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ESPN Upstate Blog

Join us here everyday for thoughts, predictions, scores, and more with some of the best sports authorities in the Upstate.  We have blogs from Greg McKinney of the Huddle, Mark Sturgis and Price Atkinson from Straight up with Sturg and guest blogs from Regie Eller!


Sturg sees blue lights!



Editor's note: Video to document this actual event yesterday is below.

Busted. Cold busted!

What a day it was yesterday, as Sturg and I made our way up to SEC Basketball Media Days in Charlotte and then broadcast the show "Straight Up With Sturg" afterwards from Millstone Pizza and Taphouse in Rock Hill.

I was all ready to write about a big day of basketball and fun we had, talking with SEC players and coaches in prep for the upcoming season. But then it all took a turn on the way home last night, so let me share the "fun" with you.

Truth be told, Sturg's day started a bit rough yesterday by waking up to a dead, non-functioning iPhone. You've probably been down that road and you feel like an arm is missing when you've either lost it or it simply won't turn on or "WORK DAMNIT!"

Without his iPhone to take "celebrity" shots at SEC Media Days (that was left up to me…see the pic below with Sturg and his best bud Adrian Branch from ESPNU), we did our thing and made it happen from The Ballantyne Hotel. We wrapped it up and then made a mad dash from Charlotte to Millstone for the show, pulling into the parking lot with just 20 minutes to setup before going live on air.



Now let's get to the good stuff. From Rock Hill to Greenville, you can go several ways but the most direct is Highway 5 thru York and up to Blacksburg and I-85. That's where the fun began. Actually it began just six miles from 85, while still on Highway 5.

On a dark, calm four-lane highway with no other cars anywhere around, we all of a sudden blue lights behind us...and Sturg is popped for speeding by one of South Carolina's finest (video further below).



Officer to Sturg: "Didn't you see me turn around back there and following you?"

Sturg: "Hell no, what in the world...you think anybody cann see anything on this pitch dark road? I'm sorry sir, we're just headed home from a long day from talking SEC basketball." (Like the officer really cared what sport we were talking all day...unless he was a closet Kentucky basketball fan).

The cop then went back to his car behind us and I ask Sturg if he thinks we could get some photos with him afterwards. Especially, outside of the ESPN Upstate truck with him giving the No. 1 sign with his finger. I even thought to barter an on-air trade in making him ESPN Upstate's inaugural "Law Enforcement Officer of the Week" if he'd let the ticket slide. Why not? Our super, supportive and cool VP/GM Mr. Sinicropi is all about community service.

After debating a media strategy and knowing this would be risky, I got out of the vehicle and start taking some photos to "capture the crime" with a smiling Sturg at the wheel.



South Carolina's finest starts back and though I can't see him due to the blinding blue lights I'm trying to look into, he yells to me forcefully, "Sir, you need to get back in your vehicle now!"

Me: "Sir, yes SIR!"

Of course I obliged and followed his orders because: 1) I was of course hoping he was going to let Sturg off with a warning; 2) I wanted to get video of him delivering the actual "verdict" and 3) because my leftover pizza and Sturg's half-eaten meatball sub from Millstone were getting cold and I wanted to get home to eat my three leftover slices of pep.

After an $82 ticket and providing several "I'm-sorry-officer(s)," Sturg asks him if he'd be willing to take a photo outside the ESPN Upstate car (hey, we're always working for the team!) and let us turn our white strobe lights on top of our truck to offset his blue lights as a show of solidarity (LOL).

Remember my idea about getting a cool ESPN Upstate promo shot with the cop and Sturg with their No. 1 fingers up pointing to the logo? Yeah, I thought it was a golden idea, too. However, the cop declines saying it probably wouldn't be professional for him to do so. But it was the thought that counts right?

As you can see below, our iPhone-less and ESPN Upstate pilot mugs with his York County souvenir. We then continue rolling home, albeit a bit slower as Sturg leans over to me and says, "Doesn't it feel like we're going 35 mph now?"



No kidding bro, the cop ruined our fun as I then tried to ascertain via text with our ESPN Upstate program manager Mark Hendrix whether this was the first official ticket in the ESPN Upstate car. To this point, it is believed so…unless G-Mack is hiding a run-in from the law somewhere in the glovebox of the car or in his desk drawer.

You'll likely get a different version of the incident from Sturg on air this afternoon. But the biggest question moving forward is whether Mr. Sinicropi will let Sturg expense the $82 and change? My fingers crossed. Oh yeah, and my pep pizza was still good-to-go when I got home.





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FSU survives a topsy-turvy weekend



Note: Richard Breen is a longtime journalist who has covered high school and college football, as well as professional baseball, for daily newspapers and their websites. His weekly Top 25 is intended to be a thought-provoking look at who is enjoying success in the win-loss column.

We'll be posting his personal Top 25 every week, the rest of the way thru the college football season. Enjoy because it's not your every day Top 25!



Week 8: Land of confusion

On a topsy-turvy weekend, FSU keeps winning

1. Florida State 7-0 (1)*
2. Mississippi State 6-0 (2)
3. Mississippi 7-0 (3)
4. Oregon 6-1 (6)
5. Alabama 6-1 (7)
6. Georgia 6-1 (9)
7. Auburn 5-1 (8)
8. Texas Christian 5-1 (13)
9. Marshall 7-0 (10)
10. Utah 5-1 (15)
11. Arizona State 5-1 (18)
12. Notre Dame 6-1 (4)
13. Baylor 6-1 (5)
14. East Carolina 5-1 (11)
15. Ohio State 5-1 (16)
16. Arizona 5-1 (12)
17. Michigan State 6-1 (17)
18. Southern Cal 5-2 (21)
19. Kansas State 5-1 (UN)
20. Nebraska 6-1 (23)
21. Clemson 5-2 (UN)
22. Duke 6-1 (UN)
23. Colorado State 6-1 (25)
24. Minnesota 6-1 (UN)
25. Missouri 5-2 (UN)
* – previous ranking in parentheses

Fell out: Oklahoma (14), Washington (19), Georgia Tech (20), Rutgers (22), Iowa (24)

100 words of insight: This week's college football action answered some questions, but created some others. Things we learned (or re-learned): It's tough to win conference games on the road. Just ask Baylor. Or Georgia, whose loss to South Carolina is looking like more and more of a head-scratcher. Florida State isn't invincible, but they also aren't going away. Michigan State's mediocre schedule might let it sleepwalk all the way to the playoff. Congrats to Clemson for not Clemsoning in Boston. I don't know what to make of Missouri anymore. California might actually be good this year (or UCLA might actually not be good).


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How Bout Them Cowboys - NFL recap, Week 7 picks

Green Bay Packers v St Louis Rams


Six weeks in, who saw this coming? Who predicted that at this point in the season the Dallas Cowboys would have only one loss, be on a five game winning streak, and would be coming off the most impressive win of the season thus far by defeating the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle?

I surely didn't and I dare say nobody did. While I would be the first to tell you that Jerry Jones has not managed his team well over the better part of the last two decades, his recent work in the draft in building the Cowboys offensive line deserves some recognition. He got blasted by experts when he took a center in the first round a couple of years ago. This year, when he took Zach Martin instead of Johnny Manziel with Tony Romo coming off his second back injury, many fans moaned and complained. Six games in though, it appears crazy Jerry does have some football acumen left in him and has used it the last few years.

The coaching staff also deserves some credit. For the last several years, Jason Garrett has wanted to throw the ball all over the place. While the passing game is and has been a strength for the Cowboys, they have put too much emphasis on it and too much pressure on Tony Romo. While one could argue that DeMarcus Murray hasn't been able to stay healthy and that is why the Cowboys have been pass happy, Garrett has relied on the passing game even when Murray has been healthy. But now things have changed. He's letting Murray run behind arguably the best offensive line in the league. And while he's on a historic pace right now with his rushing, Tony Romo is playing a lot better because he knows he doesn't have to do it all and make things happen for the Cowboys to win.

Also, Rod Marinelli has taken a defense that was horrendous last year and lost most of its best players this past offseason due to free agency or injury, and has them playing much better than last year. Now part of that is the offense possessing the ball for long spurts and keeping them on the sideline. They are however, playing very well when they are on the field. Will all of this hold up throughout the year? I am not sure but so far it looks very good for the Dallas Cowboys and their fans.

While DeMarco Murray is playing unbelievable and helping his team, there is another guy in the league who is playing at an extremely high level in J.J. Watt. He just got huge money this offseason and more times than not when guys get paid (outside of the quarterback spot) you tend to see production drop. With Watt, you're seeing him play better than he was before. I believe he is the reason the Houston Texans have won some of the games they have this year. Watt, however, cannot impact his team the same way an elite quarterback or even a great running back like Murray can. While Watt is dominant on defense and does do some scoring for the Texans, he can't fix an offense that is not doing much.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a decent quarterback and probably better than most people give him credit for but he's not going to light up the scoreboard. The AFC is much stronger this year than it has been in recent years and while the Texans got off to a hot start and I think they'll do ok this season, I just don't think they will do enough to make the playoffs this year. Houston though is a good QB away from wreaking havoc in the league. They already have everything else in place, including the most dominant defensive player in the game.


Here's my Top 5 Players of Week 6:

1.) T.Y. Hilton (IND) – 9 REC—223 YDS—1 TD

2.) Tom Brady (NE) – 27-37—361 YDS—4 TDs

3.) J.J. Watt (HOU) – 7 TCKLES—3TFL—2 SACKS—3 PDs—1 FUM REC—1 TD

4.) Demarco Murray (DAL) – 29 CARRIES—115 YDS—1 TD—6 REC—31 YDS

5.) Aaron Rodgers (GB) – 24-42—264 YDS—3 TDs—7 CARRIES—34 YDS


Week 7

This week includes some good games and also several guys looking to make history. We're still on Manning watch when it comes to the all-time passing touchdowns mark. He needs two to tie and three to pass Brett Favre. San Francisco does play great defense but there is a good possibility we see Peyton Manning take that record this Sunday night. DeMarco Murray, who I have already praised in this post, is looking to become the first player in NFL history to rush for a hundred yards or more in his first seven games of the season. The Cowboys are playing a divisional rival in the New York Giants. The Giants look mediocre this year but have been known to come out of nowhere at times to deliver great performances, even in down years. Will it happen this Sunday? I do not think so but that is why they play the game.

When it comes to the panel's picks, we still have two leaders but one is different from last week. Will Vandervort still shares part of the lead but now he shares it with Greg. Jackson fell back one from the lead and shares second place with Price. Lonzo moved up leaving me in last on my own though I'm still only eight games back. I've gotten better with my picks but I'm holding steady when I need to be gaining ground. We'll see how this weekend goes for me. Here are our picks for Week 7.

