Articles By All

Path: /college-football/sec-2014-week-10-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Nos. 3 and 4 teams in the initial College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings get together in Oxford this weekend. The winner will stay in the thick of the SEC West race; the loser is probably out of the Playoff race. Elsewhere, Florida and Georgia meet in Jacksonville in a game that could go a long way in determining Will Muschamp’s future with the Gators; Tennessee heads to South Carolina desperate for its first SEC win of the season; top-ranked Mississippi State hosts Arkansas; and Kentucky visits Missouri.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions
| 

 

SEC Week 10 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Auburn (+2) at Ole Miss (7 ET, ESPN)

When these two schools last met in Oxford, Ole Miss was riding a 16-game SEC losing streak and Auburn was in the midst of an 0–8 SEC season. Now, two short years later, they are among the elite in college football and in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Ole Miss’ dreams of an undefeated season ended Saturday night in Baton Rouge thanks in part to some shaky late-game management. Still, Ole Miss might be in the best position of the four contenders in the SEC West thanks to a schedule that is a bit more forgiving. Yes, the Rebs still have to play Auburn and Mississippi State, but both games are at home. Auburn, on the other hand, still has games at Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama. The Tigers are good enough to beat all three teams, but it’s not likely they can make it through this gauntlet without a loss.

 

Listen to the Week 10 preview podcast:



Subscribe: |

 

2. Florida (+13) vs. Georgia (3:30 ET, CBS)

Georgia is in great position in the SEC East and could make a big move on the national scene in the next month. The Bulldogs basically have to win two games to reach the College Football Playoff — beat Auburn at home on Nov. 15 and upset the SEC West champ in the league title game. First things first: Florida awaits in Jacksonville in desperate need of a win. Treon Harris will be the second true freshman quarterback to start against Georgia this season, joining Vanderbilt’s Wade Freebeck. Harris has played well in limited duty, completing 66.7 percent of his passes and averaging a gaudy 14.6 yards per attempt. He will have to deal with a quality Georgia defensive front that includes one of the league’s top pass-rushers in Leonard Floyd.

 

3. Tennessee (+7) at South Carolina (7:30 SEC Network)

South Carolina has not won a conference game since beating Vanderbilt on Sept. 20 in Nashville. The Gamecocks can snap their three-game SEC skid against another team from the Volunteer State that is winless in league play. Tennessee played admirably — after falling behind 27–0 — against Alabama last week, but it was yet another loss for a program that has not entered November with more than one SEC win since 2009. The Volunteers need to win three of their final four games to become bowl-eligible in Butch Jones’ second season on the job. We are not quite sure who will be at quarterback for the Vols; Justin Worley’s health (shoulder) is in doubt, but even if he’s ready to go, Tennessee could opt to go with sophomore Joshua Dobbs, who played well in relief against Alabama. Dobbs offers more mobility, something that comes in handy while operating behind a suspect offensive line. 

 

4. Arkansas (+10.5) at Mississippi State (7:15 ESPN2)

Mississippi State remains unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the country, but the Bulldogs are living on the edge. Last weekend, they gave up 505 yards to a Kentucky team that had 217 yards against LSU, 352 against ULM and 384 against Vanderbilt. Despite MSU’s overall struggles on defense, the Dogs have been solid against the run (against all teams not named Auburn) — and that’s a good sign with Arkansas on the horizon. The Hogs are much-improved in the passing game, but this team is at its best when talented tailbacks Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins are the focal points of the game plan. Arkansas does not want to get into a shootout in Starkville.

 

5. Kentucky (+6.5) at Missouri (4 ET, SEC Network)

Missouri is somehow 3–1 in the SEC even though its offense is averaging only 232.8 yards per game and 4.0 yards per play against league competition. The Tigers have been outstanding on defense and special teams, and they have the good fortune of playing in the SEC East (despite being located west of the Mississippi River). Kentucky played well last week in a 45–31 loss at home to No. 1 Mississippi State. Patrick Towles was outstanding at quarterback, throwing for 390 yards (without an INT) and adding 76 yards on the ground. He is developing into an All-SEC-caliber quarterback who will continue to thrive under Neal Brown.

 

6. ULM (+32.5) at Texas A&M (12 ET, SEC Network)

ULM enjoyed a nice run for a few years when Kolton Browning was at quarterback, but the Warhawks have slipped back to the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt. They have been good on defense (first in the Sun Belt) and bad on offense (last on the Sun Belt). Texas A&M is eager to get back into the win column after going 0–3 in the month of October. Kenny Hill, the star of Week 1 in college football, is now fighting for his starting job with true freshman Kyle Allen. Whoever plays quarterback this week should put up big numbers; the bigger test will be in two weeks at Auburn.

 

7. Old Dominion (+7) at Vanderbilt (7 ET, ESPNU)

After playing relatively well in last week’s 24–14 loss at Missouri, Johnny McCrary will get the start at quarterback once again for Vanderbilt. Patton Robinette, who was medically cleared late last week after dealing with a concussion, also is expected to play. Both quarterbacks will have to play well because Vanderbilt will have to score some points to win this game. Old Dominion is averaging 33.1 points per game and scored 34 vs. NC State (in a loss), 45 vs. Rice (in a win) and 51 vs. Western Kentucky (in a loss). The Commodores’ offense should be able to do its part, but don’t forget this team only scored 21 points three weeks ago against Charleston Southern. 

