Who will start at quarterback for the Raiders?


Who will start at quarterback for the Raiders?

From Comcast SportsNetALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer suffered cracked ribs and a bruised lung after a hard hit by Carolina linebacker Greg Hardy and will not play in the team's final game.Who will start in Palmer's absence is uncertain.Matt Leinart took over after Palmer was knocked out of the game by the Panthers but struggled in his first extensive playing time this season. He completed 16 of 32 attempts for 115 yards, had several passes sail out of bounds and threw a costly interception just before halftime.Terrelle Pryor made a brief appearance against Carolina and caught a 22-yard pass from Palmer after originally taking the snap and throwing to Palmer behind the line of scrimmage. Pryor was also in on two plays near the goal line, running for 2 yards and passing for 5."We'll get both those guys reps in practice with the first team this week," coach Dennis Allen said Monday. "We're not ready to make that decision. We'll see how practice goes, and later in the week we'll be ready to name a starter."That's a 180-degree turn from Allen's stance after the 17-6 loss to Carolina when he told reporters that Leinart would be the team's No. 2 quarterback behind Palmer. He also said of Pryor -- a third-round pick in the 2011 supplemental draft and the final player selected by former team owner Al Davis -- that "we don't feel like he's ready to be the backup quarterback just yet."Leinart certainly didn't do much to help his own standing, which might be why the Oakland coach is mulling a change.The 10th overall pick in 2006, Leinart looked rusty while completing only 50 percent of his throws. Oakland drove down into the red zone twice with him at quarterback but settled for field goals both times. Leinart also threw an interception into triple coverage just before halftime with the Raiders trailing 7-3, and the Panthers converted the turnover into a touchdown that broke the game open."I think he would tell you there were some plays out there that we left on the table," Allen said of Leinart. "We expect him as well as anybody to make those plays. But some of it obviously has to do with getting rushed (in) and not getting an opportunity to play a lot."With the exception of two plays, Pryor spent the second half on the sideline.Oakland fans repeatedly have chanted Pryor's name during home games this season and general manager Reggie McKenzie has said he wants to see Pryor play to further evaluate the quarterback's abilities.That could happen if Allen decides to give Pryor his first NFL start next Sunday in San Diego."I don't know that he's got full command of everything that we're doing but I wouldn't expect a lot different out of any other young QB," Allen said. "We'll work him this week in practice (and) make a decision at the end of the week which way we want to go."Following the loss to Carolina, Pryor told reporters he would be ready to go if he was the starter against San Diego."I definitely don't make decisions like that," Pryor said. "I just go out and do my job. Whatever God has for me, it's going to happen. If not, I'll be fine."Palmer was hit in the back by Hardy late in the first quarter while rolling out to throw. Hardy appeared to lead with his helmet and drew an unnecessary roughness penalty, one of six such penalties accumulated by the two teams combined.Palmer was later taken to a hospital in Carolina and underwent a CT scan which revealed the cracked ribs and bruised lung. Palmer was able to rejoin his teammates for the flight home, but upon arrival in Oakland the quarterback was transported from the plane to Eden Medical Center in nearby Castro Valley and kept overnight.A Raiders spokesman said Palmer was released from the hospital Monday afternoon."He made the flight back home with us but spent the night overnight in a hospital for observation," Allen said. "He'll be out this week."Notes: Right guard Mike Brisiel suffered a concussion against Carolina. ... Safety Tyvon Branch (ankle) and cornerbackpunt returner Phillip Adams (groin) were also hurt in the game. ... Allen said the team might look at moving outside linebacker Miles Burris to the middle in the offseason. Burris, a fourth-round pick who has started 14 games as a rookie this season, led the Raiders in tackles against Carolina and also got his first NFL interception.

Penn State heading to Rose Bowl for matchup with equally hot USC

Penn State heading to Rose Bowl for matchup with equally hot USC

Penn State might not be heading to the College Football Playoff, but the Nittany Lions are going to the Granddaddy of Them All.

Hours after learning that it had been edged by Washington for the final spot in the four-team Playoff field, Penn State was officially given a spot in the Rose Bowl, where it will take on USC on Jan. 2 in a matchup of two red-hot teams.

The Lions nearly reached the Playoff after an instant-classic comeback win over Wisconsin in Saturday night's Big Ten Championship Game. Riding a nine-game winning streak and boasting a resume with two top-10 wins, Penn State was undoubtedly of Playoff caliber. But the committee opted to go with the also-deserving Huskies, sending the Lions to Pasadena.