Week 7 Greg Sturg Kenn Price Lonzo Zack Will Jackson
NYJ
@
NE

Patriots

Patriots

Patriots

Patriots

Patriots

Patriots

Patriots

Patriots
ATL
@
BAL

Ravens

Ravens

Ravens

Ravens

Ravens

Ravens

Ravens

Ravens
TEN
@
WSH

Redskins

Redskins

Redskins

Redskins

Redskins

Redskins

Redskins

Redskins
CIN
@
IND

Colts

Colts

Bengals

Colts

Bengals

Colts

Colts

Colts
SEA
@
STL

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks
CLE
@
JAX

Browns

Browns

Jags

Browns

Browns

Browns

Browns

Browns
MIN
@
BUF

Bills

Bills

Bills

Bills

Vikings

Bills

Bills

Bills
MIA
@
CHI

Bears

Bears

Bears

Bears

Bears

Bears

Bears

Bears
NO
@
DET

Saints

Lions

Saints

Lions

Lions

Saints

Lions

Lions
CAR
@
GB

Packers

Packers

Packers

Packers

Panthers

Panthers

Packers

Packers
KC
@
SD

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers

Chiefs

Chiefs

Chargers

Chargers
ARI
@
OAK

Cardinals

Cardinals

Raiders

Cardinals

Cardinals

Cardinals

Cardinals

Cardinals
NYG
@
DAL

Cowboys

Cowboys

Giants

Cowboys

Cowboys

Cowboys

Cowboys

Cowboys
SF
@
DEN

49ers

Broncos

49ers

Broncos

49ers

Broncos

49ers

49ers
HOU
@
PIT

Steelers

Steelers

Steelers

Steelers

Texans

Texans

Steelers

Steelers
Last Week
10-4-1

9-5-1

8-6-1

10-4-1

12-2-1

9-5-1

9-5-1

8-6-1
Total 59-31-1 53-37-1 56-34-1 58-32-1 54-36-1 51-39-1 59-31-1 58-32-1


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A few games I'll be keeping an eye on this afternoon...



When it comes to looking for potential upsets across the college football landscape on any given Saturday, I try to stay away from our local teams as well as my alma mater. But today it's impossible to stay away, starting with the Tigers...

No. 24 Clemson at Boston College (3:30 pm, ESPNU)

This was the single toughest game to pick all weekend. In our ESPN Upstate picks, I went with Clemson. I wish I could change it now. But I can't. My gut keeps telling me Boston College behind five fifth-year seniors on the offensive line, a quarterback in Tyler Murphy averaging more than eight yards per carry as well as a defense that only allows 19 points a game. Like Florida State, Clemson is one of the two schools in the ACC that everyone circles when they come to town.

I hate the term "trap game" because honestly I don't believe in them. What I do believe is that teams (in all sports) have a tough time "getting up" for a second consecutive big game. Is Clemson far more talented than BC? No question about it. However, I think the gritty win over the Cards last weekend took a lot out of Dabo's squad mentally, maybe even too much to be ready for today's challenge in Chestnut Hill. I went against my gut by picking Clemson earlier this week. But I think the Eagles win a close game that doesn't see either team cross the 21-point mark.


No. 10 Georgia at Arkansas (4:00 pm, SEC Network)

Why did I go the safe route and pick Georgia with everything is telling me Pig Sooie? Probably because the Dawgs proved me totally wrong last weekend by curb stomping Mizzou 34-0 last weekend on the road, something I did NOT see coming. When teams are faced with adversity they can either rally and play above their heads or wilt and fade. The Dawgs clearly played out of their minds without Todd Gurley. That's probably why I went Georgia because of the lingering domination at Mizzou still percolating in my head.

However, I think Arkansas is close, very very close, to winning their first SEC game since Bret Bielema arrived in Fayettenam. Today could very well be the day, as I think the Hogs are far better and more competitive than their 0-3 SEC record this season indicates. I went with Georgia in our weekly picks and am sticking with it. An Arkansas win today wouldn't be the least bit surprising.


Kentucky at LSU (7:30 pm, SEC Network)

This is the other SEC game that has a lot of people talking. Could Kentucky be for real? Well, as a UK alum I'll answer that one for you. Yes and no. I think Mark Stoops has a much improved team on his hands, thanks to several recruiting classes now paying dividends. UK has SEC speed, players and playmakers on both sides of the football for the first time in years. But they aren't ready to compete and challenge for the wide open SEC East yet.

The Mad Hatter is still working with an LSU team that has a lot of new faces, primarily on offense. That offense features two talented backs in frosh Leonard Fournette and senior Kenny Hilliard, both averaging more than five yards per carry. LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings shouldn't have to throw the football too much tonight, as the Tigers will likely ride a powerful running attack to a 10 to 13 point win. If this were an afternoon game, I'd likely pick my Cats but you know how intimidating Death Valley is at night.
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ESPN Upstate's Week 8 college football picks



I kind of feel like we're all getting a bit of time to catch our breath this weekend after the huge slate of games we're been luck to have the last two weeks. Finally, everything is starting to get sorted out and we're finding out a lot more about teams we had major questions about.

Despite losses in the last two weeks, there's still some really good teams out there that we're going to continue to find even more out about this coming. Notre Dame and TCU are the top two teams on that list for me.

Outside of a trip to "Notre Dame North" (Meadowlands, N.J.) for a neutral site game against Syracuse, the Irish haven't left the state of Indiana this season. Stanford was the lone test head coach Brian Kelly's team has faced so far and they emerged with a hard-fought 17-14 win in South Bend. So do we really know that much about this team? I don't think wins over second-rate teams like Michigan, Purdue, Rice and North Carolina provide any barometer like their first true-road test this weekend in Tallahassee.

The same can be said for TCU. After a 37-33 win at home over then No. 4 Oklahoma, the Horned Frogs' turned around with a video-game-like collapse by giving up 24 unanswered points in the final 11 minutes before falling 61-58 at Baylor. I think this weekend we'll get a better read on Gary Patterson's team with their third-straight game against a ranked team, this time No. 15 Oklahoma State.

Off the field, sometimes you just know when you're outclassed. I'll certainly tip my hat and say that's the case as our Entercom-all-everything-producer-host, you-name-it-he does-it-all guy Lonzo Writesel leads the pack in our ESPN Upstate staff picks. He doesn't just do it all and keep the the airwaves fresh, he also knows how to pick some college and pro foootball games.

Don't believe me? See below as he's cleaning house...

Week 8 Zack Greg Jackson Lonzo Mark H. Mike S. Price Sturg
Utah at Oregon St
OSU

OSU

OSU

Utah

Utah

Utah

Utah

OSU
Clemson at BC
Clemson

BC

BC

Clemson

Clemson

Clemson

Clemson

Clemson
ND at Florida St
Notre Dame

FSU

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

FSU

Notre Dame

FSU

FSU
Okla St at TCU
TCU

TCU

TCU

TCU

TCU

TCU

TCU

TCU
K-State at Okla
Okla

Okla

K State

Okla

Okla

Okla

Okla

Okla
A&M at Bama
Bama

Bama

Bama

Bama

Bama

Bama

Bama

A&M
Mizzou at Florida
Mizzou

Florida

Florida

Mizzou

Florida

Florida

Mizzou

Florida
UK at LSU
UK

LSU

LSU

LSU

LSU

LSU

LSU

LSU
Wash at Oregon
Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Wash
Stanford at Ariz St
Stanford

ASU

Stanford

Stanford

ASU

Stanford

Stanford

ASU
Last Week
7-3

2-8

5-5

6-4

2-8

5-5

5-5

5-5
Total Record
40-30

37-33

34-36

46-24

34-36

40-30

40-30

37-33





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A D-III Gem You Must See



Sometimes you find gems in places you least expect. And that is exactly the case as we give our undivided attention to a Division-III game this past week.

Huntingdon College (Alabama) was taking on Christopher Newport (Virginia) this past Saturday in a USA South Athletic Conference match up.

Lets take a look.

Here is the start of the play. Huntingdon is in red.



Here is the initial hand-off to RB Jay Ware to get the play going.




Then the flip to WR Mark White.




Just your normal reverse play, right? Wrong.

White then no-look flips it back to the QB.




Enter everyone's favorite video game play: the flea flicker.




This play can only be successful if 1) the QB gets the ball off; and then 2) the WR - Brantley Carr makes the catch 40 yards down field.

As you can see below, there is no way he is catching that ball right? He is not in a good position to make the catch and the defender has managed to cover him quite well.




"No problem - I'll just do a 360."




And then....




Yes...make the catch.




Just another day in D-III football. You can watch the video here or below...






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Locations : AlabamaVirginia
People : Jay WareMark White




 

Hotseat Rankings 4.0: A Battle Between Hoke and Muschamp



T1) Brady Hoke - Michigan

Record with team: 29-17
2014 Season record: 3-4

Michigan defeated Penn State at home. Up next? Michigan State. Brady Hoke is still fired.

Schedule
Appalachian St: W, 52-14
@ Notre Dame: L, 0-31
Miami (Ohio): W, 34-10
Utah: L, 10-26
Minnesota: L, 14-30
@ Rutgers: L, 24-26
Penn State: W, 18-13
@ Michigan State:
Indiana:
@ Northwestern:
Maryland:
@ Ohio State:


T1) Will Muschamp - Florida

Record with school: 25-18
2014 season record: 3-2

With the loss to LSU on Saturday, the question should be - and rightfully so - who will be the first to go? Brady Hoke or Will Muschamp.

The Swamp used to be a place that was nearly impossible for an opposing team to leave with a win. The Gators ended last season losing to Vanderbilt, Georgia Southern, and Florida at home. They defeated Eastern Michigan and Kentucky in the swamp this season; however, now with the LSU loss at home, 3-3 in their last six games at home is not something to be proud of.

Schedule
Eastern Michigan: W, 65-0
Kentucky: W, 36-30
@ Alabama: L, 21-42
@ Tennessee: W, 10-9
LSU: L, 27 - 30
Missouri
Georgia
@ Vanderbilt
South Carolina
Eastern Kentucky
@ Florida State


3) Tim Beckman - Illinois

Record with school: 9-22
2014 season record: 3-4

Barring an upset, there are only two possible wins on the schedule for Illinois: 1) Minnesota; and 2) Iowa. If I am predicting, I am predicting that Illinois will lose both of those games so it is hard to imagine that Tim Beckman will be employed by Illinois for too much longer - especially considering the possibility of finishing the season at 3-9, which would give Tim Beckman three seasons at Illinois at 2-10 (2012), 4-8 (2013), and then this 2014 season.

Schedule
Youngstown State: W, 28-17
Western Kentucky: W, 42-34
@ Washington: L, 19-44
Texas State: W, 42-35
@ Nebraska: L, 14-45
Purdue: L, 27-38
@ Wisconsin: L, 28 - 38
Minnesota
@ Ohio State
Iowa
Penn State
@ Northwestern


4) Al Golden - Miami

Record with school: 26-18
2014 season record: 4-3

It was a nice win this past Saturday for Miami versus Cincinnati; especially considering the Hurricanes now get a week off to prepare prior to traveling to Blacksburg to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies. For Al Golden's sake, Miami needs to come back home with a win next Saturday or else the seat will continue to be heated up. A loss to Virginia Tech makes games versus North Carolina more difficult; it makes the game versus FSU impossible; and then they are back on the road to Virginia and Pittsburgh. While a win would give the 'Canes - and Al Golden - the needed momentum to not go looking for another head coach this off season.

Schedule
@ Louisville: L, 13-31
Florida A&M: W, 41-7
Arkansas State: W, 41-20
@ Nebraska: L, 31-41
Duke: W, 22-10
@ Georgia Tech: L, 17-28
Cincinnati: W, 55-34
@ Virginia Tech
North Carolina
Florida State
@ Virginia
Pittsburgh


5) Paul Petrino - Idaho

Record with school: 1-17
2014 season record: 0-6

What else can we say? Idaho is terrible and Paul Petrino just is not a fit there. Maybe Paul will enjoy the comforts of Louisville, Kentucky a little bit better?

