Articles By Steven Lassan

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By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 3 SEC Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. Alabama (3-0) – The Crimson Tide continue to reside atop the SEC power rankings. LSU has the best win among teams in the SEC (Oregon), but Athlon is projecting Alabama to play for the national championship. The Crimson Tide open SEC play with Arkansas this week, followed by a trip to Gainesville on Oct. 1.

2. LSU (3-0) – The Tigers aren’t the flashiest team, but just find ways to win games. Thursday night’s victory over Mississippi State was another example of that. The LSU defense kept the Bulldogs’ rushing attack in check, while the offense made timely plays through the air. The Tigers have another tough road trip ahead this week, traveling to Morgantown to take on undefeated and Big East favorite West Virginia.

3. Arkansas (3-0) – After three non-conference matchups, it’s time to see just how Arkansas stacks up in the SEC race. The Razorbacks' defense struggled with Troy on Saturday, which has to be a concern with Alabama running back Trent Richardson up next. If Arkansas wants to be a factor in the SEC West race, winning in Tuscaloosa is a must.

4. Florida (3-0) – Through three weeks, the Gators have looked like the most impressive team in the SEC East. Quarterback John Brantley isn’t posting big numbers, but turned in an efficient and effective performance against Tennessee. Running back Chris Rainey has been one of the SEC’s best players through three weeks, posting 520 total yards and four touchdowns on offense. The Gators face Kentucky on the road this Saturday, before a key two-game stretch against Alabama and LSU. 

5. South Carolina (3-0) – Navy gave South Carolina all it could handle, but sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore proved to be too much to handle for the Midshipmen defense. Two concerns for the Gamecocks that continue to show up – pass defense and quarterback play. There’s a lot of time to sort out those issues, but South Carolina can’t afford to give Vanderbilt any help this Saturday.

6. Auburn (2-1) – All good things eventually come to an end. The Tigers 17-game winning streak was snapped in Saturday’s loss to Clemson. Auburn dodged a bullet with comebacks in the first two games of the year, but wasn’t able to rally in Week 3. The Tigers should get back on the winning side with a victory over FAU this week, but upcoming SEC games against South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida and LSU will be difficult.

7. Mississippi State (1-2) – The Bulldogs had a chance to score a marquee win for coach Dan Mullen on Thursday night, but fell just short, losing 19-6 to LSU. The Mississippi State offense never got on track, with quarterback Chris Relf only throwing for 96 yards and running back Vick Ballard held to 38 yards and no touchdowns. Look for Mississippi State to get back in the win column against Louisiana Tech this Saturday.

8. Georgia (1-2) – With all of the turmoil surrounding Mark Richt, Saturday’s win over Coastal Carolina provided some much-needed relief for the Bulldogs. The two-game stretch of Boise State and South Carolina was one of the most difficult starts for any team in college football, but despite the 0-2 start, Georgia could still win the SEC East. The Bulldogs should get their first conference win of the year against Ole Miss this Saturday.

9. Tennessee (2-1) – Saturday’s loss to Florida showed the Volunteers still have a lot of work to do to become a SEC East contender. Quarterback Tyler Bray tossed two picks, the rushing attack never got on track and the defense didn’t have an answer for Florida running back Chris Rainey. The Volunteers' offense suffered a huge blow in the loss, as receiver Justin Hunter suffered a torn ACL and is out for the year.

10. Vanderbilt (3-0) – Thanks to a 30-7 win over Ole Miss, the Commodores jump from No. 12 to No. 10 in this week’s power rankings. Could coach James Franklin reach a bowl in his first season in Nashville? With Army, Kentucky and Wake Forest remaining, it’s not out of the question.

11. Kentucky (2-1) – The Wildcats had a four-game winning streak to Louisville snapped on Saturday. Kentucky’s offense has struggled throughout 2011 and it finally caught up to the team against the Cardinals. The Wildcats have a tough three-game stretch upcoming, with Florida this Saturday, followed by road trips to LSU and South Carolina.

12. Ole Miss (1-2) – Losing to Vanderbilt isn’t bad, it’s just the manner in which it happened that is. The Rebels were dominated by the Commodores and a late touchdown was needed just to prevent a shutout. Coach Houston Nutt’s seat is beginning to get a little toasty, and one look at the schedule sees few guaranteed wins the rest of the way.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the SEC stack up after the third week of action?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 07:59
Path: /college-football/college-football-power-rankings-acc-0
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By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 3 ACC Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. Florida State (2-1) – Coach Jimbo Fisher won’t accept moral victories, but there’s no shame in losing to one of the top teams in the nation. Florida State hung tough against Oklahoma, despite losing No. 1 quarterback EJ Manuel to a shoulder injury in the second half. The Seminoles can still finish as one of the top five teams in the nation and make a trip to a BCS bowl, but a road game at Clemson won’t be easy this Saturday.

2. Virginia Tech (3-0) – The Hokies moved to 3-0 with a 26-7 win over Arkansas State. Quarterback Logan Thomas had a so-so performance in Week 2 against East Carolina, but rebounded with 292 passing yards and two scores in the win over the Red Wolves. Virginia Tech has one more non-conference game on the schedule, traveling to Huntington to take on Marshall this Saturday.

3. Georgia Tech (3-0) – The competition hasn’t been great, but the Yellow Jackets have been one of the ACC’s most impressive teams through three weeks. The offense has posted at least 63 points in two contests and leads the nation with an average of 675.3 yards per game. Although Georgia Tech is off to a hot start, Saturday’s game against North Carolina should provide a better idea of how it stacks up in the ACC Coastal race.

4. Clemson (3-0) – Saturday’s win over Auburn was huge for coach Dabo Swinney. After sluggish performances in wins over Troy and Wofford, Clemson looked like a different team against Auburn. Quarterback Tajh Boyd looks more comfortable in the offense, completing 30 of 42 passes for 386 yards and four scores in Saturday’s win. Freshman Sammy Watkins has been the real deal and has emerged as Boyd’s go-to receiver. Can the Tigers carry the momentum from the victory over Auburn into Saturday’s game against Florida State?

5. Miami (1-1) – The Hurricanes win over Ohio State was one of the most impressive final results of Week 3. Miami running back Lamar Miller showed why he is one of the top emerging playmakers in college football, gashing the Buckeye defense for 184 yards on 26 attempts. The Hurricanes host Kansas State this Saturday, followed by Bethune-Cookman in Week 5.

6. Maryland (1-1) – Despite a furious rally in the final two quarters, the Terrapins fell short of winning their first game against West Virginia since 2004. Quarterback Danny O’Brien is one of the best in the ACC, but did not have his best performance on Saturday. The sophomore completed 34 of 52 throws, but tossed three interceptions. The Terrapins will be on upset alert against Temple this Saturday.

7. North Carolina (3-0) – The Tar Heels kicked off ACC play with a 28-17 win over Virginia. North Carolina has struggled against Virginia in recent years, losing four out of the last five in this series before Saturday’s win. Quarterback Bryn Renner continued his solid play, completing 15 of 21 throws for 143 yards and two scores. Is North Carolina a contender for the ACC Coastal title? We should get a better idea of how the Tar Heels stack up after Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech.

8. Wake Forest (2-1) – The Demon Deacons are riding a two-game winning streak and easily handled Gardner-Webb 48-5 on Saturday. Quarterback Tanner Price continues to show he is one of the most-improved passers in college football, throwing for 281 yards and two scores against the Bulldogs. Wake Forest travels to Boston College on Saturday and considering the struggles of the Eagles this year, the Demon Deacons could be 2-0 in ACC play after this week.

9. NC State (2-1) – The Wolfpack took care of business on Saturday, defeating South Alabama 35-13. NCAA rules allow only one win against FCS schools to count towards bowl eligibility, which means NC State will need seven victories this year, thanks to playing Liberty and South Alabama. Quarterback Mike Glennon is off to a solid start, completing 64.1 percent of his throws and tossing only interception through 92 attempts. The Wolfpack travel to Cincinnati for a Thursday night matchup against the Bearcats.

10. Virginia (2-1) – Mike London has Virginia going in the right direction, but it’s not quite ready to contend for a spot in the top tier of the ACC Coastal. The Cavaliers opened ACC play with a 28-17 loss to North Carolina on Saturday. If Virginia wants to go bowling, the next two games against Southern Miss and Idaho are must-wins.

11. Duke (1-2) – Bowl hopes took a hit with a loss to Richmond in Week 1, but the Blue Devils picked up a key conference win in Week 3. Duke knocked off Boston College 20-19, thanks to quarterback Sean Renfree's 359 passing yards. The Blue Devils last win at Boston College was in 1927. Duke should be favored to earn its second win of the year with Tulane coming to Durham this Saturday.

12. Boston College (0-3) – Where should we start? The Eagles are off to their first 0-3 start since 1991 and have the look of a team in disarray. Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers took a leave of absence before last Saturday’s game against Duke, which leaves Dave Brock as the playcaller. Running back Montel Harris is still sidelined by a knee injury and after showing promise in the opener against Northwestern, the offense has managed only 22 points in its last two games. The Eagles should get into the win column against Massachusetts this week, but it could be a long year in Chestnut Hill.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the ACC stack up after the third week of action?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 07:58
Path: /college-football/college-football-power-rankings-pac-12-0
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By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 3 Pac-12 Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. Oregon (2-1) – As the last two weeks have showed, the Oregon offense is hitting on all cylinders as Pac-12 play opens against Arizona this Saturday. The Ducks lead the Pac-12 in rushing, total and scoring offense. Running back LaMichael James seems to have found his rhythm, posting his best game of the year last week, rushing for 204 yards and three scores against Missouri State.

2. Stanford (3-0) – The Cardinal kicked off Pac-12 play with a convincing 37-10 win over Arizona. However, the victory came at a heavy price. Linebacker Shayne Skov suffered a knee injury and was lost for the year. Skov was one of the top defenders in college football and expected to contend for All-America honors in 2011. Stanford is off this Saturday.

3. USC (3-0) – After failing to finish in the second half during their first two wins, the Trojans finally put together a solid effort for all four quarters. Thanks to quarterback Matt Barkley’s five passing scores, USC was never really threatened by Syracuse. The Trojans hold an early lead in the Pac-12 South standings, but travel to Tempe to take on Arizona State this week.

4. Arizona State (2-1) – After beating Missouri on Friday night in Week 2, the Sun Devils looked ready for a breakthrough win against Illinois on the road. However, the Arizona State offense struggled to protect quarterback Brock Osweiler (seven sacks) and had three costly turnovers. Despite the loss to the Fighting Illini, the Sun Devils can jump back into the national spotlight with a win over USC this Saturday.

5. California (3-0) – As expected, Presbyterian didn’t provide much competition for the Golden Bears. However, it was another valuable tune-up before Pac-12 play begins with Saturday’s game against Washington. New starting quarterback Zach Maynard has played well through three starts, but this will be his biggest test in a California uniform.

6. Washington (2-1) – The rubber match between Nebraska and Washington went in favor of the Cornhuskers. However, there were positives to take away from the loss. Quarterback Keith Price continues to settle into the No. 1 role, completing 21 of 37 throws for 274 yards and four touchdowns. Washington opens conference play with an interesting matchup against California.

7. Utah (2-1) – One of the most surprising scores from Week 3 had to be Utah’s 54-10 blowout win over BYU. The Utes forced seven turnovers and got a big performance from running back John White, who rushed for 174 yards and three touchdowns. The Utes are 0-1 in Pac-12 play, but with a favorable schedule, this team can’t be counted out of the South Division race.

8. Arizona (1-2) – The Wildcats have some serious work to do over the next couple of weeks. After a 37-10 loss to Stanford on Saturday night, Arizona sits at 1-2 and faces Oregon and USC the next two weeks. The Wildcats offense has struggled to establish a rushing attack, especially with a young offensive line still trying to jell.

9. UCLA (1-2) – The 2011 season has not started off well for the Bruins. After a loss to Houston in the opener, the Bruins looked sluggish in a win over San Jose State and handled easily by Texas in Week 3. Rick Neuheisel needs to show improvement to keep his job at the end of the year, which is why Saturday’s contest against Oregon State is huge. If the Bruins want to go to a bowl, this is a must-win game.

10. Colorado (1-2) – Jon Embree earned his first win as Colorado’s head coach on Saturday, defeating in-state rival Colorado State 28-14. Running back Rodney Stewart has struggled to get on track this year, which is a result of lackluster play by the offensive line. The Buffaloes travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State this Saturday, before opening up Pac-12 play against Washington State in Week 5.

11. Washington State (2-1) – The Cougars were on the doorstep for a 3-0 start, but allowed San Diego State to score 28 unanswered in the second half to claim a 42-24 victory. Washington State is clearly making progress under coach Paul Wulff – but will it be enough to save his job at the end of the year?

12. Oregon State (0-2) – The Beavers had a much-needed bye in Week 3. After a disappointing loss to Sacramento State in the opener and a blowout loss to Wisconsin in Week 2, Oregon State needs to find some answers before Saturday’s game against UCLA. Receiver James Rodgers has been out since last October with a torn ACL, but could return to the lineup this week. 

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the Pac 12 stack up after the third week of action?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 07:56
Path: /college-football/doomsday-big-12
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By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

With the news Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are inching closer to joining the Pac-12, the writing is on the wall for the death of the Big 12. Some issues need to be worked out, namely how the Longhorn Network will work with the Pac-12's current television plan.

Barring a miracle by commissioner Dan Beebe or the Pac-12 not approving expansion, the Big 12 is finished.

Oklahoma and Texas are holding regents meetings on Monday, which are expected to authorize school presidents to make a decision on conference realignment. After the power is handed to the presidents, it is expected Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech will apply to join the Pac-12.

With Pittsburgh and Syracuse officially accepted into the ACC, realignment news is expected to dominate the college football world this week.

The Panthers were believed to be a target of Big 12 expansion, which could have helped to keep the conference together, even after Texas A&M decided to bolt for the SEC. BYU was also a rumored target and one that appeared to be a very attractive option for the conference.

The Big 12 was formed in 1994 and began athletic competition in 1996. The conference was created with the eight members of the Big Eight Conference combining with Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Baylor.

The Big 12 began to crumble last summer with Nebraska’s departure to the Big Ten and Colorado’s exit to the Pac-12.

The Cornhuskers were fed up with unequal revenue sharing in the and wanted to get away from Texas.

Colorado was a good fit for the Pac-12, especially with a large alumni base in Los Angeles.

The Big 12 believed it could continue with 10 members, but that notion fell apart in August. Texas A&M announced its intention to withdraw for the Big 12, which caused the conference to become even more unstable.

After the news out of College Station, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State became interested in looking to the Pac-12. Texas is in the first year of having its own television channel (Longhorn Network), which was an obstacle to joining the conference. However, it appears those issues won’t derail the Longhorns from going west.

Conferences in college football could look a lot different by next week, and the death of the Big 12 could be imminent.

While Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State head for stability in the Pac-16, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri are left to pick up the pieces.

All five schools are believed to be targets of Big East expansion, which seems likely considering the news out of Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

However, as realignment has shown over the last couple of days, nothing is official until the dust clears.

Needless to say, school administrators will be sweating it out at those schools until something is finalized. If any of those five teams are left out from realignment, the losses could be significant.

Money from television contracts and an automatic spot into the BCS are incredibly valuable and you can bet Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor will be fighting to keep both of those options in the pocket.

When a conference breaks apart, there’s a lot of lost history and tradition. Sure, matchups like Texas-Oklahoma will continue in a new conference, but Missouri and Oklahoma will no longer play as conference rivals. The same for Oklahoma-Nebraska, which was one of the top rivalries in the Big Eight Conference.

New rivalries will always pop up, but there’s a certain part of college football that is lost when conferences like the Big 12 break apart.

College football will always remain the same and I don’t think most fans will turn off the television sets or stop going to games as a result of what happens with realignment.

And it’s very likely 16-team super conferences will break apart in the future, as teams are unhappy with the setup and how the money is distributed.

The clock is winding down and unless Beebe can make a last-minute appeal to Texas and Oklahoma to stay, Pac-12 presidents won't allow the conference to expand or Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott can't work out the Longhorn Network specifics, the Big 12 is done.

If the Big 12 falls apart, college football fans can welcome the first 16-team super conference to the world.

