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Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-weekend-preview-oklahoma-state-oklahoma-big-12-race
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If the Big 12 goes through Kansas, the Oklahoma schools might be in good shape.

A three-game losing streak for the Jayhawks has flipped the Big 12 race around, leaving the Cowboys and Sooners, who both defeated KU, as two of the biggest beneficiaries.

Three teams are tied for the Big 12 lead. Half of the conference is within a game of first place. And for the first time in a several seasons, the Oklahoma schools are in that mix.  Oklahoma State is tied with Kansas and Kansas State for the Big 12 lead at 8-3 while Oklahoma is sitting at 7-4. For the first time since 2009, both schools are poised to reach the NCAA Tournament in the same season.

Behind the stellar play of guards Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, Oklahoma State has won six in a row, including a road win at Kansas. The Cowboys are a lock for the third NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Travis Ford, but their sights might be higher for a potential Big 12 title. After facing Oklahoma on Saturday, Oklahoma State will catch Kansas again in Stillwater on Wednesday.

Oklahoma is a longer shot to win the league, but the Sooners’ toughest opponent for the remainder of the regular season will be the rival Cowboys in Stillwater on Saturday. Either way, Lon Kruger’s turnaround season with the Sooners is remarkable as Oklahoma is poised for its first 20-win season and NCAA bid since Blake Griffin played in Norman in 2009.

Related: NCAA Tournament projections and bubble watch

GAME OF THE WEEK
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena
Stillwater, Okla. (cap. 13,611)
TV: Big 12 syndication
OKLAHOMA PROBABLE STARTERS
G Isaiah Cousins (6-3/182, Fr.)
G Steven Pledger (6-4/219, Sr.)
G Je’Lon Hornbeak (6-3/180, Fr.)
F Romero Osby (6-8/232, Sr.)
F Amath M’Baye (6-9/208, Jr.)
OKLAHOMA STATE PROBABLE STARTERS
G Marcus Smart (6-4/225, Fr.)
G Markel Brown (6-3/190, Jr.)
F Le’Bryan Nash (6-7/230, So.)
F Michael Cobbins (6-8/200, So.)
C Philip Jurick (6-11/260, Sr.)

Game-defining matchup: Oklahoma’s Steven Pledger vs. Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown
Brown has been on a hot streak recently, scoring 25 against Texas Tech on Wednesday and riding an explosive first half against Kansas two weeks ago on the way to 28 points. He’s an explosive dunker, but he can step out and shoot the three-pointer, going 7 of 8 against Tech and 7 of 10 against Kansas. When he’s on, Oklahoma State’s tough to stop. Steven Pledger has had his struggles in recent weeks, but the Sooners need one of their most experienced players to be on his game on both ends of the floor against a tough Cowboys backcourt.

Players we’re watching: Oklahoma’s Cam Clark and Je’lon Hornbeak
Kruger has been tinkering with his lineups in recent weeks, putting Hornbeak and later freshman Isaiah Cousins at the point. But Kruger's hand will be forced with the energetic Bobby Hield out for four to six weeks with a broken foot. Hornbeak hit a three-pointer and a few big free throws late in the win over Kansas, but he’s a freshman. Clark is a 6-foot-6 junior guard who can contribute in a number of areas.

Stat that matters: Free throw shooting
If the game is close near the end, it will be interesting to see who wins the free throw battle. Oklahoma State (74.3 percent) and OKlahoma (73.8 percent) are the top two teams in the Big 12 from the line.

How Oklahoma can win: Let Osby and M’Baye take over
Romero Osby is one of the league’s most improved players, making a run at conference player of the year honors. In his second go-round against Kansas’ Jeff Withey, Osby owned the matchup with 17 points and eight rebounds. He and Amath M’Baye (10.5 ppg) will need to take charge against the Cowboys’ frontcourt for Oklahoma to have its best chance to win.

How Oklahoma State can win: Dominate the backcourt matchup
Freshman Marcus Smart has been every bit the transformative player Oklahoma State hoped he would be, but he’s not the only freshman standout. Phil Forte has scored in double figures in six of his last nine games. Together, Smart, Brown and Forte are averaging 50.3 points per game during the Cowboys’ six-game win streak. With an undermanned and young Oklahoma backcourt, the Cowboys will look to the guards to take over the game.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 72, Oklahoma 67

WEEKEND ON TAP
All times Eastern


Georgetown at Cincinnati (Friday, 9 p.m., ESPN)
The Hoyas’ NCAA credentials have improved greatly since mid-January as Georgetown has won six in a row. In terms of field goals, Georgetown is the most efficient team in the Big East on both ends of the floor: The Hoyas lead the Big East in field goal percentage (45.6 percent) and field goal defense (38.1 percent) in conference games. After a two-game skid, Cincinnati got a much needed win over Villanova on Tuesday.

Virginia at North Carolina (Saturday, noon, ACC syndication)
Where did Virginia’s offense come from? The Cavaliers scored 78 on Clemson, 80 on Maryland and 73 on Virginia Tech in the last three games. North Carolina had a win at Duke within its sights before poor free throw shooting sunk the Tar Heels. How short on good wins is North Carolina? The Heels’ best victories are over UNLV, Florida State, Maryland and Long Beach State.

Pittsburgh at Marquette (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS)
This is a key game in what is turning out to be a wild race in the Big East. With Syracuse’s loss to Connecticut on Wednesday, Marquette is in a three-way tie for first in the league with the Orange and Georgetown. Pittsburgh has been one of the hottest teams in the nation over the last month. The Panthers have lost only once — by three points at Louisville — since their 74–67 defeat, in OT, at Marquette on Jan. 12.

Missouri at Arkansas (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN2)
Mike Anderson, who won 111 games in five seasons as the head coach at Missouri, takes on his former school for the first time since making the move to Arkansas. The Razorbacks have been brutal on the road but nearly unbeatable at home. Arkansas seems to be the safe pick here, but Mizzou is capable of beating any team in the nation when it shoots well from the 3-point line.

Colorado State at Air Force (Saturday, 4 p.m., Altitude)
After a two-game swoon, Air Force is back in NCAA Tournament conversation after drilling UNLV 71-56. Colorado State is in even better shape with a chance to win the Mountain West title after a late burst from Dorian Green gave the Rams a 66-60 win over San Diego State on Wednesday. Colorado State leads the nation in rebound rate despite having only one player taller than 6-foot-6.

Baylor at Kansas State (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPNU)
It’s pretty clear where Baylor stands in the Big 12 with a 1-4 record against Tournament contenders Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and a 6-0 record against Texas, Texas Tech, TCU and West Virginia. Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder is averaging 20 points per game over his last three.

Ohio State at Wisconsin (Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS)
Thursday's OT loss to Minnesota notwithstanding, Wisconsin has mastered the art of the narrow victory. Each of the Badgers’ last five wins has come by six points or less, including two in overtime. Ohio State used a win over Northwestern to recover from a tough week, with losses to two of the top-five teams in the nation (Michigan and Indiana). The Buckeyes’ last two road losses — at Michigan and at Michigan State — have come by a total of five points. This team has the mental toughness to win at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Minnesota at Iowa (Sunday, 2 p.m., Big Ten Network)
This is a pivotal game for both teams. Minnesota, which opened the season with 15 wins in its first 16 games. The Golden Gophers have lost six of their last nine, none more damaging than last Sunday’s home game against Illinois. After defeating Wisconsin in overtime Thursday, Minnesota could string together some good wins with another victory in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes improved to 5–7 in the Big Ten with wins over Northwestern and Penn State. With a soft schedule down the stretch — by Big Ten standards — Iowa will have an opportunity to play its way into the NCAA Tournament.

Athlon Sports managing editor Mitch Light contributed to this report.

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Weekend Preview: Oklahoma State, Oklahoma in Big 12 race</p>
Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NFL, NBA
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-6
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This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Feb. 15.

Swimsuit cover girl Kate Upton said those two little words that sent pulses racing across the fruited plain: "I'm single." I wonder if Justin Verlander knows.

• Michael Jordan just hit the half-century mark, and to celebrate, Sports Illustrated dug up its 100 greatest MJ photos. Also, ESPN's Wright Thompson goes all long form journalist to give us the measure of the man at 50. The heir to MJ's throne, LeBron James, continues to play Jordan-esque basketball. Finally, today's last MJ link: the 50 Sports Illustrated covers featuring His Airness.

• The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is tomorrow. Believe it or not, this used to be a big, big deal. Athlon ranks all 22 Slam Dunk Contests, from Jordan gems to Jeremy Evans snoozers.

• A meteor exploded over Russia last night. The sports world felt the effects.

An ESPN announcer hit a trick shot prior to last night's Minnesota-Wisconsin game. Then, after the game, Tubby Smith felt like dancing. Appropriate, since the win probably clinched the Gophers' spot in the Big Dance.

The latest on the shocking Oscar Pistorius story.

• Among the revelations and assertions in Mike Piazza's book: Still not gay.

• Sir Charles has outdone himself. Barkley showed up on the Inside the NBA set sporting a tribute to the Alabama football player muggings.

 

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


Feb. 14

• Happy Valentine's Day. To celebrate, the Detroit Free Press does a fun rundown of sports-themed kisses.Yes, Isiah and Magic did make the countdown.

• More V-day celebrating: Here are the best Valentine's Day-related names in sports.

• Here's a not-so-happy story for Valentine's Day: Oscar Pistorius, the inspirational "Blade Runner" of the London Games, has been charged with killing his model girlfriend. Deadspin reminds us of this now-ironic Nike ad featuring Pistorius.

• One last Valentine's link: Romance is dead — except for on sit-coms.

• Irony alert: Clay Travis declares war on bullying sports bloggers. At least he saves his wrath for the anonymous kind.

Tennessee cops mistook an elderly lady's Buckeye decal for a marijuana symbol and pulled her over. I live in Tennessee and don't mind admitting that we can be dumb sometimes.

Five bold predictions for SEC football's offseason.

The Dookies gave Coack K a present for his 66th birthday: a home win over North Carolina.

• Today would have been Titans great Steve McNair's 40th birthday. Here are five of Air McNair's greatest moments.

• He's coming for you, GloboGym: Steeler James Harrison has signed with the Ball Busters dodgeball team.

• I'm a little late to this dust-up, but Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim unloaded on ESPN's Andy Katz the other night.

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


Feb. 13

• Kate Upton and her cohorts have done the hard work of Swimsuit 2013; now it's time for the publicity tour.

• King James and the Izzone were en fuego last night. Here's a roundup of what you might have missed.

Will Farrell was an usher at last night's Lakers game. He used a rather unusual alias.

Nerlens Noel suffered a gruesome knee injury last night. Let's hope for the best. Pat Forde wonders if David Stern's age rule has endangered Noel's future in the game.

• If you're gonna go out, go out in a blaze of glory, I say. This disgruntled hockey goalie did everything but drop the mic like Kanye.

• As MJ turns 50, SI puts him on their cover for the 50th time.

The importance of in-state recruiting. If your state is a talent producer, that is.

Dan Mullen would like to remind you that there are two SEC schools in Mississippi recruiting at a high level.

• Guys, tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Here's a last minute gift guide. Hint: Plain chocolates, shoes and carnations ain't gonna cut it.

• Tough chick of the day: An LPGA player was bitten by a black widow, cut the venom loose with a tee, and kept playing.

• The Duke-UNC managers game involved a buzzer beater and court-storming. Let's hope tonight's main event can approach this level of excitement.

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


Feb. 12

It's SI Swimsuit Tuesday. Viral track star Michelle Jenneke is in this year's issue. We approve.

• The SEC rules the college football world. Basketball? Not so much. The reason? Money.

I present this Woody Hayes story without comment. I could add nothing to the headline.

Tuscaloosa crime reporter Stephanie Taylor kept popping up in my Twitter feed this morning. The reason? A Crimson Tide crime wave. Nick Saban is clearly losing control. Here's more on the story from Saturday Down South.

Blake Griffin may or may not have switched hands mid-dunk last night. Whatever he did, it was impressive.

• Today's debate fodder: Mandatory compiled the 100 greatest quotes from The Simpsons.

The Olympics are dropping wrestling? Wasn't that like the original Olympic sport?

• Bizarre athlete injury of the day: Francisco Liriano broke his arm trying to scare his children on Christmas.

The lamest nicknames in professional sports. Obviously, Athlon doesn't consider the WNBA to be a professional sport; otherwise, they'd dominate this category.

• Today's out-of-control sports parent: Mike Bibby got ejected from his son's basketball game. The cops had to escort him out.

• The lovely ladies of Swimsuit 2013 presented David Letterman's Top 10 list last night.

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


Feb. 11

• This is the week: Kate Upton. Swimsuit issue. Body paint. Need we say more?

Two Savannah State students snuck into the Super Bowl and taped themselves doing it. Nice security team you got there, Roger.

The 25 signature moves, poses and gestures in sports. Yes, Tebowing makes the list.

LeBron James is on an all-time roll: He's made 49 of his last 65 shots. As King James said himself, "S---, that's pretty good."

• Speaking of guys who are in the zone, Brandt Snedeker has shot 10 straight rounds in the 60s. Nice guys sometimes finish first.

• Florida State's Michael Snaer doesn't always make shots, but when he does, they win games.

• Baseball nerds, rejoice: Pitchers and catchers report. But all is not well for some teams.

• Even better news: Real games start soon in college baseball. Here's Athlon's preseason top 25.

Clark Kellogg compared Victor Oladipo to a baby's bottom: Smooth and explosive. The comment made Awful Announcing, but I thought it was pretty clever.

• A teaser while you wait for spring practice: 5 SEC-ready juco signees.

• The Grammys were last night. I don't know much about what happened, but I thought this photo was funny.

• In honor of LeBron's historic, epic run, here's a tasty ally-oop from the Heat's demolition of the Lakers.

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

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 09:30
Path: /nba/nba-slam-dunk-contest-champions-ranked-1-22
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The 2013 NBA Slam Dunk Contests lifts off on Saturday, Feb. 16, in Houston. The Jazz’s defending Slam Dunk Contest champion Jeremy Evans, Pacers’ Gerald Green (2007 Slam Dunk Contest champion), Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe, Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried, Raptors’ Terrence Ross and Knicks’ James White will follow in the flight paths of MJ, Dr. J and Dominique.

With that in mind, we judge all 22 Slam Dunk Contest champions since the ABA introduced the competition in 1976 and the NBA brought it back in 1984.

Mount Rushmore
One-name icons with star power, style and the ability to jump out of the gym — or from the free-throw line, as it were — no one in history has had the hang time or staying power of these four fly guys.

1. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls (1987, 1988)
“Air” Jordan was an aerial artist who transcended the act of putting a ball through a rim.

2. Julius Erving, New York Nets (1976 in ABA)
“Dr. J” was the originator — complete with an Afro and red-white-and-blue ABA ball.

3. Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks (1985, 1990)
The “Human Highlight Film” windmilled and tomahawked his way into dunk history.

4. Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors (2000)
“Half Man, Half Amazing” could jump over French dudes and through 10-foot hoops.

 

Freak Shows
There’s just something about watching a sub-six-footer or near-seven-footer take over the Dunk Contest that adds to the spectacle of Saturday night’s three-ring circus.

5. Spud Webb, Atlanta Hawks (1986)
The shortest (5’7”) champ ever beat his teammate in front of his hometown crowd.

6. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic (2008)
Superman’s hand missed the rim on his most famous dunk, but it was out of this world.

7. Nate Robinson, New York Knicks (2006, 2009, 2010)
The only three-time champion in event history was 5’9” of Kryptonite for Dwight.

 

Big Names, Bigger Air
No matter how great the dunks are it’s always better when there is a name that matters on the marquee. Lately, the lack of cachet has taken the air out of the slam-dunk sails.

8. Larry Nance, Phoenix Suns (1984)
The underrated Nance could get high in his high socks, winning the NBA’s first contest.

9. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks (2005)
The ATL native paid homage to Nique with a throwback jersey to go with pogo hops.

10. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (1997)
Remember when Kobe was bald, Brandy was his girl and Adidas was his shoe of choice?

11. Kenny Walker, New York Knicks (1989)
“Sky” Walker could rise with the best of them, rocking Knicks No. 7 before Carmelo did.

12. Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors (2002, 2003)
One of three repeat champs in history, along with Michael Jordan and Nate Robinson.

 

Props Plus Hops
The All-Star Game sideshow has featured its fair share of gimmicks, third parties and prop comedy that almost always ends in winning over the crowd and the trophy.  

13. Dee Brown, Boston Celtics (1991)
Brown Pump-ed up his Reeboks and covered his eyes with his arm to take the title.

14. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers (2011)
Jumping over a car — the type of Kia he endorses — was Griffin’s modus operandi.

15. Cedric Ceballos, Phoenix Suns (1992)
Ceballos put on a blindfold that he may or may not have been able to see through.
 

Signature Style
To contest connoisseurs, these are two of the more exciting dunkers. Each had a signature dunk that every kid who ever had an eight-foot goal attempted over and over.

16. Harold Miner, Miami Heat (1993, 1995)
“Baby Jordan” matched his namesake with two Slam Dunk Contest statement wins.

17. Isaiah Rider, Minnesota Timberwolves (1994)
Wild child “J.R.” went between the legs midair in front of the Twin City crowd.

 

White Man Can Jump
His dad Granny-shot free-throws but Bones could throw down like no one this side of Woody Harrelson — and he remains the only white guy to win it all in event history.

18. Brent Barry, Los Angeles Clippers (1996)
Not quite from the free-throw line, but Barry did take off from near the charity stripe.
 

Hi and Bye
Who are you? And why are you here? Okay, you can dunk. Nice job. But I still wish the field had more star power. After all, literally every player in the NBA can dunk…

19. Gerald Green, Boston Celtics (2007)
Sure this wasn’t the NBDL Dunk Contest?

20. Desmond Mason, Seattle SuperSonics (2001)
The Sonics? Is that a WNBA team?

21. Fred Jones, Indiana Pacers (2004)
You mean the character from Scooby-Doo?

22. Jeremy Evans, Utah Jazz (2012)
Is that the Ray Bandit who stole sunglasses?
 

Teaser:
<p> Best Slam Dunk Contest Championship of All-Time, including Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter, Spud Webb, Dwight Howard, Nate Robinson, Larry Nance, Josh Smith, Kobe Bryant, Kenny Walker, Jason Richardson, Dee Brown, Blake Griffin, Cedric Ceballos, Harold Miner, Isaiah Rider, Brent Barry, Gerald Green, Desmond Mason, Fred Jones and Jeremy Evans.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/ranking-best-college-football-basketball-coach-tandems-acc
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With college football’s spring practice and basketball’s postseason around the corner, Athlon Sports decided this would be a good time to evaluate each school’s coaching tandem.

In this ranking, we aimed to reward balance. In short, which school’s fanbase is most likely to be satisfied from September to March? A handful of schools may have an accomplished football coach while the basketball coach is looking to keep his job, or vice versa. We did not grade on a curve in those cases.

In evaluating coaches, we examined past performance, with more focus on current and recent results and future expectations. We also considered how good a fit a particular coach is for a particular school.

For our No. 1 ACC tandem at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski’s credentials are impeccable, of course. But David Cutcliffe has made Duke football relevant. Krzyzewski and a bowl-contending coach in football vault the Blue Devils to the top football/basketball coaching duo.


Miami at No. 2 may be a surprise for a program that slipped under Larry Coker and Randy Shannon in football and put up meager basketball results under Perry Clark and Frank Haith. Both programs are making impressive turns under Al Golden and Jim Larranaga.

As with the Big East, we wanted to reflect changes due to realignment. Below the 2013 rankings, we ranked the conference alignment with Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse as full members and Maryland gone to the Big Ten.

Other coach tandem rankings:
Big 12
| Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


1. Duke
Football:
David Cutcliffe | Basketball: Mike Krzyzewski

David Cutcliffe gave Duke fans a reason to get excited for football season with its bowl appearance in 2012, only its third since 1960. A quarterback guru, Cutcliffe has had dangerous passing games since he arrived at Duke. If the Belk Bowl isn’t convincing enough, consider he has more wins in his Duke tenure (18 in five seasons) than any coach since Steve Spurrier (20 wins in three). And you know Krzyzewski: Four national titles, 11 Final Fours, 948 wins and no signs of slowing down.

2. Miami
Football:
Al Golden | Basketball: Jim Larranaga

This season may be the first in Miami history where the basketball coach has been the Big Coach on Campus rather than the football coach. This isn’t just a knee jerk reaction to Miami’s newfound basketball prominence this season. Larranaga led Miami to a 9-7 season in the ACC a year ago for its first winning season in the conference. That’s on the heels of an accomplished career at Bowling Green and George Mason, where he led the Colonials to the Final Four. Golden’s 13-11 record is nothing special by Miami football standards, but he’s navigating the off-field adversity at Miami with the same skill he used to revive Temple.

3. North Carolina
Football:
Larry Fedora | Basketball: Roy Williams

Roy Williams has his flaws as a coach, some of which are coming to bear this season. But he has 691 career wins, two national championships and seven Final Fours at Kansas and North Carolina. He's already a Hall of Fame coach. North Carolina football remains a sleeping giant, and there’s reason to believe Fedora can be the coach to deliver on that promise once the Tar Heels weather NCAA sanctions. After four consecutive bowl games and a Conference USA title at Southern Miss, he went 8-4 overall and tied for the Coastal Division lead despite a bowl ban last season.

4. Florida State
Football:
Jimbo Fisher | Basketball: Leonard Hamilton

The verdict on Fisher as the coach to return Florida State to national title contention is unsettled. He’s led the Seminoles to their first 10-win seasons since 2004 and their first top-10 finish since 2000. But the Seminoles can’t get back into the title picture thanks to losses to teams like Wake Forest and NC State. He’s facing an interesting season with a handful of staff defections. Basketball is a clear No. 2 sport at Florida State, but Hamilton has taken the ‘Noles to their best era in the sport with four consecutive NCAA Tournaments and an ACC Tournament title last year.

5. Clemson
Football:
Dabo Swinney | Basketball: Brad Brownell

With his earnest enthusiasm, Swinney is the kind of character made for college football. He’s good for a chuckle, but he knows how to allocate his budget to top coordinators, especially Chad Morris. His 21 wins in the last two seasons are the most in school history, and the Tigers’ 2011 ACC title was their first since 1991. Brownell came to Clemson with good reputation by taking UNC Wilmington and Wright State to the NCAA Tournament, but he has a two-year postseason drought since reaching the Big Dance in his first season at Clemson.

6. Virginia
Football:
Mike London | Basketball: Tony Bennett

In 2012, the football program slipped back to 4-8 after an eight-win season in London’s second year. The former police officer went 24-5 at Richmond with an FCS title before returning to Virginia. After ending Virginia’s four-year NCAA Tournament drought last season, Bennett has the program in position for its first back-to-back Tournament bids since 1994-95. His offensive and defensive systems will keep scores low, but it’s proven to work when he’s at at talent disadvantage.

