Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/kansas-state-oregon-or-notre-dame-which-team-has-best-chance-beat-alabama

All signs point to Alabama cruising to another appearance in the national title game. The Crimson Tide have dominated all of their opponents so far this year but get their toughest test of 2012 against LSU this Saturday. While Alabama appears to be the clear No. 1 team, it's too early to guarantee another national title. Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Georgia and LSU are the top contenders but will any of those teams have enough to dethrone Alabama at No. 1 at the end of the year? 

Kansas State, Oregon, Notre Dame or another team from the SEC: Can anyone beat Alabama?

Coach Terry Donahue, former head coach of the UCLA Bruins, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I think that Oregon would have the best chance to beat Alabama. I have not seen a team in the last thirty years that can run offense like Oregon.  Also, Oregon's Coach Kelly has said this is the best defense that he has had while coaching in Eugene.

Coach Gene Stallings, former head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
If I had to pick one of those three teams (Notre Dame, Kansas State or Oregon) to beat Alabama, it would be Notre Dame.  I think they are the only one of those three teams that is physically strong enough to play against Alabama and beat them. I don't think Oregon could slow down Alabama when they have the ball.

David Fox (@DavidFox615):
The team with the best chance to knock off Alabama is a team the Crimson Tide may not face: Kansas State. The Wildcats are the only team that can match Nick Saban’s trademark preparation, intensity and attention to detail. The Wildcats won’t match Alabama in talent level, but Kansas State is sound in offense, defense and special teams. Now, I don’t know how Collin Klein would handle the physical Alabama defense, but I’d cast by lot with Klein against the Tide over a freshman quarterback at Oregon, the two-QB system at Notre Dame and Zach Mettenberger. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that Oregon is the second best team in the nation. Does that mean they are best constructed to defeat the Crimson Tide in a one-game situation with the championship on the line? No. Notre Dame, Kansas State and Florida are the three teams best built to defeat the massive front line and offensive balance that Alabama boasts. Notre Dame still has a question mark at QB that Nick Saban would exploit. Kansas State is a special story with two special leaders but isn't nearly talented enough anywhere on the roster to topple Bama. For my money, the Gators are the team best built to compete with the Tide in the trenches on defense and are physical enough along the offensive line to run the football. Unfortunately, there is a good shot the Gators and Tide won't face each other this fall. Oregon will get and deserves the right to play in the national title game but being equipped to slow down the massive Alabama running game is an entirely different issue.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I don’t see any team beating Alabama this year, but I think Oregon has the best chance to knock the Crimson Tide from the No. 1 spot in the national title game. Notre Dame’s defense would give Alabama’s offense fits, but I don’t think the Fighting Irish would be able to generate many points on the Crimson Tide defense. Kansas State doesn’t beat itself, but getting Collin Klein on track against Alabama seems unlikely. LSU and Georgia won’t be easy outs, but the Tigers have struggled to generate anything on offense all year, while the Bulldogs’ offensive line would be a mismatch against the Crimson Tide’s front seven. The Ducks seem to be in the best position to challenge Alabama this year, as Chip Kelly has assembled a team complete with depth, speed and talent. Oregon’s offense can beat you in many ways, and quarterback Marcus Mariota is only going to get better. Although the defense may not rank statistically as high as Alabama’s, the Ducks are allowing 4.5 yards per play – equal to Notre Dame and South Carolina. It’s going to be hard for any team to knock off the Crimson Tide, but with a dangerous offense and a defense that’s better than the stats might indicate, Oregon would be the best matchup. Chip Kelly vs. Nick Saban. De’Anthony Thomas vs. Alabama’s defense. Talk about a heck of a (potential) matchup in Miami for the national title. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
I think it still has to be LSU. The Tigers have been a bit underwhelming so far this season — their three SEC wins have come by a combined nine points — but we can’t forget this team still has an elite defense and an outstanding rushing game. Alabama has been extremely impressive and no doubt deserves its No. 1 ranking, but the Crimson Tide have yet to face a great defense in 2012. I have supreme confidence in AJ McCarron, Eddie Lacy and Co., but moving the ball and scoring points against teams like Michigan and Mississippi State is one thing. Doing it against LSU, at night in Tiger Stadium, is a different animal. My pick to win this game is still Alabama, but I believe LSU has to considered the biggest threat to knock off the defending champs.

Mark Ross: 
I'm guessing most of my colleagues are viewing this question in light of who Alabama will play in the BCS National Championship Game. I, however, am not convinced that the Crimson Tide won't fall before we get to that point. I'm not saying LSU will be the one to beat 'Bama this Saturday, but I'm not ready to crown Nick Saban's team as SEC champs just yet either. As it stands now, Alabama and Georgia appear to be on a collision course to play in Atlanta in December. Both still have business to attend to, but if this match up is the end result, I think the Bulldogs have the necessary ingredients - namely a physical, athletic defense that can make big plays and a veteran quarterback leading an offense that can run and pass - to beat the Crimson Tide. That said, it still will probably require a near-flawless effort on Georgia's part, and probably a lucky bounce here or there, to do so. Since discipline is not necessarily a hallmark of Mark Richt's teams, I will agree with my colleagues who say the toughest opponent Alabama will face will be in the title game in Miami Gardens in January. As good as Kansas State and Notre Dame have looked thus far, I think Oregon offers the best opponent for Alabama in that the Ducks have the same ingredients I outlined earlier and they are probably one of the few teams in the nation whose offense could provide a challenge for the Tide's defense. I for one would love to see Chip Kelly and Saban square off mano a mano to determine this season's national champion.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
The answer to this question is probably Oregon (if the Ducks make it) in the BCS Championship, but since we do not know if that game will happen, I’ll go with LSU in this weekend’s top matchup. The Tigers have the defense to lead LSU to another low-scoring victory like the one last year in Tuscaloosa, although the offense will needs its best effort by far just to even the time of possession. The Tigers offensive line has been rifled with key injuries this season, so it’s difficult to see LSU doing much on offense. However if Zach Mettenberger and the running game can make a few plays and keep it close until the fourth quarter, then the Death Valley crowd might work some of its famous voodoo. I’m not predicting Les Miles’ bunch to win this weekend, but the Tigers have the speed and physical potential to upset the Tide.

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<p> Kansas State, Oregon, LSU, Georgia or Notre Dame: Which Team Has the Best Chance to Beat Alabama?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 06:03
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas Longhorns, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/should-texas-replace-mack-brown-end-2012-season

Even though Texas won 21-17 in last Saturday's game against Kansas, the victory isn't sitting well with many folks in Austin. Struggling to beat the worst team in the conference is never a good sign, and the Longhorns don't seem to be much better from last season's 8-5 squad. Mack Brown has had a successful stint as Texas' head coach, but is it time for a coaching change?

Is it time for Texas to make a coaching change?

David Fox (@DavidFox615):
No question, Texas is not where it used to be. The Longhorns aren’t where they should be by any means, either. That said, it’s almost a surprise to look at the standings and see Texas at 6-2. Seems like the record should be much worse -- that’s because the Oklahoma rout felt like two losses, and a 21-17 win over Kansas may as well be a loss. But in the end, Texas is poised for a second consecutive eight-win season or better after going 5-7 two years ago. That three-year span gets coaches fired at Michigan and Florida, and perhaps it should at Texas under normal circumstances. But Mack Brown has too much credibility built up with nine consecutive 10-win seasons and two national title game appearances. And don’t forget: Parting ways with the coach is the easy part. Just ask Tennessee or Florida State. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Before last weekend I would have laughed at this question. But inching past Kansas in extremely unimpressive fashion has raised my eyebrows. Mack Brown has never burnt the midnight oil drawing up game plans to out-scheme the other guy. He has never been an ultra gameday motivator. His value lies in his Gubernatorial talents as CEO of the nation's largest football program and working the "rubber chicken circuit" — aka boosters, recruit’s homes, high school banquets, etc. Most football coaches should be able to win at a place like Texas, so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the Longhorns should never lose to Kansas. Brown has earned plenty of equity with two national title appearances since 2005. And with Texas Tech, Iowa State and TCU up next on the schedule, his team should be much closer to 9-2 than, say, Auburn's 1-7. I am okay with Brown getting another year in Austin (if he wants it)...unless Art Briles is interested in moving 100 miles down I-35 South.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I don’t think Mack Brown is in any danger of losing his job this season, but there’s no question the pressure is starting to build. It’s never easy for any program to stay on top forever, but since recording nine consecutive seasons of at least 10 victories from 2001-09, the Longhorns are just 19-14 over the last three years. Revamping the staff gave Texas an initial bump last season, but the defense has regressed, and the quarterback position is still a question mark. Brown is the perfect CEO for this program and continues to reel in top-five recruiting classes. So where has Texas gone wrong? The Big 12 has gotten better, but the talent hasn’t developed as quickly as most expected. In the three seasons prior to his arrival, the Longhorns were 22-14 and struggled to find consistency in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Texas is college football’s premier job, so there should be high expectations every year. Considering what Brown has done, he deserves another year to get this team back in the mix for a BCS title. And it’s also hard to envision Brown getting fired at the end of 2012 or 2013. Maybe he steps down to take an athletic department position or retires, but I don’t see Mack Brown ever getting fired from Texas. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
I would hate to see Mack Brown fired — the man has done too many great things at Texas — but it might be time for a change at Texas. The Longhorns showed signs of progress in 2011 but have since reverted back to ’10 form. Their last four games have been especially alarming —  losses to West Virginia (48–45) in Oklahoma (63–21) and wins vs. Baylor (56–50) and Kansas (21–17). Brown has pointed to his team’s youth, but being “too young” should never be an acceptable excuse at a school like Texas. The roster should always be stocked with talent in every class. It might be unrealistic to expect Texas to compete for a national title every season, but it’s not asking too much for this program to be nationally relevant. And that has not been the case since Colt McCoy went down with an injury in the 2009 national title game.

Mark Ross: 
As they say, everything's bigger in Texas, especially when it comes to expectations surrounding the football team. As bad as the back-to-back losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma have looked, especially the 63-21 beatdown by the Sooners, this Texas team will still probably finish with no fewer than eight wins, and has a chance to make some noise late and get back into the BCS conversation. The Longhorns will have to take care of business, but if they go 4-0 the rest of the way, which would include a win over Kansas State, who is currently undefeated and No. 2 in the BCS standings, that would bring their record to 10-2. However, considering the defense's consistent struggles this season, another loss or two before the bowl season seems a little more realistic. Still, an eight- or nine-win season is something most programs would gladly take, and even though this is Texas, where they eat, drink and breathe football, I see no reason to make a coaching change. That is, unless Mack Brown is the one making the decision to step down. I think he's at least earned that right having won more than 140 games in his 15 seasons in Austin. Do Longhorn fans really think there's someone out there, who would take the job if offered, that would be better for the program, as a whole, than Brown? I don't.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
I think the UT program has been inexcusably average for the last three seasons, but the Longhorns still have a shot at a double-digit win total this year. The Texas offense was horrid in 2010-11 but has improved this season; however, a talented defense has suddenly become a sieve under Manny Diaz in 2012. There were high hopes in Austin coming into this season, after the Longhorns totaled just 13 wins over the last two years. It has not been pretty — especially a 63-21 loss against Oklahoma — but Texas is still 6-2. If Mack Brown can get to 9-10 victories, he should be allowed to fix the recent slippage in a program that has every resource imaginable. If the Horns falter late by losing three or four more, a change may be needed.

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<p> Should Texas Replace Mack Brown at the end of the 2012 season?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-10-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 10

Best Fantasy Matchups(Games with the most fantasy potential)

Kansas at Baylor

Line:  Baylor -17(O/U-71)

Projected score based on point spread:  Baylor 44-27

Best plays:

Baylor (QB-Nick Florence, WR-Terrance Williams)

Kansas (RB-James Sims)

Also consider:

Baylor (RB-Jared Salubi, WRs-Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson)

Kansas (RB-Tony Pierson)

theCFFsite projects:  Baylor 42-28


TCU at West Virginia

Line:  West Virginia -7(O/U-68)

Projected score based on point spread:  West Virginia 38-30

Best plays:

TCU (QB-Trevone Boykin*-inj, WRs-Josh Boyce, LaDarius Brown)

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

Also consider:

TCU (RBs-BJ Catalon, Matthew Tucker, K-Jaden Oberkrom)

West Virginia (RB-Andrew Buie)

theCFFsite projects:  West Virginia 42-28


Houston at East Carolina

Line:  Houston -3.5(O/U-67)

Projected score based on point spread:  Houston 35-32

Best plays:

Houston (QB-David Piland, RB-Charles Sims)

East Carolina (QB-Shane Carden,  WR-Justin Hardy)

Also consider:

Houston (WRs-Daniel Spencer, Larry McDuffey, Deontay Greenberry)

East Carolina (RB-Vintavious Cooper)

theCFFsite projects:  Houston 41-31


Arizona at UCLA

Line:  UCLA -3(O/U-70)

Projected score based on point spread:  UCLA 37-34

Best plays:

UCLA (QB-Brett Hundley, RB-Johnathan Franklin)

Arizona (QB-Matt Scott, RB-KaDeem Carey, WR-Austin Hill)

Also consider:

UCLA (WR-Shaquelle Evans)

Arizona (WR-Dan Buckner)

theCFFsite projects:  Arizona 31-30


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

Texas St at Utah St

Line:  Utah St -22(O/U-50.5)Utah St -26(O/U-53)

Projected score based on point spread:  Utah St 40-13

Stay away from:

Texas St (RB-Marcus Curry)

theCFFsite projects:  Utah St 42-14

Hawaii at Fresno St

Line:  Fresno St -33.5(O/U-47)

Projected score based on point spread:  Fresno St 47-13

Stay away from:

Hawaii (RB-Will Gregory)

theCFFsite projects:  Fresno St 45-14


Stanford at Colorado

Line:  Stanford -28(O/U-51)

Projected score based on point spread:  Stanford 40-11

Stay away from:

Colorado (RB-Christian Powell)

theCFFsite projects:  Stanford 34-10


Massachusetts at Northern Illinois

Line:  NIU -35(O/U-56.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  46-10

Stay away from:

UMass (RB-Michael Cox)

theCFFsite projects:  Northern Illinois 45-13


Must Watch Games(The games with the biggest headlines)

Alabama at LSU

Line:  Alabama -9.5(O/U-42.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Alabama 26-16

Outlook:  Considering how well Kansas State, Oregon, and Notre Dame are playing, a win by the Tigers could dampen the SEC’s chances of playing for another BCS Championship.  Death Valley will present the most hostile environment the Tide will play in all season, but the Tigers inconsistencies on offense will be their demise.

theCFFsite projects:  Alabama 24-14


Oregon at USC

Line:  Oregon -7.5(O/U-70)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oregon 39-31

Outlook:  It’s scary to think what the Oregon offense can do if they stay on the field an entire sixty minutes, but the Duck’s defense will make a statement of their own and prove why they are one of the two best teams in the nation.

