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All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC
Path: /college-football/win-saturday-georgia-mark-richt-can-destroy-hopes-entire-fan-base
Body:

Saturday’s matchup between Tennessee and Georgia is of great importance for many reasons. One, Saturday’s game will break the tie in the overall meetings between the two schools. The record as it stands now is 21-21-2. The winner will take the overall lead and will be in a better position in the SEC East race as well.

 

Related: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers Preview and Prediction

 

Tennessee does have a loss to Florida but the East has been a tricky tale to figure out the past couple of seasons. Anything can happen. Tennessee can certainly not lose another East game if the Volunteers hope to make it to Atlanta, and games against Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina are still on the horizon. Butch Jones is treading hot water as it is so a loss at home to Georgia would only make that water boil.

 

On the other hand, Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs laid an egg last week at home against Alabama. There really isn’t any other way to put it. Now the Bulldogs have the chance to go out and put Tennessee out of the SEC race, destroy any hope to a fan base that thought maybe their team was back and put their team back into the playoff discussion. Both teams have a lot to play for but who really needs this win more?

 

I can make a case that it is Richt.

 

Remember the last time Tennessee beat Georgia? I do. It was 2009 and Tennessee had just hired new head coach Lane Kiffin. Kiffin came into Knoxville with such a rush of energy that he willed a bad team to a 7-6 record. And what was that Vols team's biggest win of the year? A blowout win in Knoxville against Georgia.

 

That Georgia team ended up 8-5 in what most would call a disappointing year for Richt and company. On the other hand, Tennessee finished 7-6 and looked to have another top recruiting class coming into Knoxville. Most thought this could be the turning point for the Volunteer program.

 

What happened next and Lane Kiffin leaving Knoxville has nothing to do with this post. Tennessee had a ton of momentum going into the 2010 season because of the Georgia upset and almost pulling a huge upset against eventual national champion Alabama the week after. Instead, Kiffin left, Derek Dooley was hired, then fired. Butch Jones was hired and the Vols have yet to beat Georgia since.

 

Now in 2015, Tennessee is desperate for a signature win and Richt and the Bulldogs can put a stop to any momentum going forward. Not only would a win over Tennessee stop the bleeding for a horrendous loss last week, but it will also put Georgia back on the winning track. Georgia was picked by most to win the SEC East and can still do so. Big games with Florida and Auburn still loom large later on in the year but a win over Tennessee would officially put the Vols out of the East race and kill any momentum they have going forward. Imagine having the power to hit the reset button once again on an entire program? And a rival at that!

 

To me, Georgia has the opportunity to create even more chaos that is surrounding Knoxville. Most people believe Tennessee has the talent in Knoxville to win. Just look at this stat: The Volunteers are the ONLY team to have a lead of 13 points or more at any point in the game and lose a game. Every other team that has had a 13 point lead or more is undefeated. Tennessee has three such losses.

 

That’s an amazing stat.

 

Now with Georgia coming to town, most people believe Tennessee actually has a shot at beating Georgia. And if Tennessee defeats Georgia, the ship could be turned around for the Vols even if they still lose to Alabama, which most people think they will. Tennessee could still have a pretty productive year and a signature win over Georgia would be the one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing year. And I’m pretty sure Vols fans would take a disappointing year over a dumpster fire year at this point in time.

 

Simply put, Richt and the Bulldogs have to chance to put the Vols in a state of pure chaos with a win in Knoxville on Saturday. Not only can Mark Richt get his guys back on track, he can shut down the momentum of an entire football program with one win. Sure Tennessee could bounce back and win 6 or 7 games this year. But that would not include a single signature win. This is the game most think Tennessee has a shot at stealing. Mark Richt has a chance to shut all that noise off in just 60 minutes.  

 

Richt is “Kresse” this weekend and his Bulldogs are “Johnny.” Sweep the leg, Johnny.

 

No mercy.


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

Teaser:
With a Win on Saturday, Georgia and Mark Richt Can Destroy the Hopes of an Entire Fan Base
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:43
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Tennessee Volunteers, SEC
Path: /college-football/georgia-game-must-win-butch-jones-staying-power-tennessee
Body:

In college football, it's nice to have a recruiting pitch. Few coaches have perfected theirs as well as Tennessee head coach Butch Jones. The Vols' head bricklayer has been selling Tennessee in a phenomenal way since he took over in December 2012, promising recruits a winning future once they helped build the program "brick by brick."

 

But over the past few weeks, the highly-praised, beloved-by-the-fans coach has lost steam. His philosophy, which he refuses to change, has not worked in year three thus far. As most have heard by now, Jones's Vols have led every game by at least 13 points, yet their record stands at 2-3. The now-matured, prized recruits landed by Jones and his staff can't seem to find that winning tradition they were sold.  

 

Coming into this season, Jones's job seemed like one of the safest in college football after he reunited former players, raised academic standards and recruited better than any Tennessee coach in recent memory. Yet now, after only three losses, and as I predicted in August, the wheels have fallen off. Tennessee is currently regarded as one of the most disappointing and embarrassing programs in the country because of all the leads it has blown. 

 

For Jones to right the ship, his team absolutely must beat Georgia Saturday. Some would have considered Florida and Arkansas must-win games, but neither really was, simply because of the fact that there were other opportunities remaining. But at this point, Georgia truly is a must-win because those opportunities have dissipated. And if there is any team Tennessee is due to beat, it isn't Florida. It's Georgia. The Vols have been on the cusp of beating the Bulldogs since 2011. They lost by eight that year, by seven in 2012 and by three each of the last two seasons.

 

Related: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers Preview and Prediction

 

For Tennessee, a win over the 'Dawgs would put them at 3-3 heading into the bye week. The Vols' players and staff would probably agree that a bye week will be welcomed, as it will give Tennessee a chance to regroup and re-evaluate things. Also, it will provide time for injured players to work their way back into the lineup. If the Vols beat Georgia, Jones will have his second win over a ranked team and 3-3 won't look so bad. 

 

However, a loss will likely put an end to any hope Vol fans have of a good season. With Alabama looming as a likely loss in the near future, Tennessee can't afford to lose to Georgia. Going into Lexington on Halloween, 3-4 would look way better than 2-5. This game against the 'Dawgs could be the difference in an outside shot at 8-4 vs. 7-5, 6-6 or even worse. Can you imagine how the fan base will respond if Tennessee misses out on a bowl game with all the talent it has on the roster?

 

Right now, Tennessee just needs momentum. They need a win, a quality win, badly. The Vols are clearly talented enough to win games. They likely won't be blown out by any team, even Alabama. But there comes a point in time, regardless of a team's youth, that fans just get tired of hearing empty promises. Vol fans are rightfully upset right now, because it is year three for Jones and his team isn't winning. They are obviously better than they have been over the past two seasons, but progress needs substance.

 

A win over Georgia would provide substance to Jones's promises and it would reinforce the legitimacy of his plan. If it happens, he will be able to look back and point to Oct. 10 when Tennessee won a huge game in Neyland Stadium. But a loss, on the other hand, will probably silence the opportunity for the Vols to get a quality win this year. Jones needs this one, not only for his team's momentum, but for his salesmanship to future Vols. 

 

It couldn't possibly come at a better time.

 

— Written by Cody McClure, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a radio host and lead SEC Writer for Three Point Stance Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @CodyMcClureCFB.

Teaser:
Georgia Game A Must-Win for Butch Jones' Staying Power at Tennessee
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:42
Path: /virginia-cavaliers-vs-pittsburgh-panthers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Could this be a season to remember for the Pittsburgh Panthers

 

No, they are not ranked. Yes, they have changed their quarterback and lost their star running back for the season.

 

But the Panthers have the fourth-ranked defense in the country, which is precisely the result Pitt wanted when they hired former Michigan State defensive whiz Pat Narduzzi as head coach. With only one loss on the season and many of its ACC foes struggling, Pitt is showing signs of being a contender in the Coastal Division.

 

Virginia head coach Mike London, meanwhile, is trying to keep his job after getting blown out 56-14 by Boise State on Sept. 25. The Cavaliers' only victory this season was a 35-29 triumph against FCS member William & Mary, where the Wahoos allowed the Tribe to march to the Virginia 30-yard line with 1:27 left before holding on downs.

 

London would be due more than $2 million if Virginia fires him after this season, but the athletic program generally has one of the largest budgets in the NCAA. London and the Cavaliers are coming off of a bye and have had extra time to prepare, so this conference tilt may be the proving ground for his coaching career.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 6 Preview with Tom Dienhart



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Virginia at Pittsburgh

 

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV: ESPN3/ACC Network

Spread: Pitt -8

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The Continued Development of Nathan Peterman

He wasn’t even supposed to be the Panthers’ starting quarterback. But since taking over for Chad Voytik after the junior underwhelmed early this season, the transfer from Tennessee has proven to be better than a 60 percent passer and has the ability to get the ball downfield, something Voytik has struggled with this year.

 

While officially Peterman is still splitting time with Voytik, the latter quarterback didn’t throw a pass against Virginia Tech and was mostly inserted to carry the ball, something Voytik has done well against the Hokies historically.

 

Now Peterman faces one of the worst pass defenses in the country. The Cavaliers have allowed 285 yards a game through the air, ranking 112th in the country, and have not intercepted a pass while allowing 12 touchdown passes. Making his first career start, Boise State’s Brett Rypien threw for 358 yards against Virginia.

 

The one hope Virginia has to stop the Pitt passing attack might be linebacker Micah Kiser, who has 4.5 sacks this season. Even without running back James Conner, Pitt has been primarily a running team but has still allowed 13 sacks this year, with Peterman going down nine times.

 

2. Matt Johns is Virginia’s only hope

Pitt has the fourth-best rushing defense in college football. Virginia is averaging less than three yards a carry. Running back Taquan Mizzell has emerged as a pass catching threat out of the backfield, but continues to underwhelm as a rusher.

 

Maybe London would like to be able to rush the ball to keep possessions away from Pitt, but it’s likely not going to happen.

 

What Virginia does have is a promising quarterback in Matt Johns. A poor game against Boise State (199 yards, three interceptions, less than 50 percent completion percentage) has prevented his statistics from being outstanding, but he nearly engineered a victory against Notre Dame earlier this season and has thrown for at least 199 yards in all of his seven starts at Virginia.

 

Virginia has lost three starting offensive linemen to injury this season. Mizzell is the safety valve to counter the blitz, having scored an 80-yard touchdown against William & Mary and a 45-yard reception against the Broncos. Senior Canaan Severin is the option to throw long, and the wide receiver had 11 receptions against the Irish.

 

3. Beware of the Trick Play

If you’re London, and you have eight more days than normal to prepare for Pitt, and you’re on the hot seat with a 24-41 record in Charlottesville, and your season highlight was a flea flicker out of the wildcat formation that saw John connect with Keeon Johnson for a 42-yard touchdown pass to put your team on top of Notre Dame before the half, don’t you have to do something different?

 

Fans love creative plays, and London is overdue to have his fans love him. Virginia is not going to pound out a victory against the Panthers, but there’s always the chance they can deceive them.

 

Plus, a trick play puts a coach's signature on success. The Wahoos will need to do something like this to win. The only questions are what and when?

 

Final Analysis

 

Close loss to Notre Dame notwithstanding, Virginia simply does not come to Pittsburgh in good shape. There’s always the chance the Panthers could have a let down, and the prospect of the Hoos doing something fancy is intriguing, but Pitt is simply the better team.

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Virginia 23

 

— Written by Marky Billson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. An experienced beat reporter and sports writer, Billson began contributing to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2000. He has covered the Steelers, Pitt Panthers, MLB and more during his career. Follow him on Twitter @MarkyBillson.

