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Path: /nascar/nascar-chase-report-previewing-finale-homestead-miami-speedway
Body:

It’s hard to believe the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is about to come to a close, and the first champion to be crowned under the new bracket-style Chase elimination format will happen this Sunday at Homestead Miami Speedway. With the fourth different championship format in 11 years, many were skeptical of how this would play out; after all the 2013 season came a close with NASCAR tossing out drivers who made it (Martin Truex Jr.) and arbitrarily placing drivers into contention (Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman) two days after the final race at Richmond. Regardless of the opinion or final outcome, it has served what it was intended to do: increase fan interest and discussion of the championship Chase in the midst of college football and NFL Fantasy Football mayhem. 

 

What it has not done is generate increased television ratings; each Chase race so far has been down – albeit slightly – over the last two years with the exception of the last two races at Texas and Phoenix. Add into the mix the possibility of this year’s champion potentially not having won a race and you have stock car purists ready to take the streets and burn a Brian France effigy in defiance. 

 

No, The King or The Intimidator didn’t do it this way, but then again Jimmie Johnson won’t win number seven this year either, so perhaps in some minds there is some intrinsic value to it after all. 

 

 

The Final Four

While there were no punches thrown following the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix last Sunday, there was a body slam on the final lap. As Gordon crossed the finish line, the four-time champion had skated into the finale on the strength of a tie-break between he and Newman – Gordon has four wins this year to Newman’s zero. That was quickly reversed though, as Newman executed a NASCAR Thunder video-game style pass on Kyle Larson, using the No. 42 as mobile soft wall. While Larson was sent laterally into the wall, Newman cruised past. In the ends-justifies-the-means nature of this new Chase format, what Brad Keselowski was criticized for a week earlier was given little more than a shoulder shrug this time around. 

 

Also, let’s give credit where credit is due: Kevin Harvick had to win to stay eligible for a title, and — as I correctly predicted I this column one week ago — did just that. He dominated the race in a mirror effort of his February Phoenix performance, sweeping the season’s events in the desert. It was his first win in the Chase, his fourth of the year, and proof positive that the No. 4 team is the one to beat heading into Miami this Sunday. 

 

While Denny Hamlin didn’t have a very good car Sunday, falling a lap down early which led to some frantic radio transmissions from the driver, Darian Grub and the No. 11 FedEx team of Joe Gibbs Racing righted the ship (enouh) to recover with a sixth-place finish. It was important for Hamlin for a number of reasons; the least of which was to simply get into the final round, but also to exorcise the demons that have plagued him since what was looking to be a championship-clinching race at PIR in 2010 ended in frustration. Not a bad rally for a driver who missed several races last year with a broken back and had to be replaced at the last minute this year in one race with metal debris in his eye.

 

Representing the Blue Oval brigade out of the Penske shop is Joey Logano. This marks his first real shot at a title since he was moved to the Cup Series to replace Tony Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing six years ago. Many have downplayed Logano’s chances, saying you first have to lose a championship before you win one. I guess no one told that to Logan’s teammate, Keselowski, two years ago when he granted Roger Penske his first Cup Series title. Logano stands to repeat the feat in what has been consistently the fastest Ford on the track for the last year and a half. 

 

Homestead has served as the series finale since 2002, and has played host to a few nail-biters. In 2002, Stewart held off Mark Martin by just 38 points (about eight positions with today’s scoring system), while the inaugural 2004 Chase saw six drivers with a shot at it, with Kurt Busch benefiting from his own wheel flying off and bringing out a caution he desperately needed – while avoiding the end of pit wall in the process. 2011 gave us the closest finish in NASCAR history, with Carl Edwards and Stewart in a dead heat points-wise, with Smoke taking the title by winning the race on a wins tie-breaker.

 

But do wins really count this time around?

 

Newman and Keselowski would tell you they do not. The former had just one top-5 finish before the Chase and hasn’t won a race in a year and a half. The latter has the most wins this season but missed the cut due to a rear gearing failure at Martinsville. This year’s title could come down to whoever wins, an ill-timed caution, a green-white-checker restart, or a late race caution where one guy stays out and everyone else behind him pits. 

 

 

Denny Hamlin

Career at Homestead: 9 starts, 2 wins, 4 top 5s, 5 top 10s, avg. start: 29.2, avg. finish: 11.2

At first glance, this is Hamlin’s title to lose. He’s the only one of the four to have won a race in Homestead, is the defending race winner, and his average finish is really only sullied by a 33rd-place run in his seven-race 2005 rookie campaign. While this is a 1.5-mile track, it is not the typical tri-oval like Charlotte, Atlanta or Texas. It is perhaps more similar to Chicagoland, the first race of the Chase. Hamlin finished sixth there, the top Toyota. Unfortunately for him, he also finished behind Logano (fourth) and Harvick (fifth). Darian Grubb was Stewart’s crew chief in 2011 when the title was on the line and even with a piece of Busch’s bell housing tearing a hole in the nose of Stewart’s car, was able to rally for the win and claim a championship.

 

Can Grubb and Hamlin repeat that this Sunday? It’s an uphill battle for sure, but given their ability to rally the last few weeks, Hamlin could forever erase that disastrous 2010 race here from his mind.

 

 

Kevin Harvick

Career at Homestead: 13 starts, 0 wins, 5 top 5s, 11 top 10s, avg. start: 14.0, avg. finish: 8.1

Think Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers are pumped about having a 1.5-mile track to decide the championship? The team that has shown pure speed at virtually every facility this year has been the No. 4 Chevrolets of Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick has led 2,083 laps in 2014 (or 32 percent of the total laps led in his entire career). Despite the turmoil and distraction this team has found itself combating in 2014 — from the team owner nearly losing a leg the year before, to Stewart’s involvement in the tragic death of Kevin Ward in a sprint car accident this summer — the replacement for Newman at SHR is in position for his first serious championship threat in his 15 year career and first since parting ways with Richard Childress Racing. While Harvick won four races this year, it very well could have been eight – at the least. Continued pit road problems led to the swapping of pit crews with the No. 14 of Stewart prior to the Chase. Ever since, the mishaps have stopped and SHR is on the cusp of its second title in four seasons. 

 

Two of Harvick’s four wins this year came at Phoenix. The other two, Charlotte – a 1.5-mile downforce track in October, and Darlington in April. Darlington is a bit like Homestead, although oblong in shape, it has wide sweeping corners and worn pavement with banking similar to Homestead’s progressive configuration. You’ll have a hard time convincing me – or Harvick – that this race isn’t theirs for the taking. He has the best average finish among this group, and he doesn’t have to worry about laps led or winning the race; the best finish among these four wins the title. 

 

 

Joey Logano

Career at Homestead: 5 starts, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 1 top 10, avg. start: 18.0, avg. finish: 20.8

If there is one car that showed as much consistent speed as the No. 4, it’s been the No. 22 of Logano and crew chief Todd Gordon. While they may have pioneered the now-familiar flared side skirts, this bunch has been bad fast on 1.5-mile tracks this season. They won Texas in the spring on a G-W-C shootout with Gordon, and won at Kansas to guarantee their way into the Eliminator Round. They were fourth at Chicagoland and Charlotte, and were top-5 material at Texas before a blown tire sent the car spinning late in the going. With Keselowski no longer in the Chase and no Roush Fords to fend off, you can bet that Roger Penske’s and Jack Roush’s deep-seeded disdain for all things Toyota and Chevrolet will see that the collective powers of FoMoCo are brought to bear for JoLo.

 

 

Ryan Newman

Career at Homestead: 12 starts, 0 wins, 1 top 5, 4 top 10s, avg. start: 12.4, avg. finish: 17.0

No neck? No wins? No problem! 

 

When Newman confronted Jimmie Johnson in August at Michigan, Johnson’s retort was, “You had the same [earmuffs] I had, but you made a bad decision to put yourself in this position.” 

 

Define irony, as there are no Hendrick cars to contend with at Homestead, and the only one looking to win a seventh title this weekend is Richard Childress. 

 

The Rocket Man hasn’t exactly been a win machine, having not won more than one race a year the last 10 years. He may have to win this Sunday considering his competition, but that’s not to say his task is impossible. Three of his last five wins have come courtesy of a G-W-C finish, and if he’s near the front and it comes down to a two-lapper to decide the title, don’t be surprised to see the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet go full bulldozer-mode and plow through any obstacle in its path. Just ask Kyle Larson.

 

 

2014 Sprint Cup Champion:  Joey Logano

It truly is a coin-flip between Harvick and Logano to take it all.

 

I don’t buy into the hype of having to lose one to win one; it didn’t matter for Keselowski, Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte or Stewart. Different times and eras, of course, and Logano fits in nicely amongst that group. His performance this season has embodied what everyone had expected from him when he became a familiar name back in 2008. He has come to thrive within Team Penske, working with a driver of similar age and experience – and one who is no stranger to conflict with other drivers.

 

Roger Penske will win his second Cup title in three years with two different car makes, and with only two cars in the stable. This is an engineering organization if there ever was one, and after dominating the Verizon IndyCar Series this season and winning a championship with Will Power and narrowly losing the Indianapolis 500 in the second-closest finish in history, the Sprint Cup Series championship will put an exclamation mark on what has been an incredible 2014 for The Captain and his crew. 

 

 

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Teaser:
Pretenders, contenders and potential championship winners as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase concludes at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 07:50
Path: /college-basketball/athlon-sports-2014-15-ncaa-tournament-predictions
Body:

Athlon Sports would be the first to tell you to sit back and enjoy the college basketball regular season from start to finish.

 

But let’s face it: The big prize — the only prize, it seems — is the NCAA Tournament. And that’s part of the excitement of the season. Essentially every team has a chance to play in the championship event. Finish in last place in your conference? You’ve got the conference tournament to remedy a lost season.

 

For us, bracketology starts early. Here’s our first projection of the field of 68.

 

SeedSouthMidwestWestEast
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9Georgia State
10Dayton
11Rhode IslandUNLV
12Louisiana Tech

/

Northern Iowa

BYU/

George Washington

13BelmontNew Mexico StateGreen BayAkron
14NortheasternStephen F. AustinUC IrvineIona
15Stony BrookCoastal CarolinaWoffordAmerican
16

St. Francis (NY)/

Weber State

IPFW/

Ark.-Pine Bluff

NC CentralFlorida Gulf Coast

NCAA bids by conference

 

ACC (9): Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia, Syracuse, Florida State, NC State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh

American (4): SMU, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Memphis

Atlantic 10 (4): VCU, Dayton, Rhode Island, George Washington

Big 12 (5): Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma

Big East (3): Villanova, Georgetown, Xavier

Big Ten (7): Wisconsin, Michigan State, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa

Missouri Valley (2): Wichita State, Northern Iowa

Mountain West (2): San Diego State, UNLV

Pac-12 (5): Arizona, Colorado, Stanford, UCLA, Utah

SEC (4): Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, LSU

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, BYU

 

One-bid conferences

 

America East (Stony Brook), Atlantic Sun (Florida Gulf Coast), Big Sky (Weber State), Big Sky (Coastal Carolina), Big West (UC Irvine), Colonial (Northeastern), Conference USA (Louisiana Tech), Horizon (Green Bay), Ivy (Harvard), MAAC (Iona), MAC (Akron), MEAC (NC Central), Northeast (St. Francis Brooklyn), Ohio Valley (Belmont), Patriot (American), Southern (Wofford), Southland (Stephen F. Austin), Summit (IPFW), Sun Belt (Georgia State), SWAC (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), WAC (New Mexico State)

Teaser:
Athlon Sports 2014-15 NCAA Tournament Predictions
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/ranking-nbas-best-modern-big-men
Body:

Being bulky in the NBA has taken a much different look in recent years. New defensive rules and evolving basketball bodies mean that a center or power forward can no longer quite take permanent residence in the post. Simply having some extra size on the enemy isn’t going to beguile contemporary teams. Deep shooting, mobility and passing skills closer to the perimeter have all become staples in today’s frontcourt game. Big men who can boast the skill sets of guards and wingmen are an ever-increasing population.

 

This is not to say that the classic distinguishing characteristics of big men are gone from our world; they’ve just become more marginal aspects of a larger picture. Some exceptions notwithstanding, it takes a kind of new breed of men in the middle to compete at the highest level in 2014.

 

5. Al Jefferson

Behold the master of the big man past. Big Al—whose nickname is lately becoming “Professor Al”—has a brilliant, hypnotic touch on the block and a sweet touch with his mid-range shot. Even Mister No. 1 on our list can sometimes be fooled by his crafty veteran footwork:

Jefferson is the centerpiece of his Charlotte Hornets' offense, and can spread defenses beyond the block with a rangy jump shot. He consistently draws a double team almost regardless of where he catches the ball, and opens up the Hornets offensive in a way so big it's hard to measure.

 

4. Marc Gasol

It comes as no surprise that one of the poster boys of modern, versatile big men comes from abroad, where the frontier of NBA strategy has exploded past the bruising style of the 1990s. Paired with the more vintage, down-low approach of Memphis Grizzlies teammate Zach Randolph, Gasol is allowed to freelance and put his uncanny stamp on the game in myriad ways. Watch Gasol toss the ball to the perimeter with the arc of a league-leading shortshop:

There's almost too much to account for, from the defense's perspective, when a player as big and skilled as Gasol is on the floor. It doesn't hurt his resume being one of the very best defenders of the lane, either—Gasol had a remarkable 5.23 defensive real plus-minus in 2013-14, second in the league for all centers.

 

3. Joakim Noah

The spirit animal of his domineering coach Tom Thibodeau, Noah is a relentless emotional and intellectual beast who overwhelms the opposition with a critical mass of hustle plays and his vision for seemingly invisible passing lanes. Often referred to as a “point center” as he ran the Chicago Bulls’ offense from outside the lane in 2013-14, Noah is one of the most unique players in the game.

 

Joakim inspires something like culture shock every time his towering frame takes the ball down the court with an authority and fluidity nearing that of Chris Paul’s. Despite coming in at 6'11", Noah’s comfort on offense has never been as a backdown man. His savant passing, clever off-ball motion and advanced understanding of spacing make for a package that no team wants to deal with.

 

2. Dwight Howard

Along with then-coach Stan Van Gundy, Dwight Howard formed the template for contemporary rim-protection with the Orlando Magic. A spry, hulky enforcer who can chase sharper-shooting bigs to the perimeter and fall back to the basket fast enough to squash slashers, Howard’s “Superman” moniker is what results from an impressive athlete also mastering the complex tenants of a thorough defensive system.

 

There’s never been a shortage of Dwight criticism from his predecessors, however. The desk of Shaq and Charles Barkley has long been a petri dish for misunderstandings of a big boy’s role in today’s game, as both beloved figures never miss an opportunity to snipe at Howard for his shortage of aggressive, butt-first action on the block. Howard often kowtows to such rhetoric and stalls his defense trying to perform so to match the moves of yesteryear. But when he blocks out that nostalgic babble and relishes his strengths as a pick-and-roll finisher and defensive demon, D12 points the way toward the paint action of tomorrow.