Teaser:
<p> Barring a miracle, the Big 12 is in jeopardy of breaking apart.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Monday, September 19, 2011 - 07:59
Path: /college-football/college-football-power-rankings-big-east-0
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By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 3 Big East Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. West Virginia (3-0) – It wasn’t a perfect game for the Mountaineers, but they survived a tricky road date at Maryland to move to 3-0. The offense seems to be finding its rhythm, as Geno Smith threw for 388 yards and one score against the Terrapins. Vernard Roberts and Andrew Buie also provided timely runs, but rushing offense is still one area West Virginia needs to improve. The Mountaineers have a huge non-conference showdown against LSU this Saturday.

2. South Florida (3-0) – The Bulls easily defeated Florida A&M 70-17 on Saturday. Quarterback B.J. Daniels had a monster game, throwing for 382 yards and four scores, while adding 34 yards and a touchdown on the ground. South Florida has one more tuneup before hitting Big East play, as UTEP comes to town this Saturday.

3. Pittsburgh (2-1) – The Panthers were in control for three quarters at Iowa, but couldn’t hold on for the win. The pass defense struggled once again, allowing Hawkeye quarterback James Vandenberg to throw for 399 yards and three scores. Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri threw two picks, while running back Ray Graham was held in check. The Panthers host Notre Dame on Saturday.

4. Cincinnati (2-1) – After losing 45-23 to Tennessee in Week 2, Akron was the perfect get well medicine for the Bearcats. The defense scored three times, which was more than enough against the Zips’ lifeless offense. Cincinnati will be in the spotlight this week, as it hosts NC State on Thursday night. The Bearcats lost 30-19 to the Wolfpack last year.

5. Syracuse (2-1) – Although the Orange lost to USC, the action off the field stirred the most conversation. Syracuse accepted a bid to the ACC and will try to join the conference in time for the 2012 season. The Orange will try to bounce back on the field this week, but it won’t be easy against upset-minded Toledo. The Rockets nearly beat Ohio State in Week 2 and held tough early against Boise State on Friday.

6. Louisville (2-1) – The Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak to Kentucky with a 24-17 win on Saturday. Starting quarterback Will Stein was knocked out of the game, but true freshman Teddy Bridgewater turned in a solid effort, completing 10 of 18 throws for 106 yards and two scores. Louisville is off in Week 4 and returns to action in Week 5 against Marshall.

7. Rutgers (1-1) – The Scarlet Knights had a bye in Week 3 and gets back on the field against Ohio this week. It was a busy week for off-the-field news in Piscataway, as running back De’Antwan Williams left the team, and Rutgers reportedly contacted the ACC about joining the conference. Conference realignment isn’t finished, so the Scarlet Knights will be one team that could be on the move.

8. Connecticut (1-2) – Offensive struggles and a quarterback carousel could be a staple of the Huskies in 2011. Johnny McEntee led the team with 188 passing yards, but completed only 13 of 30 passes and tossed one pick. The rushing attack also struggled, with Lyle McCombs held to 46 yards. Considering the Cyclones had three early turnovers, this is one that Connecticut had an opportunity to take a commanding lead and faltered.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the Big East stack up after the third week of action?</p>
Post date: Monday, September 19, 2011 - 07:55
Path: /college-football/college-football-power-rankings-big-12-0
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 3 Big 12 Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. Oklahoma (2-0) – One major hurdle to reaching the national title has been crossed. The Sooners are one of the favorites to play for the national championship at the end of the year, but going into Tallahassee and winning was no easy task. Oklahoma’s high-scoring offense was held in check by Florida State’s defense, but made enough timely plays to win. The Sooners’ defense got a boost with the return of linebacker Travis Lewis from a preseason foot injury. Oklahoma has to quickly refocus, as Missouri visits Norman this Saturday and is a dangerous team if the Sooners are still thinking about the win against the Seminoles.

2. Texas A&M (2-0) – After a bye in Week 2, the Aggies returned to action with a 37-7 win over Idaho. Although Texas A&M has looked good in two non-conference wins, the schedule is about to get a lot tougher. The Aggies host Oklahoma State in a key Big 12 battle this Saturday. These two teams were difficult to project at No. 2 and No. 3 in the preseason and this matchup will help sort out the pecking order in the conference.

3. Oklahoma State (3-0) – The Cowboys win over Tulsa won’t be forgotten for a while and it wasn’t due to the play on the field. Thunderstorms in Tulsa prevented the game from kicking off until after midnight and finished early Sunday morning. Oklahoma State will certainly hope for a more normal game this Saturday, as they travel to College Station to take on Texas A&M. A win over the Aggies would be a boost to the Cowboys’ hopes of earning 10 wins and getting into a BCS bowl this year.

4. Texas (3-0) – Quarterback Case McCoy’s first start was a success. The sophomore turned in an efficient performance, completing 12 of 15 throws for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Although it wasn’t a flashy all-around performance by Texas, the offense seems to be finding its rhythm, and the Longhorns are undefeated entering conference play. Texas is off this Saturday, but travels to Iowa State on Oct. 1, before facing off against Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout.

5. Baylor (2-0) – Mother Nature wrecked havoc in Waco on Saturday night. The Bears were forced to end their game against Stephen F. Austin early, but there was never really any doubt about the outcome of this game. Baylor was in control early and was up 48-0 when the fourth quarter was canceled. The Bears host Rice this week and should be 3-0 after Saturday’s game.

6. Missouri (2-1) – After losing a close game to Arizona State last Friday, the Tigers took out their frustration on Western Illinois. The Missouri defense turned in a dominating performance, allowing only 44 yards to the Leathernecks. Quarterback James Franklin picked up where he left off against the Sun Devils, completing 18 of 25 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns. The Tigers open Big 12 play with a road date against Athlon’s No. 2 ranked team – Oklahoma.

7. Texas Tech (2-0) – The Red Raiders are 2-0, but have yet to be tested. Quarterback Seth Doege has been impressive so far, completing 40 of 44 passes for 401 yards and five scores in Saturday’s 59-13 win over lowly New Mexico. Texas Tech has one more non-conference showdown ahead, hosting Nevada this Saturday. The Red Raiders open Big 12 play on Oct. 1 against Kansas.

8. Iowa State (3-0) – Turnovers have been a real problem for the Cyclones this year, but despite the mistakes, found a way to win in the fourth quarter once again. Quarterback Steele Jantz got off to a slow start and was injured just before the first half, but helped to rally his team to a 24-20 win over Connecticut. The Cyclones have a bye this Saturday, before opening up conference play against Texas on Oct. 1.

9. Kansas (2-1) – The Jayhawks showed progress through the first two weeks of the year, but took a step back against Georgia Tech. The defense was steamrolled for 604 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Jordan Webb was only 11 of 19 for 148 yards in Saturday’s loss, but on the bright side, has yet to throw an interception this year. Kansas has a bye this Saturday.

10. Kansas State (2-0) – After a lethargic opener against Eastern Kentucky, the Wildcats turned in a more convincing effort against Kent State. Quarterback Collin Klein threw for only 74 yards and one score, but rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive breakout was critical with a road trip to Miami ahead this Saturday. If Kansas State wants to pull off the upset, Klein will need to have a big performance.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the Big 12 stack up after three weeks of action?</p>
Post date: Monday, September 19, 2011 - 07:54
Path: /college-football/week-3-college-football-recap
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Athlon sums up a full slate of college football with the most important things to take away from this weekend.

Winners

California defense – Yes, the competition was tiny Presbyterian, but the Golden Bears allowed only 48 yards in Saturday’s game. No matter who you play, holding a team to less than 50 yards is an accomplishment.

Clemson – After struggling against Troy and Wofford, the Tigers turned in a better performance against Auburn. Coach Dabo Swinney needs to show some improvement this year and Saturday’s win was a step in the right direction.

FIU – The Golden Panthers are overlooked on the national scene, but once again, scored a solid victory. One week after beating Louisville, FIU knocked off UCF. Even with top receiver T.Y. Hilton sidelined with a hamstring injury, the Golden Panthers didn’t miss a beat. Keep an eye on FIU’s matchup against Duke on Oct. 1 – another BCS upset?

Florida – The Gators have now won seven in a row over Tennessee and look like a much-improved team in Will Muschamp’s first season. Don’t be surprised if Florida wins the SEC East this year.

Georgia Tech – There was a lot of doubt surrounding Paul Johnson’s team this year. After struggling at the end of 2010, many thought the Yellow Jackets would be lucky to reach seven wins. However, it’s time to reconsider those preseason picks. The Georgia Tech offense has posted over 60 points twice this year and demolished Kansas 66-24 on Saturday.

Iowa State – Behind the arm and legs of quarterback Steele Jantz, the Cyclones are 3-0 for the first time since 2005. Iowa State will hit conference play after a bye this Saturday, but should be in contention for a bowl trip.

Louisville – Snapped a four-game losing streak to Kentucky and bragging rights in the Bluegrass State are Louisville’s for the next year.

LSU – The offense hasn’t been flashy, but that’s not an issue. The Tigers can lean on one of the nation’s top defenses and rushing attacks to win games. LSU passed one hurdle in the tough two-game road stretch – beating Mississippi State 19-6 – and now heads to Morgantown to take on West Virginia.

Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina – With the struggles of quarterbacks Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw, the Gamecocks need to ride No. 21 to the SEC East title. Lattimore carried South Carolina to a win over Navy, rushing for 246 yards and three scores.

Miami – With a few more players back in the lineup from suspensions, the Hurricanes turned in an impressive win over Ohio State. This was also Al Golden’s first win as Miami’s coach.

Notre Dame – After outplaying their first two opponents and coming up empty-handed, the Irish defeated Michigan State to earn their first win of the year. BCS bowl hopes are still alive, especially when you look at the remaining schedule.

Oklahoma – Going on the road and winning against one of the top 10 teams in the country isn’t easy. Mission accomplished for the Sooners. It wasn’t pretty, but Oklahoma survived a huge test in its quest to play for the national title.

Texas – The Longhorns are 3-0 and appear to have found their quarterback. Case McCoy turned in a solid start on Saturday and has Texas on the right path, just before the Big 12 opener against Iowa State and Oklahoma on Oct. 8.

Utah – One week after a narrow loss to USC, the Utes blitzed rival BYU for a 54-10 victory. This win should provide some momentum as Utah has a bye week before hitting conference play for the rest of the season.

Vanderbilt – New coach James Franklin is off to a solid 3-0 start and continues to reel in the prospects on the recruiting trail. The Commodores defeated Ole Miss in a 30-7 rout on Saturday, but will get a step up in competition with South Carolina this week.

West Virginia – The Mountaineers had to hold on after allowing Maryland back in the game, but it appears the offense is starting to jell under new coach Dana Holgorsen. West Virginia has a huge test against LSU ahead this week.

Losers

Arizona – There’s no shame in losing to Stanford, but the Wildcats are mired in a slump. Arizona has lost seven out of its last eight games and face USC and Oregon in the next two weeks. Ouch. Coach Mike Stoops still has time to get his team back into a bowl this year, but getting off to a 1-4 start will be difficult to overcome.

Arizona State – After beating Missouri last Friday night, the Sun Devils looked primed for a breakthrough road win. Not so fast. Arizona State lost 17-14 to Illinois on Saturday, which dropped it out of the top 25. Although the Sun Devils still have a chance to win the Pac-12 South, this was a chance to make a statement on the road and they couldn’t deliver.

Auburn defense – This unit was a problem last year and through three games, it’s apparent the defense will be a weakness once again. The Tigers allowed at least 448 yards in every game this year, including 624 in Saturday’s loss to Clemson.

Boston College – Coach Frank Spaziani’s name has been quiet in hot seat talk, but it's going to heat up. The Eagles are off to a disappointing 0-3 start after losing 20-19 to Duke on Saturday. Boston College should get into the win column on Saturday with a game against Massachusetts, but making a bowl game appears very unlikely. It’s also uncertain if running back Montel Harris (knee surgery) will be ready to return anytime soon.

Big East – Like the Big 12, the Big East is in danger of falling apart. The conference has been picked apart again by the ACC, this time with Syracuse and Pittsburgh departing. The Big East could invite a few more schools – UCF, Houston or East Carolina – but what happens with the Big 12 will have an impact on what goes on with this conference.

College football – Its not often we will lump the entire state of college football into the loser category, but could we cool the realignment/expansion news on Saturday and Sunday and enjoy the games?

Northwestern – After winning its first two games of the year without quarterback Dan Persa, the Wildcats fell to Army on Saturday. Although stopping the Black Knights is not an easy task, this is a game Northwestern should have won.

Ohio State quarterbacks - The Buckeyes offense was apparently left behind in Columbus. Quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman combined to complete 4 of 18 throws for 35 yards and one interception. Ohio State will need a lot better play from its quarterbacks to think about a Big Ten title.

Ole Miss and Houston Nutt – The Rebels were flat out embarrassed in Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt. The offense ranks as one of the worst in the nation, while the defense has struggled to stop the run. Coach Houston Nutt’s seat was warm entering the year, but it’s going to get a lot hotter if the Rebels can’t turn it around. Looking at the schedule, there are few guaranteed wins left for Ole Miss.

Mississippi State – The Bulldogs didn’t play terribly in Thursday night’s defeat to LSU. However, this was a prime opportunity for Dan Mullen’s team to earn a statement win in SEC play. Mullen has yet to beat a SEC West team outside of Ole Miss and Thursday's contest was a good chance to score a huge upset, while announcing the Bulldogs as a SEC West contender.

UCLA – The Bruins had an unimpressive win over San Jose State in Week 2 and followed that up with a lethargic effort against Texas. UCLA is now 1-2 and has road trips against Oregon State and Stanford up next. If the Bruins start 1-4, it’s a safe bet they won’t go bowling and Rick Neuheisel could be on his way out.

Quick Hits

Purdue quarterback Robert Marve made his return to the lineup in Saturday’s win over Southeast Missouri State. Marve completed 7 of 8 passes for 91 yards and one score. This was his first appearance since tearing his ACL against Toledo last September.

Just how bad is Memphis? The Tigers defeated FCS foe Austin Peay 27-6 on Saturday. The Governors just reinstated scholarship football in 2006 and kept within range of the Tigers most of the night. Will Larry Porter survive for a third season?

An interesting note while taking a look through the national leaders: Two quarterbacks rank in the top 10 for rushing yards per game – Michigan’s Denard Robinson and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez.

There were some significant injuries in Week 3, including Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne, Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter and Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov. With conference play approaching, injuries are going to be a real concern for coaches.

It looks like the quarterback question marks will continue at Penn State for another week. In Saturday’s 14-10 win over Temple, Matt McGloin completed 13 of 19 for 124 yards, while Rob Bolden completed 9 of 17 for 92 yards and one interception.

Looking Ahead to Week 4

A small sample of what’s ahead

NC State at Cincinnati (Thursday)
Could be an offensive shootout with both teams struggling on defense.

UCF at BYU (Friday)
Cougars need to find some answers after Week 3 blowout loss to Utah.

North Carolina at Georgia Tech
Yellow Jackets’ option attack faces tough battle against North Carolina defensive line.

Florida State at Clemson
Key game for ACC Atlantic positioning. Will EJ Manuel play for Florida State?

Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
Irish still need to find a cure for the turnovers, but Panthers struggling to get solid QB play.

LSU at West Virginia
Mountaineers starting to click on offense, but LSU defense is a tough matchup.

San Diego State at Michigan
Simply put, this is the Brady Hoke bowl.

California at Washington
Golden Bears look like a much-improved team, but Huskies eager to get back on track.

Arkansas at Alabama
Razorbacks offense faces a difficult matchup against Crimson Tide defense.

Oklahoma State at Texas A&M
Can the Aggies defense slow down Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden?

Missouri at Oklahoma
Sooners can’t afford a letdown against upset-minded Tigers.

USC at Arizona State
The top two teams in the Pac-12 South?

Oregon at Arizona
Wildcats struggling and things won’t get any easier with Ducks traveling to Tucson.