7. Virginia Tech
Football:
Frank Beamer | Basketball: James Johnson

Beamer is synonymous with Virginia Tech football even if his streak of eight consecutive 10-wins seasons ended in 2012. The Hokies haven’t missed a bowl game or had a losing season since 1992, Beamer’s sixth season in Blacksburg. Johnson is a much more unknown commodity. He was noted as a recruiter under predecessor Seth Greenberg’s staff, but it’s been a tough season in his debut as a head coach.

8. Georgia Tech
Football:
Paul Johnson | Basketball: Brian Gregory

Johnson is the nation’s best coach in using the option offense. With a 2009 ACC title, he proved the offense could win at the major conference level. The real question has been the defense, which has struggled since then. Despite three bowl games, Georgia Tech has only one winning season since the ACC title. The hire of Brian Gregory from Dayton in 2011 didn’t generate a ton of excitement and neither has his tenure so far.

9. NC State
Football:
Dave Doeren | Basketball: Mark Gottfried

Gottfried isn’t the nation’s best basketball coach or even one of the top coaches in the ACC. His team is too talented to have a middling record in the ACC even if most of those losses were close calls. Still, NC State is in a spot it hasn’t been in a long time. The Wolfpack reached only their second Sweet 16 since 1989 in 2011 and have a chance to go deeper in the Tournament this year. Or NC State could lose in the first round. Dave Doeren led Northern Illinois to MAC titles in his two seasons in DeKalb, including an Orange Bowl berth (though he was hired at NC State before the bowl game). He’s an unknown at the ACC level, and it’s a question how he’ll recruit over the long haul.

10. Maryland
Football:
Randy Edsall | Basketball: Mark Turgeon

Edsall’s second season at Maryland wasn’t so bad before he was forced to start a freshman former linebacker at quarterback. The Terrapins started 4-2 before a six-game losing streak to end the season. After Edsall endured a 2-10 season that was as bad off the field as on it, his third season will be a critical one before the Terps move to the Big Ten. Turgeon will exceed his first season’s win total from 2011-12, but the real breakthrough is probably a year away. Before Maryland, Turgeon won at least 24 games in five of six seasons at Wichita State and Texas A&M.

11. Wake Forest
Football:
Jim Grobe | Basketball: Jeff Bzdelik

Jim Grobe’s 2006 ACC title is a distant memory, but he remains one of the most respected coaches in the ACC. The Deacons have played in only one bowl game the last four seasons, but Grobe’s tenure remains notable given the obstacles at Wake Forest. Bzdelik was once a decorated coach when he led Air Force to the NCAA Tournament. He’s also one of the few college basketball coaches who also coached in the NBA. But his tenure at Wake Forest has been dismal.

12. Boston College
Football:
Steve Addazio | Basketball: Steve Donahue

Addazio may end up a great fit at Boston College with his connections to the Northeast and experience coaching the offensive line, which has been a strength for BC over the years. He went 9-4 in his first season at Temple but 4-7 as an overmatched team moved to the Big East. In basketball, Donahue has a Sweet 16 at Cornell on his resume, but the building has been slow going at Boston College.

ACC COACH TANDEM RANKINGS - 2014 LINEUP

1. Louisville
Football:
Charlie Strong | Basketball: Rick Pitino

Pitino is in a class with Krzyzewski, but Charlie Strong could be the ACC’s top football coach when the Cardinals join the league.

2. Duke

3. Miami

4. North Carolina

5. Florida State

6. Pittsburgh
Football:
Paul Chryst | Basketball: Jamie Dixon

Dixon has taken Pitt basketball to a new level. Chryst seems to be a great fit for a wounded football program.

7. Clemson

8. Syracuse
Football:
Scott Shafer | Basketball: Jim Boeheim

Boeheim has 910 career basketball wins. Shafer has never been a head coach.

9. Virginia

10. Virginia Tech

11. Georgia Tech

12. NC State

13. Wake Forest

14. Boston College

Teaser:
<p> The Krzyzewski-Cutcliffe combo gives Duke the top basketball-football coaching tandem in the ACC.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-recruiting-big-ten-team-consensus-rankings-2013
Body:

Recruiting in college football is downright nasty. It is a cutthroat, cannibalistic big business that is microscopically analyzed by fans, administrators and media members alike. The Big Ten's recruiting trail is chalked full of intriguing storylines. Coaches on the hot seat struggling, a host of new coaching staffs are getting adjusted, Nebraska is beginning to flex its recruiting muscle and two historic programs are setting an entirely new bar.

Related: The Class of 2013 Top 25 Recruiting Classes

Urban vs. Brady
Big Ten recruiting has become a distinctive two-horse race. Michigan and Ohio State have long been the best two programs and two most powerful brands in the Big Ten, but the new coaches have taken it to a new level. Brady Hoke has the Maize and Blue back in the top five nationally in just two seasons and Urban Meyer has the Buckeyes competing for recruiting national championships after just one season in Columbus. And there appears no reason to think that this trend will slow down any time soon. The rest of the league — even Nebraska and Penn State — has been left scrambling to keep up with the big boys from Michigan and Ohio State.

Bill O’Brien works small miracles
In the face of the worst NCAA scandal in history and unprecedented heavy-handed sanctions, O’Brien put together one of the most impressive classes in the nation. Christian Hackenberg has a good chance at being the best quarterback in the nation and might even turn out to be the best player in the nation regardless of position. The fact this was a small group at only 17 total signees but still landed fourth in the Big Ten is impressive and to nearly land in the top 30 nationally with the swirling negativity in Happy Valley is astonishing. O'Brien also deserves credit for sticking around when he clearly had offers to return to the NFL.

Bo’s best Big Red class
Nebraska recruiting during the Internet era (since 2002) hasn’t been up to par with past Cornhuskers success on the field. And Bo Pelini’s classes haven’t been top 25 groups with the exception of the 2011 haul (17th nationally). In fact, the 2013 class tied that year as Pelini’s best recruiting class during his five-year tenure in Lincoln (17th). Otherwise, his classes have consistently ranked much lower than one would expect from Nebraska: 37th in 2008, 33rd in 2009, 31st in 2010 and 26th in 2012. The last three have easily been the best with two top 20 classes in three years. Perhaps, Big Red recruiting has turned a corner.

Sneaky good class for Kevin Wilson
Indiana has ranked no better than 59th nationally (2009, '11) in the last five classes and has been ranked as low as 92nd (2010). The Hoosiers average an 11th place finish in Big Ten recruiting rankings and have an average national rank of 70.8 over the last five seasons. But in 2013, Kevin Wilson’s staff made quite a statement by finishing seventh in the league and 46th nationally. This is the best IU class in recent memory and it should only continue the positive momentum for this team after improving from one to four wins in 2012.

Bad timing for Kirk Ferentz
The embattled Iowa head coach is making a whole lot of money — roughly $3.65 million per season — to be losing eight games a year. So the timing of this below average recruiting class for Ferentz couldn’t have been worse. The Hawkeyes average a sixth place finish in Big Ten in recruiting over the last five years, so claiming the 10th-rated class in the league this fall won’t sit well with the fans. The 53rd-rated class in the nation has to be considered a disappointment after three straight solid classes, including the No. 30-ranked group in 2011.

Related: Ranking the nation's most talented rosters

2013 Athlon Sports Big Ten Team Recruiting Rankings:

Rk Team Nat'l Rk AC100 Signees Rivals 247 Scout ESPN
1. Ohio State 2nd 10 24 2nd 5th 1st 3rd
2. Michigan 5th 5 27 5th 8th 2nd 6th
3. Nebraska 17th 0 26 17th 21st 11st 23rd
4. Penn State 33rd 2 17 40th 26th 45st 24th
5. Michigan State 36th 0 18 38th 40th 44th 35th
6. Wisconsin 38th 0 17 56th 34th 38th 33rd
7. Indiana 46th 0 22 41st 45th 51st --
8. Illinois 48th 0 25 46th 55th 42nd --
9. Northwestern 52nd 0 21 53rd 54th 46th --
10. Iowa 53rd 0 21 52nd 53rd 52nd --
11. Purdue 60th 0 23 55th 66th 58th --
12. Minnesota 69th 0 18 60th 70th 74th --

Teaser:
<p> College Football Recruiting: Big Ten Team Consensus Rankings for 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 06:42
All taxonomy terms: AC100, College Football, LSU Tigers, Recruiting, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-7-lsu-tigers
Body:

College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation. The LSU Tigers have recruited as well as any team in the nation in recent years and 2013 is no different. This group is nationally elite and sets a foundation for future success on the Bayou. The only issue? Finishing seventh nationally is only good for fourth in the SEC and third in the SEC West.

No. 7: LSU Tigers

SEC: Fourth
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
 5
National Signees: 14
Total Signees: 27

Where They Got 'Em:

Les Miles knows that Louisiana is one of the more underrated states for elite talent. He inked 12 of his 27 players in this class from The Pelican State, including five nationally rated recruits. The rest of the SEC helped out as well, sending three prospects each from both Florida and Georgia. Alabama and Tennessee each shipped one player to Baton Rouge as well.

Miles also went outside of his region to get talent. LSU landed two big-time players from California, including a potential star in quarterback Hayden Rettig. Illinois and North Carolina each sent an AC100 prospect while Nebraska and New Jersey watched a nationally rated prospect head South to play for the Tigers as well.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

This class' breakdown has to start with the line of scrimmage. Twelve new faces, seven on defense and five on offense, will play in the trenches from this class. The defensive line class, which technically doesn't include AC100 talent Kendell Beckwith because he is listed as a linebacker, is one of the best collections of talent in the nation. End Frank Herron and tackle Greg Gilmore lead the way as the top-rated names in the group, as both were AC100 prospects. Three more nationally rated names in tackles Christian LaCouture and Maquedius Bain and end Tashawn Bower bring massive size and versatile athleticism. Add to it smallish ends Lewis Neal and M.J. Patterson and Miles has arguably the deepest and most talented defensive line class in the nation. 

On the opposite side of the ball, elite blocker Ethan Pocic leads the way. He has bookend tackle size and athleticism. Josh Boutte is a mauler inside and was nationally ranked as well. Andy Dodd, K.J. Malone and massive junior college prospect Fehoko Fanaika (6-6, 340) round out a very talented offensive line group. This five-man class can play all three positions on the line and should only continue LSU's recent run of elite blockers.

Beckwith, who is officially listed as a linebacker by the Tigers, could be yet another rush end if he adds weight and proves he can handle the running games in the SEC. Otherwise, he heads a three-man linebacking group that is talented but doesn't match the depth of the Tigers' 2012 LB haul.

On the back end of the defense, this class' top prospect will be the star. Tre'Davious White is an electric cornerback who will make a immediate impact on special teams. He could remind fans in Baton Rouge of the Honey Badger in that sense — well, on the field, at least — and should likely be a much better coverman. Rashard Robinson and Rickey Jefferson round out a fairly small secondary class. 

LSU didn't sign a single running back in this class and none of the four wide receivers were nationally ranked. Early enrollee and prep school prospect Avery Johnson should be the best of the group once he finally gets into the offense. Tight end DeSean Smith is one of the most game-ready players at his position in the nation and could easily be the earliest contributor of all the offensive skill players in this class. 

The quarterback position should be in good hands, however, as two of the top 25 signal callers in the nation signed with LSU. Hayden Rettig, the younger brother of Boston College starter Chase, is the higher-rated of the bunch and was an Army All-American this winter. The pro-style passer will compete with dual-threat prospect Anthony Jennings for the starting job once Zach Mettenberger moves on. They are built very similarly — both are listed at 6-2 and 200 pounds — but each brings a unique skill set to the offense, giving Miles and new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron plenty to work with in the coming years.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 2, RB: 0, WR: 4, TE: 2, OL: 5 
Defense: DL: 7, LB: 3, DB: 3, ATH: 1 

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
45. Tre'Davious White DB No. 11 Shreveport, La. 5-10 170
57. Ethan Pocic OL No. 5 Lemont, Ill. 6-7 285
70. Frank Herron DE No. 13 (DL) Memphis, Tenn. 6-5 245
73. Greg Gilmore DT No. 14 (DL) Hope Mills, N.C. 6-4 275
77. Kendell Beckwith LB No. 8 Jackson, La. 6-3 225
125. DeSean Smith TE No. 5 Lake Charles, La. 6-4 225
128. Jeryl Brazil ATH No. 3 Loranger, La. 5-9 180
143. Hayden Rettig QB No. 10 Los Angeles, Calif. 6-2 200
144. Josh Boutte OL No. 21 New Iberia, La. 6-4 325
193. Rashard Robinson DB No. 31 Pompano Beach, Fla. 6-1 165
206. Christian LaCouture DT No. 36 (DL) Lincoln, Neb. 6-5 290
210. Maquedius Bain DT No. 37 (DL) Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. 6-5 285
213. Tashawn Bower DL No. 38 Somerville, N.J. 6-5 240
231. Anthony Jennings QB No. 25 Marietta, Ga. 6-2 205

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100
John Diarse WR Monroe, La. 6-0 210 --
Fehoko Fanaika OL San Mateo, Calif. 6-6 340 JUCO
Anthony Jennings QB Marietta, Ga. 6-2 205 No. 231
Avery Johnson WR Pompano Beach, Fla. 6-1 180 --
Christian LaCouture DE Lincoln, Neb. 6-5 290 No. 206
Ethan Pocic OL Lemont, Ill. 6-6 285 No. 57
Hayden Rettig QB Los Angeles, Calif. 6-2 200 No. 143
Logan Stokes TE Booneville, Miss. 6-4 240 JUCO

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 7: LSU Tigers</p>
Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 06:40
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, Overtime
Path: /overtime/photoshopped-reuben-foster-sleeping-pics-are-awesome
Body:

A photo of Reuben Foster, the five-star linebacker who signed with Alabama despite getting an Auburn tattoo, has been photographed sleeping (while standing up, no less) in class by Instagram user itsleeuhbae. While that alone is pretty funny, it seems that the Internet won't allow it to stop there. 
 
Members of the great LSU site Tiger Droppings have photoshopped him into all kinds of interesting scenarios. Here are some of our favorites. Check out the rest here.
 
 
 
 
 
Teaser:
<p> Photoshopped Reuben Foster Sleeping Pics Are Awesome</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 14:37
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-6-ole-miss-rebels
Body:

College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation.

Few teams in the nation had a more exciting, more explosive National Signing Day than the Ole Miss Rebels. Head coach Hugh Freeze built on tangible momentum by finishing with a flurry of commitments on the cycle's final day. This is arguably the best recruiting class in school history and it all began with the nation's No. 1 prospect.

No. 6: Ole Miss Rebels

SEC: Third
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
 4
National Signees: 7
Total Signees: 28

Where They Got 'Em:

The SEC footprint supplied all but one prospect in Ole Miss' 28-man class. Only Laquon Treadwell from Illinois heads to Oxford from outside of the SEC region. The state of Mississippi, which is one of the best states for talent per capita, provided nine athletes to Ole Miss. The Magnolia State had an above average year for talent in 2013 and Freeze capitalized.

Georgia (5), Tennessee (4), Alabama (3), Texas (3), Florida (2) and Louisiana (1) each shipped talented athletes to The Grove as well. Freeze and his staff used almost every SEC state to build this class and had a presence in every SEC West state except Arkansas. 

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

Hugh Freeze turned the Ole Miss offense around in one short season and he knows he needed to add big-time playmakers to that side of the ball. He did just that with at least 12 offensive skill players in this class and the potential for more should one or more of the "athletes" land on offense. 

Ryan Buchanan (6-4, 205) and Devante Kincade (6-1, 185) bring two totally different skill sets to the quarterback position. Freeze will have both a dual-threat option with athletic ability (Kincade) and a pro-style pocket passer (Buchanan) to work with in the near future. This duo should give Ole Miss a solid foundation at the most important position on the field. 

The best thing Freeze could do for his two young signal callers was surround them with elite talent. Three wide receivers and three tight ends should give these quarterbacks plenty of talented targets. Laquon Treadwell is the nation's No. 1 wide receiver in the nation and he should play right away. He is a special talent who is extremely gifted and physically prepared for the SEC as a freshman. He highlights the six-man pass-catching class that also could feature former elite recruit Nick Brassell. The electric athlete was an AC100 wide receiver in 2011 but needed a pit stop at East Mississippi Community College before landing in Oxford.

A deep and talented four-man running back class also completely restocks the roster. Two of the top seven players in this class, Kailo Moore and Mark Dodson, will tote the rock for the Rebels. Both bring state championship pedigrees and workhorse backgrounds. Eugene Brazley brings a smaller frame and some speed while Jordan Wilkins is the bigger, rangier power back. Ole Miss should have at least one quality replacement for Jeff Scott.

What will make those four runners successful, however, will be a four-player offensive line class led by a pair of elite prospects. Laremy Tunsil is the No. 1 offensive line recruit in the nation and has bookend prototypical left tackle skills. Austin Golson barely missed landing in the AC100 and has elite tackle upside as well. Daronte Bouldin and Davion Johnson could both end up at guard and round out a very nice OL class.

The defense got less of the focus with just eight players slated to play on that side of the ball. The defensive line — as well as the entire class, for that matter — is headlined by the nation's No. 1 player Robert Nkemdiche. He is a college-ready edge rusher as a freshman and could easily develop into the game's best inside-outside three-down defensive lineman by his junior season. A pair of tackles join him on the defensive line and two middle-of-the pack linebacker recruits help bolster the front seven. Ole Miss' defense already has some young talent, which is why Freeze didn't focus on his front seven in this cycle.

Antonio Conner is one of the top safety recruits in the nation and he leads the three-man secondary signing class. Much like the receivers, however, this group could get a boost should any of the three "athletes" land on defense.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 2, RB: 4, WR: 3, TE: 3, OL: 4
Defense: DL: 3, LB: 2, DB: 3, ATH: 3, K: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
1. Robert Nkemdiche DE No. 1 (DL) Loganville, Ga. 6-5 270
3. Laremy Tunsil OL No. 1 Lake City, Fla. 6-6 320
14. Laquon Treadwell WR No. 1 Crete, Ill. 6-3 198
32. Tony Conner DB No. 9 (DB) Batesville, Miss. 6-2 205
107. Austin Golson OL No. 15 Prattville, Ala. 6-6 290
138. Kailo Moore RB No. 19 Rosedale, Miss. 5-10 190
217. Mark Dodson RB No. 24 Memphis, Tenn. 5-10 195

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht. Wt. AC100
Mark Dodson RB Memphis, Tenn. 5-10 195 No. 217
Lavon Hooks DT Booneville, Miss. 6-4 290 JUCO
Quadarus Mireles ATH Raymond, Miss. 5-11 185 JUCO
Christian Morgan TE Plano, Texas 6-4 255 --

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 6: Ole Miss Rebels</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 11:20
Path: /mlb/2013-spring-training-10-storylines-watch
Body:

Pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training camps in Florida and Arizona. Here are a few stories to watch as MLB players sharpen their skills in preparation for the 2013 season, which begins for every team April 1.

1. Canadian Chemistry
The Toronto Blue Jays, seemingly tired of watching the AL East world pass them by, loaded up this winter for a serious summer run at their first postseason appearance since winning the 1993 World Series. They traded for three near-elite starting pitchers and one of the best shortstops in the game. But the most intriguing move is hiring manager John Gibbons for his second stint in the Blue Jays’ manager’s office. Gibbons posted a 305-305 record as Jays skipper from 2004-08, but there is very little even-keeled about the man. He clashed with several players during his time in Toronto, most notably Ted Lilly and Shea Hillenbrand. The latter led Gibbons to threaten to quit if Hillendbrand wasn’t cut, which he was. But Gibbons was fired about halfway through the 2008 season. Now the older — and presumably wiser — Gibbons must deal with even larger egos. The chemistry that Gibbons establishes with the left side of his infield could be the difference between success and failure this season. Shortstop Jose Reyes is an established star accustomed to more coddling than Gibbons will likely impart, and third baseman Brett Lawrie is one of the most emotional and fiery players in the game. Some kind of confrontation is inevitable. How the manager and players respond to that will make all the difference.

2. Super Sophs
Last spring Mike Trout of the Angels and Bryce Harper were two high-profile prospects, deemed not quite ready for the majors. There was little pressure during spring training as both players knew more seasoning at the Triple-A level was in store. Both were called up at the end of April and their lives immediately changed. Now they are established big leaguers who shoulder significant responsibility for their teams’ postseason fate. Neither player is old enough to buy alcohol in most states, and neither had to weather many tough times last season. Most observers close to the situations in Washington and Los Angeles agree that the two are mature beyond their years, but it will be worth watching how these two respond to the pressure that comes when players are no longer rookies.

3. Angels in the Playoffs?
Last winter the Angels made a huge splash with the signing of C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols. And just when you thought this winter would be much quieter, owner Arte Moreno reeled in the biggest fish in free agency by signing 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton away from division rival Texas. The outfielder joins a roster full of other big-name, big money stars and his positive effect should be huge for Pujols and second-year player Mike Trout. This time last season expectations were high for the Halos, but many thought Texas was still the favorite. No more. Anything less than a division title in Anaheim will be a failure this season.

4. Astros in AL
After 51 seasons in the National League, the Houston Astros are crossing over to the DH league. No more rivalries with St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Chicago. Now fans in Houston must familiarize themselves with Oakland, Seattle, and the Angels in addition to the team up I-45 in Dallas. Still undergoing a massive rebuilding program that saw the Astros produce the two worst seasons in their history, the Astros are likely to lose close to 110 games this season. We’ll see if the new batch of opponents coming to Minute Maid Park this season will be enough to entice fans to visit as well.

5. War on Drugs
Six players were suspended last season for positive PED tests, the most since 2007. Is that a result of more cheating, or more stringent testing? Probably some of both. Drug tests this season that now include blood tests in spring training should lead to a cleaner game. But just when it appeared that renegade labs were under control and whispers about current players juicing had subsided, a Miami newspaper uncovers some disturbing information coming out of Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla. As the investigation continues into the Biogenesis lab, most certainly more names of baseball players will surface, and more innuendo and denials will follow. It’s one thing for players already having tested positive for banned substances like Bartolo Colona and Melky Cabrera to be connected with the lab, but for names like Gio Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz and Francisco Cervelli, it’s another matter. Some will say it’s unfair to presume guilt by association. And that’s true. Others might argue that this isn’t a court of law and where there’s this much smoke there must be some flames. Gonzalez and Cruz have already issued denials and MLB is investigating. But all players with any presumed or real ties to Biogenesis will have to answer questions all spring. MLB certainly needs to offer fans and the media some confidence that the game is as clean as it has been since the so-called Steroid Era began in the late 1980s. However, MLB doesn’t need another BALCO on its hands either. This investigation must be complete and pretty swift for this not to linger as a major story all season.

