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All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfls-week-8

The Chiefs continue to do things that no other team in NFL history has ever done. A wide receiver had one of the most dominant days in league history. Historic quarterbacks continue to shine (and win). Another signal-caller appears to be growing into championship form. All while one first-year coach is struggling to find someone to run his offense.

Here are the most important, interesting, historic and bizarre statistics from Week 8 of the NFL:

329: Calvin Johnson's receiving yards
Megatron is widely regarded as the most talented wide receiver in the game today. After watching him bring in a career-high 14 receptions for 329 yards in a thrilling comeback win over Dallas, it’s hard to make a case for anyone else. He fell just seven yards shy of topping the NFL single-game record set by Flipper Anderson in 1989 (336). He is now one of just five players who have ever topped 300 yards receiving in a single game. Anderson, Johnson and three other household names: Stephone Paige, 309, 1985; Jim Benton, 303, 1945; Cloyce Box, 302, 1950. Johnson had more receiving yards on Sunday than 16 other teams had total offense in Week 8. For the record, Charles Rogers, another wide receiver Detroit took with the second overall pick of the NFL Draft (2003), had 440 career receiving yards for the Lions in three seasons.

2-54: Record of NFL teams with a minus-4 turnover margin
It wasn’t just Johnson who set records in the Lions 31-30 victory over Dallas. The Lions turned the ball over four times without forcing a single turnover, becoming just the second team in NFL history to win a game with a minus-4 turnover margin. Fifty-five times an NFL team had posted a minus-4 turnover margin prior to Detroit’s win against the Cowboys. Only the "perfect" Patriots of 2007 were able to post a victory in that situation, beating the 1-14 Dolphins 28-7 two days before Christmas.

93: Terrelle Pryor's NFL-record longest TD run by a QB
On the first snap of the game, Pryor pulled the ball away from Darren McFadden on a zone-read and sprinted around the right end 93 yards for a record-setting touchdown run. It was the longest scoring scramble by a QB in NFL history. It topped Bo Jackson’s 92-yard run for the longest in Raiders history as well. More importantly, Oakland won the game 21-18 and have moved to 3-4 on the season — one game behind the wild card-leading and AFC West divisional foe San Diego. Pryor finished with 106 yards rushing on nine carries, giving him his second 100-yard rushing effort on the season. According to Elias, he is just the fourth QB since 1970 to have multiple 100-yard rushing games in the same season (Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Bobby Douglass).

60%: 8-0 teams that make it to the Super Bowl
The Kansas City Chiefs outlasted the Cleveland Browns 23-17 to move to 8-0 on the season. Andy Reid’s bunch became the 20th team during the Super Bowl era to start with eight straight wins and the first after having the worst record in the league the year before. All 20 of those teams made the playoffs and 12 of the 20 (60 percent) made it to the Super Bowl. Eight of those 12 went on to win the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs became just the fourth team since 1970 to allow 17 points or fewer in each of the first eight games and quarterback Alex Smith became the first QB over that span to win his first eight games to start a season with a new team.

343: Career TD passes thrown by Drew Brees and Tom Brady
The Saints quarterback threw for 332 yards and five touchdowns in a convincing 35-17 win over Buffalo at home this weekend. It was an NFL-record eighth game for Brees with at least five touchdown passes. The Patriots quarterback threw for just 116 yards and one score but New England also won a key divisional game 27-17 over Miami after outscoring the Dolphins 24-0 in the second half. Both quarterbacks now have 343 career passing touchdowns, as both passed Fran Tarkenton (342) for fourth all-time in NFL history. Brees turns 35 in January and Brady just turned 36 in August, so this will be an interesting battle to track over the next few seasons. Each is 77 away from third all-time (Dan Marino, 420).

344.7: Andy Dalton average yards passing over his last three games
After the first five games of the season, the Bengals were 3-2 and Dalton was averaging just 243 yards passing per game with five TDs and five INTs. Over his last three games, however, Dalton has looked like a championship quarterback. He threw for 325 yards and five scores in the dismantling of the Jets on Sunday, giving Cincy a four-game winning streak and a commanding 2.5-game lead in the AFC North. The Bengals quarterback has topped 300 yards in three straight games, is averaging more than 100 yards per game (344.7) and has thrown 11 touchdowns against only two interceptions during that span. The last three games were just Dalton’s sixth, seventh and eighth 300-yard games of his career.

141.4: Packers' yards rushing per game
The Packers have dealt with major injuries in their receiving corps as Aaron Rodgers is without Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley for the time being. Mike McCarthy has turned to, of all things, the power running game to save the day. The Packers ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the breezy win over the Vikings on Sunday night. Green Bay is now fourth in the NFL at 141.4 yards rushing per game. It is by far the most productive a running game as Rodgers has had in his career. The Packers have never been ranked better than 14th in the NFL in rushing or averaged more than 117.8 yards per game during Rodgers six seasons as the starter. To the right is a look at the Packers' rushing attack with Rodgers under center.

109: Cordarrelle Patterson’s record-tying longest play in NFL history
The explosive rookie wide receiver for the Vikings took the opening kickoff against the Packers 109 yards for a touchdown Sunday night. It tied for the longest play in NFL history and they both happened in the Metrodome, which will be torn down following this season. As a member of the Chargers, Antonio Cromartie returned a missed Vikings field goal 109 yards for a touchdown in 2007. The 109-yarder topped 108-yard returns by Jacoby Jones (2012) and Randall Cobb (2011) as the longest kickoff return in NFL history.

239: Eagles' yards per game of total offense over the last two
Through six games, Chip Kelly’s offense was setting NFL records for offensive production in terms of yards. The Eagles were 3-3 and were posting 451.7 yards per game on offense. After totaling just 200 yards of offense, Phily lost to a Giants team that didn’t score a touchdown and was 0-6 not six days ago. It totaled just 278 in last week’s loss to the Cowboys at home. That’s 10 total points, 478 total yards and two home NFC East divisional losses. Kelly’s quarterback issues are obvious as his three options have combined for five interceptions and no touchdown passes in the last two games.

Amazing Stats from the NFL's Week 8
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/amazing-pac-12-college-football-stats-week-9

True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 9.

1: Cardinal defense limits Oregon State to one pass play of 20-plus yards
Stanford’s then 82nd-ranked pass defense (250.1 YPG) limited Oregon State’s top-ranked passing offense in the number of big plays they converted in the Cardinal’s 20-12 victory Saturday. Entering the game, the Beavers led the nation in pass completions of 20-plus yards. Oregon State QB Sean Mannion had just one Saturday night — a 20-yarder in the third quarter to convert a third-and-8. The drive ended four plays later on a failed fourth down attempt.
3: Trojans limited Utes to three points in third straight win against Utah
USC won its third in a row in the series against Utah with its 19-3 win Saturday, holding the Utes to three points or less for the fifth time in the 12-game series.
5: Washington moves to 5-0 when outscoring opponents in the first quarter
With 17 first-quarter points on the way to a 41-17 win over California, Washington is now outscoring its opponents 67-17 in the first 15 minutes. The Huskies are 5-0 in games where they outscore their opponents in the opening quarter, and 0-3 in the other three.
7: UCLA’s seven second-half drives produced a much different result than its seven first-half series
After a 14-all tie at halftime, nothing worked for UCLA in its 42-14 loss to Oregon. The Bruins had seven drives over the final 30 minutes, running 32 plays for 79 yards. Five of the first six drives ended in punts. The other ended with Avery Patterson’s interception of Brett Hundley that was turned into a TD seven plays later, and turned a one-score game into a two-score advantage. The last drive was the most sustained of the second half — six plays for 32 yards — but started with 2:25 left in the game, the Bruins trailing 42-14 and ran the clock out. UCLA ran 39 plays for 198 yards with two scores, an interception, two turnovers on downs, a punt and kneel down in the first half.
10: Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is a perfect 10 in the second half
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was a perfect 10-for-10 passing for 98 yards and a touchdown in the second half of the Ducks’ 42-14 win over UCLA. Mariota finished 21-of-28 for 230 yards and the 8-yard, third-quarter TD pass to Bralon Addison.
10 part II: Utah defense racks up 10 tackles for loss for the second time this season
In its 19-3 loss to USC, Utah recorded at least 10 tackles for loss for the second time this season (11 vs. Weber State), and held the Trojans to a season-low 30 rushing yards. It is the third time the Utes have kept an opponent under 100 yards on the ground (69 vs. Weber State, 48 vs. Oregon State), and the second time they’ve held an opponent under 300 yards (205 vs. Weber State) this season.
49: UCLA defense has given up 49 second-half points the last two weeks, after 17 the first five
After allowing only 17 second-half points in its first five games, UCLA has surrendered 49 the last two weeks against Oregon and Stanford. A 14-all tie against Oregon on Saturday was the first time the Ducks had been deadlocked at intermission. But they returned to score 28 points in the second half — the most allowed by the Bruins over the final 30 minutes this season. Last week at Stanford, UCLA trailed 3-0 before allowing 21 second-half points in a 24-10 loss.
50: Buffs receiver ties school record for plays of 50-plus 
Colorado receiver Paul Richardson collected his sixth play of 50-plus yards in Saturday’s 44-20 loss to Colorado. The 75-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter quarter tied the school’s modern-day record for plays of 50 yards or more in a single season, and was the 12th such play in his career. Richardson now has 50 catches for 914 yards and seven touchdowns, and is on pace to break the school’s single-season records in all three categories (78-1,149-11).
100: Denker becomes second Wildcats QB to rush for 100 yards since 2000 
Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker’s first 100-yard rushing game was nearly 200 (192 yards on 15 carries) in Saturday’s 44-20 win over Colorado. The senior is the first Wildcat QB to rush for 100 yards since Matt Scott last season (15-100 vs. USC). Together, they are the only two Arizona QBs since 2000 to rush for 100 yards. A career-long 54-yard run in the third quarter is where Denker picked up the majority of his rushing yards Saturday. His 457 yards of total offense (265 passing, 192 rushing) was the sixth-best offensive game in school history.
600: Huskies go past 600 yards of offense for third time this season 
With 642 total yards in its 41-17 win over California Saturday, Washington surpassed 600 yards for the third time this season. Entering 2013, the program had only surpassed 600-plus yards on six other occasions. Washington eclipsing 500 total yards for the fourth time this season is just the third time in 67 years the Huskies have accomplished that feat (2005, 2007). 
By Corby A. Yarbrough
The bizarre, important and historic numbers from around the conference.
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /overtime/100-funny-fantasy-basketball-team-names

The NBA season is about to tip off, which means it’s almost time for fantasy basketball. To win a championship, you’ve got to hit the draft big boards hard, fast break the waiver wire-to-wire and have the ball bounce your way. But in order to cut down the nets with the title for best fantasy basketball team name, all you need is an off-color joke, pop-culture spin or old-school reference. Here’s our list of suggestions for 2013-14:


Pass the Rock to Lamar

Kardashian Double-Team

Sprichst Du Dirk?

Lala’s Honey Nut Cheerios

Grand Theft Rondo

Jesus Shuttlesworth

Birdman! Birdman!

LeBron Police Escort

LeBron’s Mom’s Boyfriend

Da Real Lambo

Rupaul Bosh

Bosh Spice


99 Problems, LeBron Ain’t 1

Ninjas in Paris

South Beach Talent

Heir to Jack Nicholson

Goldstein Girls

Pau Gasol Neck-beards

Kobe German Knees

Kobe Blood-Spin Moves

Kobe Wan Kenobi

White Mamba

R.I.P. Lob City

Blake’s Love Triangle Offense

Blake’s Baby Mama Drama

J.J. Redick Prenups

Metta World War 3

Metta World Peace Pipe

Rose Before Hoes

Duck Dynasty Rose


Jay-Z’s My Agent

Sheed’s My Coach

Shaq’s My Coach

Shaqramento Queens


Craig Sager Style

Joakim Noah’s Arc

Deng Girl!

Pippen Ain’t Easy

WTF is Mike Wearing?

Cowbell Fever

Toronto Drakes

Degrassi Raptors

Jurassic Drizzy

Dirks Digglers Cuban

Let's Get Tropical

Houston Indecision

Temporary Linsanity


Popovich In-game Interviews

Ginobili Geriatrics

7-10 Splitter

Stern Punishment

Adam Silver’s My Homeboy

David Stern Boo-birds

Van Gundy’s Combover

Brooklyn Nyets

Kidd’s Old Men

Hold the Mayo

Shot of Jamison

Westbrook Geek Chic

Lil Wayne’s OKC Seats

Serge I-block-ya

Ibaka Flocka Flame

Chocolate Thunder

Strawberry Thunder

Planet Lovetron

Grizzly Gasol

NOLA Pellies

Unibrow Uni-blocker


JaVale McGee Moments


Por Favors

Rubio’s Thirsty

K. Love and Special Sauce

Game, Blouses

Basin City Blues

Hickory High Hoosiers

Jimmy Chitwood

Pittsburgh Pisces

White Men Can Jump

Denzel Got Game

Zeller Dwellers

8 Points, 9 Seconds

Coca-Scola Classic

Malice at the Palace

Washington Bullets

Frozen Envelopes

Shawn Kemp’s Kids

Chris Mullin YMCA League

That’s the Inside Stuff!

Riggin’ for Wiggins



These 100 funny fantasy basketball team names will make your league laugh.
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Atlantic 10, VCU Rams, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-vcu-preview

This preview and more on VCU and the Atlantic 10 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 18 VCU Facts & Figures
Last season: 27-9 (12-4 Atlantic 10)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 32
Coach: Shaka Smart (111-17 at VCU)
Atlantic 10 projection: First
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Shaka Smart had something to prove last season. VCU stepped up in weight class from the Colonial to the Atlantic 10, and many wondered if Smart’s Rams could validate their recent postseason success given a grueling regular season. VCU finished second in the A-10 and won an NCAA Tournament game for the third straight year. Check.

This season, Smart adds a weapon he’s not had since coming to VCU four seasons ago — depth. The Rams can legitimately go 10-to-11 players deep this season, a boon to their physically demanding havoc style that led the nation in turnover percentage and steal percentage last year.

“We’ve got about five guys, maybe six, that can potentially play minutes at point guard spot,” says Smart. “It’s not necessarily that we have point guards as much as we have point guard options. Terrance (Shannon) gives us low-post options, too. The good thing is that we have juniors and seniors that have been a part of a lot of winning.”


Shannon, a 6-8, 240-pound workhorse who transferred to VCU from Florida State for his final college season. Shannon “gets it,” according to Smart, and was FSU’s third-leading scorer (8.9 ppg) and leading rebounder (6.5 rpg) last season before injuring his neck.

Shannon will take some of the physical play away from 6-9 Juvonte Reddic, a second-team All-A-10 performer. Reddic is a silky-smooth scorer who appears on most NBA Draft boards. In fact, Reddic was invited to the prestigious Amare Stoudemire Skills Camp and the LeBron James Skills Academy. Reddic put up 16 points and 13 rebounds against Duke’s Mason Plumlee and had seven double-doubles in a 10-game stretch during the middle of the conference season.

“He can be dominating when he brings it,” says Smart, “and we’ve been working on Juvonte bringing it every night. To his credit, he’s done a phenomenal job with it over his career, but we want more.”

Treveon Graham played the 4 spot in Smart’s four-guard offense and is a threat all over the court. Graham is a 36.6 percent 3-point shooter but earned the nickname Freight Train for his ability to drive straight to the rim and absorb contact to score or get to the foul line. Graham is a pure scorer who averaged more than 15 points per game last season and also earned second-team All-A-10 honors.

Jarred Guest is a wiry 6-8, and his length is nightmarish for opponents trying to beat the press. Guest snared more offensive rebounds (45) than defensive rebounds (43).

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


There is no doubt that the meat of this team resides in its backcourt, and Smart has a cadre quick and athletic guards. Finding minutes for his options may be the coach’s biggest issue.

Senior Rob Brandenberg and junior Briante Weber are the incumbents. Brandenberg is a slasher of the highest magnitude and one of the best in the nation at turning the corner at the elbow. He’s also changed his shot to become a weapon from beyond the arc. Smart notes that Brandenberg had an outstanding summer.

Weber is the embodiment of havoc. He led the nation in steal percentage in both of his first two seasons and nabbed 10 thefts against NCAA Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast. The point guard spot will be Weber’s to lose.

