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Path: /college-football/utah-state-struggles-touchdown-celebration-scrimmage

Utah State has scored plenty of touchdowns over the last two years, but as this video shows, the Aggies may need a little work on their touchdown celebrations.

Receiver Bruce Natson catches a touchdown during a scrimmage and is ready to celebrate with his linemen. However, as Natson jumps up to celebrate, the lineman appears to drop the receiver.

Celebration fail.


Utah State Struggles With Touchdown Celebration in Scrimmage
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 10:17
Path: /nfl/chicago-bears-2013-nfl-team-preview

For the first time since 2004, this is not Lovie Smith’s team. Marc Trestman was imported from the Canadian Football League with the hope that he could make the Bears a more frequent participant in the postseason. That’s something Smith was able do only once in his final six seasons, including 2012, when the Bears went 10–6 but missed the postseason on a tiebreaker.

The Bears are not in a rebuilding mode, and they ­shouldn’t be, considering their 29–19 record over the last three seasons. But they will have different looks on both sides of the ball, even though new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will play a 4-3 with some Cover-2, similar to what the Bears ran in the past.

The Bears parted ways with eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher when neither side would budge from the team’s offer of $2 million for the future Hall of Famer, who is 35. There were, however, some positive additions on the other side of the ball. For the first time since quarterback Jay Cutler was acquired, before the 2009 season, he has a Pro Bowl left tackle protecting his blind side: free agent pickup Jermon Bushrod. On the same day the Bears acquired the former Saint, they added Martellus Bennett, giving Cutler a tight end known for his pass-catching skills for the first time since Greg Olsen was traded in July 2011.

Athlon Sports NFC Power Ranking: 10th

Related: 2013 Chicago Bears Schedule Analysis

Cutler is in the final season of a five-year, $49.7 million deal, and he’s unlikely to get another big deal from the Bears without adding to his career playoff victory total of one.

In his fifth year with the Bears, Cutler has been provided with more talent on the offensive line than he’s ever had in Chicago. Bushrod is the key, bringing the stability and consistency that was lacking. Guard Matt Slauson, a starter the previous three years with the Jets, was also added in free agency, replacing Lance Louis, who signed with the Dolphins. Then the Bears used their first-round pick on guard Kyle Long and their fifth-rounder on tackle Jordan Mills.

Bennett, a complete tight end and a talented receiver, represents a huge upgrade at the position. Together with big, strong wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quick, elusive running back Matt Forté, Cutler has more offensive firepower at his disposal than ever before. GM Phil Emery acquired Marshall before the 2012 season for only a pair of third-round picks because of off-the-field problems, which the 6'4", 230-pounder says were a result of undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder. Emery’s gamble paid off with the most prolific pass-catching season in franchise history (118 receptions, 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns). The Bears hope to be less dependent on Marshall, although he still figures to be the go-to guy.

The protection in front of Cutler will look a lot different. J’Marcus Webb will compete with journeyman Jonathan Scott at right tackle. Gabe Carimi, the 2011 first-round draft pick who was a bust at right tackle in 2012, will get a chance to compete for a spot at guard, along with Slauson and Long. The Bears hope they can get a 12th year out of Roberto Garza at center.

The run game is in the more-than-capable hands of Forté, the primary ball-carrier and a productive pass-catcher. He had more than 50 catches in each of his first four seasons before dipping to 44 last season, when the offense de-emphasized his role in the passing game. Burly but agile Michael Bush is a nice complement to Forté and an effective short-yardage option.

If they stick to Trestman’s plan of using Devin Hester almost exclusively as a return specialist, the Bears need to find a deep threat. They had one in Johnny Knox, but he was unable to come back from a spine injury in 2011. Last year’s second-round pick, 6'3", 216-pound Alshon Jeffery, is more than a possession receiver, and tough Earl Bennett is a reliable underneath target, but there’s no one to stretch the field vertically.

The window is closing on a talented but aging defense, led by three players in their early 30s — seven-time Pro Bowl weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs, eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers and two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman. Urlacher is gone, as is Nick Roach, the strong-side starter for most of the past five seasons. Former Bronco D.J. Williams was brought in to play the middle, and James Anderson takes over for Roach. But both were signed to one-year contracts, and Williams is 31 and Anderson turns 30 in September. Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene, the second- and fourth-round picks, respectively, could represent the Bears’ future at linebacker. Williams injured his calf early in training camp, which provided even more reps for Bostic, who could end up the starter by Week 1.

Tillman’s running mate, feisty little Tim Jennings, also made the Pro Bowl last season on the strength of an NFL-best nine interceptions. Ninth-year veteran Kelvin Hayden is back to play the nickel, but for now, the only proven depth consists of Zack Bowman, who has started only four games since 2009.

The safety position showed an uncharacteristic continuity last season. Strong safety Major Wright and free safety Chris Conte both started every game, until Conte missed the finale with a hamstring injury. In the previous eight seasons, the Bears had made a combined 54 lineup changes at the safety position. There is plenty of depth with veterans Tom Zbikowski and Craig Steltz and youngsters Brandon Hardin and Anthony Walters.

Up front, 3-technique tackle Henry Melton went to his first Pro Bowl, partly due to his six sacks, and 2010 fourth-round pick Corey Wootton had a breakout season, winning the left end job at midseason and contributing seven sacks. Shea McClellin, the 2012 first-round pick, played in the end rotation and showed pass-rush potential. Stephen Paea started 14 games at nose tackle but doesn’t have the ideal size for the position and is best playing in a rotation. There is very little depth inside.

Placekicker Robbie Gould missed the final three games of 2012 with a calf injury, but he’s as reliable as they come, ranking sixth in NFL history in field goal percentage. His kickoffs have gotten longer every season, as has his proficiency at long field goals. Punter Adam Podlesh allowed just 84 return yards on 81 punts. The Bears are counting on a return to form in the return game from Hester, who slumped badly as a punt returner last season but was solid on kickoff returns. Hester failed to score on a return for the first time in three years.

Final Analysis: 3rd in NFC North
The Bears have an almost-all-new coaching staff, and a lot of the personnel also has changed. But Tucker’s 4-3 scheme is not expected to look much different from the defenses of the previous nine years. Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer and Trestman will run their version of the West Coast offense with a priority on getting rid of the ball quickly. This was a 10–6 team last season that barely missed the playoffs, so anything less than postseason participation will be considered a disappointment.

Order your 2013 Chicago Bears Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

2013 Athlon Sports NFL Team Previews:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimore (8/26)Houston (8/29)Denver (9/3)
MiamiCincinnati (8/27)Indianapolis (8/23)Kansas City (8/21)
New England (8/30)ClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburgh (8/28)Tennessee (8/22)San Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
Dallas (8/22)ChicagoAtlanta (8/27)Arizona
NY Giants (8/30)DetroitCarolinaSt. Louis (8/23)
PhiladelphiaGreen Bay (8/29)New Orleans (8/26)San Francisco (9/3)
WashingtonMinnesota (8/21)Tampa BaySeattle (8/28)


Chicago Bears 2013 NFL Team Preview
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/san-diego-chargers-2013-nfl-team-preview

There’s nothing like snapping the fans to attention by making a radical regime change and drafting Manti Te’o. That’s what the Chargers did after missing the playoffs for the third straight season and watching attendance sag. Citing the need for a “culture change,” team president Dean Spanos finally bowed to the fans’ wishes and fired Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith. He replaced them with 40-year-olds Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco, who are in their first head coaching and general manager gigs, respectively.

Telesco began rebuilding a roster that had grown stale because of Smith’s unproductive drafts and a wild free agent binge prior to the 2012 season. Among his many moves, Telesco got rid of left tackle Jared Gaither, who’d earned the nickname “The Big Lazy,” and drafted Te’o, a move sure to give the Chargers much more national exposure than they otherwise would merit. Still, returning the Bolts to their days of dominating the AFC West could take the new brain trust a few seasons.

Athlon Sports AFC Power Ranking: 10th

Related: 2013 San Diego Chargers Schedule Analysis

The Chargers hope Philip Rivers can pull out of a slide that’s seen him commit 49 turnovers the last two years combined. Not only will Rivers be running a new system under McCoy and new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, but there are also still big questions about the line. Rivers was under siege much of last season, leading to 49 sacks and 22 turnovers. Fans are concerned that Rivers might have a hard time staying upright again this season.

Telesco spent his first-round draft pick on Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker, but the new GM failed to upgrade the critical left side of the line in the draft. The Chargers had left tackle Bryant McKinnie in for a visit before he re-signed with Baltimore. So going into training camp, the No. 1 left tackle protecting Rivers’ blind side is King Dunlap, a free agent pickup from Philadelphia. Dunlap is big (6'9", 330), but he had a hamstring injury last year, and the Philly line struggled. The Chargers’ string of bad luck at left tackle started when Marcus McNeill retired due to a neck injury and continued when Gaither got the heave-ho because of his poor work ethic and injury troubles. The left guard is projected to be Rich Ohrnberger, one of Telesco’s three free agent acquisitions on the line. With Fluker set to start at right tackle, Jeromey Clary will move to right guard. Fluker was considered one of the best run-blockers in college last year, but he’ll need to improve his pass-blocking.

Another player who needs to bounce back big is running back Ryan Mathews, who broke both collarbones last season and failed to fix his fumbling problem. Five defensive players on his own team had as many or more touchdowns than Mathews, who scored only once. Telesco added free agent Danny Woodhead to help at running back.

The Bolts have already gone through a fair amount of attrition at wide receiver before the season has even started. Danario Alexander was signed in mid-October and ended up being one of the team’s most productive receivers, but he tore his ACL in early August and is lost for the season. Malcom Floyd, the team's leading receiver last season, sustained his own knee injury shortly afterwards, but he is expected to ready to play by Week 1. San Diego drafted Cal’s Keenan Allen in the third round in April, but the team really needs Vincent Brown to bounce back from a fractured ankle and more production out of Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem, provided both end up on the final roster. Tight end Antonio Gates bounced back from a painful foot injury but will be playing his 11th season.

While Turner called his own plays and often struggled with game management, McCoy was praised for hiring former Cardinals head coach Whisenhunt as his offensive coordinator.

Te’o instantly became the most intriguing player on the Chargers’ roster when Telesco traded up to get him in the second round of the draft. Telesco said he wasn’t worried by the star linebacker’s poor showing in Notre Dame’s blowout loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game, his being involved in a hoax involving a fake girlfriend or his poor 40-yard dash times. After looking so bad against Alabama’s powerful run game, Te’o will have to prove that he can make it in the NFL, both physically and mentally. With veteran Takeo Spikes a salary cap casualty, Te’o will play inside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme alongside Donald Butler, who had a breakthrough season in 2012.

San Diego was counting on second-year linebacker Melvin Ingram to help replace Bulter, but he tore his ACL back in May and it's unknown if he will be able to return at any point this season. The Chargers signed former Indianapolis Colt Dwight Freeney to a two-year deal following Ingram's injury. Freeney has 107.5 career sacks, but the 11-year veteran is 33 years old and managed just five sacks last season. San Diego needs him to re-establish himself as a pass-rushing presence from his outside linebacker position.

Like the offense, the defense has both playmakers and some holes, although Telesco made more moves on this side of the ball due to the salary cap and his desire for a younger roster. While Smith was panned for many of his draft picks in recent years, he did do well in adding some good, young players on defense. Ends Corey Liuget, a first-round pick in 2011, and Kendall Reyes, a second-rounder in 2012, have fans excited with their dominating play. Liuget had seven sacks and Reyes had 5.5. One problem is the hole in between them. Antonio Garay was allowed to leave as a free agent, leaving Cam Thomas as the only defensive tackle on the roster. The Chargers also lost Shaun Phillips, who led them with 9.5 sacks.

San Diego will turn over three-quarters of its secondary. Only free safety Eric Weddle returns as a starter. The Chargers, who haven’t had a thumper at strong safety since Rodney Harrison was released more than 10 years ago, will turn to Brandon Taylor, a third-round pick in 2012. Marcus Gilchrist and free-agent acquisition Derek Cox will be the new starters at cornerback after Antoine Cason left for Arizona and Quentin Jammer became a free agent.

After an off-and-on role with the Chargers, Nick Novak finally stuck as the kicker. He was signed four weeks into the 2012 season after Nate Kaeding got hurt, and he hit 18-of-20 field goal attempts in the final 13 games. He was 16-for-16 inside 50 yards, and his 90 percent conversion rate was the third-highest for a season in team history. Kaeding was eventually put on injured reserve and then released, ending a run in which he became the most accurate regular-season kicker in NFL history. Kaeding’s playoff misses, however, still rankle fans. Punter Mike Scifres remains a key player with his powerful left leg, and Mike Windt returns as long snapper.

Final Analysis: 3rd in AFC West
Chargers fans should brace for the possibility that the Bolts could miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Telesco doesn’t like the word “rebuilding,” but it’s hard to deny that he has a pretty big project on his hands. He has vowed to rebuild via the draft rather than through expensive, splashy and unpredictable free agent signings, so his plan for reshaping the roster could take a few seasons.

With two-time AFC West champion Denver and Kansas City making their share of big moves, the Chargers might have to settle for finishing ahead of the lowly Oakland Raiders.

Order your 2013 San Diego Chargers Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

2013 Athlon Sports NFL Team Previews:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimore (8/26)Houston (8/29)Denver (9/3)
MiamiCincinnati (8/27)Indianapolis (8/23)Kansas City (8/21)
New England (8/30)ClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburgh (8/28)Tennessee (8/22)San Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
Dallas (8/22)ChicagoAtlanta (8/27)Arizona
NY Giants (8/30)DetroitCarolinaSt. Louis (8/23)
PhiladelphiaGreen Bay (8/29)New Orleans (8/26)San Francisco (9/3)
WashingtonMinnesota (8/21)Tampa BaySeattle (8/28)


San Diego Chargers 2013 NFL Team Preview
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: GIF, Overtime
Path: /overtime/slo-mo-cameras-boxing-are-awesome

We can all thank Fox Sports 1 for this boxing gem. On Monday night Danny Jacobs stepped into the ring with Giovanni Lorenzo and did this to Lorenzo's face in the third round to win the WBC Continental Americas middleweight title.


