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Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks
“Beast Mode” was in full effect during a 33–10 victory at Atlanta. Lynch bulldozed the Falcons with 24 carries for 145 yards and one TD, three catches for 16 yards and a crucial pass back to quarterback Russell Wilson on a flea-flicker gadget play that resulted in a 43-yard TD pass from Wilson to Jermaine Kearse. After the game, Hawks coach Pete Carroll joked that Lynch’s wounded duck pass back to Wilson was “about a C-minus” grade and that the “style points were poor.” Luckily, Lynch is an “A-plus” as a runner, as the league’s second-leading rusher behind Philly’s LeSean McCoy.
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
The former Heisman Trophy and BCS national title-winning running back out of Alabama broke out with his first 100-yard rushing effort during a 49–17 blowout win over the Cowboys. The son and namesake of the Super Bowl champion New York Giant, Ingram was a first-round pick in 2011 but had failed to break the century mark on the ground until his 30th NFL game. Ingram had 14 carries for 145 yards (10.4 ypc) and his first TD of the season. The breakout accounts for 11.4 percent of Ingram’s 1,271 career rushing yards, while the score was Ingram’s 11th career TD.
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams
St. Louis’ “Greatest Show on Turf” may be making a revival in the form of the dynamic Austin, the Rams’ triple-threat receiver-runner-returner. The 5'8", 176-pound rookie out of West Virginia was a highlight-reel play waiting to happen during a 38–8 win at Indianapolis. Austin had two catches for 138 yards (69 ypc) and two trips to the end zone, along with an electric 98-yard punt return for a score. On the return TD, Austin scooped the ball off the bounce in the dreaded “coffin corner,” made a few joystick video game moves and showed off his 4.34 speed in the 40-yard dash to tightrope down the sideline for a coast-to-coast TD.
Will Blackmon, CB, Jaguars
Other defenders had bigger complete games, but Blackmon had arguably the biggest single play of Week 10. The winless Jaguars pulled off a 29–27 upset victory over the AFC South rival Titans to snap a 12-game losing streak. Coincidentally, Jacksonville’s last win came against Tennessee in Week 12 last season. Blackmon sealed the desperation win with a perfectly executed blitz from his slot nickleback position, forcing a fumble of Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, gaining possession of the loose ball and strutting 20 yards to the house.
Matt Kenseth needs a miracle. For starters, he must run beyond his 13.8-place average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, but a little luck in the name of a bad Jimmie Johnson outing would be the supplemental boost needed to overcome a 28-point deficit and win his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Johnson hasn’t ever won at Homestead, so maybe it could happen? The No. 48 team has never won at Michigan either and they finished 28th and 40th in the two races there this season. Kentucky is a new track on the Cup calendar, but Johnson hasn’t tamed it, instead getting himself crashed while sitting on the front row during the race-deciding restart in this season’s race.
Some tracks just tend to be Kyptonite to drivers, which means even Superman (Johnson, in this scenario) isn’t impervious to struggles. At least that’s what Kenseth fans should tell themselves.
P23 Johnson needs to finish 23rd or better to clinch his sixth Cup Series championship.
It’s fun to point out that Homestead is one of five tracks that Johnson hasn’t conquered — Michigan, Watkins Glen, Kentucky and Chicagoland round out the list — and it’s creative to think that maybe the No. 48 team might play a little too conservative and miss the setup completely, allowing for Kenseth to step in and seize the opportunity.
Fun and creative aren’t necessarily factual, though. Yes, Johnson finished 36th and 32nd in the last two Homestead races, but he did manage to lead in each of those events. He ranked 11th in average running position (11.2) last year.
Additionally, Johnson and team scored the sixth-most points across the last five races at Homestead, trailing only the teams of Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex. Needless to say, Johnson is a better Homestead driver than many give him credit for.
Based on past relevant averages, Johnson is slated to finish seven positions better than Kenseth this weekend, winning the title by 35 points over whom Chad Knaus referred to two weeks ago as Johnson’s most formidable competitor of the last two years. For Kenseth to scoop up a championship, he’ll need some sort of bizarre mechanical failure to take place underneath the hood of the Lowe’s Chevrolet.
Third for Third Kevin Harvick is on the cusp of finishing third in the season-long point standings for the third time in the last four years.
If he pulls off the feat, he will join a list that includes Mark Martin, Benny Parsons, Lee Petty, James Hylton and Speedy Thompson in becoming a three-time, third-place point finisher (Martin, Hylton and Thompson did it four times).
No doubt hungrier for more than the third-place platter provides, and likely a reason he’ll move to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, Harvick’s consistency with Richard Childress Racing over the last four years has been impressive; in 130 out of the last 143 races (90.9 percent of the time), the No. 29 team finished inside the top half of fields, a mark that tops the Cup Series over that span. He enters the Homestead race a heavy favorite, ranking second in the track’s Production in Equal Equipment Rating (PEER) and being the only driver and team to score a top-10 finishes in each of the five Homestead races of the CoT era.
34.9% Carl Edwards has led 34.9 percent of the total laps at Homestead in races dating back to 2008.
Edwards’ presence ensures that Ford isn’t without a serious combatant on Ford Championship Weekend. Slump or shine, Homestead has been a welcome site for Edwards, who ranks first in track-specific PEER, and crew chief Jimmy Fennig, who has scored at least one top-10 Homestead finish with four different drivers (Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, David Ragan and Matt Kenseth).
3 out of 5 Edwards’ No. 99 car has ranked first in average green-flag speed at Homestead in three of the last five years.
In 2008, 2010 and 2011, Edwards was the fastest car on the South Florida racetrack, leading to finishes of first, first and second. In the other two years, he ranked 12th, en route to a seventh-place finish, in 2009 and third last season, when he finished 12th. The Bob Osborne-designed setup was seemingly passed on to interim crew chief Chad Norris last year in a down season. It’s likely that the No. 99’s elite speed will keep this Sunday.
29.8 Juan Pablo Montoya holds a 29.8-place average finish in the last five races at Homestead.
Montoya made his first career Cup Series start at Homestead in 2006 and likely makes his last Cup Series start this weekend at the same track. The facility hasn’t brought out the best in the former Formula 1 driver — he ranks 46th out of 49 drivers with two or more starts in track-specific PEER — but he’s been bucking his career trends all season long, complete with near-wins at Richmond and Dover. A shock oval victory prior to his leap into IndyCar in 2014 would become his most memorable NASCAR moment, trumping a jet dryer explosion in the 2012 Daytona 500.
40, 5 and 26 Mark Martin has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career, complete with 40 wins, five runner-up point finishes and 26 seasons, out of 28, with serviceable production.
Martin told the NASCAR press corps last weekend at Phoenix that he doesn’t have any plans to go racing next year, other than in an off-track consulting role with Stewart-Haas. If it’s true, it’s the end of a masterful career for, arguably, the best driver in series history to have never won a series championship.
David Smith is the founder of Motorsports Analytics LLC and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projections, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA.
Photos by Action Sports, Inc.
Last week gave us plenty of news to break down on this week’s podcast. Alabama tightened its grip on No. 1, Baylor took another step to national title legitimacy and Stanford rearranged the championship and Heisman races. Co-hosts Braden Gall and David Fox dive into the debates while looking ahead to Saturday.
On this week’s podcast:
• Gall and Fox dive right into the Thursday night results and what they mean for the national championship race. Fox doesn’t mind people ranking Stanford ahead of Baylor and Ohio State for now, but that should change if Baylor beats Oklahoma State and Texas. Gall believes Stanford should remain on the same footing as undefeated Baylor and Ohio State.
• Marcus Mariota’s injury and performance against Stanford toppled a quarterback who was securely in the lead for the Heisman, what does that mean for the field after Jameis Winston?
• Gall and Fox have come to the same conclusion about where Johnny Manziel belongs in the race, but took two different routes to get there based on what he’s done right and what he’s done wrong.
• Fox then goes on a quick rant about how AJ McCarron is the new “system quarterback” and that hurts him in the Heisman race.
• And then in a look at this week’s game, our pickers are riding the hot hands for Auburn, Oklahoma State, UCLA and more.
• Lastly, a quick look at Hot Seat or Not Hot Seat. Who is on the hot seat in 2013 and who gets a chance to go into 2014 scorching?
The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.
Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.
Northwestern running back Venric Mark was expected to be one of the top playmakers in the Big Ten this season. Unfortunately for Mark, injuries have limited the standout running back to just three games and 31 carries. The senior has 97 rushing yards and five receptions for 48 yards.
On Monday, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald announced Mark would miss the rest of the 2013 with a broken ankle. Mark suffered the injury against Wisconsin and was unable to recover in time to return this year.
If there’s any bright spot for Northwestern, it appears the senior will be able to get a medical redshirt and return in 2014. The Wildcats have been one of the nation’s most disappointing teams in 2013 but having Mark return next season will help this team rebound in the Big Ten.
A handful of college football teams have worn patriotic helmets and uniforms in recent weeks (largely in support of Veterans Day), and South Florida will continue that trend on Saturday.
The Bulls unveiled this helmet to wear against Memphis on Nov. 16:
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Nov. 12.
• Enjoy this photo gallery of Emily Ratajkowski, possibly better known to you as the Blurred Lines chick.
• The Bucs got off the schneid on the strength of a fat guy TD catch, complete with fat guy goal post "dunk."
• What a bully that Incognito guy is. He committed a personal foul in a game he wasn't even playing in.
• Speaking of Incognito, he apparently wasn't the only one who thought Jonathan Martin needed some toughening up.
• Another fun "Sorry Your Team Lost" NFL roundup for Week 10. Especially rough week for Colts and Dolphins fans.
• Tuesday's bizarre headline of the day involves the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, his butt and a Brazilian soccer jersey.
• From the "What were we thinking" file: Here's what sports fans looked like in the '90s. I'd conveniently forgotten about all the big hair.
• We're knee-deep in college basketball's 24-hour tipoff marathon. Here are some early winners and losers. Even better, here are some old ladies slugging Rockstar Energy beverage at the Wichita State game.
• Their coach is gone, but Florida Gulf Coast is still Dunk City, much to the delight of the bench.
• A Harlem Globetrotter brought the rim down with nearly tragic results. Fortunately, he escaped with just a cut.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
As the saying goes, patience is a virtue, but it’s often easier said than done when it comes to managing your fantasy football roster. As we enter Week 11 of the NFL regular season, some owners may be rewarded for their patience when it comes to certain players.
For example, Percy Harvin finally appears ready to make his long-awaited debut for the Seahawks, while the similarly talented rookie, Tavon Austin, finally posted the type of all-around game everyone expected when he was a popular fantasy pick entering this season. But remember, patience is a virtue, and will be required for those banking on an encore performance from Austin since St. Louis (and Dallas) are both on bye this week.
The players listed in Athlon Sports’ weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players you may want to consider.
Teams on bye in Week 11: Dallas, St. Louis
Week 10 Recap: Nick Foles (right) followed up his seven-touchdown game with three more against Green Bay on Sunday. Foles now has 16 touchdown passes on the season with no interceptions. Next up is a Washington defense that is 27th in the league in yards allowed and 31st in points. Case Keenum has yet to win a game, but he’s also yet to throw an interception, as he put up 201 yards passing and three touchdowns against Arizona on the road. He did have a costly fumble on the Texans’ opening drive that was returned for a touchdown by the Cardinals in the 27-24 defeat.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker could be done for the season after suffering a foot injury on Sunday, which means the job is Fitzpatrick’s once more. The former Buffalo starter struggled in his previous two starts (2 total touchdowns, 4 INTs), but he was effective in leading the Titans’ comeback attempt against Jacksonville. In a little more than two quarters worth of action, Fitzpatrick threw for 264 yards and accounted for three touchdowns (2 pass, rush) against the Jaguars. The Titans play Indianapolis twice in the next three games, the first one coming this Thursday night, sandwiched by game in Oakland, so the schedule appears manageable for those willing to give the Harvard grad a shot.
Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler got the start against Detroit, but it was apparent he was not at 100 percent, especially in regards to his mobility. To make matters worse, he sustained an ankle injury late in the fourth quarter and was replaced by McCown with a little more than two minutes remaining and the Bears down by eight. The backup then proceeded to march the Bears 76 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown, giving his team a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion. The Lions stuffed running back Matt Forté on the conversion attempt, but it wouldn’t have even been possible if not for McCown’s orchestration of the two-minute drill. Cutler has already been ruled out this week with a high ankle sprain, so McCown will get the call against Baltimore. And considering he has completed 60 percent of his passes this season for 538 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Week 10 Recap: Sunday night was the Mark Ingram everyone envisioned when he entered the 2011 draft after being a Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama. Ingram ran over the Cowboys to the tune of 145 yards on just 14 carries (10.4 ypc) and a touchdown. It’s just one game, granted, but if Ingram can bring the effort he brought against Dallas every week, he will get his share of opportunities to tote the rock. Rashad Jennings put up more than 100 total yards against the Giants, including 88 on the ground on 20 carries (4.4 ypc). He didn’t score, but he should remain the Raiders’ starter with Darren McFadden hampered by a hamstring injury. Ben Tate had 56 yards rushing on just 15 carries, as the Texans abandoned the running game in the second half of their loss in Arizona. As long as Tate’s broken ribs don’t get any worse, he will be the starter with Arian Foster set to undergo season-ending back surgery.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets
The Jets were on bye last week, but the last time Ivory was on the field, he gashed the Saints for 139 yards rushing on 18 carries (7.7 ypc). Ivory doesn’t have the workload all to himself, as Bilal Powell has had his moments as well, but there was a reason the Jets traded for Ivory prior to the start of this season. Slowed by injuries to start the season, he has posted 100-yard games in two of his last three outings and seems to be settling in with his new team and offense. It’s a bit of a risk, but between the two, I would consider Ivory the closest thing the Jets have to a No.1 back.
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have Andre Ellington, who is considerably more explosive than Mendenhall, but the coaching staff seems leery of giving the rookie a bunch of touches. On Sunday against Houston, even though Ellington had more yards (73) than Mendenhall (51), the veteran got two more carries (13 to 11). If this pattern continues, it probably means that both Mendenhall and Ellington are probably nothing more than flex options, but at least it keeps the veteran on the fantasy radar.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots
Vereen has played in a total of one game this season after injuring his wrist in Week 1 against Buffalo, but he is expected to return to action this Sunday following the Patriots’ bye. New England doesn’t lack for backfield options, but Vereen totaled 159 yards in his only game, so I am pretty sure the coaching staff will look to get him involved early. While my guess is that Stevan Ridley will remain the primary ball carrier, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Vereen basically make Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount irrelevant. It may take a game or two for things to shake out, but Ridley and Vereen are the only two Patriot backs I would focus on the rest of the way, barring another injury.
Week 10 Recap: Riley Cooper and Nick Foles continued their magic, as the duo combined for three connections for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the road win in Green Bay. Doug Baldwin led the Seahawks with eight targets, catching five of them for 76 yards, in the easy win over Atlanta. Mario Manningham made his season debut and led the 49ers in targets (six), receptions (three) and yards (30), as Colin Kaepernick finished with a paltry 91 yards passing in the 10-9 home loss to Carolina. Mike Brown had as many targets (four) and catches (two) as Cecil Shorts in Jacksonville’s win over Tennessee, as the Jaguars’ passing game focused primarily on screens and dump-offs to the running backs and tight ends. Lance Moore had just one catch for 14 yards in the Saints’ rout of Dallas on Sunday night, as Drew Brees spread his 34 completions out to nine different receivers.
Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
It would figure that just as soon as Austin breaks out and flashes the all-purpose talent that made him the Rams’ first-round pick he would go on bye. However, even if you have to wait another week, it may be worth going ahead and taking a plunge for a chance to add a multi-threat like Austin to your roster for the stretch run. Against Indianapolis on Sunday, Austin caught two passes, had one rushing attempt and returned five kicks. But those eight total touches produced 314 total yards and three touchdowns, all of which were 57 yards or longer. Austin had two TD receptions (57 and 81 yards) and also returned a punt 98 yards for a score. It appears the Rams’ patience with the rookie is paying off, and he may be ready to do the same for someone fantasy’s team in the second half of the season.
Jerricho Cotchery, Pittsburgh Steelers
I was hesitant to include Cotchery in this space last week despite recording three touchdowns against New England. After finding the end zone a second straight week, I can’t ignore him any longer. Antonio Brown is Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target and I don’t see that changing, but Cotchery’s role in the passing game seems to be expanding, at the expense of fellow wideout Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Heath Miller. There’s no guarantee Cotchery will keep this up, but four touchdown catches in two games is worthy of a little recognition, don’t you think?
Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots
Dobson has already been mentioned here before, but the rookie makes a second appearance based on his expanding role in the Patriots’ passing game. On bye last week, Dobson went into the break with plenty of momentum, posting nine catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. He exploded for an 81-yard touchdown against the Steelers and is starting to develop into the productive vertical threat the Patriots had in mind when they drafted him in the second round of April’s draft. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and fellow wideout Danny Amendola will still serve as Tom Brady’s primary targets, but their presence also should help open the deeper routes for Dobson. At minimum, it appears that Dobson has moved past both fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman in the Pats’ pecking order.
Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks
Consider this a public service announcement. Harvin is expected to make his season debut for the Seahawks on Sunday at home against Minnesota. While it’s anyone’s guess as to how many snaps he will get or how effective he will be in his first game in over a year, there’s a reason Seattle traded for the Pro Bowl kick return specialist. Whether it’s on a punt or kickoff return, catching passes or getting the handoff, Harvin, when healthy, is a threat to take the ball all the way when it’s in his hands. Think a more experienced and polished Tavon Austin (see above) with a longer track record. It also just so happens that Harvin’s first game will come against his former team. Bottom line is even though it may take Harvin a game or two to get comfortable, time is quickly running out to add this potential difference-maker to your roster.
Week 10 Recap: Jared Cook had one catch for 17 yards in the Rams’ rout of Indianapolis, pretty much ending any momentum he had built up in recent weeks. The Rams are on bye this week and it may be time to say bye-bye to Cook’s chances of being a valuable fantasy contributor this season.
John Carlson, Minnesota Vikings
Kyle Rudolph is expected to be out a month with a broken foot, so what does Carlson do in his first game as the starter? Lead the Vikings with seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown of course. Carlson has been an after-thought since joining the Vikings in 2012, taking a backseat to Rudolph, but this is a veteran tight end that posted back-to-back 50-catch seasons in 2008-09 with Seattle. There’s no guarantee Carlson can put up similar numbers each and every week, but with the starting job secure, he should at least enter the TE2 conversation.
Week 10 Recap: Miami managed just two sacks and an interception on Monday night against Tampa Bay, as the defense allowed 20 points to the previously winless Buccaneers in a disappointing 22-19 defeat.
New York Giants
After getting pushed around and offering very little resistance to start the season, the Giants’ defense has come back strong. The G-Men’s DST is averaging nearly 17 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) over its last three games, holding each opponent to 213 yards of offense or less during that span. The Giants also have forced eight turnovers, collected nine sacks and given up just two offensive touchdowns in these three games. The Giants still have two games with Washington and a home date with Dallas on their schedule, and this Sunday will host a Green Bay team that will start third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien. Despite a horrendous start, the Big Blue Wrecking Crew may be rounding into form and could be poised for a strong second half.
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.
USC and Texas were two of the biggest disappointments after the first month of the college football season.
USC started 3-2, with wins over Hawaii, Boston College and Utah State. The Trojans had a disappointing 10-7 home loss to Washington State and were dominated in a 62-41 defeat at Arizona State.
After the loss to Arizona State, Lane Kiffin was fired and Ed Orgeron was promoted to head coach.
Under Orgeron’s watch, USC is 4-1 and is back in the Pac-12 South title picture.
Texas started 1-2, losing by at least 19 points to both BYU and Ole Miss.
Coach Mack Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and promoted Greg Robinson to call the defensive signals. The Longhorns enter Week 12 on a six-game winning streak, but the toughest portion of their schedule is still to come.
Texas or USC: Which turnaround has been more impressive in 2013?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
This one is a tossup, but I give a slight edge to USC. When Ed Orgeron took over for Lane Kiffin in late September, the Trojans were 0-2 in conference play, injuries and scholarship issues were starting to show in the lineup, and most figured it would be a struggle for USC just to get bowl eligible. Since Orgeron’s promotion, USC almost looks like what we expect from this program on a yearly basis. The Trojans have won four out of their last five, with the only defeat coming in South Bend against Notre Dame – a game USC could have easily won. With Stanford and UCLA remaining on the schedule, the Trojans aren’t out of the Pac-12 South title picture and could work their way into one of the conference’s top bowl games. Both sides of the ball have been impressive under Orgeron, as the offense has scored at least 30 points in three out of the last five games, and the defense held three opponents under 14 points or less. Texas’ turnaround has been impressive, but even after a 1-2 start, this team had yet to play a Big 12 game and still had a favorable schedule upcoming. Credit to both Orgeron and Texas coach Mack Brown for pushing the right buttons since the slow starts, but USC’s turnaround has been more impressive.
Credit to Ed Orgeron for rescuing the sinking ship that was USC, and with a limited crew no less, but as the saying goes, "everything is bigger in Texas" and it's no different when it comes to turnarounds. Back in September, the cries were loud and clear that it was time for Mack Brown to head out to pasture, as his Longhorns were coming off of back-to-back drubbings to BYU and Ole Miss. Since then, Brown's herd has reeled off six straight victories, none bigger than the 36-20 win over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry that pretty much no one saw coming. Now while the games haven't always been pretty, such as a one-point win over lowly Iowa State and an overtime road victory against West Virginia on Saturday, Texas has taken care of business and as a result controls its own destiny in the Big 12. The Longhorns have three big games remaining, starting with Saturday's home date with Oklahoma State and culminating with the regular-season finale at Baylor, but the path is clear — win out and Texas claims the conference title and automatic BCS bowl bid. From the hot seat to the driver's seat in two months is pretty impressive, especially in the football-crazed hotbed that is the Lone Star State.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I have to give the credit to Texas on this one. The expectations on USC were pretty low entering the season, especially on offense. The assumption for Texas, however, was that the Longhorns had the talent to make a run at the Big 12 title even after they underachieved last season. That looked ridiculous after the BYU and Ole Miss gashed the Texas defense early this season. The Longhorns also lost linebacker Jordan Hicks again to injury, a player who was described as they key cog to their run defense. Of course, both programs brought in a failed head coach to take the reins, Ed Orgeron at USC and Greg Robinson as defensive coordinator at Texas. Both are major surprises, but Texas really could have given up on the season, but now we’re looking at the Longhorns as a potential Big 12 champion. Crazy as it sounds, but Mack Brown might deserve league coach of the year for that.
Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), CollegeFootballTalk.com and Crystal Ball Run
While it has been remarkable for the ways both USC and Texas have seemed to save their seasons, I think what the Trojans have done is slightly more impressive. Both teams got off to a rough start and made changes on the staff, but USC went so far as to fire their head coach while Texas changed defensive coordinators. I had no idea if USC would be able to turn things around under Ed Orgeron, but he has certainly found a way to give everyone associated with the Trojans a new outlook on what they are doing, and it shows. USC has regained its swagger, they are playing to their strengths as they get healthier on offense, and the defense has regained their footing as well. USC still has a good way to go and they may not be a Pac 12 contender at this point, but they are one of the teams nobody will want to be paired up with any week from this point out.