Both will be pushed hard by newcomers Jordan Burgess and Doug Brooks. Smart makes no bones about the impact Burgess can make. “He was the toughest player on the team last year,” Smart says of the redshirt freshman.

Sharpshooting Melvin Johnson may hold the biggest key to VCU’s success because Smart has to replace Troy Daniels and his school-record 124 3-pointers. Billed as a dead-eye shooter, Johnson displayed more of a mid-range game in his freshman season. Johnson has that New York guard savvy and can score in a seemingly unlimited number of ways.


Mo Alie Cox redshirted last season but is a muscled 6’6 and carries a 7’3” wingspan. Jordan Burgess is another redshirt who would have seen plenty of minutes last season had he been playing. Doug Brooks has all the trappings of another Briante Weber on defense, and he can shoot the basketball. Point guard JeQuan Lewis will be thrown on the court to see how he fares. Antravious Simmons needs to reshape his body, but he could find his way onto the court.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 17. VCU was 17–0 last season when senior Rob Brandenberg scored 11 or more points.

Point guard is the big question mark, although Smart is not fazed. “We have this conversation every two years,” says the coach. “Who replaces Eric (Maynor)? Who replaces Joey (Rodriguez)? The point guard position more than anything is getting into the offense and spearheading the defense.”

Toughness is a word the VCU coaches are also using. With Shannon and Burgess, VCU figures to be a much tougher team. Perhaps that’s the missing ingredient for another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. The talent is certainly there.

*Photo courtesy of VCU Athletics

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

College Basketball: 2013-14 VCU Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-tennessee-preview

This preview and more on Tennessee and the SEC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 17 Tennessee Facts & Figures
Last season: 20-13 (11-7 SEC)
Postseason: NIT first round
Coach: Cuonzo Martin (39-28 at Tennessee)
SEC projection: Third
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
An SEC Payer of the Year candidate at shooting guard, two potential all-league forwards, a high-impact transfer and a 5-star freshman. Life is good on Rocky Top — unless you like expectations.

Still itching the burn of back-to-back NIT appearances, Tennessee third-year head coach Cuonzo Martin states the obvious for 2013-14.

“(The NCAA Tournament) is very important,” Martin says. “You have the personnel to be there, so you should be there. That part should be understood. It’s a given.”

Martin is 39–28 and 21–13 in SEC play since coming to Tennessee from Missouri State. He’s notched nine top-25 wins and is the only coach other than Kentucky’s John Calipari to have beaten every league team over the last two-year span. The one thing he hasn’t done at Tennessee, however, is coach in the NCAA Tournament.


This conversation begins with Jeronne Maymon’s left knee, shifts to Jarnell Stokes’ production and ends with a question of depth.

Both Maymon and Martin have said the former Marquette transfer will be 100 percent for 2013-14. That was said last offseason, however, and his surgically repaired knee never fully healed. At his peak, Maymon is one of the SEC’s top inside presences, proven when he averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in 2011-12. Even if he’s ready to go when the Vols open the season, it will likely take time for Jeronne Maymon to look like Jeronne Maymon.

No one wants that process to progress more than Stokes. The 6-8, 260-pound fire hydrant continually complained last season about battling double-teams. After in-season adjustments, Stokes averaged 13.1 points and 10.7 rebounds in SEC play. He flirted with the NBA Draft, but questions surrounding his scoring ability, athleticism and motor brought him back.  

The lone true reserve frontcourt player is 6-10, 280-pound junior college transfer Rawane Ndiaye. Sophomore Derek Reese, a long and lean wing, will see some time at the 4, along with undersized banger Quinton Chievous and freshman A.J. Davis.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Former point guard Trae Golden is gone and no one seems fazed. The two-year starter announced his transfer from UT in the summer and was eventually replaced on the roster by Memphis transfer Antonio Barton.

Whereas Golden was a score-first guard and a defensive liability, Barton is a pass-first leader and a gritty defender. The latter is a far better fit for Tennessee.

Barton averaged 5.6 points and 1.1 assists in 16.7 minutes per game last season and left the Tigers amicably after Joe Jackson decided to return for his junior year. At Tennessee, Barton will be asked to initiate Martin’s motion offense, defend like a hound dog and hit timely 3-pointers.

If he does, the scoring door will swing open for first-team All-SEC shooting guard Jordan McRae, versatile wing Josh Richardson and smooth shooting freshman Robert Hubbs.

McRae’s senior campaign is worthy of attention. The gangly 6-6 scorer staged an impromptu SEC Player of the Year campaign after coming off the bench in 10 of the season’s first 11 games. He started the rest of the way and led the Vols in scoring (15.7 ppg), minutes played (33.6 mpg), 3-pointers made (60) and 3-point percentage (.355).

Though a capable scorer from mid-range and off the bounce, Richardson is relied on for defense. He drew the toughest defensive assignment last year. Hubbs comes with hype and will be expected to add a scoring spark for the Vols. Armani Moore took over point guard duties midway through last season as a freshman, helping UT win eight of its final nine regular-season games. He’ll split backup minutes with incoming freshman Darius Thompson.


Robert Hubbs, a 6-6 shooting guard , is a gifted scorer with range beyond the 3-point line. He’s joined by fellow incoming guards Darius Thompson and Antonio Barton, a Memphis transfer. Barton will likely start from Day 1, backed up by Thompson. A.J. Davis, the son of NBA veteran Antonio Davis, isn’t as physically imposing as his father, but is athletically gifted at 6-9, 208 pounds. Junior college transfer Rawane Ndiaye will be a reserve center.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 37.7. Jordan McRae averaged an SEC-high 37.7 minutes per game in conference action last season. Though he flourished, averaging 19.2 points in league play, coach Cuonzo Martin wants a more manageable workload for his star shooting guard in 2013-14.

As much as Tennessee has coming back in 2013-14 is as much as it will lose come 2014-15. McRae, Maymon and Barton are all seniors and Stokes is eyeing the 2014 NBA Draft. If Martin is going to lead the Vols to their first NCAA Tournament since Bruce Pearl’s departure, this is the year.

“They want to be an NCAA Tournament team,” Martin says. “They’re hungry. They’ve been attacking offseason workouts.”

With Kentucky projected to be a top-5 team, Tennessee should hang with Florida for next-best in the SEC. All the pieces are there. Much of how far the Vols go hinges on Maymon’s knee and Barton’s play at the point.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State


College Basketball: 2013-14 Tennessee Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /nascar/jeff-gordon-returns-nascar-victory-lane-martinsville

There was a time when Jeff Gordon couldn’t walk from his car into the local supermarket without getting booed. In fact, I’m surprised there wasn’t a Matt Schaub-like incident, this season’s quarterback scapegoat from the NFL’s Houston Texans who was threatened by hooligans at his home. Such was life for NASCAR’s dominant driver of the 1990s, his metro, New York-style life and team a stark contrast from main rival, good ol’ boy Intimidator Dale Earnhardt. “Old school” Southern roots met “new school” Fortune 500 money — and no one could seem to stand it once the fancy suits and rainbow sponsorship of DuPont won out.

But age, along with stripping success, has its way of making even the most hated superstar human. Sunday, as Gordon signed autographs for fans in the stands after his 88th career Cup victory, it was clear that years of spite had been replaced by sentimentality. Here they were, putting in overtime after appreciating one of the top-5 drivers in NASCAR history drive masterfully to the front, once more, before their very eyes. It’s just the seventh victory for Gordon in the last six years; there once was a time he’d grab 13 in a single season. Even the little kids sticking around had an inkling that, at age 42, the ghost of Father Time has inched ever closer for Gordon.

There’s no telling how much longer “Wonder Boy” will continue to drive now that he’s “Wonder Gray,” fully settled as a multi-millionaire with a wife and two loving kids. Gordon seems to think it’ll be age 45, maybe 50, before he hangs it up. The success of Chase Elliott in the Truck Series while employed by Hendrick Motorsports — along with long-term contracts signed by Gordon’s three teammates – make you think otherwise. My personal feel, if there’s no injury, is that come 2015 … 2016 at the latest … one of the sport’s all-time greats will transition from the driver’s seat to the rocking chair.

So yes, Sunday’s win at Martinsville deserved the standing ovation it got. I remember Darrell Waltrip’s final win, at Darlington in ’92, during a three-win season where he finished top 10 in points. Richard Petty’s final victory, a scorching July in Daytona back in 1984 also came during a year of moderate success. The fall, when it comes for these record-setting athletes, comes quicker than you ever realize at the time. 88 wins and counting for Gordon … so everyone hopes. Because you never know at this point in a career whether a trip to Victory Lane is the last.

“Through the Gears” we go …

FIRST GEAR: Gordon’s return to relevance  Jeff Gordon
The No. 24 team’s return to the top after nearly a year-long absence isn’t one of those “built in a day” type of stories. It’s a big surprise that Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson are even still together considering their Chase near-miss. Consider 2005, Gordon’s lone championship miss. Crew chief Robbie Loomis got the axe. You’d have to think, with the pressure revolving around the sport’s most successful active driver, a change was at least discussed after Richmond’s surprising near-miss.

“What happened there, it changes your perspective a little bit,” said Gustafson. “It is a special chance to compete for a championship at this level, and you don't know how many of those you're going to get. And for me, when we didn't have it for a couple days, that was one of the most terrible feelings in the world.”

Luckily for them NASCAR changed course, which leaves their participation paired with an asterisk. But as the 13th team in the Chase field, Gustafson, Gordon and company have since made the most of the opportunity. It’s a surge the duo claim started with a heart-to-heart after Loudon in July in which a 10th-place finish felt like 35th.

“It kind of was a bonding moment for us,” said Gordon, who claimed the running theme was to stay positive in the midst of bad luck, Gen-6 growing pains and others running circles around them. “It smacked (me) around a little bit to where I was like, ‘You know what, I've got to go and work as hard as I can, give these guys everything I've got because they're working their butts off, and let's pull it together.’”

The results have been steady since. Gordon’s drive to the front at Martinsville, in fact, was the perfect example of late-race chemistry many thought would be automatic with this duo. With no finish worse than 15th over the course of the postseason they’re now up to third in points, 27 behind the two championship leaders in Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. Is that close enough to make a run? We’re not sure yet. But the way in which this 10-race playoff has unfolded, Gordon is now front and center in everyone’s mind for the first time in quite awhile.

SECOND GEAR: Kenseth’s surprising shift to offense  Matt KensethI admit it; on Friday on FOX Sports 1, I counted Kenseth out of the Chase, to everyone’s surprise. I still feel I had good reason to; the last three weeks, this team’s battled ill-handling cars to the point it had to make major chassis adjustments in-race at Talladega. Talladega! Let’s face it, typically your grandmother can drive there at 200 mph without complaining about the car getting loose.

So Kenseth’s punch back at Martinsville, one week after losing the point lead, was as unexpected as it was gutsy. In the first 13 years of his career, he’d led only 169 laps at the short track (and 90 had come this spring). What happened Sunday? He led a race-high 202, at one of his worst tracks while forcing Jimmie Johnson to the ropes. That’s right; crew chief Chad Knaus made a mid-race pit stop for tires on the No. 48 in part because their rival was seemingly in position to outpoint him.

Kenseth did exactly that, and would have won without a shocking, 77-lap green-flag stint to the checkered flag in a race where there were 17 cautions. The long-run setup was never there for the No. 20, but the driver held on for second on a day that, on paper, he should have been sitting 20th.

“Gosh, for how Martinsville has been for me, how could you not be pleased,” he said, with Johnson’s fifth-place finish bringing their Chase war back to a virtual tie. “I really felt like if we came out of here in the lead, or tied or close to it, I really felt like we got what it takes to race in the last three races.”

In my view, Kenseth certainly does. It was the race of the Chase — enough to swing momentum towards the No. 20 team, king of the intermediates, heading to a 1.5-mile oval in Texas. You think I’m going to make the same mistake twice?

THIRD GEAR: A few shot in the arm
For those not in title contention, there’s still a lot to race for. Sunday showcased a few names we haven’t seen near the front in awhile, but who need to end 2013 on a high note. There was Clint Bowyer, still winless and reeling from his role in “Spingate.” Leading 60 laps — his most since Richmond — it looked like he might even win the race for a bit before fading to a third-place finish. Easily his best run of the Chase, he now has an outside shot at ending the year inside the top 5 in series points.

For Denny Hamlin, it’s a slow build back towards the success we’ve been accustomed to seeing. The No. 11 team now has two top-10 finishes in the last three races after a strong seventh at one of his home state tracks. With heavy damage from an early wreck, the car looked more like a junkyard piece than one capable of contending. The fact he and crew chief Darian Grubb could work around it, keeping their FedEx Toyota near the front, showcases a rebuilding chemistry that will in all likelihood keep them together come 2014.

Other strong performances Sunday included Juan Pablo Montoya and Danica Patrick, 13th and 17th respectively, two open-wheelers still searching for NASCAR consistency. At least Patrick will get another shot; Montoya, with three races left is going all-out for that first victory on an oval track before leaving the Cup Series. The stats say he probably won’t get it, but he’ll be worth watching with nothing to lose over the next three weeks.

FOURTH GEAR: Temper, temper …Martinsville produced a Bristol-like series of temper tantrums this weekend. Saturday was the setup, with Kevin Harvick tearing to shreds car owner Richard Childress’ grandsons on national television following a Truck Series race. That was, of course, after a wreck with Ty Dillon that ended with contact on pit road, an orange sledgehammer being thrown at Harvick by a crewman and thousands of dollars’ worth of mangled sheet metal.

Sunday, those 17 caution flags brought out the anger in seemingly everyone. Greg Biffle jerked Jimmie Johnson aside following an on-camera interview and cussed the championship contender out for contact he felt loosened his rear bumper. Jeff Burton spent the day trying to run up to Carl Edwards so he could spin him out. Kasey Kahne’s radio was filled with ugly chatter about Landon Cassill. And so it goes … the beauty of NASCAR’s smallest speedway is that it leaves everyone emotional. And, whether they admit it or not, stock car racing fans eat up the drama like breakfast cereal.

For the record, the feud that bears watching is Harvick vs. Childress. Their title chances seemingly toast, Harvick issued an apology on Sunday but it clearly was not aimed at said car owner or grandsons. Will a random engine failure happen to the No. 29 the final three weeks? Someone better go to Hallmark and buy a really nice card for their employer.

Highly-touted Kyle Larson now has two Cup starts and two DNFs after his engine blew at Martinsville. Both Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, his employer who prepared the car, and sponsor Target were hoping the driver would collect far more experience for next year’s rookie bid. Don’t be surprised if you see him pop up again before the season is out. … Ken Schrader, a short-track legend and former Hendrick Motorsports driver, will retire from Cup racing next month at Homestead driving the underfunded No. 32 FAS Lane Racing Ford. Schrader, now 58, has 762 career starts and four career wins in the series. However, the last victory came in 1991 and he hasn’t had a full-time ride since ’06. … Could Mark Martin be joining Schrader on the retirement train? As I’ve mentioned before, rumors keep growing the 54-year-old will step back and be a consultant following the 2013 season and his stint at Stewart-Haas Racing that have done nothing to quiet things down. Involved in a wreck Sunday, running smack into Kurt Busch’s No. 78, Martin scored his second finish outside the top 35 in the last three weeks. Without a top-5 finish since February’s Daytona 500, he’s poised for his worst season on paper, full or part-time, since returning to the Cup Series in 1988. … A Truck Series win by Darrell Wallace Jr., the first in NASCAR’s top three series by an African-American since 1963, couldn’t have come at a better time. What no one wants you to talk about is that Kyle Busch Motorsports — Wallace’s employer — just laid off 10 employees and sponsorship is questionable for 2014. Who knows if Wallace will have a full-time ride without KBM? Luckily, the victory should ensure some type of spot for him within a JGR-backed development ride next season.

Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles

Four things we learned following Jeff Gordon's win in NASCAR's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 17:10
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /20-greatest-halloween-related-names-sports-2013

Whether it’s their given name or a nickname, these athletes and sports figures fit right in on Halloween.

Hal Mumme
College football coach (Iowa Wesleyan 1989-91, Valdosta State 1992-96, Kentucky 1997-2000, Southeastern Louisiana 2003-04, New Mexico State 2005-08, McMurry 2009-12, SMU 2013)

Mumme (pronounced mummy) has been a college football head coach for more than 20 years and has more than 130 wins on his resume. For all his success, however, he is best known for his four seasons at Kentucky, where he went 20-26 overall and only 10-22 in SEC play. Mumme’s tenure with the Wildcats was (ahem) wrapped up at the end of the 2000 season with an eight-game losing streak and an investigation into NCAA rules violations related to illegally paying recruits. After taking a break from coaching, Mumme returned to the profession in 2003 and currently is serving as an assistant coach/passing game coordinator at SMU.

Boo Weekley
PGA golfer (2002-present)

Weekley’s given name is Thomas Brent, but everyone knows him by his nickname, Boo. This nickname came from Yogi Bear’s sidekick, Boo Boo, and not from trying to scare people, which is fitting given Weekley’s colorful personality on and off the golf course. It was on full display during the 2008 Ryder Cup when he rode his driver like it was a horse down the fairway during Singles play. Weekley and the rest of the U.S. team certainly put a fright into the European team at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky., as the underdog Americans won back the Ryder Cup with a convincing five-point victory. Weekley picked up his third career PGA Tour victory in May when he won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial by one stroke over Matt Kuchar.

Boomer Esiason
NFL (Cincinnati Bengals 1984-92, ’97; New York Jets 1993-95; Arizona Cardinals 1996)

A quarterback for 14 years in the NFL, Norman Julius, better known as Boomer, finished his career with 37,920 passing yards and 247 touchdown passes. His best season came in 1998, when he was the league’s MVP and led the Bengals to a spot in Super Bowl XXIII. He and his teammates came up short in that game against San Francisco, but Esiason will always be loved in Cincinnati, where he spent 10 seasons. The same cannot necessarily be said in New York, at least as it relates to his playing career. Esiason heard many a boo from the home crowd during his 15-27 run as the Jets’ starting quarterback from 1993-95. Esiason has remained in the game as a television and radio analyst and he also co-hosts a morning radio show on WFAN Radio in New York.

Red Grange, “The Galloping Ghost”
NFL (Chicago Bears 1925, ’29-’34; New York Yankees 1926-27)

Harold Edward, better known as “Red,” first made a name for himself and earned his spectral nickname when he starred as a halfback at Illinois. While noted sportswriter Grantland Rice was the first to record Grange’s collegiate exploits in prose, it was his colleague, Warren Brown, who then wrote for the Chicago American, who dubbed Grange “The Galloping Ghost.” Grange went on to play10 seasons in the NFL, most of them with the Chicago Bears, who later retired his number. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

Spook Jacobs
MLB (Philadelphia Athletics 1954, Kansas City Athletics 1955-56, Pittsburgh Pirates 1956)

His given name was Forrest Vandergrift, but for some unknown reason  he went by Spook during his brief baseball career. A second baseman, Jacobs hit .247 in 188 career games and never hit a home run.

Jerry Adair, “Casper the Friendly Ghost”
MLB (Baltimore Orioles 1958-66, Chicago White Sox 1966-67, Boston Red Sox 1967-68, Kansas City Royals 1969-70)

Adair’s major league career lasted 13 seasons, in large part due to his glove and ability to deliver in the clutch. He played most of his career for the Orioles and was a .254 hitter with 57 career home runs. He finished with a career .981 fielding percentage as he played all four infield positions (primarily second base and shortstop) at some point during his time in the majors.

Michael Myers
NFL (Dallas Cowboys 1998-2003, Cleveland Browns 2003-04, Denver Broncos 2005-06, Cincinnati Bengals 2007)

Mike Myers
MLB (Florida Marlins 1995, Detroit Tigers 1995-97, Milwaukee Brewers 1998-99, Colorado Rockies 2000-01, Arizona Diamondbacks 2002-03, Seattle Mariners 2004, Boston Red Sox 2004-05, New York Yankees 2006-07, Chicago White Sox 2007)

Michael Dewayne Myers terrorized quarterbacks as a defensive end in the NFL for six seasons collecting 15.5 sacks, while Michael Stanley Myers lasted 13 seasons in baseball as a left-handed relief pitcher. Myers didn’t exactly slash his was through major league batters, as he played for nine different teams in his career. His major league totals include a 25-24 record, 4.29 ERA, 256 walks and 429 strikeouts in 541 2/3 career innings pitched.

John Candelaria, “Candy Man”
MLB (Pittsburgh Pirates 1975-85, ’93; California Angels 1985-87; New York Mets 1987; New York Yankees 1988-89; Montreal Expos 1989; Minnesota Twins 1990; Toronto Blue Jays 1990; Los Angeles Dodgers 1991-92)

Candelaria was a left-handed pitcher who won 177 games during his 19-year major league career. The “Candy Man” finished with a respectable 3.33 career ERA over his 2,525 2/3 innings pitched. He was at his sweetest in 1977 when he went 20-5 with a National League-leading 2.34 ERA. He made his only All-Star Game that season and finished fifth in the NL Cy Young voting.

Vladimir Guerrero, “Vlad the Impaler”
MLB (1996-2003 Montreal Expos, Anaheim Angels 2004, Los Angeles Angels 2005-09, Texas Rangers 2010, Baltimore Orioles 2011)

For 16 years Guerrero struck fear into the hearts and minds of major league pitchers because of his tendency to swing at whatever they threw at him, regardless of where it was located. A career .318 hitter who was named AL MVP in 2004, Guerrero finished many of his at-bats holding his wooden stake after driving it right through the pitcher’s heart with yet another monster home run or game-winning hit.

George Wolfman & Cedric Wolfman
Minor league catcher 1934-35; Minor league pitcher 1954-56

Neither of these guys got a chance to howl on the major-league level, although I bet they were a lot of fun on nights with a full moon.

Moonlight Graham
MLB (New York Giants 1905)

Best known for his inclusion in the iconic movie, “Field of Dreams,” Archibald Wright, better known as “Moonlight” was in fact a real major leaguer. The outfielder’s career in the big leagues lasted all of one game, actually one inning, with the New York Giants 1905 when he was 27. He spent seven seasons in the minors, including his last in professional baseball in 1908. After his baseball dreams came to an end, he worked as a doctor in Chisholm, Minn., for 50 years before passing away in 1965 at the age of 85.

Warren Moon
NFL (Houston Oilers 1984-93, Minnesota Vikings 1994-96, Seattle Seahawks 1997-98, Kansas City Chiefs 1999-2000)

After going undrafted out of college, Moon started his professional football career playing for the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos. Six seasons later, Moon migrated from north of the border to Houston where he started his NFL career with the Oilers. Moon played 10 seasons for the Oilers, setting numerous franchise records, before moving on to the Vikings, Seahawks and ending his career with the Chiefs in 2000. Moon’s No. 1 jersey was retired by the Oliers (now Tennessee Titans) and he finished his NFL career with 49,325 yards passing and 291 touchdown passes. In 2006, Moon became the first modern African-American quarterback inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s also a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2001).

Jose Bautista, “Joey Bats”
MLB (Baltimore Orioles 2004, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2004, Kansas City Royals 2004, Pittsburgh Pirates 2004-08, Toronto Blue Jays 2008-present)

Bautista bounced around with four different teams in his first season in the majors before finding a home in Pittsburgh. However, it’s been the past three seasons in Toronto that Bautista has made a name for himself and earned his nickname for the damage he’s done with his Louisville Slugger. In 2010-11, Bautista truly drove opposing pitchers batty as he hit a combined 97 home runs, drove in 227 runs, scored 214 and walked 232 times. He was named to the American League All-Star team and finished in the top four of the AL MVP voting each of these seasons. Injuries have derailed him in each of the past two seasons, causing him to miss a combined 114 games. He still made the AL All-Star team in both 2012 and '13, as he managed to hit a total of 55 home runs and drive in 138 in 210 total games played.

Torii Hunter, “Spider-Man”
MLB (Minnesota Twins, 1997-2007, Los Angeles Angels 2008-12, Detroit Tigers 2013)

The recipient of nine straight Gold Gloves from 2001-10, Hunter has an established reputation for his defense, most notably the art of robbing the home run. First with the Twins, then the Angels, Hunter earned his nickname for his adept ability at climbing the outfield wall or timing his leap just perfectly to snag what seemed like a certain home run. Many a batter has experienced the agony of defeat as they watched the baseball that seemed ticketed to go over the fence get ensnared in the web of Hunter’s glove instead. Hunter signed with Detroit as a free agent prior to the start of the 2013 season, and turned out to be a valuable addition as the Tigers won 93 games and their third straight AL Central title. Hunter hit .304 with 90 runs scored for his new team and also was named to his fifth All-Star team.

Spider Webb
Formula 1 driver 1950, ’52-‘54

Webb’s racing career lasted all of four races, in which he never finished higher than 19th. Tony Stewart may have made the move famous, but it would have been something to see Webb climb the fence after reaching Victory Lane, no?

Webb Simpson
PGA golfer (2008-present)

The professional golfer’s given name is James Frederick Webb, but whatever you choose to call him, you have to include major champion in that title. Simpson won the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco with a final score of one-over par. Simpson also played in his first Ryder Cup last year, as one of four rookies on the U.S. team that fell victim to a historic comeback by the European team. Earlier this month, Simpson earned his fourth career PGA Tour victory by claiming the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open title by a commanding six strokes.

Brandon Webb
MLB (Arizona Diamondbacks 2003-09)

Shoulder injuries have short-circuited his pitching career, but Webb was at his best from 2005-08. He won 70 games during that four-year span, including 22 in 2008. He spun the best season of his career in 2006 as he went 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA and was awarded the NL Cy Young Award. He finished second in the voting the next two seasons, but hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009.

Spud Webb
NBA (1985-91, ’95-‘96 Atlanta Hawks; Sacramento Kings 1991-95; Minnesota Timberwolves 1996; Orlando Magic 1998)

Anthony Jerome, better known as “Spud,” stands all of 5’7, but he never let his lack of size limit his impact on a basketball court. After playing at NC State for Jim Valvano, Webb was drafted in the fourth round of the 1985 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. He never played for the Pistons and ended up spending the first six seasons of his NBA careeer with the Atlanta Hawks. Webb will forever be remembered for winning the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend as he surprised everyone in defeating defending champion and Hawks teammate Dominique Wilkins for the title. Webb remains one of only two participants under six feet tall (Nate Robinson, who is 5’9 won it in 2006) to win the slam dunk competition. Webb’s NBA career lasted 12 seasons and he is documented as the third-shortest player in NBA history.

20 Greatest Halloween-Related Names in Sports
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /college-football/texas-tech-unveils-new-uniform-lone-survivor-game

When Texas Tech and Kansas State meet on Nov. 9, the Red Raiders will be wearing an alternate jersey, which was created to bring awareness for the Lone Survivor Foundation. The foundation helps wounded service members and their families with various areas of support.

The Red Raiders’ jerseys from the matchup on Nov. 9 will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Lone Survivor Foundation.

This is a sharp look for Texas Tech for a great cause:



Texas Tech Unveils New Uniform for "Lone Survivor Game"
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 16:07
Path: /mlb/world-series-game-5-preview-pivotal-finale-st-louis

World Series – Game 5
Boston at St. Louis
8:07 ET Fox
Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75) vs. Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94)

Two crazy endings in Games 3 and 4 knotted the Series at two games each for Boston and St. Louis. The Cardinals have one more shot at home before ending the series back in Boston. Much like Game 4 was a critical game for the Red Sox, it’s almost as if Game 5 is a must-win for St. Louis. Going back to Boston down a game would be a tough predicament, to say the least. The rematch of Game 1 starters Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright promises more pitching dominance. Lester was terrific in Game 1, and St. Louis continues to struggle against lefthanders. Wainwright was not in top form in Game 1, but his teammates let him down at the plate, and especially in the field. Expect him to bounce back.

Keys for Boston
The Red Sox must play a clean game behind Lester, but more importantly get to Wainwright early. Allowing the Redbirds’ ace to settle in will spell trouble. He led the majors in innings this season and has proven he can go the distance and seems to get stronger in the late innings. Also, an early lead will keep the sea of red in the stands quieter.

Keys for St. Louis
The Cardinals must figure out a way to get David Ortiz out. The big man is batting .727 with four walks in this series and has made a few loud outs. The Redbirds’ plan of pitching around him had been working until Jonny Gomes’ three-run shot last night after a four-pitch walk to Ortiz. St. Louis has yet to have an explosive offensive game in this series. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are the hitters that need to ignite this offense tonight. In Game 1, the Red Sox took a lot of pitches, especially the first time through the order against Wainwright. They swung and missed just eight times against the St. Louis ace. Wainwright must adjust and not allow his pitch count to run up too quickly.

Red Sox to Watch
Ortiz continues to torment the Cardinals. They’ve thrown soft stuff, hard stuff, lefties, righties and nothing has worked. Whoever hits in front and behind Big Papi must continue to foil the Cardinals’ plan of pitching around Ortiz. Presumably, that would be Dustin Pedroia in front and Gomes, once again, behind Ortiz.

Cardinals to Watch
The Cardinals were aggressive in Game 1, and didn’t have but one five-pitch at-bat the first time through the order. But Holliday and Yadier Molina had some a good at-bats off Lester, so expect the Cardinals’ attack to begin with Beltran — who had just one plate appearance — and Holliday and Molina. Both Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal got a day of rest yesterday, so Matheny may ask the two of them to get the final nine outs.
Key Stats
Ortiz is batting .727 in the series while his teammates are scuffling at .138…The Red Sox have to be more opportunistic offensively scoring 18 runs on just 24 hits…The Cardinals have 32 hits, but managed just 12 runs…Left-handed pitcher Franklin Morales is the only Boston player yet to see action in the series. Backup catcher Tony Cruz and pitchers Shelby Miller and Edward Mujica have yet to get in a game for St. Louis…Holliday has three of the Cardinals’ seven extra-base hits. Ortiz owns three of Boston’s eight…Ortiz now owns a .436 batting average in 12 career World Series games with eight extra-base hits and 13 RBIs. The average is best all-time among players with as many as 50 plate appearances…Ortiz has made just three outs in the four games, one of which he was robbed of a grand slam by Beltran, who turned the out into a sac fly.

This World Series between Boston and St. Louis has been one strange ending after another.
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 13:26
Path: /college-football/houston-unveils-halloween-themed-uniforms

Houston is off to a 6-1 in the second year under coach Tony Levine, and the Cougars’ only loss is a one-point defeat to BYU. Levine's team also has momentum after a 49-14 blowout victory at Rutgers last week.

The Cougars have a key American Athletic Conference game on Halloween night, and Levine unveiled new uniforms for the Thursday matchup.

But in the spirit of Halloween, Levine had a nice trick planned for his players. Check out this video from the jersey unveiling and the photo just below of the actual jerseys:

Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 12:47
Path: /college-football/rutgers-unveils-new-helmets-hurricane-sandy-relief

Rutgers will have a new helmet for Saturday’s game against Temple, as coach Kyle Flood unveiled a new look to support the relief efforts from Hurricane Sandy.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, and the helmet features the Rutgers “R” logo on the state of New Jersey.

This is the second tribute Rutgers has done this year to promote the relief efforts. In the spring game, Rutgers wore these special jerseys and helmets.

Rutgers Unveils New Helmets for Hurricane Sandy Relief
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 12:27
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-28-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Oct. 28.


• It's Halloween week, and the cheerleaders of the NFL are ready.


For the first time, a World Series game ended on a pickoff, as pinch-runner Kolten Wong failed to get back to first, leaving Carlos Beltran with the bat in his hands. That's just Wong, amirite?


• Of course, that was only the second bizarre ending of this series. Joe Pos compares the two for overall weirdness.


Dez Bryant spent yesterday catching touchdowns and flipping out on the sidelines. He called his sideline behavior "passion." I call it "childish" and "distracting." Guy can play, though.


• The source of much of Bryant's frustration yesterday was Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who even faked himself out on the winning touchdown.


• The NBA is about to elbow its way into the spotlight like it's Metta World Peace. Here are some storylines to brush up on to get NBA-ready.


• Speaking of the NBA, Serge Ibaka dressed up like Prince Akeem from "Coming to America." Nice attention to detail.


• While we're on the subject of Halloween costumes, this kid scored big-time with his Kliff Kingsbury.


• Then there's this: Move over, Baby Mark Mangino. Say hello to Baby Andy Reid.


• Since it's Halloween week, here are some funny GIFs of people getting the poop scared out of them.


• Connor Shaw won the weekend in college football. Here's what you might have missed in the SEC.


