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All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC
Path: /college-football/5-keys-florida-gators-defeat-ole-miss-rebels
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After their 13-point comeback victory over the Tennessee Volunteers last weekend, the Florida Gators are ranked for the first time since the 2013 season. Now if the Gators want to stay in the Top 25, they will have to defeat the No. 4 Ole Miss Rebels, who are considered one of the favorites to advance to the SEC Championship Game. 

 

Related: Ole Miss Rebels vs. Florida Gators Preview and Prediction

 

A couple of weeks ago, Ole Miss shocked the world by beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Rebels looked sluggish in their win against Vanderbilt last weekend. It appears Ole Miss didn’t take the Commodores very seriously. 

 

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Not many analyst are picking the Gators to win on Saturday. So what are the five keys for Florida to pull off the upset? 

 

1. Slow down the Rebels during the first quarter

The one thing Ole Miss has done this season is gotten off to great starts. The Rebels have averaged 16.25 points in their four games during the first quarter. 

 

Florida has had one of the best defenses in the first quarter this season as they are only allowing an average of 4.25 points per game in the opening stanza. If the Gators can continue to force early three and outs during the first quarter, that will give their defense more energy for the second half. 

 

2. Convert third downs

Last week against Tennessee, Florida was 3-15 on third down conversions. While they were also 5-5 on fourth downs, they can’t rely on being perfect on fourth downs against Ole Miss. 

 

So far this season, the Rebels’ third-down defense is 76th in the country as they have given up a first-down 37.8 percent of the time. Florida needs to make sure they can get into third and short situations, so that they have a better chance to convert on third downs. 
 

3. Watch out for Nkemdiche

Florida has one of the youngest offensive lines in the country. While they have done a solid job protecting Grier this season, their line will be across the line from the most talented group they’ve faced this year. 

 

Ole Miss has arguably the best defensive lineman in college football in Robert Nkemdiche. The defensive tackle is at the top of ESPN’s football analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s big board. 

 

"Power, explosion, where he's supposed to be in gap control and not trying to make things up,” said Florida head coach Jim McElwain in his Monday afternoon press conference. “It's not as much he's a great pass rusher, but how disruptive he is in the run game.”

 

Nkemdiche 2015 stats won’t wow you, but his impact on the game can’t be measured by numbers. Florida will have to be aware of where Nkemdiche is at all times. 

 

4. Kelvin Taylor

Against Tennessee, running back Kelvin Taylor rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. The junior will likely be called on again this weekend because Ole Miss doesn’t have a great run defense. 

 

The Rebels' rushing defense ranks 60th in the nation as they give up an average of 155.5 rushing yards per game. While the Gators mostly used Taylor in their running game last week, the team could also look to use Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite in spot situations during the game. 

 

5. Get pressure on Chad Kelly

Ole Miss’s quarterback Chad Kelly has been one of the hottest quarterbacks in the country this season. The transfer from East Mississippi Community College has thrown for 1,219 yards, 10 touchdowns against only three interceptions. 

 

Florida is ninth in the FBS in sacks per game with 3.5. If the Gators are to slow down his production, they will have to get pressure on him with their front four. Jonathan Bullard, Alex McCalister, Brian Cox Jr., and Joey Irie will need to get to know Kelly up close and personal on Saturday.

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

Teaser:
5 Keys for the Florida Gators to Defeat the Ole Miss Rebels
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 10:10
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-vs-wake-forest-demon-deacons-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Teams generally don’t like off weeks early in the season. They prefer the break come later when the team is more banged up and weary.

 

But for Florida State, having last week off may have been a good thing. The offense, besides running back Dalvin Cook, was sputtering. New quarterback Everett Golson did not appear to be in sync with his receivers and the extra practice time may have been beneficial. Also, the Seminoles played a very physical game at Boston College so there were some bruises that needed to heal.

 

Now FSU jumps back into ACC play with a date at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons come in at 2-2 following a loss at Indiana. Florida State holds a 26-6-1 advantage in the series.

 

Florida State at Wake Forest

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Florida State -19

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. A Bounce Back by Cook

After gaining only 54 yards on 15 carries against the tough Boston College defense, look for the Seminoles to try and establish their star back once again. The Florida State staff knows that Jordan Howard of Indiana had 168 yards rushing last week against the Demon Deacons. More importantly, Florida State needs Cook to get on a roll with Miami, Louisville, and Georgia Tech following Wake Forest on the schedule.

 

2. Protecting the Wake Forest Quarterback

Florida State has been looking to build something in the pass rush department and this could be the week. Wake Forest can’t run the ball and they are next to last nationally in sacks allowed. That’s a bad combination. Demon Deacons starting quarterback John Wolford missed last week’s game with an ankle injury and his status is uncertain for this week. Whether it is Wolford or last week’s starter Kendall Hinton taking snaps this week is irrelevant. Neither one can do anything lying on their back. 

 

3. Turnovers

In four games this season, Wake Forest has not forced a turnover. Not one. Meanwhile, the quarterback pressures have resulted in more than just sacks as the Deacs quarterbacks have thrown seven interceptions. The Seminoles have turned it over just once and have four takeaways. There is no way Wake Forest can hang with FSU if they lose the turnover battle.

 

Final Analysis

 

Since Wake Forest upset the Seminoles in 2011, Florida State has beaten the Deacs by scores of 52-0, 59-3, and 43-3. Last season, Wake Forest actually held a 3-0 lead going into the second quarter and was in the game at halftime before the Seminoles poured it on in the second half. This Wake Forest team may have a better defense than last year so they may be able to keep a struggling FSU offense from scoring as much. But the Wake offense will not have much of a chance against the Noles. Florida State fattens up in preparation for next week’s Hurricane invasion.

 

Prediction: Florida State 31, Wake Forest 3

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Teaser:
Florida State Seminoles vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 10:05
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/tennessee-fan-creates-directv-commercial-parody
Body:

We've all seen those DirecTV commercials with the football star, and the not-so-famous version of himself.

 

A Tennessee fan has created his own version of the commercial, showing just how tough it is to be a Vols fan this season. The team's play in the first half is sometimes drastically different than in the second. After devastating losses to Oklahoma and Florida, we get a peak into what it's really like to be a Vols fan.

 

 

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Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 10:03
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-rebels-vs-florida-gators-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Ole Miss and Florida meet on Saturday night in the Swamp with momentum on their side after both programs scored key SEC wins in September. The Rebels opened conference play with a victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa but followed the win over the Crimson Tide with a sluggish performance against Vanderbilt. The Gators are coming off a last-minute win over Tennessee last Saturday and defeated Kentucky in Lexington in Week 3.

 

While it seems premature or even a little crazy to suggest in early October, it’s possible this game could be a preview of the SEC Championship. Ole Miss still has to play Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi State, but only one of those games are on the road. Florida has to navigate a tough crossover (Ole Miss and LSU) and the annual trip to Jacksonville to take on Georgia. However, new coach Jim McElwain has this team headed in the right direction, and Florida still has three favorable remaining games in SEC play remaining against Vanderbilt, South Carolina.

 

Related: Predictions for Every Game in Week 5

 

Ole Miss leads the all-time series over Florida at 12-10-1. The Rebels and Gators have not met since 2008 and have played just six times since 1992.

 

Ole Miss at Florida

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Ole Miss -7.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Florida’s Offensive Line

With just one returning starter and little in the way of proven depth, this unit was arguably the biggest concern for new coach Jim McElwain in the preseason. So far, the Gators have experienced their share of ups and downs in the trenches. This unit has allowed eight sacks in four games and rushers are averaging 4.3 yards per carry. While this group was tested against Kentucky and Tennessee, Ole Miss will be its toughest of the year so far. The Rebels are led by standout tackle Robert Nkemdiche up front and rank fifth in the SEC with 28 tackles for a loss after four games. Additionally, Ole Miss is limiting opponents to just 3.6 yards per carry. Can Florida establish the line of scrimmage and generate a ground attack to keep the pressure off of quarterback Will Grier? In two SEC games, the Gators managed only 229 yards on 65 carries. Putting Grier in third-and-long situations is not ideal, which means the offensive line needs to generate a push for running back Kelvin Taylor and keep the down and distance into manageable situations for the redshirt freshman quarterback.

 

Related: SEC Week 5 Predictions

 

2. Chad Kelly vs. Will Grier

Ole Miss and Florida entered the 2015 season with uncertainty surrounding its quarterbacks, but both programs should be feeling better about their signal-callers after the first four weeks of the season. Kelly passed for 341 yards and three scores in the road win over Alabama and has 1,219 yards and 10 touchdowns so far in 2015. Grier didn’t started the first game of the season, but he played extensively in the win over New Mexico State and seems to have a secure hold on the top spot. Sophomore Treon Harris could play against Ole Miss, but Grier seems to be putting some distance between the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the depth chart. Grier stepped up in the clutch last Saturday with the game on the line against Tennessee and has 725 yards and six scores through the first four games. Both quarterbacks will be throwing against talented defensive backfields. Which will make the fewest amount of mistakes or generate the most big plays?

 

3. Florida’s Defensive Backs Against Ole Miss Receivers

It’s a matchup of strength on strength when Florida’s defensive backs are going against a deep corps of Ole Miss receivers. The Gators are led by standout junior Vernon Hargreaves III at cornerback, while Jalen Tabor returns from a one-game suspension to team with Quincy Wilson on the opposite side. This group has limited opponents to just 193.3 passing yards per game through four weeks and has allowed just one touchdown through the air in two SEC games. However, those numbers will be tested by Kelly and receivers Laquon Treadwell, Cody Core, Quincy Adeboyejo and tight end Evan Engram. Treadwell is the top player out of this group, but Core and Adeboyejo are averaging just over 22 yards per catch. Which group will win out on Saturday night? Florida’s defensive backs are capable of limiting big plays from the Rebels’ passing attack, but this unit also needs help from the pass rush.

 

Final Analysis

 

Ole Miss should be eager to rebound from a sluggish performance against Vanderbilt. However, this one in the Swamp won’t be easy. The Rebels have an edge up front, which should allow the defense to generate pressure on Florida quarterback Will Grier and put the redshirt freshman into a few third-and-long situations. When Ole Miss has the ball, quarterback Chad Kelly and the receiving corps will test the Gators’ secondary. However, just like Florida, the Rebels have to protect their quarterback, as well as establish the threat of the ground attack. McElwain has this program trending in the right direction, but the Rebels are deeper and more talented at this point.

