Articles By All

Path: /college-football/tcu-horned-frogs-vs-oklahoma-sooners-preview-and-prediction-2015

What looked like a titanic clash between the Sooners and Horned Frogs before the the season started has lost some buzz in recent weeks. A woodshedding at the hands of Oklahoma State effectively ended TCU’s national championship dreams. The loss of star receiver Josh Doctson and uncertainty over the status of quarterback Trevone Boykin raise serious questions about the chances of seeing an upset this weekend.


Gary Patterson’s team has a history of hanging tough with OU, though. If Boykin is limited, the TCU coach still might be resourceful enough to come up with a plan to waylay the Sooners’ aspirations of another Big 12 conference championship.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


TCU at Oklahoma

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: N/A


Three Things to Watch


1. How effective can Boykin be (if at all)?

As of the middle of the week, Vegas oddsmakers had yet to put a line on the game, a reflection of the questions surrounding the health of TCU’s Heisman Trophy candidate. Can the Horned Frogs compete with the white-hot Sooners if they’re only getting Boykin at 75 percent?


2. Containing Sterling Shepard

Shepard has secured a spot among the best receivers in OU history with his stellar play this year. His presence out wide forces opposing defenses to decide if they want to dedicate extra players to stop him, thereby creating more opportunities for Shepard's teammates. If they don't, Shepard is almost uncoverable one-on-one.


3. OU's attitude

The Sooners are coming off an emotional win over Baylor that saw them conquer a few demons. The Bears firmly entrenched themselves as the Big 12's bullies by whipping OU in their two previous meetings. Bob Stoops clearly wasn't treating last week like just another game. OU may be in that "mission: accomplished" mindset, but the Horned Frogs definitely won't be.


Final Analysis


Knowing what we know about the Oklahoma program of recent years, this is the spot where the Sooners lay an egg, right? We've all been trained over time to expect that OU will unexpectedly blow a gimme.


This OU team might be the one to buck that trend. Since losing to Texas last month, the Sooners have played razor-sharp football. Reasons for concern have been few and far between, and the team that controlled Baylor resembled the squad that dispatched Kansas State, Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State so efficiently in the prior weeks.


Frankly, a Boykin-less TCU might get the business end of OU's boot as the squad looks to impress the selection committee.


Prediction: Oklahoma 38, TCU 10


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

TCU Horned Frogs vs. Oklahoma Sooners Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 09:35
Path: /college-football/texas-am-aggies-vs-vanderbilt-commodores-preview-and-prediction-2015

It has been a rocky year for Vanderbilt, but the Commodores have managed to win a pair of SEC games against Missouri and Kentucky. A bowl game once looked like a distant possibility. Now, Vandy has a real chance to get to a bowl on the back of its defense. But it won't be easy, as the Commodores will have to take down Texas A&M and Tennessee.


When Vanderbilt takes on the Aggies this weekend, it will rely on the defense, which has been arguably the SEC's best unit outside the state of Alabama. The Commodores also have a reliable running game led by Ralph Webb, who is approaching 1,000 yards on the season.


Texas A&M's offense under Kevin Sumlin is usually the team's strength. However, with subpar quarterback play from Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, the Aggies have been struggling. In its two most recent losses, A&M has combined for 13 points against Auburn and Ole Miss. Vanderbilt's defense could be a difficult matchup. 


The only meeting between A&M and Vandy was in 2013, when the Aggies won 56-24 in College Station.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Texas A&M at Vanderbilt


Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV: SEC Network

Spread: Texas A&M -7


Three Things to Watch


1. What will Texas A&M's quarterback situation look like?

The quarterback competition is still open in College Station 10 weeks into the season. Murray has started the last three games after Sumlin decided he would give the Aggies the best chance to win. Allen was underperforming early in the year. But after coming in against Western Carolina, Allen went 6-of-6 for 88 yards and threw a touchdown. Now, the quarterback race has opened back up. Either Allen or Murray has to step up and play well for the Aggies to beat Vanderbilt. Both will likely get playing time Saturday. 


2. Will Vanderbilt's defense continue to impress?

The Commodores are giving up just over 17 points per game this season. It is safe to say Derek Mason has turned Vandy's defense around quickly. Vanderbilt has one of the best defenses in the country. Its biggest problem has been the same one faced by Boston College and Missouri — no offense. The Commodores defense can't be blamed for the team's 4-6 record. On Saturday, this unit has another chance to make a statement against the Aggies' underwhelming offense. The matchup is so fascinating because of the instability at quarterback for A&M and the rowdy front seven for Vanderbilt. 


3. Is this game the upset special of the week?

Vegas has A&M favored by a touchdown, but a good chunk of money is on Vanderbilt with the game being in Nashville. While the Commodores have already notched two conference wins, a victory over the Aggies would be a major upset and a defining win for Mason. This game really is not a good matchup for Texas A&M's offense unless a quarterback can make plays against Vandy's secondary. The potential is here for a David vs. Goliath kind of game. If the cards fall right, this may be a key upset in November.


Final Analysis


Vanderbilt is oh, so close to a bowl game, yet it still seems far away with the two teams remaining on the schedule. But this Commodores team has shown fight all season. Even in losses to Georgia and Ole Miss, the defense has shown its capabilities. Texas A&M is favored, and if the offense musters even a decent effort throwing the ball, the Aggies can outscore Vanderbilt. But this one is tricky. The Commodores have a lot to play for and a win would set up a showdown with bitter rival Tennessee for bowl eligibility. Last week, I picked the better defense at home and Vandy came through. This week, I'm doing it again. The November Commodores are for real.


Prediction: Vanderbilt 19, Texas A&M 17


— 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.

Texas A&M Aggies vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/mississippi-state-bulldogs-vs-arkansas-razorbacks-preview-and-prediction-2015

When Arkansas welcomes Mississippi State to Fayetteville Saturday night, the lead-up to the game has the feel of teams going in the opposite direction. The Razorbacks (6-4, 4-2 SEC) are peaking after winning five of their previous six games including wins over Auburn, UT Martin, then-No. 18 Ole Miss, and then-No. 9 LSU. The Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3) are in the middle of their toughest three-game stretch of the season losing to No. 2 Alabama 31-6 in Week 11 and now must face the Hogs and No. 22 Ole Miss on the road in back-to-back games to finish the season.


The Razorbacks have been dynamic on offense during their four-game winning streak averaging 50 points per contest. The running game has found traction but the biggest change is the emergence of junior receivers Drew Morgan and Dominique Reed to go along with All-SEC tight end Hunter Henry. Senior starting quarterback Brandon Allen is finally coming into his own in the pocket this season throwing for a career-high 2,617 yards with 22 touchdowns against just six interceptions with two 400-yard passing games under his belt.


Mississippi State has eased along its season behind the stellar play of its senior quarterback Dak Prescott. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound dual-threat athlete still has the legs to move the chains at will but he has been called upon to carry MSU with his arm this year passing for 2,651 yards with 18 touchdowns against only two interceptions. Prescott has been on fire of late passing for 300 yards or more in each of his last four contests.


When the Hogs kickoff against the Bulldogs fans should be in for more of an old Western Athletic Conference style barnburner instead of a traditional SEC West style three yards and a cloud of dust matchup.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Mississippi State at Arkansas


Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Coverage: ESPN

Spread: Arkansas -3.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Dak Prescott vs. Arkansas’ Pass Defense

The Razorback defense in 2015 is a far cry from the nation’s No. 10 ranked overall defense from a year ago. The same needle in the hoof from 2014 has become a bigger problem this year with inexperienced underclassmen in the secondary having problems covering quick hitting routes. The Hogs allow 405 yards of total offense per game thanks to a pass defense that is giving up 282 yards a game and can be challenged at times.


Prescott is easily one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks. The senior has to be licking his Bulldog chops for a chance to exploit the Razorbacks’ secondary. The Louisiana native hit up Alabama for 300 yards but on 22-of-43 passing failing to find the end zone with one pick and was sacked an unbelievable nine times.


Expect MSU and Prescott to find the end zone a couple of times against Arkansas with his arm. Another offensive threat the Hogs have trouble stopping is a scrambling quarterback. Prescott might need to be a 100-yard rusher against the Hogs to post a “W” on the road.


2. Arkansas’ Run Offense vs. Mississippi State’s Run Defense

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen feels that their defense is rock solid even after losing to Alabama 31-6. The Bulldogs gave up four touchdowns that were explosive plays of 60 yards or more against the Crimson Tide. The reality is MSU is slightly above average on defense allowing 370 yards a game, ranked No. 48 in FBS.


Arkansas has the nation’s No. 34 scoring offense posting an average of 34 points per game. Everything the Hogs do on offense is set up off of All-SEC junior running back Alex Collins and their massive offensive line. Collins is third in the SEC in total rushing yards with 1,209 and is just the third player in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons in the conference.


Mississippi State allowed Derrick Henry to run for 204 yards on 22 totes with two scores last week. In Week 2, the Bulldogs allowed LSU to collectively run for 266 yards seeing Leonard Fournette pick up 159 on 28 carries with three scores. Expect Collins to have a similar kind of game.


3. Brandon Allen vs. Mississippi State’s Rushing Offense

The counterbalance in the game is the other team’s perceived weakness against the other’s weakness which for MSU is the run game and for Arkansas the passing attack. Mississippi State’s leading rusher is Prescott with 432 yards followed by Brandon Holloway’s 254 yards. Prescott has seven rushing touchdowns with the next highest total being three on the ground from Nick Fitzgerald.


This has been a long time coming for Razorback Nation, but believe it or not Brandon Allen is one of the top three quarterbacks in the conference. Allen is third in the conference in total passing yards, 34 passing yards behind Prescott, but has 59 fewer pass attempts. Allen has four more touchdowns passes, 22 to 18, and has been sacked 11 fewer times than his counterpart. Allen leads the SEC in quarterback rating with 163.2 and has the Arkansas passing offense No. 33 in the nation averaging 266 yards per game.


Final Analysis


Mississippi State may have ducked a potentially scary injury with top wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson. Wilson left the Alabama game in the fourth quarter being carted off for a neck injury. Mullen said his star receiver would be fine but wasn't sure if he would be able to play against Arkansas this week. Wilson has 40 receptions for 664 yards with a team-high eight receiving touchdowns. If Wilson cannot go, that takes another offensive threat away for Prescott putting an even bigger load on his arm and legs making Fred Ross the lone go-to receiver.


The Hogs are too balanced on both sides of the ball at this point in the season. Arkansas will have no problems stopping the tailbacks out of the MSU backfield so all the focus will be on Prescott. If Arkansas can get to Prescott early and often while keeping the talented signal caller from moving the chains with his feet this could be another big loss for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are 0-3 against “good” teams this year, 1-3 if Auburn counts.


Prediction: Arkansas 38, Mississippi State 24


— 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, Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.

Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 09:25
Path: /college-football/week-12-college-football-picks-against-spread

I hope you read up last weekend as we had another big week helped by two big road dogs winning outright.


Thanks, Arkansas and Oregon.


There are a few dogs I like this week as well but am going back to the well on a few teams that have won bettors money almost every weekend this fall.


