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All taxonomy terms: videos, NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/nfl-players-superlatives-jimmy-fallon-haden-gronkowski-drew-brees-flacco-peyton-manning-aaron-rodgers-stafford
Body:

Usually Jimmy Fallon will do the ridiculing, but it's a new NFL season and he's changing things up a bit.

 

The "Tonight Show" host had NFL stars read their own superlatives this time. Everyone from Drew Brees to Joe Haden got in on the fun. Most of these are funny because they're pretty true.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:53
All taxonomy terms: Auburn Tigers, College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/jacksonville-state-gamecocks-vs-auburn-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Auburn Tigers earned a season-opening 31-24 win against Louisville in Week 1. The Tigers’ defense looked improved under new coordinator Will Muschamp with two turnovers in the first quarter.

 

Auburn's rushing attack was as strong as ever with 190 yards and two touchdowns on 41 attempts. In Week 2, the Tigers host Jacksonville State — who went 10-2 (8-0) in 2014 as Ohio Valley Conference champions — in their first game of 2015 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

 

Jacksonville State at Auburn

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: SEC Network
Spread: N/A

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Will Jeremy Johnson Bounce Back?
Johnson didn't look like the Heisman candidate many expected in Week 1. Despite recording two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) his three interceptions were the biggest takeaway from his debut as Auburn's starting quarterback. But Johnson's Heisman campaign is far from finished. He has an opportunity to regain his confidence with a big game against an FCS opponent in Week 2. Johnson should find an early rhythm Saturday with one of the SEC's top wide receiver groups facing a favorable matchup.

 

Related: Should Auburn Fans Worry After Jeremy Johnson's Lackluster Performance?

 

2. Is Peyton Barber the Feature Back?

When Cameron Artis-Payne — the SEC's leading rusher — departed, the focus was on former four-star prospect Roc Thomas and top JUCO transfer Jovon Robinson to take over as the team's feature back. Instead, it was Barber who saw the majority of carries in Auburn's 2015 debut. Barber rushed for 115 yards on 24 attempts. Both Thomas and Robinson left the games with injuries, which offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee told Al.com were "nothing major." Still, it will be interesting to see if Barber remains the primary back once both players are at 100 percent based on his strong debut performance.

 

3. Muschamp's Defense

Much of Auburn's preseason hype was due to the hiring of Muschamp as defensive coordinator. Muschamp-coached teams ranked in the top 10 in the FBS each year since 2009. Auburn hasn't finished higher than No. 60 in the past six seasons, which includes two teams (2010, ‘13) that either made it to or won the BCS title game. Still, many expected big things with the former Florida coach inheriting a defense that includes veteran linebackers Cassanova McKinzy, Kris Frost and potential All-SEC pass rusher Carl Lawson. The defense did look impressive with two first quarter turnovers — a 35-yard interception by Tray Matthews that set up Auburn's first score and an 82-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Justin Garrett. Muschamp's group should continue its success against a capable, yet still overmatched FCS opponent.

 

Final Analysis

 

Auburn enjoys a dominant win in Week 2. Saturday's matchup provides the Tigers with a tune-up game they lacked by facing a Louisville team that finished 2014 ranked 24th in country. Auburn needs this matchup to boost its confidence — specifically Johnson after a disappointing debut — before the difficult task of facing LSU in Death Valley next Saturday.

 

Prediction: Auburn 42, Jacksonville State 3

 

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

Teaser:
Jacksonville State Gamecocks vs. Auburn Tigers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:50
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football, Big 12
Path: /college-football/lamar-cardinals-vs-baylor-bears-game-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Both teams started the season with impressive wins last week beating their opponents by a combined score of 122-24.

 

Baylor's defense showed some weaknesses in the first half against SMU before shutting them down in the third and fourth quarters. Any of those weaknesses will probably disappear as Baylor returns both Shawn Oakman and Orion Stewart from suspension. Lamar was able to score at will against an undermanned Bacone College.

 

Unfortunately recent history has not fared well for Lamar against Power 5 Conference opponents and Baylor is just about as tough of an opponent as they could schedule.

 

Lamar at Baylor

 

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Fox Sports Net
Spread: N/A

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Will Shawn Oakman’s return matter?

Baylor’s All-American defensive end was suspended last week for unspecified violation of team rules. The Bears gave up 369 yards to SMU last weekend including 203 on the ground. The return of Oakman will inevitably mean that total will fall drastically.

 

The question is, will the return of Oakman and safety Stewart really matter against a Cardinal team that is simply outmatched?

 

2. Lamar offense
While Bacone College wouldn’t be a match for many, Lamar still showed some impressive offensive ability. The Cardinals ran the ball by committee against Bacone to the tune of 264 yards. Lamar quarterback Joe Minden added another 170 yards passing including three touchdown passes.

 

Lamar has a good offense. Is it good enough to stay with the Bears? That is highly doubtful. However, Cardinal fans could see glimpses of hope.

 

3. Will Baylor take their foot off the pedal?

This is the million dollar question. Baylor is still facing ridicule for their weak non-conference schedule. The only way left to rectify this is to defeat these teams in a fashion to leave no doubt the Bears are a far superior team.

 

This is an unfortunate circumstance for Lamar who happens to be in the crosshairs of a potent offense and shutout defense. If Baylor coach Art Briles feels he needs to silence the critics and ensure these games against lesser opponents do not harm them in the future he may unleash the dogs.

 

Final Analysis

 

While Baylor may allow Lamar to score late this game will be out of hand by the end of the first half. Don’t expect to see many starters in the second half of this game unless Baylor head coach Art Briles feels he needs to make a statement. If that happens this could be an embarrassment that could leave hard feelings for some time to come.

 

Prediction: Baylor 64, Lamar 7

 

— 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:
Lamar Cardinals vs. Baylor Bears Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:45
Path: /college-football/east-carolina-pirates-vs-florida-gators-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Last weekend, both the East Carolina Pirates and the Florida Gators had successful debuts to their 2015 season. The Pirates edged out the Towson Tigers 28-20 behind 154 yards and four rushing touchdowns by Chris Hairston. Florida had an easier time against the New Mexico State Aggies, cruising to a 61-13 win in head coach Jim McElwain’s first game as the Gators' head coach.

 

This will be the third meeting between East Carolina and Florida and the second this calendar year. In January, the Gators used a late turnover by Vernon Hargreaves III to secure a 28-20 victory in the Birmingham Bowl.

 

East Carolina at Florida


Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Florida -13

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Will Grier and Treon Harris

In Week 1, Harris got the start against New Mexico State. This week, McElwain announced on Thursday that redshirt freshman Grier will start against East Carolina. 

 

Both Harris and Grier saw extensive playing time against the Aggies last week and both quarterbacks could not have played any better. Harris started the game and ended up 14-for-19 passing for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Grier also had an impressive night as he was 15-of-17 for 164 yards and accounted for three scores.

 

"I thought both quarterbacks had moments that were really good," McElwain said in his press conference on Monday. “I thought Treon showed some escape-ability and created big plays down the field and extended plays. I think that's a real positive. I thought what Will did was come in with that two-minute drive right there before half, which actually was really big, and what I mean by that is we gave up a score and we answered. And what that shows me is a little bit of resolve.

 

Even with Grier starting the game against the Pirates, McElwain said the team will use a similar rotation as they did last week. Against the Aggies, Harris played the first three series of the game before Grier came in. 

 

2. Blake Kemp

The plan for East Carolina heading into the season was for Kurt Benkert to be the team’s starting quarterback. But that was before he suffered a season-ending knee injury a week before the opener against Towson. Head coach Ruffin McNeill then named junior college transfer Blake Kemp as the team’s starting quarterback

 

Kemp had an efficient game against Towson as he completed 29 of 37 passes for 239 yards. While he didn’t throw a touchdown, he also didn’t turn the ball over. This week, the Pirates will be lining up against one of the most talented defenses in the nation.

 

Last season, the Gators gave up 116.2 yards rushing per game, which was the 13th best in the nation. East Carolina ran the ball to a lot to take pressure off of Kemp, but the Pirates will have put the ball in the air if they are going to pull off the upset on the road.

 

3. Return of Alex McCalister and Marcus Maye

In their season-opening win against New Mexico State, the Gators were without their starting safety and arguably their best pass rusher. Both safety Marcus Maye and defensive end Alex McCalister were suspended because of an undisclosed violation of team rules. Getting both players back should make things that much tougher on East Carolina's offense.

 

In 2014, Maye started nine games, finishing third on the team in tackles with 62. McCalister recorded six sacks in 2014, which was second on the team only to Dante Fowler Jr. who was the third overall pick in the most recent NFL Draft. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Towson put up 416 yards of total offense against East Carolina last week. The Pirates will face a much bigger challenge against the QB combination of Harris and Grier running the spread offense. Demarcus Robinson, Brandon Powell and the rest of the Gators' pass catchers could have big games against a questionable East Carolina secondary.

 

With a young quarterback and inexperienced players at the skill position, it is going to be difficult for East Carolina to go into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and come out with a victory. Hairston was a primary reason for the Pirates' eight-point victory last week, but the Gators are going to force Kemp to beat them with his arm.

 

Florida’s secondary with Hargreaves, Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson are as talented as defensive backfields come. That along with the Gators' deep defensive line should be one of the major differences in the game.

 

Prediction: Florida 48, East Carolina 21

 

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

Teaser:
East Carolina Pirates vs. Florida Gators Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:40
Path: /college-football/kentucky-wildcats-vs-south-carolina-gamecocks-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

When Kentucky (1-0) travels to South Carolina (1-0) the very identities of the two teams’ seasons are at stake. The winner will likely be in position for at least a minor bowl game and perhaps dark horse contender status in the SEC East. The loser is probably going to be perceived as the sixth-best team in the division, ahead of only Vanderbilt.

 

Traditionally this is a slot Kentucky is familiar with, but the Wildcats enjoyed a 45-38 victory against the Gamecocks last season and even defeated South Carolina during the Gamecocks’ only divisional winning season, 2010.