 

Ole Miss 31, Florida 17
Teaser:
Ole Miss Rebels vs. Florida Gators Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/baylor-bears-vs-texas-tech-red-raiders-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

If you missed the TCU vs. Texas Tech game last week you missed a high scoring affair and a dramatic ending. But don’t worry, there is a very good chance you will see something very similar this weekend in Arlington.

 

Baylor comes into the game behind an offense that is scoring at will. Likewise Texas Tech has shown its offensive firepower. Defensive stops should be at a premium and records have a chance of being broken in what may be one of the most interesting displays of offensive firepower all season.

 

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Baylor at Texas Tech

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Baylor -17

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Baylor Make History?
Never in the history of college football has a team surpassed 700 total offensive yards in four straight games. The Baylor Bears have the opportunity to do just that this Saturday in Arlington. The Bears are currently leading the nation averaging 767 yards per game.

 

So is the feat attainable? Texas Tech is currently ranked 122nd in the nation in total defense allowing 556.3 yards per game. They allowed 750 total yards against TCU last week. There is a very real chance Baylor sets an NCAA record this weekend.

 

2. Patrick Mahomes

The Texas Tech quarterback was injured during the first quarter of last week’s game versus TCU. He finished the game with a knee brace (left knee) but it definitely affected his mobility.

 

Kingsbury still has Mahomes listed as day-to-day. If he is able to play this weekend you can expect the Raiders to try to establish the run first, much like they did against TCU when they ran the ball 39 times. Obviously Mahomes’s immobility takes away an important aspect of the Raiders offense. Baylor may test Mahomes's ability to get outside the pocket by blitzing early.

 

3. Can Texas Tech Stop Baylor’s Offense?

The short answer to this question is probably not. Baylor is on pace to have one of the most prolific offenses in the history of college football. Texas Tech allowed Trevone Boykin and TCU to throw for over 500 yards last weekend. Baylor receiver, Corey Coleman, is also averaging 27 yards per catch this season, a stat that is absolutely absurd.

 

Even if Texas Tech is able to take away the passing game Baylor has already surpassed 1100 yards on the ground this season. Of the backs that have at least 20 carries this season only Terrence Williams is averaging less than 8 yards per carry, and he is still at 7.4.

 

I’m not saying Texas Tech’s defense is bad, I’m merely saying stopping Baylor’s offense may be next to impossible. Pay attention to the defensive schemes Texas Tech’s defensive coordinator David Gibbs draws up this week. Taking chances is the best, and possibly only, way to contain the Bears.


Final Analysis

 

There is no doubt this will be a shootout. If either defense can hold the other team’s offense to under 40 points they should hold their heads high.

 

The mobility of Patrick Mahomes may be a wildcard in this game. Although the Raiders should be able to run the ball against the Bears who are allowing just over 156 yards per game on the ground, Mahomes will need to throw the ball in order to keep up with Baylor.

 

Baylor should pull off the victory here but not by the score the spread suggests. This isn’t the same Texas Tech team from last season. They have the ability to stay in games against marquee opponents as made evident against TCU last week. The only problem is Baylor is more dangerous than TCU and that will show this Saturday.

 

Prediction: Baylor 56, Texas Tech 49

 

— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.

Teaser:
Baylor Bears vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 09:55
Path: /college-football/minnesota-golden-gophers-vs-northwestern-wildcats-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

This isn't how it was supposed to be. Minnesota was supposed to be the division front-runner, touting its gritty style of play as the reason you should believe in them as contenders. Northwestern was supposed to be the young, unorganized team without an identity, fighting to stay out of the Big Ten basement.

 

So much for what was supposed to happen.

 

Minnesota comes to Evansville as a team whose best game of the season so far came in a losing effort against TCU. Since then, the Gophers have won three straight nail-biters against teams from the Group of 5.

 

Northwestern, on the other hand, has what might be the two best wins by any Big Ten team under its belt. The Wildcats took down Stanford at home, the went to Duke two weeks later and knocked off the Blue Devils. The results of those game were the catalyst that launched the Wildcats firmly into the AP Top 25 &mdash ranked higher than any other Big Ten West team at this point.

 

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Minnesota at Northwestern

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Northwestern -4

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Justin Jackson run on the Gopher defense?

Jackson is a budding star in the Big Ten and the cornerstone of what the Wildcats do on offense. He's averaging nearly 130 yards per outing, controlling the tempo and keeping the Northwestern defense well rested. Minnesota is a middle-of-the-road team against the run nationally, allowing 151.3 yards per game. If Jackson can find room to run against the Gophers, it'll give a Minnesota offense that already struggles to score even less time to put points up.


Related: College Football's Top 10 Running Backs for September

 

2. Can Minnesota take the lead early?

If Minnesota can get out to a fast start, it could force Northwestern to abandon the running attack early in order to stay in the game. This would play right into what Jerry Kill wants to do, as his defensive unit is one of the best in the country at shutting down the pass. Two quick score — preferably by way of long, clock-killing drives — could be all that's needed for the Gophers to sit back and play their game until the clock runs out.

 

3. Is Shannon Brooks the playmaker Minnesota has been desperately looking for?

Brooks made his collegiate debut against Ohio last week, rushing for 82 yards and two scores on just ten carries. If he can continue that into the game against Northwestern early on, it could be enough to open things up in the secondary for Mitch Leidner. Brooks's presence alone is going to draw attention early on. If he can prove that last week was no fluke, it would certainly impact this game and the rest of the Big Ten season moving forward.

 

Final Analysis

 

Northwestern has been tested twice this season by two teams that are more balanced and arguably more talented than Minnesota. They came out on top in both games, due in large part to Jackson, quarterback Clayton Thorson's leadership and resiliency, and Pat Fitzgerald convincing his team that they are good enough to win every game. The tangibles are all on Minnesota's side — mostly on defense. Unfortunately for the Gophers, Northwestern is a confident team that matches up well with what Minnesota wants to do on both sides of the ball. For that reason, I give the edge to the Wildcats in a higher scoring game than expected.

 

Prediction: Northwestern 27, Minnesota 20

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of KnowItAllFootball.com, a Big Ten site for Big Ten fans. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Northwestern Wildcats Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 09:50
Path: /college-football/michigan-wolverines-vs-maryland-terrapins-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Michigan Wolverines find themselves in recent unfamiliar territory after the first few weeks of the college football season. Despite being one of the most storied programs, the Wolverines are ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 2, 2013. After shutting out BYU 31-0 last Saturday, Michigan is ranked No. 22 in this week’s poll

 

Unlike Michigan, the Maryland Terrapins are coming off of an embarrassing 45-6 loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers. Reportedly after a 2-2 start, the Terrapins called a players-only meeting on Tuesday to cut out any negativity around the team.

 

Last season, Maryland rallied past Michigan 23-16 behind a Wes Brown one-yard touchdown run with 5:59 remaining in the game that broke a 16-16 tie. 

 

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Michigan at Maryland

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Start time moved from 8 p.m. ET due to Hurricane Joaquin)

Network: Big Ten Network

Spread: Michigan -16

 

Three Things to Watch For

 

1. Maryland’s quarterback situation

After a lackluster performance against West Virginia, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said he is sticking with redshirt junior Caleb Rowe as his starting quarterback. The Mountaineers defense held Rowe to 10 completions on 27 attempts last weekend while intercepting him four times.

 

Daxx Garman wasn’t much better in relief of Rowe as he was 4-for-9 for 86 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Whoever is under center for Maryland, they will be against one of the best passing defenses in the country.

 

In four games, Michigan has given up an average of 121.8 passing yards per game, which is the fifth-best in the FBS. If Maryland is going to pull off the upset on the road, they will have to protect the ball, something they obviously didn’t do last weekend.

 

2. Michigan’s running game

Ever since their 24-17 loss against Utah on the opening weekend of the season, the Wolverines have been one of the better rushing teams in the country. Michigan ran for 225 yards against Oregon State and 254 yards against UNLV and BYU in back-to-back weeks.

 

The Maryland defense has given up an average of 200.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks 100th in the nation. Unless the Terrapins can shorten the game and force the Wolverines into some turnovers, Michigan should be successful running the football.

 

3. William Likely

Since Maryland has a struggling offense, they will need to find other ways to generate points. Likely is one of the nation’s best punt returners and he could potentially be an x-factor for Maryland on Saturday.

 

On 12 returns, Likely has averaged 28.1 yards per punt return, which is the best in the FBS. The Belle Glade native also has two return touchdowns this season.

 

Michigan punter Blake O’Neill will need to punt away from Likely throughout the game. If he gives Likely a chance to return a punt, the Wolverines could regret it.

 

Final Analysis

 

After shutting out a solid BYU team last week, Michigan appears to be ready to contend in the Big Ten. Before they can do that, they have to defeat a Maryland team who on paper they are better than.

 

The only way Maryland can win this game is to shorten the game by running the football and forcing turnovers. The Terrapins also can’t throw five interceptions last they did last week against West Virginia.

 

Maryland has one of the nation’s worst defenses, so there’s no reason the Michigan offense shouldn’t be able to take advantage of that.

 

Prediction: Michigan 34, Maryland 10

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

Teaser:
Michigan Wolverines vs. Maryland Terrapins Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 09:45
Path: /college-football/week-5-college-football-picks-against-spread
Body:

I probably won't bet on Auburn the rest of the season. Or Tennessee or TCU or Oregon. Every year in college football there are just teams that are more schizophrenic than others.

 

Those are the teams to avoid and it appears we've got a lot of them in college football this season. Particularly, with all of the injuries mounting for Top 25 teams.

 

Last Week: 4-3

Year-to-date: 12-11

 

Notre Dame (+1.5) at Clemson

The Irish are a solid team with a big-time O-line and great weapons. But they have a QB making his second career start on the road against a rested Tigers team. Deshaun Watson makes a big play against a banged-up ND defense. Prediction: Clemson -1.5

 

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Ohio State (-22) at Indiana

This game has been bizarrely close lately in two of the last three meetings and Indiana is operating at full capacity on offense right now. Ohio State wins easily, but this is way too many points for a very good Indiana offense. Prediction: Indiana +22

 

Western Kentucky (-7.5) at Rice

The Hilltoppers are excellent on offense and Rice has been scorched on defense this year, giving up 7.7 yards per play this season. Texas, North Texas and Baylor all averaged more than 7.0 yards per play against the Owls. Take WKU. Prediction: Western Kentucky -7.5

 

Vanderbilt (+1.5) at Middle Tennessee

The Blue Raiders are a solid team and have never lost to Vanderbilt as an FBS team. The Dores know this and have a defense that is playing at a very high level. Vandy has held Ole Miss, Georgia and WKU well below their season averages this year already. Take the points. Prediction: Vanderbilt +1.5

 

West Virginia (+6.5) at Oklahoma

Call it a hunch, but I like the Sooners here. West Virginia is solid on defense and has looked really good all season and that may have skewed this line as the betting public is all over the Mountaineers. Baker Mayfield and company are rested and playing at an elite level on offense. This will be an entertaining game. Prediction: Oklahoma -6.5

 

Against the herd: Bet opposite of the public!

