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Path: /college-football/oregon-state-beavers-vs-michigan-wolverines-preview-and-prediction-2015
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It was an ugly opening weekend for both Michigan and Oregon State, but with two very different outcomes. Oregon State toppled a far lesser opponent in Weber State 26-7 in the home opener, but was only able to accumulate 391 yards of total offense and had just six points in the first half. Not the kind of dominant performance one would expect against an FCS foe.

 

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

 

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

 

Oregon State at Michigan


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

 

Three Things to Watch

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Final Analysis

 

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

 

Prediction: Michigan 20, Oregon State 10

 

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

Teaser:
Oregon State Beavers vs. Michigan Wolverines Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football
Path: /college-football/appalachian-state-mountaineers-vs-clemson-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2015
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There were plenty of positive signs in Clemson's 49-10 win over Wofford. Deshaun Watson, back from December ACL surgery, was on target and looked healthy. The offensive line pushed around the smaller Terriers in both the run game and in pass protection. The defensive front was stingy against Wofford's option attack. And freshmen contributed in many ways.

 

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

 

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

 

Appalachian State at Clemson

 

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: Clemson -17.5

 

Three Things To Watch

 

1. The Freshman Receivers

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

 

2. Offensive Line, Part Two

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

 

3. Pass Coverage... Finally

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

 

Final Analysis

 

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

 

Prediction: Clemson 38, Appalachian State 17

 

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

Teaser:
Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. Clemson Tigers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:10
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-fighting-irish-vs-virginia-cavaliers-preview-and-prediction-2015
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When Notre Dame travels to Charlottesville, Va., to play Virginia on Saturday, it will be the program’s first game played in the Old Dominion State. Both teams met at Giants Stadium in New Rutherford, N.J., in 1989 to start the season, with Notre Dame beating Virginia 36-13.

 

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

 

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

 

Notre Dame at Virginia

 

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

Television: ABC

Spread: Notre Dame -12.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Malik Zaire vs. the Virginia secondary

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

 

2. Can Virginia establish a ground game?

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

 

3. Notre Dame’s revamped backfield

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

 

Final Analysis

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

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Virginia 17

 

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

Teaser:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Virginia Cavaliers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:05
Path: /college-football/usf-bulls-vs-florida-state-seminoles-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

South Florida and Florida State don’t have a long, deep-seeded rivalry, partially because the Bulls didn’t become an FBS program until 2000. In the schools' first meeting in 2009, the Bulls knocked off No. 18 Florida State in Tallahassee. Florida State got payback three years later with a 30-17 victory in Tampa.

 

While the teams have not met very often, the players know each other very well, many coming from the same areas in the Sunshine State. The Bulls players have something to prove when they take the four-hour drive up the Gulf Coast to the state capital.

 

Florida State is coming off a 59-16 win over Texas State while the Bulls defeated Florida A&M 51-3 in their season opener.

 

South Florida at Florida State

 

Kickoff: 11:30 a.m. ET  (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Florida State -28

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Florida State Pass Rush

South Florida didn’t have a great passing offense in 2014, but the quarterback combination of Quinton Flowers and Steven Bench combined for 20-of-26 passing for 281 yards with three touchdowns against one interception in week one. They were sacked just once by Florida A&M as well. The Bulls' line, though, is pretty inexperienced and presents a nice match up for the Seminoles. The FSU front seven would like to bring some serious pressure this week and finish it off with a few sacks.

 

2. USF’s Rushing Offense

Marlon Mack was a 1,000-yard rusher for South Florida in 2014 and he started this season with 131 yards against the Rattlers. The young Bulls offensive line will have its work cut out for it against a very athletic Seminoles defense. The only hope South Florida has is if Mack is able to run the ball effectively. Florida State gave up 132 yards on the ground to Texas State, but half of that total came on quarterback carries. Both Flowers and Bench can carry the ball, but stopping Mack is a top priority for the Noles.

 

3. Everett Golson and His Receivers

Golson was named ACC player of the week and with good reason. One of the most impressive things the quarterback did on Saturday night was spread the ball around. Travis Rudolph had the most catches with four. There were 25 completions between Golson and Sean Maguire and 13 different Seminoles caught a pass. Golson seems pretty comfortable with his targets and spreading things around again will do wonders for everyone’s confidence.


Related: College Football's Top 15 Quarterback Debuts of 2015

 

Final Analysis

 

Florida State’s offense probably won’t have quite the same success it had against Texas State, but it is hard to see USF slowing down the Seminoles that much. The formula should be similar: run Dalvin Cook and Mario Pender a lot, which will open things up for Golson in the passing game. When South Florida has the ball, the Seminoles' defense should pose all sorts of problems for USF's offensive line. The Noles should be able to handle Mack and the running game and will look to get a more consistent pass rush this week. Simply put, FSU should have little trouble with the Bulls.

 

Prediction: Florida State 45, South Florida 13

 

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

Teaser:
South Florida Bulls vs. Florida State Seminoles Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/middle-tennessee-blue-raiders-vs-alabama-crimson-tide-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Middle Tennessee travels to Tuscaloosa on Saturday for its third meeting with the Crimson Tide. Alabama currently leads the series 2-0, with its last win over the Blue Raiders coming in 2005.

 

Alabama rolls into this one a week after dispatching Wisconsin 35-17 before a crowd of 64,000 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Crimson Tide's vaunted defensive line held Wisconsin’s running game to just 40 yards while running back Derrick Henry ran through and over the Badgers en route to a 147-yard, three-touchdown performance.

 

Middle Tennessee is coming off a 70-14 win against Jackson State behind more than 600 yards of offense. The Blue Raiders also limited the Tigers to just 33 yards rushing.

 

Middle Tennessee at Alabama

 

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Alabama -34.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Will Cooper Bateman or other ‘Bama QBs see significant playing time?

For a while Saturday night, it looked like the question regarding ‘Bama’s highly publicized quarterback battle was finally answered. Fifth-year senior Jake Coker led the first team on Alabama’s opening series and finished the night 15-of-21 passing for 213 yards and a touchdown, before taking an early exit. The Mobile, Ala., native grew more confident as the game progressed and showcased his strong arm, which at times, was too strong, as he had a few overthrows to receivers downfield. Coker showed his ability to make the difficult NFL throws and he was generous with the ball, hitting six different receivers. With his team in control 28-10 in the third quarter, head coach Nick Saban turned to Cooper Bateman to close out the game. The redshirt sophomore hit on seven of his eight pass attempts for 51 yards. With what figures to be a relatively easy game for the Tide, look for Saban to give Bateman, or other quarterbacks, the opportunity for game experience.  

 

2. Will kicking issues be fixed?

If you were one of the many people who tuned into ESPN’s "College GameDay" last Saturday morning, then you likely saw the feel-good segment on Poland-born Alabama kicker Adam Griffith, who was adopted by a Georgia family in 2006. The former Polish orphan battled a back injury last season and had a shaky performance to start this one. Griffith, who missed seven field goals last season, missed two (from 39 and 44 yards) Saturday night against Wisconsin. Sophomore punter and 2014 Ray Guy Award finalist, JK Scott, battled a minor case of the yips as well, averaging just 36.8 yards on four punts. In 2014, his season average was 48 yards on 55 punts. Look for Griffith and Scott to fix whatever issues plagued them against Wisconsin.

 

3. MTSU QB Brent Stockstill vs. Alabama’s secondary

It’s no secret that the Crimson Tide in recent history has been susceptible to the vertical passing game. The Tide secondary limited Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave to 228 yards and two touchdowns, as Alabama corners Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cyrus Jones combined for five tackles and three pass deflections. Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill, son of head coach Rick Stockstill, went 23-of-29 for 336 yards with four touchdown tosses in his debut against Jackson State and will look to keep it rolling against Alabama. While Middle Tennessee’s talent level doesn’t match Wisconsin’s, ‘Bama’s secondary should get a decent test against Stockstill, just one week before hosting Ole Miss.

 

Final Analysis

 

In theory, this is your quintessential trap game. The Blue Raiders get the Crimson Tide one week after a primetime, top-25 matchup, and a week before SEC West foe Ole Miss comes to town. But this is a Saban-coached team and he is among the game’s best at keeping his teams focused. Coker is likely to see another early exit as Bateman should get plenty of live reps in front of a sold-out crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

 

Prediction: Alabama 49, Middle Tennessee 17

 

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

Teaser:
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 08:55
Path: /college-football/miami-redhawks-vs-wisconsin-badgers-preview-prediction-2015
Body:

Paul Chryst returns to Madison for his first game as the head coach of Wisconsin. Unfortunately for Chryst and the Badgers, it's on the heels of a 35-17 loss to Alabama, where the Badgers rushed for an embarrassing 40 yards on 21 carries. 

 

After surrendering 502 yards of total offense to the Crimson Tide, the Badgers have shifted their focus to the RedHawks of Miami (Ohio). The RedHawks head into Madison fresh off a 26-7 victory that showed efficiency in the secondary and a solid running game. Some would consider this a mop-up game after earning their true battle scars in Week 1, but that's not necessarily the case. Last season, Miami was only down 14-10 to Michigan late in the second quarter before putrid turnovers shifted momentum right into the hands of the Wolverines in what ended up as a blowout loss. 

 

The offensive line and running game were nothing short of embarrassing against Alabama, which is the annual strength of the Badgers. Considering last season tailback Melvin Gordon rushed for 2,587 yards and finished second in the Heisman voting, the fact that it's now a combined weakness is a huge problem for the Badgers in their attempt to return to the Big Ten Championship Game. 

 

Corey Clement, who some considered a preseason Heisman favorite, rushed for just 16 yards on eight carries, the lowest of his career, who came into the Week 1 contest averaging 7.6 YPC in his career. It's going to be important to get Clement involved early and often to get the rust off his shoulders from the Alabama game. Expect to see his carries pile up early against Miami, and expect him to do some damage on his home field. 

 

Miami (Ohio) at Wisconsin 

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Station: ESPNU/WATCH ESPN

Odds: Wisconsin -32, O/U 52

 

Three Things To Watch For

 

1. Joel Stave

Stave was fairly impressive against Alabama, totaling 228 yards on 26-of-39 passing against a wildly talented Crimson Tide defense. Though his offensive line wasn't giving up the type of sacks Penn State's offensive line did against Temple, there were times he was put in position to make bad throws, and he survived them. The strength of the RedHawks defense is their secondary, so it will be interesting to see how Stave manages the passing game with the uncertainty of an efficient run game to keep the offense balanced. 

 

2. Corey Clement 

As mentioned before, Clement's Week 1 performance was damning in more ways than one. It certainly put a damper on any Heisman hopes he had heading into the season, totaling just 15 yards. Clement is a tremendous talent out of the backfield, and this being just his second game as a true starter, expect to see a completely different player than the one you saw under the national spotlight last week. Clement has phenomenal breakaway speed and great vision; both attributes are expected to be on full display during the Badgers' home opener this Saturday. 

 

3. The Wisconsin offensive line 

Wisconsin's offensive line was just flat-out bad last week. It didn't help that they were going up against one of the nation's most dominating run defenses, and a future Top-10 pick in A'Shawn Robinson. The good news for this young and fairly inexperienced unit is that the road ahead is much less daunting now that Alabama is in their rear-view mirror. Look for Chryst to test his offensive line early with a heavy package of run players and play-action. Nothing creates a strong offensive line like putting them directly in the line of fire. Miami has a weak front-seven, and it's expected that Chryst will attack that weakness early and often. 

 

Final Analysis

 

The Badgers are 32-point favorites in this game, and it shouldn't be close at the end. While I don't expect Miami to get shutout and absolutely dominated, I do see Wisconsin running away, literally, with this game during the second half. It wouldn't be surprising to see a close game heading into half time, but it also wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see an absolute rout by the Badgers, a team looking to improve quickly after a tough defeat to open their season — one that they hope ends in a championship. 

 

Prediction: Wisconsin 56, Miami 14 

 

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

Teaser:
Miami RedHawks vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview & Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 08:50
Path: /college-football/buffalo-bulls-vs-penn-state-nittany-lions-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Penn State got off on the wrong foot in the 2015 season opener last week. On the road in Philadelphia against the Temple Owls, Penn State’s offensive line showed as many holes, if not more, than anybody wanted to see after the 2014 season. Penn State allowed quarterback Christian Hackenberg to be sacked 10 times by the feisty Owls defense. This week Penn State hopes a little home cooking does an offensive line well as the Nittany Lions look to even their record at 1-1 in Beaver Stadium against the visiting Buffalo Bulls of the MAC.

 

Buffalo at Penn State

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Penn State -21

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Penn State’s offensive line start plugging any holes?

No offensive line in the nation may have had as poor a season debut as Penn State’s. Giving up 10 sacks is embarrassing, and there is simply no other way to say it. Offensive line coach Herb Hand has his work cut out for him.

 

There are a couple of things to hang a hat on for Penn State though. Buffalo’s defense is not on the same level as Temple’s perhaps underrated defensive unit. Penn State may have a bit more of a physical edge against the Bulls compared to last week’s mismatch with Temple. Penn State’s offensive line actually showed some promise early on last week before everything started to crumble. Keeping the confidence going will be key for the coaching staff and team captains.

 

2. Will Jacob Martinez make any big plays on special teams for the Bulls?

Penn State may have some concerns to focus on, but the special teams coverage team should be aware of Buffalo’s return man Jacob Martinez. Martinez returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown last week for the Bulls in a blowout win over Albany. For his performance, Martinez earned MAC Special Teams Player of the Week in the East division.

 

3. Will Penn State mix things up on offense?

Penn State started off well on offense last week against Temple, but showed an inability to make adjustments once Temple started shutting down Penn State’s playbook. Offensive coordinator John Donovan will be looking to silence some critics he has had to face in the aftermath of last week’s performance (and a lousy 2014 season). Jet sweeps may have slightly more success this week against the Bulls, but Penn State’s offense cannot consistently rely on plays that put much trust in the offensive line to keep defenders from collapsing behind the line of scrimmage until proven otherwise.

 

Final Analysis

 

This should be a good opportunity for Penn State to bounce back and get in the win column for the first time this season.  Penn State’s offensive line clearly will be a work in progress, but we will see just how much can be improved from Week 1 to Week 2. Hackenberg needs to have time to breath if this offense is going to hit its stride. It should get better this week.

