Articles By All

All taxonomy terms: crossword, Monthly
Path: /monthly/june-2013-crossword-solution
Body:

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 17:21
Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-2013-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2013 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first, second and third All-Pac-12 teams for this season.

Related Content: Pac-12 Predictions for 2013
 

2013 All-Pac-12 Team

First-Team Offense

QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

RB Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona

RB Bishop Sankey, Washington

WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

WR Marqise Lee, USC

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon

OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA

OG David Yankey, Stanford

OT Jake Fisher, Oregon

OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon

AP De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon


First-Team Defense

DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State

DE Morgan Breslin, USC

DT Will Sutton, Arizona State

DT Leonard Williams, USC

LB Anthony Barr, UCLA

LB Trent Murphy, Stanford

LB Shayne Skov, Stanford

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

CB Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State

S Dion Bailey, USC

S Ed Reynolds, Stanford


First-Team Specialists

K Trevor Romaine, Oregon State

P Darragh O’Neill, Colorado

KR Marqise Lee, USC

PR Shaquelle Evans, UCLA



The Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 All-Pac-12 Team

 FirstSecondThirdOverall
Arizona1124
Arizona State1348
California0213
Colorado1023
Oregon63413
Oregon State4329
Stanford44210
UCLA3328
USC5409
Utah0022
Washington2226
Washington State0134

 

Second-Team Offense

QB Brett Hundley, UCLA

RB Marion Grice, Arizona State

RB Silas Redd, USC

WR Shaquelle Evans, UCLA

WR Kasen Williams, Washington

TE Chris Coyle, Arizona State

C Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State

OG Kevin Danser, Stanford

OG Max Tuerk, USC

OT Cameron Fleming, Stanford

OT Michael Philipp, Oregon State


Second-Team Defense

DE Ben Gardner, Stanford

DE Taylor Hart, Oregon

DT Deandre Coleman, California

DT George Uko, USC

LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA

LB Hayes Pullard, USC

LB Shaq Thompson, Washington

CB Alex Carter, Stanford

CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon

S Deone Bucannon, Washington State

S Alden Darby, Arizona State


Second-Team Specialists

K Vince D’Amato, California

P Keith Kostol, Oregon State

KR De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon

PR Richard Morrison, Arizona


Third-Team Offense

QB Taylor Kelly, Arizona State

RB Brendan Bigelow, California

RB Storm Woods, Oregon State

WR Josh Huff, Oregon

WR Paul Richardson, Colorado

TE Colt Lyerla, Oregon

C Jake Brendel, UCLA

OG Daniel Munyer, Colorado

OG Grant Enger, Oregon State

OT Evan Finkenberg, Arizona State

OT Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah


Third-Team Defense

DE Henry Anderson, Stanford

DE Cassius Marsh, UCLA

DT Wade Keliikipi, Oregon

DT Danny Shelton, Washington

LB Brian Blechen, Utah

LB Carl Bradford, Arizona State

LB Jake Fischer, Arizona

CB Osahon Irabor, Arizona State

CB Jonathan McKnight, Arizona

S Sean Parker, Washington

S Jordan Richards, Stanford

 

Third-Team Specialists

K Andrew Furney, Washington State

P Michael Bowlin, Washington State

KR Teondray Caldwell, Washington State

PR Bralon Addison, Oregon

 

2013 Pac-12 Team Previews

NorthSouth
CaliforniaArizona
OregonArizona State
Oregon StateColorado
StanfordUCLA
WashingtonUSC
Washington StateUtah

 

Related College Football Content

Pac-12 Predictions for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 26-40
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 41-60
College Fooball Team Rankings for 2013: No. 61-80
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 81-100
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 101-125
College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era
College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Football 2013 All-Conference Team</p>
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 15:03
Path: /nascar/biffle-hendrick-danica-highlight-nascar-storylines-michigan
Body:

Greg Biffle’s 19th career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory Sunday brought him into a tie on the all-time list with Dale Earnhardt Jr., the man most pundits claimed was supposed to win in the Irish Hills. It was like “Opposite Day” come to life, considering the two couldn’t be more different. Earnhardt, revered through his personality and last name, is the sport’s most popular driver. The whole grandstand shakes the second they see him in position to lead a lap.

Biffle? He’s a forgotten man. Despite winning titles in both the Nationwide and Truck series — putting him in an elite category of drivers who have done both — most NASCAR fans wouldn’t recognize him if they passed on the street. Even within his own team, a cloak of invisibility exists. Carl Edwards, who never met a camera he didn’t love, is the more charismatic driver at Roush Fenway Racing; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is dating that GoDaddy girl. That leaves Biffle as the guy in your group who shows up at the bar every Friday night, watches the game at your table but you don’t remember a thing he said — just that he seems to know his stuff and he’s friends by association.

That’s not to say the man doesn’t try. The wry, sarcastic sense of humor is there, it’s just that good friend and longtime teammate Matt Kenseth does it better. The rare time Biffle utters a quote worth using it seems Tony Stewart or someone else goes off at the same time and his words get buried on page 3C.

But at age 43, maybe it’s time we appreciate some of what the Washington native has done in the Sprint Cup Series. He’s now won in nine of the last 11 years on the circuit, has made five of the last six Chases and finished top 5 in points three times in his career. There’s not many drivers who can say that.

Is it a Hall of Fame resume? No. But for a guy who’s a likely lifer with Ford after showcasing a decade of loyalty, there’s no better person to bring home the Blue Oval’s 1,000th NASCAR victory, of which Biffle is responsible for 55.

Good luck getting people to realize it, though. Here’s what else we learned Sunday as we go “Through the Gears” …


FIRST GEAR: Hendrick’s horror story
Turns out the oft-referenced horseshoe stuck up Jimmie Johnson’s … well, you know what … fell out sometime before the green flag at Michigan. Maybe it was replaced by kryptonite? The four-car Hendrick Motorsports fleet, hoping to be led by Johnson and Earnhardt Jr.’s Superman-themed No. 88, was the class of the field. But to finish first, you must first finish … and none of them were able to do that effectively.

Jeff Gordon was first to fall, a victim of a lap 7 crash where Bobby Labonte spun in front of him. Then, Kasey Kahne, running a spirited race to win for fallen friend Jason Leffler, blew a tire while running up front. His day ended in a ball of flames on Lap 104. That left Earnhardt seemingly in control, positioned to win his first race since this same event a year ago. But his engine erupted shortly before the 300-mile mark, leaving him sitting 37th in the garage.

Three down, one to go; Johnson was left with a car that might have been the fastest of the four. The problem, surprisingly, was the inability of crew chief Chad Knaus to call proper strategy. Taking four tires when others took two, then putting an extra can of fuel in while others did not found the No. 48 buried in 11th when the race went green for a final 27-lap run to checkers. It took all Johnson could muster to fight up to second, but the aggression took its toll; a flat tire and contact with the wall — not necessarily in that order — with three laps to go left him limping to the pits and a lap down in 28th.

That’s right, four Hendrick cars, zero drivers on the lead lap. It was the first time since Sonoma in 2005 that the entire fleet ran outside the top 25 at race’s end. Will it hamper HMS over the long-term? Yes and no. Johnson, who still has a 31-point advantage in the championship standings should have won each of the last three weeks. He’ll be fine. Kahne, now pushed back into “wild card” territory still has a Bristol victory and is a top-5 car on every intermediate the circuit runs. His Chase position, along with an additional win or two this summer, is a near certainty.

For Gordon and Earnhardt, the picture is less clear. The former is winless this year, sits 19 points outside the top 10 and has seemingly suffered through more bad luck in one season than Johnson has in an entire career. History says he’ll win one before Richmond, as always, to secure a spot — but you never know.

As for NASCAR’s Most Infamous Enigma, Michigan marked just the third time all year that the No. 88 has been out front, which is encouraging. But challenges in the form of Sonoma and Kentucky await. Add in a potential Daytona “Big One,” and suddenly this team, sitting 30 points inside the Chase cutoff, is scrapping with about 14 others for one of the final three playoff spots via points. That’s not a chance they want to take, because Junior hasn’t won a race away from Michigan since Richmond in April 2006.


SECOND GEAR: And it’s Ford for the steal!
With Hendrick down for the count and Toyota down on power — its big guns failed to lead a lap for the second straight week — the Michigan race was there for the taking. And Ford was more than happy to step in. Aside from winner Biffle, Joey Logano led 21 laps and ran a solid ninth, his fourth straight top-10 result. Polesitter Carl Edwards was one position better, and would have been higher if not for an ill-timed yellow while pit stops were under way that trapped him deep in the field.

It was a big moment for the Fusions, still a step behind and needing to take advantage of situations like Sunday’s to stay in the game. Now with Biffle holding a victory, it’s almost certain he and Edwards will be in the postseason field.

Surprisingly enough, while you’d think Penske Racing would be in better position, the momentum within that camp is tilting towards Roush Fenway. There’s no guarantee Logano or even reigning champ Brad Keselowski, who ran out of gas and came home a frustrating 12th, will even make the postseason. Keselowski, who was in the news last week for comments made about why Penske and RFR are struggling to work together, has to cut the chitchat, which got Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing infuriated over claims they’ve stolen employees. Instead, he must use his newfound street cred to continue the push to share information — the teams met extensively last week — because they’re going to need it.
 

Teaser:
<p> Reaction from Greg Biffle's win in NASCAR's Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan Interantional Speedway.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 13:02
Path: /college-football/big-ten-football-2013-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2013 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first, second and third All-Big Ten teams for this season.

Related Content: Big Ten Predictions for 2013

First-Team Offense

QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State

RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

RB Venric Mark, Northwestern

WR Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin

WR Allen Robinson, Penn State

TE Kyle Carter, Penn State

C Corey Linsley, Ohio State

OG Spencer Long, Nebraska

OG Andrew Norwell, Ohio State

OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan

OT Jack Mewhort, Ohio State



First-Team Defense

DE Deion Barnes, Penn State

DE Noah Spence, Ohio State

DT Beau Allen, Wisconsin

DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota

LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin

LB Max Bullough, Michigan State

LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State

CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State

S Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern

S Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State



First-Team Specialists

K Jeff Budzien, Northwestern

P Mike Sadler, Michigan State

KR Jordan Cotton, Iowa

PR Venric Mark, Northwestern


The Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 All-Big Ten Team

 FirstSecondThirdOverall
Illinois0022
Indiana0123
Iowa1315
Michigan1168
Michigan State4239
Minnesota1012
Nebraska2327
Northwestern4408
Ohio State73212
Penn State 3238
Purdue0314
Wisconsin35311


Second-Team Offense

QB Taylor Martinez, Nebraska

RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

RB James White, Wisconsin

WR Kenny Bell, Nebraska

WR Cody Latimer, Indiana

TE Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin

C Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern

OG Ryan Groy, Wisconsin

OG John Urschel, Penn State

OT Fou Fonoti, Michigan State

OT Jeremiah Sirles, Nebraska


 

Second-Team Defense

DE Tyler Scott, Northwestern

DE Adolphus Washington, Ohio State

DT Bruce Gaston, Purdue

DT DaQuan Jones, Penn State

LB Denicos Allen, Michigan State

LB James Morris, Iowa

LB Damien Proby, Northwestern

CB Ricardo Allen, Purdue

CB Nick Vanhoose, Northwestern

S C.J. Barnett, Ohio State

S Christian Bryant, Ohio State



Second-Team Specialists

K Mike Meyer, Iowa

P Cody Webster, Purdue

KR Dennis Norfleet, Michigan

PR Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin



Related Content: Big Ten Predictions for 2013


Third-Team Offense

QB Devin Gardner, Michigan

RB Mark Weisman, Iowa

RB Zach Zwinak, Penn State

WR Corey Brown, Ohio State

WR Jeremy Gallon, Michigan

TE Ted Bolser, Indiana

C Travis Jackson, Michigan State

OG Dan Feeney, Indiana

OG Dan France, Michigan State

OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa

OT Donovan Smith, Penn State


Third-Team Defense

DE Frank Clark, Michigan

DE Marcus Rush, Michigan State

DT Ethan Hemer, Wisconsin

DT Thad Randle, Nebraska

LB Jonathan Brown, Illinois

LB Mike Hull, Penn State

LB James Ross III, Michigan

CB Blake Countess, Michigan

CB Ciante Evans, Nebraska

S Dezmen Southward, Wisconsin

S Brock Vereen, Minnesota



Third-Team Specialists

K Brendan Gibbons, Michigan

P Justin Duvernois, Illinois

KR Akeem Hunt, Purdue

PR Jordan Hall, Ohio State


 

2013 Big Ten Team Previews

Leaders DivisionLegends Division
IllinoisIowa
IndianaMichigan
Ohio StateMichigan State
Penn StateMinnesota
PurdueNebraska
WisconsinNorthwestern


Related College Football Content

Big Ten Predictions for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 26-40
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 41-60
College Fooball Team Rankings for 2013: No. 61-80
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 81-100
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 101-125
College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era
College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Athlon gives its picks for the 2013 All-Big Ten team.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 12:12
Path: /college-football/mac-football-2013-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2013 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first and second All-MAC teams for this season.

