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Arkansas State, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State were the top three teams in the Sun Belt last season and open 2016 at the top of predictions for this conference. Considering the strong returning core of talent for the Red Wolves, Mountaineers and Eagles, it should be no surprise these three teams dominate the Athlon Sports 2016 All-Sun Belt team. The Red Wolves lead the way with 19 overall selections, with the Mountaineers checking in second with 16 picks. Georgia Southern and Georgia State are tied for third with 12 selections, with South Alabama (10) and Idaho (10) up next.  

 

Athlon Sports released its full predictions for the Sun Belt last week. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2016.

 

Related: 

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2016. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2016 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

 

2016 Sun Belt Team Previews
             
 

National

Rank:

58 78 81 110 119 107
   

National

Rank:

126 120 115 122 102  

 

Visit the  to order a copy of the 2016 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

Athlon's 2016 All-Sun Belt Team 

 

First-Team

Offense

Second-Team

Offense

Third-Team

Offense

Fourth-Team

Offense

QB

Taylor Lamb

App. State 

Kevin Ellison

Ga. Southern 

Brandon Silvers

Troy 

Matt Linehan

Idaho 

RB

Matt Breida

Ga. Southern 

Elijah McGuire

ULL 

L.A. Ramsby

Ga. Southern 

Jalin Moore

App. State 

RB

Larry Rose

NMSU 

Xavier Johnson

South Alabama 

Johnston White

Ark. State 

Jordan Chunn

Troy 

AP

Marcus Cox (RB)

App. State 

Callen Hightower

Idaho 

Cameron 

Echols-Luper

Ark. State 

Warren Wand (RB)

Ark. State 

WR

Robert Davis

Georgia State 

Ajalen Holley

ULM 

Tyrian Taylor

NMSU 

Josh Magee

South Alabama 

WR

Penny Hart

Georgia State 

Dijon Paschal

Ark. State 

Shaedon Meadors

App. State 

Marcus Green

ULM  

TE

Gerald Everett

South Alabama 

Buck Cowan

Idaho 

Keith Rucker

Georgia State 

Deon Watson

Idaho 

C

Andy Kwon

Ga. Southern 

Devin Mondie

Ark. State 

Steven Matlock

Idaho 

Eddie Gordon

ULL 

OL

Jemar Clark

Ark. State 

Colby Gossett

App. State 

Jeremiah Culbreth

Ga. Southern 

Frank Sutton

ULM 

OL

Parker Collins

App. State 

Ryan Melton

Texas State 

Alex Stoehr

Georgia State 

Gabe Mobley

Georgia State 

OL

Antonio Garcia

Troy 

Beau Nunn

App. State 

Joseph Bacchus

Ark. State 

Curtis Williams

South Alabama 

OL

Colton Jackson

Ark. State 

Jordan Rose

Idaho 

Anthony McMeans

NMSU 

Tommy Boynton

Ga. Southern 

 

First-Team

Defense

Second-Team

Defense

Third-Team

Defense

Fourth-Team

Defense

DL

Rashad Dillard

Troy 

Tre Alford

South Alabama 

Waylon Roberson

Ark. State 

Mario Osborne

ULL 

DL

Jay Ellison

Ga. Southern 

Bernard Dawson

Ga. Southern 

Jamal Stadom

Troy 

Mackendy Cheridor

Georgia State 

DL

Dee Liner

Ark. State 

Shawayne Lawrence

Georgia State 

Jamal Johnson

Ga. Southern 

Tyson Fernandez

App. State 

DL

Ja'Von

Rolland-Jones

Ark. State 

Nate Norwood

App. State 

Dallas McClarty

Texas State 

Jimmie Gipson III

South Alabama 

LB

Eric Boggs

App. State 

Ironhead Gallon

Ga. Southern 

Rodney Butler

NMSU 

Ukeme Eligwe

Ga. Southern 

LB

John Law

App. State 

Alonzo McGee

Georgia State 

Roman Buchanan

South Alabama 

Devan Stringer

App. State 

LB

Xavier

Woodson-Luster

Ark. State 

Otha Peters

ULL 

Kaden Elliss

Idaho 

Khari Lain

Ark. State 

CB

Latrell Gibbs*

App. State 

Chandon Sullivan

Georgia State 

Jayshawn Jordan

Idaho 

Lenzy Pipkins

ULM 

CB

Jeremy Reaves

South Alabama 

Blaise Taylor

Ark. State 

Jerome Smith

Georgia State 

Kamryn Melton

Troy 

S

Cody Brown

Ark. State 

Bobby Baker

Georgia State 

Alex Gray

App. State  

Tre Hunter

ULM 

S

Kalen Jackson

South Alabama 

Savion Brown

ULL 

Tracy Walker

ULL 

Chris Humes

Ark. State 

 

First-Team

Specialists

Second-Team

Specialists

Third-Team

Specialists

Fourth-Team

Specialists

K

Austin Rehkow

Idaho 

Aleem Sunanon

South Alabama 

J.D. Houston

Ark. State 

Younghoe Koo

Ga. Southern 

P

Austin Rehkow

Idaho 

Bentlee Critcher 

App. State 

Lumi Kaba

Texas State 

Steven Coutts

ULL 

KR

Blaise Taylor

Ark. State 

Marquan Greene

Georgia State 

Marcus Green

ULM 

Gabe Fuselier

ULL 

PR

Blaise Taylor

Ark. State 

Brandon McDowell

Texas State 

Gary Haynes

ULL 

Latrell Gibbs

App. State 

 

 

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2016 All-Sun Belt Team
  First Second Third Fourth

Appalachian State

Offense: 3

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Arkansas State

Offense: 2

Defense: 4

Sp. Teams: 2 

Offense: 2

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 3

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Georgia State

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 4

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Georgia Southern

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1 

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Idaho

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 2

Offense: 3

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

UL Lafayette

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 2

ULM

Offense: 0 

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

New Mexico State

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

South Alabama

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Texas State

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1 

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Troy

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

 

* Gibbs was later ruled academically ineligible for the 2016 season in early July.

 

 

Teaser:
Sun Belt Football 2016 All-Conference Team
Post date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-toughest-games-stanfords-college-football-schedule-2016
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Defending  champion returns a Heisman Trophy runner-up in Christian McCaffrey, talented playmakers on defense and a stout offensive line. With David Shaw manning the sidelines, the Cardinal have pieces to defend their crown.

 

Related:

 

In order to do so, however, they must navigate one of the .

 

Stanford plays an incredible 11 games against Power Five conference competition, and most of its toughest games are away from home. The Cardinal also must replace a four-year starter at quarterback in Kevin Hogan, and defensive stars like Blake Martinez and Aziz Shittu.

 

12. Nov. 26 vs. Rice

Stanford's regular season caps with a non-conference date against Rice, the sole Group of Five opponent on the Cardinal's 2016 docket.

 

Rice head coach David Bailiff has flourished unlike any Owls leader of the last half-century, and done so with the same kind of high-level academic recruits that make up Stanford. Despite unprecedented success, however, the Owls simply lack the playmakers to keep pace with the Cardinal.

 

11. Nov. 5 vs. Oregon State

Shaw-coached teams have a knack for finding their stride in the final month. Rebuilding Oregon State should be overmatched whenever these teams face, but especially so late in the season when the Cardinal begin their championship push in earnest.

 

10. Oct. 22 vs. Colorado 

Colorado's progress under head coach Mike MacIntyre became evident when, in 2015, the Buffs played much of the Pac-12 to close finals. Stanford was an exception.

 

The Cardinal rolled last year in Boulder, as has been customary when these teams meet. Stanford simply presents a considerable mismatch against Colorado's style of play.

 

9. Oct. 29 at Arizona 

Stanford and Arizona have played only twice since Rich Rodriguez became the Wildcats' head coach in 2012, both times on The Farm, and both Cardinal wins. The first encounter, in 2012, went to overtime. Last season, Stanford smashed Arizona by 38 points -- and the final outcome could have been uglier.

 

The Wildcats should be improved from a season ago, in part because they couldn't possibly be as injured. Quarterback Anu Solomon missed last year's game with a concussion. A healthier Arizona roster and the always-raucous Zona Zoo could spring a trap for Stanford, but the Wildcats don't match up particularly well on paper.

 

8. Sept. 2 vs. Kansas State

Consider this unusual, non-conference meeting the appetizer before the buffet that is Week 1's loaded slate. 

 

Kansas State's Friday night visit to Stanford kicks off a treacherous schedule for the Cardinal appropriately enough, as the Wildcats would crack the upper-half of most game rankings. Bill Snyder's teams are always well coached and disciplined, qualities that mirror Stanford under Shaw.

 

7. Nov. 19 at Cal 

Stanford's one-sided dominance of The Big Game stands as microcosm of the program's respective places in the Pac-12 landscape. As much as the Cardinal have dominated the Bay, en route to winning conference championships, the Golden Bears' improvement became evident in last year's deceptively close battle.

 

Cal faces some uncertainties entering the year without Jared Goff at quarterback. Sonny Dykes and his staff should have some of those remedied by this point in the season. With the Ax on the line, the stakes are high.

 

6. Oct. 8 vs. Washington State

Last season's Halloween night showdown in Pullman went down to the wire -- specifically, the tight wire McCaffrey walked to set up a critical Cardinal score in the fourth quarter. Washington State had Stanford on the ropes in a game that would have launched the Cougars into first place in the Pac-12 North.

 

Washington State visits The Farm this time around boasting what is arguably an even better lineup. The Cougars have the make-up of a Top 25 team, if not a conference title contender.

 

5. Sept. 17 vs. USC 

Beginning with the animus between former head coaches Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll, the Stanford-USC rivalry has grown into one of the more intense and exciting in the Pac-12.

 

Stanford won four straight from 2009-12, dropped back-to-back in 2013 and '14, but rebounded last year with a pair of wins: one at the Coliseum, and the other in the Pac-12 Championship Game. This early-season encounter of last year's divisional winners should provide a telling barometer of the conference's outlook for the 2016 season to follow.

 

4. Sept. 24 at UCLA

Stanford has dominated the series in Jim Mora's tenure as UCLA head coach. Last year's blowout win on The Farm improved Shaw's record against the Bruins to 6-0; 5-0 head-to-head against Mora.

 

This year, UCLA benefits from home-field advantage, as well as a new look offensively. The Bruins' implementation of a more traditional scheme mirrors Stanford in several key facets, which makes this year's in-state showdown especially intriguing.

 

The Cardinal will still be adjusting without Hogan under center, and still finding their star pass rushers. Both quarterback play and pressure on the quarterback have been key in Stanford's recent success against UCLA.

 

3. Sept. 30 at Washington 

The en vogue preseason pick to shake up the Pac-12 power structure hosts THE Pac-12 power structure. Seattle's been inhospitable to Stanford teams in recent years, with the Cardinal mustering just 33 combined points in their last two visits there.

 

Washington's loaded defense in head coach Chris Petersen's third season promises more of the same. Expect a low-scoring slug-fest from which the winner will arise bruised, battered -- and in the early lead for the Pac-12 North championship.

 

2. Oct. 15 at Notre Dame

The meetings in this cross-country rival series since Brian Kelly became head coach at Notre Dame have largely been instant classics. Last year's was no exception, as a last-second Cardinal field goal thwarted the Fighting Irish's hope of landing in the College Football Playoff. Consider that Notre Dame's receipt for denying Stanford a shot at the BCS championship in 2012.

 

In three of the four seasons starting with the epic, overtime encounter of 2012, at least one of these two teams went on to play in either a BCS or New Year's Six bowl game. The trend should continue in 2016.

 

1. Nov. 12 at Oregon 

Given the stakes this budding rivalry has had tied to it every year since 2009, it's only fitting the annual showdown with Oregon tops the preseason ranking of Stanford's grueling '16 schedule.

 

The Ducks own a two-game winning streak in the series, capitalizing on costly Stanford fumbles last November to ostensibly keep the Cardinal out of the College Football Playoff. With that in mind, Shaw has every reason to circle this date on the Cardinal calendar in red ink.

 

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

Teaser:
Ranking the Toughest Games on Stanford's College Football Schedule in 2016
Post date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, syndicated
Path: /college-football/projected-fcs-playoff-qualifiers-2016
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The more, the merrier.

 

The expansion of the FCS playoffs to 24 teams in 2013 has allowed most conferences to put multiple teams into the field.

 

Last year, eight conferences had at least two qualifiers, led by the Missouri Valley with five, CAA Football with four and the Big Sky with three.

 

This year, the power conferences are primed to flex their muscle a bit more, with the.

 

Related:

 

With apologies to playoff staples New Hampshire, Eastern Kentucky and, recently, Fordham, here’s a sneak preview at the 2016 playoff field (in alphabetical order):

 

Charleston Southern (Big South champ)

Return to conference power Liberty on Nov. 12; won there in 2014

 

Chattanooga (Southern champ)

Only tough non-conference game is final one: Nov. 19 at Alabama

 

Colgate (Patriot champ)

Toughest league games on the road: Lehigh (Oct. 8) and Fordham (Nov. 5)

 

Dayton (Pioneer champ)

Difficult road schedule includes Duquesne, San Diego and Jacksonville

 

Duquesne (Northeast champ)

Last time we saw QB Dillon Buechel, he was throwing six touchdowns in FCS playoff game

 

Eastern Washington (Big Sky champ)

High expectations and talent, but replacing entire starting offensive line a recipe for disaster

 

Illinois State (at-large bid)

First regular-season game against North Dakota State since 2013 takes place in Fargodome on Oct. 1

 

Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley champ)

Beefed-up non-conference schedule will pay off in conference play

 

James Madison (at-large bid)

Easiest road game is at Maine, and that isn’t

 

McNeese State (at-large bid)

Will likely have to win at Sam Houston State (Nov. 5) to repeat as Southland champ

 

Montana (at-large bid)

Open Big Sky play at Cal Poly (Sept. 24), which has won the last two meetings

 

North Dakota (at-large bid)

Fighting Hawks are probably still talking about being left out of last year’s playoff field

 

North Dakota State (Missouri Valley champ)

Bison have skipped the non-conference cupcakes to try to tackle Charleston Southern, Eastern Washington and Iowa (in Iowa City).

 

Northern Iowa (at-large bid)

Panthers not far behind NDSU in toughness of non-conference start: at Iowa State, Montana and at Eastern Washington

 

Portland State (at-large bid)

Not as strong as last season, Vikings probably need to beat an FBS opponent again (they face San Jose State and Washington)

 

Richmond (CAA champ)

Difficult November finish awaits: James Madison, Delaware and at William & Mary

 

Sam Houston State (Southland champ)

All that remains is winning a national title, right?

 

South Dakota State (at-large bid)

Jackrabbits face TCU, North Dakota State, Illinois State and Northern Iowa on the road

 

The Citadel (at-large bid)

This year, Bulldogs host the other reigning SoCon champ, Chattanooga, on Oct. 15 and also will travel to Chapel Hill to take on reigning ACC Coastal champ North Carolina

 

Towson (at-large bid)

Just like North Dakota, CAA squad was one of the last teams left out of the 2015 playoff field

 

Villanova (at-large bid)

Head coach Andy Talley’s swan song surely deserves to wrap up in the playoffs

 

Western Illinois (at-large bid)

A 6-5 record got Leathernecks in playoffs last season; new coach Charlie Fisher expects even better mark

 

William & Mary (at-large bid)

Tribe have excellent offense and special teams, need quick rebuild on defense

 

Youngstown State (at-large bid)

Last year’s five Missouri Valley playoff qualifiers on this list; will Penguins make it a record six bids?

 

— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for . He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter .

 

(Top photo by William & Mary Athletics)

Teaser:
Projected FCS Playoff Qualifiers for 2016
Post date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: syndicated, NFL
Path: /nfl/stephen-smith-oj-simpson-trial-win-espn-first-take-skip-bayless-made-america-30-for-30
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There isn't a day that goes by that Stephen A. Smith doesn't say something questionable.

 

The "First Take" host, along with Skip Bayless, discussed ESPN's newest 30 For 30, "O.J.: Made in America" and gave us one of the best Smith lines of all-time.