 

Prediction: Penn State 30, Buffalo 13

 

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

Teaser:
Buffalo Bulls vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 08:45
Path: /fresno-state-bulldogs-vs-ole-miss-rebels-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Ole Miss Rebels eased into 2015 with a dominant 76-3 victory over UT Martin in Week 1, and will host Fresno State Saturday in the final tune-up ahead of the Sept. 19 SEC opener against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

 

While the Rebels looked great last weekend, Fresno should be a much tougher opponent. An annual contender in the Mountain West, the Bulldogs have represented the West in each of the first two conference championship games and have been to bowl games in seven of the last eight seasons.

 

Fresno State at Ole Miss

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Ole Miss -29

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Is the Ole Miss Offense Really This Good?

Ole Miss has been good on offense in recent seasons, but by scoring 76 points and rolling up 662 points in Week 1, there is some evidence that the Rebels could be great offensively in 2015.

 

Starting quarterback Chad Kelly looked even better than most thought he would. The junior threw for 211 yards, which included 56- and 57-yard touchdown passes, and he also used his legs for a 20-yard score on the ground. Eleven Rebels caught passes from Kelly and backups Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade. On the ground, eight Ole Miss ball carriers combined to gain 338 rushing yards and five TDs on 36 carries (9.4 ypc). And that came without All-SEC left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who sat out against the Skyhawks.

 

Yes, it’s just one game, and yes, it came against a mediocre FCS opponent, but there were some very encouraging signs.

 

2. Can Fresno State Move the Football?
Fresno State has a rich history of offensive success, and the Bulldogs have been very potent since Tim DeRuyter took over as head coach prior to the 2012 season. In three full years with offensive coordinator David Schramm calling plays, Fresno has averaged 470.7 yards per game.

 

However, there was a sharp drop-off in 2014 without Derek Carr at quarterback. The Bulldogs gained just 406 yards per game (and only 314 against FBS non-conference opponents), and only 224 passing yards on average last season, which was a drop of 171 yards per game from 2013 with Carr. Worse, the Bulldogs saw their completion percentage drop from 68.1 percent to 56.4 from 2013 to '14 and sacks rose from 11 to an eye-popping 40 last year.

 

Last week against Abilene Christian, the Bulldogs had 442 yards, nearly split down the middle with 225 rushing and 217 passing. However, Bulldog quarterbacks completed just 22-of-45 passing attempts and tossed two interceptions.

 

If Fresno falls behind early, and is forced to go to the air, that spells big trouble. Ole Miss allowed just 290 yards of total offense last week, with 174 coming via the pass and safety Trae Elston intercepted a third quarter pass and returned it 93 yards for a touchdown.

 

3. What Will Robert Nkemdiche Do Next?
Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is already widely considered one of the best defensive players in college football. Nkemdiche often excels despite regularly dealing with double and triple teams from opposing offenses in an attempt to neutralize his disruptive presence as both a run stopper and pass rusher. But the 6-foot-4, 298-pound future first-round NFL Draft pick made bigger waves last week with a 31-yard touchdown reception and a blocked field goal.

 

Final Analysis

 

Because Fresno State struggles passing, it is very likely that the Bulldogs will try to dominate time of possession in the first half with the running game. Expect Marteze Waller, who ran for 1,368 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2014 and had 154 yards on 22 attempts last week, to be featured early and often in an attempt to control the tempo of the game.

 

However, because Ole Miss has one of the stingiest defenses in the nation, the Bulldogs will have trouble consistently moving the chains. Therefore, as the game wears on and the Rebels wear down their opponent, expect Fresno State to reluctantly resort to its below average passing attack — and the Landsharks will feast in the second half.

 

Prediction: Ole Miss 38, Fresno State 10

 

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

Teaser:
Fresno State Bulldogs vs. Ole Miss Rebels Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 08:40
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Virginia Tech Hokies
Path: /college-football/furman-paladins-vs-virginia-tech-hokies-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va., was rocking on Monday night. After a little lull following Ohio State’s 14-0 start, the madness returned for the entire second quarter.

 

Then an Ohio State score to open the third quarter dulled the excitement and quarterback Michael Brewer’s collarbone injury squashed any remaining hope. The Hokies now have to turn the page and move on to week two.

 

Unfortunately, it will be a short week following the Monday night game. The good news is that next in line is Furman, an FCS program that was 3-8 in 2014. The Purple Paladins did play Coastal Carolina, the No. 5 team in FCS, very tough in week one, falling 38-35.

 

Furman at Virginia Tech

 

Kickoff:  3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel:  ESPN3

Spread:  N/A

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Brendan Motley at Quarterback

The complexion of the game totally changed when Brewer broke his collarbone early in the third quarter. Motley is a different type of player, one that will run more zone-read and is not as effective in a traditional passing system. He will have to develop because the strength of this offense is the receiving corps headed by Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges. Motley has to figure out a way to get the ball in their hands and if he can’t, the Virginia Tech staff may look at option No. 3.

 

2. Getting the Defense Back on Track

Despite what happened Monday night, this is a good Hokie defense. Ohio State ran through Virginia Tech but the Buckeyes are a different beast altogether. The first step is to have some success against an inferior opponent, a perfect scenario with Furman coming to town. Kendall Fuller and Dadi Nicolas got dinged up a bit but should be okay. They will need to be once ACC play starts.

 

3. Focus

A lot of emphasis was placed on the opener. But the Hokies have to remember that is just one game. Virginia Tech has to build some momentum in the next three weeks that can carry over into the start of ACC matchups. Playing Furman may be what the Hokies need to develop confidence, but it doesn’t do much to sharpen pre-game focus, especially on that short week. Tech needs to forget who is on the other sideline and prepare like they are playing the Buckeyes once again.

 

Final Analysis

 

The old saying is that if you fall off a bike you should get right back on. Virginia Tech will be hopping aboard again Saturday and with Furman on the other sideline instead of Ohio State, the terrain should be much easier to navigate. The strength of Furman’s offense is its passing attack and I’m guessing the Tech defense will have no trouble pressuring Paladins quarterback Reese Hannon. It may take some time for the offense to develop some rhythm but the offensive line will eventually come to realize that it is much easier blocking the guys in purple than scarlet and gray.

 

Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, Furman 3

 

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

Teaser:
Furman Paladins vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 08:35
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-2-picks-2015
Body:

It is week two in college football and I'm flying high right now. Mother Nature did me a solid and wiped out the end of the Georgia game on Saturday so the record is a lot better than it could have been. After one week, many are crowning Ohio State national champs, but remember that the argument last season at this point was Alabama and Oregon vs. the field. There are several high-profile matchups which you most likely won't find on this page as it just doesn't fit the "Mid Major" or non-Power 5 persona that I have. 

 

Record: 7-4

 

Buffalo (1-0) at Penn State (0-1)

One fan base who is ready for a season reboot is Penn State after the 27-10 loss to Temple last week. The Nits looked awful and couldn't protect their all-world quarterback forcing many to mumble about his actual talent. It'll be fine for PSU who gets a breather against Buffalo on Saturday. The Bulls are coming off a win over Albany, but their defense is nowhere near what the Owls bring. I think there's a great overreaction here from Vegas and the public. Buffalo will struggle to score on PSU's defense which played well until it got tired towards the end. We have a really strong lean to Penn State in this one but the official pick is... SELECTION: Under 53

 

Marshall (1-0) at Ohio (1-0)

A pair of impressive debuts meet in Ohio as the Bobcats host Marshall. The Thundering Herd has to be flying high still after knocking off Purdue 41-31 at home. They showed some balance behind Michael Birdsong and Devon Johnson. The issue came on the defensive side where the Boilers put up almost 500 yards of offense and could have won if not for four turnovers. Ohio beat Idaho at their place 45-28 and had some offensive balance of their own. The Bobcats were beaten up a bit through the air by the Vandals, but also benefited from three turnovers. Marshall has gone over in 15 of their last 27 games and eight of their last 12 road contests. SELECTION: Over 60

 

Hawaii (1-0) at Ohio State (1-0)

Ohio State looked like champions in their win against Virginia Tech on Monday night. It's a worry that there's a quick turn-around for the Buckeyes in this one, but they don't get much competition. Look, we pumped up Hawaii as one of our favorite underdog win totals, but they are in for a world of hurt on Saturday. The Bows beat Colorado despite only managing 302 yards of total offense. They struggled against the run allowing Colorado to put up 215 yards on the ground. Ezekiel Elliott could have that by the end of the first quarter. Hawaii has been an underdog of 31 points or more just seven times since 1992. Ohio State has covered six of their last eight September games. Urban Meyer will find some way for his team to get up for this one. SELECTION: Ohio State -40

 

Wake Forest (1-0) at Syracuse (1-0)

First off, as a Syracuse grad, let me just say how stoked I am that we are 1-0. That said, losing Terrel Hunt was a huge blow that could cripple the offense. Eric Dungey looked alright against Rhode Island who is a lower level FCS team. Wake Forest's defense is a lot better and will now be able to focus on the run game, forcing the freshman to beat them. The Orange's defense held URI to just 64 yards of total offense. Wake put up gaudy numbers against Elon as they accrued nearly 600 yards of total offense. These two fan bases at least have some good feelings for one week. The last two years Syracuse has taken the contest with wins of 13-0 in 2013 and 30-7 in 2014. Cuse has gone under in 12 of their last 16 conference games while Wake has gone under in 15 of their last 25 overall. This one will be ugly. SELECTION: Under 43.5

 

Toledo (0-0) at Arkansas (1-0)

Toledo's finally going to take the field after last week's washout of their contest against Stony Brook. The Rockets will be without running back Kareem Hunt and DE Allen Covington for this one and they are two important pieces. The offense still figures to move the ball a little with Phillip Ely, Logan Woodside and Alonzo Russell. Arkansas had a 48-13 win over UTEP last week and did so behind their passing game. The Razorbacks should have no issue moving the ball on a Toledo defense that allowed 49 points to Missouri and 58 to Cincinnati last year. The Rockets have gone over in six of their last nine non-conference games. SELECTION: Over 55

 

North Texas (0-0) at SMU (0-1)

North Texas takes the field for the first time this season as they play at SMU. The Mustangs hung with Baylor last Friday until the Bears pulled away. Chad Morris' offense was impressive scoring 21 points on Baylor while putting up 369 yards of offense. The Mustang's defense struggled with Baylor, but no one will confuse North Texas and the team out of the Big 12. The Mean Green return four starters from an offense last year that averaged 27.2 points per game. Revenge will be on the side of the home team who lost 43-6 to North Texas last year. The Conference USA team has failed to cover in eight of their last 12 road games. SELECTION: SMU -4

 

Idaho (0-1) at USC (1-0)

The Trojans get another tune-up before they host Stanford next Saturday. USC railed on Arkansas State to the tune of a 55-6 score and 509 total yards of offense. Cody Kessler is trying to keep himself in the Heisman race and will look to pad his stats in this one. Idaho gave up 45 points at home to Ohio allowing nearly 500 yards of offense. Steve Sarkisian will not be happy with how many yards his Trojans allowed on defense. USC has been a favorite of 31 points or more 16 times since 1992 and has covered half of them. Idaho, meanwhile, has failed to cover in 16 of their last 24 games including eight of their last 13 on the road. I hate swallowing this many points, but I have to in this one. SELECTION: USC -43

 

North Carolina A&T (1-0) at North Carolina (0-1)

North Carolina will be pretty unhappy entering Saturday's game as they blew a chance to knock off South Carolina because of multiple INTs in the end zone. This is an offense that should have no issues scoring points in this one as you've got to believe that Marquise Williams will be improved. He's got a ton of weapons to get the ball to and UNC is going to want to prove that its mojo is back.  The Aggies are coming off a 61-7 win over Shaw last week. We're not asking for many points from A&M in this one, as North Carolina should be able to do most of the heavy lifting. There's a lot of speed on both sides of this one. SELECTION: Over 61.5

 

Notes:

- Massachusetts gets their first game finally as they travel to take on Colorado. The Minutemen are going to be a good football team, but how will they handle taking on a team with a game under their belt. Last year these two met in Foxboro and UMass nearly knocked off the Buffs 41-38. I really like Blake Frohnapfel at quarterback and he's got the underrated Tajae Sharpe at wide out. Nine starters are back on defense for the MAC squad. UMass has covered in 12 of their last 20 Saturday games. If they had a contest under their belt, I'd make them an official play. Since they don't, they are relegated to the notes section. 

 

- I really wanted to take Oregon State +16 on Saturday, but the problem with that is the early start time. All I can do is point to Stanford's slow start last week as a Pac-12 team with an early kickoff, and say no thanks. The Beavers have a freshman quarterback and a young defense with just two starters back. Michigan played well, but the offense continues to be an issue. The Wolverines stack the box to slow down Storm Barrs-Woods and this is a lose low-scoring game. If you'd like to take the chance, I'd almost tease OSU and the under and hope their body clocks get them up early. Michigan has covered just one September game over the last three seasons. 

 

- Bowling Green taking on Maryland is an interesting matchup at noon on Saturday. The Terps put up 50 on Richmond in week one, but a lot of it was due to William Likely's return game. Maryland threw for only 138 yards with Perry Hills struggling under center. Bowling Green lost a shootout with Tennessee 59-30. The Falcons held their own on offense, but couldn't slow down the Volunteer running game. The noon kickoff here may mean that Byrd Stadium will not be as juiced as it would be for a later contest. Money is coming in on the road team which is almost taking away their value. I'd consider Bowling Green in this one as they should be able to try to kick away from Likely and force the Terps to go longer distances to score.

 

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

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: Saturday College Football Picks for Week 2
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC
Path: /college-football/grier-start-gators-against-east-carolina
Body:

Florida head coach Jim McElwain named Will Grier the starter for the Gators when they host East Carolina Saturday in Gainesville. Grier, a former Parade Magazine Player of the Year, split time with true sophomore Treon Harris in last week's 61-13 win over New Mexico State. While Harris started the game, Grier saw significant action and went 15-of-17 for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown. 

 

Grier played high school football at Davidson Day School in Davidson, N.C., and passed for 14,565 yards and 195 touchdown passes in his career. He currently holds the state record for career touchdown passes. In a 2012 high school playoff game against Harrells Christian Academy, Grier passed for 837 yards and 10 touchdowns.  

 

Grier’s father, Chad, played quarterback at East Carolina in the late 1980s.

 

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

Teaser:
Quarterback Will Grier Gets Nod to Start for Florida Against East Carolina
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 16:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/hawaii-unveils-rainbow-ohio-state-game
Body:

Hawaii is stepping out of the usual uniform color palette by including all the colors of the rainbow.

