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Week 11 of the college football season kicks off with some Tuesday night #MACtion, including Bowling Green taking on Buffalo in Upstate New York.

 

The Falcons (2-7, 2-3 MAC) are coming off of a dominating 44-16 road win against Kent State on Halloween night. The Bulls (3-6, 1-4 MAC) last played at Akron on Oct. 28 where they lost 21-20. With just three games remaining, Buffalo must snap its four-game losing streak to have a shot at finishing with six wins and gaining bowl eligibility.

 

What’s more, the Bulls are looking to snap a six-game losing streak to their MAC East rivals. Buffalo’s last victory over Bowling Green came back in 2010. The past three games between these two have been decided by no more than eight points, including last year’s 27-19 Falcons victory.

 

Bowling Green at Buffalo

 

Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: Buffalo -10.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. No. 1 QBs back in action

Bowling Green welcomed back freshman Jarret Doege, younger brother of former Texas Tech star Seth Doege, to the starting lineup last week against Kent State. Jarret Doege replaced James Morgan as the starter in the Falcons’ fourth game only to suffer a back injury the following week. Although it was initially feared he was lost for the season, Doege was cleared to return and he helped lead Bowling Green to a 44-16 win over the Golden Flashes last Tuesday. He was effective, completing 14 of his 18 pass attempts for 174 yards and two touchdowns and, perhaps more importantly, didn’t turn the ball over. He’ll look to build on that performance against a Buffalo defense that has done a decent job against the pass (195.3 ypg allowed) and limiting teams on the scoreboard (24.7 ppg), but still gives up a fair amount of yards (404.8 ypg).

 

Similar to the Falcons, the Bulls also have had to use multiple starters at quarterback because of injury. Tyree Jackson opened the season as the starter, but he got hurt and was replaced by Drew Anderson, who played well (10 TDs, INT) over four games. But Anderson also got hurt, forcing head coach Lance Leipold to remove the redshirt from Kyle Vantrease, one of the top recruits in the Bulls’ 2017 class. As can be expected, Vantrease struggled in his first taste of action (43.9 percent completion rate, 2 TDs, 2 INTs), but Jackson returned last week against Akron and should be the starter moving forward, as long as he stays healthy.

 

A dual threat, Jackson is second on the team in rushing (222 yards, 4 TDs) even though he’s missed several games. However, he may find more success attacking Bowling Green’s defense through the air. The Falcons are tied for 10th in the MAC (out of 12 teams) in passing defense, giving up 251.3 yards per game. Buffalo is third in the conference in passing offense at 271.1 yards per game and the three quarterbacks have combined for 15 touchdown passes and only five interceptions.

 

2. Buffalo WR Anthony Johnson

With Jackson back under center for the Bulls, you can bet he will look for Johnson, his favorite target. The junior wide receiver is third in the nation with 888 receiving yards and he’s 13th with 55 catches. While 12 other receivers have more receptions than Johnson to this point, no one is averaging more than his 16.2 yards per catch (tied with Colorado State’s Michael Gallup).

 

Johnson has six touchdown catches thus far and has recorded three 100-yard receiving games. Given Bowling Green’s defensive issues, it’s entirely possible he will make it four such efforts on Tuesday night.

 

3. Bowling Green RB Andrew Clair

With 111 rushing yards last week against Kent State, the Falcons’ freshman running back posted his fourth consecutive 100-yard game. After not playing much early in the season, Clair (above, right) has emerged and now finds himself fourth in the MAC in rushing at 70.6 yards per game. In conference games only he’s gaining 103 yards per game on the ground and overall is averaging an impressive eight yards per carry.

 

Buffalo’s defense ranks near the bottom of the MAC against the run (209.4 ypg), but the Bulls are very solid at linebacker with Khalil Hodge, second in the nation in tackles (13.2 per game), leading the way. Bowling Green also is dealing with injuries along its offensive line, as starting center Tim McAuliffe and right guard Jack Kramer both missed last week’s game because of knee injuries. Statistics aside, Buffalo’s defense figures to pose a stiffer test for the Falcons compared to Kent State so it will be interesting to see if Clair can maintain his recent production running behind a makeshift offensive line.

 

Final Analysis

 

Bowling Green has the momentum after last week’s convincing win over Kent State while Buffalo enters with a four-game losing streak. But the Bulls need this game more since they still have a shot at bowl eligibility if they can win out. Falcons running back Andrew Clair has been a force on the ground recently, but Buffalo’s offense is whole once again following the return of starting quarterback Tyree Jackson. And while the records are similar, the Bulls have lost four games by four points or fewer, three of those coming in MAC play. Look for Buffalo to snap its losing streak in front of the home crowd on Tuesday night.

 

Prediction: Buffalo 31, Bowling Green 20

 

(Khalil Hodge photo courtesy of Paul Hokanson/UBBulls.com, Andrew Clair photo courtesy of www.bgsufalcons.com)

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Post date: Monday, November 6, 2017 - 12:40
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In the second week of Tuesday night MACtion, Akron and Miami (Ohio) meet in Oxford with the two teams heading in the opposite direction entering the matchup. Akron sports a 4-1 record in its last five games, while Miami has done the opposite during the same stretch. Miami leads the all-time series 16-9-1, but the Zips carry the momentum having won the last four meetings. The last time Miami beat Akron in Oxford was in 2011, a 35-3 victory over the Zips.

 

Akron enters at 5-4, with a 4-1 record in MAC play, good enough to tie the Zips with Ohio for first in the MAC East. Akron opened 2017 with a 52-0 thumping at the hands of then-No. 6 Penn State, then responded with a 52-3 win over FCS opponent Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Losses against a very good Iowa State team and a five-point loss at Troy hurt their non-conference résumé, but the Zips answered with three consecutive wins against Bowling Green, Ball State and Western Michigan. The only blemish in their MAC slate thus far was a 27-point loss at West Division leader Toledo. This begins a run of three consecutive Tuesday games for Akron, who will take on Ohio and Kent State to finish the regular season.

 

Miami has struggled mightily in recent games, dropping three in a row at one point and now four of its last five. The RedHawks opened MAC play with a 17-point win against Central Michigan, but followed up a 35-point loss to Notre Dame with one-possession losses against Bowling Green and Kent State. Four of Miami’s six losses in 2017 have come by eight or fewer points, so the RedHawks been in a position to win a number of games but could not close the deal down the stretch. Meanwhile, each of the three wins (FCS opponent Austin Peay, CMU, Buffalo) have been by double digits. Miami needs to win its final three games (Eastern Michigan and Ball State follow Akron) to make a bowl, which would be its second straight after missing out on the postseason from 2011-15.

 

Akron at Miami

 

Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Miami (Ohio) -5.5


Three Things to Watch

 
1. Miami WR James Gardner vs. Akron’s porous pass defense 
Gardner (above, right) has been on fire in his junior campaign. The RedHawks' top weapon leads the MAC with nine touchdown receptions and 20.1 yards per reception, and he also ranks among the top 12 nationally in both categories. Additionally, his 94.1 receiving yards per game are good for third in the conference. He’ll have a tremendous matchup going up against Akron’s pass defense, which has been downright atrocious in 2017. The Zips allow an average 257 yards through the air per game this season, which is worst in the MAC and in the bottom third of the FBS.

 

2. Time of possession
Not only does Miami have arguably one of the most dangerous offensive players in the country in Gardner, but the RedHawks manage to keep possession for 32-plus minutes per game, second in the MAC and 15th in the FBS. That’s a deadly combination, a team that can strike at any time and can chew up the clock once it gets a lead. The key for Akron is two-fold: stop Gardner, and get out to an early lead. If the RedHawks can get out in front and control the clock, it’ll be a long night for the Zips.

 

3. Akron’s quick-strike defense vs. Miami QB
One big way for Akron to prevent Miami from jumping out in front early and keeping possession? The Zips' defense might give up a lot of yards, but it is very opportunistic. Akron has 11 interceptions in 2017, which is second best in the MAC and 21st in the nation. Pair that with three defensive touchdowns, which leads the conference and is sixth-most nationally.

Miami has proven that it loves to air it out with Gardner, but who will be throwing him the ball?

 

Gus Ragland opened the season as the starter and has been steady (12 TDs, 4 INTs), but far from spectacular (53.3 percent completion rate, 233 ypg). He got hurt a month ago against Bowling Green and was replaced by fellow junior Billy Bahl. He struggled in a bad loss to Kent State, but made enough plays to help the RedHawks beat Buffalo and then put up some big numbers (350 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) in last week’s loss to Ohio. Ragland dressed for the game against the Bobcats and there was some talk that he may return, but he didn’t see the field. Bahl is listed as the starter for Tuesday night on the depth chart (dated Nov. 1) in the game notes, but that doesn’t mean Ragland won’t return. Whoever is under center, chances are he will have a short leash.

 

Final Analysis

 
The teams come into Tuesday night on different trajectories, but both are still mathematically alive for a bowl, with Akron (5-4) in a much better spot than Miami (3-6). Akron can become bowl eligible with a win, and would join Ohio, Toledo and Northern Illinois in the postseason if the Zips can do so. Miami, meanwhile, would move back to .500 in MAC play with a win, which would be the first step of three on the RedHawks' quest to return to the postseason. And in a last-minute twist, Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson was suspended for this game. Kato Nelson will start for the Zips.

 

Prediction: Miami 31, Akron 28

 

— Written by Juan Jose Rodriguez, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and currently a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Rodriguez was an intern for Athlon during summer 2017 and works for a variety of media outlets on campus, including as the Associate Editor of Scholastic Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @JuanJoseRG02.

 

(Photos courtesy of www.miamiredhawks.com)

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Carnage. Everywhere.

 

At least it felt that way heading into Sunday morning after a college football slate that will dredge up memories from a decade ago – of the weekly chaos that happened seemingly every Saturday back in 2007. Unlike that bizarre season that will forever go down in the sport’s lore for its wackiness, this time around we’re dealing with a postseason picture that involves four national title contenders instead of two.

 

But while the field has expanded, the results from this most recent weekend have only further served to narrow the options the College Football Playoff selection committee has to consider. So let’s break down the chase once again and who’s still got a chance to reach a semifinal and who needs just a little bit of help.

 

Leaders of the pack: Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame

 

It’s very simple for these three, win out and you’re in. If any of them lose though, all bets are off and it seems more likely than not that they’ll be left out. Yes, that might include the Crimson Tide too even if we all rightfully give them the benefit of the doubt.

 

Remember, Top 25 wins are always going to be a big deal in terms of making the playoff. The SEC does not help either the Tide or the Bulldogs in this regard and it seems to reason that Alabama could have just two (Mississippi State, Georgia) come Selection Sunday while UGA would not be much better with three (Notre Dame, Mississippi State and Alabama). When you factor in the potential loser in Atlanta wouldn’t have a conference title either, things could get dicey when looking at them vs. a potential one-loss Big 12 or ACC champ.

 

Still, those are questions to discuss down the road. For now, all three of these teams just need to keep playing like they have been and posting win after win.

 

In good position: Oklahoma, TCU, Clemson, Miami

 

The Tigers and Hurricanes will have a de facto play-in game in Charlotte during the ACC Championship Game if things shake out like they should (even if Miami loses to Notre Dame on Saturday). Oklahoma and TCU have strong enough resumes, especially the Sooners, that if either wins out they will almost certainly be in. Depending on how the final month goes in the Big 12, they also likely will have more Top 25 wins than their ACC counterparts and can avoid a trip to the Sugar Bowl against the SEC champion. That alone will be a big factor down the stretch.

 

It will be more interesting to compare the ACC and Big 12 champions to the loser of the SEC title game if such a scenario plays out but if that does indeed happen, don’t be shocked if both of these make it in thanks to that conference title they can hold over the runner-up of a weaker league.

 

Outside looking in: Wisconsin, Washington, Auburn

 

If anybody benefited most from the chaos of Week 10, it was the two UW’s who are still hovering on the fringes of the postseason debate but figure to remain in the conversation until the final weekend. The Badgers improbably moved to No. 3 in the Coaches Poll but nobody outside of the diehards in Madison (and even they’re realistic) believe this is one of the three best teams in the country.

 

That said, Paul Chryst does have a very good – and just as important, consistent – team. The Badgers win in the second half, they run the ball, they don’t turn it over, they play solid defense. The program has won 30 games in the past three seasons and if they wind up prevailing in Indianapolis to cap off a perfect run, they have every right to try their luck in the playoff.

 

As for the Huskies, the team has not looked anything close to last year’s edition that went to the Peach Bowl but there were some encouraging signs in their blowout of rival Oregon. Jake Browning threw some of his best passes in months against a solid Ducks defense and the offensive line/run game was impressive in a way they haven’t been since September. As you would expect from a Chris Petersen-coached team, execution is typically pretty high on a weekly basis and the defense remains one of the best groups west of the Mississippi.

 

The biggest obstacle for Washington is its thin margin for error is magnified by not having many good wins. The Huskies have beaten just one team that’s bowl eligible at the moment (Fresno State) and may wind up with just two Top 25 wins if they’re able to secure the Apple Cup against Washington State and then get some revenge against USC in the Pac-12 title game. Two good wins just won’t cut it when we’re talking about the final four and it’s not hard to see a two-loss Oklahoma or Notre Dame having a better resume (and pass the eye test) than the Huskies. Maybe they flip the switch and turn it on this month but there’s a reason they’re in a group that needs a lot of help.

 

Auburn remains a dark horse but if they can upset the top two teams in a three-week span to win the SEC, that should be more than enough to clear a path to a semifinal and enter the dance (however unlikely as it seems now).

 

All told, that’s 10 programs for four spots. You’d like to think that should be enough without the committee having to dip into the ranks of the two-loss teams and ignite a firestorm of debate over including an Ohio State, USC or UCF that simply wouldn’t have the quality wins to be in the conversation.

 

Don’t be shocked if the chaos we experienced this past weekend carries over into the upcoming Saturday, when there will be seven games involving two ranked teams and three matchups of top-10 teams on the slate. Teams to remember win in November and we’re seeing once again just how hard that is to do in college football. The playoff field has narrowed and will do so again after Saturday as we come to realize that sometimes four might just be the right number after all when it comes to determining the national champion at the end of the season.

 

A few other takeaways from a wild Saturday:

 

2. B1G time shakeup thanks to Ohio State

No conference experienced a more disappointing weekend than Jim Delany’s league as the Big Ten went from a trio of playoff contenders to possibly just one. While you could kind of see Michigan State’s upset of Penn State coming – the Nittany Lions on the road again after an emotional loss, the Spartans playing everybody close – what happened to Ohio State in Iowa was downright shocking. In fact, many Buckeyes probably moved on from shock to celebrating the comedy of the moment by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

 

While some may think that last year’s humiliating defeat to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal was the worst loss of Urban Meyer’s career, I still think it was this absolute no-show performance in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes had beaten OSU just three times in the past 30 years (though they obviously haven’t played every season) and entered the game as a 21-point home underdog. To not only lose but get run off the field was borderline unfathomable for a preseason No. 2 team that has the same amount of talent as Alabama, Georgia and Clemson.