6. Old Yankees Won’t Go Away
The New York Yankees will likely have as much support as any team in the competitive AL East to repeat as division champs this season. But keeping an eye on some of their veterans coming back from injury will tell us much more about this team. Shortstop Derek Jeter is recovering from a broken ankle suffered in the ALCS. He has begun running and says there are no lingering issues. But we’ll need to see him moving laterally to field ground balls before we believe him. Closer Mariano Rivera tore his ACL last May in Kansas City shagging flies. Will the best closer the game has ever seen, now age 43, be effective this season? Andy Pettitte is back in camp for at least one more go at this game. The veteran of 44 postseason starts hasn’t appeared in a season more than 21 times since 2009 when he was 37. Now at 40, will he be able to answer the bell for 30 starts? And what about A-Rod, the unending lightning rod for the Yankees. Recovering from knee surgery, the third baseman is staying behind in New York for rehab rather than join the team in Florida. Just how much of the season A-Rod will miss is still a mystery, but it wouldn’t be a shock if he doesn’t return until next spring training.

7. Profar in Texas – Majors or minors?
Jurickson Profar is universally considered the best rising prospect in the game. The middle infielder briefly tasted life in the majors last season when the Texas Rangers called him up in September. By all accounts he is ready for the big time. But how will the Rangers find playing time for the budding star? Shortstop Elvis Andrus is a two-time All-Star and still getting better. Second baseman Ian Kinsler is a linchpin in the lineup. So will Kinsler move to first base? Will he DH? And what about Lance Berkman signed to be the full-time DH? Will the Rangers keep Profar around as a part-time player, potentially retarding his progress? Or will he spend the season at Triple-A getting regular at-bats?

8. WBC Effect
For more than three weeks in the middle of March, spring training will be interrupted for several players who will participate in the World Baseball Classic. For most veterans, this isn’t a big deal. Miguel Cabrera will surely get enough swings in whether he’s working out with Venezuela or the Tigers. But there could be a few issues created by this international event. As mentioned above, new Toronto manager John Gibbons will work during spring training to foster good will among his players. However, R.A. Dickey, J.P. Arencibia, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie will leave camp for a spell. Milwaukee will lose both catchers on its 40-man roster when players join their international teams. Jonathan Lucroy will play for the U.S. and Martin Maldonado for Puerto Rico. That’s a lot of bullpen sessions and spring training innings Milwaukee pitchers must work with young catchers rather than developing a rapport with the regulars. Russell Martin, a new catcher to the Pirates this season, will also leave his new club for a while losing opportunity to get to know his new staff better. The impact isn’t all negative. With veterans missing in action for a few weeks, younger players will have opportunities for at-bats to impress their managers. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy will not have the services of Angel Pagan, Andres Torres, Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval during the WBC. But Bochy knows what they can do. This may give Bochy a better look at youngsters Gary Brown, Adam Duvall, Ehire Adrianza, Francisco Peguero and even Angel Villalona (if the Giants can get him into the country).

9. Free Agent Effect
Three players not under contract for 2014 bear watching this spring. Robinson Cano of the Yankees, Adam Wainwright of St. Louis and Jacoby Ellsbury of Boston could become free agents at the end of the season. How quickly will their teams move to lock them up long term? Will they investigate trades during the season? It seems unthinkable that the Yankees would not sign Cano to a long-term deal during spring training to avoid his contract situation from becoming a distraction during the season. And Wainwright still must prove that he is completely healthy, but the Cardinals have probably seen enough to get a deal done. Ellsbury’s situation is a little more tricky. Unlike the Yankees and Cardinals, the Red Sox are not expected to be in contention this season, so a trade may make sense at the deadline.

10. Brothers Upton
There’s an unofficial changing of the guard in Atlanta. Remember when the Braves were winning 14 straight division titles? Now that Chipper Jones has left the field for his hunting lodge, there are no ties to the titles in uniform this spring. But there are two Uptons, possibly the most talented pair of brothers to play alongside each other since, well, the Waners in Pittsburgh. Will this new age in Atlanta bring a division title? The Washington Nationals will be tough to unseat in the NL East, but the Braves have the bullpen and outfield that should rival any in the game. We’ll see in spring training how the rest of the team comes together.


 

Want more baseball? Check out Athlon Sports' 2013 Baseball Annual for the most complete preview available. Order your copy now! 

Teaser:
<p> Pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training camps in Florida and Arizona. Here are a few stories to watch as players sharpen their skills in preparation for the season, which begins for every team April 1.</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-bracket-projections-and-bubble-watch-feb-13
Body:

Selection Sunday is about a month away, and the picture for who’s in and who’s out of the NCAA Tournament is becoming more clear.

In general, most of the 68 spots are fairly certain. Of the 32 conferences, we’ve tabbed 20 as being one-bid leagues, determined solely by conference tournaments. On the other end of the spectrum, at least 30 teams are safely in the field barring a total collapse between now and March 17.

That leaves the bubble, where every win and loss is magnified and every result from November and December takes on a renewed significance.

Here’s our look at the NCAA Tournament field for 2013. This is not intended to be a prediction, per se, but a snapshot at how the field may look right now.

We looked at RPI, strength of schedule, good wins and bad losses in our projections. You will also see references to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The selection committee does not use them as a reference, but we include them as an added resource.

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET PROJECTIONS: FEB. 14

TOP FOUR SEEDS
Indiana 
Miami
Duke
Michigan

ACC (5)
In: Duke, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia
Worth a mention: Florida State, Maryland
Bubble notes: Virginia is new to the field this week. The Cavs have one horrible loss, to Old Dominion (RPI 314), and five other losses to team ranked lower than 100 in the RPI, but this team has played very well since league play began and also has a win at Wisconsin (RPI 33). Virginia's RPI is troubling (71), but we are willing to overlook as long as the Cavs keep playing well. North Carolina is in the field, but the Tar Heels don't have too much to brag about other than a solid RPI (36) and a win at home over UNLV (RPI 25). It helps that five of their seven losses came against tems ranked in the top 20 in the RPI. 

Atlantic 10 (5)
In: Butler, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU
Worth a mention: Charlotte, UMass, Xavier
Bubble notes: No changes in the A-10 this week. UMass is getting close. The Minutemen have won four of five to improve to 6–3 in the league. They do, however, only have one top-75 RPI win, at No. 32 La Salle. Charlotte is making a late charge. The 49ers' RPI is up to 48 after Wednesday's huge win at Butler. They now have three top-50 wins and only of their losses, at George Washington is to a team outside the top 100. Temple has played three straight one-point games, with wins over Dayton and Charlotte and a loss to Saint Joseph's. The Owls' December win vs. Syracuse at MSG will keep them in the field barring a collapse. Saint Louis, with six straight wins, is in good shape. The Billikens will have an opportunity to improve their seed in the next few weeks, with a home game vs. VCU and a trip to Butler. 

Related: Key games with postseason implications to watch this week

Big 12 (6)
In: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: Baylor has won two straight, but those have come against Texas Tech and West Virginia at home. Beginning on Saturday, the Bears have a three-game stretch with games at Kansas State, at home vs. Iowa State and at Oklahoma. They might need to win two of those three. Currently, Scott Drew's team has two top-50 RPI wins and has losses at home to Northwestern (RPI 98) and College of Charleston (RPI 140). Iowa State remained in the field desite losing at Texas (in overtime) on Wednesday night. The Cyclones still don't have a win away from home vs. a top-150 team. The do have two top-25 home wins and five of  their eight losses have come against teams ranked in the top 40.

Related: This week's college basketball power rankings

Big East (7)
In: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Worth a mention: St. John’s, Villanova
Bubble notes: Outside of that magical five-day stretch when Villanova beat Louisville and Syracuse, this team has done nothing to suggest its NCAA Tournament-worthy. They only have two other top-100 RPI wins, vs. St. John's (RPI 54) and Saint Joseph's (RPI 84). Their best road win is at No. 122 South Florida. St. John's is hanging around. The Red Storm have three top-50 wins, highlighted by the Jan. 5 vicory at Cincinnati. They already have nine losses, including two bad ones — at San Francisco (RPI 129) and vs. UNC Asheville (162).

Big Ten (7)
In: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Worth a mention: Iowa
Bubble notes: Illinois solidified its resume with two huge wins last week, vs. Indiana and at Minnesota. The Fighting Illini are only 4–7 in the Big Ten, but they have a strong RPI (27) and five top-25 wins, including three away from home. Minnesota continues to struggle — the Gophers have lost six of eight — but is still in solid shape. Tubby Smith's club has three top-35 wins and six of its seven losses have come against top-35 RPI teams. Iowa is 15–9 overall and 4–7 in the Big Ten, but the Hawkeyes' schedule softens up down the stretch. Don't be surprised if this team plays its way into the field. 

Related: Key stats from Feb. 4-10

Conference USA (1)
In: Memphis
Worth a mention: Southern Miss
Bubble notes: Southern Miss beat Tulane on Wednesday to improve to 16–6 vs. Division I teams, but the Golden Eagles have no top-100 wins. They will have to win the league tournament. 

Missouri Valley (2)
In: Creighton, Wichita State
Worth a mention: Indiana State,
Bubble notes: Indiana State will have one of the strangest resumes in recent memory. The Sycamores have four top-50 wins and four losses vs. teams ranked 150 or lower. That is hard to do. Their loss at Bradley on Tuesday knocked them out of the field for the week. Creighton is trending in the wrong direction. The Bluejays have lost three straight and now have five losses in the Valley. Their RPI is still solid, and they have still highly ranked by KenPom.com (23) and ESPN's BPI (18). 

Mountain West (5)

In: Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Worth a mention: Air Force, Wyoming
Bubble notes: Boise State is playing good basketball — the Broncos sandwiched wins vs. UNLV and Wyoming around a one-point loss at San Diego State — and snuck back into the field this week. They have an opportunity to solidify their resume this weekend at New Mexico, and still have dates with Colorado State at home and at UNLV. Wyoming has two solid wins (Colorado and San Diego State, both at home), but the Cowobys are 3–7 in the Mountain West. They need to finish strong. 

Pac-12 (4)
In: Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
Worth a mention: Arizona State, Cal, Stanford
Bubble notes: Colorado has solidfied its resume in the past few weeks with five wins in its last six games. The Buffaloes, coming off wins at Oregon and Oregon State, have a rock-solid RPI of 18. Arizona State played its way out of the field this week by losing at Utah. The Sun Devils have lost three of four and don't have any top-150 wins on the road. They do, however, play four of their final six games on the road — which could be good (if they win some) or bad (if they play their way out of the field). Stanford is making a late charge. The Cardinal have won four of five to improve to 6–5 in the league. They don't, however, have many quality wins — only one vs. a top-50 team (Oregon at home without Dominic Artis). Stanford can pad its resume in the next two weeks with a win at home vs. UCLA and at Oregon on Feb. 23. Cal deserves to be in the discussion after its upset win at Arizona last weekend. If the Bears (RPI 61, BPI 57) sweep UCLA and USC this weekend, they could sneak into the field.

SEC (4)
In: Florida, Kentucky Ole Miss, Missouri
Worth a mention: Alabama
Bubble notes: Kentucky was seemingly in great shape after winning five-straight games, but the Wildcats could be in a bit of trouble now that Nerlens Noel is out of action. Also, their "quality" win at Ole Miss doesn't look as impressive now. The Rebels have lost four of their last five and are playing their way back to the bubble. They only have one top-50 RPI win, but still have decent compture numbers (RPI 51, BPI 34, KenPom 37). Alabama has an impressive league record (8–3), but only one of those eight wins has come against a team ranked higher than 75 in the RPI. The Crimson Tide have to keep on winning to remain in the discussion.

West Coast (2)
In: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's
Worth a mention: BYU
Bubble notes: Saint Mary’s has a great opportunity to solidify its spot in the field on Thursday night when Gonzaga comes to town. If the Gaels lose that game, they figure to be sweating on Selection Sunday.

One-bid conference projections

Conference Projected winner Conference Projected winner
America East Stony Brook MEAC Norfolk State
Atlantic Sun Florida Gulf Coast Northeast Bryant
Big Sky Montana Ohio Valley Belmont
Big South UNC-Asheville Patriot Bucknell
Big West Long Beach State Southern Davidson
Colonial Northeastern Southland Stephen F. Austin
Horizon Valparaiso Summit Western Illinois
Ivy Harvard Sun Belt Middle Tennessee
MAAC Niagara SWAC Southern
MAC Akron WAC Louisiana Tech



 

Teaser:
<p> With Selection Sunday about a month away, Athlon Sports projects the field for the NCAA Tournament, conference by conference</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-5-quarterbacks-rise-2013
Body:

The start of spring practice for all 125 FBS college football teams is officially right around the corner. Army kicked off its spring practice on Feb. 12, while Tulane begins one day later on Feb. 13. Texas is the first BCS team to open spring practice, starting on Feb. 21 and Pac-12 rivals California and Stanford both start on Feb. 25.

With spring practice in the air, it’s time to turn the page from signing day to the action on the field. Quarterback battles will be heating up over the next few weeks, and several new faces could emerge as a star in 2013. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel wasn’t guaranteed to start after the conclusion of spring practice last year, yet won the Heisman Trophy and led the Aggies to an 11-2 record. Oregon's Marcus Mariota was locked into a tight battle with Bryan Bennett for the No. 1 spot last spring and was named as the Pac-12's Freshman of the Year for 2012. Considering Manziel and Mariota were both question marks after spring practice and ranked among the best quarterbacks in the nation, there will be other names that go from unknown to all-conference recognition in 2013. 

Although these five players might not be household names in February, it could be a different story by the end of the 2013 season.

5 College Football Quarterbacks on the Rise for 2013

Blake Bell, Oklahoma
While it’s unfair to compare Bell to Tim Tebow, he is following a similar career path to the former Heisman Trophy winner. Tebow was used mostly as a running threat during his first year, which is the same role Bell has fulfilled for Oklahoma in the last two years. After spending the last two seasons as a change of pace player, Bell will make the transition to starting quarterback this spring. The junior has recorded 372 rushing yards and 24 scores on 104 career carries but has only thrown 20 passes. Bell isn’t guaranteed the starting job, as Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight will get a chance to push him for the No. 1 spot in the spring. If Bell shows he can move the offense through the air, his dual-threat ability would provide a different dimension for Oklahoma’s offense, which ranked fifth in the Big 12 last season with an average of 38.2 points a game.
 

Michael Brewer, Texas Tech
With Kliff Kingsbury returning to Lubbock, the Red Raiders will be one of college football’s most intriguing teams in 2013. The former Texas Tech quarterback coordinated one of the nation’s top offenses in 2012 at Texas A&M and helped to engineer a similar attack at Houston with record-setting quarterback Case Keenum. With Seth Doege expiring his eligibility, Brewer is expected to become Texas Tech’s next prolific quarterback. As a backup to Doege in 2012, he threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns on 48 attempts. And the sophomore has been well-versed in spread offenses, playing under Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris when he was the head coach at Lake Travis (Texas) High School. Even though the Red Raiders lose Doege and receiver Darrin Moore, Brewer’s emergence and Kingsbury’s offense should keep Texas Tech in the hunt to match last season’s win total (eight).
 

Devin Gardner, Michigan
Gardner is a familiar name to most in the Big Ten, but he is poised to be a household name by the end of 2013. In three seasons in Ann Arbor, Gardner has thrown for 1,480 yards and 13 touchdowns, while also rushing for 175 yards and catching 17 passes for 268 yards. With Denard Robinson entrenched as the starter going into 2012, the Detroit native was slated to play receiver. However, Gardner shifted back to quarterback once Robinson suffered an elbow injury and started four out of the final five games under center. The junior had a strong showing in the last weeks of the season, throwing for 314 yards and recording six overall touchdowns in a 42-17 win over Iowa. Gardner completed 18 of 36 throws for 214 yards and three scores against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl and never threw more than one interception during his five-game stint at quarterback. Michigan will miss Robinson’s playmaking ability, but Gardner is plenty capable of leading the Wolverines to a Legends Division title. With left tackle Taylor Lewan returning to Ann Arbor, along with the arrival of touted true freshman running back Derrick Green, there figures to be plenty of help for Gardner in his first full season as the starter. 


Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Considering he started the last five games of 2012, Hogan is far from an unknown commodity. However, Hogan’s performance in limited action was promising and the rising sophomore will be a key cog in Stanford’s run at another Pac-12 title in 2013. The Virginia native’s first start came against Oregon State, in which he threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns, while also adding 49 yards on the ground. Hogan wouldn’t top 254 passing yards the rest of the way, but he didn’t toss an interception over his final three games and averaged 4.8 yards per carry on 55 attempts. With tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo departing for the NFL, Stanford needs to find more playmakers for Hogan in the passing game. However, with one of the Pac-12’s top offensive lines returning, along with Tyler Gaffney and Barry Sanders at running back, Hogan should be surrounded by plenty of help. The Cardinal needs to throw the ball better to reach the national title, which should be easy for Hogan to do with a full spring practice to work as the starter.
 

Bryce Petty, Baylor
Despite a new quarterback taking over in Waco, the Bears should still have one of the best offenses in the Big 12. With the emergence of running back Lache Seastrunk and receiver Tevin Reese, as well as the play of All-American guard Cyril Richardson, Petty will have a chance to ease his way into the starting lineup. The 6-foot-3 junior has played sparingly through his first two years on campus but was regarded as a top-100 recruit in Texas coming out of high school. Petty played in six games and completed 7 of 10 throws for 97 yards and one touchdown in 2012. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that he had a chance to work under Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence over the past three seasons on campus. Petty isn’t guaranteed the job, especially with the arrival of true freshman Chris Johnson this spring. However, considering his experience in the system for the past three years, it will be difficult to keep him out of the starting lineup. And considering the success of the last two Baylor quarterbacks, look for Petty to have a big season – if he’s the starter – in 2013.


Others to Watch:

Terrance Broadway, Louisiana-Lafayette
Started the final nine games of 2012 and averaged 278.2 total yards per game.
 

Ford Childress, West Virginia
Childress will have to beat out Paul Millard, but the 6-foot-5 Texan could be Dana Holgorsen’s next standout quarterback.
 

Jake Heaps, Kansas
Threw for 3,768 yards in two years at BYU but was benched after a disappointing start to sophomore year.


Vad Lee, Georgia Tech
North Carolina native is a perfect fit for Paul Johnson’s option attack.
 

Philip Nelson, Minnesota
Threw for 873 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012 and will benefit by working as the No. 1 quarterback during spring practice.
 

Daniel Sams, Kansas State
Showcased big-play potential on the ground last year (235 yards) but an unproven commodity through the air (55 yards).
 

Jameis Winston, Florida State
If Winston wins the starting nod, he should be one of college football’s top breakout passers for 2013.


Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 15 Impact JUCO Transfers for 2013
Early College Football Top 25 for 2013

College Football's Team Recruiting Rankings for 2013

10 True Freshmen Likely to Make an Impact in 2013

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 5 Quarterbacks on the Rise for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 06:50
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/greatest-valentines-day-related-names-sports
Body:

Cards, flowers, candy and other gifts are certainly nice, but these aren’t the only things that go hand-in-hand with Valentine’s Day. Did you know there are dozens of athletes and other figures across the sports spectrum that are a perfect fit when it comes to Feb. 14?

Whether it’s showing some “love,” demonstrating plenty of “heart” or representing something special for that special someone, these guys show that sports and romance can co-exist on Valentine’s Day. Now if we could only find a Cupid who can play some ball…

How do I love thee, let me count the names...
Davis Love III (PGA)
Kevin Love (PF, Minnesota Timberwolves)
Kyle Love (DT, New England Patriots)
Ben Lovejoy (D, Pittsburgh Penguins)
Edwin Lovelady (NFL wide receiver, 1987)
Clyde Lovellette (NBA Hall of Famer)
Lovie Smith (former Chicago Bears head coach)
Josh Freelove (Alabama State basketball)

This is the day for love...
John Valentin (MLB infielder, 1992-2002)
Jose Valentin (MLB infielder, 1992-2007)
Bobby Valentine (former Boston Red Sox manager)
Ellis Valentine (MLB outfielder, 1975-83, ‘85)
Shawn Valentine (Rider University basketball)
Valentine Izundu (University of Houston basketball)

Love, it comes from the heart...
Heartly “Hunk” Anderson (former NFL offensive lineman, 1922-25)
Ronnie Arrow (former college basketball coach, 1987-2012)
Hart Memorial Trophy (awarded annually to the NHL’s MVP)
Cory Hart (OF/1B, Milwaukee Brewers)
Dave Hart (University of Tennessee athletics director)
Bob Hartley (Calgary Flames head coach)
Garrett Hartley (K, New Orleans Saints)
Brian Hartline (WR, Miami Dolphins)
Scott Hartnell (LW, Philadelphia Flyers)
Ben Hartsock (TE, Carolina Panthers)
Gabby Hartnett (MLB Hall of Famer)

Nothing says "I love you" better than a dozen roses...
Dave Rose (BYU men’s basketball head coach)
Derrick Rose (PG, Chicago Bulls)
Jalen Rose (NBA guard/forward 1994-2007, current ESPN analyst)
Justin Rose (PGA)
Malik Rose (NBA forward, 1996-2009)
Pete Rose (MLB’s all-time hits leader)
Sage Rosenfels (NFL quarterback, 2002-11)
Ken Rosenthal (MLB reporter for FOX Sports and MLB Network)
Trevor Rosenthal (P, St. Louis Cardinals)
Pete Rozelle (NFL Hall of Famer, NFL commissioner from 1960-89)
Rosevelt Colvin (NFL linebacker, 1999-2008)
Barry Melrose (former NHL player, head coach, current ESPN hockey analyst)

Don’t forget something special for that special lady in your life...
Sugar Cain (MLB pitcher, 1932-38)
John Candelaria, the “Candy Man” (MLB pitcher, 1975-93)
Candy Cummings (MLB Hall of Famer)
Candy Moldanado (MLB outfielder, 1981-95)
Darryl Dawkins, aka “Chocolate Thunder” (former NBA center, 1975-89)
Scott Diamond (P, Minnesota Twins)
Kevin Garnett (F/C, Boston Celtics)
Eli Gold (University of Alabama football radio broadcaster)
Earl “The Pearl” Monroe (NBA Hall of Famer)
Ricky Rubio (PG, Minnesota Timberwolves)

And the best Valentine’s Day-related sports name of all...
Valentino Hart (former college basketball player, 2005-07)

Teaser:
<p> The Greatest Valentine’s Day-Related Names in Sports</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 06:40
Path: /college-football/sec-east-football-schedule-analysis-2013
Body:

With signing day in the books, spring practice is just around the corner for all 125 FBS teams. And it’s never too early to start thinking about the upcoming season and some of the key games on the schedule.

The SEC East appears to be a three-team battle atop the standings next season. Georgia and South Carolina are the likely frontrunners, with Florida slightly behind the Bulldogs and Gamecocks. Georgia faces a tougher schedule than it has in recent years, but South Carolina has to play in Athens this year.

While Georgia, Florida and South Carolina will likely be the only top-25 teams from the East, Vanderbilt is poised to earn its third consecutive bowl berth, while Tennessee and Kentucky should show improvement under new coaching staffs. Missouri had a disappointing debut in the SEC but could be better with a full offseason for quarterback James Franklin to heal.

