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All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-2015-conference-and-national-championship-predictions
Body:

The start of college football’s 2015 season is less than 10 days away. The 2015 season officially begins on Thursday, Sept. 3 and ends on Jan. 11 with the national championship in Glendale, Ariz. The first season of the College Football Playoff was a huge success and the second year should have just as much intrigue.

 

Athlon’s editors met before the preseason magazine was released to iron out the predictions for the upcoming year, but there wasn’t a consensus on every conference title race, playoff predictions or top 25 rankings. From the ACC to the Sun Belt, there was plenty of disagreement from the staff on conference winners or the predicted order of finish.

 

In addition to the predicted winners of the conferences, Athlon’s editors also project the four teams to make the playoff and a national champion.   

 

Podcast: Official ’15 College Football Playoff Predictions



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* Indicates projected champion of league's conference title game.

 

Predicting CFB's Conferences, Playoff and National Champion

ACC

   
 

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American Athletic

 
 

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Big 12

 

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Big Ten

 

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Conference USA

 

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MAC

 

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Sun Belt

 

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Playoff Predictions

 

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National Champion

 

 

Teaser:
College Football 2015 Conference and National Title Predictions
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/louisville-unveils-all-black-alternate-uniform-sept-17-game-against-clemson
Body:

Louisville recently unveiled an alternate uniform for its opener against Auburn, and the Cardinals now have an all-black design for the Sept. 17 showdown against Clemson.

 

The all-black design is a sharp look for Louisville, featuring the “L” logo on the pants, along with a red Cardinal on the helmet.

 

Check out Louisville’s all-black uniform for the critical ACC showdown on Thursday, Sept. 17:

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Louisville Unveils All-Black Alternate Uniform for Sept. 17 Game Against Clemson
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 12:55
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/richard-sherman-drew-brees-clay-matthew-star-xbox-commercial
Body:

Imagine being in a class with these guys.

 

In a new Xbox commercial, Richard Sherman, Drew Brees, and Clay Matthews give us a pretty accurate portrayal of what would happen if they were all in a class together. Sherman is definitely a know-it-all, but one of those cool ones you don't hate, while Matthews is in the back waiting for the time to pass.

Something tells me this is probably how Brees would really act in a classroom setting.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 12:43
Path: /college-football/pac-12s-top-15-must-see-games-2015
Body:

Welcome to the Wild West. Two straight seasons in which half of the Pac-12 Conference’s members finished ranked in the final Associated Press Top 25 commanded national attention and respect. This year, the Pac-12 opens with six of its 12 programs ranked in AP’s preseason poll.

 

Related: Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Pac-12 Preview and Predictions

 

Such a collection of quality teams means an array of excellent games on the upcoming docket. The Pac-12 title race can turn on any week, as last year’s wild South division proved. Four of the South’s five teams that were in the mix last November are ranked to open 2015.

 

Whichever team emerges from the South is tasked with taking the crown from Oregon. The Ducks are primed to run-and-gun their way back into College Football Playoff contention.

 

1. USC at Oregon (Nov. 21)

USC and Oregon are the media’s preseason picks to win their respective divisions. Just two weeks before the prognosticators have the Ducks and Trojans tabbed to meet at Levi’s Stadium in the Pac-12 Championship Game, they’ll face at Autzen Stadium.

 

2. Oregon at Michigan State (Sept. 12)

No other non-conference game on the 2015 slate pits two Top 10 teams against one another. Expect a Playoff atmosphere in East Lansing nearly four months before the real postseason tournament. A second-half rally in Michigan State’s visit to Autzen Stadium last September helped lay the foundation for Oregon’s run to the national title game.

 

3. UCLA at USC (Nov. 28)

Crosstown rivals UCLA and USC could both be in the mix for a Pac-12 Championship Game bid when the Bruins make the trek from Westwood to the Coliseum. Such high stakes would only add fuel to what is arguably the West’s marquee rivalry. Also at stake: UCLA’s three-game win streak under head coach Jim Mora, who has yet to lose to the Trojans.

 

4. Oregon at Arizona State (Thursday, Oct. 29)

Arizona State’s expressed goal of winning a national championship gets put to the test against the Pac-12 team that’s been closest to the mountaintop in the last decade. The Ducks have not danced with the Sun Devils since 2012, so expect Arizona State’s rowdy home fans to give Oregon a fitting greeting for this Thursday night affair.

 

5. Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (Sept. 5, in Houston)

Pac-12 vs. SEC games are to college football what DC-Marvel crossovers are to comics. These rare events give ardent fan-boys and fan-girls fleeting bragging rights to tout their favored brand. In this case, the featured showcase pits The Flash against Quicksilver – that is to say, two sides that move fast.

 

6. Arizona State at UCLA (Oct. 3)

The winner of Arizona State-UCLA every year from 2011 through ‘13 played in that season’s Pac-12 Championship Game. Last year snapped that streak, but the Sun Devils and Bruins were both still in the divisional title hunt. Expect similar implications again in 2015.

 

7. Arizona at Arizona State (Nov. 21)

Arizona and Arizona State have had since 1899 to cultivate a bitter and history-rich rivalry, but only since Arizona State’s Todd Graham and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez came into the Grand Canyon State has the Duel in the Desert had championship stakes.

 

8. Stanford at USC (Sept. 19)

Starting with coaching rivals Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll in 2007, Stanford vs. USC has developed into a fun series marked by close finishes and memorable moments. The Trojans defend a two-game winning streak after losing the previous four.

 

9. USC at Arizona State (Sept. 26)

Fireworks ensued in each of the last two meetings, both Arizona State wins. Former USC head coach Lane Kiffin was fired following the 2013 encounter, while the Sun Devils beat the Trojans on a Hail Mary last year. This year’s edition could provide more early-season drama.

 

10. Oregon at Stanford (Nov. 14)

From 2010 through ‘13, the Oregon-Stanford game functioned as a de facto Pac-12 championship. Each season’s winner later claimed the conference title. That streak continued last year, though the Cardinal no longer factored into the championship race. Stanford head coach David Shaw had Oregon’s number in 2012 and ’13. With the matchup returning to The Farm, can the Cardinal make it a third win over the Ducks in four years?

 

11. UCLA at Stanford (Thursday, Oct. 15)

Finally breaking through to the Pac-12 championship means for UCLA means finally clearing the Stanford hurdle. Mora is 0-4 against Shaw, with two of those losses effectively denying the Bruins a conference title or shot at the conference title.

 

12. Michigan at Utah (Thursday, Sept. 3)

Harbaugh’s return to the Pac-12 comes as head coach of his alma mater, the Big Ten’s Michigan Wolverines. Host Utah has fallen into the background amid the buildup to this one, though the Utes dominated last year’s matchup in The Big House. Another win sets Utah off into 2015 on the right foot, as it looks to be the Pac-12 South’s dark horse title contender.

 

13. Arizona State at Utah (Oct. 17)

Arizona State is the only Pac-12 South team Utah has yet to defeat since joining the conference in 2011. It’s certainly not for lack of trying – the Utes came within a score each of the last two years, including last season’s overtime finish in Tempe.

 

14. Arizona at Stanford (Oct. 3)

The philosophical styles clash between Rodriguez’s up-tempo offense and Shaw’s NFL-influenced strategy has been tested just once. These teams last met in 2012 in a game Stanford won in overtime.

 

15. USC at Notre Dame (Oct. 17)

Recent installments of this storied rivalry haven’t exactly been befitting the series’ illustrious history. The 2013 edition, for example, was an ugly, plodding mess. Last year’s contest in Los Angeles was a lopsided rout. Still, with both USC and Notre Dame expected to contend for College Football Playoff bids in 2015, October’s meeting promises a return to the glory days.

 

Best of the Rest:

16. UCLA at Arizona (Sept. 26)
17. UCLA at Utah (Nov. 21)
18. Arizona at USC (Nov. 7)
19. Cal at Utah (Oct. 10)
20. USC at Cal (Oct. 31)
21. Arizona at Colorado (Oct. 17)
22. Utah at USC (Oct. 24)
23. Cal at Stanford (Nov. 21)
24. Cal at Texas (Sept. 19)
25. BYU at UCLA (Sept. 19)

 

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of CFBHuddle.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Teaser:
The Pac-12's Top 15 Must-See Games of 2015
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-30-defensive-backfields-2015
Body:

Finding and evaluating cornerbacks and safeties is one of the most difficult jobs for any college football coaching staff. Competition level and a variety of offenses in high school create a several obstacles in player evaluation. But for some programs, finding the next stars at defensive back is an easy task. LSU and Florida consistently bring in and develop defensive back talent. And it’s no surprise the Tigers and Gators are at the top of the defensive backfield rankings for 2015.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2015 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference. These rankings reflect projection for 2015, not solely what teams have accomplished in 2014.

 

College Football's Top 30 Defensive Backfields for 2015

 

1. LSU

Pass defense is an annual strength in Baton Rouge, and the 2015 version of LSU’s defensive backfield will be tough on opposing quarterbacks once again. Two starters depart, but the Tigers will reload with another wave of elite recruits. Tre’Davious White was one of the SEC’s top cover corners last season, recording two interceptions and helping LSU rank third nationally in pass efficiency defense. Sophomore Ed Paris, junior Dwayne Thomas or five-star freshman Kevin Toliver II will start opposite White at corner. True freshman Donte Jackson is another name to watch at cornerback. Jalen Mills and rising star Jamal Adams form one of the nation’s top duos at safety, but Mills is out indefinitely due to an ankle injury suffered in fall camp. The Tigers allowed only nine passing scores in SEC games last year.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

2. Florida

Despite an offense that ranked near the bottom of the SEC, Florida’s defense led the conference by holding opponents to 4.6 yards per play. And even with end Dante Fowler off to the NFL, the Gators should be near the top of the league once again. New coordinator Geoff Collins is known for his aggressive play-calling and inherits a secondary loaded with elite talent, including All-America corner Vernon Hargreaves III. Sophomore Jalen Tabor is expected to win the battle to start at the other corner spot. Safeties Keanu Neal and Marcus Maye and nickel back Brian Poole round out a starting group that limited SEC opponents to 11 passing scores in 2014.

 

3. Ohio State

Standout corner Doran Grant will be missed, but Ohio State returns three starters from a secondary that ranked 13th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Eli Apple started 14 games as a redshirt freshman last season and led all Buckeye defenders with 10 pass breakups. Sophomore Gareon Conley is expected to replace Grant, while Marshon Lattimore and Damon Webb provide extra support at corner. Juniors Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell are as active as any starting safety combination in the nation, recording 10 interceptions and 10 pass breakups in 2014.

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

4. Virginia Tech 

Despite ranking 14th nationally in pass efficiency defense last year, Virginia Tech had trouble stopping big plays in the passing game. The Hokies surprisingly allowed 21 plays of 30 yards or more and gave up four of 50-plus yards. With junior Kendall Fuller — an Athlon Sports first-team All-American — back at cornerback, along with the return of Brandon Facyson from injury, Virginia Tech’s secondary should eliminate some of the big plays that plagued this unit last year. Chuck Clark, Donovan Riley, Desmond Frye and Greg Stroman opened fall practice as the favorites to claim the starting spots at safety and rover. True freshmen Mook Reynolds and Adonis Alexander are also expected to factor into the mix for snaps.

 

5. Ole Miss

Two starters — cornerback Senquez Golson and safety Cody Prewitt — depart from a secondary that picked off 19 passes and ranked 16th nationally in pass efficiency defense last year. Additionally, cornerback Mike Hilton was shifted to safety, opening the door for two new cornerbacks at Ole Miss in 2015. Despite the player movement, the Rebels will be tough against the pass once again. Safety Tony Conner should assume Prewitt’s job as an all-around playmaker in the secondary, while junior college recruits Tee Shepard and Tony Bridges are ready to step into the starting jobs at cornerback after standout spring performances.