 

 

J.T. Barrett went from playing nearly perfect at quarterback to turning the ball over at will. It really seemed like the Buckeyes went from playing a winnable game from behind to unravelling completely once DE Nick Bosa was ejected. OSU gave up 31 points in the first half and suffered just its second road loss under Meyer since he arrived in Columbus as a result. The fact that you didn’t even need to tune in for the second half said as much as anything.

 

Ohio State can still win the Big Ten East and, eventually, the conference with wins over the next few weeks (Buckeyes will be favored the rest of the way). But after yet another shocking loss – made even worse by the opponent and the final score – it’s hard to view 2017 as anything but a massive disappointment after all the stars were aligned for another national title run. While other programs in the Big Ten measure themselves in terms of conference championships, that’s not the case with the Buckeyes and that is only further underscored after that return home from Iowa.

 

3. Bedlam track meet

For those too young or who never played, Saturday’s edition of Bedlam was one of the closest games of actual college football that we’ve seen come close to replicating what it was like to play the NCAA Football video game on the freshman level settings (the other that comes to mind also involves Oklahoma last season). It was clear coming in that the offenses would control this one from the start and we’d be in store for a track meet but even the most veteran observers of the series had to be shocked at the lack of defense being played in what amounted to a 7-on-7 show in Stillwater.

 

That said, there’s a reason for all of it because the offenses were just that good. The Sooners wound up with 785 yards and averaged 10.3 yards per play. The 114 points were a series record for the two rivals and QB Baker Mayfield shattered school records for both passing yards and total offense. It was a devastating blow to the Cowboys’ hopes of making it to the Big 12 title game and may end up being the difference in them sneaking into a New Year’s Six bowl as well.

 

What really struck me was just how routine it all felt, especially after OU recovered from some early mistakes in the shadow of their own end zone.

 

“Winning around here is expected. Winning against Oklahoma State is expected,” said Mayfield after the game.

 

He’s not wrong. While we like to think of this as one of the more competitive rivalries in college football that was Oklahoma’s 87th win in the series against just 18 losses to the Cowboys. OSU has won just two of the past 15 meetings and never pulled an upset of a higher ranked OU team during Bedlam. The Sooners are an incredible 15-1 if both sides are ranked so this isn’t completely a case of a dominant program beating up on an overmatched in-state rival either.

 

Mayfield and company will have no time to celebrate the victory and rest on their laurels however, as TCU comes to town for a potential Big 12 Championship Game preview. There should be a lot more defense being played in that one even if that means the game won’t be quite as fun and high scoring as Bedlam was.

 

4. SEC coaching changes

It’s looking more and more like a good year to be a coaching agent or a successful head coach of a Group of 5 school with SEC ties. That’s because it’s looking more and more like the SEC is going to making wide-scale changes across the league after another weekend of several teams falling on their faces.

 

Reports are already surfacing out of College Station that the thing everybody predicted – Texas A&M parting ways with Kevin Sumlin – will happen as soon as the season wraps up as even getting to 8-5 is starting to feel like a stretch following such a lackluster effort against Auburn. The Aggies will not be alone in making a change however and that was certainly reinforced on Saturday.

 

At Tennessee, Butch Jones further angered his fan base by burning the redshirt of Will McBride in what was otherwise a lost season that could at best end with a 6-6 mark going into a bowl game. Florida is of course already open, as is Ole Miss. The expectation around the industry is that Mississippi State will be open as the question is becoming where Dan Mullen departs to and not when. Plus, let’s just say that Arkansas needing a second straight fourth-quarter rally to beat a terrible team (now 1-8 Coastal Carolina) is likely going to be the extra push AD Jeff Long needs to finally sever ties with Bret Bielema.

 

That’s six openings and there’s always the potential for more due to performance (especially at Auburn in the home stretch) or other unforeseen circumstances (a surprise NFL poaching?). In what has been a wild year for the conference, things figure to look very different come Media Week in Hoover next year.

 

5. ACC collision course

As much as we make things out to be these epic, season-long quests to reach a conference title game, sometimes it just works out to where we get more of an NFL playoff-style march to a championship – especially as we enter the home stretch in November. Such has certainly been the case in the ACC, where we entered the week with four teams holding a realistic shot of winning the conference going into what amounted to a pair of semifinal games in Raleigh and Miami.

 

Clemson still doesn’t look as sharp as it did earlier this season but the Tigers nevertheless managed to survive a late scare from NC State to escape with a solid road victory and basically lock up the Atlantic Division. The Tigers’ defense was uncharacteristically lax along their front and the lack of pressure at times allowed Ryan Finley to connect on a few big plays down the field. Also concerning was the running game, which featured a long Tavien Feaster gain but was otherwise held pretty in check outside of a few Kelly Bryant scampers.

 

Still, Dabo Swinney’s team will remain in the top five again this week and will likely be assured of a playoff spot if the defending national champs win out the rest of the way.

 

In the other half of the bracket, one has to take a step back and realize that Miami’s convincing victory over Virginia Tech should all but seal up the Hurricanes’ first division title since joining the league in 2004. While Mark Richt’s squad has been playing with fire the past month, the Hurricanes survived some turnovers Saturday night with a fast and physical defense and fed off the rare energy of the crowd to get some big plays and put this game away after controlling throughout.

 

There’s no question that Miami is lucky to be undefeated at this point in the year but it’s time to acknowledge that the ‘Canes are also good too. The combination of those two factors typically keeps a team in title contention and helps you win a lot of games too – as is the case for this ahead-of-schedule version of UM. In past years, people were quick to proclaim “The U” was back and then the team would fall flat in a big moment like on Saturday. In a pleasant surprise, the Hurricanes were not flat at all but ready for what was thrown at them by a very solid Hokies side that has both talent and coaching on their side.

 

It might not be quite the time to start buying tickets to conference title games but we’re getting very, very close in a number of leagues after this weekend’s results. While the Tigers may be experienced in making the trip up to Charlotte by now, it might be a little surreal to finally see Miami start making plans to join them after so many false starts over the years.

 

6. Comeback club

We’re entering the stretch where many teams around the country become bowl eligible as they reach that magic six-win mark on the season. While you can complain about how it doesn’t matter that much to some bigger schools or the fact that there’s too many bowl games, we’ve seen several programs get back to the postseason after posting a truly dreadful 2016 campaign. Case in point?

 

UAB is bowl eligible after blowing out Rice on Saturday despite the program not actually playing football the two years prior. Florida Atlantic (3-9), FIU (4-8), Fresno State (1-11), Virginia (2-10) and Marshall (3-9) were absolutely dreadful in 2016 and three of the programs made mid-season coaching changes. Now all will be in the postseason. Chad Morris’ SMU squad also will go to a bowl game for the first time since 2012 and for only the fifth time since 1985. Iowa State will be bowling for the first time since 2012 too.

 

It may be a routine at schools like Ohio State or USC or Alabama but in some places, hitting that magic number and getting an extra game in December does mean something. Kudos to all of the teams above on quite the comeback.

 

7. Cathartic victories

A final shoutout to Baylor, which blew out Kansas on the road for the program’s first win in just over a full year. The cathartic victory came after half a dozen agonizing chances this season and may be the Bears’ only shot at winning a game depending on what version of Texas Tech shows up in Arlington this Saturday. This has been a rougher season than anybody imagined in Matt Rhule’s first campaign but you can’t fault an overmatched team for giving up, as the Bears play others tougher than most major programs who gave up dreams of making a bowl game weeks ago.

 

Also a congrats goes out to Utah (ending a four-game skid by throttling UCLA), Eastern Michigan (an easy victory after six losses by one possession), Missouri (first three-game winning streak since the beginning of 2015) and Cincinnati (first road conference win in two years).

 

Stat(s) of the Week

 

Texas Tech is 1-26 when trailing at halftime under Kliff Kingsbury.

 

Tweet of the Week

 

 

Superlatives of the Week

 

Best player: Dante Pettis, Washington (New FBS record for punt return TDs)

Heisman five: 1. Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), 2. Saquon Barkley (Penn State), 3. Josh Adams (Notre Dame) 4. Bryce Love (Stanford), 5. Khalil Tate (Arizona)

Projected final four: 1. Alabama, 2. Notre Dame, 3. Oklahoma, 4. Clemson

Team of the week: UAB

Honorary Les Miles goat of the week: Urban Meyer, Ohio State

Quote of the week: “I'll just say two things. It ain't in our playbook, okay? If the play is not in our playbook, then I didn't call it, so I'll let you connect the dots. I normally don't throw players under the bus, right?” – Kirk Ferentz on calling a fake punt up five scores.

 

Play of the Week

 

 

Super 16

 

I’m a voter in the FWAA/National Football Foundation Super 16 Poll and will be releasing my ballot here every week. Here’s my ballot heading into Week 11.

 

1. Alabama

2. Georgia

3. Notre Dame

4. Oklahoma

5. Clemson

6. TCU

7. Miami

8. Wisconsin

9. Auburn  

10. UCF

11. Ohio State

12. Penn State

13. USC

14. Washington

15. Memphis

16. Michigan State

 

Best of the rest: Washington State, Oklahoma State, NC State, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Mississippi State, Michigan, Toledo, Arizona

 

Pre-snap Reads

 

Notre Dame at Miami

The best part of these two playing will be the fact that we get to see highlights of all their past meetings, including all the times it factored into the national title race. Both defenses are vastly underrated and I think this has the makings of a low-scoring game where yards and points are hard to come by. The Irish on the road get it done but this one will be decided on a handful of big plays.

 

TCU at Oklahoma

This might be the first of two meetings between the Sooners and Horned Frogs depending on how the final few weeks of the Big 12 race will be. TCU has not been quite as sharp offensively as it was early in the year but Gary Patterson’s defense is going to be the best Oklahoma faces all season. I’m not picking against Baker Mayfield again but the Horned Frogs always show up to play in Norman and make this a close one.

 

Georgia at Auburn

Being on the Plains should help the Tigers tremendously in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry but I’m not convinced their offensive line is going to hold up against that Georgia front seven. Both teams will look to establish the run and control the clock so this one will have limited possessions and be lower scoring than you’d expect. Bulldogs feel like they win by 10 after a late score in the fourth quarter to salt the game away.

 

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.

 

(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)

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Seven-Step Drop: Playoff Field Narrows After Weekend of College Football Carnage
Post date: Monday, November 6, 2017 - 10:30
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One team has a healthy quarterback who can’t score in the red zone. The other has a quarterback still learning how to score, period.

 

But while Matthew Stafford may make the difference in his team’s playoff hopes, all eyes in Monday night’s NFL matchup between the Lions and Packers will be on Brett Hundley. The Packers' backup quarterback will make his second start after Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone injury, this time armed with a bye week and some time to get used to snaps with the first-team offense.

 

We worked exclusively through the week,” said head coach Mike McCarthy, who confirmed Hundley stayed in Green Bay through his “vacation.” “I think it’s valuable, (to let him) catch his breath, have a little more time. I think that’s always beneficial when you can step away from the normal schedule and push the focus towards the individual.”

 

Hundley also has help from Rodgers, back in Green Bay after successful surgery to repair that collarbone. But will it be enough? The schedule, on paper, seems manageable. Winnable games against the Browns, Bears, and Buccaneers lie ahead until a potential Rodgers return Dec. 17 against Carolina.

 

Assuming losses to the Steelers and Ravens during that same stretch, this means the Lions game could make the postseason difference. A 7-6 Packers team, likely well behind Minnesota for the NFC North title would be difficult to recover from compared to 8-5.

 

The Lions, for their part would love that Packers tiebreaker in their bid to get to 4-4. Going to 2-0 versus NFC North opponents would give them victories against the two teams they’re competing against for the division. But can Stafford get the offense to score?

 

It’s a battle of which offense gets going first that’ll decide this crucial Monday night contest.

 

Detroit at Green Bay

 

Kickoff: Monday, Nov. 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Lions -2.0

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can the Packers' run game help Hundley out?

Brett Hundley had an awful day in his first NFL start against the Saints. Throwing for just 87 yards, he went without a touchdown pass, threw a pick and earned a paltry QB rating of just 39.9.

 

But the Packers were still a threat to win that game due to the performance of rookie running back Aaron Jones. A career-best 131 rushing yards, his second such breakout in three weeks, kept New Orleans' defense on its toes. His 5.58 yards per carry ranks second in the NFL to Alex Collins.

 

Against a Lions defense that is sixth in the league against the run (91.6 ypg) this battle of the trenches has to be won by the Packers. Hundley has some scampering ability of his own, rushing for 44 yards and a score his last time out. Breaking through the Lions' front line will give this young quarterback the extra time needed to make some throws. An expected return of left guard Lane Taylor, who missed the Saints game with an ankle problem, can only help.

 

I’d also like to see better short passing plays drawn up from Green Bay this time out. Hundley’s longest completed pass was 14 yards against the Saints and it’s clear he’s not yet ready to go deep. The Packers own some speedy receivers in Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. Why not set up some more dinks and dunks around the line of scrimmage, letting these guys try to make the difference against the defense? Jones can be incredibly useful in that type of passing game, as well.

 

Bottom line, more offensive diversity is going to be needed with a team that took a step back at the QB position. We’ll see if the bye week allowed the Packers to take a much-needed move in that direction.

 

2. Can the Lions score in the red zone?

Matthew Stafford would be the first one to tell you the Lions' offense blew an opportunity to beat the Steelers. Three second-half possessions inside the 10-yard line produced a total of three points! That’s not how you’re going to win football games; the dreadful performance dropped Detroit’s red zone offense to 28th in the NFL.

 

The Lions piled up 482 yards in that game, third-most in NFL history without scoring a touchdown. Everyone from Stafford, to the run game, to Golden Tate (who lost a fumble) shares in that blame.

 

The Lions clearly have a talented offense, from Tate to Marvin Jones to Stafford, whose 1,851 passing yards ranks 12th in the league. But their struggling rushing attack hurts them most in the red zone. Whether it’s Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick or someone else, the Lions need to have “that guy” who will get them the 3-5 yards on the ground they need when it matters most.

 

3. Can the Packers' defense make a big play?

Green Bay's “D” has 13 takeaways so far this season, tied for seventh in the NFL. That’s produced a plus-four turnover margin, right in line with how Mike McCarthy’s team wins games. The Packers haven’t finished a season with a negative turnover margin since 2013.

 

That’s important considering the current state of the offense. Boosted by the likely return of veteran safety Morgan Burnett, the Packers need to keep Stafford on his heels and make some big plays. It can be done; this quarterback threw three interceptions just a few weeks ago against the Saints.

 

The Packers this year have just six picks, suffering through a rash of injuries in their secondary. That’s good for just 17th in the NFL with a unit that under Dom Capers has finished inside the top 10 in six of the last seven years in this category. At some point, you think they’d get going... right?

 

But perhaps the biggest “X” factor is Clay Matthews, the Packers' defensive star who already has a fumble forced and a fumble recovery his year. Consider Stafford has been sacked 25 times, tied for fourth most in the NFL. Putting pressure on him and their putrid running game (led by the disappointing Abdullah) can pay off.

 

The Packers' “D” needs to get it done on their home field.

 

Final Analysis

 

You would think the Lions should take this game. But don’t discount the advantage Lambeau Field offers a Packers team already 3-1 at home. The Lions have won just once up here since 1992 (1-26 during that stretch) and the forecast for Monday is expected to be wintry-like. A high of just 39 degrees is expected and while there’s no snow, cold weather (even against a team based in Detroit) puts the Packers in their comfort zone.

 

Brett Hundley won’t be perfect. The offense will still be a work in progress. But it’ll be enough.

 

Prediction: Packers 21, Lions 19

 

— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @NASCARBowles.

Teaser:
Monday Night Football: Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, November 6, 2017 - 09:30
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FCS Power Poll RankingsThe final two weeks of the FCS regular season look to be a dandy with teams jockeying for conference titles and playoff bids.

 

There’s not enough elbow room with only 24 spots (10 conference champs, 14 at-large) to go around and a large bubble. Some teams will earn bids starting this coming weekend.

 

Here is the Athlon FCS Power Poll heading into Week 11 of the regular season:

 

1. James Madison

(9-0, 6-0 CAA)

Last Week’s Ranking: 1

Last Week’s Result: 38-3 win over Rhode Island

Of Note: The Dukes scored 31 unanswered points in the second half to pull away to a Division I-leading 21st straight win.

Next Opponent: No. 22 Richmond (Nov. 11)

 

2. Jacksonville State

(8-1, 6-0 Ohio Valley)

Last Week’s Ranking: 3

Last Week’s Result: 59-23 win over Murray State

Of Note: Junior quarterback Bryant Horn isn’t dazzling, but he has settled into the starting job nicely.

Next Opponent: at UT Martin (Nov. 11)

 

3. North Dakota State

(8-1, 5-1 Missouri Valley)

Last Week’s Ranking: 2

Last Week’s Result: 33-21 loss to then-No. 7 South Dakota State

Of Note: The Bison committed an uncharacteristic five turnovers (quarterback Easton Stick had four) in falling to rival SDSU for the second straight time in the regular season.

Next Opponent: No. 10 South Dakota (Nov. 11)

 

4. Central Arkansas

(8-1, 7-0 Southland)

Last Week’s Ranking: 5

Last Week’s Result: 42-14 win over Lamar

Of Note: Young running backs Kierre Crossley and Carlos Blackman do a great job of complementing each other.

Next Opponent: at Incarnate Word (Nov. 11)

 

5. Sam Houston State

(8-1, 6-1 Southland)

Last Week’s Ranking: 6

Last Week’s Result: 57-20 win over Incarnate Word

Of Note: Senior wide receiver Yedidiah Louis (nine receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns) has come back strong after missing three games in October.

Next Opponent: at Abilene Christian (Nov. 11)

 

6. South Dakota State

(7-2, 4-2 Missouri Valley)

Last Week’s Ranking: 7

Last Week’s Result: 33-21 win over No. 2 North Dakota State

Of Note: In the win over NDSU, senior tight end Dallas Goedert had his fourth straight game with more than100 receiving yards.

Next Opponent: No. 19 Illinois State (Nov. 11)

 

7. Elon

(8-1, 6-0 CAA)

Last Week’s Ranking: 8

Last Week’s Result: 33-30 2OT win over Towson

Of Note: Brelynd Cyphers (129) and De’Sean McNair (107) gave the Phoenix their first pair of 100-yard running backs in a game since 2009.

Next Opponent: at No. 25 New Hampshire (Nov. 11)

 

8. Wofford

(8-1, 6-1 Southern)

Last Week’s Ranking: 9

Last Week’s Result: 24-21 2OT win over Chattanooga

Of Note: Like Elon, the Terriers are prepared for tight games in the playoffs. They have played only one game decided by more than seven points.

Next Opponent: at VMI (Nov. 11)

 

9. Southern Utah

(7-2, 5-1 Big Sky)

Last Week’s Ranking: 11

Last Week’s Result: 47-21 win over North Dakota

Of Note: Jay Green rushed for three touchdowns and the SUU defense forced four turnovers while moving into a three-way tie for first place in the Big Sky (with Northern Arizona and Weber State).

Next Opponent: at UC Davis (Nov. 11)

 

10. South Dakota

(7-2, 4-2 Missouri Valley)

Last Week’s Ranking: 4

Last Week’s Result: 34-29 loss to then-No. 19 Northern Iowa

Of Note: Having committed four turnovers in their first eight games, the Coyotes doubled the season total with four against UNI.

Next Opponent: at No. 3 North Dakota State (Nov. 11)

 

11. Western Illinois

(6-3, 3-3 Missouri Valley)

Last Week’s Ranking: 14

Last Week’s Result: 31-14 win over then-No. 13 Illinois State

Of Note: The Leathernecks ripped off 31 unanswered points in the second half, including two Sean McGuire touchdown passes, to win the 100th all-time meeting with Illinois State.

Next Opponent: at Indiana State (Nov. 11)

 

12. Weber State

(7-2, 5-1 Big Sky)

Last Week’s Ranking: 15

Last Week’s Result: 28-20 win over then-No. 12 Eastern Washington

Of Note: Quarterback Stefan Cantwell (296 yards of total offense, three TD passes) outperformed his EWU counterpart, Gage Gubrud, in the big road win.

Next Opponent: at Portland State (Nov. 11)

 

13. North Carolina A&T

(9-0, 6-0 MEAC)

Last Week’s Ranking: 16

Last Week’s Result: 35-7 win over Norfolk State

Of Note: Linebacker Jeremy Taylor’s 47-yard interception return for a score was the Aggies’ fifth defensive touchdown of the season.

Next Opponent: Savannah State (Nov. 11)

 

14. Northern Iowa

(5-4, 4-2 Missouri Valley)

Last Week’s Ranking: 19

Last Week’s Result: 34-29 win over then-No. 4 South Dakota

Of Note: Isaiah Weston became the first UNI wide receiver to catch two touchdowns in a game this decade.

Next Opponent: at Missouri State (Nov. 11)

 

15. Furman

(6-3, 5-1 Southern)

Last Week’s Ranking: 17

Last Week Result: Bye

Of Note: Head coach Clay Hendrix has brought back the run game with Antonio Wilcox, Kealand Dirks and Darius Morehead combining for 1,538 of the Paladins’ 2,187 rushing yards.

Next Opponent: The Citadel (Nov. 11)

 

16. Stony Brook

(7-2, 6-1 CAA)

Last Week’s Ranking: 18

Last Week’s Result: 28-21 OT win over Albany

Of Note: Joe Carbone’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Harrison Jackson provided the OT winner. One more win should be enough to get the Seawolves in the playoffs.

Next Opponent: Wagner (Nov. 11)

 

17. Northern Arizona

(6-3, 5-1 Big Sky)

Last Week’s Ranking: 10

Last Week’s Result: 17-15 loss to Montana

Of Note: There’s no underplaying the importance, and weirdness, of star quarterback Case Cookus getting ejected in the first quarter at Montana for targeting while he blocked on a reverse.

Next Opponent: Montana State (Nov. 11)

 

18. Western Carolina

(7-3, 5-2 Southern)

Last Week’s Ranking: 21

Last Week’s Result: 31-19 win over The Citadel

Of Note: Double trouble: Detrez Newsome ran for 197 yards and a touchdown and Tyrie Adams passed for three scores against The Citadel.

Next Opponent: Mercer (Nov. 11)

 

19. Illinois State

(6-3, 4-2 Missouri Valley)

Last Week’s Ranking: 13

Last Week’s Result: 31-14 loss to then-No. 14 Western Illinois

Of Note: Having held a 14-0 halftime lead, the Redbirds suffered a shocking second-half collapse. They’ve been outscored 76-7 in the second half of their three losses.

Next Opponent: at No. 6 South Dakota State (Nov. 11)

 

20. Samford

(6-3, 4-2 Southern)

Last Week’s Ranking: 22

Last Week’s Result: 20-3 win over Mercer

Of Note: The Bulldogs had a pair of second-half safeties to get back on track after a home loss to Chattanooga.

Next Opponent: ETSU (Nov. 11)

 

21. Delaware

(6-3, 4-2 CAA)

Last Week’s Ranking: 24

Last Week’s Result: 31-17 win over Maine

Of Note: Under first-year head coach Danny Rocco, the Blue Hens have locked up their first winning season since 2013.

Next Opponent: Albany (Nov. 11)

 

22. Richmond

(5-4, 3-3 CAA)

Last Week’s Ranking: 25

Last Week’s Result: 22-0 win over Villanova

Of Note: Senior quarterback Kyle Lauletta surpassed 3,000 passing yards for the third straight season.

Next Opponent: at No. 1 James Madison (Nov. 11)

 

23. Eastern Washington

(5-4, 4-2 Big Sky)

Last Week’s Ranking: 12

Last Week’s Result: 28-20 loss to then-No. 15 Weber State

Of Note: The Eagles face must-wins against North Dakota and Portland and might need some help elsewhere to claim an at-large playoff bid.

Next Opponent: at North Dakota (Nov. 11)

 

24. Kennesaw State

(8-1, 3-0 Big South)

Last Week’s Ranking: Unranked

Last Week’s Result: 16-14 win over Montana State

Of Note: The third-year program extended its winning streak to eight since a 28-23 loss at Samford on opening night. The Owls’ triple option pounded Montana State for 346 rushing yards.

Next Opponent: Charleston Southern (Nov. 11)

 

25. New Hampshire

(6-3, 4-2 CAA)

Last Week’s Ranking: Unranked

Last Week’s Result: 35-16 win over William & Mary

Of Note: As veteran head coach Sean McDonnell earned his first career win at W&M, Trevor Knight passed for 406 yards and four touchdowns.

Next Opponent: at No. 7 Elon (Nov. 11)

 

Power Poll Possibilities: Grambling State (8-1, 5-0 SWAC); Monmouth (8-1, 3-0 Big South); Nicholls (7-2, 6-1 Southland)

 

— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.

 

(Photo courtesy South Dakota State Athletics)

Teaser:
FCS Rankings: Power Poll for Week 11
Post date: Monday, November 6, 2017 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/athlon-sports-2017-18-acc-preview
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Could a conference that sent a record nine teams to the NCAA Tournament and produced the national champion last season really need to prove it’s not overrated?

 

When eight of those teams failed to get past the second round, that’s the label the ACC was pegged with after being hailed as the best conference in college basketball for much of the 2016-17 regular season. That lack of group success in the postseason was likely a fluke — the ACC sent six teams to the Sweet 16 in 2016 — but the conference will have to perform better in the NCAA Tournament in order to prove it. And there are plenty of reasons to believe it will redeem itself.

 

Duke will be extremely young but extremely talented. Another highly touted recruiting class that was ranked No. 2 nationally will team up with the enigmatic Grayson Allen, who needs to bounce back from a tumultuous junior year.

 

Louisville may have the best blend of talent and experience in the conference, but it's unproven head coach David Padgett that will be leading this team following the dismissal of Rick Pitino. Meanwhile, Notre Dame may have the best player in versatile forward Bonzie Colson.

 

Defending national champ North Carolina still has Final Four potential despite losing most of its dominating frontcourt. Joel Berry II ranks among the nation’s top point guards, and graduate transfer Cameron Johnson, who has already played in the ACC with Pittsburgh, is one of the conference’s top outside shooters. 

 

Miami looks poised for a breakthrough year with the return of a solid backcourt from a team that reached the NCAA Tournament. Prized Canes freshman Lonnie Walker has one-and-done potential.

 

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

 

1. Duke 

Coach K reloaded again. Three five-star recruits will be counted on to replace three first-round draft picks. Point guard Trevon Duval should be an instant star.

 

2. Louisville 

Rick Pitino is no longer the man in charge, but the Cardinals still have a star-studded roster that is good enough to win the ACC title. Interim coach David Padgett is charged with keeping this team focused.

 

3. North Carolina

Don’t expect a program that’s been to back-to-back national title games to slide back much. Good guard play and outside shooting will make up for big losses in the frontcourt.

 

4. Miami 

This is the most talented team Jim Larranaga has had in his seven years at Coral Gables, and Larranaga has guided the Canes to the Sweet 16 twice before.

 

Athlon Sports' College Basketball magazine provides full team previews, schedules, conference predictions, national rankings, as well as complete 2017-18 NCAA basketball coverage. Click here to buy your copy today or visit your local newsstand!

5. Notre Dame 

Bonzie Colson should make a run at National Player of the Year honors. But a deep NCAA Tournament run comes down to the supporting cast.

 

6. Virginia Tech

Having such a balanced club last season will ease the loss of Tech’s top two scorers. Three double-digit scorers return, giving Buzz Williams more than enough to build on.

 

7. Virginia 

If possible, the Cavs may play an even slower pace. Replacing point London Perrantes will be a giant task.

 

8. Florida State

Despite losing their top three scorers from a 26-win team, the Noles return enough depth to avoid a big drop-off.

 

9. Wake Forest

Nobody in the ACC returns more experience, but it’s hard to see the Deacs getting better without John Collins.

 

10. Georgia Tech 

The buzz is building after a surprising 21 wins and thanks to the return of key players Ben Lammers and Josh Okogie.

 

11. Syracuse 

Landing grad transfer Geno Thorpe (South Florida) will add some much-needed offense, but there are lots of huge holes to fill with just five scholarship players returning.

 

12. Clemson 

With Jaron Blossomgame gone, the Tigers appear headed for a step back. They haven’t been to the NCAA Tourney since 2011.

 

13. NC State 

Landing an NIT bid would be a solid start for new coach Kevin Keatts, who will build around senior big man Abdul-Malik Abu.

 

14. Boston College

The top five scorers return, but that’s where the good news ends. BC has won 10 ACC games the last four seasons.

 

15. Pittsburgh 

This will be the definition of a rebuilding year for second-year coach Kevin Stallings. The Panthers have only three scholarship players returning.

 

CONFERENCE SUPERLATIVES

Player of the Year: Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame

Best Defensive Player: Ben Lammers, Georgia Tech

Most Underrated Player: Bruce Brown, Miami

Newcomer of the Year: Trevon Duval, Duke

 

ATHLON SPORTS’ ALL-ACC FIRST TEAM

Grayson Allen, Sr., G, Duke

Joel Berry III, Sr., G, North Carolina

Bruce Brown, So., G, Miami

Bonzie Colson, Sr., F, Notre Dame

Trevon Duval, Fr., G, Duke

 

ATHLON SPORTS’ ALL-ACC SECOND TEAM

Deng Adel, Jr., F, Louisville

Bryant Crawford , Jr., G, Wake Forest

Matt Farrell , Sr., G, Notre Dame

Ben Lammers, Sr., C, Georgia Tech

Quentin Snider, Sr., G, Louisville

 

ATHLON SPORTS’ ALL-ACC THIRD TEAM

Wendell Carter, Fr., F, Duke

Chris Clarke, Jr., G, Virginia Tech

Josh Okogie, So., G, Georgia Tech

Theo Pinson, Sr., F, North Carolina

Lonnie Walker, Fr., G, Miami

 

Teaser:
Athlon Sports 2017-18 ACC Basketball Preview
Post date: Monday, November 6, 2017 - 08:50
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Bonzie Colson is one of the country’s most unconventionally productive players, a post presence who barely tops out at 6'5" but fills scoresheets with bigger numbers. Colson’s averages of 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds on 52.6 percent shooting earned him first-team All-ACC honors last year.

 

He grew up around the game — his father was a four-year starter at Rhode Island and an assistant coach at George Washington and Boston College — but never quite grew to his dad’s 6'10" stature. Still, Inspector Gadget-like arms (Colson has a 7-foot wingspan) and a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder drove Colson simply to find a way to make things happen on the court.

 

Athlon Sports talked to Colson about his unorthodox path to stardom, how he developed his identity and what awaits for his final season in South Bend.

 

What’s your earliest
basketball memory?

I remember when my dad coached at GW, I was always running around the court with a basketball, I was always in the locker room. When my dad coached at Boston College, I was always hanging out with the guys in the locker room, I always wanted to play one-on-one with them. Spending time with them, that instilled in me wanting to be a basketball player.

 

What was it like being a coach’s son?

It was the best thing. I was always around the game. My dad wasn’t the type to always pressure me into playing the sport. He had his coaching lifestyle, but then he had his dad lifestyle. You see the difference of him yelling and screaming on the court and then being loving and caring. He never coached me. He didn’t coach my high school. He coached my AAU team a little bit. I remember in high school, he used to always sit in the middle of the court — he would yell here and there, but then I would look at him. He would give me a look here and there where I knew I needed to step it up and take over the game. But he wasn’t like a lot of those high school fathers who would yell and go crazy. We had a great relationship where if he said something, I did it right on the court — he gave me that look where I knew I had to change what I’m doing, or I need to pick it up a little bit more.

 

When did you know you had this ability to just find ways to score?

I don’t know. I’ve been blessed to have this knack for putting the ball in the hoop. People say I have all these unorthodox shots, but I practice those shots. I work on those shots. Just trying to develop your game, trying to improve your game year after year. Staying within your comfort zone. Being confident in what you can do and just playing with that edge — that’s something I try to do every game. The people I played with in AAU and high school, everybody had that edge and that swagger. That just translated to who I am today.

 

When did you realize you had to do things a little differently?

Well, I’m a little undersized, but I have that length that I use to my advantage. It’s shooting differently, creating contact and still being able to make the shot through contact. In college now, having one of my mentors, [Notre Dame assistant coach Ryan] Humphrey, has helped me develop my game to be able to hit tough shots. Having him there has really helped shape my game.

 

When did you realize, ‘OK, I’m 6'5". I’m not going to be 6'8" or 6'9"’?

I’ve always had that dream to be 6'8". My dad is 6'10". My sister has all the height. But I understood who I am. I’m blessed and happy and grateful to be 6'5". I got my own identity. That’s what makes me special. I’m not upset that I’m not 6'8". I’m doing everything I can to be successful, being this height, on the basketball court. Hopefully, one day, I can make my dream come true and play the game as long as I can. But I still have that hope, one day. That growth spurt can come whenever.

 

Athlon Sports' College Basketball magazine provides full team previews, schedules, conference predictions, national rankings, as well as complete 2017-18 NCAA basketball coverage. Click here to buy your copy today or visit your local newsstand!

Were you tall when you were young, or were you always undersized?

I was always tall. Maybe I didn’t go through growth spurts like other people have. But I was always tall, and everybody kept growing. It just motivated me to play harder. I stuck with being a post player in AAU and now in college. It’s embracing this is who you are, this is how God made you. You have to do whatever you can to be successful.

 

You do have these crazy long arms. How does that work for you?

The funny thing is, I never realized I had long arms until I got to college. Now it’s like, Oh, we measured it, he has this huge wingspan. I never realized it. But it still comes down to having a nose for the ball and never giving up on a play, trying to use your arms to your advantage.

 

When they measured your wingspan for the first time, was everybody shocked?

Everybody was shocked. I came in, I was out of shape — I didn’t know what to expect. And then it was like, oh, this dude has a 7-foot wingspan. I didn’t think that much of it. And everybody kept talking about it. My teammates will say, ‘How does he hit those shots — the wingspan.’ It’s just who I am. It was nothing to me. It was just my arms, you know?

 

Favorite ACC gym? (other than Joyce Center)

Duke (crazy fans) & Boston College (family gets to visit)

 

Best player you’ve played against?

Jahlil Okafor (Duke)

 

Best defender you’ve faced?

Ben Lammers (Georgia Tech)

 

If you got to make the schedule, who would you want to play?

Any East Coast school — Providence, Rhode Island, UMass. Any team on the East Coast, just so my family can come down.

 

In terms of the recruiting process, was Notre Dame always going to be it?

It’s a long, stressful process. But having my dad, who’s been through the process as a college basketball player and also as a head coach, really helped me. I was going on my visits, trusting in the coaches, trying to play well on the EYBL (Nike Elite Youth Basketball League) circuit. I waited it out, and then I realized Notre Dame, they had a lot of undersized bigs — Luke Harangody, Jack Cooley. It was like, ‘Hey, you can tack on to that.’ This might be the place for me. I went on my visit, fell in love with the school, the campus, the education.

 

Did they sell you on their ability to train you to be a productive big man?

Yeah, but efficiency is big in our program. It’s part of our culture. And I think I was No. 1 [in efficiency] out of all EYBL players my junior/senior year. I was scoring really well. The funny thing is, Coach [Martin] Ingelsby wasn’t even the bigs coach. Coach Ingelsby said, ‘Hey, this kid is like a big, but he can do a little bit of both.’ Within our offense, it’s not really being a big unless you’re at the 5. You just play within the rhythm of the offense and have a feel. That’s who Coach [Mike] Brey recruits. He recruits guys who are intelligent, who understand basketball, who are efficient, who have a feel for the game. I think I fit well in that system.

 

Was there any critical adjustment you made to be a 20-points-per-game guy?

It just comes down to the coaching staff and your teammates giving you all the confidence in the world. We had a great chemistry on the court. You just understand who you are and keep developing your game — how to get out of traps and the different ways you can score the ball, because you understand how teams are going to play you. You get mentally ready for that, not overthinking anything. That’s what made our team special — we knew how teams were going to play us, so we adjusted to that.

 

Why did you elect to come back without testing the draft waters?

I was thinking about it. I didn’t put my name in. It wasn’t the right thing for me.

 

What’s on your checklist for this year?

I’ve been working on my dribble, trying to get my handles up a little more, trying to be a better leader. Just keep being within yourself and understanding who you are. At the same time, you have to develop your game more. You have to be able to defend and rebound and be consistent with those. If I just do what I have to do, if I continue to be consistent with that edge, play like every game is my last, who knows what’s going to happen?

 

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Q&A: Bonzie Colson
Post date: Monday, November 6, 2017 - 08:40
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Weekly college football top 25 rankings are a big part of every season, and Athlon Sports will update its top 25 following the games each weekend. The 10th weekend of the 2017 season was filled with exciting games and intriguing conference matchups. Alabama and Georgia remained unbeaten with victories at home in SEC play, with Notre Dame maintaining its No. 3 ranking after a win against Wake Forest. Oklahoma held off Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Rivalry, Clemson moved a step closer to the Atlantic Division title by beating NC State, and Miami picked up a key conference victory against Virginia Tech. Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa State take a fall in this week's rankings after losses on Saturday. Michigan State and Auburn make a jump in the post-Week 10 top 25, while Iowa and West Virginia are the new teams joining the rankings. 

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings

 

1. Alabama (9-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated LSU

 

Crimson Tide handle LSU once again. But injuries on defense are a concern with Mississippi State up next.

 

2. Georgia (9-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated South Carolina

 

The Bulldogs clinched the SEC East on Saturday, but coach Kirby Smart’s team has its eyes on a bigger prize – a CFB Playoff trip.

 

3. Notre Dame (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Wake Forest

 

Quarterback Brandon Wimbush seems poised to finish November in a big way.

 

4. Clemson (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated NC State

 

Dabo Swinney’s team will clinch the Atlantic Division with a victory against Florida State on Saturday.

 

5. Oklahoma (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Oklahoma State

 

Defense remains an issue, but quarterback Baker Mayfield could carry Oklahoma into the CFB Playoff.

 

6. Miami (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Virginia Tech

 

The Hurricanes delivered a convincing win over Virginia Tech on Saturday. However, the path to a playoff spot won’t get any easier with a visit from Notre Dame up next.

 

7. Wisconsin (9-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Indiana

 

The Badgers are the Big Ten’s best hope of a playoff team in 2017.

 

8. TCU (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Texas

 

Gary Patterson’s defense leads the Big 12 with 28 sacks generated.

 

9. Washington (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Oregon

 

Huskies are the only one-loss team in the Pac-12, which means Chris Petersen’s team is still in the mix to get to the CFB Playoff.

 

10. Michigan State (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Penn State

 

From 3-9 last season to division champ in 2017? It’s possible for coach Mark Dantonio’s team - provided it can navigate a road trip to Ohio State this Saturday.

 

11. Ohio State (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Iowa

 

A complete meltdown by the Buckeyes in road loss to Iowa.

 

12. Auburn (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Texas A&M

 

The Tigers have scored at least 42 points in five out of six SEC games this season.

 

13. Penn State (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Michigan State

 

Running back Saquan Barkley has been held under 100 rushing yards in four out of Penn State’s last five games.

 

14. Oklahoma State (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Oklahoma

 

Oklahoma State’s defense simply had no answer for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield in Saturday’s Bedlam defeat.

 

15. USC (8-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Arizona

 

USC’s offense eclipsed 300 passing and 300 rushing yards for the second time in a game this year. That offensive performance was enough to hold off Arizona and dynamic quarterback Khalil Tate.

 

16. UCF (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated SMU

 

SMU gave UCF a battle, but the Knights held on for a victory in Dallas. UConn is up next, and Temple has played better recently, but coach Scott Frost's team is likely to be 11-0 headed into the showdown against USF on Nov. 24.

 

17. LSU (6-3)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Alabama

 

With Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M to close out the season, LSU should finish its regular season at 9-3.

 

18. Iowa (6-3)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Ohio State

 

Iowa’s 55-24 victory over Ohio State might be the most surprising score and outcome of the 2017 college football season.

 

19. Iowa State (6-3)

Week 10 Result: Lost to West Virginia

 

Cyclones’ second-half rally in Morgantown fell short, but coach Matt Campbell’s team is still alive for the Big 12 title game.

 

20. Virginia Tech (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Miami

 

The Hokies need more out of their ground game and big plays on offense going forward.

 

21. Mississippi State (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated UMass

 

Bulldogs will have to play a lot better than they did against UMass to have a shot against Alabama on Saturday.

 

22. Michigan (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Minnesota

 

Wolverines pounded Minnesota for 371 rushing yards on Saturday night.

 

23. Memphis (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Tulsa

 

The Tigers are off in Week 11 but a win over SMU on Nov. 18 would clinch the AAC West Division.

 

24. NC State (6-3)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Clemson

 

The Wolfpack have lost only six turnovers this season but four of those came in the team’s two losses (South Carolina and Clemson).

 

25. West Virginia (6-3)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Iowa State

 

West Virginia’s 524 total yards against Iowa State were the most allowed by the Cyclones in a game in 2017.

Teaser:
College Football Top 25 Rankings
Post date: Monday, November 6, 2017 - 08:30
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Path: /college-football/college-football-week-10-awards-2017
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Week 10 of the 2017 college football season was filled with several intriguing matchups and storylines. A loaded afternoon slate of games provided a shake up in the race to get into the CFB Playoff. Iowa dominated Ohio State in a 55-24 victory for coach Kirk Ferentz's team, Michigan State beat Ohio State on a last-second field goal, Oklahoma survived a 62-52 shootout with rival Oklahoma State, West Virginia knocked off Iowa State and Clemson held off NC State to take control of the ACC's Atlantic Division. Also, Miami beat Virginia Tech, Alabama handled LSU in a 24-10 win in Tuscaloosa, USC knocked off Arizona and Georgia remained unbeaten with a victory over South Carolina.

 

With the 10th weekend of the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 10:

 

College Football Week 10 Awards

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Mayfield threw for 598 yards and five touchdowns on 24 completions to help Oklahoma knock off rival Oklahoma State 62-52 in the Bedlam rivalry on Saturday. The senior also added one score on the ground.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson is a rising star in the Big Ten and continued a standout 2017 season by intercepting three passes and recording three tackles in Saturday’s upset over Iowa.

 

Special Teams Player of the Week: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

Pettis is officially in the NCAA record book. The senior returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown in Saturday night’s win over Oregon, which was the ninth punt return for a score in his career. The nine punt returns for a touchdown are a new career record at the FBS level.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Brian Ferentz, Iowa

Ferentz seems to be pushing all of the right buttons in his first year as Iowa’s play-caller. The Hawkeyes were prepared and executed a standout gameplan in the upset win over Ohio State, as Ferentz’s offense generated 487 total yards (7.0 per play), possessed the ball for 34:51 and went seven-for-seven on red- zone conversions. Running back Akrum Wadley rushed for 118 yards, and quarterback Nate Stanley tossed five touchdowns and threw for 226 yards on 20 completions.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Manny Diaz, Miami

The turnover chain had plenty of air time in Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday night. Miami’s defense held Virginia Tech to 299 total yards (4.0 per play) and just 10 points. Additionally, Diaz’s group forced four turnovers, generated four sacks and limited the Hokies to just three third-down conversions on 14 attempts.

 

Freshman of the Week (Offense): Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

Akers led the way for Florida State’s offense in Saturday’s win over Syracuse. The true freshman recorded 199 rushing yards and two scores on 22 carries. He also added 18 receiving yards on three catches.
 

Freshman of the Week (Defense): Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern

Fisher takes home this honor for the second week in a row. In Saturday’s overtime win over Nebraska, Fisher recorded 13 tackles (six solo) and helped to limit the Cornhuskers to 3.6 yards per carry.

 

Team of the Week: Iowa

Kinnick Stadium’s November magic is back. For the second year in a row, Iowa knocked off a top-10 team at home. The Hawkeyes dominated Ohio State in a 55-24 rout and ended the CFB Playoff hopes of coach Urban Meyer’s team. Iowa had a terrific gameplan on offense, as coordinator Brian Ferentz mixed the run and pass effectively and attacked the Buckeyes’ linebackers in pass coverage. The Hawkeyes limited Ohio State to 5.8 yards per play, forced four turnovers and held the Buckeyes to just seven points in the second half. Coach Kirk Ferentz’s team has a showdown against Wisconsin next week, but regardless of what happens in that game, Iowa provided a major shake up to the CFB Playoff picture with Saturday’s upset over Ohio State.

 

Unsung Hero of the Week: Khaleke Hudson, LB, Michigan

Hudson stuffed the stat sheet in Michigan’s win over Minnesota. He recorded 13 tackles (11 solo), two sacks, one forced fumble and helped to limit the Golden Gophers to just 90 rushing yards. Additionally, of Hudson’s 13 tackles, 6.5 of them went for a loss. 

Teaser:
College Football Week 10 Awards 2017
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 13:30
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-10-college-football-awards-2017
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Week 10 of the 2017 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the Pac-12. USC defeated Arizona 49-35 to move a step closer to winning the Pac-12 South title, and Washington State knocked off Stanford 24-21 in Pullman. Utah dominated UCLA 48-17 on Friday night, while Arizona State (Colorado) and California (Oregon State) inched closer to bowl eligibility with wins on Saturday. Washington dominated Oregon 38-3 to stay alive for the CFB Playoff.

 

With the 10th weekend of the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances from the Pac-12. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 10:

 

Pac-12 Week 10 College Football Awards

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Ronald Jones, RB, USC

USC’s ground attack gashed Arizona for 331 rushing yards in Saturday night’s 49-35 victory. Jones recorded 195 of those yards and three touchdowns on 27 attempts, averaging 7.2 yards per carry.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: John Houston, LB, USC

Houston led the way for USC’s defense against Arizona, registering 10 tackles and one interception. He also chipped in 0.5 sack.

 

Special Teams Player of the Week: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

Pettis is officially in the NCAA record book. The senior returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown in Saturday night’s win over Oregon, which was the ninth punt return for a touchdown in his career. The nine punt returns for a touchdown are a new career record at the FBS level.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Tee Martin, USC

USC’s offense was firing on all cylinders in Saturday night’s win over Arizona. The Trojans recorded 642 yards on 78 plays, posted 30 first downs and scored 21 points in the decisive fourth quarter. Additionally, Martin’s offense averaged 8.2 yards per play, which was the second most by USC in 2017.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Alex Grinch, Washington State

Washington State’s defense allowed only 198 yards and two offensive scores to Stanford in Saturday’s 24-21 victory. In addition to the overall success on the stat sheet, Grinch’s defense held standout running back Bryce Love in check. The Heisman candidate had a 52-yard touchdown run but managed only 17 yards on his 15 other carries. Washington State also recorded 11 tackles for a loss, four pass breakups and allowed only three third-down conversions on 12 attempts.

 

Freshman of the Week (Offense): Salvon Ahmed, RB

Ahmed was an all-around threat for the Huskies in the win over Oregon. He rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on six carries, caught one pass for four yards and returned a kickoff 23 yards.

 

Freshman of the Week (Defense): Chase Lucas, DB, Arizona State

Lucas recorded 12 tackles (11 solo) and two pass breakups in Arizona State’s 41-30 victory against Colorado.

 

Team of the Week: USC

The Trojans took a big step towards claiming the Pac-12 South title on Saturday night. Thanks to a high-powered offense and a standout defensive effort in the first half, USC knocked off Arizona 49-35. The Trojans recorded 642 total yards (8.23 per play) versus the Wildcats and held dynamic quarterback Khalil Tate largely in check in the first half. Arizona rallied in the second half, but USC scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

 

Unsung Hero of the Week: Patrick Laird, RB, California

Laird posted 214 rushing yards and a touchdown on 33 carries versus Oregon State.

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 10 College Football Awards 2017
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 13:20
Path: /college-football/acc-week-10-college-football-awards-2017
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Week 10 of the 2017 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the ACC. The Week 10 slate provided clarity for the league's division races and which teams will be in Charlotte for the ACC Championship in early December. The Atlantic Division title is once again in Clemson's grasp after a 38-31 victory over NC State. On the Coastal side, Miami defeated Virginia Tech 28-10 to move closer to earning its first trip to the conference title game since joining the ACC. Elsewhere around the league, Florida State defeated Syracuse, Virginia is bowl eligible after beating Georgia Tech and Wake Forest lost at Notre Dame.

 

With the 10th weekend of 2017 in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances from the ACC. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 10:

 

ACC Week 10 College Football Awards

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Malik Rosier, QB, Miami

Rosier made a couple of mistakes (three picks), but he connected on 10 of 21 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 84 yards and a score on the ground and caught a 17-yard pass from receiver Braxton Berrios.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Ferrell dominated the line of scrimmage in Saturday’s win over NC State. He recorded 12 tackles (five for a loss) and one sack.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Robert Anae, Virginia

The Cavaliers hit the six-win mark and bowl eligibility with Saturday’s 40-36 victory over Georgia Tech. Anae’s offense recorded 357 overall yards on 68 snaps but delivered with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. Virginia went 64 yards over five plays in just under two minutes to score the game-winning touchdown.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Manny Diaz, Miami

The turnover chain had plenty of air time in Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday night. Miami’s defense held Virginia Tech to 299 total yards (4.0 per play) and just 10 points. Additionally, Diaz’s group forced four turnovers, generated four sacks and limited the Hokies to just three third-down conversions on 14 attempts.

 

Freshman of the Week (Offense): Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

Akers led the way for Florida State’s offense in Saturday’s win over Syracuse. The true freshman recorded 199 rushing yards and two scores on 22 carries. He also added 18 receiving yards on three catches.
 

Freshman of the Week (Defense): Bruce Jordan-Swilling, LB, Georgia Tech

Jordan-Swilling collected 11 tackles (six solo and one for a loss) and one interception in Saturday’s loss to Georgia Tech.

 

Team of the Week: Miami

After sluggish victories over Syracuse and North Carolina, there were plenty of doubts or question marks about where Miami stacked up in the CFB Playoff picture. But after Saturday night’s win over Virginia Tech, those doubts should fade away. The Hurricanes controlled this game from the first quarter, jumping out to a 14-3 lead and eventually claiming a 28-10 victory. Miami’s defense held Virginia Tech to just 299 yards, forced four turnovers and recorded four sacks. The Hokies came into Saturday night’s game as one of the ACC’s top defenses, but the Hurricanes generated 429 yards (7.4 per play) and averaged 19.1 yards on 10 pass completions. The win over Virginia Tech moved coach Mark Richt’s team one step closer to the Coastal Division title and adds to the intrigue surrounding next Saturday’s showdown versus Notre Dame.

 

Unsung Hero of the Week: Ray-Ray McCloud, WR/DB, Clemson

With injuries sidelining cornerbacks Marcus Edmond and Mark Fields, McCloud (usually a receiver) was pressed into snaps on defense. He recorded one stop on the stat sheet in limited snaps, but his biggest impact in Saturday’s game against NC State came on special teams. McCloud returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown to put Clemson on the scoreboard in the first quarter.

Teaser:
ACC Week 10 College Football Awards 2017
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 13:10
Path: /college-football/sec-week-10-college-football-awards-2017
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Week 10 of the 2017 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the SEC. The weekend slate featured Alabama turning in another dominant performance, defeating LSU 24-10 in Tuscaloosa. Georgia remained unbeaten with a 24-10 victory over South Carolina, while Auburn knocked off Texas A&M 42-27 in College Station. Ole Miss upset Kentucky with a late touchdown, Tennessee beat Southern Miss, and Missouri picked up a key SEC win with a 45-16 blowout over Florida. Additionally, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Arkansas won non-conference games. 

 

With the 10th weekend of the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances from the SEC. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 10:

 

SEC Week 10 College Football Awards

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

Stidham and running back Kerryon Johnson led the way for Auburn’s offense in Saturday’s 42-27 win over Texas A&M. The sophomore quarterback connected on 20 of 27 throws for 268 yards and three scores and added 27 yards on the ground. Stidham connected on three passes of 30 yards or more, including a 53-yard strike to Darius Slayton in the first half.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

A couple of Alabama defenders deserve consideration for this award, but this honor goes to Evans after recording 10 tackles (one for a loss) and one sack in Saturday’s 24-10 victory against LSU.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Josh Heupel, Missouri

Missouri’s offense torched Florida for 455 yards and 45 points in a key win for coach Barry Odom’s program. Heupel’s offense had plenty of balance in the victory, generating 228 yards through the air and 227 on the ground. The Tigers averaged 6.8 yards per play, converted 7 of 11 third-down attempts and scored on seven out of their last nine drives.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama

Pruitt’s defense held LSU to just 306 yards (4.2 per play) and 10 points in Saturday night’s win in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide limited the Tigers to 151 on the ground, forced six sacks and generated nine tackles for a loss. Additionally, only two LSU drives extended longer than 40 yards.

 

Freshman of the Week (Offense): Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

Fromm continued his steady play by completing 16 of 22 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 24-10 victory over South Carolina.


Freshman of the Week (Defense): Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama

Williams recorded five tackles (two for a loss) and one sack in Saturday night’s win over LSU.

 

Team of the Week: Alabama

The Crimson Tide ranked No. 2 in the first CFB Playoff rankings, which provided plenty of motivation for Nick Saban in preparation for Saturday night’s game against LSU. Alabama controlled the matchup from the opening snap, as the Tigers never threatened to close the gap or take the lead. The Crimson Tide’s offense generated just enough production on offense (299 yards), and the defense limited the Tigers to 4.2 yards per play.

 

Unsung Hero of the Week: Jordan Ta’amu, QB, Ole Miss

In his second career start, Ta’amu torched Kentucky’s secondary for 382 passing yards and four scores on 31 completions. He also led the Rebels into position for the game-winning touchdown with a 14-play drive that resulted in a Ta’amu pass to receiver D.K. Metcalf with five seconds left. 

Teaser:
SEC Week 10 College Football Awards 2017
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-9-fantasy-football-injury-updates-zach-ertz-emmanuel-sanders-delanie-walker-devante-parker-2017
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In Week 9, the fantasy football injury report is just as long as it's been when six teams were not on a bye. The wide receiver/tight end injuries are here and the quarterback/running back/kicker injuries are in their own article.

 

Players already ruled out include Pierre Garcon (placed on injured reserve), Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed and Tyler Boyd. Also, Martellus Bennett and Kenny Golladay were downgraded to doubtful, which is almost a sure sign that they're not going to play.

 

Players listed on the injury report may practice all week and still be inactive on Sunday. Be sure to check the inactive report before game time so there are no surprises.

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

 

Note: All times are ET and games are on Sunday, Nov. 5 unless otherwise noted.

 

Emmanuel Sanders (ankle), WR, Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.

After injuring his ankle in Week 6, Sanders sat out the past two weeks. He's set to return for Week 9, however, his quarterback is now Brock Osweiler. While this may be an upgrade from Trevor Siemian, it's not enough to make any Denver pass catcher a must-start. Sanders is a WR3 in what is a good matchup, but with a poor quarterback, the matchup rating is useless.

 

UPDATE: RULED OUT Zach Ertz (hamstring), TE, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Denver Broncos, 1 p.m.

Even though he's listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, the Eagles have said that Ertz will be active in Week 9. He's an every-week TE1 even for what seems like a tough matchup. However, the Denver Broncos actually allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Just look at what Travis Kelce did in Week 8!

 

Delanie Walker (ankle), TE, Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.

After suffering an ankle injury in Week 8, Walker did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. The diagnosis was that he had a bone bruise, which while painful, is more of a pain tolerance issue for him heading into Week 9. He put in a limited practice on Friday, and it seems like he will try to play. Fantasy owners should plan to start him if he's active, but keep fingers crossed that he's able to make it through the game.

 

DeVante Parker (ankle), WR, Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders, 8:30 p.m.

Parker has put in a week of practice and is on track to play in Week 9. The Dolphins do play at night, so fantasy owners won't know for sure if he's active until late, but it's fairly safe to assume Parker is going to play. He and Jay Cutler have had a good rapport this season, although it's only been a three-game sample size when he's been healthy. The Dolphins’ offense is going to look different without Jay Ajayi, so it is possible Parker sees a bigger role. He's a WR3 with upside for Week 9.

 

Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), WR, Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.

Maclin has been dealing with this shoulder injury for weeks and may very well be on the injury report for the rest of the season. He had limited practices this week, but is likely going to play in Week 9. With the same injury in Week 8, he had three receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, that's pretty much his ceiling. Those kind of numbers put him on the WR3 radar with six teams on a bye, even if it is a good matchup against the Titans.

 

Marqise Lee (knee), WR, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.

Coming off the bye, Lee still did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He did put in a full practice on Friday and is expected to play in Week 9. His value drops when Dede Westbrook is active, although Westbrook is not expected to play this this week. The knee injury is not a concern; Lee will play. However, he's only a WR3 until Westbrook comes back; then he's not worth starting.

 

Mike Wallace (back), WR, Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.

Wallace was in the concussion protocol, was cleared, and then showed up on the injury report with a back issue. All signs point to him playing in Week 9, but he's been a disappointment for fantasy owners this year. He has one touchdown on the season and one game with 100-plus yards. The rest of the season consists of four games with one catch and no more than 10 yards in each and one game with 30 receiving yards. He's not a recommended fantasy option.

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Teaser:
Week 9 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Zach Ertz, Emmanuel Sanders, Delanie Walker, DeVante Parker
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, CFB, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, college football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Denver Broncos, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, Eastern Washington Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida A&M Rattlers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, James Madison Dukes, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami (OH) RedHawks, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, Montana State Bobcats, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Dakota Fighting Hawks, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northern Iowa Panthers, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Oakland Raiders, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Pac-12, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Portland State Vikings, Purdue Boilermakers, ranking, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Troy University, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, uniforms, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/awesome-college-football-alternate-uniforms-week-10
Body:

Alternate uniforms and helmets are a big part of every team’s wardrobe throughout any season. While there’s nothing wrong with traditional uniforms and helmets, a different look is never a bad thing. And over the last few years, it seems more teams are using alternate uniforms throughout the season. With several awesome designs making an appearance in Week 10, here are ones we liked the most from the weekend action: 

 

CFB's Best Alternate Uniforms from Week 10

 

Arizona State
Iowa
Kent State
Rutgers
Cincinnati
Ohio
Kansas
North Texas
MTSU
Central Michigan
Mississippi State
Northwestern
Temple
TCU
Miami
Baylor
Texas State
Tulane
Memphis
SMU
Louisiana
Purdue
Oregon
Boise State
Teaser:
Awesome College Football Alternate Uniforms from Week 10
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-9-fantasy-football-injury-updates-jameis-winston-jay-cutler-rob-kelley-cj-prosise-2017
Body:

Despite six teams on a bye in Week 9, the injury report of fantasy-relevant players is back to being long enough to be split into two parts. The quarterbacks, running backs and kicker are below and the wide receivers and tight ends are in a separate article.

 

Note that Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson both went on injured reserve this week and Terrance West has been ruled out already. Many of the players below will end up playing, but be sure to check the inactive report before game time.

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

 

Note: All times are ET and games are on Sunday, Nov. 5 unless otherwise noted.

 

Jameis Winston (shoulder), QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.

Winston didn't miss any time with the shoulder injury, however, he looked hindered in Week 8. Prior to that game, he didn't throw in practice until Friday. The good news is that he did practice this week, which included throwing. He is fully expected to play in Week 9 and has a good matchup against the Saints. He's a QB2 with upside.

 

Joe Flacco (concussion), QB, Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.

After suffering a brutal hit in Week 8, Flacco has been in the concussion protocol. However, he did put in full practices this week. He is on track to play today, although he's not a fantasy option in most leagues. However, those in 2-QB leagues may be forced to start him. In which case, be aware that concussion symptoms can recur and a player can be ruled out after they've practiced in full, so be sure to check the inactive report to be safe.

 

Jay Cutler (ribs), QB, Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders, 8:30 p.m.

After missing Week 8, Cutler has practiced and is on track to play in Week 9. While he hasn't been a fantasy option in most formats, having him under center instead of Matt Moore does improve the outlook of the Dolphins’ pass catchers. With no Jay Ajayi, the offense may be relying more on Cutler to move the ball downfield. However, he still doesn't have fantasy value in one-QB formats.

 

Rob Kelley (ankle), RB, Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m.

He did find the end zone in Week 8, but other than that, Kelley (above, right) hasn't had a good game since Week 2. He's battled a variety of injuries all season, and it is hard to trust him as a fantasy starter. He's in the RB3 conversation for Week 9, but only because six teams are on a bye. The ankle injury isn't a concern; he'll play in Week 9.

 

C.J. Prosise (ankle), RB, Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins, 4:05 p.m.

The reports from Seattle have Prosise as a game-time decision. This should be enough for fantasy owners to keep him on the bench. Although, he's only even worth owning in deeper leagues as a stash. The backfield in Seattle is a mess, with four running backs who have gotten playing time. Prosise hasn't made a fantasy impact yet this year, and it is becoming more and more likely that he won't make an impact this season.

 

Andre Ellington (quad), RB, Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.

Ellington hurt his quad, but the biggest obstacle to his fantasy relevance is Adrian Peterson. With Drew Stanton under center, the Cardinals are going to have to lean on their running game. The team has already come out and said they are going to feed Peterson the ball. Ellington, at this point, is not worth starting in fantasy, and if owners need room on their roster, he can be dropped.

 

Randy Bullock (back), K, Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.

Bullock was given the questionable tag with a back issue, but the biggest sign that he may miss the game is that the Bengals signed Marshall Koehn as a backup kicker. Koehn should not be picked up in fantasy leagues, but owners with Bullock should find another option for Week 9.

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Teaser:
Week 9 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Jameis Winston, Jay Cutler, Rob Kelley, C.J. Prosise
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 05:00
Path: /fantasy/flex-rankings-week-9-fantasy-football-2017
Body:

Antonio Brown: Flex Rankings Week 8

Week 9 flex rankings for fantasy football are here, and won’t have a few big names listed because of byes. Among the teams on bye are Pittsburgh and New England, which means no Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown or Rob Gronkowski this week (or Tom Brady for that matter). There are still plenty of top-flight options available, however, including the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Kareem Hunt and Julio Jones.

 

The NFL trade deadline also has added some intrigue to this week, as Jay Ajayi was sent to Philadelphia on Tuesday. Will he have an immediate impact for his new team on Sunday or will he split carries with LeGarrette Blount? (Don’t forget the Eagles play the Broncos.). Can you trust Ajayi this week? You may have no other option with six teams on bye.

 

Speaking of byes, Aaron Jones is back from his, and appears to have taken over the starting RB role in Green Bay, but we will have to see how the touches are distributed between him and Ty Montgomery this week. Remember, it’s Brett Hundley and not Aaron Rodgers at quarterback for the Packers.

 

With several big names on bye this is one of those weeks where guys like Alex Collins or Robby Anderson could be starters depending on your roster while names like Terrelle Pryor and Sammy Watkins (to name a couple), who have been busts for the most part, continue to plummet in the rankings.

 

There will be plenty of changes with these rankings leading up to kickoff, so be sure to check back often.

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

 

 

 

— Rankings 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:
Flex Rankings Week 9
Post date: Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 19:30
Path: /college-football/fan-removes-clothing-field-during-washington-state-stanford-game
Body:

Saturday's game between Washington State and Stanford officially produced one of the strangest plays of the 2017 college football season.

 

After a Washington State touchdown pass, a fan ran onto the field and proceeded to pull down his pants - perhaps at the Stanford defense?

 

This may seem hard to believe, but there is video evidence:

 

 

Teaser:
Fan Runs on Field, Drops His Pants During Washington State-Stanford Game
Post date: Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 17:08
Path: /nascar/aaa-texas-500-preview-fantasy-nascar-predictions-2017
Body:

It was only a matter of minutes at Martinsville Speedway. But as the laps clicked down, Chase Elliott’s career timeline hit a roller-coaster ride from dream to disaster. For a split second, he was Chase-ing his first Cup Series win, a Championship 4 appearance and a surge in national attention and popularity.

 

That’s when Denny Hamlin chased him a little too hard into Turn 3, Chase-ing those dreams into “wait until next year” territory. NASCAR, during a rough year for ratings took a hit, considering their 21-year-old has been one of the top 5 Most Popular Drivers on Twitter this year despite a winless season.

 

A consolation prize was the backstretch bumping and post-race confrontation with Hamlin seen around the country. Elliott, for the first time in his maturation stood his ground and let it be known he won’t be used as a bumper car going forward. A new rivalry was born, one that had people talking around the water coolers this week.

 

 

Over the long term, that’s great for the sport. But in the short term? The championship road ahead for Elliott appears to sit somewhere between difficult and impossible. He’ll start 34th Sunday, adding insult to injury by failing pre-qualifying inspection at Texas Motor Speedway. While the No. 24 car had a similar situation back in the spring, surging from 34th to ninth at the finish that won’t be good enough.

 

“If you get your car driving good, you can pass,” Elliott told ESPN’s Bob Pockrass. “It’s doable. We’ll see.”

 

Teammate Jimmie Johnson, who went from last to first here in the spring, has a bit better outlook, qualifying inside the top 10. But the No. 48 team of Hendrick Motorsports is also coming off a disappointing weekend, getting lapped at one point on a Martinsville track where he’s made mincemeat out of opponents for decades.

 

That leaves NASCAR’s best team over the 21st Century with their backs against the wall – again – in this current playoff format. Over the past three years, the four-car operation has only filled two of 12 spots in the Championship 4 and won the title with Johnson last year more out of survival than success. Johnson and Elliott would both be on the outside looking in if Homestead-Miami slots were awarded right now.

 

The problems, of course, run deeper than those two at HMS. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had a miserable final season and only lately has returned to a shell of the driver he once was. Kasey Kahne was released effective the end of this season and been invisible outside of his Brickyard 400 upset. Fresh blood is coming, youngsters Alex Bowman and William Byron filling those slots, but they remain somewhat unproven on this level.

 

So the end of this year, with Toyota still surging serves as a referendum of sorts on HMS. Can the best program for Chevrolet, especially with Chip Ganassi Racing out of the picture, turn it around before it’s too late? And if they don’t, are they really be considered the best team in this sport anymore? Martin Truex Jr. and the four-car team of Joe Gibbs Racing, a program that could easily win a second title in three years would beg to differ.

 

AAA Texas 500

 

Time: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. ET

Track: Texas Motor Speedway (Fort Worth)

TV: NBCSN

Radio: PRN, SIRIUS XM Channel 90

 

Who’s at the Front: Kyle Busch

Busch proved the beneficiary from the Chase Elliott-Denny Hamlin and Elliott-Brad Keselowski contact down the stretch. Muscling past Hamlin on the final restart, the No. 18 Toyota became an unlikely winner after Sunday’s Martinsville mayhem.

 

But was it really all that farfetched? Busch led 184 laps on the day and overall has led 662 laps during this version of the NASCAR Playoffs. In fact, only once since Richmond in April (July’s Daytona plate race) has Busch failed to lead at least one lap in a Cup Series event. During that 25-race stretch, he’s won five times while giving Truex a run for his money atop the standings. Busch will be hard to beat at Homestead-Miami no matter how well the No. 78 and Truex run the next two weeks.

 

Who’s at the Back: Kyle Larson

A wreck at Martinsville by Larson gave him back-to-back DNFs for the first time since running for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Cup Series. That’s a span that dates back to February 2014. It looks like Playoff elimination has taken a bite out of a No. 42 team that entered the postseason a dark horse to take the title from Truex and Busch.

 

News Briefs

 

Pre-qualifying inspection woes continue to haunt NASCAR teams. A total of seven cars failed to pass Friday, leaving everyone from Round of 8 driver Chase Elliott to BK Racing cars run by rookies Corey Lajoie and Gray Gaulding without an attempt. Having 17.5 percent of the NASCAR Cup Series field on the sidelines while setting the grid is not exactly ideal for this sport.

 

Click ‘n Close became the first of what will likely be several primary sponsor deals surrounding the No. 43 and Darrell Wallace Jr. next year. Reports also surfaced this week that Smithfield will stay with the Richard Petty Motorsports team in some capacity despite moving on to Stewart-Haas Racing with driver Aric Almirola next season. The Smithfield-Almirola deal should be announced in a press conference Wednesday at SHR.

 

Darian Grubb has been announced as the crew chief for William Byron next year at HMS. Byron, finishing up his rookie season in the XFINITY Series, will slide into the car vacated by Kasey Kahne for 2018. Grubb has won 23 races as a head wrench with multiple programs and captured the 2011 championship with Tony Stewart. Grubb, of course, was best known as the guy who hung tough despite being fired by Stewart before the playoffs that year effective the end of the season. The duo still stuck by each other and defeated Carl Edwards in one of the series’ closest title races since the turn of the century.

 

NASCAR by the Numbers

 

400

Victories for the Hendrick Motorsports engine department following Johnny Sauter’s Friday night victory in the Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. HMS has been providing motors within the top levels of NASCAR since 1984.

 

23

Top-10 finishes for Martin Truex Jr. over 33 Cup races this season, leading the series. No one else has more than 20.

 

Playing the Odds (Fantasy Spin)

 

Top Tier

 

It’s hard to bet against Jimmie Johnson heading to TMS. He’s won four of the last six races here, including that last-to-first outing in the spring and enters the weekend with his back against the wall. Can the No. 48 team rise to the occasion? Even if they fall short of Victory Lane, you’ve got to think a top-10 finish is virtually a guarantee.

 

Brad Keselowski has gone under the radar for many fantasy teams this week. The Team Penske driver himself claimed his No. 2 Ford didn’t have the speed at intermediate ovals to reach Victory Lane. But after a slew of sponsorship renewals this week (Discount Tire, Miller Lite) I expect this team to come out swinging. Kes has never won at TMS but does have four top-10 finishes in his last six starts at the track.

 

Related: DraftKings NASCAR Lineup Picks for AAA Texas 500

 

Middle Tier

 

How about Roush Fenway Racing? Teammates Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran 13th and 14th, respectively, at Texas this spring. Both men have combined for five top-20 finishes in their last six TMS starts. And the pressure of the NASCAR Playoffs is off for Stenhouse, driving for a No. 17 team that’s overachieved this season. I think these Fords are in building mode for 2018 and Sunday gives them a chance to strut their stuff.

 

Underdog Tier

 

Danica, Danica, Danica. I really feel like Patrick has the motivation to end the season strong and was running well in the second half until a few wrecks put a damper on her performances in recent weeks. She’s qualified 14th for this race, the second-best effort of her career at Texas Motor Speedway, and has the benefit of learning from teammate Kurt Busch and his pole-winning setup. Yes, Patrick has never run better than 16th here, but I expect a career-high performance come Sunday.

 

What Vegas Thinks

Not surprisingly, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch lead the betting lines. Truex was 5/2 and Busch 9/2 to win at Texas at last check.

 

What I Think

How many years have we bet against Jimmie Johnson only for the No. 48 team to come through? I’m not doing that this weekend. Expect the seven-time champ to reassert himself and punch his Homestead ticket in a bid for a record setting eighth Cup title.

 

— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the Majority Owner of NASCAR Web site Frontstretch.com. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NASCARBowles.

 

(Top photo courtesy of NASCAR.com)

Teaser:
AAA Texas 500 Preview and Fantasy NASCAR Predictions
Post date: Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 13:30
Path: /nascar/draftkings-nascar-lineup-picks-aaa-texas-500-2017
Body:

DraftKings’ daily fantasy NASCAR heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the AAA Texas 500. This race marks the second event of the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The green flag flies Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 

Here are eight drivers to keep an eye on this weekend when setting your DraftKings lineups, courtesy Frontstretch.com's Corey Brewer.

 

 

ELITE TIER: $9,500 and up

 

Martin Truex Jr. ($11,000)

Texas: 24 starts, three top fives (12.5 percent), 13 top 10s (54.2 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 13.6

 

Truex’s 2017 season has been the most dominant in NASCAR Cup Series history when it comes to intermediate tracks. He has six wins on 1.5-mile ovals this season, posting an average finish of 2.8. Because of that, he has all but locked himself into the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Truex enters the weekend with a full race lead over fifth place in the standings and starts Sunday's race inside the top 10.

 

Truex has five straight top-10 finishes at Texas and has led laps in three straight races there. It’s easy to assume there is another impressive performance on the horizon.

 

Kevin Harvick ($9,800)

Texas: 29 starts, seven top fives (24.1 percent), 17 top 10s (58.6 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 11.7

 

Harvick has yet to win at Texas but has the fourth-best average finish among all active drivers (11.7). He has six straight top-10 finishes at the track, including four inside the top five. Harvick started on the pole at the speedway back in April and led 77 laps in a fourth-place effort.

