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All taxonomy terms: Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, NBA
Path: /nba/chicago-bulls%E2%80%99-pau-gasol-hangs-out-sesame-street

If you were to scour the NBA for a player who most resembles Big Bird, you’d eventually land on new Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol. A former champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, and likely Hall of Famer in time, the Spaniard is tall, fluffy and gregarious in the same way as the yellow-feathered pop culture icon. He’s one of the most beloved characters in the league. 

Gasol is one of the friendlier interviews around, and his good will with media corps is clearly no illusion — he’s a giver on the court, too. Arguably, no big man (except for maybe his Bulls counterpart Joakim Noah, or brother Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, if anyone) passes the ball so much like a deferential point guard.

It was only a matter of time before Gasol took his loving talents to the arena of childhood pedagogy. His generosity makes eminent sense along the sidewalks of Sesame Street, where Gasol recently revealed himself having a brief party:


Whether the center will appear in a full episode or not is unclear — the social media post offered little insight into his involvement with the show. But Gasol will definitely be fighting for a championship alongside Noah, Derrick Rose and indomitable coach Tom Thibodeau with the Bulls in 2014-15.

Gasol has looked sharp in two preseason games with the Bulls, continuing his run of impressive play with the Spanish national team through the FIBA World Cup, where he was perhaps the best player in the whole tournament. His intensity in the post will be a huge asset for Chicago—but so will his aptitude for levity, which he pointedly reminded us of with this snippet of action among Elmo and friends.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, NC State Wolfpack, News
Path: /college-football/nc-state-unveils-new-helmet-saturdays-game-against-boston-college

NC State hopes to earn its first ACC win under second-year coach Dave Doeren this Saturday, as the Wolfpack host Boston College.

And to help NC State’s victory hopes, the program unveiled a new helmet for Saturday’s game.

The helmet features a logo of Tuffy (the name of the school’s mascot) instead of the normal power “S” on the side.

Check out NC State’s new helmet for Week 7:


NC State Unveils New Helmet for Saturday's Game Against Boston College
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 12:24
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-7-preview
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 7 Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 11:08
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-9-2014

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


• We don't give volleyball enough love here. Let's fix that. .




• Shocker: .




, who's gone from mama's boy to transcendent star.


. Good job, good effort, Jets.







. RIP, Cigar.


• Happy birthday, John Lennon. By the way, .


• The NHL debuted RefCam last night.



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

Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 10:44
Path: /nfl/indianapolis-colts-vs-houston-texans-game-preview-and-prediction

Tonight’s divisional clash between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans pits the top two players in the AFC South against each other in prime time on CBS/NFL Network. Indianapolis (3-2) signal-caller Andrew Luck and Houston (3-2) pass-rusher J.J. Watt are undeniably two of the best in the game today and each will try to do their part to help their team move into first place in the division with a win tonight. Luck, however, has the upper hand in the budding rivalry — boasting a 3–1 record with nine TD passes and one INT all-time vs. the Texans. Luck is riding a three-game winning streak — including a 25–3 Week 15 win and 27–24 Week 9 win last season — against the division rivals since losing his first trip to Houston as a rookie.


Not to be overlooked, Texans running back Arian Foster has 404 yards rushing in four games this season and has historically dominated the Colts, averaging 150.4 yards in five career games against Indy. Look for the Colts to load up against the run and force Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to try to beat them with his arm. 


Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network

Spread: Indianapolis -3


Three Things to Watch


1. Indy's Thursday Night Dominance

Houston running back Arian Foster made news this week with his denunciation of Thursday night games. "It's annoying for players," said Foster. "I don't know one player that likes it. I really don't know a fan that likes it, either. I think it's just the league's way of trying to generate more revenue. Nobody is ready to play physically after a Sunday game. But you've got to go out there and do it." One team that isn't complaining, at least publicly, is Indianapolis. The Colts have won 10 in a row on Thursday, which on the surface looks like a fluke but is a large enough sample size to make you wonder. "You realize once the game starts, it's football," said Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who's 2–0 as a starter on Thursday. "There's no use complaining or whining about anything. It's what you do." We'll see if the Colts continue to embrace the timeslot — and if the Texans allow their distaste for it to show. 


2. The Colts' Defensive Resurgence

The offensive players — Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, et al. — grab the headlines, but Indy's current three-game winning streak is due largely to defense. In beating Jacksonville, Tennessee and Baltimore, the Colts’ defense has surrendered only 892 yards while forcing nine turnovers and posting 11 sacks. The Colts' four sacks of Joe Flacco in the win over Baltimore represented more sacks than the Ravens had allowed in their first four games combined. The defense is giving the team a physical identity that could carry the Colts to an AFC South title. Thus far on the season, Indy has forced 10 turnovers, third most in the NFL.


3. Texan Takeaways

Speaking of forcing turnovers, that's Houston's specialty. The Texans lead the NFL in takeaways with 12, including three in a loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. Mega-million-dollar defensive end J.J. Watt leads the big-play parade with a pick-six, a fumble recovery and blocked kick to go with his two sacks. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph has chipped in with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. In the Colts' two losses this season, they lost the turnover battle 4-to-1, so look for the Texans to try to force Indy into mistakes and then capitalize. 


Final Analysis


The offensive stars — Andrew Luck, Arian Foster — will have a chance to shine under a prime-time spotlight, but it's the respective defenses that could provide a winning edge in this one. Both teams are adept at forcing turnovers; whichever team wins the turnover battle, and then turns those miscues into points, will have the upper hand.

Prediction: Indianapolis 24, Houston 20
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA
Path: /nba/blake-griffin-begins-mvp-campaign-jumpers-not-dunks

You know who Blake Griffin is for one reason, above all: He’s one of the most spectacular athletes the NBA has ever seen. The Los Angeles Clippers forward made an immediate impression in his 2010-11 rookie season and has only increased in skill and popularity since. No one this side of Michael Jordan has been so prolific in the art of posterizing other players. Just ask: , and .


That list could go on and on, but our time is finite and the narrative on Griffin has gone to more interesting, subtle places anyways. In 2013-14, his game expanded to include more ball-handling, mid-range shooting and passing. Griffin thrived with added responsibility under new coach Doc Rivers and showed that he’s one of the very best players in the game — that he’s a versatile talent who should be known for more than just his YouTube-friendly pyrotechnics at the rim. He finished third in MVP voting for the year, just behind the untoppable LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

And if Griffin’s preseason debut is any indication, his evolution was only beginning last season. He put on a shooting display in a home loss to the Golden State Warriors, collecting 24 points and 12 rebounds on 9-of-17 shooting, stretching the defense in ways that should have the rest of the league on notice.


Clippers point guard Chris Paul is approaching his thirtieth birthday next spring, and the team also lost some bench depth over the summer with the departures of Darren Collison, Danny Granger and Jared Dudley. But the young Griffin’s ascendance gives Clippers fans more than enough cause for hope. A player of his stature can shift the power balance of the NBA for years and years to come. On Blake’s back, the red-and-blue are in as good a shape as anyone going forward.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-7-preview-and-predictions

It’s a less than a full slate of ACC action this week, but there are a few intriguing divisional games, especially in the Atlantic. However, the most important matchup this Saturday is the lone game that involves a pair of teams from the Coastal Division.


Duke-Georgia Tech pits the defending division champions against one of the current unlikely frontrunners in the Coastal. In the Atlantic, while defending national champion Florida State should have little problem getting by Syracuse, Louisville-Clemson will meet for the first time ever, with second place in the division on the line. The other Atlantic matchup has improving teams in Boston College and NC State going head to head in search of a first conference victory.


Outside of conference play, Notre Dame resumes the ACC-centric component of its schedule by hosting North Carolina, and Miami hosts Cincinnati to round out the slate.


The majority of the league’s attention will most likely be directed towards what happens Saturday in Atlanta, but the proceedings in Clemson, S.C., and Raleigh, N.C., could prove to be just as entertaining.

Week 7 Previews and Predictions
|  |   


ACC Week 7 Game Power Rankings


1. Duke at Georgia Tech (-5)
12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network

The Blue Devils have an opportunity to take a step towards a possible repeat as Coastal Division champions when they face the front-running Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. David Cutcliffe’s team has had an extra week to stew about its 22-10 loss to Miami, while Paul Johnson has gone from the hot seat to Coach of the Year consideration in leading his Yellow Jackets to a surprising 5-0 start. For Duke, one of the keys will be giving Georgia Tech a taste of its own medicine. Last week, the Blue Devils rushed for just 85 yards in the loss to the Hurricanes, after averaging 261 over their first four games. Duke also must do what is necessary to extend drives to keep the ball out of Tech’s hands, meaning it can ill afford to go 2-for-16 third down like it did against Miami. The Blue Devils’ defense will have its hands full trying to slow down Johnson’s patented triple option attack. The Yellow Jackets are averaging nearly 300 yards rushing per game while Duke has allowed three teams in a row at least 200 yards on the ground. Not surprisingly, opponents have tried to force Georgia Tech to beat them by throwing the ball. But one of the reasons the Yellow Jackets are 5-0 is that sophomore quarterback Justin Thomas has made plays with his arm (7 TDs, 1 INT) when he’s needed to. Turnovers could play a huge role in determining the outcome of this key Coastal clash.

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2. Louisville at Clemson (-13)
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Florida State is still the king of the Atlantic Division, but it doesn’t mean the battle for second place won’t be worth watching. The Cardinals have played one more conference game than the Tigers, but the new kids on the ACC block still have a home date with the Seminoles looming. Clemson meanwhile has bounced back from its heartbreaking overtime loss in Tallahassee, beating North Carolina and NC State at home by a combined score of 91-35. This will be Louisville’s first game ever against Clemson and it comes in Death Valley. Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino’s calling card has been his offenses, but it’s his defense that draws the tough assignment of trying to slow down the Tigers’ own potent attack. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has turned the reigns over to quarterback Deshaun Watson and the true freshman has responded. In two starts, Watson has completed 68 percent of his passes for 702 yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception while adding 90 yards and two scores on the ground. Louisville enters this game sixth in FBS in scoring defense (12.7 ppg), but Florida State has been the only team thus far to hold Clemson to fewer than 21 points. The Tigers’ defense has held its own (22 ppg), so the Cardinals’ offense (25 ppg in ACC play) will need to step up if Louisville wants to have any chance of making its first trip to Death Valley a successful one.