Slo-mo knockout of Giovanno Lorenzo

On Monday night Danny Jacobs stepped into the ring with Giovanni Lorenzo and did this to Lorenzo's face in the third round.
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 09:05
All taxonomy terms: Funny, Overtime
Path: /overtime/baseball-fans-day-these-guys

Two Pirates fans showed their support for the team through a pair of enormous foam Pirates hats, going the extra mile at PNC Park during a game against the Diamondbacks. Surprisingly, they were not mobbed by women.

Two Pirates fans showed their support for the team through a pair of enormous foam Pirates hats, going the extra mile at PNC Park during a game against the Diamondbacks.
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 08:48
Path: /college-football/big-12-football-breakout-players-2013

Every year, college football fans are introduced to a handful of players that become household names by the end of the season. Predicting which players will breakout any year is never an easy task.

With a ton of turnover at the quarterback position, the Big 12 is up for grabs this season. Oklahoma State is considered the preseason favorite, but Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor and TCU are certainly in the mix. The Wildcats won the Big 12 title last year and have plenty of reasons for optimism in 2013. But coach Bill Snyder’s team has a few holes to fill, including quarterback with the departure of Collin Klein. Backup Daniel Sams played well in limited action last year, but he is locked into a tight battle with junior college recruit Jake Waters for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.

Defining what is a breakout player is nearly impossible. Everyone has a different perspective on how players are viewed around the conference and nationally. Athlon's list of breakout players for 2013 tries to take into account which names will be known nationally (not just within the conference) by the end of season. So while some of these players on this list are known to fans of a particular team, the rest of the conference or nation might not be as familiar. 

Big 12 Breakout Players for 2013

Ernst Brun, TE, Iowa State
Brun was a pleasant surprise for Iowa State late last season, catching seven of his 26 passes over the final three games. In the bowl loss to Tulsa, Brun nabbed four receptions for 102 yards and one score. The Cyclones need more from their receiving corps in 2013, especially with quarterback Sam Richardson in his first full year as the starter. Brun tied for the team lead with six touchdown catches in 2012, and the former junior college recruit should be an even bigger part of the Iowa State offense this year.

Brandon Carter, WR, TCU
With Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson playing in the NFL, the Horned Frogs need a new go-to receiver. But quarterbacks Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin won’t have to look too far down the depth chart for a No. 1 target. Carter ranked second on the team in receiving yards (590) and touchdown catches (six) last season. The Texas native has been a big-play threat over the last two years, averaging 15.3 yards per catch in 2011 and 16.4 in '12. Assuming Pachall wins the starting job, TCU’s passing attack will be stretching the field more in 2013. And that's good news for Carter, who is clearly ready to blossom into an All-Big 12 player on the outside.

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Coach Art Briles certainly knows a thing or two about quarterbacks. After all, Robert Griffin III won the Heisman in 2011, and Nick Florence ranked second nationally in total offense last year. No pressure, Bryce Petty. The junior steps into the starting role after serving as an understudy over the last two years and hopes to continue Baylor’s recent run of successful passers. Petty has thrown only 14 passes in his career but has been impressive as the No. 1 quarterback this spring. There’s still plenty for the junior to prove in 2013, but considering Briles’ history of developing quarterbacks, the Bears have to feel good about Petty’s chances of emerging as a standout player this year.

Jeremiah George, LB, Iowa State
With Jake Knott and A.J. Klein departing, Iowa State’s linebacking corps is under renovation. But the drop-off from 2012 to '13 shouldn’t be drastic, especially with the emergence of George last year. The Florida native recorded 11 stops against West Virginia and ranked second on the team with seven tackles against Kansas. George finished the season with 87 stops and is the new leader for Iowa State’s linebacking corps. Although Iowa State fans are familiar with George, look for the rest of the Big 12 to know about this senior by season’s end.

Peter Jinkens, LB, Texas
One of the most disappointing units on Texas’ defense last season was the linebacking corps. Jordan Hicks was injured and missed most of 2012, while the rest of the unit failed to live up to expectations. Jinkens was a bright spot late in the year, recording nine stops and one interception in the bowl victory over Oregon State. He finished the year with 29 stops in 13 contests and is poised to grab one of the starting spots in 2013. If Hicks can stay healthy and Jinkens builds on a promising freshman campaign, Texas should have a much-improved run defense.

Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor
The Bears know what they have in senior receiver Tevin Reese, and Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood are back after combining for 57 receptions last year. But the receiving corps could use another gamebreaker to help ease the loss of Terrance Williams. Could Rhodes be that player? The true freshman has been one of the stars of fall camp, catching four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in the team’s second scrimmage. Rhodes was rated as the No. 4 receiver in the 2013 recruiting class by Athlon Sports, and all signs point to a big season from the true freshman.

Pete Robertson, LB, Texas Tech
One of the Red Raider quarterbacks (Michael Brewer or Davis Webb) could make this list, but there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding who will start for Texas Tech in the season opener. On the other side of the ball, the Red Raiders return seven starters from a unit that led the Big 12 in pass defense and ranked second in yards allowed. New co-coordinators Mike Smith and Matt Wallerstedt are implementing a 3-4 scheme, which will force a few changes in the personnel. Robertson was a defensive end last year but slides to the bandit position in 2013. The Texas native recorded 20 tackles and two sacks in 12 contests last season. With Robertson shifting to a rush outside linebacker position, Texas Tech is counting on the sophomore to be a key cog in the pass rush.

Daniel Sams/Jake Waters, QB, Kansas State
It’s a bit of a cop out to list Sams and Waters here, but both players are capable of keeping Kansas State in the Big 12 title race. Sams is a dynamic athlete, recording 235 yards and eight rushing touchdowns on 32 attempts in 2012. He only threw eight passes last year but completed six throws for 55 yards. Waters comes to Kansas State after two years at Iowa Western Community College. The Iowa native had a huge 2012 season, earning NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honors after throwing for 3,501 yards and 39 scores. Although Waters isn’t as dynamic on the ground as Sams, the junior isn’t a statue in the pocket. There’s no question Collin Klein will be missed this year. However, the Wildcats’ offense shouldn't fall off much with Sams or Waters leading the way.

Cassius Sendish, CB, Kansas
Junior college prospects are very hit-or-miss. Regardless of the recruiting hype coming from the JUCO ranks, it will take some time to adjust to the talent on the FBS level. Sendish is expected to start at one of the cornerback spots for Kansas, and the secondary is a unit under pressure after finishing 114th nationally against the pass in 2012. The Maryland native ranked as the No. 59 junior college prospect in the 2013 signing class, after recording 29 tackles and 10 pass breakups at Arizona Western last year. Sendish represented Kansas at Big 12 Media Days, so the coaching staff already has confidence in his ability and expects him to be a key contributor to the pass defense.

Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Whether it’s Blake Bell or Trevor Knight replacing Landry Jones at quarterback, the Sooners will continue to have one of the Big 12’s top offenses in 2013. And both passers have plenty of weapons at their disposal, including Jalen Saunders, Trey Metoyer and rising star Sterling Shepard. Saunders, Justin Brown and Kenny Stills overshadowed Shepard’s play last year. However, as a true freshman, he caught 45 passes for 621 yards and three scores. Shepard did not have a touchdown reception over the final five games, but he caught at least three passes in each of the last six contests. Saunders is clearly Oklahoma’s No. 1 target. However, expect Shepard to be an even bigger factor in the Sooners’ attack this year.

Jeremy Smith, RB, Oklahoma State
It might be a little too obvious to list Smith in this article, but after playing behind Joseph Randle and Kendall Hunter, it’s his time to shine. In his first three years in Stillwater, Smith has rushed for 1,439 yards and 25 touchdowns. Smith’s best performance in his career came against Grambling in 2009, recording 160 yards and one score on 15 attempts. However, the Tulsa native has played well in Big 12 action, rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns against Texas in 2011. With Randle playing in the NFL, this is Smith’s job to lose, and the senior should rank near the top of the Big 12 in rushing yards this year.

Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are gone, leaving a large void in West Virginia’s receiving corps. The Mountaineers aren’t short on options and talent, but coach Dana Holgorsen is still looking to solidify the starting group. White spent two years at Lackawanna College and was a big-play threat in the junior college ranks, recording 36 receptions for 535 yards and six scores in 2012. The Pennsylvania native made his presence known in the spring game, catching five passes for 72 yards and one touchdown. White seems locked into a starting role in one of West Virginia’s outside receiver spots, and the junior college product could have a huge year in the Holgorsen’s wide-open offense.

Others to Watch

Hatari Byrd, S, Oklahoma
The Sooners have a few voids to fill in the secondary. Byrd (a true freshman) is in the mix for a starting spot this fall.

Justin McCay, WR, Kansas
The Jayhawks desperately need McCay - a five-star prospect in 2010 - to live up to his recruiting hype in 2013.

Kevin Peterson, CB, Oklahoma State
Addressing the pass defense is a top priority for coordinator Glenn Spencer. As a true freshman, Peterson played well in limited action last year, recording 20 tackles and two pass breakups.

Davion Pierson, DT, TCU
Pierson had a standout freshman year in 2012, recording 36 stops and 3.5 sacks. Look for even bigger and better things from the sophomore in 2013.

Blake Slaughter, LB, Kansas State
Redshirted in 2012 with Arthur Brown entrenched at linebacker and is due to claim a starting role this year.

Tyrone Swoopes, QB, Texas
If David Ash struggles, Swoopes may get the nod over Case McCoy.

Kenny Williams, RB, Texas Tech
Coach Kliff Kingsbury will always lean on the pass, but Williams is a big part of Texas Tech’s offense. He rushed for 824 yards and five scores on 143 attempts last year.

Related College Football Content

Big 12 Predictions for 2013
Bowl Projections for 2013
Big 12's Impact Freshmen for 2013
Key Schedule Stretches in the Big 12 for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Running Back Units for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Wide Receiving Corps for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Offensive Lines for 2013
Big 12 Coaches Anonymously Talk About Conference Foes for 2013
Kliff Kingsbury Returns Home to Texas Tech
Big 12's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013

Big 12 Football Breakout Players for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-defensive-lines-2013

Defensive line isn’t a particularly deep position in college football this season. But at the top, South Carolina, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Florida and USC are all pretty solid. The Gamecocks are headlined by college football’s No. 1 player in end Jadeveon Clowney, while the Fighting Irish have two All-Americans in Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt. 

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2013 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference.

They’re the teams within the team — those cohesive little units bound together by their shared responsibilities within the larger team context. 

Whether it’s the offensive linemen firing off time after time into those familiar blocking sleds, or the defensive linemen drilling repeatedly on how to shed blockers, or the defensive backs breaking on ball after ball — these teams in miniature hone their tasks on the practice field until those tasks become second nature. 
Whether or not these units function as one can make the difference between winning and losing, and a single unit can carry a team to New Year’s Day — or beyond.
It’s entirely fitting, then, for us to honor the best of the best at each position with our 13th annual Athlon Awards. 


Ranking the Top 25 Defensive Lines for 2013

1. South Carolina
The Gamecocks lose end Devin Taylor and tackle Byron Jerideau, but there’s not much concern over this unit. End Jadeveon Clowney is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate and should add to his 21 career sacks and 33.5 tackles for a loss in 2013. Chaz Sutton is due for an increased role after recording five sacks last year, while Kelcy Quarles, Gerald Dixon and J.T. Surratt round out the interior. Freshmen Kelsey Griffin and Darius English may not play much this year but are future stars for this defense. The Gamecocks allowed only seven rushing scores and registered 3.3 sacks per game in 2012.

2. Notre Dame 
Kapron Lewis-Moore must be replaced, but the Fighting Irish feature two first-team Athlon Sports preseason All-Americans in end Stephon Tuitt and tackle Louis Nix III. Tuitt had 12 sacks last year. Sheldon Day replaces Lewis-Moore at end after recording 23 tackles and two sacks in his freshman season. The Fighting Irish need Nix and Tuitt to stay healthy, as there’s not an abundance of depth. Notre Dame finished 11th nationally against the run and allowed only four rushing touchdowns last season.

3. Arizona State 
The Sun Devils need to get tougher against the run, but depth and talent aren’t an issue. Tackle Will Sutton is the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and is projected to be an NFL first-round pick in 2014. Jaxon Hood joins Sutton on the interior after a standout freshman season. Junior Onyeali and Davon Coleman give the Sun Devils two pass-rush threats in the 3-4 scheme. Junior college recruits Marcus Hardison and Demetrius Cherry are expected to provide depth.

4. Florida 
Defense carried the Gators to an 11–2 mark last season, and even though some key pieces depart, Florida should be strong in the trenches. Sophomores Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler start on the edges with seniors Dominique Easley and Damien Jacobs anchoring the interior. Easley is an Athlon Sports first-team preseason All-SEC selection. End/linebacker Ronald Powell, a No. 1 recruit out of high school, is back after sitting out 2012 due to a knee injury. If there’s a concern for coach Will Muschamp, it’s depth on the interior. Junior college recruit Darious Cummings was brought in to help on the interior, but the Gators could use a big season from junior Leon Orr.

5. USC 
New coordinator Clancy Pendergast has plenty of talent to install his new 5-2 scheme. End Morgan Breslin tied for the Pac-12 lead in sacks last year, and the return of Devon Kennard from injury adds another potential double-digit sack threat to the line. Leonard Williams, George Uko and Antwan Woods form a talented interior, with Williams capable of earning All-America honors in 2013. Redshirt freshman Kenny Bigelow is a name to watch this fall.

