The DiRT Canon Blog

#NFL Week 11 Retrospectacle: Baltimore Ravens Add Injuries to Insults

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You think your season-long team has had a bad year, or your FanDuel lineups just cannot come through for you on a weekly basis? Just look at the Baltimore Ravens, fairly recently one of the NFL’s proudest franchises.

Sure, they finally picked up a third victory Sunday to improve to a barely breathing 3-7, but they also lost their starting quarterback Joe Flacco (knee) and feature back Justin Forsett (broken arm) for the season in the process.

“Isn’t this just the way this season has been going?” cornerback Jimmy Smith told The Baltimore Sun‘s Jeff Zrebiec. “You lose five, six of our top players, our leaders. Just … smile at it and keep pushing. That’s all you can do.”

Or grimace.

And pick up the pieces, along with Forsett replacement Javorius Allen, who is listed as a $6,300 bargain in Week 12 contests on FanDuel. Allen will not only take over as the Ravens’ bell-cow in a Matt Schaub-quarterbacked, run-heavy offense, but he will be facing the Cleveland Browns and their defense that ranks dead last in the NFL against the run.

“You’ve just got to be ready for it,” Allen told The Sun‘s Jon Meoli. “That’s what they brought me here for, to be a big-time back.”

See, at least there is a silver lining for us fantasy players amid the Ravens’ misfortune. Allen has some juice for the stretch run, even if you can mostly write off the Ravens, evermore.

“Buck Allen, he played like a pro,” coach John Harbaugh told Meoli. “He played like a top-caliber NFL running back. You saw it out there. He made guys miss. He made plays in the passing game, plays in the run game. … We just kept hammering, kept banging. We finally cracked a little bit at the end of the game.”

Here is all of NFL Week 11’s fantasy analysis behind the FanDuel studs and duds.

Studs

RB Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks (39.0 FanDuel points)

We have finally found Marshawn Lynch’s successor. It wasn’t the Incredible Seahulk, Robert Turbin, or even Christine Michael—two backs well hyped in fantasy circles only to go bust and be ushered out of town. Ultimately it is Rawls, who rolled off 30 carries for 209 yards, three receptions for 46 yards and two combined touchdowns Sunday in a surprise start against the 49ers.

“Look, youngun’, I’m going to pass you the torch for the day,” Lynch told Rawls before the game, according to The Seattle Times‘ Larry Stone. “You know what to do.”

Rawls is a must-own in season-long leagues, if he wasn’t already as Lynch’s handcuff. Now, he is a potential FanDuel monster at $6,300, too.

QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (31.44)—Who needs premium receiving targets anyway? Newton has proved to be an MVP candidate without a sure-fire receiver you would slot in a FanDuel lineup on a weekly basis, throwing touchdowns to five different “receivers” (mostly backs and tight ends). He should be fun to watch at the Dallas Cowboys while we consume the Thanksgiving Day feast, even if that $8,900 FanDuel price is difficult to swallow.

QB Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (29.84)—That was an impressive victory on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles and showed Winston is a fantasy game-changer, throwing for a Baby Newton-like five TDs. Winston should get TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) back in Week 12, too. We are not in love with the matchup at the Indianapolis Colts, but you have to love the sizable, physical targets WR Mike Evans ($8,100), WR Vincent Jackson ($6,400) and TE AS-J ($5,100).

QB Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (26.58)—Consistency has been Palmer’s best FanDuel trait and a matchup at the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday of Week 12 looks tantalizing, especially at $8,100. He looks unstoppable right now.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (26.3)—You think embarrassing Darrelle Revis was impressive Sunday? Next up is the New Orleans Saints’ suspect secondary in defensive coordinator Dennis Allen’s debut.

“The test, with the media blowing up ‘Revis Island,’ you know I had to come out and answer,” Hopkins told Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle. “Times like this for a great defensive back and a young receiver, not a lot of people have me in their eyes. I know it was a big chip on my shoulder to go out there and play extra hard.”

QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (25.4)—Despite the big performance, we have to question the Seahawks’ trading for Jimmy Graham to throw to him just three times a game like they did Sunday. We would say you cannot argue with a victory, but the Seahawks are disappointing this season. The good news is Wilson is a solid value at $7,600 in a potential shootout with Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12.

RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23.5)—Dust off your Muscle Hampster bobble head all over again. You cannot make this guy go away, as he rushed for a season-high 235 yards Sunday. Martin has a favorable matchup at the Colts in Week 12.

RB Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs (22.6)—Even if Charcandrick West (hamstring) is questionable all week, you cannot love Ware ($6,100) at the Buffalo Bills’ run defense. He will be the most-added player in season-long leagues, but he might be a mere bench squatter.

WR J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals (22.2)—Another one in the “that helps no one” fantasy category. Nelson is buried on the Cards depth chart, so you cannot place too much faith in his surprising 4-142-1 performance Sunday night. The UAB rookie is going to disappear behind Michael Floyd (hamstring) when the veteran returns as soon as Week 12.

K Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers (22.0)—So much for the Packers’ offensive struggles, eh? That drama during that three-game losing streak was a farce. Crosby should not be a mere $4,700 on FanDuel for Thursday’s slate.

WR James Jones, Green Bay Packers (21.9)—Aaron Rodgers went back to the tried and true, throwing to Jones (6-109-1) over second-year project Davante Adams (3-36). Expect Jones to get all of Rodgers’ important throws down the stretch, especially in the red zone, making his $5,800 price on Thanksgiving a must-buy.

Kansas City Chiefs Defense (20.0)—This unit has scored 12-plus points in each of his past four games and has a delectable matchup at home against the Buffalo Bills in Week 12. That $4,500 price is just a cherry-topper.

Duds

RB Matt Jones, Washington Redskins (0.2)—The rookie had the chance to capitalize on a huge Week 11 performance to remove all doubt about the Redskins’ go-to back. This performance did nothing but cast more doubts. Five rushes for zero yards and a lost fumble.

WR Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders (0.9)—One catch for four yards on four targets. It should be noted Michael Crabtree received 11 targets and now leads his rookie teammate 96-85 in season targets and is just $6,500 to Cooper’s $6,800.

TE Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers (1.1)—When we noted the Chiefs were the No. 1 team in fantasy against tight ends, we should have listened to our own advice—no matter if Gates was one reliable target remaining for Rivers.

RB Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (2.6)—As we wrote above, the only benefit to FanDuel players is a Allen ($6,300) is the starter now at a bargain price and facing a suspect Cleveland Browns run defense.

RB James Starks, Green Bay Packers (4.9)—You hear that? It was a door slamming on Starks’ fantasy value as he was held to 14 yards on eight carries and watched Eddie Lacy rise again with 22-100 rushing. Lacy is a huge bargain at $6,500 now.

QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (6.92)—The Chargers couldn’t run the ball, throw the ball or hang with the Chiefs in a 33-3 blowout. The past two weeks without Keenan Allen (kidney, out for the season) have not been kind to Rivers.

QB Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (7.56)—We will consider this season-low performance a mere hiccup in his breakthrough campaign. (He scored less in Week 1, but that’s because he didn’t make it through the game healthy.)

Source: NFL Week 11 Retrospectacle: Baltimore Ravens Add Injuries to Insults

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Teaching You How to #Win – DiRTy Plays NBA Monday

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As you already know we are building the Lineup Analyzer™ for NBA as we speak and we will be releasing some of the information and content a few times per week moving forward, so stay tuned for more.

What we will be looking to provide are some of the recommended lineups that DC*3PO has generated each day and tracking the overall performance here so you can see the progress each week.  Good Luck and let us know if you have suggestions here.


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NBA_FD_MonLooking at tonight’s matchups, we have a few guys that have some injuries that will lead to more playing time for some of the cheaper players. Tonight look for Muhammed to have a much larger role for the T-Wolves tonight as he is expected to play 22 minutes. This will lead to a 20+ point performance on FanDuel tonight and with his salary, this is how you can get Mr. Westbrook. Another player for the T-Wolves to look out for tonight is Kevin Martin. He is going to get the start at SG and coach Mitchell has already stated that he expects Martin to shoot it often in the starting lineup. Last guy to consider for FanDuel #Sleeper tonight is Ersan Ilyasova. This veteran has been playing some consistent ball of late and since being inserted into the starting lineup with Drummond, he is averaging 24.6 fantasy points per game. He stretches the floor for Drummand and that allows for Drummond to control the glass, play them together and look for a nice 80+ point performance amongst these these to two players.

 


DraftKings Lineups


NBA_DK_MonOn DraftKings we have our standard 3 lineups as we continue to flush out the most productive models for you to use moving forward. Our first lineup is all about consistency, so we have built a lineup based on what that player has done over their last 5 games. This team’s last 5 game average would get you a DraftKings score of 286 points, which is good enough to cash 78.6% of the time so far this season in the Sharpshooter contests. Our second lineup is all about max projection. When looking at the theoretical performance of each player and the maximum potential, we have built this lineup as this lineup has a top max projection score of 357.84. That would get you in the top 10 over 96% of the time in the Sharpshooter contest.  As you can see, there are several players that aren’t in the starting lineup so it’s all about the points per minute played and what their opponent gives up to that players position per minute.  Then we look at the most points each of these players has scored in a game this season to get our max projection. I like to call it the high risk, high reward because most of strategies and lineup creation models are not necessarily designed to have the most points, they are designed to win. In looking for the W each day, you sacrifice things like ownership percentage i.e. how many other entrants will have this player and then max projection because you are going to get a ton of guys that don’t normally produce high point totals that have a chance at that for this particular contests. Most would call this a #Sleeper but we consider the #Sleeper position to only be players under the salary of $5,200. Last we have the highest projected team total with a team projection of 281.47 and that would cash in the Sharpshooter contest 71.4% of the time. Tweet us your lineups @TheDiRTCanon and let us give you some additional guidance!