Schedule
@ La-Monroe: L, 31-38
Western Michigan: L, 33-45
@ Ohio: L, 24-36
South Alabama: L, 10-34
@ Texas State: L, 30-35
@ Georgia Southern: L , 24 - 47
New Mexico State
Arkansas State
@ San Diego State
Troy
@ Appalachian State


Gone
FIRED: Charlie Weis (Kansas): Overall record with school: 6-22
RESIGNED: June Jones (SMU): Overall record with school: 36-43
RETIRED: Larry Blakeney (Troy): Overall record with school: 175-109-1

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Be satisfied Tiger fans, time to move on to Boston College



Winning ugly outweighs losing ugly. Heck, winning beats losing under any circumstance. Period.

While the Louisville continent left town and has crowed since arriving back in the 'Ville about how depressing and deflating the loss was because they gave it away, I'll take an alternate view. How about Clemson took it from them? Because that's exactly what they did. They took that "W" from the Cards.

First and goal inside the Tigers' 10-yard line, needing a TD with a minute to go, and they didn't get it. Not because the Cards gave it away but because the Tigers stepped up and got a critical stop. It was the type of game that unfortunately had to have a loser because it really was an evenly played football game. But no matter how it transpired and looked, it's still about having one more point than the other team. And Clemson had six more.

UofL's offense was awful coming into the game and the 60 minutes on the field Saturday confirmed it. A Deshaun Watson-less offense and Clemson wasn't a whole lot better. In fact statistically, I'd argue they were worse.

However, that's splitting hairs. The only thing that matters is that Clemson found a way to win. They battled through adversity several times in the game, staring it down while continuing to scrap and claw until the final horn sounded. Most every single team in college football has to go thru what the Tigers did Saturday, at some point(s) during their season.

The offense doesn't always look pretty and click on all cylinders, which Saturday was a credit to UofL. Fortunately, Clemson sports one of the top 5 defenses in the country and has a major crux to lean on. It didn't hurt that the special teams unit was borderline great last weekend (outside of one Ammon Lakip missed field goal).

They found a way to win. Battling adversity builds character within a team. It makes you stronger and gives you the belief that when it comes up again, you can answer the call.

The Tigers will have to continue to battle a different type of adversity this Saturday at Boston College (4-2, 1-1) but have had a week to prepare. Watson is gone and Cole Stoudt, a guy many Clemson fans wrote off, is back under center without any real options behind him. He's once again "the guy" and will be facing a pesky BC team that's physical and takes on the persona of their head coach Steve Addazio.

After both teams admittedly had that game last weekend circled on the calendar for months, the Tigers have the tough task to "get back up" for a second-straight week because this isn't a trap game like some love to call it. Rather it's a very big test for a Clemson team that still hasn't won a road game yet this season.

BC is fifth in the country is rushing yards per game (315.7) led by dual-threat QB and Florida transfer Tyler Murphy's 711 yards, 8 TDs and 8.3 yard per carry. The Eagles defense is allowing just 19.3 points a game, while their two losses (both at home) were by a total of 13 points.

It's time to move to BC because without full attention and focus on the Eagles, Clemson will be coming home with more than a full helping of clam chowda but also an "L."

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FSU still No. 1, but others getting unmasked

Note: Richard Breen is a longtime journalist who has covered high school and college football, as well as professional baseball, for daily newspapers and their websites. His weekly Top 25 is intended to be a thought-provoking look at who is enjoying success in the win-loss column.

We'll be posting his personal Top 25 every week, the rest of the way thru the college football season. Enjoy because it's not your every day Top 25!



Week 7 - They aren't who we thought they were

FSU grinds on; some imposters exposed

1. Florida State 6-0 (1)*
2. Mississippi State 6-0 (6)
3. Ole Miss 6-0 (4)
4. Notre Dame 6-0 (5)
5. Baylor 6-0 (9)
6. Oregon 5-1 (16)
7. Alabama 5-1 (10)
8. Auburn 5-1 (2)
9. Georgia 5-1 (19)
10. Marshall 6-0 (11)
11. East Carolina 5-1 (14)
12. Arizona 5-1 (3)
13. Texas Christian 4-1 (7)
14. Oklahoma 5-1 (21)
15. Utah 4-1 (17)
16. Ohio State 4-1 (18)
17. Michigan State 5-1 (UN)
18. Arizona State 4-1 (24)
19. Washington 5-1 (UN)
20. Georgia Tech 5-1 (8)
21. Southern Cal 4-2 (UN)
22. Rutgers 5-1 (UN)
23. Nebraska 5-1 (22)
24. Iowa 5-1 (UN)
25. Colorado State 5-1 (UN)
* – previous ranking in parentheses

Fell out: UCLA (12), Texas A&M (13), Missouri (15), California (20), Louisville (23), BYU (25).

100 words of insight: Another road win for No. 1 FSU. Most everybody's playing conference games now, which helps clarify who is truly good and whose record is a mirage. A few weeks ago, I tweeted that Missouri was fooling people. Now we know the South Carolina win was the fluke, not the Indiana loss. Oklahoma, which was still getting too much credit for beating Alabama last year, squeaks to a win over Texas. BTW, Alabama is not the Invincible 'Bama of yore. Miami hung half a hundred on Cincinnati, which was supposed to be the class of the Whatever-the-hell-it-is Conference. East Carolina smiles.

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Live Clemson-Louisville in-game blog....



Want to have some fun? Hop in with us all afternoon as I'll bring you updates live here from Death Valley where Clemson and the visting Louisville Cardinals are scheduled for a 3:30 pm kickoff on ESPNU.

I haven't seen a huge contigent of UofL fans yet but seen 'em in bunches so far. My guess is there will be a large group across the way from us come kickoff. Having had this game circled since the ACC announcement, I'm sure they'll bring their own version of "loud" to the Valley.

You can tell it's a big game today because traffic was FAR different coming in than any other game so far this season. As I told ESPN Louisville Drew Deener host on his show earlier this week, Clemson fans know big games. They're smart football fans. My prediction is today is #ClemsonLoud like Miami's first trip to Death Valley in 2005, the loudest I've ever heard this place.

With that, let's get going!

2:22 pm - Saw this awesome ride while Sturg and I were taking the media shuttle up the press box a little while ago. Ain't she niiiiiice?




2:36 pm - Let's get this out of the way early in the day. I went to Kentucky. I graduated from UK. I bleed blue. That said, Louisville isn't exactly a team that I have a lot of love for. But one thing you get when UL comes to town is their fans who are unlike any other. Let's have a look.

2:46 pm - Jean shorts anyone?




2:52 pm - This is a pretty good. Gotta love Card fans...can spot 'em a mile away...



2:59 pm - Despite the "lookers" in red walking around campus, it's nice to see a lot of the Louisville media contigent here. Feel like old home week from my Bluegrass days with WDRB columnist Rick Bozich, Deener and UofL SID's Kenny Klein and Rocco G here.

3:03 pm - Just heard UofL stud wideout DeVante Parker isn't going to play today, according to the Louisville Radio Network. Big news out of the Cards camp. Parker is as good as it gets in the ACC.

3:06 pm - I'm headed down to the field for a bit to take in some of the pregame environment. Back shortly.

3:47 pm - I'm back! Long enough to get back into the press box to watch the Tigers' D force a three and out followed by Adam Humphries 72-yard punt return for a TD! Clemson 7-0 just like that!!

3:51 pm - Here ya go...the Tigers run down the Hill!





3:52 pm - Tigers back on offense after another stop. Where you at Lorenzo Mauldin?

3:54 pm - UofL about to begin its third offensive series. And they are as bad on offense as advertised. Actually, make that Clemson's D is just THAT good.

3:59 pm - Dabo at the top of the Hill, getting the students fired up. It's incredible to sit at the bottom of the Hill and watch those guys, especially Dabo absolutely FLY down the Hill!




4:03 pm - If you're wondering if it's loud here inside Death Valley, the answer is VERY.

4:05 pm - Just heard a rumor: There's a lice outbreak on campus. Supposedly, the it has something to do with the Hill. Not sure what or how. Just passing along info as I get it!

4:09 pm - Deshaun Watson has one of his first "freshmen moments," throwing a hurried INT to UofL and the Cards are in business, inside the Clemson 30- yard line.

4:12 pm - The UofL cheerleaders even had to stop and admire the Tigers' run down the Hill earlier. Don't they all?



4:12 pm - UofL's John Wallace knocks home a 41-yard FG, as the Tigers' defense holds after Deshaun's interception. A big stop for Clemson, though the Cards' offense isn't anything that will scare you. Not yet at least. Clemson leads 7-3 (1st quarter, 4:39)

4:17 pm - Cole Stoudt in at QB. Deshaun shaken up after being ridden out of bounds and drive to the ground on first down.

4:21 pm - Deshaun taken to the locker room with what appears to be a hand/wrist injury.

4:24 pm - End of the 1st quarter: Clemson 7, UofL 3. Cards inside the Clemson 5-yard line with 2nd and 2 coming up.

4:27 pm - Dominique Brown goes two yards for the TD. Cards now lead 10-7 (2nd quarter, 14:56)

4:30 pm - Clemson has announced that Deshaun Watson will not return today, due to an injury. Unknown exactly what it is right now.

4:35 pm - The Tigers' backs are against the wall for the first time since last month in Tally against FSU. Will see how Clemson coaching staff approaches the offensive gameplan the rest of the way with Stoudt under center.

4:38 pm - Haven't seen Sturg in a while. Who knows where he's off to now. I can never keep up with that guy in gamedays. Hurry back dude!

4:39 pm - I mentioned earlier the contingent of UofL fans...not a big group over there in the lower corner.




4:41 pm - Cards muff the punt return as Clemson's DJ Goodson recovers at the UofL 37-yard line. Clemson's offensive play calling with Stoudt in is now puzzling.

4:45 pm - Sturg sighting! Running around with iPhone on his ear. Who is he talking to is the question? My guess: trying to order us a pizza to-go since the pregame rubber chicken sucked (as usual).

4:49 pm - HUUUUGE play! Tavaris Barnes recovers a fumble in the end zone on a sack forced by Gary Peters (credited with a 9-yard sack). Tigers go ahead 14-10 (2nd quarter, 7:16)

4:55 pm - Meanwhile, former Clemson QB Chad Kelly is having some fun on Twitter (@ChadKelly_11)...



5:00 pm - And there's a new all-time sack leader at Clemson: "Faux" Vic Beasley tallied his 29th career sack on that last series, breaking Michael Dean Perry and the late Gaines Adams' record of 28. It's officially announced to the crowd and Vic stands up to acknowledge and take a bow from the defensive bench.

5:11 pm - I've got a special new sidekick up here in seat #96 next to me now...and a darn fine sidekick she is! :)

5:16 pm - WOW. Clemson drives down to the UofL 1-yard line but the clock runs out as Stoudt is sacked and the Tigers are out of timeouts. Half over.

5:17 pm - Halftime: Clemson 14, UofL 10

5:18 pm - Major adjustments needed offensively for Clemson at halftime. Tigers have just 70 TOTAL yards. The Cards aren't exactly lighting it up offensively either with just 95 total yards. Neither team has converted a single third down yet.

