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Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-kicker-rankings-week-6
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Mason Crosby is not No. 1 on Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Kicker Rankings for Week 6, but you still have to give the Packers' kicker credit for his early-season turnaround. Last season, Crosby made only 21 of 33 field goal attempts, which translates to a success rate of 63.6 percent. That was lowest in the NFL of any kicker with more than 12 FG attempts. Crosby's struggles were so concerning, that the Packers brought in competition for the job during training camp.

Crosby handled his business during camp and the preseason, and the Packers decided to stick with him. So far, the team's patience has paid off, as Crosby has made all nine of his field goal attempts through four games this season, including 4-of-4 from 40 yards and out. Crosby could end up with several opportunities to kick this week, as the Packers go to Baltimore. The Ravens' defense has been pretty solid (with the exception of the Week 1 blowout in Denver), so it's possible that the Packers will be able to move the ball, but have trouble getting into the end zone. That's where Crosby comes in, and to this point, he's been automatic.

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

2013 NFL Week 6 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

RkPlayerTeamOPPONENT
1Matt PraterDENvs. JAC
2Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. NO
3Blair WalshMINvs. CAR
4Steven HauschkaSEAvs. TEN
5Alex HeneryPHIat TB
6Garrett HartleyNOat NE
7Justin TuckerBALvs. GB
8Mason CrosbyGBat BAL
9Nick FolkNYJvs. PIT
10Ryan SuccopKCvs. OAK
11David AkersDETat CLE
12Robbie GouldCHIvs. NYG (Thurs.)
13Dan BaileyDALvs. WAS
14Phil DawsonSFvs. ARI
15Nick NovakSDvs. IND (Mon.)
16Randy BullockHOUvs. STL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 6 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Week 6 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Kicker Rankings: Week 6
Post date: Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defspecial-teams-rankings-week-6
Body:

Even though Seattle lost last week in Indianapolis, the Seahawks are still No. 1 on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 6 defense/special teams rankings because they are back home and are facing a Tennessee offense that is starting its backup quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick). The Titans' DST is not necessarily a bad play this week either. Not only are the Titans a top-five fantasy DST entering Week 6, the unit has done a good job getting to the quarterback (16 sacks) and forcing turnovers (6 INTs, 5 fumbles).

No DST has played better in recent weeks, however, than San Francisco. After getting off to a slow start, the 49ers' defense has really flexed its muscles in the last two games, despite being without All-Pro linebackers Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis. In Week 4, the unit sacked Sam Bradford five times and held the Rams to one touchdown and 11 total points. Then last week, the 49ers held the Texans to one lone field goal and picked Matt Schaub off three times, returning one for a touchdown. This week, San Francisco is again at home and facing an Arizona offense that has turned the ball over 11 times (9 INTs, 2 fumbles) already and is having trouble scoring (18.2 ppg).

Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 6

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

2013 NFL Week 6 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

RkTeamOPPNotes
1Seattle Seahawksvs. TENRoad-weary 'Hawks glad to be home.
2Kansas City Chiefsvs. OAKChiefs leading NFL with 21 sacks, 8 FR.
3Chicago Bearsvs. NYG (Thurs.)Giants have 20 turnovers, 15 sacks allowed.
4San Francisco 49ersvs. ARI49ers have flexed muscles last 2 games.
5Cincinnati Bengalsat BUFShut down Brady, next up Thad Lewis?
6Houston Texansvs. STLCan't blame the Texans' D for slide.
7Denver Broncosvs. JACProbably won't give up 506 passing yards to Jags.
8Carolina Panthersat MINNo. 7 rushing defense gets AP at home.
9New York Jetsvs. PITGetting job done w/ only 3 forced turnovers so far.
10Indianapolis Coltsat SD (Mon.)Rivers has 5 INTs in last 2 games.
11Cleveland Brownsvs. DETBrowns have 12 sacks over last 3 games.
12Detroit Lionsat CLELions' D-line could spell trouble for Browns.
13Tennessee Titansat SEATitans' D in for tough test in Pacific Northwest.
14Baltimore Ravensvs. GBSuggs truly sizzling last week vs. Dolphins.
15Buffalo Billsvs. CINBill have picked off nine passes already.
16Pittsburgh Steelersat NYJGeno looked awfully good on MNF vs. ATL.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 6 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Kickers

Week 6 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 6
Post date: Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/tennessee-virginia-tech-play-bristol-motor-speedway-2016
Body:

In what has been rumored for years, Tennessee and Virginia Tech have finally agreed to a game at Bristol Motor Speedway. The game will take place in 2016, but no date has been officially announced.

The Hokies and Volunteers should draw a huge crowd for the game, as both programs are located less than two hours from NASCAR's fastest half-mile track.



 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 18:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-october-9
Body:

Almost at the halfway point of the 2013 season.

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

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Wednesday, October 9th

Stanford coach David Shaw wasn't pleased with Washington coach Steve Sarkisian's accusation the Cardinal were faking injuries in last week's game.

Some great news for the College All Star Bowl, as the game has been picked up by CBS Sports Network and will air in February. 

Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield did not suffer any ligament damage in a knee injury against Kansas last week. However, his status for this Saturday's game is uncertain.

Florida State safety Tyler Hunter's season is over after neck surgery.

College Football's Playoff will announce its committee next week. 

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz isn't happy with his punt returns...so he might ban his players from returning punts the rest of the year?

Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon is ready to go against Northwestern after suffering a knee injury against Ohio State.

Saturday Down South takes a look at attendance across the SEC this year.

Utah quarterback Travis Wilson wasn't feeling well prior to last week's game against UCLA.

Duke quarterback Anthony Boone could play (collarbone injury) in Saturday's game against Navy.

Why isn't Oklahoma State's offense running at a faster pace this year?

Some small tweaks to Missouri's offense have helped the Tigers rebound this season.

Two East Carolina receivers are suspended for this week's game against Tulane.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 17:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/washington-unveils-new-helmet-game-against-oregon
Body:

Washington takes on Oregon in one of the biggest games of Week 7 this Saturday. The Huskies unveiled a new gold helmet earlier this year and have released a black matte helmet for Saturday's matchup against the Ducks.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo, Troy Aikman, NFL
Path: /nfl/tony-romo-better-hall-famer-troy-aikman
Body:
Admit it. You knew it was coming. Everybody in Dallas did. Everybody everywhere did. As the score got higher, the game got wilder, and more people started flipping their TV over to the game, everyone had the same thought going through their head: When is Tony Romo going to blow it?
 
He was brilliant against the high-flying Denver Broncos on Sunday, at least as good as Peyton Manning who right now is the best there is. He completed 25 of 36 passes for a ridiculous 506 yards and threw five touchdown passes. He was having what might have been the finest game of his 11-year career.
 
Then, on his final pass of the game, right at the two-minute warning, he ignored an open running back DeMarco Murray underneath and tried to squeeze a tight pass into tight end Gavin Escobar deep in his own territory. It was, of course, picked off by Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan, giving the Broncos the ball and the time to set up the game-winning field goal in a 51-48 win.
 
In a game where Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, “Tony played as good a football game as I've ever seen him play,” everyone knew it was bound to happen. That’s the way it us with Romo. Everyone just sits back and waits for him to fail.
 
And really, that’s just unfair.
 
 Tony Romo's numbers, through his first 98 starts, absolutely blow away Troy Aikman's stats. 
 
Romo has been a terrific quarterback for the Cowboys, better than they ever should’ve expected from an unheralded, undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois in 2003. He wasn’t brought in to be the next great quarterback of “America’s Team.” But that’s exactly what he became.
 
To say he chokes — or that he choked in that game against the Broncos — is a terrible label. Sometimes things happen, even to the greatest quarterbacks in the game.
 
“You know, those plays happen in split seconds,” Garrett said. “And you saw something that he liked. He cut it loose. Their defender made a good play. It was a difference-making play of the game.”
 
It only seems like Romo is on the wrong end of those difference-making plays far too often. But the truth is, without him, the Cowboys of the last decade wouldn’t have been in very many big games.
 
In other words, Romo hasn’t been the complete failure that some make him out to be. In fact, when you compare him to the Dallas Cowboys’ last great quarterback – Hall of Famer Troy Aikman – Romo’s numbers absolutely blow his away. Granted, it’s a different era now and the passing game has exploded since Aikman’s day. But the numbers are startling nonetheless.
 
Through 98 starts, Aikman (1989-95) completed 62.8% of his passes for 16,607 yards, 98 touchdowns and 85 interceptions. Romo, in that span, has completed 65.2% of his passes for 26,998 yards, 187 touchdowns and 90 interceptions. Aikman had a passer rating of 81.6 and was only over 90 in two seasons. Romo is at 96.6 and has never been below 91.4.
 
Aikman won more (60 to 57). And he also had an enormous advantage in the postseason. Aikman was 10-1 in the playoffs in those years and led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles. Romo has been to the playoffs just three times with a record of 1-3.
 
Of course, Aikman had the benefit of Emmitt Smith in his backfield. Romo has only had a Top 10 rushing attack once. And Aikman played with defenses that were better, and ranked higher too. Also, it should be noted, that Aikman was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft while Romo was an undrafted free agent.
 
So the fact that Romo has accomplished as much as he has isn’t bad.
 
But there’s a truth about quarterbacking that Peyton Manning once learned and so did his little brother, Eli, and so has Drew Brees and Joe Flacco and many, many others before them. Quarterbacks, as former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi once said, are judged by only one criteria: “Can they take their team down the field, with the championship on the line, and into the end zone?”
 
In other words, can they perform when it really counts?
 
Romo has had plenty of terrific moments in his career. He’s made plenty of big passes in big spots and seized his share of big games. But in the biggest games, with the eyes of the world upon him, with playoff berths or playoff games on the line, there’s just something about him that seems to make him constantly fall short.
 
So for now he falls to a place where the Mannings and Flacco and Brees and so many others once resided: To the dark hole of great quarterbacks not great enough to win the big one. And no matter what he does in his career, the truth of the matter is that his reputation isn’t going to change until he finally does.
— By Ralph Vacchiano, @RVacchianoNYDN
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-charlotte-motor-speedway
Body:

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

Next: Bank of America 500 (Charlotte Motor Speedway)
Race: 501 miles, 334 laps (1.5-mile track)
May 2013 Winner: Kevin Harvick



A-List (pick two, start one)
Kasey Kahne  Kasey Kahne
After Kasey Kahne's opening to this version of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, a fantasy start of NASCAR's most popular blue-eyed wheelman may seem laden with danger. Kahne has crashed and generally struggled in the first four races of the postseason battle. He's all but out of the running for the 2013 title.

But those struggles should have no bearing on his weekend at Charlotte. Kahne is flat good at the 1.5-mile track. A four-time Charlotte winner, Kahne has finished no worse than eighth in his last four starts. He won the Coca-Cola 600 last year and, save for a poor restart with 10 laps to go this year's 600, would have made it two straight wins in the prestigious race. Kahne ultimately ran second to Kevin Harvick after leading 161 of 400 laps. Don't be surprised if he does it again.


Matt KensethLet's be clear: picking Jimmie Johnson this weekend is a smart move. He's a six-time Charlotte winner and needs to lead just 30 laps led Saturday night for his Charlotte total laps led number to surpass the total laps led Jamie McMurray in his entire career.

But Matt Kenseth may actually be the safer pick based on more recent results. Johnson has finished worse than 21st in four of the last seven Charlotte races including in May when struggled and spun during the race. Kenseth, meanwhile, has scored top-15 finishes in each of the last nine Charlotte events including his 2011 win. More, Kenseth's 15th-place finish in the May race was a complete misnomer to the strength of his car. After leading 112 laps, Kenseth got caught by a late yellow flag while pitting that trapped him two laps down for the final 100 laps. Judging how well Kenseth has fared at other 1.5-mile tracks (excluding Kansas last week thanks to the curveball new tire) he should stand as a great pick Saturday night.