 

SEC Week 10 Predictions

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
ULM at Texas A&MA&M 42-21A&M 41-20A&M 50-20A&M 47-10
Florida vs. GeorgiaUGa 34-10UGa 27-13UGa 31-13UGa 31-13
Kentucky at MizzouUK 21-20MU 31-24MU 27-24UK 27-20
ODU at VanderbiltVU 28-21VU 24-20VU 34-24VU 28-13
Auburn at Ole MissAU 35-21AU 27-21OM 27-24AU 28-20
Arkansas at Miss. St.MSU 35-28MSU 40-28MSU 41-27MSU 41-30
Tenn. at S. CarolinaUSC 31-21USC 35-31USC 30-20USC 27-21
Last Week5-16-05-15-1
Season60-1561-1461-1464-11

 

Teaser:
SEC Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-10-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Pac-12 is getting no respect from the Playoff Committee.

 

Oregon isn’t ranked in the top four and one-loss teams Arizona, Arizona State and Utah rank significantly down the list of one-loss teams (No. 12, No. 14 and No. 17 respectively).

 

With marquee showdowns for all four this weekend, that could soon change.

 

Week 10 Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 

 

Pac-12 Week 10 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Stanford (+7) at Oregon
7:30 p.m., FOX

Marcus Mariota has yet to beat Stanford and if he cannot do it this year, the Pac-12 could be left out of the inaugural playoff. Since Jake Fisher returned, the offense has been surging along at nearly 48.7 points and 537.3 yards per game in three wins. David Shaw’s defense has been electric all season and excellent in two wins over Mariota, holding Oregon to season lows in total offense each of the last two meetings. The weakness-on-weakness matchup, however, will be the more intriguing one. Stanford’s offense was solid last weekend but still lacks any playmakers other than Ty Montgomery. Meanwhile, the Ducks' defense hasn’t been much better, giving up at least 490 yards or 30 points in four of the last five games. It’s must-see TV when Mariota takes the field but Kevin Hogan will likely be the deciding factor.

 

Listen to the Week 10 preview podcast:



Subscribe: |

 

2. Utah (+5) at Arizona St
11 p.m., FS1

The JUCO Bowl has developed quickly into one of the more critical Pac-12 South showdowns, as both teams enter with just one loss and plenty of tiebreakers already in their pocket. While the playmakers in this game — Jaelen Strong, Devontae Booker, Kaelin Clay — hail from the junior college ranks, it’s the QBs that will be under the microscope. Travis Wilson might have cemented himself as the starter for Kyle Whittingham with his late-game heroics last weekend, but he will have to be efficient on the road like he was against Michigan to beat ASU. Not having star wideout Dres Anderson for rest of the year only makes it more difficult on whoever is under center for Utah. Todd Graham also has been forced to use multiple quarterbacks and done so effectively, but folks in Tempe are excited to have Taylor Kelly back for a reason. Like Wilson, he led his team to a late game-winning TD last weekend and should be back to form, as long as he has time to operate against one of the best defensive fronts in the nation.

 

3. Arizona (+6.5) at UCLA
10:30 p.m., ESPN

All-American-caliber linebacker Scooby Wright versus Heisman-caliber quarterback Brett Hundley is as good as it gets in college football. Wright has been stuffing the stat sheet all season (78 tackles, 14.0 TFL, 8.0 sacks, 5 FF) and Hundley is one touchdown pass away from tying Cade McNown for the most in school history (68), but the bigger question comes on the other side of the ball. How will UCLA’s defense, one that is allowing more than 30 points per game, stop Rich Rodriguez' offense led by Anu Solomon? Behind a veteran offensive line with 139 combined starts, Solomon should have room to make plays against a defense that doesn’t pressure the quarterback — UCLA ranks last in the Pac-12 and 112th nationally in sacks — and doesn’t create turnovers (85th with 10 takeaways). If Solomon stays upright and Arizona protects the ball, UCLA will have to play extremely well on offense to simply hold serve at home.

 

4. USC (-7) at Washington St
4:30 p.m., P12 Net

This was an ugly and sloppy Wazzu upset in The Coliseum last season and there isn’t much reason to think this year’s edition will be much different. Washington State is dead last in the league in turnover margin and these two are 10th and 12th respectively in Pac-12 play in penalty yards given up. The biggest difference between this year and last will be in the USC backfield. Cody Kessler has taken huge strides and is one of the more underrated players nationally and no one in the nation has rushed for more yards in conference play than Buck Allen (846). If good USC shows up, Connor Halliday and WSU could play perfect football and still lose easily. If wildly inconsistent USC shows up, Halliday has already proven he’s capable of knocking off the mighty Trojans.

 

5. Cal (+3) at Oregon St
10:30 p.m., P12 Net

Against Cal, Oregon State has won two in a row, six of the last seven and three straight in Corvallis. But these two programs feel like they are heading in different directions. The Beavers can change that perception with a win over the Bears at home. Stopping Jared Goff is a good place to start, as the Cal signal-caller is fourth nationally with 2,842 yards, second with 26 TDs and has thrown just four interceptions all season. Oregon State has its own star in Sean Mannion but he’s been much more inconsistent, throwing just three touchdowns in his last five games combined. Oregon State is a team in desperate need of finding an identity after being held to 221 yards and 3.3 yards per play last weekend and falling for the third time in four weeks.

 

6. Washington (-4) at Colorado
1 p.m., P12 Net

The Buffs have been close but have yet to break through in a Pac-12 game. If Washington isn’t careful (which it hasn’t been of late) then Colorado could easily pull the home upset. Mike MacIntyre’s bunch has lost three of its last four by five points or fewer and this weekend might be their best shot at a win. The Huskies were without Cyler Miles last weekend but he is supposed to start for UW this weekend. There is no excuse for the league’s worst scoring offense (18.5 per game in conference play) not to get rolling against the league’s second-worst scoring defense (45.8 ppg).