Teaser:
Virginia Cavaliers vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:40
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-vs-tennessee-volunteers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Georgia Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1 SEC) will travel to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers (2-3, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. Georgia is coming off of a 38-10 throttling by Alabama in Athens last week, while the Volunteers season continues to implode following yet another blown lead which resulted in a 24-20 loss to Arkansas at home.

 

Related: Georgia Game A Must-Win for Butch Jones' Staying Power at Tennessee

 

Georgia head coach Mark Richt and Tennessee head coach Butch Jones are feeling the pressure, and both coaches are in desperate need of a victory on Saturday in order to get back into the good graces of their respective fan bases. A loss for Georgia would put them behind the eight ball in terms of winning the SEC East. A loss for Tennessee will basically destroy any chance of salvaging a once promising season.

 

Related: With a Win on Saturday, Georgia and Mark Richt Can Destroy the Hopes of an Entire Fan Base

 

College Football Podcast: Week 6 Preview with Tom Dienhart



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This will mark the 45th meeting between Tennessee and Georgia with the series dating all the way back to 1899. It is a pivotal matchup with the all-time series tied at 21-21-2. Georgia has won the last five games in the series, culminating in a 35-32 victory for the Bulldogs in Athens last season. Georgia has narrowly won each of the last two games by just three points in spite of the Vols' best effort to conjure up an upset. Tennessee will debut their new Nike “Smokey Grey” uniforms for the matchup.

 

Georgia at Tennessee

 

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

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Georgia -2.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Tennessee's 2nd Half Woes

The Vols have become notorious for their second-half meltdowns thus far this season, especially in big matchups. After jumping out to solid first-half leads against Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas, Tennessee was outscored a combined 42-13 in the second half of those three games. The Vols failed to put up any points in the fourth quarter against both Oklahoma and Arkansas and managed just seven points in the final period against Florida.

 

If Tennessee has any chance of winning against the Bulldogs, they are going to have to put together four strong quarters of football on both sides of the football. The Tennessee coaching staff must play to win and make the necessary adjustments to do so. Simply sticking with a pre-scripted game plan will not get it done against a team like Georgia, especially if the script is failing to produce in the second half as it did in the Vols’ three losses this season.

 

2. The Georgia Rushing Attack vs. Tennessee’s Run Defense

It’s no secret that the strength of the Georgia offense lies with their veteran offensive line and a trio of star running backs, most notably Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. It’s also no secret that they plan to unleash that strength with full force against a struggling Volunteer run defense that currently ranks 11th in the SEC. The question is, will Tennessee be up for the challenge?

 

The Vols' run defense certainly wasn’t up for the challenge last week against Arkansas, giving up 275 yards on the ground to the Hogs. They were also not up to the challenge against the Bulldogs in 2014, as Georgia tallied 289 rushing yards and three scores. If there is a positive for the Volunteers, they did manage to limit Nick Chubb to just 32 yards on 11 carries in last year’s matchup.

 

Tennessee will likely stack the box in an attempt to slow down Georgia’s ground attack, forcing struggling Bulldog’s quarterback Greyson Lambert to beat them with his arm. It is a common sense strategy, but it will be a challenge of epic proportions for a Vols defense that seems to always be out of position to stop opposing runners and struggles with tackling.

 

3. The Passing Game

Georgia quarterback, Greyson Lambert, briefly found himself in the unenviable position of bench warmer last week, after what can best be described as an atrocious performance against Alabama. Fortunately for Lambert, backup Brice Ramsey proved to be even worse. Ramsey completed just one of his six pass attempts and tossed two interceptions.

 

Lambert has re-seized his starting role for the moment, but he now has the daunting task of going on the road to face one of the harshest environments in college football in Neyland Stadium. If Lambert can put last week behind him and keep his composure in front of 100,000 plus fans, he should be able to find success against a Tennessee pass defense that ranks 13th in the SEC. However, if he cracks under the pressure, the Vols defense will make him pay.

 

As for Tennessee, they continue to find little success through the air, especially in terms of their highly touted receiving corps. In the Vols' last two games against Florida and Arkansas, Tennessee wide receivers have only accounted for 14 catches for 107 yards combined. Tennessee has primarily relied on running backs, Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, in their passing attack, opting for screens and short passes. Vols QB Joshua Dobbs has shown little in the way of accuracy getting the ball downfield. The offensive line has also struggled to provide Dobbs with ample time, and the receivers consistently struggle to get separation from defensive backs and make tough catches. Tennessee offensive coordinator, Mike DeBord, has the difficult task of finding a way for this lackluster passing game to break through against the Bulldogs.

 

Final Analysis

 

For a Tennessee team that rode into the season with lofty expectations, this is a must-win game. In order to win, the Volunteer defense is tasked with stopping Georgia’s potent running game and trying to force Greyson Lambert into mistakes. On offense, the Vols must execute mistake free football and find a way to successfully open up their passing attack. They could also benefit from a solid return game that has already produced two kick returns for touchdowns thanks to Evan Berry, in addition to a punt return for a score by Alvin Kamara. The Vols must also take advantage of a Georgia team that may have had their spirit broken against Alabama last week.

 

Look for Georgia to employ a strategy similar to the one used by Arkansas against Tennessee last week. One which wears down the Volunteer defense with a potent rushing attack. This will also help chew up precious time on the clock, keeping Tennessee’s offense off of the field, and enabling the Bulldogs to put a dagger in the backs of a tired Tennessee defense in the second half. There is no doubt that last week’s beating at the hands of Alabama took a toll on this team, but if Georgia can execute in the run game, avoid costly turnovers, and control the clock, they should come out on top.

 

Prediction: Georgia 31, Tennessee 20

 

— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McVey is a diehard Tennessee Volunteers' fan who loves singing "Rocky Top" every opportunity he gets. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS.

Teaser:
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:35
Path: /college-football/minnesota-golden-gophers-vs-purdue-boilermakers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The 2015 season has not gone the way Jerry Kill and the Minnesota Golden Gophers had planned or even hoped thus far. Both losses have come to ranked opponents by a combined score of 50-17. All three of Minnesota's wins were by exactly three points over teams from the Group of 5. Needless to say, they are not the Big Ten contenders and national players we thought they might be heading into the season.

 

In West Lafayette, our eyes tell us that Purdue is a team on the rise. The bottom line (record), however, tells us that the Boilermakers are once again doormats in the Big Ten. At the end of the day, wins are all that matter — and Purdue only has one. They've played tough and kept three of their four losses competitive, but that's not what will keep head coach Darrell Hazell off the hot seat. For that, Purdue needs to avoid finishing in the basement of the Big Ten West. A win in their conference home-opener would be a huge step in that direction.

 

Minnesota at Purdue

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: Minnesota -3.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Markell Jones

It looks like Jones has won the starting tailback job for Purdue outright. He absolutely shredded the Michigan State defense a week ago for 157 yard and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Give some credit to a mature, physical Boilermaker offensive line that was able to get a push against what many thought was one of the better defensive fronts in the nation early on. That said, it's easy to be motivated as a lineman when you have a special talent like Jones running behind you. If Minnesota wants any chance of winning this game, they need to get into the backfield and stop Jones before he gets loose.

 

2. Can Minnesota sustain a drive?

The Gophers didn't hit the century yard mark through the air or on the ground against Northwestern. That's obviously unacceptable, but I'm not sure they have any answers. The Gopher line is — injuries or not — simply not good. It's rare that Minnesota fields an O-line without top-level talent somewhere. They have no playmakers at the skill position and now are finally admitting that they have some issues under center. Regardless of the fact that it's against Purdue, I'm not sure the Gophers can move the ball without some creativity on the part of Kill and his staff. If that doesn't work, it's time to empty the bench and build for the future.

 

3. Peter Mortell

Yes, that's where we're at in this game. Minnesota's punter is "a thing to watch." Despite Minnesota's struggles, Mortell remains one of the better punters in the country. He's going to get plenty of opportunities to do his thing in this one. It could be one of Mortell's punts that changes the complexion of a close game late, allowing Minnesota's defense to make a play to win the game. If nothing else, he'll help the Gophers win the battle of field position.

 

Final Analysis

 

Purdue has found themselves in shoot outs all year with teams who were infinitely more threatening than Minnesota on offense. They've held their own and were able to score in a variety of ways to keep pace. Minnesota has a respectable defense, but they simply aren't good enough to overcome the lack of production on the offensive side of the ball. Look for another big day from Markell Jones on the ground en route to Purdue's first conference win of the season.

 

Prediction: Purdue 27, Minnesota 10

 

— 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. Purdue Boilermakers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-sooners-vs-texas-longhorns-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Texas head coach Charlie Strong is one of the nicest guys in college football. He is a man of tremendous integrity. He leads young men with inspiration, and vigor. He is one of the most talented coaches in the game, and he is tremendously qualified.

 

And if he doesn't win against Oklahoma on Saturday, he may be employing his skills at another university.

 

The Texas Longhorns are BEYOND desperate for a win this Saturday against the Oklahoma Sooners. After last week's embarrassing 50-7 loss against TCU, everyone questioned whether or not this Texas team would ever flourish under Strong. And by everyone, I mean everyone: boosters, fans, media, alumni, and even the players (who did so via Twitter from the bench during the game). 

 

Related: The Texas Longhorns Are Coming Apart on Twitter

 

The Longhorns must find a way to win this game. That statement is a massive one, due to the reality that the Sooners are a pretty good football team. The Sooners are riding high after soundly beating a ranked West Virginia team 44-24 in a game that didn't seem that close. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is quietly playing at a high level, completing 65 percent of his passing and throwing for 13 TDs after only four games. However it may be the Sooner defense that is truly to be feared, after it forced West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard into three costly interceptions and holding the Mountaineers' passing game to under 200 yards. This game sets up to play into the Sooners' sweet spot. There is true danger for Texas in the Red River Showdown.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 6 Preview with Tom Dienhart



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Oklahoma vs. Texas (Cotton Bowl, Dallas)

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Oklahoma  -13.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Texas Defense Must Show Up

Texas can't stop ANYONE. In five games, the Longhorns have given up 205 points. That is an average of 41 points per game. No team can win a game where they must overcome 41 points. The biggest problem for this defense is that it doesn't have a strength. The Longhorns are not good at stopping the run or the pass, which puts them at a considerable disadvantage, considering the Sooners' offense is good at both of those. This is the wrong kind of game for a struggling team to find its defensive identity, but find it they must. 

 

2. Ladies and Gentlemen... Baker Mayfield

Mayfield does it all. He runs for TDs (4). He throws TDs (13) and he is very good at it. Mayfield will solidify himself (if he hasn't already) as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate with another dominant performance. Texas (no matter how bad the Longhorns ACTUALLY look) is a nice addition to any Heisman resume and Mayfield may be able to generate a little buzz for his hopeful campaign from this game. He has scary weapons at his disposal like RB Samaje Perine, and WRs Sterling Shepherd and DeDe Westbrook, just to name a few. Mayfield is focused, and that is a dangerous thing.

 

3. Charlie Must Takeover His Own Future

Strong is known across college football as a defensive guru, earning that reputation during his tenure at Florida, and solidifying that at Louisville. It may be time for him to add more input to the Longhorns' defensive schemes. If the ship is going down, I would make sure that it went down with me driving. Strong's input needs to be clearly all over this game and after that, whatever happens, happens.

 

Final Analysis

 

I have searched high and low for a reason that Texas will win this game. And other than the rivalry itself, there simply is nothing that leaps out at me. The one historical fact that does give a small pause is that in the eight times there has been a double-digit underdog in this rivalry, six of those times the underdog covered and twice the underdog won.