Also consider: Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson


B-List (pick four, start two)
Kyle Busch

The medicine of revenge often induces free flowing adrenaline in the human body which, for Kyle Busch, can have varied effects. He can make bad outings worse by driving past his limit (see: Kansas) or he can nail a restart and hold down hard chargers behind him to take the win (see: Watkins Glen). We're likely bound to get one form of that Kyle Busch this weekend thanks to his miserable, Chase-dampening race in Kansas and his desire to finally knock down a Charlotte Cup win. He came close in May with a car that led 65 laps before losing an engine. A top 5 would mark his sixth in his last eight Charlotte starts.


Kurt Busch  Kurt BuschThe May race actually presented nice opportunities for both Busch brothers to leave Bruton's crown jewel with the shine of a Coca-Cola 600 trophy. Kurt, unlike brother Kyle, managed to finish in the May race and placed third after leading eight laps and averaging an on-track position of fifth throughout the event. Kurt's key to success Saturday night will be his qualifying acumen. In May, that put him second and gave him an excellent pit stall. Last week, he crashed in practice and started at the tail-end of the field. With a car prepared to run up front, Busch could make some noise.

Carl Edwards
The B-List is full of drivers just wanting to be picked in hopes of scoring an unexpected win or top-3 finish. Carl Edwards could certainly be that guy Saturday night at Charlotte. Edwards has finished 11th or better in his last four Charlotte starts, and in May pulled down the race's sixth-best average in-race running position. More, Edwards has become one of the series' better late-race drivers at Charlotte. He's averaging 3.9 spots gained from the race's halfway point to the end. Only Joey Logano, in nine Charlotte starts to Edwards' 17, is doing better. So if you pick Edwards, don't lose hope on him at halfway — he’ll close well.


Martin Truex Jr.A disappointing September and the unsettled future of Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 56 has obviously caused a bit of unrest for his Michael Waltrip Racing team. Truex is busy looking for a ride in 2014 and his crew chief just asked for a release from the team at the end of the season. Fortunately, Charlotte seems like a reasonable spot for the whole crew to mesh and find a balance suited to Truex's liking. Truex finished ninth at Charlotte in May and has been noteworthy in many of his other 1.5-mile track appearances this season. All told, Truex has finished 12th, 10th and ninth in his last three Charlotte starts.

Also consider: Jeff Burton, Joey Logano


C-List (pick two, start one)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

There's a lot to like about Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Charlotte beyond the fact that he was the top C-List driver at the track in May. He was 14th in that race after starting 30th and actually made a big charge at the end to score the top-15 run. But Stenhouse's success at Charlotte expands beyond May performance. In a one-off start during his rookie season in 2011, Stenhouse scored an 11th-place finish for the Wood Brothers team. He hoped to back it up last year but lost an engine after just 190 laps.

David Gilliland
Gilliland was by no means strong in May at Charlotte, but he was consistent enough in the 600-mile event that hopes of a repeat performance of a solid C-List finish seem possible. Gilliland finished 20th in the race after starting 26th and running no better than 19th the whole night. By average running position, the race was Gilliland's sixth-best of the 30-race season to date.

Also consider: David Ragan, Danica Patrick


Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Photos by Actions Sports, Inc.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-7
Body:

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. Week 6 delivered in a big way for college football fans. Games in Evanston and Palo Alto lived up to expectations. Baylor and Oregon continued record-setting paces on offense. Aaron Murray led yet another fourth-quarter, game-deciding drive. Texas and UCLA both got seriously lucky on Thursday night. And the Ol' Ball Coach was in rare form. I can only hope that Week 7 can match last weekend.

Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.

Texas will trail by four touchdowns at halftime against Oklahoma
The Sooners have won the last three Red River Shootouts but the last two, in particular, have been ugly. The Sooners have jumped out to huge early leads in both games, leading 36-2 at halftime in 2011 and 34-10 at the break last year. The Sooners have scored 118 points in the last two Shootouts and there is nothing about this Texas defense that would indicate anything new will happen this year. The Longhorns rank last in the Big 12 in total defense (465.4 ypg), rushing defense (248.4 ypg) and second-to-last in scoring defense (28.4 ppg). Oklahoma, on the other hand, leads the Big 12 in scoring (13.0 ppg) and total defense (281.6 ypg).

Baylor will not score 70 points
Normally, this would not be an outlandish statement to make. But the Bears have scored at least 70 points in three straight games and have scored at least 69 points in every game of the year. Needless to say, the trip to Manhattan to face Kansas State will be the toughest test to date for Art Briles' bunch. In fact, Baylor has never won in The Little Apple in four trips and there will be an added air of revenge on the minds of the Wildcats. Last year, the roles were reversed as an unbeaten KSU traveled to Waco as a heavy favorite and was beaten. I’m not suggesting anything that outrageous will happen, but this should be the closest game the Bears have played all season.

Bonus Prediction: Gus Johnson's head will explode at some point during the third quarter. The game will be carried on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET, marrying the game's fastest offense with TV's most excitable play-by-play man.

Jadeveon Clowney will make a play
A sack or forced fumble or tipped pass... anything. The star defensive end’s (presumed) final season in Columbia is turning into a bona fide soap opera. One game a stomach virus slowed him while a foot issue hampered him another game. Last week, he told the South Carolina coaches just hours before kickoff that he couldn’t play because his ribs were hurting, sparking a public tongue-lashing from head coach Steve Spurrier. Widely regarded as the nation’s best player entering the season, Clowney is facing a legacy defining stretch of road games over the next few weeks. The end had 23.5 TFL and 13.0 sacks last year and has 3.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks this season. The competitor in Clowney has to come out this weekend, right?

Tyler Murphy has more total offense than Zach Mettenberger
Mettenberger is the far superior and experienced passer in the major Florida-LSU showdown this weekend. One is a senior former five-star recruit in his second full season as an SEC starter — and playing extremely well, at that. The other is a two-star recruit from Connecticut who is making his third career start in Death Valley. Yet, it is the Tigers (367.0 ypg, 24.7 ppg) who have defensive weaknesses not the Gators (217.0 ypg, 12.2 ppg), who boast the nation’s best secondary. Murphy is the third-rated passer in the SEC, ahead of Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron, Connor Shaw, James Franklin and Bo Wallace, and he will out-gain Mettenberger because of his legs (24 att., 135 yards, 2 TD in three games rushing). The Gators' chance at victory lies in Murphy’s ability to make plays and not turn the ball over.

Johnny Manziel will double his 2012 passing output against Ole Miss
The closest win the Aggies had in 2012 wasn’t on the road against Alabama (five points). It was a 30-27 home win over Ole Miss. A big reason was Johnny Manziel’s below average passing performance: 191 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs. And since the Rebels should play well at home against a porous Aggies defense, it falls to Manziel to post big numbers in the passing game. The Rebels haven’t allowed anyone to throw for more than 196 yards since Week 1 so Manziel will have to be his old Heisman self in Oxford.

Aaron Murray will lead the Bulldogs in rushing
Georgia’s longest run since Todd Gurley bolted 75 yards against Clemson in Week 1 was Murray’s 57-yard parting of the orange sea last weekend against the Vols. It was by far the longest run of his career and with the decimated Bulldogs backfield, don’t be surprised if Mark Richt calls on No. 11 to use his legs more this weekend. Murray rushed for 167 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman and has the ability to move the sticks on the ground — as his 12 career rushing touchdowns will attest. He simply hasn’t been asked to run, but without Todd Gurley or Keith Marshall against Mizzou, don’t be surprised if Murray is the top rusher on the team.

Nebraska won’t fail on third down
The Cornhuskers are second in the Big Ten to Michigan and 23rd nationally by converting 49.2 percent of third down chances on offense. This week’s opponent, Purdue, is the last-ranked power conference team in the nation in getting stops on third down. The Boilermakers are allowing an absurd 46.4 percent conversion rate, which ranks 109th nationally. With or without star quarterback Taylor Martinez, Nebraska should have no trouble picking up first downs this weekend in West Lafayette.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC
Path: /college-football/injuries-mounting-georgia-still-favorite-sec-east
Body:

Georgia opened the 2013 season with a loss to Clemson, but the Bulldogs have won four in a row, including key SEC matchups against South Carolina and LSU.

Despite Georgia’s winning streak, trouble could be lurking.

Running back Keith Marshall and receivers Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell are all out for the year due to injury. And receiver Michael Bennett is out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury against Tennessee.

With injuries mounting, the Bulldogs hold on the SEC East is starting to fade.

Georgia has already crossed two huge hurdles with South Carolina and LSU, but Florida, Missouri and Auburn remain.

With Injuries Mounting, Will Georgia Win the SEC East?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I still like Georgia as the favorite in the SEC East. There’s no question the injuries to receiver Michael Bennett, Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley, along with running back Keith Marshall are going to be difficult to overcome. However, the Bulldogs have one of the nation’s best quarterbacks (Aaron Murray) at their disposal, along with running back Todd Gurley and an experienced offensive line. While Georgia ranks last in the SEC in scoring defense, this unit will only get better with more experience. Games against Missouri, Auburn and Florida represent the biggest challenges for the Bulldogs in the regular season. Even if Georgia loses once, will Florida make it through SEC play with just one defeat or an unbeaten record? And for South Carolina to get back into the division title picture, the Bulldogs have to lose twice. Anything is possible, but even if Georgia loses a game in SEC play, I still think Mark Richt’s team represents the East in Atlanta this season. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I picked South Carolina to win the East in the summer and Florida to finish second. That put Georgia in third in my preseason ballot. All three were basically considered equal with different areas of strength. However, those areas have shifted after one month of play. Florida's quarterback woes are no more as Tyler Murphy has been excellent, efficient and productive under center. South Carolina's defense isn't nearly as... focused, let's say, as we anticipated, but the offense is better. Aaron Murray has shredded the idea he can't deliver in the clutch against big-time competition but has done so while the rest of his supporting cast crumbles around him. The defense is still young and road games at Vanderbilt, Auburn, Georgia Tech and a neutral site game against Florida still loom. So after one month of play, I will stick with my predicted order of finish from the summer: 1. South Carolina 2. Florida 3. Georgia — but it could easily be a three-way tie with the BCS sending the Gamecocks to Atlanta.


David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Georgia’s hold on the SEC is tenuous for sure. If I had to pick again today, I’d go with South Carolina or Florida in the East. That’s as much because of Georgia’s new rash of injuries along with a few revelations in the division. We’ll find out Saturday if Tyler Murphy is a long-awaited answer at quarterback when the Gators visit LSU. The Gators’ defense is good enough to win any league. Meanwhile, South Carolina could have a secret weapon if Jadeveon Clowney ever returns to form. And then there’s Missouri and to a lesser extent Tennessee. The Tigers may not as good as other 5-0 teams, but they may be good enough to sneak up and upset Florida, Georgia or South Carolina. Mizzou doesn’t have to beat all three to upset the whole division.

Mark Ross
I still think Georgia is the favorite, but the Bulldogs' margin of error seems to be shrinking with every passing day. Even though Mark Richt's team did what it needed to do to escape Knoxville with a win last Saturday, it didn't come without a cost. Running back Keith Marshall and wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley join wideout Malcolm Mitchell as those key players who will miss the rest of the season because of injury. The Bulldogs' offensive skill position depth will certainly be tested, but I think they can survive, provided running back Todd Gurley returns from his ankle injury soon and that it doesn't impact his production the rest of the way.

Georgia will certainly need to bring its "A" game this Saturday against Missouri, but the big contest that looms, of course, is the one with Florida the following weekend. That will be the true test of Georgia's offensive depth, as the Gators have one of the top defenses in the country. The winner of that game will be in the driver's seat to play in Atlanta in December for the SEC championship. The difference in that game may very well come down to quarterback play, and while Florida has had to go to its backup quarterback because of a season-ending injury to Jeff Driskel, Georgia can lean on Aaron Murray. The senior stepped up against Tennessee this past Saturday when his team needed him the most. That just reinforces the fact that, despite the litany of injuries Georgia has suffered, Murray is the one player who must stay healthy if the Bulldogs want to chase their championship dreams. As long as he can avoid the injury bug that's wreaking havoc on the depth chart, I like Georgia's chances to win the East.