 

6. USC 

Some of the statistical numbers for USC were a bit unsightly in terms of pass defense last season. However, the overall pass defense numbers aren’t the best way to evaluate a secondary. While the Trojans were 115th nationally in pass defense, this unit ranked 38th nationally in pass efficiency defense (a better metric to evaluate defensive backfields) and gave up only 12 plays of 30 yards or more in 2014. With three starters returning, along with a full season of Adoree’ Jackson at cornerback, USC’s pass defense is poised to rank among the best in the Pac-12 this season. Jackson will be joined by senior Kevon Seymour at cornerback, with Chris Hawkins, John Plattenburg, Leon McQuay III and Marvell Tell rounding out the top options at safety.

 

Related: College Football's Top 35 Receiving Groups for 2015

 

7. West Virginia

The Big 12’s top defensive backfields usually reside at Texas, Oklahoma or TCU. But that’s not the case in 2015. The Mountaineers return all five starters from a unit that limited Big 12 quarterbacks to a 51.1 completion percentage and surrendered only 12 passing scores in conference games. Cornerback Daryl Worley missed two games due to suspension last season but still tied for the team lead in interceptions (three) and recorded 52 tackles. Worley is one of the nation’s most underrated defenders. Joining Worley at cornerback will be Terrell Chestnut, while the safety positions are in good hands with Dravon Henry, All-America candidate Karl Joseph and KJ Dillon.

 

8. Florida State

P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby will be missed at cornerback, but coach Jimbo Fisher has recruited well at this position and a quick reload should be in order. Of course, it doesn’t hurt Jalen Ramsey – arguably the best defensive back in college football – is shifting from safety to cornerback to ease the loss of Williams and Darby. Not only is Ramsey an elite cornerback, his versatility is a huge asset for coordinator Charles Kelly. Marquez White is expected to win the spot opposite of Ramsey at cornerback. Nate Andrews, Tyler Hunter, Lamarcus Brutus and Trey Marshall (a rising star) will anchor the safety/nickel positions. True freshman Derwin James will be tough for Kelly keep on the sidelines.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

9. Boise State 

This group has work to do, but there are plenty of reasons for coordinator Marcel Yates to be optimistic. Three starters return, including All-Mountain West picks in cornerback Donte Deayon and safety Darian Thompson. This duo combined for 13 interceptions last season and anchored a secondary ranked 31st nationally in pass efficiency defense. Joining Thompson and Deayon in the lineup should be Jonathan Moxey (cornerback), rising star Dylan Sumner-Gardner at safety, while Chanceller James and Mercy Maston are fighting for the edge at nickelback. The Broncos allowed only 10 passing scores in Mountain West games last season.

 

10. Wisconsin 

The Badgers quietly had one of the Big Ten’s best defensive backfields last season. This unit ranked 32nd nationally in pass efficiency defense and limited Big Ten quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 47.4. With three starters back, high expectations surround this group. The cornerback duo of Darius Hillary and Sojourn Shelton should be among the nation’s best, and safety Michael Caputo should push for All-America honors. One goal of this unit in 2015: Improve takeaways. Wisconsin picked off only three passes in Big Ten games last year.

 

11. Penn State 

12. Minnesota

13. Alabama

14. Notre Dame  

15. Georgia

16. Tennessee 

17. Clemson 

18. Auburn

19. Arkansas

20. UCLA 

21. Miami

22. Virginia

23. Michigan 

24. Oklahoma State

25. Houston

26. Kansas State 

27. Duke

28. Missouri

29. Texas

30. Maryland

Teaser:
College Football's Top 30 Defensive Backfields for 2015
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/accs-top-15-must-see-games-2015
Body:

This season, the ACC is a tale of two divisions. The Atlantic has Florida State and Clemson, two teams with their eyes on the ultimate prize at the end of the year. On the other side, the majority of the Coastal members believe that they have what it takes to win the division and play the Atlantic champ in the ACC Conference Championship Game in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 5.

 

Despite the differing nature of the two divisions, they both will produce intriguing games this year. Some of the best games to watch are conference clashes that will have a huge bearing on the ACC standings. With national powers Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia, Nebraska and Auburn lined up as ACC foes this year; some are non-conference games that will help shape the national landscape.

 

Here are the most interesting games on the ACC schedule for 2015.

 

1. Florida State at Clemson (Nov. 7)

It doesn’t get much juicier than this. It’s a November matchup between two teams not only vying for ACC supremacy, but perhaps a spot in the College Football Playoff as well. The Tigers know they let one slip away in Tallahassee last year and will be ready for the Florida State invasion.

 

 

2. Ohio State at Virginia Tech (Sept. 7)

The No. 1 team in the country may have fond memories of its run to the national championship in January. But the Buckeyes also remember the bitter pill they swallowed last September when the Hokies dealt them their only loss.

 

 

3. Notre Dame at Clemson (Oct. 3)

Notre Dame and Clemson have not played since 1979 and the Irish have gone to Death Valley just once, in their national championship season of ‘77. The storied programs have split the two previous encounters with the road team winning both times.

 

 

4. Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (Nov. 12)

While the Coastal looks wide open going into the fall, the Thursday night game between the Hokies and the Yellow Jackets has the potential to be the division game of the year. Both teams have 12 days to get ready for each other.

 

 

5. Louisville vs. Auburn (Sept. 5 at Georgia Dome in Atlanta)

Many experts have the Tigers as the favorites to win the SEC. Louisville has a number of new faces in its lineup and the Cardinals will find out right away how those players fit. This will be a fascinating duel between two great offensive coaches, Louisville’s Bobby Petrino and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn.

 

 

6. Clemson at Louisville (Sept. 17)

Wake Forest and Syracuse open ACC play on Sept.  12. With apologies to the Demon Deacons and the Orange, this Thursday night game at Papa John’s Stadium is the first game of import on the conference docket. It is also Clemson’s first real measuring stick game.

 

 

7. Florida State at Florida (Nov. 28)

There is the distinct possibility that this game means very little from a national perspective. But this is always the game in the Sunshine State. A victory would be a huge boost for new head coach Jim McElwain’s Gators, who have lost four of the last five meetings with the Seminoles.

 

 

8. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame (Sept. 19)

The Yellow Jackets should go into South Bend unbeaten and if the Irish hold up their end of the bargain by winning their first two games, this will be a biggie. Notre Dame has struggled with the Navy option and Georgia Tech presents that scheme with a different level of athlete.

 

 

9. Georgia Tech at Clemson (Oct. 10)

The Jackets got handed a bad scheduling draw this year. Not only is it their year to play Notre Dame, they also get Clemson and Florida State from the Atlantic. Clemson plays Tech the week after Notre Dame comes calling.

 

 

10. Nebraska at Miami (Sept. 19)

After expected wins against Bethune-Cookman and Florida Atlantic, Miami will host the Cornhuskers. This game will begin a difficult string of games that could determine the future of Hurricanes coach Al Golden.

 

 

11. Miami at Florida State (Oct. 10)

Three weeks after meeting up with Nebraska, the Canes head north to play their in-state rival. Miami hasn’t beaten the Noles since 2009 but they gave the defending ACC champs a tussle last year at Sun Life Stadium.

 

 

12. Georgia at Georgia Tech (Nov. 28)

The Dogs never like losing to the Jackets. They will have last year’s meltdown in mind as they head to Atlanta on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

 

 

13. NC State at Florida State (Nov. 14)

The Wolfpack faithful are sick and tired of hearing about how Clemson and Florida State will battle for the Atlantic and how Louisville could be a team to watch. Though the Wolfpack have been blown out in their last two trips to Doak Campbell, NC State won at FSU in 2009 and does not fear the Seminoles.

 

 

14. North Carolina vs. South Carolina (Sept. 3 in Charlotte, N.C.)

This is the kickoff to the FBS season. Both the Tar Heels and the Gamecocks expect to have high-powered offenses while questions abound for both defenses. This one should be a high-scoring affair.

 

 

15. Boston College vs. Notre Dame (Nov. 21 at Fenway Park in Boston)

This selection is not really about the game itself; it’s about the location. This will be the first football game at Fenway since Dec.  1, 1968. On that day, the Patriots defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in their last home game on Jersey Street in Boston.

 

Best of the Rest:

Virginia Tech at Miami (Oct. 17)
Virginia at UCLA (Sept. 5)
Clemson at South Carolina (Nov. 28)
North Carolina at Pittsburgh (Oct. 29)
North Carolina at NC State (Nov. 28)
Georgia Tech at Duke (Sept. 26)  
LSU at Syracuse (Sept. 26)
Duke at North Carolina (Nov. 7)
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (Nov. 7)
NC State at Virginia Tech (Oct. 9)

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Teaser:
The ACC's Top 15 Must-See Games of 2015
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-big-12-2015
Body:

Every season of college football starts out the same way. We have all of these things that we think are knowns — lead-pipe locks as one popular radio host calls them. Then, by midseason, we're all wrong, sitting around wondering what happened to all that we thought was written in stone.

 

It shouldn't surprise us, considering that we are dealing with young men in their late teens and early 20s, but it always does.


Related: Outrageous College Football Predictions for the Big Ten in 2015

 

Talk to almost anyone in the country — fan or media member — and they'll all probably tell you the same thing about the Big 12 Conference in 2015: It's a two-team race between non-traditional powers. They'll tell you that the winner of the game between Baylor and TCU will probably end up in the College Football Playoff on the back of an outright conference title and likely an undefeated record. That sounds like reason enough to make some outrageous predictions about the Big 12 that go against the grain in 2015.

 

Kansas won't win a single game

First-year head coach David Beaty has a serious uphill climb in 2015. The cupboard was left bare and his roster is made of guys who had little else but Group of Five offers to play FBS football. There are underclassmen all over the field on both sides of the ball — many of them with very little playing experience. They won't play a game all year where they have more talent than the opponent, including the opener against FCS power South Dakota State. It'll be one of the longest seasons in Lawrence in a long time — and that's saying a lot.

 

Iowa State will be bowl eligible

Unlike Kansas, Iowa State returns a wealth of experience and upperclassmen throughout the depth chart. They also have a fairly manageable non-conference schedule, highlighted by an Iowa team that the Cyclones have been more than capable of competing with in recent years. They could be 5-0 by the time they play TCU and still have very winnable games against Kansas State and Oklahoma State on the schedule. And let's not rule out an upset at home over Texas.

 

Baylor will lose four games

There is a lot of hype around the Bears in 2015, but looking at how their ‘14 campaign ended, the writing is on the wall. The defense gave up more than five touchdowns an outing over the last four games — including the Cotton Bowl meltdown against Michigan State. The defense didn't magically improve over the past eight months, and the team's elite signal-caller from a season ago now gets dressed in the New York Jets’ locker room. In addition to TCU, Baylor is going to have a rough go of it in games with Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia — all of whom should be considerably better teams than they were a season ago.

 

Aaron Green, not Trevone Boykin, will get an invite to the Heisman ceremony

TCU became a more dangerous and complete team after Green took over as the primary ball carrier. The former 5-star recruit from 2011 transferred in from Nebraska a couple of years ago after he couldn't wrestle the starting role away from some guy named Ameer Abdullah. Green put up a total of 607 yards on the ground in six games from Nov. 1 through the Peach Bowl. He averaged nearly 6.4 yards per carry in that stretch and looks like he could be the Horned Frogs’ very own version of Ezekiel Elliott.