 

But let's be very clear. Texas is in real trouble. Charlie Strong and his staff are in real trouble. The Texas Longhorns football team is in real trouble. And this week will only add to those troubles. I just don't see a scenario where Texas can stop Oklahoma, or score enough points to keep up with the Sooners' dynamic offense. The Red River Showdown feels more like a duel with only one participant armed. 

 

Good luck with that Texas.

 

Prediction: Oklahoma 48, Texas 14  

 

— Written by Lloyd H. Spence, Jr., who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Spence also has written for the Dallas Morning News, Yahoo!'s Rivals.com, and ESPN Louisville. He can be heard on the radio of "Talkin NOIZ" and "The Football Show of Collin County." Follow him on Twitter @TalkinNOIZ.

Teaser:
Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:25
Path: /college-football/new-mexico-state-aggies-vs-ole-miss-rebels-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Ole Miss entered The Swamp with a 4-0 record and a No. 3 national ranking. Despite facing an improving Florida squad, the Rebels were favored to win by more than a touchdown according to Las Vegas odds makers. However, the Gators were dominant on both sides of the football, and Ole Miss allowed four touchdown passes while falling behind 25-0 in the first half. The Rebels didn’t score until the third quarter, didn’t find the end zone until the fourth, and lost the turnover battle 4-0. When the dust settled, the scoreboard read Gators 38, Rebels 10.

 

The loss was unfortunate for an Ole Miss squad with SEC title and national championship aspirations. Luckily, because the game was a cross-division matchup, the Rebels still control their own destiny in the SEC West, and may even be able to get back in the playoff picture in the second half of the season. To do so, they’ll need to get back on track against New Mexico State.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 6 Preview with Tom Dienhart



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New Mexico State at Ole Miss

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: SEC Network
Spread: Ole Miss -43.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Ole Miss Must Reverse Scoring Trends

Led by the SEC’s leading passer Chad Kelly (1,478 yards, 11 TD, 4 INT) and playmakers Laquon Treadwell (374 receiving yards, TD), Cody Core (335 receiving yards, 3 TDs) and others, Ole Miss began the season on a historic scoring pace following a 76-3 victory over UT Martin and a 73-21 win over Fresno State.

 

Understandably, the Rebels scored fewer points in their Week 3 upset over Alabama, beating the Crimson Tide 43-37 in Tuscaloosa, but the Ole Miss offense continued its downward scoring trend in a 27-16 win over Vanderbilt and last week’s 38-10 loss to Florida in Gainesville. That’s four consecutive weeks in which the Rebels have scored fewer points than they did in the week before.

 

Because they’ve allowed 45.8 points and 544.5 total yards per game in four losses this season, there’s practically no way New Mexico State will be able to hold Ole Miss to single digits, and a strong offensive performance will help the Rebels get back on track moving forward.

 

2. Rebels Need a Dominant Defensive Performance
Similar to their downward scoring trends on offense, the Ole Miss defense allowed more points in each week through the first three games before holding Vandy to 16 points in Week 4. Unfortunately, last week against Florida, the Rebels surrendered a season-high 38 points.

 

Also, the Rebels have failed to force a turnover in two consecutive games after leading the nation with ten takeaways through the first three weeks of the season. The talented Landshark defense was battered last week, but has held opponents to respectable averages of 23.0 points and 357.2 yards this season thanks to stars like Robert Nkemdiche, Denzel Nkemdiche and Trae Elston.

 

The Rebels should be able to keep the Aggies in check. But, it won’t be easy. Despite an 0-4 record, New Mexico State has scored 30.2 points and rolled up 421.5 total yards of offense. Running back Larry Rose III has piled up 457 rushing yards across the last two games, including 260 in a 38-26 loss to New Mexico last week.

 

3. Get Healthy, Stay Healthy

Ole Miss will play without Tony Conner for the third consecutive game, and linebacker C.J. Johnson will be out of action following knee surgery. Javon Patterson, Justin Bel, Robert Conyers, Kailo Moore, Demore'ea Stringfellow, and Jaylen Walton are also unlikely to play this week. The Rebels have played the entire season without left tackle Laremy Tunsil because of an NCAA investigation, and defensive tackle Issac Gross suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1. With a tricky road game against Memphis coming up Oct. 17 and with five pivotal SEC West clashes to follow, the Rebels need to avoid anymore injuries against New Mexico State and get healthy for the second half stretch run.

 

Final Analysis

 

Simply put, unless Ole Miss completely sleepwalks through the 11AM local kickoff, the Aggies are unlikely to pose any threat in this game. Expect the Rebels to use Saturday’s Homecoming matchup as a tool to get back on track heading into a tough second half schedule.

 

Prediction: Ole Miss 45, New Mexico State 3

 

— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Allen's work on college football can also be found on SaturdayBlitz.com and FanSided.com. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.

Teaser:
New Mexico State Aggies vs. Ole Miss Rebels Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:20
Path: /college-football/baylor-bears-vs-kansas-jayhawks-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

This matchup is between two teams that could not be heading in more opposite directions. Baylor is doing as expected starting the season 4-0 in dominating fashion. On the other side of the ball Kansas is continuing to struggle against every opponent losing their first four games by an average of 18 points per.

 

Unfortunately there will not be much to look forward to for Jayhawk fans other than to watch one of the best teams in the country this weekend in Lawrence, and it’s not the home team.

 

Baylor at Kansas

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: FS1
Spread: Baylor -44

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Kansas’s Ryan Willis
This will not be the first time true freshman quarterback Ryan Willis will see the field this season, but it will be his first start. Willis saw time in relief of Montell Cozart last week after he left the game with a shoulder sprain. With Deondre Ford out for the season with a thumb injury Willis will be the starter for the Jayhawks for the foreseeable future.

 

Baylor’s defense is currently ranked 83rd in the nation allowing just under 400 total yards per game. If Kansas is going to have any success against the Bears it will have to be in the air. Baylor is ranked 97th in the nation in pass defense allowing just over 253 passing yards per game.

 

2. Baylor Offense

Believe it or not the Bears actually have more rushing yards this season then passing. Shock Linwood is averaging 9.2 yards per carry on 63 carries this season.

 

If you are a fan of high scoring games, at least from one team, this is a game to watch. While Baylor will undoubtedly throw the ball this has the potential to be a career game for Linwood. It really depends on what Bears head coach Art Briles chooses to do. No matter what he does it is going to work.

 

3. This Really Isn’t Fair

You don’t like to totally count out a team before the game has even started but it is kind of hard not to do so here. Baylor will have their way in every aspect of the game and Kansas will be going along for a ride they truly don’t want to be on.

 

Baylor just missed out on setting an NCAA record last week for most consecutive games with over 700 total offensive yards (they missed it by only 20 yards). Baylor could easily see over 800 total yards in this game if they so choose. Russell is averaging 12.44 yards per completion and the entire backfield is averaging 7.4 yards per carry. Neither of those averages will go down this Saturday.


Final Analysis

 

Let’s be honest, there is not much hype surrounding this game. Baylor is one of the best teams in the nation and Kansas is limping through this season.

 

You can expect Baylor to score early and often against a Kansas defense that is ranked 121st in the nation out of 127.

 

The Bears will go after Kansas freshman early and Seth Russell has the highest passing efficiency rating in the nation at 218.7. Expect that impressive number to increase this weekend.

 

Prediction: Baylor 63, Kansas 10

 

— 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. Kansas Jayhawks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:15
Path: /college-football/illinois-fighting-illini-vs-iowa-hawkeyes-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Two of the Big Ten West's most surprising teams of 2015 will line up to face one another on Saturday, as the No. 23 Iowa Hawkeyes play Homecoming host to the Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois.

 

A quick review of the records might indicate that both these teams have surpassed even the wildest of their own expectations. And to a certain point, that would be an accurate assessment.  But there's no question that the quality of the wins for these teams has come against very different levels of competition.

 

Illinois holds a 38-30-2 advantage in the series, which began in 1899.

 

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Illinois at Iowa

 

Kickoff: 12:01 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Iowa -11.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. What does Illini QB Wes Lunt do?

Illinois junior QB Wes Lunt has been spectacular at times, but not as often as he needs to be for the perpetual underdog Illini to move much farther up the Big Ten West food chain. For the season he's 123-215-3 for an average of 244.4 yards per game. The bad news is that places him in a tie for 47th among all FBS schools. The good news is, it also puts him 9 spots ahead of Iowa's CJ Beathard, who has proven he can also be spectacular when called upon to do so.

 

2. Can Iowa reignite its offense?

The Hawkeyes have surprised nearly everyone but themselves en route to a perfect 5-0 start to the season. But other than the 62 point output against North Texas, haven't done anything too spectacular on offense. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz has, however, shown a newfound willingness to open up his passing offense, and has thrown a few new wrinkles into a game plan that had grown stagnant and predictable in recent seasons. And last week's victory over a talented Wisconsin team was about as old school defensive of a game as any. But when push came to shove, it was the Hawkeyes landing the only “7” of the game as they ended Wisconsin's run of no touchdowns allowed for the season.

 

3 Which Illini team shows up?

The Illini almost always perform well in the non-conference portion of the schedule. But just as consistently flop when Big Ten teams come calling. The 2014 version of the Illini started the season 3-1 before Big Ten action began. And then the wheels once again fell off the Illini's wagon, landing them 14th out of 14 Big Ten teams in nearly every single defensive category by season's end. In the only true test of their abilities so far this season, North Carolina dominated the Illini on their way to an eventual 48-14 offensive pounding by the Tar Heels, once again demonstrating Illinois's defensive weaknesses against Power 5 caliber teams. Overall, the Illini have not beaten a Top 25 team on the road in their last 9 tries, dating back to a 2007 win over Ohio State.

 

Final Analysis

 

Prior to August, very few people knew the name Bill Cubit, but with his team's 4-1 start after the unexpected announcement of his promotion to Head Coach in August, he's already on track to win more games in his first season than the 2014 version of the Illini. He's done it in a surprisingly confident fashion, and his team has followed suit. But until he wins more Big Ten games, the numbers so far don't mean a thing.

 

On the other side of the ball, besides a few hiccups the last few seasons, the Hawkeyes very seldom regress as the season gets more intense. As long as they can avoid a mental let-down after an emotional win on the road against the Badgers in their first Big Ten opening day win since 2009, this game doesn't look to be the “trap game” many might expect for Iowa as they prepare to head back on the road to face yet another surprising Big Ten West opponent next week in Northwestern.

 

Prediction: Iowa 34, Illinois 9

 

— Written by Robert A. Boleyn, a member of the Athlon Contributor Network and a native Iowan currently based in Southern California. Boleyn attended both the University of Iowa and UCLA, and is a former contributing writer for The Daily Iowan and a die-hard Hawkeye. Follow him on Twitter @BoleynRobert.

Teaser:
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:10
Path: /college-football/indiana-hoosiers-vs-penn-state-nittany-lions-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Indiana Hoosiers are coming off a wildly entertaining game against defending national champion Ohio State, and it should have caught the attention of Penn State. The Hoosiers pushed the Buckeyes nearly to the limit last week but now must regroup on the road this week in front of a homecoming crowd for an early kickoff.

 

Penn State's offense has struggled to find itself with Christian Hackenberg going through some ups and downs and the running game already banged up. The defense has been a bit more consistent, but if the Hoosiers can duplicate what they did a week ago, Penn State could be in for another tough battle.

 

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Indiana at Penn State

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: Penn State -8

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Body blow game for Hoosiers?

Indiana gave Ohio State a good run last week in Bloomington from start to finish, although the Hoosiers lost some steam with injuries to key players. Now, a week later and on the road, will Indiana have enough left in the tank to go out and come away with a win against Penn State?

 

Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson has said quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard have been dressed in practice this week, but it remains unknown how much of a role either may have on Saturday against the Nittany Lions. Both starters were injured in the game against Ohio State and sat out the second half against the Buckeyes. Indiana may need both to be available to get out of Happy Valley with a win against a decent Penn State defense.