 

For their game against Ohio State, the Rainbow Warriors will be living up to their name.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 15:52
Path: /college-football/utah-state-aggies-vs-utah-utes-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Utah's oldest football rivalry could end after this season. The Utes play Utah State for the 112th time in the Battle of the Brothers this weekend — continuing a series that started in 1892. Unless things change, Friday's game will represent one final chance for the Aggies to challenge their Pac-12 rival for in-state supremacy.

 

Utah State has no other games scheduled with Utah after 2015. The Utes are committed to making their rivalry with BYU a scheduling priority and have already filled out their non-conference schedules through the 2019 season.

 

Conquering Utah will be difficult. The Utes own a commanding 78-29-4 lead in the series. Utah has won 13 of the last 14 meetings since suffering its last home loss to Utah State in 1997.

 

Utah State at Utah

 

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Utah -12.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Will Booker make a bigger impact?

Devontae Booker had a quiet performance by his standards against Michigan. A tough Wolverines' run defense, bottled up the senior in the backfield. Booker tallied just 69 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in Utah's 24-17 victory. Booker also added 55 yards on seven receptions. Utah will need him to regain the dominant form he used to power the offense last season. With a big game, Booker can absorb some of the pressure on Travis Wilson and a cadre of inexperienced receivers.

 

2. Defense will rule the day

Neither offense has good odds of lighting up the scoreboard because both Utah and Utah State boast powerful defenses. Each team ranked in the top 20 nationally in several key defensive categories in 2014 and neither one appears to have taken a step back. Utah held Michigan to 76 rushing yards and forced Wolverines QB Jake Rudock to toss three interceptions — with Utah DB Justin Thomas returning the final one 55 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown. Utah State held Southern Utah to just 163 yards of total offense in its 12-9 comeback win. SUU converted just 1-of-18 opportunities on third down. It was the fewest by any USU opponent since Utah converted just 2-of-17 third downs in a 27-20 overtime loss to the Aggies in 2012.

 

3. Shaking off the rust

Last time Utah State played Utah in 2013, Chuckie Keeton threw for 314 yards and rushed for 85 yards in a 30-26 loss. USU will need to see similar numbers from the redshirt senior this week to have a chance against the Utes. Keeton struggled in the opener, throwing for 110 yards and an interception on 16-of-33 passing. Still, he's capable of doing special things when at full strength. Keeton ranks fourth among current FBS quarterbacks in career passing yards (6,497), pass completions (584) and total offense (7,738).

 

Final Analysis

 

Utah has dominated the Battle of the Brothers for a long time, losing just five times to Utah State since 1979. Nothing is likely to change in 2015. Utah has outgrown many former Mountain West Conference rivals — the conference where USU now plays. The Utes beat Fresno State and Colorado State by an average margin of 33.5 points last season. Utah State did not score an offensive touchdown while facing an FCS opponent a week ago. Those facts do not bode well for the Aggies in going up against one of the Pac-12's top defenses.

 

Prediction: Utah 31, Utah State 10

 

Written by John Coon,who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.

Teaser:
Utah State Aggies vs. Utah Utes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 15:30
Path: /college-football/miami-hurricanes-vs-florida-atlantic-owls-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Miami Hurricanes and the Florida Atlantic Owls began the 2015 season in two entirely different ways. Miami had an easy 45-0 win over the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats after experiencing a 75-minute weather delay because of lightning. FAU lost a heartbreaker 47-44 on the road in overtime against the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes.

 

Friday will be the first time any Power 5 conference opponent has visited FAU Stadium. The game is expected to be a sellout and has been dubbed, “the most important game the Owls have ever played.”

 

The Hurricanes and Owls have only played each other once. In the 2013 season opener, the Hurricanes won 34-6 behind behind Duke Johnson's 224 yards of total offense.

 

Miami at FAU


Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Spread: Miami -16.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can the Owls contain Brad Kaaya?

While Kaaya didn’t have the best game of his career against Bethune-Cookman last week, he still had a solid performance. The sophomore quarterback was 16-for-27 for 173 yards and two touchdowns.

 

In last week’s game against Tulsa, FAU gave up 618 yards of total offense, including 424 through the air. It is going to be difficult to stop the collection of talent that Miami's offense boasts, but the FAU defense was very opportunistic last week against Tulsa. The Owls forced four turnovers, including two interceptions of quarterback Dane Evans. Miami’s offensive line is young and inexperienced, so FAU will need to get pressure on Kaaya to have any chance of slowing down the Hurricanes’ offense. 
 

2. Miami’s defense
While it was against Bethune-Cookman, there was something different about the Miami defense. The unit allowed only 79 yards of total offense and only 23 of those were through the air. The Hurricanes also picked off two passes, recorded 10 tackles for a loss, five sacks and held Bethune-Cookman to just 1.72 yards per play. No matter who the opposing team is, those are impressive stats.

 

Miami will have a tougher challenge this week against FAU. Against Tulsa, FAU racked up 563 yards of offense, including 300 yards rushing. The Owls have a talented dual-threat quarterback in Jaquez Johnson, so the Hurricanes' entire defense will have to be disciplined and not overpursue when they see Johnson running with the football. 

 

3. Mark Walton and the Hurricanes' running game
While head coach Al Golden wouldn’t characterize the Hurricanes' running backs as a “committee,” the team used a three-headed attack against Bethune-Cookman. FAU can expect something similar on Friday night.

 

With Gus Edwards out for the season, Walton, a true freshman, received more carries than expected last week and he performed admirably. The former Booker T. Washington Tornado finished the game with 10 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown. Trayone Gray also chipped in eight carries for 77 yards and a touchdown, while starting running back Joe Yearby finished with six carries for 40 yards.

 

FAU gave up 194 rushing yards against a Tulsa running game that doesn’t nearly have the talent as Miami does. If Walton, Gray and Yearby can move the chains with ease and take pressure off of Kaaya, the Hurricanes could have a very easy night.

 

Final Analysis

 

Even in their loss last week, FAU showed that this team has improved from its 3-9 campaign a year ago. As much as it appears the Owls have gotten better offensively, their defense was their downfall last week and will be their undoing on Friday night.

 

Kaaya will be able to exploit the FAU secondary. Then once the Owls' secondary is on its heels, the Hurricanes will begin to run the ball with Walton, Gray and Yearby.

 

FAU would need multiple turnovers and a near-perfect game to pull off the upset. Miami should begin to pull away in the second quarter and after halftime

 

Prediction: Miami 48, FAU 20

 

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

Teaser:
Miami Hurricanes vs. Florida Atlantic Owls Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 15:00
Path: /what-does-dominique-hatfields-return-mean-utah
Body:

No Utah football player has traveled a rockier road in recent months than Dominique Hatfield. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior endured a personal hell through much of the offseason, but now the door is open again for him to retake his place as a defensive leader and playmaker for the Utes.

 

The door also is wide open for Utah's defense to become even more imposing now that Hatfield's talents are once again available to use.

 

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham announced on Monday that Hatfield had been reinstated to the team after being dismissed in July following his arrest on suspicion of aggravated robbery. Hatfield was charged with aggravated robbery after a man alleged that the Utah defensive back stole money from him at knife point outside a convenience store where the victim allegedly set up a meeting with him to buy an Xbox.

 

All charges were dropped at the end of July when video surveillance footage from the convenience store showed that Hatfield was not involved in the robbery. An unrelated misdemeanor assault charge is still pending with the Salt Lake City Police Department, but the university cleared Hatfield and let him return to school. Whittingham believed his cornerback also deserved to rejoin the football team.

 

“I just felt he had served enough of a punishment,” Whittingham said. “As things are turning out, it was our belief, he was deserving to be reinstated back on the football team.”

 

What will Hatfield's return do for Utah's secondary? Simply put, he is a player that instantly makes that unit much more dangerous.

 

Hatfield made a switch from receiver to cornerback a year ago and enjoyed a breakout season. He started 10 games, recording 38 tackles with an interception and nine pass breakups. By season's end Hatfield had emerged as an excellent cover corner and the Utes anticipated bringing him back as a key building block for the secondary this fall.

 

Now Hatfield will get a second chance to make an impact. Whittingham said he will play as soon as he is in game shape. His experience will definitely help strengthen a pass defense that yielded 279 yards to Michigan last week – even while forcing three interceptions.

 

Utah can't afford to let any team pile up yardage through the air since the Utes will see plenty of pass-happy offenses once Pac-12 play begins. Hatfield's presence will help keep those offenses honest.

 

His teammates are eager to see exactly what Hatfield can do to build on what he did as a sophomore.

 

“Everybody is excited for him to come back,” senior defensive end Jason Fanaika said. “He's obviously a playmaker. You saw that last year. Having him out there on the island, I definitely trust him. We're excited to see him and how well he does.”

 

Written by John Coon,who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.

Teaser:
What Does Cornerback Dominique Hatfield's Return Mean for Utah?
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/why-chris-laviano-over-hayden-rettig-bad-move-rutgers-moving-forward
Body:

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is certainly an interesting man. His recent announcement naming sophomore quarterback Chris Laviano the starter over LSU transfer Hayden Rettig was both surprising and bold. Flood’s announcement was filled with head-scratching quotes and questions still left unanswered, but was adamant that his decision is the best for the program moving forward; or at least into week 2’s game against a lowly Washington State.

 

What’s most intriguing about Flood’s decision of Laviano over Rettig is that he used the term “body of work” as one of the major deciding factors in the competition. What’s alarming about that is prior to last week’s game against Norfolk State, Laviano’s body of work consisted of all of 11 passes in his career. Laviano was 4-of-4 for 138 yards and three scores, compared to Rettig’s 9-of-11 for 110 yards and a touchdown against the Spartans, who play in FCS. Rettig, however, was without leading receiver Leonte Carroo, and didn’t have a 14-point cushion to start the game.

 

Rettig looked fairly impressive during the first half. All but one of his 11 throws were very accurate, almost sending a pass right into the chest of a Spartan defender. Rettig looked poised, composed and capable of leading a Rutgers team against top-level competition. Rettig has always been noted as a team-first player, a trait he boldly showed while making a touchdown-saving tackle on a fumble recovery by Norfolk State. Laviano on the other hand, had a favorable lead against a team that prior to kickoff had been outscored by Rutgers 139-0 in their three prior meetings.

 

Rettig, the former 4-star recruit, was neck-and-neck with Laviano throughout spring and summer camp. Flood seemingly made the competition closer than it actually was, but sources close to the program have said that it was somewhat “puzzling, but understandable” why Flood chose Laviano to start moving forward.

 

Laviano is Flood’s first quarterback recruit, and one that’s grown under his wing since his arrival on campus. Laviano’s first-half suspension for attempting to enter an establishment with a fake ID isn’t necessarily what you’d like to see out of the field general of your offense, but young kids will make mistakes, and Laviano is no different.

 

It took Laviano four passes to win the starting job over Rettig, who nearly everyone expected to come to Rutgers and take over for former four-year starter Gary Nova. It seems that right now Rettig is truly the better passer, but Flood knows more what he has in Laviano than what he could have in Rettig.

 

If nothing else, this is the safe move during a time where Flood’s job security has never been weaker, and the school is in the middle of an internal investigation involving a player that has since been dismissed along with four others for an alleged assault altercation.

 

Rutgers looked dominant in their week 1 victory over Norfolk State, and it wasn’t because of Laviano’s four passes, three of which were to Carroo. Rettig didn’t get a fair shot in week 1, and should be given more opportunity over the next three games before the Scarlet Knights host Michigan State at home for what’s expected to be a defining game for each program’s 2015 campaign.

 

Essentially the quarterback competition was simple. It was Laviano’s to lose, not to win. Laviano didn’t make enough mistakes to lose the job to Rettig, and that’s why he’s the named starter moving forward. Although many Rutgers players such as running back Paul James and the aforementioned Carroo have been much impressed by Rettig’s ability to learn the offense both quickly and efficiently, it just wasn’t enough for the junior to unseat the incumbent Laviano.


Flood has also said that he no longer plans to use both quarterbacks, a reversal of course from earlier this offseason when he said that both would get their opportunities on the field early in the season until one signal-caller stood out above the other. Clearly that decision has been made, and it’s Laviano’s team to lead. This could either be the flame the Scarlet Knights need to move past their turbulent offseason, or this could be the beginning of a very damning swan song for Flood as the head of Rutgers' football program.

 

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

Teaser:
Why Chris Laviano over Hayden Rettig is a Bad Move for Rutgers Moving Forward
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 12:15
Path: /nfl/can-pittsburgh-steelers-secondary-step-up-against-new-england
Body:

All offseason the Pittsburgh Steelers thought they’d get a break and not have to face superstar quarterback Tom Brady, but instead matchup against backup Jimmy Garoppolo in the season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

 

Related: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots Preview and Prediction

 

Sure, the Steelers would be without running back Le’Veon Bell, but who wouldn’t make that trade?

 

Then Deflategate blew up on the NFL, Brady’s suspension was vacated, and promising Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant was suspended along with Bell for Thursday's night game for violations of the league's policy on substance abuse.

 

But while Steelers fans are thinking about how the NFL suspension momentum turned against them (New England running back LeGarrette Blount, in the same car as Bell when the two were arrested last preseason when both played for the Steelers, also is suspended, but who cares?) there’s something more pressing.

 

The secondary.

 

Just a few hours before the Steelers play the defending Super Bowl champions, and fans still don’t know who Mike Tomlin is going to play in the defensive backfield.

 

Pittsburgh’s defensive backs were awful in the preseason, allowing more points (122) and more completions (112) than any other team in the NFL. Granted, those stats are inflated by the fact the Steelers played five preseason games whereas 30 other teams played only four, but overall Pittsburgh ranked just 25th in pass defense in the NFL in the preseason, and no team allowed quarterbacks a higher passing rating than the Steelers this summer (108.1).

 

Not only is future Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu gone, but none of the three defensive backs drafted by the Steelers in 2015 made the active roster for the season opener.

 

The Steelers' depth chart lists Cortez Allen and William Gay as the cornerbacks and Mike Mitchell and Shamarko Thomas as the safeties, though talk is former Miami safety Will Allen will start instead of Thomas. Brandon Boykin, formerly Philadelphia’s nickel back, is slotted in that role in this game but one wonders if he might not eventually beat out the inconsistent Cortez Allen at right corner.