Related Content: MAC Predictions for 2013

2013 All-MAC Team

First-Team Offense

QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

RB Dri Archer, Kent State

RB David Fluellen, Toledo

WR Bernard Reedy, Toledo

WR Willie Sneed, Ball State

TE Zane Fakes, Ball State

C Zac Kerin, Toledo

OG Dominic Flewellyn, Bowling Green

OG Jordan Hansel, Ball State

OT Ryan Brown, Northern Illinois

OT Ryan McGrath, Ohio



First-Team Defense

DE Jonathan Newsome, Ball State

DE Colby Way, Buffalo

DT Roosevelt Nix, Kent State

DT Nathan Ollie, Ball State

LB Desmond Bozeman, Western Michigan

LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo

LB Gabe Martin, Bowling Green

CB Dayonne Nunley, Miami (Ohio)

CB Cameron Truss, Bowling Green

S Boo Boo Gates, Bowling Green

S Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois



First-Team Specialists

K Jeremiah Detmer, Toledo

P Brian Schmiedebusch, Bowling Green

KR Dri Archer, Kent State

PR Bernard Reedy, Toledo



The Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 All-MAC Team

  First Second Overall
Akron 0 0 0
Ball State 5 3 8
Bowling Green 5 2 7
Buffalo 2 1 3
Central Michigan 0 3 3
Eastern Michigan 0 0 0
Kent State 3 2 5
Miami (Ohio) 1 0 1
Northern Illinois 3 5 8
Ohio 1 3 4
Toledo 5 3 8
UMass 0 1 1
Western Michigan 1 3 4



Second-Team Offense

QB Keith Wenning, Ball State

RB Beau Blankenship, Ohio

RB Zurlon Tipton, Central Michigan

WR Alex Neutz, Buffalo

WR Jaime Wilson, Western Michigan

TE Alex Bayer, Bowling Green

C Andrew Ness, Northern Illinois

OG Greg Mancz, Toledo

OG Pat McShane, Kent State

OT Jake Olson, Central Michigan

OT John Prior, Ohio



Related Content: MAC Predictions for 2013


Second-Team Defense

DE Jayrone Elliott, Toledo

DE Joe Windsor, Northern Illinois

DT Ken Bishop, Northern Illinois

DT Ted Ouellet, Bowling Green

LB Jamaal Bass, Northern Illinois

LB Justin Cherocci, Central Michigan

LB Keith Moore, Ohio

CB Cheatham Norrils, Toledo

CB Eric Patterson, Ball State

S Justin Currie, Western Michigan

S Luke Wollett, Kent State



Second-Team Specialists

K Matthew Sims, Northern Illinois

P Colter Johnson, UMass

KR Jamill Smith, Ball State

PR Jaime Wilson, Western Michigan


2013 MAC Team Previews

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

 


Related College Football Content

MAC Predictions for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013

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

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> MAC Football 2013 All-Conference Team</p>
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Bears, NFC, NFC North, NFL
Path: /nfl/chicago-bears-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

Even though the Chicago Bears won 10 games last season, they missed out on the playoffs and head coach Lovie Smith was fired. Can rookie NFL head coach Marc Trestman jump start the offense and lead the Bears back to the postseason? Here's our look at the Bears' 2013 NFL schedule.

Chicago Bears 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Cincinnati
Week 2: Minnesota
Week 3: at Pittsburgh
Week 4: at Detroit
Week 5: New Orleans
Week 6: New York Giants (Thurs.)
Week 7: at Washington
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: at Green Bay (Mon.)
Week 10: Detroit
Week 11: Baltimore
Week 12: at St. Louis
Week 13: at Minnesota
Week 14: Dallas (Mon.)
Week 15: at Cleveland
Week 16: at Philadelphia
Week 17: Green Bay

Order your 2013 Chicago Bears Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: The good news for Trestman is that his first two NFL games will come at home. The bad news is they are against Cincinnati and Minnesota, two teams that made the playoffs last season. After that, a tough trip to Pittsburgh will welcome the long-time CFL coach to life on the road in the NFL followed by a date in Detroit with the Lions. Considering the Bears will be employing a new offense and also have a new defensive coordinator (Mel Tucker replacing Rod Marinelli), finishing September with at least two wins would have to be considered a success.

Toughest Stretch: Chicago's opening month may not be easy, but it's not like the Bears' schedule eases up once they get into October either. From Weeks 5-11, Chicago plays six games (on bye in Week 8) and only two of these are on the road. However, the four home games during this stretch are against New Orleans, the New York Giants (on a Thursday night), Detroit and Baltimore, the defending Super Bowl champions. The offenses of the Saints and Giants figure to be good tests for the Bears defense before hitting the road to face the Redskins. The bye in Week 8 comes at a good time, as it will give Chicago extra time to prepare for its Monday night clash at Green Bay followed by hosting the Lions and Ravens at Soldier Field. This stretch will go a long ways toward defining the Bears' 2013 season.

Swing Games: NO (Week 5), at STL (Week 12)
Crossover Divisions: AFC North, NFC East
Bye Week: Week 8
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .502 (16th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 10th

Easiest Stretch: Following their Week 8 bye, the Bears will play five games on the road and four games at home. Two of these away games are at Cleveland and Philadelphia, two teams that also have first-year head coaches at the helm and combined to win just nine games a year ago. The trips to play the Browns and the Eagles are back-to-back and come right after the Week 14 Monday night game at home against Dallas. The Bears beat the Cowboys on the same stage in Dallas last season, so if they can take care of business at home and ride that momentum into their two-game road swing, they could be in a position to make up some ground in the playoff chase.

Circle The Calendar: The Bears vs. Packers is always a must-see matchup, so it's no surprise their Week 9 meeting is "Monday Night Football" material. Chicago will meet up with another historic, winning franchise when it goes to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers in Week 3. The Bears and Cowboys also will face off against each other on "MNF" for the second straight season, this time in the Windy City. The Week 14 primetime showdown carries a little more intrigue this season as Rod Marinelli, former Chicago defensive coordinator who is now the defensive line coach for the Cowboys, will be on the other sideline at Solider Field and tasked with trying to slow down Jay Cutler and the Bears' offense.

Divisional Notes: Chicago's NFC North slate is spread fairly even throughout the schedule. The Bears will play Minnesota (home) and Detroit (away) in Weeks 2 and 4 in their pre-bye (Week 8) slate. Right after the bye, Chicago will head to Lambeau Field for a "Monday Night Football" showdown with Green Bay and then turn around and host the Lions at Soldier Field. The second meeting with the Vikings precedes the Bears' other "MNF" date (against Dallas in Week 14) and the regular season fittingly ends with the Packers at home.

Playoff Push: Trestman and his team need to navigate the first three months of their schedule with enough success so they can be in a position to capitalize on some winnable games in December. The final month of the regular season opens in Minnesota before the spotlight shifts to a "Monday Night Football" clash with Dallas at home. The next two are on the road in Cleveland and Philadelphia, but the Browns and Eagles have new, first-year head coaches of their own and these two teams won fewer games combined (nine) than the Bears (10) last season. Momentum will be important headed into the regular-season finale with Green Bay, especially if the Packers' playoff positioning is still up in the air by the time Week 17 rolls around.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Provided Jay Cutler is still upright by this point, he will get to face the 16th-, 19th- and 31st-ranked defenses against fantasy QBs last season. Even better, Dallas, Cleveland and Philadelphia all have new defensive coordinators and these teams will be employing new systems in 2013. Don’t worry Matt Forte owners: the Cowboys (22nd), Browns (19th) and Eagles (23rd) weren’t all that effective against the run last season, either.
 


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas (6/18) Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)

Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Chicago Bears 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 11:45
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC North, Cleveland Browns, NFL
Path: /nfl/cleveland-browns-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

Cleveland hasn't made the playoffs since 2002. But with a new head coach and emerging young nucleus of talent, Browns fans are hoping that trend will end soon. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Cleveland Browns 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Miami
Week 2: at Baltimore
Week 3: at Minnesota
Week 4: Cincinnati
Week 5: Buffalo (Thurs.)
Week 6: Detroit
Week 7: at Green Bay
Week 8: at Kansas City
Week 9: Baltimore
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Cincinnati
Week 12: Pittsburgh
Week 13: Jacksonville
Week 14: at New England
Week 15: Chicago
Week 16: at New York Jets
Week 17: at Pittsburgh

Order your 2013 Cleveland Browns Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: The season opener will be huge for the new coaching regime as Miami comes to town in a very winnable game. Getting the Rob Chudzinski era under way with a win is important considering both Baltimore and Cincinnati, as well as NFC 2012 playoff team Minnesota, lurk in the first month. A 2-2 start to the season would be a big success heading into a short week and primetime showdown with Buffalo in Week 5.

Toughest Stretch: The four weeks following the off weekend might be the toughest stretch despite the contest with the lowly Jaguars in Week 13. Road trips to Cincy and New England and a home game with rival Pittsburgh over a four-week span has to be the toughest stretch of action for the Browns. Especially with a home test against the Bears after a trip to Foxborough, Mass.

Swing Games: at KC (Week 8), JAC (Week 13)
Crossover Divisions: AFC East, NFC North
Bye Week: Week 10
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .492 (21st)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 24th

Easiest Stretch: There is no easy stretch for the Browns but there may be a chance for some wins in the heart of the schedule from Week 5 to Week 8. Buffalo and Detroit at home are very winnable games and a trip to Kansas City could also provide a chance for success. Yes, a road trip to Lambeau Field lurks in Week 7, but this stretch might be the best shot at wins for Cleveland.

Circle The Calendar: There isn't a major storyline game on this schedule as neither of Chudzinski's former teams — San Diego or Carolina — is on the slate. College teammates Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon (Jacksonville WR) will be reunited in Week 13, while Trent Richardson will square off with Eddie Lacy (Green Bay RB) in Week 7. The most important game, however, will likely be Week 1 against Miami. A winnable game in Chudzinski's debut at home could set the tone for the entire season — and entire coaching tenure.

Divisional Notes: The worst part of the Browns' AFC North schedule is that they don't get to the play the Browns twice. It means that Cleveland might have the worst divisional schedule in the NFL this fall. The good news is that the six games are spread out over the course of the season. A bye week between hosting the Ravens and visiting Paul Brown Stadium also is helpful. Ending the year with a road trip to potential division champ Pittsburgh will be a rough way to end a new coach's first season.

Playoff Push: There are two extremely winnable games in the final month as games with Jacksonville and the Jets provide opportunity for success. However, road trips to New England and Pittsburgh in December will be nasty. A swing home game with Chicago could give the Browns a 3-2 mark in the final month and some potential momentum heading into the offseason — if the team isn't in playoff contention.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Those counting on Trent Richardson to win them a fantasy championship didn’t get a lot of help from the schedule-makers. The Patriots and Bears were ranked among the top 10 fantasy defenses against RBs last season. The Jets were a little more generous (No. 21) in this category, but there’s no guarantee that the Browns’ passing attack will be able to divert the defensive attention away from T-Rich.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas (6/18) Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 11:40
All taxonomy terms: Roto, MLB, Fantasy
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-june-17
Body:

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

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (June 10-16):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Carlos Gonzalez OF COL 6 3 8 1 .476 1.617
2. Adam Dunn* 1B/OF CWS 6 4 8 0 .389 1.423
3. Matt Joyce* OF TB 5 4 5 1 .385 1.423
4. Colby Rasmus* OF TOR 7 4 7 0 .222 1.253
5. Jason Kipnis 2B CLE 5 1 4 2 .524 1.355
6. Tyler Colvin* 1B/OF COL 6 3 7 0 .316 1.139
7. Allen Craig 1B/OF STL 6 2 7 0 .348 1.009
8. Jacoby Ellsbury OF BOS 5 0 1 7 .258 .582
9. Adam Lind* 1B TOR 5 2 6 0 .407 1.111
10. Carlos Gomez OF MIL 7 1 6 1 .333 1.037
11. Evan Longoria 3B TB 4 4 6 0 .308 1.195
12. Jose Bautista OF TOR 6 3 7 0 .240 .896
13. Elliott Johnson* 2B/SS KC 5 1 4 2 .389 1.111
14. Chris Davis 1B/OF BAL 3 3 8 0 .308 1.131
16. Hunter Pence OF SF 4 1 7 1 .360 .993
15. Ben Revere* OF PHI 5 0 2 2 .464 1.000
17. Starling Marte OF PIT 5 1 1 3 .455 1.227
18. Ian Desmond SS WAS 2 1 6 2 .421 1.121
19. Adam Jones OF BAL 5 2 8 0 .276 .842
20. Jay Bruce OF CIN 4 2 4 1 .355 1.039
21. Giancarlo Stanton OF MIA 3 2 7 0 .375 1.173
22. Andrew McCutchen OF PIT 6 0 5 1 .375 1.006
23. Zack Cozart* SS CIN 7 1 4 0 .357 .857
24. Nate Schierholtz* OF CHC 7 2 2 0 .368 1.447
25. Brandon Moss* 1B/OF OAK 3 3 5 0 .350 1.150

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

This week's waiver wire is a bit more position-specific in light of the injuries sustained by Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki and San Francisco's Marco Scutaro last week. Both were top-20 MI (2B/SS) options prior to their injury, with Tulowitzki being a top-10 overall player. Tulowitzki is the harder one to replace because of his all-around production, and it also appears he will be out the longest (expected 4-6 weeks) after breaking a rib on Thursday. Scutaro sustained a hand injury after getting hit by a pitch on Tuesday and the team still isn't sure about his prognosis. He says he wants to try and play through the injury, but that's not a given and he also runs the risk of making it worse and jeopardizing his season, especially if surgery is needed. So when it comes to a shallow position pool like MI, what's a Tulo/Scutaro owner to do? Here are five names (in alphabetical order) that could be worth taking a look at. Each are less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues.

Zack Cozart, SS, CIN (31% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
Cozart was quite productive last week (.357-1-4 with 7 R) and his status as the Reds' No. 2 hitter behind Shin Soo-Choo and in front of Joey Votto should be appealing in and of itself. Cozart is a top-25 MI option already and while batting average may never be his strong suit, he has more than enough power and opportunities in the second spot to be a reliable run producer. He hit 15 home runs last season, has six already in 2013 and should match, if not surpass, his 2012 RBI total (35) by the All-Star break. He already has 28 RBIs in his first 62 games this season.

Brandon Crawford, SS, SF (50%)
Scutaro's double-play partner has been more known for his glove than his bat, but that has changed this season. Crawford is a top-20 MI who has risen in Bruce Bochy's batting order. A .235 hitter entering this season, he is batting .288 through the middle of June and already has more home runs (five) than he did all of last season (four).

Omar Infante, 2B, DET (47%)
It's easy to lose track of Infante in Detroit's loaded lineup, but the Tigers' second sacker is more than holding his own. Even though he is at the bottom of the order, Infante has scored 33 runs and driven in 21, while batting near .300. He's not a big power-speed guy, but Infante is still capable of hitting one out of the park every now and then (four HRs) and stealing a bag (two SBs) on occasion.

Kelly Johnson, 2B/CI/OF, TB (60%)
Johnson is probably the closest available MI free agent that can provide the pop that Tulowitzki does. Johnson has 10 home runs and 37 RBIs entering this week, putting him in the top six among MIs in both categories. The caveats with Johnson is that he has a tendency to swing and miss, which impacts his batting average (.246), he can be a streaky hitter (.330-7-26 in May, .109-0-3 in June so far), and he could be in line to lose some at-bats now that the Rays have called up top prospect outfielder Wil Myers. Johnson can play all over the diamond, which makes it easier for Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon to plug him in his lineup and as well as for fantasy owners to find a spot for him in theirs.