Last Week: 5-1

Year-to-date: 41-30


Colorado (+15) at Washington St

I’ve gone to this well more than a few times this year and this week is another chance for Mike Leach to do some work. The Buffs are near the bottom of FBS when it comes to scoring defense in conference play (101st, 34.9 ppg) and yards per play allowed (T-106th, 6.41 ypp). Take the surging Cougs to win easily (and move to 9-2 ATS this fall). Prediction: Washington State -15


Navy (-12) at Tulsa

Certainly, the Midshipmen could be looking ahead to next week’s trip to Houston, but odds are Keenan Reynolds will have his squad focused. This offense is cruising right now, averaging more than 400 yards rushing in the last three games while Tulsa is allowing 532.4 yards per game — aka, the 124th-best defense in the nation. Navy is 7-2 ATS this fall. Prediction: Navy -12


Cincinnati (-2.5) at South Florida

The wrong team is favored here. The Bulls have won five out of six, including a thumping of No. 21 Temple last weekend. The defense has played excellent football over that span and, with a win at home and an Owls loss to Memphis, USF would take control of the AAC East Division. The Bulls are 7-2-1 this year ATS. Prediction: USF +2.5


LSU (+5) at Ole Miss

The Tigers have allowed 549 yards rushing in two straight losses while not showing the ability to move the football (113 yards rushing WITH Leonard Fournette). Ole Miss is coming off the bye and has an offense that is capable of torching an LSU defense that is reeling right now. Prediction: Ole Miss -5


Indiana (+3) at Maryland

The Hoosiers are 0-6 in the Big Ten but were right in the mix to beat Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa. Maryland has lost seven straight games and only two came within single digits. Take the Indiana offense to put up big numbers in a shootout win. Prediction: Indiana +3


Mississippi St (+4) at Arkansas

The Hogs are rolling in NovemBERT as most of Bret Bielema’s teams have in the past. Mississippi State is coming off an extremely physical loss to Alabama and is headed on the road. The body blow theory is in full effect here with a big, physical, surging Arkansas squad. Prediction: Arkansas -4


Old Dominion (+21) at Southern Miss

The Golden Eagles are crushing people right now and are 8-2 against the spread  — tied for the best record in college football. Southern Miss has won four straight games by a combined score of 175-43 and has allowed no more than 13 points in any of those games. The Monarchs are tied for 102nd in the nation in scoring defense at 34.0 points per game and are on the road. Prediction: Southern Miss -21


Best/Worst Records Against the Spread


Best TeamsRecordWorst TeamsRecord
Southern Miss8-2Kentucky2-8
Toledo8-2Oregon St2-8
Washington St8-2Texas St2-7
C. Michigan7-2-1Fresno St2-7-1
N. Illinois7-2-1Old Dominion2-7-1
Week 12 College Football Picks Against the Spread
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 09:20
Path: /college-football/tennessee-volunteers-vs-missouri-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2015

Tennessee enters Saturday's game at Missouri with the most momentum it's had in years. Butch Jones' Volunteers have won three consecutive games — including four of their last five — and have three conference wins, which matches their best finish of the 2010s.


Missouri is a program riding a wave of emotions. Last Friday, head coach Gary Pinkel announced he will resign at the end of the 2015 season after revealing that he was diagnosed with lymphoma in May.

Pinkel's announcement came one week after Missouri players decided to boycott last Saturday's game against BYU unless the university president Tom Wolfe resigned. The coach — as well as Missouri's governor — supported his players and the boycott ended less than 48 hours later after Wolfe stepped down.

The Tigers rallied to capture an upset win against BYU just hours after their coach's announcement and look to find similar success in Pinkel's final home. Will Missouri be successful or will Tennessee continue its winning streak en route to its best finish since 2007?


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Tennessee at Missouri


Kickoff: 7:15 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: Tennessee -8.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Gary Pinkel's farewell at Faurot Field

It's no secret that Pinkel has the admiration of his roster. The Tigers celebrated last week's win by circling around their coach and chanting "G-P, G-P" in what is now known as the "GP Dance."

The only thing that would top Saturday's celebration would be to send Pinkel — the program's all-time winningest coach — out with a victory in his final home game. Given the Tigers' struggles in 2015, a win at home would be the perfect ending to a decorated career for the reigning SEC Coach of the Year.

2. Will Tennessee earn its first victory against Mizzou in conference play?
Missouri is undefeated in three prior matchups against Tennessee since joining the SEC. Granted, the last two matchup featured Tigers teams who won back-to-back SEC East division championships and the first featured a Vols team whose coach was fired just eight days later.

But Saturday's game features two programs heading in different directions. Tennessee seems to finally be on the rise after years of rebuilding while Missouri is far from the division-winning program we saw the past two seasons.

3. Will Tennessee earn a convincing win against a struggling opponent?
Even in victory, the Vols didn't look convincing against inferior competition in their past two games. Tennessee defeated South Carolina — the worst team in the SEC — by three points despite a 14-point lead at halftime.

The Vols also looked underwhelming on offense against North Texas last week, despite shutting out the Mean Green 24-0. Tennessee is favored by more than a touchdown leading up to Saturday's game and needs to prove that it is capable of capturing a convincing win against a team that has lost four of its last five games.


Final Analysis


Missouri should have enough of an emotional jolt to make Saturday's game competitive. However, pending another monumental collapse — which always seems possible — Tennessee should earn its seventh win of the season and take another step toward finishing in second place in the SEC East — its best finish since 2007.


Prediction: Tennessee 24, Missouri 17


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

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Missouri Tigers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 09:15
Path: /georgia-southern-eagles-vs-georgia-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction-2015

After a huge win against rival Auburn last week, the Bulldogs come back home to Athens and will end the season without leaving the state of Georgia. The Bulldogs can still get to 10 wins this season but will need to finish strong if they are to do so. 

In just their second year as an FBS program, the Eagles are bowl eligible (although winning the Sun Belt Conference last year should have been enough but you know, the NCAA and their rules.) The Eagles would almost need a miracle to win the Sun Belt again with Arkansas State being undefeated and Appalachian State having a head-to-head win over Georgia Southern. The Eagles can still finish strong and end up in a nice bowl even with a loss to Georgia.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Georgia Southern vs. Georgia

Kickoff: 7 p.m. (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPNU
Spread: -14.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Georgia’s defense
For the next two weeks Georgia will see similar offenses as Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech both love to run the ball. Georgia’s defense is only allowing 139.6 rushing yards per game while the Georgia Southern offense leads the nation in rushing yards at 379 yards per game. Something has to give. This should also be a nice tune up before Georgia takes on Georgia Tech next week. 


2. Keith Marshall
Mark Richt announced on Tuesday that Keith Marshall will not return to Athens. Instead Marshall will try his luck in the NFL Draft. Marshall has suffered multiple injuries while at Georgia but has showed promise at times. In 2015, he only has 255 yards on 49 rushes and three touchdowns. Marshall also missed the Auburn game with an ankle injury but will have a chance to finish out his career and improve his draft grade in the last three games for the Bulldogs. Richt also said Marshall will participate in Senior Day with the rest of the seniors on Saturday.


3. Willie Fritz
If you don’t know this name, you should. Fritz is the head coach at Georgia Southern and his name continues to come up in conversations concerning open positions throughout college football. Fritz has been successful at multiple stops including winning the SunBelt last year in the Eagles' first year as an FBS school. A win over a big time program like Georgia would certainly get his phone ringing even more. 

Final Analysis

Georgia Southern and Georgia will meet for just the sixth time on Saturday. In no previous meeting has Georgia ever really been in any danger of losing the game and this year should be no exception. The Bulldogs just have more talent and it’s usually very visible. Even though the Bulldogs have struggled scoring this year, the talent alone should be enough to prevent any huge upset. Don’t put it past the Eagles to fight hard but Georgia should pull away in the fourth quarter. 

Prediction: Georgia 38, Georgia Southern 14


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

Georgia Southern Eagles vs. Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 09:10
Path: /college-football/louisville-cardinals-vs-pittsburgh-panthers-preview-and-prediction-2015

Offense vs. defense. The classic match-up. And even if Louisville is the 64th-ranked offense and Pittsburgh is the 25th-ranked defense (which isn't bad) in the country, that's not important.


For when the Cardinals play the Panthers Saturday, the billing for the football game is more about the coaches than the players.


Bobby Petrino is controversial, condescending and, if you're an Atlanta Falcons fan, cowardly. This season he continued to drive the masses up a wall by refusing to name a starting quarterback before kickoff of Louisville's opener against Auburn and the Cardinals lost their first three games.


But ask rival coaches and they'll say he is likely the toughest offensive mastermind in college football to prepare for, which helps explain why Louisville has won six of its last seven games and has scored 41 and 38 points in its last two games.


Meanwhile at Pitt, in his first season as head coach Pat Narduzzi has continued the mastery of defense he displayed as Michigan State's defensive coordinator despite not having any true stars. Yes, the Panthers are not limiting opponents to 100 total yards any more, and against Notre Dame Narduzzi made the dreadful decision to cover wide receiver Will Fuller man-on-man, but  they also held Duke to their lowest point total in four weeks in a 31-13 victory last week


The game is a must-win for Pitt (7-3), in that it can still win the ACC Coastal Division with a victory against the Cardinals (6-4) and then in its season finale against Miami if North Carolina loses its final two games at Virginia Tech and NC State.


Unlikely, but not impossible.


But ultimately both teams need a victory to go to a higher profile bowl.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Louisville at Pittsburgh 


Kickoff: 3:45 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: Pitt -2


Three Things To Watch


1. Is Pitt's defense really back?

One can't discount the fact Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk was not playing last week. The Blue Devils only rushed the ball with their running backs 10 times, and backup Parker Broehme was less than accurate against the Panthers.


Louisville is also starting something of a backup quarterback. Kyle Bolin is the third different starter for Petrino but took over as the starter after Lamar Jackson's ankle injury three games ago. Bolin has since thrown for 362 yards against Syracuse and guided the offense to five touchdowns last week.


The key, therefore, to stopping Louisville this week will be to provide a pass rush. Pitt is one of the most prolific teams in the ACC in collecting sacks; Louisville gives them up at an even higher rate.


2. How secure is Bolin behind center, really?

Despite the point total, Bolin completed less than half of his 21 passes and had only 139 yards last week. The Cardinals beat Virginia 38-31 thanks to running back Brandon Radcliff's 146 yards and two touchdowns and former quarterback Reggie Bonnafon's halfback option touchdown pass.


This shows just how dangerous Louisville can be. While Pitt is most comfortable running behind Qadree Ollison, the Cardinals have and will find multiple ways to score.


So if Bolin continues to struggle against the Panthers, Jackson could easily return behind center.


Of course, both quarterbacks are somewhat prone to interceptions...


3. The best player on the field is likely Pitt receiver Tyler Boyd. How will he be used?

Boyd has caught nearly three times the amount of passes the next most prolific Panthers' receiver, Dontez Ford, has. Yet his yards per catch average is half that of Ford's.


Granted, it's likely the more catches a receiver has, the more he will catch shorter passes that will bring down his average. Yet one wonders if Boyd barely averaging 10 yards a catch is due to short routes or double teaming.


As such, Narduzzi has found all sorts of ways to get Boyd the ball, including rushing and returning. Last week against Duke, Boyd had eight carries against only three catches.


The dirty little secret is that while Pitt's defense has received more ink than Louisville's, the Cardinals are actually ranked higher (14th), primarily because of their ability to stop the run with ACC defensive linemen of the week Devonte Fields.


But there's a big difference between thwarting the fullback dive and being able to guard against a reverse with a receiver that has a run-pass option. Boyd's performance will likely determine the outcome of the game.


Final analysis


A lot to like on both teams. And a lot to be worried about as well. What isn't deniable is Louisville has been hotter lately.


Prediction: Louisville 24, Pitt 21


— 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.

Louisville Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 09:05
Path: /college-football/baylor-bears-vs-oklahoma-state-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-2015

Oklahoma State is inching closer to the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings, but two huge tests remain for coach Mike Gundy’s team, with the first coming on Saturday night with a matchup against Baylor. The Bears suffered their first loss of the season last week, losing to Oklahoma 44-34 in Waco. While Baylor needs a lot of things to go its way in order to make the playoff, coach Art Briles’ team isn’t necessarily out of the picture after dropping to No. 10 in Tuesday’s rankings release.


After surviving a scare in Ames against Iowa State, Oklahoma State moved into the No. 6 spot and is the highest ranked Big 12 team in the playoff rankings. The Cowboys have made a habit out of winning close games this year, needing last-minute escapes against Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia. Additionally, Oklahoma State rallied from a 24-7 deficit in the first half against Texas Tech to win 70-53. While the late-game magic has been a running storyline, it’s also important to note the Cowboys easily handled TCU (49-29) two weeks ago.


Baylor entered the season as a co-favorite with TCU to win the Big 12 title. The Bears were on track to meet preseason expectations before last week’s loss to Oklahoma. Quarterback Seth Russell was lost for the season due to a neck injury suffered against Iowa State. True freshman Jarrett Stidham played well against Kansas State but was limited by a back injury against Oklahoma. Russell’s injury was a setback for the Bears in the Big 12 title picture. However, there’s time to make up ground, as matchups against Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas – combined with chaos in other leagues – leave enough margin for Baylor to remain a factor for the playoffs.  