 

The Wildcats have not, however, won a conference game on the road since 2010.

 

Kentucky at South Carolina

 

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBSC, Direct TV 221

Spread: South Carolina – 7 1/2, O/U 55.5

 

Things to watch

 

1. Connor Mitch and the South Carolina quarterback situation

Mitch was just 9-of-22 for 122 yards in his first Gamecocks start last week, though he did not throw an interception. But North Carolina’s defense was porous last year and Kentucky’s doesn’t figure to be a whole lot better, having blown a 23-point lead to Louisiana-Lafayette last week.

 

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier traditionally has yanked his quarterbacks on a frequent basis and did play Perry Orth long enough for him to throw two passes, both completions, against the Tar Heels. If Mitch doesn’t improve fast we’ll likely see the same kind of quarterback juggling from Spurrier that was a staple of his coaching before the Connor Shaw era.

 

One thing is for certain, Pharoh Cooper must catch more than three passes a game this season for the Gamecocks to be a factor the SEC in 2015.

 

2. Is Kentucky really improved?

Wildcats fans have been circling this game as a victory for some time, but the offense that was supposed to be on the field for 85 plays a game only made it to 60 and had just 22:55 of possession time against the Ragin Cajuns. Kentucky was outgained 479-435 from a team from the Sun Belt Conference.

 

Offenses like the one Kentucky wishes to play often have difficultly protecting leads. Running Stanley "Boom Williams" ran for 135 yards on 10 total carries, with only two of those coming after Kentucky took a 33-10 lead late in the third quarter. He didn't get another attempt even when the Wildcats were protecting their lead late in the game.

 

Then again, there is the school of thought Kentucky kept things under wraps against a weaker opponent in the hopes of not showcasing secrets once SEC play began. Freshman tight end C.J. Conrad didn’t catch a pass. Kentucky didn’t play their Wildcat offense (how inappropriate!). And quarterback Patrick Towles threw three touchdowns and for more than 300 yards, while showing some ability to succeed in the clutch by completing a 12-yard pass on 3rd-and-3 from his own 39 in the game-winning touchdown drive before recovering his own fumble and picking up the first down on a sneak from midfield on the following play.

 

Still, it took two major penalties for 25 yards on Louisiana-Lafayette for the Wildcats to score on their 58-yard victory drive with four and a half minutes remaining. Kentucky allowed 247 yards on the ground to a team without a scrambling quarterback, whereas South Carolina gained 254 yards and had a third-string back score the winning touchdown on a 48-yard run in the fourth quarter.

 

3. South Carolina’s secondary against Kentucky’s fine receivers

There are two ways to look at the Gamecocks' defensive effort against North Carolina.

 

They had a clutch performance with three interceptions and four sacks, holding a high-scoring team to just 13 points and allowed only 232 yards through the air.

 

OR

 

They were lucky and were outgained in the game.

 

The thought here is the former. Mitch’s inconsistency was the reason the Gamecocks were outgained, and the defense, led by linebacker Shai Moore’s 11 tackles and two interceptions, made enough splash plays to throw UNC off balance for the majority of the game.

 

But Kentucky had six receivers average more than 11 yards a catch against Louisiana-Lafayette, led by Garrett Johnson, who had five catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. A strong pass rush can be overcome with quick drops and a strong running game, and if Kentucky takes a significant lead early on there is the question if Mitch is capable of leading the Gamecocks back from a two-touchdown deficit once defenses can focus on Cooper.

 

Final Analysis

 

South Carolina had a more impressive victory against a stronger team in its opener, was projected as a better team at the start of the season, and hasn’t lost at home to the Wildcats in this century. Picking Kentucky is just a little more out-of-the-box than practical.

 

Prediction: South Carolina 31, Kentucky 24

 

— 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:
Kentucky Wildcats vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:35
Path: /college-football/oregon-ducks-vs-michigan-state-spartans-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Oregon and Michigan State meet on Saturday night in one of college football’s most anticipated non-conference matchups of 2015. The Ducks and Spartans played last season in Eugene, with Oregon rallying from a 24-18 halftime deficit to win 46-27. The scene shifts to East Lansing this year, and both teams will look a little different at kickoff on Saturday night.

 

Oregon lost quarterback Marcus Mariota to the NFL, and the Ducks have a few new faces stepping into the lineup on the defensive side. Michigan State’s offense returned mostly intact, starting with quarterback Connor Cook and a stout offensive line. The defense suffered the biggest losses, as coordinator Pat Narduzzi left to be the head coach at Pittsburgh, and the secondary lost standout cornerback Trae Waynes and safety Kurtis Drummond.

 

Related: Picks for Every Week 2 College Football Game

 

While there’s plenty of time for playoff positioning, this game is critical in bolstering the resume for both teams. A loss certainly doesn’t end either Oregon or Michigan State’s playoff hopes, but a win could be a huge addition to the resume or serve as a potential tiebreaker for rankings in early December.

 

This will be the sixth all-time matchup between Michigan State and Oregon. The Ducks have a 3-2 edge in the series.

 

Oregon at Michigan State

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Michigan State -3.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Vernon Adams vs. Michigan State’s Defense

Vernon Adams inherited big shoes to fill when he transferred to Oregon from Eastern Washington to replace Marcus Mariota. And the pressure on the senior only increased after a late arrival to Eugene after finishing his last class in August. While there’s a significant difference between FCS defenses and Michigan State’s unit, Adams showcased his talent in last week’s win over the Eagles. The senior completed 19 of 25 passes for 246 yards and two scores and added 94 yards on the ground. However, the real test begins on Saturday night. Adams is taking on a Michigan State defense that surrendered 365 passing yards in the opener against Western Michigan, but this unit has ranked among the best in the nation in recent years. The Spartans have one of the best defensive lines in college football, headlined by end Shilique Calhoun and rising star tackle Malik McDowell. Oregon hopes to counter the strength in the trenches with Adams’ mobility and utilizing the playmakers in space. If Adams and a loaded Ducks’ receiving corps finds its rhythm early, that’s a bad sign for a Michigan State secondary after it allowed five passing plays of 20 yards or more against Western Michigan last Friday. Will Adams pass his first test? Or will the Spartans control the line of scrimmage and prevent the senior from making big plays downfield? Keep an eye on how much Adams uses his mobility early.

 

2. Connor Cook vs. Oregon’s Secondary

Oregon will land its share of big plays in the passing game, but the Ducks won’t win in East Lansing if the defense doesn’t play better than it did last week against Eastern Washington. Although the Eagles have a dynamic offense, Oregon’s pass defense was gashed for 438 yards and five scores and allowed four plays of 30 yards or more. Will the Ducks tighten their coverage this week? Michigan State senior quarterback Connor Cook is one of the nation’s best, but he misfired a few times in last Friday’s win over Western Michigan. Cook completed 15 of 31 passes for 256 yards and two scores. Contributing to Cook’s misfires in the opener is a receiving corps that had to replace two of its top targets from last season. The Spartans aren’t short on playmakers, as Aaron Burbridge, DeAnthony Arnett and Macgarrett Kings Jr. and tight end Josiah Price are talented options for Cook. Considering Oregon’s struggles against the pass last week, will the Ducks try to generate more pressure on Cook? That’s another challenging task against one of the best offensive lines in college football. Oregon may have to bend and give up its share of yards, while limiting Michigan State’s points in the redzone.  

 

3. The Other Playmakers

Both teams are loaded with playmakers outside of the quarterback position. Who steps up on Saturday night? While Adams and Cook will carry the offenses, keep an eye on the x-factors in this game. Oregon running back Royce Freeman posted 180 yards and three scores against Eastern Washington last Saturday. However, running room could be limited against Michigan State’s rugged front seven. If Freeman has success early, that’s a good sign for Oregon’s offense. And the Ducks are loaded with options at receiver, including Bralon Addison (three catches in his return from ACL surgery), Dwayne Stanford and Byron Marshall. The Spartans had to replace running back Jeremy Langford this offseason, but the rushing attack hasn’t missed a beat. LJ Scott led the team with 77 yards in the opener, while Madre London and Gerald Holmes each recorded at least 50 yards. All of the attention will be on Cook and Adams, but the other playmakers will factor prominently into the outcome of this top 10 matchup.

 

Final Analysis

 

Both offenses – especially the quarterbacks – will land their share of big plays in this game. Oregon’s secondary is a major concern after last week’s performance against Eastern Washington, and Michigan State features a balanced attack to keep the Ducks from focusing too much on the pass. A road start in East Lansing is a huge opportunity for Adams to showcase his talent on the national stage. The senior is a dynamic playmaker and should have his share of big plays against a revamped Michigan State secondary. However, this will be the best defense he has played in his collegiate career. The Spartans’ advantage in the trenches shows in the second half, as the Michigan State’s offense establishes the run and keeps Oregon’s offense on the sidelines. And the depth on the defensive line slows Adams just enough for the Spartans to get revenge for last year’s loss.

 

Prediction: Michigan State 38, Oregon 30
Teaser:
Oregon Ducks vs. Michigan State Spartans Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/ball-state-cardinals-vs-texas-am-aggies-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

When Ball State takes the field against Texas A&M on Saturday, the pairing will not quite be David vs. Goliath but an upset would be hard for SEC lovers and Aggie fans to comprehend.

 

Texas A&M opened the season with an impressive 38-17 win over Pac-12 powerhouse Arizona State. The Sun Devils had trouble moving the ball on offense being held to 291 yards. ASU also had trouble stopping the Aggies on defense allowing 425 yards. The victory was a big win for the Aggies and the SEC against the Pac-12.

 

Ball State slipped past Virginia Military Institute in Week 1 winning 48-36. The Cardinals got a school-record four touchdowns out of Darian Green with three on the ground and one in the air. In total, Green had 73 yards rushing and 74 yards receiving providing the bulk of the offense.