 

Oklahoma will win the Big 12

Bob Stoops didn't forget how to coach or recruit overnight. The Sooners are loaded with as much talent as any team in the conference. They boast two of the conference’s most explosive offensive playmakers and are anchored on defense by what is arguably the Big 12's best front seven. They play TCU to open conference play and will be the stiffest competition the Horned Frogs will have played since opening the season against Minnesota. They get Baylor at home on Nov. 8 and should be favored in every other game on the conference schedule.

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of KnowItAllFootball.com, a Big Ten site for Big Ten fans. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions for the Big 12 in 2015
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-35-wide-receiver-groups-2015
Body:

While offensive and defensive lines are arguably more important to the success of any college football team, it’s the skill talent – running backs or receivers – and quarterbacks that generate most of the preseason attention. And with the balance of power in football shifting to the offense, big-play threats and speedy receivers are more valuable than ever.

 

Compiling the top 35 receiver groups for 2015 clearly showed there's a wealth of talented corps this season. Baylor takes the top spot in Athlon's top 35 receiver groups, with Texas A&M and Clemson rounding out the top three. 

 

Note: This ranking also takes into account tight ends.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2015 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference. These rankings reflect projection for 2015, not solely what teams have accomplished in 2014.

 

College Football's Top 35 WR/TE Groups for 2015

 

1. Baylor

Recruiting and developing playmakers at receiver is becoming an annual strength for Baylor under Art Briles. Antwan Goodley departs after a standout career with the Bears, but there’s no concern about the returning group. Junior Corey Coleman led all Big 12 receivers with 10 touchdown catches in league games, while KD Cannon led the team with 17.8 yards per catch. Jay Lee is a reliable third option, and the Bears expect big contributions from sophomore Davion Hall and redshirt freshman Ishmael Zamora in 2015. The cupboard isn’t bare at tight end for Briles with 410-pound converted lineman LaQuan McGowan on board.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

2. Texas A&M 

Kevin Sumlin’s team is loaded once again with playmakers in the receiving corps. Josh Reynolds led the team with 842 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches in his first year after arriving from the junior college ranks. Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones combined for 95 catches and nine touchdown receptions as freshmen last season. Edward Pope, Frank Iheanacho and Sabian Holmes are back as other key targets, but true freshman Christian Kirk could be one of quarterback Kyle Allen’s favorite weapons by the end of the year.

 

3. Clemson

Athletic and speedy playmakers are in abundance at Clemson for new co-coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott. Mike Williams is back after leading the team with 1,030 receiving yards last season, but the offseason buzz with the Tigers revolved around the development of Artavis Scott. As a freshman in 2014, Scott caught 76 passes for 965 yards. Williams and Scott will catch a majority of quarterback Deshaun Watson’s passes, but Germone Hopper, freshmen Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud, Charone Peake and tight end Jordan Leggett will be involved.

 

Related: 10 Players That Will Determine the National Title in 2015

 

4. Ole Miss

The talent and depth of the receiving corps have improved significantly under coach Hugh Freeze, and whichever quarterback starts for the Rebels will have plenty of options. Laquon Treadwell’s 2014 season was cut short by a nasty leg injury against Auburn, but all signs point to the junior returning at full strength by the opener. In nine games last year, Treadwell caught 48 passes for 632 yards. Evan Engram is listed at tight end, but the Georgia native can stretch the field like a receiver. Cody Core (41 catches in 2014), Quincy Adeboyejo, Washington transfer Damore’ea Stringfellow and Markell Pack join Engram and Treadwell as proven and viable candidates. Talented true freshmen Van Jefferson and DaMarkus Lodge are also in the mix for playing time.

 

5. Oregon

The Ducks could be a spot or two higher on this list, but this unit also has a few question marks to sort through. How soon will Devon Allen return at full strength from a knee injury suffered in the Rose Bowl win over Florida State? And how many games will Darren Carrington miss due to a suspension? Even if Allen and Carrington are sidelined for a significant period, Oregon has plenty of options for quarterbacks Jeff Lockie and Vernon Adams. Byron Marshall (74 catches) is the top target, with Dwayne Stanford (43 receptions) and redshirt freshman Jalen Brown also in the mix. The coaching staff was toying with the idea of placing dynamic sophomore Charles Nelson on defense. However, all signs point to Nelson spending most of the 2015 season on offense. Unless Pharaoh Brown returns at full strength from a serious leg injury suffered against Utah, Evan Baylis and Johnny Mundt are expected to share the bulk of the snaps at tight end.

 

6. California

California’s offense averaged 38.3 points a game last season, and the Bear Raid attack could add a few digits to that total in 2015. Coach Sonny Dykes has a loaded offense, starting with quarterback Jared Goff and running back Daniel Lasco. And despite the departure of Chris Harper to the NFL, this is one of the deepest groups in the Pac-12. Kenny Lawler (54 catches), Stephen Anderson (46) and Bryce Treggs are all candidates to earn All-Pac-12 honors this year. Trevor Davis, Darius Powe and Maurice Harris are three other names to watch in this group.

 

7. TCU

The Horned Frogs return four of their top five statistical receivers from last season. Josh Doctson is quarterback Trevone Boykin’s favorite target, and the Wyoming transfer became the first TCU receiver since 2003 to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. Doctson also led the team with 11 touchdown catches last year. Kolby Listenbee averaged 18.4 yards per catch and caught seven passes of 40 yards or more. Deante’ Gray, Ty Slanina, Emanuel Porter and Ja’Juan Story round out an athletic and fast-improving receiving corps.

 

8. Notre Dame

New quarterback Malik Zaire inherits a strong supporting cast. The Fighting Irish return their top four receivers in 2015, including All-America candidate William Fuller (76 catches for 1,094 yards and 15 scores). Fuller is the top option, but he will have plenty of support from Chris Brown (39 receptions), Corey Robinson (40), Amir Carlisle and Torii Hunter Jr. C.J. Prosise caught 29 passes for 516 yards last year and is expected to see more snaps at running back after Greg Bryant was ruled ineligible for 2015. True freshman Alize Jones is expected to push Durham Smythe and Tyler Luatua for the starting tight end spot.  

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

9. Ohio State

This group was already stocked with speed, talent and options for quarterbacks Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, but the addition of converted signal-caller Braxton Miller has added another weapon for coach Urban Meyer. Junior Michael Thomas led the team with 54 catches last season and is expected to be the go-to target for Jones and Barrett. There’s no shortage of big-play threats around Thomas, including Jalin Marshall (six touchdown catches in 2014), Dontre Wilson and Miller. Curtis Samuel and converted quarterback Torrance Gibson are other names to watch, especially in the opener with Marshall, Wilson and Smith suspended.

 

10. USC

Nelson Agholor is catching passes with the Eagles on Sundays, but the Trojans are stocked with talent on the outside once again. Sophomore JuJu Smith is poised for a monster year after catching 54 passes for 724 yards and five touchdowns last season. Smith should be the No. 1 option for quarterback Cody Kessler, while dangerous all-purpose threat Adoree’ Jackson is expected to see limited snaps on offense. Darreus Rogers, Steven Mitchell and junior college recruits Isaac Whitney and De’Quan Hampton round out the top weapons for Kessler. The tight end position is a concern for coach Steve Sarkisian after Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and Bryce Dixon did not return to the team this fall.

 

11. Arizona

12. Penn State  

13. Tennessee

14. UCLA  

15. LSU    

16. Florida State  

17. Auburn

18. Mississippi State

19. Cincinnati 

20. Oklahoma 

21. Oklahoma State

22. North Carolina 

23. Bowling Green

24. Alabama  

25. Colorado State  

26. Washington State

27. Virginia Tech

28. Boise State

29. Texas Tech

30. Iowa State

31. Stanford

32. WKU

33. Tulsa

34. Nebraska

35. Western Michigan

Teaser:
College Football's Top 35 Wide Receiver Groups for 2015
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/introduction-daily-fantasy-football-5-ways-help-you-succeed
Body:

This fantasy football season I look forward to bringing you DFS strategies and lineups each week. I aim to help all types of players, but as I am not a “high stakes” player myself, will largely be targeting the average and casual Daily Fantasy player.

 

That of course doesn’t mean I don’t value winning and/or strategies, or that I don’t put significant time and dedication into building lineups each week. In fact last season I likely put more time into my one day of DFS play for fantasy football than I did for basketball and baseball. It didn’t always equate to more winning, but it did leave me satisfied with my lineups most of the time and not feeling like I threw darts.

 

If you have played fantasy football before you likely know having a solid team and draft can mean everything, but not always. There are typically a few waiver wire players who take over the league and help an ailing team succeed. Each week there is that lucky owner who ekes out wins even though they are in the bottom half of scoring in the league. There are injuries, sudden lack of opportunities for upper echelon players, touchdown vultures, etc., etc.

 

So many factors that can skew the outcome of your fantasy team each and EVERY week. It is a big reason why I love the game so much. It is also why I despise it at times, and consider the most “luck-filled” of fantasy sports.

 

If you play fantasy baseball and basketball, and especially DFS for those two sports you also know there are significant trends, statistics, ballpark factors, and consistency that can help you make decisions. In football there are too, but we all know it is far more volatile. If someone were to say “Without a doubt in my mind Matt Ryan is going to throw 55 passes today with three touchdowns,” or “Alfred Morris will get 28 carries and every single red-zone touch today” how would you react?

 

I would have doubts about such statements, at least more than I would for someone saying Andrew McCutchen will hit a home run against this pitcher because of his OPS history. I am not saying statistics and season-to-date performance aren’t as significant in fantasy football, but each and every week is very different and there are so many other factors that can impact a player’s performance. Weather, injured players, stout defenses, or playing with a lead or deficit can all greatly impact fantasy performances.

 

The key to winning in Daily Fantasy Football is to minimize your risk, while also capturing that random breakout performance or two. I am hoping to help you do just that this season. Since the Daily Fantasy season hasn’t truly started yet this week we will focus on some basic rules to consider for the upcoming season. These aren’t all unique to Daily Fantasy Football either, but they should definitely be applied and considered.

 

1. Have a Budget and Stick to It!

This one is what I think is one of the most important rules. Not everyone is able to deposit hundreds, or thousands of dollars to start playing DFS. Even if you do though you want to ensure you are able to play as long as you can and not have to re-deposit after a few weeks or less.

 

The basic rule of thumb I like to live by is 10 percent of your bankroll. So if you deposit $100 this week it means you should really play no more than $10 in Week 1 games. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it is a safe rule to live by. ESPECIALLY if it is your first time.

 

Winning is not guaranteed, and to consistently win is difficult. They don’t give the Daily Fantasy game a description of “A Grind” for nothing. It takes time, and losses, to eventually get in the green and stay in the green. Again, it is not easy to win in Daily Fantasy, and if you head in to each week thinking you are going to dominate because you can beat 11 other chumps in your home league, well, you have already lost.

 

Back to the budget. Another rule of thumb is to split your 10 percent into an 8/2 ratio of 50/50 contests (Cash Games)/Tournaments (GPPs). If you are brand new to the game I would not enter any tournaments. I know it is the most appealing. You hear and see all the commercials on winning a million dollars, or huge payouts available. This is all true, it is not a lie but the thing is there are people with lots, and lots of money who do this for a living who enter these contests… multiple times!

 

We will get into tourneys a bit more later. For now, stick to the smaller contests and the safer ones. Your odds simply can’t get better than 50 percent in these games. If you go on a winning streak don’t get over-confident and start bumping up your percentage either. Your bankroll can fizzle out as quickly as your over-confidence will.

 

2. Give Yourself Time to Research and Enter Lineups

This doesn’t mean the dude who quickly submits a lineup after their Sunday brunch in five minutes doesn’t stand a chance. As I said above, random and crazy things happen all the time. Sometimes the good ol’ gut works best.

 

Realistically though to do proper research, and to cover all the bases for your lineup building it will take time. How much you spend on it is completely up to you. Looking at things such as rushing yards allowed for a player’s opposing defense, weather forecasts, injury reports, and of course time to read my weekly articles, or others can greatly improve your chances of winning. Guarantee? No.

 

The more time you put in to researching, and building your lineup(s) the better off you will be. This also leads me to say spend your time wisely. Most of us don’t have hours to spare to read articles, crunch numbers, or fiddle with their lineups all week.

 

That is why it is important to find your niche, and build somewhat of a routine. Once you establish certain sites, posts, podcasts, or video shows for example find a way to routinely view them and utilize them.

 

There are plenty of paid sites, and plenty of free ones. Finding whichever ones work for you may take time but having a useful weekly post or show to rely on can be great. Just remember just because you pay for something doesn’t guarantee you everything. If those who provide services for profit are successful, remember what makes them successful. Time and dedication. They likely did not win their big money payouts with a lineup generator that takes minutes to run. There is much more to it than that.

 

Can these sites work? Absolutely, but I like to consider them partnership tools, not as my sole resource.

 

3. Avoid Head to Head Games and Multi-Entry Tournaments… (At First)

I say at first because eventually your bankroll will increase, and your skill set, routine has developed in to consistently winning. That is great! However, starting off as I mentioned earlier try to stick to the larger, and safer 50/50 games. How these work is you compete against 50 or more players and if you finish in the top half you will double, or nearly double your entry fee. Starting off winning a $1.80 in a $1 contest seems trivial, but if you win eight of them you are looking better right?

 

These aren’t necessarily easier to win, but your odds are better and oftentimes using safer and better known fantasy commodities will lead to success. In GPPs you will typically need a mixture of a safe and high-scoring team, with a player who is owned at a miniscule percentage to have a big game to succeed. Namely, you need to be different, very different to separate yourself from the much, much larger crowd in order to profit in tournaments.

 

Also, as I mentioned above these tournaments are typically multi-entry which means exactly what it says. Anyone can enter these contests as many times as they please. That means multiple lineups, or even the same lineups multiple times from people who do this for a living, AND have far more money than you likely do. This is how they profit, and make a living. It is important to remember this.

 

Is it possible to randomly enter one lineup and take down a tournament? Sure. Is it a 50/50 chance? No way.

 

Same thing applies to Head-to-Head (HtH) games. If you do them seek out opponents such as friends, or Twitter followers. Once again, folks who do this for a living will toss hundreds of challenges and HtH entries into the fold. If you click on them sure you have a 50/50 shot at winning, but you are likely playing a professional who will joyfully take your buck, and those 40 other saps who are doing the same thing!

 

Once you get your feet wet and start winning regularly, feel free to toss some moolah in a GPP, or even a HtH just to see how you fare. Taking down a professional always feels good, but it doesn’t excuse losing money.

 

4. Keep Track of What Works

If this is your first time playing this may seem difficult to do, but it shouldn’t be. In fact if you struggle mightily early on analyze the winning teams (top 3) and then a few spread out throughout the standings who also cashed in.

 

If you win with one lineup but not another one, what was the difference? Was it one huge performance from a player? Did you spend up on quarterback and bargain hunt the other positions? Did the winners go cheaper on quarterback with a great matchup and load up on elite plays elsewhere?

 

Watching winning teams, including your own, is one of the easiest ways to log strategies and eliminate outliers (one player’s random three-TD  game like Matt Asiata in 2014), which will totally skew results.

 

Another way to do this besides simple observation is to actually download your team’s results in an Excel document. You can do this from most DFS sites now, and it is a great way to log your winnings, see which contests you fare better in.

 

Either way paying attention only when you are victorious, or thinking you have a brilliant strategy because you win two weeks in a row may not be the case. Keep yourself honest and track your results, and others’, so you can adjust if need be the next week.

 

5. Have Fun!

Yeah, I know this one seems lame. Yet it is important. If you are playing with people you know and can discuss these activities with, it makes the games more appealing. Even better is to toss strategies around, challenge each other, and make new friends by playing in private leagues.

 

Like seasonal leagues, playing with some familiar faces each week can be more challenging, and exciting. Having a weekly contest where a random injury shouldn’t sink your performance is great as a side contest to seasonal leagues. Think of that loudmouth trashing your fantasy skills in your seasonal league. Respond with “I may have lost Jordy Nelson and my seasonal team stinks, but I can destroy you and will prove it! Take me on in DFS” sort of thing.

 

In fact, create a FanDuel or Draft Kings league to coincide with your seasonal league. You can then play your league-mates on both platforms and really rub their faces in it if you beat them twice in one week! This article shares a great way how to do this and I assure you it is fun, and even better you won’t have to do it every week but you will want to!

 

Bottom line — if you are playing and having fun, win or lose you are doing it right. If you are making new friends, some cash, and enjoying football even more? You are doing it right.

 

If you are continually depositing money, getting frustrated, and angry, well find a different strategy, take a breather or stop playing. Either way, that is not how you should do it! Keep expectations real, play what you can easily afford, and HAVE FUN!!

 

Stay tuned for more posts each week of the regular season with lineup help and other strategies. Thanks for reading.

 

— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.

Teaser:
Introduction to Daily Fantasy Football — 5 Ways to Help You Succeed
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 10:45
Path: /college-football/ranking-college-footballs-best-and-worst-logos-2015
Body:

Just about every sports fan is tied to their team’s logo, which makes ranking logos complicated. To get an educated opinion on what is a good logo and what isn't, Athlon Sports turned to one of the people most responsible for helping produce some of the best-looking magazines on the newsstands, graphic designer Daly Cantrell.

 

After going through each of the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) with her trained eye, Cantrell decided to look at the FBS a whole. Here is her ranking of the top 20 logos in the FBS ranks, and five she just doesn't care for:

 

 SchoolLogoAnalysis
1.Texas

Talk about classic. The Longhorns’ logo is simply unique and is arguably one of the best  in college football.

2.North CarolinaThe Tar Heels’ logo is a staple. The font used fits the NC perfectly together creating a timeless look.
3.Cal

I love a good script font that is gender neutral… and this logo does the trick. The color scheme along with the beautiful flow of the letters makes this logo top in my book in the Pac-12.

4.Penn StateA very underrated logo, Penn State’s Nittany Lion looks like it is ready to hunt someone down. The oval makes this animal-based logo different from the others and gives it an all-around aggressive feel. I love it.
5.TennesseeThe Volunteers’ power T is probably the best logo in the SEC for one reason: it’s so recognizable. The unique style of the T is unlike any other and who can forget that bright orange?
6.MiamiThe uniqueness of the Canes’ logo is unlike any others. I am a big fan of the symmetry and the color scheme works perfectly together.
7.OregonThe Ducks' O displays simplicity at its finest. The font of the O has a great shape that gives it a different compared to your average O.
8.ClemsonThere are so many different animal logos, but the tiger paw print is synonymous with Clemson. Also, the roughness of the lines gives the logo a nice edgy feel, which goes perfectly with the bright orange.
9.Notre DameThe Notre Dame logo will always be a favorite in my book because of how perfectly the interlocking letters go together. The D is so different than most Ds, and by itself might look off, but placed with the N the pair is simple, readable and creative.
10.West VirginiaPerfect placement. The placement of the WV is what makes this logo. It’s different and the sharp edges really bring a strong, tough look to the logo.
11.LSUI love that LSU finally realized its initials alone are very recognizable. This newer look is sleeker and not so busy. Though the LSU tiger is also very well known and loved, the Tiger is much better as a secondary logo in this case.
12.Michigan State

The Spartans’ logo is spot on; I particularly enjoy the curves of the helmet.

13.AuburnMy roommate is an Auburn grad and I can hardly stand the site of the mass amount of Auburn things in our apartment, but if you actually look at the logo, for what it is, then you’ll notice how well done it is. The pairing of AU is perfectly placed where both letters stick out, but also evolve into its own logotype. It has a great look and they do a good job not overdoing it.
14UConnThe UConn logo is exactly the way a stylized animal logo should look like. The sharpness of the lines give an aggressive feel along with the color scheme. I also really enjoy how the eyes are blue and the tongue is red, they are subtle and simple details that really make the Huskies' logo unique.
15.IndianaThe placement of the Hoosiers logo is what makes it distinctive, and the simplicity of it makes it stand out among the rest.
16.Vanderbilt

The Commodores’ logo is flashy and fun. The gold and black keep sleekness to the logo and the white V really pops next to the black.

17.GeorgiaI actually really love the Georgia logo, but I also love the Green Bay Packers’ logo and they look identical. Georgia’s logo is perfectly clean, both in color combination and in the marriage of the G and the thin red oval.
18.Syracuse

The Syracuse S is simple, stylish and sophisticated. This logo screams “sports” and I enjoy the clean edges of the S paired with the color scheme.

19.USCThe interlocking letters make this logo. That subtle detail in the crossing gives just enough detail to really bring this logo to the next level.
20.Texas A&MThank you Aggies for beveling your T correctly. I can only hope some schools take notice of how well done this look is (cue Texas Tech).

And her picks for the worst college football logos in 2015 (in alphabetical order):

 

 SchoolLogoAnalysis
 Kansas

The Jayhawk has design potential, but this cartoon look isn’t it. Someone needs to jump into the 21st century and modernize this bad boy.

 Oregon StateI am just not a fan of the beaver... it looks like a blob.
.South CarolinaGamecocks, you’ve got too much going on in your logo. It all starts to blur together and then it’s hard to see what it really is.
 UtahThis logo could be really cool, but the circle bothers me. The block U and feather detail is great, but it the circle gives an off-balanced feel.
 WisconsinThis logo wouldn’t be that bad if the W didn’t look like it is dancing. This gives it a cartoonish look and the drop shadow doesn’t help its case.
 
Teaser:
Ranking College Football's Best and Worst Logos in 2015
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-finding-perfect-kicker
Body:

While it's never sexy to talk about kickers, for most fantasy football leagues, they are a part of the lineup. Kickers are usually the last position taken during fantasy drafts, and for good reason — they don't give you a lot of points.

 

The question becomes if a kicker is slightly more valuable in 2015 than they were in ‘14 because of the change in the extra point rule. In 2014 (and previous seasons), the ball was snapped at the 2-yard line for an extra point. The place-holder was about five yards back, making the PAT about a 19-yard kick. The new rule in 2015 has the ball being placed at the 15-yard line, which results in about a 33-yard kick.

 

Since 2010, over 99 percent of extra point tries were successful. In the same time frame, almost 93 percent of field goals from 33 yards were successful. Will this truly make a difference for teams when deciding to go for one or two points? Only time will tell.

 

In the meantime, however, be sure that your kicker is accurate. Look at his stats to see what his success percentage for kicks in the 30-39 yard range was in previous years. Here are the all of the (current) kickers that made at least 10 field goals from that range in 2014:

 

Kicker

30-39 yard FG made

30-39 yard FG attempted

Percentage

Cody Parkey, PHI

14

16

87.5%

Randy Bullock, HOU

13

15

86.7%

Chandler Catanzaro, ARI

12

14

85.7%

Dan Carpenter, BUF

12

13

92.3%

Graham Gano, CAR

12

13

92.3%

Justin Tucker, BAL

11

11

100%

Mason Crosby, GB

11

12

91.7%

Steven Hauschka, SEA

10

10

100%

Greg Zuerlein, STL

10

12

83.3%

Stephen Gostkowski, NE

10

11

90.9%

Adam Vinatieri, IND

10

10

100%

Mike Nugent, CIN

10

12

83.3%

 

Here's the other stat to look at — how many PATs were attempted in 2014? If a team isn't making it to the red zone and scoring touchdowns, the kicker's value is small, regardless of how accurate they are. (This list is kickers that made at least 41 PATs in 2014 and are still on teams in '15).

 

Kicker

PATs Made

PATs Attempted

Percentage

Dan Bailey, DAL

56

56

100%

Cody Parkey, PHI

54

54

100%

Mason Crosby, GB

53

55

96.4%

Stephen Gostkowski, NE

51

51

100%

Adam Vinatieri, IND

30

31

96.8%

Josh Brown, NYG

44

44

100%

Justin Tucker, BAL

42

42

100%

Steven Hauschka, SEA

41

41

100%

Caleb Sturgis, MIA

41

41

100%

 

All of those stats are fine and good, but what about fantasy points? At the end of the day, isn't that all that you really care about? Assuming you get one point for a PAT, three points for field goals up to 39 yards, four points for field goals 40-49 yards and five points for field goals 50 yards and over (also assuming no negative points for missed field goals or extra points), here are the top 11 (it would have been top 12 but Shaun Suisham is out for the year) kickers from 2014:

 

Kicker

Total 2014 Fantasy Points

Stephen Gostkowski, NE

170

Cody Parkey, PHI

162

Adam Vinatieri, IND

153

Dan Carpenter, BUF

152

Dan Bailey, DAL

149

Matt Bryant, ATL

149

Mason Crosby, GB

147

Steven Hauschka, SEA

147

Randy Bullock, HOU

145

Justin Tucker, BAL

141

Caleb Sturgis, MIA

140

 

What's interesting about this list is that only 30 points separates the top kicker, Gostkowski, from the 11th kicker, Sturgis. Thirty points over the course of 16 games is less than two points a week, on average. Think about that when you want to reach for a kicker. Sure, Gostkowski may be the best kicker in the league, but is it worth an average of two points if you're passing up other players in the third-to-last round?

 

Gostkowski, in nine seasons in the league, has only missed one PAT (in his first season). He made 35 out of 37 field goals in 2014, but only one from over 50 yards.

 

If your league rewards field goals longer than 50 yards, here are the guys to target:

 

Kicker

50+ Field Goals Made

50+ Field Goals Attempted

Percentage

Matt Bryant, ATL

7

10

70.0%

Phil Dawson, SF

6

9

66.7%

Dan Carpenter, BUF

6

8

75.0%

Dan Bailey, DAL

5

7

71.4%

Blair Walsh, MIN

5

9

55.6%

Greg Zuerlein, STL

5

7

71.4%

Patrick Murray, TB

5

6

83.3%

At the end of the day, a kicker most likely isn't going to make or break your fantasy team. You want someone reliable (so you don't have to worry about replacing your kicker, except during bye weeks), but beyond that, if you have standard settings, don't reach for a kicker, and don't worry about a kicker.

 

That being said, if you are looking for ideas on who to draft, here are my 2015 kicker rankings:

 

1. Stephen Gostkowski, NE

2. Adam Vinatieri, IND

3. Steven Hauschka, SEA

4. Justin Tucker, BAL

5. Dan Bailey, DAL

6. Matt Bryant, ATL

7. Cody Parkey, PHI

8. Mason Crosby, GB

9. Matt Prater, DET

10. Dan Carpenter, BUF

11. Nick Novak, SD

12. Blair Walsh, MIN

13. Greg Zuerlein, STL

14. Cairo Santos, KC

15. Phil Dawson, SF

16. Caleb Sturgis, MIA

17. Chandler Catanzaro, ARI

18. Randy Bullock, HOU

19. Mike Nugent, CIN
20. Brandon McManus, DEN

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2015: Finding the Perfect Kicker
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 10:15
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-kicker-rankings
Body:

Unless your fantasy football league doesn't use them, kickers need to be drafted too. And just like any other football player kickers are subject to injury and/or competition. That has been the case this preseason as Pittsburgh's Shaun Suisham is already lost due to a torn ACL, while Denver cut Connor Barth on Wednesday. In steps veteran Garrett Hartley for the Steelers and Brandon McManus for the Broncos. McManus is no stranger to the role, having replaced Matt Prater after he was suspended for four games at the start of the 2014 season, but then he was later replaced himself by the aforementioned Barth. Is McManus ready to establish himself as a reliable fantasy kicker? Can Graham emerge as an every-week starting option? Both at least have to be on your radar during your draft if you're not able to get Stephen Gostkowski, Adam Vinatieri, Cody Parkey, Dan Bailey, Steven Hauschka or Justin Tucker. Remember, in the end all you want from your kicker is consistent points (and a big leg if bonus points for made field goals are part of your league's scoring setup).

 

Fantasy Football 2015 Kicker Rankings

(Updated Aug. 27)

 

Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros

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Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2015 Kicker Rankings
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 10:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Iowa Hawkeyes, Big Ten
Path: /college-football/3-reasons-be-optimistic-about-iowa-hawkeyes-2015
Body:

Kirk Ferentz has been the man in Iowa City for nearly two decades, but as of recently it seems Iowa Hawkeye fans have begun to grow a little restless with their team’s average performances year in and year out.

 

However, in this article we’ll try and step away from all the negativity surrounding this Hawkeye team and give you some reasons for optimism.

 

Related: Iowa 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch

 

“You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down” — Charles Chaplin

 

1. Another Favorable Schedule

For yet another season the Hawkeyes have, what looks on paper, a very favorable schedule, with the toughest games coming against Wisconsin on the road, Minnesota at home, and Nebraska on the road. Also, for a second straight year the Hawkeyes are able to avoid playing the two powerhouses of the Big Ten conference — Ohio State and Michigan State — which by itself is a cause for optimism.

 

Related: Ranking the Toughest Games on Iowa's College Football Schedule in 2015

 

The Hawkeyes open up their college football season against a surprise FCS team from 2014, the Illinois State Redbirds. In 2014 the Redbirds were able to win 13 games en route to playing for the FCS national championship. Although they came up short against a historically dominant North Dakota State team, the Redbirds were able to display their talent while being led by former Indiana quarterback Tre Roberson. At the end of the day I feel the Hawkeyes will be able to come away with a victory, but I do think the Redbirds will surprise many and put up a good fight.

 

Next, the Hawkeyes begin a stretch of three “winnable” games against Iowa State on the road, Pittsburgh at home, and North Texas at home. Although Pittsburgh is easily the best of these three opponents, nonetheless each game appears to be very much in reach for the Hawkeyes.

 

The “toughest” game on paper for the Hawkeyes in 2015 is undoubtedly on the road against Wisconsin, as it will be the Hawkeye’s Big Ten opener and will take place in front of a raucous Camp Randall Stadium crowd of up to 80,000 strong. Not the ideal setting to break in a new quarterback or an inexperienced offense in general. To come away with the victory, the Hawkeyes will have to play lights out, meaning no turnovers, no blown coverages, and they’ll have to find a way to slow down Wisconsin’s dangerous rushing attack. All three are possible, but as a combination highly unlikely, so let’s chalk this game up as a loss for the sake of realism.

 

After the Big Ten opener, things start looking a lot easier for the Hawkeyes. In a span of six games they’ll face off against Illinois at home, Northwestern on the road, Maryland at home, Indiana on the road, Minnesota at home, and Purdue at home. The outlier here is obviously the Golden Gophers, as they beat the Hawkeyes rather handily last season by a final score of 51-14. However, the other five games are certainly winnable if the Hawkeyes are able to play up to their abilities. With that said, Maryland and Illinois will be no pushovers, as they have steadily improved as of late.

 

Coming out of this six-game stretch I think it’s reasonable to expect the Hawkeyes to take at least three if not four of these contests, which would not only put them in a bowl game for the 13th time in the last 15 seasons, but also would give them an outside shot at playing in the Big Ten Championship Game as the champions of the West Division.  

 

The Hawkeyes will wrap up their season on the road against Nebraska in what has been an evenly fought battle over the past four seasons. However, this time around (barring key injuries) it looks like the Huskers will be the heavy favorites entering the game, and rightfully so.

 

A 10-win season seems a bit unrealistic despite the favorable schedule — the opponent isn’t everything. However, an eight-win season seems fairly reasonable for this team. That’d be a refreshing change from going 7-5 each year.

 

2. C.J. Beathard is an Upgrade at Quarterback

The Hawkeyes’ offense last season was both lethargic and extremely inconsistent. Whether that was due to the fact that the “Checkdown King” Jake Rudock was lining up under center or whether a true fullback was being used as the starting tailback, the point is that the Hawkeyes lacked an ability to generate dynamic, game-changing plays, which ended up hurting them in more than a few games.

 

This season however, things have changed. Rudock transferred to Michigan, thus relinquishing the starting quarterback gig to junior C.J. Beathard. In Beathard’s limited appearances last season he showed the coaching staff that he had a lot more to offer the offense compared to Rudock. It’s just a shame they couldn’t realize that before he decided to transfer and finish his collegiate career at another school.

 

With Beathard under center, the Hawkeyes’ offense immediately gains three aspects that it didn’t have last season. The first is a willingness to take chances downfield. As I mentioned earlier the 2014 Hawkeyes failed to generate enough key, big plays, which ended up being the deciding factor in a lot of close games. In Beathard’s limited action he showed me that he wasn’t afraid to take his fair amount of shots downfield, something Rudock rarely took part in. In fairness, I just don’t think Rudock had the arm strength to put the ball downfield with consistency.

 

That leads to the next aspect that Beathard should bring to Iowa’s offense. In Beathard the Hawkeyes now have a quarterback who is capable of making every throw asked of him. When Rudock held the starting job watching him try to throw 20 or more yards downfield would be absolutely brutal at times. Simply put, he was very limited as a passer.

 

The last aspect of Beathard’s game that will have a positive effect on the Hawkeyes’ offense is his ability to use his legs to not only extend plays, but also pick up yards. A legitimate dual-threat quarterback is something the Hawkeye’s offense hasn't featured since Brad Banks was the starter in Iowa City back in 2002. And with the way the Hawkeyes’ two new offensive tackles have looked up front so far, Beathard may need to his legs quite a bit.

 

This isn’t to declare that Beathard is the be-all, end-all quarterback. In fact I think he’s barely a top-10 signal-caller in the Big Ten. Nevertheless, he still represents a major upgrade at the position. 

 

3. Fresh, Dynamic Depth at Running Back

As I mentioned earlier, the last few seasons Iowa has had a true fullback lining up as its starting running back. Even though Mark Weisman was a blessing for the Hawkeyes during his tenure when it came to short-yardage situations, managing a big workload, and simply adding much-needed depth to the backfield; he just wasn’t an ideal fit for what offensive coordinator Greg Davis wanted to do. And in the end, Weisman’s limitations handcuffed the offense as a whole.

 

Entering 2015 Iowa has a trio of running backs — junior LeShun Daniels, senior Jordan Canzeri and sophomore Akrum Wadley — that possess much more athleticism and playmaking ability than Weisman ever did. Of the three, Canzeri looks to be the most promising in my opinion due to the fact that he’s much more explosive than Daniels and is a more reliable ball carrier than Wadley. In addition we’ve seen what Canzeri can do in game action against multiple teams, while the same can’t be said about Daniels or Wadley.

 

In the end, whoever the Hawkeyes’ coaching staff ends up going with as the primary ball carrier he definitely will represent a different type of running back than what the offense has recently relied on. And in this instance, this change may end up being a very, very good thing.