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon 63-24


theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (17-13)  ATS: (12-18)

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

By Joe DiSalvo,

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Follow us on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email us:   [email protected]

<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 10 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 04:29
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-15-scariest-players-2012

Goblins, zombies, witches and skeletons. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Pinhead. Pick any combination of those and you have a recipe for nightmares and sleepless nights.

While those may bother some college football players and coaches, what about the actual on-field frights? Here’s a look at 15 players that have scared players and coaching staffs this season.

15 Scariest Players in College Football

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Vitals: 6-foot-6, 256 pounds
2012 stats: 40 tackles, 15 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 4 QBH
No player defines the physical freak category more than Clowney. The South Carolina defensive end has all of the physical attributes to start right now in the NFL, but he will have to make do with terrorizing SEC quarterbacks instead. At 6-foot-6 and 256 pounds, Clowney has the size to be one of the nation’s elite run stuffers, while possessing the necessary speed to blow offensive tackles right off the line of scrimmage. The sophomore is a headache for offensive coordinators to gameplan around and gives opposing quarterbacks’ nightmares throughout the season. Another scary thought for quarterbacks? Clowney is just a sophomore and will be back for South Carolina in 2013.

Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 255 pounds
2012 stats: 80 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack, 5 INT
There’s simply no defender playing at a higher level in college football this season. Te’o leads the Fighting Irish with 80 tackles and five interceptions and is a lock to earn first-team All-American honors at the end of the year. The senior is one of Notre Dame’s leaders and while he might be soft spoken, don’t let that fool you on the field. Te’o lets his play on the field do all of the talking and he is a player you have to account for at all times.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Vitals: 6-foot-5, 226 pounds
2012 stats: 1,630 pass yards, 12 TDs, 634 rush yards, 16 TDs
If Klein was planning on getting a Halloween costume, his decision was made easier when he gained the nickname “Optimus Klein” earlier this year. The senior is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy after eight weeks and is the heart and soul of Kansas State’s offense. He has 28 total touchdowns and improved passing skills have made him nearly impossible to stop. Do you load up and stop the run and allow Klein and receivers to have 1-on-1 matchups on the outside? Or do you take away the pass and allow Klein to grind away yards on the ground? Good luck defensive coordinators. Best wishes trying to get to sleep with visions of No. 7 haunting your dreams.

Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 320 pounds
2012 stats: 29 tackles, 8 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 FF
There are few 6-foot-4, 320-pound linemen who can move like Lotulelei. The Utah native keeps plenty of Pac-12 offensive linemen up at night, as they try to keep Lotulelei from destroying their quarterback. The senior moves well for someone for his size and his quick feet allow him to blow linemen right off the ball – just ask USC.

Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Vitals: 6-foot-8, 280 pounds
2012 stats: 18 tackles, 6 TFL, 5 sacks, 6 QBH, 3 blocked kicks
Hailing from Estonia, Hunt is one of college football’s hidden gems. The senior ranked as the No. 1 athletic freak by’s Bruce Feldman and has been a monster on defense and special teams. Hunt won gold medals in the shot put and discus throw at the 2006 World Junior Championships. Additionally, he blocked seven kicks as a freshman, three as a sophomore and four as a junior. Whether he’s on special teams on lining up across offensive linemen, Hunt is a true terror on the field and a nightmare to match up against.

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 255 pounds
2012 stats: 27 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 5 QBH
The “Germanator” has lived in opposing backfields all year and has left ACC quarterbacks running for their lives this season. Werner has been the ACC’s top defensive player so far, recording 12.5 tackles for a loss and eight sacks. Whether it’s an offensive lineman or a quarterback, there’s no question Werner is not someone you want to see coming in your direction after the ball is snapped. And anytime a player has a nickname like the “Germanator,” you know he has to be a bad, bad man.

Jesse Williams, DL, Alabama
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 320 pounds
2012 stats: 14 tackles, 2 PBU
Just take a look at Williams – doesn’t he look like someone who is ready to inflict pain on opposing offensive linemen? The native Australian started his career at Arizona Western College and immediately made an impact in his first season in Tuscaloosa in 2011. Williams isn’t asked to generate much in the way of stats but the 6-foot-4 lineman is a beast for any opposing offensive lineman to handle, especially after recording a 600-pound bench press in the offseason.

T.J. McDonald, S, USC
6-foot-3, 205 pounds
2012 stats: 66 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT, 3 PD
Catching a pass over the middle is not necessarily high on a receiver's wish list, especially with a safety ready to deliver a blow lurking just a few yards behind. McDonald is the eptiome of this worst-case scenario for opposing wideouts, as he is one of college football’s biggest hitters and is a well-built safety at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. With McDonald ready to lower the boom after a catch, it’s enough to make any receiver think twice about catching a slant or curl route over the middle.

John Simon, DE, Ohio State
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 263 pounds
2012 stats: 37 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4 sacks
At 6-foot-2 and 263 pounds, Simon isn’t necessarily the biggest defensive end in college football. However, don’t let that size fool you. Simon has been a terror off the edge throughout his career and has 16 sacks in four seasons. He is also one of college football’s biggest workout warriors and is relentless when it comes to spending time in the weight room.                                                                                                                                                                                              

Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 200 pounds
2012 stats: 47 rec., 657 yds., 4 TDs
A torn ACL ended Hunter’s 2011 season after three games, but the Virginia native has shown no ill effects from the injury and remains one of the best receivers in the SEC. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Hunter has the size to be an elite red zone threat, while possessing the speed to outrun opposing defensive backs. The junior has 4.4 speed and posted a mark of 26 feet, 1.5 inches in the long jump during his freshman season.

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Vitals: 5-foot-9, 171 pounds
2012 stats: 74 rec., 788 yards, 9 TDs; 90 rush yards, 1 kickoff return for a TD
Austin is one player you do not want to encounter in the open field. The Baltimore native has 248 career receptions for 2,912 yards and 26 scores, while also adding 478 rushing yards and three touchdowns. In addition to his production, Austin’s speed and quick-change ability is a defensive back’s worst nightmare, especially if they don’t want to be embarrassed on highlight reels for the entire college season.

Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Vitals: 6-foot-0, 197 pounds
2012 stats: 1,319 passing yards, 9 TDs, 946 rush yards, 6 TDs
Just like Tavon Austin, “Shoelace” is a player that opposing defenders hate to see in the open field. Robinson reportedly runs a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash and even though he can be inconsistent at times, the senior can also beat defenses with his arm. Anytime a defense gets ready to take the field, there’s always that thought Robinson could be ready to run by them all for a long touchdown or connect with a receiver for a big play.

De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Vitals: 5-foot-9, 176 pounds
2012 stats: 499 rush yards, 7 TDs, 24 rec., 218 yards, 1 TD
Anytime a running back has a nickname like “Black Mamba,” he already has the full attention of defenses. And when defensive coordinators put on the tape to watch Oregon, Thomas is exactly the type of player they spend countless hours trying to gameplan around. The sophomore averaged 10.8 yards per carry in 2011 and scored 18 overall touchdowns. Here’s the real problem for defenders and coaches facing Oregon: Blink and Thomas will run right by you. Talk about a scary thought.

Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
Vitals: 6-foot-8, 360 pounds
2012 Stats: 27 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 QBH
McCullers is in his first season at Tennessee but his sheer size and mere presecen on the filed is enough to cause  any offensive lineman or quarterback to panic. The junior checks in at a massive 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds. McCullers may not have Jadeveon Clowney’s speed, but he isn’t a statue around the line of scrimmage either. Can you imagine this beast running at you?

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Vitals: 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
2012 stats: 32 rec., 404 yards, 1 TD, 102 rush yards, 1 TD
Watkins got off to a slow start in 2012, but as evidenced in the win over Wake Forest, it appears he's coming alive. The sophomore caught eight passes for 202 yards and one touchdown against the Demon Deacons and is on his way to regaining the form that allowed him to catch 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 scores last season. Watkins isn’t just a weapon in the passing game, as he can hurt teams on the ground and on special teams. Try being a defensive coordinator attempting to stop Watkins, quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver DeAndre Hopkins. How do you slow down, let alone stop, this offense? Whether it’s athleticism or game-changing ability, Watkins is one of the nation’s most dangerous players with the ball in his hands and is constantly striking fear in opposing defensive backs.

by Steven Lassan

(published Oct. 30, 2012)

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<p> College Football's 15 Scariest Players for 2012</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 10:02
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-9-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 nine weeks of results in the books, it's beginning to get easier to make long-term projections about teams. 

The post-Week 9 bowl projections are a mixture between how things would look if the season ended today, a look at future schedules, and a dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks. 

2012-2013 Post-Week 9 College Football Bowl Projections

Bowl Date Tie-In Projected Matchup
New Mexico Dec. 15 MWC vs. Pac-12 Arizona State vs. Fresno State
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. MTSU*
New Orleans Dec. 22 Sun Belt vs. C-USA UL Monroe vs. Tulsa
Las Vegas Dec. 22 MWC vs. Pac-12 Arizona vs. Nevada
Hawaii Dec. 24 C-USA vs. MWC San Jose State vs. SMU
Little Caesars Dec. 26 Big Ten vs. MAC Purdue vs. Toledo
Military Dec. 27 ACC vs. Army Wake Forest vs. Marshall*
Belk Dec. 27 ACC vs. Big East Duke vs. Cincinnati
Holiday Dec. 27 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Stanford vs. Texas
Independence Dec. 28 ACC vs. SEC Arkansas State* vs. La. Tech*
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 ACC vs. Big East Miami vs. Rutgers
Meineke Car Care Dec. 28 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Oklahoma State vs. Iowa
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. TCU
Alamo Dec. 29 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 USC vs. Texas Tech
Buffalo Wild Wings Dec. 29 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Northwestern vs. West Virginia
Music City Dec. 31 SEC vs. ACC Ole Miss vs. Duke
Sun Dec. 31 ACC vs. Pac-12 UCLA vs. Virginia Tech
Liberty Dec. 31 SEC vs. C-USA Tennessee vs. UCF**
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 ACC vs. SEC Clemson vs. Texas A&M
Heart of Dallas Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Minnesota vs. Iowa State Gator Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Miss. State vs. Michigan State
Capital One Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Florida vs. Michigan
Outback Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
Cotton Jan. 4 Big 12 vs. SEC LSU vs. Oklahoma
BBVA Compass Jan. 5 SEC vs. Big East Vanderbilt vs. Kent State* Jan. 6 MAC vs. Sun Belt W. Kentucky vs. Ohio
BCS Bowls      
Rose Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Nebraska vs. Oregon State
Orange Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Florida State vs. Boise State
Sugar Jan. 2 BCS vs. BCS Georgia vs. Louisville
Fiesta Jan. 3 BCS vs. BCS Kansas State 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. 30, 2012)

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Post-Week 9 Big East Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big Ten Power Rankings
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Post-Week 9 SEC Power Rankings
College Football Week 9 Recap

<p> College Football Post-Week 9 Bowl Projections</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-9-rankings

Week 9 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. SEC coaches own three of the top four spots, as Auburn's Gene Chizik and Tennessee's Derek Dooley both join Phillips in the top tier of this list for the third week in a row. California's Jeff Tedford jumps into the top five, while Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson makes his first appearance in the hot seat watch.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 9 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Kentucky: 12-22 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-8
With Missouri struggling in its first season of SEC play, the Wildcats had a chance to pull off an upset in Columbia. Instead, Kentucky committed three costly turnovers and allowed the Tigers to win by throwing for just 87 yards. Although Phillips has a young team, it’s hard to find much improvement from game one to now. Unless Kentucky beats Vanderbilt and Tennessee in its final two SEC games, the Wildcats will have a new coach in 2013.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Boston College: 22-25 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-6
In an overall disappointing season, the Eagles finally had some good news to talk about on Sunday. Boston College knocked off Maryland 20-17 to score its first win over a FBS team in 2012. The victory also snapped a four-game losing streak in ACC play. Although the win was crucial to this team’s confidence heading into the last few weeks of the season, it’s unlikely to make any difference in Spaziani’s future. Boston College plays Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and NC State to close the year, which likely means the Eagles finish with a 2-10 mark.

3. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-17 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-7
The adjectives to describe just how bad Auburn has performed this season are beginning to run short. The Tigers were demolished by Texas A&M 63-21 on Saturday night, dropping Auburn to 1-7 overall and 0-6 in SEC play. The Tigers should beat New Mexico State this Saturday and Alabama A&M on Nov. 17, but this team will be a heavy underdog against Georgia and Alabama. Chizik is only two years removed from a national title. But the rest of his tenure has been largely mediocre and a likely 3-9 season should be enough to force a coaching change.

4. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 14-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Close, but not good enough. That’s been the motto for Dooley and Tennessee this year. The Volunteers have played a difficult schedule and lost to Georgia by seven points and South Carolina by three. With the toughest part of the schedule out of the way, Tennessee should be favored to win its final four games and will likely be 7-5 heading into a bowl. Will that be enough to save Derek Dooley’s job?

5. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 82-54 (11th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
If there were any doubts about Tedford’s future at California, they were sealed after Saturday’s 49-27 loss to Utah. The Golden Bears trailed 42-6 before tacking on a few late touchdowns to make the final more respectable. Since winning 17 games from 2008-09, California has been trending in the wrong direction. The Golden Bears are just 15-19 over the last three seasons and are unlikely to make a bowl game this year. It seems Tedford and California both would benefit from a fresh start.  

6. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Southern Miss: 0-8
2012 Record: 0-8
Not many first-year coaches have jumped onto the hot seat watch over the past couple of seasons, but it’s clear Southern Miss made a bad decision when it hired Johnson. The schedule and roster turnover is to blame for part of the struggles, but the Golden Eagles haven’t been competitive in most of their games and were blown out 44-17 by Rice on Saturday. Considering the upcoming schedule – UAB, at SMU, UTEP and at Memphis – is it possible this team goes winless? UAB, UTEP and Memphis are winnable but with the way Southern Miss is playing, there’s no guaranteed win on the schedule.

7. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Record at Buffalo: 6-26 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
The Bulls have had some chances to beat quality teams this year but just can’t seem to make enough plays to turn those into victories. Buffalo lost 25-20 to Toledo on Saturday, dropping its record to 1-7 and 0-4 in MAC games. The Bulls have lost by seven points or less to Connecticut, Ohio and Toledo. With a 6-26 mark, Quinn needs to win a couple of games over the final four weeks to save his job. The remaining schedule isn’t daunting but there’s not a guaranteed win.

8. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-36 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-6
After suffering a 41-7 defeat to Utah State in Week 8, the Aggies weren’t expected to put up much of a fight against Louisiana Tech. However, New Mexico State gave the Bulldogs all they could handle before losing 28-14. With the loss to Louisiana Tech, the Aggies were eliminated from bowl contention and could struggle to win another game the rest of the season with a difficult schedule ahead. With an uncertain conference future, it’s hard to envision many coaching candidates being interested in New Mexico State if Walker is fired. However, a new coach might help spark this struggling program get to a winning season.

9. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 9-23 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
The Chippewas kept their slim bowl hopes alive with a 35-14 victory over Akron. The win over the Zips was Central Michigan’s first in MAC play this season and sets this team up for a favorable four-game stretch to close the year. The Chippewas host Western Michigan this Saturday, before taking on Eastern Michigan, Miami and UMass. All four of those games are winnable and a 6-6 mark is probably good enough for Enos to return in 2012. However, a 4-8 record or 5-7 should be enough for a coaching change.

10. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Rice: 26-44 (6th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
After narrowly losing to Tulsa in Week 8, the Owls won their first Conference USA game of the season with a 44-17 victory over Southern Miss. And considering the upcoming schedule – at Tulane, SMU and at UTEP – Rice should have a chance to finish 5-7 or 6-6. It’s not easy winning at Rice, but Bailiff has shown very little progress in his tenure. If the Owls can get to .500, it would be a good sign that the program is headed in the right direction going into 2013.

11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 5-29 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-8
The Rebels are showing signs of life under Hauck, but the win column hasn’t gotten much better this season. UNLV dropped its fifth consecutive game with a 24-13 defeat to San Diego State in Week 9. The Rebels have lost five games by 11 points or less and suffered a disappointing defeat to Northern Arizona in Week 2. The next four games – New Mexico, at Colorado State, Wyoming and at Hawaii – are very winnable for UNLV. And it’s not out of the question to suspect Hauck’s future could rest on the team’s performance in the next few games.

12. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at South Florida: 15-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-6
The Bulls’ disappointing season continued with another close loss. Syracuse scored on the final offensive play of the game, dropping South Florida to 0-3 in games decided by four points or less this season. After the Bulls’ second-half collapse last season, Holtz and his staff need to show some progress in the final few games of 2012. South Florida hosts Connecticut this Saturday but take on Miami, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to close out the year. Holtz signed a huge contract extension at the end of last year, but the Bulls are just 7-13 over the last two seasons.

13. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UTEP: 47-59 (8 years)
2012 Record: 2-7
The Miners were officially eliminated from bowl contention with a 45-35 loss to Houston in Week 9. With the loss to the Cougars, UTEP will have at least seven losses for the seventh consecutive season. Price did a good job of leading the Miners to back-to-back bowl games in 2004-05, but the program hasn’t made much progress. Considering the lack of improvement, Price is not expected to return to El Paso in 2013.

14. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Connecticut: 8-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
The Huskies had a much-needed bye in Week 9 and return to action at South Florida this Saturday. The off date came at a good time for Pasqualoni and his team, especially after the offense has managed just 27 points over its last three games. Connecticut still has a chance to make a bowl game, but the bigger question to be decided over the final four matchups is what direction this program is headed. The Huskies have wins over UMass, Buffalo and Maryland this season and have yet to face Louisville and Cincinnati – two of the top three teams in the Big East.

15. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Western Michigan: 50-45 (8th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
The Broncos haven’t had much luck in the way of injuries this season, as leading receiver Jaime Wilson missed Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois, and quarterback Alex Carder is not expected back for the Week 10 matchup against Central Michigan. All of the injuries have taken a toll on Western Michigan’s offense and its record, as Cubit’s team is 3-6 and has a three-game losing streak. The last three contests are very winnable – at Central Michigan, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan – but 6-6 might not even be enough for Cubit to return for 2013.

16. Danny Hope, Purdue
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Purdue: 19-26 (4th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Hope is on a steady climb in the hot seat watch and even though he received a contract extension at the end of last year, he is in jeopardy of being fired at the end of the year. Since starting 3-1, the Boilermakers have lost their last four games, including a 44-28 dismantling at Minnesota in Week 9. If Purdue can salvage a bowl game, Hope will probably be safe to return for 2013. However, the schedule isn’t particularly easy, as Purdue hosts Penn State and an improving Indiana team, along with a road trip to Iowa.

17. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Colorado: 4-17 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
Embree drops two spots in this week’s hot seat watch but that’s only due to other coaches moving higher on the list. Colorado’s miserable 2012 season continued with a 70-14 loss at Oregon, dropping the Buffaloes' record to 1-7. Embree has done little to suggest the program is headed in the right direction but all signs point to the second-year coach returning in 2013. Colorado wants to hire more support personnel for the football program, but coaching changes – especially on defense – might be the only way this team is more competitive in 2013.

18. Mack Brown, Texas
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Texas: 147-41 (15th season)
2012 Record: 6-2
There’s really only one word to describe Texas’ victory against Kansas on Saturday: Ugly. The Longhorns needed a touchdown with less than a minute to go to knock off a Jayhawks’ team that lost to Rice and has just one victory this year. Considering the grumblings from the Texas fan base after a win, the calls for Brown’s job would have been almost deafening had the Longhorns lost. Texas could surpass last season’s eight-win mark, but it’s also fair to question whether or not this team is headed in the right direction.

19. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at Georgia Tech: 37-24 (5th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Johnson started his Georgia Tech career with a bang. The Yellow Jackets went 20-7 through his first two years and played in the 2010 Orange Bowl. However, the program hasn’t made much progress since, recording a 17-17 mark over the last three years. The Yellow Jackets are also in danger of missing out on a bowl game this season and their only two wins over FBS teams came against Boston College and Virginia – a combined 4-12. Another reason Johnson could be in trouble? Athletic director Dan Radakovich left his post at Georgia Tech for Clemson.

20. June Jones, SMU
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at SMU: 28-32 (5th season)
2012 Record: 4-4
The Mustangs evened their 2012 record to 4-4 with a victory over Memphis in Week 9. With just one loss in conference play, SMU still has Conference USA title aspirations and hosts frontrunner Tulsa in the season finale. Although Jones has transformed the Mustangs into a bowl team, he hasn’t raised the program like many expected. And of course, there are still some hard feelings after he nearly landed the Arizona State job last year. Could Jones throw his name into the mix for more jobs this offseason? A fresh start might be a good idea for both parties.

by Steven Lassan

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College Football Week 9 Recap

<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 9 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:04
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-9-0

With another lopsided victory against a ranked opponent, Kansas State received enough votes to edge Oregon for the No. 2 spot in the Legends Poll.

Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein continued his phenomenal play, leading Kansas State to a 55-24 win over Texas Tech.

“I think (coach and former Legends Poll voter) Bill Snyder is doing a great job,” Legends Poll voter John Cooper said. “Kansas State is a very, very well coached football team.  Those good teams, Alabama and Kansas State, teams like that, you’ve got to beat them.  They’re not going to beat themselves.”

Top-ranked Alabama continued to roll against Mississippi State and remained the unanimous No. 1 team.

Notre Dame proved its worth on Saturday, going on the road and stifling Oklahoma, 23-13. With the victory, the Irish moved up two spots to No. 4 in the Legends Poll.

Idle LSU remained the highest ranked one-loss team and rounded out the top five.

No. 7 Georgia moved up five spots in the rankings and back into the top 10 after knocking off Florida. The Gators dropped six spots to No. 8.

No. 9 Clemson moved up two spots, followed by unbeaten Louisville, which made its first top 10 appearance of the season.

No. 12 Oregon State suffered its first loss of the season at Washington and dropped three spots. However, no team fell more in the rankings than USC. The Trojans dropped eight spots to No. 18 in the Legends Poll after suffering an upset at Arizona.

No. 19 Nebraska, No. 23 Northwestern and No. 25 Louisiana Tech returned to the top 25 this week.

Michigan, TCU and Wisconsin dropped out of the rankings.

To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.



1 AlabamaAlabama (17) 8-0 425 1
2 Kansas StateKansas State 8-0 398 4
3 OregonOregon 8-0 397 2
4 Notre DameNotre Dame 8-0 375 6
5 LSULSU 7-1 356 5
6 Florida StateFlorida State 8-1 336 8
7 GeorgiaGeorgia 7-1 327 12
8 FloridaFlorida 7-1 294 3
9 ClemsonClemson 7-1 284 11
10 LouisvilleLouisville 8-0 257 14
11 South CarolinaSouth Carolina 7-2 248 15
12 Oregon StateOregon State 6-1 225 9
13 StanfordStanford 6-2 209 18
14 Texas A&MTexas A&M 6-2 202 19
15 OklahomaOklahoma 5-2 185 7
16 Mississippi StateMississippi State 7-1 170 13
17 Boise StateBoise State 7-1 166 21
18 USCUSC 6-2 135 10
19 NebraskaNebraska 6-2 95 -
20 Texas TechTexas Tech 6-2 94 16
21 Oklahoma StateOklahoma State 5-2 84 25
22 West VirginiaWest Virginia 5-2 51 23
23 NorthwesternNorthwestern 7-2 46 -
24 RutgersRutgers 7-1 45 17
25 Louisiana TechLouisiana Tech 7-1 38 -

Others Receiving Votes

Texas 16, Kent State 13, Arizona 10, UCLA 8, Cincinnati 8, Utah State 7, North Carolina 5, Arizona State 5, TCU 4, Wisconsin 3, Iowa State 2, Toledo 1, Northern Illinois 1

Teams Dropped Out from Last Week's Poll

Michigan, TCU, Wisconsin


* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at

<p> The Legends Poll Top 25: College Football Week 9</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 20:27
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-9-power-rankings

Kansas State continues to separate itself from the rest of the teams in the Big 12. The Wildcats cruised to a 55-24 victory over Texas Tech in Week 9, improving Bill Snyder's team to 8-0 this year. Oklahoma suffered its second loss of the season, dropping a 30-13 game to Notre Dame in Norman. The defeat to the Irish knocks the Sooners out of the national title picture once again, but Oklahoma still has a chance to win the Big 12 crown. Iowa State moved within one game of bowl eligibility with a victory over Baylor, while Oklahoma State defeated TCU to improve to 5-2 overall.

Post-Week 9 Big 12 Power Rankings

1. Kansas State (8-0, 5-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat Texas Tech 55-24
The Wildcats solidified their place atop the Big 12 power rankings with a 55-24 win over Texas Tech. Collin Klein led the way with 233 yards through the air and 83 on the ground, while recording four overall scores. Although the defense gave up some yards, it forced three turnovers, including one that was returned for a score in the fourth quarter. Kansas State is the clear favorite to win the Big 12 and is in the mix to play for the national title.
Next Game: Oklahoma State

2. Oklahoma (5-2, 3-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Notre Dame 30-13
With Texas Tech losing and West Virginia on bye, Oklahoma retains the No. 2 spot in the Big 12 power ranks by default. The Sooners lost 30-13 to Notre Dame on Saturday night, which was their second home loss of the season. Quarterback Landry Jones threw for 356 yards but never managed to hit any big plays. The Irish defense also kept running back Damien Williams in check and forced a key interception. Although the loss officially knocks Oklahoma out of the mix for the national title, the Sooners still have a chance to win the Big 12 – provided Kansas State loses twice.
Next Game: at Iowa State

3. Texas Tech (6-2, 3-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Kansas State 55-24
A week after scoring a key road win at TCU, the Red Raiders fell 55-24 to the Big 12’s No. 1 team – Kansas State. Texas Tech took an early 7-3 lead but three turnovers and an inability to stop the Wildcats’ offense didn’t allow any chance to stick around in the game. Quarterback Seth Doege had thrown 13 touchdowns in the two previous games, but Kansas State’s defense held him to two scores on 35 completions. Texas Tech plays its next two games at home, starting with a date with Texas this Saturday.
Next Game: Texas

4. West Virginia (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
After back-to-back losses, West Virginia’s bye week came at the right time. The Mountaineers need to regain their rhythm on offense, along with finding some answers for a defense that is allowing 39.8 points per game. West Virginia has a difficult three-game stretch upcoming, starting with a home date against TCU this Saturday, followed by a road trip at Oklahoma State and then a home game against Oklahoma.
Next Game: TCU

5. Texas (6-2, 3-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat Kansas 21-17
Ugly. That’s about the only way to describe the Longhorns’ victory over Kansas on Saturday. Texas trailed 17-14 with just over two minutes to play but used a nine-play drive to score the game-winning touchdown. Quarterback David Ash was benched after a slow start, and Case McCoy rallied the team with 68 passing yards and one touchdown. The offense wasn’t the only issue, as Texas didn’t have an answer for Kansas’ ground game. The Longhorns’ struggling secondary will be under fire this week against Texas Tech's potent passing attack.
Next Game: at Texas Tech

6. Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat TCU 36-14
Wes Lunt started slow in his return to the lineup, but the true freshman quarterback found his rhythm in time to lead Oklahoma State to a 36-14 victory. Lunt finished with 324 passing yards, while running back Joseph Randle recorded 126 yards and one touchdown on 32 attempts. The Cowboys’ defense stepped up in the second half and held TCU without a point. Oklahoma State has won three consecutive games and has a chance to stamp its place in the Big 12 title picture with a matchup over Kansas State this Saturday.
Next Game: at Kansas State