Week 10 of the 2013 NFL season is in the books. And as usual, the league wasn’t short on drama. Tampa Bay and Jacksonville earned their first wins of 2013, leaving the NFL with no winless teams and just one unbeaten (Kansas City). Health issues sidelined Denver coach John Fox, but the Broncos survived San Diego’s upset bid. Houston’s Gary Kubiak was also sidelined with health issues, and the Texans’ comeback bid against Arizona fell short.
Here are the most important, historic, interesting and bizarre stats from Week 10:
151: Total yards of offense for San Francisco
The Carolina Panthers defense made a big statement on Sunday in its 10-9 road win over the 49ers. San Francisco posted just 151 yards of total offense, the lowest total of the Jim Harbaugh era in the Bay (41 games). It marked just the second time Niners were held under 200 yards of offense under Harbaugh (170 versus Baltimore in 2011). Carolina sacked Colin Kaepernick six times and allowed just 2-of-13 third-down conversions. It was the biggest win of Ron Rivera’s coaching tenure with the Panthers and it was the team’s fifth straight win. Additionally, the one-point win was first close win of Cam Newton’s career. In games decided by three points or less, Newton had been 0-5 before Sunday’s win.
63: Calvin Johnson Detroit franchise record TD receptions
Herman Moore has long been the greatest wide receiver in Lions franchise history. He has caught more passes (670) for more yards (9,174) and more TDs (62) than anyone in Detroit football history. Until yesterday. Calvin Johnson caught six passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns in the huge road win over divisional rival Chicago. He now has 63 career TD receptions and should pass Moore in both yards and receptions in the very near future. Johnson has 8.740 career yards receiving, trailing only Lance Alworth (9,019) for the most by any player in their first 100 games. Johnson’s career average of 87.4 yards per game is No. 1 all-time in NFL history. More importantly, the Detroit Lions are alone in first place in the NFC North for the first time since Week 5 of 2005.
1: Mark Ingram career 100-yard games
Ingram rushed for 3,261 yards and 42 touchdowns in three seasons at Alabama. He won the school’s first ever Heisman Trophy and led his team to a national championship — both as a sophomore. He was a first round pick by the Saints in 2011 for a reason (28th overall). However, 29 games into his NFL career, Ingram had yet to rush for 100 yards. Against Dallas in a classic Superdome beat down, Ingram rushed 14 times for 145 yards and a touchdown. The Saints posted an NFL-record 40 first downs in the win. In fact, it was just the fourth time in his entire career that Ingram has rushed for at least 80 yards. New Orleans is 4-0 when Ingram rushes for at least 80 yards. Drew Brees threw for a Week 10-high 392 yards and four touchdowns in the 49-17 win as the Saints moved to 5-0 at home.
314: Tavon Austin all-purpose yards against Indianapolis
The No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft has been largely irrelevant through the first nine weeks of the season. But the Rams do-everything dynamo showed on Sunday why he was so highly touted coming out of West Virginia in the shocking 38-8 win over the Colts. He caught two passes for 138 yards, returned four punts for 145 yards, returned a kick for 27 yards and ran once for four yards. He scored on a 98-yard punt return, an 81-yard reception and a 55-yard reception. Before Sunday, he had 207 career receiving yards. At age 22, Austin became just one of three players 22 years or younger to score three times from at least 50 yards away in the same game (Gale Sayers in 1965 and Randy Moss in 1998).
10-0: Nick Foles TD-INT ratio over the last two games
One week after throwing seven touchdowns, Nick Foles responded with three more scoring strikes in the key road win over the Packers. It gives Foles 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions over that span, making him only the second play in NFL history to post a 10-to-0 TD-to-INT ratio over a two game stretch. The only player to match that feat was Tom Brady in 2007 when he threw five touchdowns against Dallas in Week 6 and then six touchdown passes in Week 7 without throwing a pick in either game. More importantly, Chip Kelly’s Eagles are tied for the NFC East lead despite an 0-4 home record. Foles is eighth in the NFL with 16 TDs on the season — more than Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Big Ben, Eli Manning or Robert Griffin III — and has yet to throw an interception.
371: Broncos NFL record for scoring in first 9 games
This is one that everyone has been tracking each weekend since Peyton Manning tossed seven touchdowns in Week 1. But the Broncos have set a new record for points scored (371) in a team’s first nine games. Denver is averaging 41.2 points per game after topping San Diego 28-20 on Sunday. The NFL record is 589 points set by the unbeaten Patriots in 2007, which accounts to 36.8 per game. Denver would blow past the previous record and finish with 659 points at their current pace. The previous record for points scored in the first nine games was the 1950 Rams with 358 (39.8) and actually scored more per game that year (38.8) than the ’07 Pats.
6: Consecutive games Andre Brown has scored a rushing TD
The Giants won their third straight game this weekend by topping Oakland 24-20 in the New Meadowlands. Brown returned to the field for the first time in 2013 since breaking his leg in the final preseason game. He carried 30 times for 115 yards and scored a rushing touchdown in his sixth consecutive game (dating back to 2012). It is the longest active streak in the league and only the fourth such streak in the NFL since 2010 (Stevan Ridley 2012, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson 2011). After starting the season 0-6, the Giants are now just two games behind the division-leading Cowboys and Eagles.
4: Players to start at QB for Green Bay since 1992
Brett Favre’s first start was Sept. 27, 1992 in a 17-3 win over Pittsburgh. He started 253 consecutive games until Aaron Rodgers took over in 2008. Rodgers had started 86 out of 88 possible games before breaking his collarbone against the Bears two weeks ago. Matt Flynn got the other two starts (one each in 2010 and 2011) and was just the third player to start at QB for Green Bay since 1992 until Seneca Wallace got the start on Sunday against the Eagles. He lasted five passes before getting hurt. Wisconsin product Scott Tolzien played all but one series in the second straight home loss for the Packers. If the Packers do not find another option (which could be Flynn, actually), then the Packers will have as many starting quarterbacks in the last three games as they had in the previous 22 years combined.
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the ACC to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 11.
ACC Stats to Know from Week 11
296: Florida State’s total offense against Wake Forest
With a final score of 59-3, it was a bit of a surprise to see Florida State’s offense only record 296 yards against Wake Forest. However, the Seminoles played a chunk of the game with backups and eight drives started in Demon Deacon territory. With its first-team offense, Florida State scored on its opening possession by going 80 yards in 13 plays. The 296 yards of total offense were the lowest of 2013 and the first time under 300 since recording 290 in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl victory over Notre Dame. The overall yardage isn’t something to be concerned about, but this total illustrates just how dominant the Seminoles can be in all three phases of the game.
256: Yards needed by Boston College RB Andre Williams for a school single-season record
Boston College’s passing offense ranks 12th in ACC-only games with an average of 132.8 yards per game, but there’s not much of a need to throw the ball with Williams carrying the load. The senior has benefited from the coaching change to Steve Addazio, setting a career high of 1,471 yards on 246 attempts this year. Williams has three consecutive games of at least 160 yards and has three 200-yard games in 2013. Mike Cloud set the single-season school record with 1,726 yards in 1998. With three regular season games (and likely a bowl) remaining in 2013, Williams should record 256 yards to break Cloud’s record.
1994: Before 2013, 1994 was Duke’s last season with a winning record
Saturday’s 38-20 win over NC State assured Duke of its first winning record since 1994. The Blue Devils could add to their win total, as games against Miami, Wake Forest and North Carolina are very winnable. Duke has not won nine games since 1941 and does not have a season of double-digit wins in school history. The Blue Devils have 13 wins over the last two years, which is the same amount the program recorded from 1999-2007.
5-11: Miami’s record versus Florida State and Virginia Tech since 2005
In terms of job hierarchy, Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech are three of the top four programs in the ACC. The Hurricanes have never played for the ACC Championship since joining the league in 2004 and have struggled to beat Florida State and Virginia Tech on a consistent basis. Miami is just 5-11 against both schools since 2005, with the last victory against the Seminoles coming in 2009. The Hurricanes defeated Virginia Tech in 2012 but have lost four out of the last five meetings. If Miami is going to rejoin college football’s elite, it has to start beating Florida State and Virginia Tech on a more consistent basis.
2.2: Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald leads the nation in tackles for a loss per game
Donald has dominated the line of scrimmage and wrecked havoc on opposing offensive lines all year. The senior has 19.5 tackles for a loss through nine games and is averaging 2.2 per contest. Donald recorded six in a loss against Georgia Tech and four in a win against New Mexico.
244.4: Syracuse’s rushing average in five wins
With a first-year quarterback (Terrel Hunt) under center, it’s clear Syracuse’s offensive gameplan has to rest on the ground game. In five victories, the Orange is averaging 244.4 rushing yards per game. In Syracuse’s four losses, it is averaging just 150.5 yards per content, with that number skewed slightly by 323 yards against Clemson. The Orange is four-deep at running back, with three out of the four options averaging at least five yards a carry. The only rusher averaging less than that mark is starter Jerome Smith (4.9 ypc).
0-16: Maryland’s record after Oct. 13 under Randy Edsall
Edsall is just 11-22 in his Maryland tenure, but games after Oct. 13 have been especially problematic. The Terrapins have suffered a rash of injuries over the last two years, which has played a huge role in the team’s late-season struggles. However, 10 of the 16 losses suffered after Oct. 13 has been by 15 points or more.
8: Losses by Virginia in a season in three out of four years under Mike London
After an 8-5 mark in 2011, the arrow seemed to be pointing up for London’s tenure at Virginia. However, the Cavaliers have regressed the last two years, recording a 6-16 mark in that span. Virginia’s win over BYU in Week 1 is one of the more puzzling results of 2013, especially with the Cavaliers’ performance in ACC play. Virginia has lost at least seven games in six out of the last seven years. London got a vote of confidence from athletic director Craig Littlepage earlier this year, but is a 2-10 finish too much to overcome?
6: Touchdowns scored by freshmen or sophomores for North Carolina against Virginia
In North Carolina’s 45-14 win over Virginia, most of the damage was done by a promising core of young players for coach Larry Fedora. With Bryn Renner out for the year with a shoulder injury, sophomore Marquise Williams stepped into the lineup at quarterback, and the offense didn’t miss a beat. Williams threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 46 yards and one score. Williams also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from receiver Quinshad Davis. Freshman running back Khris Francis caught a touchdown pass, and freshman receiver Ryan Switzer returned a punt 85 yards for a score. Freshman safety Dominique Green returned an interception 62 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
6: Clemson WR Sammy Watkins has six 100-yard games in 2013
Watkins has been the preferred target for Clemson, catching 66 of the quarterback’s 244 completions in 2013. The junior has six 100-yard games in 2013 and has at least 163 receiving yards in back-to-back games. The six 100-yard games in 2013 is a career-best for Watkins.
1984: The last time NC State won fewer than two games in conference play
With two conference games remaining, NC State is a disappointing 0-6 in ACC play. The Wolfpack are in transition under new coach Dave Doeren, and quarterback play has been a problem with an early injury to Brandon Mitchell. However, this wasn’t the season most expected from NC State, especially with a favorable schedule. The Wolfpack play at Boston College this Saturday and close the regular season with a home game against Maryland. NC State’s last winless season conference play occurred in 1959.