 

2. Penn State defense is forcing turnovers

Penn State forced three turnovers last weekend against Army. It was the third straight game the team had forced three turnovers in a game, and the offense has started to take advantage of those extra opportunities. Penn State has scored points off four of the last five turnovers by the opponent, including three touchdowns (one scored on a fumble return by the defense). Indiana cannot afford to give Penn State those opportunities this week. If Indiana handles the football, that puts even more pressure on a Penn State offense lacking in creativity and consistency and could have its own banged up running game to work with if Saquon Barkley is not available.

 

3. Hoosiers are winners against the spread too

When the opening line was released for this weekend's game, it was a tad confusing given what Indiana showed against Ohio State and what Penn State's offense has done this season. It should also be noted Indiana has been playing it close to the vest when it comes to beating the spread experts in Las Vegas. Indiana is 4-1 against the spread this season, while Penn State has been just 2-3. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Penn State has developed a knack for winning some ugly games this season, and it has gotten them to a 4-1 start. Look for yet another ugly game. If Indiana has a healthy Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard, the Hoosiers can pick up their second win against the Nittany Lions in three years. If neither player is available, Penn State should once again find a way to win an ugly game.

 

Prediction: Penn State 23, Indiana 17

 

— 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:
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:05
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-6-picks-2015
Body:

We are nearly at the halfway point to the college football season and still have a winning record. This season seems to lack a truly dominant team over all the rest. You can make a case that there's faults with a lot of the top five and even the top 10. There are some great stories though with the success of Northwestern, Temple and Navy among others. We are fully in conference play with just one FCS vs. FBS matchup. Stick around to see if it made the cut this week.

 

Record: 26-22 (5-4 last week)

 

NC State (4-1) at Virginia Tech (2-3) (Friday)

The Hokies have lost two straight and eight of their last 10 games at home against FBS opponents. Virginia Tech's last effort was especially bad, putting up just 100 yards of offense at home against Pittsburgh. Luckily the defense played well and kept them in the game even though it ended with a 17-13 loss. This is a unit that has struggled at times especially now that All-ACC cornerback Kendall Fuller is out. We really don't know what the real NC State is like because of a weak non-conference schedule. The Wolfpack have wins over Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and South Alabama. Last week they lost at home to Louisville in a game where they put up just 228 yards of offense. Virginia Tech has played 12 unders in its last 17 conference games. NC State has played six unders in its last seven October games. SELECTION: Under 46.5 (Hokies -2 as well if we learn Michael Brewer will play)

 

Minnesota (3-2) at Purdue (1-4)

Purdue continues to look for its first FBS win of the season as the Boilermakers host Minnesota. Minny has scored just 77 points in five games and has struggled to do anything through the air. The Golden Gophers have not put up 300 passing yards in a single game. Mitch Leidner has not played well at QB and is not in good health either, as head coach Jerry Kill admitted as much. Purdue's defense has allowed some gaudy stats, but the Boilermakers also have faced some tough offenses. Few teams would have success against a healthy Marshall, Virginia Tech, Bowling Green and Michigan State. The real matchup will be between the Boilers' offense and Minnesota's defense. The Gophers have allowed 27 points or less in every game and have clamped down on aerial attacks. Purdue has been able to move the ball although its issue has come with turnovers. The Boilermakers have 13 turnovers in five games and some of them have turned potential wins into sure losses. The two teams have combined for seven unders in 10 games. SELECTION: Under 46

 

Duke (4-1) at Army West Point (1-4)

Army West Point may have just one win this season, but the Black Knights have been close several times. The Black Knights lost by three at home to Wake Forest, by five at UConn and by six at Penn State. They have a solid triple option offense which has not really mixed in the pass element too much. It'll be the second triple option team that Duke faces after getting a taste of Georgia Tech two weeks ago. The Blue Devils' defense has been on point and should be able to hold down Army. The question is how will Duke's offense perform? The Blue Devils have scored just 53 points in their last three games and have struggled for consistency now that they are no longer playing the likes of Tulane and NC Central. Army held Penn State to 264 yards of offense. Duke has played 13 unders in its last 19 games as a favorite and 20 of its last 32 overall. SELECTION: Under 47.5

 

Appalachian State (3-1) at Georgia State (1-3)

It's the start of conference play in the Sun Belt. Appalachian State has dreams of a bowl game and potentially a conference title. The Mountaineers feature a stellar running game that has put up over 200 yards in every game. Georgia State's weakness resides in its defense and it's how the Panthers defend the run. The Panthers allowed FCS opponent Liberty to put up over 500 yards of offense in a 41-33 loss. Appy State should be able to move the ball pretty freely in the dome as the Mountaineers scored 31 points in a driving rain storm last week. The Mountaineers' defense has put up good numbers, but their competition has been weak outside of allowing 41 to Clemson at their place. Georgia State has gone over in nine of its last 15 home games. SELECTION: Over 59

 

Virginia (1-3) at Pittsburgh (3-1)

The recency effect is in place here. Pittsburgh is coming off an impressive road win at Virginia Tech where the Panthers held the Hokies to 100 yards of offense. The Panthers finished up their three-game road trip 2-1 with the loss coming against Iowa. Pitt's offense doesn't put up gaudy numbers against FBS opponents, averaging around 300 yards per game. Virginia's lasting memory is getting blasted by Boise State at home in front of a Friday night crowd. The Cavaliers were a few plays away from beating Notre Dame at home on Sept. 12. They are coming off a bye week and have the talent to win this game. T.J. Thorpe received another week to get healthier and to get schemed into the offense more. Virginia has covered in 11 of its last 19 games as an underdog with Pittsburgh failing to cover in 12 of its last 18 games as a favorite. SELECTION: Virginia +10

 

Rice (2-3) at FAU (1-3)

The bye week came at a good time for FAU, which that Jaquez Johnson will be close to 100 percent from his ankle injury. He played in the win over Charlotte, but wasn't very mobile. Johnson's got several weapons in Greg Howell and Jenson Stoshak. Rice has been beaten up on defense to the tune of 119 points in the last two games. The Owls have had injuries that have crippled the unit, which already was young before. The Owls have potential on offense, but Driphus Jackson's confidence has to be shot after getting benched. FAU has covered in 14 of its last 23 Saturday matchups. SELECTION: FAU ML -160

 

Navy (4-0) at Notre Dame (4-1)

As mentioned above, Navy has been a great story as the Midshipmen continue to steamroll opponents. Now they take on Notre Dame, which is fresh off a 24-22 loss to Clemson. The Fighting Irish should be able to do what they want offensively against the Naval Academy, which hasn't been tested defensively. The Midshipmen have faced Colgate, ECU, UConn and Air Force. Notre Dame's defense has seen the triple option once already this season, beating Georgia Tech 30-22 back on Sept. 19 at home. These two teams have played some high-scoring affairs with Notre Dame winning 49-39 in 2014 and 38-34 in '13. SELECTION: Over 56

 

Colorado (3-2) at Arizona State (3-2)

Things are about to get a whole lot tougher for Colorado as the Buffaloes continue Pac-12 play. The Buffaloes accounted for themselves well against Oregon but fell short 41-24. This is a unit that can score points and should do so with Arizona State having struggled defensively in conference play. USC was able to score 42 while the Bruins put up 23. Each of these teams have a bit of balance although the Buffs skew more to the pass. These two played a 38-24 game in Colorado last year with a 54-13 ASU home win in 2013. The road team has gone over the total in 11 of the last 14 games against teams with a winning record. SELECTION: Over 56

 

UTEP (2-3) at FIU (2-3)

FIU has lost two straight and will be playing its second home game of the season. The Golden Panthers will not be confused for Baylor or TCU, scoring over 20 points just twice this season and only once against FBS opponents. The good thing is their defense has played very well behind a stout front line. The Miners' offense has struggled since losing running back Aaron Jones and has become a bit one-dimensional. They have scored just 33 points the last two games accumulating just 140 yards on the ground combined. FIU has gone under in nine of its last 11 against teams with a losing record while UTEP has gone under in 11 of its last 17 conference games. SELECTION: Under 44.5

 

Notes:

- I took a crack at Kent State a few weeks ago after the Golden Flashes scored 29 points against Marshall ruining my under in that game. Now I'm considering the Flashes as a live dog on Saturday at Toledo. Kent State has a very good rushing defense that may have to contend with Kareem Hunt of Toledo. The Rockets are 3-0-1 ATS this season, but with such a big spread, I think the road team is live as an underdog. I couldn't make it official because I don't know if KSU will be able to keep up if the defense falters. Consider Kent State, but it's not an official play.

 

- On face value, Western Michigan seems like a bad team if you just look at the 1-3 record. Upon closer inspection, one will notice that the Broncos lost to Michigan State, Georgia Southern and Ohio State. WMU has a potent offense with Zach Terrell, Jarvion Franklin and Daniel Braverman. Central Michigan also faced Michigan State and is coming off a home win over Northern Illinois. This series has featured several road wins in a row making things more complicated. I wish the line was shorter, because Western is a very good team that will be in the MAC race in the end.

 

- Normally I hate laying a ton of points so we're putting the selection of Mississippi State in the notes and not an official play. MSU is coming off a tough loss to Texas A&M and the Bulldogs will want to take out their frustrations on the Sun Belt opponent. They have Louisiana Tech next so there won't be any lack of focus here or so we think. The Trojans have already faced NC State (49-21 loss) and Wisconsin (28-3 loss) so they won't be fazed by this. Mississippi State has been a favorite this large just eight times since 1992 and have covered half of those contests. I think this is a "name your score" kind of game, but I'm not ready to make it official.

 

- In the SEC, Missouri takes on Florida, as Drew Lock gets another start. The Tigers have dominated the Gators as of late so revenge is an angle in this game. The question becomes is will the Florida revenge factor be enough for them to be focused after a huge home win over Ole Miss. Even bigger is the road game at LSU on Oct. 17. The Mizzou offense has been awful this season, but the Tigers' defense has picked up the slack. I really wanted to take the home underdogs in this one, but will sit it out instead.

 

— 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 6 Picks
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:02
Path: /college-football/maryland-terrapins-vs-ohio-state-buckeyes-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

As it pertains to the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes, I have been asked the following question: "Are these 'escapes' grating at you or do just think it's the growing pains associated with the development of THIS team?" I can only answer how I see it, and I see it as a matter of growing pains.

 

Allow me to elaborate. Ohio State is 5-0, with very unsatisfying wins over Hawaii, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, and at Indiana, ever since the dominating win at Virginia Tech in the season opener. One week the offense struggles (for example, against Hawaii), but the defense rises up to play well. If the defense has some issues (for example, against Western Michigan), the offense rises up. And if turnovers are a problem (for example, at Indiana), the entire team seems to rise up to win the game in the closing moments. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I view these areas as a growing pains problem plaguing this year's team.

 

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Ohio State returns for its Homecoming game to face the Maryland Terrapins. Maryland enters this contest at 2-3, coming off a shutout home loss to the Michigan Wolverines (28-0). Last year, Ohio State defeated Maryland 52-24 in their first ever meeting.

 

Like Ohio State, Maryland has questions surrounding the quarterback position. Maryland has three players (Caleb Rowe, Perry Hills, Daxx Garman) all in the running to start at Ohio State. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall has stated that “everybody is in play” as it relates to facing the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium.

 

Maryland at Ohio State

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Ohio State -33.5

 

Three Things To Watch

 

1. Ohio State And Turnovers

If this sounds like a familiar theme from me, it is because this is an issue that has been plaguing Ohio State since the end of the 2014 season. Ohio State suffered three turnovers last week at Indiana, yet was able to escape against a determined Indiana Hoosiers squad. Ohio State needs to fix this problem, or its hopes of winning the national championship in 2015 will go down the drain.