Josh Rutledge, 2B/SS, COL (43%)
Rutledge was sent down to Triple-A in late May, even though he was a top-25 MI (26 R, 5 HR, 13 RBIs, 5 SB) at the time. The main issue with Rutledge was plate discipline (13 BB, 27 SO in 43 G) , which had a lot to do with his .242 average. The injury to Tulowitzki opened up a roster spot for Rutledge and he promptly hit a home run in his first game back with the Rockies. The batting average is the big question mark moving forward, but if Rugledge can find a way to get on consistently, he should produce, especially when he's at home and because of his power-speed potential.

Last Week:

Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF, SD: .200/.726, 6 R, 2 HR, 5 RBIs
Cameron Maybin, OF, SD: .250/1.250, 1 R, HR, RBI, (Went on DL on 6/10 with knee injury, out 6-10 weeks)
Carlos Quentin, OF, SD: .214/.567, 2 R, RBI
Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, WAS: .481/1.258, 4 R, HR, 5 RBIs

 

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Chris Tillman* BAL 19.0 3 16 1.42 0.95
2. Julio Teheran* ATL 20.0 2 22 2.25 0.85
3. Felix Hernandez SEA 21.1 2 23 2.11 0.94
4. Rick Porcello* DET 13.0 2 12 0.69 0.62
5. Eric Stults* SD 23.0 2 10 1.57 0.70
6. Miguel Gonzalez* BAL 20.1 3 14 2.21 0.89
7. Ervin Santana KC 14.2 2 9 1.23 0.68
8. Max Scherzer DET 14.0 2 15 1.93 0.79
9. Edwin Jackson* CHC 13.0 2 15 1.38 1.00
10. Madison Bumgarner SF 12.0 2 14 2.25 0.75
11. Corey Kluber* CLE 22.0 2 19 2.05 1.09
12. Adam Wainwright STL 14.0 2 13 1.29 1.00
13. Yovani Gallardo MIL 20.0 2 13 2.25 0.85
14. Kris Medlen ATL 19.2 2 16 1.83 1.12
15. Bartolo Colon* OAK 20.0 3 10 1.35 1.25
16. Mark Buehrle* TOR 14.0 1 10 0.64 0.86
17. Jeremy Bonderman* SEA 14.0 1 7 0.64 0.64
18. Lucas Harrell* HOU 20.2 1 14 1.74 0.87
19. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 20.0 1 16 1.80 0.95
20. Cole Hamels PHI 20.0 1 23 2.70 1.00

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

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

1. Mike Leake, CIN (Mon.) vs. Pittsburgh (56% owned)
Leake's WHIP (1.24) may be a little high for some people's tastes, but he has allowed just five earned runs over his last six starts (40 IP) and has a 31:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio during this span. He shut out the Pirates over six innings (7 H, 1 BB, 5 SO) on June 1 in Pittsburgh and as a team, the Pirates are 26th in the majors in both road batting average (.231) and runs scored (118 in 31 G).

2. Miguel Gonzalez (Sat.) at Toronto (17%)
Gonzalez has strung three straight quality starts together, going 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA and 0.89 WHIP (14 H, 4 BB) in those 20 1/3 innings. He has faced the Blue Jays twice already, including holding them to one run in 5 2/3 innings in Toronto back on May 26. He has a 3.31 ERA in road starts, compared to 4.15 at home and has given up just two home runs in 35 1/3 innings away from Camden Yards.

3. Jordan Lyles, HOU (Tues.) vs. Milwaukee (3%)
Lyles has allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his last six starts. The young right-hander has posted a 28:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio during this span, has gone at least five innings in each start and has watched his ERA go down by nearly five runs (8.36 to 3.48). What's more, the Astros have won four in a row and he won't have to worry about facing Ryan Braun (on the DL) in the Brewers' lineup.

4. Mark Buehrle, TOR (Wed.) vs. Colorado (13%)
After a horrendous start (5.50 ERA in April and May), the veteran left-hander has turned things around. Buehrle has a 1.80 ERA in his last three starts, including seven scoreless innings in a victory at Texas his last time out. Not surprisingly, Colorado's offense is nowhere near as potent away from Coors Field. The Rockies are first in MLB in runs scored at home with 214 in 39 games, but just 18th on the road with 133 in 30 contests. Buehrle also doesn't have to worry about facing Troy Tulowitzki, who was batting .313 with four home runs in 67 at-bats against lefties prior to going on the 15-day DL with a broken rib.

5. Chad Gaudin, SF (Thurs.) vs. Miami (6%)
Gaudin has moved from the bullpen to the rotation and even though he was hit somewhat hard by the Braves (8 H, 4 ER in 5 IP) in his last outing, he has done a good enough job to maintain his starting gig for now. The veteran righty has a 1.12 WHIP in his three starts and prior to his last one, he had gone 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in the first two. He gets the Marlins at home this week, where has a 0.61 ERA in 14 2/3 innings (all as a reliever). Even though the Marlins got Giancarlo Stanton back in their lineup, this is still a team that has struggled on the road. Miami is last in the majors in runs scored in away games with 100 in 32 games so far.

Closing Morsels:

San Diego closer Huston Street (calf strain) was activated from the DL on Saturday and promptly collected back-to-back saves to close out the weekend. The ERA (4.43) and home runs allowed (seven in 22 1/3 IP) are a little alarming, but the closing gig is his for the foreseeable future. One thing to watch with Street is the Padres could decide to trade him to another team between now and the July 31 deadline. If Street is moved, he will more than likely assume the closer duties for his new team ... Could that be Detroit? Jose Valverde blew the save chance on Wednesday against the Royals, ruining a gem by Justin Verlander. Papa Grande pitched a scoreless ninth on Thursday in a non-save situation, but on Sunday Tigers manager Jim Leyland went to Joaquin Benoit and not Valverde to close out the eighth and ninth of a 5-2 win over the Twins. After the game, Leyland said he thought Benoit was the "best option to close the game," and even though he added, "That was today," one can't help wonder if this is the start of a closer-by-committee situation or if Benoit has passed Valverde on the depth chart. The trade market also is a potential option as this is a Tigers team with its sights set squarely on the World Series ... Seattle's Tom Wilhelmsen has four blown saves on the season, but all of them have come since May 20. He has a 16.88 ERA in 5 1/3 innings (10 ER in 7 appearances) in June, and on Friday, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he was giving Wilhelmsen a "temporary break" from closing. That night, veteran Oliver Perez got the call and converted the save against the A's. That was the only save situation in the three-game set with Oakland, so it's too early to say if this is Perez' job or if right-hander Carter Capps (2-1, 4.38 ERA) will get some shots as well ... Cleveland's Chris Perez, who hasn't pitched since May 26 because of a shoulder strain, is progressing in his rehab. He pitched a scoreless inning for Lake County, the Indians' Low-A affiliate, on Sunday, in which he gave up two hits and struck out one. He could be ready to return as early as this week, but it remains to be seen if he will take over his closer duties from fill-in Vinnie Pestano right away or not. Prior to going on the DL, Perez had two blown saves in eight chances and was 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA. Pestano, who spent time on the DL in May with elbow tendinitis, picked up his first save on Sunday after blowing his first two opportunities on May 20 and 25. Velocity was an issue for Pestano when he initially came off of the DL, but it seems that he has returned to his normal levels over the past few weeks.

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

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: June 17</p>
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /nascar/greg-biffle-ford-snag-fathers-day-nascar-win-michigan
Body:

At no point in the last decade has winning a Sprint Cup Series race at the Michigan International Speedway been of more importance in the NASCAR ranks. A renewed emphasis on “manufacturer” over “car number” or “driver” — largely at the behest of Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota, the Cup Series’ three auto makes — has placed a premium on home field bragging rights near America’s automotive capital.

On Sunday, Greg Biffle planted Ford’s flag in its home turf, winning the Quicken Loans 400 in Michigan, giving team owner Jack Roush his 13th career Cup win at MIS, the most all-time for any one organization.

Biffle held off a field of hungry Chevrolets, led late in the event by Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick, to capture his second straight and fourth career Michigan win. It was also Ford Motor Company’s 1,000th win across NASCAR’s Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series.

"I was really worried about the 48 (Johnson)," Biffle said. "He was really fast. But when this thing could get in clean air, it was all over.

“We’ve still got a little bit of work to do with these cars back in traffic but once we get out front, like at Pocono last week, we think we’re pretty good. We just need to work on our cars a little bit. It’s not for lack of effort. This is real exciting for me.”

Forty-seven of Biffle’s race-high 48 laps led came with under 50 circuits to go in the 200-mile affair. Biffle’s No. 16, along with teammate Carl Edwards’ No. 99, occupied the top two spots with 34 laps to go and green flag pit stops on tap. Edwards hit pit road first, going one lap down prior to the field cycling through, while Biffle stopped two laps later. As Biffle’s crew completed service, Jamie McMurray blew out a right front tire, bring out the day’s eighth and final caution.

Edwards found himself trapped in 24th, while Biffle — having completed his stops without yet dropping a lap to the field — inherited the lead.

His main competition — aside from the pole-sitter Edwards — came in the form of Johnson, who led 18 laps throughout the day, but was regulated to 11th on what would be the final restart, a result of having the No. 48 crew top off the fuel tank on the final stop.

When the green flag waved with 27 laps remaining, Biffle quickly pulled away in clean air while Johnson began what appeared to be an unrelenting assault through the field. Within eight laps, the five-time champion was ensconced in third; nine laps later he occupied the runner-up slot.

However, Biffle held a stout 1.6-second lead at a track that places importance on track position — clean air allowing the leader to sprint away with an aerodynamic advantage. And with three circuits remaining, Johnson made the mistake that sealed his fate and Biffle’s win, brushing the wall in an effort to run down the leader. He was forced to pit road with heavy right-side damage.

Biffle coasted from there, easily outdistancing Harvick for a nearly three-second victory. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart rounded out the top 5. Contenders Edwards and Johnson finished eighth and 28th, respectively.

“I hate missing an opportunity,” Johnson said. “I want those (Chase) bonus points for winning races and feel like one got away from us today.”

Hendrick Motorsports once again seemed to be the organization to beat, as drivers Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne led for a total of 66 laps. However, Kahne blew a right front tire while out front on lap 105, slamming the Turn 2 wall and ending his day. He finished 38th. Earnhardt was his typical strong Michigan self until the engine in his No. 88 let go while running second on lap 132.

“We had such an awesome race car,” said Earnhardt, who finished 37th. “We actually improved the car on the last stop and I thought we were going to be able to give Jimmie a run. He probably was the best car out there.

“It’s frustrating. … I’m just real happy that we were able to turn around from what was a frustrating day (in practice) yesterday to put a great car on the starting grid, a car that was so competitive as it was today.”

Meanwhile, runner-up Harvick is quietly climbing his way through the point standings, having ascended from 12th to fourth in the last five races on the strength of five consecutive top 10s, including a victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I was pretty nervous as we finished practice yesterday,” Harvick said. “Those guys just did a great job again of talking through everything with myself and themselves to make some good decisions this morning — and they always do — and that's what makes this team good is they keep themselves in contention to be solid on days when you don't think you're going to be that great.”

With 11 races remaining in the Cup Series’ 26-race regular season, Johnson holds a 31-point advantage over Edwards, Clint Bowyer (-49), Harvick (-62) and Matt Kenseth (-82) in the championship standings.
 

Teaser:
<p> Greg Biffle wins the Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 19:56
Path: /golf/rose-denies-mickelson-merion
Body:

He wasn't the people's choice, but Justin Rose, an overnight success 15 years in the making, grabbed the 2013 U.S. Open by the throat with a clutch final-round 70 — the only score among the leaders to equal par. His 1-over finish gave him an unexpected but well-deserved two-shot win over Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

Rose, who contended as an amateur at the 1998 British Open, becomes the first Englishmen to win a major since Nick Faldo in 1996, beating heralded countrymen Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter to the punch. Rose's fairway metal from the fringe on the 72nd hole set up a clinching par and was a fittingly creative end to an Open that saw more changes in fortune than the financial meltdown.

On Father's Day, an emotional Rose credited his teacher/father, who died of cancer in 2002, with making him the golfer and man he is. "I couldn't help but look up at the heavens and think that old Ken had something to do with it," he said.

Rose also gave a shout-out to Masters champion Adam Scott for a confidence boost.

"I took a lot of encouragement from Adam Scott. … He sent me a beautiful text. He said, 'Your time is coming soon.' He's a wise man."

Philly Mick Falls Short Again
What can you say about the latest Lefty loss? The weekend was setting up beautifully for Mickelson, who posted a brilliant opening-round 67 at a surprisingly brutal Merion track, then held steady to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.

Finally, it seemed, the demons would be exorcised. Finally, the tournament that owed him one after two decades of heartbreak would yield to the will of his legion of followers. Lefty would celebrate his 43rd birthday and Father's Day with a trophy that he covets more than any other in the embrace of his loving family.

And when he erased one of his two early double bogeys with scintillating eagle 2 on No. 10 to retake the lead, it seemed that destiny was smiling on proud papa Mickelson.

Here's the Philadelphia eagle that electrified Merion and unleashed another ungainly Lefty Leap.

But two bogeys down the stretch and far too many burned edges and missed opportunities left Lefty the hard-luck loser yet again.

"This was my best chance. I was playing well on a golf course I really liked," said a candid, emotional Mickelson afterwards. "I hit good putt after good putt that I couldn't get to fall. I don't know what I would do different.

"When I made the eagle, it made me relax. It got me back to even, about where you think the winning score will be."

But mis-clubbed wedges at 13 and 15 led to crippling bogeys, followed by a makeable birdie miss at 16.

And another unhappy Father's Day.

The Week's Real Winner: Merion Golf Club
They said Merion was too short and too easy. They were dead wrong. Lee Westwood put it best with a succint tweet: "If Merion would have played dry this week like the USGA wanted, it would have been impossible."

It came darn close. The tight fairways and gnarled, rain-enhanced rough claimed victim after victim, including the world's top two players, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who finished 13-over and 14-over, respectively. "I'll look back at the things I did right and the things I did wrong. … I did a lot of things right. Unfortunately, I did a few things wrong," Woods said. After a 13-over finish, I'd say more than a few.