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
I think Georgia has earned the “team to beat” title with its wins over South Carolina and LSU in the first month of the season. Still, Georgia has major concerns because of the amount of injuries the Bulldogs have suffered. Quarterback Aaron Murray has been terrific this season. Can he keep it up with limited options around him? Georgia has plenty of questions on defense as well. Teams will be able to score on the Bulldogs. Georgia’s schedule is more favorable than what Florida and South Carolina face the rest of the way, but games against Missouri, Florida and Auburn will be tough outs for Georgia. I’ll stick with my preseason prediction that Georgia will win the East. But I don’t feel as strongly about it as I did a week ago.

Related College Football Content

Post-Week 6 Heisman Voting
College Football's Post-Week 6 Bowl Projections
College Football's Post-Week 6 Coaches on the Hot Seat
Inside the Numbers: Baylor's Offense on Record-Setting Pace
The Top 100 College Football Players of the BCS Era

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, coach, College Football
Path: /college-football/top-10-college-football-coaches-will-be-demand-2013
Body:

With three college football coaches fired by early October, the timetable for picking a new coach this year is already shrinking.

Whenever an athletic director decides to make a change, they usually aren’t making the decision without much background or information on the potential replacements. Most football administrations likely know if a coach is interested in a particular job before making a change.

With coaching moves already happening and more likely to come in the next few weeks, it’s time to take a look at the coaches that will be in demand in December.

Baylor’s Art Briles, Boise State’s Chris Petersen and TCU’s Gary Patterson are always discussed when any high-level BCS job opens. But will they actually leave this offseason? That’s the million-dollar question.

Assuming no program can hire one of those three coaches, the focus in coaching searches will likely turn to Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, Ball State’s Pete Lembo or Ohio State’s Tom Herman.

Here’s a look at 10 names who will be targeted in coaching searches this offseason, along with a few coordinators from BCS programs and head coaches on the rise.
 

Head Coaches…Always in Demand

These three coaches will be discussed with seemingly every big BCS vacancy this offseason. But will any of them actually leave their current school?

Art Briles, Baylor
Prior to his arrival at Baylor, the Bears struggled just to escape the cellar of the Big 12 South. From 1997-2007, Baylor went 31-94 with no bowl appearances and lost at least eight games in 10 out of those 11 seasons. In six years under Briles, Baylor has been molded into a top-25 program with three consecutive bowl appearances. Baylor won 10 games in 2011, which was the school’s first double-digit win total since 1980. Briles has spent his entire coaching and playing career in the state of Texas, spending time in the high school ranks as an assistant at Sundown High School in 1979, followed by a stop at Sweetwater (1980-84), before serving as a head coach at Hamlin (1984-86), Georgetown (1986-88) and Stephenville (1988-99). Briles worked as an assistant at Texas Tech from 2000-03 and was hired as Houston’s head coach in '03. Briles is also regarded as an outstanding offensive coach and has done a good job of identifying and developing talent at Baylor. With his background in Texas, Briles would be a good fit to replace Mack Brown. However, with a new stadium opening at Baylor next season, it’s hard to see the Texas native taking over in Austin.

Gary Patterson, TCU
Patterson has been instrumental in TCU’s rise to Big 12 membership, and the Kansas native is one of the top defensive minds in college football. Patterson worked under Dennis Franchione at Texas State and New Mexico and was promoted to the top spot at TCU in 2000. Under his direction, the Horned Frogs are 118-39, which includes an undefeated season in 2010 and a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. Patterson will be tough to pry away from TCU – if at all – but programs like Texas or USC will certainly try.

Chris Petersen, Boise State
It seems Petersen’s name is connected every time a high-level BCS job is open. However, the California native hasn’t been tempted to leave Boise State. And who can blame him? The Broncos are 87-10 under his watch, recorded four top-10 finishes in the Associated Press poll and have played in two BCS games. There’s pressure to win at Boise State, but nothing like the pressure of taking over a program like USC or Texas. It may be tough for the Broncos to replicate the 38-2 mark it accumulated from 2008-10, but Petersen should still have this program in the mix for a spot among the top 25 teams in the nation every year. 

The Next 10

Dave Clawson, head coach, Bowling Green
Clawson gets a bad rap for his one season as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator, but the New York native has been a successful head coach at three different stops. After starting 3-19 at Fordham, Clawson recorded three consecutive winning seasons and led the Rams to a playoff berth in 2002. Clawson was 29-20 in four seasons at Richmond and is 27-29 with two bowl appearances at Bowling Green. While Clawson has a background on offense, it was his defense that led the MAC in fewest yards allowed last season and ranks No. 1 after six games in 2013. 

Tim DeRuyter, head coach, Fresno State
Pat Hill had a solid stint at Fresno State, but the program seemed to grow stale at the end of his tenure. DeRuyter inherited good talent and has elevated the Bulldogs into BCS bowl contention this year. Fresno State went 9-4 in DeRuyter’s first season and is off to a 5-0 start this season. Prior to taking over at Fresno State, DeRuyter made stops as an assistant at Ohio, Navy, Nevada, Air Force and Texas A&M. Could the California native replace Lane Kiffin at USC?

James Franklin, head coach, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is one of the toughest BCS jobs in the nation. From 1983-2008, the Commodores had only one winning year and just four bowl trips in the school’s history prior to Frankin’s arrival. However, under Franklin, Vanderbilt has back-to-back bowl appearances and went 9-4 last season – the best record by the Commodores since 1982. Franklin also has a wealth of experience as an assistant from stops at James Madison, Washington State, Maryland, Kansas State and in the NFL with the Packers. The Pennsylvania native is regarded as an excellent recruiter, and his background on offense will be attractive for programs looking for a jumpstart on that side of the ball. Franklin has to be near the top of Pat Haden’s list at USC, but his name will likely come up in connection with several jobs. 

Tom Herman, offensive coordinator, Ohio State
Herman is a genius. Literally. The Ohio native is a member of MENSA – the national high-IQ society – and directs one of the top offenses in college football. The Buckeyes led the Big Ten in scoring offense last season, averaging 37.2 points a game. In 2013, Ohio State has been even better, averaging 46.8 points per contest and averaging 492.8 yards per game. Prior to joining coach Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State, Herman worked as an assistant at Sam Houston State and was the offensive coordinator at Texas State, Rice and Iowa State. In 2008, the Owls averaged 41.3 points a game and ranked fifth nationally in passing offense.

Mark Hudspeth, head coach, UL Lafayette
Hudspeth isn’t short on intensity, and it won’t be long before he’s in charge of a BCS program. The Mississippi native has stops as an assistant at Central Arkansas, Delta State, Navy and Mississippi State, along with a successful run as North Alabama’s head coach from 2002-08. Under his watch, the Lions went 66-21 and made five playoff appearances. Hudspeth inherited a program that went 3-9 in the season prior to his arrival, but the Ragin’ Cajuns are 21-10 under his watch and have back-to-back bowl wins. With his experience in the South, Hudspeth would be a good fit in the SEC. However, will there be a job vacancy this offseason in college football’s premier conference?

Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State
It was somewhat of a surprise Lembo didn’t receive much attention for open jobs last offseason, but that should change this year. Lembo has been successful at three different stops. From 2001-05, Lembo went 44-14 at Lehigh and led the Mountain Hawks to two playoff appearances. Lembo moved on to Elon in 2006 and stayed there until 2010, recording a 35-22 mark. In three seasons at Ball State, Lembo is 20-11 and has four wins over BCS teams, including an impressive 48-27 victory at Virginia last Saturday. Lembo is due for a promotion in the near future, and programs like Connecticut would be wise to inquire about his interest. However, would Lembo hold out for a job in the ACC or Big Ten?

Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson
Morris has no head coaching experience on his resume, but he will generate plenty of interest from athletic directors this offseason. The Texas native worked as a high school head coach from 1994-2009, including a successful 32-0 stint at Lake Travis from 2008-09. Morris was hired to replace Gus Malzahn as Tulsa’s offensive coordinator in 2010, and the Golden Hurricane averaged 505.6 yards per game under his watch. His work at Tulsa caught the attention of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, and after three seasons, it’s clear this hire has worked out well for Clemson. The Tigers have increased their yards and points per game average in each of Morris’ three years in Death Valley and set a single-season record with 533 points in 2012. There’s no question Morris knows offense, and it’s only a matter of time before he has a chance to run his own program.

Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State
Narduzzi’s name has already circulated for the Connecticut job, but the 47-year-old coach could be coveted by any open BCS vacancy this offseason. Narduzzi started his coaching career in 1990 as a graduate assistant at Miami (Ohio) and made stops as an assistant at Rhode Island and Northern Illinois, before taking over as a defensive coordinator with the RedHawks in 2003. Narduzzi left Miami (Ohio) to be the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati in 2004 and followed coach Mark Dantonio to Michigan State in 2007. Under Narduzzi’s watch, the Spartans ranked in the top 10 nationally in total and scoring defense in 2011-12 and led the nation in total defense in 2013. Narduzzi doesn’t have head coaching experience, but he’s one of the best defensive coordinators in college football.

Kirby Smart, defensive coordinator, Alabama
Nick Saban plays a large role in shaping Alabama’s defense, but Smart is still held in high regard among coaching circles and will be the next Saban assistant to take a head coach job. Smart is well-versed in life in the SEC, as he played defensive back at Georgia and worked at LSU, Georgia and now Alabama as an assistant. The Alabama native also spent one season with the Dolphins in 2006. In five seasons calling the defensive signals for the Crimson Tide, Smart’s defenses have never ranked outside of the top 10 in scoring and total defense. Considering Alabama is loaded with talent for the next few years, Smart’s defense will continue to be ranked among the nation’s elite, and he can be selective in choosing his first head coaching gig.

Justin Wilcox, defensive coordinator, Washington
In just two seasons, Wilcox has transformed Washington’s defense from one of the worst to one of the best in the Pac-12. The former Oregon defensive back started his coaching career at Boise State in 2001 as a graduate assistant and after a three-year stint at California, he returned to coordinate the Broncos’ defense in 2006. Wilcox directed Tennessee’s defense under Derek Dooley from 2010-11 and returned to the Pacific Northwest in 2012. Washington ranked 106th nationally in total defense and allowed 35.9 points a game in the year prior to Wilcox’s arrival, but the Huskies finished 31st nationally in yards allowed in 2012 and held opponents to just 24.2 points a game. And after five games in 2013, Washington leads the Pac-12 in total defense. Wilcox is only 36, but he’s ready for a chance to be a head coach. Could he be a possible replacement in Boise if Chris Petersen decides to leave?

Other Coordinators to Watch

Mike Bobo, offensive coordinator, Georgia
Opinions on Bobo seemed to be mixed from around the SEC, but the former Georgia quarterback has coordinated some very successful offenses. The Bulldogs have ranked in the top 40 of total offense in three out of the last five seasons and are averaging 530 yards per game in 2013. Bobo may need to take a non-BCS head coach job first, but he’s been a solid coordinator and deserves a promotion to run his own program. 

Bob Diaco, defensive coordinator, Notre Dame
Diaco played under Hayden Fry at Iowa and has quickly ascended the coaching ranks. He made stops as an assistant at Western Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Virginia, before taking the Cincinnati defensive coordinator position in 2009. Diaco followed Brian Kelly to Notre Dame in 2010, and from 2010-12, the Fighting Irish improved their total defense numbers, including a No. 7 finish nationally last season. Diaco does not have any prior head coaching experience.

D.J. Durkin, defensive coordinator, Florida
Durkin was promoted to defensive coordinator after Dan Quinn left for the NFL after the 2012 season. The Ohio native is highly regarded among coaches in the SEC and has spent time at Bowling Green, Florida, Notre Dame and Stanford as an assistant. Durkin has learned from some of the best coaches in college football during the BCS era, working under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green and Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.

Scott Frost, offensive coordinator, Oregon
Frost is this year’s Kliff Kingsbury. The 38-year-old Nebraska native is piloting one of the nation’s top offensive attacks and will eventually be a head coach. Frost went 24-2 in his two years as Nebraska’s starting quarterback from 1995-97 and had a short career in the NFL as a safety. Frost started his coaching career at Kansas State in 2006 and was hired as an assistant at Northern Iowa in 2007. He worked with the Panthers for two seasons, including a stint as the team’s defensive coordinator in 2008. Frost was hired by Chip Kelly at Oregon in 2009 and worked as the team’s wide receivers coach until Kelly left for the NFL. So far, Oregon’s offense hasn’t missed a beat under Frost’s direction, averaging 630.4 yards and 59.2 points a game.