3. Boston College at NC State (-4)
3:30 p.m. ET, RSN

It’s a battle of former Florida quarterbacks, as Boston College and NC State enter this game in search of their first ACC win. Both teams are coming off of losses, as the Eagles fell 24-21 at home to Colorado State two weeks ago, while the Wolfpack got shutout 41-0 in Clemson last week. Despite these recent results, both teams appear improved, especially NC State, which jumped all over Florida State two weeks ago at home before fading in the second half. Even though Boston College lost 2,000-yard rusher Andre Williams to the NFL, the Eagles have been productive on the ground to this point. Led by senior transfer quarterback Tyler Murphy, Boston College is leading the ACC and is sixth in the nation in rushing at 316.8 yards per game. Steve Addazio’s team relies heavily on the run (just 133.2 passing ypg), so the Wolfpack’s defense must do a better job than the 392 yards rushing it has allowed in its last two games. Meanwhile, Dave Doeren’s team has already surpassed last season’s win total thanks to a more balanced offense that’s putting up nearly 34 points per game. NC State is just one of two ACC teams (Duke) that’s averaging more than 200 yards per game both rushing and passing. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett is in charge of running Doeren’s offense, and the junior transfer is the conference’s third-rated passer thanks to a sterling 13:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The Eagles’ fourth-ranked defense (304.2 ypg) could have its hands full dealing with all of the Wolfpack’s weapons, while Murphy may need to make a few more plays with his arm (3 TDs, 6 INTs) to give NC State’s defense something else to worry about other than just stopping the run.


4. North Carolina at Notre Dame (-17)
3:30 p.m. ET, NBC

It’s a little bit of déjà vu for North Carolina and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Larry Fedora’s team stumbled to a 1-5 start last season before winning six of their final seven games. This season, North Carolina is 2-3, but it has lost three in a row with an average of 51.3 points per game allowed during this span. That’s not a good sign considering sixth-ranked Notre Dame is coming off a huge 17-14 win over then-No. 14 Stanford. The Cardinal are the No. 2 defense in the nation, but Brian Kelly’s team was able to put up 370 total yards against them. The Tar Heels enter this game 120th in the nation (out of 128 FBS teams) in total defense, allowing more than 505 yards per game. Statistically speaking, there’s not a lot of separation between these two teams from an offensive standpoint. Notre Dame is averaging only 14 yards per game more than North Carolina with the Tar Heels (36.0 ppg) enjoying a slight advantage over the Irish (31.4) in scoring. However, the disparity on defense cannot be overlooked, as the Irish have yet to allow an opponent to score more than 17 points and the Tar Heels are coughing up 42 per game (124th in FBS). Even if North Carolina catches Notre Dame looking ahead to next week’s showdown with Florida State, the Irish should win this one fairly easily. In fact, things could get ugly in South Bend if the Tar Heels make too many mistakes, on either side of the ball.


5. Florida State (-24) at Syracuse
12 p.m. ET, ESPN

Florida State finally appears to be getting its act together, which could be a bad sign for Syracuse. Since falling behind 24-7 at NC State two weeks ago, the Seminoles have outscored their opponents 62-20 over their last seven quarters. Wake Forest bore the brunt of this outburst, losing 43-3 in Tallahassee last week, as Florida State’s suffocating defense (126 total yards allowed, 3 takeaways) simply overwhelmed the Demon Deacons. The Seminoles’ offense hasn’t been near as productive as it was last season, but the defending national champions still have plenty of talent. The Orange could catch a break, however, with the possibility that Florida State could be without both its leading receiver (Rashad Greene) and leading rusher (Karlos Williams) because of injuries. Those aren’t the only key players Jimbo Fisher may not have at his disposal Saturday, but his counterpart Scott Shafer is dealing with some personnel issues of his own. Starting quarterback Terrel Hunt is out four to six weeks after breaking his leg, while offensive coordinator George McDonald has been stripped of his duties and replaced by quarterbacks coach Tim Lester. Syracuse enters this game ranked second to last in the ACC in scoring (21.6 ppg), compared to Florida State, which despite stints of inconsistency, is averaging 39.2 points per game. Even though the Seminoles have not played like champions at times and figure to be at less than full strength, the Orange still don’t match up in terms of talent and are experiencing too much turmoil on offense to be considered much of a threat to end Florida State’s 21-game winning streak.


6. Cincinnati at Miami (-15)
12 p.m. ET, RSN

Cincinnati and Miami are both sitting at .500 and coming off of disappointing conference losses. Because of a scheduling quirk, the Bearcats have only played four games and it’s safe to say Tommy Tuberville’s team is still trying to find its rhythm. After two wins over MAC teams, Cincinnati has been outscored 91-42 in back-to-back losses against Ohio State and Memphis. The 27-point home loss to American Athletic Conference foe Memphis is much together to swallow than losing in the Horseshoe to the Buckeyes, considering the Tigers won just three games last season. To make matters worse, Tuberville’s defense is ranked second to last in the nation (561.8 ypg) and he most likely will be without his starting quarterback. Gunner Kiel, who ranks among the nation’s best passers (15 TDs, 3 INTs, 171.2 rating), hurt his ribs in last week’s loss and is not expected to play Saturday. Munchie Legaux will likely start against the Hurricanes and the fifth-year senior does have experience to lean on. Truth be told, the Bearcats’ issues on offense stem from an inability to run the ball (103.5 rushing ypg), something that must change, especially if Kiel misses an extended period of time. Miami’s offense has been led by true freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya, who is second in the ACC with 253.3 yards passing per game. As is usually the case with freshmen signal-callers, Kaaya has made his share of mistakes (13 TDs, 9 INTs), but he hasn’t gotten a lot of support from his running game either. Miami is 12th in the ACC in rushing (133.3 ypg), despite the presence of preseason All-America pick Duke Johnson. As talented as Johnson is, he’s not producing enough (104.2 rushing ypg) to carry this offense by himself. Cincinnati’s 123rd-ranked rush defense (255.3 ypg) could be just what Johnson and his backfield mates need to get going. In fact, this game could be coming at an opportune time for the Hurricanes, who really could use a complete, well-rounded effort (on both sides of the ball), as they get ready to enter the toughest part of their ACC slate.


Off: Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

ACC Week 7 Predictions

Duke (+5) at Ga. TechGT 35-21GT 28-27GT 27-24GT 30-23
Louisville (+13) at ClemsonClemson 35-21Clemson 34-27Clemson 34-20Clemson 33-27
Boston Coll. (+4) at NC StateNC State 31-24NC State 37-27NC State 30-27NC State 34-24
UNC (+17) at Notre DameND 41-14ND 45-17ND 45-17ND 41-17
FSU (-24) at SyracuseFSU 42-14FSU 44-10FSU 41-7FSU 41-0
Cincinnati (+15) at MiamiMiami 28-21Miami 34-10Miami 31-20Miami 33-21
Last Week5-15-15-15-1
Season Record49-1349-1352-1050-12


ACC 2014 Week 7 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/sec-2014-week-7-preview-and-predictions

Another week, another huge slate of action in the SEC. Seven ranked teams play this Saturday, with Mississippi State’s showdown against Auburn taking the spotlight in Week 7. The huge matchup in Starkville is a contest with national title implications, and quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Nick Marshall hope to make a Heisman push with a big performance.

Outside of Starkville, the SEC East title race could come into focus with Missouri hosting Georgia. If the Tigers can knock off the Bulldogs, Gary Pinkel’s team would have wins over the preseason favorites in the East (Georgia and South Carolina).

Florida hosts LSU in a critical game for two struggling teams, while Ole Miss travels to Texas A&M in another key SEC West showdown. Following up last week’s win against Alabama won’t be easy. Can the Rebels avoid a letdown in College Station?

Week 7 Previews and Predictions:


SEC Week 7 Game Power Rankings


1. Auburn (-3) at Mississippi State
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

For the second week in a row, Mississippi is the epicenter of Saturday’s SEC slate. But after the focus was in Oxford last week, the scene shifts to Starkville. Mississippi State has arrived as a SEC title contender, while Auburn can stake its claim for the No. 1 overall ranking nationally with a win on Saturday. On the stat sheet, there are a lot of similarities between the two teams. Mississippi State and Auburn average over 500 yards per game in SEC play, average 5.6 yards per carry on offense, both have dynamic Heisman contenders at quarterback, and defenses that hold opponents to less than 20 points per game. With two similar teams, what could be the deciding factor on Saturday? Keep an eye on Mississippi State’s secondary. The Bulldogs held their own against Texas A&M, but this unit leads the SEC by allowing 23 passing plays of at least 20 yards. Can Nick Marshall hit on big plays to Sammie Coates and Duke Williams? Auburn’s defense has improved since 2013, but how much has this unit progressed? The Tigers allow just 4.6 yards per play, but the Bulldogs – with quarterback Dak Prescott leading the way – are the toughest opponent they will play so far this year. This series has been one-sided recently, as the Tigers have won 11 out of the last 13 games against the Bulldogs. Mississippi State’s last victory against Auburn came in 2012, defeating the Tigers 28-10 in Starkville.


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2. Georgia (-3) at Missouri
Noon ET, CBS

The favorite in the SEC East is anyone’s guess. However, Saturday’s game between Missouri and Georgia could provide some clarity. The Bulldogs are still in the mix for the East despite a loss to South Carolina, while Missouri’s win over the Gamecocks has Gary Pinkel’s team atop the East – for now. The Tigers won in Athens last season but are a slight underdog on Saturday. The outlook for this game has changed significantly since Wednesday, as running back Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely due to a NCAA investigation. With Gurley out, backup Nick Chubb is expected to see the bulk of the Bulldogs' carries on Saturday. Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk struggled against South Carolina, but he should have more weapons at his disposal with the return of Jimmie Hunt and Darius White from injury. If the Tigers can protect Mauk, he will have opportunities to make plays against a Georgia secondary that has allowed 23 plays of at least 20 yards in 2014. Missouri needs to stop the run, but Georgia’s passing offense is set to improve with the return of receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley. Quarterback Hutson Mason is averaging only 153 passing yards in SEC play, and his performance will be critical to the outcome of Saturday’s game.


3. Ole Miss at Texas A&M (–3.5)
9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Life in the SEC West isn’t easy. Just ask Ole Miss. A week after beating Alabama, the Rebels have to travel to Texas A&M. The Aggies are coming off a loss to Mississippi State and need a win to stay alive in the West Division title picture. Can Ole Miss avoid a letdown? Or was Texas A&M’s 5-0 start a mirage? The Rebels need another flawless effort from quarterback Bo Wallace on Saturday, as the senior delivered against Alabama with no interceptions on 31 attempts. Wallace should have opportunities for plays against a Texas A&M secondary allowing 278.3 yards per game. The Aggies lead the SEC with 19 sacks, but this unit is allowing 6.9 yards per play in conference games. If Texas A&M doesn’t get pressure on Wallace, the receiving corps of Ole Miss will be tough to contain. The Aggies averaged only 5.7 yards per play against Mississippi State last Saturday, which was its lowest mark of the season. Getting back on track will be a challenge for quarterback Kenny Hill, as Ole Miss is holding opponents to just 4.1 yards per play and has not allowed a passing touchdown since the opener. The last two games in this series were decided by three points. Expect another close one in College Station on Saturday night.

