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Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-2013-predictions
2013 Pac-12 Predictions    
North Division Pac-12 Overall
1. Oregon 8-1 12-1
2. Stanford 7-2 10-2
3. Oregon State 5-4 8-4
4. Washington 4-5 7-5
5. California 3-6 4-8
6. Washington State 2-7 4-8
South Division    
1. Arizona State 6-3 8-5
2. USC 6-3 9-4
3. UCLA 5-4 8-4
4. Arizona 4-5 7-5
5. Utah 3-6 5-7
6. Colorado 1-8 3-9
Pac-12 Championship    
Oregon over Arizona State    

A coaching transition has worked well for Stanford in recent years. Will that be the same theme at Oregon?

That’s the big question surrounding the Pac-12 in 2013.

New Oregon coach Mark Helfrich has been handed the keys to a team capable of winning a national title. But Helfrich has never been a head coach, and former coach Chip Kelly was one of the best in the nation. Helping Helfrich’s transition is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Marcus Mariota, along with dynamic running back De’Anthony Thomas.

Although Stanford hosts Oregon this year, the Cardinal rank No. 2 in Athlon’s projected Pac-12 standings for 2013. The Cardinal should have the league’s best defense. But the offense has no proven playmakers at receiver or tight end, and running back Stepfan Taylor will be missed.

Whether it’s Oregon or Stanford, the winner of the Pac-12 North should be one of the top contenders for the national title.

Oregon State improved its win total by six games last year and returns 15 starters. The biggest question for the Beavers is at defensive tackle, while finding consistency from the quarterback spot.

Washington has been unable to win more than seven games in a season under Steve Sarkisian, and despite a talented roster, the schedule is a huge challenge once again.

Arizona State is Athlon’s pick to win the Pac-12 South in 2013. The Sun Devils should have one of the conference’s best front sevens on defense and will be explosive on offense with the return of quarterback Taylor Kelly and running backs Marion Grice and DJ Foster. The schedule is also in favor of Arizona State, as Todd Graham’s team misses Oregon in conference play and hosts USC and Arizona.

After beginning 2012 as one of the favorites to win the national championship, USC is flying under the radar entering 2013. The Trojans have the talent to be a top-25 team and could win the Pac-12 South. However, the battle to replace quarterback Matt Barkley did not yield a clear frontrunner in the spring and will continue into the fall.

UCLA is the back-to-back defending champions of the Pac-12 South, but the Bruins are slated at No. 3 in Athlon’s predictions for 2013. Quarterback Brett Hundley is back, and the defense has one of the top linebacking corps in the Pac-12. The biggest question mark for UCLA is an offensive line that has very little depth, and a schedule that features crossover games against Stanford and Oregon in back-to-back weeks.

Arizona is making progress under second-year coach Rich Rodriguez, but the Wildcats are probably a year away from contending in the Pac-12 South. Arizona needs to improve its defense, while finding a replacement for quarterback Matt Scott.

Colorado and Utah round out the Pac-12 South predictions. The Buffaloes should be better in coach Mike MacIntyre’s first season, while the Utes look to get back to a bowl game after just missing out on one last year (5-7). 

Inside the War Room: Key Questions That Shaped Athlon's 2013 Predictions

Stanford is the defending Pac-12 champ and won at Oregon last year. Why are the Cardinal picked to finish No. 2 in the Pac-12 North?

Stanford won the league last year, but Oregon was the better team throughout the entire 2012 season. The Ducks dominated all but one Pac-12 opponent — yes, that was Stanford — winning their league games by an average of 32.5 points per game. Stanford, on the other hand, had several close calls. Five of the Cardinal’s eight league wins came by seven points or less, including two in overtime. We realize that the goal is to win the game (not necessarily win by 32.5 points), but margin of victory matters over the course of a season when you are assessing the strength of a team. Looking ahead to 2013, both teams will be outstanding. The big issue with Oregon will be the coaching transition from Chip Kelly to Mark Helfrich. Stanford’s big concern is identifying some playmakers at running back and wide receiver. The Cardinal also have the more difficult schedule; they host Oregon but have to play the three best teams, on paper, in the South (Arizona State, USC and UCLA). Oregon doesn’t play either USC or Arizona State. Advantage: Ducks.

What gives Arizona State the edge in the South?

You can make a case for any of the top four teams in the Pac-12 South. Ultimately, we picked Arizona State because the Sun Devils have the fewest issues heading into the 2013 season. They are set at quarterback with Taylor Kelly, solid at running back and on the offensive line, and the defense, led by Will Sutton, should be strong once again. And it doesn’t hurt that Arizona State hosts USC and Arizona and doesn’t play Oregon, our pick to the win the Pac-12 North.

Is this the year Washington crashes through the seven-win plateau and contends in the North?

Steve Sarkisian made an immediate splash at Washington, energizing the fan base by winning five games (including a win over USC) in his first season. Most expected UW to emerge as a perennial Pac-12 contender under Sark’s watch. Hasn’t happened. The Huskies haven’t been bad, but Washington fans aren’t impressed with 7–6 seasons — which have become the norm in Seattle. So is this the year Washington takes the next step? Our guess is no. We like the marked improvement on defense last year, and there is solid talent at the skill positions. But the offensive line is a concern, and quarterback Keith Price regressed in 2012. Even if UW improves overall, a brutal schedule could make it difficult for this team to hit the magical eight-win mark. 

Can Mike Leach make Washington State relevant in Year 2?

We made the assumption at this time last year that Washington State would make a drastic improvement under Mike Leach in his first season. We were wrong. The Cougars were among the worst BCS conference teams in the nation in 2012, stumbling to a 3–9 overall record and a 1–8 mark in the Pac-12. Things will be better in Pullman in Year 2, but Wazzu is still at least a year away from being consistently competitive in the improving Pac-12. There was some talk about picking the Cougars fifth in the North, ahead of California, but this team has too many concerns — on both sides of the ball — to finish anywhere but last.

Who makes a bigger impact in Year 1 — Sonny Dykes at Cal or Mike MacIntyre at Colorado?

Both were outstanding hires, and we believe both coaches will do well in time. In the short term, MacIntyre has the more difficult job. Colorado’s talent level has sunk to pre-Bill McCartney levels, and it will take several years before the Buffs can be consistently competitive in the Pac-12. Cal has some issues, but Dykes is inheriting a more talented roster. We aren’t forecasting a big turnaround in Berkeley, but the Bears are far more likely to exceed expectations in 2013.

2013 Pac-12 Team Previews

North South
California Arizona
Oregon Arizona State
Oregon State Colorado
Stanford UCLA
Washington USC
Washington State Utah

Pac-12 Notebook

Soft landings 
Unimaginative best describes the Pac-12 non-conference football schedule, which is greatly watered down, whether by design or chance. Marquee matchups made for national TV are few this season, even with Notre Dame playing three league members (USC, Stanford, Arizona State).

Of the 33 outside teams taking on the Pac-12, 16 come off losing records in 2012. Nine had two victories or fewer. Six were last-place teams. Just nine hail from the so-called power conferences. Their combined record last season was 201–204.

Consider Oregon’s unimposing slate — Nicholls State (1–10), Virginia (4–8) and Tennessee (5–7). Washington State faces the following: Auburn (3–9), Southern Utah (5–6) and Idaho (1–11). Washington opens with challenging Boise State (11–2), but then plays Illinois (2–10) and Idaho State (1–10). Only rebuilding California will show real backbone early, taking on Big Ten contenders Northwestern (10–3) and Ohio State (12–0) sandwiched around Portland State (3–8).

Directing the Ducks 
Oregon doesn’t require thick résumés or nationwide searches when it needs a new football coach — it promotes its offensive coordinator. For 20 years this system has worked well, with the job changing hands from Rich Brooks to Mike Bellotti to Chip Kelly and now Mark Helfrich. Yet the question now surrounding Helfrich is this: Can he and his retooled staff continue to recruit like crazy, run up points at even crazier levels and keep winning at unprecedented program levels?

Helfrich might be the least dynamic personality when compared to his predecessors. Also, he once deemed himself unworthy to play for Oregon, rejecting an offer to come to Eugene as a walk-on quarterback and flourishing at lower-level Southern Oregon instead.

“Luckily for Duck fans, I was never allowed to play in Autzen Stadium,” Helfrich said in a light manner at his hiring. “Coach Brooks and Coach Bellotti at that time made a very good evaluation.”

Most-watched job battle 
The Oregon State quarterback competition between junior Sean Mannion and senior Cody Vaz promises to be intense and lengthy. It might not be settled until shortly before the Beavers’ Aug. 31 opener against Eastern Washington.

Last season, Mannion started eight games and Vaz five games for the 9–4 Beavers. Mannion threw for 2,446 yards and 15 touchdowns, Vaz for 1,480 and 11. Mannion was the first-teamer to open the season, Vaz to close it. Each was alternately good and bad. 

“It’s a matter of who comes out of it with the most consistency, the best play, and that might take some time,” OSU coach Mike Riley says.

Runners reverse field 
Stanford and UCLA each unexpectedly welcomed back a senior running back who left for a season and reconsidered. The Cardinal reclaimed Tyler Gaffney, who rushed for 449 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior in 2011. He is back at Stanford after spending the 2012 season in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization, where he hit .297 as an outfielder for the Class A State College (Pa.) Spikes.

“I have come to realize how much I missed my football family and how much I missed the game,” Gaffney said.

The Bruins added Malcolm Jones, former prep Gatorade National Player of the Year. He quit after carrying the ball just three times in the 2012 opener against Rice, but asked coach Jim Mora if he could come back. He has returned as a walk-on without a scholarship.

Said Mora of Jones, “He came in and said, ‘I think I made a mistake and was hasty in my judgment and I’d like to return to the team.’ … I have not made him any promises.”

Pac-12 gypsy 
That Dennis Erickson would resurface as Utah co-offensive coordinator really shouldn’t be a surprise. He’s now worked for one-fourth of the conference members, previously serving as head coach for Washington State (1987-88), Oregon State (1999-2002) and Arizona State (2007-11).  Erickson, 66, also has worked in two other Pac-12 cities as an NFL head coach with Seattle (1995-98) and San Francisco (2003-04).

Husky homecoming 
Washington, after playing a season of home games elsewhere (at Seahawks’ Qwest Field) for the first time in 92 years, returns to a renovated Husky Stadium on Aug. 31 against Boise State. Two-thirds of the lakeside facility was torn down and rebuilt for roughly $261 million. Luxury suites and seating closer to the field are the biggest additions.

Coordinator Carousel

Arizona State

Co-Defensive Coordinator
Old: Ron West; New: Chris Ball
West left Arizona State to coach linebackers and serve as the co-defensive coordinator at North Carolina. Ball was promoted to co-defensive coordinator with Paul Randolph after serving as the Sun Devils’ safeties coach and defensive passing game coordinator.


Offensive Coordinator
Old: Jim Michalczik; New: Tony Franklin
Michalczik, who had been a part of Jeff Tedford’s staff for nine of the past 11 years, landed a job in the Pac-12 as the offensive line coach at Arizona. Tony Franklin made the move from Louisiana Tech with new Cal coach Sonny Dykes.

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Clancy Pendergast; New: Andy Buh
Pendergast was not retained by the new staff but was hired as the defensive coordinator at USC. He has also been a DC with two NFL teams. Buh was the linebackers coach at Wisconsin last year. He was the defensive coordinator at Nevada from 2010-11 and the co-DC at Stanford from 2008-09.


Offensive Coordinator
Old: Eric Bieniemy; New: Brian Lindgren
Bieniemy, the former star at Colorado, was not retained by the new staff. He is now the running backs coach with the Kansas City Chiefs. Lindgren was on new Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre’s staff last season at San Jose State in the same capacity. The Spartans set 27 offensive records in his only season at San Jose State.

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Greg Brown; New: Kent Baer
Brown was hired by Alabama to coach the secondary. Baer was the defensive coordinator at San Jose State the past three seasons. He also has experience as a DC at Washington (2005-07), Notre Dame (2002-04), Stanford (1995-2001), Arizona State (1992-94), California (1987-91), Idaho (1986) and Utah State (1983-85).


Offensive Coordinator
Old: Mark Helfrich; New: Scott Frost
Helfrich is now the head coach at Oregon but is expected to call plays for the Ducks. Frost was promoted from his job as the Ducks’ wide receivers coach from 2009-12.


Offensive Coordinator
Old: Pep Hamilton; New: Mike Bloomgren
Hamilton is now the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, where he will work with former Stanford QB Andrew Luck. Bloomgren was the run game coordinator and offensive line coach at Stanford for the previous two seasons.


Offensive Coordinator
Old: Kennedy Polamalu; New: Clay Helton
Polamalu was dismissed two days after National Signing Day and has not landed a new job. Helton had been on the USC staff as the quarterbacks coach from 2010-12 and also served as the passing game coordinator in 2012. 

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Monte Kiffin; New: Clancy Pendergast
Kiffin “resigned” after four seasons working for his son, one at Tennessee and three at USC. He is now the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. Pendergast was the DC at Pac-12 rival California last year.


Offensive Coordinator
Old: Brian Johnson; New: Brian Johnson, Dennis Erickson
Erickson was out of coaching last year after getting fired following the 2011 season at Arizona State. He previously was the head coach on the collegiate level at Idaho (twice), Oregon State, Miami, Washington State and Wyoming.


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<p> Pac-12 Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 07:10
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-college-football-stadiums

Fall Saturdays are special. Especially, in the South.

Small towns, huge crowds, tailgating, bands, cheerleaders and student sections are just a few of the reasons college football is the best sport on the planet. When campuses jump to life across the nation each weekend in the fall, college stadiums become a staging ground for history.

There are a variety of ways to evaluate the greatness of a stadium. Huge attendance numbers, home-field advantage in the win-loss column, ear-piercing decibels, rich traditions, picturesque landscapes and amenities are just a few of the aspects that must be considered to rank so many great college football cathedrals.

And there is no better collection of home stadiums than in the nation's best conference, so keep in mind that ranking this league's stadiums functions like recruiting rankings. Meaning, Arkansas may be seventh in the SEC but top 20 nationally.

With that in mind, here's how the stadiums in the SEC stack up.

1. Tiger Stadium, LSU
Opened: 1924
Capacity: 92,542
2012 Attendance: 92,626 (7th nationally)

Be it the vast and unique tailgating menu or Richter Scale-inducing fans, few places in the nation can send chills down your spine like a game at Tiger Stadium. As one of the loudest and most rabid atmospheres in the nation, LSU boasts one of the most daunting home-field advantages in college football — especially at night. Les Miles has three perfect home seasons and is 50-7 in Death Valley overall during his eight seasons as head coach. A $70 million renovation is underway to push Tiger Stadium’s capacity to 100,000, only furthering this hallowed ground reputation as one of the nation’s top venues. And, honestly, how many venues have a real live Bengal Tiger roaming the sidelines?

2. Sanford Stadium, Georgia
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 92,746
2012 Attendance: 92,703 (6th)

It may not be the SEC’s biggest or loudest stadium but it is the most beautiful. Named for late former university president Dr. Stedman Vincent Sanford, the Bulldogs' home stadium is located in the heart of the plush greenery of the gorgeous Athens campus. The famed privet hedges line the field and separate the Georgia fans and the action on the field with style that matches the dolled-up student section. Sanford’s Southwest corner is also home to a canine marble mausoleum in which the first eight generations of Bulldog mascots have been laid to rest. Uga IX currently resides in a permanent on-field, air-conditioned doghouse near the cheerleaders’ platform on Saturdays. Mark Richt is 63-13 “Between the Hedges” and has his team poised for another perfect home slate in 2013.


3. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee
Opened: 1921
Capacity: 102,455
2012 Attendance: 89,965 (8th)

Named for former head coach General Robert Reese Neyland, the biggest venue in the SEC has, at one time or another, been the biggest college football stadium in the nation. Recent renovations have transformed the once dilapidated exterior into a brick Big Orange cathedral. Towering over the winding Tennessee River and subsequent Vol Navy, Neyland’s double-deck, totally enclosed seating makes it one of the loudest places to watch a game in the nation. A recent run of horrendous win-loss records have impacted attendance in a big way, as thousands of empty upper deck seats have taken away from the once daunting home-field advantage. But the Pride of the Southland Marching band still form the famed Power-T before every game, and, when this program is surging, few places in the nation can match the pageantry and passion of Neyland Stadium.

4. Kyle Field, Texas A&M
Opened: 1904
Capacity: 82,589
2012 Attendance: 87,014 (11th)

If things progress the way Texas A&M faithful believe, Kyle Field is poised to become arguably the best football stadium in the SEC. Once the $450 million renovation is completed prior to the 2015 season, the Aggies' home stadium will be the largest in the SEC (102,500). That said, the home of the 12th Man is no joke today as it stands. Three towering decks of screaming fans urge their team on through choreographed cheering and rich traditions. And fall Saturdays actually begin the night before with Midnight Yell Practice in which thousands of Aggies fill the seats at Kyle to warm up their windpipes for the following day of action. The surrounding campus offers little in the way of sightseeing and the win-loss home record from 2000-12 leaves much to be desired (56-30). Once enclosed and with Kevin Sumlin still patrolling the sidelines, that number is sure to improve. Despite having hosted only half-a-dozen SEC games, Kyle Field is currently the oldest venue in the conference and averaged one of the highest attendance percentiles in the nation (105.3% capacity) a year ago.

5. Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 101,821
2012 Attendance: 101,722 (3rd)

Legendary head coach Bear Bryant and former university president George Denny team up to name one of college football’s most intimidating home venues. Alabama is 224-52-3 since opening the building in 1929 and Nick Saban is 29-6 at home during his tenure. In front of the most dedicated fans in the nation, the Crimson Tide routinely bring opponents to their knees with ear-shattering support and one appropriately named visitor’s locker room (“The Fail Room” after donor James Fail). A round of various multi-million dollar expansions completed in 2010 have made this football palace the No. 2 largest stadium in the SEC and one of the most luxurious places to watch a game.

6. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida
Opened: 1930
Capacity: 88,548
2012 Attendance: 87,587 (10th)

Coined by Steve Spurrier in the early 1990s, no stadium in the nation has a better nickname than “The Swamp.” And when the Gators are rolling, few places in the nation are as intimidating as a hot and humid Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Unique sightlines and design subtleties give BHGS plenty of character and gives the team a huge home-field advantage. From 1990 to 2009, the Gators had the best home field record in the nation at 113-13. When it comes to noise and success, The Swamp is among the game’s most preeminent locations to watch a game.

7. Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Arkansas
Opened: 1938
Capacity: 72,000
2012 Attendance: 68,046 (23rd)

One of the most underrated home atmospheres lies just a few miles north of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas. After massive renovations in 2001, “DWRRS” grew to accommodate some of the most dedicated fans in the nation. The nation’s second largest video board (167 feet wide) was added just last year to the North end zone and additional planned renovations will push this stadium to 80,000 seats in the very near future. Arkansas’ all-time record at their home stadium is a solid but uninspiring 166-81-2 and the trademark “Woo Pig Sooie” chant can be heard echoing across campus during each home game in the fall.

8. Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn
Opened: 1939
Capacity: 87,451
2012 Attendance: 82,646 (14th)

The Tigers' football stadium is named after Shug Jordan, the winningest coach in school history, and Cliff Hare, a member of Auburn’s first-ever football team and former president of the Southern Conference. Beautiful and historic murals on the east-side exterior as well as freshly planted “War Eagle” flowers in the end zone give this venue plenty of character. And when “Nova” (War Eagle VII), the team’s live golden eagle mascot, flies into the friendly confines, the Auburn faithful explode into a pre-game frenzy. It takes a special fan base and venue to attract over 82,000 fans to watch a team that didn't win a single SEC game a year ago.

9. Williams-Brice Stadium, South Carolina
Opened: 1934
Capacity: 80,250
2012 Attendance: 80,001 (18th)

Recent upgrades to the tailgating areas and stadium itself have elevated Williams-Brice into the upper echelon of SEC venues. “The Cock Pit” has signature lighting high above the upper deck on either side of the field as the school continues to break attendance records — 85,199 in 2012 against Georgia. Each home game begins with the playing of the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey," giving South Carolina one of the best pre-game reputations in the nation. Formerly known as Carolina Stadium, the name was changed in 1972 to Williams-Brice after university benefactor Martha Williams-Brice. Steve Spurrier has built WBS into one of the impossible places to win, posting a 25-3 mark at home over the last four seasons.

10. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Ole Miss
Opened: 1915
Capacity: 60,580
2012 Attendance: 57,066 (30th)

Can Ole Miss figure out a way to move The Grove inside Vaught-Hemingway? The world’s greatest pre-game tailgate takes place just a few yards away from the comparably small, but no less enjoyable, stadium. So while the third-oldest venue in the SEC hasn’t been all that daunting to opposing teams over the years, it does house what may be the most beautiful fan base in the nation. Everyone should attend at least one tailgate in Oxford, Miss.

11. Davis Wade Stadium, Mississippi State
Opened: 1914
Capacity: 55,082
2012 Attendance: 55,628 (35th)

The Bulldogs averaged more than 100-percent attendance a year ago and this is one of the reasons why Mississippi State has planned yet another expansion to Davis Wade Stadium. The $75 million work will take two years and will be completed before the 2014 season and will push capacity to 61,337 seats. The North end zone will be sealed off and a high-definition video board will be installed. Opposing fans and teams have grown to despise playing in front of the piercing collection of cowbells.

12. Memorial Stadium, Missouri
Opened: 1927
Capacity: 71,009
2012 Attendance: 67,476 (24th)

Missouri is doing everything it can to make its atmosphere and gameday experience match its big-time SEC rivals. In 2013, Mizzou faithful will be greeted with a brand new luxury suite tower to the West and tweaks to the historic north hill beyond the end zone. The famous rock “M” emblazoned hill was moved closer to the field to get fans closer to the action and create more concourse space. Additionally, a new project to build east-side suits and towers will expand the capacity to 77,000 over the next two years.

13. Commonwealth Stadium, Kentucky
Opened: 1973
Capacity: 67,692
2012 Attendance: 49,691 (41st)

From a percentage standpoint, the Wildcats posted the worst 2012 home attendance in the SEC. However, that had more to do with the poor play of the team than anything else. When this team is good, Big Blue Nation is as loud and passionate as any stadium with less than 70,000 seats in the nation. This venue has witnessed some historic moments — i.e., the Bluegrass Miracle — and Mark Stoops hopes his Spring Game attendance numbers (est. 50,381) are a preview of things to come this fall.

14. Vanderbilt Stadium, Vanderbilt
Opened: 1922
Capacity: 40,350
2012 Attendance: 37,860 (62nd)

The new brick façade and back-to-back winning seasons have helped build up the Dores' home atmosphere. However, the tiny alumni base and single-tiered stadium lacks the pageantry and passion of every other SEC venue. Vandy will always have a tough time selling out and competing in attendance numbers compared to the SEC's bluebloods. However, being located on beautiful West End with plenty to do within walking distance, there is still plenty to enjoy on gameday in Nashville. Of course, if James Franklin keeps winning nine games a season, all of this could change rapidly.

2013 SEC Team Previews

East DivisionWest Division
South CarolinaMississippi State
TennesseeOle Miss
VanderbiltTexas A&M

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<p> Ranking the SEC's Football Stadiums</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /nascar/motivated-johnson-no-match-nascar-field-pocono

A five-time champion in their respective sport is rarely in need of motivation. So when you hand it to them on a silver platter, whatever the reason, you better hide yourself inside a bunker and hope for the best. After Dover’s fluky finish a week ago, where a restart penalty all but took a win away from Jimmie Johnson, something inside the 37-year-old snapped. Struggling to hold his tongue on several occasions, it was clear “Mr. Politically Correct” felt NASCAR made the wrong call, robbing him of what would be a record-setting Dover performance.

For a regular season race — sometimes used as test sessions for the No. 48 team — it’s been a long time since I’ve seen them enter the following Sunday so focused. Johnson, typically unflappable, was angry, even borderline insulted over it all. And we see what happens when star athletes get mad. Just ask LeBron James, Michael Jordan or even Joe Namath.

The Dover penalty, no matter what side you’re on, made Johnson “want it” more than anyone else at Pocono. And when a driver of that talent level gets prodded to the point they feel a statement must be made, what you get is the type of dominating snoozer Pocono turned out to be. It may not have been pretty — and at times, borderline unwatchable — but that kind of “whip the field” mentality is what’s made this guy the best NASCAR driver of the last decade … maybe more. Superstars are called that for a reason, and it’s not because they push their sport towards record ratings. That’s unfortunate for stock car racing, which has suffered under the Johnson era but you can’t suspend raw talent. You can only hope to contain it.

After seeing Sunday’s race, I doubt it will be contained anytime soon, especially after chief rivals seemed to stumble all over themselves. Their rough road ahead is what brings us “Through the Gears” after Pocono …

FIRST GEAR: Toyota’s loss is Jimmie Johnson’s gain
It’s easy to wax poetic about Johnson’s dominating performance, his first victory at Pocono since 2004. But to a point, that was expected considering the team’s level of anger, track position at a repaved facility (he started on the pole) and the momentum his No. 48 team has built over the past few months. Consistency-wise, they’re the best in the sport right now — no one else is remotely close.

Perhaps the bigger piece of news for Chevy’s top dog is how the top finishers shook out behind him. For the first time all season, not a single Toyota driver found his way inside the top 5 at race’s end. Mid-week changes at Toyota Racing Development to dial the engines back after a series of reliability problems turned the cars from Superman to Clark Kent. Denny Hamlin, the prototypical favorite at this track, failed to lead a lap, finished a quiet eighth and explained how suddenly, his Camry’s engine appeared to be hindered by kryptonite.

“By no means did we have a winning car this weekend,” he said. “I think all of us had to play defense on the straightaway, which is really tough.”

Add in Matt Kenseth’s rough day, slumping to 25th from fourth after contact with Juan Pablo Montoya, and a so-so sixth for Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole had an average finish of 13.0 with “Toyota engine, Version II.” That’s crucial for Johnson, whose lone obstacle, it seemed, entering the postseason was whether the durability of these rival motors would hold up. If the Toyotas have to dial it back that much, just to make each race the distance, they’re threatening to gift wrap the 2013 trophy for Johnson and hand it to him at Phoenix, the penultimate race — because he’ll still be able to skip Homestead and still win No. 6.

SECOND GEAR: Tough times for the Gen-6
Clearly, Pocono Raceway is not at fault for Johnson stomping the field. When a driver has a car that good, there’s only so much you can do to make the races exciting. To the Tricky Triangle’s credit, the crowd looked fairly full as track president Brandon Igdalsky continues to come up with great ways to maximize fan experience both inside and outside the track.

But no amount of free concerts, celebrity poker tournaments or cheap tickets can hide how awful NASCAR’s product was on Sunday. Behind Johnson, most of the field kept running in place while even a series of late restarts struggled to live up to their typical excitement. Several drivers appeared on cruise control, running in place, while side-by-side competition was nowhere to be found. It’s a puzzling development, especially at a triangular-shaped facility whose shortened distance last June provided one of the season’s best races and finishes.

When you end up with that type of flat, across-the-board product so soon after, it’s hard to point guilt anywhere other than NASCAR’s Gen-6. Fontana, at this point, seems a distant memory as the same type of aerodynamic issues are plaguing this new generation of car. High speeds, while good for the record books, have posed a problem when it comes to aggressive competition; drivers are chasing the racetrack, so much it makes running two-abreast too big of a risk to take. Add in the conservatism of making the Chase, with such a close battle for those positions (see point four below) and the final equation leaves what you’re watching seem like a conservative, single-file parade.

Is there a fix? One thought would be to slow the cars down; that, in turn, cuts down on the aero push and gives drivers more freedom to maneuver around the track. What made Fontana so great was its multiple grooves, giving drivers control over where to plant the car. Since then, I’ve heard the term “one-groove” track too many times to my liking. If drivers don’t feel they can control a car in a second groove (and under this point system) they’re not going to go there unless forced to — on those crazy restarts.

How you get those multiple grooves back in play? I’m not certain of the answer. But the right people should be racking their brains, because the optimism — and hype — this new car generated is threatening to fade.

<p> Reaction from Jimmie Johnson's dominant win in NASCAR's Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 16:33
Path: /nascar/jimmie-johnson-pocono-party-pooper

Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe’s team showed up to Pocono Raceway with something to prove.

After being penalized for jumping a restart the previous weekend in the 400-miler at Dover that cost the team a victory, Johnson was all business as the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit hit Pocono’s quirky, 2.5-mile layout.

And that spelled bad news for everyone else, as Johnson laid waste to the field in the mountains of Pocono. Among the top two in speeds during each practice session, Johnson also sat on the pole when qualifying was rained out and, thus, had his choice of pit stall.

Not one to show strength early in the weekend only to fade late, Johnson dominated the Party in the Poconos 400 on Sunday, leading 128 of 160 laps en route to his third victory of the 2013 campaign. And in doing so, increased his lead in the championship point standings to 51 over second-place Carl Edwards — a full race-worth of a points advantage.

“That car had a ton of speed in it, and not only the car but I think our engine really had a chance to shine today, and the configuration here and the fact that we’re able to shift, our engine shop works really hard to make that power,” Johnson said. “Today it showed, and then at times when we needed to conserve fuel we could get that done, as well.

“I felt like it was a very well-rounded weekend for us — clearly with speed, (and with) that speed you need power, and then when we needed to back it down and save some fuel we could do that, too.”

Johnson, as he’s prone to do, understated the driver’s role in the victory — the 63rd of his illustrious career.

On four occasions inside of 40 laps to go, the driver was forced to hold off all-comers on restarts — which was his undoing at Dover. After starting second in that event, he beat race leader Juan Pablo Montoya to the line when Montoya lagged on the start.

Each driver had a different version of what happened, but Johnson was clearly still stewing about the victory-sapping penalty a week later.

“As racers, we need to work any and every angle we can,” Johnson said prior to Sunday’s race. “I think we need to put a little more weight in the officiating and how the rule reads and how it’s intended to be enforced.”

His restarts were spot-on at Pocono, though, as Johnson flawlessly fended off teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, and others as the race wound down. His trump card being that, as the leader, he controlled the restarts.

“I wanted to prove a point and show everybody really what could happen in that restart zone than what happened to me last week, but I couldn’t do it to a teammate (Earnhardt),” Johnson said. “So I guess if things stay the way they do, I’ll save that for another day and prove my point even more.”

Riding a commanding lead in the standings and with a trio of valuable wins, Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus can now employ a strategy that led the duo to five consecutive Cup championships in 2006-10: Use the remainder of the regular season as a live-fire test session for the Chase.

Also, Johnson’s wife, Chandra, is expecting the couple’s second child, due in September — right about the time the 26-race regular season ends and the playoffs begin.

“If Chani goes into labor early, I don’t have to worry about Richmond, honestly,” Johnson said of the regular season finale. “That is what I’m working so hard for. I always work hard anyway, but it sure takes some pressure off if we lock early and don’t have to worry about Richmond.”

That could be further bad news for the competition, as Sunday proved that a motivated Jimmie Johnson can be the most dangerous force on the Sprint Cup circuit.

<p> Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 14:55
All taxonomy terms: Roto, MLB, Fantasy
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-june-10

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire report every Monday. Our fantasy junkies cover the hottest hitters, best waiver wire pick ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bullpens from around the league each week.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (June 3-9):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Troy Tulowitzki OF PHI 8 4 8 0 .429 1.444
2. Everth Cabrera 2B/SS SD 3 0 2 8 .485 1.090
3. Yasiel Puig OF LAD 4 4 10 0 .464 1.447
4. Domonic Brown OF PHI 6 3 7 2 .346 1.162
5. Matt Holliday OF STL 9 2 7 0 .407 1.292
6. Kyle Blanks* 1B/OF SD 7 3 7 0 .407 1.319
7. Mike Carp* 1B/OF BOS 7 3 6 0 .500 1.651
8. Yoenis Cespedes OF OAK 7 4 6 0 .345 1.126
9. Carlos Gonzalez OF COL 6 3 12 0 .276 1.103
10. Jarod Saltalamacchia* C BOS 6 3 7 0 .412 1.503
11. David Ortiz 1B BOS 5 3 12 0 .259 1.074
12. Brett Gardner OF NYY 5 1 6 1 .520 1.396
13. Carlos Beltran OF STL 5 2 8 1 .333 0.890
14. Matt Carpenter 1/2/3/OF STL 7 1 5 0 .455 1.193
15. Jay Bruce OF CIN 4 2 7 1 .381 1.131
16. Dan Uggla* 2B ATL 5 3 7 0 .318 1.210
17. Carlos Quentin* OF SD 6 2 4 0 .455 1.293
18. Cameron Maybin* OF SD 4 1 4 4 .278 .794
19. Jean Segura SS MIL 6 1 6 2 .267 .767
20. Howard Kendrick 2B LAA 4 1 3 1 .542 1.244
21. John Mayberry* 1B/OF PHI 5 2 6 0 .368 1.157
22. Jedd Gyorko* 2B/3B SD 6 2 4 0 .355 1.027
23. Coco Crisp OF OAK 5 2 2 2 .323 0.892
24. Ben Zobrist 2B/SS/OF TB 7 1 2 1 .400 1.150
25. Prince Fielder 1B DET 4 1 7 0 .417 1.006

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF, SD (18% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
A highly touted minor-league prospect for years, the light may finally be coming on for Blanks. Finally getting an opportunity to play thanks to injuries, Blanks is in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak during he's hit .407 (11-for-27) with three doubles, three home runs, seven RBIs and seven runs scored. With Yonder Alonso on the DL with a broken hand, Blanks figures to get plenty of time at first and also carries OF eligibility.

Cameron Maybin, OF, SD (36%)
Maybin got off to a miserable start, hitting just .091 in 33 at-bats in April, but it appears that a wrist injury was largely to blame for that. He came off of the DL on Thursday and has already made an impact in the Padres' lineup, hitting .278 with four runs scored, a home run, four RBIs and four stolen bases in four games. Maybin will never hit for a high average (.248 career average), but it's his speed that could be a difference-maker for your fantasy lineup. Maybin stole a combined 66 bases the last two seasons and just swiped four in four games. Right now, only 20 players have stolen 10 or more bases.

Carlos Quentin, OF, SD (21%)
Through the first two months of the season, Quentin got more headlines for putting Zack Greinke on the DL than he did for his bat (.214-5-17). However, the veteran has started June hot, putting together a seven-game hitting streak last week that saw his average go up 55 points thanks to 14 hits, two of them being home runs, during that span. Alas, one of the issues with Quentin throughout his career has been injuries, as he wasn't in the starting lineup on Sunday because of a sore shoulder. Still, if you are looking for outfield production, you may want to consider Quentin, who averaged 27 home runs a season from 2008-11 with the White Sox.

Anthony Rendon, 3B, WAS (17%)
The Nationals put Danny Espinosa (broken in bone in right wrist) on the DL last week and brought up Rendon, who had just been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A a few days prior. The team wasted no time in plugging Rendon into the lineup and at second, a position he had been working at on occasion in the minors. The reason for the move is that, for now, Rendon is blocked at third by Ryan Zimmerman, and the Nationals wanted to get his bat in there. Following a .375 average in 16 at-bats last week with three RBIs, it's easy to see why. Rendon's roster spot figures to be secure as long as Espinosa is on the DL and depending on your league's eligibility rules, he could soon add 2B/MI status, perhaps as early as this week. If he continues to hit, Rendon is certainly worth taking a look if you need some infield help.

Last Week:

Jonathan Lucroy, C, MIL: .211/.549, 2 RBIs
Matt Joyce, OF, TB: .167/.400, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB
Kendrys Morales, 1B, SEA: .241/.551, 3 R, 2 RBIs
Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD .464/1.447, 4 R, 4 HR, 13 RBIs


Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Jarrod Parker* OAK 20.1 3 15 1.77 0.84
2. Hyun-Jin Ryu LAD 16.2 1 13 0.54 0.54
3. Rick Porcello* DET 20.0 1 25 1.80 0.80
4. Eric Stults* SD 22.0 1 19 1.64 0.73
5. Cliff Lee PHI 22.2 2 28 2.78 0.97
6. Dillon Gee* NYM 14.1 2 19 1.26 0.98
7. Felix Hernandez SEA 22.1 2 21 2.42 0.90
8. Adam Wainwright STL 24.0 3 22 2.25 1.17
9. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 15.2 1 10 0.00 0.77
10. Julio Teheran* ATL 14.2 1 20 1.84 0.75
11. CC Sabathia NYY 16.1 2 19 2.76 0.86
12. Shelby Miller STL 13.0 2 16 1.38 1.00
13. Mat Latos CIN 19.1 2 19 1.86 1.09
14. Bartolo Colon* OAK 16.0 2 7 0.56 0.94
15. Max Scherzer DET 15.0 1 19 2.40 0.73
16. Mike Minor ATL 19.0 2 17 2.37 1.00
17. Johnny Cueto (DL) CIN 8.0 1 6 0.00 0.25
18. Clay Buchholz BOS 11.2 2 8 1.54 0.86
19. Yu Darvish TEX 21.2 0 27 2.49 0.92
20. Kris Medlen ATL 15.2 2 13 1.72 1.15

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

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

1. Julio Teheran, ATL (Mon.) at San Diego (68% owned)
This may seem like cherry picking, but Teheran is still under that 70 percent ownership mark, so he qualifies for this exercise. That may not be the case, however, by the time he takes the mound in San Diego tonight, especially once those looking for pitching help or a spot-starter remember what the young right-hander did his last time out  — 8 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO against the Pirates.

2. Tony Cingrani, CIN (Tues.) at Chicago Cubs (44%)
Johnny Cueto's latest trip to the DL presents another opportunity for Cingrani. The 23-year-old lefty has more than held his own in his first six major-league starts (2-0, 3.27 ERA), including two against the Cubs. He's had two no-decisions against the Cubs, but has held them to just six earned runs and eight hits with just one walk and 14 strikeouts in 13 innings.

3. Bronson Arroyo, CIN (Fri.) vs. Milwaukee (41%)
Somewhat quietly, Arroyo has put together a solid start to the season. The veteran of the Reds' rotation, Arroyo has posted quality starts in nine of his 13 trips to the mound thus far, and put together a 6-5 record with a 3.35 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Not a high-strikeout guy, Arroyo has done a good job of limiting base runners and has been very strong at home (5-1, 2.68 ERA in 8 GS).

4. Jarrod Parker (Thurs.) vs. New York Yankees (60%)
The No.1 fantasy pitcher the last two weeks, Parker has put together six straight quality starts, going 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA during that span. The Yankees' offense may have received a boost with the return of Mark Teixeira from the DL, but the A's have been no slouch at the plate themselves and enter this series having won their last eight at home.

5. Scott Feldman, CHC (Sat.) at New York Mets (52%)
Feldman has been a pleasant surprise in the Cubs' rotation, as he's posted a quality start in seven of his last eight trips to the mound. Overall he's 5-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 11 starts and he shut out the Mets over 6 2/3 innings (7 H, 1 BB, 6 K) back on May 18 at Wrigley.

Closing Morsels:

Milwaukee's Jim Henderson (hamstring) was activated from the DL on Sunday and pitched a scoreless ninth to close out the Brewers' 9-1 win against the Phillies. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said he may not immediately call on Henderson to close out games, so for now it seems that Francisco Rodriguez will continue to get save opportunities ... Detroit's Joaquin Benoit got the save on Sunday against Cleveland rather than Jose Valverde, but that's because Valverde had pitched in each of the previous three games. For now, Valverde's job is secure, but Papa Grande has allowed six earned runs over his last four appearances, so it appears that Benoit would get the call if Tigers manager Jim Leyland ever decides to go in a different direction.

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

<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: June 10</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 13:15
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/golf-equipment-2013-must-haves

Struggling with what to buy Dad this Father's Day? If he's a golfer who loves new toys, gadgets and gizmos, you have plenty of options. Anything that promises to improve his game — or make his life simpler on the course — is worth exploring. Fashion — with the advent of fitness in the Tiger Woods era — has become an important aspect of golf as well. The bright colors worn by Ian Poulter, Rickie Fowler and John Daly pop on the TV screen and have inspired a legion of sartorial followers. If Dad can’t play like the pros, at least he can dress like them.

Here’s a look at some choice selections for Father's Day 2013:

• Cleveland 588 RTX wedges
More precise U-Groves that are 16 percent larger and directionally milled on a new Rotex Face create more friction at impact on these new wedges, potentially adding more spin control for players. A sole that is wider near the heel and narrower near the toe improves bunker performance. It comes in a satin Chrome or Black Pearl finish. Website:

• Mizuno JPX-825 Irons
Mizuno calls these irons "the longest and most forgiving irons in the company’s history." That should get your attention. Mizuno’s distance-generating JPX technologies of Hot Metal and MAX COR create an ultra-thin face that delivers extra distance. In the 4- through 7-irons, the MAX COR ultra-pocket cavity design and a multi-thickness face result in solid feel, highest allowable ball speeds, and maximum forgiveness with an easy, high launch. The 8-iron through wedge utilize a Mid COR through a Deep Pocket Cavity Design that delivers greater precision and distance. Lastly, the Solid Power Design in the gap wedge provides enhanced solid feel and maximum control.

• Rocketbladez irons
The “Speed Pocket,” a small slot in the sole of the Rocketbladez iron, flexes and rebounds at impact, an action that promotes faster ball speed, a higher launch angle and more powerful ball flight. TaylorMade studies indicate that 68 percent of iron shots by amateurs are miss-hits below the center of the clubface. The Speed Pocket — used in the 3- through 7-irons — will help the distance and trajectory on those shots. Website:


• Adams Golf Idea Super S Hybrid
Bought by TaylorMade-adidas Golf last year, Adams Golf continues to churn out quality clubs for all skill levels. The newest line, called Super S, was designed to be easy to hit. The Cut-Thru sole slot on the hybrid is thinner, deeper and longer, designed to increase ball speeds for greater distance. Website:


• Catalina Golf Bag
This traditional golf cart bag remains a favorite among the TaylorMade golf line. The crush-resistant construction provides durability, all while weighing just 6.5 pounds. It’s got all the pockets needed for tees and balls, but the best feature might be the hidden cooler that holds six 12-ounce cans. Website:


• AMP CELL Driver
Put a little pizzazz in your golf bag with this new driver by COBRA golf. The driver looks good — it comes in silver, blue, red or orange — and performs great. Golfers can set six different lofts/trajectories with its MyFly technology. Website:


• Pearl Putter
The craze of adjustable drivers has finally trickled down to the putter. The lie of this putter by Pearl ProSports Inc. out of New York can be adjusted so that its head aligns parallel to the ground. This patented feature promotes more accurate putting. More good news: It is legal according to United States Golf Association standards. Website:




• Bridgestone Golf
All three e-Series golf balls (e5, e6 and e7) have experienced an aerodynamic upgrade in 2013, utilizing a new 326-seamless dual dimple pattern. Dimples that are six percent larger and cover 2.5 percent more surface area on the ball reduce drag and increase lift to maximize distance. The three-piece Surlyn cover construction of the e6 — available in white, yellow and orange — reduces sidespin for more accuracy. Website:


• Loudmouth Golf
Founded in 2000, Loudmouth has time-warped the outrageous 1970s fashions into today’s world. John Daly helped put the brand on the map, but the company offers more than just Daly’s wild colors and patterns. For the more conservative types, there are stylish Loudmouth outfits that will look great on anyone. Then again, most golfers wearing Loudmouth want to stand out from the crowd, not blend in. Website:

• TRUE Linkswear
Ryan Moore, always the snappy dresser, wears the sensei for its mix of comfort and fashion. TRUE Linkswear, founded just two years ago, created the first golf shoe built on a barefoot platform with the thinnest sole in the game. They’re so comfortable they feel more like slippers and look more like casual tennis shoes than traditional golf shoes. Expanded offerings in 2013 ensure this upstart a place in a market dominated by Footjoy and other major manufacturers. Website:

Acquired by Sweden-based New Wave Group AB in the summer of 2011, this versatile brand is best known for its logoed hats and visors. It is the leading supplier of headwear to the United States Golf Association and PGA of America, and has relationships with Annika Sorenstam, Luke Donald, Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, Sean O’Hair and Brittany Lincicome. Men will enjoy the classic look of the polos and the splash of color contrast in its growing PGA Authentic line. Women can accessorize to the max with the Kate Lord Collection. The 2013 fall line adds new colors, like thistle and oasis blue, and new thermal pieces with rich hues.Website:

• Oakley RadarLock Pitch sunglasses
The RadarLock Pitch, a durable carbon-fiber sports performance frame, features two lenses. The G30 Iridium lens is called the “golf lens” for its ability to improve contrast and depth perception and reduce glare, all great for reading greens. SwitchLock technology makes changing lenses fast and hassle-free. Oakley recently signed Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson to endorsement contracts. Website:

• Nexbelt X-Factor Golf Belt
Nexbelt designs “The Belt With No Holes” thanks to PreciseFit, an innovative ratcheting system that allows for ¼” adjustments. With no holes, Nexbelt gives off a fashionable, streamlined appearance. There’s even a hidden ball marker under the buckle just a flip away. The company has introduced three new styles in 2013 to complement their colorful existing lineup of men’s and women’s belts. Website:



• Hello Kitty Golf
Want your daughter to get bitten by the golf bug? New pink golf gear from Hello Kitty Golf just might nudge her in the right direction. Junior sets with a golf bag come in separate sizes for ages 3-5 (three clubs), ages 6-8 (five clubs) and ages 9-12 (six clubs). A full women’s set and accessories such as golf balls, divot tools, towels and head covers are also available. Website:

• SNAG Golf
SNAG, which stands for Starting New at Golf, uses oversized clubs and color-coded teaching aids to inspire children and beginners to take up the game without all the confusing technical talk of the golf swing. Troon Golf, which operates courses around the world, uses SNAG in a successful learning program at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. The new Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, powered by SNAG, will be introduced at select local park and recreation facilities around the country this year for players ages 5-12. Individual kits of clubs and training tools, sold in different sizes by age, are perfect for any little player. Website:


• The Last Bag by Club Glove
This durable road warrior, preferred by most PGA Tour players, can take clubs wherever they dare to travel, from Ireland to New Zealand and back. The water-resistant nylon cover comes in 17 different colors and with a limited lifetime warranty. There are two exterior pockets for golf shoes and durable zippers, handles and wheels. The bag can also connect to other ClubGlove luggage, making transportation to and from the airport easier. Website:


• Stiff Arm
Even the clubs of PGA Tour players aren’t immune to the hazards of airline travel. Lee Janzen had his clubs trashed either by airline staff or the airport ground crew in 2011. Protect your clubs with the Stiff Arm by Club Glove, a fully adjustable three-piece crutch that fits in all travel bags. The nylon plastic head will take the beating while protecting even the longest club in your bag (presumably the driver). It’s a smart $30 investment. Website:


• Sunice Albany Jacket
This versatile rain jacket comes from the Hurricane Collection of Sunice, a Canadian company known for excellent outerwear. It is 25 percent lighter with 25 percent more stretch than other jackets in its category. Gore-Tex, a high performance fabric, will keep the water out, while the warmth stays in. Lockdown waterproof zippers keep the iPod storage chest pocket dry. Website:


• Pro Gold Golf Umbrella
GustBuster calls this product the only “UN-Flippable, UN-Flappable, UN-Leakable” umbrella in the world. Wind-release vents in the nylon fabric can withstand winds of more than 55 miles-per-hour, and the frame, made of carbonized steel and aluminum, won’t collapse. The fabric is backed by a lifetime repair or replacement warranty. It will blow away in a storm before it will break. Website:


• My Pro To Go
Need a quick swing fix on the road? This new app brings the highly trained and experienced teaching pros of GolfTEC right to your fingertips. Golfers who capture a front and side view of their swing with their smartphone can send the videos to the app or the website to receive a video swing lesson and drills from a certified GolfTEC coach. A single private lesson costs $39, with savings for a series of lessons. Colorado-based GolfTEC, founded in 1995, has grown to more than 140 improvement centers around the United States, Canada and Japan. Website:,

• GolfLogix
GolfLogix, the first company to introduce handheld GPS to the golf industry, offers a free app that provides accurate distances on nearly 30,000 golf courses worldwide. It features yardage-book quality imagery and aerial flyovers. For $20 a year, players can track every shot to learn club distances and shot trends. Website:

<p> When thinking about what to buy Dad this Father's Day, consider these clubs and fashions. You can't buy Dad a game, but at least you can make him look like a player.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football mock draft, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2013-fantasy-football-idp-mock-draft

The start of training camps are still more than a month away, but it's never too early to start thinking about fantasy football. That's why my colleagues at Athlon Sports and several of our industry friends and fellow fantasy football contributors recently got together for our first fantasy football mock draft.

One caveat, if you will, as you analyze our picks. This exercise was conducted a few weeks ago, which means plenty of on- and off-the-field action has happened since then.

Below is a complete breakdown of the 12-team, 20-round IDP mock draft we conducted, along with some thoughts of my own interspersed. This mock draft also can be found in this year's Fantasy Football Magazine, which also features 500 players ranked, a 280-player big board and 3,200 projected stats, along with position-by-position breakdowns and team-by-team analysis from NFL beat writers. Other content in this year's edition includes a "Who's No. 2?" debate after consensus top pick Adrian Peterson, a dissection of the rapidly evolving quarterback position, our picks for potential breakout candidates as well as some fantasy busts from 2012 who may or may not bounce back in 2013.

12-team, 20-round serpentine-style mock draft based on Athlon Sports standard scoring (see below):

Starting lineup: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex (RB/WR), 1 K, 1 DEF/ST, 1 DL, 1 LB, 1 DB, 1 Flex IDP (DL/LB/DB), 6 bench spots

Click here to see each team's complete roster

Round 1
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 1 Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN Eric Mack Sports Illustrated
2 2 LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI Matt Schauf
3 3 Arian Foster, RB, HOU Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
4 4 Doug Martin, RB, TB Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
5 5 Jamaal Charles, RB, KC Mark Ross Athlon Sports
6 6 Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
7 7 Ray Rice, RB, BAL Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
8 8 Calvin Johnson, WR, DET Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 9 Trent Richardson, RB, CLE John Hansen
10 10 C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 11 Alfred Morris, RB, WAS Jamey Eisenberg
12 12 Matt Forte, RB, CHI Mitch Light Athlon Sports

Round 1 Analysis: What a difference a year makes, huh? Adrian Peterson went from a question mark following his serious knee injury at the end of the 2011 season to the NFL MVP who nearly broke the single-season rushing mark. No surprise he's the consensus No. 1 pick. What may be surprising, however, is that LeSean McCoy went No. 2 or that everyone except Nathan took a RB in the first round, and he took wide receiver Calvin Johnson and not a QB. 

Round 2
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 13 A.J. Green, WR, CIN Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 14 Steven Jackson, RB, ATL Jamey Eisenberg
3 15 Julio Jones, WR, ATL Braden Gall Athlon Sports
4 16 Jimmy Graham, TE, NO John Hansen
5 17 Chris Johnson, RB, TEN Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
6 18 Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
7 19 Dez Bryant, WR, DAL Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 20 Brandon Marshall, WR, CHI Mark Ross Athlon Sports
9 21 Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
10 22 Percy Harvin, WR, SEA Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
11 23 Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN Matt Schauf
12 24 Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB Eric Mack Sports Illustrated

Round 2 Analysis: Rob Gronkowski was already considered a risky pick when we did this mock draft, which was before news about his upcoming back surgery came out. There's no questioning Gronk's fantasy potential, but he can't help your team if he's not in the lineup. It will be very interesting to see how his ongoing health concerns impact his draft status come late summer. As far as value picks go, how about getting Aaron Rodgers, the first QB taken, with the last pick of the second round?

Round 3
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 25 Stevan Ridley, RB, NE Eric Mack Sports Illustrated
2 26 Darren McFadden, RB, OAK Matt Schauf
3 27 DeMarco Murray, RB, DAL Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
4 28 Frank Gore, RB, SF Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
5 29 Randall Cobb, WR, GB Mark Ross Athlon Sports
6 30 Andre Johnson, WR, HOU Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
7 31 Victor Cruz, WR, NYG Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
8 32 Roddy White, WR, ATL Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 33 Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI John Hansen
10 34 Jordy Nelson, WR, GB Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 35 Drew Brees, QB, NO Jamey Eisenberg
12 36 David Wilson, RB, NYG Mitch Light Athlon Sports

Round 3 Analysis: Just like Round 1, running backs and wide receivers dominate this round with Drew Brees, last year's leading fantasy scorer according to Athlon Sports' scoring system, the only outlier. New England's Stevan Ridley was the first running back taken this round following a breakthrough 2012 campaign which had him finish just outside of the top 10 at his position. The interesting thing about Ridley is that he appears to be, for now, a one-dimensional player. Ridley caught a total of six passes last season, which tied Mark Ingram for the fewest among any running back in the top 40 in fantasy scoring last season. Unless that changes in 2013, Ridley's fantasy value appears to be tied solely to the Patriots' ability to run the ball and him taking advantage in the red zone (12 rushing TDs in 2012).

Round 4
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 37 Matt Ryan, QB, ATL Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 38 Vincent Jackson, WR, TB Jamey Eisenberg
3 39 Montee Ball, RB, DEN Braden Gall Athlon Sports
4 40 Reggie Bush, RB, DET John Hansen
5 41 Colin Kaepernick, QB, SF Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
6 42 Cam Newton, QB, CAR Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
7 43 Wes Welker, WR, DEN Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 44 Darren Sproles, RB, NO Mark Ross Athlon Sports
9 45 Hakeem Nicks, WR, NYG Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
10 46 Aaron Hernandez, TE, NE Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
11 47 Jason Witten, TE, DAL Matt Schauf
12 48 Marques Colston, WR, NO Eric Mack Sports Illustrated

Round 4 Analysis: Four rounds in and less than half of the teams (five) have taken a quarterback. Colin Kaepernick went one pick before fellow dual-threat Cam Newton and expectations will be high, both in fantasy and as far as the 49ers' Super Bowl hopes go, for Kaepernick in his first full season as the starter. Montee Ball is the first rookie to come off of the board, as the former Wisconsin Badger appears to have landed in an ideal situation in Denver with Peyton Manning handing the ball off and both Willis McGahee and Knowshown Moreno recovering from ACL injuries. If Ball can come close to at least matching Trent Richardson's rookie production (950 yards rushing, 367 receiving, 12 total TDs in 15 G) from last season, then using an early-round pick on him in non-keeper leagues would be justified.

Round 5
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 49 Eric Decker, WR, DEN Eric Mack Sports Illustrated
2 50 J.J. Watt, DL, HOU Matt Schauf
3 51 Lamar Miller, RB, MIA Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
4 52 Reggie Wayne, WR, IND Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
5 53 Tom Brady, QB, NE Mark Ross Athlon Sports
6 54 Le'Veon Bell, RB, PIT Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
7 55 Ryan Mathews, RB, SD Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
8 56 Mike Wallace, WR, MIA Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 57 Dwyane Bowe, WR, KC John Hansen
10 58 Eddie Lacy, RB, GB Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 59 Vick Ballard, RB, IND Jamey Eisenberg
12 60 Torrey Smith, WR, BAL Mitch Light Athlon Sports

Round 5 Analysis: Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt is the first IDP to go, which makes perfect sense. However, even as dynamic a player as Watt is, taking him in the fifth round, before Tom Brady or one of the No. 1 running backs or wide receivers that were still available, seems a little early in my opinion. Watt was far and away the most productive DL in fantasy last season, but he will pretty much need to repeat his 2012 production (not to mention stay healthy) to justify taking him this early. Meanwhile, I was delighted to have Brady "fall" to me in this round, while two other rookie running backs went in Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell and Green Bay's Eddie Lacy.

Round 6
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 61 Andre Brown, RB, NYG Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 62 Pierre Garcon, WR, WAS Jamey Eisenberg
3 63 Andrew Luck, QB, IND Braden Gall Athlon Sports
4 64 Peyton Manning, QB, DEN John Hansen
5 65 DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
6 66 Danny Amendola, WR, NE Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
7 67 Steve Smith, WR, CAR Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 68 Antonio Brown, WR, PIT Mark Ross Athlon Sports
9 69 Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
10 70 James Jones, WR, GB Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
11 71 T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND Matt Schauf
12 72 Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI Eric Mack Sports Illustrated

Round 6 Analysis: Quarterbacks continue to trickle off of the board with Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning going in back-to-back picks. Six rounds in and four teams have yet to take one. What does this mean? Thanks to the emergence of rookies like Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson last season, not to mention the ascension of Kaepernick, the quarterback position appears to be fairly deep for 2013. While there is still a clear-cut upper tier, populated by the likes of Rodgers, Brees, Brady and Manning, the gap between them and options like Newton, Matt Ryan, and even the likes of Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo, perhaps isn't as large as it once was. Waiting a little longer on a quarterback than you may have done in years past may not be such a bad strategy after all.

Round 7
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 73 Stevie Johnson, WR, BUF Eric Mack Sports Illustrated
2 74 Tony Romo, QB, DAL Matt Schauf
3 75 Tavon Austin, WR, STL Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
4 76 Greg Jennings, WR, MIN Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
5 77 Giovani Bernard, RB, CIN Mark Ross Athlon Sports
6 78 Jason Pierre-Paul, DL, NYG Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
7 79 Cecil Shorts, WR, JAC Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
8 80 BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, CIN Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 81 Tony Gonzalez, TE, ATL John Hansen
10 82 Vernon Davis, TE, SF Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 83 Danario Alexander, WR, SD Jamey Eisenberg
12 84 Lance Moore, WR, NO Mitch Light Athlon Sports

Round 7 Analysis: Tavon Austin is the first rookie wide receiver to go and between now and draft day it would not surprise me one bit to see his round value continue to rise. The Percy Harvin comparisons are inevitable and there's a reason the Rams traded up in the first round to grab the dynamic, all-purpose threat. I went with fellow first-year pro Giovani Bernard here as I am intrigued by his big-play potential and the versatility he could bring to the Bengals' offense as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. If I had my wish, I would have liked to have nabbed BenJarvus Green-Ellis with my next pick, but Nathan made that moot just three picks later. John decided to lock down the tight end position by taking Tony Gonzalez despite his second-round selection of Jimmy Graham. That's one heck of an insurance policy or at worst, potential trade fodder down the road.

Round 8
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 85 Kyle Rudolph, TE, MIN Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 86 Shane Vereen, RB, NE Jamey Eisenberg
3 87 Michael Floyd, WR, ARI Braden Gall Athlon Sports
4 88 Rashard Mendenhall, RB, ARI John Hansen
5 89 Antonio Gates, TE, SD Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
6 90 Miles Austin, WR, DAL Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
7 91 Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 92 Mark Ingram, RB, NO Mark Ross Athlon Sports
9 93 Robert Griffin III, QB, WAS Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
10 94 Josh Gordon, WR, CLE Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
11 95 Isaiah Pead, RB, STL Matt Schauf
12 96 Daryl Richardson, RB, STL Eric Mack Sports Illustrated

Round 8 Analysis: Mike decides to be the one to pull the trigger on Robert Griffin III, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year and owner of the most-watched right knee in the entire world. Even with the obvious questions concerning RGIII's recovery and the timing related to his return to action, I don't have any issues with taking him here. Adrian Peterson wrote the blueprint on ACL recovery last season and while they play different positions, RGIII is comparable in many ways to Peterson in terms of physical condition, athleticism and perhaps most importantly, competitiveness. While the potential reward could end up far outweighing the risk associated with drafting RGIII this season, be sure to have a solid Plan B in place and I don't mean Redskins backup Kirk Cousins.

Round 9
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 97 Zac Stacy, RB, STL Eric Mack Sports Illustrated
2 98 Kenny Britt, WR, TEN Matt Schauf
3 99 Matthew Stafford, QB, DET Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
4 100 Ben Tate, RB, HOU Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
5 101 Mikel Leshoure, RB, DET Mark Ross Athlon Sports
6 102 Russell Wilson, QB, SEA Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
7 103 Dennis Pitta, TE, BAL Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
8 104 Bernard Pierce, RB, BAL Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 105 Mike Williams, WR, TB John Hansen
10 106 Johnathan Franklin, RB, GB Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 107 Denarius Moore, WR, OAK Jamey Eisenberg
12 108 Luke Kuechly, LB, CAR Mitch Light Athlon Sports

Round 9 Analysis: The run on St. Louis running backs concludes with Eric making rookie Zac Stacy the last of the three taken in a row. Waiting on a QB pays off handsomely for both Corby and Steven as they end up with Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson, both of whom finished among the top 11 at their position, in Round 9. Just the third IDP and the first linebacker also comes off of the board in this round as Mitch tabs Carolina's tackle-machine Luke Kuechly. The second-year linebacker didn't disappoint as a rookie, amassing 165 total tackles and finishing behind only Arizona's Daryl Washington in fantasy points.

Round 10
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 109 DeAngelo Williams, RB, CAR Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 110 Bryce Brown, RB, PHI Jamey Eisenberg
3 111 San Francisco, DST, SF Braden Gall Athlon Sports
4 112 Fred Jackson, RB, BUF John Hansen
5 113 Patrick Willis, LB, SF Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
6 114 Bobby Wagner, LB, SEA Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
7 115 Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, ATL Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 116 Justin Blackmon, WR, JAC Mark Ross Athlon Sports
9 117 Kendall Wright, WR, TEN Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
10 118 Cameron Wake, DL, MIA Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
11 119 Sidney Rice, WR, SEA Matt Schauf
12 120 Seattle, DST, SEA Eric Mack Sports Illustrated

Round 10 Analysis: This is where the draft started shifting towards the IDP side as Patrick Willis, Bobby Wagner and Cameron Wake are selected. In addition, Braden makes San Francisco the first DST picked with Eric ending the round by nabbing Seattle. I decided to roll the dice a little with my selection of Justin Blackmon. Even though the second-year receiver will miss the first four games of the season due to suspension and the Jaguars aren't exactly settled at the quarterback position, I thought it was still a worthwhile gamble to add his talent and potential upside (38-615-4 in his last seven games last season) to my WR corps.

Round 11
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 121 NaVorro Bowman, LB, SF Eric Mack Sports Illustrated
2 122 Pierre Thomas, RB, NO Matt Schauf
3 123 Ryan Williams, RB, ARI Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
4 124 James Laurinaitis, LB, STL Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
5 125 Von Miller, LB, DEN Mark Ross Athlon Sports
6 126 Lavonte David, LB, TB Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
7 127 Paul Posluszny, LB, JAC Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
8 128 DeMarcus Ware, DL, DAL Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 129 Chad Greenway, LB, MIN John Hansen
10 130 Jared Allen, DL, MIN Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 131 Charles Johnson, DL, CAR Jamey Eisenberg
12 132 Mario Williams, DL, BUF Mitch Light Athlon Sports

Round 11 Analysis: Six linebackers and four defensive linemen go in this round with running backs Pierre Thomas and Ryan Williams the only non-IDP selections. Nathan bypassed both Jared Allen and Mario Williams for DeMarcus Ware, whose fantasy value could jump considerably with his move from LB to DL in the Cowboys' new 3-4 scheme. Be sure to double-check his position eligibility before taking Ware in an IDP draft, as he's much more appealing as an upper tier DL compared to a middle-of-the-pack LB.

Round 12
1 133 Aldon Smith, LB, SF Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 134 Emmanuel Sanders, WR, PIT Jamey Eisenberg
3 135 Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, FA Braden Gall Athlon Sports
4 136 Derrick Johnson, LB, KC John Hansen
5 137 Danny Woodhead, RB, SD Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
6 138 Denver, DST, DEN Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
7 139 Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 140 Eli Manning, QB, NYG Mark Ross Athlon Sports
9 141 Sean Lee, LB, DAL Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
10 142 DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
11 143 Vincent Brown, WR, SD Matt Schauf
12 144 Alshon Jeffery, WR, CHI Eric Mack Sports Illustrated

Round 12 Analysis: Only two running backs taken in this round, but each are intriguing for different reasons. Despite his injury history, Ahmad Bradshaw has shown himself to be productive (1,015 yards rushing last season) and you have to think he will sign with some team eventually. In fact, it could happen as early as this week following his recent visit with the Colts. This is a situation that bears watching as his destination will not only have fantasy implications for Bradshaw, but also for his new backfield mates. On the other hand there's Danny Woodhead, who left the Patriots to join the Chargers. At worst, Woodhead figures to serve in a similar role as the one he had with New England, but don't forget that Ryan Mathews, the presumed starter in San Diego, had two separate collar bone injuries last season and hasn't been the most durable of backs.

Round 13
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 145 Charles Tillman, DB, CHI Eric Mack Sports Illustrated
2 146 D'Qwell Jackson, LB, CLE Matt Schauf
3 147 Morgan Burnett, DB, GB Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
4 148 Kendall Hunter, RB, SF Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
5 149 Jerod Mayo, LB, NE Mark Ross Athlon Sports
6 150 Desmond Bishop, LB, GB Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
7 151 Aaron Dobson, WR, NE Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
8 152 Michael Vick, QB, PHI Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 153 Chris Givens, WR, STL John Hansen
10 154 Keenan Allen, WR, SD Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 155 Greg Olsen, TE, CAR Jamey Eisenberg
12 156 Andy Dalton, QB, CIN Mitch Light Athlon Sports


Round 14
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 157 Santonio Holmes, WR, NYJ Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 158 Ryan Broyles, WR, DET Jamey Eisenberg
3 159 Joe Flacco, QB, BAL Braden Gall Athlon Sports
4 160 Harrison Smith, DB, MIN John Hansen
5 161 Anquan Boldin, WR, SF Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
6 162 Calais Campbell, DL, ARI Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
7 163 Owen Daniels, TE, HOU Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 164 Geno Atkins, DL, CIN Mark Ross Athlon Sports
9 165 Julius Peppers, DL, CHI Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
10 166 Jay Cutler, QB, CHI Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
11 167 Daryl Washington, LB, ARI Matt Schauf
12 168 Brandon Pettigrew, TE, DET Eric Mack Sports Illustrated

Rounds 13 and 14 Analysis: The first two DBs taken in the draft are in the form of Charles Tillman and Morgan Burnett. Also it was a little surprising that Kendall Hunter was the next San Francisco running back selected rather than LaMichael James, who went in the 16th round. Obviously, Anquan Boldin's draft status will rise considerably in light of Michael Crabtree's Achilles injury. The same could happen with fellow 49er wide receiver A.J. Jenkins (taken by Eric with the first pick of the 15th round) and perhaps even rookie Quinton Patton. Santonio Holmes is another veteran wideout who could end up being a valuable contributor. Holmes put up decent numbers (20-272-1) in the four games he played in last season before sustaining a foot injury that sidelined him the rest of the way. His recovery from the injury (could start training camp on the PUP list) will be something to watch, not to mention the state of the Jets' quarterback situation. But Holmes caught eight touchdown passes in 2011, so you never know.

Round 15
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 169 A.J. Jenkins, WR, SF Eric Mack Sports Illustrated
2 170 Philip Rivers, QB, SD Matt Schauf
3 171 Chicago, DST, CHI Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
4 172 Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
5 173 Houston, DST, HOU Mark Ross Athlon Sports
6 174 Cincinnati, DST, CIN Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
7 175 Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
8 176 Martellus Bennett, TE, CHI Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 177 Sam Bradford, QB, STL John Hansen
10 178 Mark Barron, DB, TB Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 179 Lawrence Timmons, LB, PIT Jamey Eisenberg
12 180 St. Louis, DST, STL Mitch Light Athlon Sports


Round 16
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 181 Tyler Eifert, TE, CIN Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 182 Jared Cook, TE, STL Jamey Eisenberg
3 183 Sean Weatherspoon, LB, ATL Braden Gall Athlon Sports
4 184 LaMichael James, RB, SF John Hansen
5 185 New England, DST, NE Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
6 186 Eric Berry, DB, KC Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
7 187 Eric Weddle, DB, SD Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 188 Jermichael Finley, TE, GB Mark Ross Athlon Sports
9 189 Rueben Randle, WR, NYG Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
10 190 Joseph Randle, RB, DAL Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
11 191 Wesley Woodyard, LB, DEN Matt Schauf
12 192 Greg Hardy, DL, CAR Eric Mack Sports Illustrated

Rounds 15-16 Analysis: DSTs were the preferred choice in Round 15 with four more taken followed by New England (Nathan) in the following round. So just how deep is the quarterback position this season? How about getting Philip Rivers in the 15th round as your backup? Also Ryan Tannehill and Sam Bradford, two intriguing sleepers based on their respective team's offseason moves, figure to be later-round options. This may be the year tight end Jared Cook finally capitalizes on his potential, especially with the move from Tennessee to St. Louis, while Cowboys' rookie running back Joseph Randle is at worst the must-have handcuff for DeMarco Murray owners.

Round 17
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 193 Shonn Greene, RB, TEN Eric Mack Sports Illustrated
2 194 Brian Hartline, WR, MIA Matt Schauf
3 195 Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, MIN Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
4 196 Tyvon Branch, DB, OAK Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
5 197 Dwayne Allen, TE, IND Mark Ross Athlon Sports
6 198 Jonathan Dwyer, RB, PIT Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
7 199 Fred Davis, TE, WAS Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
8 200 Patrick Peterson, DB, ARI Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 201 Green Bay, DST, GB John Hansen
10 202 Mohamed Sanu, WR, CIN Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 203 Kam Chancellor, DB, SEA Jamey Eisenberg
12 204 LaRon Landry, DB, IND Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 18
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 205 Richard Sherman, DB, SEA Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 206 Baltimore, DST, BAL Jamey Eisenberg
3 207 Robert Woods, WR, BUF Braden Gall Athlon Sports
4 208 Justin Smith, DL, SF John Hansen
5 209 Pittsburgh, DST, PIT Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
6 210 Golden Tate, WR, SEA Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
7 211 Rod Streater, WR, OAK Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 212 Cortland Finnegan, DB, STL Mark Ross Athlon Sports
9 213 Mike Gillislee, RB, MIA Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
10 214 Donald Butler, LB, SD Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
11 215 Johnathan Cyprien, DB, JAC Matt Schauf
12 216 Toby Gerhart, RB, MIN Eric Mack Sports Illustrated

Rounds 17-18 Analysis: Coming into the home stretch it's all about filling out your starting lineups, especially on the IDP side, and finding those hidden gems. Corby pulled the trigger on Minnesota first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson, who has all the physical tools but is still learning how to play wide receiver. How quickly he adapts to the NFL and his chemistry with Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder will determine his potential fantasy impact this season. The same goes for fellow first-year wideout Robert Woods, who was taken in the second round by Buffalo, and has a similar type of opportunity as the Bills have a new head coach and new quarterback this season. Mike Gillislee is another rookie to watch, as the former Gator should have a chance to carve out a role in a Miami backfield that no longer includes Reggie Bush. Eric was very wise in grabbing Toby Gerhart with the last pick of the 18th round, locking down the Minnesota backfield.

Round 19
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 217 Stephen Gostkowski, K, NE Eric Mack Sports Illustrated
2 218 Atlanta, DST, ATL Matt Schauf
3 219 Matt Bryant, K, ATL Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
4 220 Tampa Bay, DST, TB Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
5 221 Blair Walsh, K, MIN Mark Ross Athlon Sports
6 222 Stepfan Taylor, RB, ARI Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
7 223 Matt Schaub, QB, HOU Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
8 224 Justin Tucker, K, BAL Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 225 Phil Dawson, K, SF John Hansen
10 226 Arthur Brown, LB, BAL Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 227 Matt Prater, K, DEN Jamey Eisenberg
12 228 Brandon LaFell, WR, CAR Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 20
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 229 Greg Zuerlein, K, STL Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 230 London Fletcher, LB, WAS Jamey Eisenberg
3 231 Alex Henery, K, PHI Braden Gall Athlon Sports
4 232 Michael Bush, RB, CHI John Hansen
5 233 Manti Te'o, LB, SD Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
6 234 Dan Bailey, K, DAL Brandon Funston Yahoo! Sports
7 235 Sebastian Janikowski, K, OAK Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 236 Malcom Floyd, WR, SD Mark Ross Athlon Sports
9 237 Kai Forbath, K, WAS Mike Clay Pro Football Focus
10 238 Brian Cushing, LB, HOU Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
11 239 Adam Vinatieri, K, IND Matt Schauf
12 240 Elvis Dumervil, DL, BAL Eric Mack Sports Illustrated

Rounds 19-20 Analysis: The final two rounds were primarily about the kickers, as they are required to complete a starting lineup. The final IDPs taken included two rookie linebackers in Baltimore's Arthur Brown and San Diego's Manti Te'o. Both are intriguing options, but for my money, I'll take Brown. The former Kansas State Wildcat should step right into the Ravens' starting lineup and has the ability, mindset and attitude to become an instant fantasy contributor in his first season, similar to what Kuechly, Wagner and Tampa Bay's Lavonte David did last season. Brian Cushing also is a prime bounce-back candidate, as the Houston linebacker saw his 2012 campaign come to an early end when he tore his ACL in Week 5.


10 yards rushing = 1 pt
10 yards receiving = 1 pt
25 yards passing = 1 pt
6 pts for all TDs
0.5 pts per reception

FGs 39 yds and under = 3 pts
FGs 40-49 yds = 4 pts
FGs 50-59 yds = 5 pts
60+ yds = 6 pts
PATs = 1 pt

0 pts allowed = 12 pts
1-6 PA = 10 pts
7-13 PA = 8 pts
14-20 PA = 6 pts
21-27 PA = 2 pts
28+ PA = 0 pts
Safeties = 2 pts
Fumbles recovered = 2 pts
Interceptions = 2 pts
Sacks = 1 pt
DEF/ST TDs = 6 pts

Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
INT = 3.5 pts
Forced Fumble/Recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Click here to order your copy of the Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Magazine today.

Additional Fantasy Football Content:

Fantasy Football 2013 NFL Bye Week Cheat Sheet
Top 15 Fantasy Football Rookies in 2013

<p> 2013 Fantasy Football IDP Mock Draft</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football mock draft, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2013-fantasy-football-idp-mock-draft-rosters

Rosters for a 12-team, 20-round serpentine-style mock draft based on Athlon Sports standard scoring:

10 yards rushing = 1 pt
10 yards receiving = 1 pt
25 yards passing = 1 pt
6 pts for all TDs
0.5 pts per reception

FGs 39 yds and under = 3 pts
FGs 40-49 yds = 4 pts
FGs 50-59 yds = 5 pts
60+ yds = 6 pts
PATs = 1 pt

0 pts allowed = 12 pts
1-6 PA = 10 pts
7-13 PA = 8 pts
14-20 PA = 6 pts
21-27 PA = 2 pts
28+ PA = 0 pts
Safeties = 2 pts
Fumbles recovered = 2 pts
Interceptions = 2 pts
Sacks = 1 pt
DEF/ST TDs = 6 pts

Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
INT = 3.5 pts
Forced Fumble/Recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Starting lineup: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex (RB/WR), 1 K, 1 DEF/ST, 1 DL, 1 LB, 1 DB, 1 Flex IDP (DL/LB/DB), 6 bench spots

Click here for round-by-round picks and analysis

  1. Eric Mack       2. Matt Schauf       3. Corby Yarbrough    
  Sports Illustrtated       Athlon Sports    
RD Name POS Team   Name POS Team   Name POS Team
1. Adrian Peterson RB MIN   LeSean McCoy RB PHI   Arian Foster RB HOU
2. Aaron Rodgers QB GB   Demaryius Thomas WR DEN   Percy Harvin WR SEA
3. Stevan Ridley RB NE   Darren McFadden RB OAK   DeMarco Murray RB DAL
4. Marques Colston WR NO   Jason Witten TE DAL   Aaron Hernandez TE NE
5. Eric Decker WR DEN   J.J. Watt DL HOU   Lamar Miller RB MIA
6. Jeremy Maclin WR PHI   T.Y. Hilton WR IND   James Jones WR GB
7. Stevie Johnson WR BUF   Tony Romo QB DAL   Tavon Austin WR STL
8. Daryl Richardson RB STL   Isaiah Pead RB STL   Josh Gordon WR CLE
9. Zac Stacy RB STL   Kenny Britt WR TEN   Matthew Stafford QB DET
10. Seattle DST SEA   Sidney Rice WR SEA   Cameron Wake DL MIA
11. NaVorro Bowman LB SF   Pierre Thomas RB NO   Ryan Williams RB ARI
12. Alshon Jeffery WR CHI   Vincent Brown WR SD   DeAndre Hopkins WR HOU
13. Charles Tillman DB CHI   D'Qwell Jackson LB CLE   Morgan Burnett DB GB
14. Brandon Pettigrew TE DET   Daryl Washington LB ARI   Jay Cutler QB CHI
15. A.J. Jenkins WR SF   Philip Rivers QB SD   Chicago DST CHI
16. Greg Hardy DL CAR   Wesley Woodyard LB DEN   Joseph Randle RB DAL
17. Shonn Greene RB TEN   Brian Hartline WR MIA   C. Patterson WR MIN
18. Toby Gerhart RB MIN   Johnathan Cyprien DB JAC   Donald Butler LB SD
19. S. Gostkowski K NE   Atlanta DST ATL   Matt Bryant K ATL
20. Elvis Dumervil DL BAL   Adam Vinatieri K IND   Brian Cushing LB HOU
  4. Mike Clay       5. Mark Ross       6. Steven Lassan    
  Pro Football Focus       Athlon Sports       Athlon Sports    
RD Name POS Team   Name POS Team   Name POS Team
1. Doug Martin RB TB   Jamaal Charles RB KC   Marshawn Lynch RB SEA
2. Rob Gronkowski TE NE   Brandon Marshall WR CHI   Dez Bryant WR DAL
3. Frank Gore RB SF   Randall Cobb WR GB   Andre Johnson WR HOU
4. Hakeem Nicks WR NYG   Darren Sproles RB NO   Wes Welker WR DEN
5. Reggie Wayne WR IND   Tom Brady QB NE   Le'Veon Bell RB PIT
6. Chris Ivory RB NYJ   Antonio Brown WR PIT   Steve Smith WR CAR
7. Greg Jennings WR MIN   Giovani Bernard RB CIN   Jason Pierre-Paul DL NYG
8. Robert Griffin III QB WAS   Mark Ingram RB NO   Jonathan Stewart RB CAR
9. Ben Tate RB HOU   Mikel Leshoure RB DET   Russell Wilson QB SEA
10. Kendall Wright WR TEN   Justin Blackmon WR JAC   Jacquizz Rodgers RB ATL
11. James Laurinaitis LB STL   Von Miller LB DEN   Lavonte David LB TB
12. Sean Lee LB DAL   Eli Manning QB NYG   Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT
13. Kendall Hunter RB SF   Jerod Mayo LB NE   Desmond Bishop LB GB
14. Julius Peppers DL CHI   Geno Atkins DL CIN   Owen Daniels TE HOU
15. Ryan Tannehill QB MIA   Houston DST HOU   Cincinnati DST CIN
16. Rueben Randle WR NYG   Jermichael Finley TE GB   Eric Weddle DB SD
17. Tyvon Branch DB OAK   Dwayne Allen TE IND   Jonathan Dwyer RB PIT
18. Mike Gillislee RB MIA   Cortland Finnegan DB STL   Rod Streater WR OAK
19. Tampa Bay DST TB   Blair Walsh K MIN   Stepfan Taylor RB ARI
20. Kai Forbath K WAS   Malcom Floyd WR SD   S. Janikowski K OAK
  7. Brandon Funston       8. Nathan Rush       9. John Hansen    
  Yahoo! Sports       Athlon Sports    
RD Name POS Team   Name POS Team   Name POS Team
1. Ray Rice RB BAL   Calvin Johnson WR DET   Trent Richardson RB CLE
2. Maurice Jones-Drew RB JAC   Chris Johnson RB TEN   Jimmy Graham TE NO
3. Victor Cruz WR NYG   Roddy White WR ATL   Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI
4. Cam Newton QB CAR   Colin Kaepernick QB SF   Reggie Bush RB DET
5. Ryan Mathews RB SD   Mike Wallace WR MIA   Dwyane Bowe WR KC
6. Danny Amendola WR NE   DeSean Jackson WR PHI   Peyton Manning QB DEN
7. Cecil Shorts WR JAC   B. Green-Ellis RB CIN   Tony Gonzalez TE ATL
8. Miles Austin WR DAL   Antonio Gates TE SD   Rashard Mendenhall RB ARI
9. Dennis Pitta TE BAL   Bernard Pierce RB BAL   Mike Williams WR TB
10. Bobby Wagner LB SEA   Patrick Willis LB SF   Fred Jackson RB BUF
11. Paul Posluszny LB JAC   DeMarcus Ware DL DAL   Chad Greenway LB MIN
12. Denver DST DEN   Danny Woodhead RB SD   Derrick Johnson LB KC
13. Aaron Dobson WR NE   Michael Vick QB PHI   Chris Givens WR STL
14. Calais Campbell DL ARI   Anquan Boldin WR SF   Harrison Smith DB MIN
15. Ronnie Hillman RB DEN   Martellus Bennett TE CHI   Sam Bradford QB STL
16. Eric Berry DB KC   New England DST NE   LaMichael James RB SF
17. Fred Davis TE WAS   Patrick Peterson DB ARI   Green Bay DST GB
18. Golden Tate WR SEA   Pittsburgh DST PIT   Justin Smith DL SF
19. Matt Schaub QB HOU   Justin Tucker K BAL   Phil Dawson K SF
20. Dan Bailey K DAL   Manti Te'o LB SD   Michael Bush RB CHI
  10. Braden Gall       11. Jamey Eisenberg       12. Mitch Light    
  Athlon Sports       Athlon Sports    
RD Name POS Team   Name POS Team   Name POS Team
1. C.J. Spiller RB BUF   Alfred Morris RB WAS   Matt Forte RB CHI
2. Julio Jones WR ATL   Steven Jackson RB ATL   A.J. Green WR CIN
3. Jordy Nelson WR GB   Drew Brees QB NO   David Wilson RB NYG
4. Montee Ball RB DEN   Vincent Jackson WR TB   Matt Ryan QB ATL
5. Eddie Lacy RB GB   Vick Ballard RB IND   Torrey Smith WR BAL
6. Andrew Luck QB IND   Pierre Garcon WR WAS   Andre Brown RB NYG
7. Vernon Davis TE SF   Danario Alexander WR SD   Lance Moore WR NO
8. Michael Floyd WR ARI   Shane Vereen RB NE   Kyle Rudolph TE MIN
9. Johnathan Franklin RB GB   Denarius Moore WR OAK   Luke Kuechly LB CAR
10. San Francisco DST SF   Bryce Brown RB PHI   DeAngelo Williams RB CAR
11. Jared Allen DL MIN   Charles Johnson DL CAR   Mario Williams DL BUF
12. Ahmad Bradshaw RB FA   Emmanuel Sanders WR PIT   Aldon Smith LB SF
13. Keenan Allen WR SD   Greg Olsen TE CAR   Andy Dalton QB CIN
14. Joe Flacco QB BAL   Ryan Broyles WR DET   Santonio Holmes WR NYJ
15. Mark Barron DB TB   Lawrence Timmons LB PIT   St. Louis DST STL
16. Sean Weatherspoon LB ATL   Jared Cook TE STL   Tyler Eifert TE CIN
17. Mohamed Sanu WR CIN   Kam Chancellor DB SEA   LaRon Landry DB IND
18. Robert Woods WR BUF   Baltimore DST BAL   Richard Sherman DB SEA
19. Arthur Brown LB BAL   Matt Prater K DEN   Brandon LaFell WR CAR
20. Alex Henery K PHI   London Fletcher LB WAS   Greg Zuerlein K STL

Click here to order your copy of the Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Magazine today.

Additional Fantasy Football Content:

Fantasy Football 2013 NFL Bye Week Cheat Sheet
Top 15 Fantasy Football Rookies in 2013

<p> 2013 Fantasy Football IDP Mock Draft Rosters</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-football-stadiums

Fall Saturdays are special.

Small towns, huge crowds, tailgating, bands, cheerleaders and student sections are just a few of the reasons college football is the best sport on the planet. When campuses jump to life across the nation each weekend in the fall, college stadiums become a staging ground for history.

There are a variety of ways to evaluate the greatness of a stadium. Huge attendance numbers, home-field advantage in the win-loss column, rich traditions, picturesque landscapes and amenities are just a few of the aspects that must be considered to rank so many great college football cathedrals.

With that in mind, here's how the stadiums in the ACC stack up.

1. Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Opened: 1942
Capacity: 81,500
2012 Attendance: 81,427 (15th nationally)

There are only two atmospheres in the ACC that compare to the SEC's on Saturdays and Clemson Memorial Stadium is the best. Dubbed “Death Valley” by the late Presbyterian coach Lonnie McMillan after watching his teams get thumped by the Tigers for years, CMS has been home to historic moments and raucous crowds for more than 70 years. The fifth oldest venue in the ACC, this college football cathedral witnessed the first meeting between father and son head coaches (Bowden Bowl I) and is filled with timeless traditions. One of the most well known, of course, is the rubbing of “Howard’s Rock.” A notable Clemson alumnus brought the rock from Death Valley, Calif., and it has been affixed atop a pedestal in the East end zone for nearly 50 years. One legend has it that Memorial Stadium set the record for the loudest college football stadium at 133 decibels in 2007. Current Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney certainly likes the comforts of home. He is 25-4 at Memorial Stadium during his four years as Clemson's head coach.

2. Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech
Opened: 1965
Capacity: 65,632
2012 Attendance: 65,632 (25th)

The only building in the ACC that can give Death Valley a run for its money is in Blacksburg, Va. Named after former Tech graduate and Board of Visitors member Edward H. Lane, the beautiful venue is the largest stadium in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Frank Beamer and his Hokies are 51-8 at home during his career and haven’t lost more than one game at home during any season since joining the ACC in 2004. Before moving to the ACC, Tech went 32-9 in Lane Stadium while a member of the Big East. The Highty Tighties, Marching Virginians and “Enter Sandman” get the crowd riled up before every home game as players rush out from the tunnel slapping a slab of Hokie Stone en route to the field. Aside from the boisterous crowd (and excellent football team), part of what makes this venue so intimidating is its altitude of 2,057 feet above sea level — making it the highest stadium in the Eastern United States.

3. Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State
Opened: 1950
Capacity: 82,300
2012 Attendance: 75,601 (19th)

Named after former Florida State president Doak S. Campbell, The Doak is known for its vicious football teams and gorgeous student section. Renamed in 2004 as Bobby Bowden Field, a nine-foot statue and three-story stained-glass window of the legendary coach were added to the facilities. The Noles are 260-86-4 all-time in the largest stadium in the ACC and, interestingly enough, the gorgeous brick façade makes DCS the largest continuous brick building in the United States. The cowgirls go crazy when Chief Osceola rides in on his steed and plants his flaming spear into the 50-yard line before each home game.

4. Kenan Memorial Stadium, North Carolina
Opened: 1927
Capacity: 62,980
2012 Attendance: 50,286 (38th)

One of the most picturesque places to watch a football game, Kenan Stadium was named after dairy farmer and 1894 UNC graduate William Kenan. It is the second-oldest football venue in the ACC, and could be, in the very near future, the ACC’s nicest as major renovations are underway. The “Blue Zone” will turn the horseshoe into a complete bowl with premium seating and innovative features while an upgrade of overall stadium facilities across the board will make the fan’s experience one of the best in the conference. The Tar Heels are 12-2 over their last two seasons in Kenan.

5. Carter-Finley Stadium, NC State
Opened: 1966
Capacity: 60,000
2012 Attendance: 54,106 (37th)

Originally named Carter Stadium after Harry and Wilbert Carter, Finley was added in 1978 after another major benefactor Albert Finley. Two unique aspects to CFS that add to its value is that fans are allowed to leave and re-enter the stadium — I wonder what they do in the parking lot? — and that it has the smallest clearance between the stands and the field in the ACC. The crowds are right on top of the field and it makes it difficult on opposing teams, as was evident in last October’s upset of previously unbeaten Florida State. Over the last three seasons, the Wolfpack have lost 15 games but only three have come at home (16-3).

6. Bobby Dodd Stadium, Georgia Tech
Opened: 1913
Capacity: 55,000
2012 Attendance: 43,955 (54th)

The ACC’s oldest venue is located right in the heart of downtown Atlanta and was built for just $15,000 a century ago. Originally named Grant Field, Georgia Tech renamed the venue in 1988 as Bobby Dodd Stadium after the legendary Tech head coach. Many changes over time — Astroturf and the demolition of the South Stands and the 2003 expansion, for example — have made this stadium an ever-changing home for the Ramblin’ Wreck. And when the 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe and Buzz the Yellow Jacket come flying across the field, the Bobby Dodd faithful erupt.

7. Scott Stadium, Virginia
Opened: 1931
Capacity: 61,500
2012 Attendance: 46,650 (46th)

Located on one of the most historic and culturally rich campuses in the nation, the Cavaliers' home is named after former university rector Frederic Scott. The signature white columns and grassy hill in the Northwest end zone are flanked by Monticello Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Scott Stadium has been witness to many historic ACC contests — namely, the Warrick Dunn goal-line stand. The Wahoos’ stadium is the seventh biggest and fourth oldest in the ACC.

8. Heinz Field, Pitt
Opened: 2001
Capacity: 65,050
2012 Attendance: 41,494 (58th)

From an amenities standpoint, few college stadiums can match the posh NFL home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Panthers' swanky digs, of course, come with the stigma of being the “other” team that plays at Heinz Field. While the venue has a great view of the Ohio River and features state-of-the-art technology, it isn’t located on campus, features roughly 20,000 empty seats each game and the home locker room doesn’t have Pitt Panthers logos plastered all over it.

9. Carrier Dome, Syracuse
Opened: 1980
Capacity: 49,262
2012 Attendance: 37,953 (61st)

If one can get past the fact that a dome named after a HVAC corporation doesn’t have air conditioning, the Orange’s home has plenty of character to offer. Nicknamed “The Loud House,” the Cuse’s home has a Teflon-coated, fiberglass inflatable roof that is one of the loudest in the nation. However, while it has been home to many historic showdowns and is the nation’s largest basketball arena, the Carrier Dome has seen better days and is failing to reach capacity on a regular basis.

10. Bryd Stadium, Maryland
Opened: 1950
Capacity: 54,000
2012 Attendance: 36,023 (64th)

Dr. H.C. Byrd was a multi-sport athlete and Terrapins alumni who went on to coach the football team and served as university president. It’s only fitting that the Terps' stadium was named after the prolific graduate.

11. Sun Life Stadium, Miami
Opened: 1987
Capacity: 80,120
2012 Attendance: 47,719 (44th)

The building is 25 minutes from campus and the fans don't exactly pack the bleachers to watch the 'Canes. While the building has the amenities of a stadium capable of hosting an NFL franchise and the BCS national title game, it lacks the connectedness most campus locations produce. It's a nice place to play a football game but it's distant, half-filled and devoid of character.

12. Alumni Stadium, Boston College
Opened: 1957
Capacity: 44,500
2012 Attendance: 37,020 (63rd)

The Eagles had been one of college football's most overachieving programs until recently. Not surprisingly, the team's struggles on the field have likewise resulted in a dip in attendance in the stands. Alumni Stadium can be a difficult place to play when it comes to big-time games (see College Gameday in 2009). However, it's tough to draw crowds to Chestnut Hill and when the team struggles, so does the stadium.

13. BB&T Field, Wake Forest
Opened: 1968
Capacity: 31,500
2012 Attendance: 28,912 (78th)

To Wake's fans' credit, there are typically never a ton of empty seats in BB&T and the recent round of upgrades have improved the fan's experience. However, failing to draw more than 30,000 fans per game in a major conference makes this venue inferior to the massive coliseums of the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12. The tailgating is picturesque and offers the quaintness of a homely, small-town college campus. But Wake Forest home games will never be confused with those in Columbus, Norman or Tuscaloosa.

14. Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 33,941
2012 Attendance: 28,170 (79th)

Attendance has gotten better under the David Cutcliffe regime due in large part to winning more games. However, the stadium has seen its fair share of blowouts — and sparse crowds. The Duke faithful will pack Cameron Indoor long before filling Wallace Wade.

2013 ACC Team Previews

Atlantic Coastal
Boston College Duke 
Clemson Georgia Tech
Florida State Miami
Maryland  North Carolina
NC State  Pittsburgh
Syracuse Virginia
Wake Forest  Virginia Tech

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2013 ACC All-Conference Team
ACC Predictions for 2013

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College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 41-60

College Fooball Team Rankings for 2013: No. 61-80

College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 81-100

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

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<p> Ranking the ACC's Football Stadiums</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 10:45
All taxonomy terms: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/us-open-last-time

On the eve of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, we've compiled some statistical tidbits:

Last foreign winner: 
Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland, 2011 

Last to defend title successfully: 
Curtis Strange, 1989 

Last to win three consecutive U.S. Opens: 
Willie Anderson, 1903-05 

Last winner to win the U.S. Open on first attempt: 
Francis Ouimet, 1913 

Last winner to win the U.S. Open on second attempt: 
Jerry Pate, T18 in first in 1975, winner in 1976 

Last amateur to win U.S. Open: 
John Goodman, 1933 

Last start-to-finish winner (no ties): 
Rory McIlroy, 2011 

Last winner to win money title in same year: 
Tiger Woods, 2008 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole: 
Tiger Woods, 2008 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to force a playoff: 
Tiger Woods, 2008 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to win by one stroke: 
a-Robert T. Jones Jr., 1926 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to win by two strokes: 
Lee Janzen, 1993 

Last to win without a round in the 60s: 
Geoff Ogilvy, Australia, 2006 

Last to win with all rounds in the 60s: 
Rory McIlroy, 2011 

Last to win with a round in the 80s: 
80, John McDermott, in playoff, 1911 

Last to win with a round of 77: 
Sam Parks Jr., in first round, 1935 

Last to win with a round of 76: 
Angel Cabrera, in third round, 2007 

Last to win with a round of 75: 
Payne Stewart, in playoff, 1991 

Last to win after being in sectional qualifying: 
Lucas Glover, 2009 

Last to win after being in local and sectional qualifying: 
Orville Moody, 1969 

Last winner between age 20-29: 
Webb Simpson, 26, 2012

Last winner between age 30-39: 
Graeme McDowell, 30, 2010 

Last winner over age 40: 
Payne Stewart, 42, 1999 (sixth-oldest in history) 

Last winner who received a special exemption: 
Hale Irwin, 1990 

Last defending champion to miss the cut: 
Rory McIlroy, 2012

Last to win without a sub-par round: 
Geoff Ogilvy, 2006 

<br />
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 08:45
Path: /college-football/big-12-football-2013-predictions
Big 12 2013 Predictions Big 12 Overall
1. Oklahoma State 7-2 10-2
2. Oklahoma 7-2 9-3
3. Texas 6-3 9-3
4. TCU 6-3 8-4
5. Kansas State 5-4 8-4
6. Baylor 5-4 8-4
7. Texas Tech 4-5 7-5
8. West Virginia 3-6 6-6
9. Iowa State 2-7 5-7
10. Kansas 0-9 3-9

The Big 12 is the toughest BCS conference to predict for 2013.

With the departure of most of the league’s top quarterbacks from 2012, there’s no clear favorite for first-team All-Big 12 honors, which also leads to uncertainty as to the conference’s No. 1 team.

Oklahoma State is Athlon’s pick to win the Big 12, but a strong case could be made for Oklahoma, Texas, TCU, Kansas State and Baylor. The Cowboys lost three of their Big 12 games by a touchdown or less last year, and Clint Chelf is settled at quarterback after the transfer of Wes Lunt. Joseph Randle will be missed at running back, but Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland is a capable one-two punch.

Blake Bell replaces Landry Jones as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback, and all eyes will be watching to see if the Belldozer can transition from a part-time to full-time offense. The Sooners have plenty of weapons around Bell, which should help to ease the transition of the new quarterback. Oklahoma’s biggest issue is a defense that returns only four starters and is very thin on depth on the line.

Texas may have the Big 12’s most-talented team, but the Longhorns are just 11-15 in the conference over the past three years. If quarterback David Ash continues to make strides as a passer, and the defense proves it can stop the run, Texas could win the Big 12. 

TCU, Kansas State and Baylor are all worthy of top-25 consideration. The Horned Frogs regain the services of quarterback Casey Pachall and return nine starters on defense. However, the schedule is very challenging with road dates at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kansas State. Baylor must reload at quarterback, but the defense made progress late in the year, and running back Lache Seastrunk should be one of the nation’s best. Kansas State lost a handful of key players, but Bill Snyder always keeps the Wildcats in Big 12 title contention.

With Kliff Kingsbury returning to Lubbock, Texas Tech could be the Big 12’s most-interesting team in 2013. If quarterback Michael Brewer picks up where Seth Doege left off, the Red Raiders should have one of the league’s top offenses once again.

West Virginia has a massive rebuilding project on offense, as quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin must be replaced. The defense ranked last in the Big 12 in points allowed last year and was a major focus throughout the offseason. 

Iowa State is projected to fall just short of bowl eligibility, but the Cyclones shouldn’t be counted out for the postseason. Kansas will be relying on a handful of junior college transfers to spur improvement. However, winning a game or two in Big 12 play could hinge on how good BYU transfer quarterback Jake Heaps performs.

Inside the War Room: Key Questions That Shaped Athlon's 2013 Predictions

Texas has a talented roster. Why are the Longhorns picked third in the Big 12?

Texas might have the highest ceiling of any Big 12 team, but it’s hard to jump on the Longhorns’ bandwagon based on their recent history of underachieving. They have been average at best at the quarterback position in the past three seasons, and their defense was record-setting bad in 2012. The roster is loaded with 4- and 5-star talent

How did the projected Big 12 champion end up outside the top 15?

We knew that it would be difficult to sort out the top four teams in the Big 12. We also knew that for the first time in recent memory the team that we picked to win this league wasn’t going to be in the discussion to be our preseason No. 1 team in the nation. Simply put: The Big 12 has solid depth in 2013, but it’s unlikely that any team in the league will emerge as a legitimate national title contender. Oklahoma State, our pick to win the conference, is ranked No. 16 overall — the lowest we have ranked a preseason Big 12 favorite in the 17-year history of the league.

Can West Virginia survive the loss of so much talent on offense?

It’s going to be tough. West Virginia lost a ton of firepower — its starting quarterback and two 1,200-yard receivers — from a team  that struggled down the stretch in 2012. Dana Holgorsen should find a way to piece together a respectable offense, despite the personnel losses, but the Mountaineer defense will have a tough time — once again — slowing down the high-powered offenses in the Big 12. It could be a long year in Morgantown.

Doesn’t Kansas State deserve the benefit of the doubt?

You’d think that we would have learned our lesson after picking Kansas State to finish ninth and sixth, respectively, the past two seasons. And even though Bill Snyder has made a habit of exceeding expectations at Kansas State, the 2013 Wildcats might have a tough time elbowing their way into the top four of the Big 12. The offense should be in decent shape, even with the loss of Heisman finalist Collin Klein. Daniel Sams, the backup QB last fall, is an ideal fit for the K-State attack. The defense is the big concern. The Cats must replace nine starters from a unit that gave up 24 points or more in five of its last six games. Kansas State, at least on paper, looks like a fringe top-25 team at best.

Texas has a talented roster. Why are the Longhorns picked third in the Big 12?

Texas might have the highest ceiling of any Big 12 team, but it’s hard to jump on the Longhorns’ bandwagon based on their recent history of underachieving. They have been average at best at the quarterback position in the past three seasons, and their defense was record-setting bad in 2012. The roster is loaded with 4- and 5-star talent, but there is nothing to suggest that this will be the season that Mack Brown gets things turned around. Sure, Texas will be good — we are predicting a 9–3 record in the regular season — but Texas fans want more than good. They want a national championship. And that doesn’t appear likely in 2013.

How did Casey Pachall’s return factor into TCU’s ranking?

Pachall is a huge part of the equation at TCU. Had he played the entire season (and played well), it’s very likely that the Horned Frogs would have been our pick to win the Big 12 in 2013. But he didn’t play the entire season. He only made it through four games before taking time off to deal with a substance abuse problem. He was back with the team in the spring and is expected to reclaim his role as the starting quarterback, but there are no guarantees that he will return to form. TCU can still be a very good team with Trevone Boykin at quarterback, but to be elite, the Horned Frogs need Pachall, the more gifted passer, to take the majority of the snaps in 2013.

2013 Big 12 Team Previews

Baylor Oklahoma State
Iowa State TCU
Kansas Texas
Kansas State Texas Tech
Oklahoma West Virginia

Big 12 Notebook

OU Soaring Above Big 12 
Oklahoma was in a state of rebuilding when the Big 12 Conference was born in the mid-’90s. Then Bob Stoops rolled into Norman. And the Sooners have been rolling ever since. After sharing last season’s conference championship with Kansas State, OU has won eight Big 12 titles: 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012.

That’s five more than No. 2 Texas. Since 2000, the Sooners are 87–19 in Big 12 play, good for an .821 winning percentage. The Longhorns are next at .745 (79–27).

Nationally during that span, among BCS conferences, OU owns the best conference winning percentage, followed by Ohio State at .788, Texas, Virginia Tech at .740 and Oregon at .739.

New-LOOK Attack
Last year, Longhorns coach Mack Brown was talking tough, pushing the promise of smash-mouth offense and ground-it-out game plans as the way back to prominence for his program.

Well, that didn’t last long. After last season’s shift in philosophy, Texas has a new direction: play fast and loose.

It’s an approach Brown has seen work for conference foes like Oklahoma State, Baylor and West Virginia. And it’s something he saw — and liked — from his own squad in rally mode against Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl, when the Longhorns went no-huddle, up-tempo in the second half of a 31–27 comeback victory.

“It was invaluable,” Brown told reporters in the spring. “It was really, really important to send the message to our fans, our kids and our recruits that we’re still fighting.”

Cowboys On The Road, Again 
For Oklahoma State, major facility renovations have enhanced Boone Pickens Stadium to the point that players and coaches enjoy all the comforts of home — and then some.

So forgive the Cowboys if they get a little homesick.

OSU ended the 2012 season with a road trip and will open 2013 away from home for multiple weeks again, a span of five games. For a program now used to winning and winning big, that’s an unusual schedule quirk. And it’s partly why Cowboys coach Mike Gundy flirted in the job market with openings at Tennessee and Arkansas, trying to gain more control of who and where his team plays.

OSU had little to say about the way 2012 ended, with visits to Oklahoma and Baylor, followed by an appearance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. But Gundy was opposed to playing Mississippi State in Houston, preferring a more manageable game in Stillwater. And after that game, the Cowboys head back out the next week for a game at Texas-San Antonio.

While spanning two seasons, it amounts to one of the longest road trips in OSU history and the first five-game stint away from home since a stretch bridging the 1988-89 seasons, when the Cowboys closed one year at Iowa State, then played Texas Tech in Tokyo, Japan, before a Holiday Bowl date with Wyoming in San Diego. To open 1989, OSU visited Tulsa and Ohio State.

Snyder’s Rebuild Still Going 
The rise of Kansas State’s football program under Bill Snyder, dubbed the Manhattan Miracle, is now in its second stage, with Snyder’s return from retirement ultimately paying off with a Big 12 championship last fall.

Phase 3 is well underway, as well, with a major renovation at the facility fittingly named Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. The project involves a reconstruction of the west side, which when finished will feature premium seating with outdoor suites, club and loge seating, a massive lounge and enhanced facilities for athletes in 16 sports.

The cost: $75 million.

Construction crews have been working around the clock, and ahead of schedule, to get the stadium ready for K-State’s Aug. 30 season opener against North Dakota State.

Coordinator Carousel

Oklahoma State

Offensive Coordinator
Old: Todd Monken; New: Mike Yurcich
Monken is now the head coach at Southern Miss. Yurcich is making the move from the Division II ranks, where he served as the offensive coordinator at Shippensburg (Pa.) University the past two seasons. The Red Raiders averaged 529.9 yards and 46.8 points per game in 2012.


Offensive Coordinator
Old: Bryan Harsin; New: Major Applewhite, Darrell Wyatt
Harsin is now the head coach at Arkansas State. Applewhite has been on the Texas staff since 2008. He was the assistant head coach and running backs coach from 2008-10 and the co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach from 2011-12. Wyatt has been the wide receivers coach the past two seasons. Applewhite will call the plays.

Texas Tech

Offensive Coordinator
Old: Neal Brown; New: Sonny Cumbie, Eric Morris
Brown is now the offensive coordinator at Kentucky, where he played wide receiver in the late 1990s. Cumbie, a former quarterback at Texas Tech, coached the Red Raiders’ outside receivers last season. He called the plays in Texas Tech’s 34–31 win over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl after former coach Tommy Tuberville left for Cincinnati. Morris, also a former Red Raider, served as the inside receivers coach at Washington State last season, working for his former head coach, Mike Leach.

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Art Kaufman; New: Mike Smith, Matt Wallerstedt
Kaufman followed Tommy Tuberville to Cincinnati and is now the Bearcats’ defensive coordinator. Smith, a Lubbock native who started 45 games at linebacker for Texas Tech from 2001-04, was the outside linebackers coach for the New York Jets last season. Wallerstedt was the linebackers coach at Texas A&M last year, where he worked with new Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. Previously, he had stints as the defensive coordinator at Air Force and Wyoming.

West Virginia

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Joe DeForest, Keith Patterson; New: Keith Patterson
DeForest was stripped of his coordinator duties in the offseason but will remain on the staff and coach the West Virginia safeties. Patterson will serve as the Mountaineers’ lone defensive coordinator. 


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<p> Big 12 Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-nebraska-football-fan

Even for the best college football programs, certain eras are better than others. And even the most successful programs have their lean years.

In a semi-regular series, Athlon Sports will look at the best times to be a fan for college football’s major powers -- when the stadium was a little louder, when the tailgates were a little livelier, and when it was just a little more fun to hang out on campus.

For Nebraska, was it more fun to be in Lincoln when Tommie Frazier was king? Or when Johnny Rodgers won the school its first Heisman? What about when the storied program was in its infancy?

Of course, there’s a flip side. Forgettable and even painful seasons when fans found better things to do on Saturdays, or worse, nothing to do during bowl season.

Here's when it was fun to be a Nebraska fan and the times best forgotten.


Record: 60-3
National titles: 3
Coach: Tom Osborne
Notable players: Tommie Frazier, Aaron Taylor, Grant Wistrom, Zach Wiegert, Trev Alberts, Brendan Stai, Ed Stewart, Jason Peter
Why this was a great time to be a fan: Osborne’s long wait for a national title ended in ’94 with a 13-0 record and a 24-17 win over Miami in the Orange Bowl. That was only the start. With Tommie Frazier at quarterback, Nebraska’s offense was one of the best in college football history, and the ’95 team was one of the sport’s legendary teams. The 62-24 demolition of Florida in the Fiesta Bowl for a second national title in two years was par for the course -- Nebraska defeated opponents by 38.7 points per game that year. In the final season before the BCS, Nebraska split a national title with Michigan in 1997, going 13-0 and finishing first in the coaches’ poll. Frazier was gone by then, but Nebraska produced an Outland winner (Aaron Taylor) and Lombardi winner (Grant Wistrom) that season.

Record: 33-2-2
National titles: 2
Coach: Bob Devaney
Notable players: Johnny Rodgers, Rich Glover, Bob Newton, Larry Jacobson
Why this was a great time to be a fan: The era brought Nebraska’s first AP national champion in 1970 and the Cornhuskers’ first Heisman winner, Johnny Rodgers, in 1972. Nebraska went 24-0-1 in 1971 and ’72, earning back-to-back national titles. The 1971 squad may have been Devaney’s best team. That year, the biggest matchup became the Game of the Century against rival Oklahoma on Thanksgiving. Led by Rodgers, the Cornhuskers defeated the Sooners 35-31 in a wild matchup between the top two teams. Devaney avenged earlier bowl losses to Alabama and Bear Bryant to defeat the Tide 38-6 in the 1972 Orange Bowl to seal the title. Bryant called the ’71 Nebraska team one of the best he had faced with good reason -- Nebraska defeated teams that finished No. 2 (Oklahoma), No. 3 (Colorado) and No. 4 (Alabama).

Record: 72-14
National titles: 0
Coach: Tom Osborne
Notable players: Mike Rozier, Turner Gill, Irving Fryar, Dave Rimington, Dean Steinkuhler, Roger Craig (right)
Why this was a great time to be a fan: Osborne set the tone for the remainder of his tenure during the late ’70s and early ’80s when the Huskers won five Big Eight titles and three outright. Rozier won the Heisman in 1983, but the undefeated Huskers missed out on a national title with a 31-30 loss to national champion Miami in a classic Orange Bowl upset. This may have been the most heartbreaking time to be a Nebraska fan: Of the 14 losses during this span, 12 were by a touchdown or less.

Record: 38-6
National titles: 0
Coach: Bob Devaney
Notable players: Wayne Meylan, Bob Brown, Larry Kramer, Freeman White, Walt Barnes, LaVerne Allers
Why this was a great time to be a fan: The mid-'60s would be upstaged, but Nebraska entered new territory when Devaney was hired in 1962. The previous coach, Bill Jennings, went 15-34-1 in four seasons. In his first season, Devaney led Nebraska to its third bowl game in school history in 1962 and the following year led Nebraska to four consecutive Big Eight titles. Nebraska fans of this era were the first to get a taste of success.


Record: 72-125-4
Why this was a bad time to be a fan: Think fans of the Bill Callahan (right) era had it bad? It’s tough to remember a time when Nebraska wasn’t relevant, but the Huskers cycled through eight different coaches before 1962, each experiencing various degrees of futility. During this time, Nebraska won two or fewer games six times. The rivalry with Oklahoma wasn’t even a blip on the radar at the time as Nebraska lost 16 in a row from 1943-58.

Record: 27-22
Coach: Bill Callahan
Why this was a bad time to be a fan: The previous four decades set the standards that Callahan failed to meet. He was supposed to bring Nebraska into the modern era on offense, but he ended up in the record books for the wrong reasons. Callahan’s first season (5-6) ended a streak of 35 seasons without a bowl and was Nebraska’s first losing season since 1961.


Record: 59-29
Coach: Frank Solich
Why this wasn't so bad: Solich was Osborne’s preferred successor, but he struggled to live up to his former boss. Still, Solich led Nebraska to a 33-5 record from 1999-2001, producing a national title game appearance and a Heisman winner. Solich remains the last Nebraska coach to win a conference title (in 1999).

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<p> Tommie Frazier or Johnny Rodgers? Bob Devaney or Tom Osborne? The best times to root for the Huskers</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 07:55
Path: /college-football/conference-usa-football-2013-predictions
2013 C-USA Predictions    
East Division C-USA Overall
1. Marshall 6-2 8-5
2. East Carolina 6-2 7-5
3. MTSU 5-3 7-5
4. UAB 4-4 5-7
5. Southern Miss 4-4 5-7
6. FAU 2-6 3-9
7. FIU 1-7 2-10
  West Division    
1. Tulsa 7-1 10-3
2. Rice 6-2 8-4
3. Louisiana Tech 6-2 7-5
4. UTEP 4-4 5-7
5. Tulane 2-6 4-8
6. North Texas 2-6 3-9
7. UTSA 1-7 1-11
  C-USA Championship  
  Tulsa over Marshall    

With the departure of Houston, UCF, Memphis and SMU to the American Athletic Conference, the landscape of Conference USA has changed for the 2013 season. And get ready to get out the eraser again next season, as Tulsa, East Carolina and Tulane depart, with Western Kentucky and Old Dominion sliding into their place.

While the depth of the conference took a hit with the departure of two teams that played for the C-USA title over the past two years, it’s also a new opportunity for some teams.

Marshall has yet to match its run of dominance from the 1990s in Conference USA, with its last season of more than seven wins coming in 2003. The Thundering Herd is Athlon’s pick to win the East Division this season, especially since they host East Carolina on Nov. 30 and return 14 overall starters, including quarterback Rakeem Cato. The big question mark for Marshall is a defense that allowed 43.1 points a game last year.

Much like Marshall, East Carolina returns a standout offense (31.5 points a game in 2012), but the defense is a question mark. Coach Ruffin McNeill switched coordinators, hiring Rick Smith to improve a defense that ranked 10th in the conference against the pass last year.

Outside of Marshall and East Carolina, the rest of the East Division is up for grabs. MTSU rebounded from an opening week loss to McNeese State to finish 8-4 last year. The Blue Raiders are a slight favorite to edge UAB and Southern Miss for the third spot. However, the Blazers and the Golden Eagles are trending in the right direction. FAU and FIU bring up the bottom of the East Division, and both teams have significant question marks going into 2013.

Defending Conference USA champion Tulsa must replace nine starters on defense, but the offense is loaded thanks to the return of quarterback Cody Green and running backs Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas. The Golden Hurricane must play the top two teams from the East in the regular season, which could play a key role in deciding homefield advantage for the conference title game.

After finishing 2012 on a five-game winning streak, Rice should be Tulsa’s top challenger in the West. The Owls return 18 starters and won’t play Marshall or East Carolina during the regular season.

Louisiana Tech and UTEP are neck-and-neck for the No. 3 and No. 4 spots. The Bulldogs suffered a plethora of personnel losses, but welcome Texas Tech transfer Scotty Young at quarterback. The Miners also have a transfer at quarterback – Jameill Showers from Texas A&M - but return only three starters on defense. Both teams have a new coaching staff, with UTEP under the direction of former player Sean Kugler, and Louisiana Tech led by former USF and Connecticut coach Skip Holtz.

Tulane, North Texas and UTSA round out the West Division predictions. The Green Wave should show some signs of improvement in 2013, and the schedule is favorable enough to expect a run at bowl eligibility. North Texas is also making progress under third-year coach Dan McCarney, but expecting a huge jump in win total is unlikely for 2013. The Roadrunners went 8-4 in their first season on the FBS level last season. However, the schedule is very challenging, and coach Larry Coker needs another year or two to build depth in the program.

2013 Conference USA Team Previews

East Division West Division
East Carolina Louisiana Tech
FAU North Texas
FIU Rice
Marshall Tulane
MTSU Tulsa
Southern Miss UTEP

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<p> Conference USA Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 07:40
Path: /college-football/campus-quarterbacks-best-friend

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The tight end position has evolved into a highly sought-after commodity at the NFL level.

A lot of that has to do with the type of athletes who are suiting up and honing their craft in college. The really talented ones are an integral part of any offensive scheme and bolster a quarterback's confidence when dropping back in the pocket.

Here is a list of the top tight ends at the FBS level in 2013:

AUSTIN SEFERIAN-JENKINS (Washington): While position rankings can be subjective, that isn't the case at tight end. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Seferian-Jenkins is a nightmare for opposing defenses to handle and is without a doubt the top player at his position in the country. He was named to the All-Pac-12 second team and was a finalist for the Mackey Award in 2012, hauling in 69 balls for 850 yards and seven touchdowns. He doesn't have the straight-line speed to blow by defenders, but he uses his size to his advantage and adjusts for the ball in flight. The only thing that could derail an All-America campaign this season outside of injury is Seferian-Jenkins himself. An off-season arrest for DUI has left the talented playmaker suspended from team activities, and until the case plays itself out in the court system, Seferian-Jenkins is in football limbo.

COLT LYERLA (Oregon): He may not have put up eye-popping numbers in Oregon's prolific offensive attack, but there is no mistaking Lyerla's enormous talent. This 6-5, 246-pounder can do it all on the field. Chip Kelly made sure to showcase that last year, as Lyerla finished with 25 catches for 392 yards and six touchdowns. He also added a seventh score on 13 carries. A prep standout at running back and linebacker, Lyerla is perhaps the most athletic tight end in the country, something the NFL is looking for at the position. Kelly is no longer calling the plays in Eugene, but the script won't change that much for Oregon going forward. The playmakers on offense will continue to shine, and Lyerla has as bright a future as any Duck on the roster.

ERIC EBRON (North Carolina): Another supreme athlete at the position, the 6-4, 245-pound Ebron is evolving into a complete player in Chapel Hill. The junior is extremely fast, explosive after the catch and doesn't mind blocking. A second-team All-ACC selection as a sophomore in 2012, Ebron finished with 40 receptions for 625 yards and four touchdowns. UNC's workhorse tailback Giovani Bernard has moved on to the NFL and North Carolina could get more vertical in its offensive play-calling as a result. That could mean big numbers for Ebron, who will undoubtedly be one of Bryn Renner's top targets in 2013.

C.J. FIEDOROWICZ (Iowa): This Iowa Hawkeye isn't the greatest athlete at the position, but he is as reliable as they come. A huge target at 6-7, 265 pounds, Fiedorowicz knows how to take advantage of smaller defenders. He earned All-Big Ten honorable mention a year ago, finishing with 45 receptions, for 433 yards and one touchdown. He also may be the best blocking tight end on this list, a skill set that will help bolster his NFL stock when draft time comes around.

XAVIER GRIMBLE (USC): On a team that featured two All-Americans in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods on the outside, it wasn't easy for this Trojan to earn recognition as a viable receiving threat. However, that was a common mistake for USC's opponents, as the 6-5, 250-pound Grimble made plays when on the field (nine starts last year), finishing 2012 with 29 catches for 316 yards and five touchdowns. The Trojans are stock-piling at the position with Randall Telfer and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick fighting to earn playing time, but it is Grimble who has been the most productive. Another big target with above- average athleticism for the position, Grimble will continue to produce in USC's offensive attack.

JACOB PEDERSEN (Wisconsin): The 6-4, 240-pound Pedersen gets better with each year in Madison. After earning second-team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore in 2011, he was an All-Big Ten first-team member as a junior in 2012. He finished last season with 27 receptions for 355 yards and four touchdowns, but his modest numbers were more a product of a heavy emphasis on the run (Montee Ball) and subpar quarterback play than anything else. While new head coach Gary Anderson has a defensive pedigree, he will maximize his offensive talent in his debut season with the Badgers and that is likely to include Pedersen.

NICK O'LEARY (Florida State): The 6-3, 238-pound Seminole is a bit undersized at this time, but he has shown flashes of brilliant play over the last two seasons and has some real potential. A receiving threat who can line up outside and make plays down the field, O'Leary finished last season with 21 receptions for 242 yards and three touchdowns. It marked the most TD catches by a tight end at FSU since 1994. With some added bulk and dedication to blocking, O'Leary has the chance to really make a name for himself in 2013.

ARTHUR LYNCH (Georgia): Relegated to backup duty until last year, the 6-5, 260-pound Lynch showed enough in 14 games (13 starts) to land on this list, finishing with 26 catches for 448 yards and three touchdowns. He has great size and is probably a better blocker than most on this list. The Bulldogs have supreme talent at the skill positions this year and Lynch certainly could take advantage with a seasoned quarterback, Aaron Murray, who wants to go out with a bang.

CHRIS COYLE (Arizona State): A special teams ace his first two seasons in Tempe, Coyle burst on the scene as a legitimate vertical threat in Arizona State's passing game last year, finishing with a team-high 57 receptions (a school record for a tight end) for 696 yards and five touchdowns. He falls into the "tweener" category, with marginal size (6-3, 238) for the tight end position, but that didn't stop Coyle from becoming a key target in 2012.

KANEAKUA FRIEL (BYU): The 6-5, 250-pound Friel took time off from football to do mission work in Africa, but got right back into the swing of things in 2012, finishing with 30 receptions for 308 yards and five touchdowns as a junior. He provided glimpses of strong play last year and is a competent blocker, but will need to be a more consistent offensive threat in 2013 to bolster his draft stock.

HONORABLE MENTION: Asa Watson (North Carolina State), Jordan Najvar (Baylor), Jace Amaro (Texas Tech), Ted Bosler (Indiana) and Ben Koyack (Notre Dame).

<p> The tight end position has evolved into a highly sought-after commodity at the NFL level.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/most-shameful-college-football-games-2013

Everyone likes to win on Homecoming. A quick warm-up game to start the season isn’t bad, either.

The problem is, every program has to pay the bills, too. Guarantee games, in which major programs shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for games against overmatched opponents from the lower levels, are one of the downsides of college football.

Not all of these games are awful. Every year a few FCS teams, despite fewer scholarships and resources, step up to beat a major program (right, Michigan?).

But most don’t have a chance. These are the games both sides should be embarrassed to play.

This season, Miami and Al Golden receive top honors in this category, though it was a tough call. Oregon will fly a Louisiana team all the way up to Eugene just for a warm-up for two non-conference games against AQ opponents. But Miami gets the nod after we saw last season what happens when Savannah State faces a major conference team (or two).

A few things to establish:

• A shameful game is a proven, major conference program hosting a bad FCS team. And a bad FCS team isn’t just a team with a poor record last year. These are teams that have been the worst of the worst in lower Division I for a few seasons.

• Extra shame points go to teams bringing a bad FCS team across state lines and time zones. If a big-time FBS team is going to crush an overmatched opponent, giving an in-state or regional team a brief taste of major college football is the least the big brother can do.

• Lastly — and this is very important — we do not care why this game was scheduled, and we do not care what other games are on the schedule this season. Last year, Florida State picked up Savannah State because West Virginia backed out of a non-conference game last year. Seminoles fans still wasted time and money to watch a 55-0 beatdown.

So take our advice, skip these games. Don’t buy a ticket. Don’t watch on TV. And athletic directors on both sides, have a little dignity and stop scheduling these opponents.


1. Sept. 21: Savannah State (1-10, 0-8 MEAC) at Miami (team preview)
Welcome back, Savannah State. A year ago, Savannah State earned $860,000 just for losing by a combined 139-0 to Oklahoma State and Florida State to start the season. Mike Gundy practically apologized for not being able to stop his team from running up the score, but at least Florida State failed to cover the 69.5-point spread by winning 55-0. Last year, Savannah State was ranked 243rd among 247 Division I teams in the Sagarin ratings, earning its only win over Edward Waters of the NAIA. Miami coaching legend Howard Schnellenberger once said he’d play anyone, anywhere. This was not what he had in mind.

2. Aug. 31: Nicholls State (1-10, 0-8 Southland) at Oregon (team preview)
Generally, Oregon does a good job with its non-conference schedule. In recent years, the Ducks have faced LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Boise State and Fresno State with a handful of those games coming away from Eugene. Offsetting those games have been FCS guarantee games: Tennessee Tech, Missouri State and Portland State in the past three seasons. This year, the Ducks open with Nicholls State before facing Tennessee and Virginia. Oregon will bring the Colonels all the way from Thibodaux, La., to Eugene; a team that has gone 2-20 the past two seasons. And it doesn't look to get much better. After losing to Oregon State 77-3 in the final game of 2012, Nicholls State will face four consecutive FBS teams by visiting Western Michigan and Louisiana-Lafayette after Oregon.

3. Sept. 21: Idaho State (1-10, 0-8 Big Sky) at Washington (team preview)
Like Oregon, Washington isn’t afraid of stepping out of the Pac-12 for a big matchup. The Huskies have faced LSU, Nebraska, BYU, Boise State, Oklahoma and Syracuse in recent seasons. Washington opens with Boise State and Illinois before facing Idaho State, but as we said, that’s no excuse. Idaho State has gone 6-50 in the last five seasons and hasn’t won more than two games in a year since 2007.

4. Nov. 16: Idaho State at BYU (team preview)
Even if finding games is tough for an independent, BYU doesn’t get a free pass for scheduling the Bengals, either.

5. Sept. 14: Lamar (4-8, 1-6 Southland) at Oklahoma State (team preview)
Lamar didn’t play football from 1990-2009, but now the Cardinals find themselves playing in Stillwater four years after resuming the program. A signal of perhaps how this game could go: Lamar lost 54-2 for Hawaii’s only win before Thanksgiving last season.

6. Aug. 31: Austin Peay (2-9, 1-7 OVC) at Tennessee (team preview)
Butch Jones was the coach at Cincinnati in 2011 when the Bearcats defeated Austin Peay 72-10. Now, he gets to do the same as Tennessee’s coach. Austin Peay has had one winning season since 1984 and didn’t return to scholarship football until 2006.

7. Oct. 12: Western Carolina (1-10, 0-8 Southern) at Auburn (team preview)
As bad as Auburn was last season, the Tigers could handle the FCS and the lower levels of FBS. In 2012, Auburn defeated New Mexico State and Alabama A&M by a combined score of 93-14. Meanwhile, Western Carolina has gone 12-66 the last seven seasons which includes shutout losses to Florida, Florida State and Vanderbilt.

8. Aug. 29: Presbyterian (2-9, 0-6 Big South) at Wake Forest (team preview)
What should make this game more shameful for Wake Forest? That Presbyterian won two games last season with one over a Division II team that went 2-9? Or that the Blue Hose lost to Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt by a combined score of 117-3? Presbyterian is 12-44 in the last five seasons and ranked 240th in Sagarin last year.

9. Sept. 7: Tennessee Tech (3-8, 1-7 OVC) at Wisconsin (team preview)
Even with former Tennessee wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech went 3-8 last season, including a 63-14 loss to Oregon. Interesting factoid: Provided Tennessee Tech defeats NAIA Cumberland University in the opener, coach Watson Brown against Wisconsin will “earn” his 191st career loss, passing Amos Alonzo Stagg for the all-time record (tip of the hat to Athlon’s Rob Doster).

10. Sept. 7: South Dakota (1-10, 0-10 MVC) at Kansas (team preview)
Kansas had better win this one, that’s for sure. South Dakota went 1-10 last season in the first season under Joe Glenn, who was fired at Wyoming in 2008 but was successful in the lower divisions at Northern Colorado and Montana.

11. Sept. 21: VMI (2-9, 1-5 Big South) at Virginia (team preview)
Keeping the guarantee money in state is one thing, but this game is egregiously bad. Better to treat this game as a financial transaction than a source of entertainment. VMI is 19-80 since 2004 and was ranked 238th in Sagarin last season.

12. Sept. 7: Southeast Missouri State (3-8, 2-6 OVC) at Ole Miss (team preview)
Ole Miss just signed the nation’s No. 1 recruit, while SEMO is 6-16 the last two seasons with one winning season in the last decade.

13. Nov. 16: Chattanooga (6-5, 5-3 Southern) at Alabama (team preview)
Chattanooga is a mediocre FCS team, but Alabama has been proto-NFL for the last five seasons.

14. Sept. 14: Western Illinois (3-8, 1-7 MVC) at Minnesota (team preview)
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill has made the rounds at Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois. Maybe he’ll show a little compassion for a Western Illinois team that scored 17 points in its final five games last season.

15. Sept. 7: Missouri State (3-8, 3-5 MVC) at Iowa (team preview)
There’s no shame in losing big to Kansas State and Louisville as Missouri State did last season, but the Bears have not won more than six games since 1996.

<p> Which major powers should be embarrassed for these guarantee games?</p>
Post date: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /nascar/pocono-key-denny-hamlins-nascar-chase-hopes

1. Denny Hamlin needs Pocono more than ever
A crash last Sunday at Dover International Speedway after a flat tire dented Denny Hamlin's hope of a strong run and probably didn't feel the best for a guy just weeks removed from a pretty serious back injury. Hamlin, however, seems to be worried about one thing: Making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

One of — make that two of — the best things Hamlin his in his uphill climb to the redemption of entry into NASCAR's playoff system is a pair of visits to Pocono Raceway. You may remember that Hamlin won his first Cup race at Pocono in 2006 even after he cut a tire and crashed one-fourth of the way in. Since, he has four wins and sits just two behind Pocono active wins leader Jeff Gordon.

"We were certainly disappointed with the way Dover ended for us, and now it’s up to our FedEx team to dig down and capitalize on some of our better tracks coming up," Hamlin said.

Hamlin's continuing climb starts this week from 26th in Sprint Cup points, some 224 points behind the leader Jimmie Johnson. To get to 20th and become eligible for one of two at-large bids, Hamlin needs to make up 74 points on Ryan Newman (currently 20th) between Sunday and Richmond in September. And he’ll need, at the very least, one win.

A victory this weekend — and season sweep of Pocono, if he's really feeling greedy — would be immensely helpful.

2. Drivers appreciate Pocono's shift work
Plenty of scenes in Days of Thunder feature an oddity that Sprint Cup drivers never use: shifting mid-corner or mid-straightaway as a device to find more speed while already racing at normal pace. It won't be exactly how Cole Trickle does it in the movie this weekend at Pocono, but drivers will get to at least act like they are during each green flag lap.

Pocono's odd three-corner layout demands slow speeds in two corners that lay ahead of two extremely fast straightaways. The contrast bogs a car's engine in a low RPM range if just one gear for an entire lap is being used, which in turn depletes peak acceleration. Since the track opened in 1971, most drivers shifted between third and fourth gears to maximize performance until a new gear rule unexpectedly made that impossible in 2005. The gear rule changed again in 2011 and brought shifting back.

"It’s a fun race track and with the shifting it’s a really tough racetrack. It’s almost like a road course, it’s really tough on the cars and it’s a mentally challenging racetrack," said Carl Edwards.

"It's like a three-cornered, left handed road course, making it a lot of fun to drive," said Paul Menard.

<p> Geoffrey Miller highlights the five storylines to follow as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Pocono Raceway.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 10:09
Path: /college-football/sun-belt-football-predictions-2013
2013 Sun Belt Predictions SBC Overall
1. UL Lafayette 6-1 9-3
2. ULM 5-2 7-5
3. Western Kentucky 5-2 7-5
4. Arkansas State 4-3 6-6
5. Troy 4-3 6-6
6. Texas State 2-5 4-8
7. South Alabama 2-5 3-9
8. Georgia State 0-7 1-11

Much like many of the other conferences in college football, realignment has changed the Sun Belt’s team lineup for 2013.

FAU, FIU, MTSU and North Texas left to join Conference USA, leaving the Sun Belt with just eight teams for 2013. However, the Sun Belt is facing another round of changes next season, as New Mexico State and Idaho will join the conference, while Western Kentucky is headed to Conference USA. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State will make the move from FCS to FBS next year to compete in the Sun Belt. 

In time, the moves should provide the Sun Belt with some stability. However, it may take some time for the league's new members to become a yearly title contender. 

While realignment has dominated the Sun Belt over the last few offseasons, the race to win the conference title should be an entertaining four-way battle between UL Lafayette, ULM, Western Kentucky and Arkansas State.

The Ragin Cajuns’ are a slight favorite to win the league, but the Warhawks return 16 starters, including quarterback Kolton Browning. The Nov. 30 showdown between the Ragin’ Cajuns and Warhawks in Lafayette, La. could decide the Sun Belt crown.

Chasing UL Lafayette and ULM is Western Kentucky and Arkansas State. The Hilltoppers made one of the offseason’s top hires in former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and return running back Antonio Andrews (1,728 yards in 2012). The Red Wolves will have their fourth coach in four years, but the personnel is among the best in the league.

Troy could have one of the best offenses in the Sun Belt, but the defense is a major question mark after allowing 443.6 yards per game last year.

Texas State, South Alabama and Georgia State round out the Sun Belt predictions for 2013. The Bobcats have the most upside out of this trio this year, and their hopes of getting to a winning record are bolstered by transfers Michael Orakpo (Colorado State) and D.J. Yendrey (TCU). South Alabama were competitive last year and return 15 starters for 2013. Georgia State made an excellent hire by pulling Trent Miles away from Indiana State, but the Panthers have a lot of ground to make up on the rest of the Sun Belt in their first season on the FBS level.


2013 Sun Belt Team Previews

Arkansas State Troy
Georgia State UL Lafayette
South Alabama UL Monroe
Texas State Western Kentucky

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College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 26-40

College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 41-60

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College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 81-100

College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 101-125

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<p> Sun Belt Football Predictions for 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 07:50
All taxonomy terms: high school, MLB, NBA, NFL, NFL, NBA, MLB, High School
Path: /nfl/greatest-high-school-classmates-sports-history

Some high schools have only one big man on campus. Others have a whole gang of future stars running the hallways. These are the 10 greatest high school classmates in sports history.

Robert Nkemdiche and Austin Meadows
Grayson High School (Loganville, Ga.)

The class of the Class of 2013, Nkemdiche and Meadows were this year’s consensus top prospects in football and baseball, respectively. Nkemdiche is a chiseled 6’5”, 260-pound defensive end, while Meadows is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound five-tool center fielder. Nkemdiche has stardom ahead of him at Ole Miss while Meadows was selected ninth overall by the Pirates in the MLB Draft.

Randy Moss and Jason Williams
DuPont High School (Belle, W.Va.)

One of the greatest jump-ball receivers in NFL history was one of West Virginia’s best-ever high school dunkers, catching alley-oops from a mop-topped “White Chocolate” in the mid-1990s. Jerry West may be the greatest prep player in Mountain State history, but Moss and Williams were so fun to watch that their highlights were later turned into a Nike commercial.

John Havlicek and Phil Niekro
Bridgeport High School (Bridgeport, Ohio)

“Hondo” was an eight-time NBA champ with the Boston Celtics. “Knucksie” was the godfather of the knuckleball, most notably for the Atlanta Braves — for whom he pitched a no-hitter in 1973. They lived on the same street, went on fishing trips together and were high school classmates in the late 1950s. Now each is a member of his sport’s respective Hall of Fame.

Matthew Stafford and Clayton Kershaw
Highland Park High School (Dallas, Texas)

Before becoming an NFL Draft No. 1 overall pick quarterback and NL Cy Young-winning starting pitcher, respectively, Stafford and Kershaw were childhood buddies who grew up playing on the same basketball and soccer teams before becoming a dominant pair of arms — righty and lefty, to boot — at the top of Highland Park’s pitching rotation in the early 2000s.

Jason Segel and Jason Collins
Harvard-Westlake School (Los Angeles, Calif.)

The first openly gay NBA player teamed up with the comic actor best known for his work on the cult classic Freaks and Geeks and CBS hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother. The Collins twins (Jason and Jarron) were McDonald’s All-Americans. Segel, however, was a high energy “low budget Mark Madsen” who even won a dunk contest back in the day.

Victor Oladipo and Cyrus Kouandjio
DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Md.)

Fun names to say, Oladipo and Kouandjio. Oladipo was a high-flying Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year on the hardwood at Indiana, while Kouandjio is a national championship-winner on the gridiron at Alabama. Two physical freaks and future millionaires — Oladipo is expected to be a top-five pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and Kouandjio is a preseason All-American penciled into the top 10 of every 2014 NFL Draft mock.

Marv Albert and Neil Diamond
Abraham Lincoln High School (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Yessshhh!!!! The leather-loving NBA announcer was a classmate of the seventh-inning stretch “Sweet Caroline” soft rocker. Two of the best voices in sports attended the same high school that Jesus Shuttlesworth played for in Spike Lee’s “He Got Game” — not to mention ballers Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson, and legendary authors Arthur Miller and Joseph Heller.

Snoop Dogg and Cameron Diaz
Long Beach Polytechnic (Long Beach, Calif.)

Don’t act like Snoop and Cam aren’t in the world of sports. Snoop Dogg coaches pee-wee football and gave Oregon speedster De’Anthony Thomas his “Black Mamba” nickname. Diaz was a cheerleader, played an owner in "Any Given Sunday" and stole the show by feeding A-Rod popcorn at the Super Bowl. But back in the late-80s, these two owned the halls at Long Beach Poly.

Donovan McNabb and Antoine Walker
Mount Carmel High School (Chicago, Ill.)

Before McNabb was dry-heaving in the Super Bowl and Walker was shimmy-ing following yet another bad 3-point attempt, the duo teamed up in Chi-town. McNabb played football, ran track and hooped with Walker — as well as future NFL star Simeon Rice. Despite having three future pro athletes on the same court, Mount Carmel failed to win a state championship during the mid-1990s run.

Bill Belichick and Buzz Bissinger
Phillips Academy (Andover, Mass.)

Classmates with Florida governor Jeb Bush, the three-time Super Bowl winning coach and Friday Night Lights author are just two of the seemingly endless list of distinguished alumni from Phillips Andover — which also boasts the likes of both Presidents George Bush (H.W. and W.), John F. Kennedy Jr. and Dr. Benjamin Spock.

<p> Greatest High School Classmates in Sports History, including Robert Nkemdiche and Austin Meadows, John Havlicek and Phil Niekro, Matthew Stafford and Clayton Kershaw, Randy Moss and Jason Williams, Jason Segel and Jason Collins, Victor Oladipo and Cyrus Kouandjio, Marv Albert and Neil Diamond, Snoop Dogg and Cameron Diaz, Donovan McNabb and Antoine Walker, Bill Belichick and Buzz Bissinger.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 17:49
All taxonomy terms: Austin Meadows, MLB, Monthly
Path: /monthly/classmates-austin-meadows-and-robert-nkemdiche-are-top-prospects

When Austin Meadows tries to balance what’s left of his high school experience with the demands of being one of Major League Baseball’s next great center fielders, he’s got a sympathetic ear just down the hall at Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga.

Meadows is classmates with Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top overall college football prospect for the class of 2013. Meadows is a 6'3", 200-pound left-handed outfield prospect whom some analysts have projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft (June 6-8). 

“We’re both really blessed to be going through these situations right now. We’re each doing our own thing, but we’ve talked about how special it is,” Meadows says.

Meadows is currently wrapping up his senior season at Grayson amidst the constant presence of MLB scouts and baseball media from across the country. But it’s nothing new around Grayson, as Nkemdiche’s talent made the campus a preferred destination for a who’s who in college football coaching over the last two years.

“I think it made me a little bit more prepared for what was coming with Austin,” Grayson baseball coach Jed Hixson says. “Every day on campus you’d pass Kirby Smart or see Nick Saban. When it came time, I met with Austin’s parents and talked about the scouts and attention, and what to expect. He’s responded to it great. Austin’s one of the most humble kids I know.”

Grayson High School and the greater community of Gwinnett County are a fertile crescent for athletes in 2013. Nkemdiche’s recruitment became a national storyline for well over the standard year-long recruiting cycle. Originally a verbal commit to Clemson, Nkemdiche was courted by every major program in the country for his rare combination of size (6'5", and a “raw” 260 pounds before college conditioning) and speed. Unlike game-changing South Carolina defensive end and likely 2014 NFL Draft No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, Nkemdiche was also a proficient running back for the Rams.

During a nationally televised press conference at Grayson on the morning of National Signing Day (Feb. 6), Nkemdiche chose to join his older brother Denzel at Ole Miss.

“It’s a relief that it’s over now, but I had fun in the process,” Robert Nkemdiche says. “Now it’s all about focusing on what’s ahead and proving myself.”

While both players are considered among the absolute best in their age group in their respective sports, their wooing has differed greatly. Nkemdiche and his family were largely in control of the recruiting process, selecting which schools the game-changing strong-side end would visit and consider.

Meadows, who is committed to play at Clemson, is at the mercy of MLB team needs and his landing spot is still unknown.

“I don’t really like getting caught up in all the evaluations. I just stick to playing baseball and keeping a level head. Different people might criticize me but that just makes me work harder,” Meadows says.

That has included working on his bat speed and his throwing. Meadows says that he’s worked extensively with coaches and his father, a former punter at Morehead State, on creating “comfort” throwing from the outfield.

“I’ve said to him, ‘Stay positive. Keep your nose clean and stay humble, and put God first.’ That’s what I go by,” Nkemdiche says.

Hixson credits the land-rush style settlement of the greater Loganville area in the last decade as well as a strong relationship between the area’s public schools and parks programs as the reasons why so many top-tier athletes are coming through the Rams’ various athletic programs. 

“The prospects we’ve had here create a chain for kids to come. They’ve brought more and more exposure and that helps the players following them,” Hixson says. “It’s been kind of cool to have the attention Austin has brought for other kids in the program. Certainly some burdens are expected, but they’ve been outweighed by the exposure he’s brought to his teammates.” 

One thing is for certain: Meadows and Nkemdiche are considered pinnacle prospects at their respective games, but there won’t be any Bo Jackson cross-sport action from either student. If there’s a downside of too many top-tier athletes in the same high school, it revealed itself when Meadows, once a running back at Grayson, had to attempt to block Nkemdiche in practice. “It was just one time in practice, I had to block down on him, thankfully, but he went right by.”

For his part Nkemdiche said he wouldn’t want to run against Meadow’s arm in the outfield. “I’d probably be out,” he admits.

by Steven Godfrey

<p> Classmates Austin Meadows and Robert Nkemdiche are Top Prospects</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-big-12-early-rankings

The Big 12 enjoyed one of the best offseasons of any major conference. Or at least one that will help the league enter 2013-14 with some degree of renown.

First, point guard Marcus Smart elected to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season, turning the Cowboys into a potential top-15 team. Baylor’s Isaiah Austin followed suit by staying in school as well. Then, Bill Self landed mega-recruit Andrew Wiggins, prying him from Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State.

Kansas and Oklahoma State will enter the 2013-14 season as frontline teams in the Big 12 with Baylor knocking on the door.

Iowa State and Oklahoma have enough personnel returning -- and arriving via transfer -- to keep those schools competitive. In the bottom half of the league, Texas and West Virginia were once consistent NCAA Tournament teams, but both are continuing to rebuild.

Here’s a quick look at the comings and goings in the Big 12 for 2013-14.

Other conference snapshots:
Big East
Big Ten
Mountain West, A-10, MVC and others

1. KANSAS (31-6, 14-4, NCAA Sweet 16)

Key players gone: Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young

Top returning players: Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe

New faces: Tarik Black (transfer from Memphis) Joel Embiid (freshman), Conner Frankamp (freshman), Brannen Green (freshman), Landen Lucas (redshirt), Wayne Selden (freshman), Andrew Wiggins (freshman)
Kansas lost all five starters, but the Jayhawks had as good an offseason as any team. Kansas added the nation’s No. 1 prospect in Wiggins, a 6-8 wing who could be an elite defender on the college level. Moreover, Wiggins’ signing boosted a recruiting class that was already one of the nation’s best with three other top-50 recruits. Kansas also added coveted Memphis transfer Tarik Black, a solid big man who will add experience to the young roster. The Jayhawks also will expect a breakout season from Ellis, who averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 13.6 minutes last season.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: ACC

2. OKLAHOMA STATE (24-9, 13-5, NCAA round of 64)

Key players gone: Philip Jurick

Top returners: Markel Brown, Michael Cobbins, Phil Forte, Kamari Murphy, Le’Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart
New faces: Stevie Clark, Detrick Mostella (freshmen)
Before Wiggins picked Kansas, Oklahoma State looked like a clear favorite in the Big 12. With Smart’s surprising return to school, Oklahoma State will still have an edge in experience over Kansas. Smart will be a player of the year candidate and has the supporting cast to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament with fellow McDonald’s All-American Nash plus Brown and Forte. All four averaged at least 10 points per game.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big Ten

3. BAYLOR (23-14, 9-9, NIT champions)
Key players gone: Deuce Bello, Pierre Jackson, A.J. Walton
Top returners: Isaiah Austin, Gary Franklin, Rico Gathers, Brady Heslip, Cory Jefferson 
New faces: Allerik Freeman, Johnathan Motley, Ishmail Wainright (freshmen)
Baylor has the roster to be a top-25 team and Big 12 contender, but the Bears continue to confound. The return of the 7-foot-1 Austin was a major boost for Baylor’s 2014 prospects along with the presence of three seniors (Franklin, Heslip and Jefferson). The frontcourt should be a strength, but Heslip needs help on the perimeter. The good news? Baylor has reached the Tourney in each of the past three even-numbered years.

Related: Top recruiting classes since 2000

4. IOWA STATE (23-12, 11-7, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Chris Babb, Anthony Booker, Will Clyburn, Korie Lucious, Tyrus McGee
Top returners: Melvin Ejim, Percy Gibson, Georges Niang
New faces: DeAndre Kane (transfer from Marshall), Monte Morris (freshman), Matt Thomas (freshman)
The top two scorers, Clyburn and McGee, are gone along with the point guard Lucious, but coach Fred Hoiberg will find a way to get the most out of his roster. The transfer pipeline to Ames continues with Kane, who averaged 15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists in three seasons at Marshall. With Niang (12.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Ejim (11.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg), Iowa State is a lock for another 20 wins and NCAA appearance.

Related: Realignment tracker for all college basketball moves

5. KANSAS STATE (27-8, 14-4, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Jordan Henriquez, Montravious Irving, Rodney McGruder, Angel Rodriguez
Top returners: Thomas Gipson, Shane Southwell, Will Spradling, Nino Williams
New faces: Neville Fincher (prep school)
Bruce Weber did a great job with the returning cast -- at least before an early Tournament exit. Without the top two scorers (McGruder and Rodriguez, who transferred to Miami), Weber’s job is a little tougher. The returning cast of Southwell, Gipson, Spradling and Irving all saw plenty of work last season.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: American

6. OKLAHOMA (20-12, 11-7, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Andrew Fitzgerald, Sam Grooms, Amath M’Baye, Romero Osby, Steven Pledger
Top returners: Isaiah Cousins, Cameron Clark, Bobby Hield, Je’Lon Hornbeak
New faces: D.J. Bennett (junior college transfer), Ryan Spangler (transfer from Gonzaga)
Lon Kruger again proved to be an expert rebuilder, leading Oklahoma to its first winning season and NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009. In 2013-14, the Sooners lose their top three scorers, all of whom averaged double figures. The rising sophomore class of Hield, Hornbeak and Cousins played plenty of minutes last season and will be expected to take a bigger role. Newcomers Bennett and Spangler, a pair of 6-8 forwards, give OU a little bit of size the Sooners sorely need.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big East

7. WEST VIRGINIA (13-19, 6-12)
Key players gone: Jabarie Hinds, Deniz Kilicli
Top returners: Gary Browne, Eron Harris, Terry Henderson, Aaric Murray, Juwan Staten
New faces: Remi Dibo (junior college transfer), Jonathan Holton (junior college transfer), Elijah Macon (prep school), Devin Williams (freshman)
West Virginia lost seven in a row to seal the first losing season for Bob Huggins since his first as a Division I coach at Akron in 1984-85. Losing Kilicli is a big loss, but two freshmen and two junior college signees will look to fill that spot in the frontcourt alongside Murray. Williams will help on the glass while Macon, who committed to West Virginia out of high school before going to prep school, can shoot from outside.

8. TEXAS (16-18, 7-11, CBI first round)
Key players gone: Jaylen Bond, Myck Kabongo, Julien Lewis, Sheldon McClellan
Top returners: Javan Felix, Jonathan Holmes, Prince Ibeh, Demarcus Holland, Connor Lammert, Ioannis Papapetrou, Cameron Ridley
Texas is coming off its worst season under Rick Barnes, and answers don’t seem to be immediate. The top three scorers -- which included Kabongo in only 11 games -- are gone. Perhaps this will be addition by subtraction, but Texas’ recruiting prowess has diminished in recent years. The Longhorns bring in no top-100 recruits in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

9. TCU (11-21, 2-16)
Key players gone: Nate Butler Lind, Cornell Crossland, Garlon Green, Adrick McKinney
Top returners: Devonta Abron, Kyan Anderson, Charles Hill, Jarvis Ray
New faces: Amric Fields (injured last season), Karviar Shepherd (freshman)
Aside from the shocking upset of Kansas on Feb. 6, TCU was as overmatched as expected in its first season in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs might not be a Tournament team, but they could be better in 2013-14. The leading scorer Anderson is back, and Fields, the Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year as a sophomore, played only three games last season due to injury. TCU also signed a top-50 recruit in Shepherd.

10. TEXAS TECH (11-20, 3-15)
Key players gone: Josh Gray, Ty Nurse
Top returners: Jaye Crockett, Dejan Kravic, Dusty Hannahs, Daylen Robinson, Jordan Tolbert, Jamal Williams
New faces: Aaron Ross (redshirt)
Texas Tech had one senior on last season’s team, but assist-leader Josh Gray left for junior college. Tubby Smith inherits some experience in his first season at Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders aren’t ready to compete in the Big 12.

<p> Who's gone and who's back in the Big 12 for 2013-14</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 10:40
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, Overtime
Path: /overtime/pro-tennis-player-shows-worlds-least-subtle-car
We know pro athletes have big egos, but Ukranian tennis player Alexandr Dolgopolov is taking it to a whole new level with his car. Dolgopolov, nicknamed "Dolgo" (The Dog) by fellow players, recently posted a picture on Instagram of himself behind the wheel of a nearly unrecognizable Nissan GT-R, which has been customized into a giant, chromed-out crap sandwich. Woof!
<p> Ukranian tennis player Alexandr Dolgopolov shows off world's tackiest car.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 08:40
Path: /college-football/big-ten-football-2013-predictions


2013 Big Ten Predictions    
Leaders Division
Big Ten Overall
1. Ohio State 8-0 13-0
2. Wisconsin 6-2 9-3
3. Penn State 4-4 8-4
4. Indiana 3-5 6-6
5. Purdue 2-6 4-8
6. Illinois 1-7 4-8
Legends Division    
1. Michigan 6-2 10-3
2. Nebraska 6-2 9-3
3. Northwestern 5-3 9-3
4. Michigan State 4-4 7-5
5. Minnesota 2-6 6-6
6. Iowa 1-7 4-8
Big Ten Championship    
Ohio State over Michigan    

2012 was not a banner year for the Big Ten. Ohio State and Penn State were ineligible to compete in a bowl game, leaving Wisconsin at 8-5 overall representing the conference in the Rose Bowl.

While 2012 was a shaky year for the conference, 2013 is looking better.

Ohio State is a national title contender and ranks as the No. 2 team in Athlon’s Top 25 for 2013.  The Buckeyes are led by a Heisman candidate in quarterback Braxton Miller, and the defense should be better in the second year under coordinators Luke Fickell and Everett Withers.

Wisconsin is Ohio State’s biggest challenger in the Leaders Division. The Badgers are under the direction of a new coach in Gary Andersen, and despite the departure of running back Montee Ball, should have one of the Big Ten’s top backfields with Melvin Gordon and James White.

Penn State is ineligible to play in the postseason once again, but the Nittany Lions should have a winning record in Bill O’Brien’s second year in Happy Valley.

Indiana is making progress under coach Kevin Wilson, and the schedule is favorable enough to expect a bowl appearance.

Purdue and Illinois round out the division, as both teams have a lot of holes to fill in 2013.

While there’s a clear pecking order in the Leaders Division, the Legends is a much tougher one to predict.

Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern each have legitimate conference title hopes. The Wolverines have a rising star in quarterback Devin Gardner, and the defense should be steady despite the departure of a couple of key performers. Michigan State’s offense is a huge question mark, while Nebraska returns only four starters on defense. Northwestern is loaded on offense, but the Wildcats feature a tough crossover schedule with games against Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Inside the War Room: Key Questions That Shaped Athlon's 2013 Predictions

What gave Michigan the edge over Nebraska in the Legends Division?

Both teams have some solid talent, but both teams are flawed. Michigan is breaking in three new starters on the offensive line and is looking for playmakers at wide receiver. In addition, the Wolverines must replace key personnel on each level of their defense. Nebraska should be terrific on offense, but the Huskers’ defense is a concern. Remember, this team gave up an average of 53.5 points and 595.0 yards in its four losses last season. Nebraska, which doesn’t play Ohio State or Wisconsin from the Leaders Division, has the easier schedule. But in the end, we went with Michigan for two reasons — the Wolverines host Nebraska in November, and the Huskers are tough to trust; they have had some puzzling losses in the last two years.

Was there any thought to not picking Ohio State to win the Leaders Division?

None. The only discussion about Ohio State was about how high we would pick the Buckeyes in the national rankings. And after a brief discussion, we put Ohio State No. 2, right behind Alabama. This isn’t a team with elite talent at every position, but the Buckeyes should be very good on offense, and they have a proven commodity in head coach Urban Meyer. The schedule isn’t overly taxing, either. Aside from the season-finale at Michigan, you could make a case that Ohio State’s toughest game could be the early October trip to Northwestern. Even if the Bucks don’t navigate the regular season without a loss — as we are predicting — it will be a huge surprise if they don’t win the division and play in the Big Ten Championship Game.

How can Michigan State be picked fourth in the Legends with a schedule that doesn’t include Ohio State, Wisconsin or Penn State?

This was a huge topic for debate as we tried to settle on our third-place team in the Legends, Northwestern or Michigan State. The Wildcats, on paper, have the better team. They return almost every key piece from a team that won 10 games — and held double-digit second-half leads in the three games they did not win. But Northwestern’s schedule is not kind; the Cats have to play Ohio State and Wisconsin from the Leaders and also travel to Nebraska. Michigan State, on the other hand, was handed a gift from the scheduling gods — no Ohio State, Wisconsin or Penn State. And for that reason, it was tempting to pick the Spartans ahead of Northwestern. Last year, much was made of Michigan State’s close losses. The Spartans lost five games by four points or less, but they also won four games by the same margin. And while there is a lot to like about this team — the defense will once again be stout — the offense remains a huge concern. So even with this relatively kind schedule, we don’t believe Michigan State will finish ahead of Northwestern in the league standings.

Is Indiana showing signs of progress under Kevin Wilson, or are the Hoosiers simply of a product of the soft second tier of the Leaders Division?

It’s a little bit of both. There’s no doubt that IU will benefit from playing in the weaker of the two divisions in 2013. The Hoosiers also have the added advantage of hosting the three most “winnable” games against its division foes — Penn State, Purdue and Illinois. But this program no doubt took a significant step forward in 2012, Wilson’s second season in Bloomington. The Hoosiers led the Big Ten in passing offense and ranked second in total offense en route to a 4–8 overall record and a 2–6 mark in the league. The offense should once again be among the best in the league. If the young defense can make the progression from bad to mediocre, Indiana will be in position to take advantage of its schedule and return to a bowl game for the first time since 2007.