 

Pac-12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Stan. (+7) at Ore.Ore., 27-21Ore., 31-17Ore., 31-10Ore., 31-24
Utah (+5) at ASUASU, 28-27ASU, 28-14ASU, 35-28ASU, 30-20
Arizona (+6.5) at UCLAZona, 34-33Zona, 27-20Zona, 41-38UCLA, 38-34
USC (-7) at WSUUSC, 34-20USC, 34-20USC, 31-21USC, 38-30
Cal (+3) at OSUCal, 35-34Cal, 36-27Cal, 44-31Cal, 34-31
Wash. (-4) at Colo.Wash., 29-27Wash., 23-10Wash., 17-14Wash., 34-27
Last Week:5-16-06-05-1
YTD:46-1751-1250-1346-17

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2014-week-10-preview-and-predictions
Body:

“Two weeks until Ohio State-Michigan State” may as well be the theme for this Saturday in the Big Ten.

 

A nice way to put this week would be to call it a table-setting Saturday. Northwestern and Iowa meet in an important game to set the table for a Wildcats’ bowl bid or the Hawkeyes’ hopes for a division title.

 

Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah have a chance to rack up huge numbers to further their Heisman campaigns. And the Buckeyes are looking to pick up one more win before a critical matchup against the Spartans.

 

Again, that’s a nice way to put this week in the Big Ten. 

Week 10 Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 

 

Big Ten Week 10 Game Power Rankings

All games Saturday. All times Eastern.

 

1. Northwestern at Iowa

Noon, Big Ten Network

This isn’t the most sexy game in the Big Ten this season, but this is a key momentum game for both teams. Iowa hardly looked the part of Big Ten West contender by losing 38-31 at Maryland two weeks ago. Now, Iowa can’t afford to limp into its backloaded schedule against Minnesota on the road and Wisconsin and Nebraska at home. Northwestern, meanwhile, needs to win three of its final five games for bowl eligibility. Both teams are emerging from off weeks, but while Northwestern is getting healthier, Iowa has a host of problems. Among them is a two-game suspension for starting linebacker Reggie Spearman, who was charged with a DUI on Saturday. Iowa has allowed 528 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in the last two games. Meanwhile, Northwestern has found a workhorse in the running attack in Justin Jackson, who has topped 100 yards in three consecutive games.

 

Listen to the Week 10 preview podcast:



Subscribe: |

 

2. Illinois at Ohio State

8 p.m., ABC

Hey, Illinois, congratulations on an upset of Minnesota, now you get to face Ohio State in Columbus. The Illini will face a Buckeyes team looking to make a statement on multiple fronts. Ohio State was ranked No. 16 in the first College Football Playoff rankings, giving the one-loss Buckeyes quite a climb if they want to get into the playoff mix. The Buckeyes needed overtime to beat Penn State 31-24 in a game defined by shoddy officiating. Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett saw his progress stall thanks to shaky offensive line play, two interceptions and a knee sprain. Illinois is coming of arguably its best defensive performance of the season after holding Minnesota to 5.8 yards per play. For a team allowing more than 300 rushing yards per game in conference play, that qualifies as a solid effort.

 

3. Maryland at Penn State

Noon, ESPN2

Some rivalry: Penn State and Maryland haven’t played since 1993, and the Terrapins haven’t won since 1961. Still, the two coaches during the summer talked like this was some kind of rivalry. Penn State likes to recruit in Maryland’s backyard, and as Terps coach Randy Edsall admitted, the Nittany Lions have rarely missed on prospects there. This has all the makings of a low-scoring, ugly game. Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown will face a solid Penn State defense after averaging only 4.6 yards per attempt with one touchdown and three interceptions in his last three games. In theory, Penn State’s lackluster offensive line and Big Ten-worst run game could pick up confidence against a Maryland defense that ranks 13th in the league against the run. But the Nittany Lions’ meager running attack is now down a tailback following a season-ending injury to Zack Zwinak.

 

4. Wisconsin at Rutgers

Noon, ESPN

Get ready to watch Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon go wild again. Rutgers allowed a total of 616 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns and 7.6 yards per carry in its last two games against Ohio State and Nebraska. Containing Gordon isn't the only problem for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights, already down starting running back Paul James, likely will be down to backup quarterback Chris Laviano. Starting QB Gary Nova left last week’s game against Nebraska with a knee injury.

 

5. Indiana at Michigan

3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

The rematch will be hard-pressed to live up to the 63-47 shootout Michigan won a year ago. The Wolverines have topped 20 points just once since Sept. 13, and the Hoosiers are down to a freshman third-string quarterback, who completed 5-of-15 passes for 11 yards in his only start this season. Look for a steady diet of IU running back Tevin Coleman against Michigan’s defense, which is actually an interesting matchup. Coleman has rushed for at least 120 yards in each game this season while Michigan is third in the Big Ten in rush defense.

 

6. Purdue at Nebraska

3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

The Ameer Abdullah watch continues as the Nebraska tailback faces a Purdue defense that allowed 294 rushing yards to Michigan State and 285 yards to Minnesota in the last two games.

 

Big Ten Week 10 Staff Picks

 

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light

Northwestern at Iowa (-4)

NW 28-21Iowa 31-30Iowa 24-20Iowa 24-19

Maryland at Penn State (-3 1/2)

Md 17-13PSU 30-27PSU 27-24Md 20-10

Wisconsin (-11) at Rutgers

Wisc 42-14Wisc 40-24Wisc 38-17Wisc 31-13

Purdue at Nebraska (-23 1/2)

Neb 38-17Neb 45-21Neb 45-20Neb 41-24

Indiana at Michigan (-7)

IU 35-28Mich 19-17Mich 31-20IU 34-30

Illinois at Ohio State (-28)

OSU 41-10OSU 48-21OSU 45-17OSU 41-10
Last Week4-14-14-13-2
This Season61-1959-2160-2055-26

 

Teaser:
Big Ten 2014 Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-vs-louisville-cardinals-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Florida State puts its 23-game winning streak on the line on Thursday night, as the Seminoles travel to Louisville for a key ACC showdown. The Cardinals are 6-2 in their debut season in the ACC, but Florida State is easily their toughest opponent so far this year.