Injuries from Week 3

Alabama S Robert Lester – back spasms – will play in Week 4
Arizona State DE Junior Onyeali – knee – questionable to play in Week 4
Auburn TE Philip Lutzenkirchen – ankle – questionable to play in Week 4
Clemson RB Andre Ellington – hamstring – expected to play in Week 4
Clemson OL Mason Cloy – shoulder – should play in Week 4
FIU WR T.Y. Hilton – hamstring – questionable to play in Week 4
Florida State QB EJ Manuel – bruised shoulder – questionable to play in Week 4
Florida State WR Kenny Shaw – concussion – questionable to play in Week 4
Georgia RB Isaiah Crowell – ribs – will play in Week 4
Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase – shoulder – expected to play in Week 4
Iowa State QB Steele Jantz – strained foot – expected to play in Cyclones’ next game
Louisville QB Will Stein – arm – uncertain to play in Week 5
Louisville CB Andrew Johnson – ankle – uncertain to play in Week 5
Michigan State OL Skyler Burkland – leg – uncertain to play in Week 4
NC State LB Terrell Manning – knee – uncertain to play in Week 4
Ole Miss QB Randall Mackey – thigh bruise – questionable to play in Week 4
Purdue DE Gerald Gooden – elbow – will likely return for Week 5
Stanford TE Coby Fleener – concussion – questionable to play in Week 5
Stanford LB Shayne Skov – knee – status uncertain for Week 4
Tennessee WR Justin Hunter – knee – out for the remainder of 2011
Tulsa QB G.J. Kinne – knee – expected to miss 2-4 weeks
UAB QB Bryan Ellis – knee – uncertain for Week 4
Utah OT Tony Bergstrom – knee – likely out 2-3 weeks
Virginia Tech WR Dyrell Roberts – broken arm – out for the remainder of 2011
Virginia Tech OL Andrew Lanier – knee – questionable for Week 4

Teaser:
<p> Athlon recaps Week 3 of the college football season and takes a look ahead to Week 4.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 19, 2011 - 07:45
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big East
Path: /college-football/pittsburgh-and-syracuse-join-acc
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Realignment has been a hot topic in college football over the last couple of weeks and the ACC has struck first. Pittsburgh and Syracuse submitted applications to join the conference recently and the ACC has announced both teams as members on Sunday.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse have been confirmed as the 13th and 14th members of the ACC. The talk around college football is super conferences are around the corner, which makes the ACC’s move potentially a strike to get ahead of the SEC, Pac-12 or Big Ten.

Both teams are expected to join the ACC in time for the 2012 season. Considering the uncertainty surrounding the college football landscape, this may be the first of several moves over the next couple of weeks.

The last expansion move by the ACC occurred in 2003, when the conference added Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College from the Big East.

Even though Syracuse was a charter member of the Big East, the uncertainty around the conference was too much. The Orange suffered through some down seasons under Greg Robinson, but new coach Doug Marrone has the program headed in the right direction.

Pittsburgh was not a charter member of the Big East, joining the conference in 1982. The Panthers have been a solid bowl team in recent years, but their last conference title was in 2004.

The additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh helps the ACC expand its reach and footprint. The Orange are the ACC’s first team in New York, while the Panthers are the first in Pennsylvania.

It can’t hurt for television purposes that the ACC is now into Pittsburgh and within range of New York City.

What’s next for the ACC?

Moving to a 16-team conference isn’t out of the question. Texas, Kansas and Texas Tech are believed to be targets of ACC expansion, especially with the Big 12 on shaky ground.

Adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse currently makes the ACC the largest BCS conference. However, as college football fans have learned over the last couple of weeks, realignment can change that in a matter of days.

Oklahoma and Texas will have a regents meeting on Monday, which could set the table for more realignment to occur this week.

If the Big 12 survives, then the ACC could choose to stick with 14 teams or target two more Big East teams to get to 16.

If the ACC decides to go after more Big East teams, Rutgers and Connecticut are reportedly the top targets.

What's next for the Big East?

With the departure of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the conference is currently left with six teams - Connecticut, Rutgers, South Florida, West Virginia, Louisville and Cincinnati. TCU is also scheduled to join the conference in 2012. 

The conference could continue with seven teams for 2012, but the future of the Big East will hinge on the future of the Big 12. If Texas and Oklahoma leave, the remaining teams in the Big East and Big 12 could combine to create a new conference. 

What happens in the next week could define the future of the Big East. 

Basketball Impact of Pittsburgh and Syracuse Joining the ACC

By Mitch Light

Adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse gives the ACC two elite basketball programs that will instantly make the league better. North Carolina and Duke have been the only consistent powers in the ACC over the last two decades. Other programs, like Maryland and Wake Forest, have had some great moments, but no other team has been able to consistently threaten the Big Two. Well, Syracuse and Pittsburgh might be able to do that — at least in the short team. Syracuse has staying power, but Pittsburgh might take a step back after several years in the ACC. The concern with the Panthers is recruiting; the program relies heavily on the metro New York area and uses the games against New York area teams — Rutgers, Seton Hall and St. John's — as an enticement to lure players from NYC to Pittsburgh. This pipeline might dry up if Pitt is no longer in the Big East.

Here’s a look at the current ACC members and when they joined the conference –

Boston College: 2005
Clemson: 1953
Duke: 1953
Florida State: 1991
Georgia Tech: 1979
Maryland: 1953
Miami: 2004
North Carolina: 1953
NC State: 1953
Virginia: 1953
Virginia Tech: 2004
Wake Forest: 1953

Teaser:
<p> The ACC has accepted the invitations of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to become the 13th and 14th members of the conference.</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 18, 2011 - 14:59
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-3-preview-match-ups-and-upset-picks
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

10 Key Storylines to Watch for Week 3

1. It’s only Week 3, but Saturday’s game between Florida State and Oklahoma will have an impact on the national title race. The winner of this matchup has a good chance to run the table and finish undefeated. With both teams expected to rank among the top 5-10 spots in the final poll, this could be an elimination game for the national championship. The Sooners have won the last five meetings between these two teams, including a 47-17 blowout last year. The Seminoles should have a better showing this time around, especially with this game in Tallahassee. Keep an eye on the matchup in the trenches. Florida State’s defensive line is one of the best in college football, which will be an issue for Oklahoma, especially with tackle Daryl Williams hobbled by a high ankle sprain.

2. The annual Florida-Tennessee game has lost some of its appeal in recent years. Under Urban Meyer, the Gators won six in a row over the Volunteers. Also, Tennessee has struggled to contend for the SEC East title, posting a 10-14 conference record since 2007. This season’s matchup features a lot of intrigue. Florida coach Will Muschamp is familiar with Tennessee coach Derek Dooley from their days as assistants under Nick Saban at LSU. Also, the Volunteers have been impressive on offense through two games, while the Gators look like they have one of the best defenses in the SEC. Tennessee’s offensive line is still a work in progress and if it struggles to protect quarterback Tyler Bray against a very good Florida defensive line, the Volunteers will have a long afternoon in the Swamp. Bray has posted some big numbers in a short time as the starter, but has yet to face a defense the caliber of Florida.

3. If not for turnovers, there’s a good chance Notre Dame would be 2-0. The Irish rank last nationally in turnover margin, which has to be corrected in Saturday’s game against Michigan State. The Spartans have won three out of the last four in this series, including a 34-31 thriller in East Lansing last year. Saturday’s game is an important one for Notre Dame, as it needs to get back on the winning track. The Irish could still finish 10-2, and contending for a spot in one of the BCS bowls isn’t dead yet. Notre Dame has struggled against the pass, allowing 233 yards per game through two weeks. The Spartans should test the Irish secondary, but protecting quarterback Kirk Cousins is a concern. It’s hard to call the third game of the year a must-win, but after outplaying its first two opponents and losing, Notre Dame really needs this one.

4. With Utah joining the Pac-12 and BYU becoming an Independent, these two rivals won’t meet as conference foes for the first time in 113 years. However, that shouldn’t change the anticipation for this matchup. The Holy War is an underappreciated rivalry on the national front. Quarterback play will be huge. BYU’s Jake Heaps looks to bounce back after a sluggish performance against Texas (22 of 38, 192 yards and two interceptions), while Utah’s Jordan Wynn needs to build some confidence as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. Five of the last six matchups have been decided by a touchdown or less. Expect a similar outcome on Saturday.

5. Two of the top offensive minds in college football will meet when Clemson hosts Auburn this Saturday. Gus Malzahn (Auburn) will square off against his protégé Chad Morris (Clemson) in what should be an entertaining non-conference matchup. Over the last four years, Malzahn’s offenses have ranked no worse than 17th in scoring offense. Morris coordinated Tulsa’s offense to a No. 6 national ranking in scoring offense. These two offensive gurus are friends off the field, but for 60 minutes, it’s all about winning. Clemson has not impressed in two games, while Auburn has needed a late play in both games to win. With suspect defenses, Auburn and Clemson could be one of this week’s highest-scoring games. 

6. Less than 225 miles separate the Maryland and West Virginia campuses, but this rivalry has been pretty quiet in recent years. The Mountaineers have claimed the last five in this series, with Maryland’s last victory coming in the 2004 Gator Bowl. The Terrapins should have a good chance to break that losing streak on Saturday, especially with Danny O’Brien under center. The 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year had a stellar performance in the opener, throwing for 348 yards and one score against Miami. West Virginia’s new pass-first offense is still a work in progress, largely due to a suspect offensive line, but Geno Smith is completing 66.7 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception. With both teams wanting to establish the pass, whichever offensive line can protect the best might be the deciding factor on Saturday.

7. The Arizona State-Illinois matchup might not generate as much interest as Florida State-Oklahoma, but this one has a lot of intrigue. Arizona State is coming off an overtime win over Missouri and has a key game against USC next Saturday. The Sun Devils crossed a big hurdle by beating the Tigers last week. Dennis Erickson’s team finally looks ready to contend for the Pac-12 title. Illinois has yet to be tested through two weeks, but is a dangerous team and one that could contend in the Big Ten Leaders Division. With two explosive offenses, this one could be a shootout. Both quarterbacks are off to solid starts, but this game could be decided by whichever offense imposes its will. The Illini will be more physical, while the Sun Devils are more finesse, wanting to run an up-tempo attack.

8. If you like offense, Saturday’s Louisville-Kentucky matchup is not for you. The Cardinals are averaging 415.5 yards per game, but have six turnovers and are managing only 19 points a game. If those numbers weren’t bad enough, it gets worse. The Wildcats rank 110th nationally in total offense and scored only 14 points to beat Western Kentucky and struggled to score 27 against Central Michigan. Kentucky will also be without running back Raymond Sanders, who suffered a knee injury last Saturday. The Wildcats have won the last four in this series, but with both teams struggling on offense, turnovers could play a key role in determining the outcome of the game.

9. The rubber match between Washington and Nebraska should provide a good gauge for where both teams are before conference play begins. The Huskies rank last in the nation in pass defense and are allowing 29.5 points a game. Despite the loss of quarterback Jake Locker, the offense has been fine, averaging 35 points and 358 yards per game. New quarterback Keith Price has thrown seven touchdowns to only one interception this season. Nebraska’s offense has scored at least 40 points in both games this year, but the offensive line is inexperienced in spots. Quarterback Taylor Martinez is one of the nation’s leading rushers, but is completing only 48.9 percent of his throws. The Cornhuskers had trouble blocking the Huskies’ defensive line in the Holiday Bowl and the matchup in the trenches will play a key role in deciding this one.

10. Before the scandals and off-the-field incidents, the Miami-Ohio State matchup was hyped as one of the top non-conference games of 2011. With Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor no longer in Columbus, and the black cloud hanging over the Miami program, the game has lost a little of its appeal. The Hurricanes fell short in their debut under new coach Al Golden, losing 32-24 to Maryland. The Buckeyes have won both of their games, but struggled in last week’s victory over Toledo. Ohio State quarterback Joe Bauserman likely holds the keys to the outcome of the game. The senior threw for only 189 yards last week, which could be a concern if Miami contains the Ohio State rushing attack. After serving a one-game suspension, the Hurricanes will turn to Jacory Harris at quarterback. The senior has had his moments, but also struggled with interceptions. In a tight game, Miami cannot afford another bad game from Harris.

Saturday’s Picks

Athlon editor Mitch Light predicts the 10 biggest games for Week 3 – here’s my take on how some of the top games will play out.

Boise State 38, Toledo 20
Iowa State 24, Connecticut 17
Oklahoma 31, Florida State 27
Florida 30, Tennessee 20
Arizona State 31, Illinois 30
Georgia Tech 38, Kansas 27
Miami 24, Ohio State 20
Nebraska 31, Washington 20
Notre Dame 34, Michigan State 27
Auburn 38, Clemson 31
Maryland 34, West Virginia 31
Iowa 27, Pittsburgh 20
USC 38, Syracuse 20
BYU 24, Utah 20
Texas 24, UCLA 16
Stanford 38, Arizona 24

Upset Watch

Looking for a few upsets? Keep a close watch on these games.

Iowa State at Connecticut (-4.5)
The Huskies have one of the best defenses in the Big East, but the offense is downright awful. New Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz has been solid through two starts, and Cyclones have an underrated defense.

Penn State (-6.5) at Temple
It’s a longshot, but the Owls have what it takes to win this one. Temple running back Bernard Pierce is off to a great start and needs to continue that success to secure a victory. Penn State’s offense needs to find a spark, particularly at quarterback.

Auburn at Clemson (-3.5)
Auburn is very fortunate to be 2-0. While Clemson has struggled to beat Troy and Wofford. Going on the road to Death Valley is no easy task and it wouldn’t be a surprise if a young Auburn team struggled. However, Auburn has looked like the better team so far.

Ole Miss (-1.5) at Vanderbilt
According to the folks out in Vegas, the Rebels are a slight favorite. However, neither team has been impressive on offense. The Commodores have won two out of the last three at home in this series and coming off a confidence-building win over Connecticut, they should be in position to open SEC play with a win.

Around the Web: College Football’s Must Read Articles to Prepare for Week 3

Remember those choose your adventure books? How about a choose your own path in conference realignment?

If the Big 12 falls apart, what's the best fit for Missouri?

TCU running back Ed Wesley and linebacker Tanner Brock are unlikely to play in Week 3. 

Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham is unhappy with quarterback Tino Sunseri.

Temple has a big opportunity against Penn State this Saturday. 

A week after suffering a seizure on the sidelines, Minnesota coach Jerry Kill will return to Minnesota's stadium for Saturday's game against Miami (Ohio). 

Purdue quarterback Robert Marve will return to the field this Saturday against Southeast Missouri.

Clemson guard David Smith is out for Saturday's game against Auburn. The play of the offensive line has been a concern for Clemson through two weeks.

How did Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Clemson's Chad Morris become good friends?

Florida State receiver Willie Haulstead will miss Saturday's game against Oklahoma with concussion-like symptoms.

Kansas won't catch Georgia Tech by surprise this year. The Yellow Jackets are also showing life in the passing game

Should Boston College play or redshirt running back Montel Harris? Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers is taking a leave of absence.

Georgia president Michael Adams would like for fans to support coach Mark Richt.

Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa is expected to return to the lineup on Oct. 1 against Illinois.

Colorado has yet to get its ground attack going through two games.

Despite an 0-2 start, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly thinks his team is ready to come together.

Texas will turn to Case McCoy and David Ash at quarterback.

A Sea of Red awaits Washington in Lincoln on Saturday. 

Memphis has fired defensive coordinator Jay Hopson.

Kentucky needs quarterback Morgan Newton to show improvement against Louisville.

Kansas State needs better execution on offense this week. The Wildcats struggled in their opener against Eastern Kentucky.

Teaser:
<p> We give you the 10 most important match-ups and upset picks for Week 3.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 08:39
Path: /college-football/game-preview-florida-state-vs-oklahoma
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

For a Week 3 college football game, there’s a lot on the line for Oklahoma and Florida State. Top five matchups are rare in the non-conference portion of any team’s schedule, so this is a chance to make a big statement. Both teams are national title contenders, but a loss in this game could be a significant setback for those hopes.

Oklahoma easily handled Florida State last year, winning 47-17 in Norman. However, the scene has shifted to Tallahassee. The Seminoles are hungry to avenge last season’s defeat, while prove Florida State is back on the national scene and a title contender.

Neither team has been tested so far. Oklahoma was off last week, but routed Tulsa 47-14 in the opener.

Florida State beat UL Monroe 34-0 in Week 1, while easily taking care of Charleston Southern 62-10 last Saturday.

Although both teams have looked good against inferior competition, this matchup will provide a better gauge of where they stand before conference play begins.  

When Florida State Has the Ball

Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel has eight starts under his belt, but this is arguably his most important one. Manuel has thrown for 581 yards and six touchdowns this year. The junior has only rushed 10 times for 30 yards this season, but that could be one area Florida State looks to use him more on Saturday night.

Although Manuel may be used more in the running game, Florida State still needs to establish a traditional rushing attack. The Seminoles have a plethora of talented backs, with junior Chris Thompson expected to draw the start. However, senior Ty Jones and freshmen Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. will also see snaps.