Related: Predictions for Every Week 12 Game


Oklahoma State holds a 19-14 series edge over Baylor. The Cowboys have not lost to Baylor in Stillwater since 1939 and hold a 12-4 advantage in home matchups against the Bears.


Baylor at Oklahoma State


Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Oklahoma State -1


Three Things to Watch


1. Can Baylor’s Offense Get Back on Track?

While Baylor’s 34 points last week are hardly anything to be concerned about, there were some concerning totals for Briles. The Bears averaged 5.9 yards per play, threw for 257 yards and rushed for 159 – all the second-lowest totals of the season for this offense. A deeper look at the rushing totals shows Baylor has averaged less than four yards per carry in back-to-back games. Getting the offense back on track is priority No. 1 for Briles this week. However, Oklahoma State’s defense is one of the best in the Big 12. The Cowboys rank second in scoring defense (24.5 ppg), are holding opponents to 5.2 yards per play, have generated 35 sacks and lead the conference with 24 takeaways. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham suffered a back injury against Oklahoma and played at less than full strength. Stidham is not expected to be sidelined on Saturday night, and the coaching staff hopes the true freshman rebounds from a sluggish performance against a good Sooner defense (16 of 27 for 257 yards and two interceptions). Additionally, receiver Corey Coleman was quiet (three catches for 51 yards). Oklahoma State’s defense is going to bend and give up some yards. However, the Cowboys put the clamps on opponents in the red zone and on third downs. Will Baylor connect on a few big plays and turn those into touchdowns? Or will Oklahoma State’s defense trade yards for giving up three points or a turnover? That’s the key battle to watch on Saturday night.


Related: Post-Week 11 Bowl Projections


2. Turnover Margin

Luck and good fortune are two driving forces behind turnover margin and takeaways. While defenses can gameplan and put players in the best position to succeed, it’s impossible to predict turnovers. Simply, you need some good luck to generate turnovers and catch all of the right bounces each week. So far this year, Oklahoma State and Baylor rank as the top two teams in the Big 12 in turnover margin. The Cowboys are +12 and the Bears are plus-nine. The Cowboys have forced 24 takeaways, while the Bears have 22. In Oklahoma State’s victory over TCU, coordinator Glenn Spencer’s defense generated four turnovers. And to further illustrate why turnover margin is important, Baylor was minus-two in last week’s loss. With the ability of both offenses and the timely defenses, one or two mistakes could shift this game. Whichever team comes out on top in turnover margin is likely to end up with the victory.


3. Oklahoma State’s Two-Quarterback System

If you have two quarterbacks, you really don’t have a quarterback. That’s the general cliché about quarterbacks and offenses. While there is some truth to that statement, using a two-quarterback system actually works for some teams. Oklahoma State’s offense has thrived under the tandem of Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh, averaging 43.6 points per game this season. Rudolph is the better passer (316.1 ypg), while Walsh is the better runner (20 overall TDs). Walsh’s rushing ability is critical for an offense struggling to establish a traditional ground attack (3.8 ypc), and the senior is expected to play a key role on Saturday, as Baylor has struggled to stop the run (181.3 ypg in conference matchups) and is not expected to have defensive tackles Beau Blackshear and Byron Bonds due to injuries. When the Cowboys throw, big-play threat James Washington (20.5 ypc) and David Glidden (45 catches) are the top options. Baylor’s defense held Oklahoma to 5.87 yards per play last week. That’s not bad. Can the Bears do it again – with injuries hitting the defensive line and secondary hard – versus an offense that has scored at least 49 points in three out of the last four games?


Final Analysis


Another shootout in the Big 12. Even though quarterback Jarrett Stidham might be less than 100 percent, Baylor’s offense should get back on track this week. Expect receiver Corey Coleman to see a few more deep shots in his direction, while running back Shock Linwood will be a tough matchup for Oklahoma State’s rush defense. While the Bears are going to get their share of points, the Cowboys once again find a way to win a close game. Baylor’s injuries on defense and a quarterback at less than full strength could be the difference in a tight game. The lead changes hands a few times in the second half, but Oklahoma State finds a way to win another close game, improving to 11-0 and setting up a huge showdown against Oklahoma next Saturday.


Prediction: Oklahoma State 41, Baylor 38
Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/michigan-state-spartans-vs-ohio-state-buckeyes-preview-and-prediction-2015

Big Ten supremacy and a spot in the College Football Playoff could be on the line Saturday in Columbus, as Ohio State hosts Michigan State in one of the biggest remaining matchups of the 2015 season. The Buckeyes ranked No. 3 in the latest committee rankings, with the Spartans at No. 9. Saturday afternoon’s contest won’t necessarily decide the Big Ten East champ – Michigan will have a chance to stake its claim after a matchup against Ohio State next week – but this game will have major ramifications in the national landscape.


Ohio State has its share of imperfections, but the Buckeyes are 10-0 and poised to make another late-season run at the national championship. The upcoming schedule isn’t kind to coach Urban Meyer’s team. According to the playoff committee, Ohio State does not have a win over a team currently ranked in the top 25. However, the Buckeyes have arguably the toughest three-game stretch to close the regular season. After Saturday’s game against Michigan State, Ohio State plays at Michigan on Nov. 28. Assuming the Buckeyes beat the Spartans and Wolverines, they will face Iowa (No. 5 in this week’s rankings) in the Big Ten Championship.


Just like Ohio State, Michigan State has showed flaws through the first 10 games but also had the misfortune of questionable officiating in a 39-38 loss at Nebraska on Nov. 7. Despite the defeat to the Cornhuskers, the Spartans are still alive for a playoff spot. If Michigan State wins out, it’s safe to assume coach Mark Dantonio’s team will be one of the four remaining teams battling for the national championship in late December.


Related: Predictions for Every Week 12 Game


Ohio State leads the all-time series 29-14 over Michigan State. The Buckeyes have won nine out of the last 11 matchups in this series. The Spartans won the 2013 Big Ten Championship and claimed a 10-7 victory in Columbus in 2011.


Michigan State at Ohio State


Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Ohio State -13.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Michigan State’s Defensive Line Versus Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott

It’s a battle of strength versus strength in the trenches on Saturday afternoon. Michigan State owns one of the nation’s best defensive lines, headlined by standout end Shilique Calhoun (11 TFL, 8.5 sacks), and there's depth and talent on the interior with rising star Malik McDowell (10.5 TFL) and Joel Heath. The front seven is also anchored by a solid group of linebackers, including Riley Bullough (79 stops) and Darien Harris (65 tackles). In Big Ten-only matchups this season, the Spartans are limiting opponents to 122.5 rushing yards per game and only one opponent over the last four matchups has managed to eclipse more than 110 yards. Those totals will be put to the test this week. Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is quietly building an impressive Heisman resume and enters this matchup with 15 consecutive games of 100 rushing yards or more. In last year’s game, Elliott rushed for 154 yards and two scores on 23 attempts. This defense also has to contend with quarterback J.T. Barrett’s mobility. Ohio State’s passing attack is working to find its rhythm under Barrett, and this offense thrives off establishing the ground attack. If Michigan State can force Barrett into third-and-long situations and keep him in the pocket, that’s a win for Mark Dantonio’s defense. 


2. Michigan State QB Connor Cook

Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook suffered a shoulder injury in last week’s win over Maryland and finished with just 77 yards on six completions. Just how healthy is Cook? While Dantonio won’t discuss injuries, Cook is not expected to miss any snaps on Saturday. But is the senior quarterback at full strength? That’s the million dollar question surrounding this matchup. When healthy, Cook is one of the nation’s best quarterbacks. Through 10 games, the senior has passed for 2,482 yards and 21 scores and tossed only four picks. Michigan State has a standout supporting cast, but the offensive line – largely due to injuries – hasn’t lived up to preseason expectations. One area the Spartans have to find answers to before Saturday is with the rushing attack. Michigan State is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry. That’s a huge concern against an Ohio State defensive line giving up only 3.6 yards per rush and has generated 30 sacks in 2015. Cook can put this team on his back and keep the Spartans in the mix for the win. However, he also needs a lot of help from his supporting cast.


Related: Post-Week 11 Bowl Projections


3. Ohio State’s Passing Game

Looking for a spark on offense, Ohio State made the switch from Cardale Jones to J.T. Barrett under center prior to the Oct. 24 game against Rutgers. In his first start of the season, Barrett helped the Buckeyes tie their highest point total of the season (49) and averaged a healthy 7.5 yards per play mark. Barrett was suspended due to an off-field incident for the Nov. 7 game against Minnesota but returned to the lineup against Illinois and completed 15 of 23 passes for 150 yards and one score and rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts. While Ohio State’s offense wasn’t bad with Jones at the controls, Barrett is more dynamic and his mobility is a huge asset. The sophomore has connected on three passes of 30 yards or more this season. In 10 games (with seven starts), Jones only has 11 completions of 30 or more yards. If Ohio State was looking for a week to turn in a breakout performance for its passing attack, Saturday afternoon against Michigan State’s secondary has plenty of potential. The Spartans “No Fly Zone” has been more vulnerable than in recent years, surrendering 14 touchdown tosses and 17 passing plays of 30 yards or more. Receivers Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller each average just over 14 yards per catch. This could be the week Barrett and his receivers turn in a breakout performance.


Final Analysis


Ohio State entered 2015 as the favorite to repeat, but the Buckeyes are still working to put all of the pieces together for a run at another playoff title. Saturday’s game against Michigan State is the biggest test so far on Ohio State’s schedule and the start of the most critical stretch for this team in 2015. How will the Buckeyes respond? The guess here is the switch is flipped on this weekend and Ohio State shows why it was the favorite to win the national title this preseason. Michigan State’s defensive front presents some challenges, but Barrett’s mobility and ability to make plays on the run is a huge asset against an aggressive front seven. The Spartans need Connor Cook to be at full strength to have a shot at the upset, and the rushing attack has to perform better than it has over the last four games (3.2 yards per carry). Michigan State battles and keeps it close into the fourth quarter, but Ohio State just has too much on both sides of the ball and has its eyes set on moving one step closer to the Big Ten title. 


Prediction: Ohio State 34, Michigan State 24
Michigan State Spartans vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:55
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-10-most-underappreciated-head-coaches-2015

With the 2015 season reaching its final stretch, all 128 teams, players and coaches are making their last push to reach preseason goals, play in a bowl or avoid the hot seat going into the offseason. And this is also the portion of the season where the award scene starts to clear and the candidates for some of college football’s top hardware begins to emerge.


With 128 head coaches at the FBS level, it’s not easy for every one of them to get the proper attention or appreciation they deserve for their coaching job during the 2015 season. Entering Week 13, it’s fair to say most of the attention for coach of the year honors is with Florida’s Jim McElwain, Houston’s Tom Herman, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly or Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. But what about the coaches doing an under-the-radar job this season? With that question in mind, Athlon Sports examines 10 coaches – plus one wildcard name – that deserve more attention for the job they have done in 2015.


10 Underappreciated Coaching Jobs in 2015


Bret Bielema, Arkansas

The Razorbacks won four out of their last six games last season and finished 2014 as one of the hottest teams in the nation. The momentum for Bielema slowed with a 2-4 record through the first six games of 2015, but the third-year coach has Arkansas positioned once again as one of the teams no one wants to play at the end of the year. The Razorbacks have won four in a row, including a dominant 31-14 victory at LSU on Nov. 14. Arkansas enters Week 13 with wins in five out of its last six games and will be favored to get to 8-4 overall with home games remaining against Mississippi State and Missouri. Bielema’s hire of Dan Enos as play-caller has helped the Razorbacks offense take a step forward in 2015, as this unit leads the SEC (conference-only games) in yards per play (6.4) and points per game (32.8).


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 12


Bob Davie, New Mexico

Davie has rebuilt a program that won three games from 2009-11, as the Lobos are poised for their first bowl trip since the 2007 season. New Mexico went 11-26 in Davie’s first three seasons and is 6-4 through 10 games in 2015. The offense hasn’t been the problem for Davie, but the defense ranked near the bottom of the Mountain West from 2013-14. The Lobos have made gains on that side of the ball in 2015, limiting opponents to 26.1 points per game and 5.7 yards per play (down from 6.8 in 2014). New Mexico has scored huge back-to-back victories, defeating Utah State 14-13 on Nov. 7 and a road win at Boise State on Nov. 14. Davie’s team still has a chance to play for the Mountain West title with wins in their last two games of the year – Colorado State and at Air Force.