The Seminoles are not as dominant – at least right now – as this team was last season. However, coach Jimbo Fisher’s team continues to win and has recorded solid victories over Clemson, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame this year. And Florida State ranked as the No. 2 team in the first release of college football’s playoff committee rankings, so there’s plenty at stake in Louisville on Thursday.

On the other sideline, Louisville is looking to score a breakthrough win in its ACC debut, and Thursday night’s game is the start of a difficult four-game stretch to close out the 2014 season. The return of coach Bobby Petrino was supposed to transform the Cardinals into one of the ACC’s best offenses, but Louisville has been winning with its defense so far this year.

 

Florida State owns an 11-1 series edge over Louisville. However, the Cardinals’ won 26-20 in the last meeting between these two teams (2002).

 

Florida State at Louisville


Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Florida State -4

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Louisville’s Front Seven
Despite a change in scheme, Louisville’s defense has been one of the best in the nation through the first nine weeks of the season. The Cardinals are limiting opponents to just 14.6 points per game and 3.9 yards per play. Additionally, Louisville’s front seven creates a lot of havoc at the line of scrimmage. Through eight games, the Cardinals have recorded 60 tackles for a loss and 28 sacks. Florida State’s offensive line was expected to be one of the best in the nation this year but has struggled through the first seven games. The Seminoles also lost center Austin Barron due to injury, leaving redshirt freshman Ryan Hoefield to anchor the starting line. The Cardinals are aggressive and have enough experience up front to give Florida State’s offense plenty of headaches. End/linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin leads the team with six sacks, while end Sheldon Rankins has five. Not only is Louisville’s front capable of causing problems in pass rush situations, but this front seven will make life difficult for the Seminoles’ ground game. Florida State has struggled to establish a consistent push on the ground all year, and running back Mario Pender is unavailable to play due to injury. Dalvin Cook and Karlos Williams will handle the workload on the ground on Thursday and will find limited running room against the Cardinals No. 1 ranked run defense in the ACC. Florida State doesn’t need 200 rushing yards, but it needs to have success to take some of the pressure off of Jameis Winston’s shoulders.

 

2. Jameis Winston Against Louisville’s Secondary
At the beginning of the 2014 season, Florida State’s receiving corps was a question mark. Sure, the Seminoles had Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary, but would a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver emerge early in the season? Those fears have subsided in recent weeks, as Jesus Wilson, Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane have each contributed, and Winston has more weapons available at his disposal. Louisville’s secondary (largely at safety) entered the year with its own share of question marks, and much like Florida State’s receivers, this unit is no longer a concern. The Cardinals have allowed only seven passing touchdowns and have picked off 15 passes. Additionally, opposing quarterbacks are completing just 54 percent of their throws against this defense. Winston has been sharp most of this season, completing at least 62 percent of his throws in five of his six appearances. The sophomore has only four games of more than one interception in his career and was nearly flawless in the second half of the 31-27 win over Notre Dame. With the pressure Louisville gets with its front seven, it should limit Winston’s time to scan downfield and find Greene, Wilson or Rudolph for big plays. However, this is the best offense the Cardinals have played this year. If Florida State’s line gives Winston time to throw, will Louisville’s secondary struggle to stop Greene, O’Leary and the other Seminole receivers? Or can the Cardinals provide the necessary support in pass defense if the pass rush is stymied? 

 

3. Louisville’s Offense
Is Louisville’s offense ready for a breakout performance on Thursday night? In the 30-18 win over NC State, the Cardinals regained the services of receiver DeVante Parker, while running back Michael Dyer recorded 173 yards on just 24 carries. With Parker and Dyer playing at a high level, combined with Will Gardner growing more comfortable at quarterback, Louisville’s offense could be peaking at the right time. Florida State’s defense is not as dominant as it was last season, largely due to injuries in the front seven and lack of depth at defensive tackle. With Timmy Jernigan no longer the anchor at the point of attack, the Seminoles have slipped to sixth in the ACC against the run and have generated only 11 sacks in seven games. Even though Louisville’s offensive line has struggled this year, expect coach Bobby Petrino to give Dyer several opportunities to test the Florida State front seven. And when Gardner looks to pass, having the big-play ability of Parker on the outside should open up opportunities for receivers James Quick and Eli Rogers and tight end Gerald Christian to attack the middle of the field. Despite a lackluster pass rush on the stat sheet, the Seminoles should bring pressure on Gardner, as the Cardinals have allowed 27 sacks through eight games. If Louisville doesn’t get its ground game on track, this game may not be close in the fourth quarter.

 

Final Analysis

 

Florida State’s last trip to Louisville did not go well. The Seminoles lost 26-20 in overtime to the Cardinals in 2002. This year’s matchup is a dangerous spot for Florida State as well. Injuries on both lines of scrimmage have dwindled the team’s depth, and the offense won’t have running back Mario Pender. However, the Seminoles still have arguably the best quarterback in the nation – Jameis Winston – and keep finding ways to win games this year. This game will be a good barometer test for the Cardinals' defense, especially since it has yet to play an offense with the talent level Florida State will bring to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Thursday night. Louisville’s offense should benefit from having over a week to prepare, along with the return of receiver DeVante Parker to full strength. Dyer should find room to run, allowing Gardner and Parker to connect on a couple of big passing plays on play-action opportunities. But even if Florida State's defense gives up yards, it should hold its own in the red zone, limiting Louisville's scoring opportunities throughout the game. The Cardinals may ride the home crowd to early momentum, but Florida State edges out another victory and remains near the top of next week’s college football playoff rankings.