Start getting ready for week 12 and all of the special contests for Thanksgiving this week’s NFL contests here. Start your FREE TRIAL today and use promo code WIN.

 


 

#NFL Weekend Update: 9 Things We Need To Know on Monday

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It’s was a strange weekend, from undefeated teams going down, to threats at WWE in Atlanta to the Mafia telling ISIS, NYC is their turf and to stay away – it all leaves us with more questions then answers and first off, is this:  How does the #NFL concussion protocol fail Case Keenum?  So Let’s Get It On with the 9 things we need to know, (h/t Elias Sports Bureau).

1

Famous Jameis and the Return of the Muscle-Hamster

Doug Martin ran for 235 yards, the highest single-game total in the NFL in the last three seasons. But he had to share the headlines with Jameis Winston, who threw five touchdowns passes in the Buccaneers’ 45-17 win at Philadelphia. Winston tied the record for TD passes in a game by a rookie, nullset by Ray Buivid of the Bears in 1937 and tied only once previously, by Matthew Stafford in 2009.

The last player to gain as much rushing yardage in one game as Martin was Martin himself, with a 251-yard performance at Oakland in 2012. He fell 2 yards short of the highest rushing-yards total by a player who didn’t score a touchdown in the game. Barry Sanders gained 237 rushing yards without scoring in Detroit’s victory over the Bucs in 1994.

There was only one other game in NFL history in which a player rushed for at least 200 yards and a teammate threw five or more TD passes. Jamal Lewis gained 216 rushing yards and Derek Anderson threw five scoring passes for the Browns in a 51-45 win over the Bengals in 2007.  What it means is Tampa might be relevant again at 5-5.

2

For Chiefs – The Last 3 weeks Has Been the Playoffs

One week after routing the Broncos, 29-13, at Denver, the Chiefs posted their biggest win at San Diego in 47 years, defeating the Chargers, 33-3. Kansas City’s last victory at San Diego by at least 30 points was a 40-3 win in 1968­­. In that game, Len Dawson threw three touchdown passes and the Chiefs made a team-record seven interceptions.

But Kansas City’s performance over the last two weeks deserves more than a comparison only to the team’s own history. It marks the first time since 1992 that any team NFL won consecutive games, both on the road against division opponents and both by a margin of 16 points or more. The last team to do so was San Diego, with road victories against the Raiders (36-14) and Seahawks (31-14) in December 1992.  Would anyone be shocked if the Chiefs finished 10-6 and and beat up the AFC South champ in a wild-card game?

3

Panthers Troll Washington

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A question for Redskins fans: How long have you rooted for your team? Because unless you saw Sammy Baugh play, you never saw a Redskins game that started as explosively as Sunday’s, in which each team scored two touchdowns in the first quarter. It was the first such game in Carolina’s 21-year history in the league, and it was the Redskins’ first since a 45-35 loss to the Giants in 1949 in which Baugh threw a pair of early TD passes to Hugh Taylor.  The Redskins kept Cam Newton out of the end zone on Sunday, but Newton threw five touchdown passes in the Panthers’ 44-16 victory. Newton, who scored six TDs in Carolina’s first nine games this season, is only the third player in NFL history with five or more touchdown passes in a game and at least five rushing TDs in that same season. Yes, it’s a bit tortured, but there’s a payoff for fans who enjoy a bit of NFL history in Elias Says. The first player to do so was Dandy Don Meredith with the Cowboys in 1966; in fact, he had two games with five TD passes that season. The other was Steve McNair of the Titans in 1999.

4

With Romo, The Cowboys are Undefeated

Tony Romo passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 24-14 win at Miami. The Cowboys’ losing streak coincided with the seven games that Romo missed with a broken left collarbone. Dallas has won the last seven regular-season games that Romo has started and lost the last nine that Romo missed.

But don’t overlook the contribution of Darren McFadden, who rushed for 129 yards. Romo has a 23-8 record as a starting quarterback when a teammate has gained at least 100 rushing yards.

5

Peyton Place

During the pregame show for Sunday Night Football, Mike Florio reported that not only is Manning planning on came back for another season in 2016, he is willing to do it for a team other than the Broncos.  Clearly, he wants to erase the stink of the last game he played and does not want to go out like that.  As for Peyton getting healthy, it may not matter, because Kubiak is already quiet with his decision on who gets the start against the Patriots.  Pretty sure that Elway, Kubiak, and the rest who wear Orange-Colored Glasses all want the same thing and it’s the guy he played in Chicago.  Brock Osweiler played a turnover-free game in the Broncos’ 17-15 win at Chicago. Osweiler connected with Demaryius Thomas for a 48-yard score in the game’s 3rd minute. The only other active players to throw a touchdown pass that long in the first 3 minutes of their first start in the NFL were Matt Ryan in 2008 and Marcus Mariota two months ago. Note that Manning threw at least one interception in each of his nine games this season, for a total of 17.