 

2. Ohio State Running North And South

While Ohio State has an impressive arsenal of talented offensive players on its roster, such as Braxton Miller, Curtis Samuel, and Jalin Marshall, one player stands above the rest in terms of his importance to the Ohio State offense — Ezekiel Elliott. Ohio State was able to win the game at Indiana by running behind its strong offensive line, and Elliott demonstrated to the country his explosive speed once able to get to the second level of the defense. Instead of running plays laterally, Ohio State can establish a strong start by running right at Maryland from the onset of the game. If this aspect of the offense is established, the lateral plays will be more effective later on in the game.

 

3. Ohio State And The Red Zone

Against Indiana in the first half, Ohio State bogged down repeatedly, with three trips in the red zone only resulting in two field goals — one of the other field goal attempts bounced off the uprights. Cardale Jones demonstrated a lack of touch in the passing game, missing surefire touchdown passes to Michael Thomas and Nick Vannett by throwing passes with far too much heat on them. Could J.T. Barrett be brought in to relieve Jones at the quarterback position when Ohio State gets into the Maryland red zone?

 

Final Analysis

 

Ohio State is coming home to face a Maryland team that is only averaging 18.2 points a game, while usually giving up 31.8 points a game. If ever there was a game that could be the cure for what ails them, the Maryland Terrapins may be it for the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer had an air of frustration about the Buckeyes; look for Maryland to be on the receiving end of Meyer's frustration when this game concludes. 

 

Prediction: Ohio State 42, Maryland 7

 

— 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.

Teaser:
Maryland Terrapins vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-transfers-2015-16
Body:

Besides the NBA’s one-and-done rule, few trends in college basketball have changed the game quite like the explosion of transfers, graduate or otherwise.

 

Two of the biggest beneficiaries of transfers — Fred Hoiberg and to a lesser extent Billy Donovan — are off to NBA jobs. The transfer train, though, hasn’t stopped. A handful of teams may sink or swim with transfers.

 

Oregon, which may supplant Iowa State as transfer central, landed a veteran guard from Villanova. Wichita State has two transfers to complement veterans Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. Louisville dramatically altered the outlook for its season with transfers from mid-majors. Even Tom Izzo is getting in on the transfer market with Eron Harris.

 

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

 

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Impact Transfers for 2015-16

 

G Seth Allen, Virginia Tech (from Maryland)

After winning only 20 games combined in two seasons, Virginia Tech is desperate for ACC-caliber players. Allen checks that box. He would have lost his job at Maryland to Melo Trimble last season, but Allen averaged 13.4 points and shot better than 40 percent from the field in his final season with the Terrapins.

 

F Ryan Anderson, Arizona (from Boston College)

With Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson gone, Arizona needs an experienced forward and fast. Anderson fits that need after averaging 13.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in his three seasons at Boston College.

 

F Robert Carter Jr., Maryland (from Georgia Tech)

Maryland had a small lineup for most of last season, but that’s about to change for two reasons. One is the arrival of freshman center Diamond Stone. The other is Carter. The 6'9", 240-pound forward averaged 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds for Georgia Tech in 2013-14.

 

G Dylan Ennis, Oregon (from Villanova)

Villanova signed freshman Jalen Brunson, so point guard minutes were going to be even tougher for Ennis to crack with the Wildcats. Instead, he transferred to Oregon, where he’ll play his natural position and lead a young Ducks backcourt. Ennis averaged 9.9 points and 3.7 rebounds for Nova, numbers that should get a boost at Oregon.

 

G Conner Frankamp, Wichita State (from Kansas)

Frankamp, who will be eligible in December, averaged only 2.5 points per game at Kansas, but he should flourish for Wichita State now that he’s not buried on the roster. He’ll give Gregg Marshall another outside shooter to team with Ron Baker and Evan Wessel.

 

G Sterling Gibbs, UConn (from Seton Hall)

Seton Hall’s locker room was fractured last season, contributing to nine losses in the last 10 games. Gibbs still averaged 16.3 points and 3.8 assists. Starting for Kevin Ollie at UConn — where point guards have long flourished — could be an ideal situation.

 

F Anton Grady, Wichita State (from Cleveland State)

While Frankamp adds another shooter to the Shockers’ attack, Grady gives Wichita State a standout defensive presence in the frontcourt. Grady averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds for Cleveland State in 2014-15.

 

G Eron Harris, Michigan State (from West Virginia)

Imagine if Harris had been eligible last season for Michigan State, a team that made the Final Four while the West Virginia transfer redshirted. Harris averaged 17.2 points and shot 42.2 percent from 3 on 211 attempts in his final season in Morgantown. He also converted 85.6 percent of free throws, a weakness for the Spartans for most of last season.

 

G Terry Henderson, NC State (from West Virginia)

Henderson is stepping in just in time for NC State. Departed seniors Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner accounted for 73 percent of NC State’s 3-point field goals and 69 percent of the Wolfpack’s 3-point attempts. Henderson was 89-of-230 from the arc (38.7 percent) in two seasons at West Virginia.

 

F Damion Lee, Louisville (from Drexel)

Lee was arguably the best transfer available for 2015-16 after averaging 21.4 points per game at Drexel. The 6'6", 200-pound wing made at least 60 3s in each of his three full seasons with the Dragons. Lee, a senior, will provide the Cardinals with some veteran leadership.

 

G Trey Lewis, Louisville (from Cleveland State)

Remember Louisville’s 3-point shooting woes from a year ago? That shouldn’t be the case this season thanks to the arrival of Lee from Drexel and Lewis from Cleveland State. Lewis made 96-of-227 (42.3 percent) of his 3-pointers last season while averaging 16.3 points per game. Louisville shot 30.7 percent from 3 as a team last season.

 

G Tyler Lewis, Butler (from NC State)

Lewis, a McDonald’s All-American in 2012, will be looking for a fresh start at Butler. He averaged only 3.9 points per game in two seasons with NC State, but he was an efficient distributor. Lewis averaged 3.6 assists per turnover in just under 20 minutes per game at NC State in 2013-14.

 

F Sean Obi, Duke (from Rice)

Even if Obi doesn’t get as much attention as Duke’s star-studded freshman class, he could be a critical addition. The 6'9", 270-pound Nigerian is a rebounding machine. He averaged 9.3 boards per game as a freshman at Rice in 2013-14 and ranked second in the nation in defensive rebound rate on KenPom.com.

 

G Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland (from Duke)

Sulaimon’s departure from Duke was not without controversy — he was Mike Krzyzewski’s first midseason dismissal. Sulaimon’s production slipped in each of his three seasons at Duke, so he’s looking for a fresh start. Maryland needs him to step into Dez Wells’ shoes on the defensive end.

 

G Mo Watson Jr., Creighton (from Boston University)

Creighton’s top two ball handlers, Austin Chatman and Devin Brooks, combined for 222 assists last season. Watson had 248 helpers alone at Boston University in 2013-14. The point guard led the Terriers to a Patriot League regular-season title, averaging 13.3 points and 7.1 assists.

Teaser:
College Basketball's Best Transfers for 2015-16
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/former-husker-coach-tampering-current-players-minds-identified
Body:

What’s that old saying? If there’s smoke there’s fire? You’d swear something was ablaze over the past day or so in Lincoln. It turns out that rumors of former coaches dumping metaphorical toxic waste into the Nebraska football locker room are true according to former Cornhuskers' defensive lineman Jason Peter.

 

Lincoln radio station 93.7 The Ticket’s Gaskins and Stephens Show had Peter on as a guest to discuss the scuttlebutt and he didn’t disappoint. He railed against the current player mindset, his feelings regarding Alex Lewis and the topic on everyone’s mind: who dunnit?

 

According to Peter, former defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski is one of the few former members of Bo Pelini’s staff still in Lincoln and has been in contact with current players and not vice versa.

 

"He should be embarrassed, you know? That's the bottom line. He should be embarrassed,” Peter said.

 

Kaczenski, Nebraska’s defensive line coach under Bo Pelini from 2012-2014 was dismissed following current head coach Mike Riley’s hiring.

 

"It's fine to communicate with players that you've worked with that you cared about, but if you truly cared about them, you'd want them to do well,” Peter said. “You wouldn't be sitting there...in your house hoping that this team failed and this team wouldn't win another football game."

 

He then compared Kaczenski to former Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride, a coaching great in many Husker fans’ eyes and said if the former defensive line coach is offering tips or advice, nothing is working.

 

Listen to the entire segment here

 

"The fact that you have other former coaches that are trying to even the score or wishing ill will upon this new staff, I've got news for you former coaches. It's not this staff that got you fired. It's your former head coach that got you fired. So if you should be mad at anybody, be mad at that guy not the guys that are trying to work down there.”

 

He went on to say that he understands that players may still be upset about Pelini leaving and that adjusting to a new coach like Riley can be difficult.

 

However, Riley and company aren’t in a situation like Urban Meyer where players and fans automatically assume there will be an immediate uptick in performance (and would be correct more often than not).

 

Peter brought the hammer down hard on any ex-Husker coaches that may be contacting players after that.

 

"You're only making it harder and you're only cheating your kids, the ones that you coached if you're in their head telling them 'don't listen to this guy' or 'transfer here next year' or 'don't do this' or 'don't do that'.

 

You're done. You're not coaching at Nebraska anymore and these kids are persuaded too easily. They look up to a guy like that who's coached them for years. They don't know any better though, they don't."

 

Peter’s feelings are clear and now we know that at least Kaczenski is trying to help tank Nebraska’s football program. Does that excuse a 2-3 start under Riley? No, but it doesn’t help. In fact, it makes the process of moving forward and accepting a new culture harder.

 

That’s something I believe he (and any potential other offender) knows all too well by abusing his relationship with these young men.

 

One name has been uncovered and hopefully more will be. These are absolutely intolerable actions and worthy of being exposed for the players' sake if no one else’s.

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and Periscope (eightlaces), and like his Facebook page.

Teaser:
Former Nebraska Coach Tampering With Current Cornhuskers' Player’s Minds Identified
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 15:18
Path: /college-football/nc-state-wolfpack-vs-virginia-tech-hokies-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Teams don’t like playing an elimination game in early October. But that is essentially what is facing NC State and Virginia Tech on Friday night in Blacksburg.

 

The Wolfpack are 4-1, but they dropped their ACC opener at home to Louisville this past Saturday. Since NC State resides in the Atlantic along with Florida State and Clemson, a 0-2 Wolfpack squad would have little chance to contend for a division title.

 

The situation is a little more perilous for Virginia Tech. With an ugly 17-13 loss this past weekend to Pittsburgh, the Hokies find themselves not only at 0-1 in the league, but also 2-3 overall. With four conference road games remaining, a loss would put Virginia Tech’s bowl eligibility in jeopardy and bring more heat to longtime head coach Frank Beamer.

 

Virginia Tech holds a 23-18-4 advantage in the series.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 6 Preview with Tom Dienhart



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NC State at Virginia Tech

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Virginia Tech -1

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The Possible Return of Michael Brewer

Brewer injured his collarbone in Virginia Tech’s season opening loss to Ohio State and the offense has sputtered since. But the senior will practice this week and will be a game-time decision on Friday night. Brenden Motley has shown an ability to run, but he has been inconsistent throwing the ball. Motley has a 57.1 completion percentage and has thrown seven touchdown passes and five interceptions. More than anything, the Hokies need a spark and perhaps Brewer’s return can get the offense going. However...

 

2. Virginia Tech’s Porous Blocking

The Hokies offensive line has not been good. And that’s being kind. Against Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech managed just nine yards rushing and a measly 100 yards of total offense. Motley was sacked seven times. Virginia Tech ranks 86th in passes attempted, but they have allowed 14 sacks, ranking No. 108. So in short, the line can’t run block and they can’t pass block. That’s not a good combination when going against NC State, who ranks No. 3 in total defense.

 

3. Slowing Down Jacoby Brissett

With star cornerback Kendall Fuller now out for the season, Virginia Tech’s secondary is a work in progress. Against East Carolina, Pirates receivers were running free time and again. This past Saturday, they did a better job containing Pitt and their star receiver Tyler Boyd, though the wet conditions made passing difficult. Brissett is off to a strong start for the Wolfpack. He has completed 73.2 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He is averaging less than 200 yards passing per game, but Matt Dayes has led a solid running game, easing Brissett’s load. If there are openings in the Virginia Tech secondary, Brissett will find them.

 

Final Analysis

 

While the Wolfpack has to deal with their first loss of the season, their minds are in a much better place than Virginia Tech’s. The Hokies have lost two in a row, they have lost their best player for the season, and the chirping about Frank Beamer’s job situation persists. Now they face North Carolina State with a balanced offense and a solid defense. If Brewer plays, the Hokies may be able to better incorporate wide receivers Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips along with tight end Bucky Hodges. The Virginia Tech defensive front will pressure Brissett, but he will be able to make some plays and the running game led by Dayes will grind out some yardage. NC State doesn’t have to do a lot offensively because with or without Brewer, Virginia Tech will struggle to score because of their offensive line. The Wolfpack goes into Lane Stadium and gets the victory.

 

Prediction: NC State 21, Virginia Tech 13

 

— 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:
NC State Wolfpack vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Video, Overtime
Path: /overtime/stephen-smith-blasts-espn-ranking-kobe-bryant-first-take-lakers-skip-bayless
Body:

Stephen A. Smith is used to rambling on ESPN's "First Take," and usually people aren't fond of him.

 

This time, however, the public may be somewhat on Smith's side when it comes to the ranking of Kobe Bryant as the 93rd player in the NBA. Yes Bryant is not what he used to be, but are there really 92 players in the NBA right now who are better than him? That's behind Marcus Smart, Brandon Knight (perhaps most famous for being dunked on by DeAndre Jordan), and Jahlil Okafor (who hasn't even played a regular season NBA game). 

 

Sit back and watch Smith almost bust a blood vein to make his point.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 13:45
Path: /college-football/southern-miss-golden-eagles-vs-marshall-thundering-herd-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Southern Miss and Marshall are each coming off blowout wins and looking to stay at the top of their respective divisions in Conference USA. The Golden Eagles feature one of the premier passing attacks in the nation, led by quarterback Nick Mullens. It was that attack that nearly upset Nebraska in Lincoln three weeks ago. In the meantime, Marshall has proven to be one of the better teams in the country at defending the pass in 2015.

 

On the other side of the ball, Southern Miss fields one of the worst defenses in the nation, allowing over 200 yards per game on the ground. Marshall's rushing attack accounts for over 150 yards per game on the ground.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 6 Preview with Tom Dienhart



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Southern Miss at Marshall

 

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

Spread: Marshall -6.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Marshall slow down Nick Mullens?

Mullens has thrown for 1105 yards with 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions over the last three games. His deadly efficiency has been keeping defenses on their heels all season long. If he can turn this game into a shootout, Marshall may not be equipped on either side of the ball to keep pace. The Herd needs to get pressure and disrupt the timing routes — specifically on plays designed to go to Casey Martin. Martin is Wes Welker-esque in his ability to get open in traffic and do damage after the catch.

 

2. Can Southern Miss get off the field on defense?

Marshall may not pass the ball until Southern Miss proves it can slow down the running game. With monster back Devon Johnson still day-to-day with a back injury, a healthy dose of Tony Pittman could be what the Herd needs to control the clock and keep Mullens and the high-powered Golden Eagle offense off the field. Marshall would like a low scoring contest, and a healthy rushing attack is the best way to get that done.

 

3. Which team can reduce or control its penalties?

Both squads are among the most penalized teams in the nation. Southern Miss has been flagged 46 times this season, while Marshall has committed 38 fouls. This should be a close enough game where the team who commits more penalties ends up giving the game away, especially late.

 

Final Analysis

 

If the game was being played on a neutral field or in Hattiesburg, Miss., I'd give the edge to Southern Miss. The fact that it's at Marshall and given the troubles the Golden Eagles have had so far this season stopping the run makes me think Marshall will be able to feed off of a fired up home crowd and control the tempo. One or two defensive stops and a turnover will likely be enough for Marshall to win this one without Southern Miss shooting itself in the foot with penalties.

 

Prediction: Marshall 28, Southern Miss 23

 

— 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:
Southern Miss Golden Eagles vs. Marshall Thundering Herd Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 13:30
Path: /mlb/alds-preview-and-prediction-houston-astros-vs-kansas-city-royals-2015
Body:

The Kansas City Royals know exactly how the Houston Astros feel right now. Last year, the Royals were the Astros of this year — sort of. In 2014 the Royals reached their full potential and earned a wild card berth before running roughshod through the postseason, winning the American League pennant, but ultimately falling in Game 7 of the World Series against Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. 

 

The 2014 Royals were built on defense, amazing pitching, and timely hitting. The current Royals are built in the same mold as last year, only better, as the team’s offense has improved thanks to a very well-rounded lineup.

 

The 2015 Astros are about going deep and playing fast. Coming off four straight seasons of at least 90 losses, including three consecutive years of 100-plus defeats, the Astros were supposed to be a couple years away from contending. Apparently they didn't get the memo in Houston, as the Astros spent 127 consecutive days in first place in the AL West before sliding into the second wild card spot with 86 wins.

 

Houston vs. Kansas City

 

GameDayTime (ET)TVPitching Matchup
1Thursday, Oct. 87:30 p.m.FS1Collin McHugh vs. Yordano Ventura
2Friday, Oct. 93:30 p.m.FS1Scott Kazmir vs. Johnny Cueto
3Sunday, Oct. 114 p.m.MLB NetworkEdinson Volquez vs. Dallas Keuchel
4*Monday, Oct. 12TBDFS1Undecided vs. Undecided
5*Wednesday, Oct. 14TBDFS1Undecided vs. Undecided

*if necessary 

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Small Ball vs. The Long Ball

As mentioned, these two teams are complete opposites when it comes to offense. The Astros are a free-swinging group of youngsters ahead of their time. The Royals, while still mostly young, are a more veteran group with a definitive offensive plan of attack. 

 

The Astros hit the second-most home runs in baseball behind the Blue Jays with 230 long balls. Houston has five players that hit at least 20 home runs this season, but also have seven players that struck out at least 100 times, ranking second in the majors in whiffs behind only the Cubs with 1,392 strikeouts.  

 

The Royals on the other hand, are more disciplined at the plate, ranking last in baseball in total strikeouts and second in team batting average (.269). The Royals lack a lot of power in their lineup, hitting almost a hundred fewer home runs than their Astro counterparts. 

 

Anything can happen in a five-game series, and as the Royals proved in last year’s postseason run, the long ball is the great equalizer in the game. 

 

2. X-Factor: Astros OF George Springer

After making a name for himself in 2014 with 20 home runs in just 78 games, ’15 was supposed to be the year the Astros' Springer established himself as a star. Springer missed 60 games this season with injuries, but when he suited up, he showed great improvement both offensively and defensively. 

 

He raised his ’14 batting average 45 points to .276 with an .826 OPS all while becoming a plus-defender in right field. The most impressive development in Springers’s game was his plate discipline. Springer stuck out 114 times in just 345 plate appearances last season. Springer had 105 more plate appearances this season and five fewer strikeouts in 24 more games. While the strikeout number is still high, it shows the level of dedication Springer is willing to put forth in order to reach his potential.

 

The last week, Springer has been raking, hitting .458/.519/.708 with a 1.227 OPS in 27 plate appearances. If Springer can keep his hot bat going during the ALDS, the Astros have to like their chances. 

 

3. Bullpen Keys

Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera were absolutely unbelievable last postseason, essentially taking away the final three innings from opposing offenses. Holland was closer, while the eighth inning belonged to Davis, and the seventh to Herrera. 

 

Now, Holland is out after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In stepped Davis as the closer, and the Royals haven’t skipped a beat. Davis somehow one-upped himself this season with a 0.94 ERA after a sterling 1.00 ERA in ’14. Herrera now takes over the eighth and fellow reliever Ryan Madson now rules the seventh. While Herrera may be the more well-known flame-thrower, Madson is the hurler that the Astros should fear most. Madison has put up fantastic numbers this season with a 2.13 ERA, 3.09 FIP, .0963 WHIP, while surrendering less runs and walks than Herrera. 

 

Royals' starting pitching has been somewhat suspect and lacking the ace that the Astros have in Dallas Kuechel. The sooner that Kansas City skipper Ned Yost can get his relievers in the game, the better the chances the Royals head back to the ALCS.

 

Final Analysis 

 

The Astros were a great story for the first three quarters of the season before fading down the stretch. This series has the potential to be the best of any postseason matchup this October with the fantastic contrast in style. That being said, I love that the Royals started the season with the pedal on the floor and haven’t let up since last season heartbreaking World Series loss.

 

Prediction: Royals in 4 games 

 

— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.

Teaser:
ALDS Preview and Prediction: Houston Astros vs. Kansas City Royals
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-freshmen-2015-16
Body:

Months after three freshmen helped Duke to a national championship, the 2015-16 freshman class is littered with question.

 

Two of the top freshmen in the country — Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere and Kansas’ Chieck Diallo — have yet to be cleared to play this season by the NCAA. And if they are declared eligible, it’s unclear if it will be for the entire season.

 

Elsewhere, the consensus No. 1 player in the class, Ben Simmons, doesn’t play for a consensus top 25 team.

 

For our purposes, we’re considering Labissiere and Diallo part of the freshman class in our fourth and final installment of the “All-Class” series.

 

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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First-Team All-Freshman

 

G Derryck Thornton, Duke

The Blue Devils scored perhaps their most important recruiting victory when Thornton reclassified from the class of 2016 to 2015 and committed to Duke. The move gives the Devils a true pass-first point guard to replace Tyus Jones. Like Jones, Thornton is a five-star prospect.

 

G Malik Newman, Mississippi State

Arguably the most heralded recruit in Mississippi State history, Newman will be the top playmaker on a team full of veterans. He’s a 6'3", 175-pound guard who will play the point, but he’ll also be the go-to scorer for Ben Howland in his first season in Starkville.

 

F Ben Simmons, LSU

The 6'10", 225-pound Simmons will be a matchup nightmare. He can play all five positions, run the floor and pass. He’s a “point forward” by trade who is LSU’s most anticipated recruit since Shaquille O’Neal.

 

F Brandon Ingram, Duke

Mike Krzyzewski is doing just fine in the one-and-done world. Out goes Justise Winslow, and in comes Ingram. The 6'8", 200-pound North Carolina native will step in on the wing for Winslow, giving the Blue Devils length and some perimeter shooting.

 

C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky

His eligibility for at least part of the season is in doubt, but when he’s on the court, Labissiere — a center who arrived in Memphis after the tragic earthquake in Haiti in 2010 — is a skilled big man with potential to be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

 

Second-Team All-Freshman

 

G Jalen Brunson, Villanova

Villanova already has a standout point guard in Ryan Arcidiacono, but when was the last time Jay Wright had too many guards? Brunson is a left-handed point guard who should immediately step in to fill the void left by Darrun Hilliard in Villanova’s potent attack.

 

G Allonzo Trier, Arizona

Neither of Arizona’s last two big-time freshmen, Aaron Gordon and Stanley Johnson, needed to shoulder the load offensively. That may change for Trier, a five-star 2-guard who can score from just about anywhere on the court.