 

1. Anthony Davis

Meet the future. The 21-year-old Davis is already putting his New Orleans Pelicans squad on his back for a playoff push in the spiky Western Conference, and doing it by playing basketball like no one has before him. His 6'10" frame makes most people call Davis a center, but the unibrowed phenom’s game can fit into any positional box—but his role probably shouldn’t be squeezed into any of those categories.

 

AD played a dominant point guard as high-school sensation in Chicago, and his court awareness and coordination frequently remind us how that looked. He’s a threat from any part of the floor not just because he’s bigger, faster and stronger than most of the league, but also because he’s smarter. And he’s made an unparalleled art out of the act of swatting a shot while recovering the ball—a corralling takeaway that acts as a telling symbol for just how singular Davis’ value is. Anthony is the league’s best big man now, but in a few years or less, we might be talking about him as the very top specimen in the game.

 

— John Wilmes
@johnwilmesNBA

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 15:40
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/fantasy-football-value-picks-bargains-and-sleepers-week-11
Body:

We all would like to budget wisely, and it's no different in daily or weekly fantasy football.

 

If you are playing in a salary-capped game at either FanDuel or DraftKings, here are a few value plays and bargains at the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions for Week 11 of the NFL season that should allow you to hold on to some of that money to spend on the big-name studs.

 

Only two more weeks of byes. We lose four teams this week, two the next and then you have a full slate the rest of the way. Gone from your lineups this week are players from Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, and the New York Jets.

 

VALUE PLAYS (salaries in parenthesis are that of FanDuel's and DraftKings)

 

QUARTERBACKS

1.) Derek Carr, Oakland vs. San Diego ($6600/5100)

The Chargers are the third-friendliest team to QBs over the last five weeks (four games). Carr was part of that run when he threw for 282 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception in the teams' Week 6 meeting. Carr has since thrown five touchdown passes in four games, including two apiece in the last two games. He has, however, also thrown for under 200 in three of the last four, and two interceptions in each of the last two. The Chargers have not recorded an interception since picking off Carr in Week 6, and have just four this season.

 

2.) Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota vs. Chicago ($6600/5900)

This is opportunity over talent, and let's see if the rookie can capitalize. The Bears have been blasted, historically blasted to the tune of back-to-back 50-spots against them the last two games. In those 50-pointers were 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Of course those quarterbacks were Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Bridgewater, who threw no touchdowns and three interceptions in his first three starts has bounced back with a scoring strike in each of his last three games to just two interceptions (both in Week 7). Even without the last two games for Chicago's defense, they were still surrendering the eighth-most points to QBs; they lead the pack now by more than 2 fantasy points per game.

 

3.) Matt Ryan, Atlanta vs. Carolina ($7700/6400)

The Panthers allow the fourth-most points to QBs, and have given up multiple touchdown passes in seven games. Ryan has thrown for multiple TDs in just four games this season, but did do so against the Panthers in their Week 17 meeting last season (2 TDs, 1 INT, 280 yards).

 

RUNNING BACKS

1.) Ryan Mathews, San Diego vs. Oakland ($6200/4500)

Mathews is expected to make his return to the field for the first time since suffering a knee sprain on Sept. 14. In his return he gets a Raiders team that is third friendliest to RBs over the last five weeks (five games). Five rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns, and 832 total yards from scrimmage have been surrendered to RBs against the Raiders over the last five games.

 

2.) Steven Jackson, Atlanta at Carolina ($6700/4400)

The Panthers have allowed the seventh-most points to RBs over the last five weeks (five games) and sixth most this season. Carolina has allowed eight of its 11 rushing touchdowns over the last five games, and 486 rushing yards in that span. Jackson has put together back-to-back double-digit games for the first time this season, rushing for 141 yards and two scores

 

3.) Frank Gore, San Francisco vs. New York Giants ($7000/4500)

Gore has underwhelmed this season, but is coming off of a 23-carry game last week in New Orleans. It produced 81 yards and a score for his best game since his last 20-carry effort (Week 4 vs. Philadelphia). The Giants have allowed the most yards (675) to running backs along with the third-most TDs (6) over the last five weeks (four games). 

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

1.) Andre Holmes, Oakland vs. San Diego ($6300/3700)

Holmes torched the Chargers when he caught four balls for 121 yards and two scores on eight targets from Derek Carr in the Week 6 meeting. He plays just over 60 percent of the snaps, and had been targeted an average of 5.6 times per game until a one-target dud against Denver's corners last week. It is a complete flier, but one with a recent history of success against a San Diego team that has allowed the most fantasy points to WRs over the last five weeks (four games).

 

2.) Pierre Garcon, Washington vs. Tampa Bay ($6500/4000)

No team has been more generous to WRs this season than Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have allowed 14 touchdowns and nearly 1,700 yards to the position. Garcon has been a 50-50 guy this season in PPR setups and below average in standard leagues as he is no longer the X receiver for the Redskins under Jay Gruden. You are betting on the bargain, the recent history of what the Bucs allow, and the history between Garcon and Robert Griffin III.

 

3.) Kendall Wright, Tennessee vs. Pittsburgh ($6400/4600)

Wright has 50-plus yards receiving in each of his last three games, and three touchdowns over the last five weeks. The Steelers have allowed at least 70 yards to a WR eight times this season, including two Colts going for 113-plus in Week 8. 

 

TIGHT ENDS

1.) Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota vs. Chicago ($N/A/3600)

Rudolph (groin) is expected to return this week for the first time since September. If he plays Sunday, it will be against a Chicago team that has allowed the most points to TEs per game this season. The Bears have surrendered 352 yards (third most) and seven scores to TEs. Rudolph had a TD, seven catches and 69 yards in two full healthy games to begin this season. This would be his first action since Week 3.

 

2.) Larry Donnell, New York Giants vs. San Francisco ($5200/3900)

The 49ers are allowing the seventh-most points to TEs over the last five weeks (four games), having surrendered 231 yards and three scores. Donnell has received 21 targets over the last three weeks, the most of any Giants players, turning them into 15 catches for 141 yards and a score.

 

3.) Mychal Rivera, Oakland vs. San Diego ($5800/3100)

Rivera continued his hot streak in Week 10, posting his second straight double-digit fantasy day. He has 21 catches on 28 targets for 185 yards and three scores the last three weeks.  

 

@Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Fantasy Football Value Picks, Bargains and Sleepers for Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-2014-week-12-predictions
Body:

 

Hosts Braden Gall and Steven Lassan preview a huge slate of action in the SEC, including a playoff showdown between Mississippi State and Alababam. The guys break down the marquee showdown in the Big Ten and ACC as well. We also offer up some locks of the week against the spread.


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @AthlonSteven or email . The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, , and .

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: 2014 Week 12 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 11:12
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/10-biggest-disappointments-nfl-so-far-2014
Body:

More than halfway through the NFL season, most “experts” have already thrown their preseason predictions out the window. But the predictions back then weren’t as ridiculous as they seem now. They were probably based on reasonable expectations.

 

Then teams, units or players started falling woefully short.

 

That’s just how it goes in sports. Disappointments are a big part of the games. So with only seven weeks left until the NFL playoffs start, here’s a look at the league’s biggest disappointments. They’re either disappointing teams in general, or the units, players or coaches that have caused their teams to fall short:

 

The Chicago Bears offense

They are unbelievably loaded with weapons to make Jay Cutler’s life easier. There are few receiving corps as talented as Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. Martellus Bennett developed into one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league. And whatever Matt Forte lacks as a runner, he makes up for as a dual-threat as a receiver out of the backfield. Yet the Bears are 3-6 and their offense ranks 15th in the NFL. Cutler’s numbers aren’t even terrible, but clearly the Bears should be scoring a lot more than they are.

 

The New Orleans Saints

They were a trendy pick to win the Super Bowl because they seemed to have it all, including a rejuvenated Rob Ryan defense. Then they stumbled out of the gate in part because that defense (now ranked 19th) turned out to be much worse than expected. The Saints are still in good position in the awful NFC South, but at 4-5 they are hardly the NFC power many thought they would be.

 

Redskins QB Robert Griffin III

Finally back to health and free of any Mike Shanahan-caused controversy, this was supposed to be RGIII’s breakout season. But yet another injury – a dislocated ankle – has limited him to only two full games this season. He’s back now and maybe things will get better. But he still has just one TD pass in his two starts, which is less than anyone expected given all the weapons around him.

 

Panthers QB Cam Newton

The fourth-year quarterback’s numbers took a dip last season, but he became a winner and showed signs of maturing into the franchise quarterback many expected him to be. But this year he’s become a little more erratic, his interceptions are surging, and he’s been far more sack-able behind a suspect offensive line. Maybe it has more to do with the crumbling cast around him, but Newton is taking steps backwards this year.

 

Bucs coach Lovie Smith

The confusion and controversy of the Greg Schiano era was supposed to be vanquished by the arrival of Smith, an ultra-professional coach who had plenty of success in Chicago. The Bucs were supposed to be underachievers in the past, which seemed to set up a successful quick transition. Instead, the Bucs began the season mired in a quarterback controversy and now they’re 1-8, searching for talent and an identity. It looks like it’ll take Smith a lot longer than expected to turn this mess around.

 

The Atlanta Falcons

They were the biggest disappointments in the NFL last season, plummeting from one of the best teams in the NFC to one of the worst. But they had so much talent – especially on offense – that last year could easily be excused as an anomaly. It wasn’t. The offense is a little better, but their defense is the second-worst in the NFL, leaving them at 3-6 and barely holding their heads above water in the worst division in the NFL.

 

The New York Giants defense

They spoke before the season of how they could carry a still-growing offense and even be one of the Top 5 defenses in the league. Instead, as their rebuilt secondary crumbled around them, they plummeted to rock bottom. The Giants rank dead last in the NFL in defense right now, and they earned it with a horrendous performance in Seattle on Sunday when then gave up an incredible 350 yards on the ground.

 

Bengals QB Andy Dalton

In August, Dalton signed a six-year, $115 million contract which seemed to solidify his place among the best up-and-coming quarterbacks in the game. But he has taken a nosedive, especially lately. More than halfway through the season he’s even thrown more interceptions (nine) than touchdown passes (eight). Now there are serious questions about whether the Bengals invested in the right quarterback, and whether they’ll need to find a way out of that deal in a couple of years.

 

Packers RB Eddie Lacy

When Lacy rushed for 1,178 yards as a rookie last year it seemed to be only the beginning. He was on a terrific team with the pressure off because of MVP-candidate Aaron Rodgers. His performance has been fine – especially since it can be argued he’s been underused – but fantasy owners surely are dissappointed in his 478 yards and four touchdowns through nine games. It’s not that he’s having a bad season. It’s more that expectations were much, much higher than what he’s done.

 

Lions RB Reggie Bush

The last three years Bush finally was starting to live up to his potential and looking like a former top draft pick. And this year, even at age 29, he figured to build on what he had started on a team loaded with offensive talent. Instead, with injuries slowing him down, he’s starting to show his age and no longer looking like anything other than a part-time running back. With 191 rushing yards and 169 receiving yards, he actually looks like a guy playing his way right out of the league.

 

—By Ralph Vacchiano

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 10:40
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/buffalo-bills-vs-miami-dolphins-preview-and-prediction
Body:

There's no rest for a pair of weary and discouraged AFC East teams this week, as the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins look to bounce back tonight on the NFL Network. Both the Bills (5-4) and Dolphins (5-4) suffered disappointing, largely self-inflicted Week 10 losses and now must head back into action off a short week of practice for a matchup that amounts to a playoff elimination game for the loser. This longstanding divisional rivalry has tilted in Buffalo's direction of late, as the Bills are gunning for their fourth straight win over the Dolphins 

 

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

 

Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NFL Network

Spread: Miami -5.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Fight for Survival

Two 5–4 teams in must-win mode collide at Sun Life Stadium. Both the Dolphins and the Bills are two games behind the division-leading Patriots, but more alarming is the fact that nine of the 11 AFC teams with winning records are ahead of these two teams in the playoff race. But before even contemplating the big picture, these teams must apply a laser focus to what amounts to a win-or-stay-home-for-January game. Their respective margins for error grew smaller this past Sunday with a pair of missed opportunities. The Bills blew a 13–3 lead against the Chiefs, while the Miami offense was MIA in a 20–16 loss to Detroit. "We can't change anything. It's time to get ready for Miami," said Bills safety Aaron Williams. "If we want to get back to the playoffs, this is a really important game."

 

2. Playing Takeaway

The turnover battle plays a big part in every game, but especially in a division game between evenly matched teams. Both the Bills and Dolphins are plus-5 in the turnover department, seventh in the league, and they're in a three-way tie with the Cardinals for second in the NFL with 19 takeaways apiece. But both teams lost the turnover battle in disappointing Week 10 losses. The Bills had a particularly devastating miscue against the Chiefs when Bryce Brown fumbled out of the back of the end zone on his way in for a touchdown and a 17–3 lead in a game the Bills ultimately lost 17–13. Look for the Bills to be especially careful with the football this week after having the importance of ball security drummed into their heads by coach Doug Marrone. "We had an opportunity to get to 6-3," he said. "Now we're going to have to fight our way back and come back and find a way to win our next game."

 

3. Protecting Tannehill

Buffalo leads the NFL with 34 sacks, including six in the Bills' most recent game against Kansas City. The Dolphins are playing with a patchwork offensive line, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 18 times in five starts against the Bills. Left tackle Branden Albert is lost for the season to a knee injury, and left guard Darryn Colledge is still nursing a back injury and could miss a third straight start. The ingredients are in place for a long and painful afternoon for Tannehill. It will be up to a couple of young Tennessee products — rookie Ju'Wuan James at left tackle and second-year man Dallas Thomas at right tackle — to keep Tannehill upright and open lanes for whoever's healthy enough to carry the football. "What you saw is probably what you're going to get (Thursday)," coach Joe Philbin said of the line's performance in the Dolphins' season-worst 228-yard outing against Detroit. "Those guys weren't perfect, but overall I thought they held their own.”

 

Final Analysis

 

Buffalo beat Miami 29–10 in September and are gunning for its fourth straight win in the head-to-head series, while the Dolphins are literally limping into this game off a short week with a taped-together offensive line and a lead running back (Lamar Miller) who's nursing a sore shoulder. The last time Miami played at home, the Dolphins dominated the Chargers 37–0 on Nov. 2, but suddenly, that seems like a long time ago. 

 
Prediction: Buffalo 24, Miami 17
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Welcome to the spotlight, Ohio State and Nebraska.

 

Just as Michigan State bows out of the playoff race and the national top 10, Ohio State and Nebraska takes the Spartans’ place at least in terms of being the  face of the Big Ten down the stretch.