4. LSU (-1.5) at Florida
7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network

For the first time since 1989, both Florida and LSU enter their annual matchup unranked. The Tigers are 0-2 in SEC play, while the Gators survived an ugly 10-9 win over Tennessee last Saturday to move to 2-1 in the conference. Both teams enter this game with major question marks under center. Florida will turn to Jeff Driskel after Treon Harris’ suspension, while LSU’s quarterback situation is unsettled with Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris vying to start. Quarterback play isn’t the only problem for LSU, as its defense is allowing 37.5 points through two SEC contests. Florida’s defense has struggled stopping the pass, but the Gators rank fourth in the SEC against the run. With two teams struggling to generate anything on offense, turnover margin and special teams will be critical. LSU has won three out of the last four meetings in this series.    


5. Alabama (-9.5) at Arkansas
6 p.m. ET, ESPN

Last week, Ole Miss and Mississippi State scored breakthrough wins in the SEC. Is it Arkansas’ turn on Saturday? The last two meetings in this series have been a one-sided affair. Alabama has crushed Arkansas 104-0 over the last two years, and the Razorbacks have not defeated the Crimson Tide since 2006. Arkansas has significantly improved since 2013, so a 52-0 blowout would be a surprise. But for the Razorbacks to knock off Alabama, a perfect effort is needed. The Crimson Tide lead the SEC in rush defense (2.6 ypc) and only one opponent has managed more than 100 yards this year. The strength of Arkansas’ offense is on the ground, but running room could be limited on Saturday. With Alabama focused on stopping the ground attack, the Razorbacks need an efficient effort from quarterback Brandon Allen. The junior has passed for 751 yards this year and needs to have success on early downs to keep Alabama’s defense on its heels. As if that task wasn’t difficult enough, Arkansas needs its defense to slow down the Crimson Tide ground attack (5.3 ypc) and dynamic receiver Amari Cooper. Catching Alabama after a loss is never an enticing proposition, but Bret Bielma’s team has showed marked improvement since 2013. This is a good barometer game for Arkansas, and an opportunity for the Crimson Tide to exercise some of the frustration from last week’s loss.


6. ULM at Kentucky (-21.5)
Noon ET, SEC Network

The Wildcats are one of the SEC’s biggest surprises through the first six weeks. Kentucky defeated South Carolina last Saturday, and a win over ULM would place Mark Stoops’ team just one victory away from bowl eligibility. The Warhawks are 1-1 this year against Power 5 conference teams, losing to LSU 31-0 on Sept. 13 and defeating Wake Forest 17-10 in the opener. ULM’s offense is averaging only 18.2 points per game, but the strength of Todd Berry’s team is on defense. The Warhawks limit opponents to 24 points per game and 5.1 yards per play. Those numbers will be tested on Saturday, as Kentucky has scored at least 30 points in two of its three SEC games and rank second in the conference with 16 plays of 30 yards or more.


7. Chattanooga at Tennessee
4 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Tennessee steps out of conference play for the final time this year, hosting Chattanooga (No. 13 in the FCS poll) for the first time since 1969. As evidenced by close losses to Florida and Georgia, the Volunteers are improving under second-year coach Butch Jones, but a tough schedule leaves little margin for error to get to a bowl. Chattanooga’s strength is on defense (16.6 ppg), but quarterback Jacob Huesman headlines an offense that has scored at least 38 points in its last three games. The Mocs played Central Michigan tough in the opener and possess a solid defensive line that could create a few headaches for Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley. And after playing in Tuscaloosa last November, Chattanooga is no stranger to big-time SEC environments. However, it’s a lot to ask the Mocs to keep this one close. The Volunteers should have plenty of motivation after back-to-back SEC losses, and this matchup is a good way for Tennessee to fix some of its mistakes and work on a few things before playing Ole Miss and Alabama in the next two weeks.


8. Charleston Southern at Vanderbilt
7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net

Vanderbilt’s still has faint bowl hopes, but the Commodores need a win on Saturday to stay alive in their postseason quest. Charleston Southern is 5-0 and ranked No. 24 in the FCS Top 25 poll, but this is easily the Buccaneers’ toughest game of 2014. Charleston Southern’s defense is holding opponents to just 17.6 points per game, and a triple-option attack on offense is not easy to prepare for during the heart of SEC play. First-year Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason is looking for a spark on offense, as the Commodores are averaging only 17 points per game and 4.6 yards per play. With Patton Robinette recovering from a concussion, freshman Wade Freebeck will start at quarterback for the Commodores. Freebeck – a true freshman – is completing only 44.6 percent of his throws. Charleston Southern’s numbers on defense are solid, but this matchup should help Freebeck and Vanderbilt’s offense build confidence before resuming SEC play on Oct. 25 against Missouri.

SEC Week 7 Predictions

Auburn (-3) at Miss. StateAuburn 38-35MSU 31-27Auburn 34-31Auburn 34-24
Georgia (-3) at MissouriMizzou 24-21Mizzou 34-31Mizzou 27-24UGA 27-21
Ole Miss (+3.5) at TAMUOle Miss 35-27TAMU 34-33Ole Miss 34-27Ole Miss 34-30
LSU (-1.5) at FloridaLSU 14-10Florida 24-17Florida 20-17Florida 17-14
Alabama (-9.5) at ArkansasAlabama 35-14Alabama 30-21Alabama 30-13Alabama 30-21
ULM (+21.5) at UKUK 38-14UK 45-14UK 38-10UK 37-10
Chattanooga at TennesseeUT 31-13UT 38-13UT 45-13UT 41-10
C. Southern at VanderbiltVandy 24-10Vandy 34-17Vandy 34-10Vandy 28-10
Last Week3-33-33-34-2
Season Record45-1046-946-948-7


SEC 2014 Week 7 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-7-preview-and-predictions

The Big 12 was a huge part of the mass confusion that took place across the college football landscape last weekend.


The conference figures to be in the spotlight once again as two of the nation’s 10 remaining unbeaten teams will battle in Waco. It means that the Red River Shoo… Rivalry isn’t even the biggest game in Texas this weekend.

Week 7 Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 

Big 12 Week 7 Game Power Rankings


1. TCU (+8.5) at Baylor
3:30 p.m., ABC

It will be extremely difficult for Gary Patterson to get his team up for a second straight weekend, but a rivalry game against an unbeaten top-five opponent should do the trick. Baylor has won 16 straight games in the state of Texas by an average of five touchdowns, but an eight-loss TCU team nearly upset the Bears last season in Fort Worth. The last loss for Art Briles’ bunch in the Lone Star State came against TCU in 2012. Bryce Petty is coming off the worst performance of his career as a starter (7-of-22, 111 yards) while Trevone Boykin is riding high after the signature performance of his career (318 pass yds., 77 rush yds). Both defensive fronts can wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, so whichever QB manipulates the defense more effectively will come out on top. That could mean turning to two of the Big 12’s top rushing attacks. Baylor is leading the Big 12 (247.4 ypg) and TCU is third (196.3).


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2. Texas (+14.5) vs. Oklahoma
Noon, ABC, Dallas

It’s a statement about where Charlie Strong’s program is for this Texas Fair-sized rivalry to be the third most important game in the state this weekend (See above and Ole Miss at Texas A&M). That said, there is always something special about the pageantry and split crowd of the Cotton Bowl early in October. Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses but the onus of victory falls to the heavy underdog to make plays on both sides of the ball. The Texas defense has been excellent, stopping Baylor and Bryce Petty last week with unique schemes and varying formations. It will have to repeat its performance against Trevor Knight and the Sooners if Texas is going to have any chance to win. Knight was knocked around and turned the ball over, but still produced big numbers on offense in the loss to TCU. Weirder things have happened in this game (see last year) but Texas' defense needs to continue its strong play and the offense is going to have to elevate its game significantly if the Horns expect to pull another shocking upset over Oklahoma.


3. West Virginia (-6) at Texas Tech
Noon, Fox Sports 1

The longest road trip in the Big 12 features two of the best passing attacks in the nation. The difference is lies with the quarterback executing these offenses and the overall trajectory of the programs. Clint Trickett leads the Big 12’s top passing attack, is coming off an easy win over Kansas, and a victory would match the Mountaineers' win total from a year ago. Davis Webb is averaging 320.6 yards per game, is leading the Big 12 with 16 TDs, but has been wildly inconsistent and also leads the league in interceptions (10). With Texas Tech facing a fourth consecutive loss and a slew of ranked opponents in the second half, Kliff Kingsbury must stress the importance of winnable game like this one, especially at home.


4. Oklahoma St (-20.5) at Kansas
4 p.m., Fox Sports 1

Aside from courting Jim Harbaugh, which seems highly unreasonable for too many reasons to count, there isn’t any conversation about this Jayhawks program. That is the problem obviously, as Kansas enters another game as a three-touchdown underdog. In three tries against Big 5 teams, the Jayhawks have scored a total of 17 points and gone 0-3. There is no reason to expect anything different against an Oklahoma State team that has topped 37 points in each outing during its four-game winning streak. Interim coach Clint Bowen’s only shot at victory is to create Daxx Garman turnovers — he’s thrown four interceptions in the last two games. If not, a repeat of last year’s 42-6 score is likely.


5. Toledo (+3) at Iowa St
3:30 p.m.,

No one wants to move forward more than Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard after getting fined for his postgame criticism of the officials last weekend. Win or lose against the Rockets, the officials shouldn’t have anything to do with the outcome. The Cyclones have proven they are good enough to compete with anyone in the Big 12 but haven’t been able to finish games. Toledo has won three straight in the MAC but allowed 107 points in two losses against bigger programs (Missouri, Cincinnati). This is a must-win situation for Paul Rhoads’ squad which likely will be favored to win, at most, one more time the rest of the season (at Kansas).


Off: Kansas State


Big 12 Predictions:
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
TCU (+8.5) at BaylorBay., 38-30Bay., 44-34Bay., 42-28Bay., 34-31
Texas (+14.5) vs Okla.Okla., 41-13Okla., 31-20Okla., 35-14Okla., 34-13
W. Virginia (-6) at T. TechWVU, 41-35Tech, 38-36WVU, 49-31WVU, 38-31
Okla. St (-20.5) at KansasOSU, 41-17OSU, 37-20OSU, 31-10OSU, 41-10
Toledo (+3) at Iowa StISU, 34-28ISU, 30-20ISU, 17-10ISU, 34-31
Last Week:4-14-14-14-1


Big 12 2014 Week 7 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-7-preview-and-predictions

It’s not a huge slate in the Pac-12 with just four games, but the quality of the Week 7 matchups out West is second to none in college football this weekend.