 

— Written by Rob Donaldson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. An NFL Draft analyst and writer for drafbreakdown.com, Donaldson also recently founded his own site, OnTheClockFB.com, and also pays careful attention to his beloved Iowa Hawkeyes and Pittsburgh Steelers. Follow him on Twitter @RobDonaldsonOTC.

Teaser:
3 Reasons to be Optimistic About the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2015
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/oregon-duck-pokes-fun-alabama-sorority-video
Body:

Forget those boring sororities, you should pledge to the Ducks.

 

Oregon's mascot recreated the Alabama sorority video that's been making the rounds recently, except this one is better.

 

Here's the original version, and the girls somehow end up on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The new, and improved, version by the Duck is comical and just an overall delight to watch.

I think it's pretty obvious which one is more likely to get people to pledge.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 09:47
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-begins-2015-college-football-season-king-mountain
Body:

The game "King of the Mountain" is one of those childhood memories I sometimes look back upon fondly, sometimes wistfully. Those times when I was able to knock some neighborhood friend from the lofty perch of King of the Mountain, becoming the king myself, are the fond moments. The instances where I was the one unceremoniously toppled from my lofty perch as the king are the wistful memories.

 

This analogy is being made for Ohio State fans who wonder what lies ahead for the 2015 Buckeyes. In 2014, Ohio State was able to get beyond the disappointment of a week two loss at home to Virginia Tech, and become the fourth seed in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

 

When the four-team tournament commenced, Ohio State rode the momentum of a dominant Big Ten Championship Game victory over Wisconsin to defeat Alabama, then Oregon, to claim its first national championship since 2002. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer even had banners throughout the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, defined as "The Chase," for the players to rally around for the 2014 season.

 

This season has a different motto. "The Chase" has been replaced by "The Grind."

 

"The Grind" simply reflects the realities of what will confront Ohio State throughout the 2015 season — the Buckeyes are being hunted by every program throughout the country.

 

Coach Meyer has already outlined the challenges that will confront his coaching staff and players, which you can see in this video:

 

 

Will Ohio State embrace "The Grind" as much as they did "The Chase"? After all, as we can reflect upon our respective childhood memories of playing "King of the Mountain," sometimes the climb was the best part of the game. Defending the title became more and more difficult, the longer the game continued.

 

With the college football season ready to begin, all eyes will be focused on Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. After all, as William Shakespeare once wrote, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."

 

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for menofthescarletandgray.com, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.

Teaser:
Ohio State Begins 2015 College Football Season As The King of the Mountain
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-toughest-games-north-carolinas-football-schedule-2015
Body:

North Carolina plays seven games at Kenan Memorial Stadium and one game in Charlotte. Only four times does UNC play on someone else’s campus. On top of that, North Carolina did not draw Florida State, Clemson or Louisville in crossover games with the ACC Atlantic Division. From that perspective, it seems that Larry Fedora's team has a dream schedule.

 

However, there are some pitfalls. The Tar Heels’ four toughest games on the season are road contests. They close the regular season by going to Virginia Tech and then hop over to Raleigh to play the Wolfpack. So while Carolina could have a tougher slate, it is not all peaches and cream either.

 

Related: North Carolina 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch

 

Here is the ranking of North Carolina’s 12 regular season games from easiest to most difficult.

 

12. Sept. 26 vs. Delaware

The Blue Hens, historically, have been an FCS power. But they have slipped recently and by the fourth game of the season North Carolina should have its offense clicking.

 

11. Sept. 12 vs. North Carolina A&T

The Aggies were a 9-3 FCS team last year and will be pumped to play the big, in-state power. The Tar Heels have way too much talent, though, and will prevail easily.

 

10. Oct. 17 vs. Wake Forest

The Heels play the Deacons in the game following Georgia Tech, but there is a week off in between. Even the Heels’ questionable defense should be able to hold down the Deacs’ offense and Carolina should be able to score more than enough to win.

 

9. Sept. 19 vs. Illinois

This should be the first real test for Illinois and embattled coach Tim Beckman. UNC will have played South Carolina and should have no trouble piling up points against last year’s No. 112-ranked defense.

 

8. Oct. 24 vs. Virginia

Virginia loses a lot off a decent defense and its offense in 2014 was not productive at all. North Carolina has won five in a row against the Cavaliers.

 

7. Nov. 14 vs. Miami

This one could be a shootout. Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya will find ways to score on UNC, but the Miami defense will be equally hard-pressed to stop Marquise Williams as well.

 

6. Nov. 7 vs. Duke

The strong Duke secondary is deep and talented much like the Carolina receiving corps. The Blue Devils fell at home to the Tar Heels last year and will look to return the favor when they make the short drive to Chapel Hill.

 

5. Sept. 3 (Thursday) vs. South Carolina (in Charlotte, N.C.)

If you heard Steve Spurrier talk about his team earlier this week, you’d think this would be the easiest game on the Tar Heels’ schedule. But the Ol’ Ball Coach will have Pharoh Cooper and the rest of the Gamecocks ready for opening night.

 

4. Nov. 28 at NC State

The Wolfpack host Syracuse the week before the season-ending rivalry tilt. Meanwhile, UNC heads to State following a big road date in Blacksburg, Va. Schedule advantage, NC State.

 

3. Oct. 29 (Thursday) at Pittsburgh

It’s never easy playing a game on Saturday then hitting the road for a Thursday night contest. That is what UNC has to do in this spot and containing James Conner, Tyler Boyd and company won’t be much fun either.

 

2. Nov. 21 at Virginia Tech

The Heels should have a great offense, but Tech has the defensive personnel to make things difficult for North Carolina. Virginia Tech will be coming off what could be the Coastal game of the year against Georgia Tech, meaning focus could be a concern for the Hokies.

 

1. Oct. 3 at Georgia Tech

Last season, North Carolina was 117th against the run. Georgia Tech was No. 1 in the nation in rushing offense. New UNC defensive coordinator Gene Chizik knows what he has to do to try and defeat the Yellow Jackets on their home turf.

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Teaser:
Ranking the Toughest Games on North Carolina's Football Schedule in 2015
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 09:15
Path: /nfl/miami-dolphins-quarterback-ryan-tannehill-ready-take-next-step
Body:

January 15, 2000 was the last game Miami Dolphins legendary quarterback Dan Marino played in his illustrious career. Ever since then, the Dolphins have been looking for their next franchise quarterback.

 

In his three seasons in the NFL, Ryan Tannehill has taken a lot of criticism because of the Dolphins’ December failures in both 2014 and ’14, and the fact that he has struggled to throw deep passes accurately. But if this preseason is any indication, Tannehill looks like he is ready to take his game to the next level.


Related: Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Has Playoffs on His Mind for 2015

 

In his first two preseason games, Tannehill has thrown for 158 yards, two touchdowns with zero interceptions and has a passer rating of 126.9. Tannehill also is completing 81.8 percent of his passes. While Tannehill is happy with the progression of his game, he knows the players around him also have gotten better.

 

“I feel like I’m getting better every practice, every week, Tannehill said. “Not just myself, but the guys around me. It doesn’t happen if I play good and the guys around me don’t. The O-line is giving me time to throw the ball and the guys are getting open and making the plays downfield.”

 

Head coach Joe Philbin has also been impressed with the way Tannehill has performed during training camp and this preseason.

 

"I think he has had a good camp, Philbin said." I think he is throwing the ball well and is making good decisions. He hasn’t put the ball in harm’s way very much. I think he is doing well."

 

In each of Tannehill’s first three seasons his yards, touchdown passes, passer rating and completion percentage have all improved. His 2015 campaign, which will be his second in offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s system, could produce Tannehill’s best numbers yet.

 

So far during the preseason, Tannehill has looked comfortable leading the Dolphins’ offense. On Saturday, Tannehill was pressured by the Carolina defense a number of times, but he kept his composure and made plays down the field. One of the plays Tannehill made under pressure was a 36-yard completion to Lamar Miller, which set up the Dolphins’ first touchdown of the night.

 

As Tannehill continues to gain confidence in his new weapons — wide receivers Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills, tight end Jordan Cameron — that will also improve his game and Miami’s offensive production. Once first-round pick DeVante Parker returns from his injury, that will add just another big-play threat to the Dolphins’ offense.

 

“We’re really deep,” Tannehill said. “I feel great about our corps right now. From top to bottom, I think that they are talented. I feel comfortable with any of those guys in the game, whoever’s in, whether a guy needs a breather or a guy gets dinged, I feel comfortable with whoever’s in the game that they’re going to be able to get open and be in the right spot at the right time.”

 

The third preseason game is treated like a regular season game. Miami will host the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night, so that will provide Tannehill with an even bigger challenge. But it does appear that Tannehill and the Dolphins are headed for great things in 2015.

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

Teaser:
Miami Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is Ready to Take the Next Step
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/holy-cross-football-players-go-crazy-coaches-re-enact-wwe-moves
Body:

There are many methods coaches use to keep their players engaged and energized before the season starts.

 

The coaches of Holy Cross football went above and beyond with a WWE-style wrestling match. To say the plaeyers were into it would be an understatement.

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 15:36
Path: /college-football/coaches-select-six-texas-am-aggies-preseason-all-sec-teams
Body:

On Tuesday the SEC coaches gave a vote of confidence to the Athlon Sports preseason-ranked No. 20 team in the nation, placing six Texas A&M Aggies at seven different positions on their preseason All-SEC teams.

 

The top vote getters from head coach Kevin Sumlin's team were defensive end Myles Garrett and center Mike Matthews, both earning first-team selections. Rounding out the honorees were right tackle Germain Ifedi (second team), wide receiver Josh Reynolds (third), punter Drew Kaser (third), and return specialist Speedy Noil (third).

 

The only question about Garrett in regards to the preseason list was which team would the SEC coaches vote him to, first or second? As a freshman Garrett led Texas A&M in sacks (11.5), tackles for a loss (14.0), and quarterback hurries (9). Garrett finished the season with 53 stops earning second-team All-SEC honors and consensus freshman All-American and freshman All-SEC selections.

 

A senior, Matthews is entering his third year as a starter for the Aggies having compiled 23 career starts. Beyond the preseason SEC coaches’ list, Matthews is on the Rimington Trophy watch list for a second consecutive season and was tagged as an Athlon Sports preseason second-team All-SEC honoree.

 

Ifedi is a mountain (6-6, 335) at right tackle. The redshirt junior has been a fixture on the Aggies’ offensive line over the last two years, starting in 24 of A&M’s 26 games. As a sophomore Ifedi helped anchor a line that only allowed 27 sacks on the season in 514 pass attempts.

 

Fans may get out of their seats on fourth down for a beverage or a restroom break but what fans of the 12th Man are missing is Kaser flipping field position. Coaches named Kaser a third-team punter after he averaged 44.1 yards per punt in 2014 with 22 of his 62 punts being downed inside the 20-yard line. Kaser did not have a punt blocked last season and 22 of his kicks were fair caught.

 

Supreme athlete Noil might be thought of more for his play at wide receiver but coaches across the conference appreciate and fear his abilities as a punt and kick returner as well naming him to the third-team all-purpose position and third-team return specialist. The sophomore from New Orleans had 645 kick return yards on 27 attempts and 180 punt return yards on 15 attempts last season. As a receiver, Noil was fourth on the team in receptions (46) but third in receiving yards (583) and touchdowns (5).

 

All Reynolds did in 2014 is break the school record for receiving touchdowns with 13. The junior college transfer acclimated quickly to Sumlin’s offense finishing second in receptions (52) and receiving yards (842). At the end of his sophomore campaign Reynolds earned second-team All-SEC honors and was voted the team’s 2014 Offensive MVP.  

 

Texas A&M opens the season on Sept. 5 with a neutral-site game against Arizona State in Houston.

 

2015 Preseason Coaches All-SEC Teams

 

Offense

First Team

TE: Evan Engram, Ole Miss

OL: Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss; Vadal Alexander, LSU; Cam Robinson, Alabama; John Theus, Georgia; Mike Matthews (C), Texas A&M

WR: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina; Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss

QB: Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

RB: Nick Chubb, Georgia; Leonard Fournette, LSU

AP: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina

 

Second Team

TE: Hunter Henry, Arkansas

OL: Dan Skipper, Arkansas; Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M; Greg Pyke, Georgia; Denver Kirkland, Arkansas; Ryan Kelly (C), Alabama

WR: D'haquille Williams, Auburn; Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia

QB: Maty Mauk, Missouri

RB: Alex Collins, Arkansas; Derrick Henry, Alabama

AP: Leonard Fournette, LSU

 

Third Team

TE: O.J. Howard, Alabama

OL: Alex Kozan, Auburn; Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas; Devonte Danzey, Auburn; Jordan Swindle, Kentucky; Brandon Shell, South Carolina; Evan Boehm (C), Missouri

WR: Demarcus Robinson, Florida; Travin Dural, LSU; Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M

QB: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn; Josh Dobbs, Tennessee

RB: Jonathan Williams, Arkansas; Kelvin Taylor, Florida; Russell Hansbrough, Missouri

AP: Speedy Noil, Texas A&M

 

Defense

First Team

DL: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M; Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss; A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama; Chris Jones, Mississippi State

LB: Reggie Ragland, Alabama; Curt Maggitt, Tennessee; Jordan Jenkins, Georgia

DB: Vernon Hargreaves, Florida; Cyrus Jones, Alabama; Jalen Mills, LSU; Jonathan Jones, Auburn

 

Second Team

DL: Jonathan Bullard, Florida; Derek Barnett, Tennessee; Jonathan Allen, Alabama; Montravius Adams, Auburn

LB:Antonio Morrison, Florida; Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Kendell Beckwith, LSU

DB: Will Redmond, Mississippi State; Tre'Davious White, LSU; Cameron Sutton, Tennessee; Tony Conner, Ole Miss

 

Third Team

DL: Carl Lawson, Auburn; Davon Godchaux, LSU; Caleb Azubike, Vanderbilt; Ryan Brown, Mississippi State

LB:Leonard Floyd, Georgia; Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn; Lorenzo Carter, Georgia

DB: A.J. Stamps, Kentucky; Rohan Gaines, Arkansas; Trae Elston, Ole Miss; Jonathan Ford, Auburn; Eddie Jackson, Alabama

 

Special Teams

First Team

PK: Marshall Morgan, Georgia

P: JK Scott, Alabama

RS: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina

 

Second Team

PK: Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky

P: Jamie Keehn, LSU

RS: Leonard Fournette, LSU; Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia

 

Third Team

PK: Elliott Fry, South Carolina

P: Drew Kaser, Texas A&M

RS: Darius Sims, Vanderbilt; Speedy Noil, Texas A&M

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

Teaser:
Coaches Select Six Texas A&M Aggies to Preseason All-SEC Teams
Post date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 15:00
Path: /9-bulldogs-picked-coaches-preseason-all-sec-teams
Body:

The annual Preseason Coaches All-SEC Football Teams have been announced and nine Georgia Bulldogs found themselves on each of the three teams, as voted on by the coaches themselves.

 

OL John Theus and RB Nick Chubb were named to the first-team offense, while LB Jordan Jenkins was the lone Bulldog on the defensive side of the ball. Kicker Marshall Morgan also was a first-team selection.

 

Second-team picks for the Bulldogs included OL Greg Pyke, WR Malcolm Mitchell and Isiah McKenzie, who tied with LSU RB Leonard Fournette as the return specialist for the second team.

 

Rounding out the third-team preseason picks were a pair of defensive players in Leonard Floyd and Lorenzo Carter.

 

Georgia had eight players picked by coaches on last year’s preseason teams, including Theus, Mitchell, Jenkins and Morgan.

 

This marks the third year in a row that Georgia has had a running back picked first-team All-SEC.

 

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails

Teaser:
9 Georgia Bulldogs Picked for Preseason Coaches All-SEC Football Teams
Post date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 14:45
All taxonomy terms: Atlanta Falcons, NFC South, Rex Grossman, NFL
Path: /nfl/falcons-sign-rex-grossman
Body:

With two preseason games left before the 2015 NFL season kicks off, the Atlanta Falcons have signed 35-year-old QB Rex Grossman to a one-year, $1 million contract.

 

Grossman has not played since 2011, but was on the Washington Redskins roster in 2012 and 2013. In 2011, Grossman started 13 games for Washington, throwing for 3,151 yards, completing passes 57.9 percent of the time. Grossman averaged 6.9 yards per throw with 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He was sacked 25 times that year and had a QB rating of 72.4. Grossman did not play in any games in 2012 or 2013. He is best known for leading the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl during the 2006 season.

 

This timely signing comes after both Falcons backups have had subpar preseason outings against the Titans and Jets. T.J. Yates, who joined the Falcons in 2014, has thrown for 183 yards on 30 attempts with two interceptions and zero touchdowns this preseason. Meanwhile, Sean Renfree, who was the Falcons' 2013 seventh-round draft pick, has 162 yards passing on 21 attempts with zero touchdowns and interceptions.

 

Grossman is familiar with the offense run by Atlanta's new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The two were in Washington together for several seasons. Grossman should know the offense relatively well and the thought has to be that he will help Matt Ryan learn Shanahan's offense now and throughout the season.

 

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails

Teaser:
Atlanta Falcons Sign QB Rex Grossman
Post date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 14:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, UCLA Bruins, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/ranking-toughest-games-uclas-college-football-schedule-2015
Body:

UCLA football neared the apex of the Pac-12 each of head coach Jim Mora's first three seasons at the helm. However, the Bruins have fallen just short each time.

 

The 2015 lineup may be Mora's best yet, however. UCLA returns the Pac-12's leading rusher of 2014, Paul Perkins; a deep and multifaceted wide receiver corps; and one of the best defensive front sevens in the nation.

 

Related: UCLA 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch

 

UCLA's lingering question is quarterback. Brett Hundley is the only starter Mora's known in his time there, and the new starter has very little time to acclimate before the Bruins dive into the meat of the challenging Pac-12 South. UCLA travels to defending divisional champion Arizona in the first month, before matching up against heavyweights Arizona State and Stanford in the weeks that follow.

 

That stretch should define UCLA's championship worthiness pretty quickly. Here are the Bruins' 12 regular season games ranked from easiest to most difficult.

 

12. Sept. 12 at UNLV

There's rarely a sure thing in Las Vegas, but the only way UCLA is losing this early-season tune up is if the team bus breaks down outside Barstow.

 

11. Nov. 14 vs. Washington State

Washington State hasn't appeared on UCLA's schedule since 2012, the result of the divisional rotation. That season was Mike Leach's first on The Palouse, when the installation of his "Air Raid" offense promised a return to contention for the long-suffering Cougars.

 

Three seasons later, Washington State has yet to finish above .500. The 2015 season is a pivotal one for Washington State, and any threat the Cougars pose to UCLA in this late-season encounter could hinge on how successful the previous two months are for them.

 

10. Nov. 7 at Oregon State

First-year head coach Gary Andersen will play a lot of youngsters, and the Beavers are sure to experience growing pains while adjusting to new schemes. Observing from three months out, this is one UCLA should dominate.

 

The same thing could have been said of Arizona State in its trip to Corvallis last November, however. Don't think a rendezvous in Reser Stadium can't have an impact on the Pac-12 title race.

 

9. Sept. 5 vs. Virginia

Virginia has repeatedly underachieved recently, but the Cavaliers' underwhelming records should fool no one. They invade the Rose Bowl Week 1, employing an aggressive defensive style that can vex a first-time starter, whether the Bruins line up veteran reserve Jerry Neuheisel or freshman Josh Rosen.

 

Last year in Charlottesville, Virginia got to Hundley four times. When he wasn't sacked, Hundley was still under constant duress and Virginia nearly pulled off the upset.

 

8. Oct. 31 vs. Colorado

A botched play in the red zone just before halftime ostensibly prevented Colorado from scoring the upset over UCLA last October, as the two teams went to double-overtime before the Bruins escaped victorious.

 

Third-year head coach Mike MacIntyre has Colorado positioned to be a dangerous spoiler for someone in the deep Pac-12 South. The Buffs will try to be the proverbial raisin box in UCLA's trick-or-treat bag come Halloween in the Rose Bowl.

 

7. Sept. 19 vs. BYU

BYU has a long track record for upsetting Power 5 opponents. Among the notches in the Cougars' Power 5 belt is a 59-0 thrashing of UCLA in the Rose Bowl in 2008. Considering those on UCLA's 2015 roster were in junior high or elementary school when that game was played, revenge won't be used as motivation. Holding serve at home against a tough opponent should be incentive enough for the Bruins.

 

Slowing down dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill will decide UCLA's fate in this one.

 

6. Oct. 22 (Thursday) vs. Cal

One of UCLA's many close finishes in 2014 was a back-and-forth win at Cal, which ended with Marcus Rios' interception of quarterback Jared Goff. The strong-armed Cal quarterback returns with a more experienced lineup around him, and perhaps the best Golden Bear team overall since 2009.

 

Thursday nights can be fertile ground for upsets, and Cal's visit to the Rose Bowl comes at the tail-end of UCLA's critical Arizona-Arizona State-Stanford stretch.

 

5. Nov. 21 at Utah

Utah gave UCLA tough matchups each of the previous two seasons before finally breaking through last October. The Utes' back-and-forth win at the Rose Bowl marked a turning point for them in their time as Pac-12 members, while the loss helped eliminate UCLA from the College Football Playoff discussion.

 

The Bruins aim to be in that conversation in the penultimate week of the regular season. If they remain in that hunt after a cold, late-November night in Rice-Eccles Stadium, it's a testament to UCLA's mettle.

 

4. Sept. 26 at Arizona

UCLA's had Arizona's number since losing five straight from 2007-11. Last year's 17-7 win extended Mora's streak to three over the Wildcats since 2012, which is a feat no other Pac-12 team has accomplished against Rich Rodriguez's bunch.

 

Winning streak or not, however, the Pac-12 South title goes through Tucson. The Wildcats claimed last year's crown at the very same time UCLA saw it slip away against Stanford.

 

As the Pac-12 opener, this one sets an important tone.

 

3. Oct. 3 vs. Arizona State

The visitor won every previous meeting since Todd Graham and Mora arrived at their respective programs. UCLA used defensive and special teams touchdowns late in the second and early in the third quarters last year to cruise to a blowout win.

 

A repeat of last year's margin is unlikely; expect something more akin to the previous three years, when each contest came down to the final play. Since both the Bruins and Sun Devils figure to factor into the Pac-12 South title race, this one is critical for an early, inside track — especially since both will be coming off tough games the week prior.

 

2. Nov. 28 at USC

The Los Angeles rivalry is always bitter, but it's started taking on a new importance since UCLA's rise in the Pac-12. The Bruins are winners of three straight, all by double digits.

 

That's not lost on USC. With the Trojans expected to return to Pac-12 title contention, claiming the city championship is critical to their overall goals. The 2015 season sees both teams arguably at their most talented at the same time since the 1990s. This could be a de facto Pac-12 South championship.

 

1. Oct. 15 (Thursday) at Stanford

Stanford's white helmet might as well be the whale to Mora's Captain Ahab. Four times since becoming the Bruins' head coach, Mora's faced David Shaw's Cardinal. Four times, Mora's team lost.

 

Each of the last three meetings have had lofty implications. In 2012, UCLA missed a field goal to force overtime in the Pac-12 Championship Game. In 2013, the Bruins were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten. Last year's regular-season finale denied UCLA the Pac-12 South division title.

 

Stanford is symbolic glass ceiling UCLA must break through to finally call itself the Pac-12's elite.

 

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of CFBHuddle.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Teaser:
Ranking the Toughest Games on UCLA's College Football Schedule in 2015
Post date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 13:00
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-2015-top-five-juco-recruits
Body:

As we turn our calendars over to August, the college fantasy football season is kicking into high gear. Are you prepared?  

 

Athlon has teamed up with college fantasy veterans CollegeFootballGeek.com to help you dominate in 2015! Over the course of the preseason, CFG will be providing insight into their player rankings, as well as helping you identify sleepers and breakout candidates to bolster your lineups.

 

Whether you play daily or season-long college fantasy football, CollegeFootballGeek.com (@CFFGeek) prepares you to win with the best advice, tools and customer service in the industry -- they've been doing it since 2008. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to CFG for FREE.

 

Below, you will find AthlonSports.com contributor and CFG writer Mike Bainbridge's top five JUCO transfers for 2015. To see the full in-depth article, make sure to check out CollegeFootballGeek.com.

 

Jovon Robinson (RB, Auburn)

2014 JUCO Stats: 2,387 rushing yards / 34 TDs

CFG Preseason rank: 41

 

The top JUCO prospect in all the land, Robinson was expected to be the starter from Day 1 for an Auburn team that ran the ball 600-plus times last season. The offense will be altered some in 2015 to fit the skills of new quarterback Jeremy Johnson, but the Tigers will still run and run it often. Despite missing a game last season for Georgia Military College, Robinson still posted 2,387 rushing yards and a combined 34 touchdowns, but he also lost five fumbles, which is a concern moving foward. As of now, it sounds as if Roc Thomas and possibly even Peyton Barber have the edge over Robinson during fall camp, but we do not expect that to last long. Robinson is too big of a talent to remain on the sidelines.


DeDe Westbrook (WR, Oklahoma)

2014 JUCO Stats: 76 receptions / 1,487 yards / 13 TDs

CFG Preseason Rank: 49

 

In just eight games at Blinn (Texas) College, incoming Oklahoma recruit DeDe Westbrook amassed 76 receptions and more than 1,400 yards, scoring a touchdown in each game and recording double-digit catches in all but two. With the Sooners moving towards a more up-tempo passing attack under new coordinator Lincoln Riley, that kind of production is needed as Oklahoma is expected to be in four-wide receiver sets frequently in 2015. Westbrook should help take the pressure off of fellow receiver Sterling Shepard who was far too often the only pass-catching threat the Sooners had last season — a big reason why the season went south for Oklahoma.


Chris Carson (RB, Oklahoma State)

2014 JUCO Stats: 994 rushing yards / 9 TDs

CFG Preseason Rank: 68

 

For just the second time in the Mike Gundy era and first since 2005, the Cowboys failed to average four yards or more per carry for the season. That is expected to change in 2015, as Gundy reinforced both the offensive line and backfield by bringing in a few transfers including Carson. The 4-star recruit initially committed to Georgia, but Carson likely saw the depth the Bulldogs already had at the RB position and flipped to Oklahoma State for the opportunity of immediate playing time. In his final season in the JC ranks, Carson averaged 110 yards per game on the ground, and should challenge leading returning rusher Rennie Childs for the starting role.

 

Alvin Kamara (RB, Tennessee)

2014 JUCO Stats: 1,253 rushing yards / 18 TDs

CFG Preseason Rank: 132

 

Remember back to 2013 when Alabama signed four 4-star RB prospects in one class? You just knew there were not enough carries to go around and that some would pop up at different schools looking for more touches. One of those eligible this season is Kamara, who landed at Tennessee after totaling more than 1,200 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. Kamara will now team with sophomore Jalen Hurd to form possibly the top running back tandem in the SEC. The biggest question here in terms of fantasy football is how will carries be divided up between Kamara, Hurd and the mobile Joshua Dobbs?

 

Chad Kelly (QB, Ole Miss)

2014 JUCO Stats: 3,906 passing yards / 47 TDs

CFG Preseason Rank: 52

 

While none of the Ole Miss QBs were particularly impressive in the team’s spring game, Kelly did perform the best amongst the bunch as the only Rebel quarterback to throw a touchdown. Transferring in from East Mississippi Community College after starting his career at Clemson, Kelly tossed 47 touchdowns last season while also rushing for 446 yards and four scores, showing detractors why he was so highly rated coming out of high school. Kelly is in a three-way battle currently with Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade, but in terms of pure talent, Kelly is head and shoulders above his fellow competitors. If he can grasp the playbook and keep his head on straight, Kelly will start for the Rebels out of the gate.

 

— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for CollegeFootballGeek.com. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.

(Alvin Kamara photo courtesy of UTSports.com)

Teaser:
College Fantasy Football 2015 Top Five JUCO Recruits
Post date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/daniel-tosh-rips-nick-saban-alabama-miami-dolphins-tosh0
Body:

Believe it or not, there are still Dolphins fans who are bitter about Nick Saban leaving the franchise after continuously denying he was going anywhere.

 

Tosh (a noted Dolphins fan) took time on "Tosh.0" to read excerpts of the book to children, and the results were probably as good as one would expect. If you're a Alabama fan, or just live in the state, beware.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 12:09
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-one-fcs-vs-fbs-betting-lines-note
Body:

The first week of the 2015 college football season features a boatload of FBS vs. FCS matchups. Most people out there refuse to bet on those games, but sometimes they represent some of the best value out there. There are multiple FCS teams that are live underdogs with some having the chance to win outright. Here’s a look at some season openers of note (lines courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook):

 

Youngstown State (+12) at Pittsburgh

The Penguins check in 16th in the preseason Top 25 FCS Coaches Poll. They are led by Bo Pelini, who is out to show that he can coach football. This is a Youngstown State team that lost 28-17 at Illinois to open up the 2014 season. The Penguins return 26 letterwinners on offense and 18 on defense. This is a veteran team with several players who received preseason All-Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) recognition. Pittsburgh  has a road game at Akron following this one, and the Panthers definitely have revenge on their mind against the Zips. This isn't my favorite FCS/FBS matchup on the board, but it bears watching . Any sort of injuries or suspensions that impact the Panther and the Penguins suddenly become a live dog, at least betting-wise.

 

Villanova (-3) at UConn

The rare FCS favorite in week one, as the Wildcats take on the Huskies. Last year a mediocre Stony Brook team almost beat UConn in Storrs, with the final score 19-16. Villanova's got the better quarterback (John Robertson) and coach (Andy Talley). The one saving grace could be the Huskies’ defense, which returns seven starters. Their offense is atrocious though and may struggle to score against Villanova. Nova lost by one in double overtime at Syracuse to open up the 2014 campaign.

 

Towson (+30.5) at East Carolina

This could potentially be a spot play for the savvy gambler. Towson was picked to finish ninth in the CAA this season and that's widely considered the best FCS conference. The Tigers lost 54-0 at West Virginia last year and had only four wins overall. The reason they may be the play for this one is because the Pirates have a road game at Florida in week two and will be breaking in a new quarterback. The defense has some holes as well.

 

Florida A&M (+28) at South Florida

The Rattlers have several things going in their favor in this one. They are ineligible for the 2015 MEAC title so games like this are going to be their Super Bowl. Four of their players made preseason all-conference teams, led by defensive lineman Michael Lovejoy. Last year they only lost 41-7 at Miami, which is a better team than South Florida. The Bulls’ offense is run-based with Marlon Mack while the defense is seeking to improve after a rough 2014. USF also has a big game on the road at Florida State in week two and while the Bulls have no shot to beat the Seminoles, they may not be focused on Florida A&M.

 

Northern Iowa (+8) at Iowa State

UNI isn't afraid of playing FBS opponents. In 2014, the Panthers lost by eight at Iowa and by three at Hawaii. This year's team checks in 10th in the Top 25 FCS Coaches Poll. They have 11 returning starters led by QB Sawyer Kollmorgen. Iowa State meanwhile returns an inconsistent Sam Richardson and a shaky defense that was gashed for 30 points or more in all but one game in 2014. Ironically, the look-ahead factor is actually with Northern Iowa, which hosts FCS power Eastern Washington in week two. Still, I think the Panthers are focused here and cover this number.

 

South Dakota State (+5.5) at Kansas

Another game where the FCS opponent is favored...oops sorry Kansas only plays like an FCS team. The Jayhawks have holes all over and nearly lost to SE Missouri State last year (34-28 final) to open up the season. South Dakota State is 15th in the Top 25 FCS Coaches Poll and kept up with Missouri last year in a 38-18 loss. Five Jackrabbit players made a MVFC preseason team led by T.J. Lally, who led SDSU with 117 tackles last year.

 

Richmond (+20.5) at Maryland

The Spiders are no stranger to FBS upsets, having taken down Duke in 2011. They have several starters returning and while they are breaking in a new quarterback, Richmond has several options on the outside to throw to. Maryland, meanwhile, has several holes to fill especially on the defensive side of the ball. Standout cornerback William Likely will be challenged by this Richmond attack. The Spiders are a live dog. The one thing that gives me a bit of a worry is that James Madison, one of Richmond’s peers in the CAA, lost 52-7 to these Terps last year.

 

Norfolk State (+38) at Rutgers

Norfolk State just had their quarterback, Terrance Ervin, leave the program for personal reasons, so you have to figure that they won't be much of a threat, right? Replacing Ervin under center is former Florida Atlantic signal-caller Greg Hankerson, who has some experience of his own. Norfolk State returns eight other starters on offense and five on defense. Rutgers returns just eight starters from last year's team, which struggled to beat FCS opponent Howard 38-25. To make matters worse, the Scarlet Knights’ head coach, Kyle Flood, is already feeling some heat after being named the target of an internal investigation by the school and several players have been suspended for the first half of the opener, including standout wide receiver Leonte Carroo.

 

Wagner (+29.5) at Rice

Another potential spot play here as Rice hosts Wagner. The Owls return just seven starters from last year and are travelling to Texas in week two for a matchup with the Longhorns. Wagner went 7-4 last year and is returning seven offensive starters. They are led by quarterback Chris Andrews, who has two wide receivers and three offensive linemen back. I think the Seahawks are a good bet in week one.

 

Savannah State (+50.5) at Colorado State

The only reason I'm posting this line is to alert you that the 50.5 may not be enough. Colorado State has a solid offense and eight starters back on defense. Last year the Tigers lost 61-7 to Middle Tennessee and 64-0 to BYU. Things were just as bad in 2013 when they fell 77-7 to Miami and 66-3 to Troy. Point is, if you are looking for a good play on an FBS team vs. an FCS opponent then look at the Rams.

 

Fordham (+7) at Army

It's a rematch in week one of an intriguing battle between Army and Fordham. The Black Knights won this game 42-31 last November, but getting another win could be difficult in 2015. Army is returning just six starters overall with two of those coming on offense. Meanwhile Fordham is picked to win the Patriot League and has a lot riding on this coming season.

 

Which of these are my favorite? I'm not going to divulge that right now. One thing to consider with FCS/FBS games is that these lines are a bit volatile due to a lack of action. If you agree with some of my logic, I'd consider taking it now so you don't lose value.

 

(Florida A&M, Norfolk State, Richmond and Savannah State logos courtesy of SportsLogos.net)

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

Teaser:
College Football’s Week 1 FCS vs. FBS Betting Lines of Note
Post date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 12:00

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