 

Certainly, both teams have work to do to be considered legitimate playoff contenders, and both probably need help from teams in the top seven of Tuesday’s rankings.

 

Saturday will be a chance for both to continue to build their case as factors on the national scene.

 

Nebraska faces perhaps its top challenger for the Big Ten West division when it visits Wisconsin while Ohio State tries to follow its landmark win over Michigan State with a road win over a newly ranked Minnesota team.

 

The Big Ten needs Nebraska and Ohio State to reach the league title game as one-loss squads for its playoff hopes to remain alive. This will be one of the key weeks for the Cornhuskers and Buckeyes to achieve that goal.

Week 12 Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 

 

Big Ten Week 12 Game Power Rankings

All games Saturday. All times Eastern.

 

1. Nebraska at Wisconsin

3:30 p.m., ABC 

The Big Ten West won’t necessarily be won Saturday, but the winner will be the clear frontrunner. Both Nebraska and Wisconsin finish with Minnesota and Iowa. Those stakes, though, seems secondary compared to the showdown between Heisman-contending tailbacks — and friends — Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah. Combined, they’ve rushed for 2,751 yards and 36 touchdowns. Both Nebraska and Wisconsin, though, have emerging stars in the front seven. Cornhuskers defensive end Randy Gregory is one of the nation’s stop pass rushers, and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has compared his rising star defensive tackle Maliek Collins to LSU’s Glenn Dorsey. At the same time, Wisconsin outside linebacker Vince Biegel has recorded 10 tackles for a loss in the last five games.

 

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2. Ohio State at Minnesota

Noon, ABC

What should we make of Minnesota? The Gophers needed a second-half comeback to beat Purdue 39-38 at home and a week later lost 28-24 to an Illinois team down to its second-string quarterback. So, naturally, Minnesota went on to beat Iowa 51-14 with an uncharacteristically effective passing attack. Minnesota may need that kind of balance from Mitch Leidner for any shot of an upset of the Buckeyes, but the run game could help neutralize the impact of Big Ten sack leader Joey Bosa. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is an emerging star, but Minnesota has done a good job of limiting explosive pass plays. The Gophers lead the Big Ten in fewest yards per pass attempt (5.5) and fewest passing plays of 30 yards or more (four).

 

3. Michigan State at Maryland

8 p.m., Big Ten Network

Michigan State is in a rare spot compared to the last two seasons — the Spartans don’t have a clear carrot in front of them. The Spartans are coming off their first Big Ten loss since 2012 and have seen their playoff hopes evaporate with the 49-37 loss to Ohio State. Maryland is a solid team, but Oregon and Ohio State needed at least 490 total yards and 46 points to beat Michigan State this season. Maryland hasn’t hit either of those marks against an FBS team this season. Making matters worse, the Terrapins will be without receiver Stefon Diggs, who is out with a lacerated kidney.

 

4. Temple at Penn State

Noon, ESPN2

Penn State is 37-0-1 against Temple since the Owls’ last win in the series in 1941, but the margin is getting closer. The last three Penn State wins have come by an average margin of eight points. The average Penn State win from 1977-2009 was by more than four touchdowns. The book on Penn State this season remains unchanged from September — the defense plays lights out, the offensive line and run game are a mess, and quarterback Christian Hackenberg is frustrated. Get ready for another low-scoring slog for Penn State: Temple is seventh in the American in yards per play and fifth in yards allowed per play.

 

5. Iowa at Illinois

Noon, Big Ten Network

How much worse could it get for Iowa this season? The Hawkeyes have already lost to Iowa State (winless in the Big 12), Maryland and Minnesota in a rout. Just a reminder: Illinois beat Minnesota, a team that drubbed Iowa by 37 last week. Illinois returns quarterback Wes Lunt this week after the Oklahoma State transfer missed the last three games with a broke bone in his leg. Lunt has completed 66.5 percent of his passes this season with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions.

 

6. Northwestern at Notre Dame

3:30 p.m., NBC

Northwestern likes to claim it is Chicago’s Big Ten team while Notre Dame may be the most popular team in the area. Chicago may want to disown both after recent games. Northwestern is coming off its fourth consecutive loss, the latest an avert-your-eyes 10-9 effort against Michigan. Only Penn State has given up more sacks in the Big Ten than Northwestern’s 3.2 per game. Notre Dame, meanwhile, continues to be turnover-prone as quarterback Everett Golson coughed up the ball five times in a 55-31 loss to Arizona State.

 

7. Indiana at Rutgers

3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

After a run of three ranked teams — at Ohio State, at Nebraska and Wisconsin — Rutgers has a more manageable opponent this week against Indiana. And it’s an important one for the Scarlet Knights, looking to become bowl eligible in their final home game before visiting Michigan State and Maryland. Indiana’s offense has fallen apart since the season-ending injury to Nate Sudfeld. The Hoosiers have passed for 103 yards — total — in the last three games.

 

Big Ten Week 12 Staff Picks

 

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light

Temple at Penn State (-11)

Temple 13-10PSU 27-10PSU 24-17PSU 20-13

Iowa (-5 1/2) at Illinois

Ill 21-14Iowa 27-20Iowa 31-20Iowa 27-20

Ohio State (-12) at Minnesota

OSU 38-21OSU 40-20OSU 34-17OSU 41-17

Nebraska at Wisconsin (-6)

Neb 28-14Wisc 29-28Wisc 27-24Wisc 31-20

Northwestern at Notre Dame (-18)

ND 35-10ND 40-21ND 38-17ND 28-14

Indiana at Rutgers (-7 1/2)

Rut 21-7Rut 27-17Rut 30-20Rut 30-20

Michigan St (-12) at Maryland

MSU 42-14MSU 41-17MSU 34-20MSU 31-23
Last week3-22-33-23-2
This season68-2365-2568-2362-29

 

Teaser:
Big Ten 2014 Week 12 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 09:00
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The latest installment of the Game of the Year in the SEC takes place in Tuscaloosa, where Alabama hosts No. 1 Mississippi State in a crucial SEC West clash. Elsewhere, Auburn tries to get back on track against Georgia in Athens; Florida hopes to keep its offensive momentum going against South Carolina; Arkansas seeks to break its SEC losing streak against LSU; Tennessee and Kentucky meet in Knoxville; and Missouri visits Texas A&M in a battle of former Big 12 rivals.

Week 12 Previews and Predictions:
|  |   

 

SEC Week 12 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Mississippi State (+8.5) at Alabama (3:30 ET, CBS)

These neighboring schools have played 97 times since their first meeting in 1896. Never has so much been at stake. Mississippi State is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Alabama is 8–1 overall and 5–1 in the SEC. The winner will seize control of the SEC West race (though both teams still have significant challenges ahead) and be well-situated for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Alabama probably cannot afford a loss; the Tide simply don’t have enough quality wins (even with a potential win against Auburn) to make the four-team field with two defeats. So this game is obviously vital for Nick Saban’s club. Mississippi State is in better shape, but the Bulldogs have a difficult closing slate, with trips to Alabama and Ole Miss among their final three games. MSU has been outstanding on offense all season but has been mediocre (at best) defensively, allowing 548 yards to UAB, 526 to Texas A&M and 504 to Kentucky. And it will be these deficiencies on defense that will knock Mississippi State from the ranks of the unbeaten.

 

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2. Auburn (+2.5) at Georgia (7:15 ET, ESPN)

Certain weeks, Georgia looks like a top-five team in the country. Other weeks, the Bulldogs look quite average. Last Saturday was one of the good weeks. Georgia jumped out to a 21–0 lead at Kentucky and cruised to an impressive 63–31 victory. True freshman Nick Chubb was once again brilliant, rushing for 170 yards on only 13 carries — his fourth straight game with at least 140 yards. Chubb will be joined in the backfield this week by Todd Gurley, who was a Heisman Trophy favorite before being slapped with a four-game suspension. Gurley’s return will no doubt help, but it’s not like the running game was an area of weakness while he was out. Auburn must regroup after a shocking loss at home to Texas A&M. The Tigers battled from behind all game and had two opportunities to take the lead in the final minutes but fumbled twice in A&M territory. Many have assumed that loss eliminated Auburn from the Playoff picture, but the Tigers, if they win out, would have road wins at Kansas State, Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama, plus a win at home vs. LSU. That would be by far the most impressive résumé for a two-loss team. Auburn by 3

 

3. South Carolina (+6.5) at Florida (12 ET, SEC Network)

Florida’s resurgence in recent weeks has coincided with the move from Jeff Driskel to true freshman Treon Harris as the starting quarterback. Harris wasn’t asked to do much in the Gators’ 38–20 win vs. Georgia two weeks ago, but he showed his entire skill set in last week’s 34–10 victory at Vanderbilt. Harris threw for 215 yards on only 13 completions and added 49 yards rushing and two scores on the ground in Florida’s 24-point win. For the first time in several years, the Gators’ offense appears to have an identity. Offense has not been the issue at South Carolina. It’s the Gamecocks’ inability to stop the other team that has led to their current four-game SEC losing streak. In the last two games, they have given up a total of 1,196 total yards, including a staggering 739 on the ground. Not good with the one-two punch of Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor on the horizon.

 

4. LSU (+2) at Arkansas (8 ET, ESPN 2)

Let’s get this straight: Arkansas, a team that has lost 17 straight SEC games, is favored over LSU, which has won three of its last four league games — with the only lose coming in overtime to Alabama? Do the boys in Vegas believe the Razorbacks are ready to break through, or is this just a lack of faith in a young LSU team that is playing a true road game for only the third time this season? It’s probably a little bit of both. Arkansas has played very well at times this season and could easily have a win or two in the league. And LSU, despite its recent run of success, is still shaky on the offensive side of the ball. Last week, sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings completed only 8-of-26 passes for 76 yards in the loss to Alabama, and he has not completed more than 10 passes in a game since the Tigers’ 36–29 loss vs. Mississippi State in September.

 

5. Kentucky (+8.5) at Tennessee (4 ET, SEC Network)

The stakes are high for these two programs, both with second-year head coaches and both desperate to reach bowl-eligibility for the first time since 2010. Tennessee, with a softer closing schedule, is in better shape despite having one fewer win than Kentucky. The Vols are rejuvenated after rallying to beat South Carolina in overtime two weeks ago, though coach Butch Jones spent the bye week advising everyone to pump the breaks on the Joshua Dobbs hype. The sophomore quarterback was brilliant at South Carolina but still lacks — according to his coach — the consistency needed to play the position at a high level. Dobbs will have to play well for his team to pick up win No. 5 on Saturday.

 

6. Missouri (+5.5) at Texas A&M (7:30 ET, SEC Network)

This is quite telling: The SEC East leader (Missouri) is a 5.5-point favorite over a team tied for fifth in the West (Texas A&M). And it’s not surprising. Missouri is 4–1 in the league despite averaging no more than 4.1 yards per offensive play in four of its five league games. The Tigers have gotten it done with a high-level pass rush, by forcing turnovers and by making clutch plays on offense down the stretch. Texas A&M got its swagger back last week with a stunning win at Auburn. With Mizzou and LSU both visiting Kyle Field down the stretch, a nine-win regular season is suddenly within reach.  

 

Week 12 SEC Predictions

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
S. Carolina at FloridaUSC 24-21UF 24-21UF 27-24UF 34-25
Miss State at AlabamaUA 31-21UA 30-20UA 27-20UA 20-17
Kentucky at TennesseeUT 28-14UT 38-31UT 31-24UT 24-20
Auburn at GeorgiaAU 35-31UGa 38-35UGa 34-31AU 30-24
Missouri at Texas A&MA&M 30-21A&M 40-31A&M 31-27A&M 31-20
LSU at ArkansasLSU 21-17LSU 23-20UA 24-20UA 20-13
Last Week5-15-15-15-1
Season69-1971-1770-1873-15

 

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There is no way the Big 12's Week 12 slate will be able to match last weekend’s drama. TCU made a national statement, Baylor did something it’s never done in school history, Texas continued to right the ship and Kansas, well, acted all Kansas after beating Iowa State.

 

Yes, Texas’ visit to Stillwater should be plenty entertaining. But that’s about it in the Big 12 this weekend.

Week 12 Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 


Big 12 Week 12 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Texas (-2.5) at Oklahoma St
7:30 p.m., FOX

Crowd-surfing Charlie Strong was literally riding high after an upset over West Virginia got the Longhorns back to even on the year. Texas is doing it the way Strong supporters have envisioned: Run the football on offense and play stifling defense. The Horns ran for 241 yards against Texas Tech and 227 against the Mountaineers while holding both high-powered passing attacks in check. While the Horns come to Stillwater riding their first two-game winning steak of the year, the Cowboys are looking to snap a three-game losing streak. Is two weeks of preparation enough to fix a team that has lost three straight by an average of 30 points per game? With road trips to Baylor and Oklahoma left, the Pokes are staring at a six-game losing streak to end the year if they can’t upset the Horns.

 

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2. Oklahoma (-17) at Texas Tech
3:30 p.m., ESPN

For the first time in his career, Bob Stoops is starting to take some heat in Norman. While that might be completely irrational, the facts are Oklahoma has slipped over the last half-decade. Stoops is facing a four-loss season for the first time since 2005 and has been outplayed in convincing fashion in two lopsided losses to Baylor. The Sooners have a manageable final few weeks but have to win their final road game against a team that has had two weeks to prepare. If Oklahoma can take care of business against an overmatched Red Raiders squad in Lubbock, the Sooners will likely finish 9-3 and would still be very attractive to bowl executives. This season can only be described as disappointing, and it could get worse with Stoops one bad upset away from his worst campaign in a decade.

 

3. TCU (-28) at Kansas
3 p.m., FS1

Gary Patterson clearly understands the art of politicking (see postgame comments about Sterling Shepard) and that could make for a rough weekend for Kansas. TCU is ahead of Baylor in the playoff rankings, but with a head-to-head loss on its resume, how long will that last? Trevone Boykin was brilliant on the ground and the Horned Frogs' defense was stellar against Kansas State so will the Jayhawks even be competitive? Don't expect Patterson to call off the dogs, not when his team is in desperate need of style points over the final few weeks of the season.

 

Big 12 Predictions:
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Texas (-2.5) at OSUTexas, 30-24Texas, 17-14Texas, 21-13Texas, 27-17
Okla. (-17) at T. TechOkla., 44-21Okla., 41-20Okla., 38-17Okla., 45-20
TCU (-28) at KansasTCU, 49-10TCU, 44-17TCU, 41-7TCU, 45-10
Last Week:1-33-11-31-3
YTD:52-951-1054-753-8

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2014 Week 12 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 09:00
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Survive and advance would be the theme of a rather uninspiring weekend of action on tap in the Pac-12.