5-2: Georgia Tech’s record against Clemson in the last seven matchups
The Tigers have won two out of the last three meetings in this series, but Georgia Tech has a 5-2 edge in the last seven matchups. The Yellow Jackets defeated Clemson in the ACC Championship in 2009 but have not won in Death Valley since 2008. These two teams have met for some entertaining affairs, but the last three matchups were decided by at least 14 points.
2: Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas has back-to-back 300-yard games
For the first time in his career, Thomas has thrown for 300 yards in back-to-back games. The senior threw for 391 yards in a loss to Boston College but rebounded with 366 yards and two scores in a win over Miami. Thomas’ solid performance against the Hurricanes was a key cog in the Virginia Tech victory, which put Frank Beamer’s team back in the mix for the Coastal Division title.
With 11 weeks in the books, college football’s bowl and national title picture is starting to come into focus.
The fourth release of the BCS standings saw another change at the top. With Stanford’s victory over Oregon on Thursday night, Florida State is in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 spot and a shot at Alabama in the national championship. With a schedule that features games against Idaho, Syracuse and Florida in the regular season, it’s hard to find a loss on the Seminoles’ schedule. The ACC Championship should be the toughest remaining game, but Florida State will be favored by at least two touchdowns over every possible opponent.
Losing to Stanford knocked Oregon out of the national title picture, but the Ducks are still in good shape for a BCS bowl – if they win out. Although there’s a lot of football left this year, Clemson and Oregon could meet in the Orange Bowl, which could be one of the more intriguing BCS bowl matchups in recent years.
The SEC continues to be the toughest conference to sort out for bowl bids. Auburn gets a slight edge over South Carolina, Missouri and Texas A&M for the second BCS bowl spot. But this order is likely to change in the next few weeks, especially since Texas A&M still has to play Missouri and LSU, while South Carolina hosts in-state rival Clemson in the regular season finale. With Vanderbilt's win over Florida, the Commodores are one win away from bowl eligibility and still have Kentucky and Wake Forest on the schedule.
The bowl season doesn’t start until December, but with less than one month to go in the season, it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like.
The post-Week 11 bowl projections are a mixture between projections for the next few weeks, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first 11 weeks of action. Expect more changes over the next few weeks. With several teams projected to be right around the six-win mark, more at-large spots in bowls should open in the next month.
A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including Maryland and Utah from BCS conferences. And Texas State, UTSA, Ohio, Bowling Green, Troy and Arkansas State from the non-BCS ranks.
College Football's Post-Week 11 Bowl Projections for 2013
|New Mexico||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Colo. State vs. Oregon State|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Dec. 21||MAC vs. MWC||UNLV vs. Buffalo|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Utah State vs. Arizona|
|New Orleans||Dec. 21||Sun Belt vs. CUSA||UL Lafayette vs. Tulane|
|Beef 'O' Brady's||Dec. 23||American vs. CUSA||Toledo* vs. MTSU|
|Hawaii||Dec. 24||MWC vs. CUSA||SJSU vs. Rice|
|Little Caesars Pizza||Dec. 26||MAC vs. Big Ten||No. Illinois vs. Syracuse*|
|Poinsettia||Dec. 26||Army vs. MWC||Boise State vs. Notre Dame*|
|Military||Dec. 27||CUSA vs. ACC||E. Carolina vs. Boston College|
|Texas||Dec. 27||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||K-State vs. Minnesota|
|Fight Hunger||Dec. 27||BYU vs. Pac-12||BYU vs. USC|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 28||American vs. Big 12||Rutgers vs. West Virginia|
|Belk||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Houston vs. Duke|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Louisville vs. Miami|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Dec. 28||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||Texas vs. Nebraska|
|Armed Forces||Dec. 30||MWC vs. Navy||Navy vs. SDSU|
|Music City||Dec. 30||ACC vs. SEC||Ga. Tech vs. Ole Miss|
|Alamo||Dec. 30||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Oklahoma vs. UCLA|
|Holiday||Dec. 30||Pac-12 vs. Big 12||Arizona State vs. Texas Tech|
|AdvoCare V100||Dec. 31||ACC vs. SEC||Pittsburgh vs. ULM*|
|Sun||Dec. 31||Pac-12 vs. ACC||North Carolina vs. Washington|
|Liberty||Dec. 31||SEC vs. CUSA||Tennessee vs. Marshall|
|Chick-fil-A||Dec. 31||SEC vs. ACC||Virginia Tech vs. Missouri|
|Gator||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Georgia vs. Michigan|
|Heart of Dallas||Jan. 1||Big Ten vs. CUSA||North Texas vs. Iowa|
|Outback||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Michigan State vs. South Carolina|
|Capital One||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Wisconsin vs. Texas A&M|
|Rose||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Ohio State vs. Stanford|
|Fiesta||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Fresno State vs. Baylor|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||BCS vs. BCS||Auburn vs. UCF|
|Cotton||Jan. 3||SEC vs. Big 12||LSU vs. Oklahoma State|
|Orange||Jan. 3||BCS vs. BCS||Clemson vs. Oregon|
|BBVA Compass||Jan. 4||SEC vs. American||Vanderbilt vs. Cincinnati|
|GoDaddy||Jan. 5||MAC vs. Sun Belt||Ball State vs. Western Kentucky|
|National Title||Jan. 6||BCS vs. BCS||Alabama vs. Florida State|
* Indicates conference is not expected to fill its alloted bowl slots, leaving an at-large spot available.
Bold indicates team has accepted bid to bowl.
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ACC Week 11 Awards and Power Rankings
Big 12 Week 11 Awards and Power Rankings
Big Ten Week 11 Awards and Power Rankings
Pac-12 Week 11 Awards and Power Rankings
SEC Week 11 Awards and Power Rankings
9 Stats to Know from Week 11
Another week, another college football coach fired. Ron English was dismissed a day before Eastern Michigan was set to take on Western Michigan last week. Eastern Michigan is one of the toughest jobs in the nation, but English’s teams showed little progress, and language used in an audio recording during a meeting was the final straw in his tenure in Ypsilanti.
With English’s dismissal, Virginia’s Mike London moves to the top of the hot seat watch. London has lost eight games for the third time in his tenure. The Cavaliers are likely headed for a 2-10, as they will be underdogs against Miami and Virginia Tech. London and his assistants have a significant buyout, so the former ACC Coach of the Year is likely to return for 2014.
Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and Texas’ Mack Brown have ranked near the top of the hot seat watch all year, but both teams have moved down after recent victories. The Cornhuskers won at Michigan in Week 11, which keeps Pelini’s team alive in the Legends Division. The Longhorns survived a trip to West Virginia with an overtime win, but running back Johnathan Gray and defensive tackle Chris Whaley were lost for the year. The schedule is about to get tougher for Texas, so Brown will have his work cut out for him in the final few weeks of 2013.
Each week, we will take a look at the hot seat/pressure on a program for all 125 coaches. Some new coaches will rank high due to poor performances but aren't in any danger of losing their job.
And another important note when reading our coach on the hot seat rankings: Outside of the top 10-15 coaches, it’s all about the pressure on a program. While some coaches – like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Indiana's Kevin Wilson – aren’t in any danger of being fired. However, both coaches need to continue to show the program is headed in the right direction.
Ranking All 125 CFB Coaches on Hot Seat/Pressure on Program to Win in 2013
|1||Mike London||2-8||UVA has lost 8 games in 4 out of last 5 years.|
|2||Charlie Weis||2-7||Freshman QB Montell Cozart has potential.|
|3||Norm Chow||0-9||Warriors look to avoid first winless season since '98.|
|4||Ron Turner||1-8||FIU has not scored in three games this year.|
|6||Tim Beckman||3-6||Illini has lost 19 straight Big Ten games.|
|7||Will Muschamp||4-5||Gators headed for first losing season since 1979.|
|8||Dave Christensen||4-5||Wyoming just 8-13 since playing in bowl in 2011.|
|9||Dana Holgorsen||4-6||Mountaineers showing signs of improvement.|
|10||Garrick McGee||2-7||UAB's last winning record was in 2004.|
|11||Bobby Hauck||5-5||Rebels still need a win to get bowl eligible.|
|12||Randy Edsall||5-4||Terrapins have lost 4 out of last 5 games.|
|14||Bo Pelini||7-2||Still alive in the Legends Division title mix.|
|16||Bill Blankenship||2-7||Headed for worst finish since 1-11 mark in 2002.|
|17||Kevin Wilson||4-5||Hoosiers' bowl hopes require big upset.|
|23||Doug Martin||1-9||Aggies gave Boston College all it could handle.|
|24||Skip Holtz||4-5||Bulldogs have won three out of last four.|
|27||Jim Grobe||4-6||Demon Deacons simply overmatched against FSU.|
|28||Troy Calhoun||2-8||AFA has not won fewer than 4 games since 1980.|
|29||Mack Brown||7-2||Injuries starting to pile up in Austin.|
|31||Brian Polian||3-7||Wolf Pack will miss bowl for the first time since 2004.|
|37||Tony Levine||7-2||Cougars much-improved in Levine's second year.|
|39||Kirk Ferentz||6-4||Good rebound season for Ferentz.|
|44||Jeff Quinn||7-2||Bulls in driver's seat for MAC East title.|
|46||Rocky Long||5-4||Aztecs won five out of last six games.|
|52||Brady Hoke||6-3||Wolverines continue to struggle up front.|
|55||Kyle Whittingham||4-5||Utes need to win at Wazzu to have a shot at bowl.|
|57||Scott Shafer||5-4||Orange has allowed just 3 points in last two games.|
|64||Larry Fedora||4-5||Tar Heels have won three in a row.|
|69||Frank Beamer||7-3||Hokies back in the Coastal Division title mix.|
|71||Curtis Johnson||6-4||Green Wave has lost two in a row.|
|78||Bob Stoops||7-2||Does OU have an offensive identity?|
|82||Mark Helfrich||8-1||Ducks still alive for a BCS bowl.|
|84||Larry Coker||5-5||Roadrunners quietly impressive.|
|91||Dan McCarney||7-3||McCarney should be in National COY discussion.|
|NR||Stan Parrish||1-0||Parrish went 2-30-1 as K-State's coach from 1986-89.|
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9 Stats to Know from Week 11
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Big Ten to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 11:
Minus-69: Michigan's total rushing yards in the last two games
Michigan posted a school-record minus-48 yards rushing last weekend in the ugly road loss to in-state rival Michigan State. That isn't all that shocking considering how good the Spartans defense has been all year. However, against a Nebraska defense that had allowed 516 rushing yards in its last two games, Michigan once again was held to negative rushing yards. The Maize and Blue totaled minus-21 yards rushing in the 17-13 loss to the Cornhuskers. The loss not only knocks Michigan completely out of the Legends Division race but it snapped the nation's longest home winning streak. Brady Hoke had won 20 consecutive games in The Big House until the Huskers upset the Wolverines on Saturday.
29.0: Nebraska’s Big Ten-leading sacks
The Cornhuskers' Randy Gregory recorded 3.0 sacks against Michigan this weekend and is now leading the Big Ten (6.5) in that category. In fact, Nebraska’s maligned defense is now leading the conference in sacks and is 10th nationally with 29.0 (3.22 per game) after posting 7.0 against the Wolverines. Nebraska has 11.0 sacks in its last two games — critical wins over Northwestern and Michigan.
5-0: Nebraska without Taylor Martinez
Taylor Martinez is the all-time total offense leader in Nebraska school history. And coming into his senior year, he had a chance to put himself into rarefied NCAA statistical air when it comes to dual-threat quarterbacks (7,258 yards passing, 2,975 rushing). But turf toe has limited him to just four games this season so far. Nebraska is 2-2 when Martinez starts and is 5-0 when he doesn’t. Certainly, Ron Kellogg III or Tommy Armstrong Jr. aren’t capable of producing like Martinez, but each player has led a game-winning drive in the waning moments of each of the last two games.