With spring practice getting ready to start across the nation, Athlon takes a look at the schedules for each of the SEC East teams and examines some of the interesting storylines, scheduling tidbits and trends to watch. 

Related Content: SEC West 2013 Schedule Analysis

SEC East Football Schedule Analysis for 2013

Florida

Aug. 31 Toledo
Sept. 7 at Miami, Fla.
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 Tennessee
Sept. 28 at Kentucky
Oct. 5 Arkansas
Oct. 12 at LSU
Oct. 19 at Missouri
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 Georgia (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Nov. 9 Vanderbilt
Nov. 16 at South Carolina
Nov. 23 Georgia Southern
Nov. 30 Florida State

* The second week should be circled for Florida fans. Al Golden has Miami pointed in the right direction and seems to be making progress nearly every week with a young roster will only continue to develop. This is a huge moment for the Hurricanes getting the SEC power at home and will be a major hurdle for Florida to clear so early in the season. A win over the Canes likely means a 5-0 start heading into Baton Rouge.

* Florida will play both major Sunshine State powers in Miami and Florida State. The three-team round robin is great for college football in the state of Florida and fans across the country should be paying attention. The Gators will be favored in both games but this could feature three fairly evenly matched teams.

* Following the trip to Miami in Week 2, Florida will get an off week before hosting Tennessee. The Gators have won eight straight over the Vols and while Will Muschamp gets an extra week to prepare for new coach Butch Jones, Tennessee will be traveling to Eugene, Ore., and back. This all but assures a ninth straight win for the Gators.

* Five straight SEC games pinnacle with a trip to Baton Rouge. This has been one of the best and most physical crossover rivalries in the conference and both teams could easily be unbeaten when they lock horns on Oct. 12. Florida and LSU both have one tough road game but should be no worse than 4-1 entering this game.

* Upset alert for Florida is clearly the road trip to Missouri the Saturday following the LSU game. The Gators will have to expend copious amounts of energy and will have to play at an elite level to defeat the Tigers in Baton Rouge. Should that happen, a long trip to Columbia to face a team that gave them fits in 2012 is an obvious spot for a slip-up. Can Muschamp get them up for a second straight week?

* Following the five-game SEC stretch, Florida will get another bye week before playing a key rival. From 1990-2010, Florida was 18-3 against Georgia, and often times, the win clinched the SEC East for the Gators. But the Dawgs have won two straight in the series in heart-breaking fashion. The extra time off couldn’t have come at a better time than before a trip to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

* After facing all of that in the first three months of the season, Florida could be unblemished and ranked in the top five nationally. However, the entire season could come crashing down when the Gators head to South Carolina on Nov. 16. Some will pick the Gamecocks to win the East, and in fact, both teams could be unbeaten when they tangle in Columbia. This game, possibly more than the Cocktail Party, could decide who plays in the SEC title game. The enormity of this game could also cause Florida to totally overlook the tricky Vanderbilt Commodores the week before.
 

Georgia

Aug. 31 at Clemson
Sept. 7 South Carolina
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 North Texas
Sept. 28 LSU
Oct. 5 at Tennessee
Oct. 12 Missouri
Oct. 19 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 26 Open Date
Nov. 2 Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Nov. 9 Appalachian State
Nov. 16 at Auburn
Nov. 23 Kentucky
Nov. 30 Georgia Tech

* Special moments are extremely difficult to overcome in college sports. Entire towns, fanbases and programs build hype and pour themselves into specific moments in time. South Carolina did it to Georgia last year and Clemson will have a chance in 2013 right out of the gate. This moment will be huge for the Tigers at home, as they have a chance to make it two in a row against the SEC. Tajh Boyd’s offense is filthy loaded and the Dawgs are breaking in eight new starters on defense. A loss does nothing to the Dawgs SEC title hopes but…

* Georgia’s national title hopes could hang in the balance in the first two weekends. South Carolina comes to town in Week 2 and a home game with LSU wraps up one of the toughest first months of play anywhere in the nation. This team will face three top 10 teams in the first five weeks. Should UGA defeat Clemson, a win in the home opener over the Gamecocks is likely. But should they slip-up in Death Valley, a win over South Carolina — a team that has hung 80 points on Georgia in the last two meetings — the next week seems highly unlikely. What happens in the first two weeks will determine the entire ’13 season for Mark Richt.

* After facing three elite teams in the first month, should Georgia leave September unbeaten (4-0), the rest of the nation better watch out. The remaining schedule features some intriguing road trips and one Outdoor Cocktail Party, but the Dawgs would likely be favored in every game the rest of the way.

* Like the Gators, Georgia too will get an extra week to prepare for the trip South to Jacksonville. The Bulldogs have won two straight over Florida but needed some tricky fourth-down gambles and one amazing forced fumble to win both of those games. It is good for the SEC and for the fans that both coaches and teams get two weeks to prepare for what could be the biggest game of the year in the SEC East.

* After the cocktail party, all bets are off for Richt and company. The Bulldogs will finish with three of their last four at home and all three should be easy wins. The lone road trip to Auburn will be the toughest game of the final four weeks, and while the Tigers should be improved, one has to assume UGA will be a heavy favorite over a team that lost nine games in 2012. The final month could simply be a tuneup for another meeting with Alabama in Atlanta.
 

Kentucky

Aug. 31 Western Kentucky (Nashville, Tenn.)
Sept. 7 Miami, Ohio
Sept. 14 Louisville
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 Florida
Oct. 5 at South Carolina
Oct. 12 Alabama
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at Mississippi State
Nov. 2 Alabama State
Nov. 9 Missouri
Nov. 16 at Vanderbilt
Nov. 23 at Georgia
Nov. 30 Tennessee

* Kentucky has the toughest schedule in the East every single season simply because it doesn’t get to face… Kentucky. Playing in the SEC is nasty for the Floridas and Georgias of the world, but the Gators, for example, have it much easier because they don’t have to face the Gators. The Wildcats get no breaks in the East as they have to play every major power in the division each season.

* LP Field should be rocking in Nashville on opening weekend for the Wildcats. Western Kentucky will debut Bobby Petrino on its sideline with a chance to defeat an SEC team in Week 1. The entire college football world will be watching and it only increases the pressure new head coach Mark Stoops will be facing in his own debut. To top it off, the Cats have no more than five chances at wins and losing to a Sun Belt team in Week 1 could doom Stoops’ first year.

* Kentucky will head into the bye week in Week 4 after facing hated rival Louisville. This in-state basketball trio has long been extremely intriguing and fairly competitive, but with two new coaches and a one new league, these football teams are now moving the needle as well. No one could write a worse way to start a tenure for Stoops than an 0-2 in-state record.

* Playing well early is key for the Cats because wins will be impossible to come by once SEC play starts. Stoops’ first three SEC games will be absolutely murderous as Kentucky faces Florida at home, South Carolina on the road and Alabama at home in three consecutive weeks. At least the bye week will allow the Cats to lick their wounds once the Crimson Tide leaves town. Best of luck, boys.

* Three of the last five SEC games will also come on the road. Trips to Starkville, Nashville and Athens afford Kentucky few chances at upsets. However, the two home games against Missouri and Tennessee could provide upset opportunities. To somehow get to a bowl game, which appears to be a very long shot, the Wildcats would have to likely win both (and come up with an another upset somewhere else as well).

Related Content: SEC West 2013 Schedule Analysis
 

Missouri

Aug. 31 Murray State
Sept. 7 Toledo
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 at Indiana
Sept. 28 Arkansas State
Oct. 5 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 12 at Georgia
Oct. 19 Florida
Oct. 26 South Carolina
Nov. 2 Tennessee
Nov. 9 at Kentucky
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 at Ole Miss
Nov. 30 Texas A&M

* This is how Gary Pinkel should have started his first season in the SEC: With easy non-conference wins. A road trip to Indiana might be the toughest test of the first five weekends for Mizzou and it likely means an undefeated record heading into conference play. And considering it’s the first month of SEC play, the Tigers will need all the momentum they can get.

* Pinkel’s bunch might be facing the toughest month of October in the nation. Road trips to Vanderbilt and Georgia to begin conference play are brutal but the month finishes with Florida and South Carolina coming to town. This four-week stretch is absolutely brutal and could take an unbeaten team and give them four straight losses.

* To make a bowl game, Mizzou likely has to win both the Nov. 2 home game with the struggling Volunteers and the Nov. 9 road trip to Kentucky. These two games were the only two conference wins for the Tigers a year ago and might be the only two in 2013 as well. If this team wants to return to the postseason after missing a bowl game for the first time since 2004, these two are must wins because…

* Mizzou finishes the ’13 campaign with two nasty conference games. In fact, while SEC East powers face Coastal Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia Southern, the Tigers will face a road trip to Oxford and a home game against Johnny Manziel. It’s a nasty way to finish and an upset against either seems unlikely.
 

South Carolina

Aug. 31 North Carolina
Sept. 7 at Georgia
Sept. 14 Vanderbilt
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 at UCF
Oct. 5 Kentucky
Oct. 12 at Arkansas
Oct. 19 at Tennessee
Oct. 26 at Missouri
Nov. 2 Mississippi State
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 Florida
Nov. 23 Coastal Carolina
Nov. 30 Clemson

* Much like Georgia, South Carolina faces a solid ACC team in Week 1. But hosting a rebuilding North Carolina team that lost tons of NFL talent isn’t the same as visiting the ACC preseason frontrunner. The Gamecocks should roll over the Tar Heels in the Shriner’s Bowl, setting up a huge road trip to Athens in Week 2. Carolina has won three straight in the rivalry by outscoring the Dawgs 97-56 in that span. The atmosphere will be electric between the hedges for what could be a defacto SEC East championship game.

* Once the Gamecocks return from Georgia, the schedule sets up nicely. Getting Vanderbilt at home is key before getting the first bye week. Games with UCF and Kentucky wrap-up the first half in fairly easy fashion. An unbeaten 6-0 mark is well within reach for Steve Spurrier.

* Georgia and Florida are the two biggest games of the year for South Carolina, but a three-game road trip in October against Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri will determine if this is going to be a special season in Columbia. All three games are winnable and Carolina should be favored in all three, and a few years ago, this stretch would be as nasty as any in the nation. Spurrier’s bunch always loses one game it shouldn’t and this three-week stretch is where it’s most likely to happen. On the flip side, two new coaches and a bruised Mizzou team should pose little resistance if Carolina wants to consider itself a national championship contender.

* Mississippi State comes to Williams-Brice Stadium to start November in another key scheduling break for the Cocks. The Bulldogs, much like the Dores, might be able to pull an upset over South Carolina at home but will be heavy underdogs down in The Palmetto State.

* So after an extremely winnable six-game stretch without a break, Carolina will get an extra week to prepare for the Florida Gators. While Will Muschamp’s bunch will have to battle with Vanderbilt the week before, Spurrier and his team will be sitting at home resting and preparing for what could be the second defacto SEC East title game. The Cocks have won two out of three over Florida, including the last time these two met in Columbia.

* There is a chance that one of the most vicious rivalries in college football could be a national championship elimination game. Clemson visits South Carolina on the final weekend in what could feature two unbeaten, top-five teams. It’s a long shot, but should that happen, this nasty in-state rivalry will finally get the national recognition it deserves. Even if Carolina rolls for the fifth straight season.
 

Tennessee

Aug. 31 Austin Peay
Sept. 7 Western Kentucky
Sept. 14 at Oregon
Sept. 21 at Florida
Sept. 28 South Alabama
Oct. 5 Georgia
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 South Carolina
Oct. 26 at Alabama
Nov. 2 at Missouri
Nov. 9 Auburn
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Vanderbilt
Nov. 30 at Kentucky

* Butch Jones should get an easy win behind his stellar offensive line in his debut. But a win over Bobby Petrino in Week 2 is much less of a sure thing. After the disappointing 2012 campaign, a 2-0 start would do wonders for a famished Big Orange fan base. A loss to a coach that many fans in Knoxville opined for during the extended UT coaching search would be downright devastating to an already crippled program.

* A 2-0 start is also extremely important due to back-to-back road trips to Oregon and Florida. Few teams will face two teams that went 23-3 a year ago on the road in consecutive weeks like the Vols will. Keeping the bloodshed to a minimum would be a moral victory for Jones. While his team is trying to stop Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas in Auzten Stadium, Will Muschamp’s team will be kicked up in their lazy boys during the off week licking their chops.

* There is no rest for the weary, either, as the month of October offers little comfort to the downtrodden program. Tennessee will face Georgia and South Carolina at home and Alabama in Tuscaloosa in a four-week span in October. The only comfort that month will be a much-needed bye week following the visit from the Bulldogs in Week 6.

* The Vols run at a potential bowl game will come following the Alabama game. It begins with a road trip to Missouri where revenge should be on the minds of the Big Orange players. A win in Columbia could kickstart a manageable final month of the season for Tennessee. Home games with Auburn and Vanderbilt are tricky but winnable, with at least a split is likely needed for a bowl berth. A win over Kentucky in Lexington in the season finale is a must if Jones wants to reach the postseason in his first season.
 

Vanderbilt

Aug. 31 Ole Miss
Sept. 7 Austin Peay
Sept. 14 at South Carolina
Sept. 21 at UMass
Sept. 28 UAB
Oct. 5 Missouri
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Georgia
Oct. 26 at Texas A&M
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 at Florida
Nov. 16 Kentucky
Nov. 23 at Tennessee
Nov. 30 Wake Forest

* There might not be a better way to get the season started than with Ole Miss visiting Vanderbilt. Wait, really? Yes, Ole Miss is one of the hottest names in college football after an unexpected bowl season and elite recruiting class. Vandy returns most of its offense and is riding high on West End after back-to-back bowl games. This matchup will set the tempo for both teams and fans across the nation should enjoy the offensive ingenuity involved in sneaky-good crossover contest.

* James Franklin isn’t scared of anyone, and he will have a chance to prove it in 2013. Not only does Vandy host Ole Miss but also has to visit South Carolina in the first three weeks of the year. A 2-1 start is well within reach and would have to be considered a successful start to the year. A 1-2 start could dampen the rampart energy running through this program at the moment.

* Should the Commodores start well in ’13, a 5-1 start is extremely reasonable. Following the nasty trip to Carolina, the Dores have three very winnable games with non-conference foes UMass and UAB before hosting a mediocre Missouri team. If Franklin wants this team to take the next step, winning five of the first six is almost a must.

* After the bye week following the Mizzou game, things get tough for the Dores. Vanderbilt will face Georgia at home and both Texas A&M and Florida on the road over a four-week span. It’s a brutal stretch and Franklin’s only comfort is a bye week sandwiched between Johnny Heisman and The Swamp.

* The end of the season provides the Dores with ample opportunity to get to a third straight bowl game for the first time in their program’s history. Home games with Kentucky and Wake Forest sandwiched around a key road trip to Knoxville is a fairly pleasant way to end an SEC season. Vandy should be a favorite in all three but a win over the Vols on the road could put a stamp on yet another stellar season on West End.

* Right now, Vandy appears to be the favorite in eight games and the underdog in four. This team should win the games it supposed to and should lose the games it’s supposed to. Upsets on either side of the coin seem unlikely.
 

Related College Football Content

SEC West Schedule Analysis for 2013
SEC Team Consensus Recruiting Rankings for 2013

Ranking the Best College Football-Basketball Coaching Tandems in the SEC

College Football's Top 15 Impact JUCOs for 2013

Teaser:
<p> SEC East Football Schedule Analysis for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/sec-west-football-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

With signing day in the books, spring practice is just around the corner for all 125 FBS teams. And it’s never too early to start thinking about the upcoming season and some of the key games on the schedule. Alabama is widely considered the preseason favorite for 2013 and will be helped by a favorable schedule. The Crimson Tide has to take on Texas A&M in College Station but hosts LSU and misses Georgia, Florida and South Carolina in crossover play.

The SEC West should be one of the most competitive divisions in college football next season, as all seven teams have a legitimate chance to get bowl eligible. Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M could each rank as a top-10 team this preseason, while Ole Miss is a program on the rise after reeling in a top recruiting class. Arkansas and Auburn have new coaches that should get the program pointed in the right direction, while Mississippi State has made solid progress under Dan Mullen.

With spring practice getting ready to start across the nation, Athlon takes a look at the schedules for each of the SEC West teams and examines some of the interesting storylines, scheduling tidbits and trends to watch. 


Related Content: SEC East 2013 Schedule Analysis

SEC West Football 2013 Schedule Analysis

Alabama

Aug. 31 Virginia Tech (Atlanta)
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 at Texas A&M
Sept. 21 Colorado State
Sept. 28 Ole Miss
Oct. 5 Georgia State
Oct. 12 at Kentucky
Oct. 19 Arkansas
Oct. 26 Tennessee
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 LSU
Nov. 16 at Mississippi State
Nov. 23 Chattanooga
Nov. 30 at Auburn

* For the third time in six seasons, the Crimson Tide will open the year for a neutral site game in Atlanta. And this will be the second time Alabama takes on Virginia Tech in this setting. In 2009, the Crimson Tide defeated the Hokies 34-24. Alabama also knocked off Clemson 34-10 in the Georgia Dome in 2008.

* Alabama’s bye weeks come before arguably its biggest games of 2013. The Crimson Tide has an off date on Sept. 7, one week before traveling to Texas A&M. And Alabama’s second bye is on Nov. 2, a week before playing LSU on Nov. 9. 

* Despite being scheduled for Week 3, expect the Sept. 14 showdown between Texas A&M and Alabama to play a key role in deciding the SEC West title. The Crimson Tide’s only loss in 2012 came against the Aggies and this will be Alabama’s first trip to College Station since 1988.

* Former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain brings Colorado State to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 21. McElwain went 4-8 in his debut season in Fort Collins last year.

* In a bit of odd scheduling, Alabama plays four games in October and each team has a new coach for 2013: Georgia State (Trent Miles), Kentucky (Mark Stoops), Arkansas (Bret Bielema) and Tennessee (Butch Jones).

* Can Alabama break a recent streak in the series versus LSU on Nov. 9? The road team has won the last two regular season meetings in this annual SEC West matchup.

* Alabama faces one of the easiest crossover schedules in the West Division. The Crimson Tide misses on playing Georgia, South Carolina and Florida during the regular season and will play at Kentucky and host Tennessee – arguably the bottom two teams in the SEC East.

* Can the Crimson Tide continue their dominance against rival Auburn? In their last two meetings, Alabama has outscored the Tigers 91-14.  
 

Arkansas

Aug. 31 Louisiana-Lafayette
Sept. 7 Samford
Sept. 14 Southern Miss
Sept. 21 at Rutgers
Sept. 28 Texas A&M
Oct. 5 at Florida
Oct. 12 South Carolina
Oct. 19 at Alabama
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 Auburn
Nov. 9 at Ole Miss
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Mississippi State
Nov. 30 at LSU

* Bret Bielema’s tenure in Fayetteville opens against a dangerous Louisiana-Lafayette team. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 18-8 over the last two years and return quarterback Terrance Broadway (3,616 total yards in 2012), along with running back Alonzo Harris.

* Arkansas will make its first trip to Rutgers in 2013. The Scarlet Knights defeated the Razorbacks 35-26 in Fayetteville last season.

* Arkansas and Texas A&M have played in each of the last four seasons but this will be their first meeting in Fayetteville since 1990. The Razorbacks own a 3-1 edge in the last four matchups against the Aggies.

* The Razorbacks face one of the toughest road schedules in the SEC, making trips to Florida, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU. The Crimson Tide is heavily favored to win the SEC title in 2013, while the Gators and Tigers could each begin the year in the preseason top 10.

* Speaking of tough schedules…Arkansas might have one of the toughest four-game road stretches in college football next season. The Razorbacks play Texas A&M on Sept. 28, make a road trip to Gainesville on Oct. 5, then return home to play South Carolina, before finishing at Alabama on Oct. 19. Needless to say, Arkansas’ bye week on Oct. 26 will be a deserved break for the coaches and players.

* The SEC West should be college football’s toughest division in 2013 and if Arkansas wants to escape the cellar, it needs to take advantage of a schedule that features home swing games against Auburn and Mississippi State. 
 

Auburn

Aug. 31 Washington State
Sept. 7 Arkansas State
Sept. 14 Mississippi State
Sept. 21 at LSU
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Ole Miss
Oct. 12 Western Carolina
Oct. 19 at Texas A&M
Oct. 26 FAU
Nov. 2 at Arkansas
Nov. 9 at Tennessee
Nov. 16 Georgia
Nov. 23 Bye Week
Nov. 30 Alabama

* Frequent flyer miles? Washington State will be traveling just over 2,500 miles to play Auburn in the season opener. This isn’t the first time these two teams have met, as the Tigers defeated the Cougars 40-14 in 2006.

* Let’s go ahead and officially title the Sept. 7 matchup between Arkansas State and Auburn the Gus Malzahn Bowl. Malzahn led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 regular season mark and a Sun Belt title last season and left for Auburn before Arkansas State’s bowl game against Kent State.

* For a team that is hoping to erase a horrible 2012 season, starting with three home games and a bye week in September isn’t a bad way to open. Of course, Auburn has a date at LSU on Sept. 21, which should be a good measuring stick to see how far the program has improved since the end of last year.

* Bowl game? If Auburn wants to get back to a bowl, winning home games against Mississippi State and Ole Miss are a must. The Tigers should be able to sweep its non-conference schedule, which means two victories in SEC play will be required to get to six wins.

* It’s not out of the question the defining moment of Auburn’s season could rest from Oct. 19-Nov. 16. The Tigers have three SEC road games during that stretch and host likely SEC East favorite Georgia. Auburn has lost six out of its last seven matchups to the Bulldogs, including a 45-7 defeat in 2011 and a 38-0 whipping last year.

* Auburn’s Oct. 19 trip to Texas A&M will be the first meeting between these schools in College Station. The Tigers are 0-3 against the Aggies but these two teams have played only once since 1987.

* With Gus Malzahn taking over at Auburn, can the Tigers find a way to narrow the gap against Alabama? In their last two meetings, Auburn was defeated by a combined score of 91-14 and has lost four out of its last five meetings against the Crimson Tide. 

Related Content: SEC East 2013 Schedule Analysis


LSU

Aug. 31 TCU (Arlington)
Sept. 7 UAB
Sept. 14 Kent State
Sept. 21 Auburn
Sept. 28 at Georgia
Oct. 5 at Mississippi State
Oct. 12 Florida
Oct. 19 at Ole Miss
Oct. 26 Furman
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 at Alabama
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Texas A&M
Nov. 30 Arkansas

* LSU opens 2013 with one of college football’s marquee non-conference games. The Tigers will meet TCU – likely one of the top three teams in the Big 12 next season – for a matchup in Cowboys Stadium. These two teams have met eight times, with LSU owning a 5-2-1 series edge. However, the last matchup between TCU and LSU occurred in 1968.