Brian Lindgren, offensive coordinator, Colorado
Looking for the next rising star in the offensive coordinator ranks? Look no further than Boulder, Colo. Lindgren is a former Idaho quarterback who started his coaching career at Redlands in 2005. He left for Northern Arizona in 2006 and stayed with the Lumberjacks until 2011, serving as the offensive coordinator from 2009-11. Under Lindgren’s watch, Northern Arizona finished 5th, 42nd and 14th nationally in total offense. Lindgren was hired by Mike MacIntyre as the offensive coordinator at San Jose State in 2012, and the Spartans finished sixth nationally in passing and averaged 34.8 points per game. In four games this season, Colorado is averaging 402 yards per game in 2013, which is a 100-yard improvement from '12.

Seth Littrell, offensive coordinator, Indiana
Littrell is another Mike Leach disciple. He played under Leach at Oklahoma and joined Texas Tech’s staff in 2005 as a running backs coach. Littrell worked at Arizona under Mike Stoops from 2009-11, spending the last two seasons as the offensive coordinator. The Wildcats ranked ninth nationally in passing offense in 2010 and improved to No. 3 nationally in '11. In one season with the Hoosiers – and having to use three different quarterbacks – Littrell guided the offense to a No. 33 finish nationally and averaged 30.8 points a game.

Derek Mason, defensive coordinator, Stanford
Mason is the architect behind one of the nation’s best defenses. The Arizona native was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2011, and the Cardinal finished second in the Pac-12 in total defense that season, followed by a No. 1 finish in 2012. Mason has never been a head coach and has worked as an assistant on both sides of the ball, including a stop as a wide receivers coach at Utah in 2002.  

Philip Montgomery, offensive coordinator, Baylor
Montgomery doesn’t get enough national credit for his work as Baylor’s offensive coordinator. The Texas native has worked under coach Art Briles since 2003, and both have been critical in developing the Bears’ offense into one of the best in the nation. Montgomery calls the plays for Baylor, guiding the Bears to an average of 572.2 yards per game in 2012 and a whopping 779.5 yards per game this season. Baylor also set or tied or set 101 school records in 2011, with quarterback Robert Griffin III winning the Heisman Trophy.

Mike Norvell, offensive coordinator, Arizona State
Looking for the next Chad Morris? Look no further than Tempe, Ariz. Norvell is only 31 and coordinates one of the Pac-12’s top offenses at Arizona State. The Sun Devils averaged 38.4 points a game last season and are tied for 16th nationally after five games this year, averaging 42.2 points a contest. Prior to Arizona State, Norvell worked for Arizona State coach Todd Graham at Tulsa and with Pittsburgh in 2011. Norvell isn’t in any hurry to leave Tempe, but he should get a chance to be a head coach in the next few years.  

Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator, Alabama
Nick Saban is known for his defenses, but his assistant tree has produced a couple of head coaches from the offensive side. Jimbo Fisher and Jim McElwain are the most recent head coach hires, and Nussmeier could be next. The former Idaho quarterback has stops as an assistant in the CFL and in the NFL, before coordinating offenses at Fresno State, Washington and Alabama. In Nussmeier’s first season as the Crimson Tide’s play-caller in 2012, Alabama averaged 35.7 points a game and ranked second in the SEC in rushing offense.

Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Clemson
Venables played under Bill Snyder and coached under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma – it doesn’t get any better than that when it comes to experience. The Kansas native left Oklahoma for Clemson after Mike Stoops returned to Norman to call plays in 2011. The move has paid dividends for the Tigers, as their defense showed improvement at the end of 2012 and is holding opponents to 16.6 points a game this fall.

Three More Head Coaches on the Rise

Matt Campbell, Toledo
Campbell is one of college football’s youngest head coaches and played at ultra-successful Mount Union College. The Ohio native spent time as an assistant at Mount Union, Bowling Green and Toledo, and was promoted to  the Rockets' head coach after Tim Beckman left for Illinois. Campbell led Toledo to a bowl win over Air Force in 2011 and is 12-7 in his first two full seasons.

Curtis Johnson, Tulane
Johnson had no assistant or head coaching experience prior to taking over at Tulane. But after 18 career games, Johnson clearly has the Green Wave on the right track. Tulane finished 2-10 in 2012, but the Green Wave are 4-2 and should make their first bowl game since 2002 this year.

Justin Fuente, Memphis
After a horrible two-year stint under Larry Porter, Memphis made the right move to hire Fuente. In the three years prior to Fuente’s arrival, the Tigers went 5-31. However, Fuente went 4-8 last season, which included a three-game winning streak to close out the season. Memphis is 1-3 this year, with losses by seven points to a solid UCF team, along with a two-point defeat to MTSU and a 28-14 loss against Duke. It’s clear Fuente has Memphis moving in the right direction. And it won’t be long before athletic directors around the country start to take notice. 

Non-BCS Coordinators Poised for a Promotion

Mike Elko, defensive coordinator, Bowling Green
The MAC is home to a handful of explosive offenses, but Bowling Green has been winning with defense. The Falcons led the MAC in total, scoring, rush and pass defense last season and rank No. 1 after six games in 2013. Elko’s defense held opponents to just 296.6 yards per game last season and generated 2.9 sacks a game in 2012.

Lincoln Riley, offensive coordinator, East Carolina
Riley is a Mike Leach disciple, spending 2003-09 in Lubbock with the Red Raiders, then followed Ruffin McNeill to East Carolina in 2010. Under his direction, the Pirates averaged 414.3 yards and 31.6 points per game from 2010-12 and rank second in Conference USA in scoring offense this season.

Nick Rolovich, offensive coordinator, Nevada
Rolovich has an interesting background of offensive styles in his coaching career, as he worked at Hawaii with the Run and Shoot offense under Greg McMackin from 2008-11 and joined Nevada’s staff in '12, picking up the Pistol offense from Chris Ault. Rolovich briefly left for Temple last offseason but decided to remain in Reno. Under his direction, Nevada led the Mountain West in total offense last year and is averaging 435.2 yards per game in 2013.

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Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 08:00
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Two key announcements turned the fortunes for the Big 12. First, sophomore Marcus Smart elected to return to Oklahoma State even though he could have been a top pick. And just as the Cowboys prepared to be the unquestioned Big 12 favorite, Kansas landed the most dynamic freshman since at least Kevin Durant.

If only the news was as good around the rest of the league.

Outside of Kansas, Oklahoma State and probably Baylor, the Big 12 may have trouble putting teams into the NCAA Tournament.

Defending regular season co-champion Kansas State is rebuilding in Year 2 under Bruce Weber. Meanwhile, onetime NCAA Tournament regulars Texas and West Virginia are coming off their worst seasons in quite some time. Neither has quick answers.

A two-team race — and a two-player race between Wiggins and Smart — looks like it will be the storyline in the Big 12.

Big 12 Predicted Order of Finish

ALL-BIG 12 FIRST TEAM
G Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
G Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
G/F Markel Brown, Oklahoma State
F Melvin Ejim, Iowa State
F Cory Jefferson, Baylor

ALL-BIG 12 SECOND TEAM
G Wayne Selden, Kansas
G/F Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State
F Perry Ellis, Kansas
F Georges Niang, Iowa State
C Isaiah Austin, Baylor

ALL-BIG 12 THIRD TEAM
G Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
G Shane Southwell, Kansas State
G DeAndre Kane, Iowa State
F Michael Cobbins, Oklahoma State
F Jordan Tolbert, Texas Tech

1. KANSAS (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Elite Eight
Can fantastic freshman Andrew Wiggins lead Jayhawks to a 10th straight Big 12 title — and more?

2. OKLAHOMA STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Elite Eight
Marcus Smart is the real deal, but don’t sleep on his supporting cast. The Pokes have a complete roster.

3. BAYLOR (team preview)
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson form one of the country’s toughest frontcourts. The Bears need solid point guard play.

4. IOWA STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
Roster turnover never seems to affect the Cyclones under Fred Hoiberg. DeAndre Kane is the latest impact transfer.

5. KANSAS STATE
Postseason projection:
NIT
The Cats have lots of nice pieces, but no true star. The loss of Angel Rodriguez hurts.

6. OKLAHOMA
Postseason projection:
NIT
The Sooners lost a lot, but Lon Kruger is too good to let them fall far. This team will find a way to win games.

7. TEXAS
The Longhorns bottomed out last year, but the prospects for ’13-14 aren’t much better. Welcome to the hot seat, Mr. Barnes.

8. TEXAS TECH
Tubby will make the Red Raiders relevant again — but not this year. There’s simply not enough talent.

9. WEST VIRGINIA
As bad as last season was, this one could be worse for Bob Huggins, who is used to winning a lot of games.

10. TCU
The Horned Frogs are getting better, but they may be a year away from making a move in the Big 12.

Big 12 Awards

Player of the Year: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Excitement for Wiggins is at a fever pitch. Consider this: Sports Illustrated put Wiggins on the cover amid NFL and college football seasons and baseball playoffs.

Best Defensive Player: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
He’s the nation’s top point guard and turned the Cowboys’ season with his intangibles. But he’s also a rugged defender who averaged three steals per game. No one else in the Big 12 averaged more than two.

Most Underrated: Phil Forte, Oklahoma State
Smart’s high school teammate is a secret weapon of sports on a team that includes Smart, Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown. Forte averaged 91.3 percent shooting from the free throw line.

Newcomer of the Year: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas (full list of key newcomers in the Big 12)
Wiggins’ decision to go to Kansas turned the Jayhawks into a Final Four contender over night. But he’s not the only new face who will make a major impact at KU. Joining Wiggins is Memphis transfer Tarik Black and the rest of the best freshman class outside of Kentucky.

Top coach: Bill Self, Kansas (full ranking of Big 12 coaches)

Coach on the hot seat: Rick Barnes, Texas (full list of hot seat coaches)
 

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College Basketball: 2013-14 Big 12 Preview
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This preview and more on Cincinnati and the American Athletic Conference are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

Cincinnati Facts & Figures
Last season: 22-12 (9-9 Big East)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Mick Cronin (135-100 at Cincinnati)
American projection: Fourth
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 64

After spending the last eight years in the Big East struggling for its share of national recognition in a league loaded with college basketball heavyweights, Cincinnati will immediately be viewed as one of the top dogs in the new American Athletic Conference.

The Bearcats would have preferred to have landed in the Atlantic Coast Conference like three of their former Big East colleagues, but the move to The American might be beneficial in some respects. They won’t have to plow through the meat grinder of the Big East schedule. But they’ll also have to strengthen their non-conference schedule to compensate for the loss of games against marquee Big East opponents, a formula that worked well under Bob Huggins in the Bearcats’ old Conference USA days.

Mick Cronin begins his eighth season as the head coach at his alma mater armed with a contract extension through 2018. He’ll have to replace three starters, including point guard Cashmere Wright, who ran the Cincinnati offense for the past four years and is the only player in school history with 1,300 points, 475 assists and 175 steals.
 
The Bearcats will lean heavily on shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick, a fifth-year senior who decided he would enhance his NBA prospects by returning to school for one more year. They will also feature one of the school’s most promising newcomers in years in 6-9 freshman power forward Jermaine Lawrence, a national top-25 recruit whom many believe could be a one-and-done player.

Frontcourt

Cronin believes he has solved what was one of Cincinnati’s glaring weaknesses from a year ago by adding low-post scoring with Lawrence and 6-10 freshman Jamaree Strickland. He’s also hoping for increased production from senior Titus Rubles. Last year, Rubles averaged 5.9 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting only 33.8 percent from the field. Senior backup center David Nyarsuk, at 7-1 the tallest player in Cincinnati history, blocked 29 shots in limited playing time, but he averaged only 2.6 points and 2.5 rebounds.

The wild card for Cincinnati could be forward Shaquille Thomas. A 6-7 sophomore, Thomas has the athletic ability to become a 1,000-point scorer, but he still has a long way to go to translate that athleticism into a skill set.