6

Old Guys Win in C’Ant’Lanta

Matt Hasselbeck improved his record to 3-0 as the Colts’ starting quarterback in a 24-21 victory at Atlanta. Only two other QBs won three consecutive starts after turning 40 years old: Warren Moon and Brett Favre.

Last month, Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal in overtime in Hasselbeck’s first victory for Indianapolis. That marked the first time in NFL history that a player in his 40s scored the winning points in the fourth quarter or OT in a game started by a quarterback age 40 or older. Vinatieri did it again yesterday, kicking a game-winning 43-yard field goal with 52 seconds to play.  For the Colts, it’s “No Luck, No Problem” – do we need to rethink Andrew’s place among the Elite?

7

Break up the Lions!

The Lions defeated the Raiders, 18-13, one week after a surprising 18-16 win over the Packers – That’s the first #NFL Team to score 18pts and win back-to-back games. It was also the first time in 15 years that Detroit won consecutive games despite scoring fewer than 20 points in each of them. Over the last 15 seasons, the Lions have a 16-99 record when they scored fewer than 20 points.  For the Raiders it seemed like the same ol’story and might not be ready for PrimeTime just yet – or it’s just the curse of Jack Del Rio.

8

Takeaways from #NFL Week 11

It’s Thanksgiving and what a glorious time of year – but when you look around the #NFL you might see the coincidence that, after tonight, all teams will be at the 10 game mark – No more BYE’s, and we begin the stretch run to the playoffs.  6 games, all the marbles and some thoughts on what we witnessed.

Source: Top 10 takeaways from Sunday’s Week 11 NFL action

9

Worst QB Performances of week 11

A few of the NFL’s top quarterbacks suffered through miserable performances on Sunday.

More often than not, these guys are lighting up opposing defenses and leading their teams to victory, but the football gods had different plans this time around.

Of course, as usual this list is also populated by guys you would expect to play poorly. Without any further ado, these were the worst quarterbacks from Week 11.

Source: Eight worst quarterback performances from Week 11

Free-agent Rawls makes history in Seahawks’ win

Thomas Rawls gained 209 yards on 30 carries and 46 yards on three receptions, and he scored a pair of touchdowns in the Seahawks’ 29-13 win over the 49ers. Rawls was the first rookie in NFL history with at least 250 yards from scrimmage, a rushing touchdown, and a TD reception in the same game.null

Only one other undrafted rookie rushed for 200 or more yards in an NFL game, and that was nearly six decades ago. Tom Wilson of the Rams ran for 223 yards against the Packers on Dec. 16, 1956. That was three weeks after Wilson, who according to an Associated Press story at the time, did not play college football, returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown.

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#CollegeFootball Weekend Hangover

More man than machine: How teams ongoing evolution will shape this year’s College Football Playoff – by Andy Staples

We tend to think of college football teams as machines with interchangeable parts. Seniors leave. Freshmen arrive. Parts are replaced with varying degrees of success, and the machine keeps moving.

We’re wrong about that.

College football teams are more like the living organisms that make up their rosters. Sometimes they grow. Sometimes they regress. Occasionally, they can work in harmony. Occasionally, they can be inefficient. Mutations in single cells—a freshman replacing a senior, a linebacker getting dumped by his girlfriend or a coordinator leaving to become a head coach—can affect the entire body.

How else can you explain Ohio State on Saturday? Or Michigan State? Or Oklahoma State? Or Baylor?

We’ll start with the Buckeyes. Were they a machine, this week’s 17–14 loss to Michigan State would never make sense. Sure, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Jeff Heuerman, Michael Bennett, Steve Miller and Doran Grant were very good players. But considering the level of Ohio State’s recruiting since Urban Meyer took over, it was reasonable to assume that the Buckeyes would be as good or better athletically than the team that won the national title last January. Braxton Miller’s move to H-back gave Ohio State another playmaker, while J.T. Barrett’s return to health gave the roster two quarterbacks who had proven themselves on the field. Four-fifths of the offensive line returned. So did defensive end Joey Bosa, who is widely considered the nation’s best pass rusher. If anything, this season should have been easier than the last.

The schedule was weak until Saturday, but this seemed like a weaker version of the Michigan State team the Buckeyes had beaten 49–37 in East Lansing a year earlier. To make matters worse for the Spartans, their potential first-round NFL draft pick quarterback couldn’t play because of a shoulder injury. So, how could Ohio State lose this game? More specifically, how could Ohio State lose this game the way it did?

The Buckeyes were one-dimensional on offense, which allowed an up-and-down Michigan State defense to be reasonably confident in its ability to stop Barrett on the ground. The Spartans were one-dimensional on offense, too, but they didn’t forget their running backs and probably helped themselves by limiting passing attempts and removing opportunities for Bosa and Sam Hubbard to terrorize their backup quarterbacks. They also beat the Buckeyes on both lines of scrimmage, which is the simplest explanation for the result.