* After the huge test against TCU in Arlington, LSU returns to Baton Rouge for home games against UAB, Kent State and Auburn. The three-game homestand will be the longest of the year for LSU, as the Tigers don’t have back-to-back home contests the rest of the year.

* The Sept. 28 matchup against Georgia will be a good barometer test for both teams. LSU lost a handful of key players to the NFL, while Georgia returns only three starters on defense. Both teams have SEC title aspirations and while an early loss won’t derail those hopes, it would put whichever squad loses in an early hole. Interestingly enough, three out of the last six meetings between the Bulldogs and Tigers have occurred in the SEC title game.

* Upset? LSU travels to Oxford on Oct. 19 to face a fast-improving Ole Miss team. The Rebels nearly defeated the Tigers in Baton Rouge last year but have lost the last three meetings in this series. LSU has dominated this series since 2002, and this game is a chance for the Rebels to make a statement in the middle of SEC play.

* LSU drew one of the toughest crossover schedules in the SEC for 2013. The Tigers have to play at Georgia on Sept. 28 and host Florida on Oct. 12. And there’s also a brutal stretch in November, which features Alabama (followed with a bye week), then Texas A&M and Arkansas.

* The Nov. 23 meeting for LSU and Texas A&M will be the first meeting in Baton Rouge between these two teams since 1994.

* Can the Tigers keep the road magic going in the Alabama-LSU series? Excluding the BCS title game matchup in 2012, the last two games have been won by the road team.

* The Nov. 30 date for the regular season finale between LSU and Arkansas is the latest meeting between these two teams since the Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1991.  

Related Content: 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 7: LSU Tigers

Mississippi State

Aug. 31 Oklahoma State (Houston)
Sept. 7 Alcorn State
Sept. 14 at Auburn
Sept. 21 Troy
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 LSU
Oct. 12 Bowling Green
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 Kentucky
Nov. 2 at South Carolina
Nov. 9 at Texas A&M
Nov. 16 Alabama
Nov. 23 at Arkansas (Little Rock)
Nov. 30 Ole Miss

* The Bulldogs open 2013 with a tough neutral site game in Houston against Oklahoma State. Mississippi State hasn’t had a matchup against a Big 12 team (West Virginia was a Big East member when these two teams played in 2006-07) in a regular season game since 1999. The Cowboys are considered one of the favorites to win the Big 12 title in 2013, so this will easily be the Bulldogs’ toughest opener under Dan Mullen.

* One of the first observations when examining Mississippi State’s schedule is the split between the first and second half of the season. The Bulldogs will play three bowl teams in their first seven games but face four in their last five matchups.

* In keeping with the difficult close to the season theme, the Bulldogs will play three out of their final five games on the road.

* Could one of the biggest games of the season be against Auburn on Sept. 14? Considering the Bulldogs closed out 2012 by losing five out of their last six games, it’s important to start SEC play with a victory. The Tigers should be improved but finished winless in conference games last year.

* The Nov. 2 road date against South Carolina will be only the third meeting against the Gamecocks since 2007. Mississippi State has lost six consecutive games to South Carolina, including a 14-12 matchup in Starkville during the 2011 season.

* Trap game? Although Mississippi State will likely be favored to beat Arkansas on Nov. 23, it’s a crucial swing game that comes at a bad time. After the Bulldogs play at Texas A&M and host Alabama, they have to head to Little Rock to play the Razorbacks – which is one week before hosting rival Ole Miss.

* Expect plenty of intrigue around the Egg Bowl this season. After winning three consecutive games against Ole Miss from 2009-2011, Mississippi State was soundly defeated 41-24 in Oxford last year. A victory against the Rebels would give the Bulldogs some momentum, especially on the recruiting trail after Ole Miss brought in one of the nation’s top classes. 
 

Ole Miss

Aug. 31 at Vanderbilt
Sept. 7 SEMO
Sept. 14 at Texas
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 at Alabama
Oct. 5 at Auburn
Oct. 12 Texas A&M
Oct. 19 LSU
Oct. 26 Idaho
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 Arkansas
Nov. 16 Troy
Nov. 23 Missouri
Nov. 30 at Mississippi State

* The Ole Miss-Vanderbilt opener might not register as one of the top early-season games, but this matchup has plenty of intrigue. Both programs feature rising stars at head coach, while Vanderbilt and Ole Miss have been making a lot of noise on the recruiting trail recently. The Commodores narrowly edged the Rebels in Oxford last year and another close game should be expected in 2013.

* After a tough opener at Vanderbilt, the Rebels catch a breather against SEMO. The matchup against the FCS opponent comes at a good time for Ole Miss, especially with a road trip to Texas in Week 3, followed by a date at Alabama on Sept. 28.

* While the Rebels have four road games in their first five games, they won’t have to leave the state for the rest of the year until the postseason. The final road game for Ole Miss will be at rival Mississippi State on Nov. 30.

* Could Ole Miss push for a finish among the top three in the SEC West next year? It’s possible, especially with a schedule that features home games against LSU, Texas A&M and Arkansas. If the Rebels can upset the Tigers and Aggies, they will be in good shape to easily exceed last season’s three SEC victories.

* After dealing with a grueling start to the year, the second half of the schedule is very manageable. Ole Miss plays only one bowl team in its final five games and hosts two SEC teams that will likely struggle to have a winning record (Arkansas and Missouri). 
 

Texas A&M

Aug. 31 Rice
Sept. 7 Sam Houston State
Sept. 14 Alabama
Sept. 21 SMU
Sept. 28 at Arkansas
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 Ole Miss
Oct. 19 Auburn
Oct. 26 Vanderbilt
Nov. 2 UTEP
Nov. 9 Mississippi State
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 at LSU
Nov. 30 at Missouri

* The Aggies open 2013 with four consecutive home games, including a huge Sept. 14 showdown against Alabama. Considering both teams are expected to be among the top-five teams in the nation next season, the early clash will play a huge role in shaping the SEC West and national title picture

* Texas A&M’s trip to Fayetteville on Sept. 28 will be its first since 1990. The Aggies and Razorbacks have played in each of the last four seasons but three of those matchups were neutral site games. Texas A&M blasted Arkansas 58-10 last season, but the Razorbacks have won three out of the last four in this series.

* All four of Texas A&M’s non-conference games are against teams located in Texas. The Aggies host Rice and Sam Houston State in the first two weeks of the season, take on SMU on Sept. 21 and UTEP on Nov. 2. None of the four opponents should be an upset threat to Texas A&M.

* In a scheduling quirk, Texas A&M will play at Ole Miss for the second consecutive year.

* For a team that has national title aspirations, Texas A&M drew one of the most favorable crossover schedules in the SEC. The Aggies won’t play Georgia, South Carolina and Florida during the regular season and host Vanderbilt (likely to be picked No. 4 in the East).

* For the first time since 2008, Texas A&M will finish the season with back-to-back road games. The Aggies play at LSU on Nov. 23 and at Missouri on Nov. 30.

* Speaking of Texas A&M’s late-season matchup with LSU, the Aggies will be making their first trip to Baton Rouge since 1994. LSU has won the last two games in this series, including a 41-24 victory in the Cotton Bowl in 2011. However, Texas A&M won five consecutive games from 1991-95.

* Texas A&M closes out its regular season at Missouri, where it has not won since 1999. The Aggies are 1-3 in their last four matchups against the Tigers and have lost the last two meetings in Columbia.  


Related College Football Content

SEC East Schedule Analysis for 2013
SEC Team Consensus Recruiting Rankings for 2013

Ranking the Best College Football-Basketball Coaching Tandems in the SEC

College Football's Top 15 Impact JUCOs for 2013

Teaser:
<p> SEC Football 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 06:29
Path: /college-football/college-football-recruiting-big-east-team-consensus-rankings-2013
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Recruiting in college football is downright nasty. It is a cutthroat, cannibalistic big business that is microscopically analyzed by fans, administrators and media members alike. There is very little to get excited about when it comes to Big East football and the recruiting trail is no different. But the 2013 class could be historically bad for a league that is accustomed to being ranked at the bottom of the power conferences.

Related: The Class of 2013 Top 25 Recruiting Classes

Bad for business… as usual
Rarely do Big East teams press for elite recruiting classes, so its no shock that the best in the league was outside of the top 25. However, this season was particularly bad for the conference as the top class, Rutgers, could do no better than 40th nationally. Additionally, no other team finished in the top 50 this year. By comparison, Rutgers was 22nd nationally a year ago while Louisville was 38th and both Pitt and USF landed in the top 50 nationally. Even 2013 member Houston was 47th nationally in recruiting a year ago. No, 2013 was epically poor even for a normally very weak recruiting conference. The Big East is on life support, and if recruiting is the lifeblood of the sport, the conference clearly isn’t getting enough blood.

Where is the AC100 talent?
This might be redundant, but the Big East signed the fewest Athlon Consensus 100 prospects of any major league in the nation. One AC100 prospect signed with the entire conference, and even he, wide receiver James Quick, will be playing most of his career in the ACC. Nothing can illustrate the talent differential between the Big East and the nation’s best conference, the SEC, better than the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100. Southeastern Conference schools signed a combined total of 41 AC100 prospects.

Okay, now it’s just piling on
Missouri is the lowest rated class in the SEC at 35th. Kansas State is the lowest rated class in the Big 12 at 64th. Colorado is the lowest rated class in the Pac-12 at 67th. Minnesota is the worst class in the Big Ten at 69th. This means that nine “BCS” conference teams ranked 68th or worse this year and four of them come from the Big East while two others were former Big East teams (Syracuse, Boston College). Only Minnesota was 68th or worse and not a member of the Big East or ACC. Memphis finished with the worst power conference class in the nation.

It's only getting worse
Rutgers and Louisville have dominated this league in terms of attracting talent of late and once again claimed the top two classes in 2013. There is only one problem, however: none of these players will play in the Big East. Technically, anyone who plays in 2013 will get one year of Big East action, but both teams are departing the league following this season. The Knights are headed to the Big Ten in 2014 while the Cardinals are joining the ACC. Can a league survive when its best recruiting class is ranked 57th in the nation (USF)?

Houston can contend immediately
The Cougars are one of the lone bright spots for this league and should develop into one of the Big East's better programs over time. The 2013 season will be a year of transition for the four new members of the conference, but only the Cougars appear ready to compete right away. Houston beat more traditional Big East teams Cincinnati, UConn, Temple and former member Syracuse for talent in this class. Even a year ago, the Cougars' 47th-rated class would have been good for fourth in the conference. It means that Houston should be able to build its franchise as a Big East title contender by cultivating the rich waters of The Lone Star State. 

Can Tommy Tuberville maintain status quo
Mark Dantonio. Brian Kelly. Butch Jones. All three recruited at a mediocre level nationally and all three used conference championship runs to land big-time jobs. Tuberville isn't an up-and-comer like the Bearcats' previous head coaches, so he isn't necessarily looking to move on right away. But he will have some lofty standards to maintain and will have to do it with classes ranked consistently in the 50s. Will he elevate the recruiting status of the program or can he win the league with middle-of-the-pack recruiting hauls?

Related: Ranking the nation's most talented rosters

2013 Athlon Sports Big East Team Recruiting Rankings:

Rk Team Nat'l Rk AC100 Signees Rivals 247 Scout ESPN
1. Rutgers 40th 0 22 43rd 50th 31st 37th
2. Louisville 55th 1 17 57th 47th 56th --
3. USF 57th 0 23 49th 49th 63rd --
4. Houston 58th 0 26 50th 59th 61st --
5. Cincinnati 59th 0 22 71st 57th 50th --
6. UConn 63rd 0 24 65th 62nd 60th --
7. SMU 68th 0 19 69th 63rd 69th --
8. UCF 79th 0 25 74th 79th 88th --
9. Temple 82nd 0 23 84th 91st 92nd --
10. Memphis 84th 0 29 89th 87th 102nd --

Teaser:
<p> College Football Recruiting: Big East Team Consensus Rankings for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 06:25
Path: /college-football/ranking-best-college-football-basketball-coach-tandems-big-east
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With college football’s spring practice and basketball’s postseason around the corner, Athlon Sports decided this would be a good time to evaluate each school’s coaching tandem.

In this ranking, we aimed to reward balance. In short, which school’s fanbase is most likely to be satisfied from September to March? A handful of schools may have an accomplished football coach while the basketball coach is looking to keep his job, or vice versa. We did not grade on a curve in those cases.

In evaluating coaches, we examined past performance, with more focus on current and recent results and future expectations. We also considered how good a fit a particular coach is for a particular school.

The Big East gave us perhaps our easiest pick for a No. 1 duo. Rick Pitino and Charlie Strong are both at or near the tops of their games. When we assemble our list of national coaching tandems, we expect Louisville to be near the top there, too.

Other spots are tough, though. Syracuse is in a similar spot Kansas was in yesterday with a Hall of Fame basketball coach or an unproven or below average football coach. Since our goal is to reward balance as much as possible, that knocks Syracuse down one spot behind Pittsburgh.

For sake of consistency, we ranked only coaching tandems who participate in the Football Bowl Subdivision and basketball in the Big East. Notre Dame, which is in the Big East in basketball and independent in football, won’t make an appearance until the national rankings. Temple played football in the Big East this year but won't join in basketball until 2013-14.

Also, we wanted to acknowledge conference realignment. Below the rankings of the seven football/basketball members, we included rankings of the eventual Big East lineup in 2015, even though we’re certain some of the schools will make coaching changes by then.

Other coach tandem rankings:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


1. Louisville
Football:
Charlie Strong | Basketball: Rick Pitino

Athletic director Tom Jurich spent big to keep this duo together when Strong was a hot commodity for Tennessee during the offseason. It’s easy to see why: Louisville is on a short list of programs capable of reaching a Final Four and a BCS game in the same year. Pitino has led the Cardinals to at 25 wins and an Elite Eight or better in three of the last five seasons. Meanwhile, Strong is just getting started with the football program. He’s recruited a young team that will be a Big East favorite in 2013 and potentially a contender in the ACC when the Cards join the league in 2014.

2. Pittsburgh
Football:
Paul Chryst | Basketball: Jamie Dixon

With a 20-5 start in 2012-13, Dixon proved last season’s CBI effort was an outlier. Before 2012, Pittsburgh was one of three teams in the Big East to reach the NCAA Tournament every year since the league reformed in 2005. (Villanova and Marquette were the others). Dixon led Pitt to a 20-win season in all of his 10 seasons with the Panthers, a Big East regular season title in 2011 and a tournament title in 2008. All that’s left is a Final Four. In football, Chryst has had one rocky season with the Panthers, but his decision to stay when his former employer Wisconsin had an opening was a positive for a team with coaching instability. We think Chryst’s philosophy will work well in the long term with Pitt.

3. Syracuse
Football:
Scott Shafer | Basketball: Jim Boeheim

Boeheim joined the 900-win club this season and has a chance for another deep run in the NCAA Tournament with this group. He has 16 consecutive 20-win seasons, three Final Four appearances and the 2003 national title. We don’t have any questions about him in these rankings. Shafer is an unknown commodity after he was elevated to replace Doug Marrone during the offseason. The former Stanford and Michigan assistant turned around the Syracuse defense when he first arrived in 2009, but the Orange ranked fifth in the league in total D last season. He is a first-time head coach.

4. Cincinnati
Football:
Tommy Tuberville | Basketball: Mick Cronin

Both coaches are solid in their respective sports. Cronin has led the Bearcats through a lengthy rebuilding process. He started with two losing seasons, but he has Cincinnati on its way to its third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. Tuberville was a somewhat surprising hire as the coach bolted Texas Tech this offseason. Given his baggage of jumping jobs, smacking headsets off assistants and possibly deserting recruits during a dinner, Tuberville is far removed from a his standout stretch at Auburn.

5. USF
Football:
Willie Taggart | Basketball: Stan Heath

Taggart excelled as a program builder at Western Kentucky. The former Jim Harbaugh assistant took the FCS program from 2-10 his first season to back-to-back seven-win seasons in his last two. USF isn’t building its program as much as it’s escaping its label as an underachiever. The Tampa native should have success in football. Heath led USF to the NCAA Tournament and a 12-6 season in the Big East last year, but that’s starting to look like an aberration. The Bulls have returned to being overmatched in Big East hoops this season with a 1-10 league record.

6. Rutgers
Football:
Kyle Flood | Basketball: Mike Rice

Flood picked up where Greg Schiano left off and brought Rutgers as close as it had been to a BCS bid since 2006. The Scarlet Knights still won a share of the conference title and finished 9-4. How Flood holds up over the long term is a legitimate question, but he brought in two solid recruiting classes. Rice, so far, doesn’t look all that different from other Rutgers basketball coaches. He’s 19-33 in the Big East in less than three seasons.

7. Connecticut
Football:
Paul Pasqualoni | Basketball: Kevin Ollie

Jim Calhoun’s handpicked replacement will stick around for a bit after earning a contract extension in December. Even though his first team is ineligible for the postseason, he’s kept the competitive. Pasqualoni has struggled to replicate his success at Syracuse at UConn or keep the momentum from the Randy Edsall era. He finished 5-7 in each of his two seasons despite a standout defense.

BIG EAST COACHING TANDEM RANKINGS - 2015 LINEUP

1. Cincinnati

2. Memphis
Football:
Justin Fuente | Basketball: Josh Pastner

Fuente made downtrodden Memphis competitive in first season. Pastner had unfortunate task of following John Calipari, but he’s nearing the 100-win mark in four seasons.

3. SMU
Football:
June Jones | Basketball: Larry Brown

Brown eventually will pass the baton to former Illinois coach Tim Jankovich. Jones ended SMU’s bowl drought since the NCAA’s death penalty.

4. Temple
Football:
Matt Rhule | Basketball: Fran Dunphy

Rhule is a a first-time head coach with ties to the Al Golden staff. Few coaches have been as consistent as the defensive-minded Dunphy.

5. UCF
Football:
George O’Leary | Basketball: Donnie Jones

O’Leary won’t win Mr. Congeniality, but he brought two Conference USA titles to UCF. Jones should have four consecutive 20-win seasons dating back to his time at Marshall but no NCAA Tournament to show for it.

6. USF

7. Connecticut


8. East Carolina
Football:
Ruffin McNeill | Basketball: Jeff Lebo

McNeill has led his alma mater to two bowl games and one winning season in three years. Lebo has had better results than his predecessor, but the Pirates remain a long way from the postseason.

9. Navy
Football:
Ken Niumatalolo | Basketball: Ed DeChellis

The Midshipmen are a little less dangerous than they were under Paul Johnson, but Niumatalolo is keeping Navy in bowl games. DeChellis escaped the hot seat at Penn State for one of college hoops’ toughest jobs.

10. Tulane
Football:
Curtis Johnson | Basketball: Ed Conroy

Optimism is high for New Orleans native and Saints assistant Johnson. Conroy could led Tulane to its first winning season since 2007-08.

11. Houston
Football:
Tony Levine | Basketball: James Dickey

Levine is going to have trouble matching predecessors Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin. Dickey is floating around .500 as the Cougars’ coach
 

Teaser:
<p> Charlie Strong and Rick Pitino take top spot in Big East coaching duos.</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 06:20
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Body:

Most of the talk on college football’s national signing day centers around which true freshman can make the biggest impact for a program for that upcoming season. While true freshman often make big contributions, the impact junior college recruits can have on the BCS level shouldn't be overlooked. While recruiting a JUCO prospect is risky, they are solid stop-gap solutions and a short-term answer for a team that might be short on depth at a particular position.

Kansas State is usually one of the top programs for JUCO talent, so it’s no surprise the Wildcats signed six community college prospects. In-state rival Kansas topped Kansas State in JUCO signees this year, as Charlie Weis is bringing in a whopping 17 recruits. For a team that won just one game last year, loading up on JUCO prospects should bring hope the Jayhawks can make some progress in 2013. However, relying on junior college prospects also cuts down on the amount of freshmen a team can bring in, which is a concern for the long-term outlook of the program.

Identifying which junior college prospects will make the biggest impact is no easy task. Athlon has compiled a list of 15 impact junior college transfers, as well as a list of other players to watch in 2013.  

15 Impact JUCO Transfers to Watch in College Football for 2013

Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn
Gus Malzahn is one of the best offensive minds in college football, but he will have his hands full after Auburn finished 2012 ranked 115th nationally in total offense and 112th in scoring. The Tigers need to find an answer at quarterback but also need help at running back. Tre Mason rushed for 1,002 yards and eight scores last season, but depth is an issue with Onterio McCalebb expiring his eligibility and Mike Blakely deciding to transfer. Mason should be the lead back for Malzahn, but Artis-Payne should see plenty of carries. The Pennsylvania native rushed for 2,048 yards and 25 touchdowns at Allan Hancock (Calif.) College in 2012 and ranked as the No. 1 JUCO running back by Rivals. Expect to see plenty of Artis-Payne in 2013.

Leon Brown, OT, Alabama
With the departures of center Barrett Jones, guard Chance Warmack and tackle D.J. Fluker, Alabama’s offensive line must be rebuilt in 2013. The Crimson Tide have recruited well, so there’s no shortage of options for Nick Saban. Adding to the rebuilding project will be a new coach, as Jeff Stoutland left for the NFL. Brown spent the last two years at ASA College in New York and ranked as the No. 10 JUCO recruit by ESPN. At 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, he has the strength to move defensive linemen in the rush game, while possessing the athleticism to hold his own in pass protection. As with any JUCO recruit, Brown could use some development. However, he’s expected to help replace one of the three standout linemen Alabama lost after winning its third national title in four seasons.

Marquel Combs, DT, Kansas
After winning just three games over the last two years, Charlie Weis turned to the JUCO ranks for immediate help. The Jayhawks signed 17 junior college recruits this year, which Weis hopes will turn Kansas into a more competitive team in 2013. Combs ranked as the No. 3 prospect by ESPN and comes to Lawrence after two years at Pierce College in California. As a sophomore last season, he recorded 7.5 tackles for a loss, along with two sacks. Combs may not be a force in terms of statistics, but he should factor prominently into the rush defense, which could use a lot of help after allowing 192.6 yards per game last year.

Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
The Cornhuskers gave up only 105 points during their final six regular-season games but allowed 115 combined points in losses to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship and Georgia in the Capital One Bowl. In addition to finding the right solutions for a defense that struggled to get stops late in the year, Nebraska loses five key contributors from its defensive line. Gregory is one of six defensive linemen joining the Cornhuskers this season but is the only junior college prospect. He missed 2012 due to injury, yet ranked as the No. 2 JUCO prospect by ESPN. In his freshman season at Arizona Western College, Gregory recorded 82 tackles and nine sacks. After missing a year, Gregory will have to knock off some rust this spring. However, with the personnel losses and the struggles Nebraska had on defense late in the year, Gregory is being counted on to be a key member of the line in 2013.