Senior Justin Jackson has proven to be a consistent shot-blocker and solid rebounder, but has not developed offensively and still has a tendency to get into foul trouble. Jermaine Sanders, a 6-5 junior, must become more assertive and improve his shooting to make an impact. He made only 13-of-48 from long range last year and shot 53.1 percent from the free throw line.

Backcourt

The likely successor to Wright at point guard is freshman Troy Caupain, a prolific scorer who averaged 26 points in high school last season. One of Caupain’s strengths is his ability to get to the rim, but it’s always risky to rely on a freshman to run the offense. Junior Ge’Lawn Guyn was last year’s backup at the point, but he would have to make major improvements to win the starting job.

At shooting guard, sophomore Jeremiah Davis III received a medical redshirt after missing most of last season with a wrist injury. He could provide long-range scoring punch to complement Kilpatrick, who led the team in scoring (17.0 ppg) despite shooting a career-low 39.8 percent from the field.  

Newcomers

Cincinnati’s top-25 recruiting class is led by freshman power forward Jermaine Lawrence, who’s expected to make an immediate impact. Center Jamaree Strickland is a traditional back-to-the-basket, low-post scorer but missed all of his junior year in high school and part of his senior year with a knee injury. Troy Caupain is a prolific scorer who will be given a chance to run the offense. Kevin Johnson is a Cincinnati prep product who can play both guard positions, and DeShaun Morman will be asked to provide depth from the wing.

Final Analysis
Factoid: Sean Kilpatrick needs to score 556 points to become only the second player in school history to score 2,000 points, joining Oscar Robertson, who scored 2,973 in three years.


Cincinnati has thrived in recent years with veteran players who used their experience and physical toughness to compete successfully in the Big East. This year, however, the Bearcats will be younger, relying heavily on at least two freshmen — Lawrence and Caupain. That’s a lot to ask of first-year players, but it might be easier to get away with in the American than it was in the Big East.

Cincinnati will also have be more efficient on the offensive end after ranking 260th nationally in 2-point shooting (45.5 percent), 255th in 3-point shooting (31.6) and 302nd in free throw shooting (64.7). The hope is that UC will be able to increase its tempo — and create easier baskets — against less physical defenses in its new league.

Kilpatrick, who played for Team USA in the World University Games, was named team captain last spring and will be expected once again to carry the scoring load for a team that is seeking its fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

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Georgia opened the 2013 season with a loss to Clemson, but the Bulldogs have won four in a row, including key SEC matchups against South Carolina and LSU.

Despite Georgia’s winning streak, trouble could be lurking.

Running back Keith Marshall and receivers Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell are all out for the year due to injury. And receiver Michael Bennett is out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury against Tennessee.

With injuries mounting, the Bulldogs hold on the SEC East is starting to fade.

Georgia has already crossed two huge hurdles with South Carolina and LSU, but Florida, Missouri and Auburn remain.

With Injuries Mounting, Will Georgia Win the SEC East?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I still like Georgia as the favorite in the SEC East. There’s no question the injuries to receiver Michael Bennett, Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley, along with running back Keith Marshall are going to be difficult to overcome. However, the Bulldogs have one of the nation’s best quarterbacks (Aaron Murray) at their disposal, along with running back Todd Gurley and an experienced offensive line. While Georgia ranks last in the SEC in scoring defense, this unit will only get better with more experience. Games against Missouri, Auburn and Florida represent the biggest challenges for the Bulldogs in the regular season. Even if Georgia loses once, will Florida make it through SEC play with just one defeat or an unbeaten record? And for South Carolina to get back into the division title picture, the Bulldogs have to lose twice. Anything is possible, but even if Georgia loses a game in SEC play, I still think Mark Richt’s team represents the East in Atlanta this season. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I picked South Carolina to win the East in the summer and Florida to finish second. That put Georgia in third in my preseason ballot. All three were basically considered equal with different areas of strength. However, those areas have shifted after one month of play. Florida's quarterback woes are no more as Tyler Murphy has been excellent, efficient and productive under center. South Carolina's defense isn't nearly as... focused, let's say, as we anticipated, but the offense is better. Aaron Murray has shredded the idea he can't deliver in the clutch against big-time competition but has done so while the rest of his supporting cast crumbles around him. The defense is still young and road games at Vanderbilt, Auburn, Georgia Tech and a neutral site game against Florida still loom. So after one month of play, I will stick with my predicted order of finish from the summer: 1. South Carolina 2. Florida 3. Georgia — but it could easily be a three-way tie with the BCS sending the Gamecocks to Atlanta.


David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Georgia’s hold on the SEC is tenuous for sure. If I had to pick again today, I’d go with South Carolina or Florida in the East. That’s as much because of Georgia’s new rash of injuries along with a few revelations in the division. We’ll find out Saturday if Tyler Murphy is a long-awaited answer at quarterback when the Gators visit LSU. The Gators’ defense is good enough to win any league. Meanwhile, South Carolina could have a secret weapon if Jadeveon Clowney ever returns to form. And then there’s Missouri and to a lesser extent Tennessee. The Tigers may not as good as other 5-0 teams, but they may be good enough to sneak up and upset Florida, Georgia or South Carolina. Mizzou doesn’t have to beat all three to upset the whole division.

Mark Ross
I still think Georgia is the favorite, but the Bulldogs' margin of error seems to be shrinking with every passing day. Even though Mark Richt's team did what it needed to do to escape Knoxville with a win last Saturday, it didn't come without a cost. Running back Keith Marshall and wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley join wideout Malcolm Mitchell as those key players who will miss the rest of the season because of injury. The Bulldogs' offensive skill position depth will certainly be tested, but I think they can survive, provided running back Todd Gurley returns from his ankle injury soon and that it doesn't impact his production the rest of the way.

Georgia will certainly need to bring its "A" game this Saturday against Missouri, but the big contest that looms, of course, is the one with Florida the following weekend. That will be the true test of Georgia's offensive depth, as the Gators have one of the top defenses in the country. The winner of that game will be in the driver's seat to play in Atlanta in December for the SEC championship. The difference in that game may very well come down to quarterback play, and while Florida has had to go to its backup quarterback because of a season-ending injury to Jeff Driskel, Georgia can lean on Aaron Murray. The senior stepped up against Tennessee this past Saturday when his team needed him the most. That just reinforces the fact that, despite the litany of injuries Georgia has suffered, Murray is the one player who must stay healthy if the Bulldogs want to chase their championship dreams. As long as he can avoid the injury bug that's wreaking havoc on the depth chart, I like Georgia's chances to win the East.

Related College Football Content

Post-Week 6 Heisman Voting
College Football's Post-Week 6 Bowl Projections
College Football's Post-Week 6 Coaches on the Hot Seat

Teaser:
With Injuries Mounting, is Georgia Still the Favorite in the SEC East?
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 07:16
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-american-preview
Body:

As the 2013-14 season begins, Louisville will hope for the same results despite a new look.

Of course, one new look will be the surroundings of Memphis, Temple and a pair of Texas schools replacing the old Big East. The other new look will be at key positions at point guard and center where Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng depart the Cardinals.

Those are major losses for Louisville, but Rick Pitino has plenty of returning pieces to make another run at the national title. The Cardinals are the runaway favorite for the new American Athletic Conference, but they’ll have more speed bumps than the football program.

Memphis had its best season under Josh Pastner last season, and the Tigers have been waiting for years to show they can compete with teams like Louisville and Connecticut on a regular basis. After a postseason ban, UConn has the backcourt talent to return to the NCAA Tournament under Kevin Ollie.

But the true depth of the league will be determined by the dormant ex-Conference USA/ex-Southwest Conference programs from Texas. Houston and SMU have been building for this moment for several years, stocking up on key transfers and freshmen.

American Predicted Order of Finish

ALL-AAC FIRST TEAM
G Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
G Joe Jackson, Memphis
G Russ Smith, Louisville
G/F Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
F Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

ALL-AAC SECOND TEAM
G Ryan Boatright, Connecticut
G Geron Johnson, Memphis
G Isaiah Sykes, UCF
F Chane Behanan, Louisville
F TaShawn Thomas, Houston

ALL-AAC THIRD TEAM
G Chris Jones, Louisville
G Danuel House , Houston
G Jalen Jones, SMU
G Myles Mack, Rutgers
F DeAndre Daniels, Connecticut
1. LOUISVILLE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA runner up
The defending national champions are just as talented and deep as last season. A third straight Final Four is in the offing.

2. MEMPHIS (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
With three veteran guards returning and a loaded recruiting class, Josh Pastner could finally make noise in March.

3. CONNECTICUT(team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
The Huskies surprised last season despite their postseason ban, and Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are both back.

4. CINCINNATI (team preview)
Postseason prediction:
NCAA Round of 64
Sean Kilpatrick will have to carry the Bearcats offensively at times, but frosh Jermaine Lawrence will make an impact.

5. SMU
Postseason prediction:
NIT
All five starters are back, and they’ll be joined by an outstanding crop of newcomers.

6. TEMPLE
Postseason prediction:
NIT
Khalif Wyatt is going to be difficult to replace, but Fran Dunphy-coached teams always find ways to win.

7. UCF
Remember the name Isiah Sykes. He's one of the best in the league, and one of four starters back for the Knights.

8. RUTGERS
It was a tumultuous offseason for the Scarlet Knights, but that doesn't mean the roster is devoid of talent.

9. HOUSTON
Raise your hand if you knew the Cougars won 20 games last season. A tougher league means that won't happen again.

10. USF
The Bulls were a massive disappointment last season, but Anthony Collins is back to run the show.

AMERICAN AWARDS
Player of the Year: Russ Smith, Louisville
Smith struggled in the Final Four, but he returns after making a major improvement last season. As he was used in the offense more, Smith’s field goal percentage went form 35.6 percent to 41.4 percent.

Best Defensive Player: Geron Johnson, Memphis
The junior college transfer instantly upgraded Memphis in the defensive end with his work on the perimeter.

Most Underrated Player: Anthony Lee, Temple
Lee will need to be underrated no more as the Owls lose a ton from last year’s team. Lee averaged 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 23.8 minutes.

Newcomer of the Year: Chris Jones, Louisville (full list of key newcomers around the AAC)
A dogged defender, Jones steps into an unenviable spot replacing veteran Peyton Siva. He’ll be one of the key cogs in Louisville’s bid to repeat.

Top coach: Rick Pitino, Louisville (full AAC coach rankings)

Coach on the hot seat: Stan Heath, USF (full hot seat list)

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 American Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 07:06
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-iowa-state-preview
Body:

This preview and more on Iowa State and the Big 12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

Iowa State Facts & Figures
Last season: 23-12 (11-7 Big 12)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 32
Coach: Fred Hoiberg (62-39 at Iowa State)
Big 12 projection: Fourth
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32


With three junior college transfers and a pair of high school signees all vying for playing time, Fred Hoiberg says it may be a while before he has a good feel for his Iowa State basketball team.


“Right now there are a lot of unknowns,” Hoiberg says.


The scenario isn’t all that new for the Cyclones, who continue to win at a high level despite a roster that features so many new faces each year that people jokingly refer to Iowa State as “Transfer U”. While transfers — many of whom arrive with baggage — often flounder at other schools, Hoiberg has proven to be as good as any coach in America at incorporating new parts and getting them to blend with those already in place.
  

It worked with transfers such as Royce White, Korie Lucious, Chris Babb, Chris Allen and Scott Christopherson, who led the Cyclones to 23 wins, a top-four finish in the Big 12 and the third round of the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons. Cyclones fans are hoping former Marshall standout DeAndre Kane and the other new arrivals can help continue the trend in 2013-14.


Frontcourt


While most of Iowa State’s rotation will be dotted with new faces, the Cyclones couldn’t feel better about what they have returning in the post, where starters Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang return after starting every conference game last season. “When they’re on the floor,” Hoiberg says, “I like our chances against anyone.”

Ejim, who will be a fourth-year starter, is a bit undersized at 6-6. But that didn’t stop him from averaging 11.3 points and a league-best 9.3 boards a year ago. The highly skilled Niang is fresh off one of the best freshman seasons in Iowa State history. The 6-7, 245-pounder averaged 12.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and shot a team-high 51.5 percent from the field. Niang has the versatility to score from anywhere on the court, including 3-point range.


