ offense stalled with only three points in a 41-3 loss to Notre Dame. Quarterback Stephen Morris threw for 201 yards on 18 completions but didn’t have much help from his receiving corps. True freshman running back Duke Johnson was also held in check by the Irish defense, managing just 22 yards on eight attempts. Although the offensive showing was a disappointment, Miami’s defense continues to be an issue. The Hurricanes have allowed 30 or more points in five contests and average just one sack a game.
Next Game: North Carolina

5. North Carolina (4-2, 1-1 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Beat Virginia Tech 48-34
The Tar Heels are ineligible to play for the ACC Championship, but this team isn’t letting that slow them down this year. North Carolina scored an impressive 48-34 win over Virginia Tech in Week 6, led by 261 rushing yards from running back Giovani Bernard and a defense that never allowed the Hokies’ ground attack to get on track. With a sound victory over Virginia Tech, North Carolina now sets its sights on claiming control of the division with a trip to Miami next week.
Next Game: at Miami

6. Duke (5-1, 2-0 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Beat Virginia 42-17
If there was any doubt the Blue Devils are a much-improved team this season, Saturday’s victory over Virginia should erase those thoughts. Sure, the Cavaliers aren’t a top-10 team but this is a game Duke has struggled to win in the past. With Sean Renfree sidelined with an elbow injury, Anthony Boone filled in admirably, throwing for 204 yards and four touchdowns on 30 attempts. Although Boone played well, the defense stepped up with two turnovers and did not allow a score in the second half. The Blue Devils have a difficult schedule in the second half of the season but need just one win to get bowl eligible.
Next Game: at Virginia Tech

7. Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost to North Carolina 48-34
After six games, it’s pretty clear: Virginia Tech is in real danger of finishing 6-6 or 7-5. Considering most expected this team would be one of the best 10-15 in the nation, the Hokies are one of the ACC’s biggest disappointments. A defense that returned one of the top backfields and lines in the nation was pushed around for 532 yards against North Carolina, while the offense continues to struggle on the ground. Virginia Tech still controls its destiny in the Coastal Division but the schedule doesn’t get any easier over the next few weeks, starting with a 5-1 Duke team on Saturday.
Next Game: Duke

8. Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost to Clemson 47-31
The bye week couldn’t come at a better time for the Yellow Jackets. After three consecutive losses, it’s time for Georgia Tech to regroup for the second half of the season. The defense has allowed 40 points in three consecutive games, and this team needs to find some answers if it wants to finish with a winning record and play in a bowl game. The Yellow Jackets gave Clemson all it could handle for a half but was unable to keep up with the Tigers offense in the final two quarters. The Yellow Jackets return to action on Oct. 20 against Boston College.
Next Game: Boston College

9. Maryland (3-2, 1-0 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Beat Wake Forest 19-14
It wasn’t pretty, but Maryland opened ACC play with a 19-14 win over Wake Forest. The Terrapins fell behind early but allowed only seven points to the Demon Deacons over the final three quarters. Freshman quarterback Perry Hills threw for 191 yards, with fellow freshman Stefon Diggs his favorite target (5 receptions for 105 yards). Maryland’s defense played a key role in the victory, holding Wake Forest to 71 rushing yards and forcing two turnovers. With the victory on Saturday, the Terrapins have surpassed their win total from last season.
Next Game: at Virginia

10. Virginia (2-4, 0-2 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost to Duke 42-17
A quarterback change wasn’t enough to spark the offense, and Virginia dropped its fourth consecutive game with a 42-17 loss to Duke. The Cavaliers recorded 461 yards but committed two turnovers, and a defense that struggled to get stops in the second half was simply too much to overcome. Phillip Sims completed 21 of 42 throws in his first start, but his two second half interceptions were costly. If Virginia wants to return to the postseason, winning the next two games (Maryland, Wake Forest) is a must.
Next Game: Lost to Duke 42-17

11. Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost to Maryland 19-14
With receiver Michael Campanaro sidelined with a hand injury, the Demon Deacons offense sputtered in a 19-14 loss to Maryland. Wake Forest got off to a good start with a 73-yard touchdown pass on the first drive, but the Terrapins held quarterback Tanner Price to less than 100 passing yards the rest of the day. The Demon Deacons have lost three out of their last four games and have a bye this Saturday. The off week comes at a good time, especially as the team hopes to get Campanaro back as soon as possible.
Next Game: at Virginia (Oct. 20)

12. Boston College (1-4, 0-2 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 6 Result: Lost to Army 34-31
Embarrassing. That’s really the only way to describe the Eagles loss to Army on Saturday. Although the Black Knights are a difficult opponent to prepare for, this is a game Boston College should not lose. A big part of the struggles was the rush defense, which gave up 519 yards to Army’s option attack. The Eagles’ bowl hopes are hanging by a thread with road trips to Florida State and Georgia Tech coming up in the next two weeks. Barring a complete change of events for Frank Spaziani in the second half of the season, Boston College will have a new head coach next year.
Next Game: at Florida State

by Steven Lassan


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Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-6-waiver-wire-report

Even though the waiver wire isn’t loaded with talent this week, there is still plenty of value available.  This is the time of the season where players are easier to acquire because league cellar dwellers start to become disconnected from their teams, which means less competition for late-season gems.

Shane Carden, QB-East Carolina

We suggested benching Shane Carden last week on the road at Central Florida, but he responded with a solid outing.  Carden should provide value down the stretch playing in C-USA.

Tyler Van Tubbergen, QB-Western Michigan

Tyler Van Tubbergen struggled in his first start of the season two games ago against Tulsa, but he bounced back by tossing five scoring passes against UMass.

Sean Mannion, QB-Oregon State

Mannion didn’t exactly light it up against Washington State this past weekend, but with Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton on the outside, the Beavers offense has some big-play potential.

Dennis Johnson, RB-Arkansas

Dennis Johnson has taken over at running back for the Hogs and Knile Davis’ productive days on the field may have come to an end this season.

Montel Harris, RB-Temple

Harris was impressive against South Florida this past weekend, running for 133 yards and two touchdowns.  Even though Temple has some tough matchups on the horizon, Harris offers workhorse potential.

Alex Singleton, RB-Tulsa

Even though Singleton has only topped the 100-yard mark once this season, he has scored multiple touchdowns in four of Tulsa’s last five games.

Kasey Carrier, RB-New Mexico

In the Lobos’ last three games, Carrier has run for 406 yards and six touchdowns.  Next week, Carrier faces Hawaii’s 110th rated rush defense.

Andrew Buie, RB-West Virginia

After Saturday’s impressive performance at Texas, Buie jumped onto everyone’s radar and could be a major fantasy factor down the stretch.

Terence Davis, WR-Wake Forest

Since Michael Campanaro’s hand injury, Davis has emerged as quarterback Tanner Price’s go-to receiver and has posted back-to-back 100-yard games.

Jamill Smith, WR-Ball St

Smith has caught at least six passes in five of six games this season and is fresh off a 14-catch game against Northern Illinois.

Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email:  [email protected]

<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 6 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 03:49
All taxonomy terms: Michigan State Spartans, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/michigan-states-leveon-bell-hurdles-indiana-player

Michigan State had to work a little harder than expected to beat Indiana. The Spartans needed a huge second half comeback to knock off the Hoosiers, which included a big game from running back Le'Veon Bell.

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

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

<p> Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell Hurdles Indiana Player</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 7, 2012 - 21:31
All taxonomy terms: ACC, News
Path: /news/virginia-techs-dyrell-roberts-finds-pair-scissors-against-north-carolina

So far, 2012 has not gone according to plan for Virginia Tech. The Hokies have lost three out of their last four games, including Saturday's 48-34 shootout at North Carolina.

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

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

<p> Virginia Tech's Dyrell Roberts Makes An Interesting Discovery Against North Carolina</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 15:26