Marcus Hardison, DT, Arizona State
Despite having the Pac-12 Defensive Player of Year (Will Sutton) anchoring the middle of the line, Arizona State allowed 182.9 rushing yards per game. If the Sun Devils want to push for the Pac-12 South title, addressing the run defense is one of the offseason’s top priorities. And landing Hardison from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College should be a huge help for Sutton and Arizona State’s defense. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle ranked as the No. 5 JUCO prospect by ESPN and No. 14 by Rivals, while recording 50 tackles and four sacks last season. Hardison brings a good mix of speed and athleticism to Tempe, and coach Todd Graham and coordinator Paul Randolph are counting on him to contribute right away in 2013.

Lavon Hooks, DT, Ole Miss
Not only did Ole Miss land the nation’s No. 1 high school prospect (Robert Nkemdiche), but it also picked up the services of the top JUCO recruit (according to ESPN) in Hooks. The 6-foot-4, 290 pound defensive tackle recorded 9.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for a loss at Northeast Mississippi Community College last season. In addition to his time on the gridiron, Hooks showcased his athletic ability by playing basketball and leading the MACJC in rebounding as a freshman. Depth and talent in the trenches is always needed in the SEC, and it appears Hugh Freeze and his staff did an excellent job of rebuilding the Rebels’ defensive line for 2013. With defensive tackles Gilbert Pena and Uriah Grant departing, Hooks will be counted on to have a key role in the defense this year.

Deon Long, WR, Maryland
Long started his collegiate career at West Virginia but transferred to New Mexico before playing a down in Morgantown. The Washington D.C. native starred in his one and only season with the Lobos, catching 47 passes for 809 yards and four touchdowns. Long transferred to Iowa Western Community College after Mike Locksley was fired at New Mexico and led the NJCAA with 100 receptions, 1,625 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns in 2012. Long is reunited with Locksley in College Park and should team with emerging star Stefon Diggs to form a solid tandem for the Maryland quarterbacks.

Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn
Marshall is undoubtedly one of the most interesting JUCO prospects in the class of 2013. He was an excellent athlete in high school and played defensive back with Georgia in 2011, recording five tackles in 13 games. However, Marshall was dismissed from the team last February and landed at Garden City (Kan.) Community College in an attempt to resurrect his career. Instead of playing defensive back, he shifted back to his high school position of quarterback and threw for 3,142 yards and 18 touchdowns, while adding 1,095 yards and 19 scores on the ground last year. Marshall’s dual-threat ability is a good fit for Gus Malzahn’s offense, but he will have to compete against two quarterbacks that have experience at the SEC level in preseason practice (Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier). 

Chris Martin, DE, Kansas
Martin is no stranger to BCS teams, as he signed with Cal coming out of high school and spent the 2010 season with Florida. Martin was regarded as one of the top-20 high school recruits by Rivals and ranked No. 13 on its list of top JUCO players for 2013. Martin spent 2012 at City College of San Francisco, recording 65 tackles and 4.5 sacks. The California native isn’t the only junior college recruit headed to Lawrence, as coach Charlie Weis signed 16 other JUCO players, including defensive tackle Marquel Combs. Martin should help add some punch to a pass attack that averaged just one sack a game, while helping to fill the void left behind by departing seniors Josh Williams and Toben Opurum.

Chris Mayes, DT, Georgia
For any 3-4 defense to work, it has to have a big, space-eating defensive tackle on the interior. With Georgia losing John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers (each over 350 pounds), the Bulldogs needed to land a potential starter on the recruiting trail. Mayes initially signed with Georgia in 2011 but did not qualify academically. He recorded 17 tackles and a forced fumble in 2011 at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College but redshirted in 2012. Mayes is still a work in progress but with his size, he figures to contribute to the Georgia defensive line rotation prominently in 2013.

Kyle Peko, DT, Oregon State
Led by defensive end Scott Crichton and tackles Castro Masaniai and Andrew Seumalo, the Beavers showcased one of the nation’s most-improved rush defenses in 2012. After allowing 196.8 yards per game in 2011, Oregon State held opponents to 129.5 yards per contest in 2012. Crichton is one of the Pac-12’s top defensive ends, but the Beavers must replace Masaniai and Seumalo, leaving a gaping hole on the interior of the line. Peko was ranked as the No. 22 JUCO prospect by ESPN and recorded 46 tackles and three sacks last season at Cerritos (Calif.) College. Considering the losses on the line, Peko is expected to contribute for a starting spot this fall.

Quincy Russell, DT, Oklahoma
Fixing the rush defense is a top priority for Bob and Mike Stoops this offseason, especially after the Sooners allowed 192.2 yards per game on the ground last year. Making matters worse for Oklahoma is the departure of tackles Casey Walker, Stacy McGee and Jamarkus McFarland, along with ends R.J. Washington and David King. Considering the personnel departures and the spread offenses in the Big 12, the Sooners may mix in more 3-4 personnel in 2013. Russell was a key pickup for Oklahoma on the recruiting trail, as he adds much-needed bulk to the interior. The Texas native was a first-team NJCAA All-American at Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College and ranked as the No. 39 JUCO prospect by ESPN. Even if Russell doesn’t make a huge impact, he’s a valuable depth addition and should help Oklahoma improve its rush defense.

Corey Smith, WR, Ohio State
With a 12-0 record last season and most of its core returning for 2013, the Buckeyes are among the top contenders to play for the national title. While there are some concerns about the defensive line, the offense is hoping to jumpstart a passing attack that ranked 101st nationally last year. To help take some of the pressure off of quarterback Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes are bringing in running back Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott, along with receivers James Clark and Jalin Marshall. However, perhaps the most interesting addition came through the junior college ranks. Ohio State doesn’t recruit JUCO players often, which means Smith isn’t being brought in to sit on the bench. The Ohio native caught 51 passes for 733 yards and nine touchdowns at East Mississippi Community College last year, while posting 28 receptions for 438 yards as a freshman at Grand Rapids Community College in 2011. Smith doesn’t need to emerge as Miller’s go-to threat, but he should be a valuable pickup for a team that had only two wide receivers catch more than 15 passes last year.

Jake Waters, QB, Kansas State
Replacing Collin Klein is no easy task, but the Wildcats have two talented options waiting in the wings. Daniel Sams showcased potential in limited action last year, while Waters led Iowa Western Community College to a national title last season. The 6-foot-2 passer finished the year with 3,501 yards and 39 touchdown tosses, while throwing just three interceptions. Waters ranked as the No. 1 JUCO quarterback by Rivals, and he will have an opportunity to steal the starting job away from Sams in the spring. 

Sam Wren, DE, Oklahoma State
With both of the Cowboys’ defensive ends departing seniors, Mike Gundy and coordinator Glenn Spencer dipped into the JUCO ranks to pick up Wren, who could be a potential starter in 2013. The Texas native ranked as a top-20 junior college recruit by ESPN and was a first-team All-Western States Football League selection in 2012. Wren also recorded 14.5 sacks last season at Arizona Western College and possesses good speed and explosiveness off of the edge. Although Wren could add some bulk and contribute in an every-down role, his best fit right away appears to be as a pass-rush specialist in 2013.
 

Others to Watch

Ben Bradley, DT, Auburn
Nick Brassell, ATH, Ole Miss
Chris Brown, DT, Kansas State
Bear Cummings, DT, Florida
Tyler Ferguson, QB, Penn State
Shaquille Fluker, DB, Georgia
d’Vante Henry, LB, West Virginia
Andre Lewis, WR, Utah
Vincent Mayle, WR, Washington State
Tanner McEvoy, QB, Wisconsin
Devon Nash, DE, Kansas State
Damond Powell, WR, Iowa
Jonathon Rumph, WR, Georgia
Beau Sandland, TE, Miami
Dreamius Smith, RB, West Virginia
Za’Darius Smith, DE, Kentucky
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Aaron Wimberly, RB, Iowa State


Related College Football Content

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 15 Impact JUCO Transfers for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/revisiting-mlbs-2003-draft-10-years-ago
Body:

Every fan knows that the annual MLB Draft can be an absolute crapshoot. It can be surprising when a first round produces a surfeit of big-league talent. Of the top 30 picks in the 2003 MLB Draft, 21 reached the majors, and 17 are still active big leaguers. Add four supplemental first-round picks still receiving checks for playing ball, along with late-round gems like Ian Kinsler and Jonny Venters, and you have one pretty productive draft.

 
1. Devil Rays: Delmon Young, OF 
Adolfo Camarillo (Calif.) HS
’06-07, Devil Rays; ’08-11, Twins; ’11-12 Tigers
The Rays drafted the 6'3" outfielder expecting to get a power surge, but none of the three teams for whom the now-240-pounder has played has benefitted from consistent long-ball production. While Young’s career .284 batting average demonstrates his ability to hit, he has topped the 20-homer mark only one time, and that came in 2010, when he hit 21 dingers, knocked in 112 runs and batted .298 for the Twins, easily his best year in the majors. Young has demonstrated some behavioral issues during his career, but the 2012 postseason (.313, three HRs) showed Young’s potential. 
 
2. Brewers: Rickie Weeks, 2B
Southern University
’05-12, Brewers
Weeks has been a fixture at second base for the Brewers since 2005, and though his fielding has been shaky throughout his career, Milwaukee has stuck with him, showing its faith in Weeks by signing him to a four-year, $38.5 million deal prior to the 2011 season. Weeks was voted as a starter for the 2011 All-Star Game, a nod to his solid offensive production. 
 
3. Tigers: Kyle Sleeth, RHP
Wake Forest
After a glittering collegiate career that included a 14–0 campaign in 2002, Sleeth had his career derailed by Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the 2005 season and part of ’06. A dominating righthander in college, Sleeth never progressed beyond Double-A ball, although he did earn a spot on the Tigers’ 40-man roster at one point. He retired in March 2008.
 
4. Padres: Tim Stauffer, RHP
Richmond
’05-12 Padres
Although Stauffer spent parts of several seasons with the Padres, he was a full-time performer for only two seasons, 2010 and ’11. He split his time between the bullpen and the starting rotation and enjoyed his greatest success in 2011, when he was the Padres’ Opening Day starter. Elbow troubles in 2012 limited him to one start and forced him to undergo surgery in August. He elected to become a free agent after the 2012 campaign.
 
5. Royals: Chris Lubanski, OF
Kennedy-Kenrick (Pa.) HS
A power-hitting outfielder with good speed, Lubanski kicked around the Royals’ farm system for seven seasons before bouncing through the Blue Jays, Marlins and Phillies organizations and spending some time playing for Chico of the California League. Lubanski hit 28 homers in High-A ball in 2005 and swatted 17 for Las Vegas in Triple-A in 2010 but could never deliver consistently at the higher minors levels to warrant a call to the bigs.
 
6. Cubs: Ryan Harvey, OF
Dunedin (Fla.) HS
Possessing raw power and a big enough arm to make the Cubs toy with the idea of using him as a pitcher when his position-playing fortunes began to flag, Harvey never progressed beyond Double-A ball. Although he hit 24 homers and knocked in 100 for Class A Peoria in 2005 and slugged 20 dingers the next year for Daytona, another Class A outpost, he never hit for average and struck out too often. He played for Lancaster in the Independent ranks in 2012.
 
7. Orioles: Nick Markakis, OF
Young Harris College
’06-12 Orioles
A strong hitter with plus power, good speed and a big arm, Markakis is a fixture in the Orioles lineup, and until 2012, was an extremely durable player. Markakis has topped 100 RBIs twice and hit more than 40 doubles in a season four times. In January ’09, the Orioles signed him to a six-year extension that will keep him as a cornerstone of their improving squad through 2014.
 
8. Pirates: Paul Maholm, LHP
Mississippi State
’05-11 Pirates; ’12 Cubs/Braves
When Maholm debuted with eight shutout innings in a win over the Brewers in 2005, many thought the lefty was destined for big things. Though he has pitched for eight big-league seasons, he never developed into a top-of-the-rotation starter. Maholm was traded from Chicago to Atlanta last July and finished the season with a 13–11 mark and a 3.67 ERA with a career-high 140 strikeouts.
 
9. Rangers: John Danks LHP
Round Rock (Texas) HS
‘07-12 White Sox
The former Texas prep Player of the Year was traded by Texas to the ChiSox in 2006 and has become a stalwart in the rotation. The hard thrower with a nasty cutter had his best statistical season in 2010, when he went 15–11 with a 3.72 ERA and 162 strikeouts. Danks made only nine starts in 2012, as shoulder problems forced him first to the disabled list and later to the operating table in August. 
 
10. Rockies: Ian Stewart, 3B
LaQuinta (Calif.) HS
’07-11 Rockies; ’12 Cubs
If he manages to stay healthy, Stewart could be an extremely valuable part of the Cubs organization. When he played 147 games for Colorado in 2009, Stewart hit 25 homers and knocked in 70 runs. But he has struggled with wrist issues for almost two seasons, and in June 2012 he underwent surgery that limited him to 55 games. 
 
11. Indians: Michael Aubrey, 1B
Tulane 
’08 Indians; ’09 Orioles
A talented hitter who showed power and the ability to hit for average, as well as a solid pitching arm while in high school and college, Aubrey played parts of two seasons with a pair of MLB teams and totaled only 46 games of action. The trouble wasn’t his bat; it was his ability to stay healthy. Aubrey spent 2011 with Syracuse in the Washington organization but was out of baseball in ’12.
 
12. Mets: Lastings Milledge, OF
Lakewood Ranch (Fla.) HS
’06-07 Mets; ’08-09 Nationals; ’09-10 Pirates; ’11 White Sox
Off-field issues have dogged Milledge from his high school days through his professional career, during which he failed to establish himself as an everyday player. Milledge struggled with poor work ethic and a shaky attitude during two seasons with the Mets, but he appeared to turn things around in 2009 with the Nationals and hit .268 with 14 HRs in 138 games. Milledge bounced to a pair of other teams, was sent to the minors in ’11 by the White Sox and ended up playing the 2012 season in Japan.
 
13. Blue Jays: Aaron Hill, SS
LSU
’05-11 Blue Jays; ’11-12 Diamondbacks
In 2009, Hill hit 36 homers and knocked in 108 runs to earn the Comeback Player of the Year award with Toronto after he missed most of ’08 with concussion symptoms. The next year, he had 26 dingers and 68 RBIs. But the Blue Jays traded Hill to Arizona in August 2011 due to his struggles at the plate. Hill rebounded with a solid 2012 for the Diamondbacks, hitting .302 with 26 homers and 85 RBIs.
 
14. Reds: Ryan Wagner, RHP
Houston
’03-05 Reds; ’06-07 Nationals
Before Wagner tore his labrum in 2007, many expected him to become a significant contributor to the Nationals’ bullpen, since he had posted a 3.54 ERA in his final 24 games of the ’06 season. But the one-time Houston Cougar was unable to come back from surgery to repair the shoulder, and he retired in May 2009. 
 
15. White Sox: Brian Anderson, OF
Arizona
’05-09 White Sox; ’09 Red Sox
After spending five years in the majors trying to develop into a consistent, productive hitter, Anderson decided to become a pitcher. He bounced around four different organizations, trying to gain a hold as a reliever, and he actually looked pretty good for a while as part of the Yankees system, but he was released. In April 2012 the Rockies let him go, and Anderson was unable to hook on with another club.
 
16. Marlins: Jeff Allison, RHP
Veterans Memorial (Mass.) HS
After a remarkable prep career that included Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year award, Allison struggled to hold a position in the Marlins’ organization due to substance abuse issues. He reached as high as Double-A Jacksonville, where he posted a 9–11 record in two seasons (2010-11) as a starter. He retired from baseball in ’12, citing elbow problems.
 
17. Red Sox: David Murphy, OF
Baylor 
’06-07 Red Sox; ’07-12 Rangers
Murphy never got the chance to see much time while with the Red Sox, but he has blossomed into a productive corner outfielder during his tenure with the Rangers, displaying the ability to hit for average and just enough power. The big lefty’s best season may well have been 2012, when he played a career-high 147 games and hit .304 with 15 homers, 61 RBIs and a career-best 29 doubles. 
 
18. Indians (via Phillies): Brad Snyder, OF
Ball State
’10-11 Cubs
A first-team All-American at Ball State, Snyder hit for power and average as a college player but has appeared in only 20 big-league games. The Cubs claimed him off waivers in late 2009 and sent him to Triple-A Iowa City. Snyder enjoyed a strong year — hitting .308 with 25 HRs and 106 RBIs — and was a late-season call-up, playing in 12 games, hitting .185 in 27 at-bats. He saw action in eight contests in 2011 but spent the ’12 season in the Astros farm system. He signed a minor league deal with Arizona after the 2012 season.
 
19. Diamondbacks: Conor Jackson, 1B
California
’05-10, Diamondbacks; ’10-11, Athletics; ’11 Red Sox
Jackson moved quickly through the Arizona minor league ranks and made his debut in ’05. The next three seasons were prosperous, as he hit for average (.300 in ’08) although not for power. But Jackson contracted Valley Fever in 2009 and played only 30 games that year. The D-backs shipped him to Oakland the following season, and though Jackson played 102 games for the A’s in 2011, they traded him to Boston later that year. He spent 2012 in the White Sox’ minor league system.
 
20. Expos: Chad Cordero, RHP
Cal State Fullerton
’03-08 Expos/Nationals; ’10 Mariners
For three years, Cordero was one of the top closers in the game, but he never recovered from a torn labrum and retired from baseball in 2011. Cordero was a top reliever in college and made his MLB debut the same year he was drafted. He appeared in 69 games for the Expos in 2004, mostly as a set-up man, although he did register 14 saves. In ’05, he was statistically the best closer in baseball — leading all relievers with 47 saves. 
 
21. Twins: Matt Moses, 3B
Mills Goodwin (Va.) HS
Minnesota thought it had a fixture in the hot corner when it drafted Moses, but he never developed into a consistent hitter at the minor league level and couldn’t reach the majors. Moses played seven years and hit .249 with 47 homers and 310 RBIs but spent only 48 games beyond the Double-A level (in 2007) and retired from baseball after the ’09 campaign.
 
22. Giants (via Astros): David Aardsma, RHP
Rice
’04 Giants; ’06 Cubs; ’07 White Sox; ’08 Red Sox; ’09-10 Mariners; ’12 Yankees
Although Aardsma has bounced around six different organizations, he has had some success as a reliever at the big-league level. His best seasons came with Seattle, where he saved 38 games in 2009 and 31 the next year. His progress was short-circuited by a blown elbow tendon that forced him to miss all of 2011 and ’12. Aardsma pitched one game for the Yankees in 2012 and will return to the team in ’13 on an incentive-laden contract.
 
23. Angels: Brandon Wood, SS
Horizon (Ariz.) HS
’07-11 Angels; ’11 Pirates
Wood has struggled to turn his minor league power (144 HRs from 2005-09) into major league production. His top batting average with the Angels came in 2008, when he hit a mere .200 in 150 at-bats. Now attempting to make it as a utility infielder, Wood signed a minor league deal with Kansas City this past offseason.
 
24. Dodgers: Chad Billingsley, RHP
Defiance (Ohio) HS
’06-12 Dodgers
Billingsley has been a stalwart in the Dodgers’ rotation for nearly seven years. His finest statistical season came in 2008, when he was 16–10 with a 3.14 ERA and 201 strikeouts. He was shut down in September 2012 with elbow problems that some feared might force him to undergo Tommy John surgery, but Billingsley rehabbed and is expected to pitch in ’13.
 
25. Athletics: Brad Sullivan, RHP
Houston
In college, Sullivan was an overpowering pitcher who set the University of Houston record for strikeouts in a season. But he couldn’t gain any momentum in the professional ranks and never climbed above Class A ball for the A’s. He was out of baseball following the 2007 campaign.
 
26. Athletics (via Giants): Brian Snyder, 3B
Stetson 
In 2004, Snyder gave the A’s a glimpse of his considerable potential, hitting .311 with 13 HRs and 61 RBIs in Class A ball. But he suffered a serious groin and hip injury during spring training the following year and missed all of 2005. He recovered to play three more seasons (2006-08) in the A’s and Padres systems but never displayed the same kind of hitting ability and couldn’t climb out of the Double-A ranks. 
 
27. Yankees: Eric Duncan, 3B
Seton Hall (N.J.) Prep
Duncan made an immediate impression on the Yankees organization in 2003, hitting well at two Class A stops. Although he climbed through the club’s minor league system to reach Triple-A ball, Duncan struggled to make the switch from third base to first and never established himself as a consistent hitter. He lasted in the Yanks system until after the ’09 campaign, when he was released. He spent time in the Braves, Reds, Cardinals and Royals systems before retiring in 2012.
 
28. Cardinals: Daric Barton, C
Marina (Calif.) HS
’07-12 Athletics
Barton was off to a strong start with the Cards but was part of the ’04 deal that sent Dan Haren to Oakland and Mark Mulder to St. Louis. An extremely patient hitter who led the AL in walks (110) in 2010, Barton was Oakland’s regular first baseman in ’08 and ’10 but has spent the last two seasons bouncing between the majors and Triple-A ball while struggling to find his hitting stroke. 
 
29. Diamondbacks: Carlos Quentin, OF
Stanford 
’06-07 Diamondbacks; ’08-11 White Sox; ’12 Padres
Although Quentin has struggled to overcome injuries throughout his career, he has proven himself to be a quality power producer. That much was evident in 2008, when he hit 36 homers and knocked in 100 runs for the White Sox. A two-time All-Star, Quentin slugged 26 homers with the Sox in 2010 and 24 in ’11. Before the 2012 season, he was traded to the Padres.
 
30. Royals (via Braves): Mitch Maier, C
Toledo 
’06-12 Royals
Maier began life in the Royals system as a catcher but was soon switched to third base and eventually the outfield. He made his debut in 2006, playing in five games for the big club. Maier’s best years with Kansas City were 2009 (.243) and ’10 (.263). He was not a regular in ’11, and after a shaky first half of 2012, he was designated for assignment. In November, he signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox.
 
31. Indians: Adam Miller, RHP  
McKinney (Texas) HS 
A hard thrower, Miller has been unable to gain momentum due to multiple injuries to his right arm and hand, and has never reached the majors.
 
32. Red Sox: Matt Murton, OF  Georgia Tech 
’05-08 Cubs; ’08 Athletics; ’09 Rockies
A journeyman who showed hitting prowess early but fizzled, Murton is now a star in the Japanese league and broke Ichiro’s single-season record for hits in 2010.
 
33. Athletics: Omar Quintanilla, SS  Texas
’05-09 Rockies; ’11 Rangers; ’12 Mets/Orioles
A backup infielder, Quintanilla has bounced from team-to-team and between the big leagues and minors. In 2010, he was suspended 50 games for PED use.
 
34. Giants: Craig Whitaker, RHP  
Lufkin ( Texas) HS
The one-time starter has played throughout the Giants farm system, as he tries to develop into a reliable reliever and escape the Triple-A ranks.
 
35. Braves: Luis Atilano, RHP  
Gabriela Mistral (P.R.) HS
’10 Nationals
Atilano has battled injuries and inconsistency, but he did start 16 games for the Nationals in 2010, posting a 6–7 record with a 5.15 ERA. He spent last season in the Reds organization.
 