• Terrelle Pryor erased Bo Jackson from the Raiders record books and set a QB record with a 93-yard scamper against the Steelers. Kid's got wheels. Enjoy.




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

Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 11:03
All taxonomy terms: NFC West, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/seattle-seahawks-vs-st-louis-rams-game-preview-and-prediction

Week 8 of NFL action concludes tonight with a matchup of NFC West teams when the Seattle Seahawks take on the St. Louis Rams at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Pete Carroll has his Seahawks, at 6-1, off to the best start in franchise history. The numbers have been impressive. The Seahawks are second in the NFL in rushing offense, fifth in rushing defense and second in passing defense.

On the other hand the Rams have struggled to run the football and stop the run, with 29th and 30th overall rankings, respectively. Things didn't get any better for St. Louis last week against Carolina with starting quarterback Sam Bradford suffering a torn ACL. This doesn't bode well for a Rams organization that is 2-14 against the Seahawks since 2005. This will be the 31st overall meeting between the two teams, with Seattle leading the series 18-12.

3 Things to Watch

No Sam Bradford
In the wake of Bradford's season-ending ACL injury, the Rams will turn to backup Kellen Clemens. St. Louis doesn't appear to be very confident in Clemens, who started three games for an injured Bradford in 2011, as reports have it that the Rams reached out to the 44-year-old Brett Favre. Rejected by Favre, the Rams signed Brady Quinn and Austin Davis to serve as Clemens' backups. While many have been critical of Bradford's play, the former Oklahoma Sooner was playing well this season. Through seven games Bradford was completing 60 percent of his passes for 1,687 yards with 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions. In fact, in his last three games Bradford had thrown seven touchdowns and just one interception. Clemens benefits from the fact that he is in his seventh season working with Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who held the same role with the Jets from 2006-11. Even so, Seattle defensive backs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are licking their chops as they look to pad their interception totals.

Marshawn Lynch vs. Rams' run defense
The Rams have the 30th-ranked rush defense, allowing 126 yards per game. The Seahawks own the NFL's second-best rushing attack, averaging 154 yards per game. Marshawn Lynch has amassed over 575 rushing yards, which ranked him second in the NFL entering Week 8. The Rams have faced top-level backs in recent weeks in Frank Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster and DeAngelo Williams. Jones-Drew was held to 70 yards rushing, Williams to 40 yards, but Foster ripped off 141 yards on the ground while Gore slashed the Rams for 153 yards. Last year, Lynch averaged 25 carries and 101 yards rushing in two games against the Rams. Lynch can help the Seahawks control the clock and open up passing lanes for quarterback Russell Wilson.

Rams' Pass Rush
The Rams have a trio of talented pass-rushers on their defensive line. Former first-rounders Chris Long, Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn have combined for 13 of the Rams' 18 sacks this year. Behind a struggling offensive line that's missing injured tackles Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung, Wilson has already been sacked 20 times. Only Ryan Tannehill, Geno Smith, Brandon Weeden and Ben Roethlisberger had been dropped more entering Week 8. Without Okung, a Pro Bowl left tackle, the quick Quinn should be able to take advantage. Quinn, who already has seven sacks this year, will be matched up against Pat McQuistan, whose lack of athleticism and foot speed will be problematic against the dynamic Quinn.

Key Player for Seattle: Russell Wilson, QB
Wilson has been tremendous in his sophomore campaign. He's thrown for 1,500 yards and rushed for 300 yards in just seven games. Wilson is coming off of a game against Arizona in which he posted a 122.1 passer rating and three touchdown passes, both of which are season highs. As he appears to get more comfortable behind a patchwork offensive line, look for Wilson's production to continue to improve as the season progresses.

Key Player for St. Louis: Zac Stacy, RB
With Bradford out for the rest of the year, the Rams' offense will turn to its rookie running back. Stacy is averaging better that four yards per carry; however, the Rams are the only team in the NFL without a rushing touchdown this year. Things will not be easy for the former Vanderbilt Commodore, as the Seahawks' rushing defense is allowing less than 92 yards per game.

Final Analysis

I really like the St. Louis defense. They create great pressure off of the edge, James Laurinaitis has been a tackling machine in the middle and the corner combination of Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins is as tough as it comes in the NFL. The problem? The Rams' offense. This problem becomes even more of an issue with the loss of quarterback Sam Bradford. Kellen Clemens has been a mediocre quarterback his entire NFL career and I don't expect anything different. The Rams offense will struggle to put up any points on the stingy Seahawks defense. Expect Rams fans to be heading to the exits early to watch their Cardinals try and beat the Red Sox in Game 5 of the World Series.

Seattle 27, St. Louis 6

Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/2013-legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-9
After another eye-opening offensive performance, Baylor moved up another spot in the Legends Poll and made its first ever top 5 appearance.
The fifth-ranked Bears continued their dominance at Kansas, pounding the Jayhawks 59-14 on the road, setting up a Big 12 showdown with Oklahoma Thursday, Nov. 11.
No. 1 Alabama remained atop the Legends Poll rankings, followed still by Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State. But Florida State continued gaining ground on Oregon following its 49-17 win over NC State in Legends Poll Voter Bobby Bowden’s return to Doak Campbell Stadium.
No. 6 Stanford dropped a spot and was followed by Miami (FL), Clemson, Auburn and Oklahoma. Ninth-ranked Auburn moved into the top 10 for the first time this season.
No. 11 Missouri tumbled four spots in the rankings following a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of No. 15 South Carolina. No. 14 Texas Tech also fell out of the top 10 after suffering its first loss at Oklahoma.
No. 22 Michigan State and No. 24 Central Florida were newcomers to the poll this week.
Virginia Tech and Arizona State dropped out of the top 25.
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll
1AlabamaAlabama (15)8-03991
2OregonOregon (1)8-03802
3Florida StateFlorida State7-03733
4Ohio StateOhio State8-03514
7Miami (FL)Miami (FL)7-02998
13Texas A&MTexas A&M6-220517
14Texas TechTexas Tech7-11689
15South CarolinaSouth Carolina6-216721
17Oklahoma StateOklahoma State6-115516
18Fresno StateFresno State7-011220
21Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois8-08422
22Michigan StateMichigan State7-160-
25Oregon StateOregon State6-22624


* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward. You can see the entire Poll at

2013 The Legends Poll Top 25: College Football Week 9
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /college-football/2013-acc-post-week-9-power-rankings

The ACC was short on intriguing matchups for Week 9. Florida State suffered no letdown from its win against Clemson, dominating NC State for a 49-17 victory. The Tigers got back into the win column with a 40-27 win at Maryland.

Miami needed another late comeback, this time against Wake Forest. The Hurricanes trailed 14-3 to the Demon Deacons but rallied behind running back Duke Johnson.

Duke didn’t do much on offense, but it was enough to upset Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The loss against the Blue Devils isn’t too damaging to the Hokies, as the November showdown against Miami will decide the Coastal Division.

Also in ACC action, Georgia Tech beat Virginia 35-25, and North Carolina defeated Boston College 34-10.

Pittsburgh suffered a loss at Navy, which dropped the Panthers to 4-3 overall.

More Post-Week 9 Power Rankings: Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

11Florida State (7-0, 5-0): No letdown here. After a big win at Clemson, it was easy to think the Seminoles might not follow up last week’s victory with the same effort against NC State. Florida State quickly erased any doubts, as the offense scored 35 points in the first quarter and cruised to a 49-17 victory. While NC State scored 17 points in the second half, the bigger takeaway for coach Jimbo Fisher was the valuable snaps for his backups. Quarterback Jameis Winston continued to make his case for the Heisman, throwing for 292 yards and three touchdowns on 16 completions. Barring a huge turnaround by Florida, Florida State’s last ranked opponent until the ACC Championship will be Miami next Saturday. Next Week: Miami
22Clemson (7-1, 5-1): The final score may have been a little closer than some expected, but Clemson erased a few of the bad feelings from last week’s 51-14 loss to Florida State with a 40-27 victory at Maryland. The Tigers’ committed three turnovers, which allowed the Terrapins to hang around. But quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 304 yards and one score, while running back Roderick McDowell delivered his best performance of the year with 161 yards and two touchdowns on 30 attempts. The defense allowed a 71-yard touchdown in the first quarter but held Maryland out of the endzone again until just under six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Clemson still has a chance to make a BCS bowl as an at-large selection. However, the Tigers’ likely need to go 11-1 for that to happen, which means they need to win at South Carolina in the regular season finale. Next Week: at Virginia
33Miami (7-0, 3-0): With Florida State up next, the Hurricanes may have looked past Wake Forest. Whether it was a case of overlooking the Demon Deacons or not, Saturday’s performance didn’t inspire much confidence that Miami can win at Tallahassee next week. Quarterback Stephen Morris threw for 191 yards, but the difference maker was running back Duke Johnson, who rushed for 168 yards and two scores. For the second consecutive game, Miami scored the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining. Next Week: at Florida State 
44Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2): Despite five turnovers, the Yellow Jackets scored a 10-point victory at Virginia to earn their fifth win of the season. Georgia Tech’s offense recorded 507 yards, gashing the Cavaliers for 7.6 yards per carry. Virginia recorded 32 first downs, but the Yellow Jackets held the Cavaliers to just 4.8 yards per play. Safety Jemea Thomas was a bright spot for Georgia Tech’s defense, recording 15 stops and two pass breakups. After losing three consecutive games, the Yellow Jackets have won two in a row and host Pittsburgh next Saturday in a key game for positioning within the Coastal Division. Next Week: Pittsburgh
58Duke (6-2, 2-2): It wasn’t pretty, but style points matter little for Duke coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils upset Virginia Tech 13-10, earning their first win in Blacksburg. Also, the victory was Duke’s sixth of the season, which should ensure this team is back in a bowl game. The stat sheet was a one-sided affair in favor of the Hokies. The Blue Devils didn’t convert a third down, and quarterback Anthony Boone failed to complete a pass in the second half. However, Duke simply found a way to win, with its defense stepping up in the final two quarters for the second week in a row. The Blue Devils have a bye to regroup, and with the way Cutcliffe’s team is playing, it could easily win any of their final four games. Next Week: Bye Week
64Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1): It’s hard to envision a loss when you hold a team to just 198 yards and force four turnovers. But that’s what transpired in Blacksburg on Saturday, as Virginia Tech lost 13-10 to Duke. The Hokies easily outgained the Blue Devils (387 to 198) and didn’t allow a third-down conversion, but it wasn’t enough to win. Duke’s four turnovers resulted in only two field goal attempts by Virginia Tech, and the Hokies struggled to get any production from their running backs. Quarterback Logan Thomas tossed four picks, including one with less than five minutes to go, which sealed the victory for Duke. Although the loss is a setback for Virginia Tech, this team remains alive in the Coastal Division – assuming it doesn’t lose next week at Boston College. Next Week: at Boston College
76Pittsburgh (4-3, 2-2): With a second-half schedule that features Miami, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, the Panthers have very little room for error after losing to Navy on Saturday afternoon. Pittsburgh’s offense averaged 5.2 yards per play, but the rushing attack was largely held in check (3.6 ypc, 135 overall yards), while quarterback Tom Savage didn’t connect on a pass longer than 28 yards. The defense forced four three-and-outs in the first three quarters, but Navy’s final three drives resulted in 17 points and each spanned longer than 10 plays. The only good news for Pittsburgh is playing the Midshipmen will prepare this team for next week’s matchup against Georgia Tech. Next Week: at Georgia Tech
811North Carolina (2-5, 1-3): A disappointing start to the season has cooled some of the momentum on coach Larry Fedora’s tenure, but the Tar Heels took out some of their early-season frustration with a 34-10 victory against Boston College on Saturday. The win over the Eagles was North Carolina’s first in conference play in 2013. A struggling run defense allowed Boston College running back Andre Williams to rush for 172 yards. However, the Tar Heels held the Eagles’ passing attack to just 59 yards. A bright spot for North Carolina’s offense was backup quarterback Marquise Williams, who threw for one touchdown and ran for 55 yards and one score. Next Week: at NC State 
97Boston College (3-4, 1-3): After starting 2-1, the Eagles have dropped four out of their last five games. A tough schedule has contributed to the recent struggles, as there’s no shame in losing at USC, Clemson and North Carolina, along with a home defeat to Florida State. As expected, Boston College was able to run on North Carolina (202 yards), but the passing attack struggled. Quarterback Chase Retting threw for only 57 yards on 20 attempts. The Eagles’ defense limited the Tar Heels to 5.4 yards per play, but despite four sacks, was unable to force a turnover. After next week’s game against Virginia Tech, the schedule lightens in the final four games, which should allow Boston College to get bowl eligible. Next Week: Virginia Tech
109Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3): The Demon Deacons had their two-game winning streak snapped with a last-minute loss at Miami. Behind a steady diet of short passes from quarterback Tanner Price, Wake Forest jumped out to a 14-3 lead. However, Miami rallied in the second half, scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes to win 24-21. Although the Demon Deacons lost, it’s clear Jim Grobe and his coaching staff have made the right adjustments after a sluggish 1-2 start. Wake Forest needs two wins to get bowl eligible and with Syracuse, Duke and Vanderbilt left, this team will have a chance to get to six wins. Next Week: at Syracuse
1110Maryland (5-3, 1-3): The Terrapins’ midseason slide continued with a 40-27 loss to Clemson. Injuries have taken a toll on both sides of the ball for Maryland, and it clearly showed on Saturday. Backup quarterback Caleb Rowe threw for 282 yards but completed just 19 of 45 passes. The defense did a good job of holding the Tigers to field goals in the first half. However, Clemson pulled away in the second half, with quarterback Tajh Boyd and running back Roderick McDowell leading the way. Considering all of the injuries that Maryland has suffered, next Saturday's bye week is timely and should allow this team to regroup for its final four games. Next Week: Bye Week 
1212Syracuse (3-4, 1-2): The Orange had a bye in Week 9 and return to action on Nov. 2 against Wake Forest. Syracuse needs three wins to get bowl eligible, and three home games will give coach Scott Shafer a chance to earn a postseason trip in his first season. The Orange play Wake Forest on Saturday and finish the season with back-to-back home games against Pittsburgh and Boston College. Next Week: Wake Forest
1314NC State (3-4, 0-4): As expected, the Wolfpack were simply outmanned against Florida State. The Seminoles didn’t suffer any letdown after beating Clemson a week ago, gashing NC State for 35 points in the first quarter. The Wolfpack were able to score 17 points on the Seminoles’ backups in the second half, and quarterback Brandon Mitchell made his return to the lineup. The senior missed five games due to a foot injury and showed some rust in the loss to Florida State (17 of 33, 128 yards). Although the loss in Tallahassee wasn’t pretty, NC State has a favorable schedule in the final month of the season and still has a shot at bowl eligibility. Next Week: North Carolina
1413Virginia (2-6, 0-4): The Cavaliers’ miserable season continued with a 35-25 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday. Virginia’s defense forced five turnovers, but the offense was unable to score any points off the Yellow Jackets’ mistakes. Quarterback David Watford threw for 376 yards and two scores. However, the rushing attack went nowhere, as running back Kevin Parks managed just 54 yards and one touchdown on 13 attempts. After five consecutive losses, the heat on coach Mike London is starting to build. Although London got a vote of confidence from athletic director Craig Littlepage, it’s tough to imagine he can survive if the final record is 2-10. Next Week: Clemson


ACC Week 9 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
For the second week in a row with the game in doubt, Miami turned to its ground attack to earn the victory. And the Hurricanes’ running backs and offensive line delivered once again, as the Miami scored with less than a minute remaining to beat Wake Forest 24-21. Running back Duke Johnson was the difference in the game for the Hurricanes, rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 30 rushes. And it was a gutty performance from the sophomore, as he appeared to be less than 100 percent in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes will need a similar performance from Johnson in next week’s huge showdown against Florida State.

Defensive Player of the Week: Kelby Brown, LB, Duke
Brown and fellow linebacker David Helton anchored Duke’s strong defensive effort against Virginia Tech. Brown recorded 14 stops, which ranked second on the team behind Helton’s 19. One of Brown’s tackles for a loss, but his biggest contribution was an interception with less than five minutes remaining, which sealed the victory for Duke. Brown ranks third on the team with 61 stops this season and has recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss. The junior missed 2012 due to injury but has been a key contributor for Duke’s defense in 2013.

Coordinator of the Week: Jim Knowles, Duke
The Blue Devils’ defense had some help from a sluggish Virginia Tech offense, but for the second week in a row, Duke’s defense has stepped up when it mattered. The Blue Devils didn’t allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s victory over Virginia and held the Hokies to just 55 yards in the fourth quarter, which was just enough for Duke to score a 13-10 win in Blacksburg. The Blue Devils forced four interceptions off Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and generated four tackles for a loss. Duke has held its last three opponents to five yards or less per play, and only one team in the last three games against the Blue Devils has scored more than 10 points. Knowles has pushed the right buttons this season, and the key stops on defense are a key reason why Duke is 6-2.

Team of the Week: Duke
Despite four turnovers, 198 yards of offense and zero third-down conversions, Duke defeated Virginia Tech 13-10. Saturday’s win in Blacksburg was the first in school history, and the Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the second straight year. Duke’s defense has taken a lot of criticism over the last few years, but this unit has delivered with the game on the line in back-to-back weeks. The Blue Devils did not allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s win against Virginia, and this unit held Virginia Tech to just 24 yards on its final two drives to secure the win. It wasn’t pretty, but the victory in Blacksburg shows how far Duke has progressed under David Cutcliffe. After going 6-18 from 2010-11, the Blue Devils are 12-9 in their last 21 games. And Saturday’s win over Virginia Tech was the program’s first on the road over a ranked team since 1971.

Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
A tip of the cap needs to go to Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller, who recorded three picks in Saturday’s loss to Duke. However, this award should take permanent residence in Tallahassee this season. Winston did most of his damage in the first half against NC State and finished with 16 completions for 292 yards and three scores. The freshman tossed just two passes in the second half against the Wolfpack and has at least three touchdown passes in four consecutive games.

5th Down

• Clemson running back Roderick McDowell rushed for 161 yards on 30 carries against Maryland. The 100-yard effort was his first since the season opener.

• In Saturday’s win at Virginia Tech, Duke did not convert a third down or complete a pass in the second half.

• Wake Forest freshman safety Ryan Janvion led the defense with 14 tackles in Saturday’s loss to Miami.

• Maryland linebacker Cole Farrand recorded 23 tackles in Saturday’s loss against Clemson.

• After missing five games due to a foot injury, quarterback Brandon Mitchell returned to the lineup for NC State. Mitchell completed 17 of 32 passes for 128 yards.

• Pittsburgh receiver Devin Street caught nine passes against Navy, giving him 186 career receptions. Street’s 186 career receptions are a school record.

• Freshman linebacker E.J. Levenberry led Florida State with eight tackles.

• Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins set a single-game school record with 14 catches in Saturday’s win over Maryland.

• Georgia Tech had three players – Zach Laskey, Robert Godhigh and David Sims – rush for 100 yards against Virginia.

• Florida State has averaged at least seven yards per play in every game this year.

• Duke did not complete a pass in the second half in Saturday’s 13-10 victory over Virginia Tech.

• Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro has three consecutive games of at least 10 catches.

• Pittsburgh’s defense allowed 17 points on Navy’s final three possessions, which was just enough for the Midshipmen to score a 24-21 upset.

• Virginia receivers Darius Jennings and Tim Smith became the first duo in school history to catch at least 10 passes in the same contest.

ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/2013-sec-post-week-9-power-rankings

Alabama is the top ranked team in the nation and obviously the No. 1 team in the SEC. The Crimson Tide disposed of Tennessee 45-10 in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Missouri was the biggest move in the power rankings — in the wrong direction. The Tigers fell from No. 2 to No. 6 after losing at home to South Carolina.

More Post-Week 9 Power Rankings: ACC Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 

SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

11Alabama (8-0, 5-0): Alabama beat Tennessee for the seventh straight time — and did so with remarkable ease. The Crimson Tide led 21-0 after one quarter and 35-0 at the half en route to the 45-10 win over the visiting Volunteers. AJ McCarron, as usual, was efficient throwing the ball, completing 19-of-27 passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Kevin Norwood caught six passes for a career-high 112 yards to lead the Tide’s underrated crop of receivers. Alabama has allowed 10 points or less in all but one game this season. Next Week: Bye
23LSU (7-2, 3-2): LSU stepped out of SEC play to host Furman on Saturday night. The Paladins made it interesting for a while — they trailed 20-16 at the half — but were overwhelmed in the final two quarters of a 48-16 loss. The Tigers rolled up 672 yards of offense, with 300-plus through the air and on the ground. Tailbacks Jeremy Hill and Terrence McGee were unstoppable, combining for 251 yards and four touchdowns on only 21 carries. Furman, coached by longtime Vanderbilt assistant Bruce Fowler, managed only 198 yards. Next Week: Bye
34Auburn (7-1, 3-1): The Tigers cruised to a 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic in their final non-conference game of the season. Quarterback Nick Marshall was sidelined with a shoulder injury early in the second quarter, forcing the Tigers to turn to Jeremy Johnson, a true freshman who has started one game this season. Johnson was sharp, completing 10-of-16 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Cameron Artis-Payne led a productive Auburn ground attack with 93 yards on 13 carries. Next Week: at Arkansas
46Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2): Kevin Sumlin was “hopeful’ that his star quarterback, bothered by a shoulder injury, would be available to play against Vanderbilt. Johnny Manziel said there was never any doubt. The 2012 Heisman Trophy Winner threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns to lead Texas A&M to a 56-24 win. Manziel was extremely sharp early, leading the Aggies on touchdown drives of 75, 66, 80 and 39 yards as they raced out to a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter. Texas A&M committed four turnovers — the most this season — but still won the game with relative ease. The Aggies’ defense, which entered the day ranked 120th in the nation, gave up a season-low 330 yards. Next Week: UTEP
55South Carolina (6-2, 4-2): The Gamecocks are back in the SEC East title chase after rallying to beat Missouri 27-24 in double-overtime on the road. Connor Shaw was the hero for Carolina, coming off the bench in the third quarter and throwing for 201 yards and three touchdowns. The Gamecocks won despite netting only 75 rushing yards on 35 attempts. South Carolina is now only one game behind Mizzou in the loss column, and the Gamecocks own the tie-breaker between the two teams. Next Week: Mississippi State
62Missouri (7-1, 3-1): Missouri is 7-1 overall and alone in first place in the SEC East. That’s the good news. The bad news? The Tigers blew a golden opportunity to all but wrap up the division title by blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter to South Carolina on Saturday night. Maty Mauk, in his second career start, only completed 10-of-25 passes but those 10 completions went for 249 yards — thanks in part to a 96-yard catch-and-run by L’Damian Washington in the second quarter. The Mizzou defense did a great job against the run, holding South Carolina to 75 yards on 35 carries for a 2.1-yard average. However, the Gamecocks passed for 423 yards on 35 completions, including some huge throws from Shaw in the second half. Next: Tennessee
77Georgia (4-3, 3-2): The Bulldogs used the week off to get healthy — both physically and mentally — following their loss at Vanderbilt. Georgia hopes to have star tailback Todd Gurley back in the lineup. The All-American has missed three straight games due a high-ankle sprain. Next Week: vs. Florida

Ole Miss (5-3, 2-3): After a grueling three-week stretch that featured trips to Alabama and Auburn and a home game with Texas A&M, the Rebels stepped out of SEC play and cruised past Idaho 59-14 in Oxford. Ole Miss outgained Idaho 572-to-253 with a balanced attack that produced 280 yards passing and 292 yards rushing. Sophomore tailback I’Tavius Mathers led the way with 138 yards on 14 carries. Next Week: Bye

99Florida (4-3, 3-2): The Gators had a bye to regroup after their troubling 36-17 loss at Missouri two weeks ago. Will Muschamp’s team, which has dealt with a slew of key injuries on both sides of the ball, heads to Jacksonville next week to take on rival Georgia. The Gators have lost two straight in the series for the first time since the late 1980s. Next Week: vs. Georgia. 
1010Tennessee (4-4, 1-3): Tennessee’s hopes for an upset in Tuscaloosa ended well before halftime. The Vols trailed No. 1 Alabama 28-0 after four possessions and never threatened the rest of the way. The big story for Tennessee was the debut of true freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs. The staff was hoping to redshirt both true freshman — Dobbs and Riley Ferguson — but Butch Jones was forced to go to the bullpen when Justin Worley went down with a hand injury late in the first half. Dobbs made his debut in the third quarter and threw for 75 yards on 12 attempts. Tennessee has lost 10 straight SEC road games, dating back to November 2010. Next Week: at Missouri
1111Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-4): You might think that holding Johnny Manziel to a career-low 11 yards rushing would have been a positive development for the Vanderbilt defense. You would be wrong. Led by an extremely efficient passing attack — three A&M quarterbacks combined to throw for 377 yards and average 8.2 yards per attempt — Texas A&M rolled up 556 yards of offense in a 56-24 win over the Dores in College Station. Vanderbilt trailed 28-0 early in the second quarter but scored 17 straight points to cut the deficit to 11 points at the half. The fun ended on the first play of the third quarter when Howard Matthews stepped in front of a Patton Robinette pass and returned the ball 26 yards for a score. Robinette, making his first start, completed 15-of-28 passes for 215 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Next Week: Bye
1212Mississippi State (4-3, 1-2): It was a struggle, but Mississippi State picked up its first SEC win of the season, holding on to beat Kentucky 28-22 in Starkville on Thursday night. The Bulldogs dominated the game statistically — outgaining UK 447-to-325 — but needed a defensive stop in the last minute to preserve the win. Sophomore Dak Prescott, back as the starter at quarterback after giving way to Tyler Russell the previous week, threw for 268 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. State converted 10-of-18 on third down, did not commit a turnover and scored a touchdown on all three of its trips to the red zone. Next Week:
1313Mississippi State (4-3, 1-2): It was a struggle, but Mississippi State picked up its first SEC win of the season, holding on to beat Kentucky 28-22 in Starkville on Thursday night. The Bulldogs dominated the game statistically — outgaining UK 447-to-325 — but needed a defensive stop in the last minute to preserve the win. Sophomore Dak Prescott, back as the starter at quarterback after giving way to Tyler Russell the previous week, threw for 268 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. State converted 10-of-18 on third down, did not commit a turnover and scored a touchdown on all three of its trips to the red zone. Next Week:
1414Kentucky (1-6, 0-4): Kentucky put itself in position to record its first SEC win the of the season, but the Wildcats’ final drive stalled at the Mississippi State 29-yard line when Maxwell Smith’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete. The result was a 28-22 loss in Starkville — the Cats’ 12th-straight defeat in SEC play. With Jalen Whitlow slowed by an ankle injury, Smith got the start at quarterback. The sophomore did not throw an interception but threw for only 160 yards on 34 attempts. Whitlow played sparingly, completing his only passing attempt (for five yards) and rushing for 12 yards on four attempts. Raymond Sanders rushed for a season-high 86 yards on 15 carries. Next Week: Alabama State

SEC Week 9 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Shaw, nursing a knee injury, came off the bench in the third quarter with his team trailing 17-0. About two hours later, the Gamecocks walked off the turf at Faurot Field with an improbable 27-24 win in double-overtime. Shaw was the man most responsible for Carolina’s season-saving win. The senior completed 20-of-29 passes for 201 yards with three touchdowns  — despite not playing the entire first half. The Gamecocks tied the game when Shaw connected with Nick Jones on a 2-yard touchdown with 42 seconds remaining in regulation and sent the game into a second overtime when Shaw found Bruce Ellington for a TD on 4th-and-goal from the 15.

Defensive Player of the Week: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Quarles, one of the more underrated players in the SEC, was disruptive in the middle of the South Carolina defensive line. The junior from Hodges, S.C., recorded six tackles, including three for a loss (and two sacks) in the Gamecocks’ double-overtime win over Missouri. Quarles leads South Carolina with 10.0 tackles for a loss and 7.0 sacks — five more than his more famous teammate, Jadeveon Clowney.

Team of the Week: South Carolina
South Carolina kept its SEC East title hopes alive with an improbable comeback win at Missouri. The Gamecocks, who entered the day two games behind Mizzou in the loss column, rallied from 17-0 down in the fourth quarter and eventually won the game in the second overtime when MU’s Andrew Baggett missed a 24-yard field goal. South Carolina is now 4-2 in league play with games remaining at home against Mississippi State and Florida. Missouri, now 3-1, still has to play Tennessee and Texas A&M at home and Ole Miss and Kentucky on the road. Florida and Georgia both have two losses as well.  

Coordinator of the Week: Mark Snyder, Texas A&M
The SEC’s worst defense — at least statistically — had its best day of the season on Saturday afternoon. Texas A&M, which had allowed an average of 532.0 yards in SEC action, limited Vanderbilt to 329 yards and only 4.3 yards per play. The Commodores were playing with a redshirt freshman quarterback (Patton Robinette) making his first start, but this was still an impressive performance by the Aggies’ defense. A&M had allowed at least 250 yards rushing in every SEC game this season — including 379 in the loss to Auburn two weeks ago — but held Vanderbilt to 95 on 44 attempts.

Freshman of the Week: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
Johnson, a true freshman from Montgomery, Ala., was forced into action when Nick Marshall went down with a shoulder injury early in the second quarter. Johnson responded, completing 10-of-16 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers’ 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic. Johnson connected with Sammie Coates for a 36-yard TD on his first play of the game and then found Coates again for a 67-yard score later in the second quarter.

Fifth Down

• Johnny Manziel, playing through a shoulder injury, had career-lows in rushing yards (11) and rushing attempts (four) — and two of his attempts came on sacks. Prior to Saturday, Manziel’s fewest carries and yards both game in the 2013 season-opener against Rice, when he had 19 yards on six attempts in one half of action.

• Alabama has not allowed more than two touchdowns to an SEC team not named Texas A&M in the regular season since the 2010 Iron Bowl loss to Auburn. In the last two regular seasons, Alabama has given up 71 points in two games against Texas A&M and a total of 78 points in its other 11 SEC games.

• Missouri let a late lead slip away, but the Tigers continue to get solid play from their defensive line. Mizzou held South Carolina to only 75 yards rushing on 35 attempts for a 2.1-yard average. Mike Davis, who entered the day as the SEC’s leading rusher, was held to a season-low 51 yards on 19 carries. His previous low was 77 yards on 17 carries against Vanderbilt.

• It’s a small consolation for Tennessee — which lost 45-10 at Alabama — but the Vols had to be pleased with the play of tailbacks Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane. The two combined for 90 yards on 19 carries (a 4.7-yard average) against the SEC’s top rushing defense. Neal leads the team with 763 yards and nine rushing touchdowns.

• Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood had the first 100-yard game of his career on Saturday afternoon. The senior caught a season-high six passes for 112 yards in Bama’s win over Tennessee. 

Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-post-week-9-power-rankings

Ohio State and Minnesota stole the show again this week in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes need to win out and do so in convincing fashion — and likely get some help — to get into the BCS title game and a 49-point win over Penn State was just that for Urban Meyer.
Meanwhile, the Gophers won a second straight game as a double-digit underdog in the division as they toppled Nebraska in impressive fashion at home. This team is clearly rallying around head coach Jerry Kill and their two wins have opened up the Legends Division in short order.