Larry Fedora, North Carolina

Fedora is making a strong case for ACC Coach of the Year honors. After losing to South Carolina in the opener, North Carolina has reeled off nine wins in a row and is on the doorstep of winning its first Coastal Division title. Offense is always a strength for Fedora’s teams, but the Tar Heels had to get better on defense to contend for an ACC title. Fedora hired former Auburn coach Gene Chizik to coordinate the defense, and this unit has made marked progress under his watch. North Carolina gave up 6.5 yards per play last season, surrendered 22 plays of 40 yards or more and allowed 39 points a game. Those totals have decreased significantly under Chizik’s direction. The Tar Heels are fourth in the ACC in points allowed per game (18.8), limit opponents to 5.2 yards per play and allowed seven plays of 40 yards or more. This is North Carolina’s best season under Fedora, and the fourth-year coach has this program trending in the right direction. 


Related: Bowl Projections After Week 11


Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

There were plenty of doubts surrounding Ferentz’s long-term outlook at Iowa entering 2015. The Hawkeyes seemed to be trending down after a disappointing 7-6 record in 2014 and no finish in the final Associated Press poll from 2010-14. But Ferentz has reinvented himself and made a few tweaks to his coaching style, which included bringing more of an aggressive approach on offense to pair with a solid defense (4.75 yards per play allowed). Ferentz has pushed all of the right buttons in 2015, guiding the Hawkeyes to a 10-0 record and a chance to clinch the Big Ten West Division with a win over Purdue on Saturday. Even if Iowa falls short of winning the Big Ten Championship, Ferentz’s reinvention – known as Ferentz 3.0 in Iowa City – there’s a chance the program wins 12 games for the first time in program history.


Mike Leach, Washington State

Leach’s 2015 season started with a disappointing 24-17 loss to Portland State. But since the opening week defeat, Leach has guided Washington State to a 7-2 mark over the last nine games. During that nine-game slate, the Cougars picked up road wins over Oregon, Arizona and UCLA and lost by only two points to Stanford. As expected from a Mike Leach-coached team, Washington State leads the nation by averaging 414.4 passing yards per game. However, new coordinator Alex Grinch has brought improvement to a defense that allowed 38.6 points per game last season. With remaining games against Colorado and Washington (and a bowl trip), Leach has a good chance to lead Washington State to first campaign of double-digit wins since 2003. 


Related: 7 Coaches to Replace Gary Pinkel at Missouri


Rocky Long, San Diego State

Long isn’t the flashiest coach at the FBS level, but the defensive mastermind is simply a winner. He was promoted to head coach at San Diego State after Brady Hoke left for Michigan in 2011, and the Aztecs are 39-23 over the last five years. Additionally, San Diego State has not missed out on a bowl appearance under Long’s direction. The formula for success for Long's teams are pretty simple - run the ball and play defense. Since 2011, the Aztecs have not finished lower than third in the Mountain West in fewest yards per play allowed. At 7-3 in 2015, the Aztecs are poised for their best season in Long’s tenure at San Diego State. If this team finds a way to win its last four games (assuming SDSU wins the Mountain West’s West Division and plays in the conference championship), the 11 wins will tie the most in program history (11 in 1969). 


Todd Monken, Southern Miss

Southern Miss fell on hard times after Larry Fedora’s final season (2011). Ellis Johnson was picked as Fedora’s replacement, and the Golden Eagles suffered through a miserable 0-12 season in his only year in Hattiesburg. Monken replaced Johnson in 2013 and inherited a significant rebuilding project. Even though Southern Miss went 4-20 in Monken’s first two years, there were signs of progress. The Golden Eagles are in the midst of their best season since 2011, sitting at 7-3 with two games remaining and a chance to win Conference USA’s West Division on Nov. 28 at Louisiana Tech. Monken’s offense ranks third among Conference USA teams at 38.6 points per game, while the defense went from 12th in the league in yards per play allowed (6.4 in 2014) to 5.03 in 2015.


Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

Houston, Memphis and Temple have garnered most of the national attention from the American Athletic Conference this season, but Navy ranks as the highest Group of 5 team headed into Week 12 action. The Midshipmen are 8-1, with the only loss coming at Notre Dame in a matchup where quarterback Keenan Reynolds missed over two quarters of snaps due to injury. Navy has a huge showdown at Houston on Nov. 27 to decide the American Athletic Conference’s West Division – and likely a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl. Niumatalolo has won at least eight games in each of the last four seasons and deserves coach of the year consideration if Navy wins the American Athletic Conference in its first year in the league.


Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State

Barring two losses by Arkansas State in its last two games, Appalachian State is going to fall just short of winning the Sun Belt title. However, the Mountaineers are going to be a factor for the conference championship on a yearly basis under Satterfield’s direction. After going 4-8 in his first year as Appalachian State’s coach, Satterfield guided the program to a 7-5 mark in its first season at the FBS level (2014) and is 8-2 through 10 games in 2015. The Mountaineers have nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to their losses – Arkansas State and Clemson – this year. With games remaining against UL Lafayette and South Alabama, there’s a good chance for Appalachian State to reach double-digit victories for the first time since 2010.


Willie Taggart, South Florida

With a 6-18 record in his first two seasons at South Florida, Taggart entered 2015 sitting squarely on the hot seat. While all signs suggested Taggart would be a home-run hire for the Bulls, this program struggled to find its footing and was 5-11 in American Athletic Conference games in Taggart’s first two years. However, Taggart is building a strong case as one of the leading contenders for coach of the year honors in the American Athletic. The Bulls have showed marked improvement after a 1-3 start, winning five out of their last six games, including a 44-23 victory over Temple last Saturday. Taggart is one of the top recruiters in the Group of 5 conferences and has USF pointed in the right direction.


Bonus Candidate: ​Bill Clark, UAB

At first glance, it may seem odd to consider Clark for a space in this article. However, let’s consider all the UAB coach has had to overcome over the last year. The Blazers shut down their football program in December but later reinstated the team for 2017 after donations and fan support showed there was more than enough interest for UAB’s team to return. Needless to say, Clark has a monumental task in rebuilding a program from scratch. Clark is already putting the pieces into place for 2017, which includes improved facilities and a recruiting class that ranks No. 1 (247Sports Composite) among Conference USA teams. With no team in 2016, Clark is simply selling a vision to this year’s recruiting class. Imagine what Clark and his staff can do with better facilities (a new stadium?) and on-field results in the next few years.

College Football's Most Underappreciated Head Coaches in 2015
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:52
Path: /college-football/fresno-state-bulldogs-vs-byu-cougars-preview-and-prediction-2015

An old WAC rivalry renews this Saturday afternoon in Provo, Utah, as BYU hosts Fresno State in the Cougars’ final home game of the season.


The last time these two teams faced other was in 1998 when both programs were in the Western Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs lead the overall series 5-4.


BYU’s (7-3) five-game winning streak was snapped last week in a disappointing loss to Missouri in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The Bulldogs on the other hand had reason to celebrate for once this season following a road victory against Hawaii to improve their record to 3-7.


Fresno State at BYU


Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: BYU -26


Three Things to Watch


1. Senior Day at BYU

This Saturday will be the final game at LaVell Edwards Stadium for 18 members of the BYU football team. The most notable senior on this list is quarterback Taysom Hill. Hill’s future at BYU in 2016 is still up in the air and will be discussed between him and head coach Bronco Mendenhall after BYU’s bowl game. But for now, the Cougars plan on celebrating the talents of the talented Hill along with defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, who has shot up NFL draft boards after that dominating 10-tackle performance against Missouri a week ago.


2. Pair of Bulldogs pursuing career records

There haven’t been many bright spots for Fresno State on the defensive side of the ball this season, as the Bulldogs have given up 37.1 points per game. Despite those stats that would even make Big 12 defensive coordinators cry, Fresno State boasts a talented linebacker in Ejiro Ederaine.

Ederaine has been a three-year starter for and is creeping up the all-time Mountain West tackles for a loss leaderboard. Currently Ederaine sits third all-time, and is one away from tying former BYU defensive end Jan Jorgensen, who will see Ederaine play in person this week as he is a graduate assistant for the Cougars. Ederaine needs four more TFLs to tie former San Diego State LB Miles Burris.


On the other side of the ball, senior running back Marteze Waller is 51 yards rushing away from 3,000 in his career.


3. BYU’s offense wants to start fast

After a strong October, BYU’s offense has struggled since the calendar turned to the month of November. The previous two games have seen the Cougars score just 33 points. A far cry from the 30-plus point outings they had in all four games last month.


This offense is mad and angry after the lackluster showing against Missouri. Look for BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum to distribute the ball to seven or eight different receivers, including a pair of seniors in Mitch Mathews and Devon Blackmon.


Final Analysis


Where has the time gone for Fresno State? Feels so long ago since former Bulldogs head coach Pat Hill would shout to Power 5 teams around the country, “anybody, anytime, anywhere,” and the Bulldogs were always pulling off upsets everywhere you looked. Now that mantra applies to all the blowout losses the valley has had to endure since Derek Carr left two years ago for the NFL.


Fresno State football is struggling to say the least, and an angry BYU team on the road is not the remedy to get better. BYU wants to finish its homes slate strong and with an undefeated record, something the Cougars haven’t accomplished since 2008.


BYU cruises to an easy win in this matinee snoozer.


Prediction: BYU 41, Fresno State 10


— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.

Fresno State Bulldogs vs. BYU Cougars Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:50
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-ole-miss-rebels-preview-and-prediction-2015

Oh, how much things can change in just two weeks. Prior to the Nov. 7 meeting with Alabama, the LSU Tigers were 7-0 and ranked No. 2 in the initial College Football Playoff poll. That same day, the No. 18 Ole Miss Rebels were still in control of their destiny in the race for an SEC Western Division title. However, the Crimson Tide dominated LSU 30-16 and the Rebels lost to Arkansas 53-52 in overtime. One week later, the Razorbacks whipped the Tigers 31-16 to eliminate LSU from SEC Championship contention.


Two teams that were both ranked among the nation’s top five earlier this season are in desperate need of a victory in the 104th Magnolia Bowl.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


LSU at Ole Miss


Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Ole Miss -4.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Can the Ole Miss defense contain Leonard Fournette?

LSU running back Leonard Fournette is the nation’s leading rusher this season with 1,474 yards on 214 carries — a hefty 6.9 yards per carry. Fournette also ranks second nationally with 17 rushing touchdowns. However, Fournette has lost his stranglehold on the Heisman Trophy because he gained just 31 rushing yards on 19 carries against Alabama two weeks ago (1.9 yards per attempt). Last week against Arkansas, Fournette ran for 91 yards, giving him two straight performances in which he failed to reach 100 yards after seven straight games of 150 rushing yards or more.


Simply, Fournette and the LSU offensive line were beaten up by both Alabama and Arkansas, and containing the talented sophomore was the key to victory for the Crimson Tide and Razorbacks. If the Ole Miss defense — which has held opponents to 125.7 rushing yards per game this year and boasts elite talent in the form of Robert Nkemdiche and Tony Conner — has similar success, the Rebels are very capable of picking up a victory.


2. Tre’Davious White and the LSU secondary versus Laquon Treadwell

Because of their history of producing NFL defensive backs (32 LSU defensive backs have been selected in the NFL Draft since 1966), LSU has taken to the nickname “DBU.” This year’s Tiger secondary also has its fair share of talent, including Tre’Davious White, Jamal Adams, Jalen Mills and Kevin Toliver II — all of whom are likely to play on Sundays in the future. But the Tigers have a heavy burden this week trying to contain likely future first round draft pick Laquon Treadwell and the Ole Miss passing attack.


Treadwell leads all SEC receivers with 68 catches and 1,002 receiving yards. The 6-foot-2, 229-pound junior also has six touchdown catches. Combined with quarterback Chad Kelly, who leads the SEC with 3,224 passing yards and 23 TDs, and fellow receivers Cody Core (500 receiving yards, 3 TD), Quincy Adeboyejo (483 receiving yards, 7 TD) and Damore’ea Stringfellow (385 receiving yards, 3 TD), the Rebels are the most talented passing team LSU has faced this season.