6. Virginia Tech
If there was a bright spot for the Hokies last season, it was a defensive line that ranked third in the ACC against the run and averaged 2.7 sacks a game. This unit could be even better in 2013, as eight of the nine players from the final 2012 two-deep are back. Ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins should form the best duo in the ACC, and depth is plentiful with Dadi Nicolas and Tyrel Wilson returning. Luther Maddy and Derrick Hopkins anchor the interior, while Kris Harley, Woody Barron and Nigel Williams provide depth. With a struggling offense, Virginia Tech will need to lean on its defense to win the Coastal Division in 2013.

7. Oregon
The Ducks have a new line coach (Ron Aiken) after Jerry Azzinaro followed Chip Kelly to the NFL. Aiken spent six seasons in the NFL but worked at Iowa from 1999-2006 and has plenty of pieces to work with this year. Seniors Taylor Hart, Ricky Heimuli and Wade Keliikipi are the likely starters, but Oregon will rotate several bodies in and out of the lineup. Sophomores DeForest Buckner, Alex Balducci, Christian French and Arik Armstead give the Ducks a solid second group with plenty of upside. Armstead impressed with 26 tackles as a true freshman last year. The only question in the front seven for coordinator Nick Aliotti is which player will step up to replace Dion Jordan’s production off the edge in Oregon’s 3-4 scheme.

8. TCU
Despite the departure of All-Big 12 end Stansly Maponga, the Horned Frogs still boast the best defensive line in the Big 12. End Devonte Fields was a first-team All-Big 12 selection as a true freshman, recording 18.5 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks. Fields will once again anchor the pass rush, but he will miss the first two games of the year due to a suspension. Joining Fields as key contributors at end will be Jon Koontz, Josh Carraway and James McFarland. Tackles Davion Pierson and Chucky Hunter are preseason Athlon Sports All-Big 12 selections. The Horned Frogs led the Big 12 in rush defense and averaged 2.2 sacks per game last year.

9. Stanford
Defensive lines in 3-4 schemes often don’t get the credit they deserve. And that was the case with Stanford last season, as its linebacking corps often overshadowed the work done by the three players in the trenches. The Cardinal loses nose tackle Terrence Stephens, but ends Ben Gardner and Henry Anderson are back. Gardner recorded 7.5 sacks in 14 games, while Anderson chipped in 13 tackles for a loss and 51 stops. Junior David Parry started three games last year and is expected to replace Stephens at nose tackle. Stanford has accumulated solid depth up front, as sophomore Aziz Shittu and senior Josh Mauro ensure the line won’t suffer any drop-off once the top three leave the field.

10. Ohio State
Yes, all four starters are gone from last season’s unit. However, by season’s end, the Buckeyes should have the Big Ten’s top defensive line. Ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington were two of the top-10 defensive end recruits in last year’s signing class, and both players impressed in limited action. The interior will be anchored by a group of talented, but unproven players, headlined by juniors Joel Hale and Michael Bennett. Sophomores Chris Carter and Tommy Schutt are expected to backup Hale and Bennett. True freshmen Joey Bosa, Michael Hill and Billy Price won’t start, but all three could factor into the rotation this year.

11. Texas
Returning Starters: 4
Rush Defense in 2012: 88th nationally (192.2 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 35
Athlon 2013 All-Big 12 Performers: DE Jackson Jeffcoat (1st)

12. Florida State
Returning Starters: 0
Rush Defense in 2012: 3rd nationally (92.3 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 36
Athlon 2013 All-ACC Performers: DT Timmy Jernigan (1st)

13. LSU
Returning Starters: 0
Rush Defense in 2012: 9th nationally (101.6 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 35
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: DT Anthony Johnson (1st)

14. Alabama
Returning Starters: 1
Rush Defense in 2012: 1st nationally (76.4 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 35
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: DT Brandon Ivory (4th)

15. Arkansas
Returning Starters: 3
Rush Defense in 2012: 19th nationally (124.1 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 31
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: DE Chris Smith (1st), DT Byran Jones (2nd)

16. Clemson
Returning Starters: 3
Rush Defense in 2012: 57th nationally (155.9 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 34
Athlon 2013 All-ACC Performers: DE Vic Beasley (3rd)

17. South Florida
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 50th nationally (149.9 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 25
Athlon 2013 American All-Conference Performers: DE Aaron Lynch (1st), DE Ryne Giddins (3rd)

18. Ole Miss
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 25th nationally (129.3 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 38
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: DE C.J. Johnson (2nd), DT Isaac Gross (4th)

19. Penn State
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 23rd nationally (128.4 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 34
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: DE Deion Barnes (1st), DT DaQuan Jones (2nd)

20. Michigan State
Returning Starters: 1
Rush Defense in 2012: 8th nationally (98.6 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 20
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: DE Marcus Rush (3rd)

21. Michigan
Returning Starters: 1
Rush Defense in 2012: 51st nationally (150.5 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 22
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: DE Frank Clark (3rd)

22. Louisville
Returning Starters: 4
Rush Defense in 2012: 48th nationally (148.0 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 22
Athlon 2013 American All-Conference Performers: DT Brandon Dunn (1st), DE Marcus Smith (2nd)

23. Rutgers
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 6th nationally (97.2 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 25
Athlon 2013 American All-Conference Performers: DE Jamil Merrell (1st), DT Darius Hamilton (2nd)

24. Boise State
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 46th nationally
Sacks in 2012: 38
Athlon 2013 All-Mountain West Performers: DE Demarcus Lawrence (1st), DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (2nd)

25. Mississippi State
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 67th nationally (165.6 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 18
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: DE Denico Autry (3rd)

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Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:16
Path: /college-football/kansas-state-football-game-game-predictions-2013

Exceeding expectations is nothing new for Bill Snyder and Kansas State. The Wildcats were picked sixth in the preseason Big 12 media poll last year but finished with an 11-2 record and the conference championship.

Different year, same story. Kansas State is flying under the radar once again in 2013, but there’s good reason to have concerns about Snyder’s team this year. The Wildcats must replace quarterback Collin Klein and nine new starters will step into prominent roles on defense.

Despite the new faces on both sides of the ball, don’t count out Kansas State from making noise in the Big 12 title race. Although Klein will be missed, Daniel Sams and Jake Waters are a capable duo at quarterback. And although the defense has several new faces, the linebacking corps and secondary should be solid. The schedule does feature two tricky non-conference games, as back-to-back FCS champ North Dakota State visits Kansas State on Aug. 31 and UL Lafayette comes to Manhattan on Sept. 7. In Big 12 action, the Wildcats play at Texas and Oklahoma State in the first two weeks but three out of their last five conference games are at home. 

What will Kansas State's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Kansas State's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

8/30 North Dakota State
9/7 UL Lafayette
9/14 UMass
9/21 at Texas
10/5 at Oklahoma State
10/12 Baylor
10/26 West Virginia
11/2 Iowa State
11/9 at Texas Tech
11/16 TCU
11/23 Oklahoma
11/30 at Kansas
Final Projection8-46-68-47-58-4

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Although Kansas State loses a handful of key players from last season’s team, I think the Wildcats will be a factor in the Big 12 title picture. Whether it’s Daniel Sams or Jake Waters under center, Kansas State’s offense should be fine. Running back John Hubert is dependable, the receiving corps is solid, and the offensive line is one of the best in the nation. The defense must rebuild its front seven, but the Wildcats always seem to find the right answers early in the year. Two key swing games – Oklahoma and TCU – come late in the season in Manhattan, which should give Kansas State plenty of time to find replacements for its departed stars on offense and defense. As long as Bill Snyder roams the sidelines, the Wildcats will be a factor in the Big 12 title race, and this team will be a tough out for the rest of the conference in 2013.

Mark Ross
I am the first person to say never bet against Bill Snyder, but from my perspective this is shaping up to be a rebuilding year for the coaching legend. No one has mastered the art of mining the junior-college ranks better than Snyder, and he will need to do the same again this season if he wants to maintain the Wildcats' recent run of success. That may be easier said than done this fall, however, as it's extremely hard to replace a player like Collin Klein, whose value to the program went well beyond his record-setting production as its starting quarterback.

Whoever ends up getting the call as Klein's replacement will have weapons to work with in running back John Hubert and wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson. However, the quarterback also will have extremely big shoes to fill and will play behind a defense that returns just two starters. That combination doesn't bode well for a schedule that opens Big 12 play on the road against Texas and Oklahoma State. The WIldcats should find a way to scratch out at least six wins and a fourth straight bowl bid. I just don't see them finishing near the top of the Big 12 standings, although it wouldn't shock me if Snyder proved me wrong yet again.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The defense is completely reworked as just two starters return to the secondary. Bill Snyder always figures out a way to patch together new pieces but replacing all seven members of a front seven on defense is nearly impossible - even for a miracle worker like him. Offensively, the running game should be outstanding as the line returns and there are plenty of athletes who can make plays. However, Collin Klein is gone too. Nearly every Big 12 game will be a "swing" contest for the Cats. With Snyder on the sideline, they are bound to pull an upset (against TCU or Oklahoma, perhaps) but could easily lose on the road against lesser teams (Texas Tech). This will be a fun team to watch all season due to its unpredictability.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
It’s going to be tough for Kansas State to maintain the level of play it’s had for the last two seasons. But we’ve said that before and been horribly wrong. The offense may be OK as the offensive line and the run game set the tone, even if it loses a key cog in Collin Klein. In our scouting reports, one coach told Athlon he thought Daniel Sams was better. We’ll see about that. I’ve picked Texas to finally solve its K-State problem and the same goes for Oklahoma. Instead, the games I struggled with the most were Kansas State’s home games against Baylor and TCU. I picked a split with Kansas State defeating TCU. Baylor, though, may be too much for a Wildcats’ defense that returns only two starters. Lastly, I’m going to put Kansas State on upset alert to start the season. North Dakota State is Athlon’s preseason No. 1 in the FCS and Louisiana-Lafayette may have a major-conference upset in its system for 2013.

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Kansas State Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/alabama-football-game-game-predictions-2013

Alabama enters 2013 as the heavy favorite to win the national championship. The Crimson Tide has claimed back-to-back titles and has a favorable path to a third in a row.

The roster is loaded with talent, starting at quarterback with AJ McCarron, along with All-American skill players in running back T.J. Yeldon and receiver Amari Cooper. The offensive line has a few holes to fill, but Alabama’s top-notch recruiting should ensure there’s not too much of a drop up front.

The defense returns eight starters from a unit that ranked No. 1 nationally in scoring, total, rushing and pass defense. The Crimson Tide needs to find a few replacements on the defensive line and for cornerback Dee Milliner. But the linebackers are one of the top units in the nation, and the secondary is solid with young talent ready to step into the lineup. 

The regular season schedule is favorable outside of a date at Texas A&M. Assuming the Crimson Tide beats the Aggies, Alabama’s toughest obstacle to a national championship could be the conference title game against Georgia, South Carolina or Florida.

What will Alabama's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Alabama's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

8/31 Virginia Tech (Atlanta)
9/14 at Texas A&M
9/21 Colorado State
9/28 Ole Miss
10/5 Georgia State
10/12 at Kentucky
10/19 Arkansas
10/26 Tennessee
11/9 LSU
11/16 at Mississippi State
11/23 Chattanooga
11/30 at Auburn
Final Projection12-012-012-012-012-0

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Sure, Alabama has a few holes to fill, but this is still the best team in college football. And the Crimson Tide’s roster is even deeper thanks to the addition of another elite recruiting class. Quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon and receiver Amari Cooper form one of the top offensive trios in the nation, and the defense will always be strong under coach Nick Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart. The offensive line is the team’s biggest question mark, especially with the departure of Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker. On defense, cornerback Dee Milliner will be tough to replace. However, cornerback Geno Smith and safety Landon Collins are two breakout players to watch in 2013. Outside of the Sept. 14 date against Texas A&M, it’s hard to find a place for a loss on Alabama’s schedule. Finishing a regular season without a loss isn’t easy, but I’ll take Alabama to finish unbeaten and play for the championship in Pasadena in early January.

Mark Ross
There's no reason to be cute about this. Unless AJ McCarron goes down to a season-ending injury or Alabama just completely implodes, the Crimson Tide should be in the driver's seat to finish off the BCS era as a three-time national champion. The two games that figure to cause 'Bama the most trouble in the regular season are at Texas A&M and against LSU. Well, anyone who remotely follows college football is well aware of how Johnny Manziel's summer has gone, while the Tide gets the Bayou Bengals in Tuscaloosa. I'm not saying the Aggies or Tigers aren't capable of scoring the upset, it just seems Nick Saban's team is getting all the early breaks. So barring a bad break (or two) during one of these games or to one of Saban's key players, Alabama should, ahem, roll to an undefeated regular season.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Want to give yourself nightmares? That is, if you root for anyone other than the Crimson Tide? Nick Saban has won back-to-back national championships and three of the last four and 2013 will be his best team. Is that scary enough for you? This offense, despite the loss of some solid talent up front along the line, will be more complete, more dynamic and more explosive than any in Saban's coaching tenure. The linebackers are downright nasty with upwards of half-a-dozen future NFL players. He has the best safety in the nation, a defensive line loaded with overachievers and the best collection of freshmen on any campus in the country. To top it all off, Alabama misses South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in crossover play and the LSU game comes at home. The much anticipated visit to College Station following a bye week on September 14 looms large, but Alabama's schedule isn't nearly as daunting as a defending SEC champs should be. The Ole Misses and Auburns of the world won't come close to challenging Alabama's dominance. Roll. Damn. Tide.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Not that Alabama needs much help, but this is an easy schedule by SEC standards. Who is Alabama’s toughest opponent in the month of October? Tennessee? Arkansas? And both of those games are at home. And remember the 2010 season when just about every team had an off week before facing the Tide? Alabama now gets the advantage as it gets its toughest opponents, Texas A&M and LSU, after bye weeks. Alabama never has back-to-back games against top-notch teams unless Mississippi State, who plays host to Alabama the week after the LSU game, takes the next step. The Tide are already the top team in the country, but something would have to go wrong against that schedule for Alabama to go 11-1.