 

"I believe the evidence was clear," Smith said. "Might be the cockiest thing I have ever said ... if it were me, there's no way in hell Johnnie Cochran would have beaten me with that evidence they had. I'm telling you right now — I'm not even a lawyer. There is no way that you would have put 12 jurors in front of me with that evidence and I would have lost."

 

Smith went on to say Simpson was "guilty as hell" and that the prosecution team did "an absolutely horrendous job." There you have it, Smith could be your next attorney and if the evidence is clear, he might even win it for you.

 

 

Who needs a big, fancy lawyer when you could just hire Smith for your next trial? 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 16:01
All taxonomy terms: syndicated, Overtime
Path: /overtime/espn-president-john-skipper-says-bill-simmons-lack-respect-hbo-ringer
Body:

Bill Simmons and ESPN are like that couple that broke up but are always talking about each other.

 

In a article, ESPN President John Skipper reveals the real reason Simmons was let go. And no, it has nothing do with the Roger Goodell-bashing he did.

 

"Bill would rather spin conspiracy theories and be perceived as a martyr than take responsibility for his own actions," Skipper said. "Let me be unequivocal and clear and take responsibility for my actions: I alone made the decision, and it had nothing to do with his comments about the commissioner. I severed our relationship with Bill because of his repeated lack of respect for this company and, more importantly, the people who work here."

 

Skipper doesn't seem to regret his decision and Simmons claims he couldn't be happier with The Ringer, so it seems good for everyone involved. 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 13:18
Path: /college-football/acc-football-2016-all-conference-team
Body:

The ACC featured four teams – Clemson, Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina – in Athlon's projected top 25 for 2016, and those four teams are home to a good chunk of the league’s talent this fall. The Tigers lead the way with 14 overall selections on Athlon’s 2016 All-ACC team, while North Carolina and Louisville are tied for second with 12. Projected ACC champion Florida State is slightly behind Clemson, North Carolina and Louisville with 10 overall selections. 

 

Athlon Sports released its full predictions for the ACC last week. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2016.

 

Related:

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2016. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2016 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

 

ACC 2016 Team Previews

Atlantic Division
 

National

Rank:

65 4 2 18 59 75 64
Coastal Division
 

National

Rank:

53 49 27 21 38 72 29

 

Visit the  to order a copy of the 2016 ACC Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 14 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

Athlon's All-ACC Team for 2016
 

First-Team

Offense

Second-Team

Offense

Third-Team

Offense

Fourth-Team

Offense

QB

Deshaun Watson

Clemson 

Brad Kaaya

Miami 

Lamar Jackson

Louisville 

Mitch Trubisky

North Carolina 

RB

Dalvin Cook

Florida State 

Elijah Hood

North Carolina 

Matt Dayes

NC State 

Joseph Yearby

Miami 

RB

Wayne Gallman

Clemson 

James Conner

Pitt 

Travon McMillian

Va. Tech 

Jon Hilliman

Boston College 

AP

Artavis Scott

Clemson 

Jaylen Samuels

NC State 

Taquan Mizzell (RB)

Virginia  

James Quick (WR)

Louisville 

WR

Isaiah Ford

Va. Tech 

Mack Hollins

North Carolina 

Stacy Coley

Miami 

Ryan Switzer

North Carolina 

WR

Mike Williams

Clemson 

Travis Rudolph

Florida State 

Jamari Staples

Louisville 

Steve Ishmael

Syracuse 

TE

Jordan Leggett

Clemson 

Bucky Hodges

Va. Tech 

Cam Serigne

Wake Forest 

Cole Hikutini

Louisville 

C

Jay Guillermo

Clemson 

Lucas Crowley

North Carolina 

Freddie Burden

Ga. Tech 

Jackson Matteo

Virginia 

OL

Roderick Johnson

Florida State 

Geron Christian

Louisville 

Kareem Are

Florida State 

Tony Adams

NC State 

OL

Mitch Hyatt

Clemson 

Jon Heck

North Carolina 

Casey Blaser

Duke 

Jonathan McLaughlin

Va. Tech 

OL

Dorian Johnson

Pitt 

Caleb Peterson

North Carolina 

Danny Isidora

Miami 

Jon Baker

Boston College 

OL

Adam Bisnowaty

Pitt 

Tyrone Crowder

Clemson 

Wyatt Teller

Va. Tech 

Gabe Brandner

Duke 

 

First-Team

Defense

Second-Team

Defense

Third-Team

Defense

Fourth-Team

Defense

DL

Ejuan Price

Pitt 

Ken Ekanem

Va. Tech 

DeAngelo Brown

Louisville 

KeShun Freeman

Ga. Tech 

DL

DeMarcus Walker

Florida State 

Harold Landry

Boston College 

Bradley Chubb

NC State 

Nazair Jones

North Carolina 

DL

Carlos Watkins

Clemson 

Josh Sweat

Florida State 

Duke Ejiofor

Wake Forest 

A.J. Wolf

Duke 

DL

Al-Quadin
Muhammad

Miami 

Christian Wilkins

Clemson 

Derrick Nnadi

Florida State 

B.J. Hill

NC State 

LB

Ben Boulware

Clemson 

Micah Kiser

Virginia 

P.J. Davis

Ga. Tech 

Connor Strachan

Boston College 

LB

Devonte Fields

Louisville 

Marquel Lee

Wake Forest 

Matt Galambos

Pitt 

Zaire Franklin

Syracuse 

LB

Keith Kelsey

Louisville 

Matt Milano

Boston College 

Jermaine Grace

Miami 

Ro'Derrick Hoskins

Florida State 

CB

Marquez White

Florida State 

Des Lawrence

North Carolina 

Trumaine Washington

Louisville 

Brandon Facyson

Va. Tech 

CB

Cordrea Tankersley

Clemson 

M.J. Stewart

North Carolina 

Brad Watson

Wake Forest 

Corn Elder

Miami 

S

Derwin James

Florida State 

Quin Blanding

Virginia 

Chuck Clark

Va. Tech 

Donnie Miles

North Carolina 

S

Jordan Whitehead

Pitt 

J. Harvey-Clemons

Louisville 

DeVon Edwards (CB/S)

Duke 

Shaq Wiggins (CB)

Louisville  

 

First-Team

Specialists

Second-Team

Specialists

Third-Team

Specialists

Fourth-Team

Specialists

K

Greg Huegel

Clemson 

Michael Badgley

Miami 

Cole Murphy

Syracuse 

Chris Blewitt

Pitt 

P

Justin Vogel

Miami 

Nicholas Conte

Virginia 

Ryan Winslow

Pitt 

A.J. Cole

NC State 

KR

DeVon Edwards

Duke 

Artavis Scott

Clemson 

Michael Walker

Boston College 

Nyheim Hines

NC State 

PR

Ryan Switzer

North Carolina 

Brisly Estime

Syracuse 

Bra'Lon Cherry

NC State 

Jaire Alexander

Louisville 

 

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2016 All-ACC Team
  First Second Third Fourth
Boston College

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Clemson

Offense: 7

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Duke

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Florida State

Offense: 2

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Georgia Tech

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Louisville

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2 

Defense: 2 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Miami

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

North Carolina

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 5

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

NC State

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 2

Pitt

Offense: 2

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Syracuse

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Virginia

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Virginia Tech

Offense: 1 

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Wake Forest

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

 

 

Teaser:
ACC Football 2016 All-Conference Team
Post date: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/american-athletic-2016-all-conference-team
Body:

Houston, USF and Temple are considered the top three teams and favorites to win the American Athletic Conference in 2016, so it should be no surprise these programs dominate the projected all-conference team by Athlon Sports. The Cougars and the Bulls are tied with 14 selections on Athlon Sports’ 2016 American Athletic all-conference team, with the Owls checking in at No. 3 with 11 selections. UConn and Tulsa are just a step behind with 10 picks.

 

The 2016  season is still a few months away, but it’s never too early to project what could happen this year.

 

Athlon Sports released its  last week. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2016.

 

Related:

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2016. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2016 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

 

American Athletic Conference 2016 Team Previews
East Division
 

National

Rank:

54 77 94 37 52 100
West Division
 

National

Rank:

15 83 67 101 117 84

 

Visit the  to order a copy of the 2016 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

 

Athlon's American Athletic All-Conference Team for 2016
 

First-Team

Offense

Second-Team

Offense

Third-Team

Offense

Fourth-Team

Offense

QB

Greg Ward

Houston  

Quinton Flowers

USF 

Gunner Kiel

Cincinnati 

Dane Evans

Tulsa 

RB

Marlon Mack

USF 

Dontrel Hilliard

Tulane 

Dishan Romine

Navy 

Mike Boone

Cincinnati 

RB

Jahad Thomas

Temple 

Duke Catalon

Houston 

Doroland Dorceus

Memphis 

Taj McGowan

UCF 

AP

Arkeel Newsome

UConn 

Sam Craft

Memphis 

Trevon Brown

East Carolina 

D'Angelo Brewer (RB)

Tulsa 

WR

Zay Jones

East Carolina 

Rodney Adams

USF 

Ra'Shaad Samples

Houston 

Ventell Bryant

Temple 

WR

Keevan Lucas

Tulsa 

Chance Allen

Houston 

Jamir Tillman

Navy 

Noel Thomas

UConn 

WR

Courtland Sutton

SMU 

Tre'Quan Smith

UCF 

Josh Atkinson

Tulsa 

Avery Peterson

Cincinnati 

C

Deyshawn Bond

Cincinnati 

Will Noble

Houston 

Chandler Miller

Tulsa 

Drew Kyser

Memphis 

OL

Kofi Amichia

USF 

Blake Belcher

Tulsa 

Brian Carter

Temple 

Evan Brown

SMU 

OL

J.T. Boyd

East Carolina 

Trevon Tate

Memphis 

Na'Ty Rodgers

Houston 

Robert Lindsey

Navy 

OL

Dion Dawkins

Temple 

Chris Taylor

Tulane 

Gabe Kuhn

Memphis 

Tyler Hudanick

UCF 

OL

Ryan Leahy

Cincinnati 

Dominique Threatt

USF 

Andreas Knappe

UConn 

Leon Johnson

Temple 

  First-Team
Defense

Second-Team

Defense

Third-Team

Defense

Fourth-Team

Defense

DL

B.J. Singleton

Houston 

Luke Carrezola

UConn 

Amos Mason

Navy 

Ed Oliver

Houston 

DL

Tanzel Smart

Tulane 

Jamiyus Pittman

UCF 

Fred Presley

East Carolina 

Justin Lawler

SMU 

DL

Folorunso

Fatukasi

UConn 

Deadrin Senat

USF 

Bruce Hector

USF 

Jeremy Smith

Tulsa 

DL

Haason Reddick

Temple 

Praise-Martin

Oguike

Temple 

Cameron Malveaux

Houston 

Kevin Bronson

USF 

LB

Steven Taylor

Houston 

Matt Linscott

Tulsa 

Jarred Alwan

Temple 

Daniel Gonzales

Navy 

LB

Nico Marley

Tulane 

Eric Wilson

Cincinnati 

Chequan Burkett

UCF 

Tyus Bowser

Houston 

LB

Auggie Sanchez

USF 

Junior Joseph

UConn 

Trent Martin

Tulsa 

Jordan Williams

East Carolina 

CB

Jamar Summers

UConn 

Brandon Wilson

Houston 

Jhavon Williams

UConn 

Parry Nickerson

Tulane 

CB

Sean Chandler 

Temple 

Deatrick Nichols

USF 

Brendon Clements*

Navy 

DaShaun Amos

East Carolina 

S

Zach Edwards

Cincinnati 

Travon Simmons

East Carolina 

Devin Abraham
USF 

Delvon Randall

Temple  

S

Obi Melifonwu

UConn 

Nate Godwin

USF 

Jeremy Brady

Tulsa 

Daiquan Thomasson

Navy 

 

First-Team

Specialists

Second-Team

Specialists

Third-Team

Specialists

Fourth-Team

Specialists

K

Jake Elliott

Memphis 

Andrew Gantz

Cincinnati 

Austin Jones

Temple 

Bobby Puyol

UConn 

P Caleb Houston
UCF 

Worth Gregory

East Carolina 

Spencer Smith

Memphis 

Sam Geraci

Cincinnati 

KR

Brandon Wilson

Houston 

Rodney Adams

USF 

Dishan Romine

Navy 

Braedon West

SMU 

PR

Tajee Fulwood

USF 

Quay Johnson

East Carolina 

Roderick Proctor

Memphis 

Ra'Shaad Samples

Houston 

 

 

Breakdown of Athlon's 2016 American Athletic All-Conference Team
  First Second Third Fourth

Cincinnati

Offense: 2

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

UConn

Offense: 1

Defense: 3 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 2 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

East Carolina

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0 

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 2

Offense: 1 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Houston

Offense: 1 

Defense: 2 

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 3 

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2 

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Memphis

Offense: 0 

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2 

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 2

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Navy

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2 

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1 

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

SMU

Offense: 1 

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0 

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0 

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Temple

Offense: 2 

Defense: 2 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0 

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1 

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Tulane

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2 

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Tulsa

Offense: 1 

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1 

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2 

Defense: 2 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

UCF

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1 

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

USF

Offense: 2 

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 3

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

 

* Clements was dismissed from the team in early July.

 

(Credit to /Stephen Pinchback for the top photo of QB Greg Ward)

Teaser:
American Athletic 2016 All-Conference Team
Post date: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC
Path: /college-football/ranking-toughest-games-floridas-college-football-schedule-2016
Body:

Coming into Jim McElwain’s first season in Gainesville, not much was expected of the , especially after finishing a disappointing 7-5 record in 2014. But not only did McElwain and the Gators exceed expectations with 10 wins last season, they also played in their first SEC Championship Game since 2009.

 

Florida slumped in the second half of the season after starting 7-1. The campaign ended with three straight losses to Florida State, Alabama in the SEC title game and Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.

 

College Football: Big 12 adds title game, Vegas odds and Jeffery Simmons



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Just like last season, not many experts and preseason magazines are picking the Gators to win the SEC East. Florida won’t have to travel far this season, as nine of their 12 games will be played in the Sunshine State.

 

Related:

 

Let’s taking a look at the Gators’ 2016 schedule from the easiest to the most difficult matchup:

 

12. Nov. 19 vs. Presbyterian

Everyone knows Florida’s game against Presbyterian is pretty much a scrimmage in preparation for Florida State the following weekend in Tallahassee. In last year’s warm-up game against FAU, the Gators needed a touchdown pass in overtime to win 20-14.

 

Florida should make quick work of a Blue Hose team that went just 2-9 last season.

 

11. Sept. 17 vs. North Texas

The North Texas Mean Green will be the second non-conference opponent the Gators will face in 2016. Last season, the Mean Green won just one game (1-11), as head coach Dan McCarney was fired after five seasons in Denton.

 

Florida will use this game as a tune-up to its big matchup against Tennessee, who is the favorite to win the SEC East this season.

 

10. Sept. 3 vs. UMass

To open the 2016 season, the Gators will play a UMass program that has had trouble adjusting to the FBS. Last season, UMass finished with a 3-9 record and is still looking to qualify for its first bowl game since returning to the FBS in 2011.

 

This should be a great opportunity for the younger Gators to get some playing time and reps. Florida will begin its SEC schedule the next week against Kentucky.

 

9. Nov. 12 vs. South Carolina

South Carolina went 3-9 last season, as head coach Steve Spurrier retired midway through. Former Gators head coach Will Muschamp was hired as Spurrier’s replacement last December.

 

This is clearly a rebuilding job for Muschamp and the Gamecocks. South Carolina could have a true freshman starting at quarterback along with very little depth at receiver and on defense.

 

8. Oct. 15 vs. Missouri

After winning two straight SEC East titles, the Tigers went from 11 wins in 2014 to five last season. This season, the Tigers have a new head coach in Barry Odom and their fans are hoping the team can return to their winning ways.

 

Sophomore Drew Lock returns at quarterback and should produce better results now that he and his receivers have some experience under their belts. Missouri’s defense should be as strong as it has been the last three seasons.

 

7. Sept. 10 vs. Kentucky

After a fast start to the season, the Wildcats finished with a disappointing 5-7 record, extending a bowl game drought that goes back to the 2011 campaign. Kentucky has new co-offensive coordinators this season as Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw have made the move from Cincinnati to Lexington.

 

That should result in more of a high-powered Kentucky offense and an improved Wildcats team.

 

6. Oct. 1 at Vanderbilt

Despite finishing 4-8 last season, the Commodores have made noticeable progress under head coach Derek Mason. With 12 starters returning and a stout defense, Vanderbilt could find itself in a bowl game by season’s end.

 

Quarterback Kyle Shurmur’s play will need to improve, but getting back wide receiver C.J. Duncan and tight ends DeAndre Woods and Jared Pinkney should help him and the offense develop.

 

5. Oct. 29 vs. Georgia (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Florida had a lot of success against former Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt, but a new era is set to begin in Athens.

 

Former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was hired as head coach last December and he is hoping to develop Georgia into a consistent national title contender once again.

 

Georgia has a lot of talent returning this fall, but a spot in the College Football Playoff this year seems unlikely. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the Bulldogs could win the SEC East however.

 

4. Nov. 5 at Arkansas

The Razorbacks must replace several key pieces from last year’s 8-5 team, but they should still be a factor in the SEC West. Austin Allen is in line to replace his brother Brandon as Arkansas’ starting quarterback.

 

With nine starters returning on defense, the Razorbacks will be relying on that side of the ball to be successful in 2016. A trip to Fayetteville is never easy, so the Gators will have their hands full.

 

3. Oct. 8 vs. LSU

Florida lost a close game to LSU 35-28 a year ago in Baton Rouge. With the game in Gainesville this season, the Gators could be in position to break their three-game losing streak to the Tigers.

 

Florida will have to slow down preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Leonard Fournette. LSU also returns 17 other starters from a team that was ranked second in the nation at one point last season.

 

2. Nov. 26 at Florida State

Normally Florida State is No. 1 on this list every year, but there’s a bigger game this season. In any event, the Seminoles should be a contender for the national championship again in 2016 after having a bit of a rebuilding season a year ago.

 

Whoever is the Seminoles quarterback this fall, there will be a ton of talent around them. Florida State’s defense also should be better than the unit that allowed 17.5 points per game in 2015.

 

1. Sept. 24 at Tennessee

Yes, the Gators have defeated the Volunteers 11 straight times, but that streak could come to an end this season. Tennessee will field its best team since going 10-4 and winning the SEC East in 2007.

 

All four of Tennessee’s losses last season were by seven points or fewer. For the first time in years, big expectations are expected in Knoxville and the Volunteers could finally fulfill them.

 

— 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:
Ranking the Toughest Games on Florida's College Football Schedule in 2016
Post date: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/most-important-player-every-big-ten-team-2016
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Every team has that one guy who needs to show up every week and get his job done at the highest level in order for his team to have success. Sometimes that player is simply the most talented one on the team. Often it's the quarterback. Other times, the most important player is one who simply plays a key role in the game plan and scheme from week to week.

 

Whatever the case, these guys from each team need to show up and play at a high level — perhaps even more so than their teammates — in order for their teams to have success this season.

 

The Most Important Player on Every Big Ten Team in 2016

 

Dan Feeney, Guard, Indiana

The Hoosiers have evolved into a bit of an offensive juggernaut over the last couple of seasons. They rely on lighting up the scoreboard and getting into shootouts in order to stay in and win football games. That all starts with solid play on the offensive line, and none of their lineman are more talented than Feeney. He didn't allow a single sack in 2015 and proved to be one of the more dominant run blockers in the Big Ten. His presence raises the bar for his fellow linemen and makes Indiana a threat to consistently move the ball.

 

Will Likely, Cornerback, Maryland

Speaking of raising the bar, the undersized Maryland corner is one of the very few bright spots in College Park on football Saturdays. He gives the Terrapins an elite defensive back that opposing offenses must respect and often game plan around. He also has the ability to flip the field as a return man. His playmaking ability should provide a certain level of comfort and a boost of confidence for a team going through a coaching transition.

 

Jabrill Peppers, Linebacker, Michigan

Peppers is a natural defensive back whose athleticism is going to be used at the linebacker position in Michigan's new scheme. His versatility, which allows him to come off the corner and pressure the quarterback as well as lock down tight ends and running backs in pass coverage, will be the difference between the Wolverine defense being good and great. He must stay healthy, and that could be a tall order as he operates largely in an area of the field where the big bodies roam.

 

Brian Allen, Center, Michigan State

Allen will likely be the pivot man on the Spartan offensive line. His role is all the more important, as Michigan State works in a new full-time starting quarterback for the first time in more than three seasons. Additionally, some serious talent on the offensive line from 2015 departed for the NFL. It'll be up to Allen to provide the leadership and continuity necessary for this offense full of solid skill players to function at a high level.

 

J.T. Barrett, Quarterback, Ohio State

No team in college football has lost more raw talent since the end of last season than the Ohio State Buckeyes. Barrett returns to lead Urban Meyer's crew on a quest for another title. His experience and playmaking ability — especially early in the season — will be key to Ohio State surviving long enough for the new players to get comfortable as starters without suffering a couple of early losses. He'll need to be at his absolute best — particularly in the early matchup at Oklahoma — if the Buckeyes want to be in the College Football Playoff conversation past September.

 

Trace McSorely, Quarterback, Penn State

The Christian Hackenberg era has come to an end. McSorely now takes over an offense with some elite skill players that could end up stunning the East division. His ability to pick up the new, no-huddle scheme being installed by offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead could be the deciding factor as to whether or not the Nittany Lions are competing for a division title or just the chance to play in a bowl game.

 

Janarion Grant, Wide Receiver, Rutgers

New head coach Chris Ash will have his work cut out for him in Piscataway this season. He has made strides in recruiting, but inherited a fairly empty cupboard, especially in the way of playmakers. Grant is the lone star in that regard and will be counted on to be a consistent threat in the passing game. He's also one of the best returners in the country. His ability to flip the field could save Ash a lot of headaches in 2016.

 

Hardy Nickerson, Linebacker, Illinois

Lovie Smith will have the luxury of a seasoned quarterback in Wes Lunt to lean on during his first season at the helm in Champaign. Hardy Nickerson, whose father will serve as the team's defensive coordinator, will be that guy on defense. The graduate transfer already speaks the language of the scheme and will provide the senior leadership on and off the field necessary to keep this team focused during a transition period.

 

Greg Mabin, Cornerback, Iowa

The Hawkeyes have talent all over the field on defense — most notably in cornerback Desmond King. King might be the best defensive back in the country. Kirk Ferentz and all of Hawkeye Nation know what he brings to the table every week. Opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks are well aware of King's talents as well, making Mabin's mere presence and playmaking ability that much more important. King will have his third of the field locked down, meaning Mabin will be tested early and often. If he's not ready for the challenge, Iowa's defense becomes much easier to attack.

 

Shannon Brooks, Running Back, Minnesota

Minnesota's lack of home-run hitters has plagued them for a couple of years now. Brooks is the only skill player the Gophers have who can light up the scoreboard from anywhere on the field. He'll need to do just that early in the season in order to keep opposing defenses honest against an otherwise pedestrian offensive attack — especially through the air.

 

Tommy Armstrong, Quarterback, Nebraska

We saw what Armstrong and the Husker offense can do when they are firing on all cylinders last December when they ran over a talented UCLA team in the Foster Farms Bowl. The Huskers have some decent talent of their own on offense, but it will be Armstrong's decision-making ability that will determine just how effective the offense will be. If he can avoid some of the head-scratching turnover issues he had in 2015 and replicate his bowl game performance during the majority of the matchups on Nebraska's slate, it could be a special season in Lincoln.

 

Clayton Thorson, Quarterback, Northwestern

The Wildcats exceed the expectations of most experts and pundits in 2015, largely on the back of a dream season from their then-freshman quarterback. Thorson's mobility and wherewithal to know when to tuck it and run and when to throw it away were key factors in Northwestern winning 10 games. He'll have another stout defense as a security blanket as well as one of the nation's better running backs in Justin Jackson behind him in 2016. Thorson just needs to play to his ability and maintain control of the situation for Northwestern to replicate its success from a season ago.

 

Jordan Roos, Guard, Purdue

Everything I said about Dan Feeney could probably be said here about Roos' situation at Purdue. The difference is, the Boilermakers do not have the same explosive offense. They do, however, have running back Markell Jones. Jones will likely be the focal point of the Purdue attack. The Boilermakers will live and die by his ability to move the chains consistently, and that'll only happen with solid play from the team's best blocker.

 

Vince Biegel, Linebacker, Wisconsin

Offensively, Wisconsin will do what it does: pound the ball. On defense, the Badgers need Biegel to turn in another standout campaign as a pass rusher if they want to compete for a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game. The Big Ten West has a diverse collection of quarterbacks, ranging from mobile, dual-threat playmakers to traditional pocket passers. Biegel's ability to get after and disrupt all of them will be key to getting his clock-eating offense as many possessions as possible.

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the owner of . Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
The Most Important Player on Every Big Ten Team in 2016
Post date: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Alabama Crimson Tide, College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/ranking-toughest-games-alabamas-college-football-schedule-2016
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Nick Saban doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon when it comes to dominating the college football landscape. is coming off yet another national championship, and the Crimson Tide look to be loaded with talent once again. It is truly stunning how this program is able to win at such a high level after shipping off another class to the NFL every year.

 

Related:

 

As we head into the fall, Alabama appears to have several questions surrounding the offense, in particular. The Tide will have to find answers to those questions in a hurry, because two of their first three games are against USC and Ole Miss. In fact, the schedule isn’t doing Alabama any favors whatsoever.

 

College Football: Big 12 adds title game, Vegas odds and Jeffery Simmons



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Here is a look at Alabama’s 12 regular season games, ranked from easiest to toughest:

 

12. Nov. 19 vs. Chattanooga

The Crimson Tide get Chattanooga sandwiched in between the rigors of the SEC schedule late in November. This is just one of the not-so-appealing games involving SEC teams that weekend. By November Alabama figures to clicking on all cylinders, so this shouldn’t be much of a contest. Chattanooga has enjoyed some success over the past few years against FCS-level competition, but the defending national champions are in a class of their own.

 

11. Sept. 24 vs. Kent State

Last season Kent State finished 3-9 with wins over Delaware State, Miami (Ohio) and UMass. The Golden Flashes were outscored by their opponents by an average of 13 points per game. For a team as talented and well disciplined as Alabama, this game should be nothing more than a tune-up for the majority of the SEC schedule.

 

10. Oct. 1 vs. Kentucky

On paper, Kentucky looks to be improved on offense, which it has relied on for the most part under Mark Stoops. Some even think the Wildcats could be a potential dark horse in the SEC East. But unless things have improved dramatically on defense, it is unlikely that the ‘Cats will be able to hang around with Alabama. This one might be close for a little while, but ultimately the Tide will roll. 

 

9. Sept. 10 vs. Western Kentucky

Kentucky isn’t even the best team from the Bluegrass State on Alabama’s schedule. Western Kentucky, by most accounts, is the favorite to win Conference USA coming into the season. Last year, the Hilltoppers finished 12-2 and probably would have ended up in the top half of the SEC East. Stud quarterback Brandon Doughty is gone, but this is still a very capable team. Alabama better not find itself on cruise control in week two.

 

8. Nov. 12 vs. Mississippi State

It has been stressed over and over again how hard it will be for Mississippi State to replace Dak Prescott, but that’s because it’s the truth. State has a couple viable options at the position heading into fall camp, and also has some key playmakers returning at wide receiver. Dan Mullen has proven as a coach that he can maximize his players’ potential. The Bulldogs will need to be at their best when they travel to Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

 

7. Oct. 22 vs. Texas A&M

Everyone around the SEC is still kind of wondering exactly what’s going on in College Station. Drama… that would be the short answer. Hopefully, by the time football season rolls around, Texas A&M will have everything worked out. The Aggies appear to have a solid starter at quarterback in former Oklahoma starter Trevor Knight. Maybe Texas A&M will have a better showing than it did the last time these two teams met in Tuscaloosa. Alabama won that game 59-0 in 2014.

 

6. Nov. 26 vs. Auburn

The Iron Bowl often proves to be a fairly tight game even when one of the teams is bad. It is, after all, one of college football’s biggest rivalries. Both Alabama and Auburn have plenty of question marks coming into the season, but Auburn is the real mystery. For some reason, there is usually a feeling that the Tigers could be anywhere from 6-6 to 12-0 when all is said and done. The Crimson Tide won last year’s matchup, 29-13 down on the plains.

 

5. Oct. 8 at Arkansas

Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks are bringing back nine starters from last year’s young defense, but it seems that the offense has lost nearly everyone. The Hogs will be rebuilding in the running game and at quarterback, where Brandon Allen departed after a solid career. His younger brother, Austin, is ready to fill in under center. Two years ago, Arkansas was a missed extra point away from taking Alabama to overtime in Fayetteville. This should be another physical contest.

 

4. Sept. 3 vs. USC (Arlington, Texas)

Alabama’s season opener against USC in Jerry’s World marks only the eighth meeting all-time between the two storied programs. The Crimson Tide lead the series 5-2, with the last meeting taking place way back in 1985 (a 24-3 Alabama win). The Trojans are No. 22 in and should be one of the top contenders in the Pac-12 South. But Alabama will still be favored to win. There isn’t a better coach than Saban with ample time to prepare for a game.

 

3. Oct. 15 at Tennessee

Thank goodness, this one is back on the third Saturday in October where it belongs. The move to the traditional date of the rivalry also could signal that the contests are about to heat up. The Volunteers return 18 starters from last year’s 9-4 squad that nearly upset Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide defense will need to be at its very best by the middle of October if it hopes to contain Tennessee’s three-headed rushing attack.

 

2. Sept. 17 at Ole Miss

The one team that has had Alabama’s number recently is Ole Miss. The Rebels are coming off back-to-back wins over the Tide and have the luxury of playing this game in Oxford early in the season. Alabama likely will still be trying to figure out its quarterback situation in week three. Ole Miss, on the other hand, returns the SEC’s most prolific passer in Chad Kelly. You can bet Saban will do everything in his power to prevent Ole Miss from hanging 43 points on his defense this year.

 

1. Nov. 5 at LSU

By now, most everyone knows how loaded LSU is heading into the fall. The Tigers return the most starters of any team in the SEC and have piled up quality depth over the past couple seasons. The defensive line for LSU is one of the SEC’s deepest position groups, which usually signals a great chance for success. LSU looks to be a legitimate national title contender in 2016. Alabama should have its hands full in Baton Rouge. Chances are, this one will be a night game.

 

— Written by Cody McClure, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a radio host and lead SEC Writer for . Follow him on Twitter .

Teaser:
Ranking the Toughest Games on Alabama's College Football Schedule in 2016
Post date: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR
Path: /nascar/firekeepers-casino-400-michigan-preview-and-fantasy-nascar-predictions-2016
Body:

Michigan. It was once the hotbed of American car manufacturing and still considered the hometown race for two of the sport’s “Big Three” – Ford and Chevrolet. While the Detroit metro area has clearly gone through a transition over the past few decades, its car creation identity remains a source of pride.

 

But as the sport winds its way through the Irish Hills, headed for this two-mile oval the series visits twice a year, those American-born manufacturers find themselves in a footrace to keep up in . It’s Toyota, based in California and whose roots began on foreign soil, that has been running roughshod over the Fusions and Chevy SS models this season. Eight of 14 races thus far have been won by their Camrys; the top-5 teams for the manufacturer, all under the guidance of Joe Gibbs Racing, are virtual “locks” for the Chase.

 

It’s a run that has put the manufacturer title squarely within Toyota’s reach, one that Chevy has captured without resistance since 2002. Winning at Michigan, a place that evokes such pride for everyone connected to cars, would be an extra special stake driven straight into their heart. Last week, it seemed the Bowtie Brigade made progress; Kurt Busch found himself in Victory Lane for the first time this season. By comparison, Toyota’s best was Matt Kenseth in seventh, the worst “best finish” we’ve seen the manufacturer produce all season long.

 

This year has been Toyota’s breakthrough campaign so far. But this race, with so much emotion at stake and armed with a new rules package, is one where we’ll really have a chance to see how much Ford and Chevy have been able to pull a counterpunch.

 

2016 FireKeepers Casino 400

 

Time: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)

Track: Michigan International Speedway (Brooklyn, Mich.)

TV: FOX Sports 1

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM Channel 90

 

Who’s at the Front: Kurt Busch

Busch’s consistency thus far is what stands out this season: his 12 top-10 finishes in 14 starts lead the series. By comparison, at this point in 2015 Busch only had 11 chances for a top-10 result after a three-race suspension under the cloud of domestic violence allegations put a damper on what was otherwise a quality season under the watch of crew chief Tony Gibson. Gibson returns this week but fill-in Johnny Klausmeier did just fine while his boss served a one-race suspension at Pocono; fuel mileage and track position handed Busch his first victory of 2016 (and first at Pocono in nearly a decade). The No. 41 Chevy gets swept under the rug of title contenders with the emergence of Joe Gibbs Racing’s foursome, teammate Kevin Harvick, six-time champ Jimmie Johnson, the Team Penske boys and perhaps even Martin Truex Jr. But the winner of the sport’s original Chase appears good enough to win a second title at some point during his career. Don’t count him out.

 

Who’s at the Back: Tony Stewart

Stewart slipped out the back door at Pocono, leaving the care center without speaking to reporters and armed with the reality his final season is in serious condition. Stewart flat out lost it Sunday, spinning out on his own, and the end result was a disastrous wreck that erased a solid top-10 qualifying effort and early in-race speed. The No. 14 Chevrolet has but a single top 10 since Stewart came back from an eight-race stint on the sidelines due to injury. Technically, the 45-year-old gets credit for that but it was Ty Dillon who steered that car for most of the day at Talladega Superspeedway. Stewart, who still seems poised to reach the top 30 in points, is incapable of making the Chase without winning a race. A three-time series champ is always capable of catching lightning in a bottle but the past few weeks have made it clear it’s going to be a daunting task.

 

News Briefs

 

Kyle Larson’s crew chief Chad Johnston is the latest to suffer a suspension this week due to NASCAR’s enforcement of its lug nut rules (team engineer Phil Surgen will fill in on the No. 42 Chevrolet at Michigan). Team owner Chip Ganassi turned critical of the rules this week, calling them “silly” in a SIRIUS XM interview while urging NASCAR to change the narrative and take the focus away from nitpicking at these different violations.

 

A NASCAR plane en route to Texas suffered from pressurization problems Thursday and was forced to turn back around and make an emergency landing. According to , some passengers suffered from extreme headaches and were disoriented while the plane was in flight. The first Truck Series practice was canceled as a result until all competitors were on the ground safely in Texas.

 

A groundhog? Yes, a groundhog. Practice at Michigan Friday was halted for 10 minutes while a groundhog was chased around the track. Officials thought they had the animal caught but his escape became the equivalent of a comedy show at a time when cars should have been zooming around at 200 miles per hour.

 

NASCAR by the Numbers

 

4

Second-place finishes for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. including Sunday’s race at Pocono. That’s the most for any driver this season. Earnhardt remains comfortably inside the Chase but until he visits Victory Lane in 2016 the No. 88 team remains vulnerable should a string of bad luck hit them during the summer months.

 

10

Cautions at Pocono, the most for the June event at the track since 2008.

 

Playing the Odds (Fantasy Spin)

 

Top Tier

 

For , Michigan can’t come at a better time. It’s the second straight week in NASCAR the previous race’s winner comes to the next event as its defending champion. The June 2015 Michigan winner, Busch boasts three career victories here and certainly enters the weekend with momentum. His stats overall with Stewart-Haas Racing have been inconsistent at Michigan (the win is his only top-10 finish with the team) but a strong performance is expected this weekend.

 

For years, Michigan was the Achilles’ Heel of and the No. 48 team. They just couldn’t find the lucky charm necessary to win despite years’ worth of dominance near the front of the field. But after taking the trophy home in the June 2014 race at this track the monkey is off the six-time champ’s back for whenever they come here. He’s had no top-5 finishes in the three races since that win but with the statistics Johnson puts up that only tells you he’s due. Add in a strong run at Pocono felled by bad luck (see: contact with Casey Mears) and Johnson is a sneaky start on your roster during a week some will be hesitant to use him.

 

If you’re looking for more consistency, has six straight top-10 finishes at Michigan including a win. He’s a good pick along with teammate .

 

Middle Tier

 

has more experience at Michigan than most Sprint Cup tracks, posting an 11th-place finish in 2013. Last August, he finished fourth after leading 19 laps, perhaps his best Cup Series race start-to-finish up to that point. He’s a bit of a risky play after two wrecks in the last three races; Dillon was increasingly vocal after the second concerning how his Richard Childress Racing program needs to step up. But if Dillon is going to save his Chase bid, a playoff berth that would be the first of his career, he needs to stop the bleeding at tracks favorable to RCR. This place is one of them.

 

Lower Tier

 

It’s not like Roush Fenway Racing has been running gangbusters at Michigan as of late. But in the olden days this team was the most feared of any on the NASCAR Cup circuit in the Irish Hills. Veteran Greg Biffle owns four victories here, the last of which came in 2013 and RFR has a little extra spring in their step the second the walk through the Michigan gates. Considering the upswing in RFR performance this year Biffle, Trevor Bayne or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is worth a flier.

 

What Vegas Thinks

Kevin Harvick, boasting 5/1 odds is the favorite this weekend at Michigan.  Charlotte winner Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson are next on the list with 7/1 odds. For what it’s worth all three drivers failed to finish close to the front at Pocono last Sunday.

 

What I Think

I think Ford jumps back to the front of the pack and a winless Joey Logano, a driver who’s shown some strength in recent weeks, charges forward to take the victory. But don’t count a surprise winner out; Austin Dillon, despite the past few weeks of struggle, comes to mind here. Fuel mileage at Michigan seems to always come into play and those strategies can often lead to quirky finishes.

 

— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the Majority Owner of NASCAR Web site . He can be reached at or on Twitter .

 

(Photo by )

Teaser:
FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan Preview and Fantasy NASCAR Predictions
Post date: Friday, June 10, 2016 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/fox-sideline-reporter-fired-emily-austen-racist-comments-video-jewish-barstool-sports-mexican-magic-rays
Body:

Fox Sports has cut ties with sideline reporter Emily Austen.

 

The Rays and Magic reporter did a video with Barstool Sports, a website known for its blunt takes, and made racist comments regarding multiple people. 

 

At the 24:25 point in the video, the crew talked about afor a controversial tweet recently.

 

"I didn't even know Mexicans were that smart ... That's f—ed up," Austen said. "I didn't mean it like that. You see, you guys know that the Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class."

 

It didn't end there. At the 26:10 mark, she makes a few remarks about her treatment of Jewish people.

 

"The way I used to talk to the Jews in Boca ... I just didn't care. they would complain and bitch about everything. I gave a guy, delivered his beer, and he was complaining to me that there was too much head. I knew that he was a stingy a—hole and he wasn't going to give me a tip."

 

Ironically toward the end, one Barstool guy said they would have to hire her because she was going to get fired. 

 

Fox Sports probably feels the same way because they pulled her from foreseeable content, and issued this statement:

 

"We were made aware that Emily Austen appeared in a social media video unaffiliated with Fox Sports in which she made insensitive and derogatory comments. She was not speaking on behalf of Fox Sports, nor do we condone any of the statements she made in the video. Emily has been advised that her comments were unacceptable, and she is not scheduled to appear on any upcoming Fox Sports Florida or Fox Sports Sun broadcasts."

 

Hopefully that Barstool offer still stands for Austen.

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, June 10, 2016 - 13:15
Path: /college-football/case-nashville-hosting-sec-championship-game
Body:

Since 1994, the 's football championship game has been played inside the Georgia Dome. However, Atlanta has not always served as the site. The first two championship games occurred in Birmingham in 1992 and '93. Despite the success of the SEC's title game, another city, Nashville, deserves to host this annual event.

 

Both Atlanta and Nashville have an NFL stadium. Neither stadium has another tenant. Therefore, freeing up one weekend for the SEC title game should not pose any more of a problem in Nashville than in Atlanta.

 

College Football: Big 12 adds title game, Vegas odds and Jeffery Simmons



Subscribe: |

 

Closer proximity of many of the SEC's campuses to Nashville stands out as one of the city's advantages. Eight members' campuses are nearer to Nashville than to Atlanta. Three campuses are more than 600 miles away from the Georgia Dome; only one is that far from Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans. Four campuses are within 200 miles of Nashville. Only two are within that distance of Atlanta. Of those six closer to Atlanta, the distance to Nashville is less than 70 miles farther away for two of them.  One only need to look at a map to realize Nashville is ideally placed as an annual site.

 

With Nashville's central location, another advantage to this city as the host lies in that it is within a state that borders six other states with one or more SEC members. Therefore, fans within that half of a dozen other states would have a shorter drive. For example, those living in northern Alabama, southern Kentucky and eastern Arkansas are about as close to Nashville as they are to their universities' campuses.  

 

Nashville and its residents would have more reason to embrace this as the major sporting event in their city. With the inception of the College Football Playoff, Atlanta hosts one of the semifinals once every three years. That game garners more national interest than the SEC title game does. Even during the other two years of the rotation, Georgia has another high-profile game in the form of the Peach Bowl as part of the New Year's Six bowl games. Nashville has no comparable college football game of significance every season. Therefore, the related fanfare should exceed that of Atlanta and give fans more incentive to visit the host site, even for fans lacking tickets to the game.

 

What are the drawbacks to Nashville? Some might argue that Nashville's outdoor stadium could become a problem due to inclement weather. First of all, football had been exclusively an outdoor sport for nearly a century before the first domed stadium hosted a game. Secondly, Nashville's average and low temperatures in early December are a daytime high of 53 degrees and an overnight low of 34 degrees. Those do not compare to the frozen tundra of Green Bay where football has been played for many decades without a catastrophe occurring. Also, starting in 2010, the ACC has played its conference championship game in an outdoor stadium in the state due east of Nashville without any calamities. Why can the SEC not do the same?

 

Granted, if Vanderbilt were to advance to the conference title game, the Commodores would have a de facto home-field advantage.  Vanderbilt would be incredibly fortunate to play the most significant football game in its program's history just a few miles from its campus. However, Vanderbilt has never won an SEC championship in football. That is a drought dating back to when the SEC title was first awarded in 1933. No one should expect the Commodores to become a serious contender any time soon and ruin the neutrality of the title game being played in Music City.

 

— Written by John La Fleur, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network. A graduate of Michigan State and LSU, La Fleur also has been a Saints fan since he was old enough to understand football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.

Teaser:
The SEC Football Championship Game has been played in Atlanta for more than 20 years. A change of venue is needed for this event.
Post date: Friday, June 10, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/calvin-johnson-shows-gruesome-finger-injury-detroit-lions-panthers-charles-tillman-instagram
Body:

This is not for the faint of heart.

 

Calvin Johnson's finger hasn't bent normally since 2013. After the Lions receiver suffered an injury and then wore a split in order to keep it straight. Johnson felt it was time to share his finger, and part of the surgery, with the world. 

 

(Warning: It's VERY gruesome)

 

Johnson said he posted the picture after seeing an Instagram photo of former Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman's damaged finger. The formal rivals are still trying to outdo each other. 

 

 

A photo posted by Charles Tillman (@peanuttillman) on

 

No one really wins here.

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, June 10, 2016 - 10:35
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/conference-usa-football-2016-predictions
Body:

WKU cruised to the Conference USA title last season behind quarterback Brandon Doughty and a dynamic offense. However, with Doughty off to the NFL, the gap between the Hilltoppers and the rest of the league should close in 2016. Marshall and MTSU are threats to WKU’s division crown, and Southern Miss returns 12 starters from a team that won the West Division last season.

 

Only five Conference USA teams finished with a winning record and qualified for a bowl trip last year. That number should grow in 2016, as WKU, Marshall, MTSU, Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech are safe bets for bowls, with FAU, Old Dominion and UTEP expected to take a step forward this fall. New coaches Seth Littrell (North Texas) and Frank Wilson (UTSA) should provide a spark, but both programs have a ways to go before contending for a winning record.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape C-USA in 2016

 

1. Replacing Brandon Doughty at WKU

Brandon Doughty leaves big shoes to fill at quarterback after guiding WKU to a 12-2 record and a Conference USA title last season. Finding the right answer under center is likely the difference between the Hilltoppers winning the league once again or falling just short of the division title. Coach Jeff Brohm is one of the nation’s top offensive minds, and there’s a strong supporting cast in place to alleviate some of the concern at quarterback. USF transfer Mike White is the frontrunner to replace Doughty, and the Florida native showed promise in his limited action with the Bulls. Nelson Fishback was expected to push White for the starting job, but he is out 4-6 months due to a pectoral injury. Louisville transfer Tyler Ferguson and sophomore Drew Eckels are the next in line behind White. It’s unrealistic to expect White to match Doughty’s 2015 totals, but the USF transfer has the talent to be one of Conference USA’s top quarterbacks.

 

2. Marshall, WKU or MTSU in the East?

Most of the discussion in Athlon’s Conference USA prediction meeting was spent sorting out the top of the East Division. Not much separates WKU, Marshall and MTSU, and all three teams have key question marks to address. For WKU, how quickly will Mike White settle into the quarterback role and replace Brandon Doughty? Additionally, the Hilltoppers return only four starters on defense, and the schedule features road trips to MTSU, Marshall and Louisiana Tech. MTSU returns the league’s top pass-catch combination in quarterback Brent Stockstill and receiver Richie James, but Rick Stockstill’s team has a few voids to patch on both sides of the ball. Additionally, there’s a road trip to Marshall in mid-November that could decide the division title. The Thundering Herd have the best collection of talent in Conference USA and return promising sophomore quarterback Chase Litton. A crossover game against Southern Miss is challenging, but Marshall hosts WKU and MTSU. Litton needs a few weapons to emerge in the supporting cast, while the defense suffered key losses at each level. There’s no clear favorite in the East, but Athlon eventually picked MTSU thanks to its edge at quarterback.

 

3. Impact of Coaching Change at Southern Miss?

Coaching changes are never easy, especially ones that take place late in the offseason. Todd Monken’s departure to Tampa Bay came as a surprise, but Southern Miss landed a quality replacement in Jay Hopson. The Mississippi native has a wealth of experience as an assistant (including two previous stints at Southern Miss) and guided Alcorn State to a 32-17 record over the last four seasons as the program’s head coach. Hopson has to put his own stamp on the program, but it’s hard to envision many major changes for 2016. The Golden Eagles return 12 starters from a team that won Conference USA’s West Division last year and own one of the top offenses from the Group of 5 ranks. While the transition may have a few bumps in the road, Southern Miss still has quarterback Nick Mullens to lean on. That should be more than enough to win the West Division and push for the overall league title.

 

4. FAU and Old Dominion Poised for a Breakout Year?

MTSU, Marshall and WKU are the clear favorites at the top of Conference USA’s East Division, but FAU and Old Dominion are two teams to keep an eye on. The Owls have recruited well under Charlie Partridge, and the pieces are starting to fall into place for the third-year coach. After losing four games by seven points or less in 2015, the development of FAU’s young talent this offseason could translate into a bowl for 2016. The Monarchs played better over the second half of last year and just missed on a six-win season after a two-point defeat to FAU in the finale. Coach Bobby Wilder is a sharp offensive mind, and the Old Dominion attack should get back on track in 2016. Quarterback David Washington is expected to recover from a knee injury by the opener, and sophomore Shuler Bentley had a promising close to 2015. The defense surrendered 35.8 points a game last year, but there’s hope for improvement with seven returning starters. FAU and Old Dominion are longshots to win the division. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both teams make a trip to a bowl in 2016.