The more complex explanation took shape after the game when tailback Ezekiel Elliott ripped the play-calling and essentially announced he was turning pro after this season. Later, former starting quarterback and current backup Cardale Jones hinted at a similar NFL declaration. Elliott’s main point of contention was this: On Ohio State’s first touchdown drive, he carried on eight of 10 plays and scored. So, why did the coaches stop giving him the ball? That drive ended with 12:45 remaining in the second quarter. He got the ball only three more times. How could Ohio State’s coaches forget they had the best back on the field for nearly three quarters?

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If you’re looking for someone to rip Elliott for speaking out, look elsewhere. I have zero problem with accomplished people pointing out deficiencies in their organizations when they’re correct. And Elliott was 100% correct. Would Tom Herman have forgotten Elliott if he still called the plays for Ohio State? Probably not. Has there been something simmering in Ohio State’s locker room this year? It sure sounds like it. Elliott said the play-calling has been an issue all season.

In the spring, Meyer said he had learned many lessons from a 2009 season at Florida that in many ways mirrored this one at Ohio State. But the pressure of repeating—in which an ongoing cycle of misery is broken only by the brief relief of winning on Saturdays—affected that Florida organism, and it seems to have affected this Ohio State organism as well. The sum of Ohio State’s parts relative to the sum of other teams’ parts remains greater, but the chemistry is different. Last year’s Buckeyes had unbelievable chemistry. This year’s team? Well, you saw what happened after Saturday’s game.

Still, the Buckeyes can take solace in linebacker Joshua Perry’s words.

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They can also take solace in the fact that they are competing against a bunch of other living organisms, some of which seem quite prone to injury and equally susceptible to emotional swings.

Even the team that plays most like a machine can fall victim to emotion’s effect on chemistry. Alabama coach Nick Saban believes his players’ excessive hyperactivity in the moments prior to their matchup with Ole Miss on Sept. 19 helped contribute to early turnovers and a deficit the Crimson Tide couldn’t overcome. (The coaches’ decision to start Cooper Bateman at quarterback over Jake Coker may have also contributed, but Saban didn’t say that.) So, when Saban saw his players jawing with Georgia players during pregame warmups two weeks later, he brought his team together and insisted it calm down. The Tide have played particularly robotically—this is a compliment, trust me—the past three games, and if they can limit emotional swings for 13 more days, they should breeze to the SEC title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Other organisms may need to tap into an emotional wellspring to inspire them to play above their ordinary capability. One of the major drawbacks of the Big 12 contenders all playing one another over a four-week period this fall is injuries tend to pile up. This week, three of the four teams that entered the gauntlet with a chance at a conference title could start different quarterbacks than the ones they intended to play through the stretch. It’s unclear whether Trevone Boykin will start for TCU or Jarrett Stidham will start for Baylor on Friday, though it sounds as if the Bears may have to go with Chris Johnson, who moved to receiver earlier this season after falling behind previous starter Seth Russell and Stidham on the depth chart. In Baylor’s 45–35 win at Oklahoma State, Johnson capably relieved Stidham, who was trying to play through a back injury and left after injuring his ankle and his hand.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma may not have starter Baker Mayfield available for the Bedlam game at Oklahoma State. Mayfield didn’t play in the second half of Saturday’s 30–29 victory over TCU after taking a vicious shot to the head in the first half. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, still has its quarterback combo of Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh intact. That means Oklahoma may need backup quarterback Trevor Knight to recreate his performance from the Sugar Bowl against Alabama following the 2013 season. If Knight plays the way he did during his other starting stints for the Sooners, Oklahoma may not produce enough points to stay in the race. Of course, chemistry matters. Knight was elected a captain by his teammates even though he didn’t win the starting job. New brain cells matter. It’s quite possible first-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley can design a better game plan around Knight than his predecessors could—though this might prove more difficult if Samaje Perine’s injured ankle limits the Sooners’ top back.

Oklahoma can win the Big 12 by winning Bedlam. Oklahoma State must win Bedlam and hope Baylor loses to TCU or Texas. Baylor must beat TCU and Texas and hope Oklahoma State takes down Oklahoma. The Sooners have grown since their 24–17 loss to Texas on Oct. 10. The Bears bounced back from their 44–34 loss to Oklahoma. How will the Cowboys handle their first loss? How will TCU, now eliminated from the title race, handle playing the role of a spoiler?

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And how will the College Football Playoff selection committee handle these constantly changing organisms? Notre Dame is like a hydra. The Fighting Irish have regrown more quality starters than any other team in the country. But does Notre Dame’s adaptability have a limit after losing tailback C.J. Prosise and cornerback KeiVarae Russell for to injuries in Saturday’s 19–16 win over Boston College? If the Irish can beat Stanford in their finale, they should get credit from the committee for regenerating half a starting lineup. Still, they could be just as likely to get downgraded as the committee wonders if the Irish are healthy enough to compete in the playoff with teams finishing the season on red-hot streaks.

Michigan State, meanwhile, may benefit from the Oregon Transitive Property. Remember that? We introduced it a few weeks ago, when it seemed like something less than helpful for the Spartans.