The Cyclones are counting on junior Percy Gibson to step up after a disappointing sophomore campaign. Hoiberg describes junior college transfer Daniel Edozie as “a big, physical kid who will get in there and battle. He’s a good rebounder.”



Backcourt


As comfortable as Iowa State feels about its frontcourt, the Cyclones are in a state of flux on the perimeter, where Babb, Lucious, Clyburn and Tyrus McGee all graduated. That foursome combined to average 47.2 points last season. “It’s going to be a completely different look,” Hoiberg says. “There’s going to be a battle for minutes. I’m excited to see who emerges.”

The Cyclones received a huge boost in May when Kane announced he was leaving Marshall and transferring to Iowa State, where he will be eligible to play immediately. A combo guard, Kane is one of two active Division I players to average 15 or more points in each of his first three college seasons. He averaged 15.1 points and seven assists in 2012-13.

Senior Bubu Palo is a candidate to join Kane in the backcourt. Off-court issues limited Palo to 17 games last season, but the former walk-on is still one of the squad’s most experienced players and its top perimeter defender.

A pair of junior college transfers, K.J. Bluford and Dustin Hogue, could also factor prominently into the mix. Hoiberg likes the 6-6 Hogue because of his ability to play multiple positions. And he says Bluford is a “Tyrus McGee type” because of his ability to connect from long range.

Matt Thomas, who is considered one of the top shooters in the Class of 2013, could be a factor, too, along with freshman Monte Morris and redshirt freshman Sherron Dorsey-Walker.


Newcomers

Don’t be surprised if Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane, a combo guard, leads the team in scoring. Matt Thomas and Monte Morris are both top-100 prospects who could make significant impacts as freshmen. K.J. Bluford led the junior college ranks in 3-pointers per game last season. Dustin Houge in another juco who could play a big role on the perimeter.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 9.9. The Cyclones led the nation by averaging 9.9 made 3-point field goals per game in 2012-13. Iowa State ranked third nationally in scoring (79.4 ppg).
Iowa State has the talent to contend for an NCAA Tournament berth for the third straight year, but only if the newcomers jell in a hurry. Hoiberg has dealt with a plethora of fresh faces before, but in most of those scenarios, the players were transfers who had spent a year on campus practicing with the team before becoming eligible. “With the other guys, we knew what we were getting and who they were going to be,” Hoiberg says. “These guys are going to have to bond right from the start.”

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Iowa State Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 07:05
All taxonomy terms: Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning, NFL
Path: /nfl/the-10-greatest-quarterback-seasons-nfl-history
Body:

Peyton Manning might be the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history. And what he is doing to the rest of the NFL this fall is downright unfair.

After five games, Manning has 1,884 yards, 20 touchdowns, one interception and has completed 75.8 percent of his passes at a 9.5 yard per attempt average. His per game averages are 376.8 yards, 4.0 touchdowns and 0.2 interceptions and his QB rating is 136.4.

This puts the Broncos signal-caller on pace for 6,029 yards, 64 touchdowns and three interceptions — which would shatter the single-season records for yards held by Drew Brees (5,476) and touchdowns held by Tom Brady (50). His 75.8 percent completion would also obliterate Brees’ present NFL record (71.2 percent) and his 136.4 QB rating would dwarf Aaron Rodgers’ single-season record (122.5).

Simply put, Manning is on pace to produce the best single regular season by a quarterback in NFL history. And it’s not even close.

However, for this season to be considered the greatest of all-time, Manning must deliver in the postseason. He is 9-11 all-time in the playoffs, has won only one Super Bowl and lost another. So for Manning’s 2013 to become the best start-to-finish NFL campaign — which are ranked below — he must finish the season with a second Lombardi Trophy.

1. Steve Young, San Francisco, 1994
There hasn't been a more complete NFL season than the year Young and offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan put together in 1994. The 49ers finished the regular season with the best record in the league at 13-3 while Young set an NFL single-season record for efficiency with a 112.8 QB rating, breaking the previous record set by former mentor Joe Montana. He also came 0.3 percentage points from breaking Ken Anderson's NFL mark for completion percent at 70.6 percent (Young's 70.3 percent still sits at No. 4 all-time). He started all 16 games, finished with 3,969 yards and an NFL-best 35 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions. Additionally, Young led the team in rushing touchdowns with seven as he compiled 293 yards on 58 carries. For all of this he earned the NFL MVP, but what made the '94 campaign special is what took place following the regular season. The Niners steam-rolled the Bears, Cowboys and Chargers en route to Young's first Super Bowl — a win commemorated by a record six touchdown passes, 325 yards passing, the MVP trophy and Gary Plummer's famous monkey exorcism. Oh, and No. 8 was the game's leading rusher as well. Young posted 623 yards passing, 128 yards rushing, 11 total touchdowns and nary an interception in San Francisco's three playoff games. It was the finest season a quarterback has ever seen.

2. Kurt Warner, St. Louis, 1999
Part of what makes Warner's '99 campaign so memorable is how the Northern Iowa signal-caller ended up a Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP. The undrafted rookie finally broke into the league four years after graduating from UNI and led the inept Rams to the best record in the NFC (13-3) as a first-year starter. The 28-year-old led the NFL in touchdown passes (41), completion rate (65.1 percent), yards per attempt (8.7) and QB rating (109.2) while finishing with a franchise-record 4,353 yards passing. He then proceeded to complete over 81 percent of his passes for 391 yards and five touchdowns in his first career playoff start — a 49-37 win over Minnesota. By the end of Super Bowl XXXIV, Warner had thrown for 414 yards and two touchdowns to earn his second MVP trophy of the season. The huge numbers, the sheer improbability and ultimate victory combined to produce what was nearly the greatest season in history.

3. Tom Brady, New England, 2007
Today's sports culture values championships and quarterbacks rarely disagree. So had Brady finished his magical romp through the NFL in 2007, he would be sitting at No. 1 on this list. He is only one of two QBs to ever finish a season 16-0 and eventually worked the record to 18-0 before the show-stopping loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII . Brady threw for a franchise-record 4,806 yards, good for third all-time in NFL history at the time. His QB rating of 117.2 was second all-time in NFL history and he became the first and only player to ever throw 50 touchdown passes in one season. He threw only eight interceptions and led the league in 11 passing categories. In the postseason, Brady and the Pats were dominant against Miami in the Divisional Round, but the Michigan grad struggled in the final two games of the year. He threw three interceptions and had his second-worst yardage day of the year (209 yards) in the AFC title game win over San Diego. He capped his MVP season with an underwhelming performance against the extraordinary Giants defensive line, costing him his fourth Super Bowl ring and the unbeaten immortality of 19-0.

4. Dan Marino, Miami, 1984
Marino was well ahead of his time back in only his second year in the league. He set an NFL record for passing yards (5,084) that would stand for nearly 30 years and an NFL record for touchdowns (48) that would stand for 20 years. He led the Dolphins to the best record in the AFC at 14-2, claimed the MVP trophy and returned Miami to the Super Bowl where they fell just short of defeating the 18-1 Joe Montana-led 49ers. The Pitt Panther threw for 1,001 yards and eight scores in three postseason games. The 23-year-old with a lightning quick release led the NFL in completions, attempts, QB rating and yards per attempt in a season that totally changed the way the game of football was played. He paved the way for what we see today on Sunday and came up 22 points short of a championship.

5. Joe Montana, San Francisco, 1989
The Golden Domer wasn't ever the most talented or fastest or strongest quarterback on the field, but his 13 regular-season games — and subsequent playoff run — during the 1989 season were as brilliant as most's 16-game seasons. Montana completed 70.2 percent of his passes, led the NFL at 270.8 yards per game and finished with a then-NFL record 112.4 QB rating. His completion rate was second all-time to only Ken Anderson and is still one of only five seasons better than 70 percent in history. The 49ers finished 11-2 in his 13 starts and 14-2 overall and Montana was the MVP of the league. Montana threw for 3,521 yards, 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He also added 227 yards rushing and three more scores on the ground. However, what made No. 16's '89 campaign one of the greatest in history was his thorough destruction of the NFC and Denver Broncos in the postseason. He completed 65 of his 83 passes (78.3 percent) for 800 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero picks, finishing his historic season with arguably the most dominant Super Bowl performance to date by crushing John Elway and company 55-10. Three more games puts Montana over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns and moves him ahead of Marino and Brady on this list.

6. Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2009
One could argue Brees' 2011 season was better, but I am guessing if you ask him which year was better, he would take '09 everyday and twice on Sunday. He led the NFL in completion rate (70.6 percent), breaking the aforementioned Anderson's NFL single-season record. He also topped the charts in touchdown passes (34) and QB rating (109.6) en route to a 13-3 final regular season record. He finished with 4,388 yards and only 11 interceptions. He then capped New Orleans' magical resurrection with 732 yards passing, eight touchdowns and no interceptions in three playoff wins. His performance in the Super Bowl XLIV win over the Colts and Peyton Manning gave the Saints franchise their first championship. Brees completed 82.1 percent of his passes and claimed the game's MVP honors.

7. Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2011
It is hard to argue that from a statistical perspective, no quarterback has ever had a better regular season than Brees in 2011. He set NFL records for completions (468), passing yards (5,476) and completion rate (71.2 percent) while leading the Saints to a 13-3 record. He then proceeded to throw for 928 yards and seven touchdowns in two playoff games. His defense let him down in the postseason and he contributed two of the team's costly five turnovers in the divisional round loss to the 49ers.

8. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, 2006
Much like Brees, Manning has had many elite seasons, but two stand above the rest. One in which he broke an NFL record and played at unprecedented levels (see 2004 below) and the other ended with a Super Bowl championship. Much like Brees, the ring gives Manning's '06 campaign the slight edge. He threw for 4,397 yards on 65.0 percent passing and a league-leading 31 touchdown passes. It was also the only year in which No. 18 threw fewer than 10 interceptions (9). His 101.0 QB rating also led the NFL that season and he added four rushing scores for good measure. Manning led his Colts to four postseason wins that year (16-4 overall) and the 29-17 Super Bowl XLI win over Chicago in which he claimed the game's MVP trophy.

9. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, 2011
In a season in which three passers topped 5,000 yards and numerous NFL records were broken, Rodgers' season can get lost in the shuffle. Yet, the Packers' passer set every major franchise passing record and led a team that finished 15-1 in the regular season. The year ended with a whimper with Rodgers sitting out the season finale and then losing to the Giants in the team's only playoff game. But his 4,643 yards, 10.5 yards per attempt and absurd 45:6 TD:INT ratio gave No. 12 the most efficient season in NFL history (122.5 QB rating) — and it earned him the league's MVP trophy. Had he posted Matt Flynn's (480 yards passing, 6 TDs) numbers in the final week of the regular season, he would have hit 50 TDs and topped 5,000 yards. That said, Packers fans will always look at '11 with "what-if" memories.

10. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, 2004
Many believe this season was Manning's best. Statistically speaking it was as he finished the regular season with an NFL-record 49 touchdown passes and 121.1 QB rating to go with 4,557 yards and a 67.6 percent completion rate. The league's MVP was 12-4 and on a path to his first Super Bowl title until New England completely dominated the AFC Championship Game 20-3. Manning ended a remarkable season one game shy of his goal, as he managed only 238 yards passing, no touchdowns and one interception in the disheartening loss to the Patriots.