A preview of the Pac-12 championship game could take place in the hallowed ground of the Rose Bowl. The only undefeated team is a home underdog to a traditional power. And both Evergreen State schools head to the Bay Area for critical road games in the North Division.

Week 7 Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 


Pac-12 Week 7 Game Power Rankings


1. Oregon (-2.5) at UCLA
3:30 p.m., FOX

Brett Hundley can relate to Marcus Mariota. And vice versa. The two Heisman-caliber quarterbacks have been running for their respective lives this season behind two of the worst offensive lines in the Pac-12. Hundley was sacked 10 times last week in a home loss to Utah, as UCLA ranks last in the Pac-12 with 22.0 sacks allowed. Oregon isn’t much better, ranking ahead of only the Bruins in this category (15.0). Offensive coordinator Scott Frost claimed that Mariota wasn’t fully healthy in the loss to Arizona last week, but the Ducks QB told the media on Tuesday that he is good to go against UCLA. He will need to be at full strength against a dangerous but underachieving Bruins front seven if Oregon wants to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time since 2007. Despite the offensive line woes, Hundley and Mariota are first and fourth respectively in completion percentage nationally. The dynamic duo has met just once, with Oregon winning 42-14 in Eugene last season, and whomever stays upright longer is likely to come out a winner.


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2. USC (-2.5) at Arizona
10:30 p.m., ESPN2

Is there any doubt that this won’t be one of the most entertaining games in the Pac-12 this season? These two have played seven consecutive games within one score and are separated by a grand total of 10 points over the last five games (USC 163, Arizona 153). USC has dominated the series overall but Rich Rodriguez has split with the Men of Troy, as the home team has won both games since he took over in Tucson. Arizona enters the game ranked in the top 10, unbeaten and riding high after a huge road win over Oregon. The Trojans limp into the desert after having their hearts ripped out by Mike Bercovici’s Hail Mary. Cody Kessler and Anu Solomon figure to get the headlines under center but both squads are loaded with skill talent on offense and both defensive units will be challenged to stop the efficient and diverse offensive schemes. Last team with the ball wins.


3. Washington (+3.5) at Cal
6 p.m., Pac-12 Net

Quick, which team is alone atop the Pac-12 North standings? Sonny Dykes has turned around the Golden Bears program in one quick offseason and is looking to put his stamp on the North Division race with a key win over a rested Huskies squad. Quarterback Jared Goff has been a part of record-setting performances in each of the last two games as he’s thrown for 985 yards and 12 touchdowns. The concern is Dykes needed every inch of that production, as his defense has allowed 56 and 59 points in those wins. The off weekend couldn’t have come at a better time for Chris Petersen’s bunch after getting knocked around by Stanford. Cyler Miles and company shouldn’t have any issue moving the ball so if the Washington defense can get stops, the road upset is well within reach.


4. Washington St (+17) at Stanford
Fri., 9 p.m., ESPN

There won’t be a bigger clash of strengths in the nation than Washington State’s record-setting offense and Stanford’s suffocating defense. The Cardinal are No. 2 in the nation in total defense (232.4 ypg) and are leading the nation in yards per play allowed (3.72) and trips into the red zone allowed (7). Mike Leach’s Cougars are leading the nation in passing offense (523.0 ypg) by nearly 100 yards per game (Western Kentucky, 433.0 ypg). Conversely, the Stanford offense is averaging nearly 300 yards fewer per game (229.8) through the air and the Wazzu defense is ranked 92nd nationally at 438.2 yards allowed per game. Nothing about either team indicates that this should be much closer than the 55-17 win for David Shaw’s bunch a year ago. 


Off: Colorado, Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah


Pac-12 Predictions:
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Oregon (-2.5) at UCLAOre., 34-31Ore., 40-30Ore., 31-27UCLA, 34-30
USC (-3) at ArizonaZona, 40-38USC, 35-30Zona, 42-31Zona, 38-34
Wash. (+3.5) at CalWash., 35-33Cal, 40-34Cal, 44-28Wash., 34-31
WSU (+17) at StanfordStan., 31-17Stan., 28-14Stan., 24-10Stan., 34-20
Last Week:2-42-43-32-4


Pac-12 2014 Week 7 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2014-week-7-preview-and-predictions

The Big Ten doesn’t present many weeks to say this, so let’s get this out of the way: Northwestern-Minnesota is the most important game of the week.


Yes, more important than Penn State-Michigan.


There are a few caveats here: Ohio State and Nebraska are off, Michigan State is playing Purdue, and we all know why a game involving Michigan isn’t getting top billing, even against Penn State.


None of that is anything against Northwestern and Minnesota, two teams that are undefeated in the league so far. Perhaps both are longshots to win the Big Ten West, but for this week, they are in focus as they try to strengthen their case as legitimate division contenders.

Week 7 Previews and Predictions:
 |  |  |


Big Ten Week 7 Game Power Rankings

All times Eastern. All games Saturday.


1. Northwestern at Minnesota

Noon, Big Ten Network

Shocker of shockers, this game will determine the leader for the Big Ten West, or at least a share of it. Consider this: Northwestern and Minnesota are a combined 3-0 in the Big Ten with wins over Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin. Northwestern has helped turn its fortunes by shutting down opposing passing games, holding both Wisconsin and Penn State to less than 50 percent passing. That said, Minnesota’s bread-and-butter is the run game behind David Cobb. The Wildcats were able to defeat the Badgers despite giving up 259 yards to Melvin Gordon, so the pressure will be quarterback Mitch Leidner to keep Northwestern’s defense honest. After an off week, Minnesota is hopeful Leidner and Cobb, who has exceeded 30 carries in each of his last two games, will be as healthy has they’ve been in a while.


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2. Penn State at Michigan

7 p.m., ESPN2

What should be a powerhouse matchup any other year has limited national appeal in 2014, mostly due to Michigan’s 2-4 start and three-game losing streak. Penn State is 4-1 but is coming off a 29-6 loss at home to Northwestern. Given offensive line woes for both teams, a low-scoring game in Ann Arbor seems to be a given. Penn State leads the Big Ten in fewest yards allowed per play and has a defensive front that should give Michigan’s troubled line a world of problems. Making matters worse for Michigan, leading rusher Derrick Green has been lost for the season to broken clavicle. Meanwhile, Michigan has held four opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing this season. The key storyline will be if Christian Hackenberg can turn his season after struggling during the last three games. Since Sept. 13, Hackenberg is 59-of-112 with two interceptions and no touchdowns.


3. Indiana at Iowa


No, this isn’t the most juicy game on the Big Ten slate, but it will match one team’s strength against another. Behind Tevin Coleman — who has rushed for 100 yards in seven consecutive games and a touchdown in 14 in a row — Indiana has topped 200 rushing yards in each game this season. At the same time, Iowa has held four of five opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards. The exception was a come-from-behind win over Pittsburgh in which the Hawkeyes shut down Panthers tailback James Conner in the second half. When Iowa’s offense is on the field, the Hawkeyes will be playing the dreaded two-quarterback system. Jake Rudock will start after missing the last game and a half with an injury. C.J. Beathard, who led the comeback against Pitt, will also see action. What shape will that take? “We’re not seven sure what the plan is right now,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters.


4. Illinois at Wisconsin

Noon, ESPN2

Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen began the week with a defense of quarterbacks Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy, who were a combined 19-of-29 with four interceptions against Northwestern last week. Whether the turnovers were due to the quarterbacks themselves, tipped passes or contested balls, the Badgers still have a team that’s too one dimensional to contend in the Big Ten. Against Northwestern, Melvin Gordon rushed for 259 yards on 27 carries yet the Badgers never led and trailed by as much as 13 until the final 4:16. The Badgers will try to find answers in the passing game against an Illinois team that ranks last in the Big Ten in pass efficiency defense. Illinois, though, is in even more trouble. Tim Beckman may have needed a bowl game and a monster season from transfer quarterback Wes Lunt to save his job. Now, Lunt is out for four to six weeks with a broken leg, and Illinois is 3-3 and 0-2 in the Big Ten after a loss to Purdue.


5. Michigan State at Purdue

3:30 pm., ABC/ESPN2

Improvement is coming slowly at Purdue but probably not enough for an upset of Michigan State. Still, new quarterback Austin Appleby was able to lead the Boilermakers to their first Big Ten win since Nov. 24, 2012 in his first career start. The sophomore will face quite the increase in degree of difficulty in facing the Illinois defense one week to facing Michigan State’s a week later.


Big Ten Week 7 Staff Picks

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light

Illinois at Wisconsin (-26)

Wisc 42-10Wisc 38-20Wisc 45-17Wisc 41-17

Indiana at Iowa (-4)

Iowa 28-21Iowa 27-24Iowa 30-27Iowa 24-17

Northwestern at Minnesota (-4)

NW 38-35Minn 30-27NW 27-24NW 27-21

Michigan St (-22) at Purdue

MSU 42-17MSU 45-7MSU 40-10MSU 33-10

Penn State at Michigan (-2)

PSU 17-14UM 21-20PSU 24-20PSU 17-13
Last Week4-23-34-24-2
This Season49-1646-1949-1644-22


Big Ten Week 7 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-reinstates-top-cb-daryl-worley

West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley has been reinstated to the team after reaching a plea agreement from an incident that occurred in September. Worley pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and will serve no jail time.

Worley was originally charged with misdemeanor battery from a nightclub incident.

However, after reaching the plea agreement, Worley was placed on probation and was reinstated to the team on Tuesday.

The sophomore is West Virginia’s top defender and is one of the Big 12’s top shutdown cornerbacks. Worley has missed West Virginia's last two games, and his return is critical for the entire defense.

Worley’s return also comes at a key time for the Mountaineers, as they travel to Texas Tech this Saturday, followed by a matchup against Baylor in Week 8.

West Virginia Reinstates Top CB Daryl Worley
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-wichita-state-shockers-team-preview

College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 


No. 7 Wichita State keeps making history. The Shockers are two years removed from a Final Four, a feat that was arguably topped a year later when Wichita State won its first 35 games before losing to eventual national runner-up Kentucky in the round of 32. Reaching those either of those marks again is too much to ask, but the Shockers have plenty of firepower returning to remain on the national scene one way or another.


