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Team unit breakdown for Week 14

by | Rotowire.com
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RUNNING BACK

South Carolina (vs. Clemson): The Gamecocks get little recognition for their ground attack, largely due to their coach's long perceived affinity for the aerial assault. But make no mistake, South Carolina is a running football team. It ranks 25th nationally, averaging 211.2 yards per game, and has 24 rushing scores through 11 games. Against in-state rival Clemson, South Carolina will exert its physical presence while simultaneously keeping Clemson's high-powered offense on the sidelines. The Gamecocks have averaged 165.5 yards per game on the ground during their current four-game winning streak in this series, and a successfully ground-and-pound attack will go a long way toward a fifth straight win.

Toledo (at Akron): The Rockets' rushing attack has surprisingly been omitted from this column to this point. Toledo averages 6.1 yards per carry while gaining 241.5 yards per game. Led by David Fluellen, the Rockets' ground game has scored 25 times, including six games with at least three scores. Facing an Akron defense that consistently surrenders at least 160 yards per contest, the Rockets figure to have their way in the season finale.

Pittsburgh (vs. Miami): On paper, both the Pittsburgh rushing and passing attacks look like solid choices as Miami's defense has been shredded on both fronts each of the last four weeks. Miami also has just four healthy members of its secondary ... further lending credence to the Panthers passing attack, led by receivers Devin Street and Tyler Boyd, as a top option in Week 14. With all of that in mind - it's time to go against conventional wisdom. The temperature is expected to be in the 30s at kickoff, with temperatures dipping into the mid-teens by the fourth quarter. Mix in a breeze off the river, and the Panthers should run and run until the cows come home, or Miami stops them. Neither of those are likely to happen, and Isaac Bennett and James Conner should impress against a defense that's allowed 601 yards the last two weeks to Virginia and Duke.

Wisconsin (vs. Penn St.): The Badgers are another team that's been so great rushing the ball in 2013 that they haven't been paid their due in this column. The eighth-ranked rushing attack nationally is led by Melvin Gordon and James White and has been held to less than 197 yards just once all season. They've averaged 297.8 yards and have scored 35 times on the ground through 11 games and should put a hurting on the Penn State defense.

Alabama (at Auburn): The numbers here are one thing. Auburn allows 153.2 yards per game on the ground, while Alabama has churned out 211.5 rushing yards per game through 11 contests. That may be enough to call this a mismatch, but you can usually throw numbers out the window in a rivalry of this magnitude. What you can't throw out the window is the shear eye test that Bama passes, and Auburn does not. The NFL-like machine that is Alabama is likely to roll in to Jordan-Hare Stadium and physically beat the Tigers on most snaps en route to a comfortable victory. It may not be visually appealing, but T.J. Yeldon, Jalston Fowler and company will do plenty of damage when the clock strikes 0:00.

WIDE RECEIVER

Fresno State (at San Jose State)/San Jose State (vs. Fresno State): This game should be a joy to watch if you like a lot of passing, so we'll lump these opponents together in this recommendation. Fresno State ranks second in the nation in passing, averaging 399.4 yards per game. San Jose State ranks ninth, averaging 335.8 yards through the air. They do not allow nearly as much as they produce, but neither team has faced an opponent the likes of each other. Quarterbacks Derek Carr and David Fales will both play on Sundays next season, and Bulldogs wideout Davante Adams and Spartans receiver Chandler Jones won't be far behind. The over/under in this game is set between 71 and 73, and that feels low. We're not condoning a wager on that number, but we are suggesting this game will feature plenty of passing to go around.

Indiana (vs. Purdue): With the regular-season finale on deck, it may come as a surprise that the Hoosiers average 308.1 yards per game and have 30 touchdown passes through 11 games. They face in-state rival Purdue in Week 14 and should face little resistence, even if the weather plays a factor in the game plan. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld continues to effectively share reps with Tre Roberson, and together, they've allowed receiver Cody Latimer to come within 15 yards of a 1,000-yard season with one contest remaining. Kodi Hughes has three 100-yard outings on the year opposite Latimer, and Shane Wynn has provided a stable third option in this attack.

North Carolina (vs. Duke): Lost somewhere among a struggling run game, the loss of a better natural passer in Bryn Renner, a surging team with five straight wins and last week's 80-point performance is the development of all of the Tar Heels' young talent. Quarterback Marquise Williams threw for 409 yards and five touchdowns last weekend against Old Dominion. Top receiver Quinshad Davis is just a sophomore, and he's being aided by the growth of freshmen Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer, the latter of which has also returned a punt for a touchdown in three straight contests. Simply put, the Tar Heel offense is firing on all cylinders, and while the Blue Devils offense is as well, you can expect a shootout in Chapel Hill early during Week 14.

Virginia Tech (at Virginia): The Hokies represent yet another gut feel in this week's prognostications. Quarterback Logan Thomas hasn't been intercepted in two weeks and has averaged 322.3 yards passing the last three games. Further, Virginia Tech simply can't run the ball, gaining 55 and 54 yards on the ground in two of their last three games. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have been an up and down group against the pass this season. They've surrendered 214 yards in each of the past two weeks, but had given up 292 or more yards in four of the previous five games. They'll play without safety Anthony Harris for the first half of Saturday's contest, as the nation's leader in interceptions must sit out following an ejection for targeting during last weekend's game at Miami. Virginia Tech has beaten UVA in nine straight contests, and for that to happen again, it will utilize an emerging Joshua Stanford to jump to an early lead.

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