 

Harvick currently has the points to make Miami and will need a good finish to maintain that position. Add in a top-10 start and there's plenty of proof the No. 4 car should be a Sunday contender.

 

Jimmie Johnson ($9,600)

Texas: 28 starts, seven wins, 15 top fives (53.6 percent), 21 top 10s (75 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 8.1

 

There are six drivers fighting for the final two final playoff spots at Homestead, and Johnson is one of them. The seven-time Cup champion is currently three points below the cutline and may need a win in order to ensure a spot in the Championship 4. Misfortune from the other drivers could be helpful as well if Johnson plans to capture his eighth championship in a mediocre year for the No. 48.

 

Luckily, Texas is a great track for Johnson to do just that. He won at Texas earlier in the season, his fourth victory in the last six races at the track. In that event, he started 24th and led 18 laps.

 

Johnson is the all-time wins leader at Texas with seven wins in 28 starts. He also holds the record for the most top-five finishes (15), top-10 results (21) and laps led (1,041). It's hard to bet against a man as accomplished as this one inside the Round of 8.

 

ALL-STAR TIER: $8,000 – $9,400

 

Joey Logano ($9,400)

Texas: 18 starts, one win, eight top fives (44.4 percent), eight top 10s (44.4 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 15.8

 

Logano was in position for a solid finish last weekend at Martinsville before a tire rub sent him spinning in the final moments. He led 59 laps from the pole and had a fast racecar all weekend before fading to 24th.

 

Logano has three straight podium finishes at Texas and has earned five top-five finishes in the last seven races at the track. He also led 178 laps in this race in 2016, finishing in the runner-up position en route to the Championship 4.

 

Another bid for the title has already fallen far short this year. But Logano has bounced back as of late and will look to play spoiler this weekend.

 

Chase Elliott ($9,100)

Texas: Three starts, two top fives, three top 10s

Average finish at Texas: 6.0

 

Elliott was fighting for the victory at Martinsville last weekend until his run-in with Denny Hamlin. He has yet to win this season or in his young Cup career. That said, he is still holding out hope for the 2017 series championship. The sophomore driver is in a win-only mindset heading into Texas, 26 points below the final transfer spot.

 

Elliott has finished inside the top five at all three 1.5-mile tracks since the playoffs began, two of which were second-place results. At Texas, he has top-10 finishes in all three of his starts at the track. He finished ninth in April after starting way back in 33rd; that means you should shrug off Friday's 34th-place starting spot after failing pre-qualifying inspection.

 

Elliott showed a new, aggressive side to his driving style last weekend. Expect that to continue and only grow this Sunday if he's chasing a win during the final stage.

 

Kasey Kahne ($8,200)

Texas: 26 starts, one win, five top fives (19.2 percent), nine top 10s (34.6 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 18.2

 

Kahne has been electric over the past two seasons at Texas. He finished eighth in the spring of 2015 and was eighth again in both starts last season. It's a guy whose bread-and-butter over the years has always been intermediate ovals the size of this track.

 

It's been a difficult NASCAR playoff for Kahne, who is leaving Hendrick Motorsports after the season. But even as a lame duck, he has top-10 potential this weekend no matter the starting spot.

 

BARGAIN TIER: $4,500 – $7,900

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($7,900)

Texas: 29 starts, one win, seven top fives (24.1 percent), 18 top 10s (62.1 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 13.1

 

Texas Motor Speedway was the destination for Earnhardt’s first Cup win back in 2000, and it very well could be the same for his last. NASCAR's Most Popular Driver has been great there ever since he first rolled out onto the track. While Junior hasn’t had the most storybook ending to a storied career, his only 2017 top-five finish came at TMS back in April (fifth).

 

Earnhardt has finished five out of the last six Texas races inside the top six, although he's done so without leading a single lap. In the last five, he started each race from 10th or worse only to race up towards the front.

 

Earnhardt could be a great sleeper pick this weekend. Position differential potential is also in play after a 17th-place qualifying effort.

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,800)

Texas: Nine starts, two top 15s, five top 20s

Average finish at Texas: 20.8

 

Stenhouse has been inconsistent at intermediate tracks this season and over his career. However, Texas has told another story for the No. 17 team.

 

Stenhouse, coming off a NASCAR playoff appearance has finishes of 16th or better in three straight races at the track. That should be more than enough from a back-end-of-the-lineup driver, even though he starts 12th.

 

 

Pre-Qualifying Optimal Lineup Example:

 

(Top photo courtesy of ASP, Inc.)

Teaser:
DraftKings NASCAR Lineup Picks: AAA Texas 500
Post date: Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/five-up-five-down-aaron-jones-vernon-davis-cam-newton-will-fuller-week-9-2017
Body:

With six teams on a bye this week (again), finding a solid starting lineup can be tough for fantasy owners as we get ready for Week 9. Add in injuries to a number of skill players and deciding who to play where is going to be a challenge. However, plenty of good matchups can be exploited. In addition, injuries to some players mean a clear path to playing time for others. This list takes all of that into account, as well as past performance.

 

At the end of the column is the full disclosure, listing how well last week's picks performed. Please note that 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, rather a guide.

 

5 Up

 

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Given Winston's performance last week, it is hard to trust him as a QB1 this week. He is ranked No. 14, just outside QB1 territory, but he has a great matchup against the Saints. Winston was dealing with a shoulder injury and didn't even throw in practice until Friday last week. This week, however, he was able to throw in practice all week and even put in a full practice on Friday. He should bounce back on the road playing indoors against New Orleans.

 

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

After turning 17 carries into 131 yards and a touchdown in Week 7 before the bye, Jones is a must-start running back this week. He's ranked No. 10 but he could easily exceed that. Brett Hundley isn't going to throw the ball for a win, so the Packers are going to have to rely on their running game. The team has been getting away from using Ty Montgomery, so it's the Aaron Jones show this week (Packers play Monday night) and for the rest of the season.

 

Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

While Peterson - and the entire Cardinals offense was a disappointment in Week 7 (before the bye), the team only gave him 11 carries and Carson Palmer was knocked out of the game. It's the Drew Stanton show in Arizona now, and similar to Green Bay, this offense is not going to rely on the quarterback. The Cardinals have said they are going to feed Peterson this week. He is ranked No. 13 but should exceed that ranking.

 

Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers

Even though (spoiler alert) Cam Newton is on the "5 Down" list, his No. 1 receiver is on the "5 Up" list. The reason being that there really is no one else to throw the ball to. Curtis Samuel and Russell Shepard are the other pass catchers on the team now that Kelvin Benjamin is with Buffalo. Funchess has been a boom-or-bust receiver, with three touchdowns and no 100-yard games, but this is his chance. He's ranked No. 30 but should exceed that.

 

Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins

With Jordan Reed already ruled out, Davis will be the starting tight end for the Redskins. The matchup against the Seahawks, on paper, is a tough one. However, Earl Thomas has been ruled out, which helps both Kirk Cousins and Davis. Cousins looks for his tight end often. In Week 3 when Reed was out, Davis had five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. He is ranked No. 11, but should be a TE1 this week.

 

5 Down

 

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

Aside for two weeks in the middle of the season, Newton has been a disappointment. He has thrown for less than 240 yards in the past three games. He has two touchdowns and six interceptions in that span. Newton faces Atlanta in Week 9, which isn't a terrible matchup, but it's just hard to trust him. He's now without Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, leaving him Devin Funchess and two receivers who have yet to have more than two receptions in a game to throw to. Newton will get yards from Christian McCaffrey, but he should fall out of the top 10 this week.

 

C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos

Despite having 15 carries for 78 yards in Week 8, Anderson has fallen out of fantasy favor. He's ranked No. 19 this week, but Devontae Booker is back and is taking work away from him. Jamaal Charles has always been in the picture, but now with Booker, Anderson's role drops even further. The Broncos face the Eagles in Week 9, who allow the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs.

 

Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The Denver Broncos give up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and that is who Jeffrey faces in Week 9. While Carson Wentz has been great lately, a lot of his points come from finding Zach Ertz, not Jeffrey. With Nelson Agholor still in the mix, Jeffrey is in for a rough outing in Week 9. He's ranked No. 19, but he easily can fall out of the top 20. In a week with six teams on a bye, he's still a WR3, just not the WR1 that fantasy owners have expected this year.

 

Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson's season-ending injury obviously changes the outlook for any Texans pass catcher, and this may especially be the case for Fuller. As great as Fuller has been this season, he isn't going to get to his No. 18 ranking this week without Watson. Tom Savage will be under center, which drastically lowers Fuller's value. He's had 13 receptions this season and seven touchdowns in that span. Clearly, those numbers weren't sustainable for the season, but losing Watson will put an end to that streak.

 

Tyler Kroft, TE, Cincinnati Bengals 

With Tyler Eifert out for the season, Kroft has stepped onto the fantasy radar. In the past four games, he's had at least four receptions. He's added three touchdowns in that span as well. However, in Week 9, he faces the Jacksonville Jaguars, which has a tough pass defense. They haven't allowed a tight end to have more than 61 yards, although they have allowed three touchdown catches to the position. Kroft is ranked No. 12, but he is a TE2.

 

Full Disclosure, Week 8:
 

5 Up

Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders (Ranked: 15, Actual: 16)

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (Ranked: 11, Actual: 20)

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (Ranked: 19, Actual: 36)

Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (Ranked: 23, Actual: 51)

Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts (Ranked: 13, Actual: 2)

 

5 Down

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (Ranked: 9, Actual: 11)

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Ranked: 12, Actual: 25)

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Ranked: 6, Actual: 39)

Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans (Ranked: 27, Actual: 3)

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (Ranked: 7, Actual: 46)

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

 

(Top photo courtesy of www.houstontexans.com)

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 5 Up, 5 Down: Aaron Jones, Vernon Davis Up; Cam Newton, Will Fuller Down for Week 9
Post date: Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Danica Patrick, NASCAR, Life
Path: /life/danica-patrick-raises-migraine-awareness
Body:

Danica Patrick is an accomplished race car driver, model, spokesperson and author. She’s one of only 14 drivers ever to lead laps in both the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500. But Patrick, 35, is also one of over 38 million Americans suffering from migraine attacks.

 

“I remember when I first started getting [migraine attacks], I didn’t know what was happening to me,” Patrick says. “They’re so different than a headache. They are usually a 48-hour transition period. I get to the point where I even feel nauseous. There’s been plenty of times on where I’m laying on the couch in the living room just trying to figure out what can I do to feel better.”

 

Despite the fact that roughly 12 percent of the U.S. population suffers from the neurological disease, migraine misinformation remains rampant. Patrick has teamed with the Excedrin Works campaign (excedrin.com/migraines) to raise awareness about a disease that significantly impacts the workplace, resulting in an estimated 113 million missed work days and $13 billion lost annually.

 

Unlike other common ailments such as diabetes or heart disease, overall health does not appear to be a factor when it comes to susceptibility to migraines. Even a workout warrior and diet-obsessed athlete like Patrick is at risk.

 

“I would go so far as to say I don’t know anyone that eats healthier than me,” says Patrick, who has a food and fitness book, Pretty Intense, coming out in December. “I eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, grass-fed, quality, wild-caught proteins, nuts and seeds. And I generally follow a paleo diet. The only kind of sugars that I add into my diet are honey and maple syrup, and natural ones with fruit.”

 

Patrick takes precautionary steps to minimize the frequency of her migraine attacks. She has had an MRI and environmental allergy testing. She abides by a consistent meal and sleep routine. She abstains from alcohol or exercise when she feels a migraine coming on. Now she is raising awareness on the volatile and unpredictable nature of the disease.

 

“I wish I had all the answers to what is always going to trigger a migraine,” says Patrick. “It’s not 100 percent. I don’t always know. I just try and do what I can.”

 

Symptoms

“Migraine is characterized by episodes of neurologic symptoms,” says Dr. Elizabeth Seng, a headache researcher and clinical psychologist. “Migraine pain is typically on one side of your head. It’s moderate to severe, it pulses, and it gets worse with physical activity. Other symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as sensitivity to other sensations like smell and touch. Many people with migraine experience cognitive changes. Difficulty thinking. A little bit of confusion.”

 

Triggers

For migraine sufferers, there are a variety of factors that might “trigger” an attack.

 

• Lack of food/water

• Lack of sleep

• Increased stress

• Harsh lighting

• Strong smells

• Loud sounds

• Hormonal changes

 

Management

“It’s really important to catch these attacks early. And many people with migraine report waiting until the end of the next meeting or the end of the next phone call or just get through a few more emails. But by that point, the migraine may be in a full-blown attack. It’s much harder to treat at that point,” says Seng.

 

“In general, if you’re having a headache and you don’t know what it is, you should talk to your doctor and make sure that you have the right diagnosis. Especially if your headache came on suddenly, or you had headaches for a long time and it suddenly changed.”

Teaser:
Danica Patrick is one of 38 million Americans suffering from migraine attacks.
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 15:23
Path: /nfl/sunday-night-football-oakland-raiders-vs-miami-dolphins-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Both the Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins will be looking to get back on track when they meet down in South Florida for “Sunday Night Football.”

 

The Raiders (3-5) lost to the Bills 34-14 on the road last Sunday. Oakland put up 367 yards of total offense, including 313 passing from Derek Carr, bur four turnovers and 151 rushing yards by Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy were too much to overcome. Oakland has now lost five of its past six games.

 

The Dolphins (4-3), however, fared even worse last week, getting shutout by the Ravens 40-0 on Thursday night. Miami mustered just 196 total yards of offense as backup quarterback Matt Moore was picked off twice. Both of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns and Baltimore’s defense also scored on a fumble return. The loss snapped the Dolphins' three-game winning streak.

 

This will be the first time these teams have met since 2012. The regular season series between Oakland and Miami is tied at 16-16-1.

 

Oakland at Miami

 

Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Oakland -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Marshawn Lynch

Lynch (above, right) will be back after his one-game suspension for leaving the bench and pushing an official in Oakland’s Week 7 win against Kansas City. Besides returning to action, Lynch also will look to get his production back on track.

 

Prior to being ejected in the game against the Chiefs, Lynch had just nine rushing yards on two carries. For the season, he’s averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and hasn’t run for more than 76 yards in any game.

 

Miami has done a good job against the run to this point, giving up just 95.4 rushing yards per game. So facing a defensive line consisting of Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake may not be the best way to get Lynch going, but the Raiders need to get more from their running game.

 

2. Dolphins’ offense

Miami enters Sunday night ranked last in the NFL in both total (252.4 ypg) and scoring offense (13.1 ppg). Things hopefully bottomed out last week when the Dolphins managed just 196 total yards (only 45 rushing) against the Ravens while getting shut out for the second time this season (Week 4 vs. New Orleans in London).