 

The Ducks are at home resting for their final two tests of the regular season with the North Division all but wrapped up. But in the South, the name of the game in Week 12 is don’t slip up. USC, Arizona and Arizona State all still have a shot at the Pac-12 title game and all three are double-digit favorites this weekend.

Week 12 Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 


Pac-12 Week 12 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Washington (+9) at Arizona
3:30 p.m., FOX

The Wildcats still control their own destiny with a home date versus Arizona State looming in the season finale. So holding serve at home against a team it should beat is obviously critical. Anu Solomon got back on track last weekend with a huge game against Colorado but he will face a much more physical and disruptive front seven this week. Washington is second in the league in sacks and tackles for a loss but struggled to stop Brett Hundley last weekend. The Huskies will have to win on defense because Chris Petersen’s offense isn’t capable of keeping pace with Rich Rodriguez' if this turns into a shootout.

 

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2. Arizona St (-10) at Oregon St
10:45 p.m., ESPN

Despite dominating the overall history of the series (26-13-1), Arizona State has struggled mightily with the Beavers recently. The Sun Devils have lost four of the last six overall and three straight in Corvallis. That said, Oregon State has lost six straight home Pac-12 games. Something has to give. Sean Mannion has gotten back on track in the last two games, throwing for 739 yards in losses to Washington and Cal. The same could be said for Taylor Kelly, who had his best game since returning from injury in the win over Notre Dame. As long as Todd Graham’s rebuilt defense stays aggressive and can attack a Beavers offensive line that ranks last in the league in sacks allowed (3.11 per game), Arizona State should return home unscathed.

 

3. Cal (+14.5) at USC
Thur., 9 p.m., ESPN

When Cal has the ball, this will be a battle of strength on strength as the Bears rank No. 2 in the league at 41.9 points per game and USC ranks No. 2 at 22.6 points per game allowed. When USC has the ball, this will be a battle of strength on weakness. USC, led by the sterling play of Cody Kessler, is scoring 34.9 points per game while Sonny Dykes' defense ranks dead last in the league at 39.9 points allowed per game. At home with a division crown still very much within reach, USC’s defense should be the difference. Cal’s only shot at the two-touchdown road upset is Jared Goff, the Bears' incredibly impressive second-year starting quarterback.  While the Trojans defense leads the Pac-12 with 11 interceptions and has been stingy on the scoreboard, it hasn’t pressured opposing QBs and has allowed plenty of yards through the air. Goff must be brilliant if Cal wants to pull the upset and get to bowl eligibility.

 

4. Utah (+7) at Stanford
6 p.m., P12 Net

Two of the best defenses and two of the most painful offenses to watch will do battle in Palo Alto this weekend. Stanford (4.11 ypp) and Utah (5.09) hold opponents to the lowest yards per play in the Pac-12 and both offenses rank 75th or worse nationally in yards per game. Utah, despite taking major strides forward this season, has lost close games and probably feels like it should be in the Pac-12 South mix rather than staring at three straight losses. Stanford can’t seem to build any momentum, alternating wins and losses in six straight games. Whichever struggling quarterback can protect the football against a nasty pass rush will give his team the best chance to win. Home field advantage and the revenge factor gives Stanford an edge entering this weekend.

 

Pac-12 Predictions:
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Wash (+9) at ZonaZona, 34-28Zona, 40-30Zona, 34-23Zona, 31-27
ASU (-10) at OSUASU, 38-27ASU, 44-20ASU, 28-17ASU, 38-20
Cal (+14.5) at USC USC, 40-20USC, 34-30USC, 28-20USC, 41-30
Utah (+7) at StanfordStan., 21-17Stan., 20-17Utah, 14-10 Stan., 24-20
Last Week:3-23-24-13-2
YTD:54-2059-1559-1555-19

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Week 12 Preview and Predictions
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Rivalry week is usually reserved for the last full Saturday of action in November, but three intriguing rivalry matchups in the ACC headline a slate with national and conference title implications.

Florida State travels to Miami, and with a win over the Hurricanes, the Seminoles would clinch a spot in the ACC Championship. And of course, there are bigger goals for Florida State ahead, as coach Jimbo Fisher’s team hopes to climb higher than No. 3 in the playoff committee rankings.

Clemson-Georgia Tech has potential Orange Bowl implications, while NC State hosts Wake Forest in a key game for bowl eligibility for the Wolfpack.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Pittsburgh travels to North Carolina and Duke hosts Virginia Tech.

 

Week 12 Previews and Predictions:

 

ACC Week 12 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Florida State (-2) at Miami
8 p.m. ET, ABC


With Florida State riding a 25-game winning streak, combined with Miami’s improvement in 2014, there’s some spark returning in this rivalry. This game is always huge in terms of recruiting, but this rivalry has lost a little of its luster in recent years, largely due to Miami’s decline on the gridiron. The Seminoles have won four in a row over the Hurricanes and seven out of the last nine in this series. Coach Jimbo Fisher is undefeated against Miami, and Florida State has won the last two meetings by at least 13 points. This year’s matchup should be closer, as the Seminoles aren’t as dominant as they were in 2013, and the Hurricanes have improved in coach Al Golden’s fourth year. Florida State’s biggest problem in 2014 has been the play of its offensive and defensive lines. And stopping the run is a huge concern for the Seminoles on Saturday night, as Miami running back Duke Johnson is averaging 168.6 rushing yards over his last five games. Florida State is giving up 135.7 yards per game on the ground, but Johnson will be the best running back this team has played. In addition to Johnson’s performance, two other areas are worth noting in Miami’s improvement. Freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya leads the ACC in rating (157.64), and the defense is allowing only 4.3 yards per play in conference games. Miami is certainly improved on defense, but the Hurricanes have not played an offense of Florida State’s potential. The Seminoles average 39.3 points per game in conference action, and quarterback Jameis Winston should be able to attack a secondary that has allowed back-to-back games of at least 60 percent completion percentage. There’s no doubt Miami has improved. But will the Hurricanes’ recent play against weaker Coastal teams translate against one of the best squads in the nation? Or will Florida State resume its dominance in the series?

 

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2. Clemson (-3) at Georgia Tech
Noon ET, ESPN

 

This matchup may not seem like a huge game in terms of national importance, but assuming Florida State reaches the college football playoff, Clemson or Georgia Tech could play in the Orange Bowl against a team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. With major bowl implications and a rivalry aspect between these two teams, there’s plenty on the line in Atlanta this Saturday. Clemson is expected to get true freshman Deshaun Watson back at quarterback, and the offense has received a boost from running back Wayne Gallman (back-to-back 100-yard efforts) over the last two games. The Yellow Jackets are allowing 6.4 yards per play but have helped their defensive woes by forcing 21 turnovers. While Georgia Tech’s defense will have its hands full against Watson and a potent offense, the Yellow Jackets create plenty of challenges for Clemson’s defense. The Tigers are first in the nation in third-down defense, while Georgia Tech is converting 59.3 percent of its third-down opportunities (best in the nation on offense). Clemson allows just 69 yards on the ground in ACC contests, but that number should be challenged by the Yellow Jackets’ option attack, which is averaging 335.6 yards per game. Quarterback Justin Thomas is the offensive catalyst for coach Paul Johnson, but Synjyn Days has three 100-yard efforts, and Zach Laskey (595 yards) and Charles Perkins (10.9 ypc) are expected to return from injury this week. Clemson has won three out of the last four meetings in this series but lost its last trip to Atlanta (31-17 in 2011).
 

3. Pittsburgh at North Carolina (-2)
12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network/ESPN3

 

With Pittsburgh and North Carolina each sporting a 4-5 record, Saturday’s meeting is critical to bowl eligibility. The Panthers have lost five out of their last six games, while the Tar Heels won two in a row before a 47-20 defeat at Miami. Scoring points shouldn’t be an issue for both teams. Pittsburgh and North Carolina each average 29 points per game in ACC contests, and both squads allow six yards per play in conference matchups. The Tar Heels should expect a heavy dose of Pittsburgh running back James Conner. The sophomore averages 149.1 yards per game, and North Carolina is allowing 218.6 rushing yards in ACC contests. The Panthers have been vulnerable to a few big plays in the secondary (eight plays allowed of 40 yards or more), and the Tar Heels average 291.9 yards per game through the air. Quarterback Marquise Williams is tied for third in the conference with 17 touchdown passes. Tempo and pace of play will be critical in this matchup. North Carolina wants to go fast, while Pittsburgh wants to turn to its ground attack and control the time of possession.
 

4. Virginia Tech at Duke (-5.5)
Noon ET, ESPNU


How’s this for a role reversal? Duke is fighting to win the Coastal Division, while Virginia Tech needs to win two out of its last three to earn bowl eligibility. Most years, that narrative is usually flipped, but the Blue Devils won the Coastal last year and are in great shape to repeat in 2014. Last year’s meeting was a low-scoring 13-10 affair, with Duke winning without a third-down conversion (0-11) and four lost turnovers. Two key components of the Blue Devils’ 8-1 record is only six lost turnovers and a balanced attack on offense. On the other sideline, Virginia Tech has lost 18 turnovers, and its offense is recording just 4.8 yards per play in ACC contests. Defensively, the Hokies have allowed 23 plays of 30 yards or more but are still active around the line of scrimmage (31 sacks). Stopping the run has been a challenge for Duke (203.4 ypg), and Virginia Tech should benefit from a healthy Marshawn Williams at running back. The Hokies need a big game from Williams, while getting a flawless effort from quarterback Michael Brewer. An individual matchup to watch is standout Virginia Tech cornerback against Duke receiver Jamison Crowder. Fuller is one of the ACC’s top defensive backs, while Crowder is a dangerous all-purpose threat and has at least eight receptions in each of his last three games. Only one game during Duke’s four-game winning streak was decided by more than seven points. If Virginia Tech can limit its mistakes and establish the run, coach Frank Beamer’s team should have a shot at the upset.
 

5. Wake Forest at NC State (-15)
3 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3


The home team has won the last seven meetings in this series and only one of the last four matchups was decided by seven points or less. The history seems to fit appropriately with the spread and the overall landscape of both teams. Wake Forest could be headed for a winless season in ACC play, while NC State needs one more win to get bowl eligible. The Demon Deacons continue to struggle on offense, but the defense has held its own in conference play. Freshman quarterback John Wolford has showed promise for first-year coach Dave Clawson and threw for two touchdowns in the 34-20 loss to Clemson. Wolford needs more help from a rushing attack that is recording less than one yard (0.7) per carry in ACC games. NC State’s offense scored 40 or more points in four of its first five games but has not recorded more than 24 in each of its last five games. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett had his first multi-interception game this season (two) in last week’s loss to Georgia Tech. If Brissett takes care of the ball, NC State should have too much firepower for a Wake Forest team that is good on defense, but struggling to find production on offense.
 

ACC Week 12 Predictions

 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
FSU (-2) at MiamiFSU 35-21FSU 31-30FSU 34-27FSU 30-23
Clemson (-3) at GTGT 35-24Clemson 27-24Clemson 30-27GT 27-23
Pitt at UNC (-2)UNC 38-31UNC 40-38Pitt 38-34Pitt 34-33
VT at Duke (-5.5)Duke 28-14Duke 38-21Duke 27-20Duke 24-20
Wake at NC State (-15)NC State 28-7NC State 38-21NC State 30-17NC State 24-14
Last Week:4-14-15-04-1
Season Record:69-2270-2173-1868-23

 

Teaser:
ACC 2014 Week 12 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/15-college-basketball-mid-majors-watch-2014-15
Body:

It’s November and that means the college hoops season is knocking on the door. Next thing you know we will be engulfed in January conference play. Come March, we will all be filling out our brackets, looking for the perfect 12-5 upset, seeking out the the dark horses and searching for Cinderella.

 

Relax.

 

We’ve got the top 10 mid-majors to keep an eye on throughout the college hoops season and heading into March Madness.

 

A bit of a disclaimer: The lines between mid-major and high-major programs are always blurred. Though teams like Wichita State, Gonzaga and VCU may may in the so-called mid-major conferences, we consider those perennial NCAA contenders and top 25 teams to be high-major programs.

 

Akron

After three NCAA trips in six seasons, the Zips are to a spot where 21 wins qualifies as a down season. Akron won 20 games for the ninth consecutive season but failed to reach the MAC title game for the first time since 2007. All-MAC power forward Demetrius “Tree” Treadwell returns, but the Zips will need to find scoring punch to complement him.

 

Belmont

Longtime coach Rick Byrd is a basketball institution at Belmont. Byrd loves to use his backcourt’s depth, ball handling and shooting ability to leave opposing team’s defenses baffled. Guards Craig Bradshaw, Reece Chamberlain, and Caleb Chowbay have big shoes to fill as they have to replace last year’s OVC Player of the Year J.J. Mann.

 

Dayton

A No. 11 seed, the Flyers were one of the last at-large teams in the field but made it count with upsets of Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford on the way to the Elite Eight. Coach Archie Miller is already a hot contender for other programs even if he has his work cut out for him this season. Two starting forwards are out of eligibility, and his starting point guard transferred. Leading scorer Jordan Sibert is back, and sophomore Scoochie Smith should step up at the point.

 

George Washington

Even without leading scorer Maurice Creek and forward Isaiah Armwood, George Washington has three players who averaged in double figures a year ago, plus starting point guard Joe McDonald. If Kethan Savage and Patricio Garino stay healthy, the Colonials could have a second consecutive NCAA Tournament team.

 

Georgia State

It’s hard to say a team that went 17-1 in conference play has unfinished business,  but Georgia State has unfinished business. After winning the Sun Belt regular season title by five games, GSU was one point shy of a bid to the Big Dance last season when the Panthers lost to third-seeded UL Lafayette 82-81 in the conference tournament final. Reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year R.J. Hunter and all-conference first-teamer Ryan Harrow, a Kentucky import, highlight a GSU team bound for spot in the field.

 

Green Bay

Returning conference player of the year Keifer Sykes and the rest of the Phoenix have their sights set on much more than a Horizon League title. Guard play is what wins in March, and Sykes can be that guard that turns heads at the Dance. Green Bay also returns four starters from last year’s team that went 24-7. The one departure is a big one in 7-1 center Alec Brown.

 

Harvard

After NCAA wins in each of the last two seasons, coach Tommy Amaker is looking to keep the Crimson’s March hot streak rolling. In three consecutive NCAA appearances, Harvard has been known for its backcourt and deadly perimeter shooting. This season, Amaker has plenty of frontcourt depth, easing the burden on returning guards Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers. The Crimson are again the clear favorite in the Ivy. 

 

IPFW

First-year coach Jon Coffman is looking to build upon last season’s 25-win breakout. The Mastodons will lean heavily on 6-foot-9 forward Steve Forbes and Gardner-Webb transfer Max Landis will be critical to shoring up the backcourt. While IPFW might not be the belle of the ball come late March, the Mastodons are more than capable of winning the Summit League.