2003: Last year Minnesota won eight games
The Golden Gophers haven’t won eight games since Glen Mason won 10 and led Minnesota to the Sun Bowl in 2003. But with head coach Jerry Kill sidelined with health concerns, the 2013 Gophers squad is becoming one of the feel-good stories in the nation. Minnesota stymied Penn State 24-10 at home for the first win over the Nittany Lions since 2003 and its eighth win of the season. It gives Goldie four straight Big Ten wins after beating Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State — its first four-game winning streak in the Big Ten since 1973. Brutal games with rival Wisconsin and division frontrunner Michigan State loom large after the bye week.
46: James White career total TDs
James White rushed 23 times for 147 yards and scored three total touchdowns in the key win over BYU this weekend. He now has 4,147 career yards from scrimmage and 46 total career touchdowns — good for ninth all-time in Big Ten history — and has never really been the starter. Melvin Gordon is the star of the Badgers' backfield this season. He is a projected early-round NFL Draft pick and is eighth in the nation in rushing (128.9 ypg). The two seasons prior, Montee Ball set NCAA records with two Heisman finalist campaigns while the year before Ball and John Clay starred. White is a career backup and could finish as one of the top 10 most productive running backs in Big Ten history.
1,106: Allen Robinson's Penn State single-season receiving record
Penn State’s Biletnikoff Award candidate caught seven passes for 63 yards against Minnesota, pushing his 2013 totals to 73 receptions and 1,106 yards. Bobby Engram held the previous school record when he posted 1,084 yards in 1995. Wisconsin’s Lee Evans (2001) owns the Big Ten single-season record for receiving yards with 1,545 yards. Robinson would need to average 147 yards per game the rest of the way to set the Big Ten mark.
1,262: Totals yards of offense between Illinois and Indiana
The Hoosiers defeated Illinois 52-35 in Bloomington to give Illinois its 19th consecutive Big Ten loss. Indiana posted a season-high 650 yards of offense while the Illini put up 612 yards. Indiana running back Tevin Coleman rushed for a career-high 215 yards — the most by a Hoosier in 10 years — while wideout Cody Latimer set career highs with 11 receptions and 189 yards receiving. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase totaled 495 yards of total offense (450 pass, 45 rush) but it wasn’t good enough as head coach Tim Beckman fell to 0-13 in Big Ten play. Kevin Wilson and IU need to win two of their last three games to get to a bowl.
318: Iowa's season-high rushing yards
The Hawkeyes and Kirk Ferentz desperately needed to get to a bowl game in 2013 and the 38-14 win over Purdue gave Iowa its sixth win of the year. In true Ferentz fashion, Iowa pounded the football for a season-high 318 yards rushing and season-high 509 total yards of offense. Sophomore tailback Jordan Canzeri was the star of the show, rushing for a career-high 165 yards on 20 carries. Iowa finishes the season with Michigan and Nebraska.
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the SEC to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 11.
More Stats from Week 11: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12
29: Touchdowns scored by Missouri in six SEC games in 2013, eight more than it scored in eight league games last season.
The Tigers are averaging 38.5 points in SEC games, good for third in the league behind Texas A&M (46.0 ppg) and Alabama (42.8 ppg). Last season, Mizzou ranked 11th in the SEC, averaging 21.9 points in league games.
3.27: Yards gained per play by Vanderbilt in its win at Florida.
The Commodores beat the Gators 34-17 despite gaining a season-low 183 yards. Vanderbilt won the turnover battle 4-to-0 and sacked Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy five times. The Dores’ first three touchdown drives went for 10, 22 and 4 yards. Vanderbilt also won its last game in which it averaged less than 4.0 yards per play; last year, the Dores beat NC State 38-24 in the Music City Bowl despite averaging only 3.31 yards per play.
220.1: Yards per game increase for Auburn in SEC action from 2012 to ’13.
Last year, en route to an 0-8 league record, the Tigers averaged 235.1 yards against SEC opponents. This year, under the guidance of Gus Malzahn, Auburn is averaging 455.2 yards per game.
6: Straight losses by Arkansas of 10 points or more, the longest such streak in school history.
The Razorbacks have actually lost seven straight games, but each of the last six has been by at least 10 points. The Hogs are 0-6 in the SEC — the school’s first 0-6 start in league play since 1990 when it was in the Southwest Conference.
8: Total touchdowns scored in the second half of Texas A&M’s 51-41 win over Mississippi State, the most in any SEC game this season.
Four of the eight touchdowns were scored in a two-minute stretch of game time late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. And none of the four was scored on special teams.
0: Interceptions thrown by AJ McCarron in Alabama’s win over LSU.
The Crimson Tide’s senior quarterback has only thrown an interception in two of his 14 regular-season games dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season. McCarron threw one against Ole Miss this season (in a win) and two against Texas A&M last season (in a loss).
12.0: Average yards per carry for Corey Grant in Auburn’s 55-23 win over Tennessee.
Grant, a junior tailback, leads the SEC (min. 50 attempts) with a 10.1 yards-per-carry average — more than two yards higher than any other player in the league.
2: Ole Miss receivers who had over 100 yards receiving in the Rebels’ 34-24 win over Arkansas.
Donte Moncrief had 149 yards on seven receptions and Ja-Mes Logan had 110 on five catches, giving the Rebs two 100-yard receivers in the same game for the first time since 2003.
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 11.
More Stats from Week 11: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC
10 Pac-12 Stats to Know
1: A Colorado running back finally lost a fumble this season
Entering Saturday’s game against Washington, Colorado running backs Christian Powell, Michael Adkins II, Tony Jones and Donta Abron combined for 255 touches and had not lost a fumble. That streak ended on the 277th touch. Jones, on his 67th touch of the season and seventh of the game, fumbled late in the third quarter, and it was scooped up by Marcus Peters who returned it 53 yards for a touchdown.
2: Washington defense scores twice in a game for the first time since 2002
Prior to the Peters’ touchdown late in the third quarter, there was a Tre Watson 84-yard interception return for a score 3:11 into that same quarter. Those two scores gave Washington two defensive touchdowns in one game for the first time since a 41-29 win over Oregon State 11 years ago — to the day. Derrick Johnson (42 yards) and Chris Massey (25) each had first-half interceptions returned for scores in the 2002 game.
2 part II: UCLA’s Jack productive on both sides of the ball in Bruins win at Arizona
UCLA true freshman linebacker Myles Jack was also an offensive weapon for the Bruins in their 31-26 win at Arizona Saturday — the first win for UCLA at Arizona since 2003. He carried the ball six times on offense for 120 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winner. His 120 yards paced the Bruins on the ground. On defense, he added eight tackles, one for loss, his first-ever fumble recovery and two pass breakups. Jack is tied for third on the team with 62 tackles, and leads the Bruins with nine pass breakups.
3: USC ties NCAA record with three punt returns for scores in win at Cal
Nelson Agholor returned two punts for scores, and Josh Shaw added a score on a blocked punt, as USC tied the NCAA record for punt returns for touchdowns in a game. Agholor scored on a 75-yard return less than two minutes into the 62-28 victory, and added a 93-yard return with 3:47 left in the first half. In between was Shaw’s 14-yard return of teammate Soma Vainuku’s blocked punt. Oklahoma’s Antonio Perkins was the last to have three punt returns for scores when he did so against UCLA in 2003.
3 part II: ASU’s consecutive games of 500-plus yards posted and under-100 yards rushing allowed stopped at three
Arizona State rallied for a 20-19 victory at Utah Saturday for its fourth straight win. The difference in win No. 4 versus the other three was the output gained and allowed. The Sun Devils’ offense entered the game having posted three straight games of 500-plus yards, while their defense had limited three straight opponents to under 100 yards on the ground. ASU’s offense posted 293 yards Saturday, while its defense allowed 126 yards on the ground to the Utes.
3 part III: Three halftime deficits have led to all three Arizona losses
The Wildcats fell behind 21-10 at halftime Saturday’s 31-26 loss to visiting UCLA. It’s the third time this season Arizona has trailed at halftime, and it led to the Wildcats’ third defeat. Washington led 11-6 and went on to outscore Arizona 20-7 in the second half. USC led 28-10 at halftime and used it to fend off the Wildcats’ 21-10 second-half run.
11: Utah posts Pac-12-leading 11th play of 50-plus yards
In its one-point loss to Arizona State, the Utes added their 11th play from scrimmage of 50-plus yards — a 55-yard pass play from Travis Wilson to Dres Anderson in the third quarter. The 11 plays of 50-plus are tied for fifth in the FBS and are tops in the Pac-12. Baylor leads the nation with 17 such plays.
14: Cal’s loss pushes streak to 14 straight losses against FBS teams
Cal lost its eighth straight game of the season Saturday, allowing a season-high 62 points in a 62-28 loss to USC. The loss marked the 11th straight against the Trojans and the 14th straight against FBS teams. The Bears have been outscored 629-276 — an average of 25.2 per game — during the 14-game skid. Their last FBS win was Oct. 13, 2012, at Washington State (31-17).
28: Huskies score 28 second-half points without attempting a pass
Tre Watson’s interception return on the front end of the third quarter and Marcus Peters’ fumble return for a score late in the quarter bookended a 21-point quarter for Washington in its win over Colorado. In between was a Keith Price 4-yard rushing TD. Washington also added a fourth-quarter touchdown when Dwayne Washington scored on a 5-yard run. All told, the Huskies posted 28 points in the second half without passing the ball, rushing 23 times.
45: Arizona State makes it “45” straight scores inside the red zone
The Sun Devils — save for a game-ending kneel down against Colorado — extended their streak to 45 straight scores in the red zone with three more in a 20-19 win over Utah Saturday. Included in the three were two fourth-quarter red-zone scores that led to the comeback win — a Taylor Kelly 2-yard rushing TD and a Kelly-to-Richard Smith 14-yard, game-winning TD with 2:37 remaining in the game.
The first number to know for this week’s Big 12 stats of the week is probably three. As in three contenders for Big 12 coach of the year.
All three superb coaching jobs were on display last week. First, there’s Art Briles, who has Baylor in the thick of the national championship race after picking up its key win of the season so far against Oklahoma.
Then there’s Bill Snyder, who started the season with an inexperienced team and four early losses, but he has led Kansas State to three consecutive wins, the latest on the road against Texas Tech.
Lastly, Texas’ Mack Brown could stake a legitimate claim at league coach of the year if the Longhorns remain undefeated in league play. Granted, Brown had to fire a coordinator he hired to help usher in the defensive rebound, but Texas has also dealt with a handful of key injuries through a 6-0 start in Big 12 play.
More Stats from Week 11: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC
Big 12 Stats to Know from Week 11
3.4. Oklahoma’s yards per play against Baylor
Perhaps lost in Baylor’s win over Oklahoma on Thursday was how dominant the Bears’ defense was. The Bears held Oklahoma to 3.4 yards per play, the lowest average for the Sooners since a loss to TCU on Sept. 3, 2005. Baylor has held three Big 12 opponents to fewer than four years per play this season (Iowa State, Kansas and Oklahoma).
89.3. Rushing yards per game for Baylor redshirt freshman Shock Linwood
The Baylor redshirt freshman is second only to teammate Lache Seastrunk in in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game despite carrying the ball only 15 times in the first half all season. With Seastrunk and Glasco Martin hurt, Linwood got his most extended action of the season, rushing for 182 yards on 23 carries against Oklahoma. Linwood is seventh in the Big 12 in total rushing yards despite having 46 fewer carries than any non-Baylor player ahead of him.