 

Jay Cutler will be back at quarterback after missing the Baltimore game because of cracked ribs. Prior to the injury, Miami had averaged 25.5 points per game in the last two Cutler started.

 

Oakland’s defense is 26th in the league in yards allowed per game (356.9) while surrendering 24 points per contest. As bad as the Dolphins looked last week, there should be opportunities to move the ball against the Raiders.

One thing that bears watching is how the running game fares for Miami following the trade of Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia. Damien Williams is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but expect Kenyan Drake to get his chances as well. The two have combined for just 57 yards on 22 carries (2.6 ypc) thus far.

 

3. Khalil Mack

Last week, Miami gave up three sacks to Baltimore as the Ravens were able to put pressure on Matt Moore all game. Besides throwing for just 176 yards, Moore completed 25 of his 44 attempts and also tossed two pick-sixes.

 

For the season, the Dolphins have done a decent job protecting the quarterback with just 16 sacks allowed (tied for 12th), but this week the offensive line will face one of the best pass rushers in the league in Mack (right). In eight games, Mack’s sack numbers may be down (4.5) through eight games, but the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is still having an impact.


If anything, Mack continually demands a double team on every play. So it will be important for the Miami’s protection schemes to account for him, while also looking out for another Oakland defender that may benefit from the extra attention Mack draws.

 

Final Analysis

 

Both the Raiders and Dolphins made the playoffs after lengthy postseason droughts last season. While both teams have struggled this season, they each will be looking to spearhead a playoff run during the second half of their schedules.

 

Despite losing last week, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr threw for 313 yards against Buffalo. Statistically, Miami has held up well against the pass (210.9 ypg), but the Falcons, Jets and Ravens were each able to pick up some big yards through the air on certain plays too.

 

Carr has turned the ball over some this season, but look for him to get back to the quarterback that completed 88.3 percent of passes that went at least 15 yards for two touchdowns and no interceptions in his first two games, as opposed to the 31.3 completion percentage and three TDs with four interceptions since then.

 

Prediction: Raiders 28, Dolphins 17

 

— 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, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

 

(Top photo courtesy of www.miamidolphins.com)

Teaser:
Sunday Night Football: Oakland Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: NFC, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, NFL
Path: /nfl/washington-redskins-vs-seattle-seahawks-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

CenturyLink Field has been the home of some wild finishes in its 15 years of existence. Last Sunday, was the latest chapter as the Seattle Seahawks (5-2) rallied to defeat the Houston Texans 41-38 in a good, old-fashioned Wild West shootout. Russell Wilson bounced back from a late interception to execute a game-winning, three-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Now, what will Wilson and company do for an encore this Sunday afternoon when they take on the Washington Redskins (3-4)?

 

For the Seahawks, it was their ability to create big plays with Wilson in the passing game as he completed 26 of 41 attempts for 452 yards and four touchdowns. This epic performance by Wilson and the receiving corps overshadowed a running game that could not get anything going against Houston’s defense. Jadeveon Clowney in particular was living in the Seattle backfield all day long as the offensive line had zero chance of slowing him down. Defensively, the game played out as expected as Deshaun Watson threw for more than 400 yards and the Legion of Boom created a couple of key turnovers to hold off the Texans.

 

Washington comes into this game in a must-win situation with Philadelphia pulling away in the NFC East race. The Redskins lost 33-19 last week at home to the Cowboys in a game that was played in a driving rain storm. Kirk Cousins completed 26 of 39 passes for 263 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The inability to run the ball was a problem for the Redskins as well, as they mustered just 49 yards on 15 carries. Turnovers were another problem, finishing minus-two against Dallas. Ball security is going to be important moving forward for Washington with little margin for error.

 

Washington at Seattle

 

Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 4:05 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Seattle -7

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Seahawks’ offensive line with Duane Brown

After another rough week of running the football, Seahawks general manager John Schneider acquired left tackle Duane Brown in a trade with Houston. A three-time Pro Bowler, Brown will immediately upgrade an offensive line that has been an issue the last few seasons. Seattle took the Walmart style approach when it came to the offensive line for as long as the team could afford. In the end, they had no choice but to pay a Tesla Model X type price in draft pick compensation to get Brown as the road to the Super Bowl coming out of the NFC is wide open. The running game should benefit from Brown’s addition with Eddie Lacy set to get the first opportunity as the primary ball carrier. If Lacy struggles look for Thomas Rawls and J.D. McKissic to get their shot at staking their claim to the No. 1 role.

 

2. Kirk Cousins and the Redskins’ passing game

Cousins, will make his first appearance in front of the 12s which will be interesting to see how patient he will be with the football when he drops back to pass. Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson figure to be busy on Sunday given Washington’s issues running the football. Crowder should have opportunities for chunk plays against the Seahawks’ secondary, which got exposed numerous times last week against Houston, and Thompson will get his chances catching the ball out of the backfield. The screen pass can be a very powerful weapon against a fierce pass rush and expect Seattle to push the envelope and bring the heat all afternoon long. If the Seahawks can’t make tackles in open space, it increases the Redskins’ chances of staying in this game and stealing a win on the road.

 

3. Life without Earl Thomas

Thomas is arguably the most valuable player on the Seahawks roster, let alone the defense. Thus, if Thomas is out with a hamstring injury this week (did not practice Wednesday or Thursday) the pressure will be cranked up on the rest of the secondary to make up for his absence. Bradley McDougald is expected to take Thomas’ place in the lineup if he is unavailable. McDougald, has been a special teams ace so far in 2017 as he leads the team with seven special teams tackles on the season. In addition, McDougald stepped up in a big way covering Giants tight end Evan Engram two weeks ago in Seattle’s 24-7 win. Another thing that will ease the transition for McDougald will be a healthy Kam Chancellor, who should be able to pick up the slack should Thomas not be able to play.

 

Final Analysis

 

On paper, this game looks like it should be a convincing win for the Seahawks. However, Seattle has only gone 3-4 against the Vegas point spread this season so all bets are off as far as how this game unfolds. The running game will be the difference-maker as the Seahawks have not imposed their will on opponents on the ground this season. If Eddie Lacy or one of the other running backs can provide a spark behind a new-look offensive line, Seattle should win going away. For Washington, the Redskins need to stay patient on offense and not turn the ball over in order to keep the game close. Expect that to be the case in the first half before the Seahawks pull away in the third and fourth quarters for a two-score victory and extend their winning streak to five in a row.

 

Prediction: Seahawks 31, Redskins 20

 

— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball. Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottWhittum.

Teaser:
Washington Redskins vs. Seattle Seahawks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL
Path: /nfl/kansas-city-chiefs-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Thanks to a temporary stay granted by a federal court Friday morning, Dallas will have star running back Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday for its home game against Kansas City in the latest development involving his on-again, off-again six-game suspension. That could be bad news for the Chiefs, who are tied for the best record in the AFC at 6-2 but haven’t looked as dominant recently as they did during their 5-0 start.

 

With Elliott in the backfield, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott proving his stellar rookie season was no fluke, and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Dallas should be able to move the ball against a defense that ranks 28th in the NFL against both the run and the pass and 30th in yards allowed per game.

 

The Cowboys’ defense has the task of trying to slow down a Kansas City offense that ranks third in both scoring and total offense and is averaging 34.5 points per game on the road this season. But the way both the Chiefs' offense and the Cowboys' defense are trending indicates things may swing the home team’s way.

 

Kansas City at Dallas

 

Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Chiefs -1

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. After fast start, the Chiefs have slowed

Over the first five weeks of the season, the Chiefs' offense looked so good that some were wondering if they would ever lose. But then the Steelers held them to 251 total yards and 13 points at Arrowhead. Last week, the Chiefs totaled only 276 yards against Denver and scored only one offensive touchdown. They won 29–19, thanks in part to their defense forcing five turnovers. In between those games was a 31–30 loss to Oakland, but even in that shootout there was a red flag: only 94 yards rushing against a defense that just got gashed for 166 by the Bills. Some of the drop-off can certainly be attributed to injuries along the offensive line, but there’s no denying the Chiefs need to find a way to get Kareem Hunt (above, right) going again. The rookie back topped 100 yards rushing in four of his first five games but has only 154 total in the last three. He’s also gone five weeks without a touchdown after scoring six times in his first three NFL games.

 

2. Will Ezekiel Elliott make the most of his latest reprieve?

At the start of the season, Elliott was making more headlines for what was happening off of the field involving his appeal of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s six-game suspension rather than what he was doing on it. But that’s what happens when you run for a total of 173 yards in Weeks 2-4 combined. Since then, however, Elliott has picked things up considerably. In his last three games, Elliott has piled up 413 yards and four touchdowns. He enters this game third in the league in rushing at 690 yards, just 73 behind Hunt for the league lead. Kansas City is near the bottom of the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 131.1 yards per game (28th). Every team that the Chiefs have faced except one (Oakland in Week 7) has gained at least 107 yards on the ground. That’s not a good sign considering Elliott’s recent performances, as he seems to be approaching every game lately as it could be his last.

 

3. Dallas must take care of the ball

Obviously this could be a key for every NFL game, but it’s even more important when facing a team like the Chiefs that rarely turns the ball over (tied for fewest giveaways in the NFL with three). The Cowboys have also been pretty good at avoiding turnovers (eight so far, 10th-best in the NFL), but they have given the ball away seven times in their three losses. While the Dallas defense has tightened up since the bye, allowed fewer than 300 yards in back-to-back wins, it has also forced six turnovers in those two games. The Cowboys can’t count on gifts like that from Kansas City.

 

Final Analysis

 

Prior to Friday, it appeared that Kansas City would catch a break and not have to worry about facing Ezekiel Elliott. A federal court changed that, however, and now the Chiefs must adjust their defensive game plans on short notice. This team also is pretty banged up (wideouts Dee Ford and Albert Wilson both hadn’t practiced as of Thursday, and leading sacker Justin Houston has been limited) right now. Besides having Elliott for at least one more game, it feels like the Cowboys are some bad turnover luck from being 6-1 right now; before the bye they lost back-to-back home games despite scoring 30 and 31 points thanks to five giveaways. As long as Dallas takes care of the ball, the home team should be able to take care of business.

 

Prediction: Cowboys 30, Chiefs 24

Teaser:
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, start or sit, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/start-em-sit-em-week-9-2017-alvin-kamara-and-other-rb-start-sit-fantasy-advice
Body:

Ameer Abdullah: Start 'em, Sit 'em Week 9Big-time fantasy names keep dotting the top of the leaderboard for running backs. Ezekiel Elliot (who got another last-minute reprieve from the courts) and LeSean McCoy led the way in scoring in Week 8, while Melvin Gordon and Lamar Miller continued to prove their RB1-worth with top-five performances.

 

With all the Week 9 byes, there are probably some lineup spots that need to be filled this week. Here are those running backs you should trust and those you may want to consider leaving on the bench, as tough as that might be with so many teams on bye.

 

Good Calls for Week 8...

Start Alvin Kamara (16.6 fantasy points) – In a week where six teams were on bye, Kamara came through huge for fantasy owners.

 

Sit Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy (-0.1 FP combined) – The Seahawks are terrible at running the football and the way Russell Wilson is playing, they don’t need to run it.

 

Bad Calls for Week 8...

Sit Isaiah Crowell (15.8 FP) – Crowell has done nothing all year, and finally, in London of all places, he has a decent game and scored a touchdown against a stout Vikings defense.

 

Start Jay Ajayi (4.1 FP) – Are the Dolphins really better off with Jay Cutler under center than Matt Moore?

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

 

Running Backs

 

START THESE RBs...

 

Ameer Abdullah, DET (at GB, Mon.)

His 11 rushes for 27 yards could scare you away, but game flow can lead to a better production from Abdullah. If the Lions get out to an early lead against the Packers, which they should, we may see Detroit try to eat up the clock with Abdullah, and to a lesser extent, Theo Riddick. I want to believe. All the coaching staff needs to is give Abdullah a few goal-line carries and everything is just fine.

 

Doug Martin, TB (at NO)

New Orleans is giving up some ground this year, allowing 4.9 yards per carry and more than 130 rushing yards per game. Martin’s been featured by the Bucs every week since he’s come back from serving his suspension, and he’s guaranteed at least 15 touches against the Saints. Roll him out confidently as an RB2 with RB1 upside.

 

Alvin Kamara, NO (vs. TB)

Mark Ingram fumbled twice last week and got benched for the last drive in favor of Kamara. Head coach Sean Payton already has a dislike for Ingram, and two fumbles sure don’t help his cause. So, given the history, there is a good chance Payton starts Kamara this week. More importantly, Drew Brees will throw the ball a lot against Tampa Bay. Kamara is often further downfield than the wide receivers on passing plays. He has as good a chance at going over 100 receiving yards as Michael Thomas or Ted Ginn Jr. Start Kamara.

 

MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...

 

Joe Mixon, CIN (at JAC)

The Bengals’ game plan should focus on attacking the league's worst rushing defense on Sunday. Fantasy owners should anticipate minimal pass attempts for quarterback Andy Dalton and at least 20 touches for Mixon. Despite a dip in workload over the past two weeks, he eclipsed 100 yards from scrimmage for the second time against the Colts last week. Mixon leads the Bengals’ backfield in carries (85) and receptions (17). Expect him to see a high volume of touches in a conservative offensive approach against an aggressive defense. He's a must-start player in Week 9.

 

SIT THESE RBs...

 

Adrian Peterson, ARI (at SF)

Maybe Bruce Arians and the Cardinals got things right after their bye, but with Drew Stanton under center, how can you expect anything less than eight men in the box at all times, ready to stuff AP? It’s a sad situation. The comeback lasted for one game.

 

Devonta Freeman, ATL (at CAR)

Atlanta looks to get back in the NFC South race this week with its first divisional game.  Over the first eight weeks, Freeman has put together the quietest top-10 fantasy performance in the league. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but inexplicably has averaged just 11 carries per game over his last three. The Falcons’ offensive identity has yet to be determined under coordinator Steve Sarkisian, but limited carries and the third-stingiest fantasy defense of the Carolina Panthers make Freeman a tough start in Week 9.

 

C.J. Anderson, DEN (at PHI)

Denver is turning to Brock Osweiler at quarterback, so Anderson’s value could go back up. But the Broncos seem to be moving toward a full-blown running back-by-committee with Anderson ceding more touches each week to Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker. That will make achieving a fantasy-relevant day even harder against Philadelphia’s top-five rushing defense.

 

— 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.

 

(Top photo by Michael C. Herbert, courtesy of www.neworleanssaints.com)

Teaser:
Start 'em, Sit 'em Week 9: Alvin Kamara and Other RB Start/Sit Fantasy Advice
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 11:30

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