Teaser:
<p> A Rose for Father's Day at the U.S. Open</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 19:38
Path: /college-football/acts-college-football-pranks-vandalism-and-kidnapping
Body:

Clemson officials acknowledged this week that Howard’s Rock, the iconic touchstone Clemson players rub before running onto the field at home games, was damaged by vandals around June 2 or 3.

The perpetrators allegedly broke into the stadium, removed the glass casing and broke a piece of the rock, which has been a staple of Clemson games since 1966.

This is not the first time one of college football’s venerated traditions has been the victim of violence. When it comes to rivalries, fan mischief ranges from amusing — kidnapping mascots or easily repaired vandalism, for example — to disturbing and potentially damaging to cherished traditions for generations to come.

FOOTBALL RIVALRIES GONE BAD: ACTS OF VANDALISM, THEFT AND KIDNAPPING

Toomer’s Oaks Poisoned (2010)
In a saga that played out over the Paul Finebaum radio show in Birmingham, Ala., Crimson Tide fan Harvey Updyke called in under the pseudonym “Al from Dadeville” to reveal he had poisoned Auburn’s 130-year-old oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. For generations, fans rolled Toomer’s Corner after Auburn wins. The trees were removed in April, and Updyke was released from a six-month jail sentence earlier this month.

Kidnapping of Reveille VI (1993)
Reveille VI, then a 4-month-old puppy who had yet to serve her term as A&M’s mascot, was kidnapped before the Aggies’ Cotton Bowl appearance. A Texas student claimed responsibility for dognapping Reveille, the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets. Shortly after, Reveille was safely recovered.

The Origin of the Victory Bell (1941)
When the UCLA-USC series resumed in 1941 after a hiatus, USC students masquerading as UCLA fans stole the Bruins’ Victory Bell, which rings after every UCLA point. UCLA students responded by by defacing USC’s Tommy Trojan statue. USC then vandalized UCLA’s field. By the time the Bruins hatched a plan to kidnap USC’s student body president, both parties agreed things had gone too far. USC eventually agreed to return the Victory Bell if it became the game trophy.

Birth of Bevo (1917)
Texas A&M and Texas resumed their series in 1915 after a brief hiatus with the Aggies winning 13-0. Texas came back to win 21-7 the following season and planned to parade its Longhorn steer through College Station before the 1917 game. The Aggies responded by sneaking into the steer’s pen and branding him with “13-0.” Drawing inspiration from a billboard for Bevo Beer, Texas students altered the 13-0 to read BEVO.

Theft of Testudo (1948)
At one point the Maryland-George Washington series was heated enough that GW fraternity members stole Maryland’s 400-pound bronze statute of Testudo the turtle. In the 1949 yearbook, George Washington published a poem “Travels of Testudo” about the statue’s gambling trip to Reno. A year earlier, before the national championship lacrosse match, Johns Hopkins students stole Testudo and buried him.

Arizona Politics Spill onto the Field (1958)
Before 1958, Arizona was the only university in the state -- at least until Proposition 200 would change Arizona State College to Arizona State University. Angry and prideful Arizona fans burned “No 200” into the field at Sun Devil Stadium weeks before the two teams faced each other at Arizona. Arizona State got the last laugh as Prop 200 passed and the Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 47-0. (tip of the hat to Shane Dale)

Bill the Goat Stolen (2012)
How many college football pranks end at the Pentagon? Before last season’s Army-Navy game, Navy’s mascot Bill the Goat was stolen and left in front of the Pentagon. Army said it had no knowledge of the theft. Bill was returned safely.

SMU’s Long Game (1999)
Going beyond simple vandalism or kidnapping, the SMU band gets high marks for thinking outside the box. The band left rye grass seeds in the turf at Amon Carter Stadium, in its trademark "M" formation, to leave its mark. In 2007, SMU used weed killer to spell PONY on TCU’s field.

Green Raiders (2006)
Further proof that bitter rivalries span all levels: Middle Tennessee fans arrived at Floyd Stadium before a game against Tennessee Tech to find that their Blue Horseshoe statue had been painted green, only it hadn’t. Tennessee Tech fans snuck in during the night to paint it gold. Middle Tennessee hoped to change it back to blue, but the gold paint hadn’t dried, giving the statue its temporary green hue. (tip of the hat to J.R. Lind)

Are there any we forgot? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook, and we'll add them to the list.

Teaser:
<p> The damage to Howard's Rock at Clemson was only the latest tarnishing of tradition</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 14:50
All taxonomy terms: Carolina Panthers, NFC, NFC South, NFL
Path: /nfl/carolina-panthers-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The Carolina Panthers finished strong last season, winning their last four games. Can Cam Newton lead his team to the playoffs in his third season? Here's our look at the Panthers' 2013 NFL schedule.

Carolina Panthers 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Seattle
Week 2: at Buffalo
Week 3: New York Giants
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: at Arizona
Week 6: at Minnesota
Week 7: St. Louis
Week 8: at Tampa Bay (Thurs.)
Week 9: Atlanta
Week 10: at San Francisco
Week 11: New England (Mon.)
Week 12: at Miami
Week 13: Tampa Bay
Week 14: at New Orleans
Week 15: New York Jets
Week 16: New Orleans
Week 17: at Atlanta

Order your 2013 Carolina Panthers Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Carolina fans should be happy with their team's opening month slate since it means Seattle and the New York Giants will both be coming to Charlotte. But then again, the fans aren't the ones who have to play these two NFC powerhouses. Sandwiched between these two home contests is a trip up north to face Buffalo. The Panthers' bye comes in Week 4, meaning they will have to play 13 straight weeks starting Oct. 6.

Toughest Stretch: Crossover play with the AFC East and NFC West is one thing, but when the schedule lines up three straight division champions from last season in a row? That's what the Panthers are facing in November with Atlanta (home), San Francisco (away) and New England on tap in Weeks 9-11. To add to the degree of difficulty, the Falcons game is preceded by a Thursday night road game at Tampa Bay in Week 8, and then there's the matter of the cross-country trip to play the 49ers on their turf. At least the matchup with the Patriots gives Cam Newton and company an opportunity to play in the "Monday Night Football" spotlight.

Swing Games: NYG (Week 3), at MIN (Week 6)
Crossover Divisions: AFC East, NFC West
Bye Week: Week 4
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .543 (1st)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 13th

Easiest Stretch: Carolina's home schedule is pretty brutal (Seattle, New York Giants, St. Louis, Atlanta, New England, Tampa Bay, New York Jets and New Orleans), so it's kind of unfair that the Panthers' "easiest" games are on the road. Buffalo, Arizona, Minnesota and Miami are the non-divisional destinations and could present opportunities to come up with big road wins. The matchups with the Cardinals and Vikings come back-to-back following the Panthers' bye in Week 4, so I guess that will have to suffice for this exercise. The bottom line is this - there are very few breathers on this schedule for head coach Ron Rivera and his team.

Circle The Calendar: No lack of options here. The opener with Seattle will be intriguing because of the matchup between the Seahawks' defense and Newton. There's also the Week 10 trip to San Francisco, which will feature the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick and Newton, who are similar in their playing style, athleticism and dual-threat ability, on the same field. (Although the 49ers' defense figures to be a much tougher test for Newton compared to the Panthers' D for Kaepernick.) And if that's not enough, the following week will highlight quarterbacks with totally contrasting playing styles, as Tom Brady and the Patriots pay a visit to Charlotte for "Monday Night Football."

Divisional Notes: The Panthers don't play an NFC South opponent until a Thursday night date in Tampa Bay in Week 8. That means six of Carolina's final 10 games are divisional contests, highlighted by two against New Orleans in a three-week span (Weeks 14 and 16). That first game against the Buccaneers is followed by a home date with Atlanta, while the second meeting precedes a road game in New Orleans. In addition to playing the Saints twice in a three-week span, the Panthers have the daunting task of finishing their regular season in the Georgia Dome against the Falcons.

Playoff Push: A playoff berth in Newton's and Rivera's third season would be a huge statement for this team. However, Carolina's tough schedule may make this goal too hard to accomplish, even if the Panthers put together another strong final month like they did last season when they won their final four games. The last month of this season has the Panthers playing four divisional games, including two against New Orleans, along with a rare visit from the New York Jets. With four of its six divisional contests set for December, it's entirely possible that Carolina could have a fighting chance at a playoff spot, provided this team is able to survive the first three months of the season.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): In an interesting schedule quirk, the Panthers get the Saints twice in a three-week span, sandwiched by a visit from the Jets. If Cam Newton continues to make strides as a passer, he will get two shots at the defense that surrendered the most fantasy points to QBs and WRs last season. A different plan of attack may be employed against the Jets, who finished 26th against the run.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland (6/17) Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas (6/18) Chicago (6/17) Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)

Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Carolina Panthers 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 11:50
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC North, Cincinnati Bengals, NFL
Path: /nfl/cincinnati-bengals-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs four times since 1990, but three of those four have come in the last four seasons. This franchise is looking to take the next step in the postseason this fall. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Cincinnati Bengals 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at Chicago
Week 2: Pittsburgh (Mon.)
Week 3: Green Bay
Week 4: at Cleveland
Week 5: New England
Week 6: at Buffalo
Week 7: at Detroit
Week 8: New York Jets
Week 9: at Miami (Thurs.)
Week 10: at Baltimore
Week 11: Cleveland
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: at San Diego
Week 14: Indianapolis
Week 15: at Pittsburgh
Week 16: Minnesota
Week 17: Baltimore

Order your 2013 Cincinnati Bengals Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Few teams will begin the season like the Bengals in 2013. The first five weeks of the season have to be the league's toughest opening slate and the first three weeks are definitely the NFL's most difficult opening. Home games with Pittsburgh, Green Bay (after a short week) and New England coupled with road games against Chicago and Cleveland offer as nasty a first month as there is in the NFL. And two of these contests are divisional games that will likely decide playoff seeding come the season's end.

Toughest Stretch: The final month of the season won't be any easier for Marvin Lewis and company. Road games with San Diego and Pittsburgh will be tough and three other playoff teams from a year ago — Indianapolis, Minnesota and Baltimore — will come to Paul Brown Stadium during the season's most important month. Not only are two of those tests against divisional foes, but this slate also includes four AFC teams that figure to battle for a postseason berth.

Swing Games: at SD (Week 13), IND (Week 14)
Crossover Divisions: AFC East, NFC North
Bye Week: Week 12
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .508 (12th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 4th

Easiest Stretch: With the AFC's toughest schedule according to Athlon Sports, there are few breaks in '13 for the Bengals. But there is a four-week stretch in the heart of the season that will allow this team catch its breath. Three of them are on the road but Cincy should be favored heavily in all four. Fans of the Bills, Lions, Jets and Dolphins can't possibly be expecting to make the playoffs this fall, can they?

Circle The Calendar: Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Big Ben and Adrian Peterson are all coming to Cincinnati this year (buy your season tickets now, folks). But when the defending Super Bowl champs roll into town for the regular-season finale, all eyes will be on Paul Brown Stadium. The AFC North championship and/or a wild card berth should be on the line, providing a fitting end to the regular season.

Divisional Notes: The AFC North could be the most balanced and deepest division in the AFC this fall (sorry, Browns fans). The good news is the Bengals will get extra time to prepare for both Pittsburgh in Week 2 (Monday night) and the trip to Baltimore in Week 10 (Thursday night game in Miami the previous week). The bad news is the Bengals will play at Pittsburgh and will host Baltimore over the final three weeks of the season. This does afford the team a chance to win the division on its own. However, it also means the division favorite (Steelers) and the defending Super Bowl champs could control their own destiny as well. Much will hang in the balance in the final three weeks for Cincinnati.

Playoff Push: As the "toughest stretch" shows, the final month of the season will be brutal for the Bengals. The two division games are massive but a potential wild card showdown with Indianapolis and visit from the developing Vikings and All-Day are just as difficult. The good news is three of the final four contests will come at home, including the all-important regular season finale against the Ravens.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): A visit to Heinz Field, especially considering that the Steelers were No. 1 in the NFL in both total and passing defense last season, is not what you want to see on a fantasy postseason schedule. What there is to like: the two home games against Indianapolis and Minnesota. The Colts’ and Vikings’ defenses are not the second coming of the Steel Curtain, as evidenced by their 21st and 24th rankings, respectively, against the pass last season.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland (6/17) Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas (6/18) Chicago (6/17) Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Cincinnati Bengals 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 11:50
Path: /nascar/nascar-heads-michigan-mourns-loss-jason-leffler
Body:

1. Reflecting on Jason Leffler, forever a hard charger
News of Jason Leffler’s death after a New Jersey sprint car crash ran fast, far and wide this week. His passing is, as it too often becomes, a startling reminder that race car drivers don’t compete in an arena like most other athletes.

Racing isn’t just entertainment. It’s a way of life — an often difficult one — for those who pursue it. For every NASCAR national series driver traveling by jet and racing in front of tens of thousands, there are hundreds of others hopefully scraping enough dollars together for new tires every few races or working through the night to make repairs from the last time out.

They do it for the thrill of a well-executed pass, or to feel the joy of victory lane one more time. They do it for the speed, for the rush and for the adventure that’s forever locked inside the walled confines of a racetrack only available to those who work hard enough to enter. It’s an event of open participation, but an experience only a select few ever try.

I didn’t know Jason Leffler, and I never interviewed him. I won’t pretend to know what motivated him to slide in a race car for the first time so long ago, or know what he was seeking from racing Wednesday night at Bridgeport Speedway in an event that paid $7,000 to win. I just know that Jason Leffler was a race car driver in the purest sense with a style both brash and unbounded.

He pushed limits and occasionally stepped over them. He was unflinchingly aggressive when a gap opened — often to a fault — and was more than willing to seek retribution against a driver who had done him wrong. If Jason Leffler was in a race, you more than likely knew it regardless if he was first or 25th.

It all combined to produce in Leffler the status and goal every racer wishes to achieve: Winner.

Leffler didn’t win as often as he liked — no driver ever does — but he was a four-time champion in the USAC ranks in midget and silver crown cars. He started the Indianapolis 500 and he did score trips to victory lane in both the Nationwide Series and NASCAR’s truck series.