 

Prediction: Florida State 27, Louisville 24

Teaser:
Florida State Seminoles vs. Louisville Cardinals Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-9
Body:

Six teams are on bye, which means every team that is playing is represented in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 9. Of course, the emphasis is on the names at the top, which starts with Peyton Manning. The reigning MVP will go head-to-head with Tom Brady for the 16th time this Sunday. Manning still trails Andrew Luck in the fantasy points department, but No. 18 has 10 touchdowns and no interceptions over his last three games. Brady has been even better, leading his position in fantasy points over the last four weeks thanks to a sterling 14:0 TD:INT ratio. As well as these two future Hall of Famers have played lately, neither can top Ben Roethlisberger’s 522 yards and six touchdown passes against Indianapolis last week. Big Ben also will face a familiar foe this week when Pittsburgh and Baltimore renew their AFC North rivalry Sunday night.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

 

Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Peyton ManningDENat NE
2Andrew LuckINDat NYG (Mon.)
3Drew BreesNOat CAR (Thurs.)
4Tom BradyNEvs. DEN
5Philip RiversSDat MIA
6Russell WilsonSEAvs. OAK
7Colin KaepernickSFvs. STL
8Cam NewtonCARvs. NO (Thurs.)
9Nick FolesPHIat HOU
10Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. BAL
11Tony RomoDALvs. ARI
12Carson PalmerARIat DAL
13Eli ManningNYGvs. IND (Mon.)
14Andy DaltonCINvs. JAC
15Ryan TannehillMIAvs. SD
16Joe FlaccoBALat PIT
17Alex SmithKCvs. NYJ
18Robert Griffin IIIWASat MIN
19Brian HoyerCLEvs. TB
20Ryan FitzpatrickHOUvs. PHI
21Mike GlennonTBat CLE
22Teddy BridgewaterMINvs. WAS
23Austin DavisSTLat SF
24Michael VickNYJat KC
25Blake BortlesJACat CIN
26Derek CarrOAKat SEA

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-9
Body:

Lots of firepower sitting on the sidelines with six teams on bye, but there are still some pretty big weapons atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 9. Leading off our list is Arian Foster, who led all backs in fantasy points thanks to 173 total yards (151 rushing) and three touchdowns. Foster is our No. 1 pick because DeMarco Murray, who ran his record streak to eight straight 100-yard rushing games, is set to face Arizona’s third-ranked rushing defense. While Foster and Murray have been strong all season long, Mark Ingram was the best on the ground in Week 8. Ingram gashed Green Bay for 172 yards and now gets a shot at a Carolina defense that has struggled (135.3 ypg, 28th) against the run this season. Ingram is a borderline top-10 option this week.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

 

Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Arian FosterHOUvs. PHI
2DeMarco MurrayDALvs. ARI
3Marshawn LynchSEAvs. OAK
4Jamaal CharlesKCvs. NYJ
5Le'Veon BellPITvs. BAL
6Andre EllingtonARIat DAL
7LeSean McCoyPHIat HOU
8Lamar MillerMIAvs. SD
9Ronnie HillmanDENat NE
10Giovani BernardCINvs. JAC
11Ahmad BradshawINDat NYG (Mon.)
12Mark IngramNOat CAR (Thurs.)
13Justin ForsettBALat PIT
14Alfred MorrisWASat MIN
15Jerick McKinnonMINvs. WAS
16Ben TateCLEvs. TB
17Branden OliverSDat MIA
18Frank GoreSFvs. STL
19Denard RobinsonJACat CIN
20Chris IvoryNYJat KC
21Andre WilliamsNYGvs. IND (Mon.)
22Shane VereenNEvs. DEN
23Trent RichardsonINDat NYG (Mon.)
24Darren McFaddenOAKat SEA
25Jonas GrayNEvs. DEN
26Tre MasonSTLat SF
27DeAngelo WilliamsCARvs. NO (Thurs.)
28Bobby RaineyTBat CLE
29Lorenzo TaliaferroBALat PIT
30Jeremy HillCINvs. JAC
31Jonathan StewartCARvs. NO (Thurs.)
32Knile DavisKCvs. NYJ
33Darren SprolesPHIat HOU
34Juwan ThompsonDENat NE
35Travaris CadetNOat CAR (Thurs.)
36Charles SimsTBat CLE
37Isaiah CrowellCLEvs. TB
38Ryan MathewsSDat MIA
39Carlos HydeSFvs. STL
40Benny CunninghamSTLat SF
41Zac StacySTLat SF
42Roy HeluWASat MIN
43Alfred BlueHOUvs. PHI
44Terrance WestCLEvs. TB
45Matt AsiataMINvs. WAS
46Chris JohnsonNYJat KC
47Toby GerhartJACat CIN
48LeGarrette BlountPITvs. BAL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-9
Body:

Several familiar faces are missing from Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 9 because of the bye situation. Six teams are taking this week off, which means some fantasy owners may be digging a little deeper into their bench than usual. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of talent available at wide receiver, starting with leading fantasy scorer Antonio Brown. Brown caught 10 passes for 133 yards and two scores against Indianapolis, and that still was the best performance in Week 8. Jeremy Maclin led all wideouts in fantasy points after putting up 187 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona while Emmanuel Sanders was on the end of three Peyton Manning touchdown passes in the Broncos’ Thursday night win over San Diego. All three are top-six options this week, followed by A.J. Green, who is aiming to return after missing the past three games because of a toe injury.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