 

Texas Tech (+17) vs. Baylor

This was close last season and Tech is improved this fall. There will be points. This opened at Baylor -15.

 

Texas (+15) at TCU

This opened at 18.5 and has dropped big time because the public is doubting TCU’s defense. Take the Frogs.

 

Oregon (-7.5) at Colorado

The Buffs opened at +12 and the public has dropped it all the way to a touchdown. Go Ducks.

 

RecordTeams ATS
4-0Air Force, Central Michigan*, MTSU, Navy**, NC State, Ohio, Southern Miss, Texas Tech*
0-4Arizona St, UCF, Fresno St^, Michigan St, Missouri, North Texas^^, Old Dominion, San Diego St, UTEP^,        

* — 3-0-1
**  — 3-0

^ — 0-3-1 

^^ - 0-3

Teaser:
Week 5 College Football Picks Against the Spread
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 09:42
Path: /college-football/texas-longhorns-vs-tcu-horned-frogs-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

There couldn’t be two more polar-opposite teams when it comes to luck than TCU and Texas.

 

Texas is coming off two heartbreaking losses in which last second blunders on special teams have cost them games. TCU is coming off a victory at Texas Tech in which the Frogs' Aaron Green just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

 

There is no question the Longhorns are better than their record as, aside from Notre Dame, they have either won or been in every game. What changes this week? Well they travel to TCU.

 

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Texas at TCU

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: TCU -15

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Jerrod Heard Carry the Longhorns?
There is no doubt Heard is a playmaker and some at Texas are already comparing him to the likes of Vince Young. Whether that is a fair comparison is yet to be known but the fact remains, he can be a difference-maker.

 

Heard is going to make plays. He will probably not beat you through the air but his ability to run is his biggest threat. While Baylor is really not giving up many yards they are allowing 156 yards per game on the ground. This is something the Longhorns, and specifically Heard, may be able to exploit.

 

2. Texas Secondary

If you look at the statistics you may think the Longhorns secondary has enjoyed watching teams pass more than they have tried to defend them. Texas has allowed opponents to complete 69 percent of their passes while gaining 1,104 yards to go with 10 touchdowns.

 

With Trevone Boykin already in midseason form the success of the Longhorns secondary will have to be a point of emphasis if they plan on sticking around in this game. Boykin has already passed for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. If the Longhorns keep on their current pace Boykin will have a field day this weekend at home.

 

3. Longhorns Offense

Let’s be honest, The Longhorns are going to have to score often in order to stay in this game. The problem is the Texas offense ranks in the bottom half of the Big 12 in every offensive category including last in total offense.

 

Jerrod Heard can not be a one-man-show. And as much as Texas fans don’t even want to hear the words special teams they may be a factor in this game. Longhorns senior Daje Johnson leads the Big 12 in punt return average at 19.8 per return. Giving Texas favorable field position does nothing but help an offense that has struggled to move the ball.

 

TCU’s defense has struggled so far this season giving up an average of 405 yards per game. The Frogs defense has been decimated by injuries and it has shown. If the Longhorns can execute there is the chance they can move the ball. But others are going to have to step up and that simply hasn’t been the case yet this season.


Final Analysis

 

TCU is going to be able to take advantage of a Longhorns secondary that just will not be able to compete with the Frogs' speed.  Likewise, Texas should be able to exploit some of the Frogs' defensive deficiencies.

 

Unfortunately Texas has issues on both sides of the ball that will become apparent in this game. Heard cannot win this game on his own and Texas will not be able to find an answer for Boykin.

 

While this game may be close at the half expect TCU to cover the spread en route to a 4-0 start to the season. Although Texas may eventually get their act together this will not be the game for that to happen.

 

Prediction: TCU 45, Texas 27

 

— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.

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Ever since West Virginia joined the Big 12 in 2012, the Mountaineers have come oh so close to knocking off Oklahoma in each of their meetings, losing the three games by a combined 22 points.

 

WVU could get over that hump this year. The ‘Eers have throttled their first three opponents this year behind a defense that has allowed a paltry 7.7 points per game. Meanwhile, the WVU offense lost some of its star power from last season, but that hasn’t stopped it from continuing to click in a manner befitting coach Dana Holgorsen’s offensive acumen.

 

After the Sooners dropped three games at Owen Field a year ago, their home-field advantage no longer seems so imposing. If OU repeats the same sloppiness seen in early kickoffs in Norman a year ago, WVU could get an early leg up on the Sooners in the Big 12 race.

 

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West Virginia at Oklahoma

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: FS1
Spread: Oklahoma -7

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. WVU’s front six against the run

When OU visited Morgantown last year, the Sooners broke the game open in the second half by allowing their offensive line and burly running back Samaje Perine to hammer away at the Mountaineers’ undersized defensive line and linebackers. Perine ended up rumbling for 242 yards and 4 touchdowns on 34 attempts in OU’s 45-33 win.

 

With the shift to the Air Raid and the insertion of a number of new faces on OU’s offensive line, WVU’s disadvantage at the point of attack won’t be so pronounced. In fact, the ‘Eers might even own the edge there now.

 

2. Did the OU offense take advantage of the off week?

Bye weeks can affect teams in funny ways. Some get out of sync after not playing for two weeks. Some come back refreshed from the break.

 

But the extra week often pays the biggest dividends for teams going through a scheme change. With a few games under their belts, they have an idea of what needs work. And with no game prep looming, they can address their problems.

 

We’ll find out Saturday how well OU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley utilized his bye week.

 

3. Turnovers

“Turnovers, huh? No kidding.”

 

Except in this case, they’re of particular importance to the ‘Eers, who are plus-nine in turnover margin with 11 takeaways through three games this season. The Sooners, meanwhile, are minus-four in three games.

If the Sooners aren't careful with the ball, WVU will make them pay.

 

Final Analysis

 

Despite their lack of quality competition, the Mountaineers have done all that can be asked of them so far in dispatching Georgia Southern, Liberty and Maryland by an average of five touchdowns. They have the offensive balance to give OU serious problems, and their veteran secondary is built to slow down the Sooners’ talented receivers.

 

Ultimately, though, this game should come down to the Sooners’ edge at the skill positions. Between Perine, his backfield mate Joe Mixon, stud wideout Sterling Shepard, matchup nightmare Mark Andrews at flex tight end and the rest of OU’s assortment of weapons, the Sooners can move the ball in a multitude of ways. They can punch and counter punch effectively to address defensive adjustments in a manner that the 'Eers cannot.

 

Although both defenses have shown signs of promise, don’t be shocked if Holgo and Riley flex their offensive muscles and turn this into a shootout. If so, look for OU’s offensive stars to make a few more big plays than their counterparts from Morgantown, sparking the Sooners to the W.

 

Prediction: Oklahoma 42, West Virginia 34

 

— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.

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Some losses hit a team harder than others. Getting beat by a more talented opponent is rough, but it is at least understandable. Virginia Tech’s 35-28 loss at East Carolina does not fall into that category.

 

The Hokies certainly have better athletes than the Pirates and after losing to East Carolina at home last year, motivation should not have been a concern. Virginia Tech outgained ECU and won the turnover battle. The defensive line came out strong to start the game, controlling the line of scrimmage. Despite all of that, East Carolina prevailed.

 

Pittsburgh had an off week this past Saturday which gave them plenty of time to ponder their own difficult loss. After scoring a touchdown to tie Iowa with 52 seconds left, the Hawkeyes won the game 27-24 on a 57-yard field goal as time expired.

 

The Panthers are 2-1 entering conference play while the Hokies come in at 2-2.

 

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Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: RSN/ESPN3

Spread: Virginia Tech -4.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Containing Tyler Boyd

After missing the season opener against Youngstown State due to a suspension, the ACC’s leading receiver in 2014 picked up right where he left off last year. The junior from Clairton, Pa. has 21 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown in two games. Virginia Tech star cornerback Kendall Fuller missed the ECU game with a knee sprain and his absence was noticeable. The Pirates did not pass often, but when they did receivers were wide open. Freshman Mook Reynolds and sophomore Greg Stroman did not have strong games in place of Fuller, who is now out for the season after undergoing knee surgery. That is music to Boyd’s ears.

 

2. Can Pittsburgh Run the Ball?

The loss of star running back James Conner in the first game of the year has caused some flux in the backfield for Pittsburgh. Qadree Ollison is the Panthers' leading rusher with 305 yards. But against Iowa, Darrin Hall led the team in carries. The problem was that no one ran the ball well against Iowa. Virginia Tech held ECU back Chris Hairston to just three yards rushing. However, Pirates quarterback James Summers piled up 169 yards on the ground. The quarterback run is not part of the Pittsburgh attack as Nathan Peterman has just five total rushing yards on the season. The Panthers are going to have to get their rushing yards from their backs. Or maybe they abandon the run and throw the ball all over the place.

 

3. The Play of Brenden Motley

Much like ECU, the entire Virginia Tech rushing offense was predicated on the quarterback running with the football. The tailbacks combined for 17 carries and 51 yards. Motley had 85 yards on 19 carries. He threw the ball well at times, completing nine passes in a row during one stretch. But at other times he was horribly inaccurate and made a bad decision on the red zone interception. Michael Brewer is expected back soon, but it won’t be this week. It is again on Motley.

 

Final Analysis

 

Virginia Tech lost to East Carolina because they failed to make plays when needed to on offense, the offensive line could not open up running lanes for the backs, they had a poor tackling game, and the secondary did not play well. This week, the mental aspect of the game could be a factor. Everyone affiliated with Virginia Tech remembers the downward spiral that affected the team after last year’s loss to East Carolina. Are they thinking déjà vu? Pittsburgh’s loss, while difficult to swallow, does not prompt the same thoughts as the Virginia Tech defeat. On the field, the questions in the Virginia Tech secondary can be exploited by Peterman and Boyd. Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi has risen to this level because of his defensive acumen and he could give Motley and company some trouble. Both teams need to put the past behind them as this is the conference opener and there is a clean ACC slate. I think that job is easier for Pittsburgh.

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Virginia Tech 21

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

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Missouri (3-1, 0-1) suffered its first loss after falling 21-13 to Kentucky in Week 4. The Tigers offense was held to just 338 total yards and went 6-of-14 on third down conversion attempts.