It was after his second and final Nationwide Series race win in 2007 at the former Indianapolis Raceway Park that perhaps told us all we need to know about why Leffler spent the majority of his life scrambling across the country to jump behind a steering wheel. Leffler, who had just beat Greg Biffle and David Reutimann using his standard strong-nosed tactics, went through the usual gratuitous crew and sponsor acknowledgements in the post-race interview before he paused, looked directly to the ESPN interviewer and shouted.

“I’m happy!”

Jason Leffler loved his life of racing. And he especially loved the winning. It’s terribly unfortunate and greatly saddening that he lost his life in that continued pursuit. But it’s also comforting knowing that Leffler — at least occasionally — had found what he was chasing.


2. Anniversary brings talk of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
You may have read Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Michigan International Speedway last June. You may have heard that Sunday’s race is the one-year anniversary of Earnhardt’s last win. You may have also heard that the confluence of that event with Earnhardt’s great run at Pocono Raceway last week have made him a good pick for Sunday’s race.

While picking a race winner is often a trivial pursuit (unless you’re picking Jimmie Johnson every week), there are a lot of signs that Earnhardt should have a good car Sunday in Michigan.

Consider that Earnhardt had a top-10 finish at Auto Club Speedway earlier this season. Consider that he’s typically been strong on the tracks similar to Michigan this year. And consider that Earnhardt feels his car is measuring closer to the performance of the No. 48.

“I looked through the notes from last year, and we didn’t unload perfect. We had to work to get it right,” Earnhardt said. “You don’t go in with confidence that you are going to go there and it will be perfect. You have the confidence to know that we will get it dialed in.”

A win last year is certainly no guarantee of success for Earnhardt. But to come back to a track as a defending race winner riding the wave of confidence from recent good runs is a great start to a solid weekend.


3. Ride swaps on tap for Allmendinger, Labonte
Bobby Labonte has become an afterthought in the Sprint Cup Series in recent seasons. After filling the seat vacated by Marcos Ambrose in the JTG-Daughtery No. 47 in 2011, Labonte has just four top 10s to his name. None of those have come in 2013 for the 2000 series champion, and the team apparently is losing some patience with the direction to this point.

As a result, AJ Allmendinger was hired to drive the No. 47 Sunday at Michigan in an attempt to perhaps find some solutions to speed and handling issues in the Gen-6 car. Sunday’s event is the first of five races Allmendinger will drive for the team over the course of the season.

Meanwhile, Labonte will preserve his 702-race consecutive starts streak by jumping in the ever-rotating seat of James Finch’s No. 51.

While it’s not certain that this driver switch for the No. 47 officially opens the NASCAR silly season of driver and team changes, it’s not often that one driver takes over another driver’s ride for performance reasons — even if temporarily — without some larger adjustment down the road.
 

Teaser:
<p> Geoffrey Miller pays tribute to Jason Leffler and highlights the five storylines to follow as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Michigan International Speedway.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 11:40
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/mlbs-best-according-players
Body:

At the end of each MLB season, baseball writers cast their votes for MVP, Cy Young, Rookie and other award winners. But have you ever wondered who the players think is the best in the game?

We did and that's why Athlon Sports polled today's players on who they think is the best when it comes to certain categories, such as best pure hitter, best defender and best baserunner. These questions were part of a larger survey through which we gauged the opinions, tastes and preferences of today's players on a variety of topics related to both on and off-field issues. More than a fifth of all MLB players responded for this survey, which appears in full in the upcoming June issue of Athlon Sports Magazine, so we feel this is a fair representation of the mindset of today’s major-leaguers.

Best Pure Hitter?
(Numbers following name represent the percentage of the vote player received)

1. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit (61.0%)
2. Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees (6.2%)
3. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati (5.5%)
4. Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota (4.8%)
T-5. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee (4.1%)
T-5. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels (4.1%)
7. Albert Pujols, 1B/DH, Los Angeles Angels
(3.4%)

No one should be surprised that Cabrera, the reigning AL Triple Crown winner and MVP, was the runaway winner here. The Tigers' slugger is leading the majors in both batting average and RBIs once again and at his current pace, he would top his Triple Crown-winning numbers from last season. In 2012, Cabrera posted the following line: .330-44-139. Through 64 games this season, he's batting .358 and is on pace to finish with 45 home runs and 174 RBIs, along with 129 runs scored (109 last year) and 101 walks (just 66 in 2012).

If there were any surprises in this vote, it's probably that Mauer, a catcher by trade, finished fourth and Mike Trout, who is in his first full season in the majors, came in tied for fifth with 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun. Mauer, now in his 10th season, is a career .323 hitter who currently is third in the AL with a .332 average. On the other hand, Trout has played in less than 250 career games and is eight years younger than anyone else on this list. Trout is 21 years old, Braun and Joey Votto are the next youngest at 29. Trout's career batting average currently stands at .304, but it's obvious his peers like what they see from the young superstar at the plate.

Related: 10 Baseball Players Who Would Make Great Managers

Best Baserunner

1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels (19.3%)
2. Michael Bourn, OF, Cleveland (13.1%)
3. Dee Gordon, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (9.7%)
4. Peter Bourjos, OF, Los Angeles Angels (8.3%)
T-5. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (4.8%)
T-5. Ben Revere, OF, Philadelphia (4.8%)
7. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B/OF, Toronto (4.1%)
T-8. Jarrod Dyson, OF, Kansas City (3.4%)
T-8. Tony Campana, OF, Arizona (3.4%)

There's that Trout kid again. The AL Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up to Miguel Cabrera last season, Trout led the league in stolen bases in 2012 with 49 in just 139 games. He's added 14 more this season and has been caught just eight times in 75 career attempts (89 percent success rate).

Bourn averaged 53 steals a season from 2008-12 and McCutchen has swiped at least 20 in each of his first four full seasons. Outside of these three, however, there are no other All-Stars among the top vote getters. Bourjos and Revere see plenty of playing time for their respective teams, but Bonifacio and Dyson (who is currently on the DL) are part-time players, while Campana and Gordon are currently in the minor leagues.

Best Defender

1. Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis (13.5%)
2. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels (10.6%)

3. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Cleveland (9.2%)
4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado (5.7%)
5. Brendan Ryan, SS/2B, Seattle (5.0%)
T-6. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas (4.3%)
T-6. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati (4.3%)
8. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh (3.6%)

A five-time Gold Glove recipient, Molina's reputation as the best defensive catcher in baseball is well established and it's clear his work doesn't go unnoticed by his peers. His defense and ability to shut down a team's running game have been critical to the Cardinals' pitching success during his tenure in St. Louis. His defensive contributions go beyond his glove, as he often will direct the positioning of the other fielders from behind the plate.

Trout's range and athleticism have already produced a number of highlight-reel catches and more than likely will net the young outfielder a Gold Glove in the near future, perhaps as early as this season. Cabrera has yet to take home any hardware for his defense, but he's put together a nice collection of "Web Gems" for his wizardry at shortstop. Beltre has won four Gold Gloves at third while Phillips has three at second and has turned the over-the-shoulder catch into an art form. It's also nice to see that players respect defense on its own, as evidenced by Ryan's inclusion in this list. The Mariners' versatile middle infielder is as slick and smooth as they come with the glove, which is a good thing considering Ryan is hitting just .210 this season.

Best Throwing Catcher

1. Yadier Molina, St. Louis (65.5%)
2. Matt Wieters, Baltimore (7.6%)
3. Joe Mauer, Minnesota (5.5%)
4. Sal Perez, Kansas City (3.5%)
5. Miguel Olivo, Miami (2.8%)

No real surprise here. For his career, Molina has cut down nearly half (45 percent) of the baserunners who have tried to steal on him. His reputation alone is enough to cause would-be base stealers to shorten their lead from first, making the pitcher's job of holding them close that much easier.

While he has not developed into the offensive player many expected, Wieters has been every bit as good as advertised behind the plate. The winner of the last two Gold Gloves in the AL, the Orioles' backstop has nailed more than half (52 percent) of those attempting to steal thus far. Mauer's defense can get lost because of his ability as a hitter, but he's won three Gold Gloves (2008-10) and has shown he's more than capable at first base too. Perez is only 23 years old, while Olivo is a 12-year veteran who has played for six different teams and has thrown out 34 percent of those attempting to steal in his career (1,041 GP at C).

Best Outfield Arm

1. Jeff Francoeur, Kansas City (16.6%)
2. Rick Ankiel, Free Agent (15.4%)
3. Gerrardo Parra, Diamondbacks (6.3%)
T-4. Jose Bautista, Toronto (5.6%)
T-4. Carlos Gonzalez (right), Colorado (5.6%)
6. Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati (4.9%)
T-7. Nelson Cruz, Texas (2.8%)
T-7. Bryce Harper, Washington (2.8%)

Francoeur has a cannon for an arm, which he has used to rack up 119 outfield assists in his nine-year career. Unfortunately, it appears that his days as a full-time player are over. Unable to successfully hit the catcher's mitt from 60 feet, six inches, Ankiel found more use for his howitzer of a left arm when he moved from the pitcher's mound to the outfield. He's currently looking for a job following his release by the Mets, the second team (Astros) he's played for this season.

Parra has finally gotten a chance to showcase his all-around game this season with the Diamondbacks, while Bautista and Gonzalez have big arms to go with their big bats. Even though he's currently on the DL with a knee issue, Harper will more than likely continue to rise on this list in the years to come.

Best Pickoff Move

1. Andy Pettitte, SP, New York Yankees (40.6%)
2. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (12.6%)
3. Mark Buehrle, SP, Toronto (10.5%)
4. Clayton Richard, SP, San Digeo (7.7%)
5. Travis Blackley, RP, Houston (5.6%)
6. James Shields, SP, Kansas City (4.9%)
7. Chris Capuano, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (3.5%)

Pettitte, who will turn 41 on Saturday, may be one of the oldest players in the majors, but that doesn't mean he still can't teach the young guys a thing or two. The active pitcher with the most wins (250), Pettitte has 97 career pickoffs in his 18 seasons. Kershaw is 16 years younger than Pettitte, but he already has one Cy Young award to his credit and he has 40 career pickoffs so far.

One thing all these pitchers have in common, with the exception of Shields, is they are left-handed, giving them a natural sight line of the man on first as they get ready to deliver the pitch. Even though Blackley is a southpaw, his inclusion is interesting as he is by far the least accomplished pitcher on this list. Currently a reliever for Houston, Blackley has started games for Seattle, Oakland and San Francisco, and his career record stands at 7-7 with a 5.25 ERA. So why did he get the fifth-most votes you ask? How about seven pickoffs last season in less than 108 innings pitched. Obviously that got the attention of his peers, not to mention a few votes.

Related MLB Content:

10 Baseball Players Who Would Make Great Managers

Teaser:
<p> MLB players cast their vote for who they think is the best on the diamond</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: Phil Mickelson, Golf
Path: /golf/phil-mickelsons-greatest-hits
Body:

Phil Mickelson had perhaps the greatest round of a great career, shooting a final-round 66 to win the British Open by three shots after starting the day five behind leader Lee Westwood. One key to the victory was his laser 3-wood second shot to the par-5 17th that set up a two-putt birdie. It was the latest in a career defined by heroic shots.

Sure, he's lost his share of tournaments, many of them in heartbreaking fashion. But he's also escaped from disaster countless times with creative flops, clutch putts and a nearly unmatched flair for the dramatic.

Here's a video rundown of some of Mickelson's greatest moments - 11 of the greatest golf shots of his remarkable career, starting with the 2013 Open Championship.

 

11. 2013 British Open

Phil's monster 3-wood second shot on the massive par-5 17th at Muirfield was the key moment of his career-defining round.

 

10. 2011 Farmers Insurance Open
Only Phil would treat us to the spectacle of having caddy Bones Mackay tend the pin on an approach shot from the fairway.

 

9. 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship
Mickelson's the ultimate shot-shaper, which he proved with this bender around the trees at the Byron Nelson.

 

8. 2009 Tour Championship
For Mickelson, this was a routine chip-in, but given the circumstances — it clinched his Tour Championship win — it makes the list.

 

7. 2008 Crowne Plaza Invitational
Another stunning escape from the trees. All in a day's work.

 

6. 2009 Doral
Once was not enough. Lefty displayed his short-game mastery with consecutive chip-ins at Doral.

 

5. 2012 Masters
Phil's known for his flop shot, but from this position? Under Masters pressure? Sick.

 

4. 2010 BMW
Sometimes, it's preferable for fans (and for Phil) when he misses the green.

 

3. 2000 Chevron World Challenge
Only Phil would even think to attempt this bizarre shot, much less pull it off — a chip-in on an ice-littered green.

 

2. 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open
Mickelson broke Brandt Snedeker's heart with this bomb through the fringe and down the slope on No. 7 in the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

 

1. 2010 Masters
The hero shot to top all hero shots — Phil off the pine straw on 13 at Augusta. Pure guts.

Teaser:
<p> The Open Champion Has Had Countless Career-Defining Moments</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 10:49
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-june-10
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for June 14.

• "Man of Steel" opens this weekend, which prompted Coed to count down the sexiest Lois Lanes of all time. Amy Adams ranks pretty high on that list.

Last night, the Big Three lived up to the hype. Finally. Pop let Tim Duncan that he wasn't mad, though. At least not at him.

This Spurs fan is no doubt eating cold pizza for breakfast this morning. And for the next 26 mornings.

Chris Bosh won't win any Oscars for flopping, but hey, it drew a foul. Well worth the fine.

All that chatter about Merion being too easy a venue for the U.S. Open? Yeah, never mind about that. The marquee threesome of Tiger, Rory and Adam Scott combined to go 8-over in the first round.

• Ooh, this could get interesting. Bill Simmons bites the hand that feeds him via Twitter.

I know sports editors are poorly paid, but this guy's choice of a second job is highly dubious.

• A Father's Day weekend morsel: How Mom's advice differs from Dad's.

• October's when the you-know-what gets real in the SEC. Here's an October schedule analysis from Saturday Down South.

Tim Tebow's signing with New England gave Jimmy Fallon the excuse to trot out Tebowie. That makes it all worth it.

• I've truly never seen anything like what happened to Carl Pettersson at the U.S. Open yesterday. At least not where sober professionals are playing.