3. Les Miles on the hot seat

LSU head coach Les Miles has never lost three straight games since taking over the program in Baton Rouge 11 years ago. However, as a 4.5-point underdog against the Rebels, Miles is in danger of dropping his third straight game this weekend — and doing so would put Miles firmly on the hot seat. Despite a 110-31 record at LSU, which includes the 2007 national championship, reports out of Baton Rouge say that Miles is “coaching for his job” over the next two weeks. A victory over Ole Miss would quiet some of the criticism that has been building.


Final Analysis


Ole Miss needs a victory to keep its hopes alive for a spot in the SEC Championship Game, so the Rebels are motivated for this rivalry matchup. And, because Ole Miss scheduled a late-season bye week, the team should be well rested and prepared for the Tigers. Those factors, paired with the home field advantage and a suddenly struggling LSU squad, should give the Rebels the edge.


Prediction: Ole Miss 27, LSU 24


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

LSU Tigers vs. Ole Miss Rebels Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:45
Path: /college-football/northwestern-wildcats-vs-wisconsin-badgers-preview-and-prediction

Northwestern and Wisconsin are arguably the two quietest two-loss teams in the country. Their combined four losses have come at the hands of three ranked teams, and the result is respect from the College Football Playoff committee via a Top 25 placement for both teams.


They'll meet Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison — basically for second place in the Big Ten West. The winning team will improve its bowl resume, possibly getting a chance to play in a New Year's Six bowl.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Northwestern at Wisconsin


Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Wisconsin -10.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Wisconsin's patchwork O-line

Traditionally a signature of Wisconsin football, this year's Badger offensive line has been held together by duct tape. Three freshmen have found themselves in starting roles throughout the year, thanks to injuries to what were projected to be key pieces. That — and the injury-marred season of running back Corey Clement — has had a detrimental effect on Wisconsin's rushing attack. Joel Stave has felt the pain as well. Wisconsin has given up 18 sacks through 10 games — five more than they gave up in all of 2014. The young line is maturing by the day. They'll need to bring their A-game to stop a Northwestern defense that thrives off of point off turnovers caused by pressure.


2. Justin Jackson's touches

In Northwestern's two losses, Justin Jackson carried the ball a combined 22 times. In the seven games where he's carried the ball 20 or more times, he's eclipsed the 100-yard mark in six and the Wildcats are 7-0. Jackson is Northwestern's bread and butter. The Wildcats go how Jackson goes, and the number of times he touches the ball will tell the story. If he's getting a lot of carries, it means Northwestern is moving the ball and controlling tempo.


3. Which defense can make a play?

These are two of the better defenses in the nation. They don't allow a lot of yards or points, so don't look for an offensive explosion from either team. In what should be a low-scoring, grind-it-out game, look for one of the defenses to make that one play — likely a turnover that results in points — that turns the tide of the game or seals the deal altogether.


Final Analysis


My heart and gut tell me Northwestern is going to pull this one out, but my mind and stats tell me it's going to be tough. Wisconsin has only lost one game at home all year — a matchup with Iowa that it was in position to win. I think the Badger passing game is just good enough to spread the field and open up the running game enough to have more success when they have the ball than Northwestern will. Look for the Wildcats to trail but keep it close throughout, before the Badger defense makes that big play to put the game away.


Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 17


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

Northwestern Wildcats vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:40
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-releases-hype-video-promote-qb-baker-mayfield-heisman-trophy

With just three remaining weeks in the 2015 college football regular season, the race to win the Heisman Trophy is officially entering the homestretch.


Thanks to strong performances in recent weeks, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has emerged as one of the frontrunners for the Heisman. The junior delivered a clutch performance against Baylor last Saturday, throwing for 270 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-34 win in Waco. Mayfield has passed for 3,082 yards and 31 touchdowns through 10 games and rushed for 301 yards and six scores.


Oklahoma is doing all it can to promote Mayfield for college football’s top award, as the school released a hype video with some of the junior's top highlights and plays from the season:  

Oklahoma Releases Hype Video to Promote QB Baker Mayfield for Heisman Trophy
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:37
Path: /college-football/duke-blue-devils-vs-virginia-cavaliers-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Duke Blue Devils began the season with a 6-1 record, seemingly in control of the ACC Coastal Division as they were ranked as high as 22nd in the nation. However, the team has lost three straight games, which includes their controversial loss to the Miami Hurricanes. 


While Duke (6-4) can no longer win the division title, the team can still qualify for a solid bowl game. The Blue Devils will first have to snap their losing streak by defeating the Virginia Cavaliers this weekend. 


The Mike London era appears to be coming to an end as with last week’s 38-31 loss to the Louisville Cardinals, Virginia (3-7) will not qualify for a bowl for the fourth straight season. 


The Duke-Virginia rivalry dates back to 1890 and the series is tied at 33-33. The Blue Devils have won six out of the last seven meetings, which includes last season’s 20-13 Duke win in Durham. 


Duke at Virginia

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. EST
TV Channel: ESPN3
Spread: Virginia -2.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Thomas Sirk

Duke starting quarterback Thomas Sirk missed last week's 31-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers because of an upper-body injury. Sirk is expected to play this week and his playmaking ability is something the Cavaliers will have to be aware of this week. 


Sirk leads Duke in both passing and rushing yards. While Sirk’s statistics (1,979 passing yards, 555 rushing yards and 17 total touchdowns) doesn't say Heisman Trophy Award winner, he is a duel-threat quarterback that can hurt the Virginia defense, which is 78th in the nation. 


2. Taquan Mizzell
Virginia also has a duel-threat playmaker on its offense, but it is at the running back position. Taquan Mizzell is 14 receptions away from setting the ACC single-season record by a running back, set by Boston College’s Andre Callender with 76 in 2007.


He has 63 catches this season, tied for fourth-most all-time with former Virginia running back Alvin Pearman.


Mizzell is also just 123 rushing yards and 72 receiving from having 700 yards in each category. 2007 was the last time anyone rushed for 700 yards and recorded 700 receiving yards in the same season. Boston College’s Andre Callender (989 rushing, 720 receiving), Florida’s Percy Harvin (764 rushing, 858 receiving) and Nebraska’s Marlon Lucky (1,019 rushing, 705 receiving) were the last players to accomplish this feat. 


3. Blue Devils defense 
In Duke’s first seven games of the season, the team had the nation’s No.4 rank defense in the country. During its three-game losing streak, that unit has taken a step back. 


In Duke’s last three games, its defense has given up an average of 514 yards per game. It has also allowed 42.3 points per game as well. 


All-American safety Jeremy Cash doesn’t have an interception on the season, but he has done what he can in run support and he still needs to be accounted for on every play. Cash needs help from the other 10 members of the Duke defense for the team to return to the level they were playing at during their first seven games. 


Final Analysis 


With two winnable games against Virginia and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to end the 2015 season, Duke can still finish with a respectable 8-4 record. If Sirk and their defense don't play up to their capabilities, Virginia can easily come away with the victory. 


If Cavaliers' quarterback Matt Johns can have another day throwing the football like he did against Louisville when he finished 25-of-41 for four touchdowns and zero interceptions, Virginia can win this game. 


The problem is, Johns has been inconsistent the entire season as he has thrown an interception in every game except last week against Louisville and Notre Dame in Week 2. 


Prediction: Duke 31, Virginia 28


— 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.

Duke Blue Devils vs. Virginia Cavaliers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:35
Path: /college-football/wake-forest-demon-deacons-vs-clemson-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2015

It is hard for Clemson fans this week to not think about the cherished 1981 national championship team. Not only because the Tigers are again the top-ranked football team in the land, but because they are going to play Wake Forest.




Anyone with even token knowledge of the history of the two programs knows the significance of the score. When third-ranked Clemson trounced Wake Forest by that score on Halloween Day in 1981, it established the Tigers as a true national championship contender.


True, Clemson was ranked third in the country at the time, but the Atlantic Coast Conference had put only one team in a New Year's Day bowl since 1961.


Prior to the game, though the Tigers were one of three undefeated teams in the country and their victory against defending national champion Georgia meant they had beaten a higher ranked team than either fellow unbeatens Penn State or Pitt had, the Tigers had not received a single first-place vote in the AP Poll.


After the game, Clemson received nine. The Tigers were on their way.


The Demon Deacons (3-7) come into this game just as they did in 1981, with three victories. But if there is any historical karma on Wake Forest's side, perhaps it is that No. 1 Clemson (10-0)already has enjoyed its 58-point victory this season.


Furthermore, if Wake Forest were to pull the upset, it would likely be as historic victory for the Deacons as that long-ago game was for Clemson.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Wake Forest at Clemson 


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


Spread: Clemson -29


Three Things To Watch


1. How will Clemson's defense play?

The Tigers' defense, led by junior defensive lineman Shaq Lawson, is allowing less than 300 yards a game this season and is ranked seventh nationally. But immediately after shutting out Miami 58-0, the Tigers allowed 41 points in a 56-41 shootout and 242 rushing yards last week against Syracuse.


The latter is Wake Forest's key to victory. The Demon Deacons played reasonably effective ball control last week against Notre Dame, possessing the ball for more than 10 minutes longer than the Fighting Irish, running 74 plays to Notre Dame's 49, and outgaining them by 58 yards.


2. So how will Wake run the ball?

Herein lies the problem. No Wake Forest running back is averaging four or more yards a carry this year. The Deacs have two freshmen tackles to block Lawson. And instead of having a fullback lead sweeps, head coach Dave Clawson has often preferred to run a single back set out of a shotgun. Even in a 4th-and-goal situation from the Notre Dame one yard line last week, the Deacs lined up in this formation, which might be why Wake Forest only scored once in four red zone situations against the Irish.


Freshman Tyler Bell is the Deacs' leading rusher, but incredibly nine of Wake Forest's 10 rushing touchdowns this season have been scored by its quarterbacks. On passing downs Wake often asks its offensive linemen to line up in a "V" with two point stances, but such a style lends itself up to gaps, and frankly even though both quarterbacks John Wolford and Kendall Hinton have long rushes this year for touchdowns, a strategy lending itself to open lanes for Lawson, who has 7.5 sacks and 10 more tackles for a loss this year, seems doomed to failure.


3. How will Clemson move the ball?

Throwing. Yes, running back Wayne Gallman already has more than 1,000 yards rushing, but quarterback Deshaun Watson is completing 70 percent of his passes, has a nice 23:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and has thrown for 297 yards (is 297 close enough to 300 for you?) or more the last four times he's played a full game. He's also done it despite the fact Mike Williams, a 1,000-yard receiver last season, suffered a broken neck in Clemson's opener, sidelining him for the rest of this season.


Watson has also rushed for more than 500 yards, which has allowed him to become a late Heisman Trophy candidate. It's likely Dabo Swinney will try to pad Watson's stats in an effort to best Alabama running back Derrick Henry at the Downtown Athletic Club.


If Wake Forest was the team Clemson proved they were national championship material against in '81, perhaps this year the Deacs are the team Watson will prove he is Heisman worthy in.


Final Analysis


Both of these teams are surprisingly young; Wayne Gallman and Deshaun Watson are both sophomores, for instance, and Shaq Lawson is a junior, though he'll likely enter the NFL Draft after the season.


But realistically, the question here isn't if Wake Forest can win. It's if the Clemson Tiger will have to ask the Demon Deacon help him with post-score pushups again.


Prediction: Clemson 82... (Just kidding, Clemson won't score 12 touchdowns again... or miss two extra points)


Prediction: Clemson 38, Wake Forest 9


— 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.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Clemson Tigers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/georgia-tech-yellow-jackets-vs-miami-hurricanes-preview-and-prediction-2015

After their embarrassing 59-21 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels last weekend, the Miami Hurricanes will return to Sun Life Stadium for the final time this season as they will take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.


In its last game, Georgia Tech (3-7) lost at home to the Virginia Tech Hokies 23-21. The loss will likely end the Yellow Jackets' streak of 18 consecutive bowl appearances.


Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 11-9 over Miami (6-4), but the Hurricanes have a 4-2 record in games played at home and they have never lost to the Yellow Jackets at Sun Life Stadium (3-0).