 

In order to beat New England, the Steelers must jam the Patriot wide receivers’ pass routes. Brady generally takes short drops when passing to make quick hits. The Steelers’ new Cover 2 scheme is designed for cornerbacks to jump the routes and make “splash plays,” the term that has replaced “It is what it is” and “obviously” as the favorite phrase in Tomlin’s lexicon for interceptions and other big defensive plays.

 

Which is why second-round draft choice Senquez Golson’s spot on injured reserve is so costly. Golson led the SEC in interceptions with 10 in 2014. Take away Boykin’s six interceptions two years ago in Philadelphia, and no current Steelers cornerback has ever intercepted more than three passes in a professional season.

 

In lieu of picks, there’s the coverage, the disruption of routes. It’s imperative Pittsburgh’s defensive backs wreck havoc with New England’s pass routes.

 

If they don’t, need we remind you the Steelers ranked only 26th in the NFL last season with 33 sacks? Or that New England put up 55 points against the Steelers, the most ever allowed in franchise history, the last time the two teams played?

 

Suddenly, the reasoning for signing running back DeAngelo Williams becomes clearer. Williams is like backup quarterback Michael Vick, a veteran representing the perceived best available option in relief for Pittsburgh.

 

Williams will allow the Steelers to attempt to beat the Patriots like they did in 2011, when Pittsburgh enjoyed nearly a 2-to-1 time of possession advantage against New England.

 

The thing is, does anyone really think the best bet for a Pittsburgh victory tonight is taking the ball out of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s hands?

 

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

Teaser:
Can the Pittsburgh Steelers' Secondary Step up Against New England?
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/why-you-want-start-sam-bradford-fantasy-football-lineup-and-other-startsit-advice-week-1
Body:

It’s finally here! Week 1 of the NFL regular season and fantasy football season is finally upon us. By now you’re all set with your dozen or so fantasy football teams and maybe this year you are also starting to dabble in some daily fantasy football as well. Life is sweet and it’s just about to get better.

 

But as kickoff creeps closer and closer with each ticking second all those tough decisions can no longer be avoided. You will have to choose who to start and who not to start. Should you stream your tight end and defense? Your stud running back is going up against last year’s No. 2-ranked rushing defense while your backup running back is going up against last year’s 27th-ranked rushing defense. What should you do?

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Thankfully by reading this, you will be able to sleep easier at night, knowing that you made the right decisions. And if not, you have no one to blame but yourself (okay fine, you can blame me). Here we go.

 

Quarterbacks

STARTSIT
Aaron Rodgers (at CHI)Cam Newton (at JAC)
Andrew Luck (at BUF)Jay Cutler (vs. GB)
Matt Ryan (vs. PHI. Mon.)Colin Kaepernick (vs. MIN, Mon.)
Tom Brady (vs. PIT, Thurs.)Matthew Stafford (at SD)
Sam Bradford (at ATL, Mon.)Jameis Winston (vs. TEN)
Ben Roethlisberger (at NE. Thurs.)Marcus Mariota (at TB)
Ryan Tannehill (at WAS)Philip Rivers (vs. DET)
Peyton Manning (vs. BAL)Alex Smith (at HOU)
Eli Manning (at DAL)Teddy Bridgewater (at SF. Mon.)
Drew Brees (at ARI)Carson Palmer (vs. NO)
Russell Wilson (at STL)Andy Dalton (at OAK)
Tony Romo (vs. NYG)Nick Foles (vs. SEA)

STUDS

 

Sam Bradford (vs. ATL, Mon.)
Bradford had a stellar preseason and Chip Kelly is going to show everyone why he traded for the former Ram in Week 1. Bradford has shown that his arm strength and accuracy are still at an elite level and with new offensive weapons all over the field, a three-touchdown pass day is not out of the question. It also helps that Bradford is going up against what was an absolute terrible pass defense last year in Atlanta. While the Falcons have upgraded their pass rush, it remains to be seen if they can stop anyone through the air.

 

Tom Brady (vs. PIT, Thurs.)
Think about all the times Tom Brady has played when he was pissed off and with a chip on his shoulder? What usually happens? He goes off – big time. Brady is going to go out there Thursday and shred a mediocre Steelers pass defense. Don’t be surprised if he approaches 350 yards passing and 4 TDs.

 

BREAKOUTS

 

Ryan Tannehill (at WAS)
The Dolphins really upgraded their offense this offseason bringing, in Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and Jordan Cameron and then drafted soon-to-be stud DeVante Parker in the first round. Put that all together with Jarvis Landry and Lamar Miller and Tannehill is going to end up as a top-6 fantasy quarterback at the end of the season and it starts in Week 1 one against the poor Redskins.

 

BUSTS

 

Cam Newton (at JAC)
This one is too easy, but Newton has always been touted and drafted as a starting fantasy quarterback. Some love his creativity and running ability, but he’s lost his No. 1 target for all of 2015 in Kelvin Benjamin and has no one to throw the ball too other than TE Greg Olsen. The Panthers are going to have to lean on their running game more than ever before and if (or when) they are down late in the game, they will have to let Newton air it out, where he excels at throwing to the other team. Stay away.

 

Running Backs

STARTSIT
Adrian Peterson (at SF. Mon.)DeMarco Murray (at ATL, Mon.)
Jeremy Hill (at OAK)C.J. Spiller (at ARI)
Eddie Lacy (at CHI)Devonta Freeman (vs. PHI, Mon.)
Jamaal Charles (at HOU)LeSean McCoy (vs. IND)
Justin Forsett (at DEN)T.J. Yeldon (vs. CAR)
C.J. Anderson (vs. BAL)Benny Cunningham (vs. SEA)
Lamar Miller (at WAS)Tre Mason (vs. SEA)
Ameer Abdullah (at SD)Doug Martin (vs. TEN)
Melvin Gordon (vs. DET)Giovani Bernard (at OAK)
Mark Ingram (at ARI)Rashad Jennings (at DAL)
Marshawn Lynch (at STL)Joseph Randle (vs. NYG)
DeAngelo Williams (at NE, Thurs.)Darren McFadden (vs. NYG)
Frank Gore (at BUF)Latavius Murray (vs. CIN)
Chris Ivory (vs. CLE)Joique Bell (at SD)
Jonathan Stewart (at JAC)Isaiah Crowell (at NYJ)
Carlos Hyde (vs. MIN, Mon.)Alfred Blue (vs. KC)
Andre Ellington (vs. NO)James White/Dion Lewis (vs. PIT, Thurs.)
Tevin Coleman (vs. PHI) 

 

STUDS

 

Jeremy Hill (at OAK)
Those of you lucky enough to get Hill in the second round, or if you were smart enough to take him at the end of the first round, are going to be paid off handsomely this season and it starts in Week 1 against a non-existent Raiders rush defense. Hill will rush for well over 100 yards and easily score at least 1 TD.

 

Adrian Peterson (at SF, Mon.)
The last time anyone doubted AP he was coming off a torn ACL and all he did was challenge the single-season rushing record. Now people are questioning him again after he basically took one year off. They say he is getting old at 30 and that he has lost a step. Watch out naysayers. Peterson is going to score the most fantasy football points in Week 1.

 

BREAKOUTS

 

Lamar Miller (at WAS)
It sure doesn’t hurt that Miller’s first game of the season is against the Redskins, but with an increased workload of around 20 carries per game, plus more involvement in the passing game and the fact that there is no one behind him to challenge his starting job, Miller is set to be the Dolphins’ bell cow.

 

Ameer Abdullah (at SD)
By now I’m sure you’ve heard all about how good Abdullah was in the preseason and how he has been climbing up draft boards everywhere. Abdullah is the real deal and he is going to show it Week 1 in San Diego. Abdullah will carry the ball at least 15 times and he is a serious threat out of the backfield where he can get into open space and the Lions love throwing to their running backs. Abdullah is going to be PPR gold!

 

BUSTS

 

Marshawn Lynch (at STL)
This might come as a surprise, seeing that I just told you to start Lynch above. I did that because anyone who has Lynch drafted him in the first round and is going to start him no matter what. With that said, be wary of his opening matchup against St. Louis. The Rams have the best front four in the game and are going to stuff the box, where Lynch makes his living. Don’t be surprised if Lynch is held to about 70 yards total on the ground, but if you’re lucky, he’ll sneak in a touchdown to save you.

 

Joseph Randle/Darren McFadden (vs. NYG)
Dallas is going to have an excellent running game again in 2015. It’s almost impossible not to with that offensive line. The problem from a fantasy perspective is that it looks like Randle and McFadden are going to be running backs 1A and 1B, which doesn’t do anyone who owns these guys any good. Use the wait-and-see approach to see which one starts to get more carries, or if you own Randle, just wait until McFadden gets hurt – probably on Sunday.

 

Wide Receivers

STARTSIT  
Julio Jones (vs. PHI, Mon.)Emmanuel Sanders (vs. BAL)
Antonio Brown (at NE, Thurs.)Andre Johnson (at BUF)
Odell Beckham Jr. (at DAL)Sammy Watkins (vs. IND)
Dez Bryant (vs. NYG)Golden Tate (at SD) 
Demaryius Thomas (vs. BAL)Roddy White (vs. PHI, Mon.)
Calvin Johnson (at SD)DeSean Jackson (vs. MIA)
Randall Cobb (at CHI)Eric Decker (vs. CLE) 
Jordan Matthews (at ATL, Mon.)Marques Colston (at ARI)
Brandin Cooks (at ARI)Danny Amendola (vs. PIT, Thurs.)
Mike Evans (vs. TEN)Torrey Smith (vs. MIN, Mon.)
DeAndre Hopkins (vs. KC)Pierre Garcon (at MIA)
Brandon Marshall (vs. CLE)Charles Johnson (at SF, Mon.)
Julian Edleman (vs. PIT, Thurs.)Doug Baldwin (at STL)
A.J. Green (at OAK)Mike Wallace (at SF, Mon.)
Amari Cooper (vs. CIN)Malcom Floyd (vs. DET)
Eddie Royal (vs. GB)Kendall Wright (at TB)
T.Y. Hilton (at BUF)Michael Floyd (vs. NO)
Alshon Jeffery (vs. GB)Kenny Stills (at WAS)
Davante Adams (at CHI)Percy Harvin (vs. IND)
Keenan Allen (vs. DET)Jerricho Cotchery (at JAC)
John Brown (vs. NO)Terrance Williams (vs. NYG)
Steve Smith (at DEN)Michael Crabtree (vs. CIN)
Jarvis Landry (at WAS)Kenny Britt (vs. SEA)
Vincent Jackson (vs. TEN)Brian Quick (vs. SEA)
Markus Wheaton (at NE, Thurs.)Devin Funchess (at JAC)
Larry Fitzgerald (vs. NO)Marvin Jones (at OAK)
Anquan Boldin (vs. MIN, Mon.)Cody Latimer (vs. BAL)
Allen Robinson (vs. CAR)Donte Moncrief (at BUF)
Rueben Randle (at DAL)DeVante Parker (at WAS)
Nelson Agholor (at ATL, Mon.)   
Stevie Johnson (vs. DET)   

 

STUDS

 

Antonio Brown (at NE, Thurs.)
Ben Roethlisberger is going to have a field day against a New England secondary that lost its two starting corners from 2014 (Brandon Browner and some guy named Darrelle Revis). It’s already a proven fact that Big Ben looks for Brown early and often and isn’t afraid of throwing him the ball in coverage. What makes Brown an even bigger stud is that fact that he is now a serious red-zone threat and without Martavis Bryant (or Le’Veon Bell for that matter), Brown will be the go-to-guy in the end zone.

 

Jordan Matthews (at ATL, Mon.)
If you didn’t skip all the way to the wide receiver section, you’ll have noticed that I included Sam Bradford as a must-start fantasy stud for Week 1. So if Bradford is going to be a stud, who is going to be on the receiving end? None other than Matthews. They really showed excellent chemistry in the preseason and Chip Kelly showed great trust in Matthews’ ability when he let Jeremy Maclin go in free agency. Matthews and Bradford are going to connect early and often and if you have Matthews in a PPR league, watch out.

 

BREAKOUTS

 

Eddie Royal (vs. GB)
Royal is going to have a huge game in Week 1. Why? There are numerous reasons that are going in his favor. He might be the healthiest Bears wide receiver come Sunday. Opposite him, Alshon Jeffery is going to start, but he won’t be at 100 percent, but he will still demand attention and most likely double coverage on the outside. The Bears are playing the Packers, meaning that they are going to be playing from behind probably the whole game, so they are going to have to let Jay Cutler chuck the pigskin all over the field, especially to Royal. You can probably start Royal as your flex (if you have one) and reap the rewards.

 

Markus Wheaton (at NE, Thurs.)
In a lot of leagues Wheaton was going undrafted, if that’s your league, don’t worry checking the waiver wire, as a smart owner has already scooped him up. Wheaton is the No. 2 wide receiver in a pass-happy offense that doesn’t have its top running back (Lev’eon Bell) and is going up against a Patriots defense that no longer has cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Wheaton is in for a big day.

 

BUSTS

 

Andre Johnson (at BUF)
This is not a slight against Johnson, he’s a stud and is going to have a fantastic year. But he is going to get off to a slow start because he’s playing Buffalo, which might just have the best defense in the entire NFL. Last season the Bills only gave up 206 passing yards per game, good for third in the league and now with Rex Ryan as their head coach, they are going to be even better. This doesn’t bode well for Johnson’s numbers in his Colts debut. Look elsewhere if you can for a WR2.

 

Sammy Watkins (vs. IND)
Watkins is a sensational talent and there is no doubt that Buffalo will try to get him the ball, but he has a very unproven QB in Tyrod Taylor throwing him the ball and so far they have yet to develop any type of real chemistry. Plus, with LeSean McCoy being limited due to a hamstring injury, you know the Colts are going to focus on stopping Watkins, as he is the Bills’ only big-play threat (sorry Percy Harvin fans).

 

Tight Ends

STARTSIT
Rob Gronkowski (vs. PIT, Thurs.)Brent Celek (at ATL, Mon.)
Greg Olsen (at JAC)Zach Ertz (at ATL, Mon.)
Martellus Bennett (vs. GB)Heath Miller (at NE, Thurs.)
Travis Kelce (at HOU)Austin Seferian-Jenkins (vs. TEN)
Jimmy Graham (at STL)Larry Donnell (at DAL)
Jason Witten (vs. NYG)Charles Clay (vs. IND)
Ladarius Green (vs. DET)Owen Daniels (vs. BAL)
Delaine Walker (at TB)Vernon Davis (vs. MIN, Mon.)
Jordan Cameron (at WAS)Eric Ebron (at SD)
Jordan Reed (vs. MIA)Dwayne Allen (at BUF)
Tyler Eifert (at OAK)Coby Fleener (at BUF)
Kyle Rudolph (at SF, Mon.) 