More Post-Week 9 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings:

1.(1)Ohio State (8-0, 4-0): Urban Meyer knows he needs to win big the rest of the season and get some help to make it to the national title game. Style points mean more for the Buckeyes than anyone else in the nation, so the 49-point win over Penn State was an important one. The Bucks jumped out to a big lead over the Nittany Lions and never looked back. Braxton Miller threw for 261 yards, rushed for 68 more and accounted for five total touchdowns. Next Week: at Purdue 
(3)Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1): Wisconsin bounced back from a loss to Ohio State in impressive fashion over Northwestern and Illinois. But the final month won't be easy for the Badgers with two road trips to rivals Iowa and Minnesota as well as home games with BYU, Penn State and Indiana. There is a wide range of outcomes in Madison. Next Week: at Iowa 
(5)Michigan State (7-1, 4-0): The Spartans trailed 3-0 at the end of the first quarter before scoring two touchdowns in each of the next three quarters. The defense did the rest by shutting down Illinois' offense. Connor Cook was fantastic, completing 15-of-16 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns while the rushing attack posted 269 yards on the ground. Sparty had 14 third-down conversions and 29 first downs to Illinois' three conversions and eight total first downs. The nation's No. 1 defense only improved its resume this weekend. With Nebraska losing, Mark Dantonio's bunch has taken over as the frontrunner in the Legends Division ... with Michigan coming to town. Next Week: Michigan 
(4)Michigan (6-1, 2-1): Two weeks to prepare for a visit from in-state little brother Michigan State and the nation's top defense is a huge blessing. In fact, the next two games for the Wolverines will decide their fate in the Legends Division. Nebraska comes to town in Week 11. Next Week: at Michigan State 
(2)Nebraska (5-2, 2-1): The Huskers should have carried a lot confidence into a road meeting with Minnesota. Taylor Martinez returned to the lineup, Nebraska hadn't lost to the Gophers in more than five decades and it was the clear frontrunner in the Legends Division. But Bo Pelini's defensive woes reared their ugly head once again as Minnesota pounded the Huskers defense for nearly 300 yards rushing. The offense got going in the second half but it was never enough to threaten. A home game with the Wildcats next week becomes a must-win. Next Week: Northwestern 
(7)Minnesota (6-2, 2-2): For the second consecutive weekend, the Golden Gophers rallied to win as a double-digit underdog without their head coach on the sidelines. Acting coach Terry Claeys moved to 2-0 after dominating the Nebraska defense with 271 yards and three touchdowns on 54 carries. It was the first win over the Huskers for Minnesota since 1960 and the victory makes the Gophers bowl eligible for the second straight season. More important, two straight wins over divisional contenders has vaulted Goldie into Legends Division contention. Next Week: at Indiana 

Penn State (4-3, 1-2): Bill O'Brien was fighting an uphill battle by heading into the Horseshoe this weekend but he likely didn't see a 63-spot coming. His star freshman quarterback has serious long-term upside, but Christian Hackenberg looked like a first-year player making his first start in Columbus as he threw two interceptions. Ohio State jumped all over the Lions early and never really gave PSU a chance to compete. It marks the first time in school history that Penn State has allowed 40 points in three straight games. Next Week: Illinois

(10)Iowa (5-3, 2-2): It wasn't pretty, but Kirk Ferentz squad moved to within one win of the postseason when Jake Rudock connected with tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in overtime. The Hawkeyes, much like Northwestern, had plenty of chances to win the game in regulation late but could never finish a drive with points. Iowa won with 19 first downs, went 6-of-14 on third downs and totaled just 305 yards of offense. Ferentz's team will have to be better than that to defeat the Badgers next weekend. Next Week: Wisconsin 
(9)Indiana (3-4, 1-2): Kevin Wilson needs three wins in the final five games to reach the postseason. With road trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State still looming, the Hoosiers must win all three home contests. It starts with two in a row against beatable opponents — Minnesota for Homecoming this week and Illinois the following Sautday.  Next Week: Minnesota 
(8)Northwestern (4-4, 0-4): Kain Colter returned to the starting lineup, but it made no difference to Pat Fitzgerald's bunch as Northwestern dropped its fourth straight Big Ten game. The Cats had chances to win the game in regulation but couldn't make critical plays in the final quarter. Colter played well in his return but could muster only two scoring drives all afternoon. The Wildcats are in a complete free fall and have Nebraska, MIchigan and Michigan State next on the slate.  Next Week: at Nebraska 
(11)Illinois (3-4, 0-3): The Illini lost its 17th consecutive Big Ten game at home in ugly fashion this Saturday. Michigan State walked into Memorial Stadium and abused Illinois in all three phases of the game. Nathan Scheelhaase and the offense totaled 128 yards, eight first downs and three points while the defense couldn't stop a balanced Spartans' attack. Things are starting to slip away for head coach Tim Beckman. Next Week: at Penn State 
(12)Purdue (1-6, 0-3): One look at the Boilermakers schedule and it's easy to see why they have one win. Unfortnately, there aren't many chances left for Ws: Ohio State, Iowa, at Penn State, Illinois and at Indiana. Two wins would be impressive (but not unreasonable) in that bunch. Next Week: Ohio State 

Big Ten Week 9 Awards and Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Urban Meyer needs style points, and his star quarterback delivered in a big way. Against Penn State, Miller was efficient, completing 18-of-24 passes for a personal-best 252 yards and three touchdowns passes while rushing for 68 yards on 11 carries and two more touchdowns. He led his offense to season highs in points (63) and total yards (686) while posting the best passing game of his career.

Defensive Player of Week: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Facing the Nebraska rushing attack, Hageman was going to play a huge role in the outcome no matter how he played. But he had one of his best games of the season, disrupting the line of scrimmage and playing in the Huskers backfield all game long. He finished with three tackles, two tackles for loss and his second sack of the season. Hageman and the Gophers held Nebraska to its second-lowest rushing output of the season and its lowest total yardage output of the year (328 yards).

Team of Week: Minnesota
For the second straight week the Gophers are the team of the week in the Big Ten after pulling an upset as a double-digit underdog. This time it netted the Gophers its first win over old-time rival Nebraska since 1960 — giving the school its second straight win over a division contender. Not only had the Gophers lost 16 straight against Nebraska but it hadn't had a lead over Nebraska since 1969.

Coach of Week: Matt Limegrover, Minnesota
Acting head coach Tracy Claeys did another fantastic defensive job on a high-powered divisional foe but Limegrover's offensive gameplan was the biggest difference maker in Week 9. Minnesota ran the ball 54 times and threw just 17 passes and outgunned the Huskers by more than 100 yards (430-328). Limegrover didn't ask Philip Nelson to make many plays with his arm but put him in good positions all while pounding the rock for five yards per carry. Minnesota simply took the action to the Huskers' defense and the Blackshirts couldn't handle it.

Freshman of the Week: Tyvis Powell, DB, Ohio State
With Christian Bryant out for the season, Urban Meyer will need some younger players to step into the secondary and provide support. The 6-foot-3 Powell is one of those players. He posted seven tackles in the blowout win over Penn State at home. The Buckeyes defense allowed 357 yards of offense and forced three turnovers as the secondary forced bad decisions from Christian Hackenberg all night.

Fifth Down

• Minnesota took the lead against Nebraska for the first time since 1969 when it went up 14-10 with three minutes to go in the second quarter. The Gophers never trailed the rest of the way. Minnesota has created five total turnovers without giving it up once over the last two games against Northwestern and Nebraska combined.

• For the third straight week, Penn State allowed more than 40 points in a game, the first time it's happened since the turn of the century — the 20th century.

• The Spartans scored 42 points in the road win over Illinois. Michigan State is averaging 31 points per game in Big Ten play this year. Connor Cook completed 15 of his 16 passes.

• Iowa's James Morris and Anthony Hitchens combined for 17 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
• Minnesota's David Cobb carried a 31 times for 138 yards, both career highs, in the Gophers win over Nebraska. He had 11 career carries entering 2013.

• Ohio State won its national-best 20th consecutive game.

• Northwestern lost to Iowa in overtime 17-10. It was the Wildcats fourth consecutive Big Ten loss in four 2013 Big Ten games.

2013 Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:18
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-post-week-9-power-rankings

Stanford and Oregon are the Pac-12’s only options for a team in the national championship game, and with both programs avoiding an upset loss in Week 9, the stage is set for a huge showdown on Nov. 7.

The Ducks were tied with UCLA at halftime but used a strong second half from running back Byron Marshall to pull away from the Bruins. Even with a struggling offense, Stanford was able to keep Oregon State’s high-powered offense out of the endzone until the final minute of the third quarter.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, USC’s depleted roster had just enough talent remaining to beat Utah 19-3. Arizona knocked off Colorado 44-20, and Washington beat California 41-17.

More Post-Week 9 Power Rankings: ACC Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings 

11Oregon (8-0, 5-0): With the score tied at 14 at halftime, Saturday’s game against UCLA was the biggest test of the Mark Helfrich era. If there were any doubts about Helfrich’s leadership for the Ducks, they should have been answered in the second half. Oregon outscored the Bruins 28-0 in the final two quarters, cruising to a 42-14 win. The final yardage (555) wasn’t as eye-popping as some of the Ducks’ previous totals, but it was more than enough. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was steady, while running back Byron Marshall led the way on offense with 133 yards and three touchdowns. The Ducks’ defense held UCLA to 64 passing yards and sacked quarterback Brett Hundley three times. Next Week: Bye Week
22Stanford (7-1, 5-1): With the offense struggling, Stanford’s defense delivered. The Cardinal held Oregon State to just 288 yards of offense (3.6 yards per play), and the Beavers scored only one touchdown in a 20-12 Stanford victory. The connection of quarterback Sean Mannion and receiver Brandin Cooks is one of the best in the nation, but the Cardinal held Cooks to just nine receptions for 80 yards, while Mannion was sacked eight times. Stanford’s performance on offense left a lot to be desired, but the bye week should allow coach David Shaw and his staff an opportunity to regroup. Next Week: Bye Week
33Arizona State (5-2, 3-1): The Sun Devils were off on Saturday and a trip to Pullman for a Thursday night matchup against Washington State is on tap this week. Arizona State is in the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 South title, but three of its final five games are on the road, including a Nov. 23 date at UCLA. The Sun Devils lost 37-27 in their last trip to Washington State in 2011. Next Week: at Washington State (Thursday)
44UCLA (5-2, 2-2): For a half, the Bruins gave Oregon its toughest test of the season. But the final two quarters were a different story. UCLA did not score a point in the second half, losing to the Ducks 42-14. The Bruins’ passing attack was stuck in neutral against Oregon, and no UCLA drive in the second half amassed more than 37 yards. Quarterback Brett Hundley threw for just 64 yards, which was the lowest total in his career. One bright spot for UCLA was the play of senior linebacker Anthony Barr, who recorded two sacks and one forced fumble. Next Week: Colorado
55Oregon State (6-2, 4-1): Despite losing to Stanford, the Beavers maintain their No. 5 spot in the power rankings. Oregon State’s high-powered offense was held in check by the Cardinal, as quarterback Sean Mannion threw for 271 yards, and receiver Brandin Cooks was held under 100 yards (80). The Beavers have struggled to establish a consistent rushing attack this year and managed only 17 yards against Stanford. But the biggest concern for coach Mike Riley has to be a line that allowed eight sacks. Oregon State doesn’t have a ton of time to regroup with a date against USC on Friday night. Next Week: USC (Friday)
66Washington (5-3, 2-3): After three consecutive losses, the Huskies needed a rebound performance before the bye week. Mission accomplished. Washington jumped to a 17-0 lead over California in the first quarter and pulled away for a 41-17 victory. Quarterback Keith Price showed no ill-effects from a thumb injury, completing 20 of 32 passes for 376 yards. Running back Bishop Sankey was held in check by Arizona State, but the junior gashed the Golden Bears for 241 yards and two scores. The Huskies should be favored to beat Colorado and Washington in November. However, can Washington beat UCLA or Oregon State to get over seven wins for the first time under coach Steve Sarkisian? Next Week: Bye Week 
77USC (5-3, 2-2): Despite a shorthanded roster, the Trojans managed to do just enough to beat Utah 19-3. USC had only 40-50 players available for this game due to NCAA sanctions and injuries, but the patchwork roster held together. The Trojans’ defense limited Utah to just 201 yards and forced four turnovers. USC quarterback Cody Kessler was sacked five teams but completed 21 of 32 throws for 230 yards. The Trojans have combined for just 29 points in their last two games, and this unit has a quick turnaround with a date next Friday at Oregon State. However, USC is just one win away from bowl eligibility, and with a week to heal, the Trojans could get some of their injured players back for Week 10. Next Week: at Oregon State (Friday)
88Arizona (5-2, 2-2): The Wildcats started 0-2 in Pac-12 play but have rebounded with back-to-back wins. Colorado battled Arizona, but the Wildcats simply had too much on offense and pulled away in the second half for a 44-20 victory. Arizona took advantage of a struggling Colorado rush defense, gashing the Buffaloes for 405 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Ka’Deem Carey recorded 119 yards on 23 attempts, and the junior now has nine consecutive 100-yard efforts. The Wildcats’ defense was a trouble spot last season but has held five of their seven opponents under 25 points this year. Next Week: at California 
99Utah (4-4, 1-4): Since the upset victory over Stanford on Oct. 12, things have been trending in the wrong direction for the Utes. Utah lost 35-24 to Arizona last week and suffered a 19-3 defeat at USC on Saturday. The loss to the Trojans is puzzling considering the injury issues for USC. Utah’s offense never got on track, averaging a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. Quarterback Travis Wilson has showed flashes of promise, but the sophomore has tossed 12 interceptions in five Pac-12 games. Wilson hasn’t been 100 percent, and the bye next Saturday should help this offense regroup before the final stretch of the season. Next Week: Bye Week 
1010Washington State (4-4, 2-3): The Cougars had a bye in Week 9 and return to action on Thursday night against Arizona State. Washington State has made strides in coach Mike Leach’s second season in Pullman, but the Cougars still need two wins to get bowl eligible. With Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and Washington on the schedule, Washington State may need an upset or two in order to reach the postseason. Next Week: Arizona State (Thursday)
1111Colorado (3-4, 0-4): A 24-point loss is never a good thing, but the Buffaloes managed to hang around for three quarters against Arizona. That last statement may not seem like much, but under new coach Mike MacIntyre, it’s clear Colorado is improving. Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau threw for 212 yards and one touchdown on 17 completions, while receiver Paul Richardson grabbed seven passes for 132 yards and one score. The Buffaloes’ biggest issue is their defense, which was gashed for 405 yards and four touchdowns against the Wildcats. Colorado’s schedule won’t get any easier in the next few weeks, as road trips to UCLA and Washington are up next. Next Week: at UCLA
1212California (1-7, 0-5): The Golden Bears continued to struggle in Pac-12 play with a 41-17 loss against Washington. California’s offense recorded 483 yards against the Huskies, as quarterback Jared Goff completed 32 of 54 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown. But the Golden Bears’ biggest trouble spot is the defense, which allowed the Huskies to average 8.2 yards per play. Injuries and inexperience have been a driving force behind California’s struggles, and the schedule isn’t going to get any easier in the final month of the season. Next Week: Arizona 

Pac-12 Week 9 Recap and Awards

by Braden Gall

Offensive Player of the Week: Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
After a monster performance against UCLA at home, Gaffney backed it up with another stellar showing against a team that had yet to lose in Pac-12 play. On the road against Oregon State, Gaffney carried 22 times for 145 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. He accounted for all of Stanford's scoring in Corvallis and is now third in the Pac-12 in rushing (894 yards, 111.8 ypg). His 12 touchdowns are tied for the lead in the conference.

Defensive Player of the Week: Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford
Murphy, much like the rest of the Cardinal defense, was all over the field against Oregon State. Murphy posted eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks against the nation's leading passer. He leads the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss after back-to-back stellar showings against UCLA and Oregon State. The Cardinal's defensive performance — holding the Beavers to a season-low 288 yards — on the road was a championship-style performance. 

Team of the Week: Oregon
Just like it did against Washington, Oregon played a relatively tight game against UCLA for the better part of three quarters. And just like it did against the Huskies, the Ducks put their foot on the gas pedal for the final quarter and pulled away from a ranked team in impressive fashion. Oregon scored 28 unanswered points to make a 14-14 game a blowout. Oregon has scored at least 42 points in every game and produced another 555 yards of total offense. The win for the Ducks and Stanford's subsequent victory over Oregon State has set up the Thursday night battle in Palo Alto between the last two Pac-12 champs.

Coordinator of the Week: Derek Mason, Stanford
After dominating at home last week against UCLA by holding the Bruins to a season-low in yards and points, Mason's bunch was at it again. Against yet another elite offensive attack, this time on the road, Stanford dominated the Oregon State front line. The Cardinal registered eight sacks against the nation's leading passer in Sean Mannion and held the nation's most productive wide receiver to a season-low 90 yards. The Cardinal defense appears to be well past its early season "slump" and has produced two of the most impressive showings in the nation the last two weekends.

Freshman of the Week: Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Arizona moved to within a game of bowl eligibility and got its second conference win with a victory over Colorado on the road. Wright posted nine total tackles and helped the Wildcats hold the Buffs to just 349 yards of offense and only 3.3 yards per carry. He is Arizona's leading tackler and is third among Pac-12 freshmen in tackles for the season.

Fifth Down

• Washington's Bishop Sankey got back on track against Cal by rushing for a career-high 241 yards on 27 carries for a sturdy 8.9 yards per carry.