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
It’s hard to imagine Alabama’s schedule being any more favorable. Two opponents stand out as true tests for the Crimson Tide – Texas A&M and LSU. And Alabama will have a week off before it plays each of those teams. Ole Miss played Alabama tough last year, but it’s unrealistic to expect the Crimson Tide to lose at home to the Rebels. Other teams like Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Auburn just don’t have enough talent to match up with Alabama. The Crimson Tide will return to the SEC Championship Game as long as their offensive line develops and the players stay hungry to win another title. 


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Alabama Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/pac-12s-top-25-games-watch-2013

The Oregon Ducks were 33-3 in Pac-12 play under former head coach Chip Kelly. He won three conference championships in those four seasons and played in the school’s only BCS National Championship Game. Stanford was the cause of two of those three losses and it cost the Ducks not only a Pac-12 title last year but a possible national championship as well.

That is a trend new head coach Mark Helfrich is looking to change. He knows full well that road trips to Washington and Arizona will be tricky and extremely important as will home tests with Oregon State, UCLA and Cal. But Thursday night, Nov. 7, 2013 has been a date Ducks have had circled since falling 17-14 in overtime to the Cardinal last fall.

Stanford won the North, won the Pac-12 and won the Rose Bowl because it outlasted Oregon in Autzen Stadium that night.

So there should be no doubt as to what the biggest game in the Pac-12 will be in 2013:

Related: The Pac-12 Coaches Give Anonymous Scouting Reports on the Pac-12

  Dates RoadHomeThoughts
1.Nov 7Oregon at Stanford (Thurs.): The level of importance surrounding this game can not be overestimated. A division, league and potential national championship could be on the line in what should be the best non-SEC game of the year.
2.Sept 28USC at Arizona State: This game should likely decide the South Division champion as the Sun Devils will look to reverse recent history. Arizona State won 43-22 in Tempe two years ago but has lost every other meeting since 1999 (1-12).
3.Nov 30UCLA at USC: One of the West Coast's top rivalries has some added intrigue as it too could decide the South Division on the season's final weekend. UCLA broke a five-game losing streak to USC last year at home and will look for a repeat performance on the road this fall.
4.Nov 23Arizona State at UCLA: The Devils haven't won in Pasadena since '07 and have lost three of the last four in this series overall. The Bruins won a memorable showdown 45-43 last year in Tempe. There is just as much riding on this one in 2013. 
5.Nov 16Stanford at USC: Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll are no longer around but this budding rivalry is no less important. The Cardinal have won five out of the last six in what has turned out to be a high-scoring affair. The winning team has averaged 41.4 points over the last eight games in this series.
6.Nov 30

Notre Dame at Stanford: The Irish won last year's meeting with a historic goal-line stand that ended a three-year winning streak for the Cardinal. This will be as physical a game as there is in the nation and could carry massive BCS implications by season's end.

7.Oct 26Stanford at Oregon State: The Cardinal are just 2-4 in their last six trips to Corvallis but Stanford has owned the Beavers of late. Stanford has won three straight by a combined score of 103-36, but OSU closed the gap a year ago, losing 27-23 in Palo Alto.
8.Oct 19USC at Notre Dame: One of the game's most historic and prestigious rivalries is renewed in mid-October. USC played well without Matt Barkley last fall, losing 22-13 at home. A loss in South Bend could indicate a changing of the guard in this battle as it would be the Trojans third in four years to the Irish.
9.Sept 21Arizona State at Stanford: Arizona State has won just once (2007) in its last six trips to Palo Alto and this early-season game could be a Pac-12 title game preview. These two haven't met since a 17-13 Cardinal win in Tempe back in 2010.
10.Oct 26UCLA at Oregon: The Ducks have won four straight and nine of the last 11 against UCLA. And these games haven't been close. Oregon has outscored the Bruins 164-78 in the last four meetings and the final outcome hasn't been within one score since 2008.
11.Oct 12Oregon at Washington: The Huskies have lost nine straight to the Ducks and have allowed more than 40 points in six of the last eight. Steve Sarkisian needs to prove that his program has closed the wide gap between his Huskies and one of the Pac-12's perennial contenders and this is a prime spot for a home upset.
12.Oct 19UCLA at Stanford: Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw have owned UCLA, winning the last five meetings with the Bruins by a combined score of 166-76. Shaw's bunch pulled off the rare two-game sweep during the same season last year in Pasadena and then again in the Pac-12 title game. 
13.Nov 29Oregon State at Oregon (Fri.): The Civil War has been dominated by the Ducks of late, who have won five straight in the rivalry. In fact, only once since 2007 has this game been decided by one score or less (2009).
14.Nov 23Washington at Oregon State: These two will likely battle for third place in the North — but the winner could possibly get to 10 wins. The home team has won the last four meetings over the last four years.
15.Nov 1USC at Oregon State (Fri.): After winning every meeting from 1968-99 (25-0), the Beavers have become a thorn in the Trojans' side (see 2006, '08, '10). In fact, the last time these two met, the Beavers embarrassed USC 36-7 in Corvallis.
16.Aug 31Boise State at Washington: Washington will unveil its gorgeous new home digs when it welcomes a ranked Boise State to town in Week 1. These two have met only twice before, which includes a rematch of last year's Las Vegas Bowl, in which the Broncos won 28-26.
17.Oct 5Washington at Stanford: A budding North Division rivalry, Washington upset Stanford 17-13 on a buzzing Thursday night in Seattle last year. The hard-hitting battle left a bad taste in the mouth for Stanford and revenge will be on the minds of the Cardinal.
18.Oct 5Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (Arlington, Texas): These two have met just twice ever with the Irish winning both legs of the home-and-home in 1998-99. The fast track in Jerry's World could give ASU a great chance at a feather-in-the-cap upset in October.
19.Sept 21Utah at BYU: The best-named rivalry in college football will be interrupted following 2013 for the first time since 1945 and it only adds fuel to The Holy War fire. Neither team has a championship-caliber squad but the action should be great as they won't meet again until 2016. 
20.Nov 30Arizona at Arizona State: Strangely enough, the road team has won the last four Duels In the Desert, including a 41-34 shootout victory by ASU in Tucson last year. The home team should be the favorite this year but the Wildcats will be at their best at year's end. 
21.Nov 16Oregon State at Arizona State: Arizona State dominated this series in the 1980s and '90s but the Beavers have since bounced back with wins in four of the last five meetings. Oregon State scored 36 points in a home win over ASU and revenge will be a big factor.
22.Oct 19Washington at Arizona State: After winning seven straight against the Huskies dating back to 2001, the all-time series is now tied 15-15. These two haven't met since the Sun Devils won 24-14 in Seattle in 2010.
23.Sept 14Wisconsin at Arizona State: The fourth-ever meeting between these two could feature plenty of revenge for Arizona State. J.J. Watt and the Badgers won 20-19 in a back-and-forth historic showdown in Madison in 2010.
24.Nov 23Cal at Stanford: The Big Game, due to poor play from Cal, has been relegated to relative obscurity for Cardinal fans this fall. However, new coach Sonny Dykes will learn all about one of the game's best rivalries in 2013. Stanford has won three straight against the Golden Bears.
25.Nov 29Washington State at Washington (Fri.): The Apple Cup was all but won for the Huskies last year before a furious late comeback gave the Cougars a shocking 31-28 overtime win. The improbable victory snapped Wazzu's three-game losing streak against its in-state rivals.

The Next 10:

Nov. 9: UCLA at Arizona
Nov. 23: Oregon at Arizona
Nov. 9: Arizona State at Utah
Oct. 19: Oregon State at Cal
Sept. 28: Arizona at Washington
Oct. 10: Arizona at USC
Nov. 15: Washington at UCLA
Oct. 12: Stanford at Utah
Sept. 14: Tennessee at Oregon
Aug. 31: Northwestern at Cal

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The Pac-12's Top 25 Games to Watch in 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:10
Path: /mlb/2013-mlb-power-rankings-aug-19
Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (Atlanta Braves) and worst (Houston Astros) baseball teams and players in the league. Here are our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week. 
Athlon Sports MLB Power Rankings
 1. Braves Magic number is already 24.
 2. Dodgers Hot doesn’t begin to describe the men in blue.
 3. Tigers 20-5 when Max Scherzer starts.
 4. Red Sox 12 games better than this point last season.
 5. Rangers Haven’t lost two in a row since July 28.
 6. Pirates Lost seven of last nine, three of them in extra innings.
 7. Cardinals Cold doesn’t begin to describe the men in red.
 8. A’s Floundering at an even .500 (14-14) since the All-Star break.
 9. Rays Left side of the infield batted .395 last week.
10. Reds Bullpen is 2-0 with five saves and 12 holds in August.
11. Orioles Only one game in August without a home run.
12. Yankees A-Rod, Yankees soap opera continues.
13. Indians Just three games left with Tigers.
14. Royals Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer batting .338, slugging .524 in August.
15. Diamondbacks Have five pitchers with at least two saves.
16. Nationals Tough season to end Davey Johnson’s career.
17. Rockies Have just four multi-homer games since June 28.
18. Mariners Can Felix Hernandez win the Cy Young award?
19. Blue Jays 7.5 games back of Yankees with seven of next 10 games vs. N.Y.
20. Padres 15-13 so far vs. five likely NL playoff teams.
21. Mets Have 13 losses when they allow three runs or fewer.
22. Angels Losing record against all four division rivals.
23. Twins Bullpen has logged third-most innings, own fifth-best ERA.
24. Giants 12 games worse than at this point of 2012 title season.
25. Phillies Haven’t won back-to-back games since All-Star break.
26. Brewers 13-14 since Ryan Braun’s suspension. 
27. Cubs Ended the week a season-low 17 games below .500.
28. White Sox 17.5 games worse than this point last season.
29. Marlins 33-34 over last two-and-a-half months.
30. Astros Enjoying a one-and-a-half game improvement vs. last season.
AL Player of the Week
Alfonso Soriano, New York
The prodigal Yankee began the week 0-for-3 and ended with an 0-for-6, but in between he smashed AL pitching at a 15-for-22 clip with five home runs and 18 RBIs over a five-game span. In only 21 games in pinstripes this season, Soriano is tied for fifth on the team in homers and seventh in RBIs.
AL Pitcher of the Week
Chris Sale, Chicago
Chicago’s ace has pitched in tough luck all season with very little run support. But last week, the lineup gave him a few runs and he made them stand up in wins over Detroit and Minnesota. For the week, Sale was 2-0 with 14 strikeouts, one walk and a 2.81 ERA.
NL Player of the Week
Will Venable, San Diego
The Princeton alum has been one of the Padres’ hottest hitters of late, and that continued last week. He ended the week with a .406 average, which was boosted by a 4-for-5 performance on Saturday and a walk-off home run on Sunday.
NL Pitcher of the Week
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia
The 2013 season has not been one to remember for Hamels — or his team — but the lefthander had two memorable starts last week. He pitched a complete game at Atlanta and tossed seven strong innings in a win over the Dodgers as the Phillies defeated two of the hottest teams in baseball.
Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (Atlanta Braves) and worst (Houston Astros) baseball teams and players in the league. Here are our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 17:23
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-august-19

Catching up from a busy weekend of news around the college football world.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Monday, August 19th

The Big Ten Network continues its tour of all 12 teams for 2013. Here's a detailed look at Nebraska.

In case you missed the news on Sunday night, Auburn has named Nick Marshall as its starting quarterback.
Alabama cornerback Geno Smith was arrested for a DUI on Sunday morning.

Lost Lettermen ranks the best 25 names in college football.

Saturday Down South ranks the best position groups in the SEC.

Mr. SEC ranks the programs in the SEC.

Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins should be back for the season opener against Boise State.

Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby and running back Rod Hall are suspended for the season opener.

Two writers make the case for Syracuse's starting quarterback. Should it be Terrel Hunt or Drew Allen?

New Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen learned a valuable lesson in 2010.

TCU receiver Brandon Carter had hand surgery last week.

Auburn safety Demetruce McNeal is no longer on the team.

Texas Tech's starting quarterback for its opener against SMU remains a mystery. 

There's a new bowl game slated to start in 2014 in Montgomery, Ala.

Matt Brown of Sports on Earth previews the Pac-12 and the Mountain West.

A former TCU offensive lineman has resurfaced at BYU.

California has lost one linebacker to a transfer and one to a season-ending injury.

Notre Dame is dealing with a few injuries on defense.

Oregon State picked up a transfer from Miami. 

Utah's new football facility is open in time for the 2013 season. Check out these photos from the impressive new building.

College Football's Link Roundup: August 19
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 15:20
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/100-twitter-accounts-every-college-football-fan-should-follow

College football is well-represented in the Twitterverse by people who know the game intimately and aren't afraid to tell you about it. We took a(nother) look at the lengthy list of CFB-oriented Twitter accounts and whittled them down to 100 that are definitely worth a follow.

These tweeting all-stars are sure to entertain, educate and occasionally enrage. Let us know your favorites (and anyone we missed).

No doubt if you're any kind of college football fan you're familiar with ESPN's stable of college football reporters, columnists and broadcasters. Here are the best on Twitter:

@McMurphyESPN (1)

Brett McMurphy was a good get for the Worldwide Leader, and as he was with CBS Sports, he's a prolific breaker of news via Twitter, even when it involves his employer.


@TravHaneyESPN (2)
Travis Haney is on the national beat, though most of his work is behind the ESPN Insider paywall. He drops enough knowledge from his travels on Twitter to entice readers to fork over a few more bucks to the Worldwide Leader.

@cbfowler (3) and @ESPN_ReceDavis (4)
A pair of total pros who anchor ESPN's college football coverage night and day.

@notthefakeSVP (5)
From ESPN's radio empire, Scott Van Pelt brings a mix of humor, knowledge and insight. The Maryland grad will spend the next year brushing up on the Big Ten.

