Articles By All

Path: /college-football/sec-football-2015-predictions
Body:

The SEC is in a two-year drought for national championships, but this league still holds the top spot among college football conferences. Nine SEC teams appear in Athlon’s top 25 projections for 2015, including all seven teams from the West Division. Georgia is the favorite in the East, while Alabama gets a slight edge over Auburn in the West. 

 

Here are five storylines to watch in the SEC for 2015, followed by a full preview and predictions for the upcoming year.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the SEC in 2015

 

1. Alabama vs. Auburn

Once again, the stakes and intensity should be high when Alabama and Auburn meet in the annual Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide won an entertaining 55-44 matchup over the Tigers last season, and this season’s meeting could decide the West Division and a spot in college football’s playoff. Auburn must replace standout center Reese Dismukes and quarterback Nick Marshall, but the Tigers shouldn’t miss a beat on offense. New quarterback Jeremy Johnson should provide a seamless transition under center, and the supporting cast is among the best in the SEC. Defense is where Auburn has struggled in recent years, but coach Gus Malzahn addressed this unit by hiring Will Muschamp as coordinator. Alabama has its share of question marks with only two returning starters on offense and holes to fill at quarterback and receiver. However, Nick Saban has recruited an abundance of talent, and the Crimson Tide will have an elite defense if the secondary finds a few answers this fall. Until the quarterback and receiver situation stabilizes, Alabama can lean on its rushing attack and defense. With 11 games to find the right answers, the Crimson Tide's offense should be at full strength by the Iron Bowl.

 

2. New Faces at Quarterback

The SEC enters 2015 with a significant amount of uncertainty at quarterback. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott headlines the returning crop of signal-callers after earning first-team All-SEC honors last season. Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson is should have a breakout year, and Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs and Texas A&M’s Kyle Allen are two additional rising stars. But Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, LSU and Ole Miss enter the fall with inexperience or uncertainty under center. Additionally, Missouri’s Maty Mauk and Arkansas’ Brandon Allen will be looking to take the next step in their development. It’s no secret quarterback play is a huge part of how the season will play out. Considering the overall uncertainty of this position, there’s an extra layer of intrigue surrounding the quarterbacks in 2015.

 

3. New Coordinator Impact

Only two SEC teams (Alabama and Ole Miss) did not have a change in the coordinator ranks this offseason. With coaching changes at some of the SEC’s title contenders, how quickly the new coordinators make an impact will have a key role in the division title picture. Can John Chavis (Texas A&M) and Will Muschamp (Auburn) provide a quick fix for struggling defenses? Will Brian Schottenheimer keep Georgia’s offense among the best in the SEC? Will Jon Hoke turn around South Carolina’s defense in just one offseason? Several of the new coordinator hires should have a huge impact in 2015 – which one could alter how the divisions are decided?

 

4. Tennessee on the Rise

Entering Butch Jones’ third season on Rocky Top, Tennessee is poised to take another step forward in the East Division in 2015. The Volunteers improved by two games from 2013 to 2014 and closed last year by winning four out of the last five contests. Jones continues to elevate the talent level in Knoxville, and Tennessee returns 17 starters from last season’s 7-6 team. With a full year from quarterback Joshua Dobbs, combined with better play from the offensive line, the Volunteers should easily improve off last season's scoring mark (28.9). Tennessee’s defense is also poised to take a step forward. End Derek Barnett is one of the nation’s best, and cornerback Cam Sutton should be in the mix for first-team All-SEC honors. This unit is where recruiting has paid big dividends for Jones, especially with freshmen Kahlil McKenzie (DT) and Kyle Phillips (DE) adding to a good core of linemen for 2015. 

 

5. Sleeper Teams to Watch

Looking for teams that could spoil the division title hopes of favorites Georgia and Alabama? It’s hard to call Missouri a sleeper since coach Gary Pinkel’s team has won the East in back-to-back years. However, the Tigers suffered heavy losses at receiver and defensive end and begin 2015 under the radar. Florida has talent, but new coach Jim McElwain has major issues to address up front with a thin offensive line and at quarterback. In the West, Arkansas was one of the hottest teams in the SEC at the end of 2014. The Razorbacks will be a tough out once again and could improve their win total by two games if quarterback Brandon Allen improves under new coordinator Dan Enos. But the biggest wild card team to watch in the West is LSU. The Tigers have recruited as well as any team, yet is just 9-7 in SEC play over the last two years. Both sides of the ball are under the microscope for coach Les Miles this season. The quarterback play must improve, and the defense lost coordinator John Chavis to Texas A&M. Also, we can't forget Mississippi State's effort to reload on both sides of the ball after a 10-win campaign in 2014, along with in-state rival Ole Miss. The Rebels boast one of the SEC's top defenses, but will coach Hugh Freeze find a quarterback?

 

SEC 2015 Team Previews
East Division
 
National
Rank:
26105527372279
West Division
 
National
Rank:
216415211120

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 SEC Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 14 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 
 

SEC Football 2015 Predictions

     
East Division    
RankTeam Projected SEC RecordProjected Overall Record
1Georgia
(No. 10)
6-210-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Georgia for 2015.
2Tennessee
(No. 22)
5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Tennessee for 2015.
3

Florida

(No. 26)

5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Florida for 2015.
4

Missouri

(No. 27)

3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Missouri for 2015. 
5

South Carolina

(No. 37)

3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of South Carolina for 2015.
6

Kentucky

(No. 55)

2-66-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Kentucky for 2015.
7

Vanderbilt

(No. 79)

0-83-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of Vanderbilt for 2015.
     
West Division    
RankTeam Projected SEC RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Alabama

(No. 2)

7-112-1
Read the full, in-depth preview of Alabama for 2015.
2

Auburn

(No. 4)

6-210-2
Read the full, in-depth preview of Auburn for 2015.
3

Ole Miss

(No. 11)

5-39-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Ole Miss for 2015.
4LSU
(No. 15)
4-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of LSU for 2015.
5Arkansas
(No. 16)
4-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Arkansas for 2015.
6

Texas A&M
(No. 20)

3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Texas A&M for 2015.
7Mississippi State
(No. 21)
3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Mississippi State for 2015.
     
SEC Championship
 Alabama over Georgia 

 

SEC 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
Braden
Gall
David
Fox
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@BradenGall@DavidFox615
Offensive POYNick Chubb
RB, UGA
Nick Chubb
RB, UGA
Nick Chubb
RB, UGA
Dak Prescott
QB, MSU
Nick Chubb
RB, UGA
Defensive POYDerek Barnett
DE, Tennessee
Derek Barnett
DE, Tennessee
Vernon Hargreaves
CB, Florida
Robert Nkemdiche
DL, Ole Miss
Myles Garrett
DE, TAMU
Coach of the YearButch Jones
Tennessee
Mark Richt
Georgia
Butch Jones
Tennessee
Hugh Freeze
Ole Miss
Gary Pinkel
Missouri
Coach on Hot SeatDerek Mason
Vanderbilt
Les Miles
LSU
Derek Mason
Vanderbilt
Derek Mason
Vanderbilt

Les Miles
LSU

Top FreshmanMartez Ivey
OL, Florida
Kahlil McKenzie
DT, Tennessee
Kevin Tolliver II
CB, LSU
Kahlil McKenzie
DT, Tennessee
Will Grier
QB, Florida
Top NewcomerMarquavius Lewis
DL, SC
Jovon Robinson
RB, Auburn
Jovon Robinson
RB, Auburn
Marquavius Lewis
DL, SC
Alvin Kamara
RB, Tennessee
Sleeper TeamTexas A&MTexas A&MKentuckyOle MissTexas A&M
Top Coordinator HireWill Muschamp
DC, Auburn
Will Muschamp
DC, Auburn

John Chavis
DC, TAMU

Will Muschamp
DC, Auburn
John Chavis
DC, TAMU
Key Position to WatchAlabama DBAlabama DBAlabama QBLSU QBMissouri DL
Hardest to EvaluateLSUMissouriLSUTennesseeArkansas
Coach on the RiseBarry Odom
DC, Missouri
Barry Odom
DC, Missouri
Mark Stoops
Kentucky
Butch Jones
Tennessee
Barry Odom
DC, Missouri
Must-See GameAlabama at 
Auburn
Alabama at
Auburn
Alabama at
Georgia
Alabama at
Auburn
Alabama at
Auburn
Breakout PlayerJeremy Johnson
QB, Auburn
Robert Foster
WR, Alabama
Boom Williams
RB, Kentucky
Jeremy Johnson
QB, Auburn
Jeremy Johnson
QB, Auburn
Comeback PlayerCarl Lawson
DE, Auburn
Carl Lawson
DE, Auburn
Carl Lawson
DE, Auburn
Carl Lawson
DE, Auburn
Carl Lawson
DE, Auburn

 

Ranking the SEC's Coaches for 2015

 

1. Nick Saban, Alabama

2. Gus Malzahn, Auburn

3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

4. Mark Richt, Georgia

5. Gary Pinkel, Missouri

 

Click here to view the full SEC Coach Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the SEC's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

2. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn

3. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee

4. Kyle Allen, Texas A&M

5. Maty Mauk, Missouri

 

Click here to view the full SEC Quarterback Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the SEC's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Nick Chubb, Georgia

2. Leonard Fournette, LSU

3. Derrick Henry, Alabama

4. Jonathan Williams, Arkansas

5. Alex Collins, Arkansas

 

Click here to view the full SEC Running Back Rankings for 2015

 

The SEC's Top 5 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn

2. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

3. Harold Brantley, DT, Missouri

4. Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee

5. Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M

 

Related: College Football's Top 25 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

The Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Texas A&M vs. Arizona State (Houston) - Sept. 5

2. Auburn vs. Louisville (Atlanta) - Sept. 5

3. Oklahoma at Tennessee - Sept. 12

4. Georgia at Georgia Tech - Nov. 28

5. Florida State at Florida - Nov. 28

6. Clemson at South Carolina - Nov. 28

7. Wisconsin vs. Alabama (Dallas) - Sept. 5

8. South Carolina vs. North Carolina (Charlotte) - Sept. 3

9. Louisville at Kentucky - Nov. 28

10. Missouri vs. BYU (Kansas City) - Nov. 14

 

Related: SEC Schedule Analysis: East | West
 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Will Muschamp, Defensive Coordinator, Auburn

2. John Chavis, Defensive Coordinator, Texas A&M

3. Barry Odom, Defensive Coordinator, Missouri

4. Geoff Collins, Defensive Coordinator, Mississippi State

5. Dan Enos, Offensive Coordinator, Arkansas

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Trent Thompson, DL, Georgia

2. Martez Ivey, OT, Florida

3. Byron Cowart, DL, Auburn

4. Kahlil McKenzie, DL, Tennessee

5. CeCe Jefferson, DL, Florida

6. Kevin Toliver II, DB, LSU

7. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

8. Terry Beckner Jr., DL, Missouri

9. Daylon Mack, DL, Texas A&M

10. Kendall Sheffield, DB, Alabama

11. Blake Barnett, QB, Alabama

12. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

13. Tyron Johnson, WR, LSU

14. Terry Godwin, ATH, Georgia

15. Daron Payne, DL, Alabama

Teaser:
SEC Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/conference-usa-football-2015-predictions
Body:

Conference USA is a slightly behind the Mountain West and American Athletic in the pecking order for Group of 5 conferences. However, Conference USA had a team (Marshall) in the running for one of college football’s top bowl games last year, and the league could have another in 2015.

 

WKU will be a team to watch behind quarterback Brandon Doughty, as the Hilltoppers return seven starters from an offense that averaged 44.4 points per game in 2014. Coach Jeff Brohm’s team also has opportunities to score big-time wins, including games against Vanderbilt, LSU and Indiana.

 

WKU is Athlon’s pick to win Conference USA, with Marshall and Louisiana Tech up next in the league power rankings.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape C-USA in 2015

 

1. WKU vs. Marshall in the East

The balance of power in Conference USA is tipped in favor of the East Division in 2015. Marshall and WKU rank as the top teams in Athlon’s power rankings for the upcoming year, and the meeting between the Thundering Herd and Hilltoppers on Nov. 27 could decide the division crown. WKU gets a slight edge in Athlon’s East projections, as coach Jeff Brohm’s team returns standout senior quarterback Brandon Doughty, a deep group of receivers and a defense that should be improved with seven starters back. Marshall has a favorable schedule by missing Louisiana Tech, UTEP and Rice in crossover play with the West. However, the Thundering Herd must replace quarterback Rakeem Cato and receiver Tommy Shuler. It’s a close call in the East. But an edge goes to WKU with Doughty at the controls.

 

2. Will any team catch Louisiana Tech in the West?

Louisiana Tech enters 2015 as the clear favorite in the West Division. The Bulldogs have a few holes to fill, but coach Skip Holtz’s team returns 13 starters and can ride running back Kenneth Dixon until the passing game settles with Florida transfer Jeff Driskel at quarterback. Louisiana Tech is projected to finish 6-2 in league play, with Rice (5-3) and UTEP (4-4) just behind. On paper, there is a significant gap between the Bulldogs and the Miners and Owls. However, UTEP hosts Louisiana Tech and does not play Marshall or WKU from the East. Rice returns standout quarterback Driphus Jackson, but the Owls must rebuild on defense. Will either team put all of the pieces together to push Louisiana Tech?