 

South Carolina (2-2, 0-1) is coming off a 31-14 win against UCF. It included a breakout performance by new starting quarterback Lorenzo Nunez.

 

Saturday's matchup is a must win for both teams who are looking to gain some ground in an open SEC East division.

 

South Carolina at Missouri

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: SEC Network
Spread: Missouri -4

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Next in line

Drew Lock will make his first start for Missouri following Maty Mauk's suspension. He's seen limited time in each game and enters with 225 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 15-of-25 passing.

 

Lock has an opportunity to nab the starting job long-term should he provide a strong performance facing a struggling South Carolina defense.

 

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2. Is Lorenzo Nunez's sudden hype validated?

Nunez recorded 123 rushing yards on 30 attempts and threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-22 passing. The true freshman gave South Carolina's offense a much needed jolt after a disappointing 1-2 start and several lackluster performances from the quarterback position.

 

Nunez was a four-star prospect, so his natural ability shouldn't be much of a surprise. But was Saturday's game a sign of things to come or the product of a matchup against a bad UCF team?

 

3. Missouri vs. the injury bug

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel listed star linebacker Kentrell Brothers as questionable for Saturday's game. Brothers leads the SEC with 52 total tackles and also has three tackles for loss and two interceptions.

 

Missouri also needs to overcome injuries to two starting offensive players. Both tight end Sean Culkin and right tackle Nate Crawford were ruled out for Saturday's game.


Final Analysis

 

This game won't be a shootout by any means. Both Missouri and South Carolina have flaws in several areas, which should be on display Saturday.

 

South Carolina's defense seems incapable of stopping opposing teams. Aside from Skai Moore, there's a lack of true SEC defensive talent. Its offense isn't much better with a lack of weapons outside of Pharoh Cooper.

 

Missouri has managed to capture "ugly wins" in 2015 and that will likely continue on Saturday. Despite Lock's inexperience as a starter, he's still managed to earn enough playing time to assume he'll be prepared for a matchup against one of the SEC's bottom-tier defenses.


Prediction: Missouri 17, South Carolina 7

 

— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhallFSN.

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Death Valley is the epicenter of college football’s Week 5 slate, as Notre Dame travels to Clemson for a must-see non-conference matchup. The Fighting Irish enter Saturday night’s game at 4-0 and ranked No. 6 in the latest Associated Press poll, while the Tigers are 3-0 and ranked No. 12. Needless to say, this marquee matchup will have playoff implications for both teams and will have a huge impact on the top 25 rankings on Sunday.

 

There’s a potential wild card element in play on Saturday night, as Hurricane Joaquin could bring heavy rainfall to the area. Playing conditions could be an issue if the inclement weather hits Clemson, S.C. on Saturday night.

 

Related: Predictions for Every Game in Week 5

 

The path to an unbeaten record has been significantly different for both teams. Notre Dame was hit with a rash of injuries, including season-ending ailments to quarterback Malik Zaire and running back Tarean Folston. Personnel issues also hindered Clemson, as the Tigers returned just five starters from last year’s team. Additionally, standout receiver Mike Williams was lost for an indefinite period due to a neck injury suffered in the opener against Wofford. However, Clemson was able to quickly reload and was picked at ACC Media Day as the projected champion. Despite both teams suffering significant personnel setbacks, both teams are squarely in the mix to be a playoff team in 2015.

 

Notre Dame and Clemson have played only two previous matchups. The series is tied at one victory apiece, with the last meeting between the Tigers and Fighting Irish taking place in 1979.

 

Notre Dame at Clemson

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Clemson -1

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The Quarterbacks

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson has only eight starts under his belt, but the sophomore is already one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Through three games in 2015, Watson has completed 58 of 78 passes for 641 yards and seven scores. While Watson is a known commodity and a proven star, there’s a different feeling on the Notre Dame sideline about its quarterback. The Fighting Irish lost starter Malik Zaire to an ankle injury in the second week of the season against Virginia, forcing unproven redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer into the starting lineup. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is no stranger to quarterback changes and adapting to injuries at the position, and Kizer has been steady through his first two starts. But Saturday night is a tough assignment for any quarterback to step into. Clemson is one of the best venues in college football, and Kizer will face the best defense of his career so far. Notre Dame doesn’t need Kizer to throw for 300 yards on Saturday night, but he has to take care of the ball and limit mistakes. For Watson, Clemson may ask him to carry more of the workload. It’s no secret quarterback play is crucial to winning every game, but the battle between a redshirt freshman making his third career start against a rising star will be an interesting storyline.

 

Related: Three Reasons Why Notre Dame Will Beat Clemson

 

2. Battle in the Trenches

The biggest concern for Clemson in the preseason was its rebuilt offensive and defensive lines. So far, it’s been a mixed bag of success in the trenches. The Tigers have allowed six sacks, and quarterback Deshaun Watson faced heavy pressure in the win over Louisville on Sept. 17. The Fighting Irish’s front seven has been the strength of this defense in 2015, limiting opponents to 4.1 yards per carry and generating eight sacks. Tackle Sheldon Day is the headliner up front, while linebacker Jaylon Smith is one of – if not – the best in the nation at his position. It’s no secret what Notre Dame’s defense has to do on Saturday night. Disrupting the timing of Clemson’s offense starts up front. If Watson and the deep group of receivers have time to make plays, there’s opportunities downfield against a Fighting Irish secondary that has allowed six plays of 30 yards or more.

 

On the other side of the ball for Clemson, coordinator Brent Venables has managed to quickly restock the team’s defensive line. The Tigers have generated seven sacks and 28 tackles for a loss through three games. End Shaq Lawson is the unit’s top player (six tackles for a loss, two sacks in 2015), but the interior is also performing well with the emergence of true freshman Christian Wilkins (24 stops), along with junior Carlos Watkins (16 tackles). Clemson’s rush defense has also remained tough, limiting opponents to 2.9 yards per carry. However, the Tigers will face their toughest test of the season on Saturday night. Notre Dame’s offensive line is arguably one of the best in the nation, with left tackle Ronnie Stanley leading the way. Although Kizer has performed well in his limited action, it’s critical for the Fighting Irish to establish the line of scrimmage and allow running back C.J. Prosise to take some of the pressure off the redshirt freshman quarterback.

 

Related: Three Reasons Why Clemson Will Beat Notre Dame

 

3. Notre Dame WR Will Fuller vs. Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander

Assuming the weather cooperates, Saturday’s matchup could feature one of the best one-on-one battles of the year between two likely All-American candidates. Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller has grabbed 22 catches for 454 yards and six scores this season, averaging a healthy 20.6 yards per catch. Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander is one of the best in the nation but has only two tackles and one pass breakup in 2015. However, that’s not his fault for the low totals on the stat sheet – opponents aren’t simply throwing to his side of the field. Fuller’s string of 100-yard games this season was snapped against UMass (only 57 yards on four catches), and there’s a good chance he’s blanketed by Alexander on Saturday night. Can Alexander limit Fuller’s production and force Kizer to target Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle? Or will Fuller win the one-on-one matchups and allow Kizer to connect on big plays downfield?

 

Final Analysis

 

Both teams have been tested this year, but Saturday night’s game is each program’s toughest opponent so far in 2015. Will the injuries finally catch up to Notre Dame? Or is Clemson’s rebuilding effort still a work in progress? Of course, there’s the weather element to consider. If conditions are an issue, an edge has to go to the Fighting Irish with its offensive line and running back C.J. Prosise. Even if conditions aren’t an issue, the Tigers still have question marks about the play in the trenches against Notre Dame’s offensive and defensive lines. Clemson has the edge at quarterback, but the Fighting Irish’s defense and strength up front on offense will be the difference.

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Clemson 24
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Notre Dame will be going into a difficult environment on Saturday in Death Valley. With an 8 p.m. start, the Clemson faithful have plenty of time to get themselves in the right frame of mind for kickoff. It will be loud. It will be hostile.

 

Related: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Clemson Tigers Preview and Prediction

 

More importantly, the Irish are facing a very talented Clemson team. Deshaun Watson is an outstanding quarterback and he knows how to get the ball in the hands of playmakers like Artavis Scott and Wayne Gallman. Defensively, Shaq Lawson up front and Mackensie Alexander in the back know how to stymie opposing offenses.

 

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But this is Notre Dame and this is just their next big game. And they have several very talented players on their side.

 

The Irish are going to Clemson expecting to win and here are three reasons why they will.

 

1. The Irish Defensive Front vs. the Clemson Offensive Line

The weakest spot of Clemson’s offense — and probably their entire team — is the offensive line. Injuries have affected the unit’s play and center Ryan Norton, by far Clemson’s most experienced offensive lineman, will miss the Notre Dame game with a knee sprain. But it has been more than injuries. The group has simply not dominated lesser competition the way you would expect. They are tied for 70th in the country allowing two sacks a game and that is despite ranking No. 105 in passing attempts. This week, they will be up against Sheldon Day, Isaac Rochell, Jaylon Smith and the rest of a tough Notre Dame front seven. It won’t be like blocking Wofford, Appalachian State or Louisville, that’s for sure.

 

2. Wearing Down the Clemson Defense

Clemson has a very solid defense. But due to injuries and other personnel losses, they are not deep with quality talent. This is where Notre Dame’s big offensive line will be a factor. They will pound on Clemson play after play. Though Notre Dame does not play at TCU-like speed, a little faster tempo may be the way to go in this game. Keep Clemson’s defenders moving. Notre Dame has a depth advantage and as the game drags on it should become more and more evident.

 

3. The Schedule

Clemson’s last game was on Sept. 16, giving them 16 days off before the Notre Dame clash. They have plenty of time to game plan for the Irish and they got some bruises healed. But that’s a long time without game action. Meanwhile, Notre Dame played the perfect lead-in opponent in UMass. While the first half did not go exactly as planned, Notre Dame did get to see a team that can throw the ball, something Clemson will do on Saturday night. Also, the Irish have played a tough road game and met up with Texas and Georgia Tech. Clemson started with two patsies and then inched by a struggling Louisville team. Notre Dame is the more battle tested team going into Saturday night.

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

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When Notre Dame reached their agreement with the ACC and the schedule was finalized, the fine, Orange-clad folks in the Palmetto State had this coming Saturday circled on the calendar. The Irish and Tigers have only met twice on the gridiron and Notre Dame’s lone trip to Clemson was back in 1977.