 

5. Which Team Can Challenge Southern Miss in the West?

Even though the coaching change has added some uncertainty at Southern Miss, the Golden Eagles are a heavy favorite to win the West Division. But if Jay Hopson’s team slips, Louisiana Tech and UTEP should have the best shot at the top spot. The Bulldogs must replace quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Kenneth Dixon and return only three starters on defense. However, Louisiana Tech has a good foundation in terms of talent and coaching in place, which should prevent a major drop in wins. Injuries hit UTEP hard last season, including a season-ending knee injury to standout running back Aaron Jones early in the 2015 campaign. With Jones back to full strength and a favorable schedule in place for coach Sean Kugler’s team, the Miners should easily rebound back into the postseason. With Southern Miss visiting El Paso on Sept. 24, UTEP has a chance early in the year to stake its claim for the division title. 

 

Conference USA 2016 Team Previews
East Division
 

National

Rank:

125 103 105 73 70 104 76
West Division
 

National

Rank:

85 128 109 68 92 123

 

 

Visit the  to order a copy of the 2016 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

Conference USA Predictions for 2016
         
East Division
Rank Team   Projected C-USA Record Overall Record
1

(No. 70)

6-2 8-5
.
2

(No. 73)

6-2 8-4
.
3

(No. 76)

6-2 8-4
.
4

(No. 103)

4-4 6-6
.
5

(No. 104)

4-4 6-6
.
6

(No. 105)

3-5 4-8
.
7

(No. 125)

1-7 2-10
.
         
West Division
Rank Team   Projected C-USA Record Projected Overall Record
1

(No. 68)

7-1 10-3
.
2

(No. 85)

5-3 7-5
.
3

(No. 92)

4-4 7-5
.
4

(No. 109)

3-5 4-8
.
5

(No. 123)

2-6 3-9
.
6

(No. 128)

1-7 2-10
.
 
Conference USA Championship
 Southern Miss over MTSU 
 
C-USA 2016 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

Mark

Ross

David

Fox

 
Offensive POY

Nick Mullens

QB, USM

Nick Mullens

QB, USM

Nick Mullens

QB, USM

Brent Stockstill

QB, MTSU

Defensive POY Trey Hendrickson
DE, FAU

Trey Hendrickson

DE, FAU

Trey Hendrickson

DE, FAU

Jaylon Ferguson

DE, La. Tech

Coach of the Year

Rick Stockstill

MTSU

Jay Hopson

USM

Jay Hopson

USM

Rick Stockstill

MTSU

Coach on Hot Seat

Ron Turner

FIU

Ron Turner

FIU

Ron Turner

FIU

David Bailiff

Rice

Top Freshman

Daniel Parr

QB, FAU

Daniel Parr

QB, FAU

Daniel Parr

QB, FAU

Kevin McCrary

DT, FAU

Top Newcomer

Mike White

QB, WKU

Mike White

QB, WKU

I'Tavius Mathers

RB, MTSU

Mike White

QB, WKU

Sleeper Team UTEP UTEP FAU FAU
Top Coordinator Hire

Tony Franklin

OC, MTSU

Tony Franklin

OC, MTSU

Tony Franklin

OC, MTSU

Tony Franklin

OC, MTSU

Key Position to Watch MTSU LBs MTSU LBs MTSU LBs MTSU LBs
Hardest to Evaluate WKU WKU WKU Old Dominion
Coach on the Rise

Jeff Brohm

HC, WKU

Jeff Brohm
HC, WKU

Jeff Brohm

HC, WKU

Jeff Brohm

HC, WKU

Must-See Game

MTSU at

Marshall

MTSU at

Marshall

MTSU at

Marshall

MTSU at

Marshall

Breakout Player

David Washington

QB, ODU

I'Tavius Mathers

RB, MTSU

Jeffrey Wilson

RB, N. Texas

Jarveon Williams

RB, UTSA

Comeback Player Aaron Jones
RB, UTEP

Jordan Budwig

OL, FIU

Graysen Schantz

DE, Rice

David Washington

QB, ODU

 

Ranking Conference USA's Coaches for 2016

 

1. Jeff Brohm, WKU

2. Doc Holliday, Marshall

3. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech

 

 

Grading Conference USA's New Coach Hires for 2016

 

1. Seth Littrell, North Texas (B+)

2. Jay Hopson, Southern Miss (B+)

3. Frank Wilson, UTSA (C+)

 

 

Ranking Conference USA's Quarterbacks for 2016

 

1. Nick Mullens, Southern Miss

2. Brent Stockstill, MTSU

3. Chase Litton, Marshall

4. Alex McGough, FIU

5. Mike White, WKU

 

Conference USA's Top 10 Players on the Rise for 2016

 

1. Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech

2. Chase Litton, QB, Marshall

3. Mike White, QB, WKU

4. Azeez Al-Shaair, LB, FAU

5. Keith Brown, LB, WKU 

6. Jeffrey Wilson, RB, North Texas

7. I'Tavius Mathers, RB, MTSU

8. Oshane Ximines, DE, ODU 

9. Darian Yancey, DE, Southern Miss

10. Calvin Anderson, OT, Rice

 

Conference USA's Top Five Non-Conference Games for 2016

 

1. WKU at Alabama (Sept. 10)

2. Louisville at Marshall (Sept. 24)

3. Marshall at Pittsburgh (Oct. 1)

4. Vanderbilt at WKU (Sept. 24)

5. MTSU at Vanderbilt (Sept. 10)

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2016

 

1. Tony Franklin, Offensive Coordinator, MTSU

2. Travis Trickett, Offensive Coordinator, FAU

3. Tom Mason, Defensive Coordinator, UTEP

4. Frank Scelfo, Offensive Coordinator, UTSA

5. Tony Pecoraro, Defensive Coordinator, Southern Miss 

6. Graham Harrell, Offensive Coordinator, North Texas

 

Top Incoming Freshmen for 2016 ()

 

1. Jaquan Yulee, LB, Marshall

2. Xavier Gaines, QB, Marshall

3. Pro Wells, TE, Marshall

4. Jaquelle Green, S, UTSA

5. JaCorey Morris, LB, Southern Miss

6. JaQua Daniels, RB, Marshall

7. Sir Patrick Scott, CB, Marshall

8. Jon Randall Belton, QB, Louisiana Tech

9. Steven Frank, QB, FAU

10. Keon Howard, QB, Southern Miss

Teaser:
Conference USA Football 2016 Predictions
Post date: Friday, June 10, 2016 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News, Magazines
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Before each college football season, Athlon Sports hears from readers wanting to know why one team was favored over another in our preseason rankings. Why this team was ranked so high or that team so low.

 

Some of these questions are in — um — colorful language.

 

That’s why Athlon takes you inside our decision process for some of the biggest questions you ask. Believe it or not, some of these questions are the ones we grappled with through our rankings meeting.

 

Here are the questions we anticipated about our .

 

The Athlon Sports 2016 SEC Preview is 

 

Were there thoughts on not picking OU?

 

Not really — due in part to our confidence in the Sooners and in part to a lack of confidence in the other top teams. Oklahoma did lose some key personnel last year — most notably wide receiver Sterling Shepard, linebacker Eric Striker and cornerback Zach Sanchez — but this is still the most complete team in the league. A year ago, Oklahoma outgained Big 12 opponents by an average of 192.2 yards per game — by far the best in the league — en route to an 8–1 record. The offensive line could be an issue, but OU boasts one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and an elite running back duo in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon.

 

How did the situation at Baylor affect the Bears’ ranking?

 

We ranked Baylor second in the Big 12 during the spring. Obviously, things have changed with the firing of Art Briles, the hiring of Jim Grobe and the turmoil with what’s left of the current roster. Grobe is a fine coach, and he’ll have a talented quad. That said, Baylor doesn’t seem likely to contend for the Big 12 without Briles’ command of the offense, never mind the toll on morale for the remaining players. There are simply too many variables to make any kind of informed decision on Baylor. We originally projected Baylor to go 9-3 overall and 6-3 in the Big 12, a feat that would probably earn Grobe Big 12 Coach of the Year consideration. Baylor is probably closer to seven or eight wins. Given the non-conference schedule and games against Kansas and Iowa State, 5-7 would be the worst case scenario. We split the difference and moved Baylor to fourth behind Oklahoma, TCU and Oklahoma State.

 

 

Why did TCU get the nod over Oklahoma State?

 

TCU endured a string of significant injuries last season yet still went 11–2 overall and 7–2 in the league — a testament to Gary Patterson’s coaching and the overall talent in the program. The Horned Frogs return only one starter on offense, but the drop-off in production shouldn’t be too great. There are plenty of talented returning players at running back and wide receiver to help ease the transition for quarterback Kenny Hill, a transfer from Texas A&M who posted gaudy numbers with the Aggies in his half-season as the starter. And the TCU defense, with seven starters back, should be among the most improved in the nation. Oklahoma State, after winning 10 games a year ago, figures to receive some love in the preseason polls. The Cowboys have some quality talent at quarterback and receiver, and their defense should be decent, but this team still has some significant areas of concern. And it must be noted that the Pokes were fortunate to win seven league games; they outgained league opponents by only 10.9 yards per game, and four of their seven Big 12 wins came by seven points or fewer. One more note: Oklahoma State’s road schedule includes trips to Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma. That is not easy.

 

What went into picking West Virginia fifth?

 

Sorting out the middle of the Big 12 was very difficult. After much debate we settled on West Virginia at No. 5 over Texas Tech and Texas. There is some unrest in Morgantown — head coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t on the firmest of ground — but this is a team that could surprise in 2016. Despite last year’s 4–5 Big 12 record, West Virginia was rated highly by some of the advanced metrics; the F/+ rating used by Football Outsiders ranked the Mountaineers 31st nationally and fourth in the league. There are holes to fill in the secondary, but the offense has a chance to be very good thanks to the return of quarterback Skyler Howard (who played his best game in the bowl win over Arizona State) and a quality offensive line. The schedule also sets up nicely: Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU all visit Morgantown.

 

Texas at 7, really?

 

Yes, Texas is predicted to finish closer to the bottom than the top. The Longhorns should be improved on defense, but there isn’t much evidence to suggest the offense will take a big step forward under new coordinator Sterlin Gilbert. It’s a positive that this offense will finally have an identity, but it will take time for the Horns to adapt to Gilbert’s version of the up-tempo spread. There have been a few nice wins in Charlie Strong’s two seasons, but the Horns have also been really bad far too often; they’ve lost nine games by 17 points or more under his watch — nine too many for a coach at Texas.

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After missing out on the College Football Playoff in 2014, the Big 12 had better fortune last season, as Oklahoma overcame an early loss to Texas to earn a playoff bid and a trip to the Orange Bowl against Clemson. As the focus shifts to 2016, the Sooners begin this season where they left off and in control of the Big 12. Quarterback Baker Mayfield headlines a dynamic offense, and two huge non-conference games – Houston and Ohio State – provide opportunities for the Sooners to earn marquee wins to build the playoff resume.

 

While Oklahoma is a clear favorite by Athlon Sports for the Big 12 title, TCU is a team to watch as a potential sleeper. The Horned Frogs must replace quarterback Trevone Boykin, but there’s still plenty of talent for coach Gary Patterson to build around, including a defense that could be the best in the conference.

 

Oklahoma State, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas State are all projected by Athlon Sports to earn bowl bids this season. Iowa State should show improvement under new coach Matt Campbell, but the Cyclones face a tough schedule. Kansas should break into the win column for second-year coach David Beaty after an 0-12 record last fall.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the Big 12 in 2016
 

1. Back-to-Back Titles for Oklahoma?

Repeating as a conference champion is never easy, but it’s hard to find a reason to pick against Oklahoma in the Big 12. The Sooners return a solid core of talent with 12 returning starters, and the offense is led by Heisman Trophy candidate and quarterback Baker Mayfield. The combination of coordinator Lincoln Riley and Mayfield provided a much-needed spark for the Oklahoma offense last fall, and there’s optimism for this unit to be just as dynamic in 2016. The one-two punch of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon might be the nation’s best backfield duo, and Dede Westbrook, Mark Andrews and Penn State graduate transfer Geno Lewis headline a solid group of receivers. But there are question marks for Riley to address this offseason. Will a clear No. 1 receiver emerge to replace Sterling Shepard? And how will the offensive line jell after losing two starters? Each level of the defense suffered a key loss, but end Charles Walker, linebacker Jordan Evans and cornerback Jordan Thomas are three of the Big 12’s top returning defenders. With matchups against Houston and Ohio State in non-conference play, along with games against TCU and Texas before the midway point of the season, Oklahoma should quickly find out where it stacks up nationally in its quest to get back to the playoff. There are holes to fill for coach Bob Stoops, but the Sooners are a heavy favorite to win the Big 12 and push for a playoff trip once again.

 

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2. TCU or Oklahoma State at No. 2?

While Oklahoma was a clear favorite in Athlon’s Big 12 prediction meeting, there was plenty of discussion between TCU or Oklahoma State for the next spot. The edge eventually went to the Horned Frogs, but both teams are projected as top 25 teams this season. Why TCU over Oklahoma State? Take a look at the schedule. The Horned Frogs catch Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech at home, while the Cowboys have road trips to Baylor, Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma. Additionally, Oklahoma State had a bit of good fortune on its side with a plus-13 turnover margin and a 4-0 mark in one-score games last year. Despite losing standout end Emmanuel Ogbah, the Cowboys should be one of the Big 12’s best on defense. Quarterback Mason Rudolph and a deep group of receivers will carry the offense, but coach Mike Gundy’s team has to run the ball better and improve the line to push Oklahoma or TCU in the standings. The Horned Frogs have to break in a new quarterback – likely Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill – and retool the offensive line. However, there’s a deep cast of skill players in place, and the defense returns four starters, while four key players return from season-ending injuries. If Hill settles in at quarterback, TCU will have a chance to spoil Oklahoma’s run at back-to-back titles in the Big 12.

 

College Football: Breaking Down Athlon’s 2016 Top 25



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3. Reassessing Baylor for 2016

The fallout from the scandal that has rocked Baylor’s football program will continue well into the 2016 season and beyond. Art Briles transformed the Bears into a national title contender, but there will be a cloud of uncertainty hanging over this program in 2016, as interim coach Jim Grobe attempts to keep the team in contention for the Big 12 title. Even before the off-field issues cost Briles his job, Baylor had significant personnel concerns to address on both lines of scrimmage. Rebuilding both of those units will be an even bigger challenge with the departure of junior college recruits B.J. Autry (OL) and Jeremy Faulk (DL), while the status of the rest of the 2016 signing class is up in the air. Quarterback Seth Russell is expected to return to full strength from a neck injury, and there’s no shortage of skill talent in place with wide receiver KD Cannon and running backs Johnny Jefferson and Shock Linwood. Grobe is a good choice to clean up the program for 2016, but how will his style mesh with the current roster and schemes in place? Additionally, how much will the ongoing uncertainty weigh on this team this fall? After spring practice, Baylor was considered a top 10-15 team for 2016. Fast forward to June and it’s fair to wonder if the Bears will finish as a top 25 team this fall.

 

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4. Texas…The Big 12’s Mystery Team

With an 11-14 record in his two seasons at Texas, it’s no secret there’s a lot of pressure on coach Charlie Strong. While the Longhorns continue to reel in solid recruiting classes and have a promising core of talent in place, Strong needs a good season to show the program is clearly headed in the right direction. A breakout year from Texas wouldn’t be a surprise, especially if the pieces fall into place under new offensive play-caller Sterlin Gilbert. The Longhorns are hitting the reset button on offense after averaging only 26.4 points a game in 2015, and true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele should provide stability under center. Buechele needs time to get acclimated to the FBS level, and Gilbert can ease his quarterback into the starting role by leaning on the one-two punch of running backs D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren. More weapons need to emerge at receiver, but the Longhorns are starting to build a good foundation in the trenches. Texas finished fifth in the Big 12 in scoring defense (30.3 ppg allowed) in 2015, and the back seven could take a big step forward with the emergence of sophomores Malik Jefferson (LB), Holton Hill (CB) and Davante Davis (CB). With a non-conference schedule of Notre Dame and California, along with road trips to Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas Tech, the path to marked improvement in the win column isn’t easy. However, if the offense improves as expected and the young talent on defense delivers, the Longhorns will easily exceed Athlon’s projected finish of No. 7 in the Big 12.