Conference bloggers (6)

It’s tough to pick out one, but this is a good place to start to follow your favorite team or league: @ESPN_ACC (Heather Dinich and Andrea Adelson), @ESPN_BigTen (Adam Rittenberg and Bryan Bennett), @ESPN_Big12 (David Ubben and @Jake_Trotter), @ESPN_Pac12Blog (Ted Miller and Kevin Gemmell), @ESPN_SEC/ @AschoffESPN (Edward Aschoff and Chris Low), @Matt_Fortuna (Notre Dame) 

@ESPNStatsInfo (7)
A must-follow during Saturday’s action if you’re interested in a deep dive into the numbers.


Verne Lundquist can’t be found on Twitter and Gary Danielson hasn’t Tweeted since 2011. These will be good follows anyway.

@BFeldmanCBS (8)
Bruce Feldman is a prolific and informative tweeter with a history of breaking news via the medium. Few carry as much in-depth knowledge as Feldman.

@dennisdoddCBS (9)
CBS' national college football columnist Dennis Dodd can be infuriating, but he's never not interesting.

@JFowlerCBS (10)
A young gun on the CBS college football staff. He’s not a “bad guy” on Twitter or otherwise, despite what Urban Meyer may say.


@MrCFB (11)
Referring to yourself as Mr. College Football may seem a little self-aggrandizing, but after years in the SEC trenches, Tony Barnhart's earned the right to pat himself on the back.’s bloggers (12)
For news and hard analysis, go to the ESPN blog network. CBSSports‘  Eye on College Football bloggers share news and viewpoints, but they’re a little bit of an edge here. Viral videos and colorful jabs are welcome with @TomFornelli, @Chip_Patterson and @JerryHinnen.

@jppalmCBS (13)
Two things no college football fan can live without: Bowl projections and BCS tidbits. One thing to remember: Don’t blame the messenger.

@GreggDoyelCBS (14)
One of CBS’ national columnists, Doyel rarely pulls punches (shaddup). He doesn’t care if you disagree with him. He can rip someone with the best of them, but he’ll also write a piece that pulls at the heartstrings.



@slmandel (15)
Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel describes himself as a "Writer, author, lover, humanitarian and college football writer for" We can only vouch for the college football part. Guy's a fountain of information and opinion, although he doesn't always seem to welcome criticism very cheerfully. Of course, who does?

@Andy_Staples (16)
Mandel's SI colleague is a college football savant and full-time BBQ expert who's also equal parts funny and astute.


@SIPeteThamel (17)
Thamel has a nose for news that has infuriated a handful of fanbases (Hi there, Big Blue Nation).

Campus Union bloggers (18)
Sports Illustrated’s bread and butter is news and features, but the Campus Union/SInow pair of @MartinRickman and @ZacEllis focus on quick-hitters and other college football oddities.




@PaulMyerberg (19)
Myerberg would have difficulty hitting Athlon magazine word counts with his extensive team previews. Nevertheless, he condenses his prodigious knowledge into 140-character chunks.


@GeorgeSchroeder (20)
Another USA Today scribe, Schroeder freely dispenses observations on a variety of topics, not just college football. He's moving away from Oregon, though, so no more Springfield police log.

@DanWolken (21)
Wolken isn't shy with strong opinions. A shame he won’t have Gordon Gee to kick around anymore.


@YahooForde (22)
The Forde-Yard Dash remains a college football staple.

@DanWetzel (23)
A thorn in the side of the NCAA, Wetzel isn’t someone you want sniffing around your organization. Now that he’s achieved Death to the BCS, what’s next?

@MattBrownSoE (24)
Brown heads up college football coverage for Sports on Earth, USA Today’s version of Grantland, for long-form pieces and advanced analysis. His breakdowns of each of college football’s top 10 quarterbacks was a must-read this offesason.


@Bachscore (25)
The Wall Street Journal follows college football a little differently than most. Rachel Bachman brings quality reporting and analysis to business, legal and NCAA issues.

@RalphDRussoAP (26)
You might associate the Associated Press with relics of a different time, but AP college football writer Ralph Russo's Twitter feed, delivered in Brooklyn-ese, is anything but stale.

@Matt_HayesSN (27)
Another national college football columnist bringing views from around the country.

@CFTalk (28)
A one-stop shop for injuries, lineup changes, transfers and other new.


@KegsNEggs (29)
Adam Kramer bills himself as "Founder and gatekeeper of Kegs ‘n Eggs. Lead College Football Writer for Bleacher Report. Advocate of FAT GUY TOUCHDOWNS, #MACtion and Las Vegas tomfoolery." Nothing to add to that, except to recommend a follow.
@BarrettSallee (30)
Bleacher Report's lead writer for all things SEC, Sallee will fill your Twitter feed with reactions and analysis all over the Southeast.

@InTheBleachers (31)
Michael Felder's feed is aptly named. His careening from college football to other tangents is perfect bleacher talk.


@JasonKirkSBN (32)
The college football editor at SB Nation never runs out of clever quips about the goings on in college football.

@38Godfrey (33)
Steven Godfrey is a long-form “writerer/journamalist” (and Athlon contributor) who knows his way around SEC and Sun Belt football.

@DanRubenstein (34)
Sarcastic college football observations, Oregon fandom and ‘90s trivia. What more could anyone want?

@TyHildenbrandt (35)
Rubenstein’s co-host on the @SolidVerbal podcast will be worth following if only to watch to watch the Notre Dame fan squirm with Tommy Rees leading the team.



@edsbs (36)
Spencer Hall (formerly Orson Swindle) brings us The Fulmer Cup, the Curious Index and a twisted look at college football because, well, college football is always a little twisted.


@celebrityhottub (37)
Another member of the "Every Day Should Be Saturday" empire, “sir broosk” regales with absurdist observations, never failing to bring the funny on college football and anything else that springs to mind.

@HollyAnderson (38)
Former Every Day Should Be Saturday and SI Campus Union writer has taken her talents to Grantland. She made Bill Simmons take an interest in college football. That’s saying something right there.

@ClayTravisBGID (39)
Love him or hate him, you can't deny that Travis entertains and inflames with his SEC-centric observations. Prepare to get angry, although Travis' affection for those he lampoons takes some of the edge off. The last year has seen Travis post about butt-chugging, dumbest fanbases, a catfight, ruminations on Johnny Football and the occassional breaking news.

@KevinonCFB (40)
Phildelphia-based writer Kevin McGuire has news and views for all over the country. He knows his stuff.

@SteakNStiffArms (41)
Football and food. What more is there to the Internet? Elika Sadeghi covers both with a Big Ten emphasis. To follow her is to love her.

@DanBeebe (42)
Remember when the Big 12 almost collapsed? The Fake Dan Beebe does. He’d be bitter, but he’s enjoying #buyoutlife. No one taunts the current and former Big 12 membership better.

@lsufreek (43)
The reason GIFs were invented.


@CoachHand (44)
This is why Twitter is awesome: No one would have predicted Vanderbilt’s offensive line coach to be a must-follow, but here we are. Hand beats the drum on Twitter for Vandy, Nashville and the SEC while offering words of wisdom for everyday living. Not your usual coach-speak.

@Coach_Riley (45)
Oregon State’s Mike Riley is more and more of an outlier in the college football profession ... in a good way. He’s not paranoid. He’s approachable. And he’d prefer his players feast on In-N-Out Burger.


@LSUCoachMiles (46)
Les Miles once spent the entire course of a Miami Heat game Tweeting at himself. Pretty much what you’d expect.

@Coach_Leach (47)
Who knew the Washington State coach was such a cinephile?


@JManziel2 (48)
Johnny Manziel, you may have heard of him and his Twitter feed.

@aaronmurray11 (49)
Judging by his posts from the Milledge Run, the Georgia quarterback is enjoying his final year on campus.


@10AJMcCarron (50)
Exhibit A for why he’s the consummate Saban quarterback:



@TajhB10 (52)
We wanted to highlight a handful of Heisman conteders, but Clemson shut down Twitter for its players. See you in December, Tajh.


@JeremyCrabtree (53)
A senior writer with ESPN’s Recruiting Nation, Crabtree has covered recruiting more than just about anyone. A great follow for the big picture in college football’s second season.

@TomLuginbill (54)
ESPN’s top eye for college football prospects is good at interacting with readers with #AskLoogs hashtag. Go ahead and ask him about a player or issue.

@BartonSimmons (55)
A national analyst at 247Sports, Simmons is knee-deep in recruiting knowledge from evaluations to commitments.

@Niebuhr247 (56)
A former Rivals and current 247 analyst, Niebuhr is as active on Twitter as anyone. You won’t miss anything in recruiting on his feed.

@jcshurburtt (57)
Another can’t-miss voice from the 247 stable. He’s their National Recruiting Director and happy to take questions from readers.

@rivalsmike (58)
Mike Farrell is simply the Godfather of recruiting. Trust us, that’s what his Twitter bio says.

@adamgorney (59)’s recruiting expert out West

@rivalsjason (60)
No look at recruiting would be complete without someone keeping an eye on the state of Texas. Jason Howell is Rivals’ guy for the Lone Star State.

@BrandonHuffman (61)
Completing the roundup of recruiting names is Scout’s national expert, Brandon Huffman.


@jasonrmcintyre, @tyduffy and @thebiglead (62)
McIntyre and the Big Lead have their fingers on the pulse of the media transaction wire. Follow him for all the news and trends that will impact your consumption habits.

@bkoo and @awfulannouncing (63)
Ben Koo and Awful Announcing cover plenty of media trends, but college football fans will take special interest in the Pammies — a collection of Saturday’s best verbal snafus unfortunately named after ESPN’s Pam Ward.

@bubbaprog (64)
Deadspin’s Tim Burke is a must-follow on Saturday for his collection of videos, images and GIFs. Miss a key play, chyron fail or sideline shenanigans, Burke’s your guy. Oh, and he helped break the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax story.

@mattsarz (65)
If your team is being broadcast sometime or somewhere, Matt Sarzyniak knows.


@SBN_BillC (66)
A writer for SB Nation’s Football Study Hall, Bill Connelly is college football’s top advanced statistics guru. Follow him to get smarter.

@smartfootball (67)
If you prefer a more cerebral take on the game, this feed's for you. Editor Chris Brown's also a Grantland contributor if you're not into the whole brevity thing.

@DarrenRovell (68)
Athlon once named him the No. 1 follow in all of sports, but college football fans will take particular interest in Rovell (who has since moved from CNBC to ESPN) after he reported on Johnny Manziel’s involvement with college athletics’ shadow autograph industry.

@SportsBizMiss (69)
Kristi Dosh is the founder of and now she reports on sports business for ESPN. Want to know how much college athletes would really make off jersey sales? Dosh does.

@JimMWeber and @LostLettermen (70)
Jim Weber keeps up with college athletes past and present. His site and Twitter feed is a mix of where are they now and what’s new.

@coachingsearch (71)
During the season, Pete Roussel follows what coaches are saying and doing like none other, but he’s indispensable once the coaching carousel starts for his nuggets from the top of college football to Division II grad assistants.

@footballscoop (72)
Scott Roussel (Pete’s brother) runs a competing site full of coaching scuttlebutt. Between the two of them, you won’t miss a hiring or firing from around the college football world.

@bylawblog (73)
A former compliance director at Loyola Marymount, John Infante is the most knowledgable voice in the media when it comes to the gargantuan NCAA rulebook.

@pollspeak (74)
The polls are infuriating. Pollspeak knows where you should direct your anger. They look through the AP ballots each week to publicly shame the most extreme voters.


@HeismanPundit (75)
His self-descriptor says it all: writer/Heisman voter breaking down the politics of the most prestigious award in sports, plus hard-hitting college football commentary & analysis. What more do you want?



@SEC_Logo (76)
A news aggregator that’s all things SEC. Not affiliated with the SEC, but this feed probably should be on the payroll.

@JonSDS (77)
Saturday Down South’s Jon Cooper analyzes SEC football from top to bottom and left to right — predictions, depth chart news, practice reports and player rankings.

@Josh_Ward (78)
A radio host in Knoxville and writer with, Ward brings SEC news from around the Southeast with a Tennessee bent.

@wesrucker247 (79)
When there’s an award for covering an athletic program in continuous tumult, it may be called The Rucker. And half of Wes Rucker’s followers seem to hate him for it.


@finebaum (80)
SEC country’s top radio voice takes his show to the World Wide Leader. You can’t spell WWL without PAAAAAAWWWL.

@MattScalici (81)
A sports producer at, he’s a go-to source for all things Alabama. Pro tip: You may want to pay attention to the upstart CrimsonTide

@CecilHurt (82)
Cecil's been covering Bama since the Bear's last season. That makes him a suitable go-to guy for all things Tide-related. Not bad with the one-liner either.

@BTNTomDienhart (83) and @BTNBrentYarina (84)
Veteran reporter Tom Dienhart sends dispatches from Big Ten campuses year-round, and editor Brent Yarina shares Big Ten insights from all over the internet. Two must-follows from the Big Ten Network team.

@TeddyGreenstein (85)
Teddy has one of the best self-descriptions on Twitter: "lover, fighter, Chicago Trib sportswriter." Kind of says it all. A go-to follow for Big Ten news, though the Second City writer tilts a bit to Northwestern and Illinois.

@11W (86)
Eleven Warriors is your source for all things Scarlet and Grey. It's the largest free Ohio State sports source on the internet, and they've extended their footprint to Twitter in a big way.

@BCastOZone (87)
Another source of Ohio State news, Brandon Castel at is heavy on recruiting news. When Urban Meyer is involved, that’s a worthy follow.

@Sean_Callahan (88)
The publisher of, Sean Callahan has seen the Nebraska program suffer through some uncharacteristic struggles the last several years. But unlike the team, Sean's coverage is consistently solid.

@ACCSports (89)
Someday, maybe soon, ACC football will be relevant, and when that day comes, Jim Young is poised to rule. He's your ACC source on all things football and basketball.

@D1scourse (90)
Another key writer from ACC country, Patrick Stevens keeps a close eye on Maryland, but his feed is full of great statistical discoveries.


@BryanDFischer (91)
Prolific Tweeter now writes for the Pac-12 Networks. A go-to source for West Coast football news and more.

@Mengus22 (92)
Louisville fan, blogger and radio host Mark Ennis has carried water for the maligned Big East over the years (he ran SB Nation’s Big East Coast Bias blog). Needless to say, this will be an interesting season for him.

@BlatantHomerism (93)
An Oklahoma fan who knows his way around the college football landscape.

@GBHunting and @cuppycup (94)
All things Texas A&M and Johnny Football. With GIFs.

@HustleBelt (95)
One word: #MACtion


@Miller_Dave (96)
There are plenty of names for ESPN, CBS and SI worth following for college football, but don’t let National Football Post’s Dave Miller fall through the cracks.

@TheOregonDuck (97)
If you follow only one college football mascot, make sure it’s the one who can dance to Gangnam Style and befriend spiders.


@CapitalOneBowl and @RussellAthBowl (98)
Don’t like the bowl system, that’s fine. These two accounts keep their Orlando-based games entertaining all year long. Give credit to these bowls to creating a public persona apart from the old men in fancifully colored blazers.


@ChaseGoodbread, @DanGreenspan and @MikeHuguenin (99) has expanded their college football coverage with writers covering the NFL Draft year round. If you want to know what the No Fun League thinks of your favorite college players, start here.

@AthlonSports, @AthlonMitch, @AthlonSteven, @BradenGall, @DavidFox615 and @AthlonDoster
And last but not least, the Athlon Sports team.


List and bios compiled by Rob Doster and David Fox.

These tweeters will keep you entertained, educated and occasionally enraged
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 15:00
Path: /nascar/joey-logano-claws-way-back-nascar-chase-contention-michigan-win

Sheryl Crow once sang “A Change Will Do You Good.” She’s a perfect example of how it doesn’t always work out that way (see: dating Lance Armstrong). But sometimes, the sporting universe aligns itself exactly right, rotating beautifully where it works for all parties involved.

Joey Logano had worn out his welcome at Joe Gibbs Racing. Four years in, he’d failed to make the Chase and won exactly two Cup races. Not the track record you’d expect from a man Mark Martin anointed the best driver of the next generation. And at 22, he wasn’t exactly the prime spokesperson for Home Depot, which was threatening to board itself up and leave the sport with rival Lowe’s collecting championships like candy.

Matt Kenseth, despite 14 years, one title and 24 wins at Roush Fenway Racing, was struggling to find sponsorship to compete. Big money had been poured into teammate Carl Edwards; Ford executives needed to ensure he was their future. Staying at the No. 17 meant picking up the scraps, then waiting patiently to be bumped aside. After all, owner Jack Roush had 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the pipeline. Both are billed as young, rising stars; Kenseth, at 40, was age disposable.

Say what you will about Kurt Busch, but the man clearly needed a wakeup call. His behavior during the final months of 2011 at Penske Racing was questionable at best, reprehensible at worst. All the wins in the world won’t save you when you’re in the business of turning the gun toward your foot. Sometimes, the best thing a champion can do to reinvent himself is get fired.

Where are these three drivers in 2013? Logano sits in Chase contention with Penske Racing, in some ways outperforming teammate and reigning champion Brad Keselowski. Matt Kenseth is tied with Jimmie Johnson for the series wins lead, taking Home Depot back to the front while enjoying one of his esteemed career’s finest seasons. And Busch, running with single-car Furniture Row Racing, could wind up with his most top-5 finishes in over a decade. Persistence, in reproving himself, is paying off with offers left and right. Sunday night, Stewart-Haas Racing was reported to have thrown a full-time contract on his table for 2014.

Three men, three changes … three success stories? Sometimes, Silly Season really isn’t so silly.

Let’s get down to business and shift through some stories from Michigan.

FIRST GEAR: Penske’s putting itself in position  Joey Logano
It’s been a rollercoaster year for the two-car Penske Racing operation. A switch from Dodge to Ford has created more stumbles than expected. The aforementioned Keselowski didn’t help himself by “biting the hands that feeds him” with some high criticism of NASCAR at the season’s onset. But the kicker was a 25-point penalty, plus suspensions, for improper rear-end modifications to both teams in the spring. While some of those penalties were reduced, the loss of momentum lasted well into the dog days of summer. Daytona was the low point; a 21st-place run by Keselowski combined with Logano wrecking and finishing 40th left both teams on the outside of the Chase looking in.

Another 40th-place showing the next week at Loudon should have left Logano, in particular, down for the count. But the team came back from NASCAR’s final off week in a long season reinvigorated. Michigan’s victory on Sunday, collected when Mark Martin ran out of gas with three laps left, was the high point in a run of four consecutive top-10 finishes.

“We kind of decided we needed a win a couple weeks ago,” Logano said Sunday, matter-of-factly. “So we got one.”

On paper, that’s silly to say for a driver that now has just three victories in 170 Sprint Cup starts. But that belies the sense of confidence he has with crew chief Todd Gordon. Ever so quietly, they’re building a chemistry they hope will rival teammate Keselowski and Paul Wolfe. Sunday, it was Wolfe making the tactical mistake, pitting one caution too late and costing his driver about 10 positions at the checkered flag. But both teams, running top 5 throughout the day, suddenly look primed and ready for the postseason.

Can both get there? It’s still tenuous; a Bristol wreck, or one at Richmond or, really anything outside their control changes everything. However, for the first time this team is showcasing the speed it needs to get over that hump and actually compete when things get serious in the fall.

SECOND GEAR: Martin’s big moment  Mark MartinEvery legendary driver in their final season has a moment they look back on and smile at. For Darrell Waltrip, it was an outside-pole run at Indianapolis followed by a competitive, 11th-place result in an otherwise lost season of 2000. For Richard Petty, it was leading five laps at Daytona with the field seemingly in awe one last time during a 1992 Fan Appreciation Tour that didn’t even snag him a top 15.

Certainly, Mark Martin has been much more competitive than those two this season, running third in the Daytona 500 at age 54. Currently without a ride for 2014, he hasn’t said he’ll retire yet; today, he’ll be named a substitute driver for Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing. But the reality is, those 2014 opportunities are going to be few and far between for someone who truly wants to run about half the schedule ... in a car capable of winning. That’s why Sunday’s late-race drama, in which Martin paraded at the front of the field with a fuel tank running on E, was such a moment. Here’s a man who’s done so much in this sport, a likely Hall of Famer with five runner-up point finishes, and everyone from the pit box to the stands is thinking, “It could be his final shot to win a race — ever.”

It didn’t happen as, much to everyone’s chagrin, the gas tank ran dry. But maybe the momentum from this run, in a season where the veteran hasn’t performed as well, could lead to a boost for the last few months while driving the No. 14. It’s certainly a moment to remember, one he may look back with fondness down the road if 2013 really does become the final year on the resume.

THIRD GEAR: Earnhardt’s missed opportunities
Hard to believe, but for Dale Earnhardt Jr. his only victories over the last seven seasons on the Cup circuit have come at Michigan. That’s why the two-mile track is so important for his resume; for a driver (and crew chief) who specialize in “having a solid points day,” capitalizing on his strength here could lead to Victory Lane and locking up a Chase bid that’s tenuous otherwise.

Instead, in 2013 Junior did the opposite. To be fair, factors were outside his control; in June, it was a blown engine followed by a tire failure Sunday. But the end results don’t care about excuses, as a 36.5-average finish at Michigan puts him in dangerous territory. Just 20 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne, there’s no victories in sight (or on the resume) and a pack of hungry drivers are peaking at the right time. With just one top-5 finish in his last nine races, a handful of top 15s down the stretch – a conservative plan crew chief Steve Letarte always likes to put in effect this time of year – might not be enough to earn that postseason bid.

Earnhardt, who’s led just 114 laps this year, has to step up his game, and quickly. Can he do it?

FOURTH GEAR: The price of speed

In some ways, Michigan was far from a boring race. Different pit strategies combined with hair-raising restarts kept shuffling the field and putting new names in position to win. Some of the sport’s best drivers, from Earnhardt to Kyle Busch, fell victim to the track’s high speeds, approaching well over 210 mph entering Turn 1. With three cautions in the first 14 laps for wrecks, it’s clear that all 43 drivers were running on the ragged edge.

So what was missing? ESPN’s Andy Petree said it best: “One thing we really haven’t seen is someone drive up to the front.” After a few laps, the grid was stuck in place, passing impossible as they were racing the track more than those around them. Goodyear’s tires didn’t help, either. According to most teams the left sides were so rock hard they could have been left on for all 400 miles.

Let’s see. Everyone runs the same speed throughout a run while racing the track and the points system more than one another. Passing then suffers — except for the frantic first few laps after a restart. The number of green-flag passes for the lead, due to the dreaded “aero push” on top of it all, becomes a number you can count on one hand.

It’s a refrain sung all too often this season. The Gen-6 car, while filled with potential, has to be slowed down for 2014 so tracks like Michigan can be spiced up that much more. If Fontana, the most competitive race on intermediates this year, is the exception rather than the rule there’s a major problem.

Paul Menard
, who ran fourth Sunday, was part of a three-car Richard Childress Racing effort that finished inside the top 10. Kevin Harvick, who ran second showed muscle while Jeff Burton ran a solid eighth. For Menard, it’s just his second top-5 result since winning Indianapolis in July 2011. … Jeff Gordon was a puzzling 17th Sunday, one week after a Watkins Glen wreck put his Chase chances in critical condition. Still, there’s hope: Gordon led 66 laps at the next race on the schedule, Bristol, in the spring before a tire failure took him out of contention to win. … Denny Hamlin, who ran 20th Sunday, now has a career-worst nine straight races without a top-15 finish. The short tracks, where he shines, are up next; if he can’t pull off a solid performance at Bristol or Richmond, then you really start to question what the No. 11 team should do the rest of the year with his ailing back.

Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles
Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Post-race reaction from Joey Logano's win in NASCAR's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 14:23
Path: /college-football/purdue-names-rob-henry-its-starting-qb

Rob Henry went into Purdue’s fall practice with a slight edge to start the season opener, and the senior was able to maintain his edge over freshmen Austin Appleby and Danny Etling.

On Sunday night, first-year Purdue coach Darrell Hazell named Henry as the Boilermakers’ starting quarterback for the season opener against Cincinnati.

Henry has experienced an interesting career during his time in West Lafayette. After a redshirt year in 2009, Henry made seven starts in 2010 and led Purdue in passing and rushing yards. However, he missed 2011 with a knee injury and was a backup to Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve last year.

Now that he is two years removed from an ACL tear, Henry should have more mobility and his game experience will help Purdue navigate a tough schedule.

Appleby and Etling are talented, and both passers could play this year, especially as Hazell and his coaching staff looks for one player to take a step forward and gain an early edge in the starting spot for 2013.

Purdue Names Rob Henry its Starting QB
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-aug-19

With about 40 games left in the regular season, fantasy baseball playoffs are just around the corner. Athlon Sports has everything you need to catch up on what took place on the fantasy diamond during the past seven days. Our fantasy junkies bring you last week's top hitters, some starting pitchers who are on a roll, and also identify the waiver wire pick ups and spot starters you need to keep an eye on.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (Aug. 12-18):

1Alfonso SorianoOFNYY951820.4841.515
2Will Venable*OFSD72510.4061.125
3Miguel Cabrera3BDET441000.3031.088
4Chris Davis1B/OFBAL63600.4091.409
5Mark Trumbo1/3/OFLAA53810.2801.053
6Mike TroutOFLAA61520.3911.142
7Joe MauerC/1BMIN62700.3751.037
8Curtis GrandersonOFNYY71220.4171.167
9Alejandro De AzaOFCWS91420.2580.706
10Hunter PenceOFSF61910.2960.901
11Jon Jay*OFSTL51610.4001.084
12Khris DavisOFMIL43500.4671.662
13Jason HeywardOFATL53400.3851.231
14Martin Prado2/3/SS/OFARI61700.3790.972
15Brandon Belt*1BSF82400.3081.033
16Justin Ruggiano*OFMIA42500.6672.171
17Jayson WerthOFWAS50420.4171.023
18Marlon Byrd*OFNYM32700.4001.152
19Eduardo Nunez*3B/SSNYY50520.3700.858
20Jedd Gyorko*2B/3BSD43500.3451.104
21Dexter FowlerOFCOL60610.3600.848
22Brandon Phillips2BCIN41520.3100.769
23Chris Getz*2BKC50230.3330.727
24Paul Goldschmidt1BARI53500.2590.987
25Alex Rodriguez*3BNYY51410.3570.974

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, SD (32% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
After hitting six home runs in May, the Padres rookie was much more widely owned. However, he suffered a groin injury in early June, which caused him to miss more than a month. On top of that, he struggled upon his return, batting just .100 with a run and RBI in 13 games in July. It looks like Gyorko may have rediscovered his swing, as he slugged three home runs last week, giving him 13 for the year. Despite all his missed time, Gyorko is tied for ninth among second base-eligible players with those 13 round-trippers. He could be a sneaky source of power if you are in need of some at second or from a MI spot.

Adam LaRoche, 1B, WAS (54%)
Admittedly it has been a very up-and-down season for LaRoche. He was very good in May (.330-7-19) and very bad in July (.159-2-10). However, he has four home runs and nine RBIs in 15 games in August so far and he's in no danger of losing his spot in the Nationals' lineup. LaRoche is still a top-10 first baseman in terms of power (18 HR) and in his career he has been a strong finisher (.297-82-258 in 412 games in August and September).

Leonys Martin, OF, TEX (46%)
Texas' 25-year-old outfielder has been flying somewhat under the radar, but that may be about to change, especially if he stays atop the Rangers' lineup. Martin has come on strong since May and thanks in large part to his legs (27 SB, 5 3B), he has moved into top-50 OF territory in Yahoo! leagues. The left-handed swinger has cooled off somewhat this month, hitting just .246 in August, so far, but he also has stolen seven bases and driven in nine runs. If you are in need of speed, Martin is certainly worth a roster spot, and the additional category production is just an added bonus.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B, NYY (35%)
A-Rod may be MLB's (and the Yankees' front office for that matter) public enemy No. 1 right now, but he's still playing and getting the job done at the plate. He helped key the Yankees' rally against Boston on Sunday night with a home run off of Ryan Dempster and is a borderline top-10 third baseman over the past two weeks (.319-2-6). While Alfonso Soriano has been the spark to the Yankees' recent offensive output, Rodriguez can't be overlooked and could prove valuable down the stretch, especially at a position that's already without the services of David Wright and has seen other names struggle.