STUDS

 

Rob Gronkowski (vs. PIT, Thurs.)
This may seem too obvious and Gronk might be listed as a stud here every week, but in Week 1 he is as studly as they come. Finally 100 percent healthy, he has a super-pissed of Tom Brady throwing the ball. As mentioned in the QB section, Brady is going to go off on Thursday night in primetime and his favorite target Gronkowski is going to be the beneficiary. Don’t be surprised to see Gronk go over 100 yards receiving with two touchdowns.

 

Martellus Bennett (vs. GB)
Everything that was said in the WR section about the Bears’ Eddie Royal applies to Bennett as well. The Bears are going to be playing from behind and are going to need to air it out. Plus, with Alshon Jeffery ailing, the Bears lack a real red-zone threat and Bennett will step in and be that guy. He has good chemistry with Jay Cutler and new offensive coordinator Adam Gase loves to feature his tight end in the red zone, just look at the results Julius Thomas was able to put up in Denver.

 

BREAKOUTS

 

Jordan Cameron (at WAS)
Two years ago Cameron was being considered as an elite top-5 tight end, and he was in Cleveland with terrible quarterbacks throwing him the ball. Now in Miami, Cameron has up-and-coming Ryan Tannehill throwing him the ball in an offense that relies heavily on the tight end, especially when Tannehill needs an escape window.

 

Tyler Eifert (at OAK)
Because he was injured for basically all of last season, Eifert really isn’t on anyone’s radar heading into the 2015 season. However, if you were watching the preseason you saw that Andy Dalton was really comfortable throwing the ball to Eifert. It’s true the Bengals are going to be a run-first team, but Eifert is going to be the team’s No. 2 target behind A.J. Green.

 

BUSTS

 

Zach Ertz (at ATL, Mon.)
In the offseason and even in the preseason, all you heard about was how amazing Ertz was performing and how he was going to be a major part of the Eagles’ offense. Well, turns out that Chip Kelly really, really likes their other tight end, Brent Celek, a lot more. Mainly because Celek is an excellent blocker and can contribute offensively. It’s going to take an injury to Celek for Ertz to have any real fantasy value.

 

Dwayne Allen/Coby Fleener (at BUF)
Both these guys are good tight ends, and if either one of them gets hurt (most likely Allen as he seems to be hurt all the time), then whoever is healthy will be a must start. But for Week 1 both guys are healthy and will be playing and stealing targets and fantasy points from one another. Best to stay away.

 

Kickers

START

SIT

Stephen Gostkowski (vs. PIT, Thurs.)

Cody Parkey (at ATL, Mon.)

Mason Crosby (at CHI)

Dan Bailey (vs. NYG)

Brandon McManus (vs. BAL)

Matt Bryant (vs. PHI, Mon.)

Chandler Catanzaro (vs. NO)

Adam Vinatieri (at BUF)

Josh Lambo (vs. DET)

Andrew Franks (at WAS)

Mike Nugent (at OAK)

Zach Hocker (at ARI)

Josh Scobee (vs. NE, Thurs.)

Steven Hauschka (at STL)

Josh Brown (at DAL)

Graham Cano (at JAC)

Kyle Brindza (vs. TEN)

Justin Tucker (at DEN)

Blair Walsh (at SF, Mon.)

Dan Carpenter (vs. IND)

Robbie Gould (vs. GB)

Nick Folk (vs. CLE)

Matt Prater (at SD)

Randy Bullock (vs. KC)

Sebastian Janikowski (vs. CIN)

STUDS

 

Stephen Gostkowski (vs. PIT, Thurs.)
Without LeGarette Blount and Brandon LaFell, the Patriots are going to struggle in the red zone. They can’t just throw the ball to Gronk all the time (can they?). There will be plenty of opportunities for Gostkowski to rack up the points.

 

BREAKOUTS

 

Chandler Catanzaro (vs. NO)
Who? Catanzaro is the kicker for Arizona and he is set to have a great game in Week 1. Carson Palmer is back to lead what looks to be a potent Cardinals offense against a terrible Saints defense. The Cardinals lack a true red-zone threat, so they will probably be kicking their fair share of field goals on Sunday.

 

BUSTS

 

Steven Hauschka (vs. STL)
Hauschka is a great kicker, he just has a terrible matchup in Week 1. This game has all the makings of a 13–10 affair because both the Rams and Seahawks have such excellent defenses. Go with a kicker that has way more upside this week.

 

Defense/Special Teams (DST)

STARTSIT
Seattle Seahawks (at STL)Buffalo Bills (vs. IND)
New York Jets (vs. CLE)St. Louis Rams (vs. SEA)
Carolina Panthers (at JAC)Detroit Lions (at SD)
Tennessee Titans (at TB)Arizona Cardinals (vs. NO)
Miami Dolphins (at WAS)San Francisco 49ers (vs. MIN, Mon.)
Cincinnati Bengals (at OAK)New England Patriots (vs. PIT, Thurs.)
Green Bay Packers (at CHI)Minnesota Vikings (at SF, Mon.)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. TEN)Kansas City Chiefs (at HOU)
San Diego Chargers (vs. DET)Pittsburgh Steelers (at NE, Thurs.)
Houston Texans (vs. KC)Baltimore Ravens (at DEN)
Denver Broncos (vs. BAL)Philadelphia Eagles (at ATL, Mon.)
Cleveland Browns (at NYJ)Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG)
Indianapolis Colts (at BUF) 

STUDS

 

New York Jets (vs. CLE)
The Jets are poised to have a top-5 fantasy defense in 2015. Led by new head coach Todd Bowles, they welcome back DBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, who form arguably the best corner combo in the league. Plus their already stout defensive line welcomes first-round pick Leonard Williams, who tore it up in the preseason. Oh and the Jets are playing the Browns in Week 1. Enough said.

 

BREAKOUTS

 

Tennessee Titans (at TB)
This has nothing to do with the Titans’ defense actually being any good or not, only time will tell. But this week they play Tampa Bay and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, who is looking every bit the part and is going to serve up plenty of interceptions. If you stream your DST, this is the D to start in Week 1.

 

DUDS

 

Buffalo Bills (vs. IND)
Most of the time the Bills’ D will be in the must-start section. Not this week though because they play Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills have an excellent front four that will no doubt pressure Luck all game but Luck is too good and will still lead the Colts to 30-plus points.

 

(Sam Bradford phoot courtesy of Getty Images)

 

— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

Teaser:
Why You Want Sam Bradford in Your Fantasy Football Lineup and Other Start/Sit Advice for Week 1
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 11:45
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-2-predictions-2015
Body:

For the most part, Week 1 was a forgettable weekend of action for the Pac-12. Utah scored a good win over Michigan on Thursday night, but Stanford lost to Northwestern, Washington State had a bad loss to Portland State, Colorado lost to Hawaii and Arizona State was defeated by Texas A&M.

Luckily for the Pac-12, this Saturday has a few opportunities to rebound. Oregon takes on Michigan State in the biggest game for Week 2, Washington State heads to the East Coast for a winnable game against Rutgers, while USC, UCLA, Arizona State and Washington should win big in non-conference matchups.

 

Athlon Sports offers its Pac-12 Week 2 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

 

Pac-12 Week 2 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Oregon at Michigan State

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

 

David Fox:

Both defenses gave their fans reason to worry in matchups with directional schools — Oregon against Eastern Washington and Michigan State against Western Michigan. Michigan State over time has shown more reason for us to believe in the Spartans. New Ducks QB Vernon Adams had a nice debut, but Connor Cook is playing the part of a trusty veteran who has been in the system for four years.

Michigan State 31–21

 

Braden Gall:

Revenge, playoff implications, playing at home and a veteran quarterback gives Michigan State a slight edge against an Oregon team that allowed 549 yards in the opener to an FCS foe. Can Vernon Adams take the beating Michigan State's defense is sure to enforce? Connor Cook is the difference. Michigan State 37-30

 

Steven Lassan:

The best game of Week 2. Lots of intrigue here, as new Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams takes on his toughest opponent in Michigan State, while the Spartans have revenge on their mind after last year’s loss in Eugene. The Ducks’ secondary was torched by Eastern Washington last week, and that’s a big concern with Connor Cook up next.

Michigan State 38-30

 

College Football Podcast: Week 2 Preview



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Mitch Light:

It was only one game, but Oregon has to be concerned about a defense that gave up 491 yards (and 6.4 per play) in a 61–42 win over Eastern Washington. 

Michigan State 37-33

 

2. Utah State at Utah

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPN2

 

David Fox:

Utah has won 13 of the last 14, and Utah State had enough trouble putting away Southern Utah last week.

Utah 24–7

 

Braden Gall:

Chuckie Keeton vs. that Utah defense should be fun to watch. Hopefully, he survives. Utah is too strong at the point of attack. Utah 23-17

 

Steven Lassan:

Week 1 went significantly different for these two teams. Utah State struggled to get by Southern Utah, while Utah picked up a solid win over Michigan. The Aggies need a big performance from quarterback Chuckie Keeton and his offensive line against a solid Utes’ defense.

Utah 27-17

 

Mitch Light:

Utah State has made impressive strides in recent years but has lost 13 of its last 14 to Utah, including seven straight in Salt Lake City. 

Utah 27-24

 

3. Oregon State at Michigan

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: ABC

 

David Fox:

The loss to Utah revealed Michigan still has a host of problems on offense. Oregon State is in even deeper trouble than Michigan.

Michigan 28-14

 

Braden Gall:

The defense was excellent and the offense identified a few nice players in Jake Butt, Amara Darboh and De'Veon Smith but the rest of the Michigan offense needs to develop. Oregon State was solid in its debut but Weber State isn't The Big House. Michigan wins in its home opener. Michigan 24-10

 

Steven Lassan:

A matchup between two of the best head coach hires for 2015. Jim Harbaugh’s first home game should be a relatively easy win for the Wolverines. Oregon State freshman quarterback Seth Collins is a dynamic playmaker, but the Beavers are in rebuild mode under coach Gary Andersen.

Michigan 31-10

 

Mitch Light:

Michigan will reward the home folks with the first win of the Jim Harbaugh era. Oregon State isn’t overly talented, but freshman Seth Collins was impressive in his debut (152 yards rushing, 92 yards passing with two TDs). 

Michigan 28-13

 

4. Washington State at Rutgers

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Rutgers is a different team with the pass-catch tandem of Chris Laviano and Leonte Carroo. Not necessarily a good team, but a different one.

Rutgers 35–28

 

Braden Gall:

One team lost as a 31-point favorite to an FCS school and the other's athletic department is an episode of Law and Order. Take the Knights at home. Rutgers 35-31

 

Steven Lassan:

Both teams are dealing with some turmoil, albeit for two different reasons. Rutgers has an ongoing investigation about coach Kyle Flood, and four defensive backs were kicked off the team last week. Washington State is reeling after last Saturday’s surprise defeat against Portland State. This one should see its share of fireworks between the two offenses.

Washington State 38-34

 

Mitch Light:
Washington State lost at home, 24–17, to FCS foe Portland State in Week 1. Not a good start for Mike Leach. Things aren’t going great at Rutgers, either, but at least the Scarlet Knights won their first game. 

Rutgers 33-30

 

5. UMass at Colorado

Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

 

David Fox:

UMass didn’t play in Week 1. Colorado probably wishes it hadn’t. Now the Buffs face another solid quarterback and passing game.

Colorado 28–24

 

Braden Gall:

Nothing will be easy for the Buffaloes but this is one of few games they should win this fall. Colorado 38-30

 

Steven Lassan:

Upset alert? The Minutemen nearly defeated the Buffaloes last season and are a better overall team in 2015. Expect a close one, but Colorado should find a way to erase last week’s disappointment against Hawaii to edge UMass.

Colorado 34-31

 

Mitch Light:
Colorado has returned to the mainland after a tough loss at Hawaii on Thursday night. UMass has yet to play. I smell upset. 

UMass 34-30
 

6. San Diego State at California

Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

 

David Fox:

Jared Goff faces a tricky Rocky Long defense. An interesting storyline, but Cal should win.

Cal 38–24

 

Braden Gall:

This is one of the games against a quality mid-major program that Cal has to win easily if it wants to prove it belongs in the national conversation again. Jared Goff is awesome and he needs to eliminate the Aztecs quickly to make a statement. Cal 48-20

 

Steven Lassan:

San Diego State’s defense is one of the best from the Group of 5 ranks, but I’m not sure the Aztecs will be able to generate enough offense outside of running back Donnel Pumphrey to win this one.

California 38-17

 

Mitch Light:
California leads the nation in passing (471 yards) after one week of action. 

California 37-21
 

7. Arizona at Nevada

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

 

David Fox:

Arizona’s defense was lost once Scooby Wright went down last week against UTSA. The Wildcats will need to learn to live without him for the next few weeks.

Arizona 35–24

 

Braden Gall:

The Wildcats gave up a lot of yards and points in the opener to UTSA and Nevada hasn't had issues scoring historically. Give me Arizona but RichRod's bunch better be focused. Arizona 38-28

 

Steven Lassan:

The Wolf Pack defeated the last Pac-12 opponent (Washington State) to visit Reno. Going on the road to face a Group of 5 opponent always has the potential to be a trap game, but the Wildcats – even with linebacker Scooby Wright sidelined – won’t be upset.

Arizona 38-24

 

Mitch Light:

Arizona gave up 525 yards of total offense to a UTSA team that returned zero starters. That could be an issue going forward. 

Arizona 38-33

 

8. UCF at Stanford

Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

 

David Fox:

Two teams are trying to bounce back from deflating season-opening losses. Stanford’s defense will keep the Cardinal ahead in this game. Will the defense have any life to it?

Stanford 21–14

 

Braden Gall:

Both teams were upset in Week 1 and Stanford needs to prove its performance was just a fluky early kickoff, opening weekend walk through. Otherwise, this team is in trouble. Kevin Hogan needs to play with some pride here. Stanford 27-3

 

Steven Lassan:

After Week 1 losses, there’s urgency on both sidelines for this one. Points will be at a premium between these two teams, as Stanford and UCF combined for just 20 points last week. The Cardinal shows some life on offense, while the defense holds the Knights in check.