Just like the running backs, the Seminoles are stocked with talented receivers. Willie Haulstead is not expected to play due to concussion-like symptoms, but senior Bert Reed and junior Rodney Smith are capable starters. Youngsters Jarred Haggins, Greg Dent, Kenny Shaw and Rashad Greene will also be counted upon heavily to produce.

The one concern for the Seminoles is the offensive line. Two new starters were stepping into the lineup this season, after guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon finished their eligibility. The line did not have a great spring and a few spots could be shuffled before this game. Considering the competition through two weeks, it's impossible to know how far along this group has come.

Oklahoma’s defensive line should be in a good position to take advantage of the Seminoles’ uncertainty up front. Ronnell Lewis and Frank Alexander are two of the best ends in the Big 12. However, the interior is a concern for the Sooners, as Jamarkus McFarland and Casey Walker have yet to have a breakout season.

Keep a close watch on the Sooner linebacking corps. Senior Travis Lewis will miss this game due to a foot injury, which means sophomores Tony Jefferson, Tom Wort and Corey Nelson will have to step up in a hostile environment. Lewis was one of the Big 12’s top defenders and his on-field leadership will be missed.

If Alexander and Lewis spend most of the night in the Florida State backfield, the Sooners should win this game. However, if Oklahoma’s defensive line struggles to get pressure, Manuel and the Seminole receivers should have a huge performance.

When Oklahoma Has the Ball

The Sooners own one of the nation’s most high-powered offenses, led by quarterback Landry Jones. He threw for 4,718 yards and 38 scores last season, while earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. Jones ripped apart the Florida State secondary for 380 yards and four scores last year.

Receivers Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills anchor one of the top receiving corps in college football. Broyles led all receivers with 130 receptions last year, while Stills is one of the rising stars in the game. Joining those two as weapons will be tight end James Hanna and receivers Trey Franks and Dejuan Miller.

The Sooners are using a running back by committee approach, but there’s no shortage of options. Brennan Clay will likely draw the start, but walk-on Dominique Whaley has been impressive and should see his share of carries. Sophomore Roy Finch will also figure into the rotation as a change of pace threat.

Similar to the Florida State offense, Oklahoma’s biggest question mark rests with the offensive line. Right tackle Daryl Williams is expected to play with a high ankle sprain, but will be less than 100 percent.

The Seminoles possess a deep defensive line, led by junior Brandon Jenkins. It will be important for the line, especially Jenkins and Bjoern Werner, to get after Jones and disrupt the timing to Broyles and Stills. The Sooners like to use a lot of quick passes to Broyles, so disrupting that timing will be critical.

Florida State’s secondary has plenty to prove this year, especially after struggling against Oklahoma last season. Corners Mike Harris, Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid are solid, but need to be much better than they were in last season's matchup. If the Seminoles are able to get pressure on Jones, the secondary will find their job much easier.

Special Teams

When a game is expected to be close, an x-factor could be what happens on special teams.

The Seminoles have one of the nation’s best at kicker (Dustin Hopkins) and punter (Shawn Powell). Hopkins has a strong leg and will become a valuable weapon once Florida State crosses midfield.

The Sooners would be wise to avoid kicking to Greg Reid, one of the nation’s most electric punt returners. Reid is averaging 17.8 yards per punt return this season.

Field goals could be a question mark for Oklahoma, as kicker Jimmy Stevens has been inconsistent during his career. However, returns should be in good shape with Broyles, Clay and Franks getting most of the work.

Final Analysis

If you only watch one game this weekend, make sure this is it. Both teams are national title contenders and are deserving of its current ranking.

This is a huge chance for Florida State to announce its place on the national stage once again. After taking a step back during Bobby Bowden’s final years, Jimbo Fisher has the Seminoles back into title contention.

Both teams possess high-powered offenses, but this game will be won or lost in the trenches. If the Sooners can hold off Florida State’s pass rush, Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles will have another big game, while leading Oklahoma to a key non-conference win.

Prediction: Oklahoma 31, Florida State 27
 

Click here for all of our week 3 college football predictions

Teaser:
<p> Florida State-Oklahoma is easily the biggest game of Week 2. Athlon Sports previews what both sides need to do in order to win.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 08:33
Path: /college-football/what-if-notre-dame-joined-big-ten-1999
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

With conference realignment back in the news, college football fans are looking for someone to blame for all of this mess. Is it Texas? Texas A&M? The SEC? The Big 12? Oklahoma? Dan Beebe? Mike Slive? While it’s easy to point fingers at a villain in this time of uncertainty, it’s always interesting to look back and wonder what if.

What if Notre Dame had joined the Big Ten in 1999? Would the Big Ten still have courted Nebraska, leaving the Big 12 in a much more stable position? Would we be talking about superconferences right now? Our guess is no.

This isn’t as far-fetched as some may believe. The Big Ten approached Notre Dame in 1999 about becoming the 12th member, but the school's board of trustees voted to remain Independent. 

The desire of Notre Dame to remain Independent likely spurred a domino effect across all conferences and many teams. One look at the standings from 1999 reveals college football has changed quite a bit.

Although some conferences have watched several teams come and go over the last 50 years, the Big Ten has been a picture of stability. Before Nebraska joined in 2011, Penn State was the last school to accept an invitation to the conference, joining the Big Ten as a football member in 1993.

Had Notre Dame joined the conference in 1999 or with any of the previous overtures, the Big Ten would have become the third BCS conference with 12 teams and a conference title game.

Here is Athlon’s best guess at how the college football landscape would look like today, had the Irish ditched Independence and joined the Big Ten in 1999.

Impact on the Big Ten

Nebraska became the Big Ten’s 12th member last season, but it’s unlikely that move would have occurred with the Irish in the conference.

Replace Nebraska with Notre Dame in the Legends Division and it’s probably a good idea of how the Big Ten could have looked in 1999.

As a side note, maybe the conference would have created better division names back then.

Leaders

Indiana
Illinois
Ohio State
Penn State
Purdue
Wisconsin

Legends

Iowa
Michigan
Michigan State
Minnesota
Northwestern
Notre Dame

Impact on the Big 12

Thanks to overall instability and Texas A&M leaving for the SEC, the Big 12 is the conference generating the most national attention right now. Commissioner Dan Beebe is going to need to pull out a lot of stops to save his conference and keep Oklahoma and Texas happy.

Had the Big Ten already had 12 teams, it seems unlikely Nebraska would have left the Big 12 after the 2010 season. The Big Ten could certainly explore adding the Cornhuskers as part of a package to get to 14, but there’s no guarantee.

The issues that popped up last year in the Big 12 with unequal revenue sharing and the Longhorn Network would still likely face the conference. Even though the Cornhuskers may not want to stick around, where could they really turn?

Let’s also consider Colorado. The Buffaloes were an easy target for Pac-10 expansion and it’s very likely they would have left the Big 12 for a spot out west.

With the Big 12 looking to only fill one spot and Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M sticking together in this scenario, BYU would have been a very attractive candidate to fill Colorado’s spot.

Here’s what the Big 12 might’ve looked in 1999 under this scenario:

North

BYU
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Missouri
Nebraska

South

Baylor
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
Texas
Texas A&M
Texas Tech

Impact on the Pac-10 in 1999

With Notre Dame in the Big Ten and Nebraska stuck in the Big 12, the Pac-10 simply invites Colorado and Utah to get to 12 teams.

North

California
Oregon
Oregon State
Stanford
Washington
Washington State

South

Arizona
Arizona State
Colorado
UCLA
USC
Utah

Overall, the Pac-12 that could have been created in 1999 isn't much different than the current version.

Impact on the ACC

The ACC became a 12-team conference in 2005, as Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College joined from the Big East.

However, if Notre Dame had joined the Big Ten in 1999, it’s fair to say the ACC may have considered expansion a few years earlier.

Syracuse generated a lot of interest when the ACC wanted to make the jump to 12 teams and who knows, maybe the Orange would have gotten a bid over Virginia Tech or Boston College.

We’ll stick with the current ACC alignment for how things could look had Notre Dame joined the Big Ten in 1999 –

Atlantic

Boston College
Clemson
Florida State
Maryland
NC State
Wake Forest

Coastal

Duke
Georgia Tech
Miami
North Carolina
Virginia
Virginia Tech

Impact on the Big East

The hardest conference to pinpoint in this scenario is the Big East. The conference has studied adding more teams, but is currently at nine with the addition of TCU in 2012.

Projecting what could have happened in 1999 is an even bigger question mark. The conference was composed of (after ACC expansion) Syracuse, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Temple and Rutgers.

It’s a safe bet the Big East would have added Louisville and Cincinnati from Conference USA once again. However, the race would be on to match the other conferences and get to 12 teams, which means the Big East would still have some work to do.

Connecticut was a FCS team until 2000, but the Huskies likely would have been invited once again with Louisville and Cincinnati.

Temple was removed from the Big East in 2004, but may have stayed if the conference wanted to get to 12 teams in 1999.

So where does that leave the Big East? Considering all of the BCS conferences would be moving to 12 teams, we’ll say the conference invites TCU, UCF, East Carolina and Houston to get to 12.

SMU, Southern Miss, Memphis, Villanova and Marshall may also have generated some interest.

Here’s how a 12-team Big East may have looked with expansion in 1999 or in the early 2000s –  

Division 1 (North)

Connecticut
Pittsburgh
Rutgers
Syracuse
Temple
West Virginia

Division 2 (South)

Cincinnati
East Carolina
Houston
Louisville
TCU
UCF

Impact on the SEC

Likely none. Texas A&M may have still wanted out of the Big 12 – even with more stability – but it’s likely there would have been no changes in the SEC.

Impact on College Football

Let’s say Notre Dame did join the Big Ten in 1999 and the rest of the BCS conferences all quickly moved to assemble 12-team leagues to keep up. With championship games in all six of the BCS conferences from 2000 to 2010, could the national title matchups differed?

Ohio State has represented the Big Ten in the national title in 2002, 2006 and 2007. What if the Buckeyes were upset in the Big Ten championship game? 

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint how the regular season may have differed, it’s certainly a possibility the matchups in the national title may have changed.

Notre Dame has continued to maintain their desire to remain an Independent, even as college football seemingly moves toward super conferences. If 16-team leagues are really around the corner, expect Notre Dame to eventually join the Big Ten.

If Notre Dame had joined the Big Ten in 1999, could college football be closer to super conferences today? Perhaps that’s the case, especially if Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska weren’t happy with the Big 12. Maybe Nebraska still joins the Big Ten in 2011, but Pittsburgh, Syracuse or Missouri follows as the 14th member.

Although 14 or 16-team conferences would remain a possibility even with Notre Dame joining the Big Ten, I think it’s a safe to say there would be less uncertainty and more stability across college football. And we would be hearing more about the play on the field, rather than the potential break up of the Big 12 and the creation of super conferences. 

Teaser:
<p> How could college football look different today if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten in 1999?</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 08:31
All taxonomy terms: NFC West, Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams, News
Path: /news/injuries-ruin-st-louis-rams-playoff-hopes
Body:

By Josh Kipnis

Two years after a 1-15 record, the St. Louis Rams were hoping to make 2011 a memorable year with their first playoff berth since 2004.  They probably aren’t saying the same thing after the NFL’s opening weekend.

The Rams enter Week 2 of the season with question marks at five different starting positions.

Running back Steven Jackson had a promising start to the season when he busted through the Eagles defense for a 47-yard touchdown.  Unfortunately, the great play had a bitter ending as Jackson limped back to the sidelines favoring his right leg.  He would carry the ball one more time before leaving the game early with a strained right quad.  Jackson is already listed as “out” for next week’s matchup against the New York Giants.

Another player unable to finish the game was quarterback Sam Bradford. The NFL’s 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year left in the fourth quarter after his throwing hand collided with an opponent’s helmet.  Team doctors suspected the worst – nerve damage to his right index finger.  Fans, however, can finally take a sigh of relief as reports have indicated the finger is simply bruised.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about cornerback Ron Bartell.  Bartell was one of the few Rams to play the entire game, but the news that followed afterwards was devastating.  A MRI indicated Bartell suffered two fractures in his neck and will be out for the remainder of the season. 

Cornerback could be the biggest problem for the Rams with fellow starter Bradley Fletcher listed as day-to-day with a sprained toe.

The last player to suffer an injury was wide receiver Danny Amendola. The Rams’ 2010 leader in receiving yards and touchdowns, dislocated his elbow in Sunday’s game.  It is still up in the air whether or not he will need surgery, in which case Amendola’s season would likely come to an end.

Plagued by injuries in Week 1, the Rams, who play Monday night against the Giants, could not be happier with the extra day of rest their players will receive.

With the injuries piling up after Week 1, it seems that the Rams’ hope of making it back to the playoffs may have to wait yet another year.

Teaser:
<p> Injuries impact St. Louis Rams playoff hopes for 2011.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 13:04
Path: /college-football/college-football-0
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

It seems college football is preparing for a major shift in conference realignment very soon. Although the 2011 season is just getting underway, the race is on to get conference affiliation finalized in time for 2012. The first domino is ready to fall, which could spur several teams to change conferences.

Final Days of the Big 12?

The first blow to the Big 12 was Texas A&M’s decision to withdraw from the conference and application for membership in the SEC.

However, Baylor has threatened to explore legal options if the Aggies left the conference, which has slowed the realignment talk for now.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive indicated on Monday Texas A&M was accepted as the conference’s 13th member. The conference has indicated they have also studied schedules for 13 teams for 2012.

The legal issues need to be sorted out, but all signs point to the Aggies playing in the SEC for the 2012 season.

The departure of Texas A&M has added further instability to the Big 12. The conference believed it could continue with 10 members after losing Nebraska and Colorado last season.

However, the Aggies’ desire to get away from Texas and join a conference with more stability has raised a lot of doubts about whether the Big 12 can continue to exist.

The SEC’s 14th team?

Although Slive has indicated the conference isn’t actively pursuing a 14th member, don’t expect the SEC to stick with 13 teams too long.

West Virginia, Missouri, Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State and Louisville have all been rumored to be in the mix to be the SEC’s 14th team.

The SEC will likely play 2012 with 13 teams, but 2013 should see the conference back to even divisions and 14 teams.

Texas and Oklahoma Hold the Cards

Reports out of Oklahoma continue to indicate the Sooners are seriously considering a move to the Pac-12. If the Sooners go west, then in-state rival Oklahoma State is coming too.

If Oklahoma and Oklahoma State depart, Texas and Texas Tech will likely join them in the Pac-12, creating college football’s first 16-team super conference. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was close to securing 16 teams last summer, but the Big 12 managed to hold together.

Although Texas is strongly considering a move to the Pac-12, the Big Ten, ACC and going Independent have been rumored as possible options.

If the Longhorns want to join the Big Ten or Pac-12, it’s very unlikely they would be allowed to keep the Longhorn Network. If Texas joins the ACC, keeping the network is a realistic possibility.

Whether or not Texas and Oklahoma can work out its differences and save the Big 12 remains to be seen.

If the Sooners and Oklahoma State depart for the Pac-12, then it’s very unlikely the Big 12 would be able to continue – even if Texas, Texas Tech, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor remain.

If Oklahoma leaves, Texas won’t be far behind.

What happens to the remaining Big 12 teams?

Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas, Missouri and Kansas will have no trouble finding new conference homes. However, Iowa State, Kansas State and Baylor have to be sweating out the uncertainty surrounding the Big 12.

Kansas and Missouri are both targets for any potential Big East expansion. And the Tigers could be a target to be the SEC’s 14th team.

Iowa State, Kansas State and Baylor could be pursued by the Big East or Mountain West if the Big 12 breaks apart. However, if Missouri joins the SEC and Kansas is the Big East’s 10th team, could the Big East jump to 13 and keep Iowa State, Kansas State and Baylor together? Or would the conference want to stick at 12?

Going from the Big 12 – a conference with an automatic BCS bid and significant television dollars – to one that doesn’t (Mountain West) will be a blow to any of the three schools athletic budget.

If the Big 12 survives…expansion?

If the reports out of Oklahoma are true, then we could be witnessing the final days of the Big 12.

The conference was pursuing expansion before Oklahoma’s unhappiness surfaced.

If the Big 12 manages to survive, adding at least one team seems very likely. And don’t count out going back to 12 teams and a conference championship game.