The Wichita State edition is one of dozens available in our  and on newsstands everywhere now.


Wichita State dominated the Missouri Valley Conference in historic ways last season. Nine schools will try to change that story this season. It won’t be easy. The Shockers, even without NBA Draft pick Cleanthony Early, show no signs of significant weakening.


“That’s like a high major program over there,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing says. “They literally could have won the national championship last year. The rest of us have to raise our level.”


Last season, WSU rolled to an 18–0 league record but largely disappeared from the national view in January and February because nobody regarded an MVC school as a serious challenger. It would help WSU’s strength of schedule and national respect if that changed.


“Wichita State has set a bar,” Loyola coach Porter Moser says. “Everybody is chasing that extremely hard. The level of recruiting has really been amped up.”


Meanwhile, the Shockers wait and get better.


The past four seasons rank with the best in Shocker history — 2011 NIT champions, 2012 MVC champions, Final Four in 2013 and 35 straight wins in 2014. That is a lot to live up to for WSU and a lot to catch up on for the rest of the Valley.


No. 7 Wichita State Shockers Facts & Figures

Last season: 35-1, 18-0 MVC

Postseason: NCAA round of 32

Consecutive NCAAs: 3

Coach: Gregg Marshall (174-71 at Wichita State, 84-42 MVC)

Missouri Valley Projection: First

Postseason Projection: NCAA Elite Eight




Marshall relies on transfer big men, and this season is no different. Darius Carter, a senior, will step into a larger role in his second season at WSU. Like most junior college transfers, he progressed throughout the season and scored efficiently when he focused on decisive moves to the basket. If he can add more range to his jumper, he can easily be a double-digit scorer.


Transfers Tevin Glass (6’8”) and Bush Wamukota (7’0”) need to supply immediate help. Glass is an energetic power forward who should be able to score on rebounds and breaks without needing to dominate the ball. Wamukota’s primary value will come on defense.


Marshall has two freshmen centers to work with, both with legitimate size and skills. Shaq Morris (6’8”) redshirted last season. He is skilled offensively but must overcome nagging injuries and adjust to the competition. Rauno Nurger (6’10”) signed with Ole Miss but was released from his scholarship after an assistant coach left the school.


Junior Evan Wessel must regain confidence in his shooting touch. His toughness and hustle make him valuable, but 3-of-25 shooting from 3-point range isn’t good enough.




WSU’s big men are ahead on the learning curve because of the guards. Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet and senior swingman Tekele Cotton will get them in the right places and get them the ball at the right time. That trio is as solid and unselfish as any group in the nation and will nurture the newcomers.


Baker is a good shooter (38 percent from 3-point range) with a point guard’s passing ability in the body of a 2 guard. VanVleet is the team leader, so respected that coaches and players listen to and follow his advice. He runs WSU’s pick-and-roll plays with precision.  Cotton earned MVC Defensive Player of the Year honors and is an underrated scorer who can’t be left open behind the arc.


WSU survived last season without a backup for VanVleet at the point. Redshirt freshman Ria’n Holland spent the year adding weight and strength. He will play both guard positions. Freshman Corey Henderson Jr. spent the summer learning from VanVleet.


Final Analysis


The Shockers will miss Early, who played his best on the road and gave the team an athlete who could match up with the NCAA’s top teams. His ability to spread the floor with his outside shooting cleared space for the guards and big men to operate.


Once again, however, WSU will enjoy an advantage in depth and athletic ability over its MVC rivals. Its non-conference schedule includes Memphis, Alabama, Seton Hall, Tulsa and Saint Louis, so it should be able to compile a solid power ranking. WSU’s goal is to schedule so that it does not depend on the strength of the MVC, and its recent success has helped attract home-and-home series with high-profile opponents and top neutral-site tournaments.


Winning the MVC won’t be enough. The Shockers will expect to grab another good seed in the NCAA Tournament and win more games. The guards are ready, and it will be their job to prepare the newcomers for March.




Tevin Glass and Bush Wamukota are expected to rebound and defend and adjust quickly from junior college. Shaq Morris is an intriguing talent who can shine if he learns how to play hard consistently. Corey Henderson Jr. can give WSU the backup point guard it lacked last season. Guard Ria’n Holland, who redshirted last season with Morris, is an excellent shooter. Rashard Kelly and Zach Brown can help on the wing, and both are more mature than most freshmen after a year at prep school. WSU picked up Rauno Nurger in the summer, and coaches were thrilled to get a skilled big man with four years to develop.


Photo courtesty of Wichita State

College Basketball 2014-15: Wichita State Shockers Team Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-6

Peyton Manning returned to his customary spot of leading scorer last week, which is why he reclaims his position atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 6. Manning threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns (along with 2 INTs) in Denver’s 41-20 win over Arizona. With 503 career touchdown passes, he’s closing in on Brett Favre (508) for No. 1 all-time. Manning probably won’t get there this week, but the Jets are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs so it’s not out of the question that he ends up as the top scorer for a second straight week. And while he may trail Manning by a whopping 443 touchdown passes (and by 208 games played), Russell Wilson looked equally impressive on Monday night when he accounted for all three Seattle touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush) and rushed for a game-high 122 yards in the Seahawks’ 27-17 win over the Redskins. Wilson and his team return home to face Tony Romo and the surprising (4-1) Cowboys.


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 6 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks


Teams on bye: Kansas City, New Orleans


1Peyton ManningDENat NYJ
2Andrew LuckINDat HOU (Thurs.)
3Aaron RodgersGBat MIA
4Matt RyanATLvs. CHI
5Philip RiversSDat OAK
6Russell WilsonSEAvs. DAL
7Jay CutlerCHIat ATL
8Eli ManningNYGat PHI
9Matthew StaffordDETat MIN
10Nick FolesPHIvs. NYG
11Colin KaepernickSFat STL (Mon.)
12Ben RoethlisbergerPITat CLE
13Andy DaltonCINvs. CAR
14Kirk CousinsWASat ARI
15Tony RomoDALat SEA
16Joe FlaccoBALat TB
17Cam NewtonCARat CIN
18Tom BradyNEat BUF
19Carson PalmerARIvs. WAS
20Ryan TannehillMIAvs. GB
21Brian HoyerCLEvs. PIT
22Jake LockerTENvs. JAC
23Mike GlennonTBvs. BAL
24Austin DavisSTLvs. SF (Mon.)
25Blake BortlesJACat TEN
26Teddy BridgewaterMINvs. DET

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 6
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-6

Once again, injuries have caused quite a bit of shuffling to Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 6. Montee Ball, Rashad Jennings, Zac Stacy, Reggie Bush and Donald Brown were among those who got hurt last week, opening the door for others on their teams. In Brown’s case, Branden Oliver certainly took advantage, as the undrafted rookie from Buffalo exploded for 182 total yards and two touchdowns in San Diego’s 31-0 whitewashing of the Jets. With Brown’s status still uncertain, Oliver checks in at No. 13 thanks in part to an appealing matchup against the Raiders. Not all of the RB-related injury news was bad, however, as Arian Foster looked pretty healthy in rushing for a season-high 157 yards and two scores in Houston’s overtime loss in Dallas. Now the key for Foster is how will he bounce back on a short week? (Here's a hint: we like his chances.)


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 6 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs


Teams on bye: Kansas City, New Orleans


1Marshawn LynchSEAvs. DAL
2Matt ForteCHIat ATL
3Arian FosterHOUvs. IND (Thurs.)
4Le'Veon BellPITat CLE
5Giovani BernardCINvs. CAR
6DeMarco MurrayDALat SEA
7Eddie LacyGBat MIA
8Andre WilliamsNYGat PHI
9Frank GoreSFat STL (Mon.)
10Andre EllingtonARIvs. WAS
11LeSean McCoyPHIvs. NYG
12Alfred MorrisWASat ARI
13Branden OliverSDat OAK
14Lamar MillerMIAvs. GB
15Ben TateCLEvs. PIT
16Ahmad BradshawINDat HOU (Thurs.)
17Justin ForsettBALat TB
18Fred JacksonBUFvs. NE
19C.J. SpillerBUFvs. NE
20Chris IvoryNYJvs. DEN
21Doug MartinTBvs. BAL
22Matt AsiataMINvs. DET
23Zac StacySTLvs. SF (Mon.)
24Reggie BushDETat MIN
25Stevan RidleyNEat BUF
26Steven JacksonATLvs. CHI
27Ronnie HillmanDENat NYJ
28Darren SprolesPHIvs. NYG
29Trent RichardsonINDat HOU (Thurs.)
30Shane VereenNEat BUF
31Jeremy HillCINvs. CAR
32Joique BellDETat MIN
33Bishop SankeyTENvs. JAC
34Chris JohnsonNYJvs. DEN
35Darren McFaddenOAKvs. SD
36Shonn GreeneTENvs. JAC
37Benny CunninghamSTLvs. SF (Mon.)
38Jerick McKinnonMINvs. DET
39Lorenzo TaliaferroBALat TB
40Toby GerhartJACat TEN
41Darrin ReavesCARat CIN
42Isaiah CrowellCLEvs. PIT
43Storm JohnsonJACat TEN
44Bernard PierceBALat TB
45Maurice Jones-DrewOAKvs. SD
46Terrance WestCLEvs. PIT
47George WinnDETat MIN
48Carlos HydeSFat STL (Mon.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 6
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-6

When it comes to Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 6, the most important name may be one that’s not listed. Calvin Johnson has been a shell of his normal self the past two games, totaling just three catches for 19 yards. Johnson re-aggravated his ankle injury last week and has already said it will take a “lot of treatment” for him to play on Sunday. As hard as it is to bench a weapon like Johnson, the Lions may end up doing just that, which is why we did not rank Megatron this week. You have been warned. Unfortunately, Johnson’s not the only WR-related injury situation worth monitoring. A.J. Green reportedly re-aggravated a toe injury early in practice on Wednesday, resulting in him leaving the field on a cart. It’s still early when it comes to his game-day designation, but Green’s No. 10 ranking below is clearly a best-case scenario.