Big Ten Team Previews

Leaders Division Legends Division
Illinois Iowa
Indiana Michigan
Ohio State Michigan State
Penn State Minnesota
Purdue Nebraska
Wisconsin Northwestern

Big Ten Notebook

Coaching Shuffle 
The Big Ten carousel didn’t spin quite as much as it did last year, when there were an unprecedented 40 total changes at the head coach and assistant levels, but the league had another long and active offseason of transactions. Wisconsin’s hiring of Jeff Genyk as tight ends coach/special teams coach in early March marked the 32nd and final (we think) coaching change in the Big Ten for the 2013 season.

Only two teams — Wisconsin and Purdue — hired new head coaches, but Darrell Hazell brought in an entirely new staff with the Boilers, and Gary Andersen retained only two assistants (Thomas Hammock and Ben Strickland) with the Badgers. Illinois kept Tim Beckman after a 2–10 debut, but Beckman had to replace more than half (five) of his assistants, four of whom left voluntarily.

Three Big Ten coordinators — Michigan State’s Dan Roushar (offense), Indiana’s Mike Ekeler (co-defense) and Penn State’s Ted Roof (defense) — left for other positions. Iowa welcomed in three new assistants for the second consecutive offseason, continuing a staff overhaul for a program that had seen tremendous continuity for much of the Kirk Ferentz era. Michigan saw its first coaching change of Brady Hoke’s tenure, as defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery left for Oklahoma.

The winter also featured two cases of intraleague coach poaching. Michigan State swiped Jim Bollman from Hazell’s staff at Purdue about a month after Bollman arrived. Hazell responded by hiring Jim Bridge — who had been at Illinois for about a month — to coach the Boilers’ offensive line.

Four Big Ten coaching staffs — Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State — remain fully intact for the 2013 season. Minnesota and Northwestern are the only FBS teams without a staff change for the past three seasons.

Welcome Returns
Quite a lot of firepower returns around the Big Ten for 2013. Thirty all-conference selections are back, the most since the 2005 season. The league also brings back the most first-team All-Big Ten selections (18) since 2005.

Eight of the 13 individual award winners from last season also return, including Ohio State’s Braxton Miller (Quarterback of the Year), Michigan’s Taylor Lewan (Offensive Lineman of the Year) and Penn State’s Allen Robinson (Wide Receiver of the Year).

Miller is the fourth consecutive Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year to return the following season. Seven of the top 10 rushers from 2012 are back, although the top three — Le’Veon Bell, Montee Ball and Denard Robinson — depart. The Big Ten also returns its top 10 receiving yards leaders from last season, led by Penn State’s Robinson.

Schedule Surge 
More Big Ten teams are moving out of cupcake city and strategically scheduling for the future college football playoff. Ohio State recently added home-and-home series against Oregon, Texas and TCU. Nebraska renewed its rivalry against Oklahoma with a home-and-home, and Wisconsin, often criticized for soft non-league slates, scheduled a blockbuster season opener in 2015 against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium. Other exciting future series include Michigan State-Oregon, Michigan-Arkansas and Northwestern-Stanford.

Name Change 
The Legends Division isn’t so legendary after all. The Leaders are forsaking some of their leadership.

The Big Ten will ditch the much-lampooned division names in 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers join the league. Instead, the league will follow the lead of the SEC and Pac-12 with geographic divisions.

The East Division will feature Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers. The West will include Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. All of the East teams are in the Eastern time zone, while every West team besides Purdue is in the Central time zone. Starting in 2016, the Big Ten will play a nine-game conference schedule.

Killer Crossovers 
The third year of division play means the crossover schedules flip for every Big Ten squad. That means good news for Michigan State, which doesn’t play Ohio State, Wisconsin or Penn State. Nebraska misses both the Buckeyes and the Badgers, while Wisconsin won’t face Michigan, Michigan State or Nebraska during the regular season. The crossover schedules get much harder for teams like Northwestern and Iowa, both of which get Ohio State and Wisconsin back on the schedule. Illinois plays three of the projected top four in the Legends division — Nebraska, Michigan State and Northwestern — and skips only Michigan.

Coordinator Carousel


Offensive Coordinator
Old: Chris Beatty, Bill Gonzales; New: Bill Cubit
Beatty was fired after the 2012 season. He is now the wide receivers coach at Wisconsin. Gonzales left Illinois to become the wide receivers coach at Mississippi State. Cubit was fired by Western Michigan after eight seasons as the Broncos’ head coach. Previously, he was the offensive coordinator at Stanford, Rutgers, Missouri and Western Michigan. 


Defensive Coordinator
Old: Doug Mallory, Mike Ekeler; New: Doug Mallory, William Inge
Ekeler left Indiana in late February to become the linebackers coach at USC. Inge comes to Indiana after serving as an assistant defensive line coach with the Buffalo Bills in 2012. Previously, he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for two seasons at the University of Buffalo.

Michigan State

Offensive Coordinator
Old: Dan Roushar; New: Jim Bollman, Dave Warner
Roushar left Michigan State to become the running backs coach with the New Orleans Saints. Bollman had accepted a job to be the offensive line coach at Purdue under new coach Darrell Hazell but left to join the Michigan State staff. In 2012, he was the offensive line coach and running game coordinator at Boston College. Prior to that, he served as the OC at Ohio State for 11 years. Warner has been on the MSU staff as the quarterbacks coach for the past six seasons.

Penn State

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Ted Roof; New: John Butler
Roof left Penn State after one season to become the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, his alma mater. Butler was promoted to DC after serving as Penn State’s secondary coach in 2011.


Offensive Coordinator
Old: Gary Nord; New: John Shoop
Nord has not landed a new job. Shoop was out of coaching last season. He previously served as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina from 2007-11 and also has a stint as the OC of the Chicago Bears (2001-03).

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Tim Tibesar; New: Greg Hudson
Tibesar was not retained by the new staff and was hired to coach linebackers by the Chicago Bears. He worked for new Bears coach Marc Trestman in the CFL. Hudson was the linebackers coach at Florida State from 2010-12. He was the DC at East Carolina from 2005-09.


Offensive Coordinator
Old: Matt Canada; New: Andy Ludwig
Canada is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at NC State. Ludwig served as the offensive coordinator at San Diego State for the past two seasons. He has also had stints as the coordinator at California, Utah, Oregon and Fresno State.

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Chris Ash, Charlie Partridge; New: Dave Aranda
Ash and Partridge both followed Bret Bielema to Arkansas. Ash will be the Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator, and Partridge will coach the defensive line. Aranda was the defensive coordinator at Utah State last season, working for new Badgers coach Gary Andersen. Prior to that, he spent two years as the DC at Hawaii. 

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<p> Big Ten Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 07:26
Path: /college-football/mac-football-2013-predictions
2013 MAC Predictions    
East Division   MAC Overall
1. Bowling Green 7-1 8-5
2. Ohio 6-2 9-3
3. Kent State 4-4 6-6
4. Buffalo 4-4 5-7
5. Miami (Ohio) 4-4 4-8
6. Akron 1-7 2-10
7. UMass 0-8 1-11
West Division      
1. Northern Illinois 7-1 10-3
2. Ball State 6-2 9-3
3. Toledo 6-2 8-4
4. Western Michigan 5-3 6-6
5. Central Michigan 2-6 3-9
6. Eastern Michigan 0-8 1-11
MAC Championship    
Northern Illinois over Bowling Green    

You can’t blame the MAC for not wanting 2012 to end after the league enjoyed its most successful season ever. Not only did the MAC send a team (Northern Illinois) to a BCS bowl for the first time, but league teams also combined to win a record 18 games against FBS opponents in non-conference action and had four different schools nationally ranked at some point during the season.

You could make the argument that last season the MAC was the second best non-AQ conference in the nation after the Mountain West.

Don’t expect another BCS bowl qualifier in 2013, but the MAC has a chance to be just as strong overall.

Northern Illinois is the favorite to repeat in the West thanks in large part to the return of dynamic quarterback Jordan Lynch. As a junior, Lynch ranked fourth in the nation in total offense with 3,138 yards passing and 1,815 yards rushing and a combined 44 touchdowns. Six other starters return on offense, including tailback Akeem Daniels and speedy wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. Defensively, NIU returns only three starters, one on each level.

Ball State and Toledo will be the biggest threats to Northern Illinois in the West. The Cardinals are loaded at the skill positions, with the return of quarterback Keith Wenning, wideouts Willie Snead and Jamill Smith, tight end Zane Fakes and running back Jahwan Edwards. Third-year coach Pete Lembo has done a tremendous job rebuilding this program. Toledo, like Ball State, will be explosive on offense but has issues on the defensive side of the ball. Only two starters returns from a defense that allowed 473.2 yards per game in 2012. The Rockets will be tested early with a Week 1 trip to Florida.

No team in the MAC has done less with more over the past few seasons than Western Michigan. As a result, there is new leadership in Kalamazoo, with former Northern Illinois star P.J. Fleck, 32, talking over for Bill Cubit. Central Michigan hopes to build off its surprising late-season run that was capped off with a win over Western Kentucky in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Zurlon Tipton is one of the most underrated tailbacks in the nation. Eastern Michigan has not had a winning season since 1995 and will struggle again in the rugged West Division.

Bowling Green is searching for its first division title since 2003. The Falcons will be outstanding on defense, even with the loss of tackle Chris Jones and linebacker Dwayne Woods. If the offense (11th in the MAC last season) improves, the Falcons will be the team to beat in the East. 

Under Frank Solich, Ohio has been the most consistent team in the division, but the Bobcats have yet to deliver in the MAC Championship Game. The return of quarterback Tyler Tettleton and tailback Beau Blankenship will keep the Ohio offense humming.

Kent State boasts the best one-two punch at tailback in the league with speedster Dri Archer and 250-pound bruiser Traylon Durham. Expect the Golden Flashes to be a run-oriented team once again as they break in a new quarterback under first-year coach Paul Haynes.

Buffalo played well down the stretch in 2012, winning three straight before losing by 14 at Bowling Green in the finale. With 15 starters back and a soft MAC schedule — no NIU or Ball State from the West — don’t be surprised if the Bulls make a move in ’13. Miami will rely on its speedy playmakers to overcome the graduation of QB Zac Dysert, a four-year starter who threw for 12,013 yards and 73 TDs.

Akron coach Terry Bowden had a rough first season in his return to the FBS ranks, but the Zips showed improvement and should be better in 2013. UMass struggled mightily in its first full season in the league — though the Minutemen did beat Akron in early November to avoid an 0–12 campaign.

2013 MAC Team Previews

East Division West Division
Akron Ball State
Bowling Green Central Michigan
Buffalo Eastern Michigan
Kent State Northern Illinois
Miami (Ohio) Toledo
Ohio Western Michigan

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<p> MAC Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-pocono-raceway

To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s 9-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned driver strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.

NASCAR makes its first of two visits to Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania Sunday for the Party in the Poconos 400. With a race name like that, Clint Bowyer would appear to be the early favorite, right? Not so fast, says the following stringent analysis. Jump in, make your picks and, hopefully, make us look like we know what we’re talking about.

A-List (Choose two, start one)
Denny Hamlin
After blowing a tire at Dover and smacking the wall, Hamlin’s summer scramble to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup felt the pressure intensify just a bit more. Good thing he’s coming to Pocono, where in 14 starts he’s moved to second in Pocono wins among active drivers. Expect Hamlin to both start (average 5.6) and finish (average 10.7) up front Sunday — especially after the blemish on his Pocono resume handed down in July last year when he was caught in Jimmie Johnson’s late-race crash. In total, Hamlin has led right at one of every four laps that he’s run at Pocono. That’s stout.

Jeff Gordon
Gordon has plenty of glowing career statistics that aren’t so reflective of how well his No. 24 has performed in recent seasons. Such is the break of his astounding period from roughly 1995 to 2002. But stats enhanced long ago muddying the current waters isn’t the case for Gordon at Pocono. Three of Gordon’s last nine wins on the Sprint Cup tour have come at Pocono, and four of his last five starts have resulted in top-10 finishes. The five-race rate bests a career top-10 average at the 2.5-mile triangle of 70 percent.

Also consider: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth

<p> Fantasy NASCAR tips for the Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 17:56
Path: /mlb/baseballs-all-time-all-steroid-team

Steroids are as synonymous with baseball as hot dogs or cold beer. It's an unfortunate era of the game that fans of all ages must accept. Are the use of performance-enhancing drugs terrible for the body and a form of cheating? Yes, and this country should work diligently to combat their growth. But steroids are a part why the game survived during the '90s — aka the 1998 home run chase — and, unfortunately, don't seem to be going away any time soon.

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" has learned that MLB will look to suspend upwards of 20 players related to the Miami-based clinic run by Tony Bosch. Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun are the marquee names but Gio Gonzalez, who is coming off of his best season, and Everth Cabrera, who is having his best year in '13, also stand out. Other big names like Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera are mentioned as well. Many believe that baseball is looking for 100-game suspensions for several of the players reported to be associated with Bosch's clinic.

Should steroid users be in the Hall of Fame — alongside plenty of other great players who bent the rules? Who benefits more from PEDs: Hitters or pitchers? Will there ever be confirmation of who used what when? Since there will likely never be a definitive answer to these questions maybe baseball should build a “Steroid Wing” in Cooperstown and just lump everyone from 1990 to 2006 — when Bud Selig finally created the Joint Drug Prevention and Blunt Treatment Program.

How would that roster look? Here is the all-time steroid team made up of names who have been connected in one way or another to some sort of PED at some point. The starting lineup is a murderer’s row and the rotation has one of the all-time greats fronting it.

C: Pudge Rodriguez (1991-2011)
Key Stats: .296/.798, 2,844 H, 311 HR, 1,332 RBI
Awards: All-Star (14), Gold Glove (13), Silver Slugger (7), MVP

He is one of baseball’s all-time greatest catchers. He has more putouts (14,864) than any other catcher in history by a wide margin as his 21-season career would indicate. He hit over 20 home runs, however, just five times. They all came in consecutive seasons with the Rangers after playing three years with Jose Canseco. His 35-homer, 113-RBI MVP season is a clear outlier as Canseco claimed to have personally educated Rodriguez about steroid use. He never topped 30 home runs or 100 RBIs in any other season. Following the release of Canseco's inflammatory book, Juiced, the 215-pound catcher showed up at Tigers camp at 187 pounds and never hit more than 14 homers the rest of his career. Honorable Mention: Mike Piazza, Javy Lopez

1B: Mark McGwire (1986-2001)
Key Stats: .263/.982, 583 HR, 1,414 RBI
Awards: All-Star (12), Silver Slugger (3), Gold Glove (1), Rookie of the Year

McGwire is one of the few who has openly admitted that he used PEDs during his playing career. In fact, he dates his use of steroids back to as early as 1989 when he and Canseco won the World Series in Oakland — the modern birthplace for steroids. The Big Mac would have been a big bopper no matter what drugs he took, but breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record two years in a row seems highly unlikely. Especially considering he did it at age 34 (70 HR) and 35 (65). Honorable Mention: Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Bagwell

2B: Bret Boone (1992-2005)
Key Stats: .266/.767, 252 HR, 1,021 RBI
Awards: All-Star (3), Gold Glove (4), Silver Slugger (2)

Boone’s career stat sheet is one that steroid haters point to on a regular basis. How could a 5-foot-10, 180-pound second baseman who hit a total of 62 home runs in his first six seasons somehow blast 37 dingers and lead the league in RBIs (141) with a .331 average at age 32? His .950 OPS that year dwarfed his career .767 mark. In eight of 14 seasons, Boone hit 15 round trippers or less. But from 2001 to 2003, he hit 96 of his career 252 homers. Once again, it was Canseco’s book that fingered Boone as a potential steroid user. Honorable Mention: Brian Roberts, Chuck Knoblauch

3B: Alex Rodriguez (1994-present)
Key Stats: .300/.945, 647 HR, 1,950 RBI, 318 SB
Awards: All-Star (14), Silver Slugger (10), MVP (3), Gold Glove (2)

Playing in Seattle and Texas, two steroid hotbeds, AROD tested positive for PEDs in 2003 and eventually confessed to his use of banned substances from 2001-03. He has also seen his name mentioned prominently with more recent accusations hailing from the aforementioned Biogenesis clinic based in South Florida. He was an elite player with elite skills but his 40-40 season, multiple MVPs and historic numbers have all been called into question by his decision to cheat. His legacy is very much on the line as a result of his association with MLB's latest investigation in Miami. Honorable Mention: Ken Caminiti, Mike Lowell, Gary Sheffield

SS: Miguel Tejada (1997-2011, '13)
Key Stats: .285/.793, 306 HR, 1,289 RBI
Awards: All-Star (6), Silver Slugger (2), MVP (1)

Tejada was arguably the top shortstop in the game during a five-year stretch from 2000-04. He hit over 30 home runs in four out of five seasons, led the majors with 150 RBIs in 2004 and won the 2002 MVP as a key cog in the emergence of the "Moneyball" era in Oakland. But like many Bay Area players, the Latin star was fingered for steroid use by a variety of people. Rafael Palmeiro accused him of giving him tainted B-12 shots. Canseco accused him in his book. And then his name was featured prominently in the Mitchell Report. It all eventually led to a somber confession in 2009, as he was facing federal perjury charges, leaving little doubt that his career is tainted. Following a one-year absence in 2012, Tejada returned to the majors this season and is currently a utility player for the Royals.

OF: Barry Bonds (1986-2007)
Key Stats: .298/1.051, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB
Awards: All-Star (14), Silver Slugger (12), Gold Glove (8), MVP (7)

The most high-profile steroid user in the history of baseball also just happens to be its all-time home run champ. Everyone knows the number 755 but few know Bonds’ 762. This is all, of course, due to his miraculous late-career power surge. He never hit over 50 home runs in a season until he blasted 73 in 2002 at age 36. He hit over 40 dingers only three times in his career before topping 45 in five straight seasons from 2000 to 2004 — his 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th seasons. He was at the center of the BALCO scandal playing in a roided-up city during the peak of the steroid era. This one is a no brainer and it’s a shame, because he might have been one of the greatest hitters of all-time if he hadn't cheated. Honorable Mention: Ryan Braun, Gary Sheffield

OF: Sammy Sosa (1989-2007)
Key Stats: .273/.878, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 234 SB
Awards: All-Star (7), Silver Slugger (6), MVP (1)

This should be the only stat you need to know about Sosa and the steroid era: The Cubs' slugger broke Maris’ single-season home run record three times (1998, 1999, 2001) and never once led his league in homers. Think about that? He was a power hitter despite his 6-foot, 165-pound frame before 1998, but his numbers spiked dramatically during his historic home run chase with McGwire. He hit 207 HR in his first nine seasons and 292 long balls from 1998 to 2002. His 2005 Congressional hearing performance was one for the ages and he was fingered by The New York Times in an article stating Sosa tested positive for PEDs in 2003. Seriously, Baseball-Reference has him listed at 6-foot and 165 pounds… and he has 609 home runs? Honorable Mention: Jose Canseco, Juan Gonzalez

OF: Manny Ramirez (1993-2011)
Key Stats: .312/.996, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI
Awards: All-Star (12), Silver Slugger (9)

There weren’t many better right-handed hitters in all of baseball than Man-Ram in his prime. But that all came crashing down when he tested positive in 2009 for testosterone levels and was suspended 50 games. He then tested positive again in 2011 for a banned substance. All of this after he was fingered as a user back in the infamous 2003 drug test that reportedly also implicated Sosa, A-Rod and others. He was an elite hitter who delivered in the clutch and led his team to four different World Series. But he also quit on his team and earned the "Manny Being Manny" moniker after bizarre and often inexplicable on-field behavior. Honorable Mention: Brady Anderson, Melky Cabrera

DH: David Ortiz (1997-present)
Key Stats: .285/.928, 401 HR, 1,326 RBI
Awards: All-Star (8), Silver Slugger (5)

Big Papi has a strange career boxscore. In six seasons with the Twins, Ortiz slugged just 58 home runs — or less than 10 per season. But paired up with Man-Ram in Beantown for an organization that is willing to do anything to win and he became the greatest hitting DH of all-time. He has averaged 34 home runs per season in 10 full seasons with the Red Sox and topped out at a league-leading 54 in 2006. Ortiz, like so many others on this team, reportedly tested positive for steroids in 2003, information that finally came to light in 2009. To Ortiz' credit, he has maintained his production at the plate since the disclosure, as he averaged 30 home runs per season from 2009-11. Honorable Mention: Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui

SP: Roger Clemens (1984-2007)
Key Stats: 354 W, 4,916.2 IP, 4,672 K, 3.12 ERA
Awards: All-Star (11), Cy Young (7), MVP (1)

The Bonds of the mound, Clemens used PEDs to match the slugger's MVPs with seven Cy Young awards. He led the league in ERA seven different times, including a sterling 1.87 mark — his career best — at age 42 while pitching in a notorious steroid town (Houston) in 2005. The change in his career dates back to his move north of the border. After four middling years in Boston from 1993-96, he signed with Toronto and went 41-13 in 498.2 innings with a 2.33 ERA and 563 strikeouts — at age 34 and 35. He was then traded to New York and made more than $97.8 million from age 37 to 44. His name came up 82 times in the Mitchell Report and he has been fingered by former trainers and even teammates as a possible rule-breaker. Honorable Mention: Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt

RP: Eric Gagne (1997-2008)
Key Stats: 187 SV, 643.2 IP, 718 K, 3.47 ERA
Awards: All-Star (3), Cy Young (1)

Gagne was magical when he was at his best. He converted an MLB-record 84 straight saves and closed 152 games with 365 strikeouts and a 1.79 ERA in just 247.0 innings from 2002 to 2004. In his other seven seasons combined, he closed 35 games total. However, pitching on the West Coast during those years will raise major question marks and he was named prominently in the Mitchell Report complete with extremely incriminating evidence. He was never the same pitcher following his Tommy John surgery in 2005. Honorable Mention: John Rocker, Guillermo Mota

Note: This is simply for fun and not intended to cast official judgment of anyone named above nor is it investigative journalism.

<p> Major League Baseball's All-Steroid Team</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 11:15