• Arizona's B.J. Denker and Ka'Deem Carey combined for 311 yards and four touchdowns on the ground against Colorado. Carey scored all four touchdowns, and Denker averaged 12.8 yards per carry (192 yards).

With less than 50 scholarship players, USC defeated Utah 19-3. The Trojans allowed 201 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers.

• Byron Marshall rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns for Oregon in the win over UCLA. He also caught a pass for 23 yards.

• Sean Mannion was averaging more than 400 yards passing per game. He attempted 57 passes in the loss to Stanford and managed just 271 yards for a 4.8-yard per attempt average.

Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:16
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-9-power-rankings-2013

The Big 12 lost an undefeated team but re-gained another legitimate contender in the league race.

Oklahoma handed Texas Tech its first loss of the season with a 38-30 victory in Norman to give the Big 12 four teams tied in the win column with four league wins. Of course, Baylor and Texas continued to control their own path to the league title with unblemished league records, but the prospect of four teams contending for the Big 12 championship will give the league an exciting November.

Even Oklahoma State, at 3-1, can get back into the mix if the Cowboys can knock off Texas Tech on Saturday.

More Post-Week 9 Power Rankings: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

11Baylor (7-0, 4-0): The Bears started slow against Kansas, with two punts on the first two possessions, but they returned to form in characteristic fashion. Baylor reeled off four consecutive touchdown drives of 68 seconds, 51 seconds, 92 seconds and 41 seconds. The win — but more a loss by Missouri — vaulted Baylor into the Associated Press top five for the first time since 1953. The 59-14 Kansas win, the second-lowest scoring game of the season for the Bears, was the last game before Baylor begins the critical stretch of the season against Oklahoma on Nov. 7. This week: Off
23Texas (5-2, 4-0): A weather delay of more than three hours did little to slow Texas against TCU, keeping the Longhorns tied with Baylor for the Big 12 lead. The most notable development was the first appearance of heralded freshman Tyrone Swoopes. Burning his redshirt signals former starting quarterback David Ash may not return anytime in the next few weeks. Starting quarterback Case McCoy threw two interceptions and completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes for the first time this season. Meanwhile, Texas’ defensive front had another standout day with six tackles for a loss. The Longhorns eight tackles for a loss per game in second only to TCU in conference play. This week: Kansas
34Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1): The Sooners had one of their most complete games of the season in the 38-30 win over Texas Tech, but it came at a price. Oklahoma lost fullback Trey Millard for the season to a torn ACL. Millard was one of the most valuable players on the offense thanks to his versatility in different formations. He’s the third key player OU has lost for the season, joining linebacker Corey Nelson and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. Leading tackler Frank Shannon also left the Texas Tech game with an injury early in the game. This week: Off
42Texas Tech (7-1, 4-1): On one hand, Texas Tech acquitted itself well in its first major test of the season on the road against Oklahoma. With a freshman quarterback and a first-time head coach, Texas Tech lost by only eight points and continued to threaten in the second half. But the Red Raiders still turned the ball over three times and went 5 of 14 on third down in a game full of missed opportunities. Freshman QB Davis Webb had his moments, completing 33 of 53 passes for 385 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but Texas Tech needed more out of a defense that gave up 7.3 yards per play. Tech also learned it would be without starting safety J.J. Gaines for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury. This week: Oklahoma State
55Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1): Clint Chelf returned to the starting quarterback job, but the biggest news for the offense was the performance of Desmond Roland. The junior rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns against Iowa State after entering the game with 147 yards so far this season. The passing game still stalled with Chelf, who completed 10 of 26 passes for 78 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Chelf still showed some impressive mobility — something that was supposed to be the strength of former starter J.W. Walsh — by rushing for 85 yards on nine carries. This week: at Texas Tech
66Kansas State (3-4, 1-3): The Wildcats had their best game of the season on both sides of the ball in a key win over West Virginia. Having receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson back healthy was a major boon for the offense as Jake Waters and Daniel Sams combined to complete 18 of 21 passes for 291 yards as the Wildcats scored 28 unanswered points to end the game. This week: Iowa State
77West Virginia (3-5, 1-4): The Mountaineers lost their second consecutive game in which they led in the third quarter only to have the wheels fall off. Texas Tech scored the final 21 points last week, and Kansas State answered by scoring the last 28. At least the toughest part of the schedule is behind the Mountaineers. West Virginia will face Texas on Nov. 9 but otherwise faces the three teams ranked below. This week: at TCU
88TCU (3-5, 1-4): The good news is that TCU got a rare first-quarter touchdown. The bad news was the TD was all TCU got against Texas. Casey Pachall returned for the first time since the second game of the season, but he did little to spark the Horned Frogs offense. TCU crossed midfield only once in the final 41:31. This week: West Virginia
99Iowa State (2-5, 0-4): The Cyclones played wounded as leading rusher Aaron Wimberly missed the game with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Sam Richardson shined early, but suffered a neck and upper back injury to knock him out of the game. Backup quarterback Grant Rohach led a scoring drive, and backup tailback DeVondrick Nealy showed some explosiveness in the first half. In the second half, the injuries caught up with Iowa State as Oklahoma State outscored the Cyclones 30-7 after halftime. This week: at Kansas State
1010Kansas (1-6, 0-4): Kansas is still without linebacker Ben Heeney and running back Tony Pierson, the top two players on both sides of the ball. The Jayhawks were going to have trouble staying competitive anyway, but this is making matters worse. Charlie Weis has opted for a quarterback rotation with BYU transfer Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart, though neither was effective against Baylor. Kansas has been outscored 174-66 in conference play. This week: at Texas

Big 12 Week 9 Recap and Awards

Offensive player of the week: Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have been stumbling for answers at quarterback and running back all season. Roland may be one of the answers at tailback. The junior rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries in the 58-27 win over Iowa State for the best day by an Oklahoma State running back since early 2010. Roland’s day was highlighted by a 58-yard touchdown run in which he broke a handful of tackles and spun away from Iowa State defenders.

Defensive player of the week: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
Texas Tech got its yards in the passing game, but the Sooners still led in the big play department in the 38-30 win over the Red Raiders. Cornerback Aaron Colvin finished with seven tackles and added an interception early in the first quarter. Colvin also recovered a Jace Amaro fumble that negated a key third down completion in the second quarter.

Freshman of the week: Shock Linwood, Baylor
The Bears redshirt freshman backup gets plenty of work spelling running back Lache Seastrunk, but his performance against Kansas was the best of the season. Linwood rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns on only nine carries in the 59-14 rout. Linwood’s seven rushing touchdowns this season is as much as Kansas has as a team.

Team of the week: Oklahoma
The Sooners still need to beat Baylor and watch Texas lose to have a shot at the Big 12 championship, but OU erased the malaise of the last few months with a 38-30 win over Texas Tech. Even if Oklahoma doesn’t win the league, a one-loss Sooners team would still be attractive to a BCS game. Against Texas Tech, the Sooners’ offense came alive in the final three quarters while the defense did enough to force three turnovers.

Coordinator of the week: Josh Heupel, Oklahoma
After several weeks of trying to find its way, the Oklahoma offense finally hit its stride against Texas Tech with a balanced attack. OU’s 277 rushing yards and 5.5 yards per carry were both the best for the Sooners since Sept. 7 against West Virginia. But the real improvement was in the passing game where Blake Bell had his best game of the season. The Sooners passed for 249 yards and averaged a season-high 11.3 yards per attempt.

Fifth Down

• Texas burned the redshirt of prized freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes in the waning minutes against TCU. Swoopes replaced starter Case McCoy late in the fourth quarter. The move signaled former starter David Ash will be out for at least another week after suffering a concussion.

• Trevone Boykin started at quarterback for TCU, but Casey Pachall returned for most of the action against Texas. Pachall had is non-throwing arm heavily wrapped upon his return from a broken bone. He finished 13 of 34 for 139 yards with an interception.

• By defeating Kansas 59-14, Baylor set a school record with 11 consecutive wins.

• Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett returned from injury to catch eight passes for 111 yards with three touchdowns. Tremaine Thompson also returned to catch three passes for 53 yards with a score.

• Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops improved to 23-1 in the last 24 games in his first meeting against a fellow Big 12 coach.

• Oklahoma State started Clint Chelf at quarterback for the second time this season. Chelf started the opener before he lost the job to J.W. Walsh. Chelf regained the upper hand last week against TCU.

• Iowa State eventually ended up with an all-backup offensive backfield. Running back Aaron Wimberly missed the loss to Oklahoma State with a hamstring injury, and quarterback Sam Richardson left in the second quarter with a head and neck injury.

• Baylor accumulated 743 yards against Kansas, the fifth time Baylor topped the 700-yard mark this season, but Baylor’s 59 points was the second-lowest total of the year.


Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings 2013
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-unlv-preview

This preview and more on UNLV and the Mountain West are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 19 UNLV Facts & Figures
Last season: 25-10 (10-6 Mountain West)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Dave Rice (51-19 at UNLV)
Mountain West projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Dave Rice has accomplished plenty in his first two seasons as coach at UNLV. The former reserve guard on the Runnin’ Rebels’ 1990 national championship team has led his alma mater to back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths and has won a total of 51 games. Rice also coached the Rebels to their first win over a No. 1-ranked team in 22 years with an upset of North Carolina in his first season, and he recruited and coached the school’s first No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick since Larry Johnson in forward Anthony Bennett last season.

Now, the question is: Can Rice keep the momentum going in Year 3 despite a number of key losses?

In addition to Bennett, the Rebels must move forward without three other starters — point guard Anthony Marshall, shooting guard Katin Reinhardt and forward Mike Moser. Overall, six of the team’s top eight scorers from a squad that went 25–10 and lost to California in the Round of 32 have moved on. But Rice remains optimistic his team can return to the NCAAs for the seventh time in eight years.

“It’s always difficult to replace guys who have experience,” Rice says. “But we’re very pleased with the guys we have coming in and development of our returning guys.”


The slippery slope of recruiting a rare talent like Bennett is only being able to keep him around for one year. Still, Rice believes it was a win-win for the Rebels. “Anthony Bennett was terrific for us as a freshman,” Rice says. “He’ll be a great representative for our program and will help us with our recruiting in terms of being able to say we had the No. 1 draft pick.”

Bennett’s good friend and fellow Canadian import Khem Birch returns at forward after earning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore. In league games, the 6-9 Birch averaged 3.0 blocks per game and shot 53.8 percent from the floor.

Junior Roscoe Smith, a hard-nosed defender and rebounder who started on UConn’s 2011 national title team as a freshman, and sophomore Savon Goodman, a high-energy performer who scored 61 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in a summer league game in July, likely will join Birch up front.

Carlos Lopez-Sosa, a 6-11 senior, Christian Wood, a highly recruited 6-10 freshman forward from nearby Findlay Prep, and athletic 6-9 redshirt freshman Demetris Morant add quality size and depth.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Rice’s first order of business will be finding a replacement for Marshall, who led the Mountain West in assists and finished second on the team in scoring. The leading candidates to start are Deville Smith, a transfer from Southwest Mississippi Community College described by Rice as “a pass-first point guard who is lightening quick,” and 6-6 Jelan Kendrick, a former McDonald’s All-American from Indian Hills Community College who has the versatility to play several positions for the Rebels.

Two other players in the point guard mix are sophomore Daquan Cook, who saw limited time as a backup to Marshall, and highly touted freshman combo guard Kendall Smith.

The top returning player in the backcourt is junior Bryce Dejean-Jones, a solid scorer who Rice believes is “as good a perimeter defender as there is in the league.”

Kevin Olekaibe is also a potential contributor on the perimeter. A three-year starter for league rival Fresno State, Olekaibe moved back to his hometown of Las Vegas to be closer to his ailing father. He is eligible to practice with the Rebels this season and has petitioned the NCAA for a waiver to play right away.

Freshman Dantley Walker, the top prep scorer in Nevada state history, joins the team after serving a two-year LDS Church mission but will likely redshirt.


Two junior college transfers with prior Division I experience, point guard Deville Smith (Mississippi State) and combo guard Jelan Kendrick (Memphis and Ole Miss), are being counted on to provide immediate help in the backcourt. Roscoe Smith, a transfer who started for two years at Connecticut, and freshman Christian Wood will play key roles in the frontcourt. Redshirt freshman Demetris Morant adds quality depth in the post, while true freshman Kendall Smith has the versatility to help at both guard spots. The Rebels could get a big boost in the backcourt if senior Kevin Olekaibe is granted his eligibility waiver by the NCAA.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 2. UNLV has produced two No. 1 overall NBA Draft picks (Larry Johnson, Anthony Bennett) since 1991. Duke (Elton Brand, Kyrie Irving) and Kentucky (John Wall, Anthony Davis) are the only other schools to match that number during that span.

It can be argued that no team in the Mountain West lost as many key players as the Rebels. But this is still a deep, talented and versatile squad capable of returning to the NCAA Tournament. How long it takes Rice to get the newcomers to mesh with talented returnees like Dejean-Jones and Birch will be the key. The non-conference schedule, which includes early home games with Arizona State and Illinois and a road date at Arizona, is challenging, especially for a team with so many new pieces.

*Photo Courtesy of UNLV Athletics

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

College Basketball: 2013-14 UNLV Preview
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-9

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

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

With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

23-1: Bob Stoops' record in first meetings with a coach in Big 12 games since 2000
The Red Raiders handed the game over to the Sooners on Saturday in Norman by turning the ball over three times in critical spots. At home, veteran coach Bob Stoops and his team capitalized on Texas Tech's mistakes by outscoring Kliff Kingsbury's team 17-7 over the final 16 minutes. It was Kingsbury's first loss as a head coach and Stoops' 23rd victory in his first meeting with a coach in a Big 12 game during his tenure at Oklahoma. He won his first Big 12 meeting with Art Briles, Bill Snyder, Gary Pinkel, Mike Gundy, Gary Patterson, Mike Leach, Tommy Tuberville and now Kliff Kingsbury (among many others).

1: Teams that have outscored every opponent by at least 15 points
Missouri and Oregon entered the weekend as two of the 10 remaining unbeatens in college football. They were the only two teams in the nation who had yet to play a "close" game because they were the only two teams to have defeated every opponent by at least 15 points. Mizzou collapsed against South Carolina in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Gamecocks gave the Tigers their first loss of the season. Meanwhile, the Ducks scored 28 unanswered points in the final 20 minutes of play to crush UCLA 42-14. Oregon is now of the only team left in college football to have defeated every team its played by more than two touchdowns.

5: Scoring drives led by Connor Shaw in the fourth quarter and OT
The Gamecocks touched the ball five times in the fourth quarter and overtime against Missouri and scored on all five possessions after whiffing on their first 10 drives. Connor Shaw led five scoring drives by completing 17-of-25 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns in the final period and extra time. He didn't turn the ball over, ran three times for 23 yards and was battling a less-than-perfect left knee. The Gamecocks need to win their final two SEC games against Mississippi State and Florida at home and get one loss from Mizzou to make just their second trip to Atlanta as SEC East champs.

1960: Last time Minnesota defeated Nebraska before this past Saturday
The Golden Gophers and Cornhuskers have actually been longtime rivals. The two programs have played 53 times overall with Nebraska dominating the series for more than 50 years. Prior to Saturday's meeting in Minneapolis, the Gophers hadn't beaten the Huskers since 1960 — a streak of 16 consecutive losses. In fact, the Big Red had dominated the series so much that Minnesota hadn't even had a lead in the series since 1969. It was the first Big Ten loss of the season for Bo Pelini and the Cornhuskers. Speaking of... 

7: Ranked Bo Pelini teams who have lost to unranked opponents
A ranked Nebraska team has lost to an unranked foe in each of the last five seasons under Pelini and seven times overall. The final month of the season — Northwestern, at Michigan, Michigan State, at Penn State, Iowa — will determine his fate as the Nebraska head coach.