Since earning the conference title Saturday night, James Franklin and his players have been totally fine with heading to the Rose Bowl if a Playoff spot wasn't offered. Franklin's gracious acceptance continued Sunday, and no gripes over a potentially perceived snub from the Playoff have been heard.

This is Penn State's first Rose Bowl trip since the 2008 season, before the Jerry Sandusky scandal rocked the program. That game also came against USC, a 38-24 win for the Trojans.

This will be the Lions' 10th all-time meeting with the Trojans and the third time the teams have gone head-to-head in the Rose Bowl.

These are two of the hottest teams in college football. Penn State, as mentioned, has won nine straight including victories over Ohio State and Wisconsin. USC is on an eight-game winning streak with wins over Colorado and Washington.

While a Big Ten championship will probably go down as the more prestigious accomplishment, Penn State can wrap this remarkable season with a third win over a top-10 team.

No one was robbed, but Penn State, Michigan were both deserving of Playoff spots

No one was robbed, but Penn State, Michigan were both deserving of Playoff spots

There was no right answer for the College Football Playoff selection committee on Sunday afternoon.

So does that mean every answer was a wrong one?

Certainly any outcome would've had its detractors, and so no matter which four-team field the committee chose, there would've been tears over which teams were excluded.

The Big Ten looked to have a real shot at becoming the first conference to land multiple teams in a single Playoff. Instead, only Ohio State was named to the final four. Big Ten champion Penn State and Michigan were left out, with Alabama, Clemson and Washington claiming the other three spots.

The truth is this: There were six teams of Playoff caliber this season. Unfortunately, the Playoff has just four spots.

Penn State and Michigan were the casualties this season, just like there were casualties in the first two seasons of the Playoff's existence. Don't let that make you believe for a minute, however, that the Nittany Lions and Wolverines weren't deserving of playing for a national championship because they most certainly were.

Penn State looked darn close to pulling the same trick Ohio State did just two years ago, when an epic performance in the Big Ten Championship Game propelled the Buckeyes into the four-team field, boxing out the champions of the Big 12. That proved the correct decision, as Ohio State won the national championship a month later. Could Penn State have done the same thing? We'll never know.

While James Franklin and his Lions did not utter a single gripe over being left out of the Playoff — and why would they, with a trip to the Rose Bowl a tremendous consolation for a team that wasn't supposed to be a contender this season — but boy did they have a strong case that they were one of the country's four best teams. Penn State is riding a nine-game winning streak that includes wins over two top teams, one coming against Playoff-bound Ohio State and the other an instant-classic comeback against Wisconsin to win the Big Ten championship. Those are two sterling wins on any resume. Add in two more wins over AP top-25 teams Iowa and Temple and the fact that both losses came against top-25 teams in Michigan and Pittsburgh, and that's a compelling case.

It seems, in the end, Penn State's loss to Pittsburgh cost it a spot in the Playoff. Washington, which played the second-easiest non-conference schedule in the entire FBS, edged Penn State for the final spot.

And then there's Michigan, which seemed to be held to a standard Ohio State was not. The Buckeyes benefited greatly from a dominant non-conference win over Oklahoma, while the Wolverines — who had their own non-conference win over a top-10 team in Colorado — dropped behind conference-champion Penn State despite a head-to-head win. Remember that Penn State beat Ohio State, though that didn't keep the Buckeyes out of the Playoff in favor of the Lions. Michigan earned three wins over top-10 opponents and took the No. 3 team in the country to double overtime on the road just a weekend ago.

An argument could be made that a list of the top four teams in the country should contain all three of the Big Ten teams in question. After all, Washington didn't earn its first top-10 win of the season until this past Friday night. Clemson is still without a top-10 win this season. Even Alabama, arguably, didn't have to go through the same rigors as all three of these teams who play in the same division. While a non-conference win over USC looks terrific now, the Tide's SEC schedule pales in comparison to the gauntlet it's been in years past.

But here's where the committee seemed to draw the line. Every team in the Playoff has one thing in common: one or zero losses. Winning the games on your schedule seemed to be the No. 1 factor when splitting hairs between these six elite teams. Penn State and Michigan didn't have winning percentages comparable to Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington. Is that the best way to determine the four best teams, as the committee so often repeats is its mission? That can be argued. But that's certainly what happened here, as 12-1 Washington was picked over 11-2 Penn State and 10-2 Michigan.

None of this is to bash the non-Big Ten teams that made the Playoff. Clemson and Washington have turned in terrific seasons and are most deserving of the opportunity they've received to play for a national championship.

But so too were Penn State and Michigan. You just can't fit six teams into a four-team Playoff.