Team unit breakdown for Week 12
Which team unit is worth giving a start this scoring period? Chris Bennett ranks the options for Week 12.
Marshall (at Tulsa): Most Fantasy owners know about Thundering Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato , and his ability to stretch defenses. Many might not know about the Herd's ground attack, however, which has churned out 685 yards and eight touchdowns the last two weeks. Essray Taliaferro has three consecutive 100-yard outings, while Steward Butler cranked out 137 yards last week on just seven carries. They'll travel to Tulsa to face a defense that's held its opponents to less than 167 yards just twice all year.
Ohio State (at Illinois): Week 12 has a somewhat limited schedule, and as a result, there's little reason to be cute. You find mismatches and ride your studs, end of story. Ohio State boasts the nation's eighth-ranked rushing attack, averaging 301 yards a game while being held to less than 200 yards just once. The Buckeyes travel to Illinois this week to face a defense that ranks 117th against the run. Indiana just ran 43 times for 371 yards and a touchdown against the Illini, and Ohio State should have similar success.
Central Florida (at Temple): The Golden Knights bring a balanced attack into Philadelphia in Week 12, averaging 270 yards through the air and 160 yards on the ground a game. While a bit of a pass-first team, running back Storm Johnson has found himself useful in the passing attack, scoring three of his 12 total touchdowns on catches. He's paired with freshman William Stanback to score at least twice in each of the last four weeks. The Owls defense, on the other hand, has held opponents to less than 168 yards just once all season. In a game that doesn't figure to be close, look for the Knights to run the ball more once the game is out of hand, padding their rushing stats in the process.
Penn State (vs. Purdue): Purdue is simply a bad football team. Its rush defense ranks 112th nationally, allows 223.6 yards a game and has given up 663 yards the last two weeks to Ohio State and Iowa. Penn State has been a bit up and down on the ground this season, but the three-headed monster of Zach Zwinak , Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch should have plenty of holes to dart through on Saturday.
Louisiana-Lafayette (at Georgia State): Speaking of bad football teams, the winless Panthers host a Ragin' Cajuns offense that churns out big plays on the ground. Running back Alonzo Harris struggled last week against Troy but had nine touchdowns and 326 yards in his previous three contests. He's spelled by freshman Elijah McGuire , who is averaging a sparking nine yards per carry as a rookie. Georgia State hasn't held an opponent to less than 200 yards on the ground in five games.
Boise State (vs. Wyoming): While senior quarterback Grant Hedrick has been solid in two games replacing injured starter Joe Southwick , Week 12 is time for running back Jay Ajayi to shine. The Cowboys defense has allowed 235.7 yards per game, and even a pass-first, -second and -third offense like Fresno State got them for 234 yards. Teams look to slow the Cowboys passing attack by churning out chunks on the ground, and the Broncos should be the next to follow suit.
Virginia Tech (vs. Maryland): Don't look now, but Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas has 757 yards through the air the last two weeks. He's been aided by the late emergence of redshirt freshman Joshua Stanford , who has 278 yards the last two weeks after totaling 284 yards in the team's first eight contests. Equally as important, Virginia Tech continues to show no signs of running the ball consistently, forcing Thomas to win games with his arm. Maryland, on the other hand, is an injury riddled team on both sides of the ball, but specifically in the secondary. The Terrapins have allowed just 10 touchdowns through the air this season, but any quarterback with a pulse has topped 260 yards against them.
Southern Methodist (vs. Connecticut): See running backs, State, Ohio. Connecticut has surrendered 1,027 yards and 11 touchdowns the last three weeks. The Mustangs offense has churned out 1,262 yards and eight scores in that same span, while throwing at least 43 times in every game this season. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert has no shortage of options, as Darius Joseph , Keenan Holman and Jeremy Johnson each have at least 49 catches and 664 yards. The Mustangs should have a field day Saturday.
Colorado (vs. Cal): In Week 12's edition of "Lets Pick On Cal," Colorado will try to oblige. The Bears defense gave up 243 yards to USC last week, the fewest it has surrendered since September at Oregon. Colorado has turned over the keys to its offense to program savior freshman Sefo Liufau , who's been decent since taking over for Connor Wood . Look for Liufau to hook up with Paul Richardson early and often in a possible breakout performance for the rookie signal caller.
East Carolina (vs. UAB): The only concern here for the Pirates passing game is that UAB is equally inept at stopping the run. The Blazers allow 273.6 yards per game through the air, but also 216.4 yards on the ground. The Pirates boast the nation's ninth-ranked passing attack and have posted 299 yards or more through the air in every game since Sept. 28 against Virginia Tech. Quarterback Shane Carden will find Justin Hardy (82 catches, 1,000 yards, six scores,) early and often on Saturday.
South Florida (vs. Memphis): The Bulls receivers represent one of the biggest gambles listed in this column all season, but now appears the time to use this unit and look like a genius come Sunday morning. Two weeks ago, USF inserted freshman Mike White into their lineup under center, and the rookie threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns against a sound Houston defense. The Bulls followed that outing with an off week, allowing this unit to sneak up and be an under-the-radar option. Memphis has allowed 297 yards or more three times this season, to Duke, SMU and Cincinnati, and White will look to hook up with receivers Andre Davis , Deonte Welch and maybe even Florida transfer Chris Dunkley as the Bulls try to build some momentum heading toward 2014.
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