5:20 pm - Okay, I'm going in search of Sturg...and a delicious (and much-needed) hot dog (with chili)!

5:39 pm - As the second half begins, what a day here in Death Valley...




5:42 pm - Deshaun emerges from the locker room, walking onto the Clemson sideline with his right hand heavily wrapped.

5:48 pm - Stoudt drives the Tigers into UofL territory, but can't convert on third down (again). Ammon Lakip comes in and knocks home a 45-yard FG. Tigers now up 17-10 (3rd quarter, 9:43)

5:54 pm - My trusty, "darn fine" sidekick since Sturg abandoned me. It was MORE than a fair trade!




5:58 pm - Fourth and 1 from their own 40-yard line and the Tigers are stopped for no gain. Cards take over with great field position, at the Tigers' 40-yard line. Not sure what in the world Chad Morris thinking there, going with a Stoudt QB keeper out of the shotgun. You HAVE to go under center. They haven't learned that yet.

6:01 pm - It's approaching our bewitching hour....when Sturg and I have to make out get-away and head for the car in order to make it back to Greenville and the studio for the postgame show.

6:05 pm - Will Gardner in at QB for the Cards and they convert in just 1:08, as Gardner finds Eli Rogers WIDE OPEN across the middle for a 22-yard TD. Game is now tied, 17-17 (3rd quarter, 5:27)

6:07 pm - Join Sturg and I on the two-hour, Clemson postgame show "The Xtra Point" on 93.3 The Planet. We'll take your calls after the game (1-800-774-0093) or text us (72341)!





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A few games I'll be keeping an eye on today…



While dispensing with the major "must-see" games from the SEC West this coming weekend, this will also be one of the best weekends of college football this season.

No. 13 Georgia at No. 23 Mizzou (12 noon, CBS)
We obviously know Todd Gurley won't be in Columbia, Mo., this weekend. And we also know that the Dawgs are in deep trouble without the Heisman Trophy favorite this weekend and the foreseeable future. Up until this point, UGA ranked just 11th in the SEC in third conversions (21-56, 37.5%) playing with Gurley and that number should drop even lower without him. More perspective needed on the ripple effect? UGA is 10th in the SEC in total offense this season (459 ypg), while the Dawgs' second-ranked rushing offense (288 ypg). In games without Gurley since 2012, the UGA offense scores 10 less points per game and puts up less than 120 yards of total offense per game.

Mizzou is one of the most well-coached teams in the SEC and a win for the Tigers would essentially put them two games ahead in the race for Atlanta, despite playing just two league games so far. The fact that this game will be a 11 am local kickoff certainly helps the visiting Dawgs. However, Mizzou is still playing for respect and I think they'll get a bit of it after a win over Georgia today.


Duke at No. 22 Georgia Tech (12:30 pm, Raycom)
Staying in the Peach state, don't look now but Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets are somehow still undefeated (one of 10 schools left) and looking for their second 6-0 start since he arrived in Atlanta. Despite squeezing out wins late against Georgia Southern and Virginia Tech, Tech is playing with a ton of confidence behind sophomore QB Justin Thomas. Duke's defense is the worst in the league against the run, so PJ's triple option should be working in high gear today. The Blue Devils did get an extra week to prepare after their loss at Miami, but I don't think it'll matter. The Jackets have a lot of "mo" right now and will keep it rolling this afternoon at Bobby Dodd.


Louisville at Clemson (3:30 pm, ESPNU)
Of course I'll be watching this one because I'll be AT this one. But since Sturg didn't ask me prediction this week, I'm going to give it to you now: Clemson 33, UofL 16. We've heard all week about how good the Cards' defense is and it is. However, UofL hasn't played the quality of competition like they'll get from the Tigers this afternoon. Deshaun Watson hasn't had that freshmen moment yet and it could come today. But Clemson's defense is too good and Petrino's offense is below average at best (next to last in ACC's total offense - 388 ypg). Death Valley is going to be electric loud and the step-up in competition in their first trip to the Upstate will be too much for the Cards.




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Hornets-Wizards live blog from downtown Greenville...



What's up LIVE from inside Bon Secours Wellness Arena in downtown Greenville where it's loud and the pump-up music is going strong. The Stoneman would be disappointed in the selection but we're far from Classic Rock 101.1 right now.

I'll be taking you thru the next few hours live from the floor here where the Charlotte Hornets are hosting the Washington Wizards in a regional home exhibition game. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 pm. Should be fun!

Let's go...

(All basketball related commentary below comes with the disclaimer that yes, this is just a preseason game.)

6:22 pm - Courtside seats are nice. When you're right on the court. But 15-20 feet back without a riser makes viewing a tad tough. No complaints though. Just happy to see basketball live once again.

6:29 pm - Has a funny look to it, but still cool to have the big boy ballers in town...



6:34 pm - Okay, no I've got a complaint. The guy sitting next to me on my left is a total prick. Didn't take long to figure it out. Have a good life buddy...and good luck.

6:35 pm - If you've got any good nickname suggestions I can call him to raise his blood pressure with me...then I'm all ears!

6:40 pm - 20 minutes from tipoff and the lower bowl is filling in sporadically.

6:44 pm - This pic courtside was taken about 6:15 pm. New court design here at BSW Arena. Generic, plain and simple...




6:47 pm - As a UK alum, I'd by lying thru my teeth if I said I wasn't fired up to see John Wall again in person tonight. In a league filled with outstanding point guards, he's improved so much yet still doesn't get the credit he's due. Almost in the elite category.

6:50 pm - NBA female groupies are far different than NFL groupies. FAR, far different.

6:52 pm - I'll try and get a pic of one of the NBA groupies for you before the night is out. You'll enjoy it.

6:55 pm - The rennovations inside BSW Arena do look nice. Noticeable and needed. Well done folks.

7:01 pm - Saw the Hornets' "Honey Bees" and they agreed for a group photo on my way to media hospitality. Thank me for this one later (no these aren't the groupies I mentioned above).




7:07 pm - Tipoff between the Hornets and Wizards...




7:18 pm - Arena probably about half full. Solid crowd for a Friday night, while high school football and Fall for Greenville dominate the area scene tonight.

7:23 pm - The largest number of players combined from one single college here tonight: the Kentucky Wildcats. Just saying.

7:28 pm - You don't realize how physical these guys are until you see the up close courtside.

7:30 pm - Hornets rookie PJ Hairston out of UNC just drained two-straight 3's. Sweet stroke. If he stays outta trouble, dude will help off the bench provide some much-needed scoring.

7:34 pm - Was just curious after looking at which school was most represented to check out conferences. Surprising but not with the UK contingent: SEC 6, ACC 5, Big Ten 4.

7:37 pm - The Wizards backcourt of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Andre Miller is bad ass.These guys have a shot to make it to the Eastern Conference finals against the Cavs. Nice makeup of this team.

7:39 pm - End of the first quarter: Hornets 28, Wizards 17. Does anyone really care in an exhibition. I sure as hell don't. I suspect the players are rowing in that same boat with me.

7:41 pm - Here's a few sights and sounds from pregame tonight...




7:53 pm - Hornets styarting SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist attacks the basket relentlessly. If he can find some more offense for the Hornets, he'll be incredibly tough to leave off the floor.

7:55 pm - The @TheHoneyBees just favorited the tweet I sent out regarding their "lovely" group photo they took for me. Such a nice bunch of gals :)

8:06 pm - Halftime: Hornets 51, Wizards 37. Are you keeping score? Because I'm not!

8:21 pm - Second half about to begin. Came out hoping the prick next to me would be gone for the second half. No luck. So going prick strong.

8:23 pm - Working the back halls during halftime, you can listen and pick up some info from team officials. Wizards' SG Bradley Beal left with a ice wrapped hand to end the half. Heard he's done with a sprained wrist.

8:27 pm - Got a good shot of MKG coming out of the locker room and headed back out to the floor. Doing Big Blue proud. Hoping to get time with him in the locker room afterwards.



8:37 pm - Hornets point guard Kemba Walker has never met a jumper he didn't like. He likes 'em all, guarded or unguarded.

8:40 pm - Really sucks we didn't get to see new Hornets free-agent signee from this Lance "Born Ready" Stephenson play tonight because of a "small cut on his toe." He was great during my interview with him Monday afternoon on "Straight Up With Sturg," previewing the game tonight and season ahead.

8:48 pm - End of third quarter: Hornets 78, Wizards 55. The preseason rout is on = nobody on the court or in the stands gives a crap. Should be a fast final 12 minutes.

8:56 pm - Photo dump time as thing starts winding down...and hopefully quickly. Cool to see Paul Pierce tonight. he looks odd not wearing a Celtics uniform now. Think he's a Hall of Famer one day?



9:03 pm - Don't tell Wizards shooting guard Xavier Silas that it's over 20 points. Silas just canned back-to-back-to-back 3's, slicing the Hornets lead to 84-71 with less than 6 minutes to play. Just hopefully he doesn't get feisty like he did last season in the playoffs, coming off the bench in a fight with the Chicago Bulls.

9:05 pm - Starters are all done and sitting at the end of their respective benches. You know what that means? I'm going to the bench too. Packing up and heading to open locker rooms to record some interview for Monday's "Straight Up With Sturg" (if Sturg will even allow me to play a basketball interview during the middle of football season.

9:08 pm - Thanks for following along tonight if you checked it out here. Appreciate it and hope you had some fun. Back at it tomorrow from Death Valley!


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"Records, Records for Everybody!" - NFL recap, week 6 predictions



As the title might suggest, this was a pretty big weekend in the NFL. A lot of guys had record setting performances and/or reached career milestones. Let's start by looking at a game that had a few guys who had such days.

Last Sunday afternoon, the Arizona Cardinals traveled to Denver to take on the Broncos. Three of Denver's players had a big day. Start at the wide receiver position. Welcome back Demaryius Thomas! After looking a little off the first three games, Demaryius showed up and showed out Sunday afternoon! He set the record for most receiving yards for a Broncos receiver by racking up 226 yards. He also had two touchdowns and another long touchdown that got called back by a Julius Thomas illegal chop block. Thomas's cohort Wes Welker also had a historic day. He passed former Bronco's receiver Rod Smith for most receptions by an undrafted wide receiver. Rod Smith had held the record at 849 before Wes surpassed him on Sunday.

Two of the game's greatest quarterbacks had historic days as well, including that quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning. Manning threw for 479 yards, which was a career high for him. He also joined Bret Favre as the only two quarterbacks to throw 500 touchdowns. Peyton has 503 touchdowns and only needs five to tie and six to pass Favre's all-time mark. Peyton also had his 13th 400 yard passing game which ties Dan Marino's mark for most 400 yard games by a quarterback. It was just another day at the office for one Peyton Manning.

Manning's counterpart Tom Brady also had himself a big day. After being humiliated on Monday Night Football by the Kansas City Chiefs last week, Brady and the Patriots bounced back in a big way. They totally dominated the Cincinnati Bengals, who many have pegged as one of the top teams in the NFL so far this year. In addition to getting a huge bounce back win, Brady also reached a career milestone. Tom Brady is just the 6th man in NFL history to cross the 50,000 yard passing mark. That is a stellar accomplishment to add to an already stellar resume.