Will Venable, OF, SD (30%)
Outside of the aforementioned Soriano, no one was hotter at the plate last week than San Diego's Venable, who posted a .406-2-5 line with seven runs and a stolen base. In fact, Venable's hot streak goes back to the beginning of August as he has gotten a hit in all 15 games he has played this month. For the month so far, Venable is batting .377 with five home runs, eight RBIs, 12 runs and five stolen bases. He's just a .256 career hitter, so ride this hot streak as long as you can, especially from a guy who most likely will finish the season with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases (17, 14 currently).

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

1Clayton KershawLAD22.02211.230.77
2Bronson Arroyo*CIN14.02140.640.43
3Anibal SanchezDET22.02242.050.86
4Mat LatosCIN22.12180.810.99
5Zack GreinkeLAD20.03140.901.15
6Andrew Albers*MIN24.1271.850.66
7Martin Perez*TEX22.13202.421.03
8Hyun-Jin RyuLAD14.02100.640.79
9Brandon Beachy*ATL14.02101.290.71
10Chris SaleCWS23.13201.931.20
11Cole HamelsPHI23.01201.960.87
12Yu DarvishTEX22.12282.821.07
13Max ScherzerDET21.02152.570.81
14Dan Haren*WAS14.01121.930.71
15Tony Cingrani*CIN11.11140.790.79
16Marco Estrada*MIL11.0180.820.45
17Stephen StrasburgWAS17.01202.120.88
18Alex Wood*ATL12.10160.730.65
19Tyson Ross*SD14.01141.290.93
20Justin VerlanderDET23.01222.740.91

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Brandon Beachy (ATL) at New York Mets (Tues.) (48% owned)
Beachy has made four starts since returning from Tommy John surgery. In the first two, he gave up 10 earned runs in 10 innings, in his last two he has allowed just two over 14 frames. He’s also produced a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 19:4 overall. Beachy will match up with Mets’ rookie Zach Wheeler on Tuesday night at Citi Field, but considering the Braves are 16-3 since Beachy’s first start on July 29, I like his chances in this one.

2. Sonny Gray (OAK) vs. Seattle (Tues.) (23%)
Gray was mentioned in this space last week, and chances are this won’t be the last time you see his name, especially if his ownership rate stays under less than a quarter of all Yahoo! leagues. All the 23-year-old rookie did his last time out was pitch eight shutout innings against Houston. Next up is Seattle, a team that ranks in the bottom third of the majors in runs scored on the road.

3. Martin Perez (TEX) at Chicago White Sox (Fri.) (20%)
Texas has had to deal with injuries in their rotation throughout the season, which has made the performance of Perez that much more important. The 22-year-old lefty has gone 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts. He has put together four straight quality starts and gets the White Sox, who are the third-worst scoring team in the majors, at home. Perez has a tidy 2.20 ERA (8 ER in 32 2/3 IP) in five starts at home this season.

4. Dan Haren (WAS) at Chicago Cubs (Tues.) (68%)
Haren struggled mightily before the All-Star break, going 4-10 with a 5.61 ERA. The veteran right-hander has dealt with back issues and other maladies in each of the past two seasons, but it looks like he may have finally turned the corner health-wise. Haren has allowed a total of three earned runs in his last three starts and also picked up his first career save in a 15-inning marathon against Atlanta on Saturday. Instead of the mighty Braves, Haren’s next scheduled trip to the mound comes against a Cubs’ offense that has scored a grand total of five runs and been shutout four times in their last six games at Wrigley Field.

5. Jake Arrieta (CHC) vs. Washington (Wed.) (2%)
Part of the trade that sent Scott Feldman to Baltimore, Arrieta has made the most of his opportunities in the Cubs’ rotation so far. His last time out he shut down St. Louis by holding the Cardinals to just two hits over seven scoreless innings. In a Cubs’ uniform, Arrieta has given up just four hits and five walks, while striking out nine, in 13 innings. The Nationals, meanwhile, struggle to score runs away from home, as only the Marlins have scored fewer on the road this season.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: Aug 19
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/gary-andersen-welcomed-wisconsin-corn-maze

New Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen was considered by most to be a home-run hire for the Badgers.

And the fans in Madison are certainly excited for the Andersen era to begin.

Need proof? Check out this corn maze carved by Don Schuster of Schuster’s Playtime Farm.

According to, it took about seven to eight hours to complete the design.

Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-august-19-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Aug. 19.


• Leading off the week: A statistical analysis of Derek Jeter's nine ex-girlfriends relative to his performance, including Adriana Lima (pictured).


• A plunking, a dinger, an ejection, more allegations: Last night was the night of A-Rod.


• Paulina Gretzky and Dustin Johnson are engaged. The lead of the New York Daily News story puts it less tastefully than I would


• Wanna see Pam Oliver get drilled in the face by a pass from Mr. Irrelevant, Chandler Harnish of the Colts? Of course you do. The screen grab alone is priceless.


• This is interesting: The most statistically average lineup in baseball this year would include Albert Pujols and Stephen Strasburg. Their respective teams aren't paying for average.


• Fox Sports 1 went live over the weekend. Here's an amusing video of the anchors of Fox Sports Live, the counterpart to SportsCenter, reading mean tweets about themselves.


• Ryan Braun apparently slurred his urine collector, calling him an anti-Semitic Cubs fan.


A Ball State student sank a half-court shot to earn free tuition. Sadly, it's the greatest athletic moment in Ball State history. (I kid.)


• Remember when Joe Buck called Randy Moss' mooning incident a "disgusting act"? Now that they're co-workers at Fox Sports 1, they've decided to play nice.


Athlete tweets that went viral. Twitter never forgets.


The NCAA outdid itself by forcing a Marine to redshirt over intramural football.


• It's the second week of the preseason, and we may have already had the Catch of the Year.




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

Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 10:49
Path: /nfl/cleveland-browns-2013-nfl-team-preview

The Cleveland Browns have not proven themselves adept at doing a whole lot well since the team returned to the field in 1999. The only thing the Browns have done consistently in these last 14 seasons is change. Front office to front office, players to players, coach to coach — the constant change has been the only theme with a team that can’t win.

Yes, there may be a correlation.

Because every time the Browns have had an organizational change, the coaches change and the players change and the approach changes. Fans have been treated to a never-ending carousel of people telling them that the right person has been hired and the right player acquired, only to hear the same thing about the next person hired and next player acquired.

The Browns have averaged 5.2 wins per season in the 14 they’ve been back. They’ve won 23 games the past five seasons. Rob Chudzinski will be the seventh head coach, Norv Turner the 10th offensive coordinator.

Tumult is the theme, epitomized by the fact that even the ownership changed in the past year, as Randy Lerner sold the team to Jimmy Haslam.

But in typical Browns fashion, Haslam’s Knoxville, Tenn., company — Pilot Flying J — became the subject of a fraud investigation that had the FBI and IRS conducting a raid on the business in April.

As they say in Cleveland … only in Cleveland.

Athlon Sports AFC Power Ranking: 11th

Related: 2013 Cleveland Browns Schedule Analysis

New CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi did some tinkering with the offense but did not perform an overhaul. Banner’s thinking was that the offense has some young talent, and it’s worth giving them an opportunity to grow. Translation: Brandon Weeden and company are on a one-year “show me” basis. If Weeden does not succeed in his second season, he won’t get another in Cleveland.

The Browns’ former brain trust of Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur saw little to be excited about in the 2013 quarterback class. So they took Weeden in the first round in 2012, no matter that he was 28 (and will be 30 this fall). The latest regime will give Weeden a chance, and they will give him a chance running an offense that is more vertical and down-the-field than Shurmur’s West Coast system. Also, the Browns will put Weeden in the shotgun more. He proved in college that he was comfortable working from that spot.

Weeden had moments last season, but they were too few — and he faded as a long and depressing season continued. But he also showed ability that prompted the Browns to draft him. If Weeden falters, however, the Browns will look to the draft to take yet another “franchise” quarterback.

Weeden has a solid offensive line in front of him with left tackle Joe Thomas a consistent standout. Running back Trent Richardson played much of  ’12 with cracked ribs, so he should be more consistent — and better able to live up to the expectations of a third overall pick. Richardson has to learn when a play is over, though, because he took too many extra shots fighting for yards that weren’t there. Richardson's health and durability is even more important with backup Montario Hardesty expected to miss the first two or three games because of a knee injury and Dion Lewis, who the team acquired from Philadelphia in a trade in April, also sure to miss time after breaking his leg in the second preseason game.

The Browns are justifiably excited about their young receivers. Josh Gordon had a solid rookie season after not playing college for two years because of issues with marijuana use. Greg Little struggled early but had a strong second half. The Browns added veterans Davone Bess and David Nelson to round out the receiving crew.

The biggest question on offense — other than relying on young players to grow — is at tight end, a position Chudzinski and Turner like to use a great deal. Jordan Cameron appears to be the choice to start, but he has only 26 catches and eight starts in his two seasons, with most of the starts due to injury to Ben Watson. Cameron has ability, but he also has to show more toughness and the willingness and ability to block.

The Browns spent two years drafting and building for a 4-3 defense. With new management and coaching, Cleveland moves to a 3-4 alignment with Ray Horton trying to implement a Pittsburgh system without Pittsburgh players.The coaching staff shrugs off the change to a “hybrid” 3-4 with different fronts and blitzes, but it’s complicated. And it might not be that beneficial. The one element of the team that Heckert built was the defensive front. Now that front has to transition to a two-gap system. And Jabaal Sheard, a pretty good 4-3 end, has to transition to a stand-up linebacker. Free agent signee Paul Kruger, Sheard, first-round draft pick Barkevious Mingo and free agent signee Quentin Groves will be the rush linebackers, as Horton will try to mimic the Steelers’ zone-blitz scheme. Horton tried the same approach as coordinator in Arizona a year ago, and the players loved the system. Arizona finished 12th in total defense, 17th in scoring. Mingo sustained a bruised lung in the Browns' second preseason game, so his Week 1 availability could be in doubt depending on the severity of his injury.

Horton’s biggest challenge is finding a cornerback to start opposite Joe Haden. Haden has grown into one of the better cover corners in the league, but he needs to stay away from off-field problems. The Browns hope Leon McFadden, the team’s third-round draft choice, can step in. If he can’t, the Browns would have to rely on Buster Skrine, a young player who struggled in 2012.

The one thing the Browns had going for them since 1999 was the consistent excellence of placekicker Phil Dawson. Not anymore.

Dawson, weary of losing and being franchised, signed with the 49ers as a free agent. The Browns never explained why they let their most popular player walk, and the decision looked more odd when they signed 35-year-old Shayne Graham (formerly of the Texans) to replace the 38-year-old Dawson. The Browns also let returner Josh Cribbs leave via free agency. The departure of Cribbs and Dawson took two of the most popular players from the team. Popularity doesn’t win games, obviously, but the loss of those two was emblematic of the change in regimes.

Final Analysis: 4th in AFC North
Expectations for the 2013 Browns were set by their owner in March. At the NFL’s spring meetings, Haslam said (candidly) that the Browns would not go 13–3 this season. Give him credit for candor, and for accuracy. The Browns aren’t close to a 13–3 team. There are new systems on both sides of the ball and new playbooks. The Browns have talent, but they also have the uncertainty of their owner’s legal situation and the uncertainty of how committed the new front office and coaching staff are to these players. As the Browns have often proven, uncertainty rarely wins in the NFL.

Order your 2013 Cleveland Browns Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

2013 Athlon Sports NFL Team Previews:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimore (8/26)Houston (8/29)Denver (9/3)
MiamiCincinnati (8/27)Indianapolis (8/23)Kansas City (8/21)
New England (8/30)ClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburgh (8/28)Tennessee (8/22)San Diego (8/20)
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
Dallas (8/22)Chicago (8/20)Atlanta (8/27)Arizona
NY Giants (8/30)DetroitCarolinaSt. Louis (8/23)
PhiladelphiaGreen Bay (8/29)New Orleans (8/26)San Francisco (9/3)
WashingtonMinnesota (8/21)Tampa BaySeattle (8/28)


Cleveland Browns 2013 NFL Team Preview
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-2013-nfl-team-preview

They could be terrible. They could be OK. There is even a small chance they will be very good. The only thing certain about the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 is that they will be different.
Very different.

After 14 years, Andy Reid is off to Kansas City. Chip Kelly, the quick-thinking, fast-talking enigma who breathed high-scoring life into the Oregon football program, has taken his place. Nobody — not Kelly, not the Eagles, not the sharpest NFL observer — knows how this will turn out.

Will Kelly be another Pete Carroll or John Harbaugh, making the leap from college to excel in the NFL? Or will he be another Steve Spurrier or Bobby Petrino, overmatched and quickly sent back to the college ranks?

The early signs were mixed. Kelly opted to retain Michael Vick, the 33-year-old symbol of Reid’s final, futile years. But he also kept the immobile Nick Foles and added USC’s Matt Barkley in the draft. What do those contradictory moves say about Kelly’s offensive scheme? Kelly hired NFL lifer Bill Davis to run his defense, but neither the head coach nor the coordinator would commit to the kind of scheme they plan to run.

Athlon Sports NFC Power Ranking: 11th

Related: 2013 Philadelphia Eagles Schedule Analysis

However he deploys them, Kelly at least starts off with some legitimate NFL playmakers at his disposal.
 Running backs LeSean McCoy, Felix Jones and Bryce Brown, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight ends Brent Celek, James Casey and rookie Zach Ertz give Kelly the opportunity to create all kinds of mismatches.