Sept. 10: Michigan State beat Oregon by three. Michigan State is awesome.

Sept. 26: Wow. Utah just hammered Oregon 62–20 in Eugene. Maybe Michigan State isn’t so awesome.

Oct. 10: Washington State just beat Oregon 45–38 in Eugene in double-overtime. Michigan State barely survived at Rutgers when the quarterback spiked the ball to stop the clock—on fourth down. Maybe that Oregon-Michigan State game didn’t tell us much of anything. Also, since Portland State beat Washington State 24–17 in the season opener, does the Oregon Transitive Property now make Portland State the best team in Oregon?

It’s time for a new entry.

Nov. 21: Oregon defeated Stanford 38–36 and beat potential Pac-12 South champion USC 48–28 in consecutive weeks because a healthy Vernon Adams Jr. is breathtaking. Does this fact, combined with Michigan State’s win at Ohio State, mean Michigan State is awesome again even though the Spartans lost 39–38 at Nebraska on Nov. 7*? Or does it mean that Oregon grew, Michigan State played a great game in Columbus and we could be looking at an entirely different organism that will have a chance to clinch the Big Ten East Division at Spartan Stadium on Saturday against Penn State?

*On a terrible call. But still, Michigan State was in a tight game with a team that had just lost to Purdue.

These organisms could go through more mutations before the committee renders its final decision on Dec. 6. Those changes could make the Spartans the hottest team in America. They could allow the Buckeyes to get back in the hunt depending on what happens in East Lansing. They could give several Big 12 fan bases heart attacks before next weekend ends. They could allow Notre Dame to regrow enough parts to earn a shot at the national title. We don’t know what these strange creatures will do, and that’s the fun part.

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Projected College Football Playoff

1. Alabama (10–1)

The Crimson Tide ran through Charleston Southern like something through a tinhorn Saturday. (I still prefer “through a goose,” but apparently the expression is different in Nick Saban’s native West Virginia.) That was to be expected. Given what we’ve seen from Auburn this season, the Iron Bowl next weekend might not look much different. Of course, this is a rivalry game. Maybe the Tigers will come to play. But if Bama continues to play the way it has in the three games following its bye week, the next challenge the Crimson Tide will face will be in the playoff.

2. Clemson (11–0)

Like Alabama, Clemson will face a down-on-its-luck rival. South Carolina, which lost to The Citadel 23–22 on Saturday to drop its record to 3–8, is even more down on its luck than Auburn. Clemson should slam its next two opponents on its way to the playoff.

3. Michigan State (10–1)

We saw what a (mostly) healthy Michigan State defense and offensive line could do Saturday at Ohio State. The Spartans may get quarterback Connor Cook (shoulder) back for the Penn State game. Add a healthy-ish Cook to those elements, and suddenly Michigan State looks like a team no one wants to play. Why the Spartans and not Iowa in this spot? Though it has a loss at Nebraska, Michigan State has a home win over Oregon and road wins over Michigan and Ohio State. The Hawkeyes blew out 9–2 Northwestern on Oct. 17, but none of their other wins stack up. The good news is there’s no reason to argue over this. If I’m wrong about Michigan State, either the Spartans won’t make the Big Ten title game or they will and Iowa will beat them en route to a playoff berth.

4. Notre Dame (10–1)

The Fighting Irish have endured injuries that would have crippled most teams, and their only loss remains a 24–22 defeat at Clemson on Oct. 3. But at some point will all the injuries catch up? Tailback Prosise (ankle) and cornerback Russell (foot) left Saturday’s victory over Boston College, and their status for the game at Stanford is in doubt. If Notre Dame can get through this and beat the Pac-12 North champion on the road, it will be a testament to the team’s depth. But even if Notre Dame wins, its fate on Dec. 6 may come down to members of the selection committee deciding whether what’s left of the Irish or what’s left of the Big 12 champ is more worthy of making the field.

A random ranking

Michigan State kicker Michael Geiger captured the nation’s imagination Saturday with his celebration of his game-winning field goal at Ohio State. This has been a great year for placekicking celebrations, so let’s rank the top five.

1. Michael Geiger windmills

Geiger told reporters he wanted to keep moving here so he didn’t get dog-piled like teammate Jalen Watts-Jackson, who broke his hip following his miraculous return of a botched punt snap in a 27–23 win over Michigan on Oct. 17. “I play too much FIFA, a video game, and that is a common celebration,” Geiger told The Detroit News. “I was just trying to go the whole length of the field. I wasn’t thinking.”

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2. Dance like no one is high-fiving

Boise State kicker Tyler Rausa couldn’t find anyone to high-five after making a field goal in a 55–0 win over Hawaii earlier this season. So, he high-fived himself.

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3. You don’t have to kick to celebrate

Iowa State holder Austin Fischer engaged in some epic celebrations before former Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads, who was fired on Sunday morning, banned the practice. “His quiver will stay at home,” Rhoads told reporters in October. The coach was afraid Fischer would get so excited that he’d draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

4. The best kicker celebrations come from 5′ 11″, 240-pound Brazilian kickers

You already knew Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone had moves. Now watch him do the “I am kicker, hear me roar” celebration after hitting a 46-yarder to beat Nebraska 23–21 on Oct. 10.

If the Badgers would only let Gaglianone play quarterback, we’d get even more celebrations.

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5. YES! YES! What? Ooooooooh

In defense of Tennessee coach Butch Jones, it is difficult to tell from the sideline when a kick goes wide by only a few inches.

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Big Uglies of the Week

This week’s award goes to a pair of brothers for a block they’ll never forget in a game they’ll never forget. Michigan State center Jack Allen and his younger brother, left guard Brian Allen, each had great games at Ohio State. But the brothers’ finest moment came when they got to work together on a critical play.

With 2:39 remaining, Michigan State faced third-and-one from the Ohio State 39-yard line. If the Spartans got the first down, they would have a great chance to maneuver into field goal range. If they got stuffed, the options weren’t so rosy. A 56-yard field goal would be a big ask, but going for it and getting stopped would give the Buckeyes the ball about 30 yards from field goal range.

So, Michigan State’s coaches called the ultimate test-of-manhood play: the quarterback sneak. The team that won this play would probably go on to win the game. The Allen brothers were tasked with moving Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Hill, who lined up shaded to Jack’s left, and middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan out of the space quarterback Tyler O’Connor needed to occupy to make the first down. To do this, the brothers would have to execute a combo block. They would each fire off on Hill, and at precisely the correct moment, whoever had the angle would slip off and hit McMillan. If Hill split the brothers, the play was toast. If one of the brothers couldn’t get loose and hit McMillan, the play might also blow up.

The Allens fired off perfectly, ramming Hill off the line of scrimmage. By the time Jack made contact with McMillan, everyone was two yards past the line. The Buckeyes had no chance to keep O’Connor from gaining that yard. And after losing that play, Ohio State stood little chance of winning the game.

First-and-10

1. The reports that surfaced last week about LSU’s Les Miles coaching for his job seem accurate, and Miles didn’t exactly help his cause in Saturday’s 38–17 loss at Ole Miss. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva declined comment to Scott Rabalais of The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate about Miles’s job status on Saturday, telling Rabalais he would make no comment until the end of the regular season. But a comment made Friday by a member of LSU’s board of supervisors suggests Miles was in serious trouble before the Ole Miss game even kicked off. “I think if he wins the next two games, it’s still something that needs to be looked at,” Ronald Anderson told Glenn Guilbeau of Gannett Louisiana. “It’s the way [the Tigers] lost the two games [to Alabama and Arkansas].”

LSU started 7–0 but has lost its last three by a combined score of 99–47. The Tigers never led in those games, and they never really contended. Next, they’ll face a Texas A&M team that hasn’t beaten LSU since joining the SEC. But none of those old Aggies teams had former LSU coordinator John Chavis running the defense. This one does. Presumably, Chavis is well-versed in LSU coordinator Cam Cameron’s offense after seeing it at practice for two seasons.

Even if LSU beats A&M, it may not matter for Miles. The biggest issue would be the $15 million buyout Miles would be owed if he were fired before Jan. 1, but that may not be as much of a deterrent because of the way the Liquidated Damages cause in Miles’s contract is structured. Instead of a lump sum or two payments, the buyout would be payable in equal monthly installments over a span of eight years. So, LSU would not need all the cash on hand, and the buyout amount would be reduced by the amount Miles gets paid should he land another job. It would cost about $2 million to buy out all of LSU’s assistants. Meanwhile, if LSU went after the coach everyone assumes the Tigers would chase, the move would become even more expensive. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher would owe the Seminoles $5 million if he left for another job.

2. Paul Rhoads will not have to wonder about his fate at Iowa State. The school fired him Sunday after seven seasons at the helm. Rhoads went 32–54 after replacing Gene Chizik following the 2008 campaign.

Instead of remembering the losses or trying to figure out exactly how Iowa State expects to do better considering its circumstances, let’s remember the good times.

3. If you didn’t realize the SEC East stunk before Week 12, Saturday offered even more proof of its stench. Division champ Florida needed overtime to beat Florida Atlantic 20–14 at home. Division runner-up Georgia needed overtime to beat Georgia Southern 23–17 at home. Meanwhile, South Carolina lost at home to The Citadel of the FCS.

The Gators, who played through multiple injuries on the offensive and defensive lines, remain a dark-horse contender to crash the playoff. But they’ll have to play like a different team than they’ve been the past three weeks to get past Florida State and (presumably) Alabama in consecutive contests. Florida coach Jim McElwain would like to see more energy from his team. If he doesn’t get it, he knows what can happen.

If the division had one bright spot Saturday, though, it was this interception from Kentucky defensive lineman Cory “Poop” Johnson.

Yes, his nickname is “Poop,” though that moniker may be more fitting for the division in which he plays.

4. Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was slowed by a broken finger earlier this season, but he has proven in recent weeks why everyone was so excited to see how he would fare in the FBS after transferring to Eugene from Eastern Washington. In Saturday’s 48–28 victory, Adams became the first quarterback to throw six touchdown passes against USC.

Stanford’s 35–22 win over Cal knocked the Ducks out of the race for the Pac-12 title, but Adams will still have two more games (Friday against Oregon State and a bowl game) to provide thrills. Adams now has 20 touchdown passes against FBS foes, tying him with TCU’s Boykin for fifth in the nation.

5. Ohio State and Oklahoma State weren’t the only undefeated teams to fall on Saturday. Houston, which entered the week 10–0, lost at Connecticut 20–17. Cougars quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who injured his ankle the previous week in a come-from-behind win over Memphis, didn’t start against the Huskies. Kyle Postma, who led the comeback against the Tigers, started but got knocked out with an ankle injury late in the fourth quarter. Ward came into the game and tried to spark a Cougars’ rally, but he was intercepted by UConn’s Jamar Summers with 55 seconds remaining.

“[Ward] wasn’t 100% or close to it,” Houston coach Tom Herman told Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle. “We felt like Kyle gave us a better chance to win than a Greg Ward at 70% or so.”

The loss came two days after Houston’s board of trustees approved a raise for Herman that would pay him $3 million annually beginning next year. Herman is a potential candidate at several schools with head coaching vacancies. He is now 10–1 at Houston and still has a chance to lead the Cougars to the West Division title in the American Athletic Conference.

6. Speaking of titles, let’s break down the remaining scenarios for undecided divisions.

• The American East: Temple can clinch the East with a South Florida loss to Central Florida on Thursday or a win over UConn on Saturday. If UConn beats Temple and USF beats UCF, the Bulls would win the East.

• The American West: The winner of Friday’s Navy-Houston tilt wins the West. (Yes, Navy is in the West.)

• Big Ten East: Michigan State can win the East by beating Penn State in East Lansing. If Penn State upsets the Spartans, the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan matchup takes the division.

• Conference USA East: The winner of Friday’s Western Kentucky-Marshall game wins the East.

• Conference USA West: The winner of Saturday’s Southern Miss-Louisiana Tech game wins the West.

• MAC East: Northern Illinois can capture the East with a win over Ohio on Tuesday or a Toledo loss to Western Michigan on Friday. Toledo would need to beat Western Michigan and have Ohio beat NIU.

• Pac-12 South: The winner of the UCLA-USC showdown wins the South.

• SEC West: Alabama can take the West with a win over Auburn or an Ole Miss loss to Mississippi State. Ole Miss would need to beat Mississippi State and also have Auburn win the Iron Bowl.

7. In a wide-open Heisman Trophy field, Stanford tailback Christian McCaffrey is putting up great numbers. Of course, only West Coast voters and night owls are seeing him play. On Saturday, McCaffrey set a school record with 389 all-purpose yards in a win over Cal. He carried 29 times for 192 yards, caught one pass for a 49-yard touchdown and returned three kickoffs for 148 yards, including a 98-yarder for a score just before halftime.

Unfortunately for McCaffrey, six of Stanford’s nine Pac-12 games this fall kicked off at 10 p.m. or later on the East Coast. Next week against Notre Dame, however, the Cardinal will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET. Given Notre Dame’s position in the playoff rankings, that game will draw huge interest. Another big performance from McCaffrey—who already has 2,807 all-purpose yards in 2015—could solidify his invitation to New York.

8. Some members of the Stanford band dressed as the War Boys from Mad Max: Fury Road on Saturday night. Alas, none played a flame-throwing guitar.

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9. There have been rumors circulating about Texas and Charlie Strong parting ways this off-season and Strong ultimately landing at Miami or South Carolina, but Longhorns interim athletic director Mike Perrin squashed them on Friday. In an interview with flagship radio station 104.9 The Horn, Perrin was adamant that Strong will be the Longhorns coach next season. Perrin, who has injected the Texas athletic department with a large dose of common sense following the firing of the heavily disliked Steve Patterson in September, didn’t leave much room for nuance.

The Texas administration is aware the Longhorns could lose on to Texas Tech on Thanksgiving and then to Baylor on Dec. 5 and finish 4–8. That doesn’t seem to matter to Perrin. He is clearly committed to Strong.

To listen to the entire interview, click here.

10. Sports.

Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

What’s eating Andy?

No complaints this week, because this is the time we give thanks. So, I’ll start. I’m thankful for the best wife on earth, two amazing kids, a basset hound who sleeps 23 hours per day and the fact that I still haven’t had to get a real job.

What’s Andy eating?

For the Andy’s Tailgate Test Kitchen Thanksgiving Spectacular, I made Turducken. That’s a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey. It’s amazing. Click the video and see for yourself.

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BY ANDY STAPLES

23 NOVEMBER 2015

Source: How teams evolution will shape this year’s College Football Playoff

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