 

Ball State at Texas A&M

 

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

Broadcast:  ESPN3

Spread: Texas A&M -30

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Ball State’s passing attack vs. Texas A&M’s defense

When Ball State reviewed the tape on the Aggies’ dismantling of Arizona State, one can safely assume there were very few smiling faces coming out of the film session other than a few rah-rah guys hooting and hollering. New A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis has made an instant impact, which should frighten not only the Cardinals but also the rest of the SEC. The No. 15-ranked Sun Devils were held to 291 yards of offense with just 92 on the ground and 199 in the air.

 

Ball State quarterback Jack Milas had a career-game in Week 1 against VMI passing for 338 yards on 34-of-52 attempts. Mike Bercovici was sacked nine times against the Aggies. Milas will have to have another career day if an upset is in the making.

 

2. Texas A&M’s rushing offense vs. Ball State’s rush defense

Being nitpicky, A&M had 425 yards of total offense against a Top 25 non-conference opponent in the season opener. Hard to be too critical but there is always room for improvement starting with the run game. The Aggies had 178 yards on the ground but the stat total is deceiving. Tra Carson had a nice stat line: 96 yards rushing with one touchdown. Reality is it took 29 carries to get to 96 and he still did not top 100 yards rushing. What will happen against SEC defenses?

 

The other problem is Kyler Murray was the second-leading rusher with 69 yards on six carries. On the surface this is fine but ideally offensive coordinator Jake Spavital would like to protect his quarterbacks from taking shots down field. James white had two carries for 12 yards in a backup tailback role. Someone has to emerge as a reliable back for 10-12 carries a game throughout the season or the Aggies offense, although dynamic, will stay one-dimensional making life slightly easier for SEC defensive coordinators in 2015 when playing A&M.

 

3. A&M’s offense vs. A&M’s offense

Ball security was a problem for the Aggies giving the pigskin back to ASU three times. Kyle Allen got a second half benching after losing a fumble and tossing a pick before being put back into the game late in the second half. Holding onto the ball and making smart decisions within the offense should be a fixture of head coach Kevin Sumlin’s crew on Saturday.

 

Final Analysis

 

Let’s be honest, A&M now has two games to tinker with its lineup (Game 3 vs. Nevada), which will include alternating sophomore Allen and freshman Murray under center. The 12th Man might be excited to see what the freshman brings to the table but too much playing around with the offense could upend any balance or team support for Allen going forward or Murray going forward.

 

Aggie fans have to hope Sumlin picks one quarterback, letting said player gel with the first-team and then let the backup gel with whoever is left on the field in mop-up duty against the Cardinals and next week versus Nevada. The bigger emphasis should be on establishing a consistent running attack. Chavis will have the defense ready.

 

Prediction: Texas A&M 56, Ball State 17

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

Teaser:
Ball State Cardinals vs. Texas A&M Aggies Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:25
Path: /college-football/arizona-wildcats-vs-nevada-wolf-pack-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Arizona and Nevada isn't what one would call a rivalry, but there according to Wolf Pack running back Don Jackson, there is a level of "animosity."

 

Saturday's matchup in Reno, Nevada, is the third between the two teams since December 2012. Arizona won both by a combined eight points, holding off Nevada last year in Tucson, 35-28, in a competitive, if not forgettable meeting. The 2012 encounter in the New Mexico Bowl, however, was anything but forgettable.

 

Just ask Nevada defensive end Lenny Jones. Jones was there for Arizona's raucous rally, which included a 21-point tear in the first half, and 14 points in the final 1:44 to complete the comeback.

 

Jones said Sept. 12 had the proverbial red circle on Nevada's calendar after the last couple near-misses.

 

Arizona endured a sluggish start to 2015, escaping 42-32 against UTSA. A similarly ploddingly effort Saturday against a motivated Nevada bunch ensures the Wildcats a loss. The Wildcats are also dealing with enough injuries to prompt head coach Rich Rodriguez to call his roster "a M*A*S*H unit."

 

A loss to the Wolf Pack would have the Wildcats hurting even more.

 

Arizona at Nevada

 

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Nevada +11.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. No Star Scooby

Arizona lost Heisman Trophy-contending linebacker Scooby Wright very early into Thursday's win over UTSA. An Arizona defense with no star Scoob was quite a bit more vulnerable than one with @TwoStarScoob. The Wildcats surrendered more than 500 yards to the Roadrunners and allowed UTSA repeated scores to remain within striking distance.

 

With Wright out of the lineup for roughly a month, Arizona must find a way to compensate. Saturday, that means finding a way to slow Nevada's dangerous rushing attack. Head coach Brian Polian maintained the Pistol formation predecessor Chris Ault ran. Last year, it produced a robust 205.5 rushing yards per game, and a remarkable 6 yards per carry in the Wolf Pack's Week 1 win over UC Davis.

 

2. Establish The Run Early

Perhaps more shocking than Arizona's defensive struggles against UTSA was the Wildcats' inability to establish a consistent run early, which contributed to the Roadrunners' second-quarter rally.

 

The Wildcats finished the night with 163 yards, but were mustering just 2.7 yards per carry through the first two quarters. Sophomore Nick Wilson's first-half fumble relegated him to the sidelines for a spell, and veteran Jared Baker saw more touches.

 

Arizona needs Wilson to pull a loaded Nevada front back and give quarterback Anu Solomon room to operate. That means break off gains early and holding onto the ball.

 

3. Starting (and Staying) Fast

Arizona jumped to a 14-0 lead against UTSA, but had opportunities to slam the door on the Roadrunners. Its inability to do so kept UTSA around for the duration of Week 1.

 

Nevada's not a team Arizona can afford to let hang around. The Wolf Pack are talented on both sides of the ball and able to take advantage of mistakes. And Arizona definitely cannot afford to test the odds by attempting another multiple-score rally.
 

With its effective run game and quality defensive front, Nevada can take the air out of the ball should it build a lead. That's exactly what it did the last time a Pac-12 team visited Reno, jumping to a two-score lead on Washington State early and going on to beat the Cougars 24-13 last September.

 

Final Analysis

 

Losing Wright dealt Arizona's defense a major blow that won't be easily remedied. Nevada has the scheme and personnel to exploit a Wildcats unit missing its leading tackler, so don't be surprised if the Wolf Pack rack up plenty of rushing yards.

 

Conversely, Arizona is well-equipped to attack a Nevada secondary that's still a question mark. The Wolf Pack have a solid front seven, particularly on the line with Jones, Rykeem Yates and Ian Seau. However, Nevada allowed UC Davis to complete 68 percent of its pass attempts Saturday.

 

Unless the front seven can generate consistent pressure on Solomon, the Arizona quarterback will rack up big yards. The Wildcat receiving corps poses several mismatches, and Solomon showed an improved ability to spread the ball around last week with completions to seven targets.

 

Solomon will again lead the Wildcats to a win, but like past installments in this series, it won't come without a difficult fight.

 

Prediction: Arizona 38, Nevada 31

 

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of CFBHuddle.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Teaser:
Arizona Wildcats vs. Nevada Wolf Pack Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:20
Path: /pittsburgh-panthers-vs-akron-zips-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The first week of the college football season was not necessarily positive for either the Pittsburgh Panthers or the Akron Zips.

 

While Pitt won, beating an FCS opponent, even a good one like Youngstown State, by only eight points wasn’t what the Panthers had in mind in way of style points. Worse, they lost running back James Conner, one of the best running backs in all of college football, for the season with a knee injury.

 

Akron, meanwhile, was routed by Oklahoma, 41-3. While few would have predicted a victory against the 19th-ranked Sooners, the Zips were just 8-of-25 through the air and probably kept the score down with 44 rushing attempts, including 11 of 14 plays in the fourth quarter when the game was decided.

 

Surprisingly, even though Akron is only 110 miles from Pittsburgh and both programs started playing football in the 1890s, the Panthers and Zips have only met three times prior to this game, most memorably Akron’s 21-10 victory last season at Heinz Field.

 

This is the first time the Zips have hosted Pitt.

 

Pittsburgh at Akron

 

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: Pitt -13, O/U 49

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. How will Pitt handle the Conner absence?

To many onlookers, the Panthers went from being a dark horse in the Atlantic Coast Conference race to a question mark to even make a bowl game with the loss of Conner, who rushed for more than 1,700 yards and set a Pitt record with 26 rushing touchdowns last season.

 

Still, despite the injuries to Conner and his top backup, Chris James, freshman Qadree Ollison rushed for more than 200 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown run, and carried a Panthers offense that often struggled through the air to three second half touchdowns.

 

James, who rushed for more than 400 yards as Conner’s backup last season, is expected to return on Saturday, though Ollison will start after his impressive debut. Former four-star running back Jameel Poteat was moved from linebacker to the backfield this week by Pitt head coach Pat Nardozzi, though bruising freshman Darrin Hall will likely get playing time ahead of Poteat.

 

The thing that will likely help Pitt’s running game the most, however, is the return of wide receiver Tyler Boyd after a one-game suspension for an offseason DUI. Boyd caught 78 passes last year for a team that could not find a single receiver in their 45-37 victory against Youngstown State more than twice.

 

2. Who will play quarterback for the Zips?

The Akron signal callers were dreadful last Saturday. Former Pitt Panther Tra’Von Chapman started against Oklahoma and rushed for a team-high 48 yards but failed to complete any of his eight passes, while Kyle Pohl was just 6 for 17 with 88 passing yards.

 

Zips head coach Terry Bowden even hinted if this trend continues, third-stringer Thomas Woodson could take over.

 

The top Akron receiver is a familiar name for Pitt fans — Jerome Lane Jr., the son of the former Panthers basketball star best known for demolishing a backboard on a dunk in the late 1980s. He switched from safety to become Akron’s leading receiver against the Sooners, catching three passes, including one for 42 yards.

 

3. What will the attendance be?

Last year the Zips finished dead last in Division I FBS football attendance, drawing just 9,170 fans a game. In 2012 Akron drew just 9,200 fans a season, and in 2010 the figure hovered just above 10,000.

 

Nobody is expecting the Zips to outdraw Ohio State, but in theory if this continues at InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field, Akron could be kicked out of the ranks of FBS if they do not draw more than 15,000 fans per game this season.