Another record performance we saw this past Sunday came from a team we might not expect, unless it was a bad record, and that is the Cleveland Browns. After trailing 28-3 to the Tennessee Titans, the Browns came storming back and won the game 29-28 to complete the largest road comeback in NFL regular season history. The Browns got just their second win of the season but they have been competitive in every single game they have played this year. They have the Steelers coming to town this weekend who they almost came back and upset in Week 1. The Browns are no joke this year.

Here are my Top 5 Players of Week 5:

1.) Demaryius Thomas (DEN) – 8 REC—226 YDS—2 TDs (Record for most REC YDS in Denver history)

2.) Peyton Manning (DEN) – 31-47—479 YDS—4 TDs—2 INTs (got 500th TD & set career high in passing yards)

3.) Arian Foster (HOU) – 23 CARRIES—157 YDS—2 TDs—2 REC—15 YDS

4.) Brian Hoyer (CLE) – 21-37—291 YDS—3 TDs—1 INT (led largest road comeback victory in NFL history)

5.) Greg Olson (CAR) – 6 REC—72 YDS—2 TDs


The sixth week of the NFL is headlined by several key divisional games. On top of the Colts/Texans game last night, we have the Giants at the Eagles, Patriots at the Bills, Steelers at the Browns, Lions at the Vikings, 49ers at the Rams, Jaguars at the Titans, and Chargers at the Raiders. That is eight divisional matchups this weekend. Most coaches and players will tell you that a team's first goal each season is to win their division which makes these games extremely important.

While some of these games look like mismatches and may turn into blowouts, you never know how divisional games will go. A bad team can make a game of it with a great team because of their familiarity with a team in their division. The Colts took first place in the AFC South after their victory last night. We'll see what other teams can move up or solidify their spots in their divisions.

As I just mentioned, Week 6 kicked off with the Colts beating the Texans last night. I tried to do Sturg a favor and tell him to change his pick but he didn't listen. Gave me some nonsense about "go with the home team." It worked out real well for him as we saw. Jackson is still in first place, though after last week he now shares that top spot with The Clemson Insider's own Will Vandervort.

I'm starting to have good weeks but still am in the back. I also have company in my spot as well though. Lonzo joins me in bringing up the rear. But there is still only an 8 game difference between first and last place so it is a close contest. Here is the panels' picks for this coming weekend...

Week 6 Greg Sturg Kenn Price Lonzo Zack Will Jackson
IND
@
HOU

Colts

Texans

Texans

Texans

Colts

Colts

Colts

Colts
JAX
@
TEN

Titans


Jags

Titans

Jags

Titans

Titans

Jags
BAL
@
TB

Ravens


Ravens

Ravens

Ravens

Bucs

Bucs

Bucs
DEN
@
NYJ

Broncos


Jets

Broncos

Broncos

Broncos

Broncos

Broncos
DET
@
MIN

Vikings


Lions

Vikings

Lions

Vikings

Lions

Lions
NE
@
BUF

Patriots


Patriots

Patriots

Patriots

Patriots

Bills

Bills
CAR
@
CIN

Bengals


Bengals

Bengals

Panthers

Bengals

Bengals

Bengals
PIT
@
CLE

Steelers


Steelers

Browns

Browns

Browns

Steelers

Browns
GB
@
MIA

Packers


Packers

Packers

Packers

Packers

Packers

Packers
SD
@
OAK

Chargers


Chargers

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers
CHI
@
ATL

Falcons


Falcons

Falcons

Bears

Bears

Falcons

Falcons
DAL
@
SEA

Seahawks


Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks
WSH
@
ARI

Cardinals


Cardinals

Cardinals

Cardinals

Redskins

Cardinals

Cardinals
NYG
@
PHI

Eagles


Eagles

Eagles

Eagles

Giants

Eagles

Eagles
SF
@
STL

49ers


49ers

49ers

49ers

49ers

49ers

Rams
Last Week
11-4

12-3

10-5

13-2

10-5

11-4

14-1

11-4
Total 49-27 44-32 48-28 48-28 42-34 42-34 50-26 50-26






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ESPN Upstate's Week 7 college football picks



The carnage is behind us and it's time for another crazy weekend filled with movement inside the Top 25. And I think we're in store for another wild one, though nothing like what transpired weekend with five teams in the Top 8 losing.

It's time to start talking not only one-loss teams but also two-loss teams. At this point, the SEC is likely the only Power 5 conference where a two-loss team makes the inaugural College Football Playoff. No. 12 Oregon travels to No. 18 UCLA, as both teams were stunned last weekend at home, so Saturday's game becomes critically important. Whichever team loses, you're likely to remove them from the playoff convo.

Speaking of the SEC West, the shakedown continues with three more huge games that will continue to determine who'll be in not only Atlanta but the final 4. The biggest question is: Can the Magnolia state again duplicate the pair of wins from last weekend?

The game of the weekend in college football is set for 3:30 pm in Starkvegas as No. 3 Mississippi State hosts No. 2 Auburn as well as ESPN's College Gameday for the first time in school history (now cross every SEC school will have hosted the Saturday morning show). No. 3 Ole Miss travels to No. 14 Texas A&M where Kevin Sumlin's Aggies need a win after being thumped at Mississippi State, 48-31. Don't forget about No. 7 Alabama, the highest-ranked one-loss team, traveling to Fayettenam where the Hogs are still searching for the first win of the Bret Bielema era.

No. 5 Baylor is simply Oregon in different colored jerseys. The Bears will finally face a legit opponents for the first time this season and we'll see if they can handle the rugged toughness of Gary Patterson's No. 9 TCU defense. I'm still curious if Baylor can take a punch, but my guess is they can and will squeeze out a narrow win at home.

We'll welcome the Louisville contigent to the Upstate this weekend (along with today's pic above), as the Cards have their first real taste of life on the road in the ACC. Thanks to Bobby Petrino, an electric crowd awaits the Cards. UofL dodged a major bullet with this being a 3:30 pm kickoff instead of under the lights. Something tells me Saturday afternoon wil be akin to Miami (FL)'s first trip to town as a member of the ACC in 2005. The Canes' 36-30 win in 3OT is still the loudest I have personally ever heard Death Valley. Should be a touch noisy in there tomorrow.


Week 7 Zack Greg Jackson Lonzo Mark H. Mike S. Price Sturg
UofL at Clemson
Clemson

Clemson

Clemson

Clemson

UofL

Clemson

Clemson

Clemson
Oregon at UCLA
Oregon

UCLA

Oregon

Oregon

UCLA

Oregon

Oregon

UCLA
Auburn at MSU
Auburn

Auburn

Auburn

Miss St.

Auburn

Auburn

Miss St.

Miss St.
Ole Miss at Texas A&M
A&M

A&M

A&M

Ole Miss

A&M

Ole Miss

A&M

A&M
UGA at Mizzou
Georgia

Mizzou

Georgia

Georgia

Georgia

Mizzou

Mizzou

Mizzou
LSU at Florida
LSU

Florida

LSU

LSU

Florida

LSU

LSU

LSU
Duke at Ga. Tech
Ga. Tech

Ga. Tech

Ga. Tech

Duke

Ga. Tech

Ga. Tech

Ga. Tech

Ga. Tech
So Cal at Arizona
So Cal

Arizona

Arizona

Arizona

Arizona

Arizona

Arizona

Arizona
Wash at Cal
Wash

Cal

Cal

Wash

Cal

Cal

Cal

Cal
TCU at Baylor
Baylor

Baylor

Baylor

Baylor

Baylor

Baylor

Baylor

Baylor
Last Week
5-5

4-6

6-4

5-5

5-5

4-6

5-5

4-6
Total Record
33-27

35-25

29-31

37-23

32-28

35-25

35-25

32-28





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Where does A.J. McCarron get off criticizing Bama's lack of leadership?



While much of the SEC is consumed and digesting the Todd Gurley news, it was another story from the SEC that raised a few eyebrows, particularly in Tuscaloosa.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and to deliver criticism anywhere they feel it's warranted. I get that. But where does former a Alabama quarterback get off taking leadership shots at Nick Saban?

Help me out here with this one. I completely get and respect the fact that McCarron recently played for the Tide, knows Saban about as well as anyone else and still has close ties to the program.

To come out and deliver a verbal criticism about his former team, saying the Tide lacks "true leaders and playmakers on offense" is ignorant. I'll leave it to you to decide whether Alabama has offensive playmakers or not (is Amari Cooper not one of the top 3 WRs in the country?!?). I don't watch Alabama's every single play of every weekend to know what they have and don't have and where their "problems" lie. I do know they have 5-star recruits littered across their roster and talent galore.

However, the part that caught my attention and eye were his comments regarding the lack of leaders.

How in the heck does A.J. McCarron know what type of leadership exists in current locker room? Last time I checked, he was on the Cincinnati Bengals roster and nowhere near Tuscaloosa?

I get he just graduated and was there just last year. But each season is different, new leaders emerge and step forward. He's not in the that Alabama locker room. He doesn't know the inner workings of that team. Only the players, coaches and support staff do. That's it. And I think most of us would also agree (outside of anu Auburn fans) that Nick Saban is one of if not the very best when it comes to leadership and accountability.

Again, I hear ya A.J., wanting to blast your team for losing to Ole Miss. Nobody likes to lose, especially Tide fans when they're accustomed to running the table and/or winning national championships. McCarron's pedigree and results under center at Bama speaks for itself.

But McCarron coming out with those type of comments about leadership and Alabama's lack of as it indirectly criticizes Nick Saban and one of his greatest strengths as a person, leader and coach is just ignortant. And it simply takes away from his credibility, primarily in the circles of fellow Crimson Tide fans.

Something tells me A.J. and his new bride Katherine Webb might be served a hot beer at their next tailgate in T-town!

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Bust a move!



Football coaches dancing...apparently that's the new thing. In light of Dabo Swinney's participation in the new Clemson Homecoming video, I've dug a few other dance videos from the likes of Hugh Freeze and Kliff Kingsbury.

Which college football coach has the best dance moves?

A) Hugh Freeze

Click here for the Ole Miss head coach and his "worm"


B) Kliff Kingsbury (the ladies love him!)




C) Butch Jones




D) "Dancing" Dabo Swinney



(or)




E) Steve Spurrier (You think we'd let him off the hook without getting a taste of the HBC's moves?!? Heck no!)




Best coaching staff dance moves? Maybe James Franklin's Vandy staff now at Penn State...




NOTE: Do you have any additional nominees? Know a college football coach with even better dance moves than these guys? Fire away with your suggestions and we'll post 'em!

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Hot Seat Rankings 3.0: Hokey Pokey is Smokey



1) Brady Hoke - Michigan

Record with team: 28-17
2014 Season record: 2-4

Another day, another game, another low point for Michigan football. But at least Brady Hoke keeps clapping.

For the first time since 1967 Michigan is off to an 0-2 start in the Big Ten. And the question the Michigan-faithful are now asking is not if, but when Brady Hoke gets ushered out of Ann Arbor.

Michigan - the 100th-ranked offense in the nation - now finds itself in shambles - shambles, really, unseen before. Sure, Michigan started the 2008 season 2-7, but that 2-7 was Rich Rod's first season and he was installing a brand new offense in Ann Arbor. That was expected. This is year four for Brady Hoke. Perplexing really.