36. Braves: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Royal Palm Beach (Fla.) HS 
’07 Braves; ’07-10 Rangers; ’10-12 Red Sox
The man with the longest last name in MLB history was a big part of the Mark Teixeira trade that also sent Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz from Atlanta to Texas. Salty did hit 25 HRs for Boston in 2012.
 
37. Mariners: Adam Jones, SS  Morse (Calif.) HS
’06-07 Mariners; ’08-12 Orioles
A two-time All-Star, Jones had his finest year in 2012, hitting .287 with 32 HRs and 82 RBIs, a performance that earned him a six-year contract extension for $85.5 million.
 
—By Michael Bradley

Want more baseball? Check out Athlon Sports' 2013 Baseball Annual for the most complete preview available. Order your copy now! 

Teaser:
<p> Examining how the first-round picks in the 2003 baseball draft fared</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-bracket-update-north-carolina-under-pressure-first-game-duke
Body:

Unpredictability has been the hallmark of the 2012-13 college basketball season.

Just last week, TCU defeated Kansas for perhaps the biggest upset during the regular season since Chaminade defeated Virginia and Ralph Sampson in Maui. On Saturday, an ugly game in regulation turned into the game of the year in five overtimes when Notre Dame defeated Louisville 104-101.

And the No. 1 team in the country lost a game on a boneheaded defensive play in the final seconds -- and remained No. 1 a week later in part because a team defeated North Carolina by 26 points was not enough to vault that team to the top spot.

So what does that mean for this week? The best rivalry in the sport will have its first matchup, though Mike Krzyzewski has his Duke team in much better shape than Roy Williams has North Carolina. The Heels, by the way, are coming off the 87-61 loss to Miami.

Elsewhere, this will be a key week for Western teams outside of the Pac-12. Bubble team Saint Mary’s will have its game of the year when it faces Gonzaga in Moraga. And Colorado State will aim to take its time in the sun in the Mountain West with a week against UNLV and Air Force.

All times Eastern.

FEB. 13 NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET UDPATE

MOST IMPORTANT GAME:
North Carolina at Duke (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ESPN)

The Tar Heels had better hope this is one of those throw-out-the-records rivalry games because this will be a mismatch. The last time North Carolina visited Cameron Indoor Stadium unranked while Duke was in the top 10 was in 2012 when the Heels lost 82-50. Duke will hope its 62-61 close call against Boston College (10-13) was a case of looking ahead rather than any major flaws. Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry scored 37 of Duke’s 62 points against BC.

Related: Feb. 11 Power Rankings

ALL EYES ON: Colorado State
San Diego State (Wednesday, 10 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
at Air Force (Saturday, 4 p.m., Altitude)

No one’s really paying attention to Colorado State, though the Rams are a game behind New Mexico in the Mountain West. Colorado State (6-2 in the MWC) has a chance this week to build some space between San Diego State (6-3) and Air Force this week (5-4). How good is Colorado State’s rebounding? The Rams are grabbing 59.7 percent of all offensive and defensive rebounds, nearly three percentage points better than the next-best team (Maryland). That rebound rate is better than any team since Michigan State in 2000-01 (61.8 percent).

Related: Key stats from last week

UNDER PRESSURE: North Carolina
at Duke (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ESPN)
Virginia (Saturday, noon, ACC syndication)

This week is more than a road trip to Duke. North Carolina has won three of the last four, but those wins were over the bottom teams in the league. With Maryland (whom UNC defeated on Jan. 19) falling out of the NCAA Tournament picture, the Heels haven’t defeated a Tournament lock since Dec. 29 against UNLV. The home date with Virginia may be a more telling game than Duke. Carolina lost 61-52 on Jan. 6 to the Cavaliers, who have suddenly figured out how to score some points. A sweep this week may slide Carolina onto the bubble.

Related: Ranking the SEC coaching tandems

RISING: Wisconsin
at Minnesota (Thursday, 7 p.m., ESPN)
Ohio State (Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS)

When the season started, the line on the Badgers was that the top of the Big Ten was too good and Wisconsin had lost too much in departing senior point guard Jordan Taylor and then an injured Josh Gasser. Well, Bo Ryan and the Badgers’ homecourt advantage in the Kohl Center have worked the magic. Wisconsin is 8-3 in the league, one of four teams separated by one game atop the Big Ten standings. The Badgers don’t have the non-conference resume isn’t as strong as other teams in the league (their best non-conference win is over Cal), so their seeding may not match Indiana or Michigan. Still, a Big Ten title is a possibility.

Related: Ranking the Pac-12 coaching tandems

SINKING: Marquette
Pittsburgh (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS)
Marquette has a nice record and ranking, but the Golden Eagles haven’t proven they’re among the top teams in the Big East. Marquette’s last five have been over Seton Hall, Providence, USF (twice) and DePaul while the losses have come to Cincinnati, Louisville and Georgetown -- all on the road. A home game against a hot Pittsburgh team will be a good chance for Marquette to return to form. The Eagles defeated Pitt 74-67 in overtime on the road on Jan. 12.

MID-MAJOR TO WATCH: Saint Mary’s
Gonzaga (Thursday, 11 p.m., ESPN2)
at Loyola Marymount (Saturday, 7 p.m., Time Warner Sportsnet)
What would February be without Saint Mary’s sitting on the bubble? The Gaels’ lackluster non-conference schedule puts more emphasis on their West Coast Conference season, and more specifically a matchup against a top-five Gonzaga team. Gaels point guard Matthew Dellavedova averages 24.3 points per game on 60 percent shooting against Gonzaga at home compared to 15 points per game on 32.7 percent shooting against the Zags in Spokane.

TIP-INS:
Syracuse at Connecticut (Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPN)
UConn hasn’t defeated a Tournament-bound Big East team in more than a month and needed overtime to defeat Providence and USF in the last two weeks. Perhaps the Huskies will have more in store for Syracuse in their final visit to campus before bolting for the ACC.

UNLV at Air Force (Wednesday, 9 p.m., Time Warner Sportsnet)
Air Force’s chances of reaching the Tournament field diminished when they lost at New Mexico and at Nevada last week. This will be a critical week for the Falcons at home against UNLV and Colorado State.

St. John’s at Louisville (Thursday, 9 p.m., ESPN)
This is our first chance to see how Louisville reacts to missing a handful of chances to put away Notre Dame before falling in five OTs in South Bend. St. John’s will be the Cards’ toughest opponent before visiting Syracuse on March 2.

Georgetown at Cincinnati (Friday, 9 p.m., ESPN)
Forward Otto Porter is carrying Georgetown to a six-game win streak. He could have another good matchup against a vulnerable Cincinnati frontcourt.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 1:30 p.m., Big 12 syndication)
Marcus Smart is averaging 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and five assists in Oklahoma State’s last four games.

Missouri at Arkansas (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN2)
Mike Anderson faces Missouri for the first time since leaving Columbia. Lucky for Anderson, he catches Mizzou in Fayetteville where the Razorbacks are 10-3 against SEC opponents under Anderson.

Teaser:
<p> North Carolina is struggling for a signature win. Duke would fit the bill. Are the Tar Heels ready? Wisconsin, Marquette, Colorado State and Saint Mary's are all worth watching, too.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-best-college-footballbasketball-coaching-tandems-big-12
Body:

With college football’s spring practice and basketball’s postseason around the corner, Athlon Sports decided this would be a good time to evaluate each school’s coaching tandem.

In this ranking, we aimed to reward balance. In short, which school’s fanbase is most likely to be satisfied from September to March? A handful of schools may have an accomplished football coach while the basketball coach is looking to keep his job, or vice versa. We did not grade on a curve in those cases.

In evaluating coaches, we examined past performance, with more focus on current and recent results and future expectations. We also considered how good a fit a particular coach is for a particular school.

The Big 12 presents a handful of challenges. More than wins and losses have to be a factor in our rankings. Texas and Oklahoma have perhaps the most accomplished duos in the league, but the Longhorns are trending in the wrong direction.

How do you compare the overachieving duo at Iowa State and to a lesser extent, Baylor, to a duo at Oklahoma State and West Virginia, who have heavyweight coaches in football and basketball, respectively.

And what should we do with Kansas? It’s a basketball school with one of the top five basketball coaches in the country. The football program, well, does not employ one of the top-five football coaches in the country.

Other coach tandem rankings:
ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


1. Oklahoma
Football:
Bob Stoops | Basketball: Lon Kruger

Big Game Bob has cooled since he had five consecutive top-10 finishes and four BCS games in his first six seasons in Norman, but Stoops still has Oklahoma as one of the consistent frontrunners in the conference. The Sooners have won at least 10 games in six of the last seven years, won the Big 12 in four of the last seven seasons. Stoops' teams obliterated rival Texas the last two seasons. In basketball, Kruger reaffirmed his status as one of the best turnaround artists in the country. In two seasons, he’s resuscitated a program limited by NCAA sanctions under Kelvin Sampson and recruiting misfires under Jeff Capel. If Oklahoma reaches the NCAA Tournament this season -- and it looks like the Sooners will -- Kruger will be the first coach to lead five teams the Tourney.

2. Kansas State
Football:
Bill Snyder | Basketball: Bruce Weber

Snyder has to be considered among the all-time greats after his second stint of rescuing Kansas State football. His second tour of duty with the Wildcats is as impressive as the first. K-State has won 21 games and a Big 12 title the last two seasons despite having the lowest-ranked recruiting classes in the league the last five years. Weber’s tenure soured at Illinois, but so far he’s been a boon for K-State basketball, starting 19-5 overall and 8-3 in the league. Weber started well at Illinois, too, going 37-2 and reaching the national title game in his second season.

3. West Virginia
Football:
Dana Holgorsen | Basketball: Bob Huggins

Huggins is a potential Hall of Fame coach with 650 Division I wins. He’s been remarkably consistent, going without a losing conference record every season since his first at Akron in 1984-85. He’ll flirt with one this year, however. He’s also four seasons removed from the Final Four. Holgorsen can coach offense as well as anyone, but the Mountaineers’ defense was a major liability in a 7-6 debut in the Big 12. In his first season as a head coach, Holgorsen led West Virginia to a 10-3 record and an Orange Bowl rout of Clemson.

4. Texas
Football:
Mack Brown | Basketball: Rick Barnes

This is the most difficult tandem to evaluate in the Big 12 and perhaps the country. On one side, the resumes are impeccable: Brown’s 2005 national title and nine consecutive 10-win seasons and Barnes’ streak of 17 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and the 2003 Final Four. We value consistency, but at Texas, the bar is a little different. Both coaches have a mountain of advantages in resources, exposure and recruiting base. Yet Brown has limped to a 22-16 record the last three seasons, and Barnes may have a losing season on his hands in addition to early exits from the Tournament in recent seasons. Texas coaches should have better results than this.

5. Baylor
Football:
Art Briles | Basketball: Scott Drew

It’s tough to underestimate how far Baylor has come in both sports over the last decade. Briles has turned the Big 12 doormat into a dangerous program with three consecutive bowl games and a Heisman Trophy for Robert Griffin III. In addition, the former Houston coach and Texas high school coach has showed few signs he plans to leave Waco. On the other side, it’s true Baylor’s basketball results haven’t matched it’s talent level, but Drew has led the Bears to two Elite Eights in the last four seasons after winning 21 total games in his first three seasons.

6. Oklahoma State
Football:
Mike Gundy | Basketball: Travis Ford

Gundy has brought Oklahoma State out of Oklahoma’s shadow, winning an average of 9.8 games in each of the last five seasons. Though Oklahoma State didn’t match the 12- and 11-win efforts of the previous two seasons, 2012 may have been his best coaching job, as the Cowboys went 8-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big 12 despite starting three quarterbacks. The Pokes have yet to have similar breakthrough in basketball, but Ford has Oklahoma State on its way to its third NCAA Tournament and fourth 20-win seasons in five years.

7. Iowa State
Football:
Paul Rhoads | Basketball: Fred Hoiberg

It takes a special coach to win in either sport at Iowa State. The Cyclones had more success in basketball in its history, but they were largely dormant after a going 32-5 in 1999-2000. Hoiberg, “The Mayor,” has started to bring his alma mater back. The Cyclones could reach their second consecutive NCAA Tournament this season, the first time that’s happened since 2000-01. Iowa State is not nearly as accomplished in football. Rhoads is a master motivator who has made Iowa State a spoiler in the Big 12 or national title race. He has three bowl games in four seasons but only one winning record.

8. Kansas
Football:
Charlie Weis | Basketball: Bill Self

In the last eight seasons, Self has led Kansas to the 2008 national title, the 2012 title game, eight consecutive Big 12 championships and five conference tournament championships. Yet Self still finds a way to be doubted. He’s one of the nation’s top coaches, regular season or postseason. He’s not contributing to the Jayhawks’ low ranking, clearly. Weis was a puzzling hire from the start and did nothing in his first season to make KU’s roll of the dice look great. Weis is 17-32 in his last four seasons as a head coach, including 1-11 in Lawrence.

9. TCU
Football:
Gary Patterson | Basketball: Trent Johnson

Another tough call in the Big 12 rankings. We wouldn’t be shocked if this doesn’t look like a great ranking in a few years. Gary Patterson is one of the nation’s best coaches, and he lived up to that in his first season in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs had to replace their returning starter at quarterback midseason and still reached a bowl game. His future success in the Big 12 will depend on his ability to recruit the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex at an elite level. Trent Johnson is a solid basketball coach who had a good run at Stanford and Nevada but wisely bolted LSU for TCU before landing himself on the hot seat in Baton Rouge.

10. Texas Tech
Football:
Kliff Kingsbury | Basketball: Chris Walker

The 33-year-old Kingsbury has the potential to be a rock star coach at his alma mater, bringing youthful energy and Mike Leach’s passing attack back to Lubbock. But he’s 33 years old and a first-time head coach. Learning on the job will be tough. As for basketball, where else to you rank interim coach Chris Walker, who took over a mess left by Billy Gillispie’s sudden departure before the season.
 

Teaser:
<p> Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Lon Kruger are easy No. 1, but pairings of underachievers (Texas) and overachievers (Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State) make it tough to rank the Big 12's tandems.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 06:45
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-5-michigan-wolverines
Body:

College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation.

Ohio State and Michigan appear poised to separate themselves from the rest of the Big Ten. For the second straight season, nothing can illustrate this more than the conference's recruiting rankings. In the first battle for talent between Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke, the Midwest duo finished fourth (OSU) and sixth (Michigan) nationally, while Nebraska finished third in the league, but outside of the top 25 nationally. With two more top-five classes nationally, the league appears to be headed for another Big Ten-Year War.

No. 5: Michigan Wolverines

Big Ten: Second
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
6
National Signees: 5
Total Signees: 27

Where They Got 'Em:

The Midwest will always be Michigan's focus in recruiting and 2013 was no different. In fact, the biggest difference between Hoke and Meyer thus far in recruiting is Ohio State's national approach while the Wolverines are more regionally focused. Ohio (9), Michigan (8) and Illinois (3) provided three-quarters of this group, including ten of the 15 nationally ranked prospects in the class. Snagging nine prospects from that state down South has to be particularly satisfying for Hoke.

Other Big Ten footprint states like Indiana and Pennsylvania as well as Northeastern territories like Massachusetts, Virginia and Maryland each provided one player each. The only states located outside of the Big Ten region to send a player to Ann Arbor were Colorado (1) and North Carolina (1).

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

Meyer has cast a major shot across the Big Ten offensive line bow with two elite defensive line classes in a row at Ohio State. Hoke countered with one of the best offensive line classes in the nation as six new faces signed with the Maize and Blue. Five of those six new blockers are nationally rated prospects who were coveted by nearly every team in the league. Patrick Kugler and Kyle Bosch are AC100 prospects while a pair of massive tackles — Chris Fox who stands 6-6 and Logan Tuley-Tillman who stands 6-7 — give Michigan not only one of the most talented line classes but also one of the largest. This group will have to develop quickly in order to keep up with OSU's stellar defensive line over the next four years.

The skill positions are also a big part of Hoke's 2013 haul and it should only help the transition back to a pro-style attack. Shane Morris is the No. 3-rated quarterback prospect in the nation and could be a special talent who reminds fans in Ann Arbor of Michigan quarterbacks of past years. And he won't be alone in the backfield either. Burly workhorse tailback Derrick Green is the top-rated player in the class and might be able to start immediately if he can grasp the offense. Along with De'Veon Smith, Hoke should have plenty to work with in his backfield for the first time since getting to Michigan. 

Morris is joined by three wide receivers and two tight ends in this class to help rebuild the passing attack. Only tight end Jake Butt is nationally rated so this isn't an elite haul, but the added depth is excellent.

On defense, Hoke focused on the secondary as six new names will join the depth chart. Defensive back is the new glamour position and Michigan got one of the best groups in the nation, led by AC100 talent Dymonte Thomas. Thomas has excellent range, physicality and size, so he will likely star at safety while Jourdan Lewis, who barely missed landing in the top 100, is the top coverman in the group. Reon Dawson (6-2, 175) and Channing Stribling (6-2, 170) bring elite size and length to the defensive backfield as well.

Up front, a trio of nationally ranked lineman restock the D-line. Henry Poggi (6-4, 260) can play inside or out but should grow into the tackle position. Taco Charlton (6-5, 250) has unpolished, elite upside and should be a terror off of the edge once he gets into a big-time football program. Maurice Hurst Jr. is a true tackle (6-2, 305) and should help clog up the middle as well. This isn't a deep group, but it is an overtly talented bunch.

Nationally rated Mike McCary and Ohio native Ben Gedeon were the only two linebackers to sign with the Wolverines.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 3, WR: 3, TE: 2, OL: 6
Defense: DL: 3, LB: 2, DB: 6, ATH: 0, LS: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rank Hometown Ht Wt
26. Derrick Green RB No. 5 Richmond, Va. 5-11 220
68. Patrick Kugler OL No. 7 Wexford, Pa. 6-5 280
72. Dymonte Thomas DB No. 16 Alliance, Ohio 6-2 195
74. Shane Morris QB No. 3 Warren, Mich. 6-3 185
92. Kyle Bosch OL No. 9 Wheaton, Ill. 6-5 310
108. Jourdan Lewis DB No. 22 Detroit, Mich. 5-10 160
109. David Dawson OL No. 16 Detroit, Mich. 6-4 285
122. Henry Poggi DT No. 23 (DL) Baltimore, Md. 6-4 260
134. De'Veon Smith RB No. 18 Warren, Ohio 5-11 218
141. Taco Charlton DE No. 26 (DL) Pickerington, Ohio 6-5 250
146. Chris Fox OL No. 22 Parker, Colo. 6-6 300
148. Mike McCary LB No. 18 Trotwood, Ohio 6-4 230
154. Logan Tuley-Tillman OL No. 23 Peoria, Ill. 6-7 305
221. Jake Butt TE No. 7 Pickerington, Ohio 6-6 235
222. Maurice Hurst Jr DT No. 42 (DL) Westwood, Mass. 6-2 305

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht. Wt. AC100
Kyle Bosch OL Wheaton, Ill. 6-5 310 No. 92
Jake Butt TE Pickerington, Ohio 6-6 235 No. 221
Taco Charlton DE Pickerington, Ohio 6-5 250 No. 141
Ross Douglas DB Avon, Ohio 5-10 180 --
Dymonte Thomas DB Alliance, Ohio 6-2 195 No. 72
Logan Tuley-Tillman OL Peoria, Ill. 6-7 310 No. 154

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 5: Michigan Wolverines</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/college-football-recruiting-acc-team-consensus-rankings-2013
Body:

Recruiting in college football is downright nasty. It is a cutthroat, cannibalistic big business that is microscopically analyzed by fans, administrators and media members alike. The ACC has been taking a beating on the field and in the media from fans and analysts alike for its recent lack of success. It has struggled in BCS bowls and, in particular, against the SEC. While the conference isn't nearly as bad as the incessant badgering would indicate, the results of this year's recruiting cycle still has to leave ACC fans nervous.

Related: The Class of 2013 Top 25 Recruiting Classes

No top-10 class
The ACC has had at least two top-10 classes nationally in four of the last five recruiting cycles. Only 2010 featured a single ACC top-10 class. So for the conference’s best class (Florida State) to be ranked 11th nationally doesn’t bode well for an already tarnished image. For comparison, the ACC had three teams land in the top 25 while its regional rival, the SEC, posted 11 top 25 classes. Florida State, Clemson and Miami carry the mantle of recruiting in this league and if none can pull a top-10 class, the league will continue to be ridiculed nationally. In particular, Jimbo Fisher and Florida State is accustomed to being not only in the top 10, but the top five nationally. An 11th-rated class is still an excellent haul, but it remains to be seen if that can get the Noles back to national championship relevance. The good news? Seven different teams landed at least one Athlon Consensus 100 prospect and the league more than doubled the numbers of top 100 signees than that of the Big 12.

Dabo maintains status quo… and then some
Dabo Swinney has had an interesting up-and-down career at Clemson. He has been doubted and questioned. He also won the team’s first ACC title in 20 years. Over the last five recruiting cycles, Clemson has finished no better than third in the ACC just once (2011). With the No. 2-rated class in the league this time around — and his second in three seasons — Swinney has put Clemson in a position to become the dominant team in the league. The Tigers won a couple of National Signing Day battles and it finished just two spots behind the vaunted Seminoles (No. 11). This highly touted top 15 class will only add to the pressure of being the likely preseason pick to win the ACC in 2013.

Al Golden continues to work miracles
A 26th national ranking isn’t anything to write home about for Miami football recruiting. But after the biggest BCS signing class in the nation a year ago (33 signees) led to double-digit freshman starters, Golden didn’t have too many scholarships to offer. Yet, he made the best of it by winning some late battles for key players. His four AC100 signees are tied with Florida State for the ACC lead and only seven other schools in the nation signed more. This wasn’t supposed to be a big class (16) but there are plenty of marquee instant impact prospects in the group. And for a team facing a litany of NCAA inquiries, Golden continues to deserve major kudos for his work on the trail.

Quality over quantity
Miami wasn’t the only school to sign a smaller class with an emphasis on quality. Virginia Tech landed a top 25 class with just 18 signees and North Carolina finished 28th nationally with just 17 new faces. Both were ranked in the top five in the ACC ranks and both signed top-level talent. The Tar Heels landed six four-star players while the Hokies landed seven that received at least four stars. Essentially, a third of each class were elite-level national talents. Give both Frank Beamer and Larry Fedora credit for landing highly touted classes without the benefit of deep numbers.

Paul Johnson’s scheme better work
First, Georgia Tech only signed 14 players, so it was going to be tough to land an elite class with such small overall numbers. That said, 11th in the ACC and 77th nationally isn’t what Yellow Jackets fans want to see. Johnson has averaged a 47.6 national recruiting ranking and has ranked no better than 41st or no worse than 55th nationally since arriving in Atlanta. No, his triple-option system doesn’t need five-star athletes to be effective, but this 2013 haul is easily his worst class to date. Only time will tell if Tech is devolving or simple rebuilding.