 

It’s unlikely the Mid-American Conference would allow that to happen, but this game presents an opportunity for Pitt fans to have an impact much the same way Steelers fans often do on the road. Panthers fans have often been criticized for showing up in less-than-impressive numbers, so this game may actually present something of a welcome switch for both teams with more than 20,000 advance tickets sold.

 

Final analysis

 

Last year Akron running back Conor Hundley rushed for 148 yards on just 19 carries to lead the Zips to their upset of Pitt. He was limited to less than 40 yards against Oklahoma last week.

 

Many fans were upset the Pitt defense allowed 30 points against YSU (the Penguins scored one touchdown on an interception return). Judge the improvement of Nardozzi’s defense by what Hundley does in this game.

 

Prediction: Pitt 31, Akron 17

 

— Written by Marky Billson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. An experienced beat reporter and sports writer, Billson has been a contributor to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 15 years. He has covered the Steelers, Panthers, MLB and more during his career. Follow him on Twitter @MarkyBillson.

Teaser:
Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Akron Zips Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:15
Path: /college-football/which-big-ten-must-win-week-2
Body:

Week 1 in college football usually doesn’t mean much when it comes to a team’s chances of ultimate success down the road (well, maybe for Stanford).

 

The Big Ten took some lumps, but also shined in the spotlight. It’s time to run down the this week's tilts to find out which non-conference games the league must wrap up and those it can afford to take the hit on losing.

 

Related: Big Ten Week 2 Predictions

 

Must Win

 

Oregon State vs. Michigan After Jim Harbaugh dropped his first game to the Utes, the conference needs the Killer Khakis to get that first win. Knocking off a 1-0 Oregon State team isn’t uber-impressive, but it’s a start.

 

Miami (Ohio) vs. Wisconsin Nobody should shame the Badgers too badly for losing to Alabama. That said, they need to rebound against a RedHawks squad that shouldn’t be too much trouble to even up their overall record.

 

Hawaii vs. Ohio State — Because the Buckeyes are the conference’s best team. That’s really all I’ve got.

 

South Alabama vs. Nebraska — The Hail Mary loss to the Cougars was rough, but like Michigan and Wisconsin, the Huskers need a 1-1 record after Week 2. This game gives the Big Red a chance to work on what didn’t go right versus BYU, too.

 

It Would Be Nice

 

Oregon vs. Michigan State — Maybe the East Lansing crowd will help, but Mark Dantonio is going to have to come up with a doozy of a game plan to stop the Ducks. If MSU topples Pac-12 royalty, it’ll definitely be cause for celebration.

 

Iowa vs. Iowa State — A yearly treat, the CyHawk trophy is on the line in a game that could be won or lost using a 20-sided die. A victory would give the Hawkeyes badly-needed momentum heading into their game versus Pittsburgh.

 

Eastern Illinois vs. Northwestern — With the upset over Stanford, the Big Ten West suddenly looks like a competitive division and the Wildcats need to keep it that way. Considering the game is in Evanston and the Panthers were knocked around by Western Illinois to the tune of 33-5, the Big Ten Upset Special may very well sit at 2-0.

 

Minnesota vs. Colorado State — Goldy and the Gophers let an opportunity to knock off the No. 2 team in the country slip away. They travel to Fort Collins with a chance for redemption and, like the Wildcats, to show that the West division isn’t a one or two-horse race.

 

Buffalo vs. Penn State — Because you, Penn State, have to atone for your quarterback getting sacked on a two man rush. That’s why.

 

Bowling Green vs. Maryland — The Terrapins knocked out Richmond in easy fashion, but they welcome a salty South Florida squad in Week 3. Bowling Green doesn't play patty cake, so knocking off the Falcons would do the Terps well.

 

More or Less

 

Washington State vs. Rutgers — Regardless of the game’s outcome, the headline will be about Mike Leach. It may as well be in the Scarlet Knights’ favor.

 

FIU vs. Indiana — If the Hoosiers can knock off a squad of Golden Panthers that took down UCF, the momentum would greatly help them going into their game with Western Kentucky. However, Indiana is not UCF.

 

Indiana State vs. Purdue — Because the Boilermakers have to play Virginia Tech next week and can’t they have something nice just once?

 

Western Illinois vs. Illinois — The Illini slaughtered Kent State after the game was originally postponed and have an upcoming game against North Carolina. If you want to use this as a tune-up game that no one saw, Illini, do your thing.

 

— 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:
Which Big Ten Team Must Win in Week 2?
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:12
Path: /college-football/north-carolina-at-aggies-vs-north-carolina-tar-heels-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Being part of the opening Thursday night game of the FBS season gives you two extra days to think about the result. For North Carolina, that was not a good thing.

 

The Tar Heels not only lost that game to South Carolina 17-13, they also failed to punch in a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter after a first-and-goal at the Gamecocks' 9-yard line. Questions about head coach Larry Fedora’s decision-making in that sequence ensued and Tar Heel fans were left wondering what could have been.

 

It is time to move on and the Heels must put things together before conference play begins. UNC comes back to Chapel Hill for a date with nearby North Carolina A&T. The Aggies started their season in a big way, smashing Division II Shaw University 61-7.

 

North Carolina A&T at North Carolina

 

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: N/A

 

Three Things To Watch

 

1. Emotion

After such a deflating loss, it will be interesting to see how motivated the Tar Heels are in week two. It would actually be surprising if, after stewing on that loss for nine days, UNC doesn’t come out of the tunnel with their hair on fire. The question is, will the same desire be there five minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes into the game? Playing an FCS team certainly won’t help.

 

2. How Elijah Hood is Used

After the game, one of the main criticisms of Fedora was his use of the sophomore running back. With 138 yards on just 13 carries, many (including David Pollack, the ESPN analyst covering the game) were wondering why Hood didn’t get more touches. During the entire set of downs following the first and goal at the nine, Hood was on the bench, prompting an entirely new set of questions. Will Fedora lean on Hood more? Or will he be more focused on…

 

3. Getting Quarterback Marquise Williams Back on Track

19 of 32 for 232 yards and a touchdown are not bad. Three picks are not good. Three picks inside the opposing 25-yard line, with two in the end zone, are downright awful. Of all the players on the North Carolina team, Williams is the main one that has to get his mojo back. He plays the most important position and is a much better player than he showed last Thursday.

 

Final Analysis

 

North Carolina A&T was a 9-3 team last year and should be a MEAC contender. They have Tarik Cohen, one of the best running backs on the FCS level. But if they see a North Carolina team that is angry and eager to prove that last week was a mistake, it will be a long day for the Aggies. If they see a Tar Heels team that is down in the dumps and still feeling sorry after failing to complete the deal against South Carolina, A&T might be able to hang around for a while. I’m guessing a mad UNC emerges at Kenan Stadium and wins easily.

 

Prediction:  North Carolina 41, North Carolina A&T 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:
North Carolina A&T Aggies vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:10
Path: /overtime/steelers-coach-mike-tomlin-irate-headset-steelers-patriots-belichick
Body:

There was plenty of talk about headset malfunctions during the first half of the Patriots 28-21 win over the Steelers. During Mike Tomlin's post game press conference, he confirmed that he and his crew were listening to a radio broadcast instead of themselves.

 

"We were listening to the Patriots' radio broadcast for the majority of the first half on our headsets," Tomlin said. He went on to say they always have headset trouble whenever they visit the Patriots.

 

 

Just one game into the season and the Patriots are on the defense again. 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:09
Path: /college-football/iowa-hawkeyes-vs-iowa-state-cyclones-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones renew their annual in-state Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk rivalry series this weekend as Iowa visits Jack Trice Stadium looking to remove the perpetual Cyclone thorn in head coach Kirk Ferentz's side. The Hawkeyes also will be playing in honor of former Hawkeye defensive standout Tyler Sash, who was found dead in his Oskaloosa, Iowa, home earlier in the week from undetermined causes. 

 

Putting both of those factors in play for the Hawkeyes could mean Iowa State is in for a world of hurt defensively, where the Hawkeyes pounded Illinois State last week en route to a 31-14 victory. Head coach Paul Rhoads and Iowa State also are coming off a fairly easy opening win against the Redbirds' fellow MVFC and FCS powerhouse Northern Iowa. 

 

With the Hawkeyes still feeling the burn of last season's 20-17 home loss to the Cyclones, it could get hot in Ames on Saturday night.

 

Iowa holds a 40-22 advantage in the series, dating back to 1894.

 

Iowa at Iowa State

 

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Iowa -3.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Is the Hawkeye defense for real?

As expected in Week 1, Iowa Senior DE Drew Ott came out of the blocks on fire, recording two tackles for a loss in the first few minutes of play and igniting an overpowering Hawkeye defensive effort against the overmatched Redbirds, who were held to just 231 yards of total offense en route to the Hawkeye pounding that was delivered. Most of the Redbirds' offensive production came with under 5:34 to play, after the Hawkeyes had removed their first team unit from the field. Most impressively, the Hawkeyes held the much vaunted Illinois State duo of QB Tre Roberson and RB Marshaun Coprich and their offense scoreless for most of the game. If they can duplicate that effort against the Cyclones, it could be a very long day for Iowa State senior QB Sam Richardson and his offense.

 

2. Is Sam Richardson a Manning Award contender or pretender?

Last season saw Cyclones senior QB Sam Richardson struggle to find a consistent rhythm to allow the Iowa State offense to get into winning form. In spite of those struggles, in 2014 Richardson threw for 2,669 yards while completing 56.3 percent of his pass attempts. Which is probably why he enters the 2015 season on the Manning Award Watch List. In their opening day win against Northern Iowa, Richardson started out a bit wobbly and it looked as though last season was still on his mind.  It stayed that way for the first half, with the Cyclones clinging to a 10-7 lead entering the break. But in the second half Richardson and his offense did find their stride and he completed the game 21-of-29 passing for 233 yards and no interceptions in the Cyclones' first opening game win at Jack Trice since 2012. He'll need to be on his game from the opening snap against the Hawkeyes, whose defensive unit looked to have the potential for greatness against the Redbirds.