 

Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Antonio BrownPITvs. BAL
2Demaryius ThomasDENat NE
3Dez BryantDALvs. ARI
4Jeremy MaclinPHIat HOU
5T.Y. HiltonINDat NYG (Mon.)
6Emmanuel SandersDENat NE
7A.J. GreenCINvs. JAC
8Mike WallaceMIAvs. SD
9Kelvin BenjaminCARvs. NO (Thurs.)
10Steve SmithBALat PIT
11Andre JohnsonHOUvs. PHI
12DeSean JacksonWASat MIN
13Keenan AllenSDat MIA
14DeAndre HopkinsHOUvs. PHI
15Rueben RandleNYGvs. IND (Mon.)
16Brandon LaFellNEvs. DEN
17Odell Beckham Jr.NYGvs. IND (Mon.)
18Doug BaldwinSEAvs. OAK
19Vincent JacksonTBat CLE
20Brandin CooksNOat CAR (Thurs.)
21Larry FitzgeraldARIat DAL
22Pierre GarconWASat MIN
23Michael FloydARIat DAL
24Marques ColstonNOat CAR (Thurs.)
25Mohamed SanuCINvs. JAC
26Julian EdelmanNEvs. DEN
27Torrey SmithBALat PIT
28Terrance WilliamsDALvs. ARI
29Michael CrabtreeSFvs. STL
30Andrew HawkinsCLEvs. TB
31Cordarrelle PattersonMINvs. WAS
32Reggie WayneINDat NYG (Mon.)
33Allen RobinsonJACat CIN
34Percy HarvinNYJat KC
35Mike EvansTBat CLE
36Eric DeckerNYJat KC
37Anquan BoldinSFvs. STL
38Martavis BryantPITvs. BAL
39Andre HolmesOAKat SEA
40Wes WelkerDENat NE
41James JonesOAKat SEA
42Dwayne BoweKCvs. NYJ
43Greg JenningsMINvs. WAS
44Cecil ShortsJACat CIN
45John BrownARIat DAL
46Malcom FloydSDat MIA
47Donte MoncriefINDat NYG (Mon.)
48Markus WheatonPITvs. BAL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-9
Body:

After a vintage performance last week, there’s a familiar face atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 9. Rob Gronkowski abused Chicago’s defense, catching nine passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns in New England’s Week 8 rout. Gronk certainly looks to be back and he’s our No. 1 TE this week. Julius Thomas and Jimmy Graham are certainly no slouches by any respect, and Graham owners in particular were no doubt thrilled to see their big man be productive (5-59-1) last week even though he’s still dealing with a sprained shoulder. For those who may be looking for a fill-in TE these next two weeks, you could certainly do worse than Heath Miller, if he’s available in your league. The veteran went for 112 yards and a touchdown last week and is a top-10 fantasy TE on the season.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

 

Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Rob GronkowskiNEvs. DEN
2Julius ThomasDENat NE
3Jimmy GrahamNOat CAR (Thurs.)
4Greg OlsenCARvs. NO (Thurs.)
5Antonio GatesSDat MIA
6Dwayne AllenINDat NYG (Mon.)
7Jordan ReedWASat MIN
8Travis KelceKCvs. NYJ
9Larry DonnellNYGvs. IND (Mon.)
10Jason WittenDALvs. ARI
11Zach ErtzPHIat HOU
12Vernon DavisSFvs. STL
13Heath MillerPITvs. BAL
14Jared CookSTLat SF
15Clay HarborJACat CIN
16Charles ClayMIAvs. SD
17Coby FleenerINDat NYG (Mon.)
18Jace AmaroNYJat KC
19Tim WrightNEvs. DEN
20Austin Seferian-JenkinsTBat CLE
21Jermaine GreshamCINvs. JAC
22Crockett GillmoreBALat PIT
23Niles PaulWASat MIN
24Mychal RiveraOAKat SEA

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-9
Body:

Not to pick on Jacksonville, but there’s a reason its opponent leads off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 9. To put it simply, the Jaguars are allowing an average of 17 fantasy points per game (Athlon scoring) to opposing DSTs. Last week alone, Miami returned two Blake Bortles interceptions for touchdowns. This week’s lucky DST is Cincinnati, which has rebounded somewhat after some disappointing showings. Another strong starting option this week is Kansas City, which will unleash Justin Houston (NFL-leading 10 sacks) and its other pass-rushers against Michael Vick and the turnover-prone Jets (18 giveaways) on Sunday.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

 

Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee

 

RankPlayerOpp
1Cincinnati Bengalsvs. JAC
2San Francisco 49ersvs. STL
3Kansas City Chiefsvs. NYJ
4Seattle Seahawksvs. OAK
5Cleveland Brownsvs. TB
6Philadelphia Eaglesat HOU
7Minnesota Vikingsvs. WAS
8Houston Texansvs. PHI
9Baltimore Ravensat PIT
10Miami Dolphinsvs. SD
11Indianapolis Coltsat NYG (Mon.)
12Arizona Cardinalsat DAL
13Pittsburgh Steelersvs. BAL
14Denver Broncosat NE
15New England Patriotsvs. DEN
16Washington Redskinsat MIN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-9
Body:

Points will probably be aplenty in New England, but Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 9 gives top billing to a guy who will be toiling in the Steel City on Sunday night. Justin Tucker, who nailed a 50- and 53-yard field goal last week, checks in at No. 1 on this week’s list because Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh matchups usually go down to the wire and touchdowns are sometimes scarce. Tucker is second to Stephen Gostkowski in fantasy points and field goals made, and the Ravens’ reliable kicker has already attempted six field goals from 50 yards and beyond, connecting on three of them.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