 

Related: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Clemson Tigers Preview and Prediction

 

The Irish come in ranked higher in the AP Poll at No. 6 as opposed to Clemson at No. 12. Jaylon Smith is good. Sheldon Day is good. C.J. Prosise is good. Will Fuller is good.

 

It doesn’t matter. Here are three reasons why Clemson will win on Saturday night.

 

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1. Deshaun Watson and the Passing Game

Matt Johns and Virginia threw for 289 yards against Notre Dame. In that game, Canaan Severin had 11 catches for 153 yards. Last week, UMass had 302 yards passing against the Irish. And Georgia Tech mounted a comeback against ND when they passed the ball at the end of the game. Notre Dame’s pass defense has been suspect and Saturday they will have to contend with Watson throwing to Artavis Scott, Ray-Ray McCloud and the rest of the talented Clemson receivers. If Notre Dame’s secondary does not step up its play, it will be a long night for the guys in the gold helmets.

 

2. The Clemson Rush Defense

Notre Dame got a shot in the arm when running back C.J. Prosise replaced the injured Tarean Folston in Week One. Prosise is No. 5 in America in rushing yards per game with 150. But that yardage has come against Georgia Tech and their 60th-ranked rushing defense, Virginia and the No. 65 rushing defense, Texas’s No. 105th-ranked rushing defense, and UMass, who is No. 126 at stopping the run. Clemson is at No. 30 and although Wofford and Appalachian State are inferior opponents, they are both run-heavy teams that will get yards on the ground. Notre Dame has a very good offensive line, but Shaq Lawson and his Tiger teammates will be by far the Irish's biggest challenge of the year.

 

3. The Environment

Notre Dame is well accustomed to playing big games on the road. Last year’s game at Florida State is the most recent crazed setting that the Irish have encountered and many of the ND players remember that well. However, Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer can only tell you what that contest looked like from the sideline. Kizer did respond on the road at Virginia. But being the starting quarterback going into a night game in Death Valley is a whole different animal. The crowd will be ready. Clemson will be ready. We don’t know about Kizer.

 

Related: The Best College Football Stadium Entrances in the ACC 

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

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We now enter the conference portion of the college football season which really ramps up the intrigue and how much is at stake with each matchup. This also means the FCS/FBS matchups will go away for the most part. Some disappointing results as far as our selections are concerned. Any team that gives up that many points to Kent State should be sent to a lower level as the Golden Flashes' offense is quite anemic. The end of the Ohio/Minnesota game was also a clunker as far as I was concerned. I'll try to improve upon that and get back on the winning side.

 

Record: 21-18 (4-6 last week)

 

Memphis (4-0) at South Florida (1-2) (Friday)

If you are looking for someone in an awful spot, you may want to look at Friday night when Memphis plays at South Florida. The Tigers should win the game easily although their defense is horrendous. Memphis has allowed 87 points in its last two games. To make things even more difficult, the Tigers have a game at home against Ole Miss on Oct. 17 which may also have their attention. Well I don't have the stones to take USF, I'll lean to the under. It's a high number because quarterback Paxton Lynch and the Tigers' offense is capable of putting up points. I think they will do so, but I just don't think the Bulls will be able to take advantage of the issues Memphis has on defense. The Bulls have gone under in 18 of their last 27 games including 15 of their last 20 as an underdog. Memphis has gone under in eight of its last 13 on the road. SELECTION: Under 62

 

Wyoming (0-4) at Appalachian State (2-1)

Appy State's offense was rolling last time out as the Mountaineers pounded ODU 49-0 in Norfolk. The Mountaineers are rushing for 288.3 yards per game while the Cowboys have allowed 207.2 yards per game on the ground. Wyoming has been awful defensively and should struggle to get many stops. The Cowboys have put up over 400 yards per game on offense. They should have more success then Howard and Old Dominion who each failed to move the ball consistently. The road team has gone over in nine of their last 13 road games including four of their last six in October. Appy State gets Montez McGuire back on offense and he was third in receiving yards last year. SELECTION: Over 53

 

Minnesota (3-1) at Northwestern (4-0)

The Wildcats are one of the best stories in college football and have proven their opening win over Stanford wasn't a fluke. Last time out they struggled with Ball State, but you had to expect it coming off their first road game with conference play beginning the next week. Northwestern's offense has looked modestly pedestrian outside of the 41-0 win over Eastern Illinois. The Wildcats have put up a boatload of yards, but have scored just 59 points in those three games. We can continue to look at Minnesota's effort against TCU in the opener but its defense overall has been very good. The offense is an issue though especially since they scored just 10 points at home vs. Kent State. Northwestern has gone under in 18 of its last 28 games including 12 of its last 17 at home. SELECTION: Under 40.5

 

UCF (0-4) at Tulane (1-2)

This matchup will cause almost no ripples in the college football universe on Saturday. The only publicity this game will get is if UCF wins and The Basement in Orlando will stop giving away beer. The Golden Knights get Dontravious Wilson back at RB, which will help an offense that has only scored 50 points in four games. Their defense hasn't been too awful and shouldn't have much trouble facing Tulane who has just five WRs on scholarship right now on the roster. The Green Wave are coming off a bye week, which should refresh them a bit entering conference play. The under has hit in 11 of Tulane's last 16 conference games and five of its last six after a bye week. SELECTION: Under 44

 

Air Force (2-1) at Navy (3-0)

In one of the most underrated games of the weekend, Navy hosts Air Force. These two have had some spirited battles in the past. The Falcons are coming off a bye week after a 35-21 loss to Michigan State. AFA's defense has been very good even against Sparty, which rushed for just 77 yards on 42 carries. Navy's triple option rolled through its first three games, but will now run into a team very familiar with it. These two have played nine unders in the last 11 meetings. Rain could be an issue, but these two don't throw it much anyway. Originally I was ready to pick the home team, but anytime someone has two weeks to prepare it's a concern. Also, Navy is at Notre Dame next week, which is a big game to them as well. SELECTION: Under 52

 

Vanderbilt (1-3) at Middle Tennessee (2-2)

Despite the proximity, these two schools have played just three times since 1992 with the Blue Raiders winning each of those games. While things aren't working out for the Commodores on the scoreboard, their defense continues to play well. They held a very potent Western Kentucky team to just 14 points in the opener and Ole Miss scored just 27. The problem has been with Vandy's offense, as the Commodores just can't get things going on that side of the ball. No one will confuse MTSU's defense for the Seattle Seahawks, but the Blue Raiders have played well for the most part. Middle Tennessee State has gone under in eight of its last 12 non-conference games. SELECTION: Under 51

 

East Carolina (2-2) at SMU (1-3)

These two teams had quite different results last week. The Pirates knocked off Virginia Tech at home in the rain while the Mustangs lost a shootout at home to James Madison. ECU has another huge road game next week at BYU and is currently in a stretch of four on the road in the first six overall. The Pirates' offense has been inconsistent this season. Two weeks they ran for less than 100 yards while the other two saw them put up over 180. SMU's offense has not had many problems scoring, as the Mustangs are averaging 33.5 per contest. The problem comes defensively where they allow 603 yards of offense. I don't like the spot for the road team in this one. East Carolina has not covered in seven of its last eight games as a road favorite and 12 of its last 17 conference contests. SELECTION: SMU +6

 

Eastern Kentucky (2-1) at Kentucky (3-1)

Classic letdown spot here potentially for Kentucky as the Wildcats take on in-state FCS member Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels lost to NC State 35-0 already this season, but they are ranked in FCS polls and have several FBS transfers. The Wildcats are coming off a solid 21-13 win at home over Missouri and are staring at a home game vs. Auburn on Oct. 15. Kentucky's inconsistency may hurt the Wildcats in this matchup. SELECTION: Eastern Kentucky +30.5

 

UNLV (1-3) at Nevada (2-2)

It's a big rivalry game as Nevada hosts UNLV. Not quite sure on the line movement in this one as the Rebels haven't really shown much outside of their 80-8 win over Idaho State last week. The offense has been modestly pedestrian while the defense has been gashed on the ground. Nevada is coming off a win at Buffalo and has shown more consistency on offense. The defense is an issue for the Wolf Pack, but I don't know if UNLV can take advantage here. Devonte Boyd is a good receiver for the road team. Nevada has covered six of its last eight home games in this series. SELECTION: Nevada ML

 

Notes:

- Injuries are complicating things when it comes to handicapping Penn State and Army. Ahmad Bradshaw is the Black Knights leading rusher and quarterback and his status is up in the air. Penn State has some issues as well with their two top running backs. If Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley were healthy, then I think the Nittany Lions roll in this one. As it is, I think head coach James Franklin sits them out as it's just not necessary that they play. Army's not going to be able to run the ball much on the home team so it's basically PSU calling their shots. If we learn Lynch or Barkley is going to play, then I take the team out of Happy Valley.

 

- Two of my favorite teams to keep my eye on are playing as UMass is hosting FIU. The Minutemen kept up with Notre Dame for a half or so before falling to their potent offense. They should have beaten Temple if not for special teams errors. The Golden Panthers, meanwhile, have played well at home, but injuries are mounting. I have no selection in this one, but the winner could go on a nice win streak potentially as the talent is there on both sides.

 

- Should be a fun one as Rice hosts Western Kentucky. The Owls are playing just their second home game after three straight on the road including contests with Texas and Baylor. This game is going to be high scoring as both teams have leaky defenses and potent offenses. Rice will try to keep up with Brandon Doughty, but Driphus Jackson isn't a bad QB either. Small lean to the over in this one.

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 5 Picks
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-why-georgia-will-beat-alabama
Body:

For Georgia, the time is now and the Bulldogs have zero excuses going into Saturday's home matchup with Alabama. Georgia will go into this game against the Tide undefeated, the favorite in Vegas, and on paper the better team in all three phases on the football field. Head coach Mark Richt has a few big wins under his belt but nothing would be as big as knocking off Alabama and putting what would appear to be an end to the Crimson Tide's College Football Playoff hopes in 2015. All the cards are in Georgia's favor at this point in the season. No pressure, Mark.

 

Related: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Prediction

 

Side note: as pointed out by Clay Travis from FOX Sports, if Alabama loses to Georgia, it will be the first time in SEC history that both Alabama and Auburn have started 0-2 in conference.

 

History in the making? I think so.

 

So why will Georgia beat Alabama on Saturday? Here are five reasons.

 

1. Georgia’s defense is playing lights out.

Georgia has looked more than impressive on defense in 2015. Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has taken a talented core of returners from last year and made them even better so far. Jordan Jenkins, Leonard Floyd, Lorenzo Carter, Dominick Sanders and Jake Ganus among others have placed this defense among the best units in the nation. I realize that Georgia has played less than stellar opponents so far in 2015 but from what I have seen, Georgia is an elite defense. They have playmakers at every level and have depth at many of those positions. We could go through the numbers all day but these guys know how to make big plays. And big plays will need to be made on Saturday.