 

3. Which Kirk Ferentz comes to coach?

A quarterback draw. A fake field goal attempt. A 51-yard screen pass with under 30 seconds to play in the first half. Those are the decisions of what looked to be a decidedly different version of Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz in Week 1. Gone were the overly conservative, run-out-the-clock-type calls that have given Iowa fans reason to call for his job in the last several years. And even when his decisions didn't necessarily work, as it didn't in the fake field goal attempt, the fans were downright giddy at the aggressiveness of the play calling from Ferentz. With the transition currently in process to a new University of Iowa President, Ferentz is all too aware that the seat beneath him remains hot. How he responds against the team that has gotten his number repeatedly in this series will surely signal the direction of the entire season ahead.

 

Final Analysis

 

Look for the Hawkeyes offense to come out with its foot firmly on the gas once again this week. And don't be surprised to see a bit of the "old riverboat gambler" Hawkeyes fans remember in Hayden Fry, who was Ferentz's long-time mentor, as Ferentz loosens the reins on offensive coordinator Greg Davis. Iowa State's defensive unit showed some promise against the Panthers last week, but not enough. Iowa's backfield 1-2 punch of Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels combined with the arm of QB C.J. Beathard and the overpowering Iowa offensive line will wear out the Cyclones defense one down at a time, just like it did against the Redbirds. 

 

Prediction: Iowa 34, Iowa State 7

 

— Written by Robert A. Boleyn, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and is a native Iowan currently living in Los Angeles. A University of Iowa graduate, Boleyn is a Hawkeye fanatic and former contributing writing for The Daily Iowan. Follow him on Twitter @BoleynRobert.

Teaser:
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Iowa State Cyclones Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:05
Path: /college-football/toledo-rockets-vs-arkansas-razorbacks-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

When Arkansas takes the field at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock against Toledo on Saturday, the Rockets will technically be playing their first game of the season hoping to live up to the hype of being a preseason media pick to win the Mid-American Conference's West Division.

 

The Rockets' season opener last Thursday against Stony Brook was cut short due to inclement weather. Two quarters were in the books but the game was called after a three-hour delay with the Rockets up 16-7.

 

Arkansas on the other hand got a full four quarters in against UTEP, winning 48-13 behind a somewhat surprising dominant passing attack and a defense that held the Miners to 204 total yards, but was far from midseason form. Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen completed 14-of-18 passes for a career-high 308 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions and running back Alex Collins had an easy day, carrying 12 times for 127 yards with a touchdown.

 

Toledo head coach Matt Campbell will not be playing with his full assortment of offensive weapons after running back Kareem Hunt was suspended for the first two games of the season. The junior tailback was one of the nation’s leading rushers in 2014 with 1,631 yards and 16 touchdowns, while averaging 8.0 yards per carry. With Hunt out, Damion Jones-Moore had an impressive start to his season running for 70 yards on five carries in just two quarters.

 

Toledo vs. Arkansas (Little Rock, Ark.)

 

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

Network: SEC Alternate

Line: Arkansas -21.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Arkansas’ run defense vs. Toledo’s rushing attack

Rockets starting quarterback Phillip Ely got very little work in under center last year, appearing in two games and completing 41-of-68 passes for 541 yards with four scores and a pick. Toledo’s top two receivers are back, Alonzo Russell and Corey Jones, but Ely struggled early against Stony Brook, connecting on just 8-of-17 for 81 yards with an interception.

 

If Ely cannot complete a few early passes against the Arkansas defense, this puts the weight of the offense on Jones-Moore to produce yards in Hunt's absence. Expect Arkansas to put seven or eight in the box, forcing Ely to beat the Razorbacks with his arm.

 

2. Toledo’s pass defense vs. Arkansas’ passing attack

New Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos has legitimate weapons on the outside to attack opposing secondaries with. Even though Allen has been known more as a game manager than a gunslinger who can beat you with his arm, it's hard to not be impressed by what he was able to do last week against UTEP. If Enos and company can produce similar results through the air against Toledo, it will make the Razorbacks' running that much more dangerous moving forward.

 

3. Will the real Arkansas defense please stand up?

The Hogs looked like a team playing their first game of the season last week against UTEP at different times. There were some missed assignments and a lot of missed tackles. On the plus side, the Arkansas defense, and special teams unit, forced three Miners turnovers and recorded 11 tackles for a loss with one sack.

 

Can Arkansas’ front seven gel a little more before getting a potentially bigger test in Week 3 against Texas Tech? Finding a consistent pass rush off the edges and especially with the front four without committing a player from the back seven, will be a challenge all season until this unit figures it out.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Razorbacks are loaded at key positions but still need to work second-team players into the mix so the staff knows who they can count on going into SEC action and which players may need a little more seasoning before being key contributors. Arkansas will mix the pass with the run but will look to get the inexperienced players in late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth if possible.

 

Toledo may makes some noise in the MAC this year, or even give Iowa State a run for its money next weekend at home with Hunt back, but that means nothing for Saturday's contest. The Rockets are heading into a buzz saw against a Hogs team that should have little trouble moving to 2-0.

 

Prediction: Arkansas 41, Toledo 10

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

Teaser:
Toledo Rockets vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/hawaii-rainbow-warriors-vs-ohio-state-buckeyes-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Fresh off an impressive 42-24 road victory against Virginia Tech, the Ohio State Buckeyes return to the Horseshoe to take on the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. Hawaii also began the 2015 season on a positive note, defeating Colorado 28-20 in Aloha Stadium. This game marks the first time Hawaii and Ohio State have ever played.

 

Ohio State welcomes back four players who served an opening game suspension in defensive end Joey Bosa and wide receivers/H-Backs Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall, and Corey Smith. The return of these four players, combined with the debut of QB-turned-H-Back Braxton Miller, has Ohio State fans excited for what may lie ahead for the remainder of the 2015 season, with a squad operating at full strength.

 

Hawaii is in the fourth year under Norm Chow. Chow has built a reputation throughout college football as an outstanding offensive coordinator, with previous stops at Brigham Young and USC. Hawaii quarterback Max Wittek started his collegiate career with the Trojans, and will be targeting top receivers Marcus Kemp and Quinton Pedroza, as the Warriors will try and move the ball against the Buckeyes' defense.

 

Hawaii at Ohio State

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Ohio State -38

 

Three Things To Watch:

 

1. The Return Of Joey Bosa

Bosa is arguably the top defensive prospect in college football. After being suspended for the season opener at Virginia Tech, what kind of an impact will Bosa be able to make in his season debut? Will Hawaii double-team Bosa in an effort to allow Wittek time to throw?

 

2. The Ohio State Quarterback Position

Cardale Jones was named the starter at Virginia Tech, but J.T. Barrett also saw playing time late in the contest against the Hokies. How soon will head coach Urban Meyer give Barrett playing time versus the Warriors?

 

3. Hawaii's Defensive Strategy

Virginia Tech tried to disrupt Ohio State as much as possible, yet surrendered nearly 600 yards of offense in the loss. Will Hawaii try to copy what worked well for the Hokies, or will the Warriors go in a completely different direction?

 

Final Analysis

 

Ohio State is the defending national champion, and is coming off a short week with the game at Virginia Tech. Even with the short week, Hawaii is traveling across the mainland to face arguably the top team in college football. The oddsmakers have Hawaii as a decided underdog, and it is challenging to see how Hawaii will be able to keep pace with the Buckeyes on either side of the ball.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 63, Hawaii 10

 

— 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:
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:55
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-vs-vanderbilt-commodores-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Georgia and Vanderbilt meet for the 76th time Saturday in Nashville. This also will serve as the first conference game for the SEC this season. The Bulldogs were impressive in their opener against Louisiana-Monroe, rushing for 243 yards and racking up 51 points before a lightning delay caused the game to be called off early. 

 

New quarterback Greyson Lambert made his first start against the Warhawks. Lambert threw for 141 yards and wasn't overly impressive, but he didn't do anything to play himself out of the starting spot either. The real story, as expected, was in the running game. Nick Chubb and Keith Marshall each ran for a pair of touchdowns. 

 

Vanderbilt wasn't as exciting to watch in week one. The Commodores fell 14-12 to Western Kentucky at home. The performance wasn't as abysmal as last year's 30-point home blowout loss to Temple, but Vandy still has a ton of work to do on offense. Their defense appears to be improved with head coach Derek Mason calling the shots. 

 

Hopefully for the Commodores, there has been a dramatic improvement offensively this week in practice because they will be in serious trouble if they can't put points on the board against Georgia. The 'Dawgs are explosive on offense. Georgia leads the series all-time against Vanderbilt 54-19-2 but the Commodores won the last meeting in Nashville.

 

Georgia at Vanderbilt

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Georgia -20.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Vanderbilt's offense muster enough points to keep up?

The biggest storyline for Vandy last season was their inability to get anything going on offense. So far, they haven't had much luck this year either. Georgia is going to put points up. Even with the Commodores' defense playing well thus far it will be an immense challenge for them to stop the 'Dawgs' running attack. To keep pace in the game, Vanderbilt must get the ball to Ralph Webb and rely on their offensive line to keep the ball away from Georgia. If the Commodores can score a couple early touchdowns it will boost their confidence against a tough opponent. 

 

2. Georgia's offensive line vs. Vanderbilt's defensive line

The Bulldogs possess one of the SEC's most experienced units up front. Aside from Arkansas, they probably have the most talented offensive line in the conference. But while Vanderbilt has a lot of problems with most of its position groups, the defensive line is solid. Caleb Azubike had three tackles in the loss to the Hilltoppers and Jay Woods, Nifae Lealao and Adam Butler are all as talented as any of the SEC's more well-known defensive linemen. If the Commodores have any edge in this game it will be on the line of scrimmage. 