BYU was mentioned as a strong candidate, but the Cougars are likely content with their Independence with all of the uncertainty surrounding the conference – unless they can get a guarantee that Oklahoma is sticking around.

If BYU does not work out, possible targets could be Houston or SMU from Conference USA. Louisville and Pittsburgh have been mentioned as Big 12 expansion targets, but seem unlikely to leave the Big East.

What happens next?

There’s a lot of scenarios and possibilities on the table, but there could be some major shifts in conferences over the next couple of weeks.

Little doubt exists with Texas A&M: The Aggies will be in the SEC in 2012. However, it’s what happens after that is uncertain.

Oklahoma currently holds the cards to the future of the Big 12. Should the Sooners decide to leave the conference, the Big 12 will be history.

If Texas and Oklahoma can work out a solution to save the Big 12, then the realignment and expansion talk will likely cool until the SEC looks to add No. 14.

Get ready college football fans, whether we like it or not, the next few weeks are going to be filled with realignment chatter. 

Athlon's look at College Football's Super Conferences

Teaser:
<p> With Texas A&amp;M basically gone and OU unhappy, the Big 12's days are numbered</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 15:58
Path: /college-football/college-football-power-rankings-big-ten
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 2 Big Ten Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. Nebraska (2-0) – Saturday’s win over Fresno State wasn’t pretty. The Cornhuskers allowed 444 yards to the Bulldogs, including 169 on the ground by running back Robbie Rouse. Quarterback Taylor Martinez posted 385 total yards and three touchdowns in the victory. The Cornhuskers have a lot of work to do, but could get some help on defense this Saturday if cornerback Alfonzo Dennard returns from a leg injury. Nebraska takes on Washington this week, which is the third matchup between these teams over the last year. 

2. Wisconsin (2-0) – The Badgers have been one of the most impressive teams in college football through the first two weeks of the season. Wisconsin has outscored its opponents by a score of 86 to 17 and is closing in on Nebraska for the No. 1 spot in the Big Ten power rankings. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been near-perfect through two weeks, completing 27 of 34 passes for 444 yards and five touchdowns.

3. Ohio State (2-0) – The Buckeyes needed a late defensive stand to hold off upset-minded Toledo. While it wasn’t pretty, Ohio State is 2-0 under new coach Luke Fickell. The Buckeyes will get a bigger test in Week 3, as they travel to Miami to take on the Hurricanes. Ohio State defeated Miami 36-24 last season, but a lot has changed since then. Although Saturday’s matchup isn’t a Big Ten game, it’s a good chance for Fickell to stake his claim for the full-time job.

4. Michigan State (2-0) – The Spartans are coming off a sharp performance in Week 2. The Michigan State defense held the Owls to only one first down and 48 yards of total offense. Quarterback Kirk Cousins also turned in an efficient performance on Saturday, completing 16 of 20 throws for 183 yards and two scores. The Spartans have been quiet on the national scene so far, but will have a chance to make some noise with a visit to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.

5. Michigan (2-0) – The ending of the Michigan-Notre Dame game won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Although the comeback was crucial, it’s important to note Michigan is still trying to find its rhythm under new coach Brady Hoke. Quarterback Denard Robinson struggled with his accuracy on Saturday, but made big plays when it counted. The defense made some solid adjustments against Notre Dame, but still lacks enough talent to contend for the Big Ten title. Hoke has Michigan headed in the right direction and with a schedule of Eastern Michigan, San Diego State and Minnesota over the next couple of weeks, the Wolverines should be 5-0 before their first road game of the year at Northwestern.

6. Penn State (1-1) – As expected, the offensive issues for the Nittany Lions didn’t get any better in Week 2. The quarterback battle between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden will also continue into Week 3 – with no clear frontrunner. In addition to the quarterback question marks, Penn State’s struggles in the trenches remain a cause for concern. The Nittany Lions should be on upset alert this Saturday, as they travel to Philadelphia to take on Temple.

7. Illinois (2-0) – The competition has been light, but the Fighting Illini has posted two solid performances. However, Illinois will get a better gauge of where its team stands this week, as they host Arizona State. Both teams have been rolling on offense so far, so the scoreboard operator could be busy on Saturday. If the Fighting Ilini can knock off the Sun Devils, they will make a case for themselves this season and should make a bit of a jump in the power rankings.

8. Northwestern (2-0) – Dan Persa was out of the lineup for the second week in a row, but once again, it was no issue for Northwestern. The Wildcats easily handled Eastern Illinois and will get another shot to rest Persa this week against Army. With Kain Colter playing well and the Wildcats playing another winnable non-conference game, coach Pat Fitzgerald can afford to rest his No. 1 quarterback another week. Persa is still day-to-day with an achilles injury, but it is still unclear when he will be back.

9. Iowa (1-1) – The Hawkeyes had a three-game winning streak over rival Iowa State snapped in Week 2. Running back Marcus Coker posted a huge performance, rushing for 137 yards and two scores on 35 attempts. However, the Iowa defense didn’t have an answer for Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz, who threw for 279 yards and four touchdowns. The Hawkeyes host Pittsburgh this Saturday in a big match-up for the Hawkeyes to get back on track.

10. Purdue (1-1) – The Boilermakers survived a close call against MTSU, but couldn’t deliver in the final moments in Week 2. Purdue had a game-winning field goal against Rice blocked in the final seconds, which dropped the Boilermakers to 1-1 on the year. Although coach Danny Hope is entering his third year at Purdue, his seat will get hotter if the Boilermakers can’t pull off a couple of wins in Big Ten play.

11. Indiana (0-2) – After a disappointing showing in the opener against Ball State, the Hoosiers bounced back with a better performance in Week 2. However, it wasn’t enough to earn the victory. Indiana had three turnovers, including a costly fumble in the fourth quarter that gave Virginia the opportunity to kick the winning field goal. New coach Kevin Wilson should get his first win at Indiana in Week 3, as the Hoosiers host South Carolina State.

12. Minnesota (0-2) – One week after nearly beating USC in Los Angeles, Minnesota failed to capitalize off that momentum. The Golden Gophers dropped a disappointing 28-21 game to New Mexico State, moving to 0-2 for the first time since 1992. Coach Jerry Kill suffered a seizure during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game, but is expected to make a full recovery. Minnesota hosts Miami (Ohio) – one of the preseason favorites in the MAC East – this Saturday.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the Big Ten stack up after the second week of action?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 07:54
Path: /college-football/college-football-power-rankings-acc
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 2 ACC Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. Florida State (2-0) – The Seminoles easily passed their first two tests, now it’s time for the big one. After an embarrassing showing against Oklahoma last year, Florida State is focused on getting revenge and staking its place in the national title race. The Seminoles made it through their first two contests relatively healthy, so there are no injuries to be concerned about. Coach Jimbo Fisher has done an excellent job in a short amount of time, but this will be a good test of how far the team has improved after last year’s game with the Sooners.

2. Virginia Tech (2-0) – The Hokies didn’t have an impressive performance against East Carolina, but no team is in position to threaten the No. 2 spot in the power rankings. As expected, quarterback Logan Thomas is a work in progress. The sophomore is completing only 43.6 percent of his throws and threw for only 91 yards in Week 2. Arkansas State has a solid offense, but Virginia Tech should easily move to 3-0 on Saturday.

3. Maryland (1-0) – After beating Miami on Monday night in Week 1, the Terrapins did not play on Saturday. Maryland has another chance to build momentum in coach Randy Edsall's first season, with Big East predicted champ West Virginia visiting College Park. The Mountaineers have won the last five matchups in this series.

4. Miami (0-1) – Just like Maryland, Miami was off in Week 2. The Hurricanes will get some lineup reinforcements for Saturday’s game against Ohio State, as linebacker Sean Spence, quarterback Jacory Harris, receiver Travis Benjamin, defensive tackle Marcus Forston and defensive end Adewale Ojomo will rejoin the lineup after sitting out Week 1 due to a suspension.

5. North Carolina (2-0) – Interim coach Everett Withers is off to a good start. The Tar Heels are 2-0, and sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner looks like a future star in the ACC. The Tar Heels are coming off a victory against Rutgers and open up conference play with a home date against Virginia this Saturday.

6. Georgia Tech (2-0) – Wake Forest appears to be the ACC’s most-improved team, but Georgia Tech can’t be too far behind. The Yellow Jackets haven’t played the toughest schedule, but it looks like offseason work with the passing game paid off. Quarterback Tevin Washington is averaging 36.4 yards per completion, while throwing for five scores through two games. Georgia Tech has a good chance to move to 3-0 with Kansas visiting Atlanta this Saturday.

7. Clemson (2-0) – The Tigers are 2-0, but it has not been all that impressive. Consider this: Clemson trailed at halftime against Troy and was tied with Wofford this week. Quarterback Tajh Boyd has made strides in his first year as the starter, but the Tigers need better play from the offensive line. The defense has its own issues, as Clemson is allowing 411 yards per game. The schedule is going to get a lot tougher for the Tigers, as they host Auburn and Florida State the next two weeks.

8. Wake Forest (1-1) – It’s only Week 3, but the Demon Deacons look like the ACC’s most-improved team. Had quarterback Tanner Price avoided an injury in the opener to Syracuse, it’s likely Wake Forest would be 2-0. After winning only one conference game last year, the Demon Deacons have already equaled that mark through two weeks. With Gardner-Webb and Boston College up next, Wake Forest could be 3-1 going into a key ACC Atlantic game against Florida State.

9. NC State (1-1) – Tom O’Brien has not been pleased with his team so far. The Wolfpack did not play well in the first half of Saturday’s loss to Wake Forest, but responded with a better performance over the last two quarters. However, NC State lost 34-27 and won’t play another conference game until Oct. 1. Expect the Wolfpack to win this Saturday against FCS foe South Alabama.

10. Virginia (2-0) – The Cavaliers needed some last-minute heroics to beat Indiana on Saturday, but enter ACC play with a 2-0 record. The Cavaliers are making progress under coach Mike London and there’s enough winnable games on the schedule to contend for a bowl appearance. Just how good is Virginia? We’ll found out this Saturday against North Carolina.

11. Boston College (0-2) – The Eagles are off to a disappointing 0-2 start, and the bad news didn’t stop early this week. Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers is taking a leave of absence due to health reasons and will be away from the team indefinitely. Running back Montel Harris remains uncertain to play in Week 3 with a knee injury, but sophomore Andre Williams is more than capable of carrying the rushing attack. Boston College should crack the win column this Saturday against Duke.

12. Duke (0-2) – The Blue Devils remain at the bottom of the power rankings for the second week in a row. Quarterback Sean Renfree is off to a quiet start this season, throwing for only 380 yards and no touchdowns through two games. Duke’s defense and rushing attack were a concern going into this year and neither has shown much improvement. The bottom line? It looks like another season without a bowl appearance for the Blue Devils.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the ACC stack up after the second week of action?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 07:52
Path: /college-football/college-football-power-rankings-pac-12
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 2 Pac-12 Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. Oregon (1-1) - The Ducks took out their anger from the Week 1 loss to LSU on Nevada. Quarterback Darron Thomas had a huge performance with six passing scores, while true freshman running back De’Anthony Thomas continues to impress. Oregon gets another tune-up this Saturday with Missouri State visiting Eugene.

2. Stanford (2-0) – The first two teams in the Pac-12 power rankings are pretty clear. The Cardinal hold a significant edge over the rest of the teams in the conference for the No. 2 spot. Quarterback Andrew Luck is one of the early frontrunners for the Heisman, throwing 461 yards and six touchdowns in two games. A rebuilt offensive line is still a work in progress for coach David Shaw.

3. USC (2-0) – Talent isn’t a question for USC, but finding a way to close out games has been a problem. The Trojans dominated early against Minnesota and Utah, but allowed both teams to rally in the second half. The offense got a boost against the Utes with the return of running back Marc Tyler, who rushed for 113 yards and one score in Week 2. USC hosts Syracuse this Saturday, before traveling to Tempe for a key Pac-12 South game against Arizona State in Week 4.

4. Arizona State (2-0) – The Sun Devils scored a huge non-conference win against Missouri on Friday night and have one more game before opening up Pac-12 play. Arizona State travels to Champaign to take on Illinois this Saturday, which is an intriguing matchup between two teams considered sleepers in their conference race. Quarterback Brock Osweiler has been stellar so far, throwing for 615 yards and five touchdowns in two starts.

5. Washington (2-0) – The Huskies are 2-0 for the first time since 2007. However, it hasn’t been the most impressive start. Washington’s pass defense has been under fire and currently ranks as the worst in college football. New quarterback Keith Price has been solid so far, throwing seven touchdowns on 50 attempts. Washington has a difficult test in Week 3, traveling to Lincoln to take on Nebraska – the third game between these two teams over the last year.  

6. California (2-0) – Quarterback Zach Maynard has provided a spark to California’s offense, throwing for 509 yards and six scores over the first two weeks. Although his accuracy needs work, Maynard’s emergence could give California a chance to push for third place in the Pac-12 North. The Golden Bears should have no trouble moving to 3-0 with Presbyterian traveling to AT&T Park this Saturday.

7. Utah (1-1) – The Utes came up just short in their first Pac-12 game. The Trojans appeared to be in control most of the way, but Utah capitalized on three USC turnovers to cut the deficit to three midway through the third quarter. However, the Utes inability to establish a consistent offense has to be a concern going forward. Quarterback Jordan Wynn needs to test opposing defenses downfield more often, but could use more help from the rushing attack. The Utes step out of conference this week, as they take on rival BYU.

8. Arizona (1-1) – The Wildcats are coming off a 37-14 defeat to Oklahoma State, but have to quickly regroup with the Pac-12 opener against Stanford this Saturday. The status of Juron Criner remains uncertain for this game, but the Wildcats are deep at receiver if the senior can’t go. Arizona has struggled with a new offensive line and the secondary and both will be a concern against the Cardinal in Week 3.

9. UCLA (1-1) – Although the Bruins got into the win column on Saturday, it wasn’t a particularly impressive performance. UCLA struggled to beat San Jose State, which does not help coach Rick Neuheisel move off the hot seat. The Bruins host Texas this Saturday, and quarterback Kevin Prince is expected to be available to play. Unless UCLA shows significant improvement over the next couple of weeks, it could be another year without a winning record.

10. Washington State (2-0) – The competition hasn’t been great, but it looks like the Cougars are making more progress under coach Paul Wulff. Despite quarterback Jeff Tuel missing most of the first two games with a clavicle injury, the Cougars rank first nationally in scoring offense. If Washington State can beat San Diego State on the road this Saturday, it might be time to start looking at the Cougars as a potential bowl team.

11. Colorado (0-2) – New coach Jon Embree is still looking for his first win on the Colorado sidelines, but this team has shown a lot of fight over the last two weeks. The Buffaloes trailed at halftime of both of their games, but have rallied in the second half. Receiver Paul Richardson is emerging as one of the top big-play threats in the Pac-12, catching 11 passes for 284 yards and two scores against California. Colorado takes on rival Colorado State in Denver this Saturday.

12. Oregon State (0-2) – After a performance like the one Oregon State posted on Saturday against Wisconsin, there’s not many positives to build upon for coach Mike Riley. The quarterback situation is a mess, while the defense ranks near the bottom of the Pac-12 in points allowed per game. The good news? The Beavers have a bye week this Saturday. The bad news? The schedule doesn’t lighten up any when they hit Pac-12 play on Sept. 24 against UCLA.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the Pac 12 stack up after the second week of action?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 07:51
Path: /college-football/college-football-power-rankings-sec
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 2 SEC Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. Alabama (2-0) – Although LSU has one of the best wins through the first two weeks of the season, the Crimson Tide remain Athlon’s No. 1 team in the SEC. Alabama improved to 2-0 on Saturday, defeating Penn State 27-11 in Happy Valley. The Crimson Tide has not settled on a quarterback yet, but it appears AJ McCarron has surpassed Phillip Sims in the pecking order. Alabama’s defense is one of the best in college football and opponents are averaging only 170.5 yards per game so far. The Crimson Tide take on North Texas this Saturday, before hosting Arkansas in a key SEC West showdown in Week 4.

2. LSU (2-0) – After beating Oregon in Week 1, LSU had a breather in Week 2 against Northwestern State. The Tigers easily moved to 2-0, posting a 49-3 win over the Demons. LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee left Saturday’s game due to an injury, but is expected to play against Mississippi State on Thursday night. The Tigers have dominated the Bulldogs in recent seasons, but the last matchup in Starkville was decided by only four points.