Mike London needs to get back to winning
London stepped on to campus in Charlottesville and reinvented the Cavaliers' name brand on the recruiting trail. He has landed the 25th- (2011) and 27th-rated (2012) classes in the last two years and added to it with the 31st-ranked group in 2013. And it appeared that the energy on the recruiting trail was going to translate into wins, going from 4-8 in his first season to 8-5 in his second. Yet, a major step back in 2012 (4-8, 2-6) has raised concerns. The 2013 class was another solid group for the Wahoos and the pressure is now back on London to generate similar results on the field.

Pitt will be fine, Syracuse not so much
The Panthers landed the seventh-rated class in the ACC and the 39th-best class in the nation. It puts Pitt dead in the heart of its new conference in terms of talent. With Paul Chryst leading the way, this program should be able to adapt and compete rather quickly if it can maintain this type of recruiting. New Orange head coach Scott Shafer will have a much tougher job ahead of him, however. This team has consistently been one of the least talented BCS rosters in the nation over the last five years. Shafer will have to do improve Syracuse's recruiting prowess — which was 74th nationally this cycle — or work minor miracles on the practice field. 

ACC’s hierarchy is painfully obvious
Florida State (13), Clemson (2) and Virginia Tech (4) have won 19 of the last 22 ACC championships. Only three times since 1991 has a team other than those three won an outright ACC title — 2001 Maryland, 2006 Wake Forest and 2009 Georgia Tech. This is due in large part because those three programs have the best players. Boston College, Duke, Wake Forest and NC State consistently finish in the bottom of the league in recruiting and 2013 was no different. All four, along with Georgia Tech, ranked outside of the top 50. There is a reason this group is a combined 62-98 in ACC play over the last five years. It doesn’t look like this trend will end anytime soon and makes the ’06 Demon Deacons team that much more impressive.

Related: Ranking the nation's most talented rosters

2013 Athlon Sports ACC Team Recruiting Rankings:

Rk Team Nat'l Rk AC100 Signees Rivals 247 Scout ESPN
1. Florida State 11th 4 22 9th 9th 16th 9th
2. Clemson 13th 1 23 14th 15th 15th 13th
3. Virginia Tech 21st 2 18 22nd 14th 35th 19th
4. Miami 26th 4 16 44th 19th 28th 21st
5. North Carolina 28th 0 17 39th 28th 30th 20th
6. Virginia 31st 1 22 26th 29th 41st 34th
7. Pitt 39th 1 27 33rd 32nd 22nd --
8. Maryland 42nd 1 22 30th 31st 49th --
9. NC State 56th 0 25 47th 60th 53rd --
10. Wake Forest 64th 0 25 58th 81st 62nd --
11. Duke 72nd 0 20 67th 77th 62nd --
12. Syracuse 74th 0 19 72nd 69th 75th --
13. Georgia Tech 77th 0 14 84th 78th 73rd --
14. Boston College 83rd 0 17 87th 93rd 90th --

Teaser:
<p> College Football Recruiting: ACC Team Consensus Rankings for 2013</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 06:20
Path: /nascar/25-funny-fantasy-nascar-team-names
Body:

The NASCAR Sprint Cup season is getting closer by the day, which means it’s time to plan your spring and summer road trips and to name your 2014 Fantasy NASCAR team. While it may be tough to win your league each season, it’s not as difficult to have the best team name. Here’s our list for 2014, in no particular order of awesomeness:


‘MERICA/’MURICA/’MURICAH
Cloyd Rivers would be proud. Might not want to use the “Team America” distress signal during the race if something goes awry, though, I think Danica does when the car gets out of shape.

FREE JEREMY MAYFIELD
Clearly he was being railroaded and was innocent of all charges, right? After all, most people usually have a tenth of a million dollars in stolen guns, gear and tools at their crib, and have been seen sneaking around semi-truck garages in the wee hours of the morning. Kind of sad when you think about it. If he had just went AJ and said, “I dunno what it was … I thought it was a vitamin,” he’d probably have been back in the sport and sponsored by Octane 93. Oh yeah.

SKIDMARK CENTRAL
Sounds like somebody was having a $hitty day. Pretty sure that’s what they could have called most of the drivers’ shorts at Michigan last summer when they were barreling into Turn 1 at 220 mph.

LOSING MAKES MY DICK TRICKLE
And there it is. The requisite homage to the late legend of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc. What’s cooler than a 48-year-old Rookie of the Year who burned heaters under caution and is recognized as the all-time leader in short track wins in North America? Keep in mind that while it may have been Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt who helped bring NASCAR into the national consciousness, it was Dan Patrick on Sportscenter updating the casual fan as to where Dick Trickle finished each week. RIP, DT.

BALLS TO THE WALL ALL THE TIME
I’m going to be honest here: I don’t think this one is funny. I think it’s awesome. Reminds me of the classic, “I’m droppin’ the hammer, Harry!” line from everyone’s favorite racing movie.

THE SUM OF ALL MEARS
That would be a pretty easy one. One. As in, the number of races he’s won (Charlotte, 2007). Kyle Petty finished third in that race. No, it was not 1987. 2007.

THE BIG KESELOWSKI
The Brad Abides – that Sprint Cup really ties the room together. It would be funny if he starts addressing Joey Logano as “Donny.”

BAYNE CAPITAL
Not sure how Trevor would take being tied to a Mormon, which in itself probably conjures up unwholesome imagery. Mitt Romney and Trevor both have something in common: genuinely decent guys who have achieved, yet still haven’t quite got that dream day job.

GREEN EGGS AND HAMLIN
I will not win one with Mike Ford, I will not drive a Honda Accord;
A black Camry will bring me luck, a bottle of Dasani you’ll see me chuck;
Sometimes my back hurts me bad, if only I had a crew chief named Chad!
Okay, some of the content is dated and the rhymn is annoying. The name, however, is clever.

WISE JOHNSONS FEAR BURNING BUSCH
Unless they have a topical ointment. Or penicillin. And by the way, I don’t think this head game is going to work, either.

GAS HOLES
I may have to join the “Gas Holes” league on principle, as it is both irrelevant and ironic. Or coincidental. Either way, these guys most certainly know their heads from their gas … and know well enough to never trust a road course ringer at Watkins Glen or Sonoma. And no, Marcos is not a road course ringer just because he excels there. He’s a full-time driver in the series and Richard Petty Motorsports’ most prolific wheelman since Kasey Kahne bailed after his brakes failed in Charlotte. Speaking of which …

AMBROSE BEFORE HO
If only all guys followed this advice. Though we’d understand if Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rejected this notion, as he has done quite nicely for himself of late. Not that DP is of questionable morals. Ugh, we’re already getting sidetracked here and in a topsy-turvy world — which would make sense since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere. Or is it Tasmania that Marcos is from? Hold on, can hemispheres go north and south, too, or just east and west? Because road courses go left and right … right? I smell waffles.

A COUNTRY GAL KAHNE SURVIVE
The shear number of Fantasy NASCAR team names devoted to the boyish good looks of one Kasey Kenneth Kahne only reaffirms the volume of anonymous cougars lurking on the ‘net.

UPS = UGLY PAINT SCHEME
This had to have been created in the Dale Jarrett days. Why on earth did UPS wait until the very end of its run to paint the cars totally brown — particularly during its “Big Brown Truck” marketing campaign? UPS may run the tightest ship in the shipping business, but its car’s paint job was so uninspired that they should have just colored it beige. When it finally did go brown, UPS saw fit to throw yellow on it, too … and that didn’t help matters. So sad that the once-iconic No. 6 car — which had some of the best paint schemes ever during the Valvoline/Mark Martin era — went into mothballs clad in doo doo brown.

A LITTLE ON THE HIGH SIDE
Another classic double entendre that, at its core, was created by a couple guys sitting on the couch saying, “Dude, don’t bogart those Dale Jr. Carolina Barbeque chips.”

THE NEED FOR SCOTT SPEED
Combining “Top Gun” and NASCAR?! Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Oh wait …

BLANEY’S GOT A GUN
So long as Steven Tyler isn’t asked to perform the National Anthem prior to a race, we're OK with the Aerosmith/NASCAR cross-reference — although it couldn’t get any worse than Scott Stapp or Brett Michaels. That said, Joe ’Effin’ Perry going Hendrix on the Anthem? There’s potential there.

2 LBS IN THE REAR GOT HER LOOSE
Hey ohh!!! Now it’s a party! What, “Slipping In a Rubber” didn’t want any of that? We should probably just quit while we’re ahead on this one.

TOMMY BOWYER
“Mikey, you may have been the worst driver in NASCAR, but you were the best brake pad salesman in Sandusky!”

TEAM MOTORBOATERS
“Are they built for speed or comfort? What'd you do with them? Motorboat? You play the motorboat? Blrlrlrlbbb … You motorboatin' son of a bitch. You old sailor, you!” I’d bet $20 this guy isn’t really into Unlimited Hydroplane, and would be disappointed to find out who Miss Budweiser really is.

DOG THE LABONTE HUNTER
This might be my favorite name on the list from the Big Island … or anywhere else, Brah. The name is appropriate on many levels. I think Dog, Leland and Bobby Brown stopped being relevant about the same time Bobby Labonte exited the No. 18 car. At least we don’t have to worry about Texas Terry or BLab sprouting an Aqua-Net saturated pompadour of feathered magnificence. Or exposing taco meat from his firesuit following a race. Labonte’s coming stint in the No. 52 car will be about as dangerous to Victory Lane as Dog and Beth are to armed felons with their array of paintball guns, pepper spray and Beth’s fingerless Lady Classics. That said, they are some of the last ties to NASCAR’s past. Best of luck this season, guys. Go with Christ, Brah.

SKOALIOSIS
This one is definitely an old school NASCAR fan well-versed in the Gospel according to Gant and his Skoal Bandit. Harry Gant’s No. 33 was as iconic of a machine during the mid- ’80s as the Coors Thunderbird or that yellow and blue Wrangler Monte. Mr. September rewrote the record books when he reeled off a record-tying four in a row at the tender age of 51. It’s doubtful that Handsome Harry would ever suffer such a condition, though. After all, what other driver do you know that keeps in shape by running bundles up a ladder all day in the Carolina summer heat?

2 GIRLS 1 SPRINT CUP
Wow. Way to keep it classy, although expertly executed at staying timely and relevant. I’m 99 percent sure that isn’t a girls’ team, despite the obvious attempt at subterfuge. Hopefully they’ll be going up against “Stew(art) Let The Dogs Out” during the Chase later this year.

15BLOWSBIGDONKEYD
Oh hi, Ingrid.

ME SO HORNISH
This one is fantastic. It was created nearly five years ago, but stands the test of time — a true testament to its subtle genius and nod to Kubrick’s Vietnam War classic. Or 2 Live Crew. Either way, by the time you have finished reading this, “Oh me so Hoooornish, Oh-oh me so Hornish …” will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.


by Vito Pugliese and Matt Taliaferro
Follow the guys on Twitter: @VitoPugliese and @MattTaliaferro
 

RELATED: 50 Funny Fantasy Football Team Names

Teaser:
<p> Twenty-five of the funniest Fantasy NASCAR team names you're likely to find.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 11:23
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-indiana-splits-week-stays-top
Body:

The fun water cooler debate of the top teams in college basketball keeps going.

Each of Athlon’s top four teams from last week took a loss last week. Kansas took two. Our No. 6 team from last week, Duke, had a near-miss against lowly Boston College. The changes at the top each week make rankings these teams difficult -- never mind the teams in the No. 20-25 range.

In other words, the NCAA Tournament selection committee will have some tough work ahead.

But we have to take a stand this week in our power rankings.

We kept Indiana and Michigan at Nos. 1-2 despite their losses last week. The Hoosiers lost on a broken defensive play at Illinois, and the Wolverines lost to Wisconsin in overtime thanks to a miracle shot at the end of regulation from Ben Brust.

Miami, which we ranked third, has a compelling case to be No. 1, but the Hurricanes aren’t rolling through the typical North Carolina teams. The Big Ten gauntlet is a bit of an equalizer between Miami and the top-ranked teams in the Big Ten.

Related: Key stats from Feb. 4-10

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: FEB. 12

1. Indiana (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Lost to Illinois 74-72, defeated Ohio State 81-68
This week: Nebraska, Purdue
Buzz: Convincing win at Buckeyes counters late collapse at Illinois to keep Hoosiers at No. 1.

2. Michigan (21-3, 8-3 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Defeated Ohio State 76-74 (OT), lost to Wisconsin 65-62
This week: Ohio State, at Wisconsin
Buzz: Michigan is 0-2 when Trey Burke takes 20 or more shots from the field (Indiana, Wisconsin).

3. Miami (19-3, 10-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Defeated Boston College 72-50, North Carolina 87-61
This week: at Florida State, at Clemson
Buzz: The Hurricanes’ undefeated start against ACC foes includes 4-0 mark against North Carolina, Duke and NC State.

4. Duke (21-2, 8-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated NC State 98-85, defeated Boston College 62-61
This week: North Carolina, at Maryland
Buzz: The Blue Devils dodged an embarrassing loss to Boston College to maintain five-game winning streak.

5. Syracuse (20-3, 8-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Notre Dame 63-47, defeated St. John’s 77-58
This week: at Connecticut, at Seton Hall
Buzz: James Southerland’s return (13 points) boosts Orange past St. John’s.

6. Arizona (20-3, 8-3 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Stanford 73-66, lost to Cal 77-69
This week: at Colorado, at Utah
Buzz: The Wildcats had a case to be No. 1 … before losing to Cal.

7. Gonzaga (23-2, 10-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Pepperdine 82-56, defeated Loyola Marymount
This week: at Saint Mary’s, at San Francisco
Buzz: Regular season West Coast Conference title will be easier to win if Zags defeat the Gaels on Thursday.

8. Florida (19-3, 9-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Lost to Arkansas 80-69, defeated Mississippi State 83-58
This week: Kentucky, at Auburn
Buzz: The Gators won’t get through the SEC unscathed, but is the door open for a hot Kentucky team to swipe the conference title?

9. Michigan State (20-4, 9-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Defeated Minnesota 61-50, defeated Purdue 78-65
This week: Michigan, at Nebraska
Buzz: Guess who’s tied for first in the Big Ten? Sparty.

10. Kansas (19-4, 7-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Lost to TCU 62-55, lost to Oklahoma 72-66, defeated Kansas State 83-62
This week: Texas
Buzz: KU displaying serious point guard issues during three-game losing streak that ended with rout of K-State on Monday.

11. Louisville (19-5, 7-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Rutgers 68-48, lost to Notre Dame 104-101 (5OT)
This week: St. John’s, at USF
Buzz: After home date with St. John’s, Louisville faces easy part of Big East schedule against USF, Seton Hall and DePaul.

12. Kansas State (19-5, 8-3 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas Tech 68-59, defeated Iowa State 79-70, lost to Kansas 83-62
This week: Baylor
Buzz: The Wildcats lost sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with Kansas, but final stretch is manageable before regular season final Oklahoma State.

13. Ohio State (17-6, 7-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Lost to Michigan 76-74 (OT), lost to Indiana 81-68
This week: Northwestern, at Wisconsin
Buzz: No shame in losing to Michigan and Indiana.

14. Pittsburgh (20-5, 8-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Cincinnati 62-52
This week: at Marquette
Buzz: Pittsburgh making a nice run in the Big East. Road trip to Marquette will show if Panthers can contend for title.

15. Butler (20-4, 7-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 16
Last week’s results: Defeated St. Bonaventure 77-58, defeated George Washington 59-56
This week: Charlotte, at Fordham
Buzz: Rotnei Clarke averaging 19 points per game since return from injury.

16. Oklahoma State (17-5, 7-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated Baylor 69-67 (OT), defeated Texas 72-59
This week: at Texas Tech, Oklahoma
Buzz: Freshman Marcus Smart leading red-hot Cowboys, who have won five in a row.

17. Georgetown (18-4, 8-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Rutgers 69-63, defeated Marquette 63-55
This week: at Cincinnati
Buzz: Otto Porter is averaging 17.8 points and 8.7 rebounds during the Hoyas' six-game win streak.

18. Wisconsin (17-7, 8-3 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 23
Last week’s results: Defeated Iowa 74-70 (2OT), defeated Michigan 62-62 (OT)
This week: at Minnesota, Ohio State
Buzz: Wisconsin’s homecourt magic works wonders in two overtime wins last week. Badgers have shot at Big Ten title.

19. Notre Dame (19-5, 7-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Louisville 104-101 (5OT)
This week: DePaul, at Providence
Buzz: Little-used Michigan State transfer Garrick Sherman was the hero in OT against Louisville.

20. Marquette (17-6, 8-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated USF 70-47, defeated DePaul 89-78, Lost to Georgetown 63-55
This week: Pittsburgh
Buzz: Marquette's last five wins are over teams not likely to make the NCAA Tournament: Seton Hall, Providence, USF (twice) and DePaul.

21. New Mexico (20-4, 7-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Defeated Air Force 81-58, lost to UNLV 64-55
This week: at Fresno State, Boise State
Buzz: The Lobos have averaged 44.5 points in two MWC losses.

22. Colorado State (19-4, 6-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 25
Last week’s results: Defeated Nevada 73-69
This week: San Diego State, at Air Force
Buzz: The Rams are making a run at the Mountain West title. The two league losses are both on the road (San Diego State in overtime, New Mexico).

23. Cincinnati (18-6, 6-5 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Lost to Providence 54-50, lost to Pittsburgh 62-52
This week: Villanova, Georgetown
Buzz: The Bearcats a puzzling 2-3 at home in the Big East.

24. Memphis (20-3, 9-0 Conference USA)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated SMU 60-52, defeated Southern Miss 89-76
This week: UCF, at Marshall
Buzz: Memphis is 9-0 in C-USA for the first time since John Calipari’s last season after key win over Southern Miss.

25. San Diego State (18-5, 6-3 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Boise State 63-62, defeated 75-53
This week: at Colorado State, at UNLV
Buzz: The Aztecs can get back into MWC contention with strong showing on the road this week.

Out: No. 17 Minnesota, No. 21 Oregon, No. 24 Creighton

Teaser:
<p> Top teams are falling all across the country, but Big Ten giants and Miami stay the course in the power rankings.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-4-florida-gators
Body:

College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp was not happy on National Signing Day. It had nothing to do with his elite top-five class ranking or deep collection of future Gators stars. No, he was worn out from a hard season on the recruiting trail and was ready for the process to be over. But all that hard work paid off in spades and Florida landed one of best classes in the nation.

No. 4: Florida Gators

SEC: Second
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
6
National Signees: 11
Total Signees: 30

Where They Got 'Em:

The state of Florida will be and always should be the primary focus of any head coach in Gainesville. More top-flight prospects come out of The Sunshine State each season than anywhere else in the nation. It shouldn't be a surprise then that Muschamp landed 19 in-state signees, including eight nationally ranked players. Florida can recruit nationally, but the foundation for every Gator class should come from within its borders.

Georgia has quickly become the No. 4 (Fla., Texas, Calif.) state for talent nationally and the Gators took advantage here as well. Six players signed with Florida from The Peach State, giving this class 25 players from either Georgia or Florida. Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee provided one signee each.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

It seems impossible, but Florida has lacked big-time playmakers on offense since Percy Harvin, Riley Cooper and Louis Murphy departed campus. This offense has been desperate for a star on the outside and Muschamp hopes that he has found one with five highly rated wide receiver signees. Three of the top 15 wideout prospects in the nation are headed to Gainesville. Demarcus Robinson (6-2, 195) and Almad Fulwood (6-4, 200) bring size and vertical ability to the outside while Alvin Bailey (5-11, 175) and Chris Thompson (6-0, 170) should be featured in the slot. 

With Mike Gillislee running out of eligibility, this team also needed to find a workhorse. Gators' legacy prospect Kelvin Taylor should be the guy. He is the No. 2 running back in the nation and is the son of NFL great Fred Taylor. He has been a prep star in The Sunshine State since starting for Glades Central as a middle schooler and should compete for carries right away. He is already on campus working in the offense.

Helping to make all of these stars successful on offense are five offensive line signees. None are nationally ranked but depth shouldn't be an issue along the front line.

The defense is getting loads of help in this class. The defensive line class is one of the best in the nation as seven new faces show up along the defensive front. Caleb Brantley is the only nationally ranked player in this deep and versatile group. He can play inside or out along with early enrollee Joey Ivie and Antonio Riles. Darious Cummings, Jay-nard Bostwick and Jarran Reed will land at tackle while Jordan Sherit will come off of the edge. Muschamp and company will have to develop this haul, but the upside is remarkable.

The star power of this recruiting class resides in the back seven on defense, however. Six of the 11 nationally rated prospects will play either defensive back or linebacker. Four of the top five players in this class will play there are well. Vernon Hargreaves III is the top coverman in the nation and a pair of electric linebackers in Alex Anzalone and Daniel McMillian restock a position that lost Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic this winter. Both highly touted players enrolled early and both are listed at an impressive 6-3 and 220 pounds. Three of the top 20 linebackers in the nation signed with Florida.

Along with Hargreaves III, AC100 safety Marcel Harris, an jumbo prospect who could be special at 6-2, 220, and nationally rated Keanu Neal bolster the back end of the Gators defense with elite talent.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 2, WR: 5, TE: 0, OL: 5
Defense: DL: 7, LB: 4, DB: 4, ATH: 1, P: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rank Hometown Ht Wt
3. Vernon Hargreaves III DB No. 1 Tampa, Fla. 5-11 180
22. Kelvin Taylor RB No. 2 Belle Glade, Fla. 5-10 205
54. Alexander Anzalone LB No. 5 Wyomissing, Pa. 6-3 220
56. Daniel McMillian LB No. 6 Jacksonville, Fla. 6-3 220
78. Marcel Harris DB No. 15 Orlando, Fla. 6-2 220
81. Demarcus Robinson WR No. 11 Ft. Valley, Ga. 6-2 195
104. Keanu Neal DB No. 19 Bushnell, Fla. 6-0 205
106. Alvin Bailey WR No. 13 Seffner, Fla. 5-11 175
119. Caleb Brantley DL No. 22 Crescent City, Fla. 6-3 295
127. Ahmad Fulwood WR No. 14 Jacksonville, Fla. 6-4 200
153. Matt Rolin LB No. 20 Ashburn, Va. 6-4 205

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht. Wt. AC100
Alex Anzalone LB Wyomissing, Pa. 6-3 220 No. 54
Darious Cummings DL Scooba, Miss. 6-2 305 JUCO
Joey Ivie DL Dade City, Fla. 6-4 270 --
Daniel McMillian LB Jacksonville, Fla. 6-3 220 No. 56
Tyler Moore OL Clearwater, Fla. 6-5 312 --
Demarcus Robinson WR Ft. Valley, Ga. 6-2 195 No. 81
Matt Rolin LB Ashburn, Va. 6-4 205 No. 153
Kelvin Taylor RB Belle Glade, Fla. 5-10 205 No. 22

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 4: Florida Gators</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 10:00

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