 

3. How many yards will Chubb rush for?

Speaking of Georgia's offensive line, it must be comforting to know if you miss a block you have arguably the best running back in the country to make moves behind you. Chubb has rushed for over 100 yards in nine consecutive games. That is an astounding feat. It is no secret that Georgia may be one-dimensional on offense, but with Chubb in the backfield it is going to be hard for anyone in the SEC East to mount a lot of success on defense. The Commodores are improved defensively, without question, but can they stop Chubb?

 

Final Analysis

 

I'm a true believer that the Commodores are going to improve as the year goes along. They won't be as bad in year two under Mason, but this just isn't a good time of the year for them to get a shot at Georgia. The 'Dawgs are too good at running the football. Add in the fact that Vanderbilt still hasn't shown any signs of life on offense and they are going up against one of the SEC's most lethal defenses and you get the recipe for a blowout in Nashville.

 

Prediction: Georgia 49, Vanderbilt 7

 

— 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 Bulldogs vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:50
Path: /college-football/liberty-flames-vs-west-virginia-mountaineers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The West Virginia Mountaineers enter Saturday with confidence after shutting out Georgia Southern a week before. The Liberty Flames will enter Morgantown with a victory over Delaware State and ranked No. 13 in the FCS Coaches Poll. Both offenses showed well last weekend with Liberty accumulating 417 total yards, while the Mountaineers plied up 544.

 

This will only be the second meeting between the two schools. The Mountaineers edged the Flames 33-20 to open the 2009 season.

 

Liberty at West Virginia


Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ROOT Sports Pittsburgh
Spread: N/A

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Another FCS Top 25 vs. Big 12 Matchup
Week one saw two FCS Top 25 schools face Big 12 opponents in season openers. Current FCS No. 10 South Dakota State upset Kansas in Lawrence 41-38 while No. 4 Sam Houston State racked up 637 total yards in a losing effort to Texas Tech. Liberty will enter Morgantown Saturday afternoon ranked 13th in the FCS Coaches Poll, looking to improve upon that FCS record against the Big 12.

 

2. Will West Virginia Continue its Defensive Dominance?

The Mountaineers held Georgia Southern to just 224 total yards en route to a 44-0 shutout victory. The West Virginia defense forced five turnovers and only allowed 14 first downs the entire game.

 

While Liberty poses a different type of offensive threat the Mountaineer secondary is one of the strongest in the country. But Liberty senior quarterback Josh Woodrum is a four-year starter on pace to set every school passing record. The Flames also return junior running back D.J. Abnar, who rushed for 1,289 yards with 15 touchdowns last season.

 

The Mountaineers have never lost to a FCS opponent and has not lost a non-conference game at home since 2011. West Virginia also has a chance to make history it can keep Liberty off the scoreboard. Another shutout would mark the first time in history a Mountaineer team has opened the season with two such performances.
 

3. Can the Liberty Defense Hold Against the Mountaineers?

The most immediate threat for the Liberty defense is the Mountaineers' ability to get separation in coverage. Wide receivers Jovon Durante and Shelton Gibson are both extremely fast. Liberty had problems last season against the pass and although the Flames have experience at cornerback, they have yet to prove themselves against the talent level they will face Saturday.

 

Liberty has had to replace multiple starters on the line. But last week against Delaware State the Flames only allowed 42 yards rushing on 25 attempts, although two of those carries went for touchdowns. The Mountaineers accumulated 185 yards on the ground in their opener against Georgia Southern, doing so on 40 attempts (4.6 ypc). If Liberty's defensive line holds up against the run early, West Virginia may take to the air more.


Final Analysis

 

Liberty runs a very similar defense to that of Georgia Southern. With that said the Mountaineers should be able to take advantage of some mismatches offensively. In particular, the speed of Durante and Gibson should cause problems for the Flames.

 

Liberty does return seven starters on offense, including their record-setting quarterback and strong backfield. While Liberty should not be considered a pushover neither was Georgia Southern and that game ended in a blowout.

 

Liberty should be able to stay with West Virginia for at least a short period of time. However, the Mountaineer secondary and linebacker corps doesn’t bend and definitely doesn’t break. Outside speed at the wide receiver position will force the Flames to respect the pass, which will eventually open up the run game for Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood.

 

Prediction: West Virginia 45, Liberty 21

 

— 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:
Liberty Flames vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC
Path: /college-football/looks-deceiving-latest-ap-top-25-poll
Body:

By now you've heard and likely seen that the SEC put ten teams into the latest AP Top 25. As always, the SEC haters are going to hate. This time, however, there may be some legitimate questions surrounding not only the SEC, but a few other teams who rose, fell or didn't budge in the polls.

 

For starters, just like last season, Texas A&M got a huge bump by beating a ranked opponent. The Aggies — in just one week — went from being unranked to No. 16. That by itself is fine, except for the fact that the team the Aggies defeated, Arizona State, tumbled completely out of the polls.

 

This leaves us with a couple of questions. For one, is Texas A&M's jump a result of them being so good? If so, why would you punish Arizona State for losing to a team good enough to leapfrog nine spots into the Top 25? Or was Arizona State so bad, we just couldn't keep them in the Top 25? If that was the case, why was Texas A&M's win over them good enough to make such a jump?

 

Then you look at Arizona — sitting at No. 22 — the same spot they sat in one week earlier. They beat Texas San Antonio in a 42-32 game that was closer than the final score shows. I get that you don't want to punish a team for winning. That wouldn't make any sense. But that's what happened to TCU, after winning a tough game on the road against a tough Minnesota team. They won and got leapfrogged by Alabama.

 

Mississippi State earned their way into the Top 25 this week on the strength of a "quality" win over Southern Miss. In the meantime, Northwestern took down a Stanford team that some thought could contend for the Pac-12 title — keeping them out of the end zone and holding the previously 21st-ranked Cardinal to just 240 yards of offense. Northwestern remains unranked, while Stanford tumbled out of the polls, just like fellow Pac-12 member Arizona State.

 

BYU got a tough road win over Nebraska. They remain unranked, while Tennessee moved up two spots in the poll off of their 59-30 home win over Bowling Green.

 

Remember how we didn't want to punish teams when they won? Well, tell that to Georgia and Florida State, who each fell a spot after blowout wins over a couple of Group of Five schools. LSU, who sits right below them, didn't budge, regardless of the fact that they didn't even play. Maybe Georgia and Florida State would have been better off cancelling their games like LSU did. And who pushed Georgia and Florida State down the polls? Why, Notre Dame, on the back of their win over Texas. The Longhorns received three total votes in the preseason poll.

 

Back to the SEC, everyone must have thought Missouri's home win over Southeast Missouri State was pretty impressive, as they jumped Arizona, who as I previously mentioned also won.

 

Moving forward, this thing is set up pretty well for the SEC and maybe not quite as nice for the Pac-12. Four currently ranked SEC teams can now look forward to meeting a ranked Texas A&M team starting in two weeks, giving one of the teams a quality win in each matchup. In the meantime, Oregon, UCLA and USC are each staring down a schedule with two fewer ranked opponents than it had a week ago, which will eventually mean two fewer quality wins if they walk away from those games victorious.

 

It's a good thing we now have an unbiased, independent College Football Playoff committee who can see through all of this nonsense and use their own eyes, hearts and minds to rank the teams more accurately. Because of them, the AP Poll means nothing, because surely the committee members will ignore the little numbers next to each team's name on the scoreboard when they watch the games and weigh wins and losses.

 

Surely that'll be the case — right?

 

— 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:
Looks Can be DeSECiving in the Latest AP Top 25
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:40
Path: /college-football/washington-state-cougars-vs-rutgers-scarlet-knights-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Rutgers dominated their FCS opponent in Week 1, to the tune of 63-13. Washington State on the other hand? Well, that program has seen better days. The Cougars suffered a crushing 24-17 defeat, after being outscored 24-7 in the second half in arguably the worst loss in program history. 

 

Washington State head coach Mike Leach attempted to fuel the fire for this week's game when he criticized New Jersey football by saying "they have good players, but bad football" among other erroneous comments from the oft-outspoken coach. Awfully surprising of Leach to criticize bad football, considering his team just lost at home to an FCS program. 

 

The Scarlet Knights have announced their starting quarterback, sophomore Chris Laviano gets the nod over LSU transfer Hayden Rettig after going 4-of-4 for 138 yards and two scores. Laviano was suspended for the first half of the season opener for a team rules violation, but played in the second half after relieving Rettig who was 9-of-11 for 110 yards and a score. Laviano was named the starter on Monday during a press conference by head coach Kyle Flood. 

 

Leach and the Cougars are facing a crucial point in their young season after a mind-blowing upset to Portland State got their 2015 season off to a horrendous start. Quarterback Luke Falk threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns in an impressive offensive performance, but it was the Washington State defense that let the game slip through their fingers in the second half, getting outscored 24-7 after a 10-0 halftime lead. 

 

This Week 2 matchup is a rematch of the 41-38 Rutgers victory at CenturyLink Field from last season that saw receiver Leonte Carroo take a 78-yard catch to the end zone on Rutgers' very first play from scrimmage. 

 

Washington State at Rutgers

 

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

TV Station: ESPNU 

Odds: Rutgers -3, O/U 62.5 

 

Three Things To Watch For

 

1. Chris Laviano 

Laviano was cited for his "body of work" as the deciding factor in why Kyle Flood named him the starting quarterback moving forward, but has thrown all of 15 passes in his entire career, including his 4-for-4 performance last week. While team standouts Paul James and Leonte Carroo have publicly supported Hayden Rettig's progression during the offseason and last season as the scout team quarterback, Laviano has apparently proven to coaches that it's safer to go with what you know you have versus discovering what you could have in Rettig. Laviano is inexperienced and hasn't played a full game for the team yet, so this game is a good test for the unheralded signal caller. Expect Laviano to be backed by a potent rushing attack and solid defensive play that will prevent him from having to take over the game. Laviano is at his best when he's asked to manage the clock and not force throws. If he tries to make big plays early, it could get ugly in a hurry. 