2. All-time overtime games for Texas
Texas needed overtime to defeat West Virginia 47-40 on Saturday, but the most most shocking part of the game was that this was only Texas’ second game to end in overtime. The other overtime game was a 30-27 loss to Oklahoma in 1996, the season the format was established. Texas and Kansas State have played the fewest overtime games for current Big 12 teams at two apiece.
All-time overtime games for Big 12 teams
12 West Virginia
9 Oklahoma State
9 Texas Tech
8 Iowa State
2 Kansas State
6. Consecutive Texas wins
Another surprising number from Texas: The Longhorns have won six games in a row for the first time since winning 17 in a row from Nov. 8, 2008 to Dec. 5, 2009. That win streak was ended by Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
4. Starters for Texas in the opener now injured
Texas announced this week that defensive tackle Chris Whaley (knee) and running back Johnathan Gray (ACL) will miss the remainder of the season with injuries. The Longhorns already lost linebacker Jordan Hicks for the season, and former starting quarterback David Ash has no timetable for a return from a head injury.
24. Sacks for Texas since Greg Robinson took over
Texas’ defense is better in a handful of ways since the Longhorns fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and replaced him with Greg Robinson. The biggest difference was in the pass rush. Texas sacked West Virginia six times Saturday. That included four sacks on starting quarterback Clint Trickett, who only attempted four passes before leaving with an injury. After recording no sacks in losses to BYU and Ole Miss, Texas has 24 in six conference games. No one else in the Big 12 averages better than 2.8 sacks in league play.
175. Career wins for Bill Snyder, all at Kansas State
With a 49-26 win over Texas Tech, Bill Snyder became the 46th coach to win 175 career games by only the 11th to win 175 at only one school.
Most FBS/major college football wins at only one school
Joe Paterno, Penn State (298-136-3)
LaVell Edwards, BYU (257-101-3)
Tom Osborne, Nebraska (255-49-3)
Chris Ault, Nevada (233-109-1)
Vince Dooley, Georgia (201-77-10)
Dan McGugin, Vanderbilt (197-55-19)
John Vaught, Ole Miss (190-61-12)
Carmen Cozza, Yale (179-119-5)
Frank Kush, Arizona State (176-54-1)
Shug Jordan, Auburn (176-83-6)
Bill Sndyer, Kansas State (175-89-1)
Plus-6. Kansas State’s turnover margin in the last three games
Part of Kansas State’s turnaround in the last three weeks has been a Snyder staple of winning the turnover battle. Kansas State was minus-9 through its 2-4 start this season, but was plus-1 against West Virginia, plus-2 against Iowa State and plus-3 Saturday against Texas Tech, all comfortable wins. The Wildcats are still minus-3 for the season, but they haven’t finished in the red for a season since 2008 under Ron Prince.
Minus-22. Texas Tech’s turnover margin at home in the last three seasons
Lubbock used to be one of the best home field advantages in the Big 12, but that trend has reversed. The Red Raiders are minus-22 in turnover margin at home in the last three seasons, including a minus-10 mark in 2013. (Hat tip to @AaronDickens)
3. Offensive categories where TCU’s Trevone Boykin contributes
One of the major differences in TCU’s offense following the return of starting quarterback Casey Pachall has been the use of former starting quarterback Trevone Boykin. The sophomore lined up under center at times in the win at Iowa State but never threw a pass. Instead, he rushed for 29 yards and three touchdowns on five carries. A week earlier, Boykin caught 11 passes for 100 yards from Pachall. That gives him the unique stat line for 1,176 passing yards, 303 rushing yards and 165 receiving yards.
6. Starting quarterbacks for Iowa State under Paul Rhoads
Iowa State has had trouble finding a starting quarterback since Austen Arnaud’s career ended due to injury during his senior season. On Saturday against TCU, Grant Rohach became the sixth different starting quarterback Rhoads had had at Iowa State since 2009, joining Sam Richardson, Steele Jantz, Jerome Tiller and Arnaud.
The convenient storyline of Kentucky’s matchup against Michigan State will be one of raw talent vs. college experience.
Kentucky started four freshmen in two games this season from a group that’s expected to challenge for the national championship and declare for the NBA Draft. Michigan State has built a team in a way that’s become common in East Lansing — develop its own pro talent over the course of three and four years while challenging for national championships.
Michigan State isn’t bereft of talent, to be sure. Senior Adreian Payne and sophomore Gary Harris elected to stay in school rather than go to the NBA Draft, but the Spartans’ four returning starters are accustomed to playing together and playing in tight situations where Kentucky is not.
The winner in Chicago will either remain No. 1 in Kentucky’s case or take over the No. 1 spot for Michigan State, but it’s far from an endgame.
“This is a big deal, but it’s November,” Kentucky coach Calipari said.
Kentucky vs. Michigan State
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Site: United Center (Chicago)
Top Matchup: Kentucky’s Julius Randle vs. Michigan State’s Adreian Payne
Randle is in the freshman and player of the year conversations along with Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins. Randle showed why early, with 45 points and 30 rebounds in the first two games — against Northern Kentucky and UNC Asheville. He will have a much tougher matchup against the senior Payne, an athletic, veteran big man with a pro future himself. Payne will need to defend Randle without getting into foul trouble, though. The Kentucky freshman is 12 of 20 from the free throw line in two games.
Key Stat: 10 of 33/10 of 26
A small sample size, for sure, but 3-point shooting could be a storyline in this game. Kentucky is 10 of 33 from beyond the arc in two games while Michigan State was 10 of 26 in its only game this season. Credit both teams for knowing where their strengths lie, at least. Michigan State’s Gary Harris was the Big Ten freshman of the year last season despite a shoulder injury, but he’s healthy this year. He’ll be dangerous from 3-point range, but he’s also become an aggressive rebounder.
Kentucky's Key Storyline: Use of Alex Poythress
The sophomore was a McDonald’s All-American arriving at Kentucky, but he’s in a sort of no-man’s land where he didn’t leave for the draft as a one-and-done. Now he’s coming off the bench among Kentucky’s freshmen and sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein. His role and energy on Kentucky’s talented roster will be an intriguing storyline this season.
Michigan State's Key Storyline: Keith Appling’s improvement
Appling enters this season as one of the nation’s top point guards, but don’t forget that he struggled at times last season. Michigan State’s experience is an asset, but the Spartans’ national championship bid will be in question if Appling continues to be turnover prone.
A star freshman. A sophomore expected to take the next step. A transfer at forward expected to play a major role. And all of it expected to come together for a national championship run.
Duke and Kansas aren’t exactly mirror images, except in the shorthand. Duke has freshman Jabari Parker, sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood. Kansas has freshman Andrew Wiggins, sophomore Perry Ellis and Memphis transfer Tarik Black.
Either way, both teams have several new pieces expected to come together for a major statement in the first week of the season. Perhaps it’s too easy to paint the game as a Wiggins vs. Parker matchup, but it’s not out of line to consider that this might not be the last time these teams meet.
Duke vs. Kansas
Time: 10 p.m.
Site: United Center (Chicago)
Top Matchup: Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins vs. Duke’s Jabari Parker
The pair might not be matched up against each other on a play-by-play basis, but the popular narrative will be how the star freshman small forwards fare in this game. Wiggins, who arrived at Kansas as a standout defender, will have his hands full against both Parker and Hood, who are both versatile offensive threats.
Key Stat: 61.9
Duke and Kansas shot a combined 61.9 percent from the field in their openers. Duke went 38 of 54 against Davidson while Kansas went 23 o 43 against ULM. Expect the defenses to tighten up in this matchup, but that’s still an impressive start.
Duke’s Key Storyline: Rebounding
Duke may miss Mason Plumlee a ton this season. Kansas brings Black and freshman Joel Embiid who bring muscle to the frontcourt, so players like Marshall Plumlee, Amile Jefferson, Parker and Hood will need to work the glass against Kansas.
Kansas’ Key Storyline: Naadir Tharpe’s improvement
Kansas’ Tharpe was a backup last season at point guard, a position that was a liability last season. Kansas’ national championship bona fides may be in question if Tharpe isn’t a solid point guard. He’ll be matched up with a solid veteran in Duke’s Quinn Cook.
Anyone can have bad results at a lackluster college football program. Even Bear Bryant or Nick Saban might have trouble staying above water at a program in a bad recruiting era, little tradition and scant resources.
However, it takes a unique situation for someone to struggle at a place sitting in good recruiting territory, with a championship tradition and ample backing from fans and administration.
Granted, the pressures of coaching at top programs aren’t for everyone. The pressure to win every game — and answering to media and fans when it doesn’t happen — isn’t realistic.
These are the coaches who struggled to great proportions despite the advantages that come at top programs. These are the coaches who missed bowl games where it should be really, really tough to miss bowl games. We are considering great programs to be among the leaders in win percentage during since the Associated Press poll began in 1936.
One thing to note: We are only listing coaches who were hired after a program reached national prominence. Thus, pre-Nick Saban coaches at LSU or pre-Howard Schnellenberger coaches at Miami, for example, were not considered.
College Football’s 20 Worst Coaches at Great Programs
1. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Record: 15-21 (.417) from 2010-12
A Nick Saban disciple and the son of one of the SEC’s greatest coaches, what could go wrong? Pretty much everything. Dooley inherited a program damaged by Lane Kiffin’s lone season, but Dooley set the Volunteers further back by going winless against ranked teams, winless against SEC teams in October and 2-14 in the SEC his last two seasons. Quotable, yes. Great hair, yes. Good coach, not really.
2. Joe Kuharich, Notre Dame
Record: 17-23 (.425) from 1959-62
Gerry Faust, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis are remembered with more vitriol than Kuharich, but that’s a product of recent memory. Kuharich took over six seasons after Frank Leahy’s tenure and never had a winning season in four years at Notre Dame despite having talented teams at the height of Notre Dame’s popularity.
3. Gerry Faust, Notre Dame
Record: 30-26-1 (.535) from 1981-85
Imagine any major program hiring a high school coach these days. That’s what Notre Dame did when it replaced Dan Devine with Faust, coach at powerhouse Cincinnati Moeller. The gamble was predictably a failure, but at least Notre Dame could keep the high ground by giving Faust a full five seasons. Subsequent coaches wouldn’t be able to say the same.
4. John Blake, Oklahoma
Record: 12-22 (.353) from 1996-98
An assistant for Barry Switzer and former Sooners player, Blake knew better than to repeat the mistakes of his predecessor Howard Schnellenberger, but that didn’t help him win games. Blake had never been even a coordinator, and it showed as the Sooners went 8-16 in the Big 12. At least his recruits were the centerpieces for OU’s 2000 national championship team.
5. Howard Schnellenberger, Oklahoma
Record: 5-5-1 (.500) in 1995
Schnellenberger had one of the most puzzling tenures in college sports in his lone season at Oklahoma. He built Miami into a national power in the 1980s and brought Louisville to relevance, but Oklahoma fans were turned off by Schnellenberger’s dismissiveness of Sooners history. Especially after Oklahoma finished 1995 with three straight blowout losses.
6. John Mackovic, Texas
Record: 41-28-2 (.592) from 1992-97
Mackovic started to rebuild Texas after the McWilliams era with three consecutive bowl games and a Big 12 title game appearance between 1994-96. But his fate was sealed on Sept. 12, 1997 with a 66-3 loss to UCLA at home that became known as “Rout 66.” Mackovic went 4-7 his final season despite having Ricky Williams in his backfield.