 

2. The one/two punch of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel is the best in the nation.

Yes, you read that right. Georgia has the best running back combo in college football. And it’s not even close. We all knew just how good Chubb was going to be this year. But many may have forgotten that Michel was ahead of Chubb on the depth chart last year before he got hurt. Now Chubb and Michel have this healthy competition between themselves as to who can score more touchdowns in any given game.

 

Are you kidding me? These two are actually tallying who can score more? It’s like they’re playing "NCAA Football 2015" but in real life.
 

Side note: Chubb leads 6-4. And oh yeah, just behind Michel is Keith Marshall with three. Unbelievable.

 

Related: College Football's Top 10 Running Backs for September

 

Couple that with an offensive line that is helping average 257 rushing yards per game and you have the best rushing attack Georgia has seen in a long time. And I didn’t even mention Malcolm Mitchell’s downfield blocking capabilities, which may be among the best by a wide receiver in the country.

 

3. Greyson Lambert is the better quarterback going into this game.

Yes, you read that correctly.

 

Okay, I will admit that I have been super harsh on Lambert and his ability to lead this team. And it was warranted. But I’ve got to admit that the last couple of games, Lambert has played very well. I mean, he set national and SEC records two weeks ago. I never saw that coming. He looks poised in the pocket, calm and he is making good decisions with the ball. I knew that putting better talent around him would help and so far it has made him look better. But he will face the best defense that he has played against since Vanderbilt. Against Vandy, he didn’t look so hot but things can change. Lambert will have a huge hurdle to jump come Saturday but if he can stay calm, make good decisions and put his team in a position to win; people will see this team as a legitimate Playoff contender.

 

4. Georgia’s OC is not in hot water, which takes the pressure off of him.

Lane Kiffin vs. Brian Schottenheimer. What a matchup. Besides Alabama fans wanting to run Kiffin out of town for not running the ball more and those nasty “Joey Freshwater” rumors swirling in Tuscaloosa, this is actually a great offensive mind vs. offensive mind pairing.

 

Both teams can put up massive points and both have showed that in recent games. But I would think that both coaches are still a little weary about cutting their quarterbacks completely loose. I felt like Jake Coker finally cemented himself as the starter in the game against Ole Miss but then had a subpar day against ULM. On the other side, for as good as Lambert has been, I still haven’t seen him stretch the field like he will need to do against Alabama. That could be Schottenheimer’s decision or it could be he doesn’t trust his quarterback to do that just yet. That Vanderbilt game has to be in the back of Georgia’s mind.

 

All in all, Schottenheimer knows that he is in a good position as he has probably watched the Ole Miss tape 100 times already this week. Georgia has been given a blueprint as to how to beat Alabama and that was a team that had no run game whatsoever.

 

5. Special Teams

Alabama has been a train wreck on special teams all year. They fumbled multiple kickoffs in the Ole Miss game; their kicker hasn’t even hit half of his field goals and all of a sudden, their ace punter seems to be losing his mind as well. Maybe it’s just me but we all talk about how important success in all three phases of the game are to winning, so why would I think Alabama has a shot with their special teams playing this way? Both teams are fielding the ball pretty well, except for Alabama during the Ole Miss game, but if it's crunch time, I just trust the Georgia kickers far more than I do Alabama right now. And for good reason.

 

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails.

Teaser:
5 Reasons Why Georgia Will Beat Alabama
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 08:55
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-georgia-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Georgia and Alabama have been two of the SEC’s top programs in recent years, and Saturday afternoon's matchup in Athens could be a preview of the conference championship game in early December. And in a slight role reversal, the Crimson Tide is not the favorite on Saturday. For the first time in 72 games, Alabama is considered an underdog. Georgia isn’t a huge favorite by Vegas standards, but this should be a good barometer test for both teams.

 

The Crimson Tide has some work to do in order to win the SEC West, as coach Nick Saban’s team is 0-1 in conference play after a loss to Ole Miss in Week 3. Mark Richt’s Bulldogs are undefeated, but this is the biggest test for Georgia after accumulating wins against ULM, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Southern so far.

 

Related: 5 Reasons Why Georgia Beats Alabama

 

Although Georgia and Alabama are two of the SEC’s top programs, these two teams have not played in a regular season game since 2008. That matchup is a memorable one for both fanbases, as a No. 3 ranked Georgia team was a seven-point favorite over Alabama, but the Crimson Tide went into Athens and won 41-30.

 

Alabama owns a 37-25-4 series edge against Georgia. The last matchup between these two teams took place in the 2012 SEC Championship.

 

Alabama at Georgia

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Georgia -2.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The Quarterbacks

It’s no secret Georgia and Alabama both entered fall practice with uncertainty at quarterback. And after four weeks, it’s fair to say the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs still have question marks about their signal-callers. Georgia’s Greyson Lambert set a NCAA record by completing 96 percent of his passes in the win over South Carolina but struggled in the road win at Vanderbilt (11 of 21 for 116 yards). While Lambert has managed to take care of the ball (no interceptions) and boasts a 76.5 completion percentage, this is by far his toughest game of the season. Alabama has started two quarterbacks with Jake Coker and Cooper Bateman combining to complete 98 of 163 passes for 1,030 yards and nine scores in 2015. Bateman started in the loss against Ole Miss, but Coker took the first snap in the other three games and is expected to start on Saturday afternoon. Both teams are built in a similar blueprint with a strong defense and rushing attack. However, Lambert and Coker are going to have to make plays through the air for their team to win this game. Which quarterback steps up in the clutch on Saturday afternoon?

 

Related: College Football's Top 10 Running Backs from September

 

2. Stopping the Run

This matchup of two of the SEC’s best teams also features one of the top running back duels college football will see in 2015. Alabama’s Derrick Henry is a physical specimen at 6-foot-3 and 242 pounds and gashed opponents for 422 yards and eight scores in September. Henry has a good blend of size, speed and power and is primed for a huge season in his first as the Crimson Tide’s feature back. On the other sideline, Georgia’s Nick Chubb has rushed for at least 100 yards in 12 consecutive games and enters this matchup No. 2 in the SEC (behind Leonard Fournette) with 599 rushing yards. Considering the question marks or uncertainty at quarterback for both teams, the offenses want to establish the ground attack and limit the pressure on the passing attack. But establishing the rushing game will be difficult for both teams. Georgia ranks fourth in the SEC against the run, limiting opponents to 107.3 yards and just 3.1 yards per carry. Alabama has been stingier, as the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to 1.97 yards per carry and only 56.8 yards per game. The edge in offensive line play goes to Georgia. But will the Bulldogs find rushing lanes against the Alabama defense? Keep an eye on the battle in the trenches Saturday afternoon.

 

Related: SEC Week 5 Predictions

 

3. Turnovers, 3rd Down and Red Zone Conversions

With a close game anticipated on Saturday afternoon, turnovers are going to be critical in the outcome. If the good folks in Vegas are right, and this game is decided by a field goal or less, a turnover or a key stop in the red zone could decide the winner of this critical SEC showdown. Through four games in 2015, Georgia has a plus-two margin and has lost only three turnovers. Alabama hasn’t been as strong in this department. Nick Saban’s team ranks near the bottom of the SEC in margin (minus-one) and has lost eight turnovers. However, it’s notable the Crimson Tide lost five turnovers against Ole Miss, which accounts for more than half of the giveaways in 2015. Considering the gameplan on offense for both teams, avoiding third-and-long situations are critical. Georgia is only converting 35.5 third-down attempts, while Alabama is only converting at a 36.8 rate. And once both teams reach the 20-yard line, seven points – not three – is needed. So far, The Crimson Tide has cashed in 89.5 percent of its trips into the red zone for scores, while the Bulldogs are converting at an 84.2 percent rate. All three areas – third downs, red zone conversions and turnovers – are a small factor. However, they could have a huge impact on how this game plays out on Saturday afternoon.

 

Final Analysis

 

While Alabama and Georgia haven’t played in the regular season since the matchup in 2008, there’s a lot of familiarity between these two programs. Three current Bulldog assistants spent time at Alabama under Nick Saban, including defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. In addition to the familiarity between the two programs, the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs are built in a similar fashion. Both teams want to establish the run and win with their defense. Which team wins the battle in the trenches and makes the least amount of mistakes on Saturday is going to have a huge advantage. Both quarterbacks – Greyson Lambert and Jake Coker – will be tested after experiencing their share of ups and downs so far this season. This one is a tossup.

 

Prediction: Alabama 27, Georgia 24
Teaser:
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 08:55
Path: /college-football/boston-college-eagles-vs-duke-blue-devils-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is considered an offensive mastermind. His specialty is quarterbacks and his work with both of the Manning brothers is well known.

 

But this is not your typical Cutcliffe coached team. The Blue Devils are a bit offensively challenged this year and quarterback Thomas Sirk, while playing okay, has not been the main reason for Duke’s success. The Blue Devils have relied on a stellar defense led by safety Jeremy Cash to get to 3-1 on the season.

 

Boston College is similar. Offensively, the Eagles are anemic. Defensively, they are rock solid. That sets up a good, old-fashioned defensive slugfest this Saturday in Durham.

 

Boston College at Duke

 

Kickoff:  3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel:  ESPN3/RSN

Spread:  Duke -6.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Who Will Make Plays for the Eagles?

Against Florida State, quarterback Darius Wade broke his ankle. In the Northern Illinois game, running back Jon Hilliman injured his foot. He had surgery on Sunday and will miss an extended period of time. Hilliman, by far the Eagles' biggest offensive threat, rushed for 122 yards before leaving Saturday’s game. To make matters worse, backups Myles Willis and Marcus Outlow sustained shoulder injuries, making junior Tyler Rouse this week’s go-to guy. They are also down to their backup center and the No. 3 tight end. For a team with limited offensive weapons to begin with, these losses could be devastating.

 

2. Sirk Throwing the Ball

No one has run on Boston College this year and it is unlikely that will change this week. Shaquille Powell is a good back and Sirk can pick up yardage on his own. But for Duke to be effective offensively, they are going to have to achieve something in the passing game. Sirk did not throw downfield much at all against Georgia Tech and the pressure BC can bring may make short passes the way to go for Duke this week. The Devils do have a pretty good offensive line, so it is possible Sirk could have time to look for deeper targets. Whether it is short or long, Duke would like to have some success throwing the ball.