7. Iowa State (5-3, 2-3 Big 12)
Last Week: 8
Week 9 Result: Beat Baylor 35-21
The Cyclones moved one game closer to bowl eligibility with a 35-21 win over Baylor. Iowa State’s offense gashed the Bears for 557 yards, while the defense forced four turnovers and made enough timely plays to limit Baylor to 21 points. A big reason for the success of Iowa State’s offense was the play of quarterback Steele Jantz, who threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns on 36 completions. The Cyclones host Oklahoma this Saturday, before playing at Texas on Nov. 10.
Next Game: Oklahoma

8. TCU (5-3, 2-3 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Oklahoma State 36-14
The Horned Frogs dropped their second consecutive Big 12 game with a 36-14 loss at Oklahoma State. And an even bigger storyline from the game is quarterback Trevone Boykin, who suffered a knee injury against the Cowboys. If Boykin has to miss any snaps, Matt Brown will become TCU’s third starting quarterback of 2012. The Horned Frogs don’t catch any breaks on the upcoming schedule, hosting Kansas State and Oklahoma, while taking on West Virginia and Texas on the road. Considering the final four opponents, TCU will have trouble just getting to .500.
Next Game: at West Virginia

9. Baylor (3-4, 0-4 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Iowa State 35-21
The Bears dropped their fourth consecutive game with a 35-21 defeat to Iowa State. With an offense averaging 395.7 yards per game, Baylor’s defense needs to step up and make a few stops if this team wants to make a bowl game in 2012. The Bears allowed Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz to throw for a season-high of 381 yards and five touchdowns, while giving up 176 yards on the ground. The only good news for Baylor? The Bears should get a win over Kansas this Saturday. However, the schedule is very difficult over the final four weeks, as Baylor takes on Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Next Game: Kansas

10. Kansas (1-7, 0-5 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Texas 21-17
For the most part, Charlie Weis’ first season in Lawrence has been miserable. The Jayhawks are 1-7 and lost to Rice in Week 2. However, let’s give Kansas a little credit this week. The Jayhawks gave Texas all it could handle and just fell short of a victory. Weis and his staff did a good job of exploiting the Longhorns’ defensive weaknesses, while the defense forced two turnovers and held Texas to just 131 yards through the air. The Jayhawks may not win a game the rest of the year, but Saturday’s loss should give this team some much-needed confidence for the final four contests.
Next Game: at Texas Tech

by Steven Lassan

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<p> Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:04
Path: /college-football/acc-post-week-9-power-rankings

Week 9 of ACC action was highlighted by North Carolina’s 43-35 win over NC State and Florida State’s 48-7 blowout victory over Duke. Clemson defeated Wake Forest 42-13, while Boston College earned its first win over a FBS team by knocking off Maryland 20-17.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – Bernard recorded his fourth consecutive game of at least 100 rushing yards on Saturday, while taking a punt back with less than a minute to go to give North Carolina the victory over NC State.

2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd was sharp in Clemson’s easy 42-13 win over Wake Forest on Thursday night. He completed 27 of 38 passes for 428 yards and five touchdowns.

3. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – Manuel had an off game against Duke but leads the ACC in passing efficiency (174) and is completing 70 percent of his throws.

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner recorded only three tackles and one tackle for a loss against Duke but still claims the No. 1 spot in the defensive player of the year rankings.

2. Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland – Vellano dominated the line of scrimmage in Saturday’s game against Boston College, recording five tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

3. Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke – Cockrell and Duke’s defense struggled against Florida State, but he ranked third on the team with seven tackles and forced one fumble.

Coach of the Year Standings

1. David Cutcliffe, Duke – Even though the Blue Devils lost to Florida State, this team still has a chance to win the Coastal Division title. Cutcliffe is a heavy favorite to take home ACC Coach of the Year honors.

2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – The Seminoles continue to rank as the ACC’s No. 1 team in the power rankings. Florida State crushed Duke 48-7 in Week 9.

3. Larry Fedora, North Carolina – With no postseason possibilities, Fedora has done a good job of keeping the Tar Heels motivated to play. North Carolina improved its record to 6-3 with a huge win over rival NC State in Week 9.

Post-Week 9 ACC Power Rankings

1. Florida State (8-1, 5-1 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat Duke 48-7
Thanks to NC State’s loss to North Carolina and a convincing 48-7 win over Duke, Florida State moved back into the driver’s seat for the ACC Atlantic title. The Seminoles lost four turnovers but held Duke to just 232 yards of total offense. Quarterback EJ Manuel was off for most of the game but connected with Rashad Greene on a 71-yard bomb to opening the scoring and a 35-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin in the third quarter. The Seminoles have an off date in Week 10 and are back in action on Nov. 8 at Virginia Tech.
Next Game: at Virginia Tech (Nov. 8)

2. Clemson (7-1, 4-1 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat Wake Forest 42-13
The Tigers’ offense led the way for this team throughout the first half of the season, but the defense has come on strong over the last two weeks. After holding Virginia Tech to 17 points last week, Clemson limited Wake Forest to 13 points and under 300 yards of total offense. Quarterback Tajh Boyd found Sammy Watkins eight times for 202 yards and one touchdown, while DeAndre Hopkins caught six balls for 64 yards and one score. If the Tigers can win their final four games, they should have a good shot at making a BCS bowl.
Next Game: at Duke

3. North Carolina (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 6
Week 9 Result: Beat NC State 43-35
With North Carolina ineligible to play in the postseason, Saturday’s game against NC State was essentially this team’s Super Bowl. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 25-14 lead, but the Wolfpack led 35-25 going into the fourth quarter. However, North Carolina roared back and tied the game at 35 deep in the fourth quarter. After NC State failed to run out the clock with just over a minute to go, running back Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the game winning score. The win snapped a five-game losing streak to NC State and gives the Tar Heels some in-state bragging rights until next season.
Next Game: Georgia Tech (Nov. 10)

4. NC State (5-3, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 3
Week 9 Result: Lost to North Carolina 43-35
The Wolfpack’s recent run of domination against North Carolina ended with a 43-35 loss. NC State rallied from a 25-14 deficit at the end of the first to hold a 35-25 lead going into the fourth quarter. However, the Wolfpack allowed the Tar Heels to score 10 unanswered to tie the game with just over two minutes to go. After NC State tried to run out the clock, Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the game winning score. Not only was this a huge loss for bragging rights in the state, but the Wolfpack no longer control their destiny in the ACC Atlantic title race.
Next Game: Virginia

5. Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 5
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
The Hokies had a bye in Week 9 and return to action against Miami this Thursday. The off date came at a good time for Frank Beamer’s team, especially after losing to Clemson 38-17 on Oct. 20. Virginia Tech still has a good chance to win the Coastal title but can’t afford to have two more losses. The Hokies play at Miami and Boston College, while hosting Florida State and Virginia. Virginia Tech will be an underdog against the Seminoles, which makes Thursday night’s game against Miami even more important for Coastal positioning.
Next Game: at Miami (Thursday)

6. Duke (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 4
Week 9 Result: Lost to Florida State 48-7
Although the Blue Devils are an improved team, they are still a long ways away from winning at Florida State. Duke was easily handled 48-7 by the Seminoles, managing only 232 offensive yards in the process. Quarterback Sean Renfree left early due to a head injury, and his status for this Saturday’s game against Clemson is uncertain. Despite the loss, the Blue Devils are still in the mix for the ACC Coastal title.
Next Game: Clemson

7. Miami (4-4, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 7
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
With a Thursday night showdown against Virginia Tech up next, Miami had an off date in Week 9. The bye week came at a good time for the Hurricanes, especially with quarterback Stephen Morris looking to recover from an ankle injury suffered in the 18-14 loss to North Carolina. And after playing eight consecutive weeks, there’s plenty of bumps and bruises that a bye can help to heal. Miami can still win the Coastal Division but Thursday night’s game will be critical to those title hopes.
Next Game: Virginia Tech (Thursday)

8. Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3 ACC)
Last Week: 8
Week 9 Result: Lost to BYU 41-17
After showing some improvement on defense in the win over Boston College last Saturday, the Yellow Jackets reverted back to their porous ways. Georgia Tech gave up over 400 yards to BYU and allowed over 40 points for the fourth time this season. The defense wasn’t the only culprit, as the offense never got on track and was held without a touchdown. The loss to the Cougars dropped the Yellow Jackets to 3-5 and in serious jeopardy of missing out on a bowl game. Maryland and Duke would seem to be the most winnable matchups, but Georgia Tech would need to beat North Carolina or Georgia to get to six wins. Needless to say, the Yellow Jackets have to quickly find some answers on both sides of the ball to reach the postseason.
Next Game: at Maryland

9. Maryland (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 9
Week 9 Result: Lost to Boston College 20-17
After beginning ACC play 2-0, the Terrapins have lost back-to-back games and received even more bad news about their quarterback position on Sunday night. Maryland fell 20-17 to Boston College on Saturday, which dropped Randy Edsall’s squad to 4-4 overall. True freshman Caleb Rowe made his first start on Saturday and threw for 241 yards but also tossed three picks. Although Rowe performed admirably in his first start, he suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. With Rowe out, Maryland has lost its top four quarterbacks to injuries. True freshman (and converted linebacker) Shawn Petty will start against Georgia Tech.
Next Game: Georgia Tech

10. Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Clemson 42-13
Even though receiver Michael Campanaro returned to the lineup, it wasn’t enough for the Demon Deacons to knock off Clemson. Wake Forest trailed only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, but the Tigers opened up a 35-7 lead by halftime. Quarterback Tanner Price threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns but was under duress from the Clemson defense for most of the night. The Demon Deacons’ defense struggled to keep up with the Tigers’ speedy receivers, allowing Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd to set a school record with 428 passing yards.
Next Game: Boston College

11. Boston College (2-6, 1-4 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat Maryland 20-17
The 2012 season has been a disappointment for Boston College, but Saturday provided at least one bright spot. The Eagles defeated Maryland 20-17 to claim their first victory against a FBS team this year. Trailing by four points with just over five minutes to go, Boston College drove from its own 15-yard line to score the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to go. Quarterback Chase Rettig completed only 55 percent of his throws but tossed two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The win over Maryland keeps Boston College’s slim bowl hopes alive.
Next Game: at Wake Forest

12. Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
The Cavaliers had a bye in Week 9 and return to action against NC State this Saturday. Virginia is riding a six-game losing streak and has yet to win in ACC play this season. Considering how much this team improved last year, the Cavaliers are one of the ACC’s biggest disappointments so far. Mike London’s team has struggled to find a spark on the ground, while the defense has yet to find its pass rush. Getting back to a bowl won’t be easy, but Virginia needs to find something to build on for 2013.
Next Game: at NC State

by Steven Lassan

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<p> ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-9-waiver-wire-report

The fantasy playoffs are right around the corner and owners at the bottom of the standings have just about thrown in the towel.  As a result, there is not as much competition for waiver wire claims with the season drawing to a close.  Take a look at some late-season waiver gems as we head into Week 10.


Ryan Griffin, QB-Tulane

Since his return from injury, Griffin has passed for 1,100 yards and ten touchdowns in three games.  Fantasy owners should get solid production from the senior quarterback as the Green Wave play Rice, Memphis, East Carolina, and Houston to close the season.

Ray Holley, RB-Louisiana Tech

Holley isn’t a bad acquisition if you play in a deep league because the senior running back is averaging over 95 total yards from scrimmage, three receptions, and a touchdown per game 

Damon Bullock, RB-Iowa

Damon Bullock opened the season as the starter, but Mark Weisman took over when Bullock was lost for several weeks due to a head injury.  Now, Weisman is the one that is injured and the running back position in Ames may be Bullock’s once again.

Jalen Saunders, WR-Oklahoma

We are going to use the logic that we did a couple of weeks ago with Bronson Hill of Eastern Michigan when he ran for 283 yards against Toledo.  When a receiver catches 15 passes for 181 yards in a single game at this point of the season, you should claim him off of waivers and keep Saunders away from other owners. 

Eric Monette, WR-Western Michigan

Last week, we identified Josh Schaffer as the favorite target of quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen, but with fellow receiver Jamie Wilson sidelined with a groin injury, Monette has posted two consecutive eight-catch games.

Bryan Underwood, WR-North Carolina St

Underwood only has 28 catches, but he has caught at least one touchdown in every game this season and has posted back-to-back 100-yard games. 

Myles White, WR-Louisiana Tech

White is the second-leading receiver for the Bulldogs behind Quinton Patton and has at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in back-to-back games.

Ryan Grant, WR-Tulane

Grant’s success has a lot to do with the return of Ryan Griffin at quarterback.  Over the past two weeks, the junior receiver has caught 12 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns.

Did you miss last week’s waiver report?  See it here.

by Joe DiSalvo,

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email:  [email protected]

<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 9 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 03:57
All taxonomy terms: Ohio State Buckeyes, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/braxton-miller-displays-crazy-moves-one-yard-touchdown-run

Ohio State's Braxton Miller is having a Heisman-caliber season. The sophomore has thrived under new coach Urban Meyer, throwing for 1,527 yards and 12 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,093 yards and 12 scores. 

Miller has provided plenty of highlights this season but none better than the one in Saturday's win over Penn State. Facing a third and goal from the one-yard line, the sophomore juked a Nittany Lion defender and then hurdled into the endzone for six points. 

Needless to say, this might be the best one-yard touchdown run college football has seen in a long time.

<p> Braxton Miller Displays Crazy Moves on One-Yard Touchdown Run</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 21:57
All taxonomy terms: Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /news/deanthony-thomas-shows-ridiculous-moves-punt-return

Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas is one of college football's most exciting players, so Saturday's ridiculous punt return shouldn't have been a surprise. However, this return has to be one of the best in recent memory and maybe one of his most electrifying plays in his short Oregon career.

Thomas had to backtrack and field a punt off a bounce but broke a tackle and patiently followed his blocks down the sideline, before turning on the jets right around midfield. 

This return was just another big play in Thomas' career and a reason why the Ducks are one of the most dangerous teams in the nation.

<p> De'Anthony Thomas Shows Off Ridiculous Moves In Punt Return&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 20:10
Path: /news/south-carolinas-marcus-lattimore-suffers-nasty-leg-injury-against-tennessee

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore exited Saturday’s game against Tennessee due to a serious leg injury. Although there has been no official announcement from the school, Lattimore will likely miss the rest of the season.

The junior took a handoff with just over five minutes to go in the second quarter and was tackled high by Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers, before cornerback Eric Gordon went low and hit Lattimore’s right knee.

The seriousness of the injury was magnified as both teams came out to console Lattimore as he was being loaded onto the cart. And this situation is only made worse by the fact Lattimore was just returning to full strength from a torn ACL last season.

Before his injury, Lattimore rushed for 64 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries. The junior entered Saturday’s game with 597 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while also catching 24 passes for 165 yards. 

The injury to Lattimore is a tough blow to one of the nation’s best players and arguably the No. 1 running back prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft.

South Carolina has depth at running back with Kenny Miles and Mike Davis, but there’s simply no way to replace Lattimore’s leadership and production. Quarterback Connor Shaw may also have to help pickup the slack on the ground, but South Carolina’s offense certainly won’t be the same the rest of the year.

With losses to LSU and Florida, the Gamecocks’ SEC East title hopes were essentially finished. However, this team now has to regroup after losing its best player and offensive weapon for the second consecutive season. 

Photo of Lattimore's injured leg:

<p> South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore Suffers Nasty Leg Injury Against Tennessee</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 12:56
Path: /news/north-carolina-unveils-new-chrome-helmet-against-nc-state

Coaches are always looking for some extra motivation when it comes to rivalry games. So it's no surprise when new helmets and uniforms are unveiled for those matchups. 

North Carolina is ineligible for postseason play this year, which means Saturday's game against NC State has some extra meaning. The Tar Heels wore a white helmet earlier this season but unveiled an interesting chrome (as tweeted by @InsideCarolina) look for Saturday's matchup against the Wolfpack:

<p> North Carolina Unveils New Chrome Helmet Against NC State</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 11:47
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-mississippi-state-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction

While most of the attention in the SEC will be focused on Georgia-Florida, Alabama-Mississippi State is a game that shouldn’t be overlooked this Saturday. The Bulldogs are off to their best start since opening 8-0 in 1999 under Jackie Sherrill. Alabama enters this matchup ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings and is a heavy favorite to repeat as national champions.

These two teams have met 96 times, with the Crimson Tide claiming the last four victories in this series. Mississippi State won back-to-back games in 2006-07, but this series has been largely dominated by Alabama. The Crimson Tide has won the last four matchups against the Bulldogs by at least 17 points. 

With a looming showdown against LSU next week, Alabama has to be careful not to overlook Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have played a weak schedule but are a dangerous team and should not be taken lightly.

Storylines to Watch in Alabama vs. Mississippi State

Tyler Russell vs. Alabama’s secondary
Coming into the season, most expected a Tyler (Wilson or Bray) would make All-SEC honors. However, not many placed Tyler Russell into the top half of the SEC in quarterback rankings. The junior has been one of the conference’s top quarterbacks so far, throwing for 1,573 yards and 15 touchdowns. Russell has tossed only one interception and is averaging 260.7 passing yards per game in conference play. Although Russell is off to an impressive start this year, Alabama will be the toughest secondary he has faced. The Crimson Tide rank second nationally in pass defense and has allowed just two passing touchdowns in 2012. Opposing quarterbacks are also completing just 50.8 percent of their passes against Alabama. The Crimson Tide shut down Tennessee’s offense last week and held Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson to just five catches for 95 yards. Not only does Russell need to have his best game for Mississippi State to pull off the upset, he has to continue playing mistake-free ball. 

The turnover battle
One look at the turnover margin stats for 2012 reveals a surprising No. 1 team: Mississippi State. The Bulldogs ranked 59th nationally last season but have forced 21 turnovers in 2012. Alabama isn’t far behind, ranking third nationally in turnover margin with 20 forced turnovers. With both teams ranked atop this category, something has to give on Saturday. If Mississippi State can win the turnover battle, it should have a good chance to pull off the upset. If Alabama wins, the Crimson Tide should roll to an easy victory.

Mississippi State’s secondary vs. AJ McCarron
Just as Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell is taking on his toughest test of the year, the same could be said for Alabama passer AJ McCarron. The Bulldogs rank 21st nationally in pass defense and have allowed only five passing scores this year. Additionally, no SEC opponent has thrown for more than 200 yards on this defense in 2012. In last season’s game, McCarron threw for 163 yards on 14 completions but has improved significantly from the end of 2011. There’s no question Mississippi State’s secondary will be able to challenge Alabama receivers, so repeating last week’s performance against Tennessee (306 yards and four touchdowns) seems unlikely.

Will Mississippi State slow down Alabama’s rushing attack?
The Bulldogs haven’t faced a rushing attack like the one Alabama will bring to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. The Crimson Tide have gashed opponents for 219.4 yards per game and the backs are running behind one of the nation’s best offensive lines. Mississippi State’s run defense ranks 47th nationally but opponents are averaging 4.1 yards per carry. With Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon both averaging over six yards per carry, Alabama should be able to move the ball on the ground against the Bulldogs. Matching the Crimson Tide’s physical presence in the trenches will be critical for Mississippi State, as well as winning the battle on first and second down against the run.

Final Analysis

This matchup will be a good measuring stick for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are clearly getting better under coach Dan Mullen but have yet to be tested this season. With a difficult close to the season, a good showing in this game would give Mississippi State some confidence. Although the Bulldogs are improved, beating the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa will be very difficult. Alabama is playing well on both sides of the ball and its defense will be a handful for Bulldogs’ quarterback Tyler Russell and running back LaDarius Perkins. Mississippi State will keep it close in the first half but eventually Alabama has too much firepower and pulls away in the final two quarters.

Final Prediction: Alabama 31, Mississippi State 13

by Steven Lassan

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<p> Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 09:28
Path: /college-football/florida-gators-vs-georgia-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction

The annual matchup between Florida and Georgia at the The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville is usually one of the most-anticipated SEC games every season. This season is no different, as both teams enter with a combined 13-1 record and a division title on the line.

Most division titles aren’t decided until the month of November but that’s not the case in the SEC this Saturday. With a 6-0 conference record and a win over South Carolina already, Florida can clinch the SEC East title with a victory over Georgia. After Saturday’s meeting with the Bulldogs in Jacksonville, the Gators play three home games (Missouri, UL Lafayette and Jacksonville State), along with a road date against Florida State. 

While Georgia’ SEC title hopes took a hit with the loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs can jump back into the race with a win over Florida. Mark Richt’s team still has to play Ole Miss and Auburn but will be heavily favored to win both games. The Bulldogs have one of the SEC’s top offenses, but the defense has yet to find its form from last season.

This series has been dominated by Florida since 1990. The Gators have won 18 out of the last 22 matchups but lost last season’s game 24-20. The last two games in this rivalry have been decided by four points or less.

Storylines to watch in Florida vs. Georgia

Can Georgia stop Florida’s rushing attack?
The Bulldogs’ defense has been one of the SEC’s most underachieving units in 2012. After allowing just 101.2 yards per game last season, Georgia ranks 72nd nationally in rush defense and is giving up 167.9 yards per game this year. The Bulldogs front seven suffered a setback this week, as end Abry Jones could miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Losing Jones is another setback for a Georgia defense that has allowed rushing seven touchdowns over the last three games and faces a tough test against a Florida offense that is averaging 212.7 rushing yards per game. Mike Gillislee is the lead back for the Gators but has been held under 100 yards in each of his last two contests. While Gillislee should see 20-25 carries, the Bulldogs have to be wary of Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel. The sophomore has 321 yards on this season, and his mobility only adds another dimension to the Gators’ much-improved rushing attack. Considering Georgia’s struggles against the run and the loss of Jones, coordinator Todd Grantham will have his hands full trying to stop Gillislee and Driskel. 

Will Aaron Murray find success against Florida’s secondary?
After a dismal performance against South Carolina, Murray rebounded with 427 yards and four touchdowns in the 29-24 win over Kentucky. The junior quarterback has been sharp most of the season, completing 65.3 percent of his throws and tossing only four picks. Although Murray seemed to find rhythm last week, Florida’s defense represents the toughest challenge the Bulldogs have seen this year. The Gators are allowing less than 200 passing yards per game and have given up only three passing scores in seven contests. Another key to the success of Florida’s secondary has been a pass rush averaging two sacks a game. Murray didn’t have much time to throw against South Carolina, which didn’t allow the offense to take any shots downfield. For the Bulldogs to win, they have to provide Murray with more protection, along with establishing freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall on the ground.

Will Jeff Driskel throw for more than 100 yards?
The formula for Florida’s turnaround this year is pretty simple. The Gators are winning the battle in the trenches and the turnover battle. With a shutdown defense and a stout running game, quarterback Jeff Driskel hasn’t been asked to do much over the last three games. The sophomore quarterback has not topped 100 passing yards over the last three contests but ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Vanderbilt. Although Driskel hasn’t been much of a factor in recent weeks, he will be needed more against Georgia. The Bulldogs rank 28th nationally against the pass and with a lack of proven playmakers for Georgia on the outside, the Bulldogs should own an edge in pass defense. Driskel has been careful with the ball (only one interception on 127 attempts) but this will be a huge test after three games where he didn’t need to do much through the air. Georgia's pass rush is expected to get a boost this week, as linebacker Jarvis Jones is expected to return to the lineup after missing last Saturday's game against Kentucky. 

Final Analysis

Even though Georgia was handled by South Carolina, this team is capable of winning this game. The battle in the trenches will be critical, especially for a Bulldogs’ offensive line that struggled to block the Gamecocks’ defensive front. Florida doesn’t have a difference maker off the edge like Jadeveon Clowney, but what the Gators lack in star power is made up in quality depth. If Georgia can protect quarterback Aaron Murray and open up some holes for running back Todd Gurley, this will be a close game until the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs’ defense has to step up after underachieving this year, which could have a hard time slowing down the Florida rushing attack. Georgia should be motivated to win this one, but the Gators are on a roll and should once again find a way to win.

Final Prediction: Florida 24, Georgia 20

by Steven Lassan

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<p> Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/michigan-wolverines-vs-nebraska-cornhuskers-preview-and-prediction

The battle to win the Big Ten Legends Division is still one of the most clouded races in college football. However, there could be some clarity after this weekend’s games. Michigan is the Legends Division’s only unbeaten team in conference play so far, recording wins over Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State. Nebraska and Iowa are tied for second with a 2-1 mark, while Northwestern checks in fourth at 2-2.

With Michigan State off to a 1-3 start, the Wolverines and Cornhuskers appear to be the class of the division. And the winner of Saturday’s game should take a huge step forward in claiming the division title. Michigan has a very manageable schedule the rest of the season, as it should be favored to win every game except the season finale against Ohio State. Nebraska’s schedule features a few more landmines, especially with a road trip to Michigan State and a home game against Penn State.

These two teams have met seven times, with Michigan owning a slight 4-2-1 edge over the Cornhuskers. Nebraska’s only win since 1962 came in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. This last year’s matchup will only be the second between these two teams as Big Ten foes.

Storylines to watch in Michigan vs. Nebraska

Will Rex Burkhead play?
High expectations surrounded Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead coming into this season, but the senior suffered a knee injury against Southern Miss and has been limited to 47 rushing attempts in 2012. Burkhead aggravated his knee injury in last week’s win at Northwestern and is questionable to play against Michigan. With Burkhead likely out or less than 100 percent, the Cornhuskers will turn to a talented trio of young running backs in Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard and Imani Cross to pickup the slack. Abdullah led the team with 101 yards against the Wildcats last week and is expected to start this Saturday. Heard and Cross should see an increased role, especially as both bring more size and punch to the rushing attack. As usual, quarterback Taylor Martinez will figure into the ground game, and he rushed for 65 yards on 18 attempts last week. Even though Burkhead will be missed, Nebraska should be able to run the ball against Michigan’s defense. The Wolverines rank 49th nationally against the run but held Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell under 70 yards last Saturday. After struggling to stop Alabama and Air Force, Michigan has tightened its rush defense, but Nebraska will be a huge test for this unit.

Containing Denard Robinson
In last season’s matchup, Robinson accounted for 263 overall yards and four touchdowns. Nebraska can’t afford to let Robinson have his way again this season, and there’s a lot of pressure on coach Bo Pelini and coordinator John Papuchis to find the right answers this week, especially after the defense has allowed 11 rushing touchdowns in the last three games. Nebraska’s defense managed to hold Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter to just 35 rushing yards last week and a similar effort is needed against Robinson if the Cornhuskers want to knock off the Wolverines.

Winning the turnover battle
Holding onto the ball has been a big problem for both teams this season. Michigan is ninth in the Big Ten in turnover margin and has lost 14 turnovers. Nebraska is last in the conference, losing 18 turnovers in 2012. Most of the Wolverines’ turnover problems came in the non-conference portion of their schedule, while the Cornhuskers have forced only two fumbles in Big Ten play. Turnovers are always a key part of any game but with both teams struggling in this department, generating points on a short field would be a huge advantage on Saturday night.

Can Michigan establish its ground game against Nebraska’s rush defense?
Take out Denard Robinson’s 900 yards and Michigan is a very average rushing offense. Fitzgerald Toussaint has just 283 yards and four touchdowns on 81 attempts, with Thomas Rawls ranked third on the team with 174 yards. Robinson will have opportunities to make plays with his legs against the Cornhuskers, but the Wolverines also need Toussaint or Rawls to step up. Nebraska’s rush defense ranks 90th nationally and has allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of the last two games. Michigan’s offensive line has improved significantly from the season opener, which is a bad sign for the Cornhuskers’ struggling front seven. The Wolverines won’t need 100 yards from Toussaint, but this offense needs to take some of the pressure off of Robinson’s shoulders.

Taylor MartinezTaylor Martinez vs. Michigan’s secondary
Statistically, the Wolverines have been very good against the pass this year. Michigan ranks fourth nationally in pass defense and has allowed only four passing scores. However, this secondary has not faced a legitimate passing attack since the season opener against Alabama. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez struggled in last season’s meeting between these two teams but is a much-improved passer. The junior has thrown for 15 touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception at home this season. Considering the progress Martinez has made this season, he should easily outperform last season’s abysmal showing in Ann Arbor. Nebraska also has one of the deepest groups of receivers in the Big Ten, which should allow Martinez and coordinator Tim Beck opportunities to see if Michigan’s secondary is as good as the stats indicate.  

Final Analysis

This matchup is relatively even, but a slight edge goes to Michigan. Taylor Martinez and his receivers will test the Wolverines’ secondary, but Nebraska’s defense will struggle to stop Denard Robinson. Expect Michigan’s defense to make one play late in the game that seals the victory for the Wolverines.

Final Prediction: Michigan 31-27

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<p> Michigan Wolverines vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-sooners-vs-notre-dame-fighting-irish-preview-and-prediction

It’s not often college football has a marquee non-conference game at the end of October. However, that’s the stage set on Saturday night, as Oklahoma and Notre Dame – two top-10 teams in the BCS – will meet in Norman. The Sooners have won three in a row since losing to Kansas State, while Notre Dame has a perfect 7-0 record.

These two teams have not met since 1999, with Oklahoma only winning once in nine matchups against the Irish. The Sooners beat Notre Dame 40-0 in 1956 but followed that victory up with six consecutive losses in this series.

With both teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS, this is essentially an elimination game for the national title. If the Irish win, they should cruise to an 11-0 record before playing USC in the season finale. If the Sooners knock off Notre Dame, they will have an opportunity to jump into the top six of the BCS standings. Considering Oklahoma was thought to be out of the mix after losing to Kansas State, it’s a credit to Bob Stoops and the coaching staff for getting this team refocused on the remaining schedule and the opportunities that await this squad if they win out (and get a little help in the process).

Storylines to watch in Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma

Notre Dame’s Quarterback Play
With Everett Golson sidelined due to a concussion last week, Tommy Rees was forced to make his second start of the season. Rees completed only 7 of 16 passes for 117 yards and one touchdown against BYU, while backup Andrew Hendrix chipped in 14 rushing yards. Golson is expected to return to the starting lineup this week but is still looking for consistency in his first year as the No. 1 quarterback. The redshirt freshman has thrown for 968 yards and four touchdowns but has also tossed three picks. Golson is Notre Dame’s most complete quarterback and gives it the best chance to win. However, ball security and winning the turnover battle will be crucial to the outcome of this matchup. Oklahoma is allowing only 164.3 passing yards a game and has given up only three passing touchdowns this season. Not only does Golson need to play smart but he also has to be decisive with his reads and deliver the ball on time. Expect senior tight end Tyler Eifert to be the primary target for Golson, but the redshirt freshman needs receivers TJ Jones and Davaris Daniels to step up this week.

Stopping the Belldozer
Considering how tough both teams have been on defense this year, scoring touchdowns instead of field goals will be crucial to winning this game. Notre Dame’s rush defense is allowing just over 100 yards a game (106.7) but has yet to allow a rushing score this season. The main catalyst for the Irish’s success on defense has been the play of linebacker Manti Te’o. The senior is having an outstanding year, recording 69 tackles, four interceptions and two tackles for a loss. In addition to Te’o, the Irish have one of the top defensive lines in college football, led by junior nose guard Louis Nix and sophomore end Stephon Tuitt. Although Notre Dame’s defense has passed every test so far, Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell has been the top weapon for the Sooners’ offense around the goal-line, scoring eight rushing scores on 15 carries inside of the 10-yard line. No defense has found an answer to stop the Belldozer package over the last two years. With Notre Dame’s strong front seven, this should be a strength versus strength matchup for both teams.

Oklahoma’s passing offense vs. Notre Dame’s secondary
Despite breaking in two new starting cornerbacks and losing safety Jamoris Slaughter to an injury earlier this season, Notre Dame’s secondary ranks 14th nationally in pass defense. This unit figures to be tested on Saturday night, as Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones is the best passer the Irish have seen so far this year. Jones has thrown at least two touchdown passes in each of his last three games and has back-to-back 300-yard efforts. The senior also has a talented group of receivers, led by Kenny Stills and Penn State transfer Justin Brown. If Jones has time to throw, opportunities to make plays downfield should be there. However, Notre Dame is averaging 2.7 sacks a game and has done a good job of generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks all year. If Oklahoma can keep Jones upright in the pocket, the Sooners should be able to move the ball through the air.

Notre Dame’s rush offense vs. Oklahoma defense
With redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson making only his second road start, Notre Dame needs to take the pressure off his shoulders with the rushing attack. In last week’s win over BYU, the Irish recorded 270 rushing yards, with Theo Riddick leading the way with 143 yards. The Sooners rank 46th nationally against the run but have held two out of their last three opponents under 100 yards on the ground. Riddick and Cierre Wood don’t have to match last week’s production, but both players need to have some success on early downs to keep Notre Dame out of third-and-long situations. Expect Oklahoma to counter by stacking the box and forcing Golson to win the game through the air.

The x-factor…special teams
As with every close game, special teams could play a huge role in determining the outcome. Oklahoma owns a edge in this department, as it ranks in the top 10 nationally of punt and kickoff returns, and punter Tress Way is averaging 43.2 yards per kick. The Sooners have also scored twice on returns, which has to be a huge concern for Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. The Irish have struggled to generate any big plays on special teams, while their coverage units rank 92nd nationally in covering kickoffs. Considering how tough Notre Dame’s defense has been all season, Oklahoma needs to hit a few big plays on special teams to put its offense in favorable field position situations.

Final Analysis

The mission for both teams is simple: Win and stay alive in the BCS title picture. Oklahoma has been on a roll since losing to Kansas State in late September and should have the edge in this game. The Sooners will struggle to move the ball on the ground with running back Damien Williams, but the passing attack should be able to hit a few big plays – if Landry Jones has time to throw. Notre Dame’s offense will have success moving the ball at times but this is the game where not having a consistent passing attack will catch up to the Irish.

Final Prediction: Oklahoma 27, Notre Dame 20

by Steven Lassan

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

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<p> Oklahoma Sooners vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 14:04
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-9-upset-predictions

There's no shortage of possible upset picks for Week 9. UCLA is nearly a touchdown underdog against Arizona State, which is a bit surprising considering how both teams have played this year. NC State has beat North Carolina five times in a row but is an underdog this Saturday. Check out Athlon's upset picks for this Saturday:

College Football's Week 9 Upset Picks

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Kentucky (+13.5) over Missouri
Let me preface this by saying Kentucky is just dreadful. But the Wildcats have played South Carolina close and challenged Georgia last week in a 29-24 loss. Both opponents were caught looking ahead, something that shouldn’t afflict Missouri even with a road game against Florida next week. Missouri’s not in contention for anything but a minor bowl. But minus starting quarterback James Franklin, Missouri is vulnerable. The Tigers have scored multiple offensive touchdowns in a game just once since Sept. 8, and that came against UCF. Sooner or later, Kentucky’s going to complete a game and pull a shocking upset. Might as well be this week.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): UCLA (+6.5) at Arizona State
The top-rated defense in the Pac-12 had its rude awakening last weekend on national TV when Oregon rushed for over 400 yards in the blowout. UCLA comes to town after a week off to rest and one of the most balanced offenses in the nation. This game carries major import in the Pac-12 South and could dictate bowl game pecking orders. Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin bring a similar set of skills to the field that Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner, so the pressure now falls to the Sun Devils to bounce back. Todd Graham's team has played a weak schedule and they were totally exposed against the Ducks. Look for more of the same this weekend.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): NC State (+7.5) at North Carolina
Considering NC State’s recent success in this rivalry, I am surprised to see the Wolfpack as a touchdown underdog against North Carolina. NC State has won the last five matchups in this series, including a 13-0 shutout last season. With the Tar Heels banned from postseason play, there’s no question this game has extra meaning for North Carolina. However, the Tar Heels rank 11th in ACC games in pass defense and have allowed at least 30 points in two out of their last three conference games. North Carolina has two of the ACC’s top playmakers in quarterback Bryn Renner and running back Giovani Bernard, but the Wolfpack rank 35th nationally against the run and have not allowed more than 18 points in their last two conference games. NC State quarterback Mike Glennon should be able to take advantage of North Carolina’s secondary, while its defense should be able slow Bernard just enough to win. Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien seems to have the Tar Heels’ number and that success will continue in 2012. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): UCLA (+6.5) at Arizona State
I’m surprised the spread is so high between these seemingly evenly matched teams. UCLA is 5–2 and has only played one bad game, a 43–17 loss at California. The Bruins’ other loss was by seven points at home to undefeated Oregon State, and they have a nice win over Nebraska on their résumé. Outside of last week’s 43–21 loss at home to Oregon, Arizona State has played very well defensively under first-year coach Todd Graham. The Sun Devils have given up 24 points or fewer in their six games an rank first in the Pac-12 in total defense (298.6 ppg). UCLA, however, is the most balanced offensive team ASU has played — and that includes Oregon. Quarterback Brett Hundley and tailback Johnathan Franklin form one of the top QB-RB tandems in the league. UCLA 27, Arizona State 24  

Mark Ross: Navy (+4) over East Carolina
Navy and East Carolina each come into this game carrying modest winning streaks. Both teams are also similar in terms of where they rank nationally in a number of categories. The biggest differences appear to be with offensive distribution and defensive strengths. The Midshipmen are 13th in the nation in rushing at 236.7 yards per game, while the Pirates are averaging less than 118 yards on the ground (103rd nationally). Part of the reason for this is because ECU is a pass-oriented offense, one that is averaging 265 yards through the air. Navy's patented triple-option attack is a run first, second and third type of offense as evidenced by its No. 117 ranking out of 120 FBS schools when it comes to passing. On the defensive side, Navy's strength, at least on paper, is pass defense. The Mids are giving up only 197 passing yards per game, which is 26th in the nation. Now whether that's more a function of a rush defense that allows more than 172 yards per contest or not remains to be seen, but it appears that ECU's offensive strength and Navy's defensive strength match up. The same could be said for the Pirates on defense as they are 32nd in the nation in rush defense (123.1 ypg), but they haven't really played a run-centric team like Navy yet. I think both teams will be able to move the ball, but in the end, I like Navy's running game to wear down and outlast ECU. Besides, even though this battle will take place on land instead of water, when it comes to the U.S. Navy versus a bunch of pirates, whose side are you going to take, really?

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): TCU (+7.5) at Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have one of the top offenses in the country, but OSU lost starting quarterback J.W. Walsh for the rest of the season to a knee injury suffered in last week’s victory over Iowa State. Both freshman Wes Lunt and junior Clint Chelf could see time at signal caller this week, but the change may force the Cowboys to rely more on Joseph Randle and the running attack. While Randle is one of the best backs in college football, TCU’s run defense is ranked No. 7 nationally. The Horned Frogs are also tied for ninth in the country is takeaways (20), and they will look to harass either OSU quarterback into turning the ball over. The TCU offense has found a replacement for quarterback Casey Pachall in redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin, who has passed for 863 yards and nine touchdowns over the last three games. This one projects as another Big 12 shootout, and the difference should be which defense can force the other’s inexperienced quarterback into mistakes. The atmosphere in Stillwater will be difficult for the Horned Frogs, but I’ll take Gary Patterson’s crew to spring a big-time upset.

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Big East Week 9 Preview and Predictions

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Big 12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

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<p> College Football Week 9 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 06:03
Path: /college-football/acc-week-9-preview-and-predictions

With the final month of the season almost here, every week is a crucial one to sort out the pecking order in the ACC. The Coastal Division is wide open, with Duke currently leading the standings with a 3-1 record. Miami and Virginia Tech have a bye week, which makes Saturday's game for the Blue Devils against Florida State even more important. Duke is a heavy underdog and a loss to the Seminoles would leave the top three contenders with two losses in conference play. The game of the week has to be the battle for bragging rights in North Carolina, as the Tar Heels and Wolfpack meet on Saturday. NC State has won five in a row in this series, but North Carolina is hungry to end that losing streak this season.

Other Week 9 Previews and Predictions

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

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 9

How will Florida State replace Chris Thompson?
Chris Thompson was one of the ACC’s best stories through the first half of the season, as he returned from a serious back injury last year to rank as one of the conference’s leading rushers. Unfortunately for Thompson and Florida State, he suffered an ACL tear against Miami and is out for the rest of the year. While losing Thompson is a blow to the rushing attack, the Seminoles have depth in the backfield. Sophomore Devonta Freeman has rushed for 70 yards in back-to-back games, while James Wilder Jr. has 369 yards and seven touchdowns this year. There’s no doubt Florida State will miss Thompson’s all-around ability and leadership. However, with Freeman, Wilder and quarterback EJ Manuel picking up the slack on the ground, the Seminoles’ rushing attack shouldn’t miss a beat.

Can North Carolina end a five-game losing streak to NC State?
With the Tar Heels banned from postseason play, there’s no doubt this matchup against their in-state rival is one of the games they circled on the calendar at the beginning of the season. North Carolina has lost five straight matchups to the Wolfpack, including a 13-0 defeat in Raleigh last season. New coach Larry Fedora knows the importance of this game and decorated the player’s locker room in NC State colors to add extra emphasis to Saturday’s matchup. In order for the Tar Heels to snap the losing streak, they have to find a way to slow down Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon. North Carolina ranks 11th in conference play in pass defense and has generated only four sacks against ACC opponents. That type of defensive effort won’t be enough to win on Saturday, especially with Glennon averaging 335.3 passing yards a game in his last three contests. There’s no shortage of firepower on North Carolina’s offense, but the only way North Carolina snaps the losing streak to NC State has to come in the form of better defense.

Is this the year Duke beats Florida State?
Considering the Blue Devils have already ended a streak of 16 seasons with a losing record, why not break another mark? Even though it’s clear Duke is a much-improved team under David Cutcliffe, winning in Tallahassee is a difficult assignment. The Blue Devils have lost all 17 meetings against Florida State and only one game has been decided by less than 20 points. One of the key reasons for Duke’s success this year has been an improved rushing attack and a defense that is generating 2.4 sacks a game. Establishing a ground game against Florida State won’t be easy, as the Seminoles rank No. 2 nationally in rush defense. If the Blue Devils can’t establish any balance on offense, they will have no shot at winning this game. When Duke’s defense is on the field, it has to find a way slow down a Florida State offense averaging 520.1 yards per game. Although the Blue Devils are on the right track, winning in Tallahassee is simply too much to ask in 2012.

Will Georgia Tech struggle to establish its rushing attack?
The Yellow Jackets step out of conference play for an intriguing matchup against BYU this Saturday. The Cougars have been stingy on defense all season, as only one opponent has managed to score more than 24 points. BYU also ranks eighth nationally against the run and is allowing just 2.9 yards per carry. One of the key reasons for the Cougars’ success against the run is an active group of linebackers, led by standout Kyle Van Noy. While the Cougars have been tough to run against all season, they have not played an option team since playing Air Force on Sept. 11, 2010. Preparing for an option offense late in the season is no easy task, which should allow Georgia Tech to have a slight advantage on Saturday. However, BYU’s defensive front has 60 tackles for a loss this season and needs to force the Yellow Jackets into third-and-long situations. While there’s no question Georgia Tech has to run the ball well to win, quarterbacks Tevin Washington and Vad Lee also have to make timely throws to keep the defense off balance. Considering BYU has struggled with turnovers this year, it’s also important for the Yellow Jackets to not make any mistakes and give the Cougars’ offense a short field to work with.

NC State’s run defense vs. Giovani Bernard
Even though North Carolina and NC State rank in the top 30 nationally of scoring defense, there should be no shortage of points on Saturday. NC State has won the last five matchups in this series, but with North Carolina banned from postseason play, the players likely consider this matchup their bowl game for 2012. If the Wolfpack expect to extend their winning streak over the Tar Heels, they have to slow down Giovani Bernard. The sophomore is averaging 194 yards per game in his last three contests but managed only 47 yards on 18 attempts against NC State last year. The Wolfpack has allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers in its last two ACC games but has held conference opponents to only three rushing scores in 2012. Not only is Bernard one of the nation’s best backs, but he will be running behind one of college football’s top offensive lines. The battle in the trenches will be crucial to the outcome of this game. If North Carolina establishes Bernard, it should open up more passing opportunities for quarterback Bryn Renner. If the Wolfpack shut down Bernard, the Tar Heels will have an uphill battle to knock off their in-state rival.

What is Maryland’s plan at quarterback?
The Terrapins suffered another blow to their quarterback depth last week, as true freshman Perry Hills was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Losing Hills is a significant setback to a team that already lost No. 1 quarterback C.J. Brown in the preseason due to a knee injury. With Hills sidelined for the year, sophomore Devin Burns and true freshman Caleb Rowe were expected to share snaps. Burns – a converted wide receiver – threw for 47 yards and rushed for 50 yards and one score last week. However, Burns was ruled out for the year on Thursday night, leaving Rowe as Maryland's only scholarship quarterback. Rowe completed both of his passes for 50 yards last Saturday and nearly led the Terrapins to a game-winning field goal. Considering Maryland has struggled to establish its ground attack all year, Burns’ presence should help spark the rushing game. However, the offense also needs more help from running backs Wes Brown, Albert Reid and Justus Pickett. With Rowe taking over, it’s also important for the defense to continue playing at its current pace and limit opposing teams to around 300 yards a game.

Last chance at a win for Boston College this year?
With a schedule that features games at Wake Forest and NC State, along with home dates against Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, Saturday’s matchup against Maryland is probably Boston College’s best shot at a win the rest of the season. The Eagles are riding a five-game losing streak and have lost their last three ACC games by at least 14 points. A major culprit of the struggles has been the play of the defense. Boston College ranks 119th nationally against the run and 117th in total defense. Considering Maryland has struggled on offense most of the season and lost its starting quarterback last week, the Eagles need to jump out to an early lead and put pressure on two inexperienced passers. Coach Frank Spaziani has little chance to retain his job next year, but this team needs to find something over the last five games to build on for 2013.

Week 9 ACC Predictions

Week 9 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Clemson at Wake Forest Clemson 42-27 Clemson 45-17 Clemson 34-17 Clemson 31-10
NC State at North Carolina UNC 35-21 UNC 28-24 NC State 31-27 UNC 28-27
Maryland at Boston College BC 10-7 Maryland 31-20 Maryland 24-20 BC 21-20
BYU at Georgia Tech Ga. Tech 35-10 Ga. Tech 31-28 Ga. Tech 27-24 Ga. Tech 28-20
Duke at Florida State Florida State 28-17 Florida State 34-20 Florida State 38-17 Florida State 38-20
Last Week: 4-2 4-2 4-2 5-1
Season Record: 52-13 51-14 49-16 54-11

by Steven Lassan

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<p> ACC Week 9 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 05:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-9-start-or-sit-report

Whether you are stuck at .500 or trying to stay atop your league standings, the next two weeks will likely determine your playoff fate.  We’ve tried to identify as many on-the-fence players as we could to help with some of the tougher roster decisions.  As always, if you have any start/bench questions or need additional insight on roster decisions, please reach out to us via email or twitter.


Taylor McHargue, QB-Rice at Southern Miss

McHargue can be hit or miss, but this week he faces a defense giving up 39 points per game and over 200 yards per game on the ground.

Ameer Abdullah, RB-Nebraska vs Michigan

Rex Burkhead is not expected to play this weekend against Michigan, so expect Abdullah to receive 20-plus carries and carry the load on the ground for the Cornhuskers.

Dennis Johnson, RB-Arkansas vs Ole Miss

Since taking over as the lead back in Arkansas two games ago, Johnson has rushed for 158 yards and scored five touchdowns.

Chris Nwoke, RB-Colorado St vs Hawaii

Nwoke has been a fantasy bust in 2012, but we’re expecting him to run for a season-high this week against a Hawaii defense giving up 233.7 rushing yards per game.

Jahwan Edwards, RB-Ball St at Army

Army is giving up 235.3 rushing yards per game, so look for Edwards to be the fantasy stud this week for Ball State instead of receivers Willie Snead and Jamill Smith.

Charlie Moore, WR-Oklahoma St vs TCU

Moore is on a roll over the past two games, catching 13 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.  Plus, TCU’s defense is allowing over 31 points and 220 passing yards per game, so the potential is there for another solid fantasy outing.

Terence Davis, WR-Wake Forest vs Clemson

Davis was a fantasy dud last week catching only one pass in Wake Forest’s 16-10 win at Virginia.  If the Demon Deacons are to have any chance against Clemson this week, Davis will have to be a factor in the passing game.

Allen Robinson, WR-Penn St vs Ohio St

Robinson has only failed to reach the end zone twice in seven games this season and this week he faces an Ohio State defense giving up over 271 passing yards per game.


Tevin Washington, QB-Georgia Tech vs BYU

Washington has been splitting time with freshman Vad Lee and this week the Yellow Jackets face a BYU defense giving up less than 95 rushing yards per game.

Aaron Murray, QB-Georgia vs Florida

After leaving Murray out of our Top 30 quarterback rankings last week, he proved us wrong by having his best game of the season.  We’re not getting sucked in this week when the Bulldogs take on the Gators in Jacksonville.

Brett Smith, QB-Wyoming vs Boise St

Smith may be able to conjure up some yards against the Boise State defense, but he will be challenged to find the end zone against a defense giving up only 13.6 points per game.

Todd Gurley, RB-Georgia vs Florida

Three weeks ago Gurley was a must-start, but fantasy owners that are in dire need of a win may want to steer away from starting the freshman against the Florida defense.

LaDarius Perkins, RB-Mississippi St at Alabama

Perkins has found the end zone in every game this season, but we’re projecting that he will fail to either score or reach the 100-yard mark on the road against the Crimson Tide this weekend.

Dri Archer and Trayion Durham, RBs-Kent St at Rutgers

It’s difficult to suggest sitting two guys that have accounted for 18 of their team’s 25 touchdowns, but facing Rutgers’ defense on the road makes each of them an iffy play.

Justin Hunter, WR-Tennessee at South Carolina

We’re benching Hunter for the second consecutive week and holding out on starting him until the Vols face Troy next week at home.

Conner Vernon, WR-Duke at Florida St

Vernon is a little banged up and we don’t want owners to take a chance starting Duke’s leading receiver against the nation’s 7th-ranked pass defense.

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 9 Start or Sit Report</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 04:13
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-week-9-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. 


Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)


Mike Glennon, North Carolina St at North Carolina

Garrett Gilbert, SMU vs Memphis

Keenan Reynolds, Navy at ECU

Austin Brown, UAB at Tulane

Andrew Manley, New Mexico St vs LA Tech


Running Backs

Devonta Freeman, Florida St vs Duke

James Wilder, Florida St vs Duke

Darrin Reaves, UAB at Tulane

Germi Morrison, New Mexico St vs LA Tech

Shontrelle Johnson, Iowa St vs Baylor



Aaron Horne, WR Iowa St vs Baylor

Eric Monette, Western Michigan vs Northern Illinois

Ryan Grant, Tulane vs UAB

Bryan Underwood, North Carolina St at North Carolina

Kenny Bell, Nebraska vs Michigan


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


Steven Lassan(@AthlonSteven)



David Ash, Texas at Kansas

Trevone Boykin, TCU at Oklahoma State

David Fales, San Jose State vs. Texas State

Ryan Radcliff, Central Michigan vs. Akron

Running Backs

Dennis Johnson, Arkansas vs. Ole Miss

Brian Kimbrow, Vanderbilt vs. UMass

Latavius Murray, UCF at Marshall

Wide Receivers

Mike Davis, Texas at Kansas

Mike Evans, Texas A&M at Auburn

Jordan Leslie, UTEP at Houston

<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 9 Emergency Starters</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 01:26
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-or-missouri-will-either-team-make-bowl-2012

The SEC has 10 guaranteed slots for both teams but there's a chance the conference has at least 11 or 12 squads eligible for the postseason. Ole Miss and Missouri are two teams on the edge of bowl eligibility, as the Rebels sit at 4-3 and the Tigers are 3-4. 

Ole Miss or Missouri: Will Either Team Make a Bowl In 2012?

Barrett Sallee, Lead SEC Blogger for Bleacher Report (@BarrettSallee):
Ole Miss is the better team, but the stretch run is too tough for the Rebels to make a bowl game. They are getting Arkansas at the wrong time this week, and if they want to go bowling, they'll need to get that win and vs. Vanderbilt to secure a six-win season and a bowl trip. I don't think they can get a win over the resurgent Hogs this weekend.

Missouri, on the other hand, has a better shot at the postseason. The need three wins down the stretch, but games vs. Kentucky, Tennessee and Syracuse could get them there. The season will hinge on the Tennessee game. Missouri doesn't play a lot of defense and the Vols can sling it all over the field. Gary Pinkel's crew will have to play old school, Big 12-style football to have a shot. I don't think they get it done though, and fall just short of making a bowl game in their first season in the SEC.

David Fox (@DavidFox615):
The chances look much better for Ole Miss than Missouri. With quarterback James Franklin out against Kentucky -- a team that has been competitive with South Carolina and Georgia -- I’m not sure if Missouri is going to win another game in the SEC. Ole Miss’ schedule shapes up much nicer for a postseason trip, despite the next two road games. Arkansas is getting better, but the Hogs are still vulnerable. And who knows what we’re going to see out of Georgia on a week-to-week basis? When Ole Miss returns home, it should have a good chance against Vanderbilt in Oxford. And while I would not pick Ole Miss to win in Baton Rouge, it’s just been that kind of year at LSU. Then there’s a home finale in the Egg Bowl. I don’t know how Ole Miss is going to do it, but the Rebels are going to win two of those games and reach a bowl. The Rebels have shown they can beat up on bad SEC teams (Auburn) and play with resilience against good ones (Alabama, Texas A&M). Meanwhile, none of the teams left on Ole Miss’ schedule can make me say without a doubt that they’ll be able to defeat the Rebels easily. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
I will go with neither. Ole Miss would likely have to beat both Vanderbilt and Mississippi State at home in order to get to six wins. Otherwise, three road games to Arkansas, Georgia and LSU are almost certain losses. One upset at home is possible, but two feels highly unlikely. Mizzou has a clear path to five wins with Syracuse and Kentucky at home but would also have to win one of three brutal road games at Florida, Texas A&M or Tennessee. If I had to place a bet on one or the other, I would take the Rebels. Is it possible for both to get to bowl eligibility? Yes. Will it happen? I say no. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
Both teams have a good chance to get bowl eligible, but I’m going to say neither will get to six wins. Ole Miss is a much-improved team under new coach Hugh Freeze and has winnable games against Arkansas and Vanderbilt remaining, along with the Egg Bowl showdown against Mississippi State in the finale. Making the Rebels’ quest to get to six wins even more difficult is the Razorbacks have won two in a row, while the Commodores have won two out of their last three games. Although Ole Miss is an improved team, I just don’t think it can muster six wins out of the remaining schedule.

Missouri’s remaining schedule isn’t as difficult as Ole Miss’, especially with home games left against Kentucky and Syracuse. If the Tigers win those two games, they would need to pickup a win at Florida, Tennessee or Texas A&M. Not exactly easy. Missouri’s best bet might be picking up a victory against former Big 12 foe Texas A&M or against a Tennessee team that could be distracted by its coaching situation. The Tigers have a better chance than the Rebels to get to six wins, but I think they fall just short and finish 5-7.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
My guess is no. Ole Miss is vastly improved under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, but the Rebels have a difficult closing schedule. They are 4–3 overall, with wins over Central Arkansas, UTEP, Tulane and Auburn. It’s tough to find two wins on their remaining schedule — at Arkansas, Georgia and LSU and home vs. Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. They will be an underdog in at least four of the five games, and potentially all five if Vanderbilt continues to play well. Missouri has been a bit of a disappointment in its first year in the league. Injuries have hurt — both at quarterback and on the offensive line — but nobody envisioned an 0–4 start in league play. The Tigers should take care of Kentucky on Saturday (even without James Franklin at quarterback) to improve to 4–4 overall, but three of their final four games are on the road — at Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M. My guess is that Mizzou ends the year 5–7 overall and 1–7 in the SEC.   

Mark Ross: 
It's kind of a shame these two don't play each other to end the regular season in what could have been a bowl-elimination game. That said, if I had to choose, I would give Ole Miss a better shot at sneaking into the postseason rather than Missouri. The Tigers have had a rough introduction to the SEC and have suffered too many key injuries, most notably to quarterback James Franklin, to finish with six wins. I think five is the best they can hope for this season. On the other hand, Ole Miss only needs two more victories to get to six and I think can get there, provided they beat Arkansas in Fayetteville this Saturday. If the Rebels can beat the Hogs, who are riding a modest two-game winning streak of their own, then their bowl fate likely comes down to the Nov. 10 home game against Vanderbilt. Wins over the Hogs and Commodores would make the Rebels bowl eligible. However, should they stumble in either of these games, I don't see Hugh Freeze going to the postseason in his first season in Oxford because the Rebels' other three remaining games are against teams ranked in the top 11 of the BCS standings — at Georgia (No. 10), at LSU (No. 6) and against Mississippi State (No. 11). The opportunity is there for the Rebels to get back to a bowl for the first time in three seasons, it's just up to them to capitalize on it.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I think the Rebels (4-3) find a way to get to 6-6, while the Tigers (3-4) first SEC campaign looks destined for a 5-7 finish. Coach Hugh Freeze has done an amazing job in Oxford this season, and he will need a strong finish to chalk up two bowl-clinching wins in five games where Ole Miss will be an underdog. The Rebs’ road is difficult, but I think Freeze and staff will “coach’em up” this weekend at Arkansas and grab a win over either Vanderbilt or Mississippi State. Meanwhile, the Tigers have struggled on offense and with injuries this year. The Kentucky and Syracuse games are the top candidates for wins, but I’m not sure Mizzou can score enough points to keep up in road contests versus Tennessee and Texas A&M. The odds probably favor both teams finishing 5-7, but I’ll take Ole Miss to surprise down the stretch and get back to the postseason.


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College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 8
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SEC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

Post-Week 8 Heisman Contenders

<p> Ole Miss or Missouri: Will Either Team Make A Bowl In 2012?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/should-jeff-tedford-return-california-2013

Jeff Tedford is the winningest coach (overall victories) in California football history. However, the program has been in a backslide over the last few seasons, going 5-7 in 2010 and 7-6 in 2011. The Golden Bears have played a difficult schedule in 2012 but another losing season won't sit well in Berkeley. 

Should Jeff Tedford Return to California in 2013?

Kyle Kensing (@Kensing45),
Jeff Tedford is the winningest coach in Cal history, with just a single losing campaign in his tenure. He’s also the highest paid state employee in an economically turbulent California, and last month the university christened Memorial Stadium after its controversial $321 million renovation. Losing that first game in the revamped facility cast an ominous shadow. Cal made Rose Bowl-quality investments for Sun Bowl-level returns.

At 3-5 and with Oregon and Oregon State still to come, Tedford may be a lame duck. But consider this: he’s won 82 games in his 10½ seasons as Cal’s head coach, the same amount the five head coaches prior to him from 1983 through 2001 compiled. Aside from Bruce Snyder and Pappy Waldorf, he’s the only post-War era Golden Bear coach to reach multiple bowl games. Unlike Snyder, Tedford never bolted for green pastures elsewhere in the Pac; unlike Waldorf, Tedford won a postseason game. So the $6.9 million (amount Cal would owe Tedford should it cut ties with him) question is, who can the university brass attract that will be more successful?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
The expectations are higher at Cal than they’ve ever been. But the reason they’re higher is because Tedford has raised them over the past decade. That's quite the conundrum.  But look at it this way: If Tedford left when he was in high demand after the 2006 season, and his replacement went 41-33 overall and 22-27 in conference as Cal has the last six seasons, the replacement probably wouldn’t coach an extra year. Cal was ranked as high as No. 2 in 2007 but hasn’t made an appearance in the polls since 2009. The administration, despite its own struggles with cash, has followed through with facility upgrades, but the Bears are headed to their third consecutive losing season within conference play. Meanwhile, the majority of the Pac-12 seems to be on the upswing. Cal’s going to be hard-pressed to keep up, but right now, its coach is just treading water.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Jeff Tedford’s tenure at Cal is developing into one of the most complex and intriguing in the nation. He has coached more games than any head coach in Cal history (127), he has won more games than any coach in Cal history (79),, has had one losing season in a decade on the job and earned the school’s first conference championship (2006) since 1975. Additionally, he has accounted for eight of the program’s 21 bowl appearances and five of the program’s 10 bowl wins. And the NFL is littered with elite Tedford superstars — Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, Desmond Bishop, DeSean Jackson, Thomas DeCoud and Alex Mack to name a few.
Yet, the program has gotten stale while the rest of the Pac-12 has seemingly improved across the board. His record is 15-17 over the last two-and-a-half seasons and hasn’t had a 10-win season since the league co-championship in 2006. Cal still has to face both Oregon schools, Utah and Washington. A 2-2 mark the rest of the way in 2012 means his second losing season in three years and a parting of the ways in Berkeley. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
How quickly things can change. Jeff Tedford was previously one of the hottest coaching candidates in college football and now heads into the final games of 2012 fighting for his job. After going 25-13 in his first three seasons at California, Tedford appeared poised to move up the coaching ladder. However, his last three full years have resulted in a 20-18 record, and the Golden Bears are off to a disappointing 3-5 start. Although Tedford has an 82-53 overall record during his tenure at California, it’s probably time for a coaching change in Berkeley. The Golden Bears seemed to have peaked and have been passed in the Pac-12 pecking order by Stanford, and Washington is capable of closing the gap with Steve Sarkisian as head coach. There’s not a ton of candidates that make sense for California, but this program could use an infusion of energy. Tedford can win a lot of games at another school, but sometimes a coaching tenure runs its course and it’s time for a change. Barring a four-game winning streak to end the season, I think California will have a new head coach going into 2013. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
I think it’s time for a change. Tedford has no doubt done a tremendous job in Berkeley, but things have gotten a bit stale. The Golden Bears, 3–5 overall in 2012, have now lost at least five games in five of the past six seasons. Tedford built Cal into an upper-echelon Pac-12 program in the mid-2000s, but the Bears have slipped down a few notches on the league’s food chain in recent years. It hasn’t helped that Cal’s chief rival, Stanford, won 12 games in 2010 and 11 games last fall. I don’t know if it’s realistic to expect Cal to contend for the Pac-12 title on an annual basis, but the program should be more relevant, both in the league and nationally. I’d be reluctant to call this a firing — it doesn’t feel right to fire a guy who is 82–53 overall and 50–41 in league play. It just seems like the time is right for a mutual parting of ways.

Mark Ross: 
It's still possible for Tedford to get his team to a bowl game, but it won't be easy. The Golden Bears have four Pac-12 games left, and while the first two (at Utah, home against Washington) appear winnable, ending the regular season with games against the two Oregon schools will be a tough challenge. If Tedford can somehow find a way to lead his team to a 3-1 finish, it will secure a ninth bowl bid in his 11 years at the helm in Berkeley. With that type of sustained success, if you will, I think it would be hard for the powers that be to not bring him back for at least one more season. However, should the Bears finish 2-2 or worse and miss out on the postseason, then the timing could be right for a change of direction and leadership for the Golden Bears program.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
It’s difficult for Cal fans to see a solid era of Golden Bears football fading, but that is the case in Tedford’s 11th season. We all know how the veteran coach rescued a depressed program under Tom Holmoe and went 43-20 during his first five years. The momentum has shifted in Strawberry Canyon, however, as Cal has gone 36-28 over the last five seasons including a missing bowl game in 2010. That declining record precedes a 3-5 start to this season, one where the Bears are in jeopardy of missing another postseason. Tedford is a solid football mind, but his program has regressed recently. Losing top recruiter Tosh Lupoi — someone who defines Cal football — in a lateral move to Washington this offseason was an ominous sign of where the program is headed, and losing to Stanford three years in a row and four out of the last six seasons doesn’t help either. It may be time for a fresh voice at Cal, but it is difficult to see anyone having the impact that Tedford has had on the Golden Bears program.

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<p> Should Jeff Tedford Return to California in 2013?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/north-carolina-duke-virginia-tech-or-miami-who-wins-coastal-division

After eight weeks of the 2012 college football season, there is very little clarity in the battle to win the ACC Coastal. North Carolina is ineligible to play in the postseason but can finish No. 1 in the standings. Duke currently ranks at the top, but Virginia Tech and Miami aren't far behind.

Which Team Will Win the ACC Coastal Division?

Ryan Tice (@RyanTice),
Call me crazy, but I’m picking Miami in the Coastal Division, which is kind of funny because during our last ACC Roundtable, I think I was in the minority when declaring the Hurricanes an ACC contender. I expect I’ll be in the minority once again.

6-2 Duke, who is 3-1 so far against conference foes, has the hardest part of their schedule coming up, and I don’t think they can keep the pace that they have set so far. The Blue Devils will have their work cut out for them just to get another win, although you can never say never in the ACC in 2012.

North Carolina is obviously not eligible for the postseason or the Coastal Division title, so once you rule them out, it really comes down to Miami or Virginia Tech. I think it’s smart to say that wins next weekend’s matchup between the two will find themselves in Charlotte. Miami’s defense can’t stop anybody, but I think their offense finds a way to score more than the Hokies in Coral Gables. This isn’t the typical Virginia Tech defense we’re used to seeing.

Miami is clearly not a top-tier team in the country — their recent three game losing streak proves that — but a team doesn’t need to be to win the Coastal Division. If the Hokies find a way to pull out a win on the road this weekend, expect to see Frank Beamer’s squad in Charlotte for the sixth time since the birth of the Championship game in 2005. I suspect Tech will be the popular pick, but if there’s one thing that this ACC season has taught all of us, it is to expect the unexpected, and that’s why I’m picking Al Golden’s Hurricanes to win the Coastal.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Duke sure is tempting. The Blue Devils are the flavor of the moment after digging deep to beat North Carolina, but the toughest game are ahead with Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami. Perhaps if Duke played a little closer in its losses (50-13 to Stanford, 41-20 to Virginia Tech), I’d be more enthusiastic. Miami has lost three in a row, but the Hurricanes may find a way to sneak into the title game. Quarterback Stephen Morris got hurt in a four-point loss to North Carolina and returned for a surprise start against Florida State, a game that was much closer than expected. Miami’s defense is still struggling, but the Hurricanes don’t play any teams (Virginia Tech, Virginia and Duke) who run the ball particularly well. And by the the time Duke faces Miami in the finale, the Blue Devils may already be out of the race.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Duke Polytechnic Institute of Florida? Can I take a three-way tie between Duke, Virginia Tech and Miami? Georgia Tech is still in the mix but would have to win out and then get some help. Duke doesn’t own any key tiebreakers yet as it lost to the Hokies and has a nasty four-game end to the season (at Florida State, Clemson, at Georgia Tech, Miami). Therefore, I think it comes down to Miami or Virginia Tech. The Hokies, who already own tiebreakers over Duke and Georgia Tech, will finish the year with two wins (at Boston College and Virginia at home) and should finish no worse than 4-4. Miami, who has lost three straight games, finishes with two road trips to Virginia and Duke. So it all comes down to Thursday, Nov. 1 when Virginia Tech visits Miami. If the Hokies win at Miami, both will likely finish 5-3 and Frank Beamer will have his sixth Coastal Division title in eight seasons.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
After nine weeks, there’s really no clarity in the race to win the Coastal Division. Surprisingly, Duke sits atop the division with a 3-1 record, but the Blue Devils still have games against Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami remaining. North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech each have two losses in ACC play and there are plenty of landmines on the schedule for all three teams. The Tar Heels are ineligible to win the ACC crown but could finish with a 5-3 record and own victories over Miami and Virginia Tech to claim the Coastal Division crown. With North Carolina unable to play for the title, the race to represent the Coastal in the title game is likely between Miami and Virginia Tech, who meet on Nov. 1 in Sun Life Stadium. Although the Blue Devils could certainly get into the mix, the winner of the Miami-Virginia Tech game should decide who plays the Atlantic champ. The Hokies have been inconsistent this year, but I think their defense steps up, while the offense does just enough to finish 5-3 in conference play and win the division. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
Five wins will be enough to win the division — maybe even four. At this point, I’d give the slight edge to Miami. Duke and Miami both have three wins, but Duke’s closing schedule (at FSU, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami) is more difficult. Miami has this week off before hosting Virginia Tech next Thursday in a huge game for both teams. After playing Tech, the Canes have two more league games — at Virginia and at Duke. Virginia Tech can play its way back in to the mix with a win at Miami, but the Hokies still have to play Florida State. One thing to note: Virginia Tech has a win over Duke, so the Hokies have the edge in a two-team tiebreaker. This is a mess.

Mark Ross:
As great a story as Duke has been this season, I see the Blue Devils losing at least two of their remaining four ACC games, if not more. One thing's for sure, we will certainly find out how good David Cutcliffe's team is as the Blue Devils will face Florida State and Clemson the next two Saturdays. So if I have Duke with at least three conference losses, who does that leave atop the Coastal? I think it comes down to Miami and Virginia Tech, with the winner most likely decided when these two get together next Thursday night in south Florida. The Hurricanes have two conference losses already, but end their regular season in Durham. The Hokies also have two ACC losses, but hold the tiebreaker over Duke by virtue of their 41-20 victory two weeks ago, and can do the same to the Hurricanes by beating them on the road next week. As bad as the Hokies have looked, I think they will use the bye this week to straighten some things out and will find a way to finish their conference slate 3-1, which is good enough to get them back to Charlotte for their third straight ACC Championship Game berth. 

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I am going to take North Carolina to beat NC State for the first time since 2006 this weekend, a victory that will propel the Tar Heels to the division’s best record — even though there will be no trip Charlotte in December. UNC may seem like an unusual choice after losing to Duke and Wake Forest this season, but I believe the excellent offense and favorable November schedule of Larry Fedora’s club will leave UNC atop the divisional standings. The Blue Devils lead the Coastal currently, but still have to play conference top dogs Florida State and Clemson. And despite UNC’s earlier defeats, the Tar Heels do have victories over Virginia Tech and Miami in the race for the Coastal’s best record. As far as who makes it to the league title game, I see it coming down to the winner of the Miami-Virginia Tech battle on Thursday November 1 with the Hokies prevailing.

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<p> North Carolina, Duke, Virginia Tech or Miami: Who Wins the Coastal Division?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 06:00