 

5. Defensive Question Marks at Texas Tech and West Virginia

With uncertainty surrounding Baylor and Texas still trying to put the right pieces in place, Texas Tech or West Virginia has an opportunity to surprise in the final Big 12 standings. However, both teams must rely on their offense to win games, while the defense looks to fill major voids. Offense hasn’t been the problem for Texas Tech in recent years, and there’s no shortage of firepower in Lubbock with the return of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Coach Kliff Kingsbury has to restock the trenches and find a go-to receiver to replace Jakeem Grant, but the offense shouldn’t miss a beat. Coordinator David Gibbs is the right coach to help Texas Tech’s defense take a step forward, and there’s a lot of work ahead this offseason after giving up 43.6 points a game in 2015. Each level of the defense has significant concerns, but the Red Raiders have two potential impact transfers up front (Kolin Hill and Ondre Pipkins), and a few sophomores – Breiden Fehoko, Jah’Shawn Johnson and D’Vonta Hinton – providing hope for improvement. West Virginia’s offense returns eight starters and needs more consistency out of quarterback Skyler Howard to alleviate concerns on a defense that features a rebuilt back seven. How quickly will both teams find the right answers on defense? 

 

College Football: Others Receiving Votes



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Big 12 Team Previews for 2016
           
 

National

Rank:

25 71 99 48 6
 

National

Rank:

24 17 43 42 40

Visit the  to order a copy of the 2016 Big 12 Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 10 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 
 

Big 12 Predictions for 2016
         
Rank Team   Projected Big 12 Record Projected Overall Record
1

(No. 6)

7-2 10-2
.
2

(No. 17)

6-3 9-3
.
3

(No. 24)

6-3 9-3
.
4

(No. 25)

5-4 8-4
.
5

(No. 40)

5-4 8-4
.
6

(No. 42)

5-4 8-4
.
7

(No. 43)

5-4 7-5
.
8

(No. 48)

4-5 6-6
.
9

(No. 71)

2-7 4-8
.
10

(No. 99)

0-9 2-10
.

 

 

Big 12 2016 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

Mark

Ross

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

 
Offensive POY

Baker Mayfield

QB, Oklahoma

Baker Mayfield

QB, Oklahoma

Baker Mayfield

QB, Oklahoma

Patrick Mahomes

QB, TTU

Patrick Mahomes

QB, TTU

Defensive POY

Malik Jefferson

LB, Texas

Charles Walker

DL, Oklahoma

Malik Jefferson

LB, Texas

Malik Jefferson

LB, Texas

Malik Jefferson

LB, Texas

Coach of the Year

Gary Patterson

TCU

Gary Patterson

TCU

Bob Stoops

Oklahoma

Gary Patterson

TCU

Gary Patterson

TCU

Coach on Hot Seat

Dana Holgorsen

WVU

Charlie Strong

Texas

Charlie Strong

Texas

Charlie Strong

Texas

Charlie Strong

Texas

Top Freshman

Shane Buechele

QB, Texas

Shane Buechele

QB, Texas

Jameson Houston

DB, Baylor

Jeff Gladney

CB, TCU

Shane Buechele

QB, Texas

Top Newcomer

Kenny Hill

QB, TCU

Kenny Hill

QB, TCU

Kenny Hill

QB, TCU

Kenny Hill

QB, TCU

Kenny Hill

QB, TCU

Sleeper Team Texas West Virginia Oklahoma State Texas Texas
Top Coordinator Hire

Sterlin Gilbert

OC, Texas

Sterlin Gilbert

OC, Texas

Tom Manning

Co-OC, ISU

Sterlin Gilbert

OC, Texas

Jon Heacock

DC, ISU

Key Position to Watch TCU OL TCU OL Oklahoma WR Oklahoma WR TCU OL
Hardest to Evaluate Texas Texas Baylor Oklahoma State Texas
Coach on the Rise

Lincoln Riley

OC, Oklahoma

Lincoln Riley

OC, Oklahoma

Matt Campbell

HC, ISU

Lincoln Riley

OC, Oklahoma

Lincoln Riley

OC, Oklahoma

Must-See Game

Ohio State at

Oklahoma

TCU at

Baylor

Ohio State at 

Oklahoma

Oklahoma at

TCU

Oklahoma at

TCU

Breakout Player

Connor Williams

OL, Texas

Jesse Ertz

QB, KSU

Malik Jefferson

LB, Texas

Justin Stockton

RB, TTU

Connor Williams

OL, Texas

Comeback Player

Seth Russell

QB, Baylor

Dante Barnett

S, KSU

Dante Barnett

S, KSU

James McFarland

DE, TCU

Seth Russell

QB, Baylor

 

Ranking the Big 12's Coaches for 2016

 

1. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

2. Gary Patterson, TCU

3. Bill Snyder, Kansas State 

 

 

Grading the Big 12's New Head Coach Hires for 2016

 

1. Matt Campbell, Iowa State (A+)

2. Jim Grobe, Baylor (B)

 

 

Ranking the Big 12 Quarterbacks for 2016

 

1. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

2. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

3. Seth Russell, Baylor

 

 

Big 12's Top 15 Players on the Rise for 2016

 

1. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

2. Connor Williams, OT, Texas

3. KaVontae Turpin, RB/WR, TCU

4. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

5. Kyle Bosch, OL, West Virginia

6. Justin Stockton, RB, Texas Tech

7. Jordan Brailford, DE, Oklahoma State

8. Jarrell Owens, DE, Oklahoma State

9. Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

10. Willie Harvey, LB, Iowa State

11. Duke Shelley, CB, Kansas State

12. Ryan Willis, QB, Kansas

13. Breiden Fehoko, DT, Texas Tech

14. Jameson Houston, CB, Baylor

15. Shane Buechele, QB, Texas

 

Big 12's Top 10 Non-Conference Games for 2016

 

1. Ohio State at Oklahoma (Sept. 17)

2. Oklahoma vs. Houston (Sept. 3 - NRG Stadium)

3. Notre Dame at Texas (Sept. 4)

4. Arkansas at TCU (Sept. 10)

5. Texas at California (Sept. 17)

6. Pittsburgh at Oklahoma State (Sept. 17)

7. Texas Tech at Arizona State (Sept. 10)

8. Missouri at West Virginia (Sept. 3)

9. West Virginia vs. BYU (Sept. 24 - Landover, Md.)

10. Kansas State at Stanford (Sept. 2)

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2016

 

1. Sterlin Gilbert, Offensive Coordinator, Texas

2. Tom Manning, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Iowa State

3. Jon Heacock, Defensive Coordinator, Iowa State

4. Joe Wickline, Offensive Coordinator, West Virginia

 

Big 12's Top 15 Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Caleb Kelly, LB, Oklahoma

2. Devin Duvernay, WR, Baylor*

3. Brandon Jones, DB, Texas

4. Patrick Hudson, OL, Baylor*

5. Jeffrey McCulloch, LB, Texas

6. Erick Fowler, LB, Texas

7. Tramonda Moore, OL, Oklahoma State

8. Jordan Elliott, DL, Texas

9. Jean Delance, OL, Texas

10. Sewo Olonilua, RB, TCU

11. Isaiah Chambers, DE, TCU

12. Brendan Ferns, LB, West Virginia

13. Brandon Bowen, DL, Baylor*

14. Amani Bledsoe, DE, Oklahoma

15. Jordan Parker, DB, Oklahoma

 

* Due to the coaching change at Baylor, the incoming recruiting class is unsettled and several players may ask out of their LOI.

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Big 12 Football 2016 Predictions
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enters the 2016 campaign as the odds-on favorite to win the and a top contender for a spot in the College Football Playoff. So the schedule must be a cakewalk, right?

 

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Hardly. In addition to non-conference games with mid-major flavor of the month Houston and perennial national title contender Ohio State, the Sooners have to navigate the competitive Big 12 slate. Those who pay close attention to the conference know that path is filled with landmines. (Ever been to Lubbock? Morgantown?)

 

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A brutal start and rough finishing kick buttress a workable middle of the season. The schedule is daunting enough to where a bad break or two could send the Sooners tumbling down the bowl pecking order. Here is Oklahoma's 12 regular season games ranked from easiest to most challenging.

 

12. Sept. 10 vs. ULM

ULM is starting fresh with a new head coach, and Matt Viator gets a doozy of a road debut as he takes the Warhawks to Norman. It’s the first of three straight road games for the School Formerly Known as NLU: at OU, at Georgia Southern, at Auburn. Ouch.

 

Historically, Bob Stoops is loath to give his bench much time in live action, including in blowouts. However, he should use the opportunity to give his first team a break in the middle of a rough stretch of games to open the season.

 

11. Oct. 29 vs. Kansas

Second-year Kansas coach David Beaty still has a long way to go filling the holes left in the program by flim-flammer Charlie Weis. Count on the Jayhawks to show more signs of life this season with promising quarterback Ryan Willis leading the charge.

 

Willis will lead that charge into Norman in late October and probably return to Lawrence with a spanking.

 

10. Nov. 3 at Iowa State

Weeknight games in Ames can get kinda dicey. Ask Texas (twice). Or Oklahoma State.

 

The Cyclones probably will be lucky to stay within two or three scores, though. This team will struggle in new coach’s Matt Campbell’s first year.

 

Stranger things have happened, but OU will likely cruise.

 

9. Oct. 15 vs. Kansas State

Based on the last two times KSU has visited Owen Field, this may be underestimating Bill Snyder’s bunch. The Wildcats have had a big hand in watering down the perception of OU’s notoriously strong home-field advantage under Stoops.

 

A week after the Red River Showdown, OU will need to guard against a letdown when K-State comes to town this year. Even so, Stoops’ team blasted the ‘Cats last season in a game reflective of the sizable talent gap between the two squads at this point.

 

8. Nov. 19 at West Virginia

The Mountaineers have hung tough in Morgantown versus the Sooners since joining the Big 12. At some point, they’re going to break through against OU.

 

This doesn’t look like the year. Major losses on defense and erratic QB play from Skyler Howard will likely hamstring Dana Holgorsen’s campaign to keep his job.

 

When a road trip to face the ‘Eers is one of the easier games on your schedule, it’s a sign of a reasonably tough slate.

 

7. Oct. 22 at Texas Tech

People in Big 12 country have waited three years for Baker Mayfield to return to Lubbock. The former Red Raider can expect a less than hospitable reception in his old stomping grounds.

 

Kliff Kingsbury remains short on statement wins in his tenure at his alma mater. This one would likely qualify as his biggest yet if Tech can pull it off, and it also would buy some goodwill with a fan base growing increasingly restless.

 

Mayfield will undoubtedly relish the opportunity to put a big number on his former team, too. A fun shootout could be in store.

 

6. Sept. 3 vs. Houston (NRG Stadium, Houston)

Um, this is not the game OU signed up for. The Sooners thought they were getting kittens when they agreed a few years ago to play the Cougars. Instead, they’re squaring off against some mid-major beasts.

 

Tom Herman had his squad primed to play Power 5 opponents last season as the Cougs snared Ws over Louisville and then Florida State in the Peach Bowl. In theory, the hype around UH should help keep the Sooners focused the 2016 opener, and they could have a crowd advantage despite playing in H-Town.

 

5. Dec. 3 vs. Oklahoma State

If everything breaks right for these two, a Big 12 title could be on the line when they meet during the last week of the season.

 

Four of the last six contests between these in-state rivals have been decided by a touchdown or less, including two overtime games. That’s not a throw-out-the-record-books stat, but more a sign of how competitive the two programs have become lately.

 

Speaking of competitive, last season’s installment of the Bedlam rivalry was not. OU handed the Cowboys a whooping, which means the Pokes will probably be salty entering this year’s edition in Norman.

 

4. Nov. 12 vs. Baylor

The self-inflicted chaos at Baylor right now is clouding over forecasts for the Bears’ season. Even without Art Briles, BU still has a wealth of dangerous skill players on offense. That makes the boys from Waco a tough out, no matter the level of disarray surrounding the program.

 

Frankly, though, this matchup could tumble down the list quickly if more Baylor coaches or players get booted before the season starts. (Clearly, that’s not out of the question.) There’s also the matter of retaining talented 2016 recruits looking for an out.

 

3. Oct. 8 vs. Texas

The Red River Showdown has provided Longhorn fans with some of the few bright spots in a dreary stretch of football. Texas has taken two of the last three games from the Sooners, and the ‘Horns should have won the third.

 

Stoops and his staff have been accused of taking UT lightly as of late. Anyone who has watched the games knows that’s not true. On those three Saturdays, Bevo’s boys have played with a level of physicality that has been otherwise missing when they’ve taken the field.

 

If OU doesn’t put a beating on a Texas team that is once again in transition on offense, he’ll hear about it from the Sooner faithful. Sounds like a lot of pressure.

 

2. Sept. 17 vs. Ohio State

Despite being two of college football’s marquee teams, the Sooners and Buckeyes haven’t played since the 1970s. Now, the blue bloods are going to treat us to games in two straight years.

 

If a team that recruits as well as Ohio State can have a rebuilding year, ‘16 is a likely candidate. The Buckeyes return just a handful of starters from last season. One of them is stud quarterback J.T. Barrett, however, which should keep OSU from cratering.

 

Ultimately, this game will come down to Urban Meyer’s stockpile of talent versus OU’s experience and home field. Sounds like a slobberknocker of a non-conference matchup. All eyes will be on Norman in week three.

 

1. Oct. 1 at TCU

At this point, we can all agree that Gary Patterson just has Stoops’ number.

 

Yes, TCU is just 1-3 against OU since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012. However, the series has quickly turned into the most exciting in the league, with Patterson’s teams playing the Sooners down to the wire in each of the three defeats.

 

Oklahoma’s disappointing slide in 2014 started with an upset loss at Amon Carter Stadium. TCU, a dark horse candidate to win the conference, will look to get the upper hand in the standings once again with a win in the Big 12 opener for both squads.

 

— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter .

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 plays a national schedule making travel an issue every year. But this year's slate is especially taxing. Two trips to Texas, dropping down to Dixie a couple of times, a jaunt to the Northeast, and a season-ending flight to Los Angeles is extremely daunting. The Irish also welcome Michigan State, fresh off their College Football Playoff appearance, back to the schedule.

 

Related:

 

While there are obvious challenges, some aspects of the schedule set up very nicely for Brian Kelly and company. They get the two service academies on their schedule, and their option offenses, in consecutive weeks. Having an off week after what should be a physical game against Stanford is very helpful. And the ACC portion of the schedule does not include any of the conference’s four teams that are ranked in .

 

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Here is the how the 2016 Notre Dame schedule stacks up, ranked from easiest games to the most challenging matchups.

 

12. Nov. 12 vs. Army West Point (San Antonio)

The Black Knights of the Hudson return the core of a pretty solid defense and most of their skill position talent. But they have some holes to fill on the offensive line and the overall talent level isn’t close to matching Notre Dame’s. The Irish also get Navy the week before so they should be able to control Army’s ground attack.

 

11. Sept. 10 vs. Nevada

Former ND assistant Brian Polian has guided the Wolf Pack to consecutive bowl appearances and returns nine starters on offense. But that unit wasn’t explosive in 2015 and a new offensive coordinator – with a new system – has been hired. Nevada has a very inexperienced defensive front seven, a situation that ND’s big offensive line should be able to exploit in week two.

 

10. Oct. 1 vs. Syracuse (East Rutherford, N.J.)

Technically, Syracuse is hosting this contest. Right. Irish fans will pack MetLife Stadium creating a home game atmosphere. New Orange head coach Dino Babers will implement his high-octane offense with quarterback Eric Dungey pulling the strings. But it’s doubtful that a Cuse defense that struggled in 2015 will be much better this fall.

 

9. Oct. 8 at NC State

The Raleigh crowd will be pumped up for Notre Dame’s first-ever visit to Carter-Finley Stadium and NC State is a program that has given many a highly ranked team fits in the past. But the combination of a youthful offensive line and a new quarterback could be problematic for the Pack.

 

8. Nov. 5 vs. Navy (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Playing Navy is never easy. Fortunately, the Midshipmen’s do-it-all quarterback Keenan Reynolds has finally graduated, leaving senior Tago Smith as the commander of the offense. Smith will lead a unit that is short on experience across the board. Like last year, Navy should be pretty good on defense. But ND has averaged 47 points per game over the last five meetings with Navy and hung 41 on that pretty good defense last year.