 

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


June 13

• My favorite part of hockey? Probably the ice girls, but then I'm kind of a pig. Enjoy this photo array of the ice girls of the 2013 Stanley Cup finals.

• Recently retired point guard Jason Kidd is the Nets' new head coach. For what it's worth, Magic Johnson approves.

They played hockey last night. And played. And played.

It's raining at Merion, but I don't think the heavy stuff will be here for a while.

Lolo Jones took to Vine to try to score a date with Michael Phelps. Her desperation is starting to show.

• Football news from down SEC way: Florida's o-line is better than you might realize. And this schedule analysis shows that they like their cupcakes down in Mississippi. Not surprising, considering the obesity rates.

• Tis the season for a summer grilling guide.

• Today's '90s flashback: Back in the days of flannel, the Seattle sound and Monica Lewinsky, these sports power couples ruled the headlines.

Somebody vandalized Clemson's iconic Howard's Rock. Dabo Swinney needs to find a way to pin it on Florida State.

• An exhausted Andrew Shaw apparently let an f-bomb slip on live TV in his postgame interview. After nearly 120 minutes of hockey, we'll cut him some slack.

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


June 12

• Since it's Stanley Cup season, what better time to celebrate Canada's sexiest women, including hockey WAG Elisha Cuthbert? Speaking of Ms. Cuthbert, here are 25 tantalizing GIFs. Once again, the Internet proves its worth.

This Erik Spoelstra GIF says all that needs to be said about last night's Spurs rout. He and his assistants look like they're waiting for a bus.

• A little late to this, but the Internet freaked out over AJ McCarron possibly cheating on Katherine Webb.

• Remember Tiger mistress Rachel Uchitel? Her taste in men continues to underwhelm.

• Many think that early-season SEC football is a cupcake parade, but that's not quite accurate. Here are the league's five toughest August/September schedules. There are some legit matchups in there.

The USGA's pace-of-play initiative borrows a line from "Caddyshack." This is a campaign I can get behind.

• Need a schadenfreude fix this morning? Here are 25 pictures of athletes who just lost championships.

• Not sports-related, but I'm throwing this one in for free: a Mitch Hedberg quote generator. Who's Mitch Hedberg, you ask? Only one of history's most underrated comedians.

How powerful is Jack Nicholson? He got Maria Menounos kicked out of a Laker game for wearing a Celtics jersey.

Olivia Munn threw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game and was far less embarrassing than many other celebrities have been.

• The Spurs were en fuego from downtown last night, hitting a Finals-record 16 3-pointers. Here's every single one of them.

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


June 11

• Here at Athlon Sports, we're in the information business. We're educators first and foremost. With that in mind, here are 21 things you didn't know about Kate Upton, who turned 21 yesterday.

• It was an eventful day yesterday. By the time it was over, NFL reject Tim Tebow had a job, and NBA Coach of the Year Lionel Hollins didn't. Here are 10 predictions for the Tebow tenure in Foxboro. And here's the Boston Herald giving the news the New York Post treatment.

• Also yesterday: The butt-slap heard round the Internet landed Chad Johnson in the pokey.

This Formula One driver's helmet cam footage is all kinds of awesome. POV porn for speed junkies.

• Father's Day is coming up. Whether your old man's a boozer or a golfer (or, more likely, both), we're here to help.

The 13 funniest celebrity first Tweets. Kobe Bryant made the list.

• So is there such a thing as a home cooking? How the flags fly in each SEC stadium.

• Things got heated between the Red Sox and Rays last night in what turned out to be a pretty epic tilt.

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


June 10

This is my kind of guessing game: Match the WAG with the athlete. Hint: The girl in the photo is a Victoria's Secret model.

They're already calling it LeBlock, the defining play of King James' career thus far. Downside: It came during an off night for James and a rout for the Heat. Still, it was pretty epic. Enjoy Jim Ross' call of the play at this link.

This then-and-now GIF of the Spurs swept the interwebs over the weekend. It's pretty spectacularly mesmerizing.

Your weekend recap, including the Finals, the French Open and extra innings baseball.

Speaking of Rafael Nadal, he took to Twitter to mourn the death of the still-alive Nelson Mandela.

Is this the future of the football facemask? Good lord, I hope not, although the article seems to think it's cool.

Good news, late-night drunks: Waffle House is no longer your only option.

• They play a little offense in the SEC West, meaning that these seven defenders are indispensable.

The legend of Yasiel Puig grows, even as the Dodgers crash.

Baseball's turning into horse racing. Bloodlines mean everything, apparently.

• There was some pretty spectacular Super Regional action in college baseball over the weekend, but this might have been the best single play.

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

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 10:32
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-college-football-stadiums
Body:

Fall Saturdays are special.

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

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

With that in mind, here's how the stadiums in the Big 12 stack up.

1. Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, Texas
Opened: 1924
Capacity: 100,119
2012 Attendance: 100,884 (4th)

Everything is actually bigger in Texas and the Longhorns' stadium tops the Big 12 based on sheer size alone. It isn’t the loudest 100,000 fans in the nation, but the building is arguably the most imposing facility as it dwarfs most every other stadium in the Big 12. After the most recent run of extensive exterior construction, the amenities are second to none in the league as well. Plans are also in the works to expand the south end zone that will push DKR’s capacity to upwards of 112,000 fans — which would make it the nation’s largest stadium. And finally, located in the heart of one of the world’s best cities, fans have a long list of attractions while pre- and post-gaming on Saturdays.

Related Content: 2013 Big 12 Predictions

2. Memorial Stadium, Oklahoma
Opened: 1925
Capacity: 82,112
2012 Attendance: 85,243 (13th)

Easily the No. 2 spot to catch a game in the Big 12, Norman’s college football palace provides the loudest and most passionate fan base in the league. The 103.8-percent capacity and single record against Notre Dame (86,031) a year ago prove that. A recent round of renovations have added 8,000 seats, a massive new brick-lined video board, new luxury suites, a new press box and beautiful brick exterior. Large gaps in the end zone seating keep the capacity well below that of a certain arch rival in Austin and likely limit the decibel levels as well.

3. Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State
Opened: 1920
Capacity: 60,218
2012 Attendance: 56,557 (32nd)

Named after billionaire benefactor T. Boone Pickens just a few years ago, the Cowboys' home stadium got a massive facelift, new additions, extra seats and a beautiful new façade. The single-tiered, true horseshoe building is now flanked on the west by a 146,000-square foot, state of the art facility that contains all of the Pokes' football operations. The West end zone is still flanked by historic Gallagher-Iba Arena. The brick and mortar exterior creates a massive set of exterior columns that majestically climb above the Stillwater skyline. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and when packed, BPS is as raucous as any place in the nation. Keeping the seats full during down times as well as the overall lack of size is what keeps this gorgeous facility from competing with Texas' or Oklahoma's.

4. Milan Puskar Stadium, West Virginia
Opened: 1980
Capacity: 60,000
2012 Attendance: 55,916 (33rd)

When it comes to rabid, passionate supporters, the Mountaineers are much closer to SEC levels rather than Big East. And the surrounding mountains of Morgantown are a fantastic setting for a college football Saturday. That said, the building isn’t one of the nation’s biggest and the stadium itself is a fairly straight-forward facility that likely could use another round of renovations.

5. Jones AT&T Stadium, Texas Tech
Opened: 1947
Capacity: 60,862
2012 Attendance: 57,209 (29th)

Mike Leach had his issues departing Lubbock but he is largely responsible for the consistent growth and development of Texas Tech’s home venue. The stadium has been improved and upgraded in 2005 (luxury suites, parking garage), '07 (master plan), '08 (Spanish façade), '09 (6,000 east side seats) and '13 (new jumbotron). The atmosphere is electric and the facilities have advanced dramatically from over the last decade. The trip to Lubbock makes getting to a game slightly more difficult than even some of the other Big 12 outposts.

Related Content: 2013 Big 12 Predictions

6. Jack Trice Stadium, Iowa State
Opened: 1975
Capacity: 55,000
2012 Attendance: 55,274 (36th)

Iowa State is home to one of the most underrated home atmospheres in the nation in a building named after Iowa’s first black athlete. The passion of the fans cannot be questioned as the Cyclones outdrew their capacity in 2012 on a team that barely reached the postseason the last two seasons. In the works are future expansions of the south end zone and east concourse. The move will upgrade the facilities across the board and will add an upper deck to the end zone. This isn’t the most daunting home field experience, but it has consistently over-delivered compared to its team success.

7. Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State
Opened: 1968
Capacity: 50,000
2012 Attendance: 50,278 (39th)

It’s small on three sides and has some quirky lines, but Bill Snyder Family Stadium will rock when the Wildcats are rolling. Like Iowa State, this building was over capacity on average a year ago as the team clinched its first Big 12 title since 2003. A 2006 renovation expanded seating in the north end zone and also upgraded the locker rooms. It isn’t the biggest or fanciest building in the conference, but this place will over-deliver much like Jack Trice will on game day.

8. Amon Carter Stadium, TCU
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 45,000
2012 Attendance: 46,047 (48th)

Named after prominent Ft. Worth businessman Amon Carter, TCU completely rebuilt its home venue following the 2010 season. The $164 million renovation changed the quaint worn down stadium into a state of the art football facility that provides more room to grow in the near future. The beautiful Southwestern art deco blends with the new football facilities as well as the popular design trend in the DFW area. The building is brand new and fans showed up in force last year (over capacity) but it is still small and will take time to build-up the long-term tradition and pageantry that exists throughout college football’s blueblood venues.

9. Floyd Casey Stadium, Baylor
Opened: 1950
Capacity: 50,000
2012 Attendance: 41,194 (60th)

Long named Baylor Stadium, the school changed the name in 1988 when longtime supporter and trustee Carl B. Casey and his father Floyd Casey were honored. The simple, straightforward, single-tiered bowl has long struggled to draw big crowds but that is something Art Briles has changed. The Baylor tarp is still needed for most games and last spring, the Board of Regents approved a new on-campus facility to be completed by 2014.

10. Memorial Stadium, Kansas
Opened: 1921
Capacity: 50,071
2012 Attendance: 41,329 (59th)

A poor home win-loss record (209-199-16), the old-school athletic track circling the field and simple styling make this the worst venue in the conference. The last major upgrade took place over a decade ago, the attendance is fairly small and the building itself lacks tradition and character.
 

2013 Big 12 Team Previews

Related Content: 2013 Big 12 Predictions

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


Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 26-40

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big 12's Football Stadiums</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 08:10
Path: /college-football/sun-belt-football-2013-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2013 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first and second All-Sun Belt teams for this season.

Related Content: Sun Belt Predictions for 2013

Athlon's 2013 All-Sun Belt Team

First-Team Offense

QB Kolton Browning, ULM

RB Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky

RB David Oku, Arkansas State

WR Je’Ron Hamm, ULM

WR J.D. McKissic, Arkansas State

TE Wes Saxton, South Alabama

C Andre Huval, UL Lafayette

OG Steven Haunga, Arkansas State

OG Daniel Quave, UL Lafayette

OT Mykhael Quave, UL Lafayette

OT Joseph Treadwell, ULM



First-Team Defense

DE Alex Page, South Alabama

DE Christian Ringo, UL Lafayette

DT Kentarius Caldwell, ULM

DT Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State

LB Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky

LB Qushaun Lee, Arkansas State

LB Michael Orakpo, Texas State

CB Xavier Daniels, Texas State

CB Tyree Robinson, Western Kentucky

S Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky

S Isaiah Newsome, ULM



First-Team Specialists

K Brian Davis, Arkansas State

P Will Scott, Troy

KR Jafus Gaines, Texas State

PR Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky


The Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 All-Sun Belt Team

  First Second Overall
Arkansas State 6 4 10
Georgia State 0 1 1
South Alabama 2 3 5
Texas State 3 2 5
Troy 1 3 4
UL Lafayette 4 5 9
ULM 5 4 9
Western Kentucky 5 4 9


Second-Team Offense

QB Terrance Broadway, UL Lafayette

RB Jyruss Edwards, ULM

RB Alonzo Harris, UL Lafayette

WR Jamal Robinson, UL Lafayette

WR Eric Thomas, Troy

TE Mitchell Henry, Western Kentucky

C Sean Conway, Western Kentucky

OG Jon Fisher, ULM

OG Cliff Mitchell, Arkansas State

OT Cameron Clemmons, Western Kentucky

OT Melvin Meggs*, South Alabama



* Meggs suffered a season-ending injury in June and will miss the 2013 season.


Second-Team Defense

DE Eddie Porter, Arkansas State

DE Chris Stone, Arkansas State

DT Justin Hamilton, UL Lafayette

DT D.J. Yendrey, Texas State

LB Justin Anderson, UL Lafayette

LB Cameron Blakes, ULM

LB Enrique Williams, South Alabama

CB Vincent Eddie, ULM

CB Tyrell Pearson, South Alabama

S Chris Pickett, Troy

S Sterling Young, Arkansas State



Second-Team Specialists

K Will Scott, Troy

P Matt Hubbard, Georgia State

KR Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky

PR Andy Erickson, Texas State

 

2013 Sun Belt Team Previews

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

 


Related College Football Content

Sun Belt Predictions for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013

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

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Sun Belt Football 2013 All-Conference Team</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/texas-am-takes-playful-jab-alabama-nick-saban
Body:

Considering it’s college football’s offseason, anything that happens on the news circuit is generally blown out of proportion.

However, it’s generally not a good idea to poke the bear. Right? Did the SEC miss the memo?

Well, the rest of the SEC certainly seems to be having some fun at Alabama’s expense this offseason. The Crimson Tide has claimed back-to-back titles and is the favorite to win in 2013. Yet, coach Nick Saban has been the brunt of the jokes by Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis earlier this offseason.

And Texas A&M got into the act on Thursday night, as athletic director Eric Hyman lobbed a playful joke in Alabama’s direction:

 

After Hyman made his playful jab, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin had this to say:


But of course, the fun didn't end there. Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin had a humorous response to a tweet from radio personality Paul Finebaum:
 

 

Needless to say, the expectations in Aggieland are sky high for 2013. 

And let's keep this in mind: It's the offseason and Hyman and Loftin's remarks are just two ways of firing up a Texas A&M fanbase that has plenty of reasons to be excited after an 11-2 campaign in 2012.