Others to consider:

Dan Fouts, San Diego, 1981 (10-6, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 4,802 yds (NFL record), 33 TD, 17 INT, 90.6 QB rating

Warren Moon, Houston, 1990 (8-7, Postseason: None)
Stats: 4,689 yds, 33 TD, 13 INT, 96.8 QB rating, 215 rush yds, 2 TD

Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia, 1990 (10-6, Postseason: 0-1)
Stats: 3,466 yds, 30 TD, 13 INT, 91.6 QB rating, 118 att., 942 yds, 5 TD

Brett Favre, Green Bay, 1996 (13-3, Postseason: 3-0) MVP, Super Bowl
Stats: 3,899 yds, 39 TD, 13 INT, 95.8 QB rating, 136 rush yds, 2 TD

Michael Vick, Atlanta, 2004 (11-4, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 2,313 yds, 14 TD, 12 INT, 78.1 QB rating, 120 att., 902 yds, 3 TD

Michael Vick, Atlanta, 2006 (7-9, Postseason: None)
Stats: 2,474 yds, 20 TD, 13 INT, 75.7 QB rating, 123 att., 1,039 yds, 2 TD

Brett Favre, Minnesota, 2009 (12-4, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 4,202 yds, 33 TD, 7 INT, 107.2 QB rating

Michael Vick, Philadelphia, 2010 (8-3, Postseason: 0-1)
Stats: 3,018 yds, 21 TD, 6 INT, 100.2 QB rating, 100 att., 675 yds, 9 TD

Eli Manning, NY Giants, 2011 (9-7, Postseason: 4-0) Super Bowl
Stats: 4,933 yds, 29 TD, 16 INT, 92.9 QB rating

Tom Brady, New England, 2011 (13-3, Postseason: 2-1)
Stats: 5,235 yds, 39 TD, 12 INT, 105.6 QB rating, 109 rush yds, 3 TD

Cam Newton, Carolina, 2011 (6-10, Postseason: None)
Stats: 4,051 yds, 21 TD, 17 INT, 84.5 QB rating, 126 att., 706 yds, 14 TD

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-virginia-preview
Body:

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

Virginia Facts & Figures
Last season: 23-12 (11-7 ACC)
Postseason: NIT quarterfinals
Coach: Tony Bennett (76-53 at Virginia)
ACC projection: Fifth
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Win games, lose players. That incongruous trend continued for Virginia in 2012-13. For the fourth straight year, the Cavaliers won more games than the season before. And for the fourth straight year, a couple of players bailed.

The departures of guards Paul Jesperson, who started 33 games and Taylor Barnette, who started two, bring to 10 the number of transfers under coach Tony Bennett, who is entering his fifth year. It’s a puzzling aspect of the affable Bennett’s tenure. Even to him.

“There are different reasons why guys leave, but it’s just more and more of a reality, it’s a different time. It’s not just here, it’s everywhere where you’re going to fight that,” he says.

If Virginia is not exactly winning the fight, it’s definitely surviving it. Quite nicely, in fact. Projected to tumble into the ACC’s second division after reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2012, Bennett’s Cavs instead maintained the program’s quiet momentum, finishing fourth in the conference and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NIT.

While it can’t be called a step forward, it certainly wasn’t much of a step back. Bennett showed that his program has developed staying power.

This year, the Cavaliers could find out how high their ceiling is. With every key contributor except Jesperson and point guard Jontel Evans back, and with guard Malcolm Brogdon returning from a foot injury and South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill bolstering the frontcourt, this is easily Bennett’s biggest, most athletic and versatile team.

Frontcourt

With size, depth and athleticism to spare, Virginia could have one of the ACC’s best frontcourts.

Mike Tobey is the hub. The 6-11 sophomore spent part of the summer playing for the U.S. team at the U19 World Championship. Though he didn’t play a ton on a loaded squad, the experience was invaluable, he says. “Definitely, the experience helped me see more potential and see what I can do down the road,” he says.

Tobey flashed that potential last year, giving Virginia a true back-to-the basket presence. His development was slowed by a bout of mononucleosis that caused him to miss five games. But with added strength and stamina, Tobey could blossom.

Forward Akil Mitchell certainly blossomed last year, finishing with more double-doubles (12) than All-ACC pick Mike Scott did the previous year. The 6-8 Mitchell and the springy, 6-8 Darion Atkins give Virginia two of the ACC’s better frontcourt defenders.

Gill, who started 26 games at South Carolina as a freshman two years ago, is a former high school teammate of Mitchell. He’ll push Atkins for playing time.  

The addition of Gill should allow Evan Nolte, who hit the freshman wall after being forced to bang inside more than he was ready for, to move to a more natural spot on the wing. He hit 39 percent of his 3-point attempts last year.

Backcourt

Did we mention size and depth? That’s the story in the backcourt as well.

Amid all the roster churn of the last four years, senior Joe Harris has been a constant, an impact player from Day 1 who became an All-ACC selection last year. The sweet-shooting Harris was on a tear through the season’s first 28 games but wore down over the final seven. Playing more than 32 minutes per game and drawing so much defensive attention took a toll.

He’ll have more help this year. The versatile Brodgon, who played both guard positions before breaking his foot in February 2012, returns after missing all of last season. He’s likely to get first crack at the point guard position, where he’s got an edge in experience over incoming freshmen Devon Hall and London Perrantes.

The ultra-athletic and energetic Justin Anderson, spectacular at times as a freshman last year, could be poised for a breakout year.

Newcomers

In a departure from the usual, someone transferred in for a change. Anthony Gill was reportedly a load to handle in practice last year and will help right away. Devon Hall is a rangy, pass-first point who made some national top-100 recruit lists. London Perrantes, who also got some top-100 mentions, comes all the way from Los Angeles, where he had Pac-12 offers galore.

Final Analysis
Factoid: Virginia prefers a chilly pace, with scores in 50s whenever possible. The Cavs allowed just 55.6 points per game, fifth in the nation.


Maybe slow and steady does win the race. Bennett’s patient, deliberate approach — on and off the court — is gathering steam.

Bennett has recruited well, and although Virginia’s attrition rate has been high, the players who have bought in have developed, and the program has established an identity and style of play.

The influx of new members has made the ACC tougher than ever. Virginia is doing what it can to keep pace.

Win games, lose players. That incongruous trend continued for Virginia in 2012-13. For the fourth straight year, the Cavaliers won more games than the season before. And for the fourth straight year, a couple of players bailed.

The departures of guards Paul Jesperson, who started 33 games and Taylor Barnette, who started two, bring to 10 the number of transfers under coach Tony Bennett, who is entering his fifth year. It’s a puzzling aspect of the affable Bennett’s tenure. Even to him.

“There are different reasons why guys leave, but it’s just more and more of a reality, it’s a different time. It’s not just here, it’s everywhere where you’re going to fight that,” he says.

If Virginia is not exactly winning the fight, it’s definitely surviving it. Quite nicely, in fact. Projected to tumble into the ACC’s second division after reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2012, Bennett’s Cavs instead maintained the program’s quiet momentum, finishing fourth in the conference and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NIT.

While it can’t be called a step forward, it certainly wasn’t much of a step back. Bennett showed that his program has developed staying power.

This year, the Cavaliers could find out how high their ceiling is. With every key contributor except Jesperson and point guard Jontel Evans back, and with guard Malcolm Brogdon returning from a foot injury and South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill bolstering the frontcourt, this is easily Bennett’s biggest, most athletic and versatile team. - See more at: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:1IZn8kRNr8gJ:athlonsports.com/college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-virginia-preview+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a#sthash.gcR4VOGE.dpuf
Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Virginia Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 23:24
All taxonomy terms: Eli Manning, New York Giants, NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-picks-every-game-week-6
Body:

A quick look at every game on the NFL schedule for Week 6, along with the consensus picks of Athlon Sports' editors.

Giants (0-5) at Bears (3-2)
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew and Monsters of the Midway defenses need to look alive against Eli Manning (12 INTs, two lost fumbles) and Jay Cutler (six INTs, three lost fumbles) on Thursday. Bears by 7

Packers (2-2) at Ravens (3-2)
Baltimore lost its beloved pregame-dancing linebacker who wore No. 52. Now Green Bay has to cope with the loss of its own post-sack-dancing No. 52, Clay Matthews (broken thumb). Packers by 4

Bengals (3-2) at Bills (2-3)
Thad Lewis, the most statistically accomplished QB in Duke football history, will make a quantum leap from the practice squad to NFL starter. Bengals by 6

Lions (3-2) at Browns (3-2)
Cleveland is 3–0 since the return of wideout Josh Gordon, who is now the center of swirling trade rumors with the receiver-starved 49ers. Lions by 5

Steelers (0-4) at Jets (3-2)
Uber-confident Ryan Clark will be quick to point out to his Blitz-burgh teammates that the Steelers are playing at the site of Super Bowl XLVIII. Steelers by 2

Rams (2-3) at Texans (2-3)
Matt Schaub has thrown a pick-six in a record four straight games. St. Louis’ Janoris Jenkins had three pick-sixes last year and Matt Giordano had an 82-yard pick-six just last week. Texans by 5

Panthers (1-3) at Vikings (1-3)
Carolina outscoring opponents 45–12 at home, but outscored 46–29 on the road this season. Vikings by 2

Raiders (2-3) at Chiefs (5-0)
Oakland swept K.C. last year, winning 26–16 at Arrowhead and 15–0 at the Black Hole. Chiefs by 8

Eagles (2-3) at Buccaneers (0-4)
Chip Kelly and Greg Schiano will give it the old college try once more unto the breach, er, Bay. Eagles by 3

Jaguars (0-5) at Broncos (5-0)
The worst vs. first matchup could feature the Broncos’ second-string in the second half. Broncos by 27

Titans (3-2) at Seahawks (4-1)
Former UW star Jake Locker will be on crutches for his Seattle homecoming. But the Hawks will likely be in “Beast Mode” after two road games. Seahawks by 11

Saints (5-0) at Patriots (4-1)
Last week, Tom Brady failed to throw a TD pass for the first time since Jan. 3, 2010. Patriots by 1

Cardinals (3-2) at 49ers (3-2)
Jim Harbaugh has a 3–1 record against Zona, with a 21–19 loss in 2011 and three victories by a combined score of 74–23. 49ers by 10

Redskins (1-3) at Cowboys (2-3)
Last season, RG3 went 2–0 against Dallas — passing for 404 yards, four TDs and one INT, while scrambling for 92 yards and another TD. Cowboys by 3

Colts (4-1) at Chargers (2-3)
Stanford alum Andrew Luck aims for the season sweep of California clubs, having already defeated Oakland, San Francisco and avocado. Colts by 4
 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 21:00
All taxonomy terms: Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL
Path: /nfl/worst-vs-first-jacksonville-28-point-underdogs-denver
Body:

The clawless 0–5 Jacksonville Jaguars take on the stampeding 5–0 Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday in what Vegas oddsmakers think is the most lopsided matchup in recorded history. The winless Jaguars opened as a 28-point — or four touchdown — underdog against the undefeated Broncos. That number is the largest since the NFL-AFL merger of 1970 and ties the unofficial record, which ESPN.com (citing The Gold Sheet) reports to be when the expansion Atlanta Falcons were 28-point underdogs against the Baltimore Colts in 1966.

Although the gambling line is set to entice bettors and is not necessarily a prediction of the outcome, it is an easy indicator of public opinion based on past on-field performance. And the numbers don’t lie. As the Broncos official Twitter feed (@DenverBroncos) pointed out, “The #Broncos’ 51 points in yesterday’s win are as many points as the Jaguars have scored all season.” And it’s true. Denver’s 51 points in its thrilling win at Dallas is the same total Jacksonville has tallied over five games.

The Broncos have looked like Super Bowl favorites en route to wins over the Ravens (49–27), Giants (41–23), Raiders (37–21), Eagles (52–20) and Cowboys (51–48). Meanwhile, the Jags appear to be aiming for the No. 1 overall pick after losses to the Chiefs (28–2), Raiders (19–9), Seahawks (45–17), Colts (37–3) and Rams (34–20).

A tale of the tape is even uglier, as Denver dominates Jacksonville:

Points per game:
46.0 – Denver Broncos
10.2 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Yards per game:
489.9 – Denver Broncos
251.8 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Total Touchdowns:
29 – Denver Broncos
 5 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Turnover Ratio:
+1 – Denver Broncos
–7 – Jacksonville Jaguars

It starts at the top, where Denver boasts Peyton Manning at quarterback and Jacksonville drags out Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, while a percentage of the fanbase pines for local legend Tim Tebow.

Manning is off to an MVP start, passing for 1,884 yards, 20 TDs and one INT for a 136.4 passer rating. Gabbert, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 draft, and Henne have combined to pass for 1,082 yards, three TDs and nine INTs. In a surreal setting, Henne will start in place of the injured Gabbert, who has led only one TD drive this year.

Expectations couldn’t be lower. Just keep it within four TDs, Jags.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 20:00
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-power-rankings-week-5
Body:

Ranking all 32 NFL teams, from the undefeated Denver Broncos to the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.