The Hurricanes have won five of the last six matchups against the Yellow Jackets dating back to 2009, including five straight from 2009-13. Miami lost to Georgia Tech last season, 28-17 in Atlanta.


Georgia Tech at Miami


Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ACC Network/ESPN3

Spread: Even


Three Things to Watch


1. Hurricanes’ offense

Last week against North Carolina, Miami quarterback Brady Kaaya was 24-of-43 for 326 yards and he finished with a touchdown pass and an interception. If the Hurricanes want to defeat the Yellow Jackets, Kaaya will need help from Joseph Yearby and the rest of the Hurricane offense.


Yearby hasn’t rushed for over 100 yards since Miami’s 34-23 loss to Cincinnati on Oct.1. Some of that has to do with the Hurricanes being down in a number of games, but the team’s offensive line hasn't played particularly well.


“The running game has been kind of spotty for us," Miami interim head coach Larry Scott said. "We are constantly addressing and trying to find the runs and surfaces where we can attack. The bottom line is to stay consistent and continuing to drive home the point to the guys up front that we are going to stick with it." 


Georgia Tech gives up an average of 171.1 yards per game, so Miami should have some opportunities to try and exploit the Yellow Jackets' weak rushing defense.


2. Justin Thomas

The key to the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense is quarterback Justin Thomas. In his last two games since Georgia Tech’s upset victory over Florida State, Thomas hasn’t been rushing the ball well.


Thomas has a combined 70 yards on 25 carries and zero touchdowns in his last two games. Miami’s defense gives up an average of 202.7 rushing yards per game, so Georgia Tech should have its opportunities to run against them.


Scott knows how important it is for the Hurricanes defense to stay disciplined on Saturday. 


“The option is such an assignment and alignment deal," Scott said. "When you know the option is coming, it’s about alignment and assignment football. There are not four verticals to defend, as well. There are not the pass concepts with posts, wheels and digs that you have to defend. When you can focus on assignment, alignment and details, it changes the whole dynamic."


3. Penalties

Miami and Georgia Tech couldn’t be any more different when it comes to hurting themselves with penalties. The Hurricanes are the nation’s most penalized team as they average 9.6 penalties per game. Miami’s 12 penalties for 103 yards helped North Carolina score on two separate drives last week.


Georgia Tech, on the other hand is the most disciplined team in the FBS as it only average 3.5 penalties and 31.1 penalty yards per game.


The Hurricanes aren’t good enough to overcome 10 or more penalties against anyone in the FBS, especially a conference opponent. They will have to cut down on the mistakes on Saturday.


Final Analysis


Miami has enough weapons on offense to defeat Georgia Tech, but its defense is what will likely keep Georgia Tech in the game. The Hurricanes gave up 7.2 yards per play, along with 206 total yards and four touchdowns to North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams.


With a young offense and a number of injuries, it has been hard for Georgia Tech to persevere leads late in games. The Yellow Jackets held fourth quarter leads to both Virginia Tech and North Carolina, only to lose the game.


Expect Georgia Tech to get off to a good start, but Miami’s talent will likely be the difference late in the game.


Prediction: Miami 28, Georgia Tech 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.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Miami Hurricanes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:25
Path: /college-football/purdue-boilermakers-vs-iowa-hawkeyes-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Purdue Boilermakers travel to Iowa City to meet the No. 6 Iowa Hawkeyes this weekend, on a mission to upend Senior Day and a school-record 7-0 mark by the Hawkeyes inside Kinnick Stadium.


For its part, an Iowa victory assures t head coach Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes at least a share of the Big Ten West Division crown and their first-ever appearance in the conference championship game in Indianapolis on Dec. 5.


Purdue leads the all-time series against the Hawkeyes 46-36-3, with the last Iowa loss coming at home in 2012.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Purdue at Iowa


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Iowa -21


Three Things to Watch


1. An improving “Spoilermaker” squad

Although it's been said the only score that matters is the final score of the game you're currently playing, one look at the Boilermakers' 21-24 road loss to Northwestern last week, coupled with a 55-45 win at home against Nebraska earlier in the season, can give you a pretty solid idea of the direction this team has taken following its October bye week. They've played Nebraska and Northwestern right down to the final minutes. Their only blowout came against a much-improved Illinois squad. This week's news that head coach Darrell Hazell will return to his post for the 2016 season will only intensify the Boilermakers' emotional resolve to win "the big one" for their coach.


2. The arm of Purdue QB David Blough

In his first play from scrimmage against Northwestern, Boilermaker freshman QB David Blough looked deep and found WR Dominique Young for a 68-yard touchdown. On the season Blough leads the B1G on passes of 60-plus yards. And if there's any place the Hawkeyes got lucky in escaping Minnesota, it was off the “big plays” such as those Blough has shown he can deliver. It's an area the Iowa staff has undoubtedly been talking about all week long, and rightly so.


In each of the last three games the Hawkeyes have played, they've seen their pass yards allowed per game go up, currently standing at No. 48 in the nation at 209.6. That's a trend you can bet the Boilermakers quickly discovered, and they'll look to exploit it at every opportunity with their future star Blough under center.


3. An emotional letdown by the Hawkeyes

There was electricity inside Kinnick Stadium for the matchup with the Gophers. And the Hawkeyes certainly delivered one for the books. But the feeling since that 40-35 border rivalry victory has been anything but electric around Iowa City. More than 8,000 tickets still remained for the season's final home game as of Wednesday afternoon for a game that could, potentially, be the division clincher for the Hawkeyes on the road to Indianapolis while also keeping them near the striking point to that College Fotoball Playoff top four that puts them into the season-ending tournament.


But it's not just a possible championship matchup. It's yet another school all-time record for wins, which would move the Hawkeyes to 11-0 while bidding farewell to this group of seniors. The Hawkeye Nation needs to regroup and respond in a big way to keep the momentum heading north.


Final Analysis


The contrast in the two head coaches' weekly press conferences was unmistakable. Kirk Ferentz didn't directly address a question about the Boilermaker squad until more than halfway through his meeting with the press. I'm pretty sure he tossed that one out himself, just to make it official.


On the other side of the B1G universe in West Lafayette, Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell was all-Hawkeyes.


That is not a good position for this Iowa squad to be standing as it balances on the edge of its first B1G West Division championship, with two and possibly three games remaining in the regular season. The coaches and team leaders will need every ounce of motivational trickery to get this team focused on the Boilermakers. But if there's one area where this Iowa squad has proven to excel, that's exactly it.


Prediction: Iowa 41, Purdue 30


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

Purdue Boilermakers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:20
Path: /college-football/north-carolina-tar-heels-vs-virginia-tech-preview-and-prediction-2015

Two huge storylines revolve around Saturday's North Carolina at Virginia Tech matchup. For the Tar Heels, a victory clinches the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division. North Carolina is peaking at the right time with nine straight victories, including back-to-back blowouts of bowl-eligible Miami and Duke.


A spot in the College Football Playoff seems unlikely, but if the Tar Heels were to win out, including a victory over current No. 1 Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, who knows if North Carolina could gain the fourth spot?


Virginia Tech's story line doesn't reflect standings so much, though a victory would likely clinch a bowl berth for the Hokies.


Rather it is the end of an era; the last home game of Frank Beamer's head coaching tenure at Virginia Tech, which began in 1987.


Beamer is the winningest and longest serving active coach in FBS, so Beamer's departure doesn't just close the most glorious coaching chapter in school history, it makes Generation X feel rather old.


Much has been said about where the program has gone under Beamer. When he became the coach at Virginia Tech, the Hokies were a major independent in football and a member of the Atlantic 10 in other sports, but credit for rising to the ACC goes mainly to administrators.


Nor was Virginia Tech a sad sack prior to Beamer's arrival. The 1986 Gobblers, a more common nickname in that era, were 9-2-1. They capped the season with a 25-24 Peach Bowl victory against Erik Kramer's NC State Wolfpack, who missed winning the ACC by a half-game, on "The Kick" — All-American kicker Chris Kinzer's game ending 40-yard field goal.


But it was Virginia Tech's first bowl victory in school history, and the program was heavily in debt under the guidance of head coach/athletic director Bill Dooley, who then departed for Wake Forest. Beamer was allowed the chance to grow as the VPI administration went through turmoil early in his career.


Perhaps the turning point was in 1993, the first season a Big East football champion was crowned. Virginia Tech traveled to old Pitt Stadium to play the Panthers for their first conference game.


Both teams were 1-0, but Beamer was coming off a 2-8-1 season and the decision to retain him in 1993 wasn't universally popular. Meanwhile John Majors, who had won a national championship at Pitt in 1976, had returned to the Panthers from a successful tenure at Tennessee that saw him win the Southeastern Conference three times.


The point spread was even. The final score was Virginia Tech 63, Pitt 21, signifying the directions both programs would take in the future.


In two years the Hokies were beating Texas in the Sugar Bowl. In six they were playing for the National Championship with Heisman Trophy winner Michael Vick.


Virginia Tech also has been to a bowl game every season since 1993, and a loss to the Tar Heels would require a season ending victory at Virginia to keep that streak alive.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


North Carolina at Virginia Tech


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: UNC -6


Three Things To Watch


1. What can Virginia Tech do to slow down the North Carolina offense?

In its last two games, North Carolina has scored 125 points behind quarterback Marquise Williams. No team in ACC history has ever scored more points in back-to-back games.


While some have said halting this streak would do wonders for defensive coordinator Bud Foster's credentials to replace Beamer, it's hard to believe that after 29 years as a Virginia Tech assistant one game is going to make that much of a difference on his resume.


Here are some positives for Virginia Tech. It has as many takeaways as North Carolina — 20. Freshman sensation Adonis Alexander, who leads the Hokies with three interceptions, is back from injury, though he didn't have a tackle last week. And they are the seventh-best team in the country defending the pass without possessing an overwhelming pass rush.


2. Can Virginia Tech win the time of possession battle?

Speaking of freshmen sensations, Travon McMillan has rushed for more than 100 yards in his last three games. In the Oct. 17 game against Miami prior to the streak, McMillan rushed for 99.


Clearly this streak must continue for Virginia Tech to have a chance. The Tar Heels Achilles' heel has been their rushing defense, as they've allowed more than 200 yards a game on the ground this season. It's how they lost to South Carolina.


3. Virginia Tech special teams

During the glory days of Beamer's tenure it always seemed the Hokies would get a blocked punt to help them win. In the 1990s alone they blocked 66 kicks.


Unfortunately their kickoff coverage unit now ranks as the third-worst in the country. Yes, there is such a statistic.  


The only points not scored by the UNC offense during its scoring splurge was last week's 78-yard punt return for a touchdown from Ryan Switzer, who is probably the best punt returner in the ACC if not college football. Luckily for the Hokies, they defend punt returns well, and Switzer does not return kickoffs.


Virginia Tech has blocked two kicks on the season. The Hokies may be losing five games every season these days instead of winning 10, but even so some things really never change.


One final note on Beamer's longevity and special teams. When he took on the head coaching reigns many would say the aforementioned placekicker Kinzer was his best player.


Kinzer kicked straight ahead, a la Mark Mosley, who would later become Kinzer's agent.


Final Analysis


It might be nice to the casual onlooker to have Beamer go out with a victory in Blacksburg, but certainly North Carolina fans will disagree. Virginia Tech matches up reasonably well against the Tar Heels, but North Carolina just has too many weapons and, as stated before, is peaking. For old times sake we'll say the Hokies block three extra points and a punt out of the end zone but...


Prediction: North Carolina 32, Virginia Tech 26


— 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.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:15
Path: /college-football/michigan-wolverines-vs-penn-state-nittany-lions-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Big Ten may still be won by either Ohio State or Michigan State, but the revival of Michigan is real and the rebuilding of Penn State continues. The Wolverines and Nittany Lions square off Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley with plenty to play for on both sides of the field. Michigan can continue to make a late push for a possible spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, while Penn State can make a push to play in one of the conference's New Year's Day bowl games.