 

2. Leonte Carroo 

Carroo had early success against Washington State last season, and looks to add to his riches against the Cougars on Saturday. Washington State only faced 12 passes against Portland State, but are expecting a heavy dose of Caroo early and often when the two teams face off. Carroo is looking to break team records as a receiver this season, and a big game against a team licking their chops is the perfect opportunity to do so. 

 

3. Hayden Rettig

It's not often a backup quarterback is mentioned as part of the keys to an upcoming game, but Rettig is in a position he arguably shouldn't be in: holding a clipboard. Regardless of Laviano's obvious connection to Flood, pure talent heavily favors Rettig as the better quarterback, who was without Carroo during his first half performance against Norfolk State last week, in which he earned a touchdown-saving tackle on a fumble recovery by the Spartans. Rettig is a good quarterback, with solid accuracy who can move the ball in big ways into the endzone. If Laviano struggles early, I'd expect Flood to go against his word and put Rettig in, in hopes he can move the ball down the field. 

 

Final Analysis

 

It's only Week 2, but both coaches are in positions to be fighting for their jobs. Leach has greatly under-performed as the head of the Cougars program, and Flood has been caught in the middle of an ugly and turbulent offseason involving player arrests, suspensions, and dismissals. Both Flood and Leach are going to coach every game as if it could be their last, because in fact it could be. This could be a high scoring game altogether, but expect Rutgers to handle Washington State without much resistance. 

 

Prediction: Rutgers 34, Washington State 24

 

— Written by Chris Dougherty, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Dougherty also serves as a National Recruiting Analyst for 247Sports.com and has written for other sites, including FanSided.com and Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @warontheweekend.

Teaser:
Washington State Cougars vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:35
Path: /college-football/bowling-green-falcons-vs-maryland-terrapins-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Moving forward, Maryland opponents would be wise to refrain from kicking to punt return man/cornerback William Likely. The junior tallied a Big Ten-record 233 punt return yards and a touchdown to help lead the Terrapins to a 50-21 win over the Spiders last Saturday.

 

Hailing from the Mid-American Conference (MAC), Bowling Green makes the trek to College Park, Md., in search of its first win of the season. The Falcons dropped a 59-30 contest to Tennessee last week in Nashville. Despite the loss, Bowling Green's quick-strike offense was able to generate 557 total yards against an SEC defense.

 

Saturday’s meeting will be the first between the two schools.

 

Bowling Green at Maryland

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Television: ESPNU

Spread: Maryland -7.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Bowling Green slow Maryland’s running game?

Likely wasn’t the only Terrapin to bust out Saturday afternoon. Maryland’s ground game, considered to be this year’s team’s strength on offense, was effective. Running back Brandon Ross paved the way, leading all Terrapins with 150 yards rushing and a touchdown on 18 carries. Fellow backs Ty Johnson and Wes Brown ran for 83 and 74 yards, respectively, and both found the end zone once. On the other side, Bowling Green's defense failed miserably against the run, as Tennessee's Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara combined for 267 yards and five touchdowns. Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs added 89 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown of his own, with 205 yards passing and two scores. Maryland’s trio of running backs could be in store for a big afternoon.

 

2. The rest of the Maryland secondary

Bowling Green head coach Dino Babers is a member of the Art Briles coaching tree. Babers cut his teeth at Baylor in the late 2000s before taking the head coaching job at Eastern Illinois, where he coached current New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Babers’ offense typically nets 85-plus plays per game and can be overwhelming. Against Tennessee, Falcons quarterback Matt Johnson threw 49 passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns. Maryland’s secondary will be tested early and often. Johnson hooked up with wide receiver Gehrig Dieter seven times for 133 yards and a touchdown. While the Terrapins did not allow a passing score against Richmond last week, the defense gave up 220 yards through the air. That could be problematic against Bowling Green’s pass-happy offense.

 

3. Perry Hills’ progression

Last Saturday’s start was Hills’ first in nearly three seasons, so it’s difficult to be too critical of his performance. But, simply put, he underwhelmed. The redshirt junior tossed two touchdowns and passed for 138 yards while going 12-of-21 on his attempts. But he was off on several passes that could have resulted in interceptions against stiffer competition. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall gave Hills the majority of the snaps under center, so his starting job for appears to be safe for the foreseeable future. If the Terrapins are to compete in the talent-heavy Big Ten East, they’re going to need solid, consistent play from their quarterback. It’s too early to panic, but fans should expect a more-polished performance from Hills on Saturday.

 

Final Analysis

 

Bowling Green is a good team that will give Maryland’s defense all it can handle. The Falcons hung with Tennessee before faltering, in large part, due to their lack of depth. This isn’t a game for Maryland to take lightly, as the Terrapins could find themselves on the wrong end if Babers’ Falcons jump out to a quick start, forcing Maryland to play catch up.

 

Prediction: Maryland 30, Bowling Green 27

 

— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A Washington, D.C.-based sports writer, Hayes is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and he also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.” Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12

Teaser:
Bowling Green Falcons vs. Maryland Terrapins Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /tulane-green-wave-vs-georgia-tech-yellow-jackets-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Tulane and Georgia Tech will play once again in week two for the second straight season in Atlanta.  Georgia Tech defeated Alcorn State 69-6 last Thursday in the Yellow Jackets' season opener. Georgia Tech totaled 553 total yards against the Braves with 476 yards coming on 52 rushing attempts.

 

Tulane began their 2015 season with another ACC team in Duke. Although some thought the Blue Devils could be looking at an upset, Coach Cutcliffe had his team ready as they defeated the Green Wave handily 37-7. 

 

Last year, Tulane lead the Yellow Jackets at one point 21-14 before giving up 24 unanswered points. Tulane never recovered and lost 38-21.

 

Tulane at Georgia Tech

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Georgia Tech -29.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The new running back duo.

Most Yellow Jackets fans knew someone had to step in the running back if Georgia Tech had any chance of repeating last year’s success. Last week, most of the nation got a look at who that might be. Freshman Marcus Marshall and senior transfer Patrick Skov provided the Jackets offense with five touchdowns between the two of them. Marshall had eight carries for 184 yards and two touchdowns while Skov rushed for 72 yards on 12 carries and three touchdowns.

 

2. Plenty of carries to go around.

Speaking of running backs, the Yellow Jackets used 13 different ball carriers to rack up 476 yards and nine touchdowns last week. Even though Marshall and Skov got the bulk of the carries, head coach Paul Johnson will use every last asset that he has to win. This will allow more guys the opportunity to step up and show they can carry this offense as well.

 

3. Defensive improvements throughout the season.

The Jackets only gave up 272 total yards and forced 3 turnovers last week in game one. Last year, the Green Wave put up 21 points on the Yellow Jackets in less than a quarter and a half. Defensive improvements are the key to Georgia Tech getting back to the ACC championship game and that means getting better every week.

 

Final Analysis

 

Last year’s contest was a back and forth scoring fest in the first half before Georgia Tech stomped on the gas and ran away with the game. I don’t think we see a repeat of that this year. The Yellow Jackets won’t take Tulane for granted and will take care of business early. I thought the Green Wave offense would have a little more pep to it but only scoring seven points last week is probably not the best indicator for the season just yet. Tulane will come out with a little more fire this week but it still won’t be enough. I will look for Justin Thomas to get a little more involved this week with the Yellow Jackets offense as he only threw four passes and rushed twice. Georgia Tech has Notre Dame next week so they will need all cylinders running for that road trip.

 

Prediction: Georgia Tech 47, Tulane 7

 

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

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails - See more at: http://athlonsports.com/college-football/alcorn-state-vs-georgia-tech-preview-and-prediction-2015#sthash.pfUIXRgi.dpuf
— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails - See more at: http://athlonsports.com/college-football/alcorn-state-vs-georgia-tech-preview-and-prediction-2015#sthash.pfUIXRgi.dpuf
Teaser:
Tulane Green Wave vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:25
Path: /college-football/houston-cougars-vs-louisville-cardinals-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Louisville Cardinals (0-1) went to Atlanta and sent a very clear message to the rest of the college football world. We are coming for you.

 

Louisville, in a mistake filled game, pushed Auburn to its very limits and almost pulled off what would have been one of the biggest upsets of the opening weekend. After a horrendous first half filled with miscue after miscue, true freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson led the young Cardinals in the second half, outscoring the Auburn Tigers 24-14 and almost pulling off the improbable comeback.

 

This week the Cardinals will head home to host the Houston Cougars (1-0) who are coming off a great opening win against Tennessee Tech at home. The Cougars dominated their opening game behind a more than solid performance from starting quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who rushed for two touchdowns and threw for one in the win. 

 

This game promises to be a high-powered offensive showcase where both teams' potent attacks will be on full display. Louisville will try to slow Houston down and make the Cougars run the football. Georgia transfer Josh Harvey-Clemons looks to lead the Louisville defense and build on his two interceptions against Auburn.

 

Houston at Louisville

 

Kickoff: 11 a.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: Louisville -12.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Lamar Jackson

Remember this name, because he is probably going to be the starting quarterback for Louisville for the remainder of the season. The true freshman did make the expected mistakes in his debut, going 9-of-20 for 100 yards and gaining 106 yards rushing on 16 attempts. However, he showed many signs of brilliance and versatility, and kept the Auburn defense at bay all second half — almost leading the young Cardinals to victory. He is a young player with tons of talent and seemingly no fear. He will get better each week with each start, and that may begin with Houston.

 

2. The Cougars Can Score

Houston has traditionally been an offensive powerhouse, but in recent years the Cougars seemed to have lost their offensive way. New head coach Tom Herman, who had been the offensive coordinator for national champion Ohio State, has come in and in Week 1 helped to restore the high-flying offense that Cougar fans have grown to love. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. went 21-28 for 275 yards and rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns in just three quarters. He will look to build on that Saturday.

 

3. Louisville's Defense is Good

Louisville's defense did an excellent job containing Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson, limiting him to 137 yards passing and picking him off three times. The Tigers' 327 yards of offense was one of the lowest totals in the Gus Malzahn era. If the defense can put together another performance similar to this or better, then Louisville should be pretty good this weekend.