 

Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Justin TuckerBALat PIT
2Adam VinatieriINDat NYG (Mon.)
3Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. DEN
4Dan BaileyDALvs. ARI
5Steven HauschkaSEAvs. OAK
6Cody ParkeyPHIat HOU
7Chandler CatanzaroARIat DAL
8Phil DawsonSFvs. STL
9Brandon McManusDENat NE
10Nick NovakSDat MIA
11Blair WalshMINvs. WAS
12Cairo SantosKCvs. NYJ
13Shayne GrahamNOat CAR (Thurs.)
14Randy BullockHOUvs. PHI
15Shaun SuishamPITvs. BAL
16Mike NugentCINvs. JAC

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /nba/anthony-davis-begins-nba-season-incredible-performance-chandler-parsons-mavericks-goat-night
Body:

They say that playing with Team USA is a springboard, often providing the confidence and moxie needed to launch mere NBA stars into the rare air of MVP status. And while the new season is just one night old, New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis (who’s also a new FIBA gold medalist after ) looks to be proving this theory as well as anyone.

Last night, Davis collected a monstrous 26 points, 17 rebounds, nine blocks and three steals. . The court is a smaller place for the gigantic, nimble, hyper-aware Davis than it is for the rest of the humans he competes with. Watch him destroy the novice Orlando Magic in service of a 101-84 Pelicans victory:

 

New Pelicans front court partner Omer Asik, acquired in a trade with the Houston Rockets, chipped in 14 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks — making for a combined 40, 34 and 14 from him and Davis. New Orleans’ two-headed dragon of a front line and diverse, speedy backcourt make them a scary dark horse contender in the thorny Western Conference.
 

Parsons' Dallas Debut

The San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks renewed their natural rivalry. Sporting new additions Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler, the Mavs looked to prove themselves worthy of the reigning league champions. They came close enough for a fright, but ultimately handed fate into Parsons’ hands, who missed an open three-pointer as the game expired, and Dallas fell 101-100.

This coming shortly after Dirk Nowitzki joked about Parsons’ exorbitant three-year, $46 million dollar deal, a contract only possible because of the huge pay cut the aging German sensation took. “I told him every dinner on the road this year is on him because it's my money anyway,” , when about the discrepancy between his and Parsons’ pay rate. Nowitzki is on a friendly, Mavs-lifer budget, making just $25 million over the next three seasons despite remaining one of the best scorers in the game.

Aside from Parsons’ game-ending miss, his debut Mavericks performance was pitiful — he scored just five points, on 2-of-10 shooting. It’s far too early to judge the signing of Parsons now, but similar results in future showings could quickly make him his fanbase’s new whipping post.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-rb-todd-gurley-slated-return-suspension-nov-15-against-auburn
Body:

Georgia running back Todd Gurley will be eligible to return to the lineup on Nov. 15, after the NCAA handed down its ruling into his reinstatement case. Gurley was suspended from the team prior to the Oct. 11 contest against Missouri due to autographed memorabilia and has missed the Bulldogs’ last two games. In addition to a four-game suspension, Gurley was ordered to repay a portion of the received money and must complete 40 hours of community service.

The announcement from the NCAA indicated Gurley accepted more than $3,000 from multiple individuals over the last two years in exchange for autographing memorabilia.

Gurley has already missed two games due to suspension, leaving the junior with two more contests to sit out until he is eligible to return. Gurley is slated to return to the Georgia lineup on Nov. 15 against Auburn.

Until Gurley returns, the Bulldogs will rely heavily on freshman running back Nick Chubb. Over the last two games, Chubb has rushed for 345 yards and three scores and will continue to handle the bulk of the workload with Nick Marshall and Sony Michel expected to miss Saturday’s game against Florida.

Georgia ranked No. 11 in the first release of the college football playoff committee standings. If the Bulldogs win the rest of their regular season games, coach Mark Richt's team should have a shot to rank just outside of the top four before the SEC Championship. Gurley's return would be a huge boost for Georgia's SEC title hopes, and the junior would be returning at a critical time against Auburn on Nov. 15.

, Georgia plans to appeal the decision. 

Teaser:
Georgia RB Todd Gurley Slated to Return Nov. 15 from Autograph Suspension
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 11:31
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-29-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 29:

 

.

 

• Have to say this is cool: .

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

• Presented without comment: .

 

• That didn't take long: .

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

. That's a good doggie.

 

• Anthony Davis started the NBA season with an Olajuwon-esque statline.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 11:24
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/texas-am-unveils-throwback-uniforms-saturdays-game-against-ulm
Body:

Texas A&M hopes to rebound from a 59-0 loss to Alabama with an easy win over ULM this Saturday.

And to help the Aggies win in style, the program has unveiled throwback uniforms for Saturday’s game against the Warhawks.

These uniforms are a tribute to the 1939 Texas A&M team and feature an awesome leather-like helmet design.

Check out Texas A&M’s uniforms for this Saturday:

 

Teaser:
Texas A&M Unveils Throwback Uniforms for Saturday's Game Against ULM
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 10:58
All taxonomy terms: Sacramento Kings, NBA
Path: /nba/vivek-ranadive-sacramento-kings-vies-title-nba%E2%80%99s-worst-owner
Body:

So long, Donald Sterling. The exiled, former Los Angeles Clippers owner has left his seat open as basketball’s worst holder of a franchise. And the Sacramento Kings’ Vivek Ranadive seems eager to claim Sterling’s old title.