 

G/F Jaylen Brown, Cal

The addition of two top-10 prospects to Cal’s returning veterans has positioned the Bears among the favorites in the Pac-12. While forward Ivan Rabb is a local kid from Oakland, Brown comes all the way from Marietta, Ga. A top-five recruit, the 6’7”, 220-pound Brown can play four positions and should be a dynamic scorer.

 

F Cheick Diallo, Kansas

After the Cliff Alexander flameout, Kansas will welcome any production from its big-time forward signee. On that, Diallo should deliver. He was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic. He’s a little raw skill-wise but makes up for it with competitiveness.

 

C Diamond Stone, Maryland

Stone will give Maryland — an undersized team a year ago — a true inside-out game with his offensive ability around the rim, complementing the Terrapins’ standout 3-point shooters.

 

Honorable Mention All-Freshman

 

G/F Dwayne Bacon, Florida State

With his ability to attack the rim, Bacon could be a big-time scorer for a team that averaged only 66.6 points per game (10th in the ACC) last season. He’s no ordinary freshman, either; he’ll be 20 when the season starts.

 

F Thomas Bryant, Indiana

Indiana’s biggest weakness last season was on the interior. The Hoosiers launched 3-pointers but couldn’t defend a lick around the basket. Now, Tom Crean’s team adds a 6'10", 220-pound McDonald’s All-American with a 7'6" wingspan. If Bryant is a force in the post as expected, Indiana will have a more complete team that could contend for the Big Ten title.

 

F Henry Ellenson, Marquette

The arrival of Ellenson, a five-star prospect from Rice Lake, Wis., is the first major recruiting victory for Steve Wojciechowski — and the biggest recruiting victory for Marquette in decades. He’s a skilled power forward who could be Marquette’s top offensive weapon.

 

G Jamal Murray, Kentucky

When Murray reclassified from 2016 to ’15, the combo guard changed the complexion of Kentucky’s recruiting class. The Wildcats struck out on some top names in April and May, but Murray gives UK a standout jump shooter at the 2 and backup to Tyler Ulis at the point.

 

F Ivan Rabb, Cal

Rabb was the first big-time prospect to sign at Cal this offseason — and the first in quite some time. It was his arrival that helped pave the way for Jaylen Brown later in the spring. Rabb, though, is no sidekick. He’s a top-10 prospect who should be an athletic power forward and rim protector.

 

F Caleb Swanigan, Purdue

Swanigan’s arrival at Purdue could represent a major shift in the Big Ten this season. Not only did Swanigan abandon his commitment to Michigan State in May, but his flip to Purdue also gives the Boilermakers one of the strongest frontcourts in the country. Swanigan is a skilled 6'9" forward who joins 7-footer A.J. Hammons and 6'7" Vince Edwards on a talented frontcourt.

 

Teaser:
LSU's Ben Simmons leads group of freshmen with questions
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/betting-against-spread-nfl-picks-week-5
Body:

I'm feeling good about my NFL selections right now as we haven't given out a loser the last two weeks. Now that's not going to last so play these next few at your own risk. As the season continues on, more and more plays will be situation-based. These teams have some awful scheduling spots and you have to take advantage of them no matter how bad the team is that you are wagering on. Week 5 is upon us so let's give some more winners. 

 

Record: 10-3-1 (4-0 last week)

 

Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-2)

The Titans are coming off a bye, which might have been useful after their tough Week 3 loss to the Colts at home. Marcus Mariota has been impressive, but is going to get his first test against a real good defense. Buffalo has held all of its opponents to under 105 yards rushing and three of them to under 300 yards passing. Tennessee's defense has played well too as no one has thrown for more then 250 yards against it. Buffalo is going to be on its third starting running back most likely and could be without Sammy Watkins again. Buffalo has played 21 unders in its last 36 games including 10 of its last 16 in games with a line between +3 and -3. SELECTION: Under 42

 

Chicago Bears (1-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)

Quick quiz for the reader... which defense do you think allows more yards per game? It's not who you think it is because the answer is the Chiefs. The perception is that the Bears' defense is bad, but if you look at the numbers, that's not quite the case. KC has given up 397 yards per game while the Bears allow 309. Jay Cutler is healthy, which means that Matt Forte becomes a more viable weapon. There is a chance Alshon Jeffery plays and that means Chicago will be able to move the ball. On the opposite side, we may see the second straight week of Alex Smith blowing up. He threw for 348 yards in Cincinnati and could do the same against the Bears. While the numbers don't make Chicago look bad, they really aren't that good. The Bears have played in 22 overs in their last 35 including 15 of their last 24 as an underdog. Wait a little longer and you may get good value. SELECTION: Over 44.5

 

Seattle Seahawks (2-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-0)

Couple of situations in play here as Seattle comes to Cincinnati. The Seahawks are coming east off a short week after a win where they weren't that impressive offensively. They lost their first two road games at St. Louis and Green Bay and have a home game on the next Sunday against Carolina. The Bengals are rolling right now, and really don't have a look-ahead situation as Buffalo is next. Cincy is running it well and has multiple weapons on the outside. Russell Wilson has been on the run all year so far and will continue to be with this stout front seven. The Bengals have covered in 14 of their last 18 home games. In a quirky statistic, Seattle has failed to cover in eight of its last 10 games in Weeks 5 through 9. SELECTION: Cincinnati ML -157

 

San Francisco 49ers (1-3) at New York Giants (3-1)

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" features a matchup that probably looked better before the season began. The 49ers are a lost group offensively right now, scoring just 10 points in their last two games since they put up 38 in their first two. Colin Kaepernick has thrown for just 172 yards on 22-of-44 passing. Carlos Hyde was a revelation in Week 1 and is now relegated to mop-up work. The Giants' defense has played well against the run, not allowing a single team to go over 100 yards on the ground. San Fran's defense hasn't played too badly, holding the Packers to 17 points last time out. The Giants have struggled to run the ball so they'll look to the air in order to beat the Niners. San Fran has played 23 unders in its last 39 games including 19 of their last 30 against the rest of the NFC. SELECTION: Under 43

 

Notes: 


- Unlike a lot of handicappers, I don't feel the need or any pressure to bet the big games. Thursday night is an intriguing matchup between the Texans and the Colts. It doesn't appear now that Andrew Luck will play, so Indianapolis' QB situation is anything but a sure thing at this point. Money is pouring in on Houston making the Texans the favorite as of the publishing of this article. Houston's defense has good numbers, but hasn't been the shut-down unit we thought they'd be outside of the win over Tampa Bay. Indy has the uglier numbers on the defensive side, but has allowed almost four fewer points per game. Unofficially, I'd take the under in this one because Ryan Mallett can't take advantage of a shaky Colts defense. 

 

- The Lions are winless this season and have to be reeling after the officials stole a potential victory from them. This is a huge red flag for me in considering them as a wager because it's a short week and you know focus could be an issue. Arizona comes to Detroit on Sunday and the Cardinals have three of their next four on the road. The run defense for the Cardinals has been shaky, but Detroit hasn't managed more then 70 yards on the ground in a single game. Arizona has covered in 15 of their last 23 in a dome. I couldn't decide if desperation wins or the better team so we moved on. If you are taking Detroit, then you are hoping there is no Monday night hangover and they take advantage of the Cards. 

 

- We'll see if an early bye can slow down the Patriots who are averaging nearly 40 points per game this season. Also of note are the 2015 debuts of Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain for Dallas. Who knows how long they will go, but that will help the Cowboys front seven. Dallas has covered only eight of its last 19 home games. Money is coming in on the Patriots. If it goes a lot higher, then the home underdog might become the play. 

 

- ESPN's "Monday Night Football" was real close to featuring an official play. Michael Vick gets more time to prepare for this one after the quick Sunday-Thursday turnaround for the Ravens game. The Steelers' offense gets Martavis Bryant back, but can Vick get him the ball. San Diego's two best offensive outputs have come at home. The Chargers will try to run the ball on the Pittsburgh defense, but ultimately it will be a Philip Rivers game. The Chargers have covered just six of their last 14 games as a favorite. I really wanted to take the home team, but something doesn't seem right about 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: NFL Picks For Week 5
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 11:45
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/predictions-every-college-football-game-week-6
Body:

Week 6 of the 2015 college football season starts on Thursday night with SMU visiting Houston and USC hosting Washington. Two games dot the schedule on Friday, including a key ACC matchup between NC State and Virginia Tech. But as usual, the action picks up on Saturday with a slew of important games. Oklahoma-Texas meet in their annual rivalry matchup at noon ET on Saturday, followed by key conference contests between Clemson and Georgia Tech, Georgia-Tennessee, Northwestern-Michigan and Wisconsin-Nebraska in the 3:30 p.m. ET time slot. The night slate kicks off with Arkansas-Alabama and continues with Oklahoma State visiting West Virginia, California taking on Utah, TCU traveling to Kansas State and Miami visiting Florida State. 

 

Conference Predictions for Week 6 

 

ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

College Football Week 6 Predictions
 

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

Mark

Ross

SMU at

Houston

Washington at

USC

Southern Miss at

Marshall

NC State at

Virginia Tech

Oklahoma State at

West Virginia

Duke at

Army

Georgia Tech at

Clemson

Miami at 

Florida State

Maryland at 

Ohio State

Indiana at

Penn State

South Carolina at

LSU

Illinois at 

Iowa

Baylor at 

Kansas

NMSU at

Ole Miss

Oklahoma vs.

Texas

UTEP at

FIU

MTSU at

WKU

Tulane at

Temple

C. Michigan at

W. Michigan

Virginia at 

Pittsburgh

TCU at

Kansas State

UMass at

Bowling Green

Miami, Ohio at

Ohio

Rice at

FAU

Wake Forest at

Boston College

Akron at

E. Michigan

Kent State at

Toledo

Northwestern at

Michigan

Navy at

Notre Dame

Minnesota at 

Purdue

Syracuse at

USF

Georgia at

Tennessee

Wisconsin at 

Nebraska

Iowa State at

Texas Tech

App. State at

Georgia State

Ball State at

Northern Illinois

UConn at 

UCF

Troy at 

Miss. State

Oregon State at

Arizona

Portland State at

North Texas

Washington State at

Oregon

ULM at 

Tulsa

Arkansas at

Alabama

La. Tech at

UTSA

Texas State at

UL Lafayette

Boise State at

Colorado State

New Mexico at

Nevada

Florida at

Missouri

East Carolina at 

BYU

Michigan State at

Rutgers

San Jose State at

UNLV

California at

Utah

Colorado at

Arizona State

Wyoming at

Air Force

Utah State at

Fresno State

San Diego State at

Hawaii

Arkansas State at

South Alabama (Tues)

 

Teaser:
Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 6
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-6-predictions-utah-california-showdown-oregon-usc-arizona-state
Body:

The Pac-12 is home to one of college football’s most intriguing matchups for Week 6. California travels to Salt Lake City for a key conference contest against Utah. The Utes are undefeated and ranked among the best in the nation. However, coach Kyle Whittingham’s team will have a tough time slowing down the Golden Bears’ high-powered offense. Outside of the California-Utah showdown, there’s not a lot of intrigue in the other four Pac-12 games. Three of the matchups are double-digit point spreads, and the line on Oregon State-Arizona is unsettled due to the health of Wildcats’ quarterback Anu Solomon. 