 

Louisiana Tech

The Bulldogs are early Conference USA favorites because they not only return four starters from last year’s squad that won 29 games, but coach Michael White turned down a chance to go to Tennessee to return to Ruston. Bulldogs fans should savor this season because White is going to be one popular fella to bigger schools come March. 

 

Northern Iowa

Keeping up with Wichita State will be tough, but the Panthers could make the Missouri Valley a two-bid league again. The Valley has been a one-bid league five times in the last seven seasons. Ben Jacobson’s team returns five seniors and loses one role player from a team that went 10-8 in the Valley a year ago. This is Northern Iowa’s best squad since the 2010 Sweet 16.

 

Rhode Island

The Rams haven’t won more than five Atlantic 10 games since 2011 but the rebuilding project is in full swing under Dan Hurley. The roster was full of transfers and freshmen a year ago. Now, Rhody is hopeful that group will come together around rising A-10 star E.C. Matthews.

 

Stephen F. Austin

The Lumberjacks might be the Southland Conference team to beat for the next decade if head coach Brad Underwood isn’t scooped up by a higher profile program. The 32-win team of 2013-14 will be hard to top, but SFA returns plenty of talent, including the conference player of the year, Jacob Parker, Thomas Wallup and point guard Trey Pickney.

 

Toledo

Thirty-five years is a long time to wait for anything, especially an NCAA Tournament berth. But this is the year the Rockets can reverse their self-inflicted curse. Toledo has the senior leadership in point guard Julius Brown, Justin Drummond and J.D. Weatherspoon that could lead this team to their first Tournament since 1980. If Toledo can improve on the defensive end, the rest of the MAC better look out, the Rockets are for real. Fifth-year coach Kowalczyk built the Rockets from 4-28 in his first season to 27-7 season and the best record in the MAC by his fourth.

 

UTEP

UTEP will battle Louisiana Tech for the crown of Conference USA and for possibly a bid to the Tournament. With the help of sophomore forward Vincent Hunter and senior swingman Julian Washburn, the Miners have a legitimate chance of upsetting the early favorite Bulldogs or at least making at the case that Conference USA is a two-bid league. 

 

Wofford

The Terriers have to be the early SoCon favorites going into 2014-15. Coach Mike Young returns essentially the entirety of last year’s 20-win squad including first team all-conference and SoCon tournament MVP Karl Cochran and third team all-conference player Lee Skinner. Two of Young’s best guards, Spencer Collins and Eric Garcia, were just freshmen last year. Look for that backcourt duo to leave their mark on the conference as sophomores.

 

-By Jacob Rose

Teaser:
15 College Basketball Mid-Majors to Watch in 2014-15
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-11
Body:

Aaron Rodgers needed just one half to put up the most fantasy points last week, so it’s only fitting that he lead off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 11. Rodgers tossed six touchdown passes against a helpless (and some might say hapless) Chicago defense in the first half, and now has his sights set on keeping pace with Philadelphia’s up-tempo offense. This will be Mark Sanchez’ first road game as the Eagles’ starter, but given how he fared Monday night and the potential for a shootout against the Packers, we have him ranked as a borderline QB1. However, the QB pairing everyone will be watching is Tom Brady vs. Andrew Luck. Brady has been red hot, tossing 18 touchdowns and just one interception over his past five games, while Luck continues to lead his peers in scoring. It should make for an entertaining Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, New York Jets

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Aaron RodgersGBvs. PHI
2Peyton ManningDENat STL
3Andrew LuckINDvs. NE
4Tom BradyNEat IND
5Drew BreesNOvs. CIN
6Philip RiversSDvs. OAK
7Ben RoethlisbergerPITat TEN (Mon.)
8Colin KaepernickSFat NYG
9Matthew StaffordDETat ARI
10Robert Griffin IIIWASvs. TB
11Russell WilsonSEAat KC
12Jay CutlerCHIvs. MIN
13Mark SanchezPHIat GB
14Matt RyanATLat CAR
15Cam NewtonCARvs. ATL
16Josh McCownTBat WAS
17Eli ManningNYGvs. SF
18Ryan TannehillMIAvs. BUF (Thurs.)
19Andy DaltonCINat NO
20Teddy BridgewaterMINat CHI
21Derek CarrOAKat SD
22Alex SmithKCvs. SEA
23Kyle OrtonBUFat MIA (Thurs.)
24Brian HoyerCLEvs. HOU
25Shaun HillSTLvs. DEN
26Drew StantonARIvs. DET

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-11
Body:

Calvin Johnson may not be No. 1 on Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 11, but he’s not that far off either. After missing three games with an ankle injury, Megatron was back to his old tricks last week, hauling in seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown in Detroit’s win over Miami. This Sunday presents an interesting matchup against Arizona’s athletic and physical secondary, but there’s a reason Johnson was a consensus first-round pick in fantasy drafts. Elsewhere, Demaryius Thomas should have the advantage against a decimated St. Louis secondary while Jordy Nelson will try to follow up his 152-yard, two-touchdown performance last week against Chicago when his Packers host the Eagles. Antonio Brown, who continues to lead the NFL in catches (79) and yards (1,070), will look to bounce back on Monday night against Tennessee after delivering a rare dud (8 rec., 74 yds., 2 lost fumbles) in last week’s loss to the Jets.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, New York Jets

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Demaryius ThomasDENat STL
2Jordy NelsonGBvs. PHI
3Antonio BrownPITat TEN (Mon.)
4Calvin JohnsonDETat ARI
5Jeremy MaclinPHIat GB
6Julio JonesATLat CAR
7Emmanuel SandersDENat STL
8Randall CobbGBvs. PHI
9T.Y. HiltonINDvs. NE
10A.J. GreenCINat NO
11Brandon MarshallCHIvs. MIN
12Alshon JefferyCHIvs. MIN
13Kelvin BenjaminCARvs. ATL
14Odell Beckham Jr.NYGvs. SF
15Mike WallaceMIAvs. BUF (Thurs.)
16Golden TateDETat ARI
17Mike EvansTBat WAS
18Roddy WhiteATLat CAR
19DeSean JacksonWASvs. TB
20Sammy WatkinsBUFat MIA (Thurs.)
21Vincent JacksonTBat WAS
22DeAndre HopkinsHOUat CLE
23Julian EdelmanNEat IND
24Martavis BryantPITat TEN (Mon.)
25Brandin CooksNOvs. CIN
26Keenan AllenSDvs. OAK
27Andre JohnsonHOUat CLE
28Anquan BoldinSFat NYG
29Larry FitzgeraldARIvs. DET
30Pierre GarconWASvs. TB
31Mohamed SanuCINat NO
32Reggie WayneINDvs. NE
33Michael CrabtreeSFat NYG
34Jordan MatthewsPHIat GB
35Brandon LaFellNEat IND
36Marques ColstonNOvs. CIN
37Doug BaldwinSEAat KC
38Cordarrelle PattersonMINat CHI
39Malcom FloydSDvs. OAK
40Kendall WrightTENvs. PIT (Mon.)
41Dwayne BoweKCvs. SEA
42Rueben RandleNYGvs. SF
43Michael FloydARIvs. DET
44James JonesOAKat SD
45Greg JenningsMINat CHI
46John BrownARIvs. DET
47Andre HolmesOAKat SD
48Jarvis LandryMIAvs. BUF (Thurs.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-11
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With both big bye weeks a distant memory, the upper tier of Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 11 looks a lot like many expected it would entering this season. An argument could be made when it comes to the first two spots, but no TE has been hotter than Rob Gronkowski. Even though he was on bye last week, none of his peers can match the 23 catches or 322 yards he has piled up over the past four weeks. And the only one who has as many touchdowns as Gronk (4) during this span is none other than Jimmy Graham, who has been a beast the past two games. Both should fare well this Sunday against Indianapolis and Cincinnati, respectively, and that’s not to take anything away from Julius Thomas, who leads the NFL in touchdown catches (12). Let’s face it, you can’t go wrong with any of these three (or Antonio Gates or Greg Olsen for that matter), that is unless you’re facing one of them.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, New York Jets

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Rob GronkowskiNEat IND
2Jimmy GrahamNOvs. CIN
3Julius ThomasDENat STL
4Antonio GatesSDvs. OAK
5Greg OlsenCARvs. ATL
6Dwayne AllenINDvs. NE
7Martellus BennettCHIvs. MIN
8Travis KelceKCvs. SEA
9Larry DonnellNYGvs. SF
10Jordan ReedWASvs. TB
11Jared CookSTLvs. DEN
12Charles ClayMIAvs. BUF (Thurs.)
13Mychal RiveraOAKat SD
14Vernon DavisSFat NYG
15Heath MillerPITat TEN (Mon.)
16Zach ErtzPHIat GB
17Kyle RudolphMINat CHI
18Austin Seferian-JenkinsTBat WAS
19Jordan CameronCLE 
20Coby FleenerINDvs. NE
21Scott ChandlerBUFat MIA (Thurs.)
22Jermaine GreshamCINat NO
23Tim WrightNEat IND
24John CarlsonARIvs. DET

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-11
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Jacksonville doesn’t play this week, so for once the Jaguars don’t factor into Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 11. Instead, our top billing goes to Miami, the DST that has scored the most fantasy points (76, Athlon scoring) over the last four weeks. The Dolphins’ defense has been especially tough at home, as evidenced by a 37-0 whitewashing of San Diego two weeks ago, and should have the upper hand at Sun Life Stadium Thursday night against the Bills. On Sunday, Arizona hosts Detroit in a matchup featuring two of this season’s top-scoring fantasy DSTs. We like both as starting options, but ranked the Lions a little higher because backup Drew Stanton will be at quarterback for the Cardinals in place of an injured Carson Palmer (torn ACL).

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, New York Jets

 

RankPlayerOpp
1Miami Dolphinsvs. BUF (Thurs.)
2Denver Broncosat STL
3Detroit Lionsat ARI
4Buffalo Billsat MIA (Thurs.)
5Arizona Cardinalsvs. DET
6Seattle Seahawksat KC
7Kansas City Chiefsvs. SEA
8Pittsburgh Steelersat TEN (Mon.)
9San Francisco 49ersat NYG
10Houston Texansat CLE
11Cleveland Brownsvs. HOU
12New Orleans Saintsvs. CIN
13Green Bay Packersvs. PHI
14New England Patriotsat IND
15San Diego Chargersvs. OAK
16Philadelphia Eaglesat GB

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-11
Body:

When it comes to Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 11, look no further than the Sunday night matchup. The Colts play host to the Patriots in prime time and Andrew Luck vs. Tom Brady won’t be the only fantasy positional pairing to keep an eye on. Stephen Gostkowski and Adam Vinatieri are currently first and second in fantasy points among kickers, with the former maintaining a 13-point lead. Gostkowski is No. 1 in both field goal makes (24) and attempts (25), while Vinatieri has yet to miss (20-of 20 on FGs, 32-of-32 on PATs). A 19-year veteran, the always-reliable Vinatieri is a perfect 7-for-7 on field goal attempts longer than his age (41).

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, New York Jets

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Stephen GostkowskiNEat IND
2Adam VinatieriINDvs. NE
3Cody ParkeyPHIat GB
4Mason CrosbyGBvs. PHI
5Steven HauschkaSEAat KC
6Chandler CatanzaroARIvs. DET
7Phil DawsonSFat NYG
8Caleb SturgisMIAvs. BUF (Thurs.)
9Cairo SantosKCvs. SEA
10Shaun SuishamPITat TEN (Mon.)
11Brandon McManusDENat STL
12Shayne GrahamNOvs. CIN
13Nick NovakSDvs. OAK
14Kai ForbathWASvs. TB
15Dan CarpenterBUFat MIA (Thurs.)
16Blair WalshMINat CHI

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/season-over-49ers-lb-patrick-willis
Body:

Santa Clara, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The San Francisco 49ers placed linebacker Patrick Willis on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday.

 

The seven-time Pro Bowler will undergo surgery on his strained left big toe, according to multiple reports.

 

Willis injured the toe in a win at St. Louis on Oct. 13 and had missed the 49ers' last three games. He registered 49 tackles and one interception in six games this season.

 

The 49ers signed running back Alfonso Smith to fill the spot on the active roster.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 11:38
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/cardinals-place-qb-carson-palmer-ir
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Tempe, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - The Arizona Cardinals placed quarterback Carson Palmer on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday.

 

The move comes one day after Cards coach Bruce Arians confirmed Palmer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee when he was sacked by Rams safety Mark Barron early in the fourth quarter of Arizona's 31-14 win over St. Louis on Sunday.

 

Drew Stanton threw a late touchdown pass in relief of Palmer, helping the Cardinals improve to 8-1 and remain perfect in five home games this season. Stanton will be under center for the Cardinals the rest of the year.

 

Palmer, who missed three games earlier this season with a shoulder injury, had reconstructive surgery on the same knee in 2006 as a member of the Bengals. Both of his ACL tears came just days after signing lucrative contract extensions.

 

On Dec. 29, 2005, Palmer agreed to a six-year extension with Cincinnati. Ten days later, the Bengals met Pittsburgh in the first round of the AFC playoffs and Palmer lasted just one play, injuring his knee on a 66-yard pass to rookie Chris Henry.

 

Palmer signed a three-year, $50 million contract extension with Arizona last Friday.

 

Arizona signed quarterback Ryan Lindley off the San Diego Chargers' practice squad to fill the spot on the active roster.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 11:35
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/chicago-bears-cut-ties-santonio-holmes
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Lake Forest, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bears released Santonio Holmes on Tuesday to end the former Super Bowl MVP's unproductive nine-game stint with the team.

 

Holmes signed a one-year contract with the Bears in August to presumably serve as the club's No. 3 receiver, but managed just eight catches for 67 yards over nine games.

 

The nine-year veteran became expendable with fellow wideout Marquess Wilson ready to be activated from injured reserve/designated to return.

 

Holmes' numbers have declined since he posted career bests of 79 catches and 1,248 yards with Pittsburgh in 2009. He had only 23 receptions totaling 456 yards with one touchdown in 11 games last season with the New York Jets, who released the 30-year-old in March.

 

The 2006 first-round pick helped the Steelers to a dramatic victory in Super Bowl XLIII to conclude the 2008 season, compiling nine catches for 131 and scoring the game-winning touchdown in the final minute of Pittsburgh's 27-23 triumph over the Arizona Cardinals.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-coaches-rise-2014
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Coaching is a hot topic in any sport, but college football seems to bring out the most discussion when it comes to hot seat chatter and finding the next wave of rising stars. With job vacancies and hot seat rumblings only going to increase over the next month, it’s time to take a look at some of the rising stars in the coaching ranks for 2014.

Memphis’ Justin Fuente inherited a mess from former coach Larry Porter but engineered a quick turnaround in just three years with the Tigers. Fuente has Memphis in contention for the American Athletic Conference title this season and will be a name to remember in coaching searches this offseason. In addition to Fuente, some of the other rising stars in coaching ranks include Georgia Southern’s Willie Fritz, UL Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth and Colorado State’s Jim McElwain.