Penn State head coach James Franklin is still searching for his first career victory over a top 25 program. Getting that elusive win against the Wolverines will not come easily, although Penn State's defense gives them a fighter's chance to win if they can slow down Michigan's running game. Michigan has run for 23 rushing touchdowns this season, good for third-most in the conference. Penn State's run defense has also been gashed at times this season, giving up 200 yards or more against Army, Ohio State, Maryland and Northwestern. Penn State held Michigan to just 54 rushing yards last season in Ann Arbor, but the Wolverines prevailed in a hard-fought 18-13 victory. Can Penn State pick up revenge this time around?


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Michigan at Penn State


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: Michigan -4


Three Things to Watch


1. Big Ten's top passing defenses vs. Rudock and Hackenberg

No team in the Big Ten has given up fewer yards than Penn State and Michigan. Both the Nittany Lions and Wolverines have favorable touchdown-to-interception ratios as well, with Penn State allowing seven passing touchdowns with nine interceptions and Michigan allowing five touchdowns with eight interceptions. Each pass defense will present a stiff challenge to the opposing team's quarterback.


Michigan's Jake Rudock has been a pleasant surprise this season for the Wolverines, and his ability to manage the offense has proved to be quite effective. Inside the red zone, Rudock has completed 56.4 percent of his passes and his nine touchdowns with zero interceptions. This is an area Penn State's defense has been vulnerable in this season. The Nittany Lions have allowed seven passing touchdowns inside the red zone and have failed to come up with an interception inside their 20-yard line. Michigan's pass defense tightens up inside the red zone as well, allowing just two touchdowns this season. Penn State's Christian Hackenberg has had some ups and downs this season, but he has played well in the red zone, with seven touchdowns and no interceptions.


2. Penn State perfect at home this season, Michigan an adventure on the road

When Michigan takes to the road, crazy things seem to happen. Last week the Wolverines got tangled up in an overtime thriller against Indiana. Two games before that was a fascinating finish against Minnesota that went down to the wire. Last time Michigan visited Penn State, in 2013, the two programs played a multiple overtime game. Could there be more road craziness in store this weekend?


Penn State has lost all three of their games on the road (the lone win away from Beaver Stadium came on a neutral field in Baltimore against Maryland), but they are perfect at home this season. Each of Penn State's home wins this season have come by double-digit margins except for a 20-14 decision over Army. Michigan will be the best opponent to step foot in Happy Valley this season though, and the Nittany Lions will be put to the test against a surging and revitalized Big Ten power. With a Whiteout in full effect, even for a noon kickoff, Penn State will have to feed off the energy. It will be on the defensive line with Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson to set the tone.


3. Michigan's Big Ten title hopes alive with a win

Michigan was supposed to be a couple of years away from returning to Big Ten championship form, but the Wolverines can play themselves right into the Big Ten title game with a road win at Penn State. Of course, the Wolverines would still have to beat Ohio State next week, but a loss to Penn State would take Michigan out of the running heading into the final week of the season. Michigan wins the Big Ten East Division with wins against Penn State and Ohio State and a Michigan State loss to either the Buckeyes this week or the Nittany Lions next week.


Penn State cannot win the Big Ten East's spot in the Big Ten championship game, as they would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Ohio State. Penn State can claim a share of the division championship with wins against Michigan and Michigan State and two losses by Ohio State.


Final Analysis


Both teams have some young blossoming stars worth paying close attention to this weekend. Penn State's freshman running back Saquon Barkley continues to be one of the biggest threats Penn State has. Last time out he rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort against Northwestern. He will have to earn his yardage this week against Michigan's stiff run defense. Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers is showing why he was such a highly-rated recruit out of high school in New Jersey. Look for him to continue getting a chance to dazzle with his athleticism on offense and special teams, which will keep Penn State's entire coaching staff guessing. If Michigan can keep Penn State's coaches on their toes, the advantage appears to go toward the Michigan sideline.


Prediction: Michigan 26, Penn State 24


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

Michigan Wolverines vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:10
Path: /college-football/memphis-tigers-vs-temple-owls-preview-and-prediction-2015

Everything was going so smoothly for Memphis but the Tigers have hit a snag in the carpet of the 2015 season. A two-game losing streak in conference play to division foes Navy and Houston has knocked Memphis out of the running for the division and conference title, but the Tigers can play quite the spoiler for Temple as the Owls look to stay on top of the American Athletic Conference East Division. Temple's loss last week to South Florida opened the door for the Bulls, but the Owls still have a one-game lead in the division with two games to play.


Both teams are looking to shrug off conference losses, and the meeting of Memphis and Temple looks to be one of the conference's best matchups between offense and defense this season.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Memphis at Temple


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: Memphis -1.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Memphis offense vs. Temple defense; Something has to give

Memphis has the conference's top scoring offense with an average of 43.7 points scored per game. Temple's offense should struggle to keep up with that pace, but the Owls will bring a defense that could help slow things down a bit. Temple has allowed 21.0 points per game this season, which is fourth-best among AAC programs. That number has been inflated the past two weeks by giving up 40 points on the road against SMU and last week giving up 44 points in a loss to USF. Is Temple's defense recovering from a hard-fought matchup with Notre Dame, in which the Owls held the Irish to 24 points and came up with a pair of red zone takeaways?


Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich remains one of the top defensive players in the nation, but he and the Owls will face a tough challenge against Paxton Lynch and the Memphis offense looking to snap a losing streak. Memphis left Temple last season with a 16-13 victory. Lynch completed 21 of 28 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown and Memphis was limited to 312 yards of total offense.


2. Paxton Lynch to the rescue?

Paxton Lynch was just a couple of weeks ago being revered as a potential Heisman Trophy long shot, but two straight losses have derailed that idea. Still, Lynch remains one of the top quarterbacks in the nation and is still being viewed favorably by NFL scouts, so Temple will have their hands full with slowing Lynch down. Even in losses the last two weeks, Lynch played well against Navy and Houston, completing roughly 63 percent of his passes for 583 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. It is the first time Lynch has been picked off in consecutive games this season.


3. Temple home -ield advantage?

The season started with a 10-sack performance and a rare win against Penn State and has seen the Owls shut down a handful of conference foes and give Notre Dame a tough battle. Lincoln Financial Field has a new buzz to it this season when Temple is playing, but how much of an advantage can it be this weekend against Memphis? Temple is 6-4 in The Linc since the beginning of the 2014 season, but the losses have come by no more than eight points in that stretch.


Final Analysis


Temple may have started to show some cracks after letting a fourth-quarter lead slip away against Notre Dame a few weeks ago. The defense has typically been the strength of the Owls but the last two weeks have shown opposing offenses rack up some big plays and scores against Temple. With two games to go, the Owls must keep their foot on the gas pedal to stay ahead of USF and wrap up the AAC East. Facing Memphis, still one of the most dangerous Group of 5 programs looking to snap a two-game losing streak feels like a bad situation for Temple this week. Memphis may have to win an ugly game and grind out some drives against Temple.


Prediction: Memphis 20, Temple 18


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

Memphis Tigers vs. Temple Owls Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:05
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-picks-week-12-2015

The finish line of the college football regular season is almost upon us and for me it's pretty much trying to stay above .500. Much like many teams across the country, .500 is a magical record as it means bowl eligibility and a continuing of their season. Bowl season may mean nothing to the common college football fan other than something else to keep them away from their families, but for some schools, it means validation for of all the hard work they have put in this year. All that said, time to put in my own hard work and maintain "bowl eligibility" for my picks.


Record: 49-48 (3-5 last week)


Charlotte (2-8) at Kentucky (4-6)

The 49ers have lost nine straight after winning their first two games of the season. Charlotte is coming off a hard-fought, tough loss in overtime at home and will finish the year at Kentucky and at Rice. The 49ers’ offense has had two turnovers or more in four of the last five games and should struggle against Kentucky, which has held its last two SEC opponents to 48 points on the road. Kentucky has lost five straight and is not the best team themselves, but Charlotte is nowhere near ready for an SEC opponent. UK has been a favorite just 10 times the last three seasons, covering in six of those games. This is a clear mismatch and the Wildcats will take out some frustrations. SELECTION: Kentucky -24


West Virginia (5-4) at Kansas (0-10)

Two struggling defenses will meet up in Lawrence, Kan., as the Jayhawks host the Mountaineers. For the fourth straight game, we are going to play the over as there should be plenty of points. Kansas actually has scored 37 points in its last two games against Texas and TCU. West Virginia's once-stout defense has given up 20 points or more in six straight so the Jayhawks should be able to score. The WVU offense though should be able to put up points on a defense that has allowed 66, 30, 58, 62, 59 and 23 over the last six weeks. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has talked about how the Mountaineers haven't forgotten the loss in Kansas back in 2013 and you've got to think that they will want to make up for that. SELECTION: Over 59.5


Western Kentucky (8-2) at FIU (5-6)

There are a lot of factors involved that make the home team a worthy wager. Western Kentucky has a huge contest on a short week against Marshall at home and that one will determine which team moves on to the Conference USA title game. The Hilltoppers also are coming off a bye, which may have cooled off their offense. Tyler Higbee, one of the most underrated TEs in the country, isn't likely to play in this one. FIU has scored 141 points in its last three home games and figure to be quite angry after being shut out 52-0 at Marshall. It's the final game of the Golden Panthers’ regular season and they are playing for potential bowl eligibility. WKU has failed to cover in 10 of its last 18 road games. SELECTION: FIU +17


North Carolina (9-1) at Virginia Tech (5-5)

This is the ultimate situational play. Frank Beamer is coaching his final game in Blacksburg on Saturday. Virginia Tech also is playing for bowl eligibilty and a bunch of seniors. On the other hand you have a North Carolina team that is smoking hot offensively, but has a road game against their hated rival next week. The Tar Heels are playing good defense, but that's also because teams are taking more chances to keep up in the scoring category. Virginia Tech has been a home underdog of 3.5 to 7 points just three times since 1992 and has covered each one of those games. Another odd trend in the Hokies’ favor is the 6-0 ATS since 1992 when the total is between 56.5 and 63 at home. SELECTION: Virginia Tech +6.5


Tennessee (6-4) at Missouri (5-5)

Much like Virginia Tech, Missouri is playing its final home game of the year for a departing head coach. Gary Pinkel recently announced he's stepping down at the end of the year. The Tigers are coming off an emotional win over BYU, getting just enough offense to hold down the Cougars. The last two games the Tigers have discovered a run game which has taken the pressure off of freshman quarterback Drew Lock. Tennessee may have won three straight but the Volunteers sleepwalked through their last game against North Texas and nearly lost to South Carolina the week before. Missouri has covered in nine of its last 10 November games and 15 of its last 24 against SEC opponents. SELECTION: Missouri +8


Old Dominion (5-5) at Southern Miss (7-3)

Old Dominion is one win away from bowl eligibility despite giving up more than 400 yards of offense per game. The Monarchs will be without RB Ray Lawry, which means they may become one-dimensional. Southern Miss has held five of its last six opponents to 14 points or fewer. The Golden Eagles are pounding teams offensively right now as well. This is a unit averaging 525.1 yards per game and should find no issues cutting through ODU's swiss-cheese defense. The home team has covered in eight of their 10 games while the road team has failed to cover in eight of 10 contests. Plain and simple, this one will get ugly. SELECTION: Southern Miss -21


Tulane (3-7) at SMU (1-9)

This game won't cause a single ripple in the college football landscape, but that doesn't mean we can't find a little angle to exploit. You've got a horrible offense facing a worse defense. The big question is if Tulane can take advantage of that matchup and I just don't think so. The Mustangs have pieces that will be able to move the ball on Tulane's porous defense. SMU QB Matt Davis was able to help the team score 40 on Temple and 31 on Tulsa in its last two home games. This is the fourth road game for the Green Wave in their last five. SELECTION: SMU -2.5 (If you want to, take the moneyline)




— It's an intriguing matchup in Tampa Friday night as South Florida hosts Cincinnati. The Bulls beat up on the AAC East-leading Temple Owls last time out behind a stout defense and great offense. Now USF is an underdog to Cincinnati, who comes to town having won three of its last four. The Bearcats guys have won just one road game this year falling short at BYU, Memphis and Houston by a combined 24 points. I probably would have installed USF a small favorite in this one so it makes me wonder why the Bulls aren't. The Bulls have struggled at times in the secondary and may be overconfident after last week's big win.