 Ranked Nebraska losses to unranked teams
Oct. 26, 2013Minnesota def. No. 25 Nebraska 34-23
Dec. 1, 2012Wisconsin def. No. 14 Nebraska 70-31 (Big Ten Championship Game)
Sept. 8, 2012UCLA def. No. 16 Nebraska 35-30
Nov. 5, 2011Northwestern def. No. 9 Nebraska 28-25
Dec. 30, 2010Washington def. No. 17 Nebraska 19-7 (Holiday Bowl)
Oct. 7, 2010Texas def. No. 5 Nebraska 20-13
Oct. 17, 2009Texas Tech def. No. 15 Nebraska 31-10

6: Cities in which Duke has defeated Virginia Tech
The 13-10 road win for Duke over the Hokies features a plethora of interesting stats. It was the first road win over a ranked opponent for Duke in 42 years. The Blue Devils sixth win makes Duke bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. The two starting quarterbacks, Anthony Boone and Logan Thomas, combined for eight interceptions and zero passing touchdowns. In fact, Duke didn't complete a pass in the second half and was 0-11 on third downs for the game. Lastly, it was Duke's first ever win in Blacksburg, giving the Blue Devils a win over the Hokies in six different cities. Duke has beaten Tech in Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Norfolk, Roanoke and, now, Blacksburg.

3,173: Jordan Matthews' SEC-record receiving yards
Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel crushed Vanderbilt 56-24, but Vanderbilt star wide receiver Jordan Matthews caught eight passes for 92 yards. He passed Georgia's Terrence Edwards' 3,093 yards (1999-02) for No. 1 all-time in SEC history. Matthews is one of just four players to top 3,000 yards receiving (Alshon Jeffery, Josh Reed). He has 216 career receptions, trailing only fellow Commodore Earl Bennett's all-time SEC record of 236 receptions. If Vandy doesn't make a bowl game, Matthews needs to average just under eight receptions per game to pass Bennett. Only six players in SEC history have ever caught more than 200 passes (Craig Yeast, Kenny McKinley, Edwards, Keith Edwards). Finally, Matthews has 22 career touchdown receptions — 11 behind the SEC's all-time record of 31 set by Florida's Chris Doering.

28: Quarters Houston has scored a point in 2013
Houston is 6-1 after an impressive 49-14 road win over Rutgers. They have played 28 quarters of football and have scored in every frame of the season. Houston needed a safety against BYU in the third quarter to keep the streak alive in Week 8, the lowest total of any quarter this season for the Cougs. Houston is still perfect in the American Athletic Conference and control its own destiny with games against Louisville and UCF looming in coming weeks.

455: Octavius McKoy NCAA all-division single-game rushing record
TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson owns the FBS single-game rushing record when he rolled up 406 yards against UTEP in 1999. But Marietta College's Dante Brown actually owns the all-division mark with 441 yards in 1996. That record has fallen as Western Connecticut's tailback Octavius McKoy rushed for 455 yards on 43 carries to an all-division NCAA single-game record. Western Connecticut is a Division III program.

Amazing College Football Stats from Week 9
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/post-week-9-bcs-rankings-and-analysis

See, Oregon fans, was that such a long wait?

Even as Florida State and Ohio State demolished their Week 9 opponents, Oregon still took the leap up to the No. 2 spot in the second BCS standings as expected. Oregon defeated UCLA 42-14 to begin a stretch that will give the Ducks an opportunity to build a national title resume, no matter what the Seminoles and Buckeyes do to finish the season.

The second BCS standings were released with few surprises other than perhaps a host of SEC teams jockeying for position for an at-large bid and two non-automatic qualifying teams creeping up the rankings.

Moving Up

Oregon. The predicted move up the rankings began in the second BCS standings as Oregon moved from No. 3 to No. 2 thanks to a win over a top-20 UCLA team. Oregon remained No. 2 in the coaches’ and Harris polls but predictably jumped two spots due to the computer rankings. Oregon moved from fourth in the computer rankings to give the Ducks a 0.0306 edge over Florida State.

South Carolina. The Gamecocks are still in the SEC East hunt after defeating Missouri in overtime, but they also moved from No. 21 to No. 14, the threshold for an at-large BCS bid. Missouri can still win the East, but South Carolina may end up the big winner as far as bowl selection is concerned. If Carolina has only two losses and defeats Clemson to finish the regular season, the Gamecocks would be a nice option for the Sugar Bowl if it loses Alabama to the title game.

Moving Down

Texas Tech. Not a shock, but Texas Tech dropped five spots from No. 10 to No. 15 after a loss at Oklahoma. The Red Raiders remain in the BCS hunt with the Big 12’s automatic bid. Otherwise, Texas Tech would head to the Cotton Bowl at best.

Key Games This Week

No. 7 Miami at No. 3 Florida State. Ohio State will root for Miami to knock off one of the teams blocking the Buckeyes from the top two in the BCS. Miami isn’t the strongest top-10 we’ve ever seen after the Hurricanes needed second-half comebacks to beat North Carolina and Wake Forest, but this will be the last chance for a big FSU win during the ACC season.

No. 21 Michigan at No. 22 Michigan State. Think an Ohio State Big Ten title is a given? Last year an unranked Wisconsin team won the conference title game. The two Michigan rivals are securely in the top-25, but one could become a Legends Division frontrunner Saturday.

No. 18 Oklahoma State at No. 15 Texas Tech. This is probably a Big 12 elimination game with both the Cowboys and Red Raiders sitting on a conference loss.

Other Notes

• Despite close calls — including Saturday against San Diego State — Fresno State would be an automatic BCS bid if the season ended today. The Bulldogs are ranked 16th and ahead of No. 23 UCF, which would claim the American’s automatic bid. Northern Illinois is just one spot behind at No. 17.

• Baylor continues to be hammered by the computer rankings. The Bears are fifth in the coaches’ poll and Harris poll but rank 10th or lower in four of six computers.

• Alabama has a sizable lead from the No. 1 spot, a lead that will only grow if the Crimson Tide win upcoming games against No. 11 Auburn and No. 13 LSU.

• No team ranked lower than eighth in the second BCS standings has reached the national title game. That’s at least a sign of hope for the two one-loss teams in the top eight: Stanford and Clemson.

Notes on BCS selection:

• Automatic BCS bids go to the top two for the title game, the champions of the ACC (Orange Bowl), Big 12 (Fiesta), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose) and SEC (Sugar). The American’s automatic bid is not tied to a particular bowl.

• Notre Dame receives an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight.

• A champion from a non-automatic qualifying league (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and non-Notre Dame independents) receive an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the standings or if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a non-AQ conference.

• To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must have nine or more wins and finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.

• Once automatic tie-ins are placed, the selection order for BCS bids goes as follows: 1. The bowl losing the BCS No. 1 team to the championship game, 2. The bowl losing the BCS No. 2 team, 3. The Orange Bowl, 4. The Sugar, 5. The Fiesta.

Post-Week 8 BCS Rankings and Analysis
Post date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 19:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/golden-arm-performances-week-9

Transamerica is a proud sponsor of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The award is presented each year by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Education Foundation to the nation’s top college quarterback based on character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, and athletic accomplishments. Candidates must be a graduating senior or fourth-year junior on schedule to graduate with their class. As a leading financial services company, Transamerica takes pride in being there for those moments when our customers say, “It’s real now.” Moments like the birth of a new baby, the opening of a new business, college acceptance, retirement, and other key milestones. By showing our support for the young men on the Top 30 watch list, we look forward to seeing them thrill fans around the country and experience moments during the season and beyond when they say, “It’s real now.”

1. Connor Shaw, South Carolina

South Carolina’s offense was in need of a hero on the road at unbeaten Missouri, and Connor Shaw took on that role coming off the sidelines. Shaw did not start for South Carolina due to an injury concern, but with the Gamecocks down 17-0 Steve Spurrier made the switch to the banged up Shaw and it paid off brilliantly. Shaw completed 20 of 29 pass attempts for 201 yards and three touchdowns as South Carolina dug out of a 17-0 hole and picked up a double overtime win to hand Missouri their first loss of the season.

2. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

If not for the flair for the dramatics provided by Shaw and South Carolina, Northern Illinois’ own super hero quarterback would have been on top of this week’s top performers round-up for the second time this season. Jordan Lynch completed 16 of 20 pass attempts for 223 yards and four touchdowns and he came within one yard shy of a 100-rushing performance. Lynch did add one rushing touchdown and even caught a 17-yard touchdown pass as Northern Illinois blew away Eastern Michigan. The Huskies remain undefeated and in position to make a return trip to the BCS party.

3. Blake Bortles, Central Florida

There was no letdown game for Central Florida a week after knocking off Louisville. Blake Bortles completed 20 of 24 pass attempts for 286 yards and he rushed for 26 yards and a touchdown as Central Florida dominated Connecticut. With Bortles leading the offense the Knights remain on top of the American standings and the first BCS bowl bid in program history is beginning to come into focus.

4.  Tajh Boyd, Clemson

Clemson took a while to finally awake from the slumber Florida State put them in last week, but the Tigers eventually hit their stride on the road against Maryland. Tajh Boyd passed for 304 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown as Clemson pulled away from the Terapins, 40-27. Boyd’s performance helped move past a poor showing against Florida State and helps get Clemson back on track for a run at a potential BCS at-large bid. 

5. Keith Wenning, Ball State

If you are not tuning in to watch some MAC football, you are missing out on some good quarterbacking. Just as Jordan Lynch is putting on a show at Northern Illinois, Ball State’s Keith Wenning is putting up big numbers as well for the Cardinals. In a 42-24 victory at Akron that sent Ball State to an 8-1 record, Wenning completed 25 of 25 passes for 240 yards without an interception. Five of his passes were good for a touchdown.

Sponsored by Transamerica

The Golden Arm award is presented to the top senior quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation.
Post date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 18:58
Path: /college-football/south-carolinas-shaw-earns-athlon-sports-player-week-honors

The SEC has more than its share of quality quarterbacks, each with a superlatives. AJ McCarron is the winner. Aaron Murray is the career achiever. Johnny Manziel is the most dynamic.

After Saturday, it would be tough to argue against South Carolina’s as the toughest.

Shaw sustained a knee injury in the loss to Tennessee, making him an emergency-only quarterback against Missouri. With backup Dylan Thompson struggling, South Carolina couldn’t afford to hold Shaw out any longer. Steve Spurrier turned to Shaw in the second half as the veteran quarterback led a 17-point comeback to beat Missouri 27-24 in overtime.

The effort earns Shaw Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors.

“I went over and asked him if he could play and he said sure,” Spurrier said. “I said we had to make the move now. Dylan was just a little off here and there. I thought he had a few guys open and he zinged them out, but he threw some good balls. It just wasn't his night and Connor gave us a little sharpness in there.”

Shaw finished 20 of 29 for 201 yards with three touchdowns to keep South Carolina alive in the SEC East race.

Athlon Sports Week 9 Awards

National Offensive Player of the Week: Connor Shaw, South Carolina

Shaw, nursing a knee injury, came off the bench in the third quarter with his team trailing 17-0. About two hours later, the Gamecocks walked off the turf at Faurot Field with an improbable 27-24 win in double-overtime. Shaw was the man most responsible for Carolina’s season-saving win. The senior completed 20-of-29 passes for 201 yards with three touchdowns  — despite not playing the entire first half. The Gamecocks tied the game when Shaw connected with Nick Jones on a 2-yard touchdown with 42 seconds remaining in regulation and sent the game into a second overtime when Shaw found Bruce Ellington for a TD on 4th-and-goal from the 15.

National Defensive Player of the Week: Trent Murphy Stanford
Murphy, much like the rest of the Cardinal defense, was all over the field against Oregon State. Murphy posted eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks against the nation's leading passer. He leads the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss after back-to-back stellar showings against UCLA and Oregon State. The Cardinal's defensive performance — holding the Beavers to a season-low 288 yards — on the road was a championship-style performance. 

National Freshman of the Week: John O’Korn, Houston
Houston has been one of the biggest surprises this season that has gone virtually unnoticed. The Cougars eclipsed last season’s win total by picking up their sixth win of the season with a 49-14 victory over Rutgers. Making the start more unlikely has been the play of freshman quarterback John O’Korn, who stepped in to replace injured starting QB David Piland earlier this season. O’Korn completed 24 of 30 passes for 364 yards with five touchdowns in the rout of Rutgers. O’Korn arrived to Houston from South Florida high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas.

National Coordinator of the Week: Jim Knowles, Duke
The Blue Devils’ defense had some help from a sluggish Virginia Tech offense, but for the second week in a row, Duke’s defense has stepped up when it mattered. The Blue Devils didn’t allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s victory over Virginia and held the Hokies to just 55 yards in the fourth quarter, which was just enough for Duke to score a 13-10 win in Blacksburg. The Blue Devils forced four interceptions off Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and generated four tackles for a loss. Duke has held its last three opponents to five yards or less per play, and only one team in the last three games against the Blue Devils has scored more than 10 points. Knowles has pushed the right buttons this season, and the key stops on defense are a key reason why Duke is 6-2.

Athlon Sports Week 9 Conference Awards

Offense: Duke Johnson, Miami
Defense: Kelby Brown, Duke
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: Jim Knowles, Duke

Big 12
Offense: Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State
Defense: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
Freshman: Shock Linwood, Baylor
Coordinator: Josh Heupel, Oklahoma

Big Ten
Offense: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Defense: Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Freshman: Tyvis Powell, Ohio State
Coordinator: Matt Limegrover, Minnesota

Offense: Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
Defense: Trent Murphy, Stanford
Freshman: Scooby Wright, Arizona
Coordinator: Derek Mason, Stanford

Offense: Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Defense: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Freshman: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
Coordinator: Mark Snyder, Texas A&M


South Carolina's Shaw Earns Athlon Sports Player of the Week Honors
Post date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 15:38
Path: /mlb/world-series-game-4-preview-cardinals-red-sox-regroup-after-controversial-ending

World Series – Game 4
Boston at St. Louis
8:15 ET Fox
Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74) vs. Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97)

After one of the strangest endings in postseason history, the Cardinals emerged with a two-games-to-one lead heading to Game 4 tonight. The Cardinals look to take a commanding three-games-to-one lead behind starter Lance Lynn. Boston counters with Clay Buchholz, who was the Red Sox ace for the first half of the season. Both teams pretty much emptied their bullpens last night, so there’s more pressure on the starters tonight.

Keys for Boston
Forget about the tough loss last night. Convince themselves that the “whole world is against us,” and use that mentality to galvanize this team in order to begin an incredible run. And manager John Farrell can’t allow his team to lose a close game without firing one of his hottest bullets in Mike Napoli. Farrell, who should have made a double switch if he wanted relief pitcher Brandon Workman to throw more than one inning, allowed Workman to bat for the only time in his professional career in the ninth inning. Farrell can’t get caught like that again. Buchholz, who has appeared to be uncomfortable while throwing on the side this week, must give Boston a strong outing.

Keys for St. Louis
Lynn must have good command and control in the strike zone. If he’s pounding the zone early in counts, Boston’s patience will allow him to get ahead of hitters and that’s when Lynn is effective. If he falls behind too many hitters, this could be Shelby Miller’s game early.

Red Sox to Watch
Buchholz will be watched closely from the first pitch tonight by Farrell. If he can’t give the Sox maximum effort, expect veteran Ryan Dempster to be thrown into the spotlight. Whoever hits behind David Ortiz — most likely Daniel Nava — must make the Cardinals pay for pitching around Big Papi. It was evident in Game 3 that St. Louis pitchers were not going to let Ortiz beat them. That also adds pressure to Dustin Pedroia, who hits in front of Ortiz. All it took was a few miscues in the field to allow St. Louis to score, so the Red Sox must play a clean game on defense. When will Boston test Yadier Molina? The stolen base was such a big part of Boston’s offense all season, but they’ve yet to test the Cardinals’ catcher.

Cardinals to Watch
Expect the Red Sox to begin giving Matt Holliday the Ortiz treatment — pitching around him. That would mean that Matt Adams, Yadier Molina, who had three hits in Game 3, and David Freese would see more critical at-bats. The more Matheny goes to his bullpen, the more likely it will be for Shelby Miller to find his way to the mound in high leverage situations.

Key Stats
Shane Victorino, who is hitless in the series, has been hit once and walked once. He scored both times…Game 3 was the 18th time in Ortiz’s career that he has reached base three times via hit or walk. The Red Sox are now 12-6 in those games, losing the last two…St. Louis is 2-2 in Lynn’s four postseason starts…With 123 steals during the regular season, Boston has yet to attempt a steal in the World Series. With a scant 45 stolen bases this season, St. Louis has pilfered three…In the first three games, the Red Sox have 18 hits, nine walks and 28 strikeouts…Game 3 marked only the second time in World Series history that a team had two blown saves, yet still won the game. The first time was Game 7 in 1960.

After some controversy at the end of Game 3, both the Red Sox and Cardinals carry tired bullpens into Game 4.
Post date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 14:49