Who are some of the coaches doing a noteworthy job outside of the Power 5 leagues? Athlon tackles that question below and provides a few coordinators to watch as well.
 

Head Coaches on the Rise

 

Dino Babers, Bowling Green
Babers was a well-traveled assistant prior to taking the top job at Eastern Illinois, and the 53-year-old coach has been on a quick rise over the last three years. From 2012-13, Babers went 19-7 at Eastern Illinois and is 6-3 during his first year at Bowling Green. Babers worked under Art Briles at Baylor and runs a similar up-tempo offense, which is averaging 32.9 points per game this season.

Craig Bohl, Wyoming
Bohl is in his first season at Wyoming after a very successful stint at North Dakota State. From 2003-13, Bohl guided the Bison to a 104-32 record and three consecutive FCS Championships. The Nebraska native is 4-6 through 10 games with the Cowboys, which includes losses against top 25 teams in Oregon, Michigan State and Colorado State. Wyoming also has two losses in conference play by 10 points or less. Bohl is a proven winner and is a good fit at Wyoming. Considering his track record of success, Bohl could be the top coach in the Mountain West and just needs time to recruit to his style of play to turn the program into a consistent bowl contender.

 

Matt Campbell, Toledo
At 33 years old, Campbell is one of college football’s youngest coaches. The Ohio native was promoted to head coach after Tim Beckman left for Illinois, and the Rockets are 23-13 under his direction. Campbell led Toledo to a bowl game in 2012 but missed out on the postseason despite a 7-5 mark last year. The Rockets are one of the top teams in the MAC West this year and should return to a bowl in 2014. Prior to taking over as Toledo’s head coach, Campbell spent three years as an assistant with the Rockets and worked from 2006-08 at Bowling Green. The Ohio native was a standout defensive lineman in his playing career at Mount Union.

 

Bill Clark, UAB
The future of UAB’s football program is uncertain, but whether he’s in Birmingham or moves on to another school, Clark has a bright future in the coaching industry. After a 5-19 mark in two seasons under Garrick McGee, the Blazers are 5-5 this season and should have a good shot at playing in a bowl. Prior to taking over at UAB, Clark spent one season as Jacksonville State’s head coach (2013) and recorded an 11-4 record. Clark also has a stint as South Alabama’s defensive coordinator (2008-12) and spent several years as a high school coach in Alabama.

 

Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern
Fritz has been a huge success in his first year at Georgia Southern. The Eagles are ineligible to play in a bowl game this season since they are transitioning from the FCS ranks, but that hasn’t slowed this team. Georgia Southern has won seven in a row and boasts an 8-2 record heading into Week 12. The Eagles' only losses? By one to NC State and by four to Georgia Tech. Prior to taking over at Georgia Southern, Fritz was very successful at three different jobs. He recorded a 40-15 mark at Sam Houston State, a 97-47 record at Central Missouri and went 39-5-1 at Blinn College. Fritz is a proven winner and has successfully blended his desired style of play to the returning talent at Georgia Southern. The Kansas native could be a name to watch for the opening at Kansas this offseason.

 

Justin Fuente, Memphis

Fuente inherited a roster and program in need of significant repair. Three years later, Memphis is one of the front-runners to win the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers went 3-21 in the two seasons prior to Fuente’s arrival but improved to 4-8 in his first year and 3-9 in 2013. In his third year, Fuente already has Memphis bowl-eligible for the first time since 2008. Considering how far the program has progressed in three seasons, Fuente should be a hot commodity for Power 5 openings this offseason.

 

Mark Hudspeth, UL Lafayette

Hudspeth is a name to keep on the radar for any SEC openings this offseason. The former Mississippi State assistant is 33-15 in four years at UL Lafayette and has the Ragin’ Cajuns are on track to earn their fourth consecutive bowl appearance. Prior to his current stint at UL Lafayette and two years at Mississippi State, Hudspeth went 66-21 from 2002-08 at North Alabama. Hudspeth signed a six-year contract extension in June, but his track record of success, energetic personality and ability to recruit will no doubt be attractive to any Power 5 program with an opening.

 

Pete Lembo, Ball State

Lembo is 28-19 through four seasons at Ball State and received a five-year contract extension in March. The Cardinals went to back-to-back bowl games in 2012-13 after going 6-6 in Lembo’s first year. Ball State lost a handful of key players from last season’s team and is off to a 3-6 start. Even though the Cardinals are likely to finish with a losing record for the first time under Lembo, the New York native is still a rising star in the coaching ranks. Prior to taking over in Muncie, Lembo went 44-14 in five years at Lehigh and 35-22 in five seasons at Elon.

Jim McElwain, Colorado State
McElwain’s stock has skyrocketed this fall. The Rams are 9-1 and ranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll after Week 11. The Montana native went 4-8 in his first season in Fort Collins, but went 8-6 with a victory over Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl. Colorado State has won 13 out of its last 15 games, with its only loss this season coming at Boise State. Prior to taking over at Colorado State in 2012, McElwain worked on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama as the offensive coordinator and has stints at Fresno State, Michigan State, Louisville and in the NFL with the Raiders.

 

Matt Rhule, Temple
Last fall, Temple bottomed out with a 2-10 record in Rhule's first season as a head coach, but a deeper look at the Owls’ resume suggests the win-loss mark wasn’t as bad as it first appeared. Temple lost each of its last four games by 10 points or less and carried that momentum into the start of this season. The Owls opened the year with a victory at Vanderbilt and defeated East Carolina on Nov. 1. Temple is 5-4 through nine games and should reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011. Rhule returned to Temple after a one-year stint with the Giants. The Pennsylvania native worked on the Owls’ staff from 2006-11 under Al Golden and Steve Addazio.

 

Matt Wells, Utah State
Wells inherited a good roster from former coach Gary Andersen, but the former Aggie quarterback has navigated some difficult circumstances in his first two years on the job. Utah State won the Mountain West’s Mountain Division last season even though it lost quarterback Chuckie Keeton to season-ending injury in early October. This season, the Aggies are already on their fourth starter under center, as Keeton, backup Darell Garretson and senior Craig Harrison have been lost due to injuries. True freshman Kent Myers has filled in admirably so far, and Utah State still has a shot at defending its division title. Prior to joining the Utah State staff in 2011, Wells made stops as an assistant at New Mexico, Louisville, Tulsa and Navy. Wells isn’t just benefiting from following Andersen. With the injuries over the last two years, it’s clear Wells knows what he’s doing in Logan.

 

Other Head Coaches to Know

 

Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
DeRuyter went 20-6 in his first two seasons at Fresno State but is just 4-6 this season. The Bulldogs are rebuilding without Derek Carr under center, and barring an upset over Nevada, Fresno State is likely to miss out on a bowl this year.
 

Doc Holliday, Marshall
Holliday was always regarded as an excellent recruiter, and his work on the trail has paid dividends for Marshall this fall. The Thundering Herd is 9-0 and poised to grab the Group of 5 bowl spot. Holliday entered this season with a 27-24 record in four years in Huntington.

 

Curtis Johnson, Tulane
The former NFL assistant and New Orleans native is a perfect fit at Tulane. In 2013, Johnson guided the Green Wave (7-6) to their first winning record since 2002.

 

Joe Moglia, Coastal Carolina

Moglia might have the most interesting back story of any coach on the FBS or FCS level. Moglia coached from 1968-83 but went into business and became the CEO of Ameritrade in 2001. After seven years in that role, Moglia worked as a voluntary assistant at Nebraska from 2009-10 and spent one year as the AFL's Omaha Nighthawks coach in 2011. Moglia was hired as Coastal Carolina’s coach in 2012 and is 28-8 through three seasons. At 65 years old, Moglia isn’t an up-and-comer, but he would be an interesting (and likely successful) hire for a Group of 5 program.

 

Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion
Wilder was the first hire for Old Dominion after the school restarted its football program. The Monarchs are in their first season in the FBS ranks after tranisitioning from the FCS (2009-13), during which they did not record a losing season. Old Dominion also made the FCS playoffs in 2011 and '12. Through 10 games as a full-fledged FCS member, Wilder has led the Monarchs to a 4-6 mark. The staple of Wilder’s teams are a high-scoring offense, which is currently led by standout quarterback Taylor Heinicke.

 

And Don’t Forget About….

 

Greg Schiano, former Rutgers/Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach
Schiano isn’t technically on the rise, but his name is likely to be associated with vacancies this offseason.

 

Coordinators on the Rise

 

Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator, Wisconsin
Aranda is a relative unknown to most around the nation, but the California native has emerged as one of the Big Ten’s top defensive signal-callers over the last two years. Despite replacing eight starters, Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) this season. This coming after Aranda’s 2013 unit ranked second in the conference (16.3 ppg) and limited offenses to just 4.2 yards per play. Prior to joining coach Gary Andersen in Wisconsin, Aranda served as the defensive coordinator at Hawaii (2010-11) and at Utah State (2012). Under Aranda’s direction, the Aggies’ defense allowed just 4.3 yards per play in 2012.


Geoff Collins, Defensive Coordinator, Mississippi State
The Bulldogs’ offense and quarterback Dak Prescott are garnering most of the attention in Starkville, but don’t overlook the defense. Mississippi State is holding opponents to 5.7 yards per play in SEC games, and led by one of the best defensive fronts in the league, the Bulldogs lead the league with 32 sacks. This is Collins’ fourth year in Starkville, and prior to joining Dan Mullen’s staff, he spent time at FIU (defensive coordinator), UCF and Alabama. Collins also is regarded as an excellent recruiter.
 

Scott Frost, Offensive Coordinator, Oregon

Frost has picked up where Chip Kelly left off when he departed for the NFL. Under Frost’s direction, the Ducks are averaging 7.3 yards per play this fall after leading the Pac-12 with a 7.5 mark in 2013. Prior to his promotion to call the plays in Eugene, Frost worked Oregon's receivers coach from 2009-12 and spent two years at Northern Iowa working on the defensive side of the ball. The former Nebraska quarterback will be a name to remember in coaching searches over the next few seasons.

 

Tom Herman, Offensive Coordinator, Ohio State
Despite losing quarterback Braxton Miller to a shoulder injury in fall practice, Ohio State’s offense hasn’t missed a beat. Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett has emerged as the Big Ten’s top quarterback under Herman’s direction, and the Buckeyes are averaging 6.8 yards per play in conference games this year. The Ohio native has worked under coach Urban Meyer since 2012 and called the plays at Texas State (2005-06), Rice (2007-08) and Iowa State (2009-11). Herman also is a member of Mensa International.

 

Doug Meacham, Co-Offensive Coordinator, TCU
Meacham and fellow co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie are a big reason why TCU is squarely in the mix to earn a spot in college football’s new four-team playoff. In 2013, the Horned Frogs ranked near the bottom of the Big 12 by averaging just 5.0 yards per play and 25.1 points per game. One year later, TCU’s offense is among the best in the nation. The Horned Frogs are averaging 47.2 points per game and 6.9 yards per play in Big 12 contests. Meacham and Cumbie also transformed quarterback Trevone Boykin into one of the nation’s most-improved players. Prior to joining the TCU staff, Meacham worked for one season as Houston’s play-caller (2013) and worked from 2005-12 at Oklahoma State.

Chad Morris, Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Morris is one of the nation’s highest-paid assistants and has coordinated a prolific Clemson offense since 2011. The Tigers averaged 40 points a game in 2012-13 and over 30 points in '11. And so far this fall, Clemson is putting up 32.4 points per contest. Morris has never been a head coach on the FBS level (only high school head-coaching stints), and his only FBS experience prior to Clemson was a stint as Tulsa’s play-caller in 2010. The Texas native could be a candidate to watch at SMU.
 

Pat Narduzzi, Defensive Coordinator, Michigan State
Narduzzi’s is in no hurry to leave East Lansing, but the Ohio native is regarded as one of - if not No. 1 - top assistant coaches in college football. Narduzzi joined coach Mark Dantonio’s staff in 2007 and has developed an elite defense during his tenure in East Lansing. Michigan State led the nation by limiting opponents to just 4.0 yards per play last season, and the Spartans ranked first in the Big Ten in scoring defense from 2012-13. Prior to taking over the controls for Michigan State’s defense, Narduzzi worked on Dantonio’s staff at Cincinnati (2004-06) and had stints as an assistant at Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois and Rhode Island.   

 

Mike Norvell, Offensive Coordinator, Arizona State
Norvell owns one of college football’s best titles, as he’s technically the deputy head coach to Todd Graham at Arizona State. Norvell has worked under Graham for the last eight years, and his three offenses with the Sun Devils have averaged at least 36 points per game.

Jeremy Pruitt, Defensive Coordinator, Georgia
Pruitt has made a quick ascension through the coaching ranks. The Alabama native spent nearly 10 years as a high school assistant in the state, including from 2004-06 as Hoover High School. Pruitt worked in an off-field role from 2007-09 at Alabama and was promoted to defensive backs coach in 2010. After three years in that role, Pruitt was hired to coordinate Florida State’s defense in 2013. The Seminoles had one of the nation’s best units under Pruitt’s direction, allowing just 4.09 yards per play. Defensively, Georgia isn't as stocked talent-wise as the Seminoles were last season, but Pruitt’s arrival has had an impact on a unit that allowed 29 points per game in 2013.

 

Lincoln Riley, Offensive Coordinator, East Carolina
is only 31 years old, but the Texas native is ready for a chance to run his own program. After spending 2003-05 as a student assistant coach at Texas Tech, Riley was promoted to a staff assistant on offense in 2006 and wide receivers coach in '07. Riley stayed on staff in Lubbock until 2010 and followed Ruffin McNeill from Texas Tech to East Carolina. The Pirates are leading the American Athletic Conference in yards per play (6.8), as quarterback Shane Carden has thrived under Riley’s tutelage. An Air Raid disciple who learned under Mike Leach, Riley knows how to develop a passing attack. However, East Carolina’s offense has plenty of balance this year, averaging 188.3 yards rushing per game.

 

Nick Rolovich, Offensive Coordinator, Nevada
The former Hawaii quarterback has quietly built an impressive resume as an assistant. Rolovich started his coaching career in 2003 at Hawaii and made a stop at City College of San Francisco (2006-07) before coming back to Honolulu to call plays in '10. The Warriors led the WAC in yards per play (7.6) that season and averaged 31.5 points per game in 2011. Rolovich joined coach Chris Ault’s staff in Nevada in 2012 and was retained by Brian Polian in '13. The Wolf Pack are averaging 30 points per game this fall. Could Rolovich be a name to remember at Hawaii if Norm Chow doesn’t return in 2015?