Michigan brought in the 7th-ranked class in 2012; the 6th-ranked class in 2013; and the 18th-ranked class in 2014. Rankings - if you trust those sort of things - mean zilch, if they aren't coached up. And Brady Hoke has only led the Wolverines down, down, down.

Because down is where Michigan football finds itself, when the string is, finally, pulled and Brady Hoke is let go, the next coaching search will be Michigan's most important search - probably - in its schools illustrious history.

So who's next?

The next hire Michigan makes cannot be a gamble - and lets face it, Brady Hoke was a gamble. Brady Hoke - in ten seasons as a head coach - only has six winning seasons; and even that can be argued as misleading.

Target #1: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers.

Target #2: John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens.

Target #3: Les Miles, LSU.

Any one of these three would be considered a "home run" hire. Whoever Michigan zeros in on, "no" is not an answer they - whoever "they" may be, when the time comes - can accept. Whatever it takes to get either of the Harbaugh's or Les Miles, Michigan has to make it happen.

Lebron James came home, and for the Michigan-faithful they have to hope one of these three make a similar return.

It will take a lot - a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of patience, a lot of commitment - but, lets face it, "a lot" is what it will take to return Michigan to where it needs to be.

Michigan are 1.5-point favorites versus Penn State Saturday.

Schedule
Appalachian St: W, 52-14
@ Notre Dame: L, 0-31
Miami (Ohio): W, 34-10
Utah: L, 10-26
Minnesota: L, 14-30
@ Rutgers: L, 24-26
Penn St. (Michigan 1 point favorites)
@ Michigan State:
Indiana:
@ Northwestern
Maryland
@ Ohio State


2) Will Muschamp - Florida

Record with school: 25-17
2014 season record: 3-1

Florida rallied late, after benching QB Jeff Driskel, to pull off the win versus Tennessee Saturday. And while that is good news for Florida, bad news quickly followed. Treon Harris, the true freshman QB who replaced Driskel and led the Gators to triumph, was suspended indefinitely Monday following an assault accusation.

We will reserve judgment on Harris until all the facts are in and law enforcement has completed a full investigation, but, for Florida - when it comes down to football - returning to Driskel is bad news.

Florida has not lost to Tennessee since 2004 so the win Saturday is not a shocker. What Will Muschamp must do now is - somehow, some way - use the win as motivation moving forward, if he intends on staying in Gainesville, Florida for another season.

LSU opened as 1-point favorites versus Florida - an indictment on how bad LSU has played this season really - but has since opened up to 2.5.

Beyond LSU, Florida has Missouri and Georgia before Vanderbilt. If Florida can find a way to win two of the next three, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Eastern Kentucky are all very winnable games before going to Tallahassee. Eight wins may grant Muschamp another season - or it might not - but I cannot see how Florida would accept a 7-win-or-less campaign following last seasons disaster.

Will Muschamp in his post-game interview he did what only Will Muschamp seems confident enough in doing - making a statement that could come back to haunt him.

Not to rub salt in any wounds but Florida State's Jimbo Fisher reached 50 wins this past Saturday. With Muschamp's win, so did he and Al Golden. Ouch.

Schedule
Eastern Michigan: W, 65-0
Kentucky: W, 36-30
@ Alabama: L, 21-42
@ Tennessee: W, 10-9
LSU: (LSU 2 point favorites)
Missouri
Georgia
@ Vanderbilt
South Carolina
Eastern Kentucky
@ Florida State


3) Tim Beckman - Illinois

Record with school: 9-21
2014 season record: 3-3

Last week in this position was Purdue's Darrell Hazell. So, when Purdue puts up 551 total yards on Illinois, that is enough to move Hazell down and replace him with the coach he defeated.

Beckman has been less than impressive in Illinois after replacing Ron Zook. 2-10 and 4-8 in his first two seasons, it is hard to imagine the Illini improving on 4 wins.

Illinois are 24-point underdogs this weekend as they travel to Wisconsin.

Schedule
Youngstown State: W, 28-17
Western Kentucky: W, 42-34
@ Washington: L, 19-44
Texas State: W, 42-35
@ Nebraska: L, 14-45
Purdue: L, 27-38
@ Wisconsin (Wisconsin 24 point favorites)
Minnesota
@ Ohio State
Iowa
Penn State
@ Northwestern


4) Al Golden - Miami

Record with school: 25-18
2014 season record: 3-3

"The U": A saying that etched fear in the hearts of so many opponents for so many years; that was then. Now: "U" stands for a lot of things - ugly, underwhelming, ulcering, unbearable, unbacked, unkempt - but it most definitely does not mean "The U".

In 2014, Miami has defeated the likes of Florida A&M (41-7), Arkansas State (41-20), and Duke (22-10) - games that have not provided "The U" statement. On the otherside - the "U"nguided, the "U"nbearable, the "U"nderwhelming - Miami have dropped games to Louisville (13-31), Nebraska (31-41), and, this past Saturday, to Georgia Tech (17-28).

In the loss, Miami surrendered 318 rushing yards to a Georgia Tech team who - "U"njoyfully for Miami fans - pounded the Hurricanes; outlasting the 'Canes for the win.

I'll give Al Golden this: he took over an "U"nenviable task by coming to a school while an NCAA investigation loomed - darkly - over the school. They are young, you will hear; they are going through growing pains, you will hear; but defensively - you know, Al Golden's claim to fame - has been "U"gly-bad.

As support - and I use that word "support" loosely - continues to dissipate among the fan-base, Al Golden will his seat continuing to get more and more hot.

What may save his job is his contract

Schedule
@ Louisville: L, 13-31
Florida A&M: W, 41-7
Arkansas State: W, 41-20
@ Nebraska: L, 31-41
Duke: W, 22-10
@ Georgia Tech: L, 17-28
Cincinnati: (Miami 14 point favorites)
@ Virginia Tech
North Carolina
Florida State
@ Virginia
Pittsburgh


5) Paul Petrino - Idaho

Record with school: 1-16
2014 season record: 0-5

It is almost unfair to place a coach from Idaho - potatoes anyone? - on this list. It is - and has been - nearly impossible to win in Idaho since it left the I-AA-ranks to join I-A in 1997, however the expectation is to at least get going in the right direction. Since 1997, Idaho is 62-139. Maybe a return to I-AA makes more sense?

Paul Petrino - a name hire - replaced Robb Akey who only managed one winning season in six years. It would make sense for Idaho to return to the hiring of a young up-and-coming assistant; and if not, move back down a level. Or, hire Brady Hoke?

To make matters worse, Idaho has been banned from a bowl game in 2014. So there's that.

Schedule
@ La-Monroe: L, 31-38
Western Michigan: L, 33-45
@ Ohio: L, 24-36
South Alabama: L, 10-34
@ Texas State: L, 30-35
@ Georgia Southern (Georgia Southern are 20 point favorites)
New Mexico State
Arkansas State
@ San Diego State
Troy
@ Appalachian State


Gone
FIRED: Charlie Weis, Kansas: Overall record with school: 6-22
RESIGNED: June Jones, SMU: Overall record with school: 36-43
RETIRED: Larry Blakeney, Troy: Overall record with school: 175-109-1

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Bobby Petrino's comments about Clemson's Death Valley are overblown



I'm no Bobby Petrino fan. In fact I really can't stand the guy (primarily as a person). If you need to ask why, well you've probably lived under a rock the last five years or don't follow college football. The guy's personal transgressions aside, he can coach football and is one of the very best offensive-minded coaches in the country.

But Bobby Petrino's comments yesterday about the environment his Louisville Cardinals (5-1, 3-1) will face Saturday afternoon in Clemson's Death Valley and equating it to the half-empty Carrier Dome and cavernous environment last Friday in Syracuse are being totally overblown.

Is it laughable what he said? Yes, clearly. That's the only thing you can do is laugh at Petrino's comparison:

"And to be real honest, it's going to be very similar to last week. That (Carrier Dome) was a loud place. I don't know if it can get any louder, even though the crowd wasn't that big."

(Watch below starting at the 3:55 mark)




Let's be real guys...the Carrier Dome is more full during the winter for a 'Cuse basketball game than it was last week for the Friday night kickoff. Few even care up there about football (except my man Dave at Smoke On The Water). Nor should you if you're a Clemson fan as to what Petrino said.

But if you continue to listen to what Petrino said in talking about the challenge of Death Valley, he clearly knows what's ahead for his team and that this one has been circled for a while. How does he know? Because he then went all "Hoosiers" in trying to downplay the challenge and environment


"The stadium will be big. There will be a lot of people there. The field is the same length. Goal posts are the same height, so we have to go in an enjoy it. This is one of the things that's exciting about being in the ACC is some of the venues we get to go play at. This is our first real experience in that. But we need to have a good week in practice, focus on getting better and go play football."





After you watch and hear exactly how Petrino talked about and referred to Death Valley, you understand the context. It's easy to read a statement and overblow it the way his comments have been by local fans and media. We're in the social media age now where a simple statement can be misconstrued and misinterpreted because there's no context given and provided.

I was asked by my buddy Drew Deener, who we had on "Straight Up With Sturg" yesterday and I was on his show "The Deener Show" on ESPN Louisville (680 AM), if I thought Petrino's comments were offensive. To which I told him and his audience that there was nothing below-the-belt or offensive whatsoever. In the midst of a season, teams, coaches, fans, media look for anything they

Petrino is playing the psychological game with his team. His kids aren't stupid. They're football players. They know big time college football. They know Clemson is one of the kingpins of the ACC. And they know the magic of Death Valley and the electricity that runs throughought the stadium as the Tigers touch Howard's Rock and run down the Hill.

Like I also told Deener this morning...Clemson fans are smart football fans. They know when there's a big third down coming up. They know a big fourth down stop and the momentum such a turnover can provide in the way of momentum. They appreciate an beautiful over-the-shoulder, pitch and catch from Deshaun to Hopper. They know the game and know when to get loud.

They'll be loud and proud without Bobby Petrino's prodding...but I think that student section might roar a touch louder if/when pinned deep Saturday afternoon thanks to him.


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Kings for a day: FSU cruises while SEC West, Pac 12 bruises

Note: Richard Breen is a longtime journalist who has covered high school and college football, as well as professional baseball, for daily newspapers and their websites. His weekly Top 25 is intended to be a thought-provoking look at who is enjoying success in the win-loss column.

We'll be posting his personal Top 25 every week, the rest of the way thru the college football season. Enjoy because it's not your every day Top 25!

FSU cruises while SEC West, Pac 12 bruises

1. Florida State 5-0 (1)*
2. Auburn 5-0 (9)
3. Arizona 5-0 (14)
4. Mississippi 5-0 (13)
5. Notre Dame 5-0 (8)
6. Mississippi State 5-0 (12)
7. Texas Christian 4-0 (15)
8. Georgia Tech 5-0 (11)
9. Baylor 5-0 (16)
10. Alabama 4-1 (2)
11. Marshall 5-0 (17)
12. UCLA 4-1 (5)
13. Texas A&M 5-1 (4)
14. East Carolina 4-1 (18)
15. Missouri 4-1 (20)
16. Oregon 4-1 (3)
17. Utah 4-1 (UN)
18. Ohio State 4-1 (24)
19. Georgia 4-1 (21)
20. California 4-1 (UN)
21. Oklahoma 4-1 (6)
22. Nebraska 5-1 (7)
23. Louisville 5-1 (UN)
24. Arizona State 4-1 (UN)
25. BYU 4-1 (10)
* – previous ranking in parentheses

Fell out: Southern Cal (19), Louisiana State (22), Stanford (23), Maryland (25)

This week's poll synopsis: God bless those folks in Oxford. Every college football fan base deserves a Saturday like that. No matter how the rest of their season goes, for as long as they live, they'll have that beautiful fall Saturday when they beat Alabama and were kings of the world. Next week, they have to go to College Station, so there's that. The SEC West may have five of the 10 best teams in the country, but they'll all end up with 10-2 and 9-3 records. The Pac 12 is doing the same thing to itself. That's what college football is all about.