 

3. Looking for a Sleeper Team

The top six teams in Conference USA seem clear for 2015. WKU, Marshall and MTSU headline the East, while Louisiana Tech, Rice and UTEP anchor the top of the West. But will a surprise team emerge from the next group? FAU is a team to watch, as the Owls return quarterback Jaquez Johnson and standout defensive tackle Brandin Bryant is back from a knee injury. The Owls also host swing games against FIU and MTSU. In the West Division, Southern Miss and North Texas have potential to climb the standings. The Golden Eagles are still struggling to get back to the top of Conference USA, but there has been improvement in two years under coach Todd Monken. The Mean Green has a solid group of talent returning on defense and can lean on the talented one-two punch of running backs Antoinne Jimmerson and Jeffrey Wilson. But will coach Dan McCarney find a quarterback?

 

4. Old Dominion Replaces Taylor Heinicke

In its first full season as a FBS member, Old Dominion finished 6-6 and recorded a .500 (4-4) mark in Conference USA play. The Monarchs are trending up under coach Bobby Wilder and return 11 starters for 2015. However, there’s one glaring departure. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke has expired his eligibility, leaving redshirt freshman Shuler Bentley at the controls of coach Bobby Wilder’s high-powered offense. With three winnable games in September, combined with home dates against Charlotte, UTEP and FAU, there may be just enough favorable games on ODU’s slate for Wilder to take the Monarchs to a bowl in 2015.

 

5. Charlotte Joins Conference USA

The 49ers are the newest FBS member, joining Conference USA in just their third season of play since the program started a football team in 2013. Coach Brad Lambert is 10-12 over the last two years, but Charlotte has yet to beat a FBS program. There’s no doubt many challenges are ahead for Lambert as this program gets off the ground and is able to challenge for bowl games and winning records in Conference USA. But the 49ers will be a team to watch in 2015, as running back Kalif Phillips and receiver Austin Duke are two talented playmakers for an offense that averaged 38.8 points per game in 2014.    

 

Conference USA 2015 Team Previews

East Division
 
National
Rank:
128107112708811369
West Division
 
National
Rank:
8611789116100123

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 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 2015

     
East Division
RankTeam Projected C-USA RecordProjected Overall Record
1

WKU

(No. 69)

7-19-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of WKU for 2015.
2

Marshall

(No. 70)

6-29-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Marshall for 2015.
3

MTSU

(No. 88)

6-27-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of MTSU for 2015.
4

FAU

(No. 107)

5-35-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of FAU for 2015.
5

FIU

(No. 112)

3-54-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of FIU for 2015.
6

Old Dominion

(No. 113)

3-55-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of ODU for 2015.
7

Charlotte

(No. 128)

0-81-11
Read the full, in-depth preview of Charlotte for 2015.
     
West Division
RankTeam Projected C-USA RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Louisiana Tech

(No. 86)

6-28-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Louisiana Tech for 2015.
2

Rice

(No. 89)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Rice for 2015.
3

UTEP

(No. 100)

4-46-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of UTEP for 2015.
4

Southern Miss

(No. 116)

3-54-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Southern Miss for 2015.
5

North Texas

(No. 117)

2-63-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of North Texas for 2015.
6

UTSA

(No. 123)

2-62-10
Read the full, in-depth preview of UTSA for 2015.
     
Conference USA Championship
 WKU over Louisiana Tech 

C-USA 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@DavidFox615
Offensive POYBrandon Doughty
QB, WKU
Brandon Doughty
QB, WKU
Brandon Doughty
QB, WKU
Brandon Doughty
QB, WKU
Defensive POYXavier Woods
S, La. Tech
Xavier Woods
S, La. Tech
Kevin Byard
S, MTSU
Xavier Woods
S, La. Tech
Coach of the YearJeff Brohm
WKU
Jeff Brohm
WKU
Jeff Brohm
WKU
Jeff Brohm
WKU
Coach on Hot SeatRon Turner
FIU
Larry Coker
UTSA
Ron Turner
FIU
Dan McCarney
North Texas
Top FreshmanShuler Bentley
QB, ODU
Brent Stockstill
QB, MTSU
Blake Bogenschutz
QB, UTSA
Shuler Bentley
QB, ODU
Top NewcomerMichael Birdsong
QB, Marshall
Michael Birdsong
QB, Marshall
Michael Birdsong
QB, Marshall
Jeff Driskel
QB, La. Tech
Sleeper TeamOld DominionUTEPUTEPSouthern Miss
Top Coordinator HireMatt Wallerstedt
DC, Charlotte
Matt House
DC, FIU
Matt Wallerstedt
DC, Charlotte
Matt Wallerstedt
DC, Charlotte
Key Position to WatchRice DLWKU OLLa. Tech QBRice DL
Hardest to EvaluateFAUFAUMTSUMTSU
Coach on the RiseBobby Wilder
Old Dominion

Jeff Brohm
WKU

Jeff Brohm
WKU
Jeff Brohm
WKU
Must-See GameMarshall at
WKU
La. Tech at
WKU
Marshall at 
WKU
Marshall at
WKU
Breakout PlayerDeon-Tay McManus
WR, Marshall
Jowan Davis
RB, Rice
Autrey Golden
WR, UTEP
Michael Birdsong
QB, Marshall
Comeback PlayerEvan McKelvey
LB, Marshall
Brandin Bryant
DT, FAU
Evan McKelvey
LB, Marshall
Anthon Samuel
RB, FIU

Ranking the Conference USA Coaches for 2015

 

1. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech

2. David Bailiff, Rice

3. Doc Holliday, Marshall

4. Rick Stockstill, MTSU

5. Bobby Wilder, ODU

 

Ranking the Conference USA Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Brandon Doughty, WKU

2. Driphus Jackson, Rice

3. Jaquez Johnson, FAU

4. Austin Grammer, MTSU

5. Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech

 

Ranking the Conference USA Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech

2. Devon Johnson, Marshall

3. Leon Allen, WKU

4. Aaron Jones, UTEP

5. Ray Lawry, ODU

 

Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. WKU at LSU - Oct. 24

2. WKU at Vanderbilt - Sept. 5

3. Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State - Oct. 17

4. Purdue at Marshall - Sept. 6

5. WKU at Indiana - Sept. 19

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Matt Wallerstedt, Defensive Coordinator, Charlotte

2. Blake Baker, Defensive Coordinator, Louisiana Tech

3. Chris Cosh, Defensive Coordinator, North Texas

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Trae Meadows, DB, MTSU

2. Von Davis, DB, Marshall

3. Johnny Shaw, DB, Louisiana Tech

4. Zach Abercrumbia, DT, Rice

5. Reese Ryan, QB, WKU

6. Kevin Dillman, TE, North Texas

7. Ruben Garnett, RB, MTSU

8. Tarrick Thomas, OL, FAU

9. Rhashid Bonnette, WR, Louisiana Tech

10. J'Mar Smith, QB, Louisiana Tech

Teaser:
Conference USA Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA, Overtime
Path: /nba/fan-creates-amazing-nba-finals-preview-tune-nba-nbc-lebron-warriors-cavaliers-steph-curry
Body:

There are many NBA Finals previews and videos, but this will undoubtedly be the best one you'll watch.

 

A YouTube user recreated this video with the old school "NBA on NBC" theme. It will have you feeling nostalgic for the good old days of the early 2000s. The user took the preview from the 2001 NBA Finals when Allen Iverson and the 76ers took on Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and the Lakers.

 

 

I'm all for bringing this theme back.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 09:31
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-toughest-college-football-schedules-2015
Body:

When putting together Athlon Sports' college football magazine and preseason Top 25 each year, a huge part of the process is scheduling. Non-conference games, crossovers, home-road splits and timing all play a role in determining order of finish.

 

And don’t forget that the College Football Playoff Committee made it very clear in its first season that it values scheduling.

 

So who has the toughest schedule in the ACC this fall? Who has the easiest path?

 

1. Georgia Tech

Not many teams favored to win a division have to deal with the toughest schedule in the conference but that is what Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets must do this fall. Tech will have to face the best two teams from the Atlantic Division in Clemson (road) and Florida State (home), as well as two potential top-10 teams in the non-conference in Notre Dame (road) and Georgia (home). Georgia Tech’s only comfort is that key swing games in the division (which is all of them, really) against North Carolina, Pitt and Virginia Tech do come at home.

 

2. Miami

Along with Georgia Tech, Miami must face both Florida State (road) and Clemson in crossover play — giving the Canes and Jackets the toughest interdivisional schedules in the ACC. Add to it road trips within the Coastal to Pitt, North Carolina and Duke and Al Golden must deal with one of the toughest ACC slates in the league. Top it off with non-conference games against Nebraska and at Cincinnati.

 

3. Clemson

With Georgia Tech and Miami in crossover as well as Notre Dame and South Carolina in non-conference, the Tigers face one of the hardest schedules in the ACC. Florida State has to come to Death Valley but road trips to Louisville, NC State, rival South Carolina and the Hurricanes offer plenty of speed bumps for Dabo Swinney. The only comfort for Clemson is that the three biggest games of the year (Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Florida State) come at home.

 

Related: Complete 2015 ACC Football Predictions

 

4. Virginia

No team in the ACC will play a tougher non-conference schedule than Virginia. Home dates with Notre Dame and Boise State as well as a long road trip to UCLA give the Wahoos three ranked foes before even reaching ACC play. Toss in a road trip to Louisville in crossover play and the toughest Coastal Divisional schedule (since there’s no Virginia) and there are few guaranteed wins for Mike London. Virginia will be favored in two games — William & Mary and Syracuse at home.

 

5. Wake Forest

Dave Clawson doesn’t get to face Wake Forest, so by definition, the Demon Deacons have one of the toughest schedules in the Atlantic Division. The only real winnable game in divisional play comes on the road at Syracuse. Facing Notre Dame, Army and Indiana in the non-conference isn’t crazy for Florida State but could be devastating for Wake Forest. The Deacs also get in-state rivals North Carolina and Duke from the Coastal Division.

 

6. Syracuse

Wake and Cuse play similar schedules but Syracuse’s big non-conference game comes at home (LSU) and crossover play could be slightly easier with Virginia and Pitt. Road trips in the division to Florida State, Louisville and NC State are impossible so Wake Forest and Boston College at home might be the best chances for wins for the Orange. Even road trips to South Florida and Virginia will be tough.

 

7. Boston College

Steve Addazio has three wins in the non-conference schedule and then Notre Dame. Crossover with Virginia Tech and Duke isn’t as tough as it could be but isn’t easy. Home games with Wake Forest and NC State provide chances for wins while getting Florida State at home is big for the turnstiles. However, road trips to Clemson and Louisville make competing in the division extremely difficult.

 

8. Louisville

The Cardinals must face two SEC foes in Auburn (Week 1, Atlanta) and Kentucky (road) and a split would be considered a success. Crossover with Virginia is great but a road trip to Pitt will be tough. Within the division, getting Clemson, Boston College and Syracuse at home provides opportunity while road games with Florida State and NC State will be exceptionally tough.

 

Related: 2015 ACC Football Schedule Analysis

 

9. Florida State

By definition, the Noles get one of the easier Atlantic Division schedules because they don’t have to play themselves. However, road trips to Clemson, Georgia Tech and Florida could keep Florida State from making the College Football Playoff. Other key swing games with Miami, Louisville and NC State will come at Doak Campbell Stadium.

 

10. Virginia Tech

The non-conference slate is tough (Ohio State) but also provides chances for solid wins (East Carolina, Purdue). Crossover play will feature two tough but winnable games in the form of a road trip to Boston College and a home game with NC State. Getting Coastal Division contenders Pitt, North Carolina and Duke at home helps as well. However, the biggest game of the year could be the road trip to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech. There is no Florida State, Clemson or Louisville on the schedule this season.

 

11. NC State

The non-conference slate is comically easy for Dave Doeren and NC State: Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and South Alabama. Crossover (at Virginia Tech, home vs. North Carolina) won't be easy, but a split is very reasonable. Key swing games with Louisville and Clemson come in Raleigh while winnable road games with Wake Forest and Boston College give the Wolfpack a shot at winning their division. The road trip to Florida State, however, likely keeps NC State from claiming the Atlantic.

 

12. Pitt

Facing Notre Dame and Iowa in the non-conference isn’t easy but the rest of the schedule sets up nicely for Pitt. There is no Florida State, Clemson or NC State on the schedule and road trips include visits to Syracuse and Duke. Two huge games in the division with Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech will come on the road but the schedule overall sets up for Pat Narduzzi’s first romp through a wide-open ACC.

 

13. North Carolina

South Carolina is the toughest opponent in the non-conference but that game will come in Charlotte. Crossover play with the Atlantic involves Wake Forest and at NC State — avoiding all three of the best teams in the division. Winnable games within the division with Miami, Virginia and Duke all come at home. Road trips to Georgia Tech, Pitt and Virginia Tech are the toughest games on the slate for Larry Fedora.

 

14. Duke

Northwestern at home is the toughest non-conference game on the schedule for the Blue Devils. Crossover with Boston College (home) and Wake Forest (road) is the easiest of any team in the ACC. And key division games with Georgia Tech, Miami and Pitt all come at home. A road trip to Virginia Tech might be the toughest game of the year for Duke.

 

Teaser:
Ranking the ACC's Toughest College Football Schedules in 2015
Post date: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Overtime, News, Olympics
Path: /overtime/people-dont-want-caitlyn-jenner-win-espy-lauren-hill-noah-galloway-espn
Body:

Caitlyn Jenner formally introduced herself, and it caused the internet to explode. The whole Twitter-verse was consumed with talking about the former Olympic-winner-turned-empowered-woman.