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 6 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers


Teams on bye: Kansas City, New Orleans


1Julio JonesATLvs. CHI
2Demaryius ThomasDENat NYJ
3Jordy NelsonGBat MIA
4Antonio BrownPITat CLE
5Jeremy MaclinPHIvs. NYG
6Alshon JefferyCHIat ATL
7Emmanuel SandersDENat NYJ
8Dez BryantDALat SEA
9Brandon MarshallCHIat ATL
10A.J. GreenCINvs. CAR
11Randall CobbGBat MIA
12Steve SmithBALat TB
13Vincent JacksonTBvs. BAL
14Golden TateDETat MIN
15Victor CruzNYGat PHI
16Pierre GarconWASat ARI
17Mike WallaceMIAvs. GB
18Roddy WhiteATLvs. CHI
19Michael FloydARIvs. WAS
20Percy HarvinSEAvs. DAL
21Reggie WayneINDat HOU (Thurs.)
22DeAndre HopkinsHOUvs. IND (Thurs.)
23DeSean JacksonWASat ARI
24Andre JohnsonHOUvs. IND (Thurs.)
25T.Y. HiltonINDat HOU (Thurs.)
26Julian EdelmanNEat BUF
27Keenan AllenSDat OAK
28Kelvin BenjaminCARat CIN
29Brian QuickSTLvs. SF (Mon.)
30Wes WelkerDENat NYJ
31Larry FitzgeraldARIvs. WAS
32Kendall WrightTENvs. JAC
33Michael CrabtreeSFat STL (Mon.)
34Terrance WilliamsDALat SEA
35Sammy WatkinsBUFvs. NE
36Justin HunterTENvs. JAC
37Rueben RandleNYGat PHI
38James JonesOAKvs. SD
39Cordarrelle PattersonMINvs. DET
40Eric DeckerNYJvs. DEN
41Anquan BoldinSFat STL (Mon.)
42Mohamed SanuCINvs. CAR
43Torrey SmithBALat TB
44Andrew HawkinsCLEvs. PIT
45Greg JenningsMINvs. DET
46Allen HurnsJACat TEN
47Markus WheatonPITat CLE
48Odell Beckham Jr.NYGat PHI

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 6
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-6

Jimmy Graham, the best tight end in the NFL, is on bye in Week 6, but it’s the player that held the title previously that’s making the most waves in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings. After somewhat of a slow start in his return from a serious knee injury, Rob Gronkowski has caught a touchdown pass in each of the past three games and is coming off of his best game (6-100-1) yet.  As well as Gronk has played recently; we’re still not quite ready to put him at No. 1. Not with Graham on bye (hopefully giving him enough time to recover from a shoulder injury that knocked him out of last week’s game early) and Julius Thomas leading the league in touchdown catches (seven). Graham and Thomas also share co-billing as fantasy’s No. 1 TE (Athlon scoring), although Gronk (eighth) is slowly climbing his way up the standings.


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 6 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


Teams on bye: Kansas City, New Orleans


1Julius ThomasDENat NYJ
2Rob GronkowskiNEat BUF
3Greg OlsenCARat CIN
4Delanie WalkerTENvs. JAC
5Martellus BennettCHIat ATL
6Antonio GatesSDat OAK
7Larry DonnellNYGat PHI
8Jason WittenDALat SEA
9Vernon DavisSFat STL (Mon.)
10Owen DanielsBALat TB
11Jordan CameronCLEvs. PIT
12Dwayne AllenINDat HOU (Thurs.)
13Zach ErtzPHIvs. NYG
14Heath MillerPITat CLE
15Jared CookSTLvs. SF (Mon.)
16Austin Seferian-JenkinsTBvs. BAL
17Tim WrightNEat BUF
18Charles ClayMIAvs. GB
19Garrett GrahamHOUvs. IND (Thurs.)
20Coby FleenerINDat HOU (Thurs.)
21Jordan ReedWASat ARI
22Niles PaulWASat ARI
23Eric EbronDETat MIN
24Clay HarborJACat TEN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 6
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-6

San Diego was not the top-scoring fantasy DST last week, but it’s the combination of the Chargers’ most recent game and their next opponent that has this unit ranked No. 1 in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 6. The Chargers shut out the Jets last week and have scored 11 or more fantasy points (Athlon scoring) in all but one game. On top of this consistency, San Diego will take on Oakland, which has already fired its head coach, has questions at quarterback and is yielding the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing DSTs. How can you not get Charged up about San Diego’s DST this week?


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 6 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams


Teams on bye: Kansas City, New Orleans


1San Diego Chargersat OAK
2Cincinnati Bengalsvs. CAR
3San Francisco 49ersat STL (Mon.)
4Detroit Lionsat MIN
5Seattle Seahawksvs. DAL
6Denver Broncosat NYJ
7Baltimore Ravensat TB
8Arizona Cardinalsvs. WAS
9Tennessee Titansvs. JAC
10Philadelphia Eaglesvs. NYG
11New England Patriotsat BUF
12Buffalo Billsvs. NE
13Carolina Panthersat CIN
14St. Louis Ramsvs. SF (Mon.)
15Houston Texansvs. IND (Thurs.)
16Pittsburgh Steelersat CLE

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 6
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-6

It’s been somewhat of a slow start, but Stephen Gostkowski finally looked the part of fantasy’s No. 1 kicker last week, resulting in a bump in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 6. Gostkowski, who tied for the league lead with 38 made field goals last season and led all kickers in fantasy points (Athlon scoring), really came through for his owners this past week. In New England’s 43-17 rout of Cincinnati, Gostkowski nailed all five of his field goal attempts and 4 PATs for season-high 21 fantasy points. With that performance he ascended into the top spot at his position in fantasy points. The only kicker ranked higher than Gostkowski this week is San Diego’s Nick Novak. And that’s mainly because the Chargers take on the lowly Raiders. Matchups count when it comes to kickers too.


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 6 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers


Teams on bye: Kansas City, New Orleans


1Nick NovakSDat OAK
2Stephen GostkowskiNEat BUF
3Dan BaileyDALat SEA
4Adam VinatieriINDat HOU (Thurs.)
5Cody ParkeyPHIvs. NYG
6Justin TuckerBALat TB
7Phil DawsonSFat STL (Mon.)
8Brandon McManusDENat NYJ
9Chandler CatanzaroARIvs. WAS
10Steven HauschkaSEAvs. DAL
11Dan CarpenterBUFvs. NE
12Matt BryantATLvs. CHI
13Shaun SuishamPITat CLE
14Mason CrosbyGBat MIA
15Robbie GouldCHIat ATL
16Randy BullockHOUvs. IND (Thurs.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 6
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /nba/houston-rockets-dallas-mavericks-renew-rivalry-preseason

Paul Pierce set a hell of a tone for the NBA preseason when he poked the Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah in the forehead. “We’re going to be the instigators,” he said of . After more unusually physical play throughout the game, Wizards big man Dejuan Blair went on to compare the team’s deep, bulky frontcourt to that of the brash, roundly hated Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” teams of a quarter century ago.

Animosity and antagonism continued in the next day of the preseason — this time in Dallas, where the Mavericks hosted their unsavory state rival, the Houston Rockets. Geography has always made the teams natural rivals, but in recent years their tension has grown to soap opera proportions.


Rockets GM Daryl Morey heated the bad blood between the two sides by , in 2013. Cuban wasn’t amused by the breach of etiquette, and he didn’t forget. This past July, the Mavs owner roped Chandler Parsons away from Houston by offering the restricted free agent a contract the Rockets had to refuse. The deal was designed as a poison pill to the Rockets’ salary cap — it was plus-sized and loaded with unwieldy clauses — and Morey didn't match it, letting his prized forward walk to Houston's in-state adversary.

Parsons is now the Helen of Texas — a figure who’s come to symbolize the volcano of hate between these teams. His friend and ex-teammate James Harden said, shortly after Parsons’ departure, that Later that week, Parsons had this to say:


The game between the two teams Tuesday night was a continuation of their long quarrel. A lot of body-checking and flaring tempers led to a ludicrous 81 combined fouls on Houston and Dallas. Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley could be seen knocking Parsons to the hardwood. Things came to a nervy ending when Rockets rookie Kostas Panikolaou made some big free throws to seal a narrow 111-108 Rockets road victory. 


— John Wilmes


Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/how-could-each-college-footballs-final-10-undefeated-teams-slip

If we learned anything from a wild Week 6, it’s that every team is vulnerable end every team is flawed.


Only 10 teams remain undefeated entering the second Saturday in October. Last week was only a reminder at how fragile those unbeaten records are.


The final 10 undefeated teams all have enough issues that could lead to their first losses of the season, perhaps as soon as this week.


Here are the issues and games that could trip up each of the final unbeaten teams.




Fatal Flaw: Luck

Arizona is 5-0 thanks to four consecutive one-score wins. A win at Autzen can’t be understated, but the Wildcats beat UTSA by 3, Nevada by 7 and Cal by 4 on a Hail Mary. Arizona also played Oregon with its offensive line in shambles. Not that Arizona won’t be a factor in the Pac-12 race, but the Wildcats may be a team playing above its heads for now.


When will Arizona lose its first game?

Staff PicksDavid FoxBraden GallSteven Lassan
First Lossat UCLAat UCLAat UCLA
DateNov. 1Nov. 1Nov. 1



Fatal flaw: Dropped passes

Auburn is an improved passing team from last season already, which should be a scary thought for the rest of the SEC West since dropped passes from receivers wiped at least one touchdown off the board against Kansas State. Misfires in the passing game have contributed to Nick Marshall completing 57.9 percent of his passes this season.


When will Auburn lose its first game?

Staff PicksDavid FoxBraden GallSteven Lassan
First Lossat Alabamaat Mississippi Stateat Georgia
DateNov. 29Oct. 11Nov. 15




Fatal flaw: Kicking

Baylor has been automatic on extra points, but Chris Callahan has missed five consecutive field goals since connecting on his first attempt this season for 23 yards. Three of his five misses have been less than 40 yards, including a blocked 37-yarder against SMU.


Also worth watching: Baylor is among the most penalized teams in the country, losing 80 yards per game to flags. Baylor has picked up at least 10 penalties in four of five games this season. Will it matter? Baylor was the most penalized team in the country in 2013 and still finished 11-2. In those loses Baylor was penalized three times (Oklahoma State) and 17 times (Baylor).


When will Baylor lose its first game?

Staff PicksDavid FoxBraden GallSteven Lassan
First Lossat Oklahomaat West Virginiaat Oklahoma
DateNov. 8Oct. 18Nov. 8


Florida State


Fatal flaw: Field position

Florida State has given up more short fields than any other undefeated team. The Seminoles rank 50th nationally in field position advantage, . No other undefeated team ranks lower than 34th. In non-garbage time possessions against Florida State, opponents are getting the ball on average at their own 32. Only nine teams have given up more short-field possessions. Florida State ranks 96th nationally in net punting as Cason Beatty averages 38.8 yards per kick. This should be a concern for a team that gave Auburn two short fields in last season’s title game.


When will Florida State lose its first game?

Staff PicksDavid FoxBraden GallSteven Lassan
First LossNotre DamePlayoffPlayoff
DateOct. 18----


Georgia Tech


Fatal flaw: Run defense

Only seven defenses have been on the field less than Georgia Tech this year. That’s good news for any team, but especially for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech is last in the ACC in yards allowed per play (6.6). The Yellow Jackets need their offense to sustain long drives because its defense can’t stop the run.


When will Georgia Tech lose its first game?

Staff PicksDavid FoxBraden GallSteven Lassan
First Lossat Pittsburghat Pittsburghat Pittsburgh
DateOct. 25Oct. 25Oct. 25




Fatal flaw: Turnovers

Marshall leads Conference USA in a handful of categories, so its pedestrian turnover margin (plus-1) stands out. Marshall turned the ball over three times against Rhode Island and Old Dominion, two teams not capable of capitalizing.


When will Marshall lose its first game?

Staff PicksDavid FoxBraden GallSteven Lassan
First LossCUSA champ gameNoneNone
DateDec. 6----


Ole Miss


Fatal flaw: Interceptions

Only two SEC teams have thrown more interceptions this season than Ole Miss’ six picks. Granted, the Rebels are interception-free in two SEC wins over Alabama and Vanderbilt. Has Bo Wallace turned a corner or will the turnover problems resurface for a quarterback who threw 27 total interceptions in 2012-13?


When will Ole Miss lose its first game?

Staff PicksDavid FoxBraden GallSteven Lassan
First LossAuburnat Texas A&MAuburn
DateNov. 1Oct. 11Nov. 1


Mississippi State


Fatal flaw: Big pass plays

Mississippi State has give up 23 passing plays longer than 20 yards, tied with Georgia for the most in the league and in one fewer game. In Mississippi State’s closest game to date, UAB scored on touchdown passes for 88, 81 and 75 yards.


When will Mississippi State lose its first game?

Staff PicksDavid FoxBraden GallSteven Lassan
First LossAuburnat AlabamaAuburn
DateOct. 11Nov. 15Oct. 11

Notre Dame


Fatal flaw: Run game

If Notre Dame can beat Stanford despite a lackluster run game, maybe this isn’t a major concern. Still, Notre Dame is averaging only 4.2 per carry and has only two rushing touchdowns coming from tailbacks (the other four are from quarterback Everett Golson). Throw out the season opener against Rice, and Notre Dame is averaging 3.4 yards per carry in its last four games.


When will Notre Dame lose its first game?

Staff PicksDavid FoxBraden GallSteven Lassan
First Lossat Arizona Stateat Florida Stateat Florida State
DateNov. 8Oct. 18Oct. 18



Fatal flaw: Pass defense

TCU has played one team with the ability to stretch the ball downfield, and Oklahoma took advantage. TCU gave up three pass plays of 40 yards or more against the Sooners, not a great sign for a team about to visit Baylor.


When will TCU lose its first game?

Staff PicksDavid FoxBraden GallSteven Lassan
First Lossat Baylorat Baylorat Baylor
DateOct. 11Oct. 11Oct. 11
How Could Each of College Football's Final 10 Undefeated Teams Slip Up
Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 13:49
Path: /nfl/8-nfl-teams-desperate-need-great-quarterback
As good as the Seattle Seahawks defense was last season, they don’t win the Super Bowl without Russell Wilson, who only now is beginning to get the recognition he deserves. And look how Peyton Manning transformed the Denver Broncos, or what Andrew Luck is doing in Indianapolis.
Having a top quarterback, a franchise quarterback, is everything for an NFL team. And if you don’t believe that, just look at the teams that don’t have one. Either they have no realistic shot at competing for a championship, or worse – they’re just a mess.
At the moment there are at least eight teams in a somewhat desperate need for a quarterback, either now or in the future. Here’s a look at those eight and their current quarterback condition. The good news is many of them will be in contention for a Top 5 draft pick where Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or maybe Florida State’s Jameis Winston could be the answer to their prayers:

Buffalo Bills

The benching of E.J. Manuel in his second NFL season in favor of well-travelled vet Kyle Orton is a huge indictment of the former first-round pick. His decidedly mediocre numbers and poor decision making didn’t bode well for a coach (Doug Marrone) who may have to answer soon to a new owner. Manuel wasn’t exactly thought of as a once-in-a-generation QB when he was taken, so nobody would be surprised if the Bills look elsewhere again next season if they can.

New York Jets

Owner Woody Johnson just expressed his faith in Geno Smith as a franchise quarterback, but then he went out and missed a team meeting (inexcusable for someone in his position) and played so poorly in San Diego he got benched for Michael Vick. He makes terrible decisions on the field, can’t seem to handle the pressure or the responsibility off it, and is now a huge target of the New York media. A new coach is surely on his way next season. May as well let him rebuild with someone else running his offense.

Houston Texans

They are 3-2 behind the 31-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick and they have two young, somewhat promising quarterbacks sitting behind him in Ryan Mallet and Tom Savage. But both have plenty of question marks and may not be the long-term answer.  The Texans are not winning because of Fitzpatrick who has more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five). If they had a real quality quarterback they’d probably be 4-1 at least. At some point, coach Bill O’Brien will have to start over with his own guy.

Tennessee Titans

If Jake Locker could only stay healthy, maybe he’d look like a franchise quarterback. Then again, maybe not. In his fourth season already he’s put together numbers that would add up to a good, but not exactly great season. Maybe the ability is there, but a franchise can’t be led by a quarterback on the sidelines. Time for the Titans to move on.

Washington Redskins

They have maybe the most interesting quarterback situation in the league, with the dangerous and explosive Robert Griffin III constantly getting hurt and Kirk Cousins showing flashes of brilliance, followed by flashes of inconsistency. They’ll obviously have to make a choice between the two, but what about choosing none of them? They could probably trade both for picks and start over with someone that fits Jay Gruden’s system better than either of them do.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

To everyone outside the organization, Mike Glennon looks like the future. But inside he sure didn’t seem to win any friends in Lovie Smith’s regime early. Finally they reversed their crazy decision to start Josh McCown at the beginning of the season and Glennon has shown promise. But if the coach doesn’t fully believe in him, can he really succeed?

Arizona Cardinals

They’re not desperate for a quarterback there, but obviously Bruce Arians has built a solid team and one that could be well set up for the future. The problem? Carson Palmer will turn 35 in December and Drew Stanton, a limited backup, is 30. Maybe they can squeeze another couple of years out of Palmer, but at some point they need to start planning for future years. They’re probably too good to get a high draft pick, but if they have a chance and have a conviction on a first-rounder, they should pounce.

St. Louis Rams

Maybe no franchise quarterback has had worse injury luck than Sam Bradford, who has now suffered back to back ACL tears. Behind him on the depth chart is vet Shaun Hill and undrafted Austin Davis. Though Davis has shown some ability, the Rams are going to get a high pick this year and they’d be wise to take advantage and move on.
—By Ralph Vacchiano
Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 12:37
Path: /nfl/cleveland-comeback-makes-history

Johnny Football couldn’t help but laugh on the sideline when the Browns fell behind 28–3 on the road at Tennessee following a 75-yard touchdown strike from Charlie Whitehurst to Justin Hunter late in the second quarter.

“Down 28–3,” said first-year Cleveland coach Mike Pettine, “I think you could term how we were playing ‘laughable.’ But I don’t know the context of (Manziel’s reaction).”

Even in a baseball cap on the sideline, the cameras are always on Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winning TMZ star rookie out of Texas A&M. But rarely has the spotlight shined on the Cleveland Browns since the team re-emerged as an expansion franchise in 1999.

And rarely have these Browns been on the right side of recent history, with a 77–163 record (.321 winning percentage) and only one playoff appearance over the 15 seasons from 1999-2013, not to mention seven different head coaches — including last season’s one-and-done hire Rob Chudzinski — prior to Pettine taking over this year.

But everyone associated with the Browns had reason to laugh, smile and dance — which the Dawg Pound locker room certainly did in a video that has since gone viral — following an unbelievable 29–28 come-from-behind win at Tennessee.

“I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I knew we were going to come back and win the game,” said Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, who has a 5–2 record as a starter. “But I knew we would fight until the clock said zero.”

The Browns’ 25-point comeback is the largest deficit ever overcome by a road team. And for the Oilers-Titans franchise, the meltdown in Music City brings back memories of the 1993 collapse of the Houston Oilers, who infamously lost a 35–3 lead to the Buffalo Bills.

“It brings you together even closer,” said Hoyer. “And just knowing that 53 guys fought their butts off to accomplish something that’s never been done in NFL history. I think it’s definitely something special.”

Hoyer completed 21-of-37 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns — highlighted by a go-ahead six-yard scoring strike to wideout Travis Benjamin with 1:09 remaining — en route to leading the Browns to their first road win since Sept. 22, 2013, at Minnesota.

Understandably, Titans first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt has taken heat following the unprecedented defeat. Specifically, critics have questioned the coach’s decision to go for it on fourth down from Tennessee’s own 42-yard-line with a 28–22 lead and 3:03 to play. Whisenhunt called for a quarterback sneak from Charlie Whitehurst, who was stuffed by Cleveland’s defense.

“Had we blocked it correctly, we would have made it,” said Whisenhunt. “We didn’t come off the ball correctly. We weren’t ready. We didn’t have a sense of urgency there.”

Instead, the Browns improved to 2–2 this year, while Hoyer posted his third two-minute game-winning drive, something even Johnny Football can’t scoff at.

But Hoyer’s postgame dance-party celebration? Now that’s funny.

“I want to go out and have fun,” said Hoyer. “You never know when it’s going to be taken away from you. To celebrate a victory with my teammates, I don’t care how goofy I look.”

Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 11:22
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-8-2014

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


. We approve.






• Clayton Kershaw has not exactly enhanced his legend this postseason, . One theory holds that .


In his defense, Pinterest really is a chick thing, isn't it?


• Whoa — Has Phyllis from Mulga heard about this?










• See if this pregame speech from the Georgia Tech chaplain doesn't make you want to run through a brick wall.



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

Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 10:58
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-breakout-players-after-week-6-2014-season

Each college football season, a handful of new players become household names. Most of the breakout players start the year as unknowns or as hyped recruits by a fanbase, but by the end of a year, those players are on the radar for college football fans across the nation.

Athlon tries to project the breakout players every offseason, but each person has a different take on how to define or categorize breakout players.


With six weeks in the books, it’s time to evaluate the breakout players as the second half of 2014 approaches.

Whether it’s quarterbacks like NC State’s Jacoby Brissett, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett or Pittsburgh running back James Conner, there are handful of players emerging as superstars as the season hits the halfway point.

Here are 20 names to know, along with a handful of others so far in 2014:


20 College Football Breakout Players After Week 6


Devon Allen, WR, Oregon

Despite a lot of turnover in the receiving corps this offseason, Oregon’s high-powered offense hasn’t missed a beat. Allen emerged as quarterback Marcus Mariota’s go-to receiver, catching 19 passes for 377 yards (19.8 ypc) and six scores. The redshirt freshman’s elite speed is valuable for the Ducks to stretch the field, and Allen has two receptions of at least 70 yards in 2014.


J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

Losing Braxton Miller was a huge early-season setback for Ohio State’s offense, but the Buckeyes are starting to fire on all cylinders at the right time. Over the last three games, Ohio State’s offense is averaging 623.7 yards per game and has scored at least 50 points in each contest during that span. Barrett’s play has been critical to the development of the Buckeyes’ offense, as he has 14 touchdowns over the last three games and has tossed only one pick on his last 67 passes. And in another positive sign of Barrett’s development: He’s completed at least 72 percent of his throws in three straight games.


Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

As long as Gary Patterson is on the sidelines in Fort Worth, it’s safe to assume TCU is going to have one of the Big 12’s best defenses. However, the Horned Frogs struggled to find consistency on offense in recent years and lost four games by three points in 2013. Needing to inject a quick fix for the offense, Patterson turned to Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie as his new coordinators. And the Meacham/Cumbie hires are proving to be huge for the Horned Frogs, as TCU ranks second in the Big 12 by averaging 42.8 points per game. Boykin wasn’t guaranteed the starting job this offseason, but the junior has been nearly flawless through four games. Boykin has completed 61.5 percent of his throws and has 1,176 passing yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014. Boykin is clearly one of the nation’s most-improved passers this year.


Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State

Brissett nearly guided NC State to an upset over Florida State, but the Florida transfer is off to a fast start in his Wolfpack debut. The junior ranks third among ACC quarterbacks with 1,399 yards and is tied with Miami freshman Brad Kaaya for the conference lead (13) in touchdown passes. Brissett completed over 66 percent of his passes through his first four games and has just one interception on 185 attempts.


James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh

Conner finished 2013 on a tear, rushing for 229 yards on 26 attempts in the bowl victory over Bowling Green. The sophomore carried that momentum into 2014, gashing his first four opponents for at least 153 yards in each contest. Opposing defenses in the last two games has slowed Conner and the Pittsburgh rushing attack, as the sophomore has not topped 100 yards in either outing. However, Conner’s 873 yards ranks second in the nation, while his nine rushing scores are tied for third nationally.


Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Garrett was one of the top incoming recruits for the 2014 signing class and hasn’t disappointed for Texas A&M. The true freshman is physically ready for the challenge of playing in the trenches in the SEC, recording 30 tackles (eight for a loss) and 6.5 sacks. By recording two sacks over the next six games, Garrett will set a SEC record for the most sacks by a true freshman.


Jared Goff, QB, California

Injuries and coaching transition equaled a disappointing 1-11 start to Sonny Dykes’ tenure at California last year. But the Golden Bears have showed marked improvement in 2014, as they lead the Pac-12 North with a 2-1 mark in conference play after six weeks. In addition to better luck with injuries, combined with improvement on defense, California’s offense is a big reason why this team could be the nation’s biggest surprise in 2014. Goff has thrown for 1,875 yards and 22 scores through five games, and his 375 yards per game mark ranks second in the Pac-12.


Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

Goldman started 13 games in 2013, but the junior is playing at an even higher level in 2014. Through five games, the defensive tackle has 15 stops (3.5 for a loss) and two sacks. Goldman also forced a fumble with less than two minutes to go against Clemson, preventing the Tigers from getting into scoring range and winning in Tallahassee earlier this year. Goldman won’t post huge numbers, but he’s ready to live up to the hype as a five-star high school recruit.

Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma

“Optimus Perime” has emerged as Oklahoma’s No. 1 back this year. A leg injury sidelined Keith Ford after the third game, and Perine has rushed for 329 yards and seven scores over the last two contests. The true freshman will likely relinquish some carries when Ford returns, but at 243 pounds, Perine is tough to keep off the field when Oklahoma wants to establish its ground attack.


Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

Replacing standouts on the defensive line is nothing new for coordinator Dave Steckel and line coach Craig Kuligowski. And despite losing Michael Sam and Kony Ealy to the NFL, Missouri’s defensive line is just as effective as it was in 2013. The Tigers rank third in the SEC with 17 sacks and are tied for fourth with 35 tackles for a loss. Ray has a sack in four consecutive games, including two in Missouri’s road win at South Carolina.


Josh Robinson, RB, Mississippi State

We could list quarterback Dak Prescott here, but Robinson fits our “breakout” criteria better since he never rushed for at least 500 yards in a season – until 2014. The junior has emerged as a perfect complement to Prescott this year, averaging 7.5 yards per carry on 79 attempts. Robinson has three 100-yard efforts in his last five games, including 197 in a huge road win at LSU.


Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas

The improved play in the trenches is a big reason why the Razorbacks are showing progress in coach Bret Bielema’s second year. Skipper worked his way into the starting lineup as a true freshman last season, starting the final eight games of 2013. The sophomore anchors the left tackle spot in 2014 and is a big reason why Arkansas leads the SEC with five runs of 50 yards or more and ranks seventh nationally by recording 316.6 rushing yards per game.


Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s defense hasn’t played a gauntlet of elite offenses so far in 2014, but the Fighting Irish are holding opponents to just 12 points a game and just 4.7 yards per play. Despite personnel losses up front, new coordinator Brian VanGorder has managed to keep the Fighting Irish’s defense among the nation’s best. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a standout linebacker like Smith. The sophomore leads Notre Dame with 45 tackles (6.5 for a loss) and has two sacks through five games. Smith could be an All-American by the end of 2014.


Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona

Arizona began spring practice with seven quarterbacks vying for the starting job. After an extended battle into the fall, Solomon emerged as the No. 1 quarterback. So far, the redshirt freshman has not disappointed. The Wildcats are 5-0 and the only undefeated team in the Pac-12 South. Solomon has passed for 1,741 yards and 14 scores and has tossed only four picks on 206 attempts. He also has 167 rushing yards on 51 attempts. Solomon has completed at least 64 percent of his throws in three consecutive starts.


Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado

No Paul Richardson? No problem. Spruce has emerged as a capable replacement for Richardson and is the favorite target for Colorado’s rising star quarterback Sefo Liufau. Spruce leads the nation with 62 receptions and ranks third with 732 receiving yards. The junior also leads the nation with 10 touchdown receptions and has caught at least 10 passes in three games this season. Coming into 2014, Spruce had just seven career touchdown catches.


Justin Thomas, QB, Georgia Tech

At 5-0, Georgia Tech is probably the biggest surprise from the nation’s 10 remaining unbeatens. The Yellow Jackets’ option attack has operated smoothly with Thomas at the helm, as the sophomore has rushed for 470 yards and three rushing scores. Thomas also has seven passing scores and averages 18.4 yards per completion. As long as Thomas executes the necessary reads to run the option, and utilizes his legs to make plays on the ground, the sophomore should have Georgia Tech squarely in the mix to win the Coastal this year.


Kemoko Turay, DL, Rutgers

Turay is a key cog in Rutgers’ defensive line, as the redshirt freshman leads the team with 5.5 sacks and ranks second with 5.5 tackles for a loss. Turay also leads the nation with three blocked kicks (including one to preserve the win over Michigan) and has 12 tackles through the first six games.


More Breakout Players from 2014


Budda Baker, S, Washington

Promising true freshman is a future star in Seattle. Baker has 26 stops and three pass breakups through Washington’s first five games.


Quin Blanding, S, Virginia

Blanding has lived up to the hype as a five-star recruit early in his career. The true freshman leads Virginia with 61 tackles and has recorded four pass breakups and one interception.


Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

Booker has provided a spark for Utah’s ground attack, averaging 5.8 yards per carry on 88 attempts this year. The junior college recruit has 513 yards (No. 5 in Pac-12) and four rushing scores.


KD Cannon, WR, Baylor

Standout true freshman averages 21.9 yards per reception. Leads Baylor with five touchdown tosses through five games.

Senquez Golson, CB, Ole Miss
Golson made 10 starts last year, but the senior is off to arguably the best start in his career. Through five games, he has 17 stops and four interceptions, including the game-winning pick to beat Alabama in Week 6.


DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

Hamilton – a redshirt freshman – leads the team with 36 receptions for 502 yards in 2014.


Tyreek Hill, RB/WR, Oklahoma State
Hill is the definition of a true all-purpose threat. The junior college recruit has 196 rushing yards, 131 receiving yards on 14 catches, 15 punt returns and averages 23.4 yards per kickoff return.


Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor

Howard headlines Baylor’s revamped secondary, as the sophomore has recorded 16 tackles, two interceptions and 10 passes defended through five games.

Jojo Kemp/Braylon Heard, RB, Kentucky

Heard and Kemp are two of Kentucky’s rising stars at the skill positions, and both players have energized a rushing attack that ranked near the bottom of the SEC in 2013. Heard averages 8.1 yards per carry, while Kemp boasts a 5.7 mark on 50 carries.


Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern

True freshman has emerged as a capable replacement for Venric Mark. Leads the team with 396 yards on 89 attempts.


Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

The talent is there – the true freshman just needs more snaps. Has tossed at least two picks in four out of Miami’s six games in 2014.


Peter Kalambayi, LB, Stanford

Stanford’s defense hasn’t missed a beat under new coordinator Lance Anderson, and Kalambayi (16 tackles, 5 TFL, 4 sacks) has been a key cog in the pass rush.


William Likely, CB, Maryland

Likely has been one of Maryland’s top defenders through its first six games, helping the Terrapins to hold their first two Big Ten opponents to just four passing scores on 61 attempts. The sophomore has recorded 42 stops, one sack and three interceptions. Likely also has one forced fumble and averages 22 yards per punt return.


Cam Serigne, TE, Wake Forest

Serigne has been one of the few bright spots from Wake Forest’s offense this year. The freshman has 29 catches for 282 yards and one score.


Vincent Valentine, DT, Nebraska

Valentine helps to anchor Nebraska’s rush defense, which is holding opponents to 3.8 yards per carry. The sophomore has 16 tackles (four for a loss) and two sacks through five games.


D’haquille Williams, WR, Auburn

Williams was considered one of the top junior college recruits in the nation and hasn’t disappointed through five games. The junior has 25 receptions for 385 yards and three scores so far this year.


Shaun Wilson, RB, Duke

Only has 36 attempts but has made the most of his opportunities (12.1 ypc).

College Football's Top 20 Breakout Players After Week 6 2014 Season
Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 10:00