 

7. Sept. 24 vs. Duke

Head coach David Cutcliffe recently indicated that quarterback Thomas Sirk could be ready by the season opener after rupturing an Achilles tendon in February. Sirk had a big 2015, leading the team in rushing while also throwing for more than 2,600 yards. Duke loses some important pieces that will be difficult to replace, most notably star safety and ACC Defensive Player of the Year Jeremy Cash. The timing of this game, the week after what should be a hotly contested battle with Michigan State, is concerning.

 

6. Sept. 4 at Texas

It will be a raucous environment in Austin for this Sunday night clash, especially since Texas will be looking to avenge last year’s season-opening loss. But the Longhorns have a quarterback question mark, so much so that true freshman Shane Buechele may start the opener. Sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson has All-America talent and he will be counted on to deliver because the defensive line will be very young.

 

5. Oct. 29 vs. Miami

The Hurricanes have not visited Notre Dame Stadium since 1990 and this will be a game that they circle on their schedule. Brad Kaaya is a sensational quarterback and he has a 1,000-yard rusher in Joseph Yearby that can provide some offensive balance. The defense is talented but also prone to breakdowns, something new head coach Mark Richt would like to rectify. The Irish are off the week prior, giving them two full weeks to prepare for the Canes.

 

4. Nov. 19 vs. Virginia Tech

I don’t believe that the Hokies are as talented as Miami. New coach Justin Fuente is an offensive guru, but Virginia Tech has struggled on that side of the ball for some time and the new system may take a while to develop. Also, defensive coordinator Bud Foster must replace some key contributors like Dadi Nicolas, Luther Maddy and Deon Clarke. But the Irish get Virginia Tech following the two academies and their option offenses and the week before the trip to USC. That’s a tough spot.

 

3. Sept. 17 vs. Michigan State

New quarterback D.J. O’Connor is a more effective runner – and less proficient passer – than the departed Connor Cook, meaning the Spartan offense may look a bit different in 2016. MSU will also have to endure key losses along the offensive line, most notably first-round NFL Draft pick Jack Conklin. But the defense should again be stout and head coach Mark D’Antonio will have his troops ready for their trip to ND.

 

2. Oct. 15 vs. Stanford

Christian McCaffrey is back and that in and of itself will make this one of the most difficult games on the Irish schedule. Stanford loses Joshua Garnett and two other offensive linemen and the defense will have to deal with their own departures, including leading tackler Blake Martinez. But head coach David Shaw has rebuilt offensive lines and defenses before and he probably will again.

 

1. Nov. 26 at USC

The most talented team on the ND schedule – as it is most every year – is USC. New quarterback Max Browne was a 5-star recruit and he will have the luxury of being able to throw to JuJu Smith-Schuster, one of the nation’s most productive wide receivers. There are questions along the defensive line but the back seven should be strong. The Trojans face a brutal schedule in 2016 and assuming they’re not beat down by this point, they should be Notre Dame’s toughest test.

 

— 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  for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter .

Teaser:
Ranking the Toughest Games on Notre Dame's College Football Schedule in 2016
Post date: Friday, June 10, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/cavaliers-fan-sends-tweet-steph-curry-sister-fired-job-riley-daughter-sydel-warriors-twitter
Body:

Tweets are getting people in trouble left and right these days. Many times the person brings the attention themselves.

 

Before Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Steph Curry's sister Sydel tweeted about the trip to Cleveland. Nothing out of the ordinary.

 

 

Evidently a Cavaliers fan, Moe Wahdan, wasn't too happy about the Curry family being in Cleveland and promptly responded.

 

 

Sydel responded with class, addressing the Curry family would be leaving after Game 4.

 

 

From there came a firestorm of tweets at Wahdan for attacking the Curry family, especially Steph's daughter Riley. It ended with the employer stepping in and terminating the twitter troll.

 

 

James Wise, the owner of The Holton-Wise Property Group where Wahdan was working, issued a statement on the incident via .

 

"Shortly after Moe made his inappropriate comments Twitter members started tagging The Holton-Wise Property Group twitter account. At about the same time this was happening, I was notified via email from multiple people who were offended by his actions. I immediately what was going on... At Holton-Wise, we expect our employees to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. The behavior demonstrated by Moe towards the Curry family, as well as the inappropriate content I discovered while investigating what was happening with the Curry family tweets led me to terminate him immediately. We do not condone harassment or hate speech of any kind."

 

Wahdan and Sydel had a quick back and forth after that but, as many twitter spats end, she eventually blocked him.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 13:44
Path: /college-football/mountain-west-football-2016-predictions
Body:

The Mountain West is a step behind the American Athletic Conference for the nod as the top Group of 5 league, but this conference has two programs – Boise State and San Diego State – capable of challenging Houston as the top team from the Group of 5 ranks in 2016. After winning the conference and defeating Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl in 2014, the Broncos took a step back in coach Bryan Harsin’s second season. However, the continued development of quarterback Brett Rypien provides plenty of optimism for Boise State to return to the top of the Mountain West. In the West Division, the Aztecs are a heavy favorite and an undefeated regular season mark isn’t an unreasonable expectation.

 

Boise State and San Diego State are Athlon’s projected top teams from the Mountain West, but Air Force – the defending Mountain Division champion – could knock off the Broncos from the top spot in the division once again. There’s plenty of depth behind Boise State and Air Force, as Utah State, Colorado State and New Mexico should earn bowl bids in 2016. Additionally, Wyoming is expected to take a step forward under coach Craig Bohl.

 

Nevada and San Jose State are San Diego State’s biggest threats in the West Division, but there’s a considerable gap between the Aztecs and these two teams. Fresno State, UNLV and Hawaii rank in the next tier, with the Rebels trending up under second-year coach Tony Sanchez.

 

Five Key Questions That Will Shape the Mountain West in 2016

 

1. Will Boise State Find the Right Answers on Defense?

Scoring points won’t be a problem for the Broncos in 2016. Eight starters return from an offense that averaged 39.1 points a game last season, and this unit will only get better with the development of sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien. Running back Jeremy McNichols also returns after leading the conference with 20 rushing scores in 2015, while top receiver Thomas Sperbeck provides a big-play threat for Rypien after catching 88 passes last fall. The offensive line has to be retooled a bit, but Boise State’s biggest question mark in 2016 is a defense that returns only four starters. The defensive line is new coordinator Andy Avalos’ biggest concern, as this unit was hit hard by departures after 2015. The return of Gabe Perez from injury should help, and junior college recruit Daniel Auelua should push for immediate snaps. However, considering Boise State will have to face a talented group of running backs in 2016 – including a potential matchup against San Diego State in the Mountain West title game – the front line’s development holds the key to the Broncos’ season.

 

Related:

 

2. Christian Chapman’s Development at San Diego State

San Diego State isn’t going to stray too far from its formula for success. Rocky Long’s team will lean on its punishing ground attack and defense to contend for another season of 10 (or more wins) and the Mountain West title. Sophomore quarterback Christian Chapman showed promise in limited action last year, finishing 2015 by completing 8 of 11 passes for 113 yards and one score in the Hawaii Bowl win over Cincinnati. While Chapman doesn’t have to be an All-Mountain West quarterback this season, his development could be the difference in San Diego State finishing as a top 25 team or losing to Boise State in the Mountain West title game. The Aztecs also have to find Chapman a few targets on the outside and get more consistency out of the receiving corps.

 

3. Sorting Out the Middle of the Mountain West

Most of the preseason attention in the Mountain West is likely to surround Boise State and San Diego State. However, the conference quietly has a solid group of teams forming in the next tier after Boise State, San Diego State and Air Force. Utah State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Jose State and Nevada are all projected to reach at least .500 in Athlon’s predictions. Which of these teams could surprise this fall? Utah State has some significant voids to fill on defense, but the Aggies return a rising star at quarterback in Kent Myers and are led by one of the Mountain West’s top coaches in Matt Wells. Colorado State should improve in coach Mike Bobo’s second year, and there’s a solid core of talent in place on offense despite the loss of receiver Rashard Higgins to the NFL. Nevada should have one of the league’s top offenses, but the defense suffered heavy losses in the front seven. San Jose State and New Mexico took a step forward in the win column last season and another jump in victories isn’t out of the question. Both programs need to improve on defense in order to challenge for a better finish in their respective division.

 

Related:

 

4. UNLV…A Team on The Rise?

Making the jump from high school coach to leading a FBS program is no easy task. However, Tony Sanchez certainly proved he is capable of guiding the Rebels. UNLV only won three games but lost four games by eight points or less last season. Additionally, the Rebels improved to No. 105 nationally last year after ranking No. 118 in 2014 in Football Outsiders F+ rankings. More improvement is expected out of UNLV this fall, as the home schedule features winnable games against Wyoming, Fresno State and Nevada, and junior college recruit Johnny Stanton should provide a spark at quarterback. A bowl game is probably a year away, but the Rebels have some positive momentum headed into 2016.

 

5. Will Fresno State Rebound in 2016?

Tim DeRuyter’s tenure at Fresno State started with 20 wins and a Mountain West title in 2013. However, the Bulldogs have been trending in the wrong direction over the last two seasons. Fresno State is just 9-17 since 2014, and last year’s 3-9 mark was the program’s lowest win total since 1978. DeRuyter wasted no time making changes this offseason, as two new coordinators – Eric Kiesau (offense) and Lorenzo Ward (defense) – provide optimism for improvement. Finding a quarterback is Kiesau’s biggest concern after four players took snaps in 2015, and a new running back must emerge to replace Marteze Waller. On defense, Fresno State returns only four starters, with significant concerns in the front seven. With a schedule that features crossover games against Air Force, Utah State and Colorado State, there’s very little margin for error as DeRuyter hopes to get Fresno State back on track. 

 

Mountain West Conference 2016 Team Previews
Mountain Division
 

National

Rank:

51 34 89 93 82 114
West Division
 

National

Rank:

108 121 86 36 96 106

 

Visit the  to order a copy of the 2016 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

Mountain West Conference Predictions for 2016
         
Mountain Division
Rank Team   Projected MW Record Projected Overall Record
1

(No. 34)

7-1 11-2
.
2

(No. 51)

6-2 10-2
.
3

(No. 82)

5-3 7-5
.
4

(No. 89)

4-4 6-6
.
5

(No. 93)

3-5 6-6
.
6

(No. 114)

1-7 3-9
.
         
West Division
Rank Team   Projected MW Record Projected Overall Record
1

(No. 36)

7-1 10-3
.
2

(No. 86)

5-3 7-5
.
3

(No. 96)

5-3 6-6
.
4
(No. 106)
2-6 4-8
.
5

(No. 108)

2-6 3-9
.
6

(No. 121)

1-7 3-10
.
         
Mountain West Championship
Boise State over San Diego State 

 

Mountain West 2016 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

Mark

Ross

David

Fox

 
Offensive POY

Donnel Pumphrey

RB, SDSU

Donnel Pumphrey

RB, SDSU

Donnel Pumphrey

RB, SDSU

Donnel Pumphrey

RB, SDSU

Defensive POY

Damontae Kazee

CB, SDSU

Damontae Kazee

CB, SDSU

Weston Steelhammer

S, AFA

Weston Steelhammer

S, AFA

Coach of the Year

Rocky Long

SDSU

Bryan Harsin

Boise State

Rocky Long

SDSU

Rocky Long

SDSU

Coach on Hot Seat

Tim DeRuyter

Fresno State

Tim DeRuyter

Fresno State

Tim DeRuyter

Fresno State

Tim DeRuyter

Fresno State

Top Freshman

Chason Virgil

QB, Fresno State

Chason Virgil

QB, Fresno State

Kayode Rufai

DE, Boise State

Chason Virgil

QB, Fresno State

Top Newcomer

Daquawn Brown

CB, Fresno State

Johnny Stanton

QB, UNLV

Johnny Stanton

QB, UNLV

-
Sleeper Team Nevada San Jose State Colorado State Utah State
Top Coordinator Hire

Tim Cramsey

OC, Nevada

Tim Cramsey

OC, Nevada

Zak Hill

Co-OC, Boise State

Tim Cramsey

OC, Nevada

Key Position to Watch Boise State DL SDSU WR Boise State DL Boise State DL
Hardest to Evaluate Utah State Utah State Wyoming New Mexico
Coach on the Rise

Nick Rolovich

HC, Hawaii

Mike Bobo

HC, CSU

Mike Bobo

HC, CSU

Brian Polian

HC, Nevada

Must-See Game

Boise State at

Air Force

Boise State at

Air Force

Wazzu at

Boise State

Boise State at

Air Force

Breakout Player D. Sumner-Gardner
S, Boise State

Jalen Robinette

WR, AFA

Hasaan Henderson

WR, Nevada

Lexington Thomas

RB, UNLV

Comeback Player

Nate Romine

QB, AFA

Nate Romine

QB, AFA

Josh Allen

QB, Wyoming

Dakota Cox

LB, UNM

 

Ranking the Mountain West Coaches for 2016

 

1. Troy Calhoun, Air Force

2. Rocky Long, San Diego State

3. Bryan Harsin, Boise State

 

 

Ranking the Mountain West's Quarterbacks for 2016

 

1. Brett Rypien, Boise State

2. Kent Myers, Utah State

3. Nick Stevens, Colorado State

4. Kenny Potter, San Jose State

5. Tyler Stewart, Nevada

 

Mountain West's Top 10 Players on the Rise for 2016

 

1. Kent Myers, QB, Utah State

2. Dylan Sumner-Gardner, S, Boise State

3. Timothy McVey, RB, Air Force

4. Johnny Stanton, QB, UNLV

5. Daquawn Brown, CB, Fresno State

6. Kyle Kelley, DE, San Diego State

7. Justin Holmes, WR, San Jose State

8. Izzy Matthews, RB, Colorado State

9. Malik Reed, DE, Nevada

10. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

 

Mountain West's Top 10 Non-Conference Games for 2016

 

1. Washington State at Boise State (Sept. 10)

2. California at San Diego State (Sept. 10)

3. Navy at Air Force (Oct. 1)

4. BYU at Boise State (Oct. 20)

5. San Diego State at Northern Illinois (Sept. 17)

6. Nevada at Notre Dame (Sept. 10)

7. Colorado State vs. Colorado (Sept. 2)

8. Utah State at BYU (Nov. 26)

9. Boise State at Oregon State (Sept. 24)

10. Utah at San Jose State (Sept. 17)

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2016

 

1. Tim Cramsey, Offensive Coordinator, Nevada

2. Zak Hill, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Boise State

3. Eric Kiesau, Offensive Coordinator, Fresno State

4. Ron English, Defensive Coordinator, San Jose State

5. Frank Maile, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Utah State

6. Kevin Lempa, Defensive Coordinator, Hawaii

 

Mountain West's Top Incoming Freshmen for 2016 ()

 

1. Cameron Alexander, DE, San Jose State

2. Armani Rogers, QB, UNLV

3. Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State

4. Trevion Armstrong, WR, Nevada

5. Kayode Rufai, DE, Boise State

6. Teton Saltes, DE, New Mexico

7. Christian Colon, DT, Colorado State

8. Donte Coleman, TE, Fresno State

9. Freddie Holly, RB, Hawaii

10. Anthony Smith, DE, Colorado State

Teaser:
Mountain West Football 2016 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/adidas-misspells-colombia-soccer-ad
Body:

With Colombia topping the Group A standings in the Copa America Tournament, Adidas recently launched a new ad campaign to celebrate the South American team in the tournament. However, the country's name was misspelled "Columbia" instead of its native spelling. These spelling errors extended to Adidas's website which have now been fixed.

 

Fans and natives of Colombia quickly noticed and took to Twitter and Instagram to show their frustration with the company. Adidas quickly issued an apology via the stating:

 

“We value our partnership with the Colombian Football Federation and apologize for our mistake. We removed these graphics and are quickly installing new versions today.”

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 11:01
Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-2016-predictions
Body:

Most preseason predictions and rankings have the Pac-12 on the outside of the playoff picture for 2016, but there’s no shortage of intrigue or potential surrounding this league. Stanford has lost only nine conference games in coach David Shaw’s tenure, and despite significant personnel losses, the Cardinal is penciled in as one of the favorites for the 2016 title. However, with Stanford likely to take a small step back, the door is open for Washington, Oregon and Washington State to win the North Division.

 

The battle to win the South Division is likely to come down to one of the league’s top rivalry games – UCLA vs. USC. Clay Helton had the interim tag removed at the end of 2015 and the coaching stability should help the Trojans. However, Helton needs to find an answer at quarterback, develop a few standouts on the defensive line and navigate one of the nation’s toughest schedules. Utah is a step behind USC and UCLA in the South Division, but the Utes will be a tough out for the rest of the league. And if junior college recruit Troy Williams is the answer at quarterback, Utah will inch closer to the Bruins and Trojans in the South. Arizona State and Arizona have significant question marks to answer, but both programs should reach the postseason in 2016. Mike MacIntyre has Colorado trending in the right direction and could push for a bowl if Sefo Liufau returns to full strength at quarterback.

 

Five Key Questions That Will Shape the Pac-12 in 2016

 

1. How Fast Will Stanford Reload?

Stanford has claimed three out of the last four Pac-12 titles, but coach David Shaw has his work cut out for him in 2016. The Cardinal have to retool on both sides of the ball with only nine returning starters, and the schedule won’t do Shaw’s team any favors. Running back Christian McCaffrey is one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman Trophy, but the junior’s supporting cast is surrounded in uncertainty. Can Keller Chryst replace Kevin Hogan at quarterback? And how quickly will the Cardinal find the right mix on a rebuilt offensive line? The defense should be strong in the secondary, but the line is thin on depth and proven options, while the linebacking corps must find a replacement for standout Blake Martinez. While all of those areas are a concern for Shaw, the top contenders in the North – Oregon, Washington and Washington State – each have their own set of concerns. Simply, there’s not going to be one dominant team in this division. Over the last five years, in recruiting ranks – just a few spots behind Oregon. The Cardinal may not match last year’s 12 wins, but this program is better equipped to handle personnel losses than in previous seasons. Don’t expect a huge drop off for Shaw’s team in 2016.

 

Related:

 

2. Washington is Poised for a Breakout Season

Choosing the projected champion of the North Division was easily the longest discussion of Athlon’s Pac-12 prediction meeting. Washington State and Oregon were considered, but Stanford and Washington eventually emerged as the favorites. The Cardinal has won three out of the last four Pac-12 titles, but a changing of the guard could be in order for 2016. The Huskies have made steady progress under coach Chris Petersen and capped a seven-win season in 2015 with an impressive victory over Southern Miss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. While the overall win total (seven) has room to improve, advanced metrics were a big believer in Washington last year. In Football Outsiders’ F+ rankings, the Huskies ranked as the No. 13 team in 2015. And with 17 starters returning, Washington should take a big step forward in the win column. Quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin lead the way for the offense, while the defense should be the best in the Pac-12 after limiting opponents to 18.8 points a game in 2015. The Huskies have road trips to Utah, Oregon and Washington State to navigate, but Stanford visits Seattle on Sept. 30 in a game that could decide the North Division winner.

 

College Football: Breaking Down Athlon’s 2016 Top 25



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3. USC vs. UCLA in the Pac-12 South

, but the Bruins have some big advantages in their favor this season. UCLA has a clear edge at quarterback with sophomore Josh Rosen, and the schedule – including a home date against the Trojans – is significantly in favor of the Bruins. Additionally, the coaching element favors UCLA. Clay Helton guided USC to the South Division title last season, but there’s a better track record of success for Jim Mora. Despite the advantages in UCLA’s favor, the Bruins do have a few question marks to address. What tweaks will new coordinator Kennedy Polamalu implement for the offense? Additionally, Polamalu needs to revamp the receiving corps and fill a few voids on the offensive line. UCLA has to get tougher against the run after surrendering 198.5 yards a game in 2015. However, the return of Eddie Vanderdoes from injury should bolster the defensive line. Provided Max Browne provides steady play at quarterback, USC’s offense should be dynamic. But even if the offense ranks near the top of the Pac-12, a thin defensive line and brutal schedule could be too much to overcome.

 

Related:

 

4. Oregon and Washington State Lurking in the North

Washington and Stanford are Athlon’s projected top teams in the North, but Oregon and Washington State aren’t far behind. The addition of Brady Hoke should be a huge boost to the Ducks’ struggling defense, and the offense will be dynamic as usual. New play-caller Matt Lubick can lean on running back Royce Freeman until a quarterback – Dakota Prukop or Travis Jonsen – emerges as the No. 1 quarterback. The schedule has its share of challenges for coach Mark Helfrich’s team, but Stanford and Washington visit Eugene. Mike Leach guided Washington State to nine wins in 2015 – the program’s highest mark since winning 10 games in 2003. Quarterback Luke Falk and receiver Gabe Marks form one of the nation’s top pass-catch combinations, and the defense made progress under coordinator Alex Grinch last season. Washington State did have a bit of good fortune on its side in 2015 with five wins by one score. However, the Cougars are trending up for 2016, and Leach’s explosive offense could be enough to carry Washington State to nine (or more) wins this fall.

 

5. Rebuilding at Arizona and Arizona State

Arizona and Arizona State opened 2015 with high expectations, but these two programs finished with a combined 13-13 record. The Wildcats (2014) and Sun Devils (2013) aren’t far removed from an appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game, and neither program is in danger of suffering another steep drop in 2016. However, both teams are likely headed for a rebuilding year. Arizona State finished spring practice without an answer at quarterback, question marks on the offensive line and concerns in the secondary. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez revamped his defensive staff after this unit allowed 35.8 points a game in 2015. The Wildcats also need a healthy year out of quarterback Anu Solomon and running back Nick Wilson to exceed last year’s seven wins. Both programs are in good shape for the long haul, but Arizona and Arizona State face a tough path just to get bowl eligible in 2016.

 

College Football: Others Receiving Votes



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Pac-12 Team Previews for 2016
North Division
 

National

Rank:

44 23 90 12 11 30
South Division
 

National

Rank:

50 46 61 14 22 32

 

Visit the  to order a copy of the 2016 Pac-12 Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 12 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

Pac-12 Predictions for 2016
         
North Division
Rank Team   Projected Pac-12 Record Projected Overall Record
1

(No. 11)

6-3 10-3
.
2

(No. 12)

6-3 9-3
.
3

(No. 23)

5-4 8-4
.
4

(No. 30)

5-4 8-4
.
5

(No. 44)

3-6 6-6
.
6

(No. 90)

1-8 2-10
.
         
South Division
Rank Team   Projected Pac-12 Record Projected Overall Record
1

(No. 14)

7-2 9-4
.
2

(No. 22)

6-3 8-4
.
3

(No. 32)

5-4 8-4
.
4

(No. 46)

4-5 6-6
.
5

(No. 50)

4-5 6-6
.
6

(No. 61)

2-7 4-8
.
 
Pac-12 Championship
Washington over UCLA 

 

Pac-12 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

Mark

Ross

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

 
Offensive POY

Christian McCaffrey

RB, Stanford

Christian McCaffrey

RB, Stanford

Christian McCaffrey

RB, Stanford

Christian McCaffrey

RB, Stanford

Christian McCaffrey

RB, Stanford

Defensive POY

Budda Baker

S, Washington

Budda Baker

S, Washington

Budda Baker

S, Washington

Budda Baker

S, Washington

Budda Baker

S, Washington

Coach of the Year

Chris Petersen

Washington

Chris Petersen

Washington

Chris Petersen

Washington

Chris Petersen

Washington

Chris Petersen

Washington

Coach on Hot Seat

Mike MacIntyre

Colorado

Mike MacIntyre

Colorado

Todd Graham

Arizona State

Mike MacIntyre

Colorado

Mike MacIntyre

Colorado

Top Freshman

Mique Juarez

LB, UCLA

Theo Howard

WR, UCLA

Mique Juarez

LB, UCLA

Mique Juarez

LB, UCLA

Mique Juarez

LB, UCLA

Top Newcomer

Davis Webb

QB, California

Davis Webb

QB, California

Davis Webb

QB, California

Davis Webb

QB, California

Davis Webb

QB, California

Sleeper Team

Washington

State

California California Utah

Washington

State

Top Coordinator Hire

Brady Hoke

DC, Oregon

Brady Hoke

DC, Oregon

Brady Hoke,

DC, Oregon

Marcel Yates

DC, Arizona

Brady Hoke

DC, Oregon

Key Position to Watch Stanford OL USC DL Oregon DL Stanford OL Stanford OL
Hardest to Evaluate USC USC Utah Arizona State USC
Coach on the Rise

Pete Kwiatkowski

DC, Washington

Alex Grinch

DC, Wazzu

Pete Kwiatkowski

DC, Washington

Tee Martin

OC, USC

Chip Lindsey

OC, Arizona State

Must-See Game

Stanford at

Washington

USC at

Washington

USC vs. 

Alabama

Stanford at 

Washington

Stanford at

Washington

Breakout Player

Ronald Jones

RB, USC

Ronald Jones

RB, USC

Jake Browning

QB, Washington

Soso Jamabo

RB, UCLA

Ronald Jones

RB, USC

Comeback Player

Eddie Vanderdoes

DL, UCLA

Eddie Vanderdoes

DL, UCLA

John Ross

WR/KR, Washington

Nick Wilson

RB, Arizona

Eddie Vanderdoes

DL, UCLA

 

Ranking the Pac-12's Coaches for 2016

 

1. David Shaw, Stanford

2. Chris Petersen, Washington

3. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

 

 

Ranking the Pac-12's Quarterbacks for 2016

 

1. Josh Rosen, UCLA

2. Luke Falk, Washington State

3. Jake Browning, Washington

 

 

Pac-12's Top 10 Players on the Rise for 2016

 

1. Ronald Jones, RB, USC

2. Jake Browning, QB, Washington

3. Cameron Smith, LB, USC

4. Soso Jamabo, RB, UCLA

5. Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford

6. Kareem Orr, DB, Arizona State

7. Joe Williams, RB, Utah

8. Darrien Molton, CB, Washington State

9. Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford

10. Dakota Prukop, QB, Oregon

 

 

Pac-12's Top 10 Non-Conference Games for 2016

 

1. USC vs. Alabama (Arlington - Sept. 3)

2. Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 26)

3. Stanford at Notre Dame (Oct. 15)

4. UCLA at Texas A&M (Sept. 3)

5. Oregon at Nebraska (Sept. 17)

6. BYU at Utah (Sept. 10)

7. Texas at California (Sept. 17)

8. Washington State at Boise State (Sept. 10)

9. UCLA at BYU (Sept. 17)

10. Texas Tech at Arizona State (Sept. 10)

 

Pac-12's Key Coordinator Hires for 2016

 

1. Brady Hoke, Defensive Coordinator, Oregon

2. Chip Lindsey, Offensive Coordinator, Arizona State

3. Clancy Pendergast, Defensive Coordinator, USC

4. Marcel Yates, Defensive Coordinator, Arizona

5. Tee Martin, Offensive Coordinator, USC

6. Jake Spavital, Offensive Coordinator, California

7. Morgan Scalley, Defensive Coordinator, Utah

8. Kennedy Polamalu, Offensive Coordinator, UCLA

 

Pac-12's Top 15 Incoming Freshmen for 2016 ()

 

1. Mique Juarez, LB, UCLA

2. Demetris Robertson, WR, California

3. Oluwole Betiku, DL, USC

4. Jack Jones, DB, USC

5. Tyler Vaughns, WR, USC

6. Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford

7. K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford

8. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

9. Michael Pittman, WR, USC

10. Curtis Robinson, LB, Stanford

11. E.J. Price, OL, USC

12. Jamel Cook, DB, USC

13. Byron Murphy, DB, Washington

14. Theo Howard, WR, UCLA

15. Boss Tagaloa, DL, UCLA

Teaser:
Pac-12 Football 2016 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News, Magazines
Path: /college-football/explain-yourselves-athlon-answers-questions-about-2016-pac-12-predictions
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Before each college football season, Athlon Sports hears from readers wanting to know why one team was favored over another in our preseason rankings. Why this team was ranked so high or that team so low.

 

Some of these questions are in — um — colorful language.

 

That’s why Athlon takes you inside our decision process for some of the biggest questions you ask. Believe it or not, some of these questions are the ones we grappled with through our rankings meeting.

 

Here are the questions we anticipated about our .

 

The Athlon Sports 2016 Pac-12 Preview is 

 

UCLA was a relatively easy pick in the South. Why are we so confident?

 

At first glance, the Bruins’ 8–5 record last season might be considered a disappointment. They went only 5–4 in the Pac-12, lost to crosstown rival USC by 19 points and dropped their bowl game to a Nebraska team that had a losing record. But we can’t forget that UCLA started a true freshman at quarterback and was ravaged by injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Now, Josh Rosen — the No. 1 QB in the 2015 recruiting class — is a sophomore with 13 starts under his belt and figures to be one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in 2016. And the defense returns nine starters — not including standout tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, who went down with a torn ACL in early September. His return should help UCLA improve against the run, an area of weakness last year. Also, the schedule is very, very forgiving; the Bruins do not play Washington or Oregon — two of the top three teams in the North — and host both USC and Utah. The UCLA pick also indicates our lack of confidence in USC. The Trojans will once again have a ton of talent, but there are questions at quarterback and with the coaching staff.

 

Why did Utah get the nod over the Arizona schools for third in the South?

 

The Utes loses some key players from last year’s surprising 10-win team, but Kyle Whittingham has built a solid foundation that will keep this program competitive. The overall offensive numbers were not good last season, but Utah still managed to run the ball with consistency and play well defensively — two staples of the Utes in recent years. And while All-Pac-12 tailback Devontae Booker is gone, Joe Williams appears more than ready to step into the role as primary ball-carrier. Arizona State was one of the more disappointing teams in the league last season and has some significant holes to fill on both sides of the ball. Arizona will continue to score a ton of points, but the Wildcats have issues on defense — again.

 

 

How did Washington get the nod over Stanford, a team that has either won or shared the Pac-12 North title in four of the last five seasons?

 

The record wasn’t overly impressive — 7–6 overall and 4–5 in the league — but Washington showed significant improvement in Chris Petersen’s second season. For the most part, when the Huskies won, they won impressively, and when they lost, they lost close games to good teams. UW returns two of the top young skill-position players in the league in quarterback Jake Browning and tailback Myles Gaskin and welcomes back explosive receiver John Ross from injury. Stanford isn’t going anywhere, but the Cardinal suffered too many key personnel losses and must identify a new starting quarterback. Washington also has the easier conference schedule and gets Stanford at home (on Sept. 30).

 

Why no respect for Oregon?

 

It’s not time to panic, but the Ducks lost four games in 2015 — the most since 2007 when Mike Bellotti’s penultimate Oregon team went 9–4. The positive spin? Three of the four losses came by seven points or fewer and two of the three losses came with quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. either slowed by an injury or out with an injury. The negative spin? Adams is no longer around, and the team has significant concerns on both the offensive line and defensive line. Dakota Prukop put up huge numbers at Montana State, but there is no guarantee he will be as successful as Adams, last year’s FBS transfer. There is also a coaching transition, with a new offensive coordinator (Matt Lubick) and defensive coordinator (Brady Hoke). Hoke figures to be a significant upgrade over Don Pellum — demoted to linebackers coach — but don’t expect too big an improvement in 2016.

Teaser:
Explain Yourselves: Athlon Answers Questions About 2016 SEC Predictions
Post date: Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/young-cancer-survivor-shows-prosthetic-cubs-eye-chicago-beckham-zobrist
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Beckham Zobrist fought cancer and doesn't want his battle to go unnoticed. 

 

The 7-year-old survivor is taking his hard-fought victory and showing it off in a prideful manner with a prosthetic eye. Zobrist lost one of his eyes to retinoblastoma and a new eye was on his wish list after being teased at school. His wish was granted and more with a special Cubs prosthetic. 

 

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Post date: Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 10:28

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