Wideout Jeremy Maclin was expected to be in that group as well, but he tore his ACL early in training camp and will be out for the entire season. It's now up to someone, whether that be Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson or Riley Cooper, to step up and try and replace Maclin's production. Chances are it will be a collaborative effort of some sort.

Kelly also begins with a solid, potentially excellent offensive line. A disaster area last year because of injuries, the line immediately improves with the return of Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, veteran Todd Herremans and center Jason Kelce. First-round pick Lane Johnson should start at right tackle, allowing Herremans to return to guard. That would make for an athletic, agile unit able to push the tempo and get out into the second level, as Kelly likes.

The most pressing issue is just who this line will be protecting. With his mobility, Vick is the closest to the style of quarterback Kelly won with at Oregon. But Vick is injury- and turnover-prone. He started only 10 games last year, winning three of them. He threw 10 interceptions and fumbled the ball 11 times. He goes into the season on a one-year contract, which suggests he won’t be the quarterback by the time Kelly’s program peaks.

Foles had his moments as a rookie in relief of Vick. His release is as quick as his feet are slow, though, making him a terrible fit for a read-option offense. But Kelly has steadfastly insisted he can shape his offense around Foles. That position was reinforced when he drafted Barkley, the former USC star who dropped to the fourth round.

“We’re an equal opportunity scoring offense,” Kelly says, “whether we throw it across the line or run it across the line. If we can wing it, we’ll wing it.”

Accuracy is the quality Kelly values most in a quarterback. That would seem to favor Foles and even Barkley over Vick. But Vick can move, and that is almost indispensable in the modern NFL.
How will it play out? If he were under pressure to win right away, Kelly might have to go with Vick. With a little leeway to build his program, expect him to focus on developing Foles and Barkley. There is always the 2014 draft if neither steps up.

If the quarterback situation is a puzzle, at least there are pieces. Davis will be trying to create a defense almost entirely from scratch. Chances are, the entire starting secondary will be different. In free agency, the Eagles signed cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, along with safeties Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung. All but Williams have dealt with recent injuries, but that still makes them less dubious than the Nnamdi Asomugha-led secondary that allowed 33 touchdown passes in 2012.

Davis is expected to run a variation of the 4-3 under scheme he has used in previous stops. The alignment can look like a 3-4, and sometimes the personnel will line up in a true 3-4. The scheme will ultimately accommodate the players.

Up front, that means 2012 first rounder Fletcher Cox will be either a tackle or a 3-technique end. Veteran Isaac Sopoaga and rookie Bennie Logan will line up at nose tackle. Beyond that, a group of players — Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry — will either be ends or outside linebackers, depending upon scheme, skill and situation. Of the three, Cole has the most experience as a pure edge-rusher while Graham is most likely to evolve into a linebacker capable of dropping into coverage as well as getting after the quarterback.

Connor Barwin, a free agent pickup from Houston, will be relied on to rush the passer from the weak-side linebacker spot. DeMeco Ryans, arguably the team’s best defensive player as a middle linebacker last season, will bring his savvy and toughness to one inside spot. Mychal Kendricks, who had solid games early in his rookie season, is likely to be the other inside backer. Combined, they bring some much-needed physicality to the middle of the defense.

But there are many more questions than answers on this side. It will be a huge challenge for Davis to shape this group into a cohesive unit.

Donnie Jones, who averaged 47.2 yards — with a net of 40.5 — last year in Houston, will shore up a position that was one of the Eagles’ many trouble spots in 2012.
Third-year placekicker Alex Henery is tough to get a read on. His career field goal accuracy of 87.9 percent is very good, and he made 22 consecutive kicks last year. But Henery has had few chances to make kicks under pressure, and he missed two in a close game at Tampa Bay in December. He will need to deliver in those situations as they arise.

New special teams coordinator Dave Fipp will have his hands full retooling coverage units that struggled in all phases. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Jackson returning more punts, while nickel corner Brandon Boykin is likely to be returning kicks again.

Final Analysis: 3rd in NFC East
A quick turnaround is more than possible in today’s NFL. It has become the expectation.
Kelly has enough skill players to implement a formidable offense, especially if he is as good as his reputation as an innovator. He will have to settle on a No. 1 quarterback and go all-in with him. Scoring points should not be as tough as it was in Reid’s final seasons.

Can the Eagles jump back to elite status with a patchwork defense run by a coach who failed to excel in two previous stints as a coordinator? That is probably the bigger question, and the issue most likely to keep the Eagles from contending in 2013.

Order your 2013 Philadelphia Eagles Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

2013 Athlon Sports NFL Team Previews:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimore (8/26)Houston (8/29)Denver (9/3)
MiamiCincinnati (8/27)Indianapolis (8/23)Kansas City (8/21)
New England (8/30)ClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburgh (8/28)Tennessee (8/22)San Diego (8/20)
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
Dallas (8/22)Chicago (8/20)Atlanta (8/27)Arizona
NY Giants (8/30)DetroitCarolinaSt. Louis (8/23)
PhiladelphiaGreen Bay (8/29)New Orleans (8/26)San Francisco (9/3)
WashingtonMinnesota (8/21)Tampa BaySeattle (8/28)


Philadelphia Eagles 2013 NFL Team Preview
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/espns-pam-oliver-gets-hit-face-colts-qb-pass

Sideline reporter Pam Oliver was in the wrong place at the wrong time during warm-ups for yesterday's Colts-Giants game. Colts back-up QB Chandler Harnish threw a tight spiral that landed on the side of Oliver's face. Ouch!


Harnish has since apologized.

Sideline reporter Pam Oliver was in the wrong place at the wrong time during warm-ups for yesterday's Colts-Giants game. Colts back-up QB Chandler Harnish threw a beautiful pass that landed on the side of Oliver's face.
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 09:36
All taxonomy terms: Funny, videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/ut-fans-makes-horrible-video-predicting-win-over-ducks

What happens when a Tennessee fan decides to make a video boasting how his Vols are going to beat the Oregon Ducks on Sept. 14? Internet gold. Watch the video and check out our favorite responses from members of the college football subreddit that brought this gem to our attention. 

Best comments from Redditors

* I think Neyland Stadium just found a new pre-kickoff hype video.
* It's like he's shaking his head the whole time as a subliminal message to the watcher that he in fact does not think all of this.
* He's being held hostage and reading a premade message from his abductor while also using non-verbal communication.
* I'm just happy it's not a Bama fan shown doing this for a change.
* Morse code via nostril flares?
Check out all the comments here.
What happens when a Tennessee fan decides to make a video boasting how his Vols are going to beat the Oregon Ducks on Sept. 14? Internet gold.
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 09:12
Path: /college-football/jared-goff-wins-california-starting-qb-job

California coach Sonny Dykes has picked his starting quarterback for the season opener and it wasn’t the passer most expected. The Golden Bears entered fall practice with three candidates vying for the top spot, with redshirt freshman Zach Kline expected by most to win the job.

However, on Friday, Dykes named true freshman Jared Goff as California’s starting quarterback. Goff was rated as the No. 25 quarterback in the 2013 signing class by Athlon Sports. The true freshman has a quick release, which should be a good fit in the Bear Raid spread attack.

Kline is expected to slide into the No. 2 spot, and the redshirt freshman is a good fallback option in case Goff struggles.

California has a difficult early schedule, which features games against Northwestern, Ohio State and Oregon in three out of the first four games.

There’s no question 2013 is a rebuilding year for California, so Goff should have a long leash from the coaching staff. But once Goff gets some experience under his belt, the Golden Bears should have a solid offense. 

Jared Goff Wins California Starting QB Job
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 08:45
All taxonomy terms: Minnesota Twins, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/twins-ballboy-falls-crowd-spectacularly
There are few things more exciting than seeing a ballboy make an amazing catch. Of course, it's even better when they don't and fall into the crowd with their butts sticking in the air for the whole world to see. Watch as the Twins' ballboy executes this mishap perfectly during a game against the White Sox.

Twins' Ballboy Falls Into Crowd Spectacularly
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 08:43
Path: /college-football/accs-top-25-games-watch-2013

Who would have thought that North Carolina State hosting Florida State would have been the most important game in the ACC in 2012?

That thrilling, nail-biting, fourth-down-converting loss to the Wolfpack in a crazed Carter-Finley Stadium hurt the Seminoles in the national championship picture. It was the biggest, most impactful game of the entire ’12 campaign for any team in the ACC.

With both Clemson and Florida State eyeing a spot in the final BCS National Championship Game and a completely wide open Coastal Division race on the other side of the league, fans should have plenty to watch this fall along the Atlantic seaboard. No, this league isn’t as powerful as the SEC or as successful as the Pac-12 or as lucrative as the Big Ten, but it is closing the gap quickly.

And with two new teams added to the mix in 2013, every weekend is sure to entertain. Here are the top 25 must-see games of the year in the ACC:

Related: ACC Coaches Give Anonymous Scouting Reports on the ACC


  Dates RoadHomeThoughts
1.Oct 19Florida State at Clemson: This game could easily decide not only the ACC Atlantic Division but also the ACC title and possibly even a spot in the final BCS title game. The home team has won this game six years in a row.
2.Aug 31Georgia at Clemson: One of the most anticipated moments in Death Valley history happens right out of the gate. An old-school rivalry will be renewed when two top 10 teams battle in Week 1.
3.Nov 2Miami at Florida State: Finally, one of the nation's best rivalries will carry heavy ACC title implications. Florida State has won three straight in relatively easy fashion and six out of the last eight overall.
4.Nov 30Clemson at South Carolina: Yet another chance for the ACC to prove itself against the mighty SEC. However, this one could have BCS title implications for both teams. Clemson needs to stop the bleeding after losing four straight to Carolina in ugly fashion.
5.Nov 30Florida State at Florida: The Noles and Gators played a hard-fought, grown-man's game a year ago in which the Gators put their foot on the throat of their ACC rival. This game could feature two top-10-15 teams.
6.Sept 21Florida at Miami: After six straight wins for The U, Florida crushed the Canes in 2006 — the last time these two met. Florida's corners going up against Stephen Morris is one of the more intriguing games within the games in any ACC game. A win could begin to change national perception.
7.Nov 9Virginia Tech at Miami: Tech has to travel south to play Miami two years in a row after a 30-12 defeat last year. However, the Hokies had won five out of six against the Hurricanes prior to that. This could provide a career-defining moment for Logan Thomas.
8.Oct 17Miami at North Carolina (Thurs.): Interestingly, no team has ever NOT won at least two in a row in this 16-game series. That means North Carolina should win again following the 18-14 road win in South Florida a year ago.
9.Nov 30Georgia at Georgia Tech: The third of three national perception games with the nation's best conference. The Dawgs, however, have won four straight 11 of the last 12 in one of the best named rivalries in the nation: "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate."
10.Oct 5Florida State at Pitt (Mon.): There is plenty to watch in this Labor Day showdown. The ACC gets a national showcase for the debut of Jameis Winston at quarterback for Florida State and for the Paul Chryst-led Panthers in their first ACC game in history.
11.Oct 5Georgia Tech at Miami: The Hurricanes' young, talented but questionable defense will be challenged by Paul Johnson's triple option. However, Miami can keep up, having won four straight by scoring an average of 33.5 points per game.
12.Sept 26Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (Thurs.): This game has decided the Coastal Division crown in all but one season of ACC play — last year. It has gone the way of the Hokies seven of nine total ACC games.
13.Aug 31Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta): Logan Thomas has a chance to send a shot heard 'round the college football world. He has the talent but does the rest of his team stand a chance against the two-time defending champs?
14.Sept 21North Carolina at Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech has dominated the series since 1998, winning 13 of the last 15 meetings (2004, '08). Last year's contest was an offensive explosion featuring 118 combined points in a Tech 68-50 road win.
15.Oct 5North Carolina at Virginia Tech: North Carolina has won just twice since these two became ACC foes and the 2009 win had to be vacated by the Tar Heels. This was an exciting 48-34 home win in Chapel Hill last fall for UNC.
16.Aug 29North Carolina at South Carolina (Thurs.): The SEC has won four of the last five in this SEC-ACC rival battle. However, three of the last four have been within one touchdown.
17.Nov 14Georgia Tech at Clemson (Thur.): Tech has the enviable task of visiting Death Valley twice in a row after a 47-31 loss last year. Clemson last lost at home to the Jackets in 2008.
18.Oct 26Clemson at Maryland: If you are looking for a time for Clemson to, well, Clemson itself this year, then keep an eye on its matchup against the Terps. The Tigers will host Florida State the week before and will have to find a way to avoid an upset on the road against a hard-nosed team.
19.Sept 19Clemson at NC State (Thurs.): Certainly, the Pack proved it could pull an upset at home last year and Clemson is always primed for one. However, an extra week of preparation following a home game with South Carolina State should mean a focused Tigers squad. 
20.Nov 2North Carolina at NC State: One of the better rivalries in the ACC has seen plenty of coaching turnover of late. 
21.Nov 9Notre Dame at Pitt: The Panthers played the Irish tougher than any one not named Alabama a year ago. A road rematch should be fun for both. And any time Notre Dame comes to town it is news.
22.Oct 26NC State at Florida State: A handful of four-down, fourth-quarter conversions gave NC State one of the biggest upset of the 2012 season. And the 'Noles will be looking to exact some revenge. 
23.Oct 12Georgia Tech at BYU: The Cougars are a solid team once again and playing in Provo is underratedly difficult. Tech will be seeking revenge after a 47-17 embarrassment in Atlanta last year at the hands of BYU.
24.Nov 30Virginia Tech at Virginia: The Commonwealth Cup is always a heated game in one of the league's top rivalries. The game meant a lot in 2011 and Mike London needs this to be the case once again this fall.
25.Nov 30Maryland at NC State: There isn't a whole lot of sex appeal in this one but there could be plenty on the line on the final weekend. Bowl pecking order, postseason berths or maybe even a divisional race.

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Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 07:15