 

3. Who Will Score?

Boston College is second in the nation giving up just 7.8 points per game. They have allowed just four touchdowns in four games and one of those was a defensive score by Florida State, another was a kickoff return in the Northern Illinois game, and a third was a four yard drive set up by an NIU interception. Duke is No. 7 in America, surrendering just 11.5 points per game. This past Saturday, they shut down a potent Georgia Tech offense. Perhaps the first score wins.

 

Final Analysis

 

Obviously, don’t expect a replay of the TCU-Texas Tech game. Yards, never mind first downs and scores, will be hard to come by. Jeremy Cash and the Duke defense will completely stifle Troy Flutie and the Eagles offense. However, the Duke offense will have no fun trying to move the ball on the Boston College defense. The attrition that Boston College has to endure will be too much to overcome on Saturday. Duke wins a close, low-scoring affair.

 

Prediction: Duke 13, Boston College 7

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Teaser:
Boston College Eagles vs. Duke Blue Devils Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 08:50
Path: /college-football/penn-state-nittany-lions-vs-army-west-point-black-knights-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

It's Military Appreciation Day in Happy Valley this weekend when Penn State welcomes Army to Beaver Stadium for the first time since 1979. The Nittany Lions look to keep the good vibes going after three straight wins following a season-opening loss to Temple. The rejuvenated running game of Penn State should once again be in for a productive afternoon against Army, and Christian Hackenberg may have some time to make things happen through the air for the final tune-up before re-entering Big Ten play for the remainder of the season.

 

Army West Point at Penn State

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: Penn State -23

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. How healthy is Penn State's running game?

The past couple of games have shown great strides from the Penn State running game behind improved offensive line play. Freshman Saquon Barkley has been electric and Akeel Lynch has had some good runs as well, but both were injured in last weekend's home win over San Diego State. Lynch's injury appeared to be the more serious of the two, but Penn State head coach James Franklin has been mum on the injury status of both top running backs this week, as he is prone to do.

 

If neither player is available this weekend, Penn State will have to put the ball in the hands of freshmen Brandon Polk and Mark Allen on a regular basis. Polk has already rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown this season, and Allen has seen some playing time as well.

 

2. Penn State's defense must be mentally and physically prepared

Anytime you go up against a service academy on the football field, you have to be prepared physically and mentally for a long afternoon grinding things out in the trenches. Penn State and just about every power conference program will tend to have a size advantage on the line, but programs like Army and Navy and Air Force will stick to the ground routinely and make those big guys up front earn a chance to catch a breath on the sideline. That will be the case this weekend with Army already rushing for 1,178 yards and 13 touchdowns in four games this season. Last week against Eastern Michigan the Black Knights rushed for 556 yards and seven touchdowns.

 

Army's passing game has put together just 370 yards and four touchdowns, with three interceptions this season. Army has completed just 47.2 percent of its pass attempts.

 

3. Will Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw be good to go?

Speaking of Army's passing game, quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw's status for the game is up in the air this week. Bradshaw left last weekend's game against Eastern Michigan with an undisclosed injury and was seen on the sideline wearing a boot in the second half. Army head coach Jeff Monken has not revealed much about his status for this weekend, but Bradshaw would be a big loss for Army's offense. Bradshaw is Army's leading rusher with 341 yards and four touchdowns. If Bradshaw is not available, the Black Knights will likely go with senior A.J. Schurr, who has appeared in three games this season. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Penn State may still be a work in progress with the offensive line, and the running game appears to be a legitimate concern entering this week with injuries to key players. Despite these concerns, Penn State should still be equipped well enough to take down Army at home this weekend. Army's offense is too one-dimensional to give Penn State a serious run, so look for Hackenberg to be the difference maker as Penn State's receivers and tight ends give Penn State an advantage this weekend. Penn State should be 4-1 as they prepare for Indiana next week.

 

Prediction: Penn State 37, Army 13

 

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for CollegeFootballTalk.com and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.

Teaser:
Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Army West Point Black Knights Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 08:45
Path: /college-football/louisville-cardinals-vs-nc-state-wolfpack-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The NC State Wolfpack and the Louisville Cardinals have started their seasons on two entirely different paths. For NC State head coach Dave Doeren and his team, it will be their first conference test after starting the season 4-0.

 

In their last game against South Alabama, the Wolfpack scored a school-record seven touchdowns as they defeated the Jaguars 63-13.

 

Louisville begins its second year in the ACC with a losing record to begin the young season. Bobby Petrino's Cardinals are 1-3 as they have lost to Auburn, Houston and Clemson. Louisville’s lone win of the season came last week as they defeated Samford 45-3.

 

Last season, NC State lost at Louisville, 30-18 behind 173 rushing yards and a touchdown by Michael Dyer.

 

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Louisville at NC State

 

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. EST (Saturday)

Network: ACC Network/ESPN3

Spread: NC State -4.5

 

Three Things to Watch For

 

1. Louisville rushing defense

The Cardinals rushing defense has been one of the worst in the country during its first four games of the season. Louisville has given up an average of 172.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks 75th in FBS. This week, they will be lining up against one of the nation’s best running attacks in NC State.

 

The Wolfpack have averaged 259 rushing yards per game through their first four games, which ranks 16th in the country. Running back Matthew Dayes has rushed for 454 yards this season and he also leads the nation in rushing touchdowns with nine.

 

Louisville will have to win the matchups at the line of the scrimmage if they are expected to slow down the Wolfpack rushing attack. The Cardinals only have 4.5 tackles for a loss through the first four weeks, so that will certainly have to improve.

 

2. Jacoby Brissett

NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country. The senior has thrown for 809 yards, six touchdowns against zero interceptions and has a 77.9 completion percentage, which is the best in college football.

 

While Louisville has lost against Auburn, Houston and Clemson, their passing defense has been solid. The Cardinals are allowing an average 175.5 yards per game, which is the 32nd-best in college football.

 

The Louisville defense leads the FBS with nine interceptions. They were able to intercept two passes from preseason ACC Player of the Year Deshaun Watson in their close 20-17 loss against Clemson. This will be the biggest test of the season for Brissett.

 

3. Lamar Jackson

It isn’t often a freshman quarterback can come in right away and produce at the FBS level, but that was certainly the case for Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

 

In his first four games of the 2015 season, Jackson has thrown for 495 yards, two touchdowns against four interceptions, while completing 60 percent of his passes. This week, the Boynton Beach, Fla., native will have a tough task of gaining yards against the NC State.

 

NC State ranks third in the nation in total defense as they have given up an average 205.8 yards per game. If Louisville is going to pull off the upset on the road, Jackson will have to limit the mistakes and play his best game of the season.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Wolfpack are on a seven-game winning streak, which is the longest active streak among ACC teams. NC State hasn’t had any problems going through their first four opponents so far this season, but Louisville should provide them with more of a challenge.

 

This game is as close of a must-win for Louisville as it can get. If the team falls to 1-4 on the season, a bowl invitation in December could be in doubt. The team still has to play Florida State, Pittsburgh and Kentucky all on the road.

 

If the Cardinals can stop the run and put pressure on Brissett, they have a chance to keep the game close. Even then, it will be tough for Louisville to keep up with the ninth scoring offense in the country (46.3 points per game).

 

Final Score: NC State 38, Louisville 24

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

Teaser:
Louisville Cardinals vs. NC State Wolfpack Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 08:40
Path: /nba/purdue-boilermakers-vs-michigan-state-spartans-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Each team enters this game from diametrically opposed directions. Michigan State churned out two victories over non-Power 5 teams after pole vaulting into the top three of both major polls. Purdue has only managed one win in its first four games; that came at the expense of an FCS opponent. However, the teams are even in one important category: the number of victories in Big Ten games.

 

This will be the 66th meeting between these two programs. The first occurred in 1918. Michigan State holds a 21-11 advantage in games played in East Lansing as well as the lead in the overall series 35-27-3. The Spartans have won the last six games played versus the Boilermakers. Before that streak, Purdue had won seven of eight games against Michigan State.

 

Purdue at Michigan State

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Michigan State -22

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Inexperienced Purdue QB vs. struggling Spartan secondary

David Blough started his first college game last week. In an impressive debut, he passed for 340 yards with a completion percentage of 74 percent along with two touchdowns and one interception. He showed great potential by the offense converting 60 percent of combined third and fourth downs.

 

Mark Dantonio has shuffled and inserted different lineups of defensive backs. Despite those changes, the Spartans have allowed an average of 277 yards per game. That ranks at No. 107 of the 127 FBS programs.

 

2. Terrible special teams vs. improving special teams

Paul Griggs, Purdue's kicker has missed five out of eight field goals so far — all five were from less than 45 yards. Also, the Boilermakers are giving up an average of 27 yards on kickoffs. Virginia Tech blocked a punt by Purdue then returned it for a touchdown.

 

Michigan State had four of its kickoffs returned by Central Michigan; none gained more than 18 yards. The only punt return by the Chippewas went for a two-yard loss. More importantly, MSU blocked two field goals in the first quarter, helping to keep CMU off the scoreboard until late in the first half. Even with all of this improvement, the Spartans still had a breakdown: a blocked extra point after the final touchdown.

 

3. Looking back vs. looking ahead

Last week, Purdue allowed Bowling Green to score a touchdown with nine seconds remaining. Paul Griggs missed a field goal at the end of each half that would have given the Boilermakers the lead. Following each of those, the Falcons scored a touchdown. How much of the Boilermakers' attention in practice will be focused on having let the Falcons escape West Lafayette with a victory?

 

Meanwhile in East Lansing, the Spartans were trudging through another non-conference game at home.  With less than nine minutes left in the game, they only led by seven. The stadium has been noticeably less than packed to watch the highly ranked home team kick off at noon against unranked foes. Could the complacency of the fans filter down to the players in the form of another second half nap? Could that attitude possibly let an underdog push the game into overtime or score the game-winning points in the final minute?

 

Final Analysis

 

Despite an awful beginning, Purdue can salvage the season. The path to the Big Ten Championship Game is still in its control. Even if that goal is too lofty for the Boilermakers, they can qualify for a bowl game with a winning record in their conference games. The start of a reclamation of the 2015 season would start by upsetting the second-ranked team in the country on the road.

 

The Spartans' most impressive win was noticeably tarnished after Utah's plucking of the Ducks in Eugene. Michigan State's high ranking has been questioned due to that result. MSU has let three opponents with much less talent and depth hang around and remain within two touchdowns of tying the game or taking the lead in the fourth quarter. In order to halt this growing doubt lest it permeate the College Football Playoff selection committee, the Spartans need to score on the Boilermakers early and often. Then the guys in green must keep the guys in black and gold in the single digits for the entire game. Michigan State will improve but not quite meet that goal

 

Prediction: Michigan State 37, Purdue 17

 

— Written by John La Fleur, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network. A graduate of Michigan State and LSU, La Fleur also has been a Saints fan since he was old enough to understand football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.

Teaser:
Purdue Boilermakers vs. Michigan State Spartans Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 08:35
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-buckeyes-vs-indiana-hoosiers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

To paraphrase that famous college football fan William Shakespeare, a win by any other name would smell as sweet... or something like that, as it pertains to the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes. Presently undefeated, with a 4-0 record, Ohio State travels for the second time this season, traveling to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the also undefeated Indiana Hoosiers. Ohio State defeated Western Michigan 38-12 in Ohio Stadium, with a performance that was an improvement over the previous two games, but still left some questions for Buckeye fans.

 

Ohio State has defeated Indiana the last nineteen times the teams have played. As a matter of fact, Ohio State and Indiana played to a tie back in 1990 (27-27) in Bloomington, when John Cooper was Ohio State's head coach, current ESPN studio analyst Robert Smith was a freshman phenom running back, and current ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit served as a backup quarterback.

 

Indiana has come close on several occasions to toppling Ohio State. The last time Ohio State visited Bloomington, Ohio State did not so much beat the Hoosiers but outlast them, winning 52-49 in Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer's debut season in 2012.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 5 Preview with Andy Staples



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Indiana enters this game with strong performers across the board offensively. Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld will play this game, after missing last season's contest due to injury. Indiana has been bolstered by the transfer addition of running back Jordan Howard, who has rushed for 675 yards already this season. Ricky Jones paces the Hoosier receiving corps, averaging 22.8 yards per reception. While Ohio State is well-respected for its offensive talent, Indiana actually has a better points per game average than the Buckeyes, with a 38.2 point per game average, compared to Ohio State's 34.5.

 

Of course, where Indiana has struggled under the leadership of Kevin Wilson is on the defensive side of the ball. Indiana has been formidable offensively, yet continues to give up points to the opposition. At this writing, Indiana ranks 97th in the country, surrendering 32 points a game.

 

Further intrigue from an Ohio State perspective comes in the form of two former Ohio State players who have moved on to play for Indiana. Indiana offensive lineman Tim Gardner originally signed with Ohio State, yet was kicked off the team for a disciplinary incident back in 2013. Indiana defensive back Jayme Thompson also signed with Ohio State in 2013, but left after a redshirt season; after a season at JUCO Iowa Western, Thompson signed with Indiana in July 2015.

 

Ohio State at Indiana

 

Kickoff: 3:30 pm ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2 mirror

Spread: Ohio State -21

 

Three Things To Watch

 

1. The Turnover Margin

Ohio State has been far too careless with the football, dating back to the end of the 2014 national championship run. While Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones played better against Western Michigan, Jones did throw an interception that was an underthrown pass. While it has not yet hurt the Buckeyes in the win column, Meyer has to be strongly concerned that the Buckeyes are developing poor habits as they relate to football possession.

 

2. Ohio State's Run Defense

Against a two-headed attack by Western Michigan's Jamauri Brogan and Jarvion Franklin, Ohio State gave up 169 yards and 4.1 yards a carry. Ouch. With a tremendous back such as Jordan athlHoward, as well as future B1G opponents on the horizon, Ohio State needs to tighten up its interior run defense, or the national championship hopes may not be realized.

 

3. Braxton Miller's Role

For the last several weeks, Ohio State has tried to force-feed Miller into the offense, often resulting in a sputtering effect. While Miller's dynamic spin move at Virginia Tech was mesmerizing, it has seemed that the coaches have overthought on how to get Miller into the game plan, without just allowing for plays to happen when or if the right time comes along.

 

Final Analysis

 

Ohio State had its feel-good game against Western Michigan; now the Buckeyes need to take their act on the road to see if there are other kinks that need to be fixed. Ohio State needs to fine tune its deep passing game with Cardale Jones and the receiving corps, as well as develop its traditionally strong running game with Ezekiel Elliott. Against an improving Indiana team that is still a work in progress defensively, Ohio State should still wind up on the winning ledger, albeit with some minor frustrations against the Hoosiers.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 42, Indiana 24

 

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for menofthescarletandgray.com, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.

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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Indiana Hoosiers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 08:30
Path: /north-carolina-tar-heels-vs-georgia-tech-yellow-jackets-preview-and-prediction-2015
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Georgia Tech and North Carolina are coming into Saturday’s game from opposite sides of the road. Georgia Tech has lost two games in a row and more importantly seems to have lost a part of its identity. North Carolina is coming off three straight wins and head coach Larry Fedora may have found the answer in new defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. The Tar Heels will face the best offense they have seen all year but Notre Dame and Duke have given Chizik a blueprint as to how to stop the Yellow Jacket offense.

 

Georgia Tech can’t afford to lose another ACC Coastal game and North Carolina doesn’t want to start conference play with a loss. Both can benefit from a huge win this Saturday.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 5 Preview with Andy Staples



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North Carolina at Georgia Tech

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: Georgia Tech -7

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. North Carolina’s Defense

In four games this season, the Tar Heels are giving up a little over 14 points per game. In today’s college game with talent spread throughout the country and teams putting up huge numbers every week that is impressive. Gene Chizik may have found his second chance in college football after being run out of Auburn. This week will be a tough test.

 

2. Georgia Tech’s Identity

As I have written before, the Georgia Tech offense has looked like a shell of itself in the past two weeks having thrown the ball 40 times. That’s not what Paul Johnson wants to do. He wants to control the clock and run the ball efficiently. As Johnson has said multiple times already, the Yellow Jackets need to execute the plan that is put in place. The lack of execution may be due to young running backs and newcomers in the backfield, but it all starts with Justin Thomas and he must play better if the Jackets want to return to the ACC championship game.

 

3. Looking at the Over

The Over/Under has been set at 62 at the time I am writing this. In the past five meetings between these two teams, this game has gone over that three of those times. The other two were still high scoring affairs and I look for that to be the same this year. For whatever reason, these two teams always put up gaudy numbers every time they play and for fans of offensive football, including myself, it’s a treat to watch. Even though I think Gene Chizik has done a pretty good job so far as defensive coordinator, the recent history says this will be a shootout. I hope I’m right.

 

Final Analysis

 

I’ve said it for two weeks in a row but it still holds true: Georgia Tech has to get this offense fixed if they are going to win games. And I am a firm believer that Johnson and company will right the ship. You can only hold this offense down for so long. Georgia Tech will stick to their run game and welcome Chizik into ACC play with lots of misdirection runs. Plus, I always like the team that has its back against the wall.

 

Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, North Carolina 35

 

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails.

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North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 2, 2015 - 08:25
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
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Earlier this week, Athlon Sports ran down the top 50 coaches in college basketball for 2015-16.

 

This isn’t necessarily the flip side of that argument, but these are the coaches who are facing the most pressure in this upcoming season.

The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, available now.

 

Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?



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Travis Ford, Oklahoma State

The good news: Ford has guided Oklahoma State to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons. The bad news: The Cowboys are 0–3 in the NCAAs and have had a losing record in the Big 12 in each of the past two seasons. Ford has recruited well and kept the Pokes relevant, but he has not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2009, his first season at the school. 

 

Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets slumped to 3–15 in the ACC last season, giving Gregory a 19–51 mark in league games in his four seasons at Georgia Tech. Over the last 10 years (six at Dayton, four at Tech), Gregory has coached only one team that finished higher than seventh in its respective league. The Yellow Jackets need to show significant progress in 2015-16.

 

John Groce, Illinois

Other than a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2012-13, his first season at Illinois, there’s not much to like about Groce’s tenure at Illinois. The Illini are 24–30 in the Big Ten and have not finished higher than a tie for seventh place in the league standings. Last year, they missed the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season, something that hadn’t happened at Illinois since the early 1990s.

 

Barry Hinson, Southern Illinois 

Hinson has been unable to restore order at Southern Illinois, the once-proud program that has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2007. The Salukis slumped to 12–21 overall and 4–14 in the Missouri Valley last year and are 19–35 in the league in Hinson’s three seasons.

 

Donnie Jones, UCF

Jones has survived NCAA sanctions — he was hit with a three-year show-cause order following an 2011 investigation — but the former Billy Donovan assistant won’t be around much longer if his program doesn’t make a move in the American Athletic Conference. UCF is 25–36 overall and 9–27 in league play in the last two seasons after making the move from Conference USA to the AAC.

 

Josh Pastner, Memphis

Pastner has compiled a gaudy record in six seasons at Memphis — 148–58 overall and 74–26 in league play (C-USA and AAC) — but his teams never seem to play up to their potential, and he has struggled in the postseason (2–4 in the NCAA Tournament). Roster upheaval has hit this program hard as well. This past offseason, Austin Nichols, the team’s best player and a Memphis native, transferred to Virginia.

 

Dave Rice, UNLV

Rice has done a phenomenal job attracting talent — he’s signed three top-10 classes in the last four years — but the Runnin’ Rebels continue to underachieve. They are 18–18 in the Mountain West the past two seasons and have yet to win an NCAA Tournament game on his watch, losing as a No. 6 seed in 2012 and a No. 5 in ’13.

 

Lorenzo Romar, Washington

Romar has done some good things at his alma mater — Washington advanced to the NCAA Tournament six times from 2004-11 and averaged 12.5 league wins from ’09-12 — but the Huskies went 5–13 in the Pac-12 last year and have not played in the NCAAs since 2011. To make matters worse, Nigel Williams-Goss, the Huskies’ leading scorer in ’14-15, transferred to in-state rival Gonzaga in April.

 

Bruce Weber, Kansas State

Weber is a respected head coach who has won a lot of games, but he never seems to be in good graces with his fan base. He enjoyed immediate success after taking over for the popular Frank Martin, tying for first in the Big 12 in 2012-13 with a 14–4 league mark. Since then, however, the Wildcats have regressed, to 10–8 in ’13-14 and 8–10 last season. And things don’t look promising moving forward; leading scorer Marcus Foster transferred, and Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson, the team’s two other double-figure scorers, graduated.

 

Kevin Willard, Seton Hall

Seton Hall is 30–60 in the Big East in Willard’s five seasons. The high-water mark in his tenure came in Year 2, when the Pirates went 21–13 overall and 8–10 in league play. There has been significant roster turnover of late, notably the loss of guards Jaren Sina (in the middle of last season) and Sterling Gibbs (in late April). 

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10 College Basketball Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2015-16
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