Stanford 31-13

 

Mitch Light:

Stanford must regroup after its surprisingly lethargic performance at Northwestern. The Cardinal looked good on their first drive of the day — which ended in a field goal — but struggled to move the ball the rest of the day, ending with 240 total yards. 

Stanford 21-13

 

9. UCLA at UNLV

Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

 

David Fox:

UCLA’s quarterback was in high school this time last year. So was UNLV’s head coach. Other than that, the two teams don’t have a ton of similarities.

UCLA 42–20

 

Braden Gall:

What does the D-Line look like without Eddie Vanderdoes and how quickly can this O-Line come together? UCLA 40-17

 

Steven Lassan:

UCLA is the second Pac-12 team to hit the road against a Group of 5 opponent on Saturday. UNLV showed improvement in coach Tony Sanchez’s debut last week, but the Bruins have too much firepower on offense and talent on defense to slip in Las Vegas. How will quarterback Josh Rosen follow his impressive debut against Virginia?

UCLA 45-13

 

Mitch Light:

UCLA freshman Josh Rosen was one of the breakout stars of the opening weekend. UNLV lost its opener, 38–30 at Northern Illinois, but the Rebels look to be much improved under first-year coach Tony Sanchez. 

UCLA 37-20

 

10. Idaho at USC

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

 

David Fox:

USC may like to brag that it doesn’t play FCS teams. The Trojans play Idaho instead.

USC 52–7

 

Braden Gall:

What? USC 55-10

 

Steven Lassan:

This one will be ugly. USC was sharp in its opener and won’t have much trouble with the Vandals.

USC 55-10

 

Mitch Light:

USC was impressive in its 55–6 win over Arkansas State, but the Trojans did give up 401 yards of offense. Not a big deal in such a decisive win, but it’s something to watch. 

USC 51-0

 

11. Cal Poly at Arizona State

Kickoff: 11 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

 

David Fox:

Arizona State goes from facing the Texas A&M Air Raid to the Cal Poly triple option. That’s probably not fun.

Arizona State 35–17

 

Braden Gall:

The Sun Devils need an easy win after that performance in Houston last weekend. Arizona State 41-17

 

Steven Lassan:

The Sun Devils take some frustration out on Cal Poly after last week’s loss to Texas A&M.

Arizona State 48-17

 

Mitch Light:

It’s a long season, but Arizona State was a bit underwhelming in its loss to Texas A&M in Houston. 

Arizona State 43-13

 

12. Sacramento State at Washington

Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

 

David Fox:

Freshman quarterback Jake Browning has a chance to get back into a groove against an FCS team.

Washington 27–10

 

Braden Gall:

Any signs of life on offense would be a positive step in the right direction for Chris Petersen's bunch. One of few easy wins for the Huskies this year. Washington 31-10

 

Steven Lassan:

True freshman quarterback Jake Browning is going to be a good one for coach Chris Petersen. The Huskies break into the win column this week.

Washington 40-10

 

Mitch Light:

Sacramento State was outgained by 254 yards in a 41–20 loss to Eastern Oregon last week. Washington will break through and pick up win No. 1. 

Washington 41-10

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 2 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-2-predictions-2015
Body:

The Big Ten was in the spotlight in college football’s first week of 2015, as Jim Harbaugh’s debut with Michigan was a huge television hit on Thursday night, and Ohio State capped the weekend with a victory over Virginia Tech. The conference is back in the spotlight once again for Week 2, as Michigan State-Oregon is the weekend’s must-see game in college football. The Ducks knocked off the Spartans last season, but Michigan State is favored this Saturday.

 

Outside of East Lansing, there are a handful of games with intrigue in the conference. Indiana needs a win over FIU to bolster its bowl hopes, Rutgers hosts Washington State, Michigan takes on Oregon State and Iowa-Iowa State meet for the Cy-Hawk Trophy.

 

Athlon Sports offers its Big Ten Week 2 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

 

Big Ten Week 2 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Oregon at Michigan State

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

 

David Fox:

Both defenses gave their fans reason to worry in matchups with directional schools — Oregon against Eastern Washington and Michigan State against Western Michigan. Michigan State over time has shown more reason for us to believe in the Spartans. New Ducks QB Vernon Adams had a nice debut, but Connor Cook is playing the part of a trusty veteran who has been in the system for four years.

Michigan State 31–21

 

Braden Gall:

Revenge, playoff implications, playing at home and a veteran quarterback gives Michigan State a slight edge against an Oregon team that allowed 549 yards in the opener to an FCS foe. Can Vernon Adams take the beating Michigan State's defense is sure to enforce? Connor Cook is the difference. Michigan State 37-30

 

Steven Lassan:

The best game of Week 2. Lots of intrigue here, as new Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams takes on his toughest opponent in Michigan State, while the Spartans have revenge on their mind after last year’s loss in Eugene. The Ducks’ secondary was torched by Eastern Washington last week, and that’s a big concern with Connor Cook up next.

Michigan State 38-30

 

Mitch Light:

It was only one game, but Oregon has to be concerned about a defense that gave up 491 yards (and 6.4 per play) in a 61–42 win over Eastern Washington. 

Michigan State 37-33

 

College Football Podcast: Week 2 Preview



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

2. Iowa at Iowa State

Kickoff: 4:45 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

 

David Fox:

The rivalry game actually carries some weight for the respective futures of coaches Kirk Ferentz and Paul Rhoads. Iowa has a big-time defensive difference maker in Drew Ott and the makings of a competent offense. Edge: Hawkeyes.

Iowa 34–21

 

Braden Gall:

One of the more underrated rivalries in the country has gone the way of the Cyclones and Paul Rhoads more times than not recently. Both offenses played well in Week 1 and Jack Trice is also underrated. Iowa's balance on offense gives the CyHawk Trophy to the Hawkeyes. Iowa 30-24

 

Steven Lassan:

A rivalry matchup in Week 2 is certainly welcomed to help spice up a pedestrian slate of games. Iowa State has won three out of the last four games in this series, but I think the Hawkeyes take this one on Saturday.

Iowa 27-20

 

Mitch Light:

Iowa showed nice balance last week, rushing for 210 and throwing for 221 in its 31–14 win over FCS power Illinois State. 

Iowa 24-20

 

3. Oregon State at Michigan

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: ABC

 

David Fox:

The loss to Utah revealed Michigan still has a host of problems on offense. Oregon State is in even deeper trouble than Michigan.

Michigan 28-14

 

Braden Gall:

The defense was excellent and the offense identified a few nice players in Jake Butt, Amara Darboh and De'Veon Smith but the rest of the Michigan offense needs to develop. Oregon State was solid in its debut but Weber State isn't The Big House. Michigan wins in its home opener. Michigan 24-10

 

Steven Lassan:

A matchup between two of the best head coach hires for 2015. Jim Harbaugh’s first home game should be a relatively easy win for the Wolverines. Oregon State freshman quarterback Seth Collins is a dynamic playmaker, but the Beavers are in rebuild mode under coach Gary Andersen.

Michigan 31-10

 

Mitch Light:

Michigan will reward the home folks with the first win of the Jim Harbaugh era. Oregon State isn’t overly talented, but freshman Seth Collins was impressive in his debut (152 yards rushing, 92 yards passing with two TDs an zero INTs). Michigan 28-13​

 

4. Washington State at Rutgers

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Rutgers is a different team with the pass-catch tandem of Chris Laviano and Leonte Carroo. Not necessarily a good team, but a different one.

Rutgers 35–28

 

Braden Gall:

One team lost as a 31-point favorite to an FCS school and the other's athletic department is an episode of Law and Order. Take the Knights at home. Rutgers 35-31

 

Steven Lassan:

Both teams are dealing with some turmoil, albeit for two different reasons. Rutgers has an ongoing investigation about coach Kyle Flood, and four defensive backs were kicked off the team last week. Washington State is reeling after last Saturday’s surprise defeat against Portland State. This one should see its share of fireworks between the two offenses.

Washington State 38-34

 

Mitch Light:

Washington State lost at home, 24–17, to FCS foe Portland State in Week 1. Not a good start for Mike Leach. Things aren’t going great at Rutgers, either, but at least the Scarlet Knights won their first game. 

Rutgers 33-30

 

5. Minnesota at Colorado State

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

 

David Fox:

Minnesota’s standout secondary faces a Biletnikoff finalist in Rashard Higgins. Which quarterback can make plays in this game?

Colorado State 28–24

 

Braden Gall:

Upset alert for the Gophers after Mike Bobo's quality debut for the Rams. However, the defense is too much for Colorado State as Jerry Kill's bunch rarely overlooks an opponent. Minnesota 24-10

 

Steven Lassan:

Solid under-the-radar matchup in Fort Collins this Saturday, as Minnesota’s standout secondary takes on one of the nation’s top receivers in Rashard Higgins. Defense certainly isn’t the issue for the Golden Gophers, but the offense needs to play better to win the Big Ten West. Keep an eye on promising running back Rodney Smith in this one.

Minnesota 27-24

 

Mitch Light:

This is not an easy trip for Jerry Kill and the Gophers. Colorado State averaged 8.7 yards per play in its win over Savannah State. 

Minnesota 24-20

 

6. Bowling Green at Maryland

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

Braden Gall:

A sneaky upset alert here for the Terps despite all of the points last week. The Terps running game is the difference, however, after the Falcons were gashed last weekend by Tennessee. Maryland 40-35

 

Steven Lassan:

Bowling Green is a dangerous opponent for the Terrapins. As last week’s loss to Tennessee showed, the Falcons can score (30 points) and averaged 6.5 yards per play. Maryland’s secondary should do just enough to keep Bowling Green’s high-powered passing attack in check, while the offense leans on Brandon Ross to wear down the Falcon defense in the fourth quarter.

Maryland 34-31

 

Mitch Light:

Bowling Green threw for 424 yards and averaged 8.7 yards per passing attempt in last week’s 59–30 loss vs. Tennessee in Nashville. Maryland will have to score a bunch of points to win this game. 

Bowling Green 41-37

 

7. Hawaii at Ohio State

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

The Buckeyes get Joey Bosa, Jalin Mashall, Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson back from suspension. Good luck, Hawaii.

Ohio State 49–10

 

Braden Gall:

Poor, poor Hawaii. Ohio State 59-3

 

Steven Lassan:

Might be a sluggish start in the works for both teams, as Hawaii is making the long trip to the mainland, while Ohio State has a short turnaround from playing Virginia Tech. Even if the Buckeyes have a slow start, this won’t be close in the fourth quarter. 

Ohio State 52-17

 

Mitch Light:

Hawaii recorded a nice win for embattled coach Norm Chow, topping Colorado 28–20 last Thursday night. The win streak will end at one. 

Ohio State 44-13

 

8. Buffalo at Penn State

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

 

David Fox:

Penn State’s offensive line can’t get much worse than last week’s 10-sack effort against Temple. Then again, we said that about the offensive line last season. Buffalo has a solid veteran quarterback who will make this closer than it should be.

Penn State 21–17

 

Braden Gall:

Arguably the worst opening weekend in the nation can only get better for Penn State, right? Block someone, PSU, anyone. Penn State 30-10

 

Steven Lassan:

After last week’s offensive debacle against Temple, it will be interesting to see what changes coach James Franklin makes to jumpstart this group. The offensive line has to play better, but quarterback Christian Hackenberg also shares part of the blame. Buffalo made one of the offseason’s best coaching hires by getting Lance Leipold from Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the Bulls were impressive in their opener against Albany. Buffalo keeps this one interesting until the fourth quarter.

Penn State 27-17

 

Mitch Light:

Penn State will be eager to bounce back after last week’s debacle against Temple. The natives will not be pleased if the Lions struggle to beat Buffalo. 

Penn State 27-6

 

9. South Alabama at Nebraska

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

Nebraska hasn’t started 0–2 since 1957, and it should stay that way. The Huskers should roll.

Nebraska 41–14

 

Braden Gall:

Nebraska gets back on track after the Week 1 heartbreaker. Nebraska 38-10

 

Steven Lassan:

Nebraska should be able to take out some of its frustration from last week’s last-second loss to BYU in Saturday’s matchup against South Alabama. Mike Riley breaks into the win column in his second game with the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska 40-13

 

Mitch Light:

Nebraska is still smarting from losing its opener to BYU on the final play of the game. The Huskers will bounce back against a South Alabama team that is coming off a 10-point win over Gardner-Webb. 

Nebraska 48-3

 

10. FIU at Indiana

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

Indiana’s 48–47 win over Southern Illinois came down to a stopped two-point conversion, and this week’s opponent, FIU, is coming off a road upset of UCF. The Hoosiers’ hopes for a quick start to the season just got a little tougher.

Indiana 42–35

 

Braden Gall:

FIU pulled off the improbable upset over UCF last week and Indiana couldn't stop air in it's opener. That said, give me Nate Sudfeld and company to outscore FIU. Indiana 38-30

 

Steven Lassan:

Indiana avoided a costly upset last week, and the Hoosiers could have their hands full with a FIU team that knocked off UCF last week. The Panthers are improving on offense behind promising quarterback Alex McGough, but the defense – led by standout cornerback Richard Leonard – held the Knights to 14 points last week. Indiana’s defense has to take a step forward if this team wants to get to a bowl.

Indiana 34-27

 

Mitch Light:

Ron Turner and the Panthers had a nice win at UCF last week. Indiana had to make a stop on a two-point conversion to beat Southern Illinois. 

FIU 27-20

 

11. Miami (Ohio) at Wisconsin

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Miami ended its 16-game losing streak but still hasn’t defeated an FBS team since Oct. 27, 2012 and hasn’t defeated a Power 5 team since 2007 (Syracuse).

Wisconsin 42–14 

 

Braden Gall:

I am willing to bet Wisconsin rushes for more than 40 yards in this game. Badgers big in their home opener. Wisconsin 42-14

 

Steven Lassan:

Running back Corey Clement might be limited due to injury, but it shouldn’t matter. The Badgers build a little confidence in quarterback Joel Stave with an easy win.

Wisconsin 45-13

 

Mitch Light:

The Badgers were manhandled by a superior Alabama team last weekend in Arlington, Texas. Wisconsin will have the physical advantage in this matchup. 