3. Arkansas (2-0) – Thanks to matchups against Missouri State and New Mexico, Razorbacks haven’t been tested so far. However, Arkansas has looked good through two weeks, allowing only 10 points and ranking No. 8 nationally in total and scoring offense. Quarterback Tyler Wilson missed time against New Mexico, but is not expected to sit out Saturday’s game against Troy. The Trojans have been a pesky opponent against BCS conference teams in the past, so this could be Arkansas’ toughest game through the first three weeks.

4. South Carolina (2-0) – Through two weeks of the season, the Gamecocks look like the class of the SEC East. South Carolina was outgained in Saturday’s win over Georgia, but found a way to win, largely due in part to defensive lineman Melvin Ingram’s two touchdowns. Running back Marcus Lattimore showed why he is one of the best in college football, rushing for 174 yards and one score. Quarterback Stephen Garcia did not have a great game against the Bulldogs, which remains South Carolina’s biggest concern going forward.

5. Florida (2-0) – The Gators have been quiet through the first two weeks, easily handling FAU and UAB. Will Muschamp’s team will get a stiff test on Saturday against Tennessee and an improving offense, led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray. Florida quarterback John Brantley has been solid through two weeks, but Week 3 will be a step up in competition for the offense. Chris Rainey has also emerged as the team’s go-to back, rushing for 198 yards and two scores through two games. Although the early returns have favored South Carolina in the SEC East race, the Gators are a team to watch.

6. Auburn (2-0) – Another week, another close call for Auburn. The Tigers needed a goal-line stand to hold off Mississippi State for the win, which moved Auburn’s winning streak to 17 in a row. New quarterback Barrett Trotter has been solid so far, throwing for 407 yards and five touchdowns through two starts. However, the Tigers have been steamrolled against the run, allowing 280 yards per game to opponents. If Auburn can get by Clemson this week, they should move to 4-0 with FAU ahead in Week 4.

7. Mississippi State (1-1) – The Bulldogs narrowly missed out on a key SEC West road win over Auburn in Week 2. Quarterback Chris Relf was stopped on the goal-line to preserve the victory for the Tigers. The Bulldogs won’t get a break in the schedule this week, as they host LSU on Thursday night. Mississippi State has not beat the Tigers since 1999. 

8. Georgia (0-2) – Yes, the Bulldogs are 0-2 and a case could be made for Tennessee to be ranked ahead, but let’s give some credit to Georgia’s schedule. The Bulldogs had one of the most difficult two-game stretches to open the season in college football and an argument could be made they outplayed South Carolina. With Mark Richt on the hot seat, every game on the schedule the rest of the way is a must-win situation.

9. Tennessee (2-0) – Quarterback Tyler Bray has picked up where he left off last year, throwing seven touchdowns and 698 yards in his first two starts this season. However, it’s time for a step up in competition. The Volunteers travel to Gainesville to take on Florida, currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense. The Gators haven’t played top competition either, but this defense was expected to be one of the top defenses in the SEC this year. If Tennessee can score its first win in Gainesville since 2003, the Volunteers will make a jump in the SEC power rankings.

10. Kentucky (2-0) – The Wildcats are 2-0, but there are a lot of unhappy folks in Lexington this week. Kentucky once again struggled to beat a non-conference opponent on Saturday (Central Michigan) and failed to find a passing attack. Quarterback Morgan Newton is only 16 of 36 through two contests, but also needs more help from his receivers. One positive for the offense was the play of freshman running back Josh Clemons, who rushed for 126 yards and a score in Saturday’s win over the Chippewas. The Wildcats host in-state rival Louisville this Saturday.

11. Ole Miss (1-1) – As expected, the Rebels handled Southern Illinois to earn their first win of 2011. Zack Stoudt made his first start at quarterback for Ole Miss, completing 11 of 18 passes for 118 yards and one score. Jeff Scott filled in admirably for Brandon Bolden at running back, gaining 118 yards and three scores. With few guaranteed wins remaining on the schedule, the trip to Vanderbilt on Saturday will be important for getting bowl eligible.

12. Vanderbilt (2-0) – Saturday’s win over Connecticut was another step forward for first-year coach James Franklin. The Commodores continue to struggle on offense, but got a few key plays from the defense to score a 24-21 win over the Huskies. Now, it’s on to the SEC play. With a win over Ole Miss on Saturday, Vanderbilt would escape the bottom of the power rankings. 

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the SEC stack up after the second week of action?</p>
Post date: Monday, September 12, 2011 - 17:45
Path: /college-football/college-football-power-rankings-big-12
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 2 Big 12 Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. Oklahoma (1-0) – With a bye in Week 2, the Sooners likely spent Saturday in front of the television. Oklahoma remained atop many polls during the off week, but will have a difficult test this week. The Sooners travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State, which is a key game in the national title picture. The Seminoles are hungry for revenge, after an embarrassing 47-17 loss in Norman to Oklahoma last year. The Sooners will get some reinforcements on offense this week, as receiver Kenny Stills will play after sitting out Week 1 due to a suspension.

2. Texas A&M (1-0) – Like top-ranked Oklahoma, the Aggies had a bye in Week 2. However, there was plenty of noise coming from College Station. Texas A&M was expected to announce a bid to the SEC, but legal issues with the Big 12 have held the move for now. The Aggies should have an easy matchup in Week 3, as Idaho (1-1) visits College Station. With Oklahoma State in Week 4, Texas A&M can use this as a final tune-up before conference play starts.

3. Oklahoma State (2-0) – Through two games, it appears the Cowboys will be just fine on offense. Dana Holgorsen departed as the team’s offensive coordinator at the end of last season and there was some concern about the transition to Todd Monken. However, the Cowboys rank eighth nationally in scoring and second in total offense so far. The Cowboys head to Tulsa on Saturday, a team they beat 65-28 last season.

4. Texas (2-0) – The Longhorns won’t win any awards for the prettiest victories through two games, but the Longhorns are 2-0. Saturday’s win against BYU was overshadowed by a change at quarterback. Garrett Gilbert has struggled in his time as the starter and was replaced by David Ash and Case McCoy. The duo, along with freshman running back Malcolm Brown, provided the offense with a spark. The Longhorns face UCLA this week, which should give plenty of motivation for this team. Texas was dominated and lost 34-12 in last season’s matchup with the Bruins.

5. Baylor (1-0) – Thanks to an open date on Saturday, the Bears were allowed to spend a little extra time enjoying the win over TCU. It’s back to business this week, as Baylor hosts Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks are 1-1 and are coming off a 34-23 loss to Northern Iowa. Barring a complete breakdown, the Bears should easily win on Saturday and move to 2-0.

6. Missouri (1-1) – Even though the Tigers came up short on Friday night, there were positives to take away for coach Gary Pinkel. Quarterback James Franklin showed significant improvement from the first game, throwing for 319 yards and two scores against the Sun Devils. One concern for Missouri has to be the secondary, which allowed 353 passing yards to Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler. The Tigers have a chance to take out some of their frustration from Friday’s loss, as they host Western Illinois on Saturday.

7. Texas Tech (1-0) – The Red Raiders did not play on Saturday and will make a trip to Albuquerque to play New Mexico this week. The Lobos were handled by Arkansas last Saturday, and the Red Raiders should have no trouble moving the record to 2-0. Texas Tech faces Nevada in Week 4 and won’t play a conference game until Oct. 1 against Kansas. 

8. Iowa State (2-0) – Coaches never know what to expect from junior college recruits, but it appears Paul Rhoads hit a home run with Steele Jantz. The quarterback has provided a spark for the Iowa State offense, which includes making several key plays in the win over Iowa last Saturday. After a close call against Northern Iowa in Week 1, the Cyclones looked a much-improved team against the Hawkeyes. Iowa State travels to Storrs to take on Connecticut on Friday night.

9. Kansas (2-0) – After a disastrous 2010 campaign, it appears Turner Gill has the Jayhawks back on the right path. Kansas moved to 2-0 with a last-minute win over a solid Northern Illinois team on Saturday. The Jayhawks currently lead the Big 12 in rushing offense, averaging 277 yards a game. Kansas has a difficult task ahead on Saturday, as they travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets’ option attack is a difficult offense to prepare for in just a week.

10. Kansas State (1-0) – The Wildcats did not play on Saturday, which allowed coach Bill Snyder to work on some of the errors from the season opener against Eastern Kentucky. The Wildcats host Kent State this week, a team that is averaging only 9.5 points a game so far. Kansas State has a lot of work to do to make a bowl this season, but Saturday’s game against the Golden Flashes should be a comfortable win.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the Big 12 stack up after two weeks of action?</p>
Post date: Monday, September 12, 2011 - 14:10
Path: /college-football/college-football-power-rankings-big-east
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Post-Week 2 Big East Power Rankings

Check out all of our college football rankings.

1. West Virginia (2-0) – It was a tale of two halves in Morgantown on Saturday. The Mountaineers did not have a good showing in the first half, but looked like a different team over the final two quarters. Quarterback Geno Smith threw for 371 yards and four scores against Norfolk State and has yet to throw an interception in two games. The offensive line and rushing attack remain a concern for coach Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers will be tested over the next two weeks, as they visit Maryland this Saturday and host LSU in Week 4.

2. South Florida (2-0) – After beating Notre Dame in Week 1, coach Skip Holtz had to be worried about a letdown with his team. However, the Bulls looked sharp in Saturday’s win over Ball State. Quarterback B.J. Daniels passed for a career-high 359 yards, while the defense did not allow a score until the fourth quarter. The Bulls have another tune-up this week, as they host Florida A&M. After two weeks, it's pretty clear there is a significant gap between South Florida and Syracuse in this week’s Big East power rankings - at least right now.

3. Syracuse (2-0) – This is where the fun starts in the Big East power rankings for Week 2. After South Florida and West Virginia, there’s a lot of uncertainty. The Orange haven’t looked impressive, but then again, who has out of the remaining teams? Syracuse posted a lethargic 21-14 win over Rhode Island on Saturday, but will have to play a lot better this week, as they travel to Los Angeles to take on USC. Quarterback Ryan Nassib is off to a solid start this year, throwing for 496 yards and six scores.

4. Pittsburgh (2-0) – The Panthers are 2-0, but coach Todd Graham can’t be too pleased. Pittsburgh posted a so-so 35-29 win over Maine on Saturday. The offense has scored 35 points in both games, but quarterback Tino Sunseri has yet to find his rhythm in the new offense. Sunseri was benched against Maine in favor of Trey Anderson, but will remain the starter for Saturday’s matchup against Iowa. The Panthers also need to clean up a leaky pass defense, allowing 305 yards a game so far this season.

5. Cincinnati (1-1) – As expected, the Bearcats will have no trouble moving the ball this year. However, the defense is remains a question mark. Cincinnati allowed over 500 yards of offense to Tennessee in Saturday’s 45-23 loss. After struggling with turnovers last year, it’s a positive sign the Bearcats have yet to lose one through two games. Expect Cincinnati to get back on track in Week 3 against Akron.

6. Rutgers (1-1) – Turnovers by North Carolina kept the Scarlet Knights alive, but in the end, the offense came up just short. Quarterback Chas Dodd threw for 243 yards and two scores, but was sacked four times, and the rushing attack didn’t give him much help. Rutgers ran into a very good Tar Heel defensive line, which allowed only one rushing yard to the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers is off this week.

7. Connecticut (1-1) – The Huskies hung tough against Vanderbilt, but the inability to establish anything on offense eventually cost them the game. The offense managed only 193 yards and turned the ball over four times. The quarterback situation continues to be a mess, with Johnny McEntee, Michael Nebrich and Scott McCummings all playing. Running back Lyle McCombs has been the lone bright spot on offense, but needs a passing attack to help take the pressure off. The Huskies have a short week to prepare, as Iowa State visits Storrs for a Friday night matchup.

8. Louisville (1-1) – With a handful of young players stepping into the starting lineup, Louisville coach Charlie Strong knew it would be a challenge this year. The Cardinals dropped a 24-17 decision to FIU on Friday night. The defense allowed too many big plays to FIU receiver T.Y. Hilton, while the offense struggled to establish the rushing attack once again. Louisville will hit the road to play Kentucky this Saturday. With both teams struggling on offense, points could be hard to come by next week.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the Big East stack up after the second week of action?</p>
Post date: Monday, September 12, 2011 - 00:48
Path: /college-football/week-2-college-football-recap
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

The Most Important Things to Take Away From Week 2

Athlon sums up a full slate of college football with the most important things to take away from this weekend.

Notre Dame drops to 0-2 – Same story, different week. The Irish have outplayed their first two opponents, yet managed to lose both contests, largely due to turnovers. Notre Dame led Michigan 24-7 going into the fourth quarter and took a 31-28 lead with less than 40 seconds remaining. However, the Irish defense let Michigan drive for the winning score, with quarterback Denard Robinson tossing a 16-yard touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree.

Robinson did not have the most accurate game, completing only 11 of 24 passes, but managed four passing scores and added 94 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Michigan is still trying to find the right mix between Robinson and what coordinator Al Borges wants to achieve on offense, but the Wolverines have some time to work out the kinks. With Eastern Michigan, San Diego State, Minnesota and Northwestern, Michigan should be in good shape before playing rival Michigan State on Oct. 15.

The Fighting Irish are one of college football’s most polarizing teams and there’s no doubt their 0-2 start is stirring a lot of chatter. Athlon picked Notre Dame to finish No. 6 in the final poll, which seems like a longshot considering the first two games. However, finishing 10-2 (Athlon’s projected total), isn’t out of the question. Sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees needs to cut down on the mistakes, but seems to be the answer for the Irish at quarterback. Brian Kelly is the right coach for Notre Dame, but it may take another year or two before the Irish are ready to get back in a BCS bowl.

Arizona State impresses on Friday night – Are the Sun Devils finally ready to breakthrough under Dennis Erickson? Sure, going 10-3 in his first season was solid, but Arizona State has struggled to be a relevant player in the conference race since then. Friday night’s win over Missouri was keyed by quarterback Brock Osweiler, throwing for 353 yards and three scores. The defense struggled to contain Missouri quarterback James Franklin, but Arizona State’s offense could win a lot of shootouts this year.

One area of concern for the Sun Devils has to be the penalties. Arizona State has been flagged 16 times this year, including 12 against Missouri. Although the mistakes didn’t cost the Sun Devils against the Tigers, this is one area that could come back to haunt them in a close game. Beating a ranked team was huge for the confidence of Arizona State, especially with a road date at Illinois and a key Pac-12 South game against USC coming up. 

It's early in the year, but it looks like the hype surrounding Arizona State was deserved. The Sun Devils and USC appear to be the class of the Pac-12 South and will make for an interesting game in a couple of weeks.

South Carolina takes control of SEC East – The first SEC East game of the year was a big one. South Carolina and Georgia were popular preseason picks to win the division and the winner would take a step ahead of the competition. The Gamecocks were outplayed by the Bulldogs, but simply found a way to win. Defensive lineman Melvin Ingram scored twice for South Carolina, while running back Marcus Lattimore led the way on offense with 174 yards and a touchdown.

Although the Gamecocks could be hounded by suspect quarterback play this year, this should be Steve Spurrier’s best team at South Carolina. Lattimore should be one of the nation’s top rushers at the end of the year, while receiver Alshon Jeffery is a difficult matchup for any cornerback. The defense has given up over 30 points in both contests, but should get better as the year progresses. Beating Georgia was a huge step toward South Carolina repeating as SEC East champs.

The worst-case scenario for Georgia to start the year is unfolding. The Bulldogs didn’t need an 0-2 start, especially with the pressure on coach Mark Richt. However, all is not lost, even with a disappointing start. South Carolina and Florida could slip in the East, opening the door for the Bulldogs to get back into the picture. However, the offensive line has to play better, and Georgia needs to get running back Isaiah Crowell more involved in the gameplan. Don't count out Georgia, but the loss to South Carolina was a huge blow. 

Alabama handles Penn State – As expected, the Crimson Tide handled their business in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions were simply overmatched in the trenches, while the quarterback play was less than stellar once again. To beat Alabama, Penn State needed to show marked improvement from Week 1 and it just wasn’t there. The Nittany Lions didn’t get any answers to the quarterback battle either, as both Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin struggled.

While Penn State struggles to sort out its quarterback options, Alabama seems to have found its signal-caller in AJ McCarron. The sophomore completed 19 of 31 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown on Saturday, while Phillip Sims did not play against the Nittany Lions. The Crimson Tide is one of the most dominating defensive teams in college football and should be the favorite to win the SEC.