But here's the good news: Alabama and Texas A&M play on Sept. 14 - which should be one of college football's top games of 2013.
 

 

Related College Football Content

SEC All-Conference Team for 2013
SEC Predictions for 2013

College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013

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

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Texas A&amp;M's Eric Hyman and R. Bowen Loftin take playful jabs at Alabama and Nick Saban.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 07:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-fcs-top-25-and-predictions
Body:

College football isn't just about the major conferences and the BCS. The FCS  settles its national champion with a playoff, something most FBS fans have wanted for years. North Dakota State tops Athlon's Top 25 FCS teams for 2013, as the Bison look to win their third consecutive national championship. 

1. North Dakota State (14-1, 7-1 MVC)
A tremendous amount of returning talent powers the Bison as they seek a third straight national title. Cornerback Marcus Williams and linebacker Grant Olson fuel the nation’s stingiest defense, and quarterback Brock Jensen will feed 1,000-yard backs Sam Ojuri and John Crockett. A word of caution for Kansas State, which hosts the Bison on Aug. 30: coach Craig Bohl’s program is 6–3 against FBS opponents since joining the FCS ranks in 2006.

2. Montana State (11-2, 7-1 Big Sky) 
The three-time defending Big Sky champions welcome back linebacker Na’a Moeakiola and defensive end Brad Daly but have several holes to plug on defense. This season, the Bobcats offense has to lead the way, and it can, behind fourth-year starting quarterback DeNarius McGhee, running back Cody Kirk and receiver Tanner Bleskin.

3. Georgia Southern (10-4, 6-2 Southern) 
The FBS-bound Eagles are ineligible for the Southern Conference title and a playoff berth after three straight semifinal-round appearances. With a solid offensive line and the return of quarterback Jerick McKinnon (1,817 rushing yards, 20 rushing TDs) and fullback Dominique Swope (1,246, 17 total TDs), Georgia Southern’s triple option attack could lead the FCS in rushing once again.

4. Sam Houston State (11-4, 6-1 Southland) 
Two straight losses in the national final are motivating coach Willie Fritz’s squad. The offense will score in bunches with the return of quarterback Brian Bell, All-America running back Timothy Flanders and multi-dimensional running back/receiver Richard Sincere. Still, the defense is vulnerable after suffering key losses.

5. Villanova (8-4, 6-2 CAA) 
With the return of 18 starters, veteran coach Andy Talley seemingly has one of his better teams, although a competitive CAA race will test the Wildcats. Quarterback John Robertson, the 2012 Jerry Rice Award winner, has fellow playmakers in running backs Kevin Monangai and Jamal Abdur-Rahman. Plus, the Wildcats are as deep in the trenches as any FCS team.

6. Appalachian State (8-4, 6-2 Southern)
Scott Satterfield faces the difficult task of replacing legendary coach Jerry Moore as the Mountaineers head toward the FBS. Ineligible for the SoCon title and a playoff berth, they feature a terrific passing game led by quarterback Jamal Jackson and receivers Sean Price, Andrew Peacock and Tony Washington.

7. Eastern Washington (11-3, 7-1 Big Sky) 
The Eagles’ schedule is diabolical — road games at Oregon State, Toledo, Sam Houston State, Montana and Cal Poly, and a home date against Montana State. Can they overcome it? Last season’s national semifinalists expect to with the likes of quarterback Vernon Adams, linebacker Ronnie Hamlin and cornerback T.J. Lee III.

8. Towson (7-4, 6-2 CAA) 
Junior running back Terrance West has scored 44 touchdowns in his career and is beaming over the return of all five starting offensive linemen. Wisconsin transfer Joe Brennan may take over at quarterback, while the defense will be strong at linebacker and defensive back.

9. Montana (5-6, 3-5 Big Sky) 
The Grizzlies are still coming out of a tumultuous period, including last year’s first losing record since 1985. The reinstatement of 2011 starting quarterback Jordan Johnson could settle the position again. The defense is stacked in the front seven with end Zach Wagenmann and senior linebackers Jordan Tripp, Brock Coyle and John Kanongata’a.

10. South Dakota State (9-4, 6-2 MVC)
Zach Zenner led the FCS in rushing yards (2,044 yards) as a sophomore and is the focal point of the offense. But the Jackrabbits need quarterback Austin Sumner to provide his 2011 level of production instead of last year’s drop-off. Sophomore linebacker T.J. Lally is a big-game player already.

11. New Hampshire (8-4, 6-2 CAA) 
Opponents will be hard-pressed to slow the Wildcats’ bid for a 10th straight FCS playoff berth. Nico Steriti, who averaged 6.6 yards per carry as a sophomore, heads a deep running attack, and quarterbacks Sean Goldrich and Andy Vailas always get the ball to junior wide receiver R.J. Harris. New Hampshire must replace linebacker Matt Evans, the school’s all-time tackles leader.

12. Central Arkansas (9-3, 6-1 Southland) 
Dual-threat quarterback Wynrick Smothers (3,103 yards passing, 449 yards rushing in 2012) and defensive end Jonathan Woodard are poised for big seasons for the Bears, who have yet to lose in two seasons on their purple-and-gray turf. Linebacker Justin Heard and cornerback Jestin Love also star for the emerging defense.

13. Richmond (8-3, 6-2 CAA) 
The Spiders enjoyed a five-win improvement in coach Danny Rocco’s first season as the head coach, and they may be poised for another leap forward with the return of 18 starters. In a run-heavy CAA, senior wideout Ben Edwards (80 receptions) stands out for quarterback Michael Strauss. Defensive linemen Evan Kelly and Kerry Wynn track down the opposing quarterbacks.

14. Northern Iowa (5-6, 4-4 MVC) 
The Panthers have softened the schedule after overindulging last season — at Wisconsin and at Iowa in the first three weeks of the season — and they expect to get back on track behind junior running back David Johnson and sophomore quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen. Placekicker Tyler Sievertsen, who’s made 28-of-33 career field goal attempts, likes the comforts of the UNI Dome.

15. Cal Poly (9-3, 7-1 Big Sky) 
After making a splash in their Big Sky debut, the Mustangs return a veteran squad, but their losses include quarterback Andre Broadous and 1,500-yard back Deonte Williams. Slotback Kristaan Ivory is the new offensive star, and defensive tackle Sullivan Grosz gets into opponents’ backfields.

16. Northern Arizona (8-3, 6-2 Big Sky) 
Two season-ending losses — at home vs. Southern Utah and Cal Poly — sabotaged the Lumberjacks, who return 18 starters. Running back Zach Bauman seeks a fourth straight 1,000-yard season, and fellow seniors Anders Battle and Lucky Dozier headline one of the better secondaries in the FCS.

17. James Madison (7-4, 5-3 CAA)
Sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong is a star in the making, and running back Dae’Quan Scott does a little bit of everything for the Dukes. All-America middle linebacker Stephon Robertson works sideline to sideline, backed by emerging safety Dean Marlowe.

18. Chattanooga (6-5, 5-3 Southern)
The Mocs are primed for SoCon title contention with the conference’s best defense, featuring 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Davis Tull at end, linebacker Wes Dothard and cornerback Kadeem Wise. Jacob Huesman, son of coach Russ Huesman, has supplanted Terrell Robinson at quarterback.

19. Wofford (9-4, 6-2 Southern) 
With FBS-bound Appalachian State and Georgia Southern ineligible for the SoCon title, the Terriers are the league favorites. They lose standout Eric Breitenstein but now feature fullback Donovan Johnson, who has 1,793 career rushing yards. Linebacker Mike McCrimon and Alvin Scioneaux are rocks on defense.

20. Eastern Illinois (7-5, 6-1 OVC)
Behind his lethal passing attack, first-year coach Dino Babers took the Panthers from worst to first in the Ohio Valley Conference. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and wide receiver Erik Lora, whose 136 receptions set the FCS single-season record, lead the passing game.

21. Tennessee State (8-3, 4-3 OVC)
After beginning last season with seven straight wins, the Tigers need talented junior quarterback Michael German to be their closer. Much of the defense returns, including shutdown cornerback Steven Godbolt III and aptly named linebacker Nick Thrasher, their leading tackler.

22. Delaware (5-6, 2-6 CAA) 
New coach Dave Brock inherits a talented team that features senior tailback Andrew Pierce (3,637 career rushing yards) and, the Blue Hens hope, a healthier Trent Hurley at quarterback. Linebacker Jeff Williams broke in as a premier pass-rusher last season.

23. Youngstown State (7-4, 4-4 MVC) 
A tough schedule in November means the Penguins need a fast start as they chase their first playoff appearance since 2006. Quarterback Kurt Hess will air it out to make amends for last season’s disappointment.

24. Illinois State (9-4, 5-3 MVC) 
The Redbirds have filled major holes on offense with transfers — quarterback Jared Barnett, from Iowa State, and power running back Collin Keoshian, from Glendale (Calif.) Community College. Premier defensive end Colton Underwood has to lead a defense that also sustained heavy losses.

25. The Citadel (7-4, 5-3 Southern) 
A rare sweep of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern last season could be a prelude for an even better 2013. The Bulldogs’ triple option returns quarterbacks Ben Dupree and Aaron Miller, 1,000-yard fullback Darien Robinson and a veteran offensive line.

 

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 26-40

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football FCS Top 25 and Predictions</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 07:50
All taxonomy terms: Atlanta Falcons, NFC, NFC South, NFL
Path: /nfl/atlanta-falcons-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

After finally getting over the playoff hump last season, the Atlanta Falcons have their sights set squarely on Super Bowl XLVIII. The path to the NFC crown will be anything but easy, but the pieces are in place for this Falcons team to play in New York on Feb. 2. Here's our look at the Falcons' 2013 NFL schedule.

Atlanta Falcons 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at New Orleans
Week 2: St. Louis
Week 3: at Miami
Week 4: New England
Week 5: New York Jets (Mon.)
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Tampa Bay
Week 8: at Arizona
Week 9: at Carolina
Week 10: Seattle
Week 11: at Tampa Bay
Week 12: New Orleans (Thurs.)
Week 13: vs. Buffalo (Toronto)
Week 14: at Green Bay
Week 15: Washington
Week 16: at San Francisco (Mon.)
Week 17: Carolina

Order your 2013 Atlanta Falcons Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: The defending NFC South champions didn't get any breaks from the schedule-makers as the Falcons open the season on the road against division rival New Orleans. Opening at home against St. Louis the following Sunday probably won't be a cakewalk and then it's a trip down south to Miami and a home date with New England to close out the first month. The Falcons will need to bring their "A" game from the start or could put themselves in an early hole before the calendar turns to October.

Toughest Stretch: There are few, if any, breathers on this schedule, but November in particular could be a make-or-break month for Atlanta. The Falcons enter the second half of their schedule with a road game against division rival Carolina as the precursor to a rematch of last season's NFC Divisional Playoffs against Seattle. After that it's back-to-back divisional games - first a trip to Tampa Bay followed by a Thursday night date with New Orleans in the Georgia Dome.

Swing Games: at GB (Week 14), WAS (Week 15)
Crossover Divisions: AFC East, NFC West
Bye Week: Week 6
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .504 (15th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 1st

Easiest Stretch: Coming out of their Week 6 bye, the Falcons get Tampa Bay at home followed by back-to-back road games at Arizona and Carolina. A three-game stretch featuring two divisional games and two road games may not seem "easy," but that's the kind of schedule Atlanta drew this season. The Buccaneers, Cardinals and Panthers all finished below .500 in 2012, although to be fair, the two NFC South teams were close at 7-9.

Circle The Calendar: Take your pick. The Week 4 matchup with New England should be entertaining and then there's a December trip to Lambeau Field to play Green Bay in Week 14. Crossover play with the NFC West also means the Falcons get another shot against Seattle at home and a chance to exact some revenge against San Francisco on the road on "Monday Night Football" in Week 16.

Divisional Notes: Atlanta opens the season on the road in New Orleans and then doesn't play another NFC South opponent until after its Week 6 bye. Later in the season, the Falcons go to Tampa Bay in Week 11 and then it's a quick turnaround for a Thursday night showdown at home against the Saints the following week. What makes this double-dip even more daunting is that the Buccaneers' game is preceded by Atlanta's rematch with Seattle in the Georgia Dome. Along those same lines, the Falcons will finish the regular season with Carolina at home, but that game comes on the heels of playing the 49ers in San Francisco on Monday night to close out the Week 16 slate.

Playoff Push: The Falcons will spend the first two weekends in December up north with their first two games of the final month set for Toronto, where they will play Buffalo, and the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to face off with Green Bay. Then it's home to play Washington, who may or may not have Robert Griffin III running the offense by then, before heading cross-country for a Week 16 Monday night showdown and NFC Championship game rematch with San Francisco. If the Falcons' playoff hopes and/or seeding are still undecided come Week 17, Carolina would like nothing more than to spoil either or both by taking down its divisional rival on its own home turf.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Matt Ryan and his receivers should get plenty of work in against Green Bay and Washington. The road game against the Packers will probably feature plenty of offense, while the Redskins finished 30th in the league in both passing defense and fantasy points allowed to WRs. The dynamic could change greatly on the road against the 49ers (No. 3 in ypg, No. 2 in ppg) in Week 16.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati (6/14) Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland (6/17) Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas (6/18) Chicago (6/17) Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina (6/14) St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)

Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, Buffalo Bills, NFL
Path: /nfl/buffalo-bills-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

A new era of Buffalo Bills football begins this fall with Doug Marrone now steering the ship. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Buffalo Bills 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: New England
Week 2: Carolina
Week 3: at New York Jets
Week 4: Baltimore
Week 5: at Cleveland (Thurs.)
Week 6: Cincinnati
Week 7: at Miami
Week 8: at New Orleans
Week 9: Kansas City
Week 10: at Pittsburgh
Week 11: New York Jets
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: Atlanta (Toronto)
Week 14: at Tampa Bay
Week 15: at Jacksonville
Week 16: Miami
Week 17: at New England

Order your 2013 Buffalo Bills Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Doug Marrone's first month as an NFL head coach won't be easy. The month begins with the two of the toughest three home games of the year as September is bookended by the Patriots and Ravens paying a visit to Ralph Wilson Stadium. Carolina and the Jets are two of the more winnable games but asking Marrone to gameplan for Cam Newton in just his second game won't be easy either. A 2-2 start would be a huge success.