 

Bob Shoop, Defensive Coordinator, Penn State
Shoop has been under the radar over the last few years, but the Pennsylvania native is one of the nation’s top defensive coordinators. Shoop was hired by James Franklin at Vanderbilt and brought immediate improvement to a defense that allowed 31.2 points per game in 2010. The Commodores did not allow more than 25 points per game in Shoop’s three years and forced 30 turnovers (second in the SEC) in '13. Through six conference games this season, Penn State is holding opponents to just 3.9 yards per play and is allowing only 16.6 points per game.
 

Kalani Sitake, Defensive Coordinator, Utah
Sitake could be one of the nation’s most underrated assistant coaches. The former BYU fullback started his coaching career at Eastern Arizona in 2001 and later spent one year at BYU (2002) and two at Southern Utah (2003-04). Sitake joined the Utah staff in 2005 and was promoted to defensive play-caller in 2009. The Utes have never allowed more than 5.4 yards per play in a season under Sitake’s direction and rank third in the Pac-12 in scoring defense this year. Heading into Week 12, Utah leads the nation with 43 sacks. Sitake is also regarded as a good recruiter.

 

Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama
Smart helps coach Nick Saban coordinate the Alabama defense, which has been one of the nation’s most dominant units over the last few years. The Crimson Tide has not allowed more than five yards per play since Smart was promoted to call the defensive signals in 2008. Alabama has also ranked inside of the top five nationally in scoring defense for six consecutive seasons. Smart has a good job now and is well compensated. Don’t expect the former Georgia defensive back to rush into a head coaching job.
 

Other Coordinators to Know

 

Tim Beck, Offensive Coordinator, Nebraska

Mike Elko, Defensive Coordinator, Wake Forest

Rhett Lashlee, Offensive Coordinator, Auburn

Brian Lindgren, Offensive Coordinator, Colorado

Philip Montgomery, Offensive Coordinator, Baylor

Scottie Montgomery, Offensive Coordinator, Duke

Bryant Vincent, Offensive Coordinator, UAB

Justin Wilcox, Defensive Coordinator, USC

Teaser:
College Football's Coaches on the Rise for 2014 Week 12
Post date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-11-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

Athlon Sports has formed a Heisman Trophy committee. Each week, we will ask 13 members of the national college football media to rank their top candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

 

Each voter will rank their top five candidates, with each first-place vote getting five points and each last-place vote getting one point.

 

The Panel:

 

, FOX Sports

, Big Ten Network 

, CBS Sports

, SBNation

, Sports Illustrated

, NFL.com

, Big Ten Network

, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

, MrSEC.com

, Athlon Sports

Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

 PlayerTeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Marcus Mariota6513----
2.Dak Prescott49-1111-
3.Trevone Boykin33-2631
4.Melvin Gordon28-1541
5.Amari Cooper13--134
6.J.T. Barrett4----1
7.Duke Johnson2---1-
8t.Ameer Abdullah1----1
8t.Jameis Winston1----1
8t.Gerod Holliman1----1

Dropped out: Shaq Thompson, Everett Golson, Nick Marshall, Tevin Coleman

 

Listen to the Week 11 predictions podcast:



Subscribe: |

 

The Top 3:

 
1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Possibly the last big road test for Mariota took place this weekend in Salt Lake City and the Ducks quarterback was brilliant once again. He threw for 239 yards, rushed for 114 yards and accounted for four touchdowns in the 51-27 win. It was his seventh game with at least four touchdowns, which leads the nation, and his 184.56 QB rating still leads the nation by a wide margin. On the year, he’s scored 37 touchdowns and thrown just two interceptions.

 

Season Stats: 2,780 yards, 67.1%, 29 TDs, 2 INTs, 524 rush yards, 8 TDs

 

2. Dak Prescott, Mississippi St

Mississippi State sort of played a football game in Week 11. Prescott didn’t play the entire game but still posted solid numbers in a 45-16 win over UT-Martin. The Bulldogs signal-caller threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns while rushing six times for 54 yards and another score on the ground. Prescott leads the SEC in total offense with 3,010 yards

 

Season Stats: 2,231 yards, 61.1%, 18 TDs, 7 INTs, 779 rush yards, 11 TDs

 

3. Trevone Boykin, TCU

The TCU quarterback has slowly but surely worked his way into the top three. And it’s warranted after his performance against a very good Kansas State team. In the Horned Frogs' 41-20 win over KSU, Boykin threw for 219 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions, but he did most of his damage on the ground. He rushed 17 times for 123 yards and three touchdowns. Boykin is fourth nationally with 359.7 yards of total offense per game.

 

Season Stats: 2,691 yards, 58.0%, 23 TDs, 4 INTs, 546 rush yards, 7 TDs  

Teaser:
Expert Poll: Week 11 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-week-12
Body:

The original reality TV show is sports. No contrived setting where seven strangers living in a house or one bachelor searching for love can match the excitement the Iron Bowl delivered last fall.

 

The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 12.

 

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

 

A QB will score the game-winner in Madison

 

Nebraska heads to Wisconsin this weekend in a critical Big Ten West elimination game. It will feature two of the best running backs in the nation as Ameer Abdullah (138.9 ypg) and Melvin Gordon (166.8) will battle in Madison. But with all eyes focused on two Heisman tailbacks, one of the two quarterbacks will make the game-winning play. Joel Stave is showing signs of life and Tommy Armstrong has scored five times in his last two games.

 

Listen to the Week 11 predictions podcast:



Subscribe: |

 

Amari Cooper will jump over Dak Prescott on Heisman ballots

 

Dak Prescott was sensational in the back-to-back-to-back wins over Top 10 teams. And his numbers are better than anything Starkville has ever seen under center. However, Alabama’s defense has been dominant all season and will shut down Prescott in a home win over the No. 1 Bulldogs this weekend. Instead, the star of the show will be Bama’s wide receiver Amari Cooper. State has given up big yards through the air this season as UAB (435), LSU (341), Texas A&M (365) and Kentucky (401) each topped 300 yards passing against MSU. Cooper has been unstoppable and will torch the questionable Mississippi State secondary en route to a huge SEC West victory.

 

Todd Gurley will go beast mode on Auburn’s defense

 

Gurley has rushed for 154.6 yards per game this fall and is back on the field for the Dawgs after serving a four-game suspension. And he will be motivated and extremely productive against an Auburn defense that has allowed at least 469 yards of total offense and at least 31 points in four straight games. Against the Tigers, Gurley will blow past his career high of 208 yards rushing. Georgia is upset after the way they lost to Auburn last year and is still eyeing a trip to Atlanta. Beware, Auburn.

 

A made field goal will win the Miami-Florida State game

 

When these two programs were both surging, this meeting was one of the greatest rivalries in college football. And it resulted in some seriously dramatic finishes. Three wide right missed field goals (1991, 1992, 2000) and a wide left missed kick (2002) have cost both teams critical wins in the past. However, this game will be decided by a made field goal. Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo is arguably the best kicker in the nation and Miami’s Michael Badgley has made all but one attempt this year (7-of-8). Watch for a successful attempt to be the difference in this one.

 

Arkansas will win an SEC game

 

Arkansas has lost 16 consecutive SEC games and this is the weekend they get into the win column. LSU is a better team. There is no doubt. However, Arkansas is improved from last year and this Razorbacks team nearly topped the Tigers in Baton Rouge last fall. The Tigers expended a lot of energy in the physical overtime loss to Alabama last weekend and a hangover is likely. 

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Week 12
Post date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-basketball/top-50-college-basketball-coaches-2014-15
Body:

Believe us, we don’t like repeating ourselves. Naming the same coach as No. 1 in the country for a third consecutive season is a little boring.

 

We tried to justify a new coach at the No. 1 spot if only to freshen things up a bit.

 

But each of the candidates for the top spot had a flaw. The last time we saw Mike Krzyzewski, he was walking off the court after a loss to Mercer. 

 

The coach of our preseason No. 1 team ended last year in the title game but only after limping to a No. 8 seed during the regular season. And a coach with three Elite Eights and a Final Four in the last four seasons (Billy Donovan) has a 5-8 record against the coach we just mentioned (John Calipari).

 

Given all that, we saw no reason to move our No. 1 coach from a year ago. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is our pick again. His team won 29 games for the second time in three seasons and won the Big Ten Tournament.

 

The Spartans reached the Elite Eight, upsetting No. 1 seed and ACC champion Virginia along the way. Only the eventual national champion kept Michigan State from reaching Izzo’s seventh Final Four.

 

And all of this occurred despite a team that was snakebit by injuries all season.

 

Now, just because our No. 1 coach is the same as it was a year ago doesn’t mean we resisted change elsewhere.

 

Tony Bennett, an overachiever at Washington State and Virginia, moved onto the fringe of the top 10. National champion Kevin Ollie makes his debut in our rankings at No. 30 in only his second season as a head coach. And we also welcome back Bruce Pearl, who slides back into our top 20 coaches.


As usual, a handful of factors go into ranking the coaches — career accomplishments, career momentum, gameday acumen, player development, recruiting, conference records and postseason success.

Want to tell us how wrong we are? Tweet us at @AthlonSports or talk to us on .

 

1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

Record at Michigan State: 468-187 (.715)

NCAA Tournament: 42-16, six Final Fours, one national title

Number to note: Consistency is the name of the game here. Izzo’s teams have ranked in the top 32 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency ratings in 10 of the last 12 seasons. Michigan State has been in the top 30 of the offensive efficiency ratings in eight of the last 10 seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: An injury-plagued season cut into Michigan State’s ability to reach the Final Four, leaving Izzo with the longest Final Four drought of his career (four consecutive years). The Spartans still won 29 games and the Big Ten Tournament and reached the Elite Eight, losing to eventual national champion UConn.


2. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
Record at Duke:
910-247 (.787)
NCAA Tournament: 82-26, 11 Final Fours, four championships
Number to note: The Blue Devils ended a streak of last season.
Why he’s ranked here: Forget about a loss to Mercer in the NCAA Tournament, Krzyzewski will reach 1,000 career wins this season.

 

3. John Calipari, Kentucky

Record at Kentucky: 152-37 (.804)

NCAA Tournament: 43-14, five Final Fours, one national championship

Number to note: Despite missing the 2013 Tournament, Calipari has 15 NCAA wins since 2010, most in the country during that span.

Why he’s ranked here: The disappointing 2013-14 regular season may not have been one of Cal’s shining moments, especially on the heels of an NIT exit a year earlier. The disappointment subsided with a run to the Final Four for the third time in four seasons.

 

4. Billy Donovan, Florida

Record at Florida: 451-169 (.727)

NCAA Tournament: 35-12, four Final Fours, two national championships

Number to note: Donovan has the second-most NCAA wins (13) since 2010 behind Calipari. The figure that doesn’t include two championships in 2006 and 2007.

Why he’s ranked here: Donovan will reach the 500-win mark next season and will be one of the top 25 fastest coaches to do so. His name will land somewhere around Lute Olson and Nolan Richardson in the record books in that category.


5. Rick Pitino, Louisville
Record at Louisville:
341-117 (.745)
NCAA Tournament: 50-17, seven Final Fours, two championships
Number to note: The Cardinals are 22-2 in conference and NCAA Tournament games the last three years.
Why he’s ranked here: Pitino’s teams are consistently among the toughest defensive squads in the country.

 

6. Bill Self, Kansas

Record at Kansas: 325-69 (.825)

NCAA Tournament: 36-15, two Final Fours, one national championship

Number to note: Last season was the first time since 2005 that Kansas ranked outside of the top 11 in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom.

Why he’s ranked here: Kansas lost 10 games last season, most for Self since 1998-99 at Tulsa. The Jayhawks still won (or shared) its 10th consecutive Big 12 title by two games.

7. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
Record at Syracuse:
948-320 (.748)
NCAA Tournament: 53-30, four Final Fours, one championship
Number to note: Syracuse has declined in adjusted tempo in each of the last seven seasons. The Orange were the ninth-slowest team in the country in KenPom last season.
Why he’s ranked here: Syracuse has six 30-win seasons all time. Half have come in the last five seasons.

 

8. John Beilein, Michigan

Record at Michigan: 104-60 (.615)

NCAA Tournament: 16-9, one Final Four

Number to note: Michigan is 40-14 in the Big Ten the last three seasons. The Wolverines posted one winning conference record during the previous 13 seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: Since arriving at Michigan, Beilein is 15-35 against Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan and Thad Matta, but he’s caught up to the pack. He’s 6-3 in the last nine vs. Izzo, 2-3 vs. Ryan after losing his first 10 and 4-2 in his last six vs. Matta.

 

9. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

Record at Wisconsin: 321-121 (.726)

NCAA Tournament: 20-13, one Final Four

Number to note: The Big Ten has been the best basketball conference the last few years, and Wisconsin has thrived. The Badgers have never finished lower than fourth in the league in 13 seasons under Ryan.

Why he’s ranked here: After 2014, no one can say Ryan is the best coach never to reach the Final Four. He’s now in the discussion for best coach to never win a national title. Could that change in 2015?

 

10. Sean Miller, Arizona

Record at Arizona: 129-48 (.729)

NCAA Tournament: 14-7

Number to note: Miller has reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in each of his last five trips at Arizona and Xavier. The only two times he’s failed to reach the Sweet 16 were his first two NCAA appearances with Musketeers.

Why he’s ranked here: Miller has restored Arizona to national prominence and has the No. 4 signing class this year and the No. 1 class for 2015. The best coach without a Final Four appearance won’t carry that title for much longer.

11. Tony Bennett, Virginia
Record at Virginia:
106-60 (.639)
NCAA Tournament: 5-4
Number to note: Bennett led Virginia to its first sweep of the ACC regular season and tournament titles in 2013-14.
Why he’s ranked here: In eight seasons as a head coach, Bennett ended a 19-year Sweet 16 drought at Virginia and gave Washington State its deepest Tourney run in 67 years.

12. Roy Williams, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina:
306-89 (.775)
NCAA Tournament: 63-22, seven Final Fours, two championships
Number to note: The Tar Heels are 25-11 in the ACC, 12-11 on the road and 1-3 against Duke in the last two seasons.
Why he’s ranked here: The career achievements may demand a higher ranking, but schools like Virginia and Miami have been closer to Carolina territory than Carolina during the last two seasons.

 

13. Thad Matta, Ohio State

Record at Ohio State: 275-83 (.786)

NCAA Tournament: 23-12, two Final Fours

Number to note: At Butler, Xavier and Ohio State, Matta has never had a losing season in conference play. The lone .500 season conference season of his career came in his debut at Ohio State.

Why he’s ranked here: Matta could make the case for being the nation’s most underrated coach. Before a round of 64 loss to Dayton last year, Ohio State’s last four Tournament appearances yielded a Final Four, an Elite Eight and two Sweet 16s.

 

14. Shaka Smart, VCU

Record at VCU: 137-46 (.749)

NCAA Tournament: 7-4, one Final Four

Number to note: Smart has won 72 percent of conference games in his career but, oddly, has never won a regular season conference title in the Colonial or Atlantic 10.