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It Just Doesn't Matter...

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-South Carolina vs Auburn


If you are old enough, you remember the scene from the movie "Meatballs" with Bill Murray where he gets him summer camp charges chanting "it just doesn't matter". As the polls came out on Sunday, I witnessed lots of griping and complaining about who is ranked where. Were the Mississippi schools too high? This team dropped too much after their loss because it was on the road.

Cue Bill Murray. Did anyone actually witness what had just taken place over a 48 hour period beginning Thursday night with Arizona's upset at Oregon and closed by Utah's win over undefeated UCLA at the Rose Bowl? Not to mention the rest of the carnage in the not only the Top 25, but the Top 10 as a whole?

This much I figured out last night when I got home from a long day in which I got to see little of what was transpiring due to a long trip to the Doctor. I found out my Tide had lost while sitting in the parking lot at CVS waiting on prescriptions. After watching the night games and the wrap up shows, at that point it began to sink it to me what had just happened. A light bulb came on.

When I saw the griping on Twitter, if I felt up to it, I would have laughed if I could. As we sit here on October 6th, these rankings today mean little. This past weekend taught us to admit this much, it's going to be a wild ride to the finish line. Even though my team lost and fell, who knows where we may come the end of the season. There's going to be many more upsets to follow.

Just look at Auburn, ranked #2, they still have to play undefeated Mississippi State and Ole Miss, not to mention Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama. Florida State still has a Thursday night road game at Louisville plus and undefeated Notre Dame. There's another loss for a current undefeated team. Baylor still has a couple of tough games to go in TCU and Oklahoma.

Why worry about the rankings in early October this season, because they just don't matter.




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A few games I'll be keeping an eye on tomorrow...



Finally, a weekend of college football that will begin to determine how the rest of the season will be shaped. Not that there haven't been meaningful games to this point. But nothing compares to what's ahead.

I think last night provided a glimpse into what we're all in for this weekend. Arizona marching into Autzen Stadium, looking No. 2 Oregon directly in the eye and walking away with a 31-24 upset win over the Ducks has set the tone. Think Michigan wouldn't like to still have Rich Rod right now?

Rightfully so, the national media called it a shocker due to the large line (24 points) but I was one who thought that was WAY too high. Vegas certainly knows their stuff but that was a head-turner for me. Arizona more than validated it.

We've been down the SEC West road this week, including the exciting times ahead in the Magnolia State. My gut tells me No. 6 Texas A&M wins on the road at No. 12 Mississippi State and No. 11 Ole Miss over the visiting Fightin' Nick Sabans. However, an Ole Miss upset goes against my cardinal rule of picking against the nation's best coaches coming off a bye week. So I'm going against my gut here and taking Bama because there's nobody better coming off a bye week than Nick Saban himself. And because I think the Rebels will be bitten by the bright lights and ESPN College Gameday jinx.

Here are a few games that I'll have an eye on tomorrow…

Miami (FL) at Georgia Tech (7:30 pm, ESPN2)
What is about Georgia Tech that has proven so successful for Miami head coach Al Golden? He's 3-0 against the Jackets since arriving in Coral Gables and the winner will have a clearer path to the crazy ACC Coastal division title. Miami's Duke Johnson showed again why he's one of the nation's best backs when healthy, caring 25 times for 155 yards against undefeated Duke last weekend. The Jackets' defense isn't exactly one of the ACC's best unites (12th in total defense and last in rush defense). Golden will move his record to 4-0 against Tech with a win in Atlanta.


Florida at Tennessee (12 noon, SEC Network)
Is this Will Muschamp's Waterloo? I certainly think so. And we all know how that ended. Tennessee is the SEC East's upstart team and one that I picked to finish third in the division for several reasons. One of which is I had zero faith in Muschamp after last season and still don't.

I simply cannot overstate how vital this game is for not only Florida but Muschamp's future. A loss to the Vols would cause yet more unrest among an apathetic Gator fan base, especially returning home for two-straight home games against a pair of ranked teams (No. 15 LSU, No. 24 Mizzou) followed by the annual border-war against No. 13 Georgia. Muschamp will be out at season's end and this one will help solidify his future by losing to UT.


No. 19 Nebraska at No. 10 Michigan State (8:00 pm, ABC)
The majority of our ACC/SEC "Southeast bubble" hasn't seen nor know just how good Nebraska senior running back Ameer Abdullah is. The nation's leading rusher has already tallied 833 yards on 114 carries (7.3 per carry) with eight touchdowns. He's one of the top Heisman candidates, crossing the 200-yard mark three times already this season and will test defensive-minded MSU head coach Mark D'Antonio's unit again (he ran for 123 against MSU last season).

Sparty is the Big Ten's top defensive team and has only allowed 323 rushing yards all season. Something has to give Saturday night and I think MSU is far too battled tested plus the game is at home. I expect MSU to remain the highest-ranked, one-loss team coming out of the weekend.


South Carolina at Kentucky (7:30 pm, SEC Network)
I'd be remiss if I didn't at least throw this one in there. I've learned never to go with my heart and pick my alma mater. But something feels different about this UK team heading into a big game for both teams. The Gamecocks desperately need a win because a loss will virtually eliminate them from the SEC East. Unlike USC, Mark Stoops' squad has momentum entering the game with the Cats' lone loss this season a 36-30 defeat (3OT) at Florida.

UK's Air Raid is the type of offense that USC has struggled with this season and the Cats have far more talent, speed and playmakers on the field than in years past. The key to this game will be the Gamecocks' offensive line opening holes for backs Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds. Carolina is banged up in several key spots and will be looking to rebound from last week's 21-20 loss against Mizzou. While this one could go either way, my gut says UK finds a way, 30-27.




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"A Quarter of the Way There" - NFL recap and picks

US PRESSWIRE Sports


Week 4 is in the books and so is the first quarter of the season. I like to reflect and review NFL seasons as each quarter comes and goes. Through the first four weeks of the NFL season, these are some of the observations I have made:

Most Surprising Division: NFC East

This was a division that was thought of as a joke going into the season. The Giants looked bad all preseason and early on in the regular season. After losing their first two games however, they have bounced back to win their last two and look much improved.

The Cowboys were thought to still be pathetic on defense and talented but mistake prone on offense. After a terrible opening week though, they've shown they can play defense and have been very efficient on offense. Can they keep it up? That is yet to be determined but so far so good.

Washington is the weak link of the division right now sitting at 1-3. You could say that this is due to the loss of RGIII but the problem is they look better without him than with him. The job is his whenever he heals up from his ankle injury but will he be able to turn their fortunes around? For now, Kirk Cousins is leading the charge and despite a bad week 4, he's looked good for the most part. We'll see what the Redskins can do going forward

Rounding out the division is the team that currently resides at the top of it, the Philadelphia Eagles. They just lost their first game of the season this past week and while it was a close one, there were some bad signs for the Eagles. They are known for having a great offense but that offense didn't do squat against the 49ers this past weekend. Not one single point came from Philly's offense. LeSean McCoy is struggling mightily and they look like they are going to have trouble with physical teams going forward. They still might be good enough to win the division though.

Most Disappointing Division: NFC South

This division was supposed to be good. This division was supposed to be competitive. This division was supposed to be stacked with talent. That is what we all thought going into the season. Well through four weeks, this division's combined record is 6-10. Panthers looked good early to the surprise of many but have fallen off the last two weeks.

Falcons look amazing….at home. Put them on the road and their level of play drops significantly. Same can be said for the New Orleans Saints. Heck even when they beat Minnesota at home it was not that impressive. The Bucs were supposed to show improvement under Lovie Smith but we really haven't seen it. To their credit though, they bounced back from an embarrassing loss two weeks ago against the Steelers this past Sunday.

Look, I expect the Falcons to be competitive in most games they play, the Saints will start to find their way soon, and the Panthers will be ok if they can get healthy, particularly at the running back spot. Tampa will likely need another year or two to start being consistently competitive. All in all I think this division will be ok, but we expected great things from the NFC South.


Early MVP Candidates

After the last two weeks, I'm tempted to say Andrew Luck is the frontrunner and I think he will be soon, but with a 2-2 record I can't crown him just yet. Right now I'd have to give the nod to Philip Rivers. After the Chargers lost the opening game, they gave won three straight and got a quality win over the Seattle Seahawks. Rivers is carrying his team right now despite some injuries. He also has them atop of AFC West, a division with the defending AFC Conference champion Denver Broncos and a Kansas City Chiefs team that looks to be finding its footing.

DeMarco Murray will be another MVP candidate if the Cowboys can sustain their success going forward. If defensive players ever won this award, I'd definitely have J.J. Watt in here, but we all know that isn't happening.


My Top 5 Players of Week 4:

1.) DeMarco Murray (DAL) – 24 CARRIES—149 YDS—2 TDs

2.) Andrew Luck (IND) – 29-41—393 YDS—4 TDs—1 INT—123.3 QB Rating

3.) Justin Houston (KC) – 7 TCKLS—2 SACKS—1 TFL—1 FF—1 FUM REC

4.) Steve Smith (BAL) – 7 REC—139 YDS—2 TDs

5.) J.J. Watt (HOU) – 5 TCKLS—1 INT—80 RET YDS—1 TD


Week 5
It's here and there are some good matchups. I had a pretty good week last week and am finally above .500 and in the hunt. Jackson took the lead this past week from G-Mack but it is still close between everyone and we still have three quarters of a season to go. This week, we have SEVEN unanimous votes. We'll see how well that works out for all of us. Let's check out the panels' picks for this coming weekend....

Week 4 Greg Sturg Kenn Price Lonzo Zack Will Jackson
MIN
@
GB

Packers

Packers

Packers

Packers

Packers

Packers

Packers

Packers
BUF
@
DET

Lions

Lions

Lions

Lions

Lions

Lions

Lions

Lions
BAL
@
IND

Ravens

Colts

Colts

Colts

Ravens

Colts

Colts

Colts
CLE
@
TEN

Browns

Titans

Titans

Browns

Browns

Browns

Browns

Browns
CHI
@
CAR

Bears

Panthers

Panthers

Bears

Panthers

Bears

Panthers

Panthers
HOU
@
DAL

Cowboys

Cowboys

Cowboys

Cowboys

Cowboys

Cowboys

Cowboys

Texans
PIT
@
JAX

Steelers

Steelers

Steelers

Steelers

Steelers

Steelers

Steelers

Jags
TB
@
NO

Saints

Saints

Saints

Saints

Saints

Saints

Saints

Saints
ATL
@
NYG

Giants

Giants

Giants

Giants

Giants

Giants

Giants

Giants
STL
@
PHI

Eagles

Eagles

Eagles

Eagles

Eagles

Eagles

Eagles

Eagles
ARI
@
DEN

Broncos

Broncos

Cardinals

Broncos

Cardinals

Broncos

Broncos

Cardinals
KC
@
SF

49ers

49ers

Chiefs

49ers

Chiefs

Chiefs

49ers

49ers
NYJ
@
SD

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers

Chargers
CIN
@
NE

Bengals

Bengals

Bengals

Patriots

Bengals

Bengals

Patriots

Bengals
SEA
@
WSH

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks

Seahawks
Last Week
6-7

7-6

7-6

6-7

6-7

8-5

8-5

8-5
Total 38-23 32-29 38-23 35-26 32-29 31-30 36-20 39-22


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ESPN Upstate's Week 6 college football picks



October is here. Which means the arrival (finally) of big boy football (as well as basketball but I'll wait another week on that). For most schools, the Cupcake U.'s are finished and it's on to mostly conference games, except for the weekend tuneup before rivalry and Thanksgiving weekend.