Toughest Stretch: The AFC East will play the AFC North this year and the toughest stretch of games — Week 4 to Week 8 — includes three straight with the North. After playing the Ravens, the Browns on a short week and the Bengals, Buffalo takes two road trips to Miami and New Orleans. This team likely won't be favored in any of those five games and this stretch could end the Bills' season before the halfway mark.

Swing Games: KC (Week 9), at JAC (Week 15)
Crossover Divisions: AFC North, NFC South
Bye Week: Week 12
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .496 (19th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 27th

Easiest Stretch: If somehow, some way the Bills can survive the first 13 weeks of the season, Marrone and his squad will have three winnable games in December. Two trips south to Florida to face Tampa Bay and Jacksonville and a home test against Miami could provide a late-season boost to the win-loss record.

Circle The Calendar: The Bills will only play one primetime national showdown when it travels to Cleveland in Week 5, so finding marquee contests for this team is difficult. However, there is some added juice to a late-season visit to Tampa Bay. Marrone and Bucs coach Greg Schiano coached against each other for three seasons in the Big East. Syracuse and Marrone won two out of three and Schiano doesn't forget that type of thing.

Divisional Notes: The AFC East offers chances for wins for all four teams, including the Bills. The season will begin and end with uphill battles against the Patriots, but the other four divisional tests could provide some success. Home games with the Jets and Dolphins over the final seven weeks will come as welcome sights for a team that could struggle for wins in 2013.

Playoff Push: Buffalo's off weekend will come in the final possible slot, which this season is Week 12. This means the Bills will be well rested for the final month of the season. December begins with the annual Toronto game (against Atlanta) and ends with a daunting road trip to the Patriots. However, in between could be the "easiest" stretch of the schedule. A 3-2 final month would be considered a successful finish for Buffalo.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Yes, Tampa Bay, the Bills' Week 14 opponent, finished dead last in passing defense and fantasy points allowed to WRs last season. No, this is not the same Buccaneers secondary with All-Pros Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson now on the roster. Sorry, Stevie Johnson. Fortunately, C.J. Spiller can look forward to the Week 15 trip to Jacksonville and a chance at the Jaguars’ 30th-ranked rushing defense.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati (6/14) Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland (6/17) Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas (6/18) Chicago (6/17) Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina (6/14) St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-mid-major-rankings-mwc-mvc
Body:

After Florida Gulf Coast reached the Sweet 16 and Wichita State reached the Final Four, teams outside of the college basketball power structure are starting to reach even footing. At least on the court.

Beyond the major surprises in the NCAA Tournament, this is an interesting time for mid-major programs. The Mountain West showed surprising depth last season, a trend that should continue as the league expands. Even though Creighton left the Missouri Valley and Temple, Xavier and Butler left the Atlantic 10, there’s plenty to watch in both leagues.

Wichita State already has the look of the MVC’s flagship program. The same could be said of VCU and Saint Louis in the A-10, provided they can hold off upstart UMass.

We took a quick look of seven conferences already this offseason. Here’s a snapshot of 11 key teams in the the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, West Coast and more.

Other conference snapshots:
ACC
American
Big 12

Big East

Big Ten
Pac-12
SEC

1. WICHITA STATE (30-9, 12-6 Missouri Valley, NCAA Final Four)
Key players gone: Malcolm Armstead, Carl Hall, Demetric Williams
Top returners: Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton, Cleanthony Early, Fred Van Vleet, Jake White
New faces: D.J. Bowles (freshman), Kadeem Coleby (Louisiana-Lafayette transfer), Earl Watson (junior college), Evan Wessel (redshirt)
The point guard Armstead and leading rebounder Hall are gone from the Final Four run, but the rising sophomore Baker played only 18 games last season. With Early, Baker and Cotton, there’s enough returning to win the Missouri Valley this season, especially if Van Vleet flourishes as a full-time point guard. The 6-foot-9 Louisiana-Lafayette transfer Coleby and local 6-5 guard Wessel will fill some gaps.

2. VCU (27-9, 12-4 Atlantic 10, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Troy Daniels, Darius Theus
Top returners: Rob Brandenburg, Treveon Graham, Juvonte Reddic, Melvin Thomas, Briante Weber
New faces: Jordan Burgess (redshirt), Terrance Shannon (Florida State transfer)
Five of the top seven players return to VCU, including three who averaged double-figure scoring. Theus’ 2.4 steals per game will be missed on the defensive end, but there’s a lot to like about a VCU team that went 12-4 in its first season in the Atlantic 10. Shannon was an injury-riddled player at Florida State, but he’s a 6-8 senior who will be a key piece for the Rams if he can stay healthy.

3. GONZAGA (32-3, 16-0 West Coast, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Elias Harris, Guy Landry Edi, Kelly Olynyk
Top returning players: Gary Bell Jr, Sam Dower, Przemek Karnowski, Kevin Pangos, David Stockton
New faces: Gerald Coleman (Providence transfer), Angel Nunez (Louisville transfer)
The front line takes a hit without Olynyk and Harris, but Mark Few’s backcourt should be solid with Pangos (41.7 percent on three pointers) and Bell. Two centers who were part-time players last season in Karnowski (7-1) and Dower (6-9) will look to take a step forward in replacing the Olynyk. Gonzaga’s season was marred by losing to Wichita State in the round of 32, but the Bulldogs should remain a top-25 contender in 2013-14.

4. NEW MEXICO (29-6, 13-3 Mountain West, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Tony Snell, Demetrius Walker
Top returning players: Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk, Hugh Greenwood, Kendall Williams
New faces: Merv Lindsey (transfer from Kansas), Cullen Neal (freshman)
Longtime Steve Alford assistant Craig Neal was promoted to coach a team that returns four players who started at least 30 games. The Lobos may be the preseason pick to win the Mountain West, but that NCAA Tournament loss to Harvard will be tough to forget. Snell (12.5 ppg) is a notable departure, but the Lobos were a balanced team for most of the season.

5. SAINT LOUIS (28-7, 13-3 Atlantic 10, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Kwamain Mitchell, Cody Ellis
Top returners: Dwayne Evans, Grandy Glaze, Jordair Jett, Rob Loe, Mike McCall
Jim Crews has the job full-time and a chance to repeat in the Atlantic 10. Replacing Kwamain Mitchell’s 30 minutes per game will be tough. Four starters are back, not including the assist leader Jett.

6. UMASS (21-12, 9-7 Atlantic 10, NIT first round)
Key players gone: Freddie Riley, Terrell Vinson
Top returning players: Cady Lalanne, Raphiael Putney, Chaz Williams
New faces: Derrick Gordon (transfer from Western Kentucky)
Derek Kellogg’s program has steadily improved in five seasons. Now, the Minutemen have a chance to be the top team in the Atlantic 10, which will see Butler, Temple and Xavier depart. The 5-9 point guard Chaz Williams will be one of the top players in the league, and the 6-3 Gordon was a major pickup from Western Kentucky, where he averaged 11.8 ppg, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

7. HARVARD (20-10, 11-3 Ivy, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Christian Webster
Top returning players: Siyani Chambers, Steve Moundou-Missi, Laurent Rivard, Wesley Saunders
New faces: Zena Edosomwan (freshman)
Harvard’s upset of New Mexico signaled the young Crimson would be ready to take the next step in 2013-14. Last year’s team had only one senior (Webster), and one junior seeing significant minutes (Rivard). Led by Saunders and Chambers, Harvard will have a leg up on the the rest of the Ivy League the next two seasons.

8. BOISE STATE (21-11, 9-7 Mountain West, NCAA First Four)
Key players gone: Kenny Buckner
Top returning players: Anthony Drmic, Jeff Elorriaga, Igor Hadziomerovic, Derrick Marks, Mikey Thompson, Ryan Watkins
The Mountain West is expanding, but teams like Colorado State, UNLV and San Diego State are in transition. With two of the league’s top returning scorers, Boise State is geared up for another run to the NCAA Tournament. Leading the four-guard lineup, Drmic averaged 17.7 points, and Marks averaged 16.3.

9. SAN DIEGO STATE (23-11, 9-7 Mountain West, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Jamaal Franklin, James Rahon, Chase Tapley
Top returning players: J.J. O’Brien, Xavier Thames, Winston Shepard)
New faces: Josh Davis (transfer from Tulane)
The Aztecs have absorbed the loss of Kawhi Leonard and other key pieces in recent years. The next step is to replace Franklin, their top player the last two years, and the clutch Tapley. The key is the sophomore Shepard, a five-star recruit who averaged 5.7 points last season. Davis is a major pickup after averaging 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds for Tulane in 2012-13.

10. UNLV (25-10, 10-6 Mountain West, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Anthony Bennett, Anthony Marshall, Mike Moser, Katin Reinhardt
Top returning players: Khem Birch, Bryce Dejean-Jones
New faces: Jelan Kendrick (junior college), Christian Wood (freshman)
UNLV was the most talented team in a deep Mountain West, but the Runnin’ Rebels finished third in the league before losing to Cal in the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels will have eight players who were top-100 recruits at some point, and that’s taking into account the departures of Reinhardt and Moser via transfer. With something of a revolving door on the roster, the results have been mixed under Dave Rice.

And 1: BYU (24-12, 10-6 West Coast, NIT semifinal)
Key players gone: Brandon Davies, Brock Zylstra
Top returning players: Tyler Haws, Matt Carlino, Josh Sharp
New faces: Kyle Collinsworth (returning from mission) Eric Mika (freshman)
BYU missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven seasons in 2013, but the Cougars could return in 2014. The backcourt will lead the way with Haws and his 21.7 points per game leading the way. With Davies gone, BYU will need the power forward Mika to make an instant impact.

Teaser:
<p> The key mid-majors to watch for 2013-14.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/sec-football-2013-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2013 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first, second, third and fourth All-SEC teams for this season.

Related Content: SEC Predictions for 2013

First-Team Offense

QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

RB Todd Gurley, Georgia

RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama

WR Amari Cooper, Alabama

WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

TE Arthur Lynch, Georgia

C Travis Swanson, Arkansas

OG Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State

OG Anthony Steen, Alabama

OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama

OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M



First-Team Defense

DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

DE Chris Smith, Arkansas

DT Dominique Easley, Florida

DT Anthony Johnson, LSU

LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia

LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee

LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama

CB Andre Hal, Vanderbilt

CB Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida

S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama

S Craig Loston, LSU


First-Team Specialists

K Carey Spear, Vanderbilt

P Kyle Christy, Florida

KR Andre Debose, Florida

PR Marcus Murphy, Missouri


The Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 All-SEC Team

  First Second Third Fourth Overall
Alabama 6 2 1 5 14
Arkansas 2 1 2 0 5
Auburn 0 2 1 2 5
Florida 4 1 2 3 10
Georgia 3 2 3 1 9
Kentucky 0 1 2 0 3
LSU 2 1 2 3 8
Mississippi State 1 2 3 0 6
Missouri 1 1 1 1 4
Ole Miss 0 4 2 3 9
South Carolina 1 2 0 4 7
Tennessee 1 2 2 1 6
Texas A&M 2 2 4 2 10
Vanderbilt 3 3 1 1 8

 

Second-Team Offense

QB AJ McCarron, Alabama

RB Keith Marshall, Georgia

RB LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State

WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M

WR Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss

TE Rory Anderson, South Carolina

C James Stone, Tennessee

OG Chris Burnette, Georgia

OG Aaron Morris, Ole Miss

OT Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt

OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee



Second-Team Defense

DE Bud Dupree, Kentucky

DE C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss

DT Byran Jones, Arkansas

DT Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina

LB Lamin Barrow, LSU

LB Adrian Hubbard, Alabama

LB Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

CB Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M

CB Marcus Roberson, Florida

S Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt

S Nickoe Whitley, Mississippi State



Second-Team Specialists

K Cody Parkey, Auburn

P Steven Clark, Auburn

KR Marcus Murphy, Missouri

PR Jonathan Krause, Vanderbilt

 

Related Content: SEC Predictions for 2013


Third-Team Offense

QB Aaron Murray, Georgia

RB Ben Malena, Texas A&M

RB Tre Mason, Auburn

WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia

TE Malcolm Johnson, Mississippi State

C Ryan Kelly, Alabama

OG Jon Halapio, Florida

OG Jarvis Harrison, Texas A&M

OT Ja'Waun James, Tennessee

OT Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M



Third-Team Defense

DE Denico Autry, Mississippi State

DE Walker May, Vanderbilt

DT Daniel McCullers, Tennessee

DT Donte Rumph, Kentucky

LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State

LB Antonio Morrison, Florida

LB Avery Williamson, Kentucky

CB E.J. Gaines, Missouri

CB Damian Swann, Georgia

S Eric Bennett, Arkansas

S Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss



Third-Team Specialists

K Zach Hocker, Arkansas

P Tyler Campbell, Ole Miss

KR Trey Williams, Texas A&M

PR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU


Fourth-Team Offense

QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina

RB Jeremy Hill, LSU

RB Jeff Scott, Ole Miss

WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri

WR Bruce Ellington, South Carolina

TE OJ Howard, Alabama

C Jonotthan Harrison, Florida

OG A.J. Cann, South Carolina

OG Zach Fulton, Tennessee

OT La’El Collins, LSU

OT John Theus, Georgia



Fourth-Team Defense

DE Dee Ford, Auburn

DE Dante Fowler, Florida

DT Isaac Gross, Ole Miss

DT Brandon Ivory, Alabama

LB Trey DePriest, Alabama

LB Chase Garnham, Vanderbilt

LB Steven Jenkins, Texas A&M

CB Jalen Mills, LSU

CB Charles Sawyer, Ole Miss

S Demetruce McNeal, Auburn

S Jaylen Watkins, Florida



Fourth-Team Specialists

K Taylor Bertolet, Texas A&M

P Cody Mandell, Alabama

KR Bruce Ellington, South Carolina

PR Christion Jones, Alabama


 

2013 SEC Team Previews

East Division West Division
Florida Alabama
Georgia Arkansas
Kentucky Auburn
Missouri LSU
South Carolina Mississippi State
Tennessee Ole Miss
Vanderbilt Texas A&M


Related College Football Content

SEC Predictions for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013

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

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> SEC Football 2013 All-Conference Team</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 07:21

Pages