7. Mike DuBose, Alabama
Record: 24-23 (.511) from 1997-2000
DuBose followed national championship coach Gene Stallings to go 4-7 in his first season thanks in part to NCAA sanctions. Though DuBose led the Tide to a 10-3 season and top 10 finish in 1999, he went 3-8 the following year and was the coach during major NCAA recruiting violations.
8. Mike Shula, Alabama
Record: 26-23 (.531) from 2003-06
Perhaps Shula was doomed from the beginning. Alabama fans were wounded by the sudden departure of Dennis Franchione to Texas A&M just as NCAA sanctions were levied. Shula wasn’t even on the radar until Washington State coach Mike Price was fired amid scandal before his first game. Shula went to the Cotton Bowl in 2005 but otherwise became the first Alabama coach since the pre-Bear Bryant days to have three non-winning seasons.
9. David McWilliams, Texas
Record: 31-26 (.544) from 1987-91
Aside from a 10-2 season and Southwest Conference championship in 1990, McWilliams had a lackluster tenure at Texas on the heels of the Darrell Royal and Fred Akers days. McWilliams’ time at Texas was doomed when the Longhorns went 5-6 after reaching the Cotton Bowl a year earlier.
10. Ray Goff, Georgia
Record: 46-34-1 (.574) from 1989-95
Goff had the unenviable task of taking over for the best coach in Georgia history. He had two losing seasons and two 6-6 seasons in six years, but his greatest sin was ushering in an era of futility against Florida. Goff lost his final six meetings against the Gators, the start of a 1-13 stretch in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
11. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
Record: 15-22 (.405) from 2008-10
Michigan swung for the fences when it tried to shake up its square-jawed image by hiring spread-offense acolyte Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia. The experiment was a failure as the offense was dismal in a 3-9 season in Rodriguez’s first year, the worst for Michigan in 46 years. Michigan improved in his final two years, but Rodriguez became the first coach to leave Michigan with a losing record.
12. Tyrone Willingham, Notre Dame
Record: 21-15 (.583) from 2002-04
Willingham was Notre Dame’s second choice after George O’Leary resigned after it was discovered his resume contained false information. It seemed for a time to be a good break for Notre Dame when Willingham’s first team started 8-0. The Irish went 13-15 thereafter. Willingham became the first Notre Dame coach fired after only three seasons.
13. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame
Record: 35-27 (.565) from 2005-09
Notre Dame was outclassed in two BCS games in Weis’ first two seasons, but at least the Irish were back in the national consciousness. Weis looked like an offensive genius by leading Brady Quinn to several Notre Dame passing records and the Heisman presentation, but the bottom fell out in 2007 with a 3-9 record and the Irish’s first loss to Navy since 1963.
14. Paul Hackett, USC
Record: 19-18 (.514) from 1998-2000
The journeyman coach put up journeyman results in his three seasons at USC, going 5-11 in the Pac-10 in his final two years. In his three-year tenure, Hackett became the first USC coach in 41 years to never go to the Rose Bowl.
15. Bill Callahan, Nebraska
Record: 27-22 (.551) from 2004-07
Frank Solich’s 58 wins in six season was not enough to keep him employed at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers tried to move away from their traditional option by bringing in Callahan from the NFL ranks, but a 5-6 season in 2004 ended Nebraska’s streak of 35 consecutive bowl games. The pro-style offense eventually caught on, but big wins never did as Nebraska bookended his tenure with a 5-7 season in 2007.
16. Randy Shannon, Miami
Record: 28-22 (.560) from 2007-10
The decorated defensive coordinator never could match Miami’s level of success the Hurricanes had while Shannon was an assistant or a player. The Hurricanes’ decline that began under Larry Coker was hastened under Shannon. The Canes went 5-7 in his first season, including a 48-0 loss to Virginia in the final game at the storied Orange Bowl.
17. Ron Zook, Florida
Record: 23-14 (.621) from 2002-04
Zook inherited the Heisman runner-up (Rex Grossman) when Steve Spurrier left and never more than eight games as the Gators coach. The tenure included two losses to Ole Miss (albeit led by Eli Manning), a loss to Mississippi State and three unranked finishes. The Zooker could recruit, though.
18. Will Muschamp, Florida
Record: 22-13 (.629) from 2011-present
An 11-2 season in 2012 and an injury-riddled 2013 may keep Muschamp at Florida for a fourth season despite a similar record to Zook. But the Gators are facing their first losing season since 1979 after the first loss to Vanderbilt in Gainesville since 1945.
19. Lane Kiffin, USC
Record: 28-15 (.651) from 2010-13
USC went 10-2 with a win over Oregon despite a bowl ban in 2011, raising the stakes for 2012. The Trojans, though, went from preseason No. 1 to 7-6 with a loss in the Sun Bowl to Georgia Tech. A listless performance on offense in 2013 prompted his abrupt ouster less than 12 hours after a loss to Arizona State. A hot start under interim coach Ed Orgeron has become a further indictment on Kiffin’s tenure.
20. Gary Crowton (26-23 at BYU), Dan Hawkins (19-39 at Colorado) and Keith Gilberston (7-16 at Washington)
We can debate if BYU, Colorado and Washington are “great” programs, but all had won national championships and were viable winners when the three coaches above took over. BYU and Washington have recovered to a degree, but both programs are long ways off from winning national championships again.
Although basketball season started Friday, tonight will mark the unofficial start of 2013-14.
ESPN will begin its 24-hour tip-off marathon at 11 p.m. Eastern when BYU visits Stanford with a handful of juicy matchups culminating in the marquee games Tuesday evening.
The final games in the marathon could easily be Final Four previews as Kentucky faces Michigan State and Kansas faces Duke in the Champions Classic in Chicago. The two matchups include four of the top five teams in Athlon Sports’ preseason top 25.
The rest of the featured teams in the marathon include five more Athlon top 25 teams (Florida, Wisconsin, Baylor, VCU, Wichita State), a Final Four team from 2013 (Wichita State) and the darling of last year’s NCAA Tournament (Florida Gulf Coast).
You may need a boost to get through the entire marathon, that’s why we’ve given each game a “caffeinated beverage rating” to help viewers push through.
College Basketball Tipoff Marathon Viewer’s Guide
*All times Eastern
Read previews of every top 25 team and more in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preseason Rankings.
Two proud programs have been quiet recently, but there’s plenty of reason to believe both will be interesting this season. LSU adds highly regarded freshman Jarell Martin to a frontcourt that already features Johnny O’Bryant. UMass adds Western Kentucky transfer Derrick Gordon to a backcourt that already includes Chaz Williams, who leads the Minutemen’s up-tempo offense and pressure defense.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Grande Coffee
West Virginia at Virginia Tech (1 p.m., ESPN)
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins added junior college transfers with hopes of avoiding the dysfunction of last season. Little hope is on the way for Virginia Tech, however.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Sugar-Free Red Bull
South Carolina at Baylor (3 p.m., ESPN)
Baylor has a roster with plenty of pro talent thanks to the return of Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson. The Bears need newcomers like Kenny Chery, Ishmael Wainright and Royce O’Neal to improve play in the defensive end. South Carolina is getting better under Frank Martin, but the roster rebuild is still in its early stages.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Diet Mountain Dew
NC State at Cincinnati (5 p.m., ESPN)
The Wolfpack enter this season with none of the fanfare from last season with almost every key player gone from last season. Maybe that will be a good thing for NC State. Cincinnati also has had little press in the offesason, but Mick Cronin returns Sean Kilpatrick and adds freshman Jermaine Lawrence on what should be an NCAA Tournament team.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Red Bull
VCU at Virginia (7 p.m., ESPN2)
VCU and Virginia share a state and little else in common. The Rams are among the most exciting teams in the country to watch due to their defense while Virginia, well, is not. Still, the Cavs' Joe Harris is a ACC player of the year candidate going up against a defensive team that will keep him on his toes.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Five-Hour Energy
Michigan State vs. Kentucky (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Full Game Preview
Tom Izzo’s veterans vs. Kentucky’s youth. Pro players everywhere.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Monster Energy Drink
Florida at Wisconsin (9 p.m., ESPN2)
Florida heads to Wisconsin with a depleted roster without Scottie Wilbekin, Damontre Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith. The Gators need Patric Young and Will Yeguete to take advantage of a Badgers frontcourt replacing three starters. Wisconsin guards Josh Gasser and Ben Brust will try to take advantage of a Florida team without its top perimeter defender.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Two espresso shots
Kansas vs. Duke (10 p.m., ESPN)
Full Game Preview
There’s no easing into the season as Andrew Wiggins faces Duke in his second career game.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Rockstar Energy Drink
If Jimmie Johnson wins his sixth NASCAR Spring Cup championship, Phoenix will have been its defining moment. It’s not over until the fat lady sings, of course, but the next six days sure feel like a coronation with his No. 48 needing to finish just 23rd or better at Homestead. It’s a well-deserved top story for a driver that has dominated Sprint Cup racing for the past decade.
But for me, Sunday will also be the defining moment for one of NASCAR’s most unexpected long-term marriages. On a fateful day in Feb. 2001, an up-and-coming development driver, Kevin Harvick, and owner Richard Childress were brought together far quicker than expected, Dale Earnhardt’s untimely death left a grieving owner with a gaping hole in his heart. Like a rebound relationship, a replacement felt good in the face of tragedy (see: Atlanta victory one month later) only to start fizzling as the honeymoon wore off. The next season, their second year together, saw Harvick suspended for a Cup race over rough driving, fighting with teammates internally and posting a 21st-place finish in the season standings – the worst performance for a Childress team in the two previous decades.
Back then, rumors began that Harvick would be replaced behind the wheel, the generation gap and headstrong personalities being too much to overcome. It seems for the last 11 years you’d see divorce papers getting threatened by one member of this duo, oh, about once every six months. But a funny thing happened on the way to the lawyer’s office: they kept stopping to beat the crap out of the competition.
Harvick-Childress, who earned their fourth victory of the season at Phoenix (along with victories in the Sprint Unlimited and a Daytona Duel) have now won 23 times together, including three of the sport’s “crown jewel” races: the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and Charlotte’s Coca-Cola 600 (twice). Only a handful have won more. Yes, the title Childress so desperately wants to reclaim, proving his success extends beyond Earnhardt’s legacy, has never quite come to fruition. But they’ve been in it most every year, with Harvick finishing third twice and holding at least a mathematical shot this year heading to Homestead.
The fact they’ve got that far is a miracle, considering the divorce finally did come to pass with papers filed in Nov. 2012. For the past year, ironclad contracts forced the pairing together through a “lame duck” period where both sides are moving out and moving on. Childress is publicly focused on making his grandsons the next Sprint Cup success story; Harvick is moving to Stewart-Haas Racing, whose partnership with Hendrick finds it higher in the Chevy pecking order. An on-track incident between Harvick and one of those grandsons, Ty Dillon, led to a war of words at Martinsville just weeks ago in which Childress came this close to canning Harvick — championship chance be damned.
But, like the last dozen-plus years, the key to that statement is that it never actually happened. So here we are, with one race left and Harvick could easily wind up second, the highest points finish for any driver leaving a team since Darrell Waltrip did so with Junior Johnson in 1986. And with all the bitter history these guys have, you’d think it difficult to do a Victory Lane interview together. Instead, we found Harvick fighting back tears on Sunday.
“You want to make your race team better,” the driver said of their feisty relationship. “But in the end, you want to be a better person. He’s taught me a lot about being a dad.”
“You look at life,” added Childress. “I'm sure y'all have heard that old song, don't blink, 100 years goes by fast, and this is just another chapter in life that we're all living. You've got to be tough to hang in there and make it, and we've done a lot together.”