1. Broncos (5-0) Peyton Manning’s statistics even bigger in Big D.

2. Saints (5-0) Drew Brees gets first win at Soldier Field in fourth try.

3. Chiefs (5-0) K.C. off to best start since 9–0 record in 2003.

4. Colts (4-1) Andrew Luck leads ninth fourth-quarter comeback.

5. Seahawks (4-1) Squander early 12–0 lead in loss at Indianapolis.

6. 49ers (3-2) Injury-riddled Niners solid gold in win over Texans.

7. Packers (2-2) Winners of 23 straight over Lions in Wisconsin.

8. Bengals (3-2) Hold Patriots without TD for first time since 2009.

9. Patriots (4-1) Tom Brady’s TD pass streak ends at 52 straight.

10. Ravens (3-2) Pass rush brings talents and heat to South Beach.

11. Lions (3-2) Calvin Johnson (knee) sits out loss at Green Bay.

12. Bears (3-2) Alshon Jeffery sets team receiving mark (218 yards).

13. Cowboys (2-3) Not the “same old Tony Romo,” but same outcome.

14. Texans (2-3) Gary Kubiak gives Matt Schaub vote of confidence.

15. Dolphins (3-2) Suffer second straight loss after promising 3–0 start.

16. Eagles (2-3) Nick Foles throws two TDs subbing for Mike Vick.

17. Titans (3-2) Five straight three-and-outs to open loss vs. Chiefs.

18. Jets (3-2) Geno Smith throws three TDs in upset over Atlanta.

19. Falcons (1-4) Back-to-back home losses for first time since 2009.

20. Redskins (1-3) RG3 hopes to bounce back strong after bye week.

21. Rams (2-3) End three-game losing streak with win over Jags.

22. Cardinals (3-2) Record seven sacks, first safety in nine seasons.

23. Browns (3-2) Brandon Weeden leads win after Brian Hoyer injury.

24. Raiders (2-3) Charles Woodson ties record with 13th defensive TD.

25. Chargers (2-3) Post past-prime-time loss at Oakland’s Black Hole.

26. Bills (2-3) EJ Manuel out 4-to-6 weeks, Thad Lewis to start.

27. Panthers (1-3) Ugly effort included nine penalties for 79 lost yards.

28. Vikings (1-3) Add Josh Freeman to Ponder, Cassel QB carrousel.

29. Steelers (0-4) Ryan Clark boasts team not “out of” playoff hunt.

30. Giants (0-5) Big Blue feeling blue, 0–5 for first time since 1987.

31. Buccaneers (0-4) Warren Sapp critical of embattled Greg Schiano.

32. Jaguars (0-5) Justin Blackmon shines in debut after suspension.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 20:00
All taxonomy terms: Baltimore Ravens, prime time, Terrell Suggs, NFL
Path: /nfl/prime-time-players-week-5
Body:

Terrell Suggs, LB, Ravens
“T-Sizzle” was on fire in Baltimore’s 26–23 win on the road at Miami. The self-proclaimed alum of “Ball So Hard University” recorded half of the Ravens’ six sacks, with all three of Suggs’ QB takedowns coming in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. “My wife told me to ‘bring momma three sacks,’” Suggs said after the game. “I said, ‘All right, momma said she wanted three, so go get it.’” The Ravens have a 14–1 record when the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year posts a multi-sack game.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles
Chip Kelly’s high-flying offense was back in business during a 36–21 win over the NFC East rival Giants. Although Philly failed to maximize its opportunities — kicking five field goals of 41 yards or less — Jackson was a big play waiting to happen. The electric wideout had seven catches for 132 yards (18.9 ypc) and a game-sealing TD grab, which was followed by a trolling mockery of the signature salsa dance made famous by New York’s Victor Cruz.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
Reportedly motivated by trash talk from the Seahawks secondary, Hilton had the last laugh in a 34–28 win over Seattle. Andrew Luck’s other go-to guy — opposite Reggie Wayne — had five catches for 140 yards (28.0 ypc) and a pair of TDs, including a 73-yard scoring strike that marked the longest TD in the careers of both Luck and Hilton. The play proved to be the turning point in the game, as Indy had 13 yards on 12 plays prior to the game-breaking bomb.

Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
Sure, the four-time MVP completed 33-of-42 passes (78.6 percent) for 414 yards, four TDs and one INT for a 129.6 passer rating in a 51–48 win on the road at Cowboys Stadium. But the 16th-year veteran has been doing that just about every week. It was Manning’s naked bootleg TD run — his first rushing TD since 2008 — that stole the show. “You want to do it about every five years or so,” joked Manning.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
This space is usually reserved for winners, but Romo’s historic losing effort deserves mention. In a 51–48 disappointing defeat to Denver, Romo became just the fifth quarterback in NFL history to pass for 500 yards and five TDs in a single game. Romo completed 25-of-36 passes for 506 yards, five TDs and one INT, going toe-to-toe with Manning in a shootout for the ages. Dallas and Denver combined for the second-highest scoring game in regulation (99) since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 19:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-october-8
Body:

Almost at the halfway point of the 2013 season.

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

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Tuesday, October 8th

Lost Lettermen takes a look at the top-10 coaching confrontations since 2000.

Tired of bowl games? Get ready, there are four new ones coming to college football in 2014.

Here's an odd story: Fake representatives of USC are reaching out to coaching candidates.

Auburn defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker will take a redshirt season.

UCLA lost tackle Torian White for the rest of the year with an ankle injury suffered against Utah.

Minnesota's president has renewed his support for coach Jerry Kill.

What has happened to Texas' athletic department?

Is Jadeveon Clowney tanking for the NFL Draft?

Virginia coach Mike London received the vote of confidence from his athletic director this week.

Why isn't Florida running back Kelvin Taylor playing this year?

Utah tight end Jake Murphy suffered a broken wrist against UCLA.

Should California fire defensive coordinator Andy Buh?

Texas A&M defensive tackle Kirby Ennis will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.

Who replaces quarterback Chuckie Keeton at Utah State?

 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs
Path: /college-football/todd-gurley-doubtful-saturdays-game-against-missouri
Body:

Georgia running back Todd Gurley missed the Bulldogs' overtime win against Tennessee due an ankle injury suffered the week before against LSU. Mark Richt told reporters that the star running back will likely sit for a second straight week with the ankle injury. Reports indicated that Gurley is just 50/50 at this point in time. This is the latest in a rash of injuries that has plagued Mark Richt's squad. Earlier this week it was announced that RB Keith Marshall and WR Justin Scott-Wesley would miss the remainder of the season with ACL injuries. Georgia will turn to 5-9, 183 pound true freshman RB J.J. Green.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/texas-will-wear-special-nike-uniforms-red-river-rivalry
Body:

The 2013 Nike Pro Combat Red River Rivalry uniforms feature gold and chrome accents in reference to the Golden Hat trophy, a golden replica of a 10-gallon cowboy hat that has been kept in possession by the winning school's athletics department since 1929. The Texas jerseys feature a gold Red River Rivalry patch and will a gold outline around the numbers. The inside of the neckline features "Longhorns" and a custom tag reads "Texas Longhorns Red River Rivalry".

The Longhorns will wear a special gold edition of the Nike Vapor Jet II gloves. Texas' glove features a white team logo over the gold palm and embroidered "Longhorns" on the inside.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Kevin Harvick, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-6-amazing-stats-charlotte-motor-speedway
Body:

Have yourself a day, Kevin Harvick.

The lame-duck, beer-and-sandwich-stealing vulture turned NASCAR’s Chase on its head when he tamed the unpredictable Kansas Speedway last weekend, something you were warned about, by leading over half of the race as his competition spent the weekend executing more triple axels than you’d see at a figure-skating event.

This weekend, he heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway as the track’s most recent winner. He ranks seventh in Charlotte PEER — a measure of a driver’s production in equal equipment — and is a two-time victor in the CoT/Gen-6 era, but has never won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.5-mile facility outside the month of May. He’s not an outright favorite, but he’s favorite-ish. If he can enact his plodding ways in a more expedited process — Saturday night’s race is 100 miles shorter than the mammoth Coca-Cola 600 — he could be reckoned with in a late-race scenario.


5.2  The difference in Harvick’s clean average finish — his average result of races in which he did not suffer a race-altering accident or mechanical failure — in the CoT/Gen-6 era between May’s Coke 600 and October’s Bank of America 500 is 5.2.

His seventh-place clean average finish in the 600 is stout; his 12.2-place average in the 500 isn’t quite impeccable, but in five-race snapshots, Harvick is five positions worse in the fall. Does this mean fans of the 29 team should panic? Not necessarily, but it might mean that Harvick’s keen passing ability is a slow-burn process. With 100 extra miles, it makes sense that a good passer like him will obtain more spots.


53.7%  With a 53.7 percent mark, Harvick is the most efficient passer in the Sprint Cup Series.

The next-best passer is Kasey Kahne (52.63 percent), leaving Harvick in a percentile by himself. He’s a tremendously efficient passer and one fun to watch navigate through traffic, but with 100 less miles to pull off his game plan, he’ll have to speed up the position-earning. A fast car could aid in that effort. So could restarts, as was the case in this year’s 600.


90% and +11  Harvick retained his position 90 percent of the time on double-file restarts in the spring race at Charlotte, and used them to gain a total of 11 positions.  Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne

He cemented the win when he turned Kahne, a relatively poor restarter, to a disheveled mess on the race’s final restart, passing for the lead out of the non-preferred, low groove. Double-file restarts were created to artificially inflate the sport’s passing numbers, but for a driver like Harvick who is both an elite passer and a superb restarter, the statistically imbalanced concept fits firmly in his wheelhouse. He could take advantage on Saturday night, and likely will have to go through Kahne once again.


5.273  Kahne, with a PEER of 5.273, was the most productive driver in Charlotte races dating back to 2008.

Kahne, who has won a total of four points-paying races at Charlotte and finished eighth or better in each of the last four events, is the most reliable frontrunner at the track since Jimmie Johnson was neutralized following the most recent repave. Like Harvick, Kahne is a good passer (mentioned above). Also like Harvick, he’s been more victorious in the 600 (three wins) than the 500 (one win, 2006). In desperation mode four races into the Chase, there might not be a better place for Kahne and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team to swing for the fences.


787  Kyle Busch has led a series-high 787 laps across the last 11 races at Charlotte, but has failed to win a Cup Series race there.  Kyle Busch

Amazing, right? He ranks second in Charlotte PEER, thanks mostly to seven top-5 finishes in the aforementioned span. With two DNFs omitted— a crash in the 2011 spring race and a blown motor earlier this year — he averaged a fourth-place finish in the nine remaining races. Why hasn’t he sealed the deal? The two Charlotte races are both heavy in length, 600 and 500 miles, and only six of Busch’s 28 Cup Series victories have come in 500-mile races. The better explanation might have to do with dumb luck. It’s difficult for any driver to win any race, but when a television camera falls from the sky and lands on Busch’s car, like it did during this year’s 600, it sure doesn’t make life easier. Charlotte Cup races are just an odd thorn in Busch’s side. Eventually, he’ll crack the code that unlocks the gate to victory lane.


0.100  Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a replacement-level producer at Charlotte with a PEER of 0.100, which ties him with Dave Blaney for 39th out of 50 drivers with three or more starts there since 2007.

Earnhardt claimed Charlotte victory in his first All-Star Race attempt in 2000, and that turned out to be his best day at the track. The presence of Steve Letarte has been a boost to his results-padding ways — he finished seventh in the 2011 600 and sixth in 2012’s fall race — but outside of two finishes, he scored results of 19th or worse in seven of his last nine races there. He isn’t a lost cause, though. His 39th-place effort this spring was the effect of being a blown-motor casualty, a rare hiccup from a Hendrick powerplant. With a smart setup and a capable motor, he could finish comfortably in the top 20. Still, those looking to place race-win bets on the most popular driver in the sport this weekend would be better suited to take their money elsewhere.


For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, check out David’s glossary of terms on MotorsportsAnalytics.com.

David Smith is the founder of Motorsports Analytics LLC and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projections, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA.

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 13:00

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