USC beats Utah – The first Pac-12 contest was certainly an interesting one. USC was in control most of the way, but again, struggled to put away an opponent. The Utes had a chance at a game-tying field goal in the final seconds, but it was blocked by the Trojans and returned for a touchdown. Due to a penalty, the points were initially not credited to USC. However, the Trojans were eventually awarded six points a couple of hours after the game ended, making the final score 23-14 in favor of USC.

The Utes had a solid showing in their first Pac-12 game, but could not generate enough offense. Quarterback Jordan Wynn rarely tested the USC secondary downfield, while the rushing attack was held in check. The Trojans had success moving the ball, but three turnovers kept the Utes in the game. Although USC has struggled to put opponents away this year, the defense has shown improvement and the potential is there for the offense to get even better.

Quick Hits from Week 2

• T.Y. Hilton doesn’t get much national credit since he plays at FIU, but the senior is one of the nation’s top all-around performers. Hilton caught seven passes for 201 yards and two scores in the upset win over Louisville. Hilton was a preseason third-team All-American selection by Athlon Sports.

• Things could get rough for Arizona over the next couple of weeks. The Wildcats need to develop continuity on their offensive line, but face a brutal upcoming schedule – Stanford, Oregon and at USC. Don’t be surprised if Arizona is 1-4 before a trip to Oregon State on Oct. 8.

• Texas rallied to beat BYU 17-16 on Saturday, but the theme from the win could be a quarterback change. Garrett Gilbert was benched after an awful start, with Case McCoy and David Ash getting snaps. Gilbert hasn’t made much progress over the last year and it’s time Texas gives other quarterbacks a chance.

• Junior college transfers can be hit or miss, but it looks like Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads hit a home run with quarterback Steele Jantz. In two games, the junior has thrown for 466 yards and five scores, while adding 122 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Jantz’s ability to make plays with his legs has given a spark to Iowa State’s offense. And scoring a win over rival Iowa isn't a bad way to start your college career.

• North Carolina is off to a 2-0 start, led by quarterback Bryn Renner and one of the nation’s top defensive lines. Renner has incredibly accurate to start the year, completing 42 of 49 passes, while throwing three touchdowns and four picks. The Tar Heels have a favorable schedule upcoming, facing Virginia, Georgia Tech, East Carolina and Louisville over the next four weeks. Don’t be surprised if North Carolina is 6-0 before facing Miami on Oct. 15.

• Kansas isn’t getting much credit for its 2-0 record, but coach Turner Gill is doing a nice job this year. The Jayhawks beat Northern Illinois 45-42 on Saturday and beat McNeese State in the opener. Kansas looks like a much-improved team, especially on offense with quarterback Jordan Webb and running back James Sims. It may not translate to a bowl, but progress is coming along in Lawrence.

• Auburn just continues to find ways to win games. The Tigers entered the week as underdogs against Mississippi State, but held on for the victory with a goal-line stand in the final seconds. It takes a little luck to win 17 games in a row, but a young team is showing improvement, which is bad news for the rest of the SEC West.

• One of Week 2’s biggest surprises was New Mexico State’s win over Minnesota. After getting handled by Ohio 44-24 in the opener, the Aggies scored a huge win for the rebuilding efforts of coach DeWayne Walker. New Mexico State has struggled to have success, with only one season of seven wins since 1968.

• The Rice-Purdue matchup was a game for two coaches battling to get off the hot seat. Rice’s David Bailiff is 19-30 in four years, while Purdue’s Danny Hope is 9-15 in two seasons. Although it’s tough to give up on Hope with all of the injuries the Boilermakers have had, barely beating MTSU and losing to Rice does not fair well for the rest of the season.

• It’s early, but Wake Forest appears to be the most-improved team in the ACC. The Demon Deacons knocked off NC State 34-27 in Week 2, while barely losing to Syracuse in the opener. With Gardner-Webb up next, Wake Forest should be 2-1 before hitting the bulk of ACC play.

Looking Ahead to Week 3

A small sample of what’s ahead

LSU at Mississippi State (Thursday)
Tigers begin tough two-game stretch with a Thursday night trip to Starkville.

Boise State at Toledo (Friday)
Rockets should be the top team in the MAC, but stopping Boise State will be difficult.

Pittsburgh at Iowa
Iowa defense versus Pittsburgh running back Ray Graham will be fun to watch.

Oklahoma at Florida State
Must-see game of the week. Could have a significant impact on the national title race.

Auburn at Clemson
Battle of Tigers could be an entertaining offensive matchup.

West Virginia at Maryland
Good quarterback battle between Maryland’s Danny O’Brien and West Virginia’s Geno Smith.

Tennessee at Florida
Both teams have looked good against non-conference opponents.

Michigan State at Notre Dame
Irish have played better than record indicates. First test for Spartans.

Texas at UCLA
Longhorns look to avenge last season’s disappointing loss to the Bruins.

Washington at Nebraska
Third meeting between these two teams over the last year. Series is currently tied at one.

Ohio State at Miami
Hurricanes get a few reinforcements, while Buckeyes look to score a huge win for Luke Fickell.

Utah at BYU
No longer a conference matchup, but still an intense rivalry.

Injuries from Week 2

Air Force NG Ben Gardner – knee – out indefinitely
Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson – concussion – expected to play in Week 3
Arkansas DE Jake Bequette – hamstring – likely to play in Week 3
Colorado State LB Mychal Sisson – broken ankle – expected to miss rest of 2011 season
Florida RB Jeff Demps – shoulder – questionable to play in Week 3
Georgia LB Christian Robinson – foot – out indefinitely
Mississippi State OT James Carmon – leg – questionable to play in Week 3
Missouri RB De’Vion Moore – high ankle sprain – out 3-4 weeks
Northwestern RB Adonis Smith – leg – questionable to play in Week 3
Ohio State WR Corey Brown – ankle – questionable to play in Week 3
Oregon LB Michael Clay – ankle – questionable to play in Week 3
Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton – rib contusion – questionable to play in Week 4
Oregon State LG Josh Andrews – knee sprain – likely out 4 weeks
Tennessee LT Dallas Thomas – knee – expected to play in Week 3
UTEP QB Nick Lamaison – shoulder – out indefinitely
Vanderbilt TE Brandon Barden – leg – questionable for Week 3
Wisconsin CB Devin Smith – ankle – out for Week 3

Teaser:
<p> Athlon recaps Week 2 of the college football season and takes a look ahead to Week 3.</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 11, 2011 - 18:44
Path: /college-football/college-football
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

10 Key Storylines to Watch for Week 2

1. It’s only Week 2 of the college football season, but the South Carolina-Georgia matchup could go a long way toward deciding the SEC East title. Florida will have something to say too, but this matchup is critical for both teams. The Gamecocks have the edge in playmakers, but this game will be won or lost in the trenches. Georgia’s offensive line gave up six sacks in the opener against Boise State, while the Gamecocks have one of the best defensive lines in the nation. The Bulldogs have to protect quarterback Aaron Murray if they want to have any shot at winning this game.

2. Utah opens up Pac-12 play with a matchup at USC. The Utes beat Montana State in the opener, but it was far from an impressive performance. Quarterback Jordan Wynn is returning from offseason shoulder surgery and threw for only 101 yards and two scores. The Utes need a better performance from Wynn against USC to win their Pac-12 opener. Four new starters have stepped into the Utah secondary, which figures to be under attack from USC quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods.

3. Much of the intrigue for the season opener between Alabama and Penn State centered on the quarterback position. After one week, not much has changed. Things seem to be more clear at Alabama, where AJ McCarron outperformed Phillip Sims against Kent State last Saturday. McCarron completed 14 of 23 passes for 226 yards one touchdown and two interceptions, while Sims went 7 of 14 for 73 yards and two picks. The Nittany Lions have more uncertainty about their quarterbacks, as Rob Bolden started, but completed 6 of 12 for only 37 yards. Matt McGloin fared a little better, completing 6 of 8 passes for 77 yards. Alabama has a huge edge in the trenches, and unless Penn State can get consistent quarterback play from Bolden or McGloin, the Crimson Tide will win easily.

4. A new era began at West Virginia and Pittsburgh last week with mixed results. New Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham promised a high-octane offense, but as last week’s game against Buffalo showed, it’s going to take some time to work out the kinks. West Virginia managed 34 points, but struggled to establish a rushing attack and to protect Geno Smith in the pocket. Both teams will get better as the year goes along and should have an offensive display on Saturday, as Pittsburgh takes on Maine, while West Virginia hosts Norfolk State.

5. A team that stood out to me from Week 1 was California. New quarterback Zach Maynard threw for 266 yards and two scores, while adding 52 yards on the ground. The Buffalo transfer needs to improve his accuracy (16 of 35), but could provide coach Jeff Tedford with the missing piece on offense. California has had some solid rushing attacks over the last couple of seasons, but has struggled to get consistent play from its quarterbacks. Maynard will face Colorado this Saturday in a game that is crucial for both teams. The Buffaloes are trying to build some momentum under new coach Jon Embree, while the Golden Bears want to see Maynard continue to get better and get California off to a 2-0 start.

6. After last week’s defensive disaster, you can bet there were some long nights at the office for TCU coach Gary Patterson. The Horned Frogs allowed 564 yards and 50 points to Baylor – a far cry from finishing No. 1 in the nation in total and scoring defense last season. This Saturday presents a different challenge for Patterson and his defense, as they try to stop Air Force’s option attack. The Falcons were held in check in last season’s matchup against TCU, rushing for only 184 yards and managing seven points. Patterson will have this defense playing better, but preparing for Air Force’s option attack is a difficult task. An 0-2 start for TCU isn’t out of the question.

7. Saturday night’s matchup between Notre Dame and Michigan will be the first night game in the history of Michigan Stadium. But that’s not the only interesting storyline surrounding this game. The Fighting Irish look to bounce back after a disappointing Week 1 loss, outgaining South Florida 508 to 254. So far, so good for Brady Hoke at Michigan. In Hoke's first game as Michigan's head coach, the Wolverines got off to a good start, defeating Western Michigan 34-10. The Wolverines showed improvement on defense against the Broncos, but will that continue against Notre Dame’s offense? Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson torched the Irish for 502 yards last season, but Notre Dame’s defense is a much-improved group since that game. With all of the offensive playmakers on the field, this matchup will likely come down to whichever defense makes the most plays.

8. Considering the rumors surrounding the future of the Big 12 and potential expansion, maybe BYU-Texas will be a conference game in the future. For now, it’s a non-conference matchup between two teams looking to get off to a 2-0 start. BYU knocked off Ole Miss last week, while Texas handled Rice 34-9. Could this game mean more to Texas? Sure, this isn’t a Big 12 game or a matchup against Oklahoma, but BYU will provide a better gauge for how much the Longhorns have improved since last season. Is Garrett Gilbert an improved passer? BYU’s defense held Ole Miss to 208 yards last week, so the Longhorns’ offense won’t have an easy task on Saturday night.

9. Auburn needed a last-minute rally to defeat Utah State last Saturday and the schedule won’t get any easier this week. The Tigers host Mississippi State, who beat Memphis 59-14 in Week 1 and is a team on the rise under third-year coach Dan Mullen. The Bulldogs have to be licking their chops for an opportunity to face Auburn’s rush defense, especially after allowing 227 yards to the Aggies last week. Quarterback Chris Relf continues to improve as a passer, while the one-two punch of Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins at running back is an underrated duo in the SEC. If the Tigers don’t show any improvement on defense, it could be a long day for the defending national champs.

10. The Rutgers-North Carolina matchup is off the national radar, but is one to keep an eye on. The Scarlet Knights gave up 61 sacks last year, but did not allow one in the opener against North Carolina Central. However, that group has a bigger test ahead of it on Saturday, as it takes on one of the top 10 defensive lines in college football. Ends Quinton Coples and Donte Paige-Moss and tackle Tydreke Powell will likely be in high demand from the NFL at the end of the year. If the Scarlet Knights can go on the road and beat the Tar Heels, it will be a huge win for coach Greg Schiano, while giving this team the confidence to contend for a finish in the top half of the Big East.

Saturday’s Picks

Athlon editor Mitch Light predicts the 10 biggest games for Week 2 – here’s my take on how some of the top games will play out.

Arizona State 27, Missouri 24
Notre Dame 34, Michigan 27
Alabama 31, Penn State 13
Georgia 20, South Carolina 17
Iowa 27, Iowa State 17
North Carolina 27, Rutgers 13
USC 31, Utah 24
Texas 27, BYU 20
TCU 27, Air Force 24
Mississippi State 34, Auburn 27
Tennessee 31, Cincinnati 27
Virginia Tech 45, East Carolina 20

Upset Watch

Looking for a few upsets? Keep a close watch on these games.

FIU at Louisville (Friday)
Cardinals did not impress in the opener against Murray State. The Golden Panthers are expected to be one of the top teams in the Sun Belt and held their own in four matchups against BCS foes last year.

Hawaii at Washington
The Huskies gave up 473 passing yards to Eastern Washington last week. Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz (5,040 yards last year) should give the Washington secondary problems once again.

Purdue at Rice
The Boilermakers weren’t exactly impressive in last week’s win over MTSU. The Owls have a dangerous offense and will give Purdue all they can handle.

NC State at Wake Forest
Demon Deacons looked like a much-improved team against Syracuse last week. New Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon still needs some time to get adjusted into the starting role.

Around the Web: College Football’s Must Read Articles to Prepare for Week 2

LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard violated NCAA rules and is suspended for three games. The junior will return for LSU’s road trip to West Virginia on Sept. 24. 

San Diego State coach Rocky Long calls the option offense “the best offense that has ever been designed.” The Aztecs travel to West Point to play Army on Saturday.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was not pleased with the play of his offensive line in the opener against Marshall. 

What was the positive impact factor of Big East quarterbacks from Week 1? -

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wasn’t happy with the performance of his team in Saturday’s loss to South Florida. Maybe there’s a reason for him to yell at his players.

Miami is off this week, but coach Al Golden made a big announcement regarding the team’s quarterback situation

SMU has decided to switch quarterbacks this week, going with J.J. McDermott as the starter. Kyle Padron threw two interceptions early against Texas A&M, but is expected to play some.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald is hopeful quarterback Dan Persa will return for Saturday’s game against Eastern Illinois. However, considering the opponent, Kain Colter will likely get the start. 

Oregon State freshman running back Malcolm Agnew was the nation’s leading rusher last week, posting 223 yards and three scores against Sacramento State. However, the Beavers will likely be without Agnew for Saturday’s matchup against Wisconsin.

Georgia is looking for playmakers to step up for Saturday's game against South Carolina.

Ole Miss will turn to Zack Stoudt at quarterback. Barry Brunetti started the opener, but Stoudt played significant time in the second half. Randall Mackey has rejoined the team after a suspension and will play on Saturday.

USC would like to rotate two running backs for Saturday's game against Utah.

Speaking of the Utes, they are eager to show they belong in the Pac-12.

Teaser:
<p> We give you the 10 most important match-ups and upset picks for week 2</p>
Post date: Friday, September 9, 2011 - 08:11
Path: /college-football/baylor-sue-texas-am-big-12
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In an attempt to save the Big 12 from crumbling, Baylor is considering legal options against Texas A&M and the SEC. This twist is just the latest in a bizarre saga involving the Big 12, especially after Nebraska and Colorado left the conference after the 2010 season.

While this could be nothing more than a temporary holdup for Texas A&M’s entrance into the SEC, Baylor’s desire to keep the Big 12 together has created a legal hurdle that must be cleared.

However, the latest developments in Waco have put any conference realignment on hold – at least temporarily.

The SEC does not want to be sued or be viewed as a conference killer, which is why Texas A&M has taken the slow, but necessary steps to withdraw from the conference.

Before Baylor’s threat to pursue legal action, the Aggies were accepted as the 13th member of the SEC on Tuesday night and are slated to join in time for the 2012 season.

What is behind this decision? When you take a look at the landscape of college football and the Big 12, the situation could get scary for Baylor.

The Bears want to keep the Big 12 together and by preventing the Aggies from leaving, hope to get a shot at reconciling the differences in the conference.

Texas A&M isn’t the only team eyeing a possible move to another conference. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are reportedly very interested in joining the Pac-12. Texas and Texas Tech have also been rumored to head west if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State also make the transition. Also, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri are believed to be targets of any potential Big East expansion.  

Considering the potential dominoes that could fall in conference realignment if Texas A&M joins the SEC, Baylor is simply trying to protect its own interests.

Think about it this way, if the Big 12 falls apart, the Bears could end up in Conference, USA or the Mountain West. Going from a BCS conference to a Non-AQ setup is not what Baylor has in mind.

When taking a look at the situation unfolding in the Big 12 and the potential for 16-team super conferences to form, it’s hard to blame Baylor’s stance. Sure, this is a nuisance or a messy situation for Texas A&M and the rest of the schools in the Big 12, but the Bears – just like the Aggies with their interest in the SEC and Texas with the creation of the Longhorn Network – is looking out for its future.

Texas A&M can’t be blamed for choosing the SEC if it feels its best for the long-term future of the program. On that same path, Baylor can’t be blamed for at least trying to reconcile the Big 12.

What happens next?

Texas A&M was all set to have an announcement for its acceptance into the SEC on Wednesday. However, those plans are on hold until this can be sorted out.

Even though Baylor’s hail mary attempt has worked for now, there’s no guarantee this prevents any switch in conferences.

Texas A&M still wants out of the Big 12. And the SEC still wants Texas A&M.

Sure, the Big 12 could be fixed, but there’s been a lot of damage sustained over the last month. Texas A&M is set on making its own path from Texas, especially with the Longhorn Network remaining a point of contention.

Assuming Texas A&M joins – the conference is expected to eventually add a 14th team. West Virginia, Missouri, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia Tech are believed to be on the SEC’s wish list.

For college football fans against the formation of super conferences and more realignment, the developments with Baylor was a victory.

Whether or not a threat of legal action will keep Texas A&M from leaving for the SEC remains to be seen.

Either way, the next couple of weeks are going to be very interesting in the Big 12, SEC, College Station and Waco. 

Teaser:
<p> Will Baylor's threat of legal action be enough to keep the Big 12 together?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 15:56
Path: /college-football/big-ten-notebook-week-1
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The first week of college football action is complete in the Big Ten. Here is our look at the week that was.

Team of the Week – Northwestern
Wisconsin made a strong case for this honor, but beating Boston College without starting quarterback Dan Persa is enough for Northwestern to earn the nod for Week 1. Persa is still recovering from a torn Achilles suffered late last season, which forced Kain Colter into the lineup. The sophomore responded well in his first start, completing 17 of 24 passes for 197 yards and one score. The Wildcats gave up 479 yards on defense, but made a few key plays late in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory. After struggling to win without Persa last year, the Wildcats found a way to get it done in the opener.

Disappointment of the Week – Indiana
New coach Kevin Wilson seemed to spark the Indiana program during the offseason, but that momentum didn’t carry over into the season opener. The Hoosiers dropped a 27-20 decision to Ball State, which was no doubt a disappointment for Wilson and the Indiana fanbase. Even though the Hoosiers were only 5-7 last year, Ball State was projected to finish fifth in the MAC West. Defense has been an issue for years in Bloomington and will be an area of concern once again, especially after allowing 210 rushing yards and 27 points to the Cardinals.

Player of the Week – Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
Wilson’s debut in Madison couldn’t have gone any better. The NC State transfer led a 51-17 blowout win over UNLV, completing 10 of 13 passes for 255 yards and two scores. He also added 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Rebels weren’t the most difficult opener, but this should give Wilson and the Wisconsin offense a lot of confidence when Nebraska visits Madison on Oct. 1.

Freshman of the Week – Max Shortell, QB, Minnesota
It was a relatively quiet weekend in the Big Ten for freshmen performers, with Shortell, Illinois linebacker Houston Bates and Nebraska tackle Tyler Moore making key contributions in Week 1. Shortell was instrumental in Minnesota’s second-half rally against USC. The true freshman completed 7 of 13 passes for 98 yards and one score. Even though the Gophers fell short, Shortell’s performance was promising for coach Jerry Kill. MarQueis Gray will remain the starter in Week 2, but the Minnesota coaching staff should has confidence in Shortell should he be needed off the bench this year.

Around the Big Ten

• Purdue’s Caleb TerBush made his first start at quarterback against MTSU. TerBush completed 19 of 33 passes for 220 yards and two scores. TerBush was Purdue’s fourth different starting quarterback for a season opener over the last four years.

• Minnesota struggled to establish its rushing attack in the opener against USC, as starting running back Duane Bennett managed only 53 yards on 15 attempts. The Golden Gophers’ last 100-yard rusher came on Oct. 23, 2010 against Penn State, when DeLeon Eskridge earned 111 yards on 26 attempts.

• Nathan Scheelhaase completed 16 of 23 throws in Saturday’s win over Arkansas State, yet only three receivers caught passes. A.J. Jenkins was the primary weapon, catching 11 balls for 148 yards and one score.

• With DeVier Posey sidelined, Ohio State will have a young group of receivers for the first couple of weeks of 2011. Of the 20 completed passes, 12 went to receivers with at least three or four years of eligibility remaining. No wide receiver with junior or senior eligibility caught a pass against the Zips.

• Iowa held Tennessee Tech to seven points in Saturday’s opener. From 2002-2010, the Hawkeyes allowed only more than seven points once in a season opener (2009 to Northern Iowa).

• Nebraska’s debut as a Big Ten member was a success, defeating Chattanooga 40-7. Penn State was the last team to join the Big Ten in 1993, posting a 38-20 win over Minnesota.

• Only three players rushed for more than 100 yards in Week 1. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez leads the Big Ten in rushing with 135 yards, while Purdue running back Ralph Bolden is second with 120 yards. Penn State’s Silas Redd ranks third with 104 yards. 

Teaser:
<p> Athlon hands out some hardware for the opening weekend of college football.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 07:13
Path: /college-football/post-week-1-acc-power-rankings
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1. Florida State – The Seminoles weren’t flashy in their 34-0 win over UL Monroe in Week 1. With a huge non-conference showdown against Oklahoma upcoming, the Florida State offense was very basic, with quarterback EJ Manuel leading the way with 274 passing yards. The Seminoles have another tune-up on the schedule this Saturday, hosting FCS opponent Charleston Southern.

2. Virginia Tech – The Hokies' revamped backfield of quarterback Logan Thomas and David Wilson got high marks for Saturday’s performance against Appalachian State. Sure, the competition will get tougher, but it was a good start for both players. Virginia Tech has a favorable non-conference schedule in September, continuing with Saturday’s game at East Carolina.

3. Maryland – Randy Edsall had a solid debut as Maryland’s new head coach, beating Miami 32-24 on Monday night. The Terrapins got a key performance from quarterback Danny O’Brien, who completed 31 of 44 passes for 348 yards and one score. Maryland has Week 2 off, before hosting West Virginia in Week 3.

4. Miami – You never want to begin your coaching tenure at a new school with a loss, but considering the circumstances at Miami, it wasn’t all bad for Al Golden. The Hurricanes were without a handful of key players, yet nearly found a way to beat Maryland. With reinforcements like linebacker Sean Spence, safety Ray-Ray Armstrong and quarterback Jacory Harris rejoining the lineup in the coming weeks, the Hurricanes will be a threat to win the ACC Coastal.

5. NC State – All eyes were on Mike Glennon on Saturday night and NC State’s new quarterback turned in a so-so performance. The junior completed 18 of 31 passes for 156 yards and one score. Glennon will get better with more snaps, but the Wolfpack will have a challenge from what appears to be a much-improved Wake Forest team this Saturday.

6. North Carolina – Everett Withers’ debut as North Carolina’s head coach was a success. The Tar Heels handled James Madison, led by quarterback Bryn Renner, who completed 22 of 23 passes for 277 yards and two scores. The Tar Heels will get a better test in Week 2, as they host Rutgers.

7. Clemson – The Tigers needed a second-half rally to knock off Troy, eventually pulling away for a 43-19 victory. Quarterback Tajh Boyd struggled to find his rhythm early, but finished with 264 yards and three scores. The Tigers will get another game to work out the offensive kinks, as they take on Wofford this Saturday.

8. Georgia Tech – After last season’s disappointment, the Yellow Jackets needed a good start to 2011. So far, so good. Quarterback Tevin Washington threw for 271 yards and three scores, while running back Orwin Smith rushed for 84 yards and two scores. Georgia Tech should be one of the top rushing teams in the ACC, so it’s a good sign the passing attack came to life.

9.  Boston College – If there was one positive for coach Frank Spaziani to take away from Saturday’s loss to Northwestern, it was the play of quarterback Chase Rettig. The sophomore completed 24 of 44 passes for 351 yards. However, the passing attack suffered a blow with the loss of receiver Ifeanyi Momah, who will miss the rest of the year with a torn ACL. The Eagles won’t have a breather in Week 2, as they will travel to Florida to take on UCF.

10. Wake Forest – Even though Thursday night’s game against Syracuse didn’t produce the outcome coach Jim Grobe wanted, there were positive signs for the Demon Deacons. The offense looked better, led by a solid performance from sophomore quarterback Tanner Price. It’s important for the momentum gained in the opener to carry into Week 2, as the Demon Deacons will host NC State. 

11. Virginia – The Cavaliers were on upset watch going into Week 1, but easily handled William & Mary. A bright spot for the offense had to be the play of quarterback Michael Rocco, who completed 21 of 29 passes for 174 yards. Redshirt freshman back Kevin Parks also posted a strong performance, rushing for 114 yards and three scores.

12. Duke – The goal to get to a bowl game just became tougher for the Blue Devils. Losing to Richmond was a setback for coach David Cutcliffe and the hopes to get to six wins in 2011. The going won’t get any easier for Duke this week, as Stanford visits Durham.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the ACC stack up after the first week of action?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - 14:03
Path: /college-football/post-week-1-sec-power-rankings
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By Steven Lassan

Post-Week 1 SEC Power Rankings

Also check out all of our college football rankings.

1. Alabama – A lot of interest in Saturday’s opener in Tuscaloosa centered on the quarterback situation. AJ McCarron took the first snap for the Crimson Tide offense, but Phillip Sims also saw playing time. McCarron outplayed Sims against Kent State, completing 14 of 23 passes for 226 yards and one score. Junior running back Trent Richardson was surprisingly quiet, rushing for only 37 yards on 13 attempts. The Crimson Tide defense is one of the best in the nation and kept Kent State in check all afternoon, allowing the Golden Flashes to manage only 90 total yards. Alabama will travel to Happy Valley to take on Penn State this Saturday.

2. LSU – If the off-the-field distractions surrounding quarterback Jordan Jefferson and receiver Russell Shepard bothered LSU, the players certainly didn’t show it against Oregon. The Tigers scored a huge non-conference victory over the Ducks, using an opportunistic defense and a run-first offense to seal the victory. LSU has a breather against Northwestern State this Saturday, before taking on a brutal two-game road stretch of Mississippi State and West Virginia.

3. Arkansas – The first start of the Tyler Wilson era gets a passing grade. Wilson threw for 260 yards and two scores against an overmatched Missouri State secondary. Replacing Knile Davis won’t be easy, but Ronnie Wingo averaged 3.9 yards per carry on Saturday night, while true freshman Kody Walker also showed some promise in limited work against the Bears. The Razorbacks have two more non-conference games before a key trip to Alabama on Sept. 24. New Mexico and Troy are two games that Arkansas should win and continue to sort things out on the rushing attack for SEC play.

4. Florida – Will Muschamp’s first game as head coach at Florida was a home run. The Gators thoroughly dominated FAU, holding the Owls to only three points and 137 total yards. The offense showed improvement from last season, with quarterback John Brantley completing 21 of 30 passes for 229 yards and one score. Running back Chris Rainey also had a huge game, rushing for 74 yards and a score, along with picking up a blocked punt return for a touchdown. Muschamp and his staff would like to see the offense clean up the turnovers – the Gators had three on Saturday – but it was a positive start for a team that looked out of sync last year.

5. South Carolina – Let the quarterback carousel begin in Columbia. Connor Shaw started against East Carolina, but was pulled for Stephen Garcia. Although he’s had his off-the-field issues at South Carolina, Garcia was clearly the better quarterback on Saturday and should be the starter against Georgia. However, when dealing with Steve Spurrier, you just never know. The Gamecocks struggled early against East Carolina, but eventually pulled away in the second half. One positive for the defense was the pass defense. The Gamecocks struggled in the secondary at times last year, but held a high-powered East Carolina passing attack to 260 yards. The South Carolina defensive front was a handful for the Pirates’ offensive line, and the battle in the trenches is a key area to focus on for Saturday’s game against the Bulldogs.

6. Mississippi State – Memphis was one of the worst teams in college football last season, but Dan Mullen had to be pleased with the way his team performed in the opener. The Bulldogs collected 309 yards on the ground, including 166 by Vick Ballard. Quarterback Chris Relf was solid, completed 13 of 21 passes for 202 yards and two scores, while adding 51 yards on the ground. The Mississippi State defense limited Memphis to 14 points and forced three turnovers. Again, the competition wasn’t great, but this was a good start to the year for the Bulldogs. The schedule picks up for Mullen and his team this week, as defending SEC champion Auburn visits Starkville.

7. Georgia – The Bulldogs entered the year with high hopes, but looked like the same team that finished with a disappointing 6-7 record last year. Boise State’s defensive front completely dominated Georgia’s offensive line, sacking Aaron Murray six times and holding the rushing attack in check. Although the loss to the Broncos was a setback, all is not lost for the Bulldogs. The SEC East title is within their grasp, especially with South Carolina visiting Athens on Saturday. Georgia’s backs are against the wall and if they can’t come out and perform, you can bet Mark Richt’s seat is going to get even hotter going into Week 3.

8. Tennessee – As was the case at many college football games in Week 1, weather played a factor in Tennessee’s opener. The kickoff was delayed due to storms, but it didn’t slow Tennessee down once the game started. The Volunteers cruised to an easy win over Montana, led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray’s 293 passing yards. Although it was a positive opener for Derek Dooley’s team, question marks remain. The Volunteers struggled to establish their rushing attack against the Grizzlies, while the defense is still short on depth. With Cincinnati coming to Knoxville this Saturday, the defense will have its hands full trying to slow down quarterback Zach Collaros.

9. Auburn – With so many new faces on both sides of the ball, most expected the Tigers would have a few ups and downs this year. However, no one could have expected Saturday’s performance. Auburn was handled in the trenches by Utah State and if not for some last-minute heroics, could have been facing an 0-1 record. With a difficult SEC schedule and a young team, the Tigers can’t afford to lose in their non-conference slate. Auburn has a lot of issues to work out this week in practice and after watching the defense struggled to stop Utah State’s rushing attack, Mississippi State could be in for a big afternoon on the ground.

10. Kentucky – Thursday night’s performance wasn’t exactly what head coach Joker Phillips had in mind. The Wildcats were dreadful on offense all night, ending up with only 190 total yards. Quarterback Morgan Newton completed only 7 of 18 throws and tossed three picks. The Wildcat defense made forcing turnovers a key focal point in fall camp, and they managed to come away with four against Western Kentucky. The defense also kept Hilltopper running back Bobby Rainey in check, allowing 103 yards on 28 carries. The Wildcats have a long ways to go, but a game against Central Michigan on Saturday could help find some answers, particularly on offense.

11. Ole Miss – Houston Nutt entered the year on the hot seat and Saturday’s loss to BYU certainly won’t help ease the pressure. The Rebels led deep into the fourth quarter, until BYU scored on a three-yard fumble return for the winning score. The Ole Miss offense sputtered at times, largely due to injuries at running back. Brandon Bolden is out indefinitely due to an ankle injury, which means Jeff Scott will be forced to take on a bigger role in the backfield. Zack Stoudt will also replace Barry Brunetti at quarterback for Saturday’s game against Southern Illinois.

12. Vanderbilt – The Commodores passed their first on-field test under James Franklin on Saturday against Elon. Vanderbilt took home a 45-14 victory over the Phoenix, even though they were outgained 323 to 309. The Commodores showed signs of life on offense, as quarterback Larry Smith posted three total scores and zero turnovers. Franklin was also aggressive on fourth down, but the Vanderbilt offense converted all three times. The Commodores have a more challenging test awaiting them on Saturday, with defending Big East champ Connecticut visiting Nashville. This is a winnable game for Vanderbilt and one that could help them escape the No. 12 spot in the SEC power rankings.

Teaser:
<p> How do the teams in the SEC stack up after Week 1?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - 12:41

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