 

ESPN responded in their own way by announcing Jenner would be the recipient of the Arthur Ashe award for Courage. She will be joined by her family when she accepts it at the ESPYs. Jenner couldn't contain her excitement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many want Hill to receive the award posthumously, but by the looks of things she did her job of raising awareness for the cause and that's what her main goal was. She's already a winner in many people's books.

 

The ESPYs will air on July 15.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 16:27
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/bay-area-teacher-wants-steph-curry-stay-away-his-school-amaral-matt-warriors
Body:

Steph Curry is one of the most well-received players in the NBA. He's one of those all-around good guys that even if he's not on your team, you can't help but to root for.

 

That's why when a Bay Area teacher wrote a letter to the MVP asking him not to come to his school, Warriors fans didn't react well. Matt Amaral is a Warriors fan as well, but he writes about his reasoning for asking Curry to distance himself from his school. 

 

"When you get involved in soup kitchens, wrap Christmas presents for needy kinds, and build homes for the homeless I am inspired. But where those kids of civic-minded activities have clear benefits, I have to tell you something that you probably haven't heard: Coming to poor high schools like mine isn't going to help any of these kids out, in fact, it might make things worse."

 

Amaral says that having Curry there could give a false sense of success. Kids dream, but being Curry isn't an option.

 

"What you will do is shoot some threes, dazzle everyone with your dimples, high five the homies, and sign some autographs. It will be wonderful. At least, it will seem like that at first. But what you won't see is the fact that most of these kids don't have a backup plan for their dream of being you. If you ask the boys on my campus what they are going to be when they get older, the answer will involve a sport. They will claim they are going to play in the NBA or NFL, and seeing you there will make them think they can actually do it."

 

Amaral somewhat has a point, but it's almost like he's telling kids not to dream. That's impossible. I'm sure Nate Robinson or Spud Webb had people telling them the same things: "Don't dream too big because that's not possible for you."

 

Warriors fans have commented on the letter, but the teacher wants everyone to know he's a huge Warriors fan. He just doesn't want the MVP near his school.

 

Read the whole letter here.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 14:29
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NBA, Overtime
Path: /nfl/rob-gronkowski-andrew-luck-commercial-james-harden-mike-trout-skylar-diggins-richard-sherman-body-armor-kobe-bryant-ad
Body:

You want to get people to buy something, put an athlete in the commercial. That's always been the strategy.

 

BodyArmor is going all out in this one. The company enlists the help of sports' biggest stars including Rob Gronkowski, Andrew Luck, Skylar Diggins, Richard Sherman, James Harden, and more. It's hard to really understand what's happening after you see Luck pulling off a look from 1978.

 

 

The only thing missing from the commercial? Fellow BodyArmor spokesman, Kobe Bryant.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 11:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/louisville-goes-beastmode-during-summer-workouts-cardinals-weight-training
Body:

Team's working out during the summer never hold back. They know what they do in the coming months will reflect how they play when college football season is in full swing.

 

Louisville gave us a look into what the team does to get ready for the season, and it looks pretty tough. The Cardinals go full-on beastmode during their weight-lifting seasons and only some get the honor of "ringing the bell." It's a tradition like none other that comes when a player tops his personal best.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 11:34
Path: /college-football/mountain-west-football-2015-predictions
Body:

It’s a new year, but there’s a similar theme for the Mountain West in 2015. Boise State is once again the favorite to win the league crown, as the Broncos have a good chance to run the table and finish unbeaten this year. But Boise State will have competition from Utah State, Colorado State and San Diego State.

 

The balance of power in the Mountain West is clearly in the Mountain Division this season, with San Diego State the frontrunner from the West Division. All six of the teams from the Mountain Division rank inside of the top 100 of Athlon’s final 128 projections for 2015. However, on the other side, the West Division has only two teams ranked inside of the top 100.

 

Athlon projects a San Diego State-Boise State matchup in the 2015 Mountain West Championship. Below are five storylines to watch, followed by full conference predictions for this season.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the Mountain West in 2015

 

1. How Will Boise State Reload at QB and RB?

The Broncos usually have little trouble finding the next standouts at quarterback and running back. But these positions could make-or-break Boise State’s run at an appearance in one of college football’s top bowl games. Ryan Finley exited the spring as the frontrunner to replace Grant Hedrick at quarterback, while Jeremy McNichols and Cory Young are slated as the favorites to replace Jay Ajayi at running back. Stanford transfer Kelsey Young will also factor into the mix at running back, while Finley will be pushed in the fall by Thomas Stuart and Brett Rypien for the starting quarterback spot. How fast will coach Bryan Harsin develop the right answers at two critical positions?

Related: Complete No. 1 to 128 College Football Rankings for 2015

 

2. Transfer Quarterbacks

There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding quarterback play in the Mountain West for the 2015 season. Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton is one of the few proven options in this league, as Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Nevada and Fresno State will have a new starting quarterback in 2015. The uncertainty extends to the teams projected to finish at the bottom of the Mountain West, as Hawaii, San Jose State and UNLV are looking for answers under center. Help is on the way in the form of transfers for some teams, as Wyoming (Cameron Coffman, Indiana), Hawaii (Max Wittek, USC) and San Diego State (Maxwell Smith, Kentucky) left Power 5 programs for a chance to start.

 

3. Back from Injury at Utah State

Utah State has been hit hard by injuries over the last two seasons, but the Aggies are an impressive 19-9 under Matt Wells. Getting quarterback Chuckie Keeton and linebacker Kyler Fackrell back to full strength will be huge for Utah State in 2015. Assuming Keeton and Fackrell are at 100 percent this fall, the Aggies should be Boise State’s top competition in the Mountain West. Keeton completed 51 of 92 passes for 426 yards and two scores in three games last season before missing the rest of 2014 with a leg injury. Fackrell suffered a torn ACL in the opener against Tennessee and did not return last year. Getting both players back is a huge boost for Utah State's Mountain West title hopes.

 

4. New Coaches

Two new coaches join the league for 2015, as Colorado State hired Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to replace Jim McElwain (left for Florida), and UNLV replaced Bobby Hauck with successful high school coach Tony Sanchez. Bobo was one of the SEC’s top coordinators during his stint in Athens and should be a solid hire for the Rams. His top priority this fall will be finding a quarterback to replace Garrett Grayson, but Bobo inherits a solid offensive line and All-American receiver Rashard Higgins. The job is much tougher for Sanchez, as the first-year coach inherits a UNLV program that went 2-11 last season and returns just seven starters. Sanchez is going to need a few years to recruit and rebuild the talent level in the program, but two veteran coordinators (Kent Baer and Barney Cotton) should help his transition from the high school ranks to the FBS level.

 

5. Coaches on the Hot Seat

Is this a make-or-break year for Ron Caragher (SJSU) and Norm Chow (Hawaii)? Both Hawaii and San Jose State have the talent level to exceed last year’s win total, but both teams enter 2015 with plenty of uncertainty. The Spartans led the nation in pass defense in 2014 and third in the conference in yards allowed. However, the offense recorded only 19.3 points per game. The quarterback position is up for grabs this offseason, and the offense needs more punch from a rushing attack ranked near the bottom of the Mountain West. Hawaii hopes USC transfer Max Wittek is the answer under center, but there’s question marks about the offensive line and concerns up front on defense. 

 

Mountain West Conference 2015 Team Previews
Mountain Division
 
National
Rank:
832571965195
West Division
 
National
Rank:
1011149168110122

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 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 2015

     
Mountain Division
RankTeam Projected MW RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Boise State

(No. 25)

8-012-1
Read the full, in-depth preview of Boise State for 2015.
2

Utah State

(No. 51)

7-18-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Utah State for 2015.
3

Colorado State

(No. 71)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Colorado State for 2015.
4

Air Force

(No. 83)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Air Force for 2015.
5

Wyoming

(No. 95)

3-55-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of Wyoming for 2015.
6

New Mexico

(No. 96)

1-74-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of New Mexico for 2015.
     
West Division
RankTeam Projected MW RecordProjected Overall Record
1

San Diego State

(No. 68)

6-28-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of San Diego State for 2015.
2

Nevada

(No. 91)

5-36-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Nevada for 2015.
3

Fresno State

(No. 101)

4-45-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of Fresno State for 2015.
4

San Jose State

(No. 110)

3-54-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of San Jose State for 2015.
5

Hawaii

(No. 114)

1-73-10
Read the full, in-depth preview of Hawaii for 2015.
6

UNLV

(No. 122)

0-81-11
Read the full, in-depth preview of UNLV for 2015.
     
Mountain West Conference Championship
 Boise State over San Diego State 

Mountain West 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
David
Fox
Mark
Ross
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@AthlonMarkR
Offensive POYDonnel Pumphrey
RB, SDSU
Donnel Pumphrey
RB, SDSU
Donnel Pumphrey
RB, SDSU
Chuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Defensive POYKamalei Correa
DL, Boise State
Kyler Fackrell
LB, USU
Calvin Munson
LB, SDSU
Nick Vigil
LB, USU
Coach of the YearBryan Harsin
Boise State
Rocky Long
SDSU
Matt Wells
Utah State
Bryan Harsin
Boise State
Coach on Hot SeatNorm Chow
Hawaii
Norm Chow
Hawaii
Ron Caragher
SJSU
Norm Chow
Hawaii
Top FreshmanCory Young
RB, Boise State
Kanya Bell
WR, SJSU
Cory Young
RB, Boise State
Cory Young
RB, Boise State
Top NewcomerMaxwell Smith
QB, SDSU
Maxwell Smith
QB, SDSU
Dalyn Dawkins
RB, CSU
Dalyn Dawkins
RB, CSU
Sleeper TeamNew MexicoSan Jose StateWyomingSan Jose State
Top Coordinator HireKevin Clune
DC, USU
Kent Baer
DC, UNLV
Barney Cotton
OC, UNLV
Tyson Summers
DC, CSU
Key Position to WatchBoise State QB/RBBoise State RBBSU backfieldBoise State QB/RB
Hardest to EvaluateFresno StateColorado StateNevadaColorado State
Coach on the RiseMatt Wells
Utah State
Matt Wells
Utah State
Bryan Harsin
Boise State
Matt Wells
Utah State
Must-See GameBoise State at
Utah State
Boise State at
Utah State
Boise State at
Utah State
Boise State at
Utah State
Breakout PlayerDylan
Sumner-Gardner
S, Boise State
Cameron Coffman
QB, Wyoming
LaJuan Hunt
RB, USU
Tyler Ervin
WR/KR, SJSU
Comeback PlayerChuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Chuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Chuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Kyler Fackrell
LB, USU

Ranking the Mountain West Coaches for 2015

 

1. Matt Wells, Utah State

2. Craig Bohl, Wyoming

3. Bryan Harsin, Boise State

4. Troy Calhoun, Air Force

5. Rocky Long, San Diego State

 

Five QB Battles to Watch for 2015

 

1. Boise State
Ryan Finley vs. Brett Rypien and Thomas Stuart

 

2. Colorado State
Nick Stevens vs. Coleman Key 

 

3. Fresno State
Zack Greenlee vs. Kilton Anderson and Chason Virgil

 

4. Nevada
Tyler Stewart vs. Dante Mayes and Hunter Fralick

 

5. San Diego State 
Maxwell Smith vs. Christian Chapman and Jake Rodrigues

 

Ranking the Mountain West Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State

2. Marteze Waller, Fresno State

3. Jhurell Pressley, New Mexico 

4. Shaun Wick, Wyoming

5. Jacobi Owens, Air Force

 

The Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Washington at Boise State - Sept. 4

2. Utah State at Utah - Sept. 11

3. Air Force at Navy - Oct. 3

4. Boise State at BYU - Sept. 12

5. Utah State at Washington - Sept. 19

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Kevin Clune, Defensive Coordinator, Utah State

2. Tyson Summers, Defensive Coordinator, Colorado State

3. Eliah Drinkwitz, Offensive Coordinator, Boise State

4. Kent Baer, Defensive Coordinator, UNLV

5. Al Borges, Offensive Coordinator, San Jose State

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. DeSean Holmes, WR, San Diego State

2. Kanya Bell, WR, San Jose State

3. Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State

4. Kyahva Tezino, LB, San Diego State

5. Tae'on Mason, ATH, San Jose State

6. Chason Virgil, QB, Fresno State

7. Jeremy Kelly, DB, San Jose State

8. Drew Berger, LB, Boise State

9. Akilan Butler, WR, Boise State

10. John Carroll, ATH, San Diego State

Teaser:
Mountain West Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-2015-predictions
Body:

The Pac-12 has closed the gap on the SEC in recent years, but the conference is looking for its first national championship since 2004. 2015 will be an interesting setup in the Pac-12, as Oregon and USC will be national title contenders, but no team from this league ranked inside of the top five in Athlon’s projected 128 rankings.

 

Will one team emerge as the dominant clear favorite in 2015? Or will this league see several teams finish 10-2 or 9-3?

 

Despite the departure of quarterback Marcus Mariota, Oregon is the favorite in the North. If the offense takes a step forward under senior quarterback Kevin Hogan, Stanford could improve off last year’s 8-5 mark and challenge the Ducks for the division crown.

 

While USC is the early frontrunner to win the South, Arizona State, UCLA, Arizona and Utah aren’t far behind.

 

Here’s a look at five things to watch in the Pac-12 in 2015, followed by Athlon’s predictions.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the Pac-12 in 2015

 

1. Replacing Marcus Mariota

It won’t be easy for Oregon coach Mark Helfrich to replace Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. While the Ducks may not match Mariota’s production at quarterback in 2015, they may not suffer much of a drop with Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams at the controls. Adams was a dynamic player on the FCS level, but he needs time to adjust to FBS play. With a game against Michigan State in early September, Adams will be tested right away. Helping his transition will be a deep backfield and receiving corps, along with an offensive line that regains the services of tackle Tyler Johnstone. With Washington rebuilding, California looking for the right answers on defense, and Stanford entering 2015 with question marks on both sides of the ball, Oregon is the clear No. 1 pick in the North. Just how high the Ducks finish nationally will be determined by Adams’ development under center.

Related: Complete College Football Rankings for 2015: No. 1 to 128

 

2. USC Back Among the Nation’s Elite?

The Trojans are still recovering from scholarship sanctions, but coach Steve Sarkisian has the necessary pieces in place to challenge for a playoff bid. USC closed 2014 by scoring 40 points in back-to-back games, and the offense will remain one of the best in the Pac-12 behind senior quarterback Cody Kessler, a talented group of receivers and an improving line. But for USC to challenge for a playoff bid, its defense will be under the spotlight. The back seven should be in good shape with the return of linebacker Su’a Cravens and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. However, the line must replace end Leonard Williams and more overall depth is needed to close out games in the second half. Sarkisian’s first year had its share of ups and downs. Can Sarkisian elevate this program back into national title contention?

 

3. The South Division Outside of USC

USC is the favorite to win the South, but there’s little separating the Trojans from the rest of the division. Arizona State and UCLA ranked among Athlon’s projected top 25 teams for this season, with Arizona close behind. Is one of these teams capable of challenging USC? For all three teams, quarterback play will be crucial to catching USC, and each squad has promise under center. Arizona State will turn to Mike Bercovici to replace Taylor Kelly, the Bruins have talented (but unproven) freshman Josh Rosen, and Arizona expects Anu Solomon to take a step forward in his second year under center. But there are other positions to watch outside of the quarterbacks. How Will UCLA’s offensive line develop? Is Arizona’s defense ready to take a step forward? Can Arizona State get enough production from its wide receivers to replace Jaelen Strong?

 

4. Chris Petersen’s Second Year at Washington

Chris Petersen had high expectations for his debut at Washington, but the Huskies only finished 8-6 and 4-5 in league play. One year does not determine how a coaching tenure will play out, and Petersen should be a good fit in Seattle for the long haul. However, just getting to a bowl game would be a good year for Petersen in 2015. The Huskies return only nine starters, feature uncertainty at quarterback and lose three standout defenders from last year’s unit. Petersen’s team is in rebuild mode for 2015, and non-conference games against Boise State and Utah State won’t make a winning record an easy assignment. How much will this team improve throughout the year? If the quarterback position remains an issue all year, California could easily pass Washington in the North.

 

5. Stanford Rebuilds on Defense…Searches for Offense

For the first time under coach David Shaw, Stanford did not win at least 11 games in a season. Shaw set the bar high in his first three years, and the Cardinal must reload to get back in contention in the North. The defense is Stanford’s biggest concern. Only four starters from last year’s dominant group returns, but there’s a solid core of players ready to step up and replace some of the lost production. The line is arguably Shaw’s biggest concern, and California graduate transfer Brennan Scarlett will help this group right away in 2015. While the defense is rebuilding, Stanford won’t challenge for 10 wins once again without improvement on offense. Taking the next step on offense falls on the right arm of quarterback Kevin Hogan, who hopes to build off a solid three-game finish to 2014. Hogan should have plenty of help though, as Stanford’s line is one of the best in the Pac-12, and sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey is a player on the rise.

 

Pac-12 2015 Team Previews

North Division
 
National
Rank: 
47873244666
South Division
 
National
Rank:
30136723631

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 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 2015

     
North Division
RankTeam Projected Pac-12 RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Oregon

(No. 8)

8-110-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Oregon for 2015.
2

Stanford

(No. 24)

5-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Stanford for 2015.
3

Washington

(No. 46)

4-56-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Washington for 2015.
4

California

(No. 47)

4-56-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of California for 2015.
5

Washington State

(No. 66)

2-74-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Washington State for 2015.
6

Oregon State

(No. 73)

1-83-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of Oregon State for 2015.
 
South Division
RankTeam Projected Pac-12 RecordProjected Overall Record
1

USC

(No. 6)

7-211-2
Read the full, in-depth preview of USC for 2015.
2

Arizona State

(No. 13)

7-29-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Arizona State for 2015.
3

UCLA

(No. 23)

6-39-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of UCLA for 2015.
4

Arizona

(No. 30)

5-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Arizona for 2015.
5

Utah

(No. 31)

4-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Utah for 2015.
6

Colorado

(No. 67)

1-85-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Colorado for 2015.
Pac-12 Championship
USC over Oregon 

 

Pac-12 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Braden
Gall
David
Fox
Mark
Ross
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@BradenGall@DavidFox615@AthlonMarkR
Offensive POYCody Kessler
QB, USC
Cody Kessler
QB, USC
Cody Kessler
QB, USC
Cody Kessler
QB, USC
Cody Kessler
QB, USC
Defensive POYScooby Wright
LB, Arizona
Scooby Wright
LB, Arizona
Scooby Wright
LB, Arizona
Scooby Wright
LB, Arizona
Scooby Wright
LB, Arizona
Coach of the YearTodd Graham
Arizona State
Steve Sarkisian
USC
David Shaw
Stanford
Sonny Dykes
California
Steve Sarkisian
USC
Coach on Hot SeatMike Leach
Wazzu
Mike Leach
Wazzu
Mike MacIntyre
Colorado
Kyle Whittingham
Utah
Mike Leach
Wazzu
Top FreshmanJosh Rosen
QB, UCLA
Josh Rosen
QB, UCLA
Josh Rosen
QB, UCLA
Josh Rosen
QB, UCLA
Iman Marshall
DB, USC
Top NewcomerVernon Adams
QB, Oregon
Vernon Adams
QB, Oregon
Vernon Adams
QB, Oregon
Vernon Adams
QB, Oregon
Vernon Adams
QB, Oregon
Sleeper TeamCaliforniaCaliforniaStanfordArizonaCalifornia
Top Coordinator HireKalani Sitake
DC, Oregon State
Kalani Sitake
DC, Oregon State
Kalani Sitake
DC, Oregon State
Kalani Sitake
DC, Oregon State
Kalani Sitake
DC, Oregon State
Key Position to WatchUSC DLUSC RBStanford DLOregon DBUCLA QB
Hardest to EvaluateUCLAUCLAUCLAUCLAWashington
Coach on the RiseMike Norvell
OC, Arizona State
Scott Frost
OC, Oregon
Sonny Dykes
California
Mike Norvell
OC, Arizona State
Mike Norvell
OC, Arizona State
Must-See GameUSC at Oregon USC at OregonUSC at OregonUSC at OregonUSC at Oregon
Breakout PlayerJuJu Smith
WR, USC
Christian McCaffrey
RB, Stanford
Peter Kalambayi
LB, Stanford
Budda Baker
S, Washington
Christian McCaffrey
RB, Stanford
Comeback PlayerTyler Johnstone
OL, Oregon
Bralon Addison
WR, Oregon
Bralon Addison
WR, Oregon
Kevin Hogan
QB, Stanford
Bralon Addison
WR, Oregon

Ranking the Pac-12's Coaches for 2015

 

1. Todd Graham, Arizona State

2. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

3. David Shaw, Stanford

4. Chris Petersen, Washington

5. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

 

Click here to view the full Pac-12 Coach Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the Pac-12's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Cody Kessler, USC

2. Jared Goff, California

3. Anu Solomon, Arizona

4. Vernon Adams, Oregon

5. Mike Bercovici, Arizona State

 

Click here to view the full Pac-12 Quarterback Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the Pac-12's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Devontae Booker, Utah

2. Paul Perkins, UCLA

3. Royce Freeman, Oregon

4. Nick Wilson, Arizona

5. Daniel Lasco, California

 

Click here to view the full Pac-12 Running Back Rankings for 2015

 

The Pac-12's Top 5 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Adoree' Jackson, CB/WR, USC

2. JuJu Smith, WR, USC

3. Budda Baker, S, Washington

4. Christian McCaffery, RB, Stanford

5. Demario Richard, RB, Arizona State

 

Related: College Football's Top 25 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

The Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Oregon at Michigan State - Sept. 12

2. USC at Notre Dame - Oct. 17

3. Texas A&M vs. Arizona State (Houston) - Sept. 5

4. Notre Dame at Stanford - Nov. 28

5. Washington at Boise State - Sept. 4

 

Related: Complete Pac-12 Schedule Analysis for 2015

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Kalani Sitake, Defensive Coordinator, Oregon State

2. Tom Bradley, Defensive Coordinator, UCLA

3. Jim Leavitt, Defensive Coordinator, Colorado

4. Dave Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator, Oregon State

5. Aaron Roderick, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Utah

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Iman Marshall, DB, USC

2. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

3. Canton Kaumatule, DL, Oregon

4. Keisean Lucier-South, LB, UCLA

5. Rasheem Green, DL, USC

6. Chuma Edoga, OL, USC

7. Soso Jamabo, RB, UCLA

8. Osa Masina, LB, USC

9. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

10. Porter Gustin, LB, USC

Teaser:
Pac-12 Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA, Overtime
Path: /nba/lebron-james-commercial-ad-beats-by-dre-cleveland-cavaliers-king
Body:

LeBron James isn't the first person to come to mind when thinking of sophistication. On the court he's a beast, doing everything he can to lead his team to victory.

 

The Cavaliers star is one of the more known "Beats By Dre" spokemen, and in this new ad he's the model of class.

 

 

The "King" could sell just about anything.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 09:46
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten
Path: /college-football/five-big-ten-trap-games-2015
Body:

There are a handful of teams in the Big Ten with realistic aspirations of making it to Indianapolis and playing in the conference championship game on Dec. 5. That said, there are also a number of teams flying under the radar, waiting to play the role of spoiler and derail the championship hopes of some of the conference blue bloods.

 

Here are the five Big Ten trap games of 2015.

 

Related: Ranking the Big Ten's Toughest College Football Schedules in 2015

 

Oct. 3 — Minnesota at Northwestern

Win or lose against TCU in the non-conference schedule, the Gophers should be flying high heading into conference play. They'll likely be looking ahead to tough divisional games with Nebraska and Wisconsin that will go a long way in deciding the West. It's very possible — even after years of watching Northwestern surprise opponents — that Minnesota will be looking right past the the trip to Evanston and failing to give the Wildcats the respect and attention they deserve at home. A loss to Northwestern in the conference opener would greatly increase the degree of difficulty for the Gophers to make it to Indy.

 

Oct. 10 — Michigan State at Rutgers

Connor Cook is going to be showered with preseason accolades leading up to the season. Do not discount, however, the Spartans' loss of big-time playmakers on both sides of the ball over the last couple of seasons. Others are going to need to step up, especially in games like this. The Rutgers home crowd will be raucous under the lights, anxious to introduce another one of the Big Ten's "old guard" to the friendly confines of High Point Solutions Stadium. If the Spartans let the Scarlet Knights hang around long enough, things could get dicey.

 

Oct. 17 — Penn State at Ohio State

This is a bit of a long shot, but we watched arguably a lesser team take down the Buckeyes in Columbus in 2014. Ohio State is going to wear the bull's-eye every week. As a result, they'll get every team's best shot. Christian Hackenberg's best shot just might be good enough to give the Buckeye defense fits if Penn State's offensive line can give him time in the pocket. The Nittany Lions are going to have some talent quietly lingering around the field in the form of James Franklin's first couple of recruiting classes — both of which were top-25 efforts. Upset or not, it will be Ohio State's biggest test thus far of the season since opening weekend at Virginia Tech.

 

Nov. 14 — Nebraska at Rutgers

At this point, the Huskers should know exactly where they stand in the race for the Big Ten West. They'll either be ready to put away their final two conference opponents and celebrating a successful first year under Mike Riley, or they'll still be licking their wounds from that gauntlet they ran through during the middle of October. Rutgers and their fans won't care. As was the case with Michigan State, it'll be time for another Garden State welcome, complete with a punch in the mouth from players on both sides of the ball who can go toe-to-toe with the Husker talent. It will be up to Nebraska to respond and play like the better team — avoiding what would likely be the most embarassing loss of the season in the eyes of the fans.

 

Nov. 14 — Minnesota at Iowa

It'll be a "one game at a time" sort of season in Iowa City, regardless of how the Hawkeyes are faring from week to week. If the Gophers are still the quality opponent some are expecting them to be this late in the season, Kinnick Stadium will be electric under the lights when the Gophers visit. Regardless of the records when these two teams meet, Iowa will have the talent on both sides of the ball to cause Minnesota some problems and keep this one close in front of the home crowd.

 

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

Teaser:
Five Big Ten Trap Games In 2015
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-20-best-coaches-under-40
Body:

Last season was a good one for the 40-and-under crowd in college football.

 

Three of the four offensive coordinators in the College Football Playoff were under the age of 40 at the start of the season — Ohio State’s Tom Herman, Oregon’s Scott Frost and Alabama’s Lane Kiffin.

 

Herman took the Houston head coaching job, and Kiffin resurrected his coaching career by leading a dynamic Alabama offense.

 

Herman, Kiffin and Frost have moved off our list of the top coaches under the age of 40 — as has Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald — as they enter their 40s.

 

In their place are plenty of 30-somethings with bright futures ahead of them.

 

Best Head Coaches Under 40

 

1. Justin Fuente, Memphis head coach

Age: 39

Fuente has been on the fast track since Gary Patterson plucked him from the staff at Illinois State in 2007. As TCU’s offensive coordinator, Fuente coached in two BCS games, including a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin to cap an undefeated season in 2010. At Memphis, he led one of the best turnarounds of the 2014 season. In three seasons, Fuente led Memphis to its first AP top 25 final ranking in school history and first 10-win season since 1938. And remember: Memphis had lost 10 games in each of the three seasons preceding Fuente’s tenure. Another year like that and Fuente will be the top coaching candidate in the 2015 carousel.

 

2. Bryan Harsin, Boise State head coach

Age: 38 

Harsin wasn’t even 30 when Chris Petersen promoted him to offensive coordinator on his first staff at Boise State — a move that coincided with the Broncos’ undefeated season in 2006. Of Boise State’s three major bowl games in school history — the 2007 Rose Bowl and the 2010 and 2015 Fiesta Bowls — Harsin has been a coordinator or head coach of all three. In two seasons as a head coach, Harsin has captured a share of a Sun Belt title at Arkansas State and an outright Mountain West title.

 

3. Matt Campbell, Toledo head coach

Age: 35

Starting during his time as an assistant, Campbell has been instrumental in Toledo’s re-emergence as one of the most consistent programs in the MAC. The Rockets have finished in the top four in the MAC in yards per play each season since 2010, including No. 1 in the league last season. He’s 26-13 as Toledo’s head coach and 19-6 in the MAC. Ending the Rocket’s MAC title game drought (since 2004) should propel him to a big-time job.

 

4. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan head coach

Age: 34

The former Rutgers wide receivers coach arrived with a reputation as an ace recruiter and lived up to it. He had the top signing classes in the MAC in 2014 and 2015, the former by a wide margin. He has 11 3-stars committed so far for 2016. The rest of the MAC has 12 total. He has some quirks — his “row the boat” mantra, for starters — but Fleck can coach. After going 1-11 in his first season, Western Michigan went 8-5 in 2014.

 

5. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech head coach

Age: 36

Kingsbury is still Coach Cool even if his stock has dropped since starting his career 7-0 in 2013. Since then, Kingsbury is 5-13 overall and 2-12 in the Big 12. The Red Raiders’ offense remains formidable, but Kingsbury needs new coordinator David Gibbs and the defense to turn his program’s momentum.

 

6. Willie Taggart, USF head coach

Age: 39

Western Kentucky is a legitimate Conference USA contender, and some of the thanks should go to Taggart, a former Hilltoppers quarterback. He shepherded the program in the FBS, going 7-5 in each of his final two seasons there. Progress has been slower at USF, which improved from 2-10 to 4-8 in his second season.

 

7. Neal Brown, Troy head coach

Age: 35

Troy won back-to-back outright Sun Belt titles with Brown as offensive coordinator in 2008-09. At the time, Brown was a green 28-year-old. From there, Brown took his version of the spread to Texas Tech under Tommy Tuberville and Kentucky under Mark Stoops. That’s Big 12 and SEC experience and a head coaching gig all before his 35th birthday.

 

Best Coordinators Under 40

 

1. Dave Aranda, Wisconsin defensive coordinator

Age: 38

Paul Chryst gets a leg up on his tenure as Wisconsin’s head coach thanks to the return of Aranda, who already has five seasons of coordinator experience under his belt at Hawaii, Utah State and Wisconsin. The Badgers have finished third in the Big Ten in yards allowed per play, remarkable considering they switched to a 3-4 defense in his first season and replaced All-American Chris Borland in his second.

 

2. Kirby Smart, Alabama defensive coordinator

Age: 39

As Alabama’s defensive coordinator since 2008, Smart has been an assistant of interest for several seasons. Presumably, the 2009 Broyles Award winner has had a number of head coaching jobs available to him as the Tide has been a perennial national championship contender. The question is when Smart, a Nick Saban assistant for all but one season since 2003, will leave his mentor’s shadow.

 

3. Rhett Lashlee, Auburn offensive coordinator

Age: 32

No coach has worked with Gus Malzahn longer than Lashlee, who was Malzahn’s quarterback in high school. Malzahn tends to receive the credit as the offensive mastermind, but no one is more embedded in the system than his 32-year-old offensive coordinator.

 

4. Justin Wilcox, USC defensive coordinator

Age: 39

A defensive coordinator for two undefeated Boise State teams under Chris Petersen, Wilcox is at home on the West Coast. His defenses at USC and Washington each ranked third in the Pac-12 in yards per play the last two seasons.

 

5. Kalani Sitake, Oregon State defensive coordinator

Age: 39

Gary Andersen’s hire of Sitake from Utah was a coup for the first-year Oregon State coach. Sitake is one of the Pac-12’s most respected defensive coordinators as Utah has remained solid on that side of the ball despite the move from the Mountain West to the Pac-12. His defenses have had a knack for the fundamentals even if they’ve been at a talent deficiency.

 

6. D.J. Durkin, Michigan defensive coordinator

Age: 37

Any coach who has worked for both Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh is on a good career trajectory. He’s also due for some good timing. Durkin left Stanford just before the Cardinal became a BCS regular and arrived at Florida in time for Meyer’s final season and into the Will Muschamp era. Even if Florida struggled in 2013 and 2014, it wasn’t because of Durkin’s defenses, which ranked fifth and first, respectively, in yards per play in the SEC.

 

7. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma offensive coordinator

Age: 31

Riley may have made a career-defining move this offseason, leaving East Carolina for Oklahoma. All Bob Stoops needs Riley to do is revive OU’s spot on the cutting edge of offense. After all, Norman is where Mike Leach, Mark Mangino, Kevin Wilson and Kevin Sumlin all turned their offensive coordinator posts into their first head coaching jobs. Riley, a former Leach assistant at Texas Tech, led the No. 3 passing offense in the country last season.

 

8. Sonny Cumbie, TCU co-offensive coordinator/QB coach

Age: 34

Doug Meacham calls the plays at TCU, but the arrival of Meacham and Cumbie at TCU was critical to the Horned Frogs’ run at a College Football Playoff spot last season. The duo represented a culture shift for the TCU offense to the spread, and Cumbie was critical in grooming Trevone Boykin into a Heisman-contending QB. If you’re noticing a trend, Cumbie is also a Leach guy, passing for 4,724 yards for Texas in 2004.

 

9. Barry Odom, Missouri defensive coordinator

Age: 38

Odom returned to his alma mater after leading a turnaround for the Memphis defense last season. The Tigers ranked 10th nationally in yards allowed per play and 11th in scoring defense. In only his sixth season as a full-time assistant coach, Odom is an SEC defensive coordinator.

 

10. Mike Norvell, Arizona State offensive coordinator

Age: 33

Statistically, Arizona State wasn’t the most dynamic offense in the Pac-12 — fifth in passing efficiency, sixth in yards per play, seventh in yards per carry and third in points per game. That said, Arizona State needed to start its backup quarterback for three games (against two ranked teams) and still finished with 10 wins for the second consecutive season. 

 

11. Jake Spavital, Texas A&M offensive coordinator

Age: 30

Surprise, surprise: Another Air Raid devotee on the list. Spavital comes from the Dana Holgorsen branch of that coaching tree, getting his first full-time coaching gig as West Virginia’s quarterback coach in 2011. He replaced Kliff Kingsbury at Texas A&M to work with Johnny Manziel and then supervised the Aggies’ QB derby last season. He’s another bright offensive mind entrenched in the most trendy scheme of the day. He’ll be sure to follow Kingsbury and others as they move into head coaching jobs.

 

12. Scottie Montgomery, Duke offensive coordinator

Age: 37

Well before age 40, Montgomery notched an NFL position coach stint under his belt and now sits at the right hand of David Cutcliffe at Duke. A Blue Devils alum and North Carolina native, Montgomery could slip into a head coaching role in a few years.

 

13. Mike Sanford Jr., Notre Dame offensive coordinator

Age: 32

Not to be confused with Mike Stanford Sr., his father who is the former coach at UNLV and current coach at Indiana State. After serving as offensive coordinator for Fiesta Bowl-bound Boise State last season, Sanford had a chance at coordinator posts at Ohio State and Notre Dame. He picked Notre Dame. Not bad for a guy born in the 1980s.

Teaser:
College Football's 20 Best Coaches Under 40
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/uab-reinstates-football-team
Body:

Just six months after UAB announced its football team would be disbanded following the 2014 season, the Blazers are set to return to FBS competition.

 

School president Ray Watts announced the decision to reinstate the football program on Monday afternoon, but it’s uncertain when UAB will return to the gridiron.

 

Since the decision to eliminate the football team in December, UAB’s fanbase and the city of Birmingham stepped up with donations and overall support to help the program return.

 

With UAB keeping its football program, the Blazers will be allowed to remain in Conference USA.

 

It’s anticipated UAB will hit the field again in 2016, but many questions remain for the program. Bill Clark did an outstanding job in leading the Blazers to a 6-6 mark in 2014 and will return as the head coach. But UAB is also starting from scratch in terms of players and talent and it will take time to rebuild the roster.

 

Also, there’s the question of facilities. UAB plays in antiquated Legion Field and an on-campus facility or improved stadium is needed. The program is also raising to funds to improve the practice fields and invest in the overall facilities.

 

All of the questions surrounding the disbanding and resinstating of the program weren’t answered on Monday. However, thanks to the #FreeUAB movement on Twitter and some leaders in Birmingham and in the state of Alabama, the Blazers will be back on the gridiron in the near future. 

Teaser:
UAB Reinstates Football Team for 2016
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 17:52
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /nfl/vince-wilfork-throws-passes-jj-watt-practice-texans-houston
Body:

We all know J.J. Watt can catch passes, but who was paying enough attentio to Vince Wilfork to know he could throw them.

 

During the Texans practice, Wilfork winds up and hauls a deep pass to Watt. Houston may want to to explore this possibility during the season. It's a crazy idea but people said the same thing when Watt lined up as a tight end. 

 

 

Just a 325-pound guy expanding his range, no big deal.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 14:58
Path: /nba/nba-finals-cavs-warriors-preview-and-prediction
Body:

For five straight seasons, now, LeBron James has sat in the Eastern Conference throne. Only two of his past four trips to the NBA Finals, however, have resulted in championships. And if James is to win a third this June, he’s got his work cut out for him.

 

The Golden State Warriors were the NBA’s best team this year, and it wasn’t close. Their 67-win campaign makes them one of the 10 best regular-season teams of all time. The bad news for the Cavs is that Golden State hasn’t looked much worse in the postseason.

 

The Warriors can do pretty much everything, and do it very well. Their collective basketball IQ on both sides of the ball is unparalleled across the league, as is their ability to switch assignments on defense. Perhaps most daunting of all for Cleveland is that Golden State has arguably the best possible collection of players to throw at James, in Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. The lengthy Shaun Livingston may even get spot minutes covering LeBron.

 

The Warriors, by all rational measures, are the favorites to win this series. They’ve been historically great in every statistical category. Teams who play this well simply win championships.

 

But the giant caveat, as always, is that one of these teams has LeBron, and the other doesn’t. Despite an inefficient run by the numbers, James’ postseason has been remarkable. He’s put an injured, inexperienced team on his shoulders. And the depleted Cavs have found lightning in the surge of Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov in the front court, who look emboldened by a bigger stage. Add the the hot shooting of a mercurial J.R. Smith to the mix — along with a hopefully healthy Kyrie Irving — and this is an improbably dangerous squad.

 

The Warriors should win this series, but don’t be a surprised if the duel is a more hotly contested struggle than anticipated.

 

Prediction: Warriors in six.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 14:53
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, Olympics
Path: /overtime/former-olympian-bruce-jenner-introduces-world-caitlyn-vanity-fair
Body:

There is no more Bruce Jenner.

 

Caitlyn Jenner makes her debut. The former Olympian posed for Vanity Fair and caused quite the stir. After spending months somewhat secluded to make the transition, Jenner is comfortable to show the world what she's been up to. 

 

 

Jenner is on Twitter as Caitlyn and even explained how happy she is to finally live as her true self.

 

"If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, 'You just blew your life,'" Jenner said.

 

 

ESPN tapped Jenner to receive the Arthur Ashe award July 15 at the ESPYs. 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 12:58
All taxonomy terms: New England Patriots, NFL
Path: /nfl/new-england-patriots-history-not-giving-big-money-cornerbacks
Body:

The headline of the New England Patriots' offseason, if you're not including "Deflategate" of course, has to be their decision to decline expensive options on cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, while also cutting fellow corners Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard. A Super Bowl-winning team completely jettisoning their top-four covermen is unheard of, but given New England's history with paying cornerbacks, it should hardly be a surprise.

 

With Bill Belichick's 15-season sample size, it's pretty clear how the Patriots value cornerbacks in their system. Yes, they'll occasionally spend big money for a one-year deal on a cornerback in his prime, but they'll never give one a long-term, monster deal. And even when they do give an extension at the position, the player will almost assuredly be cut before the final year of it, if not sooner.

 

For the most part, the cornerbacks Belichick has gotten the most out of have either been on their rookie deals or free agents brought in for the veteran minimum.

 

Let's take a look back.

 

We begin in 2000 with Ty Law and Otis Smith. Law was already in the midst of a seven-year, $51 million deal he signed before Belichick arrived, while Smith, at age 34, was brought in on a veteran minimum deal. Smith would go on to start Super Bowl XXXVI with Law.

 

Law was the first example of how Belichick valued cornerbacks. In 2004, Law wanted another extension and the Patriots offered him $26 million over four years. Even today that would be the biggest contract extension the Patriots ever awarded to a corner.

 

Law called the offer an insult and countered with a seven-year deal worth $63 million, including a $20 million signing bonus.

 

Then-general manager Scott Pioli simply responded "We can't do that. Save the paper."

 

Law would play out 2004 and then be cut in '05 and sign with the Jets for an almost identical contract to his last, seven years, $50 million. He was released after just one year by the cap-strapped Jets and would then sign a five-year deal with the Chiefs worth $30 million. He would play just two seasons in Kansas City and continue to kick around until he retired after the 2009 season.

 

The Patriots replaced Law with 2003 fourth-round pick Asante Samuel, who was thrust into the starting lineup in '04, after injuries sidelined Law as well as 31-year-old Tyrone Poole, another veteran added at a minimum salary. Poole gave the Patriots an excellent year in 2003, as New England fielded one of the best defenses in the NFL.

 

Samuel led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2006 in the final year of his rookie deal but the Pats didn't reward him with a long-term deal. Instead, they chose to use the Franchise Tag on Samuel, paying him $7.79 million before letting him walk in 2008 to sign a six-year, $56 million deal with the Eagles.

 

Samuel's partner at cornerback from 2005-07 was primarily Ellis Hobbs, a 2005 fourth-round pick, who would also start all 16 games in '08 after Samuel's departure. But once again the Patriots chose to discard a homegrown talent at cornerback rather than overpay or extend him, trading Hobbs in 2009 before the final year of his rookie deal to the Eagles for two fifth-round draft picks.

 

Hobbs was due to make $2.545 million in 2009, so moving him for two picks was a surprise, especially with a complete turnover coming at the position. 

 

Forced to start over once again at the corner spot, the Pats loaded up in free agency and the draft, bringing in Leigh Bodden on a veteran one-year minimum, Shawn Springs on a three-year, $13 million deal, while also drafting Darius Butler and adding them to the mix with 2008 draft picks Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite.

 

Bodden had a breakthrough year and cashed in with the biggest contract extension the Patriots had ever awarded to a cornerback at four years, $20 million, with $10 million guaranteed. This came back to bite the team, as Bodden missed all of 2010 with a shoulder injury and would return in '11 only to be cut midseason.

 

At the same time, the aforementioned Arrington was emerging from the ranks of an undrafted unknown into a stalwart both on defense and special teams. While overmatched against tall outside receivers, Arrington was one of the best slot corners in the league. In 2011, he led the NFL in interceptions with seven.

 

After being signed to the practice squad midseason of 2009, Arrington became a full-time starter in '10 and would go on to play in 66 games over the next five seasons, including 56 starts.

 

In 2013, Arrington signed a four-year contract extension worth $16 million with $7.5 million guaranteed. Slightly less than Bodden, but still one of the most significant contracts the Pats had ever given a cornerback. But Arrington would never see the end of that deal, being cut loose with two years remaining before signing with the Ravens this offseason.

 

The Patriots traded for Aqib Talib in 2012 and got a couple shutdown games and a couple injuries out of him, and once again, instead of giving a (somewhat) shutdown corner in his prime a long-term, monster deal, they settled on just a one-year deal worth $4.86 million.

 

That brings us to Revis and Browner, who were both signed in 2014 on what were essentially one-year deals with team options for additional seasons. Revis got $12 million for his one season, the highest total paid for one season to a cornerback under Belichick. Browner made $2.95 million, but his option would've paid him $4.6 million this season.

 

Given the Patriots' history at the cornerback position, it shouldn't be a surprise the Pats weren't going to give Revis anywhere close to the monster deal he got from the Jets which will pay him $16 million this season alone. 

 

Bill Belichick is certainly willing to spend a bit more for a single season from a good cornerback, but they're not interested in long-term expensive contracts. Bodden and Springs both never lived up to the contracts they received, while Arrington and Hobbs were cut even before their deals were up.

 

In many ways, 2015 is reminiscent of '09, when the Patriots were in full do-over mode at cornerback. They responded by bringing in a number of veterans to complement their young draft picks, and despite how 2009 is generally seen as the worst season of Bill Belichick's Patriots tenure, the pass defense was still middle of the pack that year at 16th overall in Football Outsiders' DVOA.

 

The answers are not apparent right now. No one knew Bodden would have a breakout year in 2009 after an unspectacular year in Detroit. The Patriots have certainly taken plenty of shots on castoff defensive backs who have not worked out. Players like Duane Starks and Fernando Bryant never broke out like Bodden, Smith or Poole did.

 

Who knows which path current cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher or Robert McClain will follow, or if Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan or Darryl Roberts will become the next Samuel, Hobbs or Arrington.

 

But the Patriots' methodology has been consistent over the last 15 years, relying on young players on rookie deals, veterans on minimum deals, or the occasional one-year hired gun on a big contract.

 

Expensive long-term contracts on cornerbacks just aren't their thing.

 

— Written by Mike Dussault, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writer/editor of PatsPropaganda.com (@PatsPropaganda), a comprehensive blog covering the New England Patriots.

Teaser:
Cornerback might be the least valued position during Belichick's reign. A look back at the contracts he's given, and avoided.
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, NBA
Path: /jahlil-okafor-commercial-ad-speed-stick-duke-nba-basketball-draft-lakers-timberwolves
Body:

Jahlil Okafor is destined to be a high pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. 

 

Before he made it to this point, the former Duke star went through a lot of adversity in his life. Okafor lost his mother at the age of nine and from there things changed. It strengthed his relationship with his father, and when he went on to Duke he created a new family of sorts.

 

 

The events in Okafor's life have shaped him into the person he is today, and that's something any NBA team will be lucky to have.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 11:56
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/nascar-sprint-cup-drivers%E2%80%99-meeting-overshadows-jimmie-johnsons-dover-win
Body:

The Monster Mile was known just as much for a monstrous meeting this weekend as it was for on-track competition. Saturday night, NASCAR spoke with nine drivers privately, a constructive conversation but facing the reality they’ve got the closest formation to some sort of driver’s union since those movements were shut down by force in the late 1960s.

 

For now, it’s unofficially called a “Driver’s Council,” one reported by Motorsport.com that Denny Hamlin was at the epicenter of starting up. The full slate of participants was not released, nor was their detailed agenda as the goal appeared to keep it all quiet. Kevin Harvick, when asked afterSunday’s race, was tight-lipped about his attendance, simply calling it a “positive meeting” while Hamlin simply assured reporters the group was “diverse,” filled with winners and underdogs alike inside the weekly field of 43.

 

Similar to the Race Team Alliance, a union of Sprint Cup team owners formed last year, detailed information on this Council’s long-term goals will be hard to piece together. The two most obvious, based on garage talk, surround safety and competition. Drivers appeared agitated following a series of wrecks at Dover, several getting out of their cars before safety crews arrived on the scene. Some, like Jennifer Jo Cobb of the Truck Series did so because they were angry with a potential rival but others? They might have been making a statement as to the length of time it took for workers to get to their racecars. There’s a reason why safety has jumped up the priority list even though we’re 14 years removed from NASCAR’s last major death (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) Higher corner speeds this season have kept many on edge, worried about the potential crash impacts even if it’s into a life-saving SAFER Barrier. Sadly, that extra level of safety isn’t available for everyplace a racecar can hit, either.  Kyle Busch’s Daytona injury, in which he broke parts of both legs hitting a SAFER-less inside wall, reminded drivers the sport they participate in is far from bulletproof.

 

In the meantime, competition concerns have bubbled up, representative of drivers’ frustrations over NASCAR’s new rule package. The “clean air” phenomenon, giving those out in front an extra boost, have made passing the leader under green near impossible. Aerodynamics have put a premium on qualifying; Sunday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. started from the rear, had the fastest car and yet took nearly half the race to crack the top 10. Winning would have been a near impossibility with the way track position, combined with similar speeds, have brought side-by-side racing amongst the frontrunners to a halt.

 

“You couldn’t pass,” said winner Jimmie Johnson, spouting off a theme that left fans, drivers, virtually everyone associated with the sport disappointed with Dover. “You really just could not get by somebody. If they made a bobble or a mistake you could close up, but then the next set of corners, they would get back to the bottom, run a line, kind of hold you up and you couldn’t go anywhere.”

At one point during the event, during a 15-lap stretch just one position within the top 25 changed hands. That’s not going to earn NASCAR new fans, nor will it please the drivers who want to compete instead of feeling “stuck in place” for laps at a time.

 

At least all sides know the end result has to be better. A meeting is clearly a step in the right direction. Now, the question is simple: can anyone come up with solutions?

 

Through The Gears post-Dover we go...

 

FIRST GEAR:  Johnson Makes History

 

Three-quarters of the way through Sunday’s race it was a disappointing Dover for Jimmie Johnson. The man who’s led more laps here than anyone else, nearly 3,000, hadn’t been out in front for a single one. Charging quickly from his 14th starting spot, he stalled out about fifth, as handling amongst the frontrunners was so equal.

 

“I could see the leader in most scenarios,” he said. “So it was inspiring to stay on your game in your car and stay disciplined.”

 

That discipline paid off with a long green-flag run late, where Johnson and fast stops by his crew let him pick off rivals slowly. First, it was Kyle Busch, then Martin Truex  Jr. who faded after a strong early performance. Suddenly, Matt Kenseth broke and it was just Kevin Harvick up ahead. A series of late cautions, combined with some strong restarts versus Harvick and suddenly, Dover’s nine-time winner upped his record to 10 in no time flat. It’s a discouraging thought for those who had finally thought they’d caught the No. 48 at their best track; instead, he’ll remain the favorite to win when the Chase brings NASCAR back this fall.

 

“We fired off well and maintained,” he explained, running the end of the race on old tires and using track position to beat those behind him and Harvick, who pitted. “In that last restart Harvick hammered me in the back of the car, shot me in front of the 5, and once I had the racetrack to myself, we were in control then.”

 

Johnson’s 10th career Dover victory leaves him as just one of five Sprint Cup drivers with 10 or more at any track. The others? Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt Sr., David Pearson, Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. It’s an exclusive crowd to be in, and at age 39, Johnson’s far from done.

 

SECOND GEAR: Gibbs Goes From Hero To Zero

 

Joe Gibbs Racing came into Sunday beefed up with high expectations. Denny Hamlin had the pole, they took four of the top-five fastest speeds in final practice and were coming off a dominating two-week sweep in Charlotte. All of a sudden, it looked like the gap had been closed on Harvick, Johnson, and their Chevy rivals as JGR entered Sunday heavy favorites.

 

But then, the green flag dropped and the organization promptly chose a different approach: shooting themselves in the foot. One by one, self-inflicting wounds combined with Lady Luck gone haywire turned JGR’s day into a disaster. Carl Edwards had two pit road penalties, his crew leaving a wedge wrench in the No. 19 Toyota before a speeding violation wiped out his day. Matt Kenseth saw his top-5 performance torn to pieces by a broken suspension. Kyle Busch, running solidly in third got wiped out when backmarker Brian Scott didn’t see him; the DNF left him devastated with a race that could have cut a big chunk out of his Chase deficit toward the top 30.

 

Suddenly, the scrappy pole-sitter Hamlin was all JGR had left in contention. But after an awkward slide back through the field, his car falling as far as 15th mid-race, Clint Bowyer bumped the No. 11 Toyota coming out of turn 2, causing a wreck that put the ill-handling FedEx car out of its misery.

 

“Dammit!” Bowyer said on the radio afterwards. “I tried to lift for him.” But in the end, his mistake added to a disappointing theme: the only lift JGR would get from this weekend was seeing their cars lifted up onto tow trucks. That, my friends, is why they run the races…

 

THIRD GEAR: Big Rebounds for Big Drivers

 

For drivers in need of a turnaround, the “shorter track” at the Monster Mile offered a different layout and a true opportunity to rebound. Kyle Larson was the biggest benefactor, surging to third on a series of late restarts after mired in a “sophomore slump” so bad he didn’t have a single top-5 finish through 12 races.

 

“We were terrible last week,” he said, 25th at Charlotte in what he felt was a low point of the season. “Really happy with how the team rebounded. Hopefully, this will transition into some momentum.”

 

Further down, Clint Bowyer was ninth, tying his best finish since February’s Daytona 500. On a difficult passing day, he moved up 11 spots from his 20th starting spot and had a top-5 finish in hand until the Hamlin incident zapped momentum late in the race. It’s astounding to note the former multi-race winner led just his second lap all year Sunday, still searching for his first victory since mid-2012.

 

FOURTH GEAR: Ford Floundering

 

Dover, once a stronghold for the Blue Oval crowd, became a sore spot this weekend. Only Aric Almirola finished inside the top 10, earning a season-high fifth when those around him crashed out late in the race. The next best anyone could muster was Joey Logano in 11th and Brad Keselowski in 12th. Keselowski, in particular was nasty on the radio, apologizing to crew chief Paul Wolfe after the race as Team Penske searches hard to make up a growing gap in raw speed. It was uncharacteristic Keselowski, outside the top 15 much of the day while both handling and track position were never on their side.

 

Roush Fenway Racing, whose difficulties have been well-documented here was even worse. Saturday, their development driver Chris Buescher won the XFINITY race but crashed into teammate Darrell Wallace Jr. to do it. (Wallace, so disgusted by the incident claimed “he wasn’t happy” Roush won and pledged to only attend Monday’s team meeting by phone). Then, during the Cup race struggling youngsters Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne spent time behind the wall for separate incidents. They were 37th and 43rd, respectively while Greg Biffle squandered a top-10 qualifying run by fading to 17th.

 

“I’m sorry I wrecked it,” said Bayne on the radio after the race. Sorry, at this point may not be good enough with no top-15 finishes through the regular season’s first half.

 

OVERDRIVE

 

At least one team found it suspect Jimmie Johnson slammed into the outside wall after the race, slightly damaging the No. 48 before promptly clearing post-race inspection. “Jimmie just hit the wall with his right rear quarterpanel,” said Sam Hornish Jr.’s team on the radio. “They plan everything, don’t they?” … Kurt Busch, an innocent victim in the Denny Hamlin crash had some frustration boil over after the race. “I just knew something was going to happen today,” he said. “There was no way Dover was going to be anything proper whatsoever. The f***ing judicial system and everything else. Just perfect.” Patricia Driscoll, Busch’s ex-girlfriend saw her order of protection upheld in a Delaware court this week… Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart were among a group of drivers frustrated with Hornish at the end of the race. While the driver of the No. 9 Ford was five laps down, he mixed it up during the green-white-checkered finish with a handful of other drivers racing for position… Martin Truex  Jr., sixth on Sunday has now led 357 laps in the last three races. By comparison, he led 354 laps combined during the entire 2013 and ’14 seasons.

 

— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the Majority Owner of NASCAR Web site Frontstretch.com. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NASCARBowles.

 

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Teaser:
NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers’ Meeting Overshadows Jimmie Johnson's Dover Win
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/john-oliver-rips-fifa-demands-firing-sepp-blatter-adidas-bud-light-mcdonalds
Body:

People aren't too happy with FIFA or Sepp Blatter at the moment.

 

When multiple hosts are going on and on about corruption and scandal, it's probably time to re-evaluate things. John Oliver is the latest to weigh-in. The "Last Week Tonight" host went on a 10-minute rant about the FIFA, its officials, and the sponsors. It wasn't pretty.

 

 

Toward the end Oliver pleads with multiple brands to pull their sponsorships with FIFA. He pledged to even drink a Bud Light Lime.

 

Come on, things don't need to go that far.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 11:01
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-toughest-college-football-schedules-2015
Body:

When putting together Athlon Sports' college football magazine and preseason Top 25 each year, a huge part of the process is scheduling. Non-conference games, crossovers, home-road splits and timing all play a role in determining order of finish.

 

And don’t forget that the College Football Playoff Committee made it very clear in its first season that it values scheduling.

 

So who has the toughest schedule in the Big 12 this fall? Who has the easiest path?

 

1. Texas

The toughest non-conference game in the Big 12 this season is Texas' Week 1 trip to face Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Add a rapidly improving Cal team and the Longhorns get the toughest non-conference slate of any team. The road schedule also includes Baylor, TCU and West Virginia (and Iowa State) as well as Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. The saving grace for Charlie Strong is that swing games with Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech come at home.

 

2. West Virginia

The Mountaineers boast the toughest road schedule in the Big 12 of any team in the league. West Virginia has to face the top three (Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma) on the road as well as always-tough Kansas State. It gets just four Big 12 home games and also has to play a quality Big Ten team in Maryland and a tricky mid-major in Georgia Southern.

 

3. Kansas

Memphis at home and Rutgers on the road are tough non-conference games for a first-year regime. Add to that road trips to TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas and there just aren’t many winnable games on this schedule. Iowa State on the road might be KU’s best shot at a Big 12 win. The home slate offers Baylor, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kansas State. This should be good to ticket sales, but not for wins.

 

4. Oklahoma

One of the toughest non-conference games in the Big 12 this fall is Oklahoma’s trip to Tennessee. The Sooners' league road slate is a mixed bag. The TCU and West Virginia games will come at home but huge showdowns with Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas (neutral) will come away from Norman. 

 

5. Iowa State

For most teams, a non-conference slate of Northern Iowa, Iowa and Toledo isn’t overly daunting. For Iowa State, it could be concerning. Mix in five road games in the Big 12 to some serious outposts (Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech) and the only chances for conference wins this fall likely come at home (Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU).

 

5. Texas Tech

Getting TCU, Oklahoma State and Kansas State at home is huge but the road games are brutal for Tech. Visiting Austin, Norman, Morgantown and Arkansas is downright nasty. Sam Houston State and UTEP are guaranteed wins (along with Kansas and Iowa State) and playing Baylor in Arlington offers some semblance of comfort. 

 

7. TCU

A road trip to Minnesota on opening weekend could be tricky, but the Gophers aren’t as good as last year’s team that got smoked in Fort Worth. Home games with Baylor, West Virginia and Texas are huge for the Frogs while five road games in the Big 12 create come upset chances. Trips to both Oklahoma schools, Manhattan, Kan., and Lubbock, Texas, could all be tricky. This isn’t one of the tougher slates but it’s not as easy as the three other contenders.

 

8. Kansas State

The non-conference schedule should provide three wins for Bill Snyder’s rebuilt Wildcats. Getting Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and West Virginia at home makes pulling an upset very likely at some point during the year. Otherwise, the road schedule’s worst two trips come against a pair of teams (Texas, Oklahoma State) that went 6-6 in the regular season in 2014.

 

9. Baylor

The Bears should once again be concerned about a meaningless non-conference schedule — unless Chad Morris works some miracle at SMU. Road trips to TCU, Oklahoma State and Kansas State should be points of focus but the rest of the key games (Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia) come at home while Texas Tech happens in JerryWorld.

 

10. Oklahoma State

The easiest road slate in the Big 12 includes Iowa State, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Texas — all teams picked in the bottom half of the Big 12. The home schedule offers some huge chances at upsets with TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Kansas coming to Stillwater. And the three non-conference games are all walks in the park.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12's Toughest College Football Schedules in 2015
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/american-athletic-conference-2015-football-predictions
Body:

The American Athletic Conference has seen its share of changes recently, but this league should have more stability entering 2015. There’s a solid 12-team lineup in place with the addition of Navy, and the American Athletic Conference will have a title game in December at the home site of the divisional champion with the best record in league contests.

 

The winner of this league also has a good chance to claim the Group of 5 spot among college football’s biggest games.

 

Cincinnati and Houston are Athlon’s picks to win the divisions and meet in the American Athletic Conference title game. Here are a few storylines to watch in 2015, followed by Athlon’s full predictions.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the AAC in 2015

 

1. Defensive Concerns at Cincinnati and Memphis

Behind explosive and productive offenses, Cincinnati and Memphis are two of the league’s top contenders in 2015. But winning the conference championship for both programs will largely depend on the development of defense. Cincinnati allowed 27.2 points per game last season and gave up 33 plays of 30 yards or more. Coach Tommy Tuberville handed play-calling duties to Steve Clinkscale, and the new coordinator inherits five returning starters and question marks about the front seven. At Memphis, coach Justin Fuente lost rising star Barry Odom at coordinator and only return only three starters from a unit that held opponents to just 19.5 points per game in 2014. The development of defenses at Memphis and Cincinnati will have a huge impact on the battle to win the American Athletic Conference.

 

2. New Coaches, Big Impact

The American Athletic Conference welcomes three new coaches in its West Division for 2015. While none of the three are proven as a head coach in the collegiate ranks, all three programs received high marks for their offseason hire. Tom Herman comes to Houston after coordinating Ohio State’s offense, and the Cougars are Athlon’s pick to win the West Division in 2015. Chad Morris takes over at SMU after a stint as Clemson’s offensive coordinator. The Mustangs went 1-11 last year and should show big improvement in Morris’ debut. Tulsa hired Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, and the Texas native’s background on offense should pay dividends for the Golden Hurricane in 2015.

 

3. East Carolina Reloads on Offense

The Pirates were one of the top storylines at the start of 2014, as quarterback Shane Carden guided the program to wins over Virginia Tech and North Carolina. But East Carolina lost four out of its last six games, and coach Ruffin McNeill’s team enters 2015 with question marks on offense. Carden and record-setting receiver Justin Hardy have expired their eligibility, and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley now calls the plays at Oklahoma. Sophomore Kurt Benkert has the difficult task of replacing Carden, but the Pirates have a solid offensive line and deep receiving corps to ease his transition into the lineup. With a schedule featuring matchups against Florida, Virginia Tech, BYU and a crossover game against Navy, East Carolina will be challenged to match last year’s 8-5 mark.

 

4. Navy Joins the American Athletic Conference

Navy leaves the Independent ranks to join the American Athletic Conference in 2015. The Midshipmen should be one of the top contenders for the league crown this year, as quarterback Keenan Reynolds returns after accounting for 29 scores in 2014. Under coach Ken Niumatalolo’s direction, Navy has won at least eight games in six out of the last seven years. While the Midshipmen have to travel to Memphis and Houston, Niumatalolo’s team misses Cincinnati, UCF and Temple from the East in crossover play. Navy’s style of play will be a challenge for the rest of the league. The Midshipmen also have the element of surprise in their conference debut.

 

5. Changes at South Florida

Is 2015 a make-or-break year for Taggart at South Florida? Taggart was a good hire after guiding Western Kentucky to 14 victories in his final two seasons (2011-12). But in two years, the Bulls are just 6-18 under Taggart’s watch, and the third-year coach made a handful of changes this offseason in an effort to spark the program. South Florida has a new up-tempo, spread offense, as well as a new defensive play-caller in Tom Allen. Taggart has recruited well, but the pressure is building to produce a winner. Will the Bulls take a step forward? Or will the quarterback and offensive line concerns be too much to overcome?

 

American Athletic Conference 2015 Team Previews
East Division
 
National
Rank: 
4010972996263
West Division
 
National 
Rank:
505954102104106

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 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. 

 

 

American Athletic Conference Predictions for 2015

     
East Division
RankTeam Projected AAC RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Cincinnati

(No. 40)

6-29-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Cincinnati for 2015.
2

Temple

(No. 62)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Temple for 2015.
3

UCF

(No. 63)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of UCF for 2015.
4

East Carolina

(No. 72)

5-36-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of East Carolina for 2015.
5

South Florida

(No. 99)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of USF for 2015.
6

UConn

(No. 109)

1-73-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of UConn for 2015.
     
West Division
RankTeam Projected AAC RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Houston

(No. 50)

6-29-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Houston for 2015.
2

Navy

(No. 54)

6-29-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Navy for 2015.
3

Memphis

(No. 59)

6-28-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Memphis for 2015.
4

SMU

(No. 102)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of SMU for 2015.
5

Tulane

(No. 104)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Tulane for 2015.
6

Tulsa

(No. 106)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Tulsa for 2015.
     
American Athletic Conference Championship
Cincinnati over Houston 

 

American Athletic 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@DavidFox615
Offensive POYKeenan Reynolds
QB, Navy
Keenan Reynolds
QB, Navy
Gunner Kiel
QB, Cincinnati
Keenan Reynolds
QB, Navy
Defensive POYTyler Matakevich
LB, Temple
Tyler Matakevich
LB, Temple
Tyler Matakevich
LB, Temple
Zeek Bigger
LB, ECU
Coach of the YearTom Herman
Houston
Tom Herman
Houston
Ken Niumatalolo
Navy
Matt Rhule
Temple
Coach on Hot SeatWillie Taggart
USF
Willie Taggart
USF
Willie Taggart
USF
Willie Taggart
USF
Top FreshmanTre'Quan Smith
WR, UCF
Tyreik Gray
RB, Houston
Tristan Payton
WR, UCF
Tre'Quan Smith
WR, UCF
Top NewcomerRyan Mack
OL, Memphis
Chance Allen
WR, Houston
Bryant Shirreffs
QB, UConn
Jae'Lon Oglesby
WR, Memphis
Sleeper TeamTempleSMUMemphisTulane
Top Coordinator HireTodd Orlando
Co-DC, Houston
Tom Allen
DC, USF
Major Applewhite
OC, Houston
Bill Young
DC, Tulsa
Key Position to WatchMemphis DL/LBCincinnati DLHouston QBCincinnati DL/LB
Hardest to EvaluateUSFEast CarolinaEast CarolinaNavy
Coach on the RiseJustin Fuente
Memphis
Tom Herman
Houston
Chad Morris
SMU
Justin Fuente
Memphis
Must-See GameCincinnati at
Houston
Cincinnati at
Houston
SMU at
Houston
UCF at
Cincinnati
Breakout PlayerMatt Davis
QB, SMU
Matt Davis
QB, SMU
William Stanback
RB, UCF
Greg Ward
QB, Houston
Comeback PlayerTerrell Stanley
DL, ECU
Zaire Williams
RB, Temple
Zaire Williams
RB, Temple
Zach Johnson
OT, Houston
Ranking the American Athletic Coaches for 2015

 

1. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati

2. Justin Fuente, Memphis

3. George O'Leary, UCF

4. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

5. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina

 

Ranking the American Athletic Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati

2. Keenan Reynolds, Navy

3. Paxton Lynch, Memphis

4. Greg Ward, Houston

5. Justin Holman, UCF

 

Ranking the American Athletic Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Marlon Mack, USF

2. Kenneth Farrow, Houston

3. William Stanback, UCF

4. Sherman Badie, Tulane

5. Mike Boone, Cincinnati

 

The American Athletic's Top 5 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Greg Ward, QB, Houston

2. Tre'Quan Smith, WR, UCF

3. Matt Davis, QB, SMU

4. Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

5. Noel Thomas, WR, UConn

 

The Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Cincinnati at BYU - Oct. 17

2. Houston at Louisville - Sept. 12

3. Navy vs. Army (Philadelphia) - Dec. 12

4. Navy at Notre Dame - Oct. 10

5. Ole Miss at Memphis - Oct. 12

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Todd Orlando, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Houston

2. Bill Young, Defensive Coordinator, Tulsa

3. Tom Allen, Defensive Coordinator, USF

4. Brent Key, Offensive Coordinator, UCF

5. Van Malone, Defensive Coordinator, SMU

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Tristan Payton, WR, UCF

2. Chad President, QB, Tulsa

3. Tyreik Gray, RB, Houston

4. T.J. Simmons, RB, Temple

5. Kareem Ali Jr., DB, Temple

6. Ross Trail, QB, Cincinnati

7. Rashard Causey, DB, UCF

8. James Proche, WR, SMU

9. Khalid McGee, DB, USF

10. Luke Hiers, OL, UCF

Teaser:
American Athletic Conference 2015 Football Predictions
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, News
Path: /college-football/acc-football-2015-predictions
Body:

The ACC enters 2015 as a league in transition. No team from this conference was projected to make the college football playoff in Athlon Sports’ rankings for the upcoming season, and there’s a loss of star power with the departure of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley and Miami running back Duke Johnson.

 

In 2014, 13 out of the ACC’s 14 programs lost at least two games in league play. Florida State was the only exception, finishing with a perfect 8-0 mark. The Seminoles are the favorites to win the ACC for the fourth consecutive year. But the gap between Florida State and the rest of the league has decreased in 2015.

 

While the ACC is in transition, there’s no shortage of intrigue in the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions. Here’s a look at five things to watch in the ACC for 2015, followed by Athlon’s predictions. 

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the ACC in 2015

 

1. Jimbo Fisher Rebuilds (Reloads?) at Florida State

Florida State is coming off one of the best two-year runs by a program in recent memory. The Seminoles went 27-1 during that span and claimed the 2013 national championship. Fisher has returned this program back to the nation’s elite and enters 2015 with a rebuilding effort on his hands. Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson and Sean Maguire will compete to replace Jameis Winston, but the bigger question mark on this team is on defense after giving up 5.5 yards per play last year. With the departures of end Mario Edwards Jr. and tackle Eddie Goldman, along with a thin linebacking corps, the Seminoles are searching for answers on this side of the ball. Talent certainly isn’t an issue. How quickly does Florida State reload in 2015? If all of the young talent emerges, another playoff run is within reach. 

 

2. Offense and Defense Question Marks at Clemson

Clemson’s defense was arguably the best in the nation last season, limiting opponents to 16.7 points per game and just four yards per play. Coordinator Brent Venables has a lot of work to do this offseason, as the Tigers return just two starters and suffered big losses at each level. The good news for Venables? There’s plenty of talent ready to emerge. But until the defense is stabilized, the offense may have to carry this team. Just like the defense, there’s question marks, but also a lot of promising talent. Sophomore Deshaun Watson is the ACC’s top quarterback, and the Tigers are loaded at the skill positions. The offense should remain one of the best in the conference, but how much will this unit miss coordinator Chad Morris? He left to be the head coach at SMU, and coach Dabo Swinney promoted Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott to the co-coordinator level.

 

3. Coastal Division Uncertainty

It seems to be an annual storyline in recent years, but the Coastal Division is a wide open race once again. Georgia Tech should be the favorite with the return of quarterback Justin Thomas and an improving defense. However, coach Paul Johnson’s team loses seven of the top 10 rushers from last year, along with receiver DeAndre Smelter. Additionally, Georgia Tech plays crossover games against Clemson and Florida State. But if the Yellow Jackets stumble, which team will emerge? Virginia Tech has the top defense in the ACC. However, question marks remain on offense. Is Miami ready to contend in Al Golden’s fifth year? Will North Carolina’s defense improve? Or is this the year where a surprise team like Pittsburgh or Duke wins the division? Questions abound in the Coastal in 2015. 

 

4. Louisville, Pittsburgh and NC State – Sleepers to Watch?

With the three projected top 25 teams for 2015 all suffering key losses from last season, there’s plenty of room for a sleeper to emerge. The gap between the top and the middle of the ACC has closed a bit with the losses at the top three programs, but which team will take advantage? Is it Louisville? The Cardinals need to settle on a quarterback and rebuild the offensive line, but the defense should be stout once again. Pittsburgh has a favorable crossover by missing three of the top four teams in the Atlantic and returns two of the ACC’s top players in running back James Conner and receiver Tyler Boyd. How much will the defense improve in Pat Narduzzi’s first year? NC State closed 2014 by winning four out of its last five. The Wolfpack return 14 starters, including quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Another step forward in the win column wouldn’t be a surprise.

 

5. Pressure Building at Miami and Virginia

2015 could be a make-or-break year for Virginia’s Mike London and Miami’s Al Golden. London is 23-38 in five years with the Cavaliers and has not played in a bowl since 2011. After showing progress last season with five victories, London needs to get Virginia back into the postseason in 2015. For Miami, the Hurricanes are still looking for the first appearance in the ACC Championship. Miami showed signs of progress with a 9-4 record in 2013 but has just one season of more than seven wins under Golden. After going 6-7 last year, the pressure is building at Miami. Adding to Golden’s challenge in 2015 will be a rebuilt offensive line, the loss of running back Duke Johnson and the departure of standout linebacker Denzel Perryman. 

 

ACC 2015 Team Previews

Atlantic Division
   
National
Rank:
5614938398582

 

Coastal Division
 
National
Rank: 
52184342416135

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 ACC Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 14 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

 

ACC Predictions for 2015

     
Atlantic Division  
RankTeam Projected ACC RecordProjected Overall Record
1Florida State
(No. 9)

 
6-211-2
Read the full, in-depth preview of Florida State for 2015.
2

Clemson

(No. 14)

6-29-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Clemson for 2015.
3

Louisville

(No. 38)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Louisville for 2015.
4

NC State

(No. 39)

5-39-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of NC State for 2015.
5

Boston College

(No. 56)

3-56-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Boston College for 2015.
6

Wake Forest

(No. 82)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Wake Forest for 2015.
7

Syracuse

(No. 85)

1-73-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of Syracuse for 2015.
     
Coastal Division    
RankTeam Projected ACC RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Georgia Tech

(No. 18)

6-28-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Georgia Tech for 2015.
2

Virginia Tech

(No. 35)

5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Virginia Tech for 2015.
3

Pittsburgh

(No. 41)

5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Pittsburgh for 2015.
4

North Carolina

(No. 42)

4-47-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of North Carolina for 2015.
5

Miami

(No. 43)

3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Miami for 2015.
6

Duke

(No. 52)

3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Duke for 2015.
7

Virginia

(No. 61)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Virginia for 2015.
ACC Championship
 Florida State over Georgia Tech 

 

ACC 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
Braden
Gall
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@DavidFox615@BradenGall
Offensive POYJames
Conner, RB
Pittsburgh
Dalvin
Cook, RB
FSU
Deshaun
Watson, QB
Clemson
Dalvin
Cook, RB
FSU
Deshaun
Watson, QB
Clemson
Defensive POYJalen Ramsey
DB, FSU
Jalen Ramsey
DB, FSU
Kendall Fuller
CB, Va. Tech
Jalen Ramsey
DB, FSU
Jalen Ramsey
DB, FSU
Coach of the YearJimbo Fisher
Florida State
Jimbo Fisher
Florida State
Dave Doeren
NC State
Pat Narduzzi
Pittsburgh
Bobby Petrino
Louisville
Coach on Hot SeatMike London
Virginia
Mike London
Virginia
Mike London
Virginia
Al Golden
Miami
Larry Fedora
UNC
Top FreshmanDerwin James
S, FSU
Deon Cain
WR, Clemson
C.J. Stalker
LB, Virginia
Chris Taylor
WR, Duke
George Campbell, WR, FSU
Top NewcomerEverett Golson
QB, FSU
Devonte Fields
DL/LB, Louisville
Josh
Harvey-Clemons
S, UL
Devonte Fields
DL/LB, Louisville
Josh
Harvey-Clemons
S, UL
Sleeper TeamNC StateNC StateNC StateDukeMiami
Top Coordinator HireGene Chizik
DC, UNC
Josh Conklin
DC, Pittsburgh
Gene Chizik
DC, UNC
Jim Chaney
OC, Pittsburgh
Gene Chizik
DC, UNC
Key Position to WatchFlorida State DLVirginia Tech OLFlorida State OLClemson
LB
Florida State OL
Hardest to EvaluateMiamiMiamiMiamiNorth CarolinaMiami
Coach on the RiseJosh Conklin
DC, Pittsburgh
Scottie Montgomery
OC, Duke
Dave Doeren
NC State
Charles Kelly
DC, FSU
Dave Doeren
NC State
Must-See GameFSU at ClemsonFSU at
Clemson
FSU at ClemsonFSU at ClemsonFSU at Clemson
Breakout PlayerShaq Lawson
DE, Clemson
Joe Yearby
RB, Miami
Joe Yearby
RB, Miami
Joe Yearby
RB, Miami
Artavis Scott
WR, Clemson
Comeback PlayerLuther Maddy
DT, Va. Tech
Trey Edmunds
RB, Va. Tech
Kelby Brown
LB, Duke
Everett Golson
QB, FSU
Jabari Hunt-Days
DL, GT
 
Ranking the ACC's Coaches for 2015

 

1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

2. Bobby Petrino, Louisville

3. David Cutcliffe, Duke

4. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

5. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

 

Click here to view the full ACC Coach Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the ACC's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson

2. Brad Kaaya, Miami
3. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
4. Marquise Williams, North Carolina
5. Jacoby Brissett, NC State

Click here to view the full ACC Quarterback Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the ACC's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. James Conner, Pittsburgh

2. Dalvin Cook, Florida State

3. Jon Hilliman, Boston College

4. Joseph Yearby, Miami

5. Shadrach Thornton, NC State

 

Click here to view the full ACC Running Back Rankings for 2015

 

The ACC's Top 5 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

3. Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

4. Rod Johnson, OT, Florida State

5. Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech

 

Related: College Football's Top 25 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Notre Dame at Clemson (Oct. 3)

2. Florida State at Florida (Nov. 28)

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

4. Louisville vs. Auburn (Atlanta (Sept. 5)

5. Georgia at Georgia Tech (Nov. 28)

 

Related: Complete ACC Schedule Analysis for 2015

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Gene Chizik, Defensive Coordinator, North Carolina

2. Josh Conklin, Defensive Coordinator, Pittsburgh

3. Jim Chaney, Offensive Coordinator, Pittsburgh

4. Tony Elliott/Jeff Scott, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Clemson

5. Todd Fitch, Offensive Coordinator, Boston College

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Derwin James, S, Florida State

2. Josh Sweat, DL, Florida State

3. Tarvarus McFadden, DB, Florida State

4. Deon Cain, WR, Clemson

5. George Campbell, WR, Florida State

6. Mitch Hyatt, OL, Clemson

7. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson

8. Jacques Patrick, RB, Florida State

9. Jalen Dalton, DL, North Carolina

10. Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State

Teaser:
ACC Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans, NBA
Path: /nba/new-orleans-pelicans-name-alvin-gentry-new-head-coach
Body:

Anthony Davis has a new molder. The best young NBA big man this side of Shaquille O’Neal was the best selling point for any free agent coach this offseason, once Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans created an opening by dismissing Monty Williams after five years of service.

 

Now, Golden State Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry takes Williams’ old job. The former head coach of the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers has been in the league, in one capacity or another, since 1989. One of the shrewdest offensive strategists of today, he propelled the Suns’ seven-seconds-or-less squad to their deepest playoff run, when they came within two games of the Finals in 2010.

 

Gentry has also been integral to Steve Kerr’s adjustment curve as a rookie head coach for the Warriors, and the advancement of Stephen Curry’s game to an MVP level. Before he takes over in New Orleans, of course, he still has to help his current roster through the 2015 Finals, against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

"I'm truly honored for the opportunity to lead the Pelicans as their head coach and am anxious to get started," Gentry said in a public statement. His contract is said to be worth $13.7 million, over four years, with a team option in the fourth year.

 

Whether New Orleans exercises the fourth year, and whether Gentry’s tenure is considered a success, will likely hinge upon how far he can take Davis and Co. into the playoffs. Ownership had made it clear to Williams that his job would not be safe if the Pelicans missed the postseason in 2015, but they fired him even though New Orleans grabbed the eighth spot in the stacked Western Conference.

 

Clearly, expectations are high for Gentry in his new position — as they should be when Davis, a generational talent, is in tow. Honorable of a job as Williams did, Gentry is by all accounts the right man to take the best young player in the game to the next level. This is going to be fun.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 10:10

Pages