Why he’s ranked here: The 37-year-old Smart has carved out an identity at VCU. Hard to believe even better days may be ahead of him.

 

15. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

Record at Wichita State: 174-71 (.710)

NCAA Tournament: 6-10, one Final Four

Number to note: Marshall’s last four teams at Wichita have ranked in the top 40 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom.com.

Why he’s ranked here: Since March 1, 2013, three teams have defeated Marshall’s Wichita State teams — one won a national title (Louisville), one reached the title game (Kentucky) and one had Doug McDemott (Creighton, twice).

 

16. Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State

Record at Iowa State: 90-47 (.657)

NCAA Tournament: 4-3

Number to note: Iowa State’s 34 Big 12 wins during the last three seasons are one more than the Cyclones won during the previous seven seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: The Mayor has a formula that has returned Iowa State to national prominence: Owning the transfer market, high-powered offense and analytical savvy.

 

17. Bruce Pearl, Auburn

Record at Auburn: First season

NCAA Tournament: 10-8

Number to note: Pearl has missed the NCAA Tournament only twice as a Division I head coach, both in his first three seasons at Milwaukee. 

Why he’s ranked here: Pearl already pulled three four-star recruits (one junior college) for the 2015 class. Auburn will be competitive soon enough.

 

18. Steve Fisher, San Diego State

Record at San Diego State: 312-176 (.639)

NCAA Tournament: 25-13, three Final Fours, one national championship

Number to note: A program that never won an NCAA Tournament game until 2011 has won five with two Sweet 16 appearances in the last four years.

Why he’s ranked here: Fisher has turned San Diego State into one of the best programs out West. His ability to build a foundation and restock a once-dormant program has been astounding.

 

19. Jay Wright, Villanova

Record at Villanova: 286-149 (.657)

NCAA Tournament: 13-11, one Final Four

Number to note: Villanova’s Big East title in 2014 was the Wildcats’ first outright conference title since 1982. Nova hasn’t won a conference tournament since 1995.

Why he’s ranked here: After a brief dip in 2011-12, Villanova has returned to where Wright has had the program for most of his tenure. Villanova went 16-0 vs. Big East opponents not named Creighton during the 2013-14 regular season.

20. Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh:
288-96 (.750)
NCAA Tournament: 12-10
Number to note: Pitt has never ranked lower than 45th in adjusted offensive efficeincy on KenPom in 11 seasons under Dixon. The Panthers have been ranked in the top 20 in that category six times in the last eight years.
Why he’s ranked here: The 2011-12 season marked the only time in Dixon’s career he failed to reach the NCAA Tournament or win 10 conference games.

 

21. Tim Miles, Nebraska

Record at Nebraska: 34-31 (.525)

NCAA Tournament: 0-2

Number to note: Miles ended combined NCAA Tournament droughts of 25 seasons at Nebraska (16) and Colorado State (nine) in addition to laying the groundwork for Division I newcomer North Dakota State.

Why he’s ranked here: The Big Ten is as good as ever, and Nebraska is a relevant program here. The next step is to pick up the Cornhuskers first NCAA Tournament win.

 

22. Tad Boyle, Colorado 

Record at Colorado: 92-50 (.648)

NCAA Tournament: 1-3

Number to note: The Buffaloes have ranked in the top 50 of adjusted defensive efficiency in each of the last three seasons, according to KenPom.

Why he’s ranked here: This is the golden age of Colorado basketball. Colorado has as many NCAA appearances under Boyle in the last three seasons as it did from 1969-2011.

 

23. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma

Record at Oklahoma: 58-38 (.604)

NCAA Tournament: 14-15, one Final Four

Number to note: Oklahoma ranked 17th in tempo last season. Kruger didn’t have a top-100 team in that category since 2005.

Why he’s ranked here: Got a problem? Lon Kruger will solve it. He’s led clean-up jobs at Florida, UNLV, Kansas State and now Oklahoma and taken all of them (plus Illinois) to multiple NCAA Tournaments.

 

24. Mark Few, Gonzaga

Record at Gonzaga: 403-100 (.801)

NCAA Tournament: 16-15

Number to note: Few is the active leader in career win percentage (.801), pulling ahead of Roy Williams last season.

Why he’s ranked here: He’s reached the NCAA Tournament all 15 seasons as a head coach but he’s reached the Sweet 16 just once since 2006.

 

25. Rick Barnes, Texas

Record at Texas: 382-166 (.697)

NCAA Tournament: 21-21, one Final Four

Number to note: Since 1993-94, Barnes has missed the NCAA Tournament only twice.

Why he’s ranked here: Barnes reversed the slide of his tenure with a surprising 24-11 season and 11-7 finish in the Big 12. The Myles Turner arrival signaled he still has some Lone Star State recruiting clout.

 

26. Bob Huggins, West Virginia

Record at West Virginia: 150-91 (.622)

NCAA Tournament: 27-20, one Final Four

Number to note: Huggins averaged 8.3 losses per season in 21 years at Akron and Cincinnati. He’s averaged 12.9 since his return at Kansas State and West Virginia.

Why he’s ranked here: Though West Virginia missed the NCAA Tournament, the Mountaineers improved offensively by 11 points per game thanks to Huggins’ most up-tempo team in nearly a decade.


27. Jim Larranaga, Miami
Record at Miami:
66-36 (.647)
NCAA Tournament: 7-6, one Final Four
Number to note: Masterful coaching job in 2013-14 preserved a streak of 16 consecutive winning seasons. At Bowling Green, George Mason and Miami, he’s had one losing season since 1993.
Why he’s ranked here: Larranaga had a nice career by the time he was 55. Then he took George Mason to the Final Four and swept the ACC regular season and tournament titles at Miami.

28. Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech:
First season
NCAA Tournament: 8-5
Number to note: From 2011-13, Marquette reached the Sweet 16 twice and the Elite Eight once.
Why he’s ranked here: Williams proved he could go toe to toe with Syracuse, Louisville and Pittsburgh. Can he compete against those three, plus Duke and North Carolina, at Virginia Tech?

29. Larry Brown, SMU
Record at SMU:
42-27 (.609)
NCAA Tournament: 19-6, three Final Fours, one championship
Number to note: The Mustangs missed the NCAA Tournament but went 2-0 against eventual national champion Connecticut.
Why he’s ranked here: After only two seasons, the 73-year-old Brown has done what no SMU coach has done since Doc Hayes — make the Mustangs relevant.

30. Kevin Ollie, UConn
Record at UConn:
52-18 (.743)
NCAA Tournament: 6-0, one Final Four, one championship
Number to note: Ollie won a national title only four years into coaching career — two seasons as an assistant and two seasons as a head coach.
Why he’s ranked here: The future is limitless for a 42-year-old who took over for a legendary coach (Jim Calhoun) and recovered from NCAA sanctions a year earlier to win a title.

 

31. Scott Drew, Baylor

Record at Baylor: 206-150 (.579)

NCAA Tournament: 8-4

Number to note: Drew is 17-5 combined in the NCAA Tournament and NIT, claiming two Elite Eights, a Sweet 16 and an NIT title.

Why he’s ranked here: The even-year, odd-year trend for Baylor predicts a down year in 2014-15.

32. Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
Record at Cincinnati:
162-107 (.602)
NCAA Tournament: 3-6
Number to note: Cincinnati has ranked in the top 25 in adjusted defense on KenPom in each of the last four seasons.
Why he’s ranked here: With 101 wins and four NCAA Tournament appearances in the last four seasons, Cronin brought Cincinnati back from hitting the reset button 10 years ago.

 

33. John Thompson III, Georgetown

Record at Georgetown: 227-104 (.686)

NCAA Tournament: 8-9, one Final Four

Number to note: Before last season, Georgetown ranked in the top 100 in defensive efficiency in KenPom's rankings every year of Thompson’s tenure, including three times in the top 10.

Why he’s ranked here: Thompson may get dinged for early NCAA losses, but the Hoyas are a year removed from a Big East title. Besides, Georgetown’s NCAA draws have included Florida Gulf Coast, Final Four-bound VCU and Stephen Curry-led Davidson.

 

34. Fran McCaffery, Iowa

Record at Iowa: 74-63 (.540)

NCAA Tournament: 2-6

Number to note: McCaffery ended a seven-year drought of 20-win seasons at Iowa and an eight-year NCAA Tournament drought for the Hawkeyes.

Why he’s ranked here: McCaffery’s turnaround at Iowa has been remarkable but Iowa hasn’t posted a winning Big Ten record since 2006-07.


35. Mike Brey, Notre Dame

Record at Notre Dame: 300-159 (.654)

NCAA Tournament: 6-11

Number to note: Notre Dame has one NCAA win since 2008.

Why he's ranked here: Notre Dame averaged 11.6 conference wins from 2006 through 2013 before falling to 6-12 in its first season in the ACC.

 

36. Steve Alford, UCLA

Record at UCLA: 28-9 (.757)

NCAA Tournament: 7-8

Number to note: In Alford’s first season, UCLA reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008 ... with the help of a No. 13 seed (Tulsa) and No. 12 seed (Stephen F. Austin). That shouldn’t be ignored — two of Alford’s New Mexico teams were eliminated by double-digit seeds.

Why he’s ranked here: Alford’s hire wasn’t met with much excitement, but the jolt of energy seems to be working. UCLA had arguably its best team since the 2008 Final Four squad.

 

37. Dana Altman, Oregon

Record at Oregon: 97-47 (.674)

NCAA Tournament: 5-10

Number to note: A streaky program has stability. Oregon has winning conference seasons in three consecutive years for the first time in school history.

Why he’s ranked here: An casts a shadow over his tenure at Oregon. His career, though, has been marked by building consistent winners at Creighton and now Oregon.


38. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State
Record at Florida State:
241-157 (.606)
NCAA Tournament: 6-7
Number to note: Florida State hasn’t had a losing ACC record since 2006-07, though the Seminoles went 9-9 the last two years.
Why he’s ranked here: The Seminoles have reached the NCAA Tournament four times and the NIT five times in the last nine seasons. Not a bad stretch for FSU.

 

39. Tom Crean, Indiana

Record at Indiana: 101-97 (.510)

NCAA Tournament: 8-7, one Final Four

Number to note: Indiana won one road game in Crean’s first three seasons. The Hoosiers have won 14 in three seasons since.

Why he’s ranked here: Indiana’s collapse from spending most of 2012-13 at No. 1 to missing/declining the postseason altogether is a major concern. The same can be said of the alarming rate of off-court issues. Still, Crean brought Indiana back from 6-25 in his first season.


41. Kelvin Sampson, Houston
Record at Houston:
First season
NCAA Tournament: 12-14, one Final Four
Number to note: Sampson’s teams have reached the NCAA Tournament in 14 of his last 15 seasons in college coaching at Washington State, Oklahoma and Indiana.
Why he’s ranked here: He may be a risk to ignore NCAA rules, but he’s proven he can thrive in adverse situations at OU and Wazzu.

 

41. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

Record at Utah: 42-55 (.433)

NCAA Tournament: 1-2

Number to note: Utah won more Pac-12 games in his third season (nine) than the Utes won total games in his first year (six).

Why he’s ranked here: Krystkowiak brought Utah back from irrelevance, and now the Utes will contend for their first NCAA spot since 2009.

 

42. Dave Rose, BYU

Record at BYU: 232-78 (.748)

NCAA Tournament: 4-7

Number to note: Rose had never lost more than nine games in a season in his career until he lost 12 in each of the last two seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: The departure of Jimmer Fredette and the move to the West Coast Conference has slowed BYU’s momentum, but Rose still has seven NCAA appearances in nine years as a coach.

 

43. Archie Miller, Dayton

Record at Dayton: 63-38 (.624)

NCAA Tournament: 3-1

Number to note: Dayton improved its road record from 5-16 in Miller’s first two seasons to 7-4 last season.

Why he’s ranked here: Sean’s younger brother has made himself a hot coaching candidate in his own right wins over Ohio State and Syracuse on the way to the Elite Eight last season.


44. Fran Dunphy, Temple
Record at Temple:
167-97 (.633)
NCAA Tournament: 3-15
Number to note: Before the bottom fell out in Temple’s first season (9-22) in the AAC, the Owls averaged 24.3 overall wins and 12.3 wins in the Atlantic 10 the previous six seasons.
Why he’s ranked here: Only Temple predecessor John Chaney (516) has more wins in Philadelphia Big 5 history than Dunphy at Temple and Penn (477).

 

45. Tubby Smith, Texas Tech

Record at Texas Tech: 14-18 (.438)

NCAA Tournament: 30-16, one Final Four, one national championship

Number to note: Smith hasn’t led a team to a winning conference record since his final season at Kentucky.

Why he’s ranked here: In what seemed like questionable hire at first, Smith led Texas Tech to its best Big 12 record since 2007-08 with wins over Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas.

46. Josh Pastner, Memphis
Record at Memphis:
130-44 (.747)
NCAA Tournament: 2-4
Number to note: Pastner ended a 12-game losing streak against ranked teams last season by going 5-5 against top 25 teams after an Oklahoma State loss in November.
Why he’s ranked here: Pastner’s not John Calipari, but he’s come into his own as a head coach the last two seasons.

 

47. Tommy Amaker, Harvard

Record at Harvard: 139-71 (.662)

NCAA Tournament: 4-4

Number to note: With wins over New Mexico and Cincinnati the last two seasons, Harvard is the first Ivy team since the field expanded to 64 to win games in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments.

Why he’s ranked here: After a mediocre tenure at Michigan, Amaker has found a home at Harvard, where he’s won four consecutive league titles.

 

48. Rick Byrd, Belmont

Record at Belmont: 299-175 (.631)

NCAA Tournament: 0-6

Number to note: Byrd has 689 career wins in the NCAA record book, counting Belmont’s time in the NAIA.

Why he’s ranked here: Belmont has won regular season conference titles in each of the last five seasons in the Atlantic Sun and Ohio Valley.

 

49. Mike Anderson, Arkansas

Record at Arkansas: 59-39 (.602)

NCAA Tournament: 7-6

Number to note: Mike Anderson is 4-1 against Calipari-coached Kentucky teams. While at UAB, Anderson went 1-1 against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.

Why he’s ranked here: Once considered a home run hire when the Razorbacks hired Nolan Richardson’s right-hand man, Anderson will need to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time at Arkansas to truly shift the momentum of his program.

 

50. Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt

Record at Vanderbilt: 292-192 (.603)

NCAA Tournament: 6-8

Number to note: During the last two years, Vanderbilt endured back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in 13 seasons under Stallings.

Why he’s ranked here: Vanderbilt is still searching for answers since the John Jenkins/Festus Ezeli/Jeff Taylor class left school two years ago.

Teaser:
The Top 50 College Basketball Coaches for 2014-15
Post date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 07:00

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