It’s like the old cartoon where the little kid is plucking the petals off the rose. “You love me. You love me not.” Six days is still a long time to get back to “You love me not.” Still, this partnership will look back on what it has accomplished years from now and smile on how Childress and Harvick kept up the level of success for so long. Earnhardt’s former team could have easily folded in the face of it all. Instead, they forged on.
“The Intimidator” would sure be proud.
“Through the Gears” we go, post-Phoenix …
FIRST GEAR: Jimmie Johnson takes charge of the championship
Sunday was filled with scary moments for Johnson and company. The first lap, after taking the pole, Joey Logano knocked the No. 48 sideways. Midway through, Carl Edwards did the same — with such force both drivers would have crashed nine times out of 10. Only car control from one of the sport’s elite kept all four fenders on with his mind in the game and an eye on the championship prize – as opposed to revenge.
The workman-like performance that followed — a third-place finish — defines the way Johnson and Chad Knaus approach this Chase. When tough circumstances materialize, like this race in which a pole-winning run went awry, the focus never wavers. If a win is out of the question, a top-5 performance is treated like one; every ounce of effort put towards moving up. There was a bit of history to overcome here. Last season, Johnson came into the fall Phoenix event with a seven-point lead only to smack the wall hard mid-race. You lose a championship, getting two years removed from winning one, and the whispers grow louder. It’s the cruel nature of sports; time makes you only as good as your last play.
But Johnson didn’t listen to any of that, nor waver when rival Matt Kenseth surprised by out-pointing him at Martinsville. Instead, the No. 48 team keeps throwing punches and its average finish of 4.7 threatens to set a new Chase record.
“We're heading into Homestead in the position we want to be in,” the point-leader admitted. “I'll have to go down there and run 400 miles. It's far from over.”
Unfortunately for its rivals, the fact this team knows how to treat the season finale means it already is. Barring some sort of unforeseen mechanical failure or the worst possible “Lady Luck moment” imaginable, Johnson will be your 2013 Sprint Cup champion.
SECOND GEAR: Playing defense finally caught up to Kenseth The past month, I’ve talked in writing, on the radio and on television about Matt Kenseth’s “defensive” drive to success. Despite leading the standings for much of the Chase, it’s been more the No. 20 team minimizing the damage instead of seizing control of the title race. Too many races follow a familiar pattern; Kenseth is junk at the start, complaining only for Jason Ratcliff to work his magic and make the right adjustments to the car down the stretch. That’s in direct opposition to the No. 48, which seems to start with the better setups and be the rabbit Kenseth has to catch.
To Kenseth’s credit, as well as Ratcliff’s, their chemistry has allowed them to build towards success every week. But you can only play defense for so long before the other team scores. Sunday, Johnson was so far ahead, with Kenseth struggling to even crack the top 10, it just seemed they could never flip the momentum switch. Phoenix is a track-position race, they qualified poorly (14th) and never could quite work through traffic. Then, there was a disastrous mid-race pit stop (an agonizing 25 seconds) in which this Joe Gibbs Racing outfit looked like the Bad News Bears. Pull the right strategy — around the time Johnson was Edwards’ personal pinball — and the No. 20 could have put pressure on the No. 48. Instead, the only pressure was what cracked every member of that pit crew. You felt after that moment Kenseth was toast on a day that proved so rough, his post-race comments seemed more like a concession speech:
“I couldn't be happier and more proud of my team and man — this has been the best year of my racing career, really. It's been an awesome season. You're going to have days like this and of course we wanted to finish (it) off here the last couple weeks.”
It’s a tough title for this team to lose; at 41 year of age and the honeymoon period over at JGR, you wonder if Kenseth will ever get the same opportunity. Seven race wins is a career-defining year for a driver known more for his consistency. But the bottom line is during the biggest moment, what the No. 20 team brought to the table just wasn’t enough.
THIRD GEAR: Fuel or not, Carl Edwards will be a factor come 2014Edwards, who ran out of gas to hand Harvick the lead, appeared ready to earn a Phoenix sweep Sunday. That would have given his No. 99 team three wins on the season, putting their stats more level with top Chasers Harvick, Johnson, Kenseth and Kyle Busch. It’s been a quiet comeback year for a driver still recovering from that 2011 championship near-miss.
“It was a fun race,” he said after limping home 21st. “I had a really good time. It’s gonna take me a little while to get over this one. We did everything right, we just didn’t calculate the fuel correctly.”
That mistake, combined with two mechanical failures this postseason, leaves Edwards dead last this Chase. On paper, it’s a big disappointment after coming in with the momentum of winning the regular season finale at Richmond. But without the Chase, keep in mind Edwards sits sixth in points. That’s far more reflective of a year in which he and crew chief Jimmy Fennig built strong chemistry.
The Fords appear to have jumped back in step with the Chevys and Toyotas heading into 2014. With Edwards still the Blue Oval’s high-money guy, there’s a lot of positive signs here to show he’s back on the upward swing for next season.
FOURTH GEAR: Patrick’s poor performances continue I’ve gone back and forth on Danica Patrick this season. Every time you want to write her off, she comes through with an unexpected top 20 at a track like Martinsville where the rookie shows some unexpected growth. But Sunday was not one of those days. Involved in a wreck not of her making, it was a way to take the No. 10 car out of its misery. At one point, Patrick was running 38th, fighting with the cars of Joe Nemechek and Reed Sorenson, who have five percent of her funding and used-up horsepower under the hood.
Compare that to last season, when Patrick ran top 20 at PIR before blowing an engine on the last lap and it’s a sign to me she’s regressing a bit. Her open-wheel and stock car experience is immense in Phoenix at this point, making Sunday’s run unacceptable. Stewart-Haas Racing would do well to retain Mark Martin next season as a mentor and driving coach because it can’t have these types of performances by next November.
Three straight weeks, three mechanical failures for surprise Talladega winner David Ragan, a distant 35th at Phoenix. Not the way his small-time Front Row Motorsports wanted to build towards 2014. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. sits fifth in points heading to the season finale and could run as high as second. Had he won Chicagoland instead of blowing an engine there he’d be the closest driver to Johnson heading to Homestead. … Goodyear tires remained the primary focus at Phoenix, with almost everyone agreeing a softer compound is needed. No loss of grip combined with new asphalt left everyone frustrated over an inability to pass. … BK Racing has had a “whopper” of a bad season thus far. David Reutimann’s hard crash, combined with Travis Kvapil’s blown engine, leave it with nine DNFs apiece for the two teams, with zero top 10s.
Texas’ Big 12 title hopes took a hit on Saturday night, as running back Johnathan Gray was lost for the season with an Achilles injury. Gray rushed for 780 yards and four touchdowns on 159 attempts in 2013.
With Gray sidelined, the Longhorns will lean more on Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. Although Gray is the team’s best back, Brown and Bergeron are more than capable of leading the Texas’ ground attack.
Gray’s injury wasn’t the only setback Texas suffered against West Virginia. Defensive tackle Chris Whaley was also lost for the year.
The injuries come at the worst time of the year for Texas. The Longhorns have three tough games remaining: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor.
Texas RB Johnathan Gray (Achilles) and DT Chris Whaley (knee) both ruled out for the season.— ESPN Texas (@ESPNTexas) November 10, 2013
Alabama coach Nick Saban will be the next coach of the Texas Longhorns. Current UT coach Mack Brown has one foot out the door. Saban's agent, Jimmy Sexton, is already jockeying for position, eyeing a Lone Star State payday. Sorry, Alabama fans. It was a good run. But Saban is moving from Tuscaloosa to Austin in 2014. These are the 10 reasons why Nick Saban will be the next coach at Texas:
1. "Special pressure" at Alabama
Alabama is spoiled. Three BCS national championships in four seasons will do that. The student section takes their red Solo cups to Sorority and Fraternity Rows long before games are over. Saban is under the type of "special pressure" where anything less than an undefeated season and BCS national title is considered a failure.
2. To be better than Bear
Despite a 77–13 record at Bama and three BCS title crystals, Saban will never be considered better than Bear Bryant as long as he is coaching the Crimson Tide. Saban will always be second-best while he's coaching in a Houndstooth shadow. But were Saban to go to Texas — and win it all — he would have national titles at LSU, Alabama and Texas. Saban would be… however sacrilegious it is… better than the Bear.
3. More money
"How much money does he need?" is the type of thing said by someone other than Saban. Texas has an endowment of $6 billion. Alabama has an endowment of $630 million. Saban wants to be the biggest and the best? Everything is bigger in Texas.
4. Longhorn Network
ESPN has partnered with Texas for the Longhorn Network, which has yet to establish itself. But imagine the possibilities? Saban could potentially have the Worldwide Leader of propaganda machines at his disposal. As if he needed any additional help rebuilding the burnt orange football factory in Austin.
The Republic of Texas may never secede from the Union, but the University of Texas could realistically secede from the Big 12 — a conference it nearly killed following the announcement of its Longhorn Network. Missouri and Texas A&M took their balls to the SEC. While the Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC have grown stronger in numbers, the Big 12 has fallen behind. Texas could become the Notre Dame of the South.
6. No conference title game
Short of total independence, Texas still has an edge over any SEC team in that the Longhorns avoid a conference title game. Why play a pesky SEC East team when you can roll out the red carpet directly to the Final Four of the BCS? Less chance of injury, less chance of fluke loss, less chance period.
7. AJ McCarron is graduating
Sure there are other quarterbacks. Brent Musberger told all the boys out there to go pitch the ball around in the backyard because quarterbacks get all the good looking women. But those other signal-callers aren't Mr. McCarron, who has a 34–2 record, 65 TDs and 11 INTs (through nine games in 2013) in nearly three seasons as a starter. After this season, Saban will have to build a new relationship with a new starting QB — whether he's at Bama or Texas.
8. To be his own boss (almost)
No matter where Saban goes, the Nick-tator will be his own man. No one speaks to the coach unless directly spoken to. Don't even look at Coach Saban if you pass him in the halls. That will be the rule wherever he goes. But at Texas, Saban will be working under a brand new athletic director in Steve Patterson.
9. Tired of "Sweet Home Alabama"
How many times can you hear "Sweet Home Alabama," Roll! Tide! Roll!? Sometimes you can just see Saban seething for apparently no reason, up 40 points but fuming. What other reason could there be? He's sick of that song and that chant. It will take years before the Texas Exes and their Hook 'Em Horns gets under Saban's skin.
10. Better oatmeal pies
Coach Saban's breakfast of choice is the oatmeal cream pie. The Texas State Fair would runneth over with oatmeal cream pies if Saban was wearing burnt orange on the sidelines.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Nov. 11.
• It's Brittney Gastineau's birthday. Happy 30th to the model, entrepreneur, entertainment journalist, former reality star and daughter of '80s sackmaster Mark Gastineau.
• Happy Veterans Day. Save a thought today for the NFL player who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
• Manning Face took a frightening turn after Peyton was denied the game ball following the Broncos win.
• Hot sports take from yesterday: The Ravens need to work on their Hail Mary defense.
• Helmet Catch II: Golden Tate with an amazing touchdown catch against the Falcons.
• Take comfort, Bucs fans: There's statistical evidence that the Bucs are the best bad team ever. So you got that going for you.
• Watch scientists unveil a primitive invisibility cloak. Don't get too excited - emphasis on primitive.
• A classic from the genre "toddlers accidentally using profanity." Obvious language alert.
• So was the University of Michigan president drunk during her halftime remarks? They're blaming microphone issues, but I'm unconvinced.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
Marshall plays at Tulsa on Thursday night, which is the 33rd anniversary of the plane crash that killed 75 people returning from a game against East Carolina in 1970.
To honor the 75 victims, Marshall will wear a special “75” decal on its helmets for Thursday night's game against Tulsa: