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Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-2-sec

There was only one game involving two SEC teams in Week 2, but there were still plenty of noteworthy — good and bad — accomplishments. A certain receiver at Alabama is off to a great start; Florida's offense (finally) produced some big plays; Missouri continued its winning ways on the road; and much more.


10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2 in the SEC



Receptions for Amari Cooper through two games, more than Alabama’s leading receiver had for the season in all but one of the Crimson Tide’s national title teams from 1961-92. The leading receivers for those teams are as follows: 1961, Tommy Booker (12); 1964, Tommy Tolleson (22); 1965, Tommy Tolleson (32); 1973, Wayne Wheeler (19); 1978, Keith Pugh (20); 1979, Keith Pugh (25); 1992, David Palmer (24).



Pass plays by the Florida offense that went for at least 60 yards in the Gators’ win over Eastern Michigan. Florida had only one pass play of 60-plus yards in 12 games in 2013. 



Punts by Ole Miss in its 41–3 win over Vanderbilt. The Rebels scored four touchdowns, kicked three field goals, had one drive end on downs at the Vanderbilt 30-yard line, had one drive end after one play on a lost fumble, had one drive end due to the end of the first half and another end due to the end of the game.



Yards per play averaged by Vanderbilt in its loss to Ole Miss on Saturday. The Commodores averaged fewer yards per play in a single game twice in the last two seasons and won both games — 3.27 vs. Florida in 2013 (won 34–17) and 3.31 vs. NC State in the 2012 Music City Bowl (won 38–24).



Consecutive wins on the road by Missouri, all by at least 14 points, dating back to the beginning of the 2013 season. The Tigers rolled past Toledo, 49–24, last weekend and picked up wins at Ole Miss, Kentucky, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Indiana in ’13.



Completion percentage allowed by the South Carolina defense, the highest in the nation. The Gamecocks have allowed 76 completions, tied with Bowling Green for the most in the nation, and opponents have attempted 106 passes against South Carolina, second-most in the nation.



Consecutive games of at least 500 yards by the Mississippi State offense, the first time this has happened in school history. The Bulldogs had 516 in Saturday’s win vs. UAB, 550 in the opener against Southern Miss and 533 against Rice in the Liberty Bowl last season.



Offensive plays per game averaged by Tennessee through two games, up from an average of 67 per game in 2013, Butch Jones’ first season at Tennessee. The Vols had 79 plays vs. Utah State and 83 vs. Arkansas State; their highest total last year was 77 in the win vs. South Carolina.



Average yards per passing attempt for Jeremy Johnson in his two years at Auburn. (As a reference point, Jameison Winston led the nation with a 10.6 yards-per-attempt average in 2013). Johnson, in spot duty, has thrown for a total of 699 yards on 61 attempts and has eight touchdowns and two interceptions.



Touchdowns scored by Texas A&M in 2014, the most in the nation. 

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2 in the SEC
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 12:45
Path: /college-football/maryland-goes-patriotic-week-3-matchup-against-west-virginia

Maryland is going patriotic for Saturday’s matchup against West Virginia. The Terrapins unveiled on Tuesday a new patriotic uniform, which features the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner on the shoulder pads and helmet.

Check out the Terrapins new uniforms for Week 3:



Maryland Goes Patriotic for Week 3 Matchup Against West Virginia
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 10:52
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-9-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 9:


Summer's not over until the girls of Instagram say it's over.


Maryland's unis will feature the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner to honor the 200th anniversary of its writing. Both stylish and educational, although the star on the helmet looks like a ninja star.


Manningface was in midseason form last night.


A day with the Oregon Duck, the current king of college mascots.


• As Clayton Kershaw continues to out-Koufax Sandy Koufax, it might be time for pitcher MVPs in both leagues.


• So apparently Roger Goodell was the See No Evil monkey with his hands over his eyes in the Ray Rice situation.


Sadly, Janay Rice is mad at everyone but her husband.


Interesting analysis of MLB replay overturns.


LeSean McCoy blames his 20-cent tip on bad service. Today's reminder that the way we pay waiters is stupid.


The Cowboys' inept start has already produced some amusing memes.


Thousands of Penn State students celebrated the lifting of the Lions' postseason ban by chanting for the return of Joe Pa's statue.


• Watch the Dodgers support Clayton Kershaw's efforts with three throwing errors.



--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-waiver-wire-week-2

The first week of the 2014 NFL regular season is in the books and already many fantasy football general managers are probably experiencing drafter’s remorse. While it’s way too early to give up on superstars or highly drafted players who didn’t produce in their season openers, that doesn’t mean that help or temporary relief can’t be found on your league’s waiver wire.


And in that respect Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.




Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Quarterback is a pretty deep position this season, so expect plenty of fluctuation with weekly scoring leaders. And while it’s likely Flacco won’t repeat his 62 pass attempts again this season, he did finish with 345 yards. He had just one touchdown to go with one interception, but the big takeaway is how much more comfortable Flacco looked in Gary Kubiak’s system as the game went on. This is definitely something to keep an eye on Thursday against Pittsburgh, as Flacco has enough weapons to emerge as a legitimate starting fantasy option.


Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans

Entering what is a make-or-break season for Locker as Tennessee’s starting quarterback, the sleeper buzz on him continued to build as the preseason progressed. One game into the Ken Whisenhunt era with the Titans and the early returns for both the head coach and the quarterback are promising. Not only did Tennessee beat Kansas City rather easily on the road, Locker was efficient (22 of 33 passing), productive (266 yards, 2 TDs) and mistake-free (no turnovers). It may still be too early to trust Locker on a weekly basis, but how he fares in his upcoming matchups against Dallas, Cincinnati and Indianapolis could sway this sentiment.


Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Would you believe that Palmer has more rushing yards (29) after Week 1 than Jamaal Charles or Doug Martin? While that comparison may be a bit extreme, there’s nothing wrong with the 304 yards through the air and two touchdowns Palmer tossed in the Cardinals’ Monday night win over San Diego. He did lose a fumble, but over his last eight games he has twice as many TD passes (14) as interceptions (7). The veteran has plenty of weapons at his disposal, an improved offensive line protecting him and Week 2 matchup against a Giants’ defense that gave up 341 yards passing to the Lions. 


Running Backs


Justin Forsett and Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens

With the Ravens reversing course and deciding to release Ray Rice, the question becomes who’s the new No. 1? The assumption entering this season was that Pierce was next in line. However, that was before journeyman Justin Forsett dominated Pierce in both yards (84 total vs. just 14 rushing) and touches (16 to 6) in the loss to Cincinnati. Forsett also provided the Ravens’ first points of the 2014 season on a 13-yard TD run in the third quarter. For his career, Forsett has averaged a respectable 4.9 yards per carry and if anything has made a strong statement that he should get the starting nod this week. Pierce is still younger and conceivably carries more upside than Forsett, and Rice’s release also could present an opportunity for fourth-round pick Lorenzo Taliaferro at some point. If I was handicapping this race, I would say Forsett is the short-term guy to target with Pierce eventually seizing control of the job.


Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

It’s just one game, but the fact the Saints ran the ball 28 times (versus 42 pass attempts) is a good sign, especially if you have one of their backs on your roster. Further, that Ingram got as many carries (13) as Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson combined is another positive development for those who still believe in the former Alabama All-American. If New Orleans stays committed to the run and Ingram continues to be effective around the goal line (2 three-yard TD runs), he may finally be worth not only rostering, but also starting in your lineup.


Chris Ivory, New York Jets

Yes the Jets signed former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson as a free agent. But the man once known as CJ2K is no longer a workhorse back, as evidenced by the 10 carries Ivory got against Oakland. And while Ivory did most of his damage on a 71-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, it was still 60 yards longer than Johnson picked up on any of his 13 carries. If Ivory can keep producing big plays this apparent timeshare situation could start to tilt more in his favor.


Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West, Cleveland Browns

Free-agent acquisition Ben Tate was off to a solid start in his Browns’ debut, but he injured his knee on a 25-yard run in the second quarter and didn’t return. From there rookies West and Crowell took over, combining for 132 yards on 21 carries (6.3 ypc) and two touchdowns. West, a third-round draft pick, got most of the work (100 yards on 16 carries) and figures to be first in line should Tate be sidelined, but don’t discount Crowell (2 TDs on just five carries) just yet. The Browns have a solid enough offensive line that whomever gets the ball could be fantasy relevant, depending on the number of touches.


Wide Receivers


Andrew Hakwins, Cleveland Browns

As long as Josh Gordon remains suspended, the Browns don’t have a No. 1 wide receiver. That doesn’t mean, however, that someone won’t emerge as Brian Hoyer’s (and eventually, Johnny Manziel) favorite target, which is where Hawkins comes in. The former Bengal wideout saw twice as many targets (10) as any other Brown pass-catcher on his way to recording eight grabs for 87 yards. He will need to score occasionally to merit serious starting consideration, but this is a QB-WR duo to keep an eye on, especially considering tight end Jordan Cameron apparently aggravated a shoulder injury in the loss to Pittsburgh.


Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars

After the end of the first quarter against Philadelphia, Hurns had three catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. However, a closer look reveals that the undrafted rookie out of Miami went to on to catch just one pass for nine yards on six additional targets over the remaining three quarters. Hurns’ record-setting quarter also was a byproduct of Cecil Shorts being sidelined due to a hamstring injury. Once Shorts returns to the starting lineup, Hurns will presumably go back to his WR3 role. And even if Shorts misses more time, Lee is the young Jaguar receiver you want to invest in. The first of the Jags’ two second-round picks in May’s draft, Lee led the way with 10 targets, which he turned into six receptions for 62 yards. Hurns had better numbers in Week 1, but Lee’s role in the offense moving forward seems more secure.


Steve Smith, Baltimore Ravens

He may the senior Smith wide receiver on the Ravens, but don’t call him “old.” Not after the former Carolina Panther Pro Bowler exploded for 118 yards on seven catches against Cincinnati, highlighted by his 80-yard touchdown grab that briefly gave Baltimore a fourth-quarter lead. And while the general belief is that Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta will be Joe Flacco’s preferred targets moving forward, the fact that Steve Smith tied Pitta with 15 targets apiece may indicate Senior Smith’s best fantasy days aren’t behind him just yet.


Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers

This is probably your last chance, if the opportunity hasn’t passed already, to add a potential breakout candidate to your receiving corps. Even though Antonio Brown (5-116-1) finished with better numbers, Wheaton’s six catches for 97 yards on seven targets should not be overlooked. No longer dealing with a hand injury that wrecked his rookie season, Wheaton’s deep-threat ability (16.2 ypr, including a 40-yarder) and Ben Roethlisberger’s big arm appear to be a fantasy match made in heaven. Invest now before it’s too late.


Tight End


Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts

Reggie Wayne wasn’t the only big weapon Andrew Luck welcomed back in Week 1. Allen, who injured his hip in 2013’s opener and proceeded to miss the entire season, made this triumphant return as well, catching four passes for 64 yards, including a nifty 41-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter. Coby Fleener (8 targets, 3 catches, 21 yards) is the more popular tight end on this team, but Allen is widely believed to be the better receiver. Given the Colts’ frequent use of two-tight end sets, it’s not out of the question that Allen ends up with better numbers than Fleener.


Defense/Special Teams


Houston Texans

The Texans may have lost No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney for more than a month due to a torn meniscus, but this defense still has enough playmakers to be a fantasy force. With J.J. Watt (sack, blocked extra point) leading the way, Houston held Washington to just six points, collected three sacks, recovered two fumbles and blocked two kicks, including a punt that resulted in a touchdown, in a dominating Week 1 performance that resulted in 25 fantasy points. And next up? A matchup against Oakland and rookie quarterback Derek Carr. It’s early, but Houston’s D looks like it will be a fantasy factor once again in 2014.


Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.

Fantasy Football 2014 Waiver Wire: Week 2
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-2-big-ten

Big Ten teams experienced one of the worst weekends in Big Ten history overall, so sifting through the box scores to find 10 interesting stats was a bit of a chore. As you might suspect, most of the stats are alarming in detail and take a deeper look at
just how this weekend went so poorly, but not everything is bad. But most of it is. Proceed with caution, Big Ten fans.

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2 in the Big Ten


7: Third and longs converted by Virginia Tech against Ohio State
The average distance Virginia Tech had to go to pick up a first down against the Buckeyes on Saturday night was 10.2 yards per third down, and the Hokies picked up 10 first downs on 18 third-down situations. Ohio State’s defense failed to get off the field the first five times they put Virginia Tech in a third down situation, all but one coming from five yards or more. On the flip side, Ohio State was just 4-of-16 on third down against the Hokies.


Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:

0: Times Michigan reached the red zone against Notre Dame
To say it was a rough evening for the Wolverines in South Bend would be an understatement. Michigan managed to cross the 50-yard line on just four possessions, and the deepest Michigan would get on the field was to the Notre Dame 22-yard line. A sack on fourth down ended that late scoring threat in the fourth quarter, when it was already 31-0. Four of Michigan’s final five possessions ended with some form of turnover, with two Devin Gardner passes being intercepted, a Gardner fumble being recovered by the Irish and a turnover on downs.


0: Seconds Ohio State held a lead against Virginia Tech 
It has been a little while since Ohio State last went through a full game without holding the lead. The last time Ohio State played a game without holding a lead at any point came in the 2012 Gator Bowl against Florida. Urban Meyer watched from the sidelines as his former program held off his future team that day. The last time Ohio State played a regular season game without holding a lead at any point was earlier that same season, at home against Michigan State.


1: Seconds it took for Wisconsin to score against Western Illinois
It was the fastest score in Big Ten history, and it happened in bizarre fashion. The opening kickoff to Western Illinois was mishandled by Kyle Hammonds. Hammonds let the ball leave the end zone before he got his hands on it and took a knee in the end zone for what he thought would be a touchback. That was how the game officials initially ruled it, but following a timeout and video review the play was overturned for a safety one second into the game.


20: Shutouts Michigan had pitched since last being shut out
By now you may be well aware Michigan was shut out for the first time by Notre Dame and for the first time by anyone since 1984. What you may not have realized is that Michigan had shut out opponents 20 times in between shutouts by Iowa in 1984 and this weekend’s game at Notre Dame. Included in that bath of shutouts is a pair of shutouts of the Irish, in 2007 and 2003. Notre Dame snapped a streak of 365 games for Michigan without being shut out. Florida now owns the longest active streak without being shut out, with 323 games and counting. Yes, even with that offense the Gators had last year.


10th: Christian Hackenberg’s all-time passing rank at Penn State
It took just 14 games for Penn State sophomore Christian Hackenberg to crack the school’s all-time list for career passing yards. A week after becoming the first quarterback in Penn State history to pass for 400 yards in a game, Hackenberg moved into the top 10 on the school’s passing list while also setting a new school record for most yards in back-to-back games (773 yards, edging the previous mark of 686 yards by Zack Mills in 2002 against Iowa and Wisconsin). On top of that, Hackenberg tied the school record for most career 300-yard passing games with his sixth such performance. One more and he will break the tie with Matt McGloin.

1.8: Average rushing yards per play for Illinois
Illinois managed to pull away from Western Kentucky at home thanks to a big day through the air by quarterback Wes Lunt (456 yards and three touchdowns), but the running game never got on track against the Hilltoppers. Illinois tried to run the football 35 times against Western Kentucky, and mustered just 64 yards in the game (Lunt took a loss of 17 yards). The Illini were not alone in their running ineptitude in the Big Ten this weekend, though. Northwestern managed to rush for just 1.9 yards per rushing attempt.

1: Big Ten running back who rushed for more than 87 yards
It was a bit of a strange week for the Big Ten. Just one running back managed to rush for more than 87 yards in a game this weekend. Minnesota’s David Cobb was responsible for raising the bar as best he could with a 220-yard performance against Middle Tennessee, but after Jeremy Langford’s 86 yards against Oregon, it was not a standout day for the Big Ten running backs. Cobb and Langford aside, the average rushing total for the leading running backs this weekend was 47.5 rushing yards. Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armsrong rushed for 131 yards, more than doubling the output of Huskers running back Ameer Abdullah (54 yards). Quarterbacks were the leading rushers for three Big Ten teams (Nebraska, Purdue and Ohio State).

-14: Big Ten’s collective turnover margin in Week 2
It really was an ugly week for the Big Ten. Across the conference, the Big Ten combined for a turnover margin of -18 with 31 combined turnovers to their opponents. Maryland was the most atrocious with six turnovers on the road at USF for a -5, and Michigan had a -4 at Notre Dame. Ohio State broke even with Virginia Tech but had three turnovers in the process. Penn State was a -3 at home against Akron. The only teams to record a plus turnover margin were Minnesota (+2), Wisconsin (+1), and Rutgers (+1).


-45: Scoring differential for the Big Ten vs FBS teams in Week 2
Perhaps no other stat is more telling to just how bad this weekend was for the Big Ten. Throw out the FCS opponents (which actually nets a +9 scoring differential for the Big Ten) and the Big Ten was hammered. Four Big Ten teams took double digit losses in week two (Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue). Penn State and Minnesota scored double-digit victories but the damage done elsewhere was too much to overcome for the Big Ten against FBS opponents this weekend. The Big Ten was 5-5 against FBS competition in week two.


- Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB),

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2 in the Big Ten
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-2-pac-12

Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of Pac-12 football action:


9: Stanford drives inside the USC 35-yard line

The Cardinal took all nine of their drives to at least the USC 32-yard line but managed only 10 points for an ugly 1.1 points per trip inside the 40. Stanford missed two field goals, lost two fumbles, punted twice and was stopped on a fourth down conversion. Stanford outgained USC 413-291 but simply couldn’t finish drives.


Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:


59: Plays run by USC

A week after setting a Pac-12 record with 105 offensive plays, USC set a Pac-12 season-low with just 59 offensive snaps against Stanford. The Trojans averaged 4.9 yards per play for 291 yards of offense and still managed to win on the road. For what it’s worth, USC (164) now trails Arizona for total offensive plays run in 2014 (170).


2: Number of 300-yard passers allowed by Michigan State since 2010

Marcus Mariota was Athlon Sports’ Player of the Week for a reason. He was outstanding against a defense that normally never allows anything outstanding to take place. He threw for 318 yards and only Dayne Crist of Notre Dame (369) has thrown for more yards on a Michigan State defense since 2010.


287: Yards of offense for Oregon freshmen

Oregon totaled 491 yards of total offense. Of that 491 yards of offense, three freshmen — Royce Freeman, Devon Allen and Darren Carrington — accounted for 287 of it. Freeman (89 rush, 22 rec), Allen (110 rec) and Carrington (66 rec) scored four of the team’s six touchdowns, as the trio of first-year athletes have established themselves quickly as go-to talents for Mark Helfrich.

19: Combined losses for Virginia and Memphis in 2013

UCLA has won two games in two totally different ways in 2014 by a grand total of 15 points. The Bruins' margin of victory over 'Virginia and Memphis is less than the total number of combined losses the Cavaliers (10) and the Tigers (9) experienced last fall. Both teams are improved in 2014 but UCLA hasn’t looked anything like a Playoff contender in two weeks.


11: Combined TDs from QBs in the Washington game

Chris Petersen and Washington welcomed Cyler Miles back to the huddle in Week 2 and they needed him. Miles ran for three touchdowns and threw for another as Washington outlasted Eastern Washington 59-52 in Seattle. That’s because EWU quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 475 yards and seven touchdowns. The two QBs combined for 729 yards of total offense and 11 total touchdowns in the shootout.


73: Combined rushing yards for Shaq Thompson and Myles Jack

Washington and UCLA both have superstar linebackers in Shaq Thompson and Myles Jack. Both rank in the top 10 in the Pac-12 in tackles (18 and 19 respectively) but both got into the action on offense this weekend. Jack (3 att., 7 yards, TD) and Thompson (3 att., 66 yards, TD) combined for 73 yards rushing on six carries and each scored a touchdown. Heisman voters love this stuff.


2008: Last time a Utah QB threw 5 TDs

Utah quarterback Travis Wilson threw five touchdowns in Saturday’s win over Fresno State. The last time the Utes had five passing scores in a game was 2008 (Brian Johnson). Utah is 2-0 and has scored 115 points in two games after averaging 29.2 ppg a season ago.


26: Oregon State penalties in two games

Through two weeks, the Beavers are leading the nation in breaking the rules. Oregon State has been penalized 26 times for 218 yards in two narrow wins over lowly foes Portland State and Hawaii.


2: Wins for Cal

This one is pretty simple but deserves to be mentioned. Cal won just one time in Sonny Dykes' first season last fall and, after just two weeks, has already improved that total after beating Sacramento State 55-14 this weekend. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for 229 yards and four touchdowns and has seven scoring strikes and just one interception on the young season. 

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2 in the Pac-12
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Utah Utes, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/utah-unveils-new-white-helmets

Utah made slight changes to its uniforms for 2014, and the Utes continued with the tweaks by unveiling a new white helmet.

It’s uncertain when Utah will wear these white helmets, but it’s a pretty sharp look for Kyle Whittingham’s Utes.


Utah Unveils New White Helmets
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, News
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-2-acc

Numbers and statistics are a huge part of college football. Every Sunday, reading updated box scores and stats is like Christmas for fans and media members. Some stats like total offense and total defense are overrated but each help paint a picture for a team or particular game.

Whether the stats are historic, advanced or just an observation from a box score, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of Atlantic Coast Conference football action:

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2 in the ACC


1: Virginia Tech's first regular-season meeting against a current Big Ten opponent results in 1-0
In front of the largest crowd ever to watch a game at Ohio Stadium (107,517), Virginia Tech made its first-ever regular-season meeting against a current Big Ten opponent a memorable one. The Hokies' 35-21 win ended the No. 8 Buckeyes' 64-game winning streak at home against non-conference competition, and it was Ohio State's first loss to an unranked non-conference opponent since 1982. Virginia Tech is 30-21 all-time against current Big Ten teams, but has played just two against Big Ten teams when they were a member of the conference. Those games were against Indiana (1992 Independence Bowl) and Michigan (2012 Sugar Bowl).


Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:

92: Florida State has scored on 92 percent of its red zone trips
On the way to 2-0 and outscoring its first two opponents by a combined score of 74-43, Florida State has only missed out on one scoring opportunity inside the red zone. The Seminoles are 11-of-12 this season, including five touchdowns. The only drive to stall was the fourth of the season against Oklahoma State with an interception on a play that began at the Cowboys' 13.


24: Wake Forest collected 24 first downs one more than the number of points it scored
The Demon Deacons collected more first downs than they did points in a 23-7 win over Gardner-Webb. On the way to posting 24 first downs, Wake Forest needed just 96 net rushing yards to do so. True freshman QB John Wolford did most of the work, completing 30-of-38 passes for 291 yards and two scores, and rushing for 29 of the 96 yards.


9: Duke Johnson one of nine Miami players to reach 2,000 yards rushing
In a 41-7 win against Florida A&M, Johnson’s 55-yard second-quarter carry made him one of nine Hurricanes with 2,000 or more career rushing yards. He moved into ninth place on Miami’s all-time rushing list (2,054), passing Frank Gore in the first quarter. He trails No. 8 Willis McGahee (2,067), No. 7 Javarris James (2,162) and No. 6 Danyell Ferguson (2,214).


41: NC State's average starting field position was its own 41
The Wolfpack scored a second-half 46-34 comeback win against an Old Dominion team that ran 87 plays. NC State benefited from an average starting field position of its own 41. The Wolfpack scored touchdowns on five of their final six drives before a kneel-down to end the game.


24:15: Louisville possessed the ball for all but 5:45 of the second half
In its 66-21 dismantling of Murray State, Louisville controlled possession for 42:09 of the 60 minutes, including 24:15 in the second half. The Cardinals ran 88 plays, converted 11-of-19 third downs, and amassed 603 yards of total offense.

31-3: Duke outscores Troy 31-3 after falling behind 14-3
The Blue Devils traveled to Alabama and saw the host Troy Trojans jump out to a 14-3 lead after the game's first four possessions. Duke turned it around quickly with touchdowns on its next three drives, and scored 31 points altogether over its next seven drives after trailing 14-3. The Blue Devils outgained the Trojans 290-158 during the seven-series surge.

15: A week after attempting 15 passes in a win, Georgia Tech throws for 15 yards in a win
Yellow Jackets quarterback Justin Thomas completed 11-of-15 passes for 282 yards and two scores a week ago in a 38-19 win against Wofford. In Saturday's 38-21 win against Tulane, Thomas was 3-for-8 for 15 yards. The team rushed for 344 yards, including 70 from Thomas. The 15 yards are not the fewest in Georgia Tech history. The team has had 13 games since 1953 in which it failed to register any passing yards. Tech's fewest-ever in an ACC game is 24 against Virginia (Oct. 24, 2011).

31: Virginia's nine takeaways have already produced 31 points
The Cavaliers' 45-13 win against Richmond Saturday included seven takeaways — the most for UVa since Sept. 7, 2002 — and gives the team nine on the season. Virginia collected 21 points off of the seven turnovers Saturday. With those nine for the season, UVa has already produced 31 points compared to the 13 points it scored 21 takeaways a season ago.


50: Pittsburgh held Boston College to 50 yards after its first drive of the second half
On Boston College’s first drive of the first half, the Eagles went 77 yards for a touchdown. For the rest of the half, the Pitt defense only allowed 50 yards and zero points.


- Corby A. Yarbrough

@Corby_Yarbrough on Twiter

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2 in the ACC
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-2-big-12

Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of Big 12 football action:


81-28: Texas-BYU score the last two years

Fans in Austin were appalled (rightly so) when its team allowed nearly 700 yards of offense in a 40-21 loss to BYU in Provo, Utah, a year ago. It wasn’t supposed to get worse in 2014 with Charlie Strong running the ship but it did. Texas lost 41-7 on Saturday night and gave up 429 yards of offense in the worst home defeat since 1997 (UCLA, 66-3). If you’re counting at home, that’s 1,108 yards of offense and 81 points in two losses to BYU.


Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:


58.2: Baylor's yards per TD pass

No Bryce Petty? No problem. Baylor’s offense maintained its big-play ability with Seth Russell at the controls, as the sophomore completed 16 of 25 passes for 438 yards and five scores. Russell’s five touchdown tosses averaged 58.2 yards per completion, with three of those going to freshman standout KD Cannon. The Bears averaged 9.2 yards per play overall on offense.


0.82: Yards per carry allowed by Baylor

The Bears are leading the nation in yards per carry allowed at 0.82 yards per carry. Most of this is helped by their nation’s best 11 sacks in two games. Baylor’s opposition has rushed 66 times for 54 yards in two games.


51: Jake Waters yards rushing the final drive

Kansas State got the ball with 3:01 remaining in the game against Iowa State and trailing on the road by two points. Wildcats quarterback Jake Waters then took over the game and willed his team to victory. He led a seven-play, 80-yard drive in which he rushed four times for 51 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He also completed a 23-yard pass to Tyler Lockett. It was tremendous performance from the Iowa native.


3: Ways Jarvis West scored a TD

Iowa State receiver Jarvis West had a standout all-around performance against Kansas State. He threw a 29-yard touchdown, caught eight passes for 77 yards and one score and returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown. According to STATS LCC, he’s only the fourth player since 1996 to score on a pass, catch and punt return in a single game.


Sept. 4, 2010: Last time West Virginia pitched a shutout

The Mountaineers surrendered 33.3 points per game last year and 38.1 points per game in 2012. Playing Towson isn’t anything special but West Virginia pitched its first shutout since Sept. 4, 2010 when it blanked Coastal Carolina 31-0.


15.3: Yards per completion for Daxx Garman

J.W. Walsh injured his foot against Southwest Missouri State on Saturday night but Daxx Garman played well in his absence. He completed 16-of-26 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns for an average of 15.3 yards per completion. Garman may be a better fit as a passer for Mike Gundy’s offense than Walsh and Garman may have a chance to prove it.


25: Texas Tech penalties in two games

The Red Raiders are 2-0 but have struggled mightily against lowly foes Central Arkansas and UTEP. Tech has won both games by a combined 11 points and has committed 25 penalties for 204 yards. Only Oregon State (26) has been more penalized in two weeks thus far.


300: Sterling Shepard yards in two games against Tulsa

Shepard set career highs with eight receptions, 123 yards and two touchdowns against Tulsa last season. He broke those benchmarks this weekend by catching eight passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. That’s 16 receptions, 300 yards and three scores in two games against the Hurricane.


3: Career TDs for Geneo Grissom

Oklahoma’s outside linebacker Geneo Grissom snatched a Dane Evans pass midway through the third quarter and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown. According to ESPN, Grissom became the first Sooners defensive lineman or linebacker to score three defensive touchdowns — all of which have happened in the last 10 games.

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2 in the Big 12
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/texas-tech-unveils-new-throwback-uniforms-matchup-against-arkansas

Texas Tech plans to turn back the clock when Arkansas visits Lubbock on Saturday.

The Red Raiders will wear throwback uniforms in Week 3, and the overall look for Saturday is pretty sharp. The design is similar to the uniforms and helmets Texas Tech had when coach Kliff Kingsbury was playing quarterback for Mike Leach.

Check out Texas Tech’s throwback uniforms below and visit the official school site for a full gallery:

Texas Tech Unveils New Throwback Uniforms for Matchup Against Arkansas
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/tuesday-talking-points-2014-week-2-big-ten-whiffs-oregon-shines

Two weeks in and the Big Ten is finished.


Okay, that might be a touch dramatic but it’s not too far from the reality.


The Big Ten entered 2014 in desperate need of some brand equity — i.e., regular season wins against quality non-conference opponents. But after two weeks, every major contender in this league — with the possible exception of Penn State — have already lost critical showcase games against high-level competition.


Michigan State played well but was Oregon-ed in Autzen Stadium in the fourth quarter. Michigan looked as bad as Michigan has ever looked. And Ohio State was pushed around at home by a Hokies team that lost five times last year.


Not only did the Big Ten miss out on an opportunity to prove it’s worth on a national stage, it was embarrassed as Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State lost by a combined 64 points. In fact, it was the first time since Sept. 17, 1988 that the Buckeyes, Spartans and Wolverines each lost on the same day.


This is to say nothing of Wisconsin, Northwestern, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Rutgers and Purdue. All of which have either lost already or looked bad in wins.


So is it really that farfetched to suggest that the Big Ten has already been eliminated from the College Football Playoff?


Maybe, we should ask Pat Haden?


His USC Trojans won on Saturday in ugly fashion against a really good Stanford team in Palo Alto. No one, however, is talking about the gutty play of quarterback Cody Kessler one week after surgery or the Trojans' suffocating red-zone defense. No, the conversation has centered around Haden’s bizarre behavior on Saturday when the USC AD, prompted by a text message from a staffer, left his suite, jogged to the sideline and had an emotional exchange with the officials.


It was inappropriate and should never happen again. Is a discussion about active members of the college football community being on the committee that decides which teams get into the playoffs a legitimate one? Yes. But the Pac-12 has fined Haden $25,000 so talk of Haden being removed from the Playoff Committee for his actions this weekend is simply absurd.


Unfortunately for Mark Helfrich and Marcus Mariota, the conversation centering on Haden is so loud that the Oregon Ducks' performance in the fourth quarter against Michigan State is almost being overlooked.


The Spartans were leading deep into the third quarter in Eugene before Mariota turned in what might have been the most brilliant performance of his career. He consistently escaped pressure and executed to near perfection leading Oregon to 28 unanswered points to cap the big win. In what might have been a playoff elimination game, Oregon did what Oregon normally does to teams who appear to be competitive in the third quarter. It rolled to a relatively easy fourth quarter win.


For all of the depression running rampant through Big Ten territory and the large withdrawal from Haden’s bank account there is good news for fans in East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Palo Alto or Columbus.


At least they’re not Texas Longhorns fans.


Taysom Hill should be in Heisman conversations and is one of the most entertaining players in the nation. BYU is extremely well coached and could run the table unbeaten, forcing the Committee to look outside of the Big 5 for its four-team bracket.


But losing at home by 34 points is completely unacceptable at Texas. Charlie Strong’s rebuilding project looks like it will be much more difficult and slower moving than originally anticipated and he appears to be cleaning house with a morale compass pointed in the right direction. But this team looked worse against the Cougars at home on Saturday than it did in the record-breaking loss in Provo last fall.


Clearly, Strong has a lot of work to do and things don’t get any easier with UCLA coming to the Lone Star State this weekend.


Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:


Saturday Conversation


Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

The Ducks' cornerback made a signature All-American play to help seal the deal for Oregon this weekend. When asked about the atmosphere in Autzen Stadium, Ekpre-Olomu put the win over Michigan State in "the top three" of his career.



Michael Brewer, QB, Virginia Tech

The Tech quarterback led an impressive road win over Ohio State in Columbus. Brewer credited the great fans from Blacksburg for showing up and staying loud the entire game.



Cody Riggs, DB, Notre Dame

Riggs was only playing in his second game for the Irish, but he knew all about how big the rivalry was between Notre Dame and Michigan.



Andre Heidari, K, USC

After kicking his second game-winner against Stanford, the humble Heidari gave all of the credit to his offense, defense and fellow special teamers for the big win against Stanford.


Tuesday Talking Points: Big Ten Whiffs, Oregon Shines, USC Stuns
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 08:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-ranking-acc-coaches-2014-15

Even in years before conference realignment, the charter members of the ACC more often than not could boast the best roster of coaches in the country.

Now that the league has ballooned to 15 basketball members, this is almost an unfair contest.

The ACC coaching roster includes four Hall of Fame coaches, two 900-win coaches, 31 Final Four appearances and nine national championships. When Buzz Williams, arguably the top coach in last year’s version of the Big East, comes in at No. 8 in this league, that should be a startling reminder of the coaching power in the ACC.

In that case, it’s fitting Athlon Sports will begin its series counting down the top basketball coaches of 2014-15 with the ACC.

As usual, a handful of factors go into ranking the coaches — career accomplishments, career momentum, gameday acumen, player development, recruiting, conference records and postseason success.

Want to tell us how wrong we are? Tweet us at @AthlonSports or talk to us on Facebook.

1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
Record at Duke:
910-247 (.787)
NCAA Tournament: 82-26, 11 Final Fours, four championships
Number to note: The Blue Devils ended a streak of 121 consecutive weeks in the AP top 10 last season.
Why he’s ranked here: Forget about a loss to Mercer in the NCAA Tournament, Krzyzewski will reach 1,000 career wins this season.

2. Rick Pitino, Louisville
Record at Louisville:
341-117 (.745)
NCAA Tournament: 50-17, seven Final Fours, two championships
Number to note: The Cardinals are 22-2 in conference and NCAA Tournament games the last three years.
Why he’s ranked here: Pitino’s teams are consistently among the toughest defensive squads in the country.

3. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
Record at Syracuse:
948-320 (.748)
NCAA Tournament: 53-30, four Final Fours, one championship
Number to note: Syracuse has declined in adjusted tempo in each of the last seven seasons. The Orange were the ninth-slowest team in the country in KenPom last season.
Why he’s ranked here: Syracuse has six 30-win seasons all time. Half have come in the last five seasons.

4. Tony Bennett, Virginia
Record at Virginia:
106-60 (.639)
NCAA Tournament: 5-4
Number to note: Bennett led Virginia to its first sweep of the ACC regular season and tournament titles in 2013-14.
Why he’s ranked here: In eight seasons as a head coach, Bennett ended a 19-year Sweet 16 drought at Virginia and gave Washington State its deepest Tourney run in 67 years.

5. Roy Williams, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina:
306-89 (.775)
NCAA Tournament: 63-22, seven Final Fours, two championships
Number to note: The Tar Heels are 25-11 in the ACC, 12-11 on the road and 1-3 against Duke in the last two seasons.
Why he’s ranked here: The career achievements may demand a higher ranking, but schools like Virginia and Miami have been closer to Carolina territory than Carolina during the last two seasons.

6. Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh:
288-96 (.750)
NCAA Tournament: 12-10
Number to note: Pitt has never ranked lower than 45th in adjusted offensive efficeincy on KenPom in 11 seasons under Dixon. The Panthers have been ranked in the top 20 in that category six times in the last eight years.
Why he’s ranked here: The 2011-12 season marked the only time in Dixon’s career he failed to reach the NCAA Tournament or win 10 conference games.

7. Jim Larranaga, Miami
Record at Miami:
66-36 (.647)
NCAA Tournament: 7-6, one Final Four
Number to note: Masterful coaching job in 2013-14 preserved a streak of 16 consecutive winning seasons. At Bowling Green, George Mason and Miami, he’s had one losing season since 1993.
Why he’s ranked here: Larranaga had a nice career by the time he was 55. Then he took George Mason to the Final Four and swept the ACC regular season and tournament titles at Miami.

8. Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech:
First season
NCAA Tournament: 8-5
Number to note: From 2011-13, Marquette reached the Sweet 16 twice and the Elite Eight once.
Why he’s ranked here: Williams proved he could go toe to toe with Syracuse, Louisville and Pittsburgh. Can he compete against those three, plus Duke and North Carolina, at Virginia Tech?

9. Mike Brey, Notre Dame

Record at Notre Dame: 300-159 (.654)

NCAA Tournament: 6-11

Number to note: Notre Dame has one NCAA win since 2008.

Why he's ranked here: Notre Dame averaged 11.6 conference wins from 2006 through 2013 before falling to 6-12 in its first season in the ACC.

10. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State
Record at Florida State:
241-157 (.606)
NCAA Tournament: 6-7
Number to note: Florida State hasn’t had a losing ACC record since 2006-07, though the Seminoles went 9-9 the last two years.
Why he’s ranked here: The Seminoles have reached the NCAA Tournament four times and the NIT five times in the last nine seasons. Not a bad stretch for FSU.

11. Mark Gottfried, NC State
Record at NC State:
70-38 (.648)
NCAA Tournament: 8-10
Number to note: Gottfried’s first three seasons (70-38, 29-23 ACC) have been remarkably similar to Herb Sendek’s final three (64-34, 28-20 ACC).
Why he’s ranked here: Talented offensive teams have topped out at 11-7 in the league.

12. Brad Brownell, Clemson
Record at Clemson:
74-58 (.561)
NCAA Tournament: 1-4
Number to note: Brownell has had only one losing ACC season in four at Clemson.
Why he’s ranked here: The Tigers quietly improved from 5-13 to 10-8 in the league last season.

13. Danny Manning, Wake Forest
Record at Wake Forest:
First season
NCAA Tournament: 0-1
Number to note: Manning ended an 11-year NCAA Tournament drought for a proud Tulsa program.
Why he’s ranked here: After two seasons as a head coach, the former Kansas star gets an ACC job with potential.

14. Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech
Record at Georgia Tech:
43-52 (.454)
NCAA Tournament: 1-2
Number to note: The Yellow Jackets are 16-36 in the ACC under Gregory.
Why he’s ranked here: Gregory’s teams have been capable on defensive end of the court, but struggled to score.

15. Jim Christian, Boston College
Record at Boston College:
First season
NCAA Tournament: 0-2
Number to note: Christian went 186-81 at Kent State and Ohio, 56-73 at TCU.
Why he’s ranked here: Christian is a perfectly capable MAC coach. Boston College is not in the MAC.

College Basketball: Ranking the ACC Coaches for 2014-15
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/smu-coach-june-jones-resigns-after-0-2-start-2014

SMU coach June Jones has resigned after an 0-2 start this year. Jones is the first coach of the season to be fired or resign.

Defensive coordinator Tom Mason will be promoted to interim coach, with Dan Morrison and Jason Phillips sharing play-calling duties on offense.

Jones was a key hire for SMU, as he arrived in Dallas after recording a 76-41 record during his nine-year tenure at Hawaii. The Warriors showed immediate improvement under Jones, going from 0-12 in the year prior to his arrival, to a 9-4 mark and a bowl victory in 1999.

Jones also guided Hawaii to a BCS bowl appearance in 2007.

However, Jones left Hawaii for Dallas after that season and struggled to find early success with the Mustangs.

SMU went 1-11 in Jones’ debut and finished winless in conference play in 2008.

The Mustangs rebounded by playing in four consecutive bowl games from 2009-12 and finished 5-7 in their first season of American Athletic play in 2013.

Despite making four consecutive bowl games for a program that has struggled to maintain success since the death penalty in 1987, there were plenty of rumblings from the SMU fanbase about Jones’ tenure.

And those rumblings only grew louder once the Mustangs started 2014 with an 0-2 record, which included a 45-0 loss to Baylor and a 43-6 defeat at the hands of North Texas.

SMU is a job with plenty of potential, as its located in a fertile recruiting area and has a history of success. With an opportunity to play in the American Athletic Conference, there's also good exposure on key television networks. 

Names to watch in SMU’s coaching search:

David Beaty, wide receivers coach, Texas A&M
Philip Montgomery, offensive coordinator, Baylor
Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson
Rick Neuheisel, former UCLA coach
Lincoln Riley, offensive coordinator, East Carolina
Jake Spavital, offensive coordinator, Texas A&M

SMU Coach June Jones Resigns
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 17:56
Path: /college-football/ncaas-elimination-sanctions-will-have-huge-impact-penn-state-and-big-ten

Only two games onto the job and James Franklin will have the tools to return Penn State to full strength.


The NCAA and Big Ten relieved sanctions on Penn State on Monday, allowing the Nittany Lions to play in a bowl and the Big Ten title game in 2014 in addition to allowing the program to return to a full allotment of scholarships for the class of 2015.


The orginial sanctions banned Penn State from the posteason through the 2015 season and restricted scholarships through 2017.


The NCAA’s decision to restore Penn State’s bowl eligibility comes after George Mitchell, the school’s appointed athletics integrity monitor, recommended the changes in his annual report to the NCAA. Mitchell’s report helps the NCAA and Penn State gauge its athletic department and progress from the sanctions after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.


This is the second reduction in penalties from the NCAA to Penn State since the sanctions were originally announced. Last year, the NCAA allowed Penn State to sign 20 players and have 75 scholarship athletes on the roster. The original plan after the reduction was to allow the program to sign 25 players for 2015 and have a full allotment of 85 players in 2016.

Read the NCAA’s full release on Penn State’s reduction in sanctions

The Main Takeaway

This is a huge boost for Penn State’s football program. After the penalties and sanctions were announced, most expected the Nittany Lions would take a huge hit in the standings for the next five-to-10 years. The impact of losing scholarship players would limit the team’s depth, and a bowl ban would prevent the program from attracting elite recruiting classes.

But that’s no longer a concern.

Penn State isn’t ready to challenge for a national championship in 2014 or 2015, but the outlook for the program, already buoyed by the hires of Bill O'Brien and James Franklin, have improved thanks to a full allotment of scholarships and the possibility of postseason play.


Here is a look at penalties were originally levied in June 2012 and what they actually turned out to be


PenaltyAs Stated on June 23, 2012Actual impact
Fines/Forfeiture of Bowl Revenue$60 million (NCAA), $13 million (Big Ten)Enforced
Vacated wins112 from 1998-2011Enforced
TranfersAllowed players to transfer without penaltyEnforced, nine players transferred
Postseason bansBanned from bowls and Big Ten championship game from 2012-15Banned from bowls and Big Ten championship game from 2012-13
Scholarship reductions (by year)  
201285 on roster (25 on NSD)85 (25)
201315 on NSD15 on NSD
201465 total (15 on NSD)75 total (20 on NSD)
201565 (15)85 (25)
201665 (15)85 (25)
201765 (25)85 (25)
201885 (25)85 (25)

While this is a boost to Penn State, don’t forget about the impact on the Big Ten as a whole. The conference desperately needs some good news after struggling with its on-field product in recent years. Ohio State and Michigan State have been top-10 programs in recent seasons, and Penn State – with a full roster and an outstanding coach – can join those ranks soon.

What This Means for 2014

Penn State is a contender for the Big Ten title. The Nittany Lions have yet to turn in an overwhelming performance in their two contests, but the rest of the Big Ten hasn’t either.  

The strength of the Big Ten  lies in the East Division, where the Nittany Lions are battling Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State for the No. 1 spot. The Spartans are the frontrunner, but Penn State hosts Mark Dantonio’s team in on Nov. 29. And here’s another element of intrigue for Penn State’s schedule: Ohio State visits Happy Valley on Oct. 25.

The schedule is in the Nittany Lions’ favor, as the top two teams in the division play at Beaver Stadium. And it’s late enough in the season where Penn State’s offensive line should have some time to develop.

There are potential landmines on the schedule outside of Ohio State and Michigan State, including a road trip to an Indiana team that defeated Penn State 44-24 in 2013. Penn State also travels to Michigan on Oct. 11.

New coach James Franklin inherited plenty of talent from Bill O’Brien, including quarterback Christian Hackenberg who has thrown for 773 yards (No. 4 nationally) and completed 65.1 percent of his passes through two games. Hackenberg’s development — along with the emergence of Geno Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton at receiver — is critical with an offensive line that is thin on depth and proven options. Developing a rushing attack is critical for Penn State to make the jump into conference title contention, as the Nittany Lions are averaging only 2.8 yards per attempt.

Defensively, Penn State ranks among the best in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are allowing just 13.5 points per contest and 4.3 yards per play. Similar to the offense, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop is also dealing with depth issues. However, Penn State’s starting 11 on defense is good enough to push for 10 wins.

It’s not tangible with a stat, but there’s also a natural boost Penn State should get from having something to play for at the end of the year. The Nittany Lions are no longer just about playing for pride. A Big Ten title, a playoff spot and a bowl game are now real possibilities.   

With a proven coach like Franklin, a standout quarterback in Hackenberg and an emerging defense, Penn State has the pieces in place to push for a conference title.

Recruiting Impact

Franklin is known as a relentless recruiter, and his pitch has already paid off for the Nittany Lions. Penn State inked the No. 24 class in 2014 and is off to a hot start for 2015, ranking No. 7 nationally with 19 three or four-star prospects committed.

With limited scholarships, Franklin and his staff had to be selective and depth was going to be an issue over the next few years. With a full allotment to use, Penn State will be able to sign a better class with more depth, which especially helps units like the offensive and defensive lines – two areas that are critical in the Big Ten.

With the ability to play in a bowl, it should help Franklin sell the program to more recruits who may have stayed away from the Nittany Lions with the uncertainty surrounding its postseason future.

There’s no question Franklin knows how to recruit. Under his watch, Vanderbilt signed the No. 26 class in 2013.

With the possibility of postseason play, a program on the verge of rebounding, and a young, energetic coach in Franklin, Penn State is poised to emerge as a top 15 program on a consistent basis over the next few seasons.


Here's how Penn State has fared before and after sanctions. All figures are from the 247Sports Composite. The 2015, obviously, remains a work-in-progress until commits sign letters of intent.

Class of..Enrollees/
National RankBig Ten RankCoach on NSD

Twitter Reaction

NCAA's Elimination of Sanctions Will Have Huge Impact on Penn State and Big Ten
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 17:21
Path: /nascar/brad-keselowski-makes-richmond-snoozer-nascar-chase-field-set

Richmond International Raceway hosted 650 laps of racing this weekend within NASCAR’s two major series — Nationwide and Sprint Cup — with 633 of those laps led by just two drivers. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch dominated each event, making the most interesting moment at NASCAR’s “most competitive” short track a drunken guy that climbed to the top of the catchfencing. Busch led all 250 circuits in the Nationwide event — a race that has averaged a whopping two lead changes in the last three NNS events held there.


What a fitting way to end NASCAR’s regular season in a year that started off competitive but appears to have lost its way. Five of the first 12 Cup races featured 30 lead changes or more, including a whopping 35 at former cookie-cutter failure Fontana. Since, the lead changes have maxed out at 25 over the last 14 races, with half those events featuring 15 lead changes or less. In the midst of two upset victories (AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola) we’ve seen two organizations, Hendrick Motorsports and Penske Racing, sweep the other dozen events heading into the postseason. The dreaded “aero push” is back, making passing difficult and putting victories in the hands of engineers and crew chiefs, via pit strategy.


Passing, which had seen an initial improvement this season, has dropped off, with most drivers limiting their movement to frantic, aggressive moves on restarts. Charging forward over long green-flag runs continues to be a problem, hurting the competition as cautions have been fewer and farther between. The only yellow flags at Richmond were for the drunkard, a competition yellow (because of rain cutting into practice time) and two for debris. Matt Kenseth, on a night when several drivers had “win or else” mandates, was the only competitor to hit the wall at a short track … a short track! Saturday night, cars raced so far apart from each other you’d have thought contact was punishable by a stop-and-go penalty.


NASCAR hopes things pick up with its new version of the Chase, a three-round elimination playoff designed to combat the NFL. But football saw seven of its first dozen contests hit overtime, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats. NASCAR can’t do the same if it continues throwing up stinkers like we saw on Saturday night.


“Through the Gears” we go …



FIRST GEAR: Penske Power  Brad Keselowski

It was clear in the midst of so much conservatism at Richmond that Brad Keselowski was out to prove something. The 2012 champ hit rock bottom here last season as a 17th-place result, after leading 142 of the first 268 laps, left him on the outside of the Chase looking in. He was just the second reigning champion, joining Tony Stewart in 2006, to fail at defending that title in NASCAR’s playoff era.


This season, Keselowski has surged back in a big way and he was determined to enter as the Chase’s top seed. Leading 383 of 400 laps, the No. 2 Ford was rarely challenged on a night where the only question was not if he would win but by how much. 


“I give him a lot of credit because he's pushing the team, he's pushing Paul (Wolfe, crew chief),” said team owner Roger Penske. “He and Joey together, they're working each other, trying to find the speed in the cars.”


The victory was Penske’s 400th across both his NASCAR and IndyCar programs, and he’s in the best position yet to earn a dual championship after Will Power took care of business at Fontana last week. Keselowski, with four victories, has been on top of his game in the past month and teammate Joey Logano is poised to take the next step after a three-victory, career-year driving the No. 22. Beating the four-car Hendrick juggernaut will be tough, but this organization has done it before when Keselowski outlasted Jimmie Johnson in a punch-for-punch battle down the stretch two years ago. If you’re looking to root for a team with a realistic shot at unseating Hendrick Motorsports, Penske’s your choice.



SECOND GEAR: Clint couldn’t get it done  Clint Bowyer

Despite an expansion to 16 drivers, several high-profile competitors missed the Chase this year. Tony Stewart’s season of problems, culminating with the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy, have been well documented. Highly-touted rookies Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon showed varying degrees of promise but couldn’t reach victory lane. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick, while remaining a couple off the racetrack, have been a couple of slowpokes on it.


But perhaps the most glaring omission is Toyota’s Michael Waltrip Racing, which failed to cash in one year after the “Spingate” scandal that publicized team orders and rocked NASCAR. The end result of Clint Bowyer’s spin, done intentionally to try and get teammate Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase, was Truex missing the field, a 13th driver added (Jeff Gordon) and a loss of sponsorship support that caused MWR to contract to two teams.


Co-owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman, who runs the Race Team Alliance (RTA), said a streamlined operation would make them better. But that hasn’t been the case. In a year when Toyota has just two wins, the organization has led just 118 laps combined between its cars driven by Bowyer, Brian Vickers and a third “test alliance” co-owned by Jay Robinson and manned by a handful of retreads or up-and-comers. 


Richmond, historically one Bowyer’s best tracks, became the spotlight for recent struggles. In April, the No. 15 5-Hour Energy car was one of the fastest in practice only to end up behind the wall after spinning Kyle Larson on the first turn of the first lap, then losing the handle. They came better prepared this weekend, but a third-place effort wasn’t enough to unseat Greg Biffle and sneak into the Chase on points.


“Every time we take a step ahead, something drags us a couple of steps back,” said Bowyer, whose broken shifter at Atlanta ultimately doomed his playoff hopes. “When you make that Chase, you want to be able to compete for a championship and I’m an optimist but I’m a realist. Right now, realistically, we don’t have a shot at winning that championship against the competition we’re running against.”


As for Vickers, his demise was also due to a handful of DNFs. Ranked 22nd in the standings is a disappointment in his first full season behind the wheel in Cup since 2011 after health problems nearly brought his racing career to a close. 


“We’ve had some really bad luck this year,” he said, running 13th at Richmond and never a factor. “I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, we made our own mistakes and every team is going to make mistakes throughout the year — we just had too much go wrong out of our control to make up for our turn in the barrel.”



THIRD GEAR: Joe Gibbs Racing short on short tracks

Speaking of Toyotas struggling, what is up with Joe Gibbs Racing’s short track program? It used to dominate Richmond, where it won five in a row from 2009-11. Hometown favorite Denny Hamlin alternated time in the winner’s circle with teammate Kyle Busch. But Saturday night, neither one reached the top 10, while Matt Kenseth slapped the wall and ran 41st. It’s continuing a trend; JGR’s three drivers have failed to find victory lane on a short track , posting a total of three top-5 finishes in those 15 starts. Only Kenseth, who nearly won Bristol last month, has shown an ability to contend on a regular basis. 


“We all have to get better as a company and where that comes from, we don’t know,” said Busch, whose confrontations with other drivers, as well as crew chief Dave Rogers, have peaked in the past month. “If we could have figured that out a while ago, trust me, we’d be running better.”


JGR still needs to be considered a player in the Chase — it is, after all, Toyotas flagship program. Kenseth, in particular, owns the consistency to keep moving forward. But “settling” for top-15 performances at their strongest type of facility does not bode well for an extended playoff run.



FOURTH GEAR: Setting up the Chase

The 16-driver field for the Chase is now set, with winless drivers Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman joining the grid on points. The final makeup is heavily weighted toward Ford and Chevrolet. Hendrick Motorsports leads the Bowtie brigade, putting all four drivers in the field (Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) while Stewart-Haas Racing adds a pair in Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Richard Childress Racing, with Newman and JTG-Daugherty’s AJ Allmendinger, give the manufacturer a total of eight cars.


Ford responds with five of its own: the Penske Racing duo of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, along with Roush Fenway’s Biffle, the “lame duck” Carl Edwards and first-timer Chaser Aric Almirola, driving for Richard Petty Motorsports. JGR’s three Toyotas — Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin — round out the field.


Early indications are with the three-round Chase format you’ll see the underdog teams fall by the wayside quickly. Chicagoland, Loudon and Dover aren’t the type of places where big wrecks or bad parts failures muddy the waters. That said, just ask Earnhardt how one tough break can wreck things. His blown engine at Chicagoland last season is the only reason the No. 88 team never contended for a title.


I’ll go with Biffle, Almirola, Allmendinger and Kyle Busch (with a tough break somewhere) to be the first four out in NASCAR’s new format. And the Final Four? Much too early to say, but if it’s anyone outside of Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt, Logano and Keselowski (the five drivers with three or more victories) I’ll be very surprised. This Chase is one where the favorites come in with a heavy advantage.




Danica Patrick, with a solid 16th Saturday night, has three top-20 finishes in the last four Cup Series races. Up next? Chicagoland, where she had one of her better rookie performances (20th) in 2013. Could things be looking up at the No. 10 camp? At 28th in the standings and 28 points behind boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Danica still has a long way to go. But you have to start building that foundation somewhere. … The drunken man who climbed the catchfencing at RIR and caused a caution was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Security was shown on fan video with their backs turned as the unidentified man snuck past to climb. … Brad Keselowski’s dominating win gave him 1,278 laps led on the season, tops the Sprint Cup chart. Only Kevin Harvick (1,186) and Jimmie Johnson (1,035) have led more than 1,000.



Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles

Photo by Richmond International Raceway

Post-race reaction from Richmond International Raceway, where Brad Keselowski won the Federated Auto Parts 400 and NASCAR set its 16-driver Chase field.
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 15:36
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-2-recap


Week 2 is in the books and the Big Ten should be worried. Hosts David Fox and Braden Gall recap all of the action from Week 2, including the Big Ten's struggles, the Ducks marquee win, the Hokies huge upset and Pat Haden's behavior. Was the Pac-12 a winner this weekend or a loser? That and much more on this edition of the Cover 2 podcast.


Have a question or comment? Contact us at [email protected] or on Twitter at @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615

Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 2 Recap
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 11:39
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-8-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 8:


• The NFL's cheerleaders are already in midseason form, as this gallery reveals.


Nothing like a kick to a punter's face to signal the return of America's Game. Good to have you back, football. Here are the best Vines and GIFs from a tasty weekend on the gridiron.


• Roger Goodell's having a no good, very bad Monday thanks to the ongoing stench of the Ray Rice situation. If you feel like you need to see the newly available video of the knockout punch, which according to Peter King was in Goodell's possession when he "disciplined" Rice, then click here. It's beyond sickening.


• This is interesting: Kareem defends Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson over his supposedly racist email.


Here's an interview with ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen on the occasion of the Worldwide Leader's 35th birthday.


• I can endorse this chick-mance (or whatever the chick version of a bromance is called): Serena and Woz partied after their U.S. Open final.


So the Big Ten might as well be the AAC after their Lost Weekend.


Chris Pratt isn't great at everything as it turns out.


• Dumbass alert: A fan climbed to the top of the catchfence at Richmond. During the race. This won't help class up the image of the typical NASCAR fan.


• Derek Jeter answered a reporter's phone during a presser, like the boss he is.



--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 11:38
All taxonomy terms: Detroit Lions, New York Giants, NFC, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-vs-detroit-lions-game-preview-and-prediction

Two NFC teams looking to bounce back after disappointing seasons will face off tonight when the New York Giants and Detroit Lions open up ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” Week 1 doubleheader. Both the Giants and Lions posted 7-9 records last season and will be introducing new offenses tonight, a process that had mixed results during the preseason.


The all-time series between the two franchises is tied at 20-20-1, but the Giants have won the last three meetings overall and the last five played in Detroit. The most recent matchup came in Week 16 last season, a 23-20 New York victory in overtime. The Giants needed a fourth-quarter interception returned for a touchdown to tie the game before winning it in overtime on a 45-yard field goal by Josh Brown.


New York Giants at Detroit Lions


Kickoff: 7:10 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Detroit -6


Three Things to Watch


1. These are Now Jim Caldwell’s Lions

After going 29-51 in five seasons and making the playoffs just once, Detroit fired Jim Schwartz and replaced him with Caldwell. A longtime Tony Dungy assistant, Caldwell took over the Colts after his friend and mentor retired following the 2008 season, going 24-8 in his first two seasons, including an AFC title as a rookie head coach in ‘09. The bottom fell out in 2011, however, when Peyton Manning was sidelined due to a neck injury, as Indianapolis cratered to an NFL-worst 2-14. The losing would net the Colts their next franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck, but it also cost Caldwell his job. After a two-year stint with Baltimore, highlighted by him taking over as offensive coordinator prior to the Ravens’ Super Bowl run in 2012, Caldwell is getting a second chance as head coach with the Lions. His hiring was received with quite a bit of skepticism and head shaking, so it’s up to Caldwell to show everyone he’s the right man for this job. One way to do so would be to change the general perception of the Lions, a team that was characterized by missed opportunities, a lack of discipline and produced quite a bit of off-field drama during Schwartz’ tenure. A strong showing at home against a team considered to be less talented would certainly serve as a nice opening statement for the Caldwell era in the Motor City.


2. New Season, New Offenses

Not surprisingly, a head coaching change in Detroit means new coordinators. Jim Caldwell brought in Joe Lombardi, who had been New Orleans quarterbacks coach since 2009, to serve as his offensive coordinator. Everyone knows the numbers Drew Brees has put up with the Saints, so Lion fans are no doubt hoping for similar results from Matthew Stafford. Neither the quarterback nor the coordinator lacks for weapons to work with, as Golden Tate and first-round pick Eric Ebron have joined Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Meanwhile, longtime Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride retired, so quarterback Eli Manning was tasked this offseason with not only getting to know the new guy, but also learning a new offense. Tom Coughlin tabbed Ben McAdoo, quarterbacks coach for the Packers the past two seasons, to lead the overhaul of the Giants’ offense. Considering Gilbride had been in place the past seven seasons, it’s reasonable to expect some sort of learning curve for Manning and the Giants. And this inexperience certainly showed during the preseason. Now that the games count, however, there will be only so much tolerance and patience awarded these two “rookie” offensive coordinators, especially from fan bases eager to see their teams get back to the postseason.


3. The Battle in the Trenches

It may seem cliché, but one of the keys to consistently winning in the NFL is strong play up front. In this respect, Detroit seems to have a clear edge over New York when it comes to both lines. The Lions’ offensive line, young and somewhat inexperienced entering last season, found its stride as the 2013 campaign progressed and returns intact. On the other side of the ball, Detroit could have one of the NFL’s most disruptive defensive lines with last year’s second-round pick Ziggy Ansah and fellow draft classmate Devin Taylor manning the outside and All-Pro Ndamukong Suh and a recommitted and determined Nick Fairley anchoring the middle. Contrast that to the Giants, who are already dealing with a key injury to one of their best offensive linemen and will be fielding a starting unit that’s full of question marks. Defensively, the success of New York’s front four will likely come down to the health and performance of Jason Pierre-Paul. A defensive playmaker on par with a J.J. Watt or Von Miller, Pierre-Paul is looking to regain his 2011 All-Pro form now that he’s a year removed from back surgery. Pierre-Paul’s solitary importance to the Giants’ defense is yet another indicator why Detroit appears to be in much better shape up front, on both sides of the ball, entering this season.


Final Analysis


After starting last season 0-6, New York would obviously love to get the 2014 season started on a positive note. Detroit meanwhile is looking to get the Jim Caldwell era started with a bang. The Giants are just two seasons removed from their most recent Super Bowl title, but this is a team that has struggled to maintain its roster amidst plenty of turnover. Even though the Lions are a team undergoing a coaching change, they don’t lack for Pro Bowl-caliber players on either side of the ball. New York has a championship pedigree and a potential Hall of Fame head coach in Tom Coughlin, but Caldwell has more talent and a clear edge when it comes to the line of scrimmage. The Giants won’t go quietly, but I expect the Lions to make enough plays to give the home fans plenty to cheer for and likewise their new head coach his first victory.


Prediction: Detroit 31, New York Giants 23
New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/san-diego-chargers-vs-arizona-cardinals-game-preview-and-prediction

Week 1 of the NFL regular season concludes with an interesting cross-conference affair between the San Diego Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals on ESPN. The second half of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” doubleheader features two teams that posted winning records in 2013, with the Chargers (9-7) advancing to the playoffs while the Cardinals (10-6) just missed out on the final NFC Wild Card spot.


San Diego leads all the all-time series with Arizona 9-3. The last meeting occurred back in 2010, a 41-10 Chargers home victory powered by two Philip Rivers-to-Antonio Gates touchdown passes.


San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals


Kickoff: 10:20 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Arizona -3


Three Things to Watch


1. Arizona’s Fractured Front Seven

Even though they missed the playoffs, the Cardinals went 10-6 last season, powered by one of the NFL’s best defenses. Arizona finished sixth in total defense, gave up the fewest rushing yards and was seventh in points allowed at 20.3 per game. Defense was supposed to be one of the team’s strengths once again, but instead this unit has been hit hard by roster turnover, injuries and other circumstances. Linebacker and leading tackler Karlos Dansby signed a big free-agent deal with Cleveland. Then running mate Daryl Washington was suspended for all of 2014 for another violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. The next big blow came in training camp when defensive end Darnell Dockett tore the ACL in his right knee, ending his season before it even started. And the hits may not be over, as linebacker John Abraham, who led the team with 11.5 sacks last season, could end up facing some measure of league discipline stemming from a DUI incident in June. This much is clear; the Cardinals’ front seven will look nothing like it did at the end of last season, which puts a lot of pressure on what is now an inexperienced and dangerously thin group of defenders.


2. Backfields in Motion

San Diego’s ground game averaged a respectable 122.8 yards rushing per game last season, good for 13th in the NFL. Ryan Mathews led the way with a career-best 1,255 yards, but he was not a one-man show. Danny Woodhead, who signed as a free agent, got more than 100 carries and was second on the team with 76 receptions. Despite the production the Chargers got from this pair, general manager Tom Telesco signed free agent Donald Brown. How head coach Mike McCoy and first-year offensive coordinator Frank Reich dole out the touches in the backfield is anyone’s guess, but it’s certainly a situation worth watching. Especially considering the fact that Mathews is entering the final year of his rookie contract, while Brown and Woodhead have both already signed longer deals. Arizona’s situation, on the other hand, would be a little more settled, if not for the fact that Andre Ellington is nursing a foot injury and may not even play. After leading the league with a 5.5-yards-per-carry average (min. 100 carries) as a rookie, Ellington was expected to carry a much heavier load on offense. Now with reports saying he could be out as long as a month, the Cardinals could be forced to turn to a committee of veteran Jonathan Dwyer and Stepfan Taylor, the team’s fifth-round pick last year. This duo combined for a total of 312 yards rushing on 85 carries last season. So in many ways, both teams enter their 2014 opener with uncertainty in their respective backfields, although the Chargers are probably in a little better shape because they appear to have healthier options.

3. On Second(ary) Thought

As weakened as Arizona’s defensive front seven may appear entering tonight’s contest, at least head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t have to worry about his secondary. Even though the Cardinals reside in the same division as Seattle’s “Legion of Boom,” Arizona may be able to claim the NFL’s best secondary before this season is over. It starts with a pair of All-Pro cornerbacks in Patrick Peterson and new Cardinal Antonio Cromartie and also features 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist free safety Tyrann Mathieu. The former LSU Tiger is recovering from a torn ACL and LCL he suffered last December, but it’s possible Mathieu could be back on the field as early as tonight. In the meantime, Deone Bucannon, the 27th player taken in May’s draft, is a big, physical strong safety who should fit right in with this group. Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ passing game will have its work cut out for them against this secondary. On the other side, San Diego’s passing defense was one of the NFL’s worst last season and the only significant addition during the offseason was former TCU cornerback Jason Verrett. The 21st player taken in the draft, Verrett is a gritty and fundamentally sound corner, but he’s also undersized at just 5-10. Besides being a rookie, Verrett’s first assignment in the NFL will be trying to cover Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, a pair of explosive wide receivers who stand 6-3 and 6-2 respectively. With so much emphasis on the passing game it appears that the Cardinals, despite their issues elsewhere on defense, has a distinct advantage as it relates to the back end.


Final Analysis


Arizona enters this game as a slight favorite and if the Cardinals were even close to full strength, I would side with the home team. However, Bruce Arians’ defense is nowhere near full strength, especially up front, and there’s a really good chance that lead back Andre Ellington doesn’t suit up either. Even though the Cardinals have a stout secondary that should make things difficult for Philip Rivers and San Diego’s passing game, I just don’t like the fact that Arizona is opening its season so shorthanded in the first place. The Chargers opened up many eyes with their 2013 playoff run in Mike McCoy’s first season, and this relatively young team should only continue to get better, especially on defense. The Cardinals have a solid veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer, who should have even more time to throw to his playmakers with an improved offensive line, but the uncertainty in the backfield and a decimated defensive front seven are just going to be too much to overcome tonight.


Prediction: San Diego 23, Arizona 20
San Diego Chargers vs. Arizona Cardinals Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 10:30
Path: /nfl/11-amazing-stats-week-1-nfl

Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.


Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.


With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from Week 1 of the NFL season:

11 Amazing Pro Football Stats from Week 1


17: Jacksonville has largest lead in over a year; Philadelphia turns it into a comeback only two teams have matched since 1940
On the way to a 17-0 halftime lead on the road, Jacksonville quickly surpassed the largest lead it had all of last season (14), and the largest halftime lead it has had since Week 7 in 2012. However, the homestanding Eagles went on to mount a second-half comeback that had only been accomplished one other time since 1940. As part of its 34-17 victory, Philadelphia's 17-point comeback and 17-point win helped the Eagles join Buffalo as the only two teams since 1940 to pull off such a feat. Buffalo also trailed by 17 against Cincinnati in 2010 before winning 49-31. The comeback win also pushed Philadelphia to 2-39 since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger when trailing by at least 17 at half. The other win was DeSean Jackson's electrifying punt return for the game winner against the Giants (2010).


49: Darren Sproles' 49-yard score starts Eagles' comeback and is third-longest fourth-down score for Philadelphia since 2000
Darren Sproles' 49-yard scoring run on fourth down got the Eagles on the scoreboard and kickstarted their comeback run against Jacksonville in Week 1. The 49-yard score was the third-longest fourth-down play for Philadelphia since 2000. LeSean McCoy had a 50-yard TD run against the Giants in 2010, and Brian Dawkins had a 57-yard score as part of a potpourri day against Houston in 2002, when he became the first player in NFL history to record a sack, recover a fumble, intercept a ball, and catch a touchdown in one game; the touchdown was the 57-yard reception from Brian Mitchell on a fake punt.

278: Roethlisberger's 278 yards pass in first half are a career high for the first 30 minutes
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for a 278 yards in the first half — a career high for an opening half — and helped the Steelers build a 27-3 halftime lead. The 278 yards are the most in the first half of a season opener in the NFL since Donvan McNabb in 2008 (297). All those yards nearly went for naught, as the Steelers needed a last-second field goal to score a 30-27 victory. Roethlisberger finished with 365 passing yards for the game.


3: Tennessee scores 20+ points on the road for just the third time since 1998 in a road opener
Since moving to Nashville in 1998, the Tennessee Titans have opened on the road 11 times, losing seven of those Week 1 contests. And in eight of those contests, the Titans have failed to score 20+ points. However, in the three in which they have reached 20 points, they are 3-0. Tennessee hit 3-0 on Sunday with a 26-10 victory in Kansas City, reeling off 23 unanswered points in one stretch. The Titans average 24 PPG in the three Week 1 road wins and 13.3 PPG in the eight road losses.


25: Dallas' halftime deficit was its largest ever in a season opener
In a meeting of two depleted defenses, it was San Francisco collecting four first-half turnovers on the way to a 28-3 lead en route to a 28-17 victory. The 25-point deficit was the largest halftime deficit for Dallas in a season opener, and only the fourth time in team history the Cowboys have trailed by 25+ at home a the half. The team fell to 0-15 all time when trailing by at least 25 points at intermission.


4: New England is alone in fourth place in AFC East for first time in Tom Brady era
OK, it's only Week 1, but Tom Brady and the New England Patriots find themselves residing in a rare place — last in the AFC East. A 33-20 loss to division rival Miami Sunday left the Pats alone in last place for the first time since Brady became the starting quarterback (2001).


14: Oakland loses 14th straight game in Eastern time zone

This has always been one of those fun (read: ridiculous) stats to follow, but the Raiders keep adding to the total. On Sunday, they made it 14 straight losses in the Eastern time zone with a 19-14 loss against the New York Jets. If you're tired of hearing about Oakland's inability to win in the East, buckle up, because its next two road games are in the Eastern time zone (New England and Cleveland).

92: Carolina's Benjamin has more receiving yards (92) in debut than Steve Smith had in any 2013 game
In a little over three quarters, Carolina rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin had already collected more yards in his NFL debut than the now-departed Steve Smith had in any one game all of last year. Benjamin had six catches for 92 yards and a score (26) as the fourth quarter began, and finished 6-for-92 yards in the Panthers' 20-14 win over host and NFC South rival Tampa Bay. Smith's season high was 74 in the 2013 Divisional playoff game for the Panthers. Of note, Smith played with Cam Newton all season, while Benjamin did his damage with Derek Anderson filling in for the injured Newton (ribs) on Sunday.

100: Patterson becomes first Viking to rush for 100 yards in a game in which Peterson also played
Minnesota wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson became the first Vikings player to rush for 100 yards in a game in which running back Adrian Peterson also played with a 102-yard effort Sunday. Patterson carried the ball three times, and his 67-yard touchdown run made him the first wide receiver with 50-plus-yard TD runs in consecutive games since Buffalo's Elbert Dubenion did so in the AFL days (1961).

2: Hurns first to debut with two receiving touchdowns in first quarter of first NFL game
Allen Hurns was a name known to those with deep fantasy rosters long before Week 1 began, but he debuted to the rest of the world with a Week 1 performance that included two touchdown receptions (34 and 21) in the first quarter on Sunday in Philadelphia. The Jacksonville rookie receiver became the first player in NFL history with two receiving touchdowns in the first quarter in his league debut. It helped the Jaguars jump out to a 17-0 halftime lead before falling 34-17. Hurns finished with four catches for 110 yards.


75: Two teams had a 75-yard touchdown pass in the same season-opening game for the first time since 1971
Sunday's Baltimore-Cincinnati marked the first season-opening game since 1971 in which each team had a 75-yard touchdown pass (Dallas vs. Buffalo, Sept. 19, 1971). Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had a 77-yard touchdown catch for the game-winner in the fourth quarter of Cincinnati's 23-16 win. In his Ravens’ debut, wide receiver Steve Smith had an 80-yard touchdown reception, tying for the longest of his 14-year career.


- Corby A. Yarbrough

@Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

11 Amazing Pro Football Stats from Week 1
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 10:11
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-2-virginia-tech-and-pittsburgh-rising-fsus-timely-bye

While most of the nation was watching the Big Ten stumble, the ACC was quietly putting together a solid resume from Week 2.

Florida State rolled to an easy win over Citadel, Clemson demolished South Carolina State, while Louisville and Duke also scored relatively easy non-conference victories.

However, the highlight of the weekend comes from Virginia Tech. The Hokies upset Ohio State in Columbus, emerging as the clear No. 1 team in the Coastal Division. Virginia Tech's offense seems to be taking a step forward in coordinator Scot Loeffler's second year, and the defense continues to be one of the best in the nation.


Key Takeaways from the ACC in Week 2


Virginia Tech is the Team to Beat in the Coastal Division

Yes, only two games for the Coastal teams are in the books, but Virginia Tech is the No. 1 team in the division. And is it really close at this point? The Hokies defeated Ohio State 35-21 in Columbus to move to 2-0. Virginia Tech’s offense was the biggest question mark heading into the season, but coordinator Scot Loeffler has this unit on the right track. Sure, the Hokies averaged only 4.2 yards per play, but quarterback Michael Brewer threw for 199 yards on 23 completions and appears to be in control of the offense. The rushing attack recorded just 121 yards against a stout Ohio State defensive line. However, talented running backs Marshawn Williams and Shai McKenzie will improve. And of course, Virginia Tech’s defense will carry this team in most of its games. The Hokies held Ohio State to just 2.7 yards per carry and intercepted quarterback J.T. Barrett three times. Coordinator Bud Foster’s defense recorded 11 tackles for a loss and seven sacks against the Buckeyes. The Coastal Division was impossible to predict in the preseason. But the favorite – for now – is clearly Virginia Tech.


Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:


If the Hokies are No. 1 in the Coastal…Pittsburgh is No. 2?

The Coastal Division was one of the toughest to project this preseason. We have to be cautious to not overreact to just two games, but Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh appear to be the top two teams so far. The Panthers picked up a key road conference win in Week 2, defeating Boston College 30-20 on Friday night. Pittsburgh’s offense averaged 5.9 yards per play behind running back James Conner’s 213 yards. Replacing tackle Aaron Donald is a mammoth challenge for this defense, but the Panthers limited the Eagles to 4.5 yards per play and sacked quarterback Tyler Murphy four times. Duke, North Carolina, Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia will all have something to say about the Coastal race. However, it’s easy to believe in Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh after two solid performances to open the year.


Florida State’s Bye Week Comes at a Good Time

The timing of bye weeks is an underrated element to any schedule, and Florida State’s Week 3 off date comes at the right time. In Saturday’s efficient 37-12 win over Citadel, the Seminoles watched a couple of key defenders suffer injuries. Defensive tackles Eddie Goldman, Nile Lawrence-Stample and Justin Shanks were injured in the victory and have two weeks to prepare for a key ACC showdown against Clemson. Outside of getting the defensive tackles healthy, Florida State can use the bye week to get its new receivers acclimated to working with quarterback Jameis Winston. Tight end Nick O’Leary led the team with five catches against Citadel, and freshman Ermon Lane stepped up with three catches for 37 yards. Winston certainly has talent on the outside, but the offense needs time to transition with the new playmakers in the receiving corps. The Seminoles haven’t played their best game this season, but with two weeks to prepare for the Tigers, it’s a safe bet we will see a better effort for Jimbo Fisher’s team on Sept. 20.


North Carolina is a Work In Progress

Despite the 2-0 start, the Tar Heels still have a lot of work to do in order to contend for the Coastal Division crown. Larry Fedora’s team has needed second-half comebacks to beat Liberty and San Diego State and ranks No. 13 in the ACC in most yards allowed per play (5.8) by a defense. North Carolina has also lost five turnovers (T-102 nationally) and allowed 28 points per game through two contests. Sure, it’s early, and the Tar Heels have 10 games to improve. However, some of the preseason concerns about this team remain. Can North Carolina take a step forward on defense? San Diego State averaged 6.9 yards per play on Saturday, the first time an opponent managed more than 5.6 against this defense since Oct. 17, 2013 against Miami. Can the offensive line improve if Landon Turner is out for a significant amount of time? Fedora has the Tar Heels trending in the right direction. However, UNC has a lot of room to improve before challenging for the Coastal title. 


ACC Post-Week 2 Power Rankings
RankTeamRecordLast WeekWeek 3
12-0W, 37-12, CitadelBye Week
22-0W, 35-21, Ohio StateEast Carolina
31-1W, 73-7, S.C. StateBye Week
42-0W, 66-21, Murray Stateat Virginia
52-0W, 30-20, BCat FIU
62-0W, 34-17, TroyKansas
72-0W, 31-27, SDSUBye Week
81-1W, 41-7, FAMUArkansas State
91-1W, 45-13, RichmondLouisville
102-0W, 38-21, TulaneGeorgia Southern
111-1L, 30-20, PittsburghUSC
121-0Bye Weekat Central Michigan
132-0W, 46-34, ODUat USF
141-1W, 23-7, Gardner-Webbat Utah State


ACC Takeaways: Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh Rising, FSU's Timely Bye
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/big-ten-takeaways-michigan-state-still-top-ohio-state-and-michigan-need-answers


The period from National Signing Day through the preseason may as well be the season of optimism in college football.

After two weeks of the season, no doubt Big Ten fans would like to revisit those happier times of late August.

The Big Ten’s hopes for a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff are faint after a disastrous second week of the season. We’ve already detailed those reasons.

The question now is what’s next and what’s the payoff. Perhaps there’s a slim chance a Big Ten team finds its way back into contention, but either way, the old carrot of the Rose Bowl, this year a Playoff semifinal, is gone.

The Big Ten title is still out there, and few teams look ready to claim it. Here’s what we learned out of the Big Ten after a dismal Week 3:

Few Big Ten teams will be able to challenge Michigan State like Oregon did
It’s been said several times since Michigan State lost 46-27 to Oregon: The Spartans still feel like the Big Ten favorite. Part of that is the lackluster showing by most of the powers in the league. But there are also few reasons to think the Big Ten will be able to threaten the Michigan State defense the way Oregon did, especially as the Spartans have a bye week, Eastern Michigan and Wyoming to adjust. The Spartans had their breakdowns in the secondary, and Shilique Calhoun was quiet Saturday. Nebraska and Indiana may be the only major tests of the Michigan State defense between now and November, especially if Michigan and Ohio State remain as dysfunctional as they were this week.


Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:

The problem at Ohio State isn’t the redshirt freshman backup QB
J.T. Barrett’s final line is dismal. He finished 9-of-29 for 219 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions in the loss to Virginia Tech. He accounted for 289 yards of Ohio State’s 327 yards and 53 of the Buckeyes’ 69 plays. That’s way too much for a player in his situation. The receivers were dismal against Virginia Tech’s secondary, allowing the Hokies to crowd the box. That contributed to seven sacks and 53 yards on 15 carries for Ohio State tailbacks.

Michigan’s offense is moving backward
The Wolverines had their most futile offensive day of the Brady Hoke era, which is saying something considering last year’s issues. Michigan never advanced further than Notre Dame’s 29-yard line and never got into field goal range after the second possession of the game. The line still looks like the weak link, but Devin Gardner hasn’t helped the cause with three picks.

Where’s the offense in this league?
Sensing a theme here? Ohio State and Michigan aren’t aberrations. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (2.2 yards per carry against Western Illinois) continues to struggle with a hip injury. Iowa’s run game is mystifyingly stagnant. Northwestern has scored one first-half touchdown in two games. Maryland’s passing game is limping along against James Madison and USF despite two stud receivers. Turnovers and a limited run game hindered Penn State against Akron.  Give credit to teams like Minnesota and Illinois, who at least have an established identity on offense thanks to running back David Cobb and quarterback Wes Lunt, respectively.

It’s too early for panic at Nebraska
Nebraska escaped with a win thanks to Ameer Abdullah’s 58-yard catch. Other Big Ten teams would only like to be so lucky. Receivers Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner both left the game with injuries and defensive end Randy Gregory sat out the entire game. Now, even a shorthanded Nebraska shouldn’t need late-game heroics to beat McNeese State, but a road trip to Fresno State should give the Huskers a good chance to rebound.

Big Ten Week 3 Power Rankings

RankTeamPvsRecordLast WeekThis Week
111-1L, Oregon 46-27Off
242-0W, Akron 21-3at Rutgers
332-0W, McNeese State 31-24at Fresno State
462-0W, Ball State 17-13Iowa State
571-1W, Western Ill. 37-3Off
621-1L, Virginia Tech 35-21Kent State
751-1L, Notre Dame 31-0Miami (Ohio)
882-0W, Middle Tenn. 35-24at TCU
9102-0W, Howard 38-25Penn State
1092-0W, USF 24-17West Virginia
11111-0Offat Bowling Green
12132-0W, Western Ky. 42-34at Washington
13120-2L, Northern Ill. 23-15Off
14140-2L, Central Mich. 38-17at Notre Dame


Big Ten Takeaways: Michigan State Still on Top, Ohio State and Michigan Need Answers
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-2-trouble-texas-baylors-replacements-shine-daxx-garman

The Big 12’s Week 2 slate was light, but there was plenty of intrigue around the league.

Oklahoma easily handled in-state foe Tulsa, defeating the Golden Hurricane 52-7 to improve to 2-0. And in other easy victories: West Virginia trounced Towson 54-0 and Baylor gashed Northwestern State 70-6.  

Charlie Strong’s debut at Texas resulted in a blowout victory over North Texas, but the Longhorns lost 41-7 to BYU in Week 2. With three starters gone on offensive line from Week 1, along with quarterback David Ash, Texas is a team in transition.

Elsewhere in the Big 12, Texas Tech needed a late score to hold off UTEP, Kansas held off SEMO and Oklahoma State cruised to a 40-23 victory over Missouri State.

Key Takeaways from the Big 12 in Week 2


Seth Russell is a Capable Replacement

Sure, Northwestern State wasn’t the best source of competition, but Baylor has to be confident in quarterback Seth Russell if Bryce Petty is out an extended amount of time. Russell was sharp in his first career start, recording 438 yards and five passing scores on 16 completions. He also added one touchdown on three rushing attempts. It certainly doesn’t hurt Russell’s cause that he’s surrounded by a talented group of skill players – hello KD Cannon and Davion Hall – but Baylor’s offense is in good hands until Petty returns.


Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:


It’s Daxx’s Show in Stillwater

As of Sunday night, Oklahoma State has not released an official diagnosis on J.W. Walsh’s foot injury suffered against Missouri State. However, it’s safe to say the Cowboys will be without Walsh for at least a couple of weeks. Perhaps longer. Walsh will be missed, but Oklahoma State’s offense is in good hands with Daxx Garman at the controls. In his first action since the junior year of high school (2009), Garman completed 16 of 26 passes for 244 yards and two scores. The junior averaged an impressive 15.3 yards per completion against Missouri State and could be a better fit for Oklahoma State’s offense than Walsh. UTSA will be a tough opponent this Saturday, followed by a key conference game against Texas Tech on Sept. 25. Garman lacks experience, but Oklahoma State’s offense will be fine with him at the controls.


There’s Still Fight in Iowa State

After last week’s loss to North Dakota State, it was easy to write off Iowa State for a finish in the middle of the pack in the Big 12. However, one week later, the outlook for the Cyclones looks much better. Coach Paul Rhoads’ team nearly upset Kansas State, losing 32-28 after leading 28-20 going into the fourth quarter. Stopping the run and generating more big plays on offense is a must, but Iowa State got a solid effort from quarterback Sam Richardson and Jarvis West stepped up at receiver to help compensate for the loss of Quenton Bundrage. No, the Cyclones aren’t going to win the Big 12. However, after the loss to the Bison, most expected Iowa State to struggle to earn a couple of wins in conference play. One week later, the Cyclones showed they will not be an easy out in the Big 12 this season.


Texas Needs to Regroup

First-year coach Charlie Strong certainly has his work cut out for him over the next few weeks. The Longhorns lost 41-7 to BYU on Saturday, dropping their record to 1-1. Losing to the Cougars was really no surprise, as Texas played without the services of quarterback David Ash (concussion-like symptoms), center Dominic Espinosa (broken ankle) and offensive tackles Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle (suspension). With a patchwork line thin on depth and a young quarterback, Texas is going to have its share of growing pains on offense. And it comes at the wrong time for the Longhorns, as a neutral site date against UCLA is up next, followed by Kansas and then matchups against two top 10 teams (Oklahoma and Baylor). Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes – who didn’t play bad against BYU – should improve next week, but it’s a lot to ask him to beat Baylor and Oklahoma without more help from the defense, receiving corps, offensive line and rushing attack.


Post-Week 2 Big 12 Power Rankings
RankTeamRecordLast WeekWeek 3
12-0W, 52-7, TulsaTennessee
22-0W, 70-6, NW Stateat Buffalo
32-0W, 32-28, Iowa StateBye Week
41-1W, 40-23, Missouri StateUTSA
51-1W, 54-0, Towsonat Maryland
61-0Bye WeekMinnesota
71-1L, 41-7, BYUUCLA (Arlington)
82-0W, 30-26, UTEPArkansas
91-1L, 32-28, K-Stateat Iowa
101-0W, 34-28, SEMOat Duke


Big 12 Week 2 Takeaways
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-2-takeaways-marcus-mariota-usc-ucla-mike-leach

The entire nation was watching the Pac-12 in Week 2 and the league didn't disappoint. 


The Ducks won what was being billed as "the most important game of the year" by FOX over a top 10 team. USC won the first of what is surely to be many Pac-12 conference bouts in dramatic fashion. And, as expected, offenses were on full display around the league as four teams scored at least 50 points and seven scored at least 40.


What could make this league the best in college football isn't just the depth, talent and coaching that is clearly among the nation's best but the week-in, week-out pure entertainment the Pac-12 has to offer. In fact, even the league's athletic directors are must-see TV.


Here is what we learned from the Pac-12 in Week 2: 


Ducks confirm front-runner status

The only real questions about the Ducks entering the season were the overall level of coaching and leadership from the sidelines. Despite a "sluggish" first half, Marcus Mariota proved that not only is he the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy but that Oregon is clearly the class of the Pac-12. Oregon matched Michigan State's level of physicality — no easy feat — in what turned out to be a relatively easy win. Dropping a heavy fourth quarter hammer has become a standard storyline in Eugene as Oregon rattled off 28 unanswered points to end the game. Mariota finished with 360 yards of total offense and consistently danced around and escaped a very talented and well-coached Spartans front seven. In what was the first of many potential College Football Playoff elimination games, Oregon won decisively.


Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:


Let's not overreact to USC, Pat Haden

The Trojans are really, really talented and are going to be really, really fun to watch every week. This, of course, includes the bizarre behavior of USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and head coach Steve Sarkisian. The AD left his suite, jogged to the USC sideline and had an unprecedented emotional exchange with officials during his program's dramatic win over Stanford. Many began calling for Haden to resign from the Playoff Committee. While Haden's behavior was inappropriate and should never happen again, the idea that he should resign from the committee is absurd. Just like, despite UCLA's early season struggles, fans shouldn't be crowning USC as the South Division favorites. Depth is still a major issue for the Trojans and they needed a 53-yard field goal to win a game that Stanford gave away with extremely poor red zone play. Coach Sark's third-down play-calling and sideline demeanor should also give fans pause before penciling the Men of Troy into the Pac-12 title game.


Balance of power shifting

It's still extremely early so avoiding overreaction is important but after two weeks, the Pac-12 South appears to have closed the gap on the North significantly. USC beat Stanford on the road and looks extremely dangerous, both Arizona schools look like division contenders and even Utah looks like it's much improved. Meanwhile, up North, Stanford is already a game back in the loss column, Washington State has played atrocious football (more on that soon) and neither Washington nor Oregon State — who have won four games over bad competition by 7.7 points per game — look capable of being mentioned among the league's better teams. Oregon is as advertised and Cal looks to be improved but it is clear that the South has, at best, drawn even with the North and, at worst, narrowed the gap significantly after two weeks of action.


What do we make of UCLA?

UCLA is 2-0. But it has beaten two teams that combined for 19 losses last year by a combined 15 points. The Bruins' defense looked outstanding against Virginia in Week 1 but the offense looked pedestrian and lacking in overall talent other than Brett Hundley. In Week 2, at home, Hundley was outstanding — try 33-for-44, 396 yards and three touchdowns. But the defense allowed 24 first downs, 469 yards of offense and nearly six yards per play against a Memphis team that was more than a three touchdown underdog. While the Bruins have survived and are unbeaten, this schedule will get dramatically more difficult in coming weeks with Texas, Arizona State, Utah and Oregon in the next four. The Bruins need to establish consistency on both sides of the ball or the phrase "playoff contender" will disappear from the UCLA commentary in rapid fashion.


Washington State has major issues

The Cougars entered the season with bowl aspirations, were completely healthy and had a quarterback poised to set more Pac-12 passing records. After two weeks, all of that has virtually disappeared. If Mike Leach wanted to make a bowl, wins over Rutgers and Nevada were must-haves but Wazzu has lost both. More concerning is how it lost to the Wolf Pack on Friday night. Nevada's defense completely outplayed Leach's high-powered Air Raid, holding Washington State to one touchdown. Leach's squad turned the ball over, was 5-of-17 on third and fourth downs and was penalized 10 times. Seven of the Cougs' remaining 10 opponents are virtual locks for bowl games and two others (Cal, Utah) appear to be much improved, so if Wazzu wants to make the postseason it will have to pull off more than a few upsets.


Pac-12 Power Rankings:


RkTeamRecordLast WeekWeek 2
1.2-0W, 46-27, Michigan StWyoming
2.2-0W, 42-35, MemphisTexas (Arlington)
3.2-0W, 13-10, Stanfordat Boston College
4.1-1L, 13-10, StanfordArmy
5.2-0W, 58-23 New Mexicoat Colorado
6.2-0W, 26-23, UTSANevada
7.2-0W, 59-52, E. WashingtonIllinois
8.2-0W, 38-30, HawaiiBye
9.2-0W, 59-27, Fresno StBye
10.2-0W, 55-14, Sacramento StBye
11.1-1W, 41-38, UMassArizona St
12.0-2L, 24-13, NevadaPortland St


Pac-12 Takeaways: Marcus Mariota, USC and Mike Leach
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/sec-2014-week-2-takeaways-ole-miss-punter-takes-day-alabama%E2%80%99s-qb-battle-far-settled

There was only one game involving two SEC teams on the Week 2 slate, and Ole Miss flexed its offensive muscles in a dominating win over Vanderbilt. Elsewhere, Alabama rolled over FAU with both Blake Sims and Jacob Coker seeing significant action; South Carolina survived a scare from East Carolina thanks to a late drive powered by its running game, and Tennessee recorded another quality win over a solid mid-major opponent.

Key Takeaways from the SEC in Week 2


Ole Miss might not have a punter

This is said in jest, of course, but Ole Miss snapped the ball 88 times Saturday afternoon in Nashville, and punter Will Gleeson never trotted on to the field of play. The Rebels ran their up-tempo, spread attack to near perfection, rolling up 547 total yards en route to a 41–3 win over Vanderbilt. Ole Miss converted 10-of-15 on third down, had nine plays that went for 20 yards or more and converted on all six trips to the red zone (four TDs, two field goals). Bo Wallace was very sharp, completing 23-of-30 passes for 320 yards with one touchdowns and, most important, no interceptions. Vanderbilt did not offer much resistance, but the Ole Miss offense has a ton of weapons and will be very difficult to stop in 2014.


Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:


Alabama’s QB competition is ongoing

Jacob Coker was solid in his first extended appearance at quarterback for Alabama, completing 15-of-24 attempts for 202 yards and one touchdown. Blake Sims, however, was better. The senior completed 11-of-13 passes for 214 and two scores. Sims doesn’t give Alabama as much of a threat in the deep passing game, but the Tide’s offense has been extremely efficient under his direction. Coker missed some opportunities down the field and looked a bit tentative at times, but we can’t forget that he has not taken many snaps at the collegiate level. Sims is clearly good enough (thanks in part to an elite supporting cast) to guide Alabama to an SEC title, but you get the feeling that the Tide will need Coker — and his down-the-field ability — to play a key role at some point. Stay tuned.


South Carolina needs to run the ball to win

The Gamecocks were forced to abandon the running game in the Week 1 loss to Texas A&M, but this team will have to lean on its talented group of tailbacks and outstanding offensive line to remain relevant in the SEC in 2014. Mike Davis, limited to 15 yards on six attempts in the opener, had 101 yard on 18 carries and two scores in Saturday’s 33–23 win over East Carolina. Brandon Wilds, who has been a valuable reserve and spot starter during his two-plus years in Columbia, added 49 yards on 14 carries. South Carolina put the game away in the fourth quarter with a clock-killing drive that featured nine straight rushing attempts during one stretch. “Everybody in the stadium knew where the ball was going, and we still had success with it,” quarterback Dylan Thompson said.


Vanderbilt takes a step back on offense

It didn’t seem possible, but Vanderbilt regressed on offense from Week 1 (a 37–7 loss to Temple) to Week 2 (a 41–3 loss to Ole Miss). On Saturday afternoon, the Commodores gained only 167 yards on 50 offensive plays and failed to score an offensive touchdown for the second straight game. Stephen Rivers, making his first start, threw for 60 yards on 25 attempts (averaging a brutal 2.4 yards per attempt) and completed only two passes to a wide receiver. Tailback Ralph Webb ran well for the second straight game — the redshirt freshman has 165 yards on 32 carries — but nothing else has gone well for the Vanderbilt offense in 2014.


Tennessee is on schedule

It’s a bit early to make reservations to the SEC title game in Atlanta, but Tennessee continues to show signs that it’s on the right path. Butch Jones’ young team improved to 2–0 with a 34–19 win over Arkansas State, the second straight solid mid-major opponent the Vols have soundly defeated. This wasn’t as dominant as the opener against Utah State, but the game was never really in doubt in the second half. This team is far from perfect — the running game has been a bit of a disappointment and the offensive line will continue to be an issue — but there is so much more talent and speed across the roster. Justin Worley might not be a perfect fit for what this staff wants from the quarterback position, but the senior has seized the job and emerged as the leader of the offense. 


SEC Post-Week 2 Power Rankings

RkTeamRecordLast WeekNext Week
1.2-0W, FAU, 41-0Southern Miss
2.1-0Byeat South Carolina
3.2-0W, SJSU 59-13Bye
4.2-0W, Lamar 73-3Rice
5.2-0W, Vanderbilt 41-3UL Lafayette
6.2-0W, Sam Houston, 56-0ULM
7.2-0W, ECU, 33-23Georgia
8.1-0W, E. Mich., 65-0Kentucky
9.2-0W, Toledo 49-24UCF
10.2-0W, UAB, 47-24at S. Alabama
11.2-0W, Ark. St., 34-19at Oklahoma
12.2-0W, Nicholls St., 73-7at Texas Tech
13.2-0W, Ohio, 20-3at Florida
14.0-2L, Ole Miss, 41-3UMass


SEC Takeaways: Alabama’s QB battle far from settled, Tennessee on schedule
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 09:00