Wisconsin 41-11

 

12. Eastern Illinois at Northwestern

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNEWS

 

David Fox:

Eastern Illinois lost 33–5 to Western Illinois. Northwestern just beat Stanford. The old Northwestern might flirt with an upset.

Northwestern 35–7

 

Braden Gall:

Tony Romo isn't walking through that door. Northwestern big. Northwestern 34-10

 

Steven Lassan:

Northwestern continues its momentum from the Week 1 victory against Stanford with an easy win over Eastern Illinois. Interested to see how much quarterback Clayton Thorson progresses this Saturday.

Northwestern 38-7

 

Mitch Light:

EIU, which lost its opener 33–5 at Western Illinois, is still looking for its first touchdown of the season. Northwestern only scored one touchdown in Week 1, but it was enough to knock off Stanford. 

Northwestern 37-7

 

13. Indiana State at Purdue

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPNEWS

 

David Fox:

How will Austin Appleby come back from his collapse at Marshall last week? The answer will determine if Purdue can stay competitive this season.

Purdue 38–28

 

Braden Gall:

Purdue lost a tough one at Marshall but there were signs of life. Get this one, Boilers. Purdue 37-21

 

Steven Lassan:

Purdue showed some improvement in its opener against Marshall, but the Boilermakers gave away four turnovers, including two interceptions returned for scores. Purdue should break into the win column this week.

Purdue 38-17

 

Mitch Light:

Purdue did some good things in its loss on Sunday to Marshall. This team is improved but might have trouble making a move in the Big Ten West. 

Purdue 38-21

 

14. Western Illinois at Illinois

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

Braden Gall:

Wes Lunt is out of the game at halftime again. Illinois 42-13

 

Steven Lassan:

Bill Cubit’s debut was a success, as the Fighting Illini easily dispatched Kent State. Expect another big day from quarterback Wes Lunt as Illinois improves to 2-0.

Illinois 45-10

 

Mitch Light:

It seems as though the Fighting Illini enjoy playing for interim coach Bill Cubit. The 52–3 win over Kent State was very impressive.

Illinois 48-10

Teaser:
Big Ten Week 2 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-top-150-flex-rankings-week-1
Body:

It is Week 1 and by now you have hopefully perused Athlon Sports' positional rankings, and other strategy articles but here is another resource for you —  Top 150 Flex rankings. Rankings are relatively self-explanatory and our positional rankings do just that — they rank each individual position for each week. 

 

Every week is different, and every situation and game plan will be different so there will clearly be players ranked higher some weeks than others. The difficulty I have found, and the most common question prior to Thursday's or Sunday's kickoff time is this: "Who do I start in my Flex position <Insert Player A> OR <Insert Player B>." 

 

Often times positional rankings will cover this, but what if the owner is deciding between a running back or a wide receiver, or heck maybe even a second tight end is in the mix?  This will not be easily answered in positional rankings every week, and overall preseason rankings are not often updated, nor accurate for particular fantasy week.

 

That is where Athlon's fantasy contributors come in and will provide you not only with the fantastically useful positional rankings each week, but also a Top 150 Flex rankings to help you decide some of those trickier start/sit situations.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Besides these be sure to follow me on Twitter (@FantsyChillpony) and as always feel free to reach out to me with any questions at all. I promise I will respond to each and every question as soon as I can! Have a great Week 1, and enjoy the first week of real NFL action!

 

Disclaimer: I was unable to export the Flex rankings without including another position so I included my QB rankings. Use or disregard as you feel necessary, but the Flex tab holds the good stuff.

 

 
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros

 

— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2015 Flex Rankings: Week 1
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 10:45
Path: /college-football/acc-week-2-predictions-2015
Body:

The ACC didn’t pickup a key non-conference win in any of its marquee matchups, and the league slate for Week 2 isn’t full of enticing games. Notre Dame-Virginia is arguably the best matchup this Saturday, and the Fighting Irish are a heavy favorite over the Cavaliers. Elsewhere in the ACC this week, Louisville turns to true freshman Lamar Jackson at quarterback against Houston, while Florida State hosts South Florida in Everett Golson’s second start under center for the Seminoles.

 

Wake Forest-Syracuse is the only league matchup on the schedule in Week 2.

 

Athlon Sports offers its ACC Week 2 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

 

ACC Week 2 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Notre Dame at Virginia

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

 

David Fox:

The start of Virginia’s schedule may be tougher than the Cavaliers anticipated as UCLA’s Josh Rose and Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire quickly take charger of their respective quarterback positions. The Cavs will look to shut down Notre Dame’s weakened run game, but the Irish defense could be dominant.

Notre Dame 31–13

 

Braden Gall:

Virginia isn't all that bad but made Josh Rosen look like a Heisman Trophy candidate last week. This is a game where Notre Dame should do what it wants on both sides of the ball if it wants to be taken seriously in the playoff conversation. Notre Dame 34-13

 

Steven Lassan:

It’s a light slate of games in the ACC when Notre Dame-Virginia is the No. 1 matchup. The Cavaliers’ brutal non-conference slate continues against a Fighting Irish team with momentum on their side after last week’s win over Texas. Virginia’s defense keeps it close for a half, but will the offense generate enough points?

Notre Dame 30-13

 

Mitch Light:

The Cavs’ ridiculously tough non-conference schedule continues with a home date against Notre Dame. Last week, they faced one of the nation’s top young players in UCLA true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. Now, they play a Fighting Irish team that dominated Texas in every phase. 

Notre Dame 30-14 

 

College Football Podcast: Week 2 Preview



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Related: College Football's Top 15 QB Debuts from Week 1

 

2. Houston at Louisville

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Prepping for Gus Malzahn, Houston coach Tom Herman and the Clemson offense in the first three weeks has to be tough on Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Underwhelming quarterback play has to be tough on Bobby Petrino. Upset alert?

Louisville 21–17

 

Braden Gall:

Louisville's defense is better than advertised, and Tom Herman put up big numbers in his debut for Houston. Look for the Cardinals to pull away late in a battle of former Big East and C-USA rivals. Louisville 31-17

 

Steven Lassan:

This matchup is an intriguing, under-the-radar game in Week 2. Louisville lost its opener against Auburn, but true freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson is a future star under coach Bobby Petrino. New Houston coach Tom Herman had a successful debut, and dual-threat quarterback Greg Ward will give Louisville’s defense a few problems.

Louisville 34-20

 

Mitch Light:

A rebuilt Louisville defense limited a powerful (we think) Auburn offense to 327 total yards. That bodes well for the rest of the season — beginning with this week’s game against Houston. 

Louisville 33-17

 

3. USF at Florida State

Kickoff: 11:30 a.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

USF has won six total games in 2013-14 by a combined margin of 26. The Bulls beat Florida A&M in their opener by 48. They’re better but not good enough to challenge Florida State.

Florida State 42–14

 

Braden Gall:

Florida State started slow last week but Everet Golson rallied the troops. Much of the same this time around. Florida State 40-13

 

Steven Lassan:

Both quarterbacks in this matchup – Florida State’s Everett Golson and USF’s Quinton Flowers – were sharp last week. While Flowers is a promising player for the Bulls, the Seminoles are the better overall team, and Golson should continue to progress with another week of learning coach Jimbo Fisher’s offense.

Florida State 38-13

 

Mitch Light:

The Bulls take on a team from Tallahassee for the second straight week. Florida State will be far more formidable than the Rattlers from Florida A&M. 

Florida State 38-10

 

4. Appalachian State at Clemson

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Appy State’s run of seven consecutive wins, including two shutouts, ends here.

Clemson 49–10

 

Braden Gall:

The depth for Clemson was impressive in Week 1 and I expect more of the same in Week 2. Just keep Deshaun Watson healthy, please. Clemson 51-10

 

Steven Lassan:

This is Clemson’s last tune-up before the ACC opener against Louisville next Thursday. Appalachian State should be a better test for the Tigers than Wofford, as the Mountaineers enter this matchup on a seven-game winning streak. Clemson will miss receiver Mike Williams (sidelined with a neck injury), but there’s plenty of playmakers to keep this offense performing at a high level.

Clemson 41-17

 

Mitch Light:

Appalachian State rolled up 663 yards — 376 on the ground, 287 through the air — in a Week 1 win over Howard. Don’t expect similar results when they visit the home of Howard’s Rock. 

Clemson 41-13 

 

5. Wake Forest at Syracuse

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Syracuse quarterback Terrell Hunt is out for the season with a torn Achilles. He’ll be replaced by a freshman. In a matchup of the two worst teams in the ACC, that’s huge.

Wake Forest 24–17

 

Braden Gall:

This might be the only chance for either team to get a win in the ACC. Cuse is at home but without it's starting quarterback. Give me John Wolford on the road. Wake Forest 28-24

 

Steven Lassan:

This is the first conference game of the year in the ACC. And the winner of this one probably avoids the cellar in the Atlantic. Syracuse lost quarterback Terrel Hunt last week, but freshman Eric Dungey played well. Wake Forest’s offense also showed signs of life in Week 1.

Wake Forest 24-20

 

Mitch Light:

Both teams feasted on overmatched FCS foes in Week 1. Syracuse, however, lost the services of quarterback Terrel Hunt, who is sidelined with a torn Achilles tendon. Freshman Eric Dungey will make his first start against a stout Wake Forest defense. 

Wake Forest 17-7

 

6. Miami at FAU

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

 

David Fox:

A nice game for those of us appreciate bizarre road trips and all things Howard Schnellenberger, the architect of both programs. FAU was done in by four turnovers in an OT loss to Tulsa last week.

Miami 38–31

 

Braden Gall:

The Howard Schnellenberger Bowl SHOULD be an "easy" win for The U. Miami 38-20

 

Steven Lassan:

The Hurricanes make the short trip to Boca Raton for this one, as FAU hopes to pull off the upset as a 17-point underdog. The Owls have a talented quarterback in Jaquez Johnson, but I’m not sure the defense will be able to slow Miami’s offense. Quarterback Brad Kaaya won’t have Stacy Coley or Braxton Berrios to throw to, but the Hurricanes pull away in the second half.

Miami 38-17

 

Mitch Light:

FAU gave up 618 yards (7.2 per play) in last week’s overtime loss at Tulsa. The Owls will have a tough time slowing down Brad Kaaya & Co.

Miami 47-24

 

7. Pittsburgh at Akron

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Pittsburgh lost to Akron at home last season. By 11. The Panthers get Tyler Boyd back but lost James Conner for the season. They may get revenge here, but the long-term prospects are questionable.

Pittsburgh 21–14

 

Braden Gall:

No James Conner, no problem for Pitt. At least, not this week against the Zips. Qadree Ollison and Tyler Boyd are more than enough. Pitt 34-17

 

Steven Lassan:

The Zips stunned Pittsburgh at Heinz Field last season. Another upset coming? Possibly. Akron’s defense is solid, but the offense struggled mightily against Oklahoma last week. Even though running back James Conner is out for the year, the Panthers should be able to run the ball, and receiver Tyler Boyd is back from suspension this Saturday.

Pittsburgh 31-20

 

Mitch Light:

Pittsburgh has the nation’s second-leading rusher — but it’s not James Conner, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Redshirt freshman Qadree Ollison stepped in and rushed for 207 yards on 16 carries against Youngstown State last week. 

Pittsburgh 37-24

 

8. Tulane at Georgia Tech

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Don’t overthink it: Georgia Tech won its opener 69–6. Tulane lost its opener 37–7.

Georgia Tech 41–14

 

Braden Gall:

Tulane was terrible against Duke and Georgia Tech is virtually unstoppable on the ground. Tech please. Georgia Tech 51-14

 

Steven Lassan:

The Yellow Jackets were very impressive last Thursday. Of course, the opponent – Alcorn State – had a lot to do with the outcome. Expect Georgia Tech to dominate once again, as coach Paul Johnson’s team gets another tune-up before next week’s showdown against Notre Dame.

Georgia Tech 45-10

 

Mitch Light:

Tulane was overmatched at home in a Week 1 loss at home to Duke. Now, the Green Wave hit the road to face a potent Georgia Tech ground attack. The Yellow Jackets have one more tune-up before they head to Notre Dame. 
Georgia Tech 48-13

 

9. Eastern Kentucky at NC State

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Eastern Kentucky is one of the better teams in the FCS, but NC State shouldn’t have a ton of trouble.

NC State 41–20

 

Braden Gall:

Jacoby Brissett, Jacoby Brissett and more Jacoby Brissett. NC State 42-17

 

Steven Lassan:

The Wolfpack cruised in their Week 1 victory against Troy. Coach Dave Doeren’s team continues the momentum with an easy win over Eastern Kentucky. With matchups against Old Dominion and South Alabama up next, we won’t find out much about NC State until the Oct. 3 game against Louisville.

NC State 45-7

 

Mitch Light:

Jacoby Brissett was outstanding in the Pack’s 49–21 win over Troy, completing 21-of-23 for 196 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.

NC State 38-17

 

10. Furman at Virginia Tech

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

The Hokies need to find out of Brenden Motley can pass.

Virginia Tech 21–10

 

Braden Gall:

The Paladins are no match for Tech (more specifically its defense) even without Michael Brewer. Virginia Tech 28-3

 

Steven Lassan:

With Michael Brewer out indefinitely with a collarbone injury, Brenden Motley will start at quarterback for the Hokies. However, freshmen Chris Durkin and Dwayne Lawson may also see snaps. Either way, Virginia Tech wins big this Saturday.

Virginia Tech 41-3

 

Mitch Light:

Virginia Tech’s season took an unfortunate turn when quarterback Michael Brewer went down with a broken collarbone. Brenden Motley will do his best to keep the ship afloat until Brewer returns. 

Virginia Tech 28-0

 

11. North Carolina A&T at North Carolina

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

How will Marquise Williams recover from a disastrous game against South Carolina?

North Carolina 41–21

 

Braden Gall:

Marquise Williams needs and will get a bounce back game after a lot of summer hype. His play against South Carolina cost his team a win. North Carolina 50-17

 

Steven Lassan:

Marquise Williams and the rest of North Carolina’s offense gets back on track after a sluggish performance against South Carolina

North Carolina 50-13

 

Mitch Light:

Mistakes in the red zone cost UNC last Thursday night against South Carolina. Marquise Williams can’t make those mistakes if this team is going to be a factor in the ACC Coastal Division. 

North Carolina 48-3

 

12. North Carolina Central at Duke

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Duke won’t get to a bowl by playing Ohio State in the non-conference.