— North Texas has just one win this season, but the Mean Green are coming off a cover at Tennessee last week. This is their third straight road game, which makes me leery about their effort against Middle Tennessee on Saturday. The Blue Raiders have won two straight and three of their last four games. The offense is clicking and getting it done through the air. Still, they've been a favorite of 21.5 to 31 points just nine times since 1992. They've failed to cover in eight of their last 12 games against teams with a losing record. There are factors going in both directions in this one.


— Miami opened up as a favorite against Georgia Tech, but now is around a two-point underdog. The Hurricanes have won three of their last five while the Yellow Jackets have lost two straight and now have no chance for a bowl game this season. The Canes were gifted a win a few weeks ago in Duke and now take on a GT team that may be out of motivation for a road trip like this. Lean to Miami, but hesitantly considering the line move.


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

Betting Against the Spread: College Football Picks for Week 12
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/athlon-cover-catch-mike-hass-talks-about-working-nike-getting-his-scholarship

Former Oregon State wide receiver Mike Hass remains one of the Pac-12’s most prolific receivers, and if his post-playing career vocation goes well, he’ll continue to slip in the record book.


Hass is one of two Pac-12 receivers with three consecutive 1,000-yard receivers, winning the Biletnikoff Award in 2005. His 1,532 yards in 2005 was a record at the time, one that’s been exceeded twice, by USC’s Marqise Lee in 2012 and Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks in 2013.


Since retiring from the NFL in 2011, Hass has kept himself in the sport — and impacting the next generation of receivers, even if they don’t know it. Hass returned to Portland where he started working with Nike as a developer for football gloves.


Hass, who appeared on the cover of the 2005 Athlon Sports Pac-12 football preview annual, talked to Athlon about working with Nike, walking on at Oregon State and the moment he was put on scholarship.


What do you do for Nike?

I develop football gloves, of all things.


When you say you develop football gloves, do you mean the design and look or the “Sport Science” part of it?

I would say more like the technology part of it, so to speak: The fit, the function, the costing, the manufacturing and engineering.


How did you get started with it?

I got done playing, and I was a Nike athlete when I was in the NFL. I had connections and some friends that worked there. I started networking and meeting the right people and finding my place with the company.


What would a normal day or week be for you?

A lot of meetings, answering emails, usually from Asia. We’re negotiating manufacturing, costing and then going back to Portland to make sure the gloves fit and form properly for the players and that the sizing is OK.


So do you test the gloves yourself?

That’s one of the things that helped me get the job. I used them for 15 years and whatnot. When samples come in, I can try them. We rely on the athletes out there to give us the insights but I can at least put them on and figure out if something is wrong.


Was this in line with your academic background or something you targeted for after your playing career?

My background was civil engineering at Oregon State. While it’s not civil engineering by any means there are definite aspects of school that I use in my day to day job, just in putting things together, solving problems.


I know Oregon State is a Nike school, but do any of your OSU friends have any opinions on you working for the most visible Oregon backer in the world?

I’ve got to do a lot of stuff for Oregon. We do so much stuff for them compared to any other school. There are times when I want to sneak some gloves through for the Beavers, but I need to get the right people on board for that one.


You played for Mike Riley when he was getting started at Oregon State. What are Nebraska players getting to know about this guy?

That he’s genuine. A lot of times coaches in the college profession churn you through and spit you out when you’re done. I think his program allows you to grow as a man. You’re cared about. He’ll be a good fit there.


Were you surprised he left after being there for so long and turned down other opportunities?

Yes and no. Change was a good thing in this situation. He was getting a lot of criticism. I think a lot of it has to do with what’s happening down the road with Oregon and their success. Oregon doesn’t have the money and the things that Oregon does. There are things to improve in that aspect. It’s a good change for him.


Do you still keep in touch with the Oregon State program and people there?

Sure. They’ve had the same equipment manager for I don’t know how long, maybe 20 years. I like to go down there and meet those familiar faces. The coaching staff has changed, so I need to meet with them and keep that relationship going. I’ll always be a Beaver and fan.


You were a walk-on at Oregon State. Now it seems like any time a walk-on gets a scholarship, it’s a YouTube video and people see that moment in real time. What do you recall about the time you were put on scholarship?

It’s a big deal. It’s what every walk-on’s goal is. I remember mine. It was my redshirt sophomore year and we were out at practice, and they drew up a pass play for me, and James Newson, a receiver who was the No. 1 guy at the time, said if you catch this one you’re going to get a scholarship. They ran the play, and I caught the ball and Coach Riley called it in and announced it in front of everybody. It was a cool experience and one I’ll never forget.


Do you ever watch those walk-on videos whenever they come up? Does it take you back?

Definitely. They’re cool. As a young man who’s worked his ass off when no one would give him a chance, it’s always cool to see guys own it. Guys come out of high school and get stars put on them and some don’t pan out and some to. But those guys actually earned it.


I had remembered you won the Biletnikoff in 2005, but I forgot what a monster year it was. You had 300 more yards than anyone else and your peers that year were Dwayne Jarrett, Greg Jennings and Jeff Samardzija. What do you remember about that year?

That was the season we wanted to have. We didn’t go to a bowl game. We only got to play 11 games. I wish I had another game to put more yards on that total. I remember we had a young team on defense, and it was frustrating to put up points and then have a defense that was going through growing pains.


Do you have your Biletnikoff Trophy? Where do you keep it?

It’s in my house, in my office. It has the program to it (from the ceremony) that I keep with other awards that I had accumulated through my career, NFL game ball and those things.

Athlon Cover Catchup: Mike Hass Talks About Working for Nike, Getting his Scholarship
Post date: Friday, November 20, 2015 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/air-force-falcons-vs-boise-state-broncos-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Mountain West Conference Mountain Division (that just rattles off the tongue, doesn’t it?) is up for grabs when Air Force faces Boise State on the blue turf on Friday night.


Boise State (7-3, 4-2 MW) is reeling right now after a shocking loss to New Mexico at home that snapped the Broncos’ 18-game winning streak at Albertsons Stadium.


Air Force (7-3, 5-1 MW) meanwhile is riding high into the wild blue yonder on a four-game winning streak, with last week’s 35-28 triumph at home against Utah State being the most impressive victory during this stretch.


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Air Force at Boise State


Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET (Friday)


Spread: Boise State -12


Three Things to Watch


1. Revenge game for Boise State

Last season, the only loss Boise State suffered in Mountain West play was against Air Force in Colorado Springs.


After that 28-14 loss to the Falcons, many around Bronco Nation were questioning the hire of head coach Bryan Harsin. Then after the loss to Air Force, the Broncos went on a tear, winning their next nine games, including a victory over Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl.


Air Force has always given the Broncos struggles since the two became conference foes in 2011. Two years ago, the Falcons jumped out to an early lead on the road before quarterback Joe Southwick set a MWC completion percentage record of 93.1 percent (27-for-29) en route to a 42-20 Boise State win.


With this Friday’s game being Senior Day for 20 Boise State players, I’d expect emotions to be running high, as those Broncos certainly don’t want to end their careers on the blue turf with another loss to the Cadets.


2. The Air Force passing attack?

Air Force is currently on a four-game winning streak and a large part of the Falcons’ success has come through the air. Ironic, isn’t it? Air Force, the air, okay never mind. But seriously, the Falcons have had success passing the football this season, and last week quarterback Karson Roberts posted 271 yards and a touchdown in the win over Utah State.


Wide receiver Jalen Robinette had a career day, as his 210 yards receiving put him third in the Air Force record books for most in a single game.


We all can expect the triple option attack to be a tall order for any opposing defense, but when the passing game is clicking for Air Force, the Falcons become a tough team to stop.


3. Restore dominance on the blue turf
The loss last week to New Mexico – a 30-point underdog – was one of the worst in the past 20 years for the Boise State program. For that loss to the Lobos to happen at home on the blue turf made it even tougher to swallow for the Broncos, who may be losing their mystique as one of the top Group of 5 programs.


Getting back on track with a win over a quality Air Force team is critical for the Broncos, who want to restore that dominance they’ve had for nearly two decades at home.


Final Analysis


This is always an intriguing matchup between Boise State and Air Force. I expect a quality football game to be played, but don’t count on the Broncos coughing up the football four times again in this one like they did against New Mexico.


Freshman quarterback Brett Rypien is a star in the making, but their needs to be a more concerted effort to run the football and not rely on the passing game. Last week, the Broncos attempted 74 passes in the shocking home loss to the Lobos. Boise State should win at the point of attack against an undersized Air Force squad, and I’d expect the home team to come away with a statement victory to get back in the race to win the Mountain Division, and have a shot at playing in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game.


Prediction: Boise State 37, Air Force


— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.

Air Force Falcons vs. Boise State Broncos Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 19, 2015 - 13:30
Path: /college-football/cincinnati-bearcats-vs-south-florida-bulls-preview-and-prediction-2015

A week after scoring an upset at home against Temple, South Florida is making some noise in the American Athletic Conference, and that is good news for head coach Willie Taggart. After a 1-3 start to the season, with losses to Florida State, Maryland and Memphis, things looked bleak for Taggart's future in Tampa. But he remained in control of his bus and now has USF making a late run at a division title with two winnable games left to play. First up is Cincinnati.


Cincinnati has fallen well shy of preseason expectations, but the Bearcats remain a tough out in conference play. Cincinnati gave Houston a good challenge a couple of weeks ago and last week saw the Bearcats put 49 points on the scoreboard in a win over Tulsa. Can it keep that offense chugging against a USF team that has started to feel good about itself?


College Football Podcast: Week 12 Preview

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Cincinnati at South Florida


Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV: CBS Sports Network

Spread: Cincinnati -2.5


Three Things to Watch


1. USF's running game the best-kept secret in the AAC?

When you think about the top rushing offenses in the American Athletic Conference, the odds are good you think of the top two without much hesitation. Navy and Houston, thanks in large part to their mobile quarterbacks, lead the conference in rushing yards per game, but Willie Taggart's Bulls have been running well too. USF enters this week with the conference's third-best rushing offense, with an average of 5.17 rushing yards per attempt. Sophomore Marlon Mack has been leading the charge with 1,065 yards and six touchdowns, and quarterback Quinton Flowers has been a dual threat flying under the radar with 747 rushing yards and a team-high eight touchdowns. Cincinnati can be run on. The Bearcats have the conference's ninth-ranked rushing defense, allowing 186.1 yards per game.


2. Cincinnati's offense is a turnover factory of sadness

Only one team in the AAC has a worse turnover margin than Cincinnati's minus-12, and that is lowly UCF (-15). No other teams in the conference have a turnover margin lower than minus-seven (-7). On offense, Cincinnati has lost the football nine times to a fumble and 14 times to an interception. Starting quarterback Gunner Kiel has thrown eight of those interceptions. The defense has struggled to help even things out, with a total of 11 takeaways with four fumble recoveries and seven intercepted passes. South Florida is on the plus-side of the turnover margin with a plus-three (+3), so Cincinnati will have to avoid losing control of the football if it is to score the win to move into second place in the division. Cincinnati has had a negative turnover margin each of the past two weeks, in which it has gone 1-1.


3. South Florida still alive for the AAC East Championship

Thanks to a home win last week against Temple, USF is still in the running for the AAC East Division championship, although it needs a little bit of help. In addition to beating Cincinnati and UCF next week, USF still needs Temple to lose at least once in order to take advantage of a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Owls. If USF and Temple end the season with the same conference record, USF will play either Houston or Navy in the first AAC Championship Game. Temple can clinch the division with a USF loss and a win over Memphis in Philadelphia on Saturday.


Cincinnati has already been eliminated from the division race, even with a win against the Bulls. Cincinnati trails Temple by two games and lost back in Week 2 to the Owls to lose a head-to-head tiebreaker out of the gates of a new season.


Final Analysis


Though it has been a bit of a roller coaster of a season at times, Cincinnati's offense is still a potent one that could give South Florida some troubles. USF's defense has tightened things up in the second half of the season, and the running game has come along very nicely. Keeping Cincinnati's offense off the field will be key for the Bulls to continue to carry the momentum gained last week against Temple. If Quinton Flowers breaks lose, it could lead to a long night down south for the visiting Bearcats.


Prediction: South Florida 29, Cincinnati 24


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

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. South Florida Bulls Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 19, 2015 - 13:00