 

Athlon Sports offers its Pac-12 Week 6 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch), David Fox (@DavidFox615), and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

 

Related: Top 10 Coaches on the Rise

 

Pac-12 Week 6 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. California at Utah

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Utah -7

 

Predictions for California at Utah

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
31-27-35-2827-24

 

2. Washington at USC

Date and Kickoff Time: Thursday, Oct. 8 at 9 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: USC -17

 

Predictions for Washington at USC

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
41-17-38-2040-17

 

3. Washington State at Oregon

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

Spread: Oregon -17

 

Predictions for Washington State at Oregon

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
41-24-35-2438-17

 

4. Colorado at Arizona State

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

Spread: Arizona State -15

 

Predictions for Colorado at Arizona State

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
38-20-37-1438-24

 

5. Oregon State at Arizona

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

Spread: Arizona -8.5

 

Predictions for Oregon State at Arizona

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
38-20-35-2134-24

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 6 Predictions: Utah-California Showdown, Oregon and Arizona State Look to Build Momentum
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-6-predictions-michigan-hosts-northwestern-nebraska-wisconsin-rebound
Body:

The Big Ten has an intriguing slate of games scheduled for Week 6. A defensive struggle is expected in Ann Arbor, as Michigan hosts Northwestern. The Wolverines and Wildcats are two of the Big Ten’s top teams through Week 6 and both are ranked after a combined 9-1 start. Outside of the Michigan-Northwestern showdown, Wisconsin travels to Nebraska for a critical game in the West Division. Indiana nearly upset Penn State last Saturday, and the Hoosiers should have a good shot at defeating the Nittany Lions in Week 6. However, will quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard return to full strength after missing time last week? Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Illinois visits Iowa, Maryland travels to Ohio State, Purdue hosts Minnesota and Michigan State plays at Rutgers. 

 

Related: Top 10 Coaches on the Rise

 

Athlon Sports offers its Big Ten Week 6 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch), David Fox (@DavidFox615), and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

 

Related: Outrageous Week 6 Predictions

 

Big Ten Week 6 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Northwestern at Michigan

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Michigan -7.5

 

Predictions for Northwestern at Michigan

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
24-13-21-1323-14

 

2. Wisconsin at Nebraska

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2

Spread: Nebraska -1.5

 

Predictions for Wisconsin at Nebraska

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
27-24-24-2024-20

 

3. Indiana at Penn State

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Penn State -8

 

Predictions for Indiana at Penn State

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
27-24-28-2130-27

 

4. Illinois at Iowa

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: Iowa -11

 

Predictions for Illinois at Iowa

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
30-20-28-1730-24

 

5. Maryland at Ohio State

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at Noon ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Ohio State -33

 

Predictions for Maryland at Ohio State

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
45-10-31-740-13

 

6. Minnesota at Purdue

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Minnesota -3

 

Predictions for Minnesota at Purdue

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
24-20-21-1027-17

 

7. Michigan State at Rutgers

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Michigan State -14

 

Predictions for Michigan State at Rutgers

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
38-17-27-2037-20
Teaser:
Big Ten Week 6 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/sec-week-6-predictions-tennessee-looks-upset-over-georgia-alabama-hosts-arkansas
Body:

The SEC’s marquee matchups last Saturday turned into one-sided affairs. Alabama easily handled Georgia, while Florida upset Ole Miss in surprising fashion. Will Week 6 bring any surprises to the league? Tennessee is looking to get back on track after losing its last three games against Power 5 teams this year. The Volunteers have struggled in the second half of all three losses, and Georgia is another tough opponent for Butch Jones’ team. The Bulldogs were dominated by Alabama, but a win in Knoxville would keep Mark Richt’s team in the East Division title picture. Elsewhere in the SEC, Arkansas travels to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama, Florida visits Missouri and LSU hosts South Carolina. Ole Miss and Mississippi State should secure easy wins in non-conference play.

 

Related: Top 10 CFB Coaches on the Rise for 2015

 

Athlon Sports offers its SEC Week 6 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

 

SEC Week 6 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Georgia at Tennessee

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Georgia -3

 

Predictions for Georgia at Tennessee

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
31-27-31-2031-28

 

2. Arkansas at Alabama

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Alabama -16.5

 

Predictions for Arkansas at Alabama

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
31-13-28-1038-13

 

3. Florida at Missouri

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Florida -5

 

Predictions for Florida at Missouri

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
27-13-24-1427-17

 

4. South Carolina at LSU

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: TBA

Spread: LSU -19.5

 

Predictions for LSU at South Carolina

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
38-13-35-1034-20

 

5. Troy at Mississippi State

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Mississippi State -30.5

 

Predictions for Troy at Mississippi State

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
45-13-38-1034-13

 

6. New Mexico State at Ole Miss

Date and Kickoff Time: Saturday, Oct. 10 at Noon ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Ole Miss -43.5

 

Predictions for New Mexico State at Ole Miss

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

@AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@BradenGall
55-10-63-1040-7
Teaser:
SEC Week 6 Predictions: Tennessee Looks for Upset Over Georgia, Alabama Hosts Arkansas
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /nfl/indianapolis-colts-vs-houston-texans-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Week 5’s Thursday night matchup will feature two teams trending in opposite directions. The Indianapolis Colts seem to have gotten their season back on track with consecutive wins against Tennessee and Jacksonville, while the Houston Texans sit at 1-3, coming off of an embarrassing 48-21 loss to Atlanta.

 

The Colts' winning streak may provide them with some much-needed momentum heading into the Houston matchup, but it does not look like Thursday night will see the return of quarterback Andrew Luck, however. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported early this morning that the Colts intend to go with backup Matt Hasselbeck under center for the second straight game.

 

Regardless of who has been under in quarterback, Indianapolis could just as easily be entering Week 5 without a win. The Colts are literally two plays away from sitting at 0-4, and they have yet to face a legitimate NFL contender. The bottom line is that the Colts are not playing very good football right now, including their Pro Bowl quarterback Luck. Momentum aside, they know full well that they are a long way off from last year’s success.

 

Houston, on the other hand, does not even have the luxury of momentum on its side. The Texans do have one ugly win over Tampa Bay in Week 3, and they were somewhat competitive in losses to the Chiefs and Panthers, but last week’s beating at the hands of the Falcons may have very well sucked the life out of this football team.

 

This will be the 27th time the Colts have faced the Texans. Indianapolis holds a commanding 22-4 edge in the series. Houston has not celebrated a victory against Indianapolis since 2012, as the Texans have lost the past five meetings. This game also marks the first return trip to Houston for Andre Johnson, the Texans' all-time leading wide receiver who now catches passes for the Colts.

 

Indianapolis at Houston

 

Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network

Spread: Houston -1

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Indianapolis' Quarterback Quandary

The big storyline all week had been the potential return of Luck for the Colts, but that does not appear to be the case. It shouldn't come as that much of a surprise, however, considering reports earlier this week suggesting Luck had suffered a partially separated shoulder, which is fairly serious. The Colts have denied this, and Luck had stated that he intended to play.

 

The reality is that even if Luck was able to play, he wouldn't have been at 100 percent and it's not like he has played that great when he's been on the field. In three games, Luck has completed just 56 percent of his passes, he has yet to throw for over 300 yards in a game, and he has seven interceptions compared to just five touchdown passes. To put some perspective on the situation, Houston quarterback Ryan Mallett currently has a quarterback rating that is 21 points higher than Andrew Luck’s 30.9 QBR.

 

In fairness, the Colts' shaky offensive line should assume most of the responsibility for Luck’s woes this season. The front line has failed miserably in its attempt to give their quarterback adequate time to throw or to even keep him upright. In fact, Luck and Matt Hasselbeck have taken a combined 68 hits through four games, the most in the NFL.

 

So once again, it looks like the QB duties will fall to Hasselbeck, who has 153 career starts under his belt. He led the Colts to victory last week against Jacksonville, completing 30 of 47 passes for 282 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Unfortunately, Hasselbeck himself won't likely be at 100 percent since he's dealing with an illness of some sort that had him listed as questionable.

 

There's also the matter of the aforementioned shaky offensive line play, which will certainly be tested tonight trying to fend off sack monster J.J. Watt. Watt had four sacks in the teams' two meetings last season, and those four takedowns came against a much better offensive line than the one Indianapolis currently is putting on the field. In fact, it may be in the Colts' best interests to keep Luck on the bench for another game, and just hope and pray that somehow Hasselbeck can make it through the game so they don't have to call on No. 3 Josh Johnson, who was signed on Wednesday. Not a good situation any way you slice it.

 

2. Houston's Offense

On paper, the Texans’ offense looks solid, ranking seventh in the NFL with 384 yards per game. The problem is that statistics can sometimes be deceiving. The reality is that Houston has been able to pad its numbers playing from behind in garbage time. The more telling stat is that the Texans' offense is only producing 19 points per game, which also is somewhat padded thanks to garbage time touchdowns.

 

The Texans' passing game is subpar at best, which is evident by the ever-changing quarterback rotation between Mallett and Brian Hoyer. A Texans' run game that has produced just 3.7 yards per play provides even more insight into Houston’s offensive woes. The return of Arian Foster last Sunday from a preseason groin injury was supposed to be the cure-all. Instead, a rusty Foster only managed to run for 10 yards on eight carries against the Falcons.

 

Foster is in line for more touches on Thursday. For the sake of the Texans’ offense, it is crucial that Foster return to form. A healthy Foster would go a long way against an Indianapolis defense that is allowing 120 rushing yards per game. The Colts' defense has been rather generous with opposing offenses in general. So, the potential is there for Houston's offense to get on track this week, especially if Foster can get going.

 

3. Turnovers

Turnovers have plagued both of these teams thus far, which make them an obvious issue of concern for tonight's matchup. The Colts have turned it over 12 times through four games, more than any other team in the NFL, and have just three takeaways (all INTs). Their minus-nine turnover differential is far and away the worst in the league.

 

The Texans have fared better in the turnover department, but that is not saying much given their minus-six turnover differential, which places them just ahead of the Colts at the bottom of the rankings. The offense has committed eight turnovers - four INTs and four fumbles lost. Houston's defense has yet to really generate a bunch of takeaways with just two picks to its credit thus far.

 

While there is little evidence to support it so far this season, the Houston defense has traditionally been an opportunistic group. Colts running back Frank Gore has been a fumbling machine, and the passing game has produced more interceptions than touchdown passes through four games. Conversely, the Colts should also be able to force a Texans offense, in a current state of disarray, into a few mistakes of its own. The team that wins the turnover battle will likely be the one that comes out on top.

 

Final Analysis

 

For the Colts’ offense, this game comes down to two crucial points of emphasis. Protecting the quarterback and limiting turnovers. The Colts’ anemic offensive line will surely have its hands full against two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. On defense, Indianapolis will need to key on Arian Foster and force Ryan Mallett to throw early and often to a depleted receiving corps.

 

The Texans' offense will have to lean heavily on Foster, in the hope that he can return to All-Pro form. Ryan Mallett will need to play efficiently and be a game manager, something he has yet to prove capable of. It will be even more difficult without injured wide receivers Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts in the fold. On defense, Houston will need to get its pass rush going and apply as much heat as is humanly possible on Indianapolis quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Houston needs someone other than Watt to step up on defense. Watt is responsible for four of the Texans’ six sacks so far. Inexcusable for a defense that also features Vince Wilfork, Whitney Mercilus (questionable with a thigh injury), Jadeveon Clowney, and Brian Cushing.

 

Both teams enter this game pretty beaten up physically, and neither team should feel supremely confident in the product that they have put on the field to date. The big question is, how much did last week’s embarrassing loss effect the Texans? It is too early in the season to believe that Houston is just going to roll over and die, especially in a divisional game in front of the home crowd. Plus, the Colts’ luck is well overdue to run out (no pun intended). If the Texans can put last week behind them and get Foster going, they should be able to spoil Andre Johnson's Houston homecoming.

 

Prediction: Texans 24, Colts 20

 

— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS.

Teaser:
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 10:30

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