 

Final Analysis

 

This will not be a walk in the park for Louisville, but more like a walk in the woods. There is enough firepower on the offensive side of the ball for Houston that this young Cardinals team could be tripped up again if they do not correct the little offensive mistakes that crippled them against Auburn. However, I see no reason that the Cardinals can't correct those mistakes. Jackson looks like the real deal at quarterback and could potentially be the ACC's next breakout star. The Cougars are good, but I don't think they have the firepower nor the offensive talent to keep up with the Cardinals. Expect a breakout performance from Jackson in front of the home crowd, now that he has been given the starting nod.

 

Prediction: Louisville 31, Houston 17

 

— 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:
Houston Cougars vs. Louisville Cardinals Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:20
Path: /college-football/oregon-state-beavers-vs-michigan-wolverines-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

It was an ugly opening weekend for both Michigan and Oregon State, but with two very different outcomes. Oregon State toppled a far lesser opponent in Weber State 26-7 in the home opener, but was only able to accumulate 391 yards of total offense and had just six points in the first half. Not the kind of dominant performance one would expect against an FCS foe.

 

The Wolverines' opening game against Utah looked eerily familiar to how the last four seasons went under Brady Hoke. Lack of a rushing attack, missed tackles and turnovers were yet again the deciding factors that doomed Michigan in crunch time, leading to a 0-1 start in the Jim Harbaugh era.

 

Which team will bounce back with a more complete game in Week 2?

 

Oregon State at Michigan


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Michigan -15.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Ground and Pound
Both offenses center primarily around running the football, and who does that best on Saturday is likely to come away with a victory. Against a stout Utah front, Michigan struggled mightily to find running room and averaged a paltry 2.6 yards per carry. The Beavers do not possess the beef that Utah has in the middle, but running the football has been a lingering issue for years with Michigan, and last week did not provide any glimpses of hope. Getting a healthy Drake Johnson back would help immensely. For Oregon State, there are no concerns. Seth Collins and Storm Barrs-Woods form a dynamic backfield duo and could give the Wolverines fits with the read-option, which has plagued Michigan defenses in the past.

 

2. Seth Collins now the man at quarterback
Reading the tea leaves (aka the Week 2 depth chart), Collins is the guy moving forward for the Beavers. Unlike last week, there are no “ORs” listed between Collins and backup quarterback Marcus McMaryion as head coach Gary Andersen stated there will not be a two-quarterback system for the foreseeable future. Once Collins shook off the opening game jitters, the true freshman looked electric, throwing two second-half touchdowns that included a perfectly placed 44-yarder to receiver Jordan Villamin. Collins also led the team in rushing with 152 yards and dazzled the crowd with a hurdle over a defender. How he fares against stiffer competition should give us a more accurate barometer of how good Collins can be in his first season.

 

3. How long of a leash for Jake Rudock?
Coaches and teammates alike reiterated that confidence remains high in the graduate transfer quarterback following his three costly interceptions against Utah. Rudock was criticized at times during his career at Iowa, drawing ire from the fans for not taking enough shots downfield and playing too conservatively. Well, we saw what happened when Rudock takes said chances – interceptions and inaccuracy on the long ball. If Rudock has another poor start, does Harbaugh have a quick hook and turn to junior Shane Morris?

 

Final Analysis

 

While the freshman quarterback for the Beavers did show promise in the opening week, this is a much taller task going on the road to the Big House. The Wolverines will not be threatened by Collins’ arm and will likely load up the box with eight or nine defenders to stop the run. On the flip side, Rudock will make just enough plays with his arm, and more importantly, not turn the ball over three times as he did against the Utes. The game will be tight going into the fourth quarter, but a late score will seal it for Michigan.

 

Prediction: Michigan 20, Oregon State 10

 

— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for CollegeFootballGeek.com. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.

Teaser:
Oregon State Beavers vs. Michigan Wolverines Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football
Path: /college-football/appalachian-state-mountaineers-vs-clemson-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

There were plenty of positive signs in Clemson's 49-10 win over Wofford. Deshaun Watson, back from December ACL surgery, was on target and looked healthy. The offensive line pushed around the smaller Terriers in both the run game and in pass protection. The defensive front was stingy against Wofford's option attack. And freshmen contributed in many ways.

 

The only real negative was the injury to wide receiver Mike Williams. Fortunately, Dabo Swinney and company seem to have some answers to fill the void left by Williams.

 

The Tigers will now face off with Appalachian State. The Mountaineers piled up 663 yards of total offense in a 49-0 destruction of Howard. App State returns nearly everyone from last year’s team that went 7-5 in its first FBS season.

 

Appalachian State at Clemson

 

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: Clemson -17.5

 

Three Things To Watch

 

1. The Freshman Receivers

It is true that Charone Peake and Germone Hopper will play a considerable amount of time. But Clemson fans are extremely excited to see how freshmen Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain develop as the season progresses. The two combined for 11 catches and 116 yards last week. Neither has the size and strength of the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Williams, with McCloud being tiny (5-10, 180) in comparison. But both of the newcomers have plenty of speed to complement star receiver Artavis Scott.

 

2. Offensive Line, Part Two

This unit performed very well against Wofford but the competition should be a little tougher in this game. The Mountaineers were No. 45 in the nation in rushing defense last year and held an obviously over-matched Howard squad to just 36 yards on the ground. Appalachian State does not have an ACC-caliber defensive front, but it does have solid veteran defenders that will provide a stiffer challenge than Wofford.

 

3. Pass Coverage... Finally

Because Wofford runs the triple option, the Clemson defensive backs were rarely tested in pass coverage. That will change this week. While the Mountaineers like to run more than they throw, they do have a viable aerial attack. Quarterback Taylor Lamb passed for 2,381 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. We saw a lot of Jayron Kearse, T.J. Green, and the other Clemson defensive backs last week in run support. This week we’ll see them defending passes as well.

 

Final Analysis

 

This coming Thursday night, Clemson opens the ACC schedule with a game at Louisville. In terms of being prepared for the Cardinals, playing Appalachian State is perfect. The Mountaineers will provide more push-back than Wofford could and it will force Clemson to work a little harder. However, with a big game on the road just five days later, it could be easy to overlook a team that is in its second FBS season. Clemson has to be wary of falling into that trap against a very experienced opponent. I think that there will be some sluggishness early on, perhaps even the entire first half. But Watson, Scott, and all that athleticism on both sides of the ball will be too much for the Mountaineers.

 

Prediction: Clemson 38, Appalachian State 17

 

— 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:
Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. Clemson Tigers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:10
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-fighting-irish-vs-virginia-cavaliers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

When Notre Dame travels to Charlottesville, Va., to play Virginia on Saturday, it will be the program’s first game played in the Old Dominion State. Both teams met at Giants Stadium in New Rutherford, N.J., in 1989 to start the season, with Notre Dame beating Virginia 36-13.

 

Notre Dame’s opening victory over Texas was overshadowed by a season-ending ACL injury to top running back Tarean Folston, who led the Fighting Irish in rushing last season. The loss didn’t hinder Notre Dame, as it went on to win 38-3 behind quarterback Malik Zaire’s career day in which he went 19-of-22 passing for 313 yards and three touchdowns.

 

Last week, Virginia traveled to the West Coast to play UCLA in the Rose Bowl. The Cavaliers kicked three first-half field goals to trail 17-9 heading into the third quarter, but managed to score just one more time – a fourth-quarter touchdown – before ultimately falling 34-16.

 

Notre Dame at Virginia

 

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

Television: ABC

Spread: Notre Dame -12.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Malik Zaire vs. the Virginia secondary

People knew that Zaire would eventually evolve into an elite quarterback, but many probably weren’t expecting him to post the numbers he did against Texas last Saturday. Zaire shredded the Longhorns defense for 313 yards and two touchdowns, misfiring on just three passes in the game. The Cavaliers' secondary could have déjà vu this Saturday, as UCLA freshman phenom quarterback Josh Rosen, in his collegiate debut, torched Virginia for 351 yards and three touchdowns. If the unit doesn’t shore up things in its coverage schemes and execution, the Cavs' defensive backfield could be in for another long day.

 

2. Can Virginia establish a ground game?

If there’s one positive takeaway for UVA fans from last Saturday’s game, it’s that the offense produced a 100-yard receiver. That player was starting running back Taquan Mizzell, who caught eight passes for 100 yards. His efforts on the ground, however, were less impressive. Running behind a patchwork offensive line, Mizzell rushed for 45 yards on 16 carries for a meager 2.8 yards per carry. The team’s rushing struggles aren’t anything new, as Virginia had just 1,653 yards on the ground as a team in 2014. Only Wake Forest (439 yards) fared worse in the ACC. The Cavaliers must establish an effective ground game if they’re to keep up with a fast-scoring Notre Dame offense.   

 

3. Notre Dame’s revamped backfield

It's not going to be easy for the Irish to replace Folston. He led the team in rushing yards (889) and was second with six rushing touchdowns in 2014. Converted wide receiver C.J. Prosise replaced Folston in the opener and finished with 98 yards on 20 carries. Freshmen running backs Josh Adams and Dexter Williams also will see an increased workload. Adams scored two rushing touchdowns and ran for 49 yards on five carries against Texas while Williams picked up 24 yards on seven carries. While Texas’ defense had its issues against the run, allowing 214 rushing yards to Notre Dame, Virginia’s fared marginally better against UCLA, as the Bruins had 152 yards on the ground.

 

Final Analysis

The atmosphere in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon is sure to be electric as Virginia welcomes one of college football’s most popular programs and one that always brings a crowd of supporters. But not even an amplified Scott Stadium will be enough to give the Cavaliers an advantage. Notre Dame, even without Folston, is an incredibly talented team that should walk away victorious from its first visit to the Old Dominion State.

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Virginia 17

 

— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A Washington, D.C.-based sports writer, Hayes is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and he also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.” Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Virginia Cavaliers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:05

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