You can't overstate how big of a weekend it is in college football. You just can't. Everyone knows the historic day that the SEC West will embark on come Saturday afternoon with three games from the same division involving six ranked teams for the first in college football history.

In a lot of ways, the SEC West has overshadowed several other outstanding games on the docket this weekend. Sure we're going to begin the weeding out process of the toughest division ever in college football. But we're also going to find out a lot more just who is a pretender and who are still contenders.

No. 4 Oklahoma (4-0) heads to Fort Worth for a matchup against the No. 25 TCU Horned Frogs (3-0), who oddly have only played three games due to a schedule quirk with two off weekends already. OU answered the challenge in Morgantown. But Gary Patterson's defense is 10 steps up the quality ladder from WVU.

I love good defense as well as a strong running game. Which is why No. 14 Stanford head coach David Shaw is one of my favorite coaches in the country. The Cardinal came up short in a 13-10 loss against Southern Cal, but No. 9 Notre Dame hasn't seen a team like Stanford yet this season. Rice, Michigan, Purdue and Syracuse are all bottom feeders compared to Stanford. But Everett Golson is playing outstanding football (more than 1,140 yards, 11 TDs, 2 INTs) and the Irish are at home.

Were we too quick to write off the Big Ten? I think so. Did they deserve criticism after weeks 2 and 3? You better believe it. But here's No. 10 Michigan State, the nation's highest ranked one-loss team with likely their biggest game of the season (outside of the 46-27 loss at No. 2 Oregon). Three other ranked teams from the conference reside behind them in the Top 25, including visiting No. 19 Nebraska this weekend. They might be in a better position for the CFB Playoff than you think.

And as a UK alum living in the heart of Gamecocks territory, while usually going with my head, I went with my heart this weekend: UK 30, USC 27.

Alright, I'll stop bloviating about big college football games and get to what you came for, our ESPN Upstate picks…

Note: "Straight Up With Sturg" Guest Picker last week Ryan Succop went 3-2. Former Gamecock standout and Charleston Southern assistant coach B.J. McKie still leads the way at 4-1.

Week 6 Zack Greg Jackson Lonzo Mark H. Mike S. Price Sturg
Arizona at Oregon
Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Oregon
NC State at Clemson
Clemson

Clemson

Clemson

Clemson

Clemson

Clemson

Clemson

Clemson
USC at UK
USC

USC

UK

USC

USC

USC

UK

USC
Bama at Ole Miss
Ole Miss

Ole Miss

Ole Miss

Bama

Bama

Bama

Bama

Bama
LSU at Auburn
Auburn

Auburn

Auburn

Auburn

Auburn

Auburn

Auburn

Auburn
Florida at Tenn
Tenn

Tenn

Tenn

Tenn

Florida

Tenn

Tenn

Tenn
Texas A&M at Miss St
A&M

A&M

Miss St.

A&M

A&M

A&M

A&M

A&M
Va Tech at UNC
UNC

UNC

UNC

Va. Tech

Va. Tech

UNC

UNC

UNC
Stanford at ND
ND

ND

ND

ND

Stanford

Stanford

ND

ND
Ohio St at Maryland
Ohio St.

Maryland

Maryland

Ohio St.

Ohio St.

Ohio St.

Ohio St

Maryland
Last Week
5-5

5-5

5-5

6-4

6-4

4-6

6-4

6-4
Total Record
28-22

29-21

23-27

32-18

27-23

31-19

30-20

28-22



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Any Gamecocks heading to Lexington? A few tips from a pro.



I wouldn't be the nice guy I am without asking if there are any Gamecocks heading to Lexington this weekend for the South Carolina-Kentucky game Saturday night? If the answer is yes, then I've got you covered with a few can't-miss-tips for your Bluegrass weekend.

Trust me on these. Having spent more than a handful of years in Lexington as a UK student-athlete and Big Blue graduate, I know several of the hot spots around town. If I were heading up this weekend, these would ALL be on my weekend list in town (in no particular order of course)...


Tip #1
This weekend offers every UK fan's October dream: the Saturday "double." The most beautiful horse track in the country opens its fall meet today, as Keeneland Race Course begins three-straight weeks of live racing. It's the perfect way to spend the day before heading over to Commonwealth Stadium. It's not often we see night games around the Bluegrass but when we do, it gives UK and visiting fans the chance ot enjoy a day at the races before the football game.

Head out to the track Saturday morning and watch the ponies workout along with breakfast by the track. Tickets are just $5 per person for general admission seating, while kids 12 and under are free. Grab a delicious cup of burgoo (a hearty vegetable stew) and a cold draft beer and hang out for the day. First post is usually around 1 pm with the last race typically finishing around 6-6:15 pm.

Take my advice and head out before the last two races (next to last race is the feature/big race of the day). Place your bet and hit the exits in order not to get stuck in heavy traffic leaving for the Stadium. Shuttles begin running between Keeneland and Commonwealth between 11:45 am-12:25 pm and will run continuously every 20 minutes with the final shuttle departing Keeneland at 6:45 pm.

UK's Gameday Central will provide you even more info regarding parking, seating charts, etc.

Tip #2
Joe Bologna's Pizzeria (120 W. Maxwell St., Kexington, KY) is located just two blocks from the UK campus and has been a Lexington institution since 1989. Located inside a hand-built brick church that was built in 1891, Joe B's is a family-friendly place the kids can enjoy. Make sure to order a breadstick to start and bring an empty stomach and room in your car for leftovers to take home.





Tip #3
Like every where around the country, the craft beer movement has blown up and Lexington is no different. West Sixth Brewing (501 W. 6th St., Lexington, KY) pours one of the best IPAs I've ever had plus they've got a kickin' vibe inside and out on their patio. They usually have some food trucks parked outside. It was started by several UK guys and you can't go wrong with their beer selection. Country Boy Brewing is also a solid option and less than a 5 minute walk from Joe B's.

Or course there's all kinds of bourbons around town and all are good (because they're made in Kentucky). But Maker's is without a doubt the "house" bourbon you'll find in most glasses, especially tailgating.
Tip #4
When heading up and down I-75 this weekend, make sure you gas up in eastern Kentucky, just 20-30 miles inside the Kentucky stateline. Gas is usually 20 cents cheaper than the greater Lexington area for whatever reason and will save you a few bucks here and there.

Tip #5
Why does everything usually revole around food and rinks? Late-night dining after a long day of tailgating and the game are certain to leave you hunry. Tolly-Ho Restaurant (606 S. Broadway, Lexington) is open 24 hours/7 days a week and you're certain to run into many students looking for a late-night snack after hitting the town.

Regardless of moving to a new location a few years ago, "The Ho" has been a stape in Lexington since the early 70s. Their cheese tots are beyond awesome, but make sure to tell 'em when ordering that you're a "Ho Virgin." Let me know how it goes and thank me later.



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Textile Bowl Primer

North Carolina State v Clemson


On Saturday Clemson welcomes the ACC's top-ranked offense to town. Yes, that is correct, NC State is that team. Averaging 505.6 yards per game (20th nationally); 40.4 points per game (20th nationally); and rushing for 231.2 yards per game rushing (25th nationally), NC State - even after a loss to FSU - are riding high after putting 41 points on the Seminoles, which was good for 4th most ever by an unranked opponent against the AP number-one team.

NC State, though, is not a one-trick pony. This offense is a very balanced team. Of its 2,528 yards of total offense, 1,372 of it has come through the air, and 1,156 yards have come via the ground - good for nearly a 50/50 balance.

NC State is led by head coach Dave Doeren (7-10 overall at NC State) and is beginning to get things turned in the right direction for the Wolfpack. He has led NC State to three straight 40+ scoring games for the first time in school history. Doeren was extremely successful at Northern Illinois University (NIU) prior to being hired at NC State. During his time there he never lost a home game. Luckily for Clemson, the Tigers are playing at home.



NC State players on preseason watch lists
Ray Guy Award (Punter): Wil Baumann
Maxwell Award (top overall player): Jacoby Brissett
Lou Groza Award (Kicker): Niklas Sade

NC State has not faced the stiffest of competition thus far in 2014. The Wolfpack narrowly escaped versus Georgia Southern (24-23) to open the season. From there they moved on to defeat Old Dominion - more narrowly than they would have liked (46-34). NC State then made quick work of South Florida on the road (49-17) and Presbyterian at home (42-0).


(Courtesy of NC State Athletics)

The Florida-transfer Jacoby Brissett has proven himself as a force to be reckoned with. After Brissett threw a 2nd-quarter interception in the season-opener, Brissett has thrown 156 passes in a row without one, which is good for 11th in ACC history. If he were to throw 224 more passes without an interception he would pass NC State's own Russell Wilson. Brissett is currently ranked 36th nationally in total offense (304 ypg) and 11th in passing yards (1,364). Clemson's secondary will again be tested this Saturday in Death Valley.

On paper it does look like NC State has the ability to keep this game closer than they Vegas betting line which opened at 16.5 in favor of Clemson and has since come down to 14.

Looking at how these two teams match-up, NC State can match Clemson offensively. I would call it a push at best for Clemson at the QB, RB, and WR positions. Where Clemson has the strong-edge is defensively. NC State has lost Ty Linton, M.J Sallahudin, and Coult Culler to injury this season. When it comes down to it, this NC State defense has a lot of catching up to do to its offense. The Wolfpack-defense must find a way to pressure Deshaun Watson into making poor throws. Since we have not seen it done this season versus any of the NC State opponents, it appears highly unlikely that this will happen in Death Valley.

Another thing going for NC State is how they have been able to hold on to the football. The Wolfpack have only turned the ball over 5 times this season.

Clemson has owned the series versus NC State with an overall record of 53-28-1 versus the Wolfpack. Clemson has not lost at home to NC State since the 2002 season (38-3) and has won 9 of the last 10.

If NC State can continue to play mistake-free football and its defensive unit can play an A-game, the Wolfpack can keep this one uncomfortably close for the Clemson-faithful. However, if NC State does turn it over and cannot continue its offensive progression, this game could get out of hand in a hurry.

I would expect Chad Morris and company to start pass-heavy to force NC State to pull back some of its pressure. When - and if - that happens, Clemson should be able to run and/or pass at will.


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Locations : Northern IllinoisSouth Florida
People : Chad MorrisDave DoerenLou GrozaRay GuyRussell Wilson




 
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