Duke 38–10

 

Braden Gall:

Duke is always going to be sneaky good and the non-conference schedule should afford a bunch of easy wins. Duke 42-10

 

Steven Lassan:

The Blue Devils were quietly impressive in their Week 1 blowout win over Tulane. The momentum keeps rolling here against North Carolina Central.

Duke 48-10

 

Mitch Light:

Duke topped 200 yards rushing and 300 yards passing in its win at Tulane last weekend. Expect more of the same.

Duke 48-10

 

13. Howard at Boston College

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

With Maine and Howard, Boston College has two de facto exhibition games before Florida State next week.

Boston College 38–7

 

Braden Gall:

Where is Howard again? Boston College 41-7

 

Steven Lassan:

Boston College shouldn’t have much trouble here after Howard was soundly defeated by Appalachian State last week. Another opportunity for the Eagles to get their revamped offensive line and quarterback Darius Wade valuable game reps.

Boston College 41-7

 

Mitch Light:

Boston College plays its second FCS foe of the young season when Howard — the same team that gave up 663 yards to App State — visits Chestnut Hill. 

Boston College 38-0

Teaser:
ACC Week 2 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/sec-week-2-predictions-2015
Body:

The SEC flips the calendar to conference matchups a little earlier than other leagues this season, as three league contests dot the schedule for Week 2. LSU-Mississippi State, Kentucky-South Carolina and Georgia-Vanderbilt should be a good indicator of where all six teams stand. But the headliner in the SEC this week is in Knoxville, as Tennessee hosts Oklahoma. Can the Volunteers continue their momentum under coach Butch Jones with a big non-conference victory?

 

Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Alabama, Florida and Arkansas are heavy favorites this Saturday.

 

Athlon Sports offers its SEC Week 2 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

 

SEC Week 2 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Oklahoma at Tennessee

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Tennessee’s looking to make a big-time statement, but the Volunteers might not have the depth in the secondary to pull it off. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was that impressive in Week 1.

Oklahoma 38–28

 

Braden Gall:

The first ever trip inside Neyland Stadium for Oklahoma will be as good an atmosphere as any game this season. Both teams are ranked, both offenses are loaded with playmakers and both lines of scrimmage have questions. Baker Mayfield will try to exploit a Vols secondary that got torched for 424 yards last week, while the Sooners will try to stop a Vols offense that rolled up 399 yards of offense. It's back and forth and very close. Give me the Vols in a tight one. Tennssee 38-35

 

Steven Lassan:

This matchup has to be one of the most intriguing games of Week 2. The Sooners’ revamped offense got off to a slow start last week, but quarterback Baker Mayfield finished with 388 passing yards and three scores. Mayfield’s performance and the development of Oklahoma’s receivers is critical, especially when you consider Tennessee allowed 433 passing yards against Bowling Green last week. This is also a good barometer test for the Volunteers as they look to continue the momentum behind coach Butch Jones’ rebuilding effort.

Oklahoma 31-27

 

Mitch Light:

Oklahoma took to the air in its first game under new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, a Mike Leach disciple with roots at Texas Tech. The Sooners threw the ball on 54.5 percent of their offensive plays in their 41–3 win over Akron; last year, they attempted a pass on only 40.1 percent of their snaps. With Tennessee’s struggles defending the pass last week against Bowling Green, expect another pass-happy plan of attack from Riley and the OU coaching staff. Oklahoma 33-30

 

College Football Podcast: Week 2 Preview



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Related: Ranking the Top 15 QB Debuts from Week 1

 

2. LSU at Mississippi State

Kickoff: 9:15 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Dak Prescott dominated in this game a year ago and will need to do so again, given Mississippi State’s personnel losses on offense since last season. LSU’s opener was cut short and canceled. Is that an edge for Mississippi State or LSU? We say Mississippi State.

Mississippi State 24–17

 

Braden Gall:

LSU has won seven straight and 11-of-12 since 1984 in Starkville. Having their game cancelled last week probably hurts Brandon Harris' development but LSU's running game should be way too much for a defense that is totally reworked under new coordinator Many Diaz. Dak Prescott will be great but he can't do it alone. Geaux Tigers. LSU 27-23

 

Steven Lassan:

LSU’s opener was canceled due to weather, so this will be our first look at the Tigers this season. How much has quarterback Brandon Harris progressed since the end of 2014? That’s the big question. Winning in Starkville isn’t easy, especially with Dak Prescott guiding the Bulldogs’ offense. I’ll take LSU’s defense to get one late stop that shifts this game in favor of Les Miles’ team.

LSU 24-20

 

Mitch Light:

Brandon Harris’ only start last season against an SEC opponent was a disaster; he completed 3-of-14 passes for 52 yards in a 41–7 loss at Auburn in early October. The reports in preseason camp were all positive, but Harris — now a sophomore — will have to prove himself to a skeptical fan base that is growing frustrated by the program’s inconsistency at the quarterback position under Les Miles.

LSU 24-20

 

3. Kentucky at South Carolina

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

The South Carolina defense would like to replicate last week’s key stats — three interceptions, four sacks — against Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles. The Wildcats, though, have the balanced attack that could give South Carolina trouble.

South Carolina 31–27

 

Braden Gall:

This is a huge game for both teams in the SEC East pecking order. The Carolina defense showed marked improvement last weekend in a win over North Carolina. Kentucky gave up a lot of points and yards to a quality ULL team last week. Both got good wins and both need this one badly, but I'll take the home team. South Carolina 30-27

 

Steven Lassan:

Intriguing matchup. Neither team played particularly well in the opener, and there’s an injury concern with South Carolina quarterback Connor Mitch. Kentucky’s bowl hopes would get a boost with a win here, but the defense has to play better after struggling in the opener. This one is essentially a toss-up game, so I’ll go with the home team.

South Carolina 31-27

 

Mitch Light:

Both teams won in Week 1, but neither staff had to be overly pleased. South Carolina was sluggish on offense (17 points against UNC), and Kentucky let a 23-point lead in the second half evaporate before scoring late to beat UL-Lafayette.

Kentucky 27-24 

 

4. Georgia at Vanderbilt

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

 

David Fox:

Vanderbilt beat Georgia on the Bulldogs’ last trip to Nashville in 2013. That seems like eons ago. Vandy’s new defense may give Georgia trouble, but the ‘Dores can’t score.

Georgia 31–10

 

Braden Gall:

The Dawgs should win easily but have struggled in Nashville historically. This Dores defense wasn't the problem in the loss to Western Kentucky and should provide a great early barometer for Georgia's new starting quarterback Greyson Lambert. Georgia 37-13

 

Steven Lassan:

Even though Vanderbilt came up short in the opener against WKU, coach Derek Mason’s team showed improvement off last year’s 3-9 mark. While the Commodores are better, it’s going to take a lot to knock off Georgia. The Bulldogs win this one with defense and the ground attack.

Georgia 34-13

 

Mitch Light:

Vanderbilt limited Western Kentucky to 246 yards in Week 1 but lost the game due to its inability to convert in the red zone. Georgia barely broke a sweat in a dominating win over ULM. 

Georgia 27-10

 

5. Toledo at Arkansas

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

The Rockets had a top-20 rush offense and rush defense last season, but they’ll be without star tailback Kareem Hunt, who is suspended for two games. If the Razorbacks continue to be the balanced offense they showed in the opener, this could be a lopsided finish.

Arkansas 38–10

 

Braden Gall:

Brandon Allen was spectacular last weekend but the level of competition was highly questionable. The Rockets are better but only slightly — and certainly won't be able to hang with the Hogs along the line of scrimmage. Arkansas 35-7

 

Steven Lassan:

Arkansas was sharp in its opener, as quarterback Brandon Allen completed 14 of 18 passes for 308 yards in guiding the offense to an average of 9.1 yards per play. Toledo’s opener against Stony Brook was canceled due to weather, and the Rockets won’t have their best offensive weapon in running back Kareem Hunt.

Arkansas 41-17

 

Mitch Light:

Toledo’s Kareem Hunt, the nation’s leading returning rusher (1,631 yards in 2014), will miss this game due to a suspension. That’s a big blow to the Rockets’ upset hopes. 

Arkansas 40-17

 

6. Missouri at Arkansas State

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Mizzou still has to work out the kinks on offense. Of Missouri’s 10 pass catchers against Southeast Missouri State, eight were freshmen and sophomores.

Missouri 31–13

 

Braden Gall:

The Red Wolves are the team to beat in the Sun Belt, but Maty Mauk will be too much. Missouri 34-17

 

Steven Lassan:

Arkansas State didn’t play well in its opener at USC, but it should be a different story this week. The Red Wolves are at home, and the offense still has plenty of firepower behind quarterback Fredi Knighten. Missouri does have two notable players injured in center Evan Boehm and running back Russell Hansbrough. The Tigers win, but Arkansas State can make it interesting.

Missouri 34-20

 

Mitch Light:

Missouri was impressive in a 34–3 win over SE Missouri State last week, but quarterback Matty Mauk completed only 12-of-22 passes. A low completion percentage has been an issue throughout his career. 

Missouri 31-13

 

7. East Carolina at Florida

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

 

David Fox:

Florida will allow its quarterback competition to continue for another week after Treon Harris, who earned the Game 1 start, and Will Grier were nearly perfect in the opener against New Mexico State. Florida is facing East Carolina for the second time in three games after defeating the Pirates 28–20 in last season’s Birmingham Bowl.

Florida 38–14

 

Braden Gall:

This isn't a vintage ECU team and Florida showed signs of life on offense last week, scoring more than 60 points and posting more than 600 yards of offense - even if it was against New Mexico State. Florida 38-17

 

Steven Lassan:

A rematch of last year’s Birmingham Bowl. The Gators were sharp in their opener against New Mexico State, but it’s tough to read too much into that victory. The quarterback battle is worth monitoring, as Will Grier and Treon Harris are expected to share snaps once again. East Carolina could hang around for a quarter on Saturday night, but this team lost its starting quarterback late in fall practice and won by eight in its opener against Towson.

Florida 41-13

 

Mitch Light:

ECU received a bit of a scare in the opening week before surviving for a 28–20 win over Towson. This should be relatively stress-free for the Gators. 

Florida 44-17

 

8. MTSU at Alabama

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

Nick Saban says he’s going on “feel” for his quarterback. Jake Coker (15-of-21, TD against Wisconsin) and Cooper Bateman (7-of-8) have to feel good after seeing action in the opener. Alabama may have one more game of tryouts before Ole Miss.

Alabama 42–10

 

Braden Gall:

Roll Damn Tide. Alabama 45-7

 

Steven Lassan:

Jake Coker was solid in his debut, but a big test looms next week against Ole Miss. MTSU should be a good opportunity for Coker and this offense to work out some of the kinks. Assuming the score is out of hand as expected, how many quarterbacks will play for the Crimson Tide?

Alabama 45-10

 

Mitch Light:

Middle Tennessee, quarterbacked by the head coach’s son (Brent Stockstill), was one of three teams nationally to score 70 points in Week 1. The guess here is that won’t happen this week in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama 41-14 

 

9. Ball State at Texas A&M

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray will both see work again. Will Kevin Sumlin stick with one or the other or go with a two-QB plan?

Texas A&M 49–14

 

Braden Gall:

Look for more pressure from the John Chavis defensive line and big plays from youngsters Christian Kirk and Kyler Murray. Texas A&M 51-20

 

Steven Lassan:

Texas A&M’s defense looked great in the opener against Arizona State. Now the offense has a chance to flex its muscles against a Ball State defense that allowed 36 points to VMI last Thursday.

Texas A&M 50-17

 

Mitch Light:

Texas A&M was one of the more impressive teams in the first week of the season, beating Arizona State by 21 points in Houston. Ball State gave up 547 yards in a win vs. VMI. This will not end well for the Cardinals. 

Texas A&M 48-10

 

10. Fresno State at Ole Miss

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

 

David Fox:

This isn’t a vintage Fresno State squad, but the Bulldogs are still a step up from the UT Martin team Ole Miss beat by 73 points on Saturday afternoon.

Ole Miss 42–7

 

Braden Gall:

This isn't a vintage Bulldogs team, and Ole Miss might be as good as its been in 50 years. Ole Miss 40-10

 

Steven Lassan:

Fresno State has pulled a few upsets against Power 5 opponents in previous years. However, don’t expect it to happen here as the Bulldogs are rebuilding. New Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was impressive in his debut and should build on that performance in Week 2.

Ole Miss 45-13

 

Mitch Light:

Ole Miss averaged 10.3 yards per play against UT Martin. That is very good. 

Ole Miss 44-10

 

11. Jacksonville State at Auburn

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

Jeremy Johnson should have a much more efficient game after going 11-of-21 with three interceptions against Louisville.

Auburn 56–7

 

Braden Gall:

I doubt Jeremy Johnson looks as bad this weekend. Auburn 49-13

 

Steven Lassan:

Expect the Tigers to use this matchup to get quarterback Jeremy Johnson back on track before next week’s game at LSU. Jacksonville State is a good FCS team, but Auburn simply has too much talent for this one to be close.

Auburn 48-10

 

Mitch Light:

It’s too early to panic, but Auburn’s offense was surprisingly underwhelming in Week 1. The Tigers averaged 5.3 yards per play, and quarterback Jeremy Johnson was intercepted three times. Yes, Louisville was a tough first test, but the expectations are always high for a Gus Malzahn offense. 

Auburn 44-17

Teaser:
SEC Week 2 Predictions 2015
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 10:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/byu-football-players-embrace-taysom-hill-after-learning-hell-be-out-season
Body:

BYU will have to go on without senior quarterback Taysom Hill.

 

It didn't look good on the field, but coming to grips with that they feared the most is a heart-wrenching moment. The other seniors on the team felt the loss more than anyone. They knew this was supposed to be Hill's year.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 10:04
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-cover-2-podcast-2015-week-2-preview
Body:

Week 2 isn't a heavy week of action for College Football but the big games that dot the schedule are... HUGE!

 

Hosts Mitch Light and Braden Gall go in-depth, breaking down and predicting the Oregon-Michigan State, Oklahoma-Tennessee and LSU-Mississippi State matchups.

 

The guys also pick every Top 25 game, offer locks of the week against the spread and cover THE LEAST IMPORTANT GAME OF THE WEEK!

 

 

Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @AthlonMitch or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com/podcastiTunesStitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
College Football Cover 2 Podcast: 2015 Week 2 Preview
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 10:00

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