Ranadive, , has quickly developed a reputation as a meddlesome owner. Recent leaks, , suggest he has tried to influence his team’s on-court strategy. It’s almost never a good thing when an owner tries to double down as a coach, and it’s especially bad when he wants the implementation of a zany novelty like cherry-picking. According to Lowe, “Ranadive has pitched the idea to the team’s brain trust of playing 4-on-5 defense and leaving one player to cherry-pick, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.”

It doesn’t take a roundball genius to see the flaws in this strategy. NBA teams—even the bad ones—are all capable of exploiting a literally undermanned defense, on virtually every possession. It takes only a cursory understanding of ball movement to consistently find the unaccounted-for man. And while the 2014-15 Kings don’t have a lot of promise defensively, they would end up right in the league’s basement if they went this route with any regularity.

Previously, during this past June’s NBA Draft showed Ranadive as a man with questionable ideas. In the clip below, Ranadive urges his front office to draft Nik Stauskas at No. 8 overall, not point guard Elfrid Payton. The Kings went Ranadive’s way, drafting an iffy shooting prospect for the second straight summer (after picking Ben McLemore in 2013) and passing on Payton, a passing visionary who would fit right into what’s perhaps Sacramento’s biggest hole.

 

As you can see, Ranadive has a way of getting what he wants. With billionaire entrepreneurs, that tends to be the case. Kings fans just better be hoping that Vivek learns the lessons of overzealous ownership fast, and enables shrewder basketball minds to do their work.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/stop-complaining-there-no-sec-bias
Body:

The initial College Football Playoff rankings were released amid a sea of anti-SEC sentiment and swirling ESPN conspiracy theories. Gasp, four of the top six teams hail from the SEC. 

 

Why did this happen? Because the For the angry mob, that means ESPN is with talking head rhetoric. At the same time, the Mothership undermines every other quality team in the nation while turning a blind eye to the SEC's problems.

 

There is so much wrong with these theories that it's almost difficult to pick a place to begin.

 

Unlike ESPN, I have zero financial ties or obligations to the Southeastern Conference.

 

doesn't sell any more magazines if we pick the SEC to win the national title or rank their teams in our Top 25. There is no evidence to suggest we make more of a profit by picking one team or league over another.

 

The beauty of working for is that there are no ratings. Not one host on our channel is beholden to any one league or another because it drives or doesn’t drive listenership.

 

At both companies, our conversations are driven by the love of the college game. I’ve been taught to have anything but an SEC bias.

 

But only the truly irrational and blindly ignorant would argue against the SEC as the best college football has to offer right now.

 

First, the concept that ESPN benefits somehow from more SEC teams landing in the four-team playoff is comical. Ohio State, Notre Dame and Florida State would pull bigger TV ratings than Ole Miss or Mississippi State.

 

In fact, the most-watched college football game of the season was the Seminoles' narrow victory over the Irish two weeks ago (). As ESPN College GameDay anchor and ABC broadcaster Chris Fowler said, the entirety of the sport and its financial partners, benefit the most when more regions of the country are represented. ESPN would benefit the most from a dominant Big Ten in particular.

 

 

Maybe Ohio State is No. 16 and Notre Dame is No. 10 because they just aren’t as good. Isn't it possible that the SEC Network's ratings would actually go up if the SEC gets left out of the Playoff?

 

Second, ESPN carries nearly every ACC game, most Big Ten games and shares the Big 12 and Pac-12 with FOX. So ESPN is in bed with those leagues as well to varying degrees.

 

A direct competitor, CBS, is the top SEC broadcaster every Saturday. So we're now suggesting that ESPN is intentionally propping up a direct competitor? College GameDay has been to three Florida State games this year, more than any other team in the nation.

 

Listen to the Week 9 recap podcast:



Subscribe: |

 

Third, the idea that Florida State's current publicity nightmare has somehow been fabricated because of a media witch hunt is myopic and silly. I've just shown you how valuable Florida State to the Mothership.

 

No, Jameis Winston, Jimbo Fisher, Karlos Williams, the Tallahassee Police Department and the powers that be at Florida State have only themselves to blame for their current PR predicament. and FOX Sports have done an excellent job proving this point.

 

Yet Seminoles fans everywhere claim that the SEC hasn't gotten the same treatment. Are you kidding? Last I checked, Johnny Manziel received comparable airtime for less significant allegations or improprieties just one season ago.

 

Fourth, no outside influence — not even a powerful broadcast network — should be able to sway the College Football Playoff committee in any way. If a committee member is making decisions in that Dallas hotel based on what Jesse Palmer or Danny Kanell have poured into the ether, then they have far less integrity than previously believed and should no longer be working on the panel.

 

Lastly, and most important, has anyone outside of the South considered that maybe four of the best six teams in the nation are from the SEC?

 

Kansas State had a shot at Auburn at home and lost. Wisconsin had LSU beat and couldn't finish. Clemson tried to stop Georgia but failed. West Virginia played well against Alabama and still lost by double digits. Arkansas, a team that has lost 16 consecutive SEC games, went on the road and crushed Texas Tech.

 

Quality lower-tiered teams like East Carolina, UCF, Utah State and Boise State had Goliath on a big stage and got beat as well. These are all good teams (well, except Texas Tech) and all of them wilted against the SEC.

 

Oklahoma topped a bad Tennessee team at home and Missouri inexplicably lost to Indiana. That's it.

 

From the most powerful booster to the guy sitting in the top row, from the athletic director to the guy who laces the cleats, the SEC is simply more committed to winning than any other league. Sometimes that means it breaks more rules and crosses more lines, but that's because the SEC wants it more.

 

The SEC has won all but one national title since 2006, it puts more players into the NFL than any other league and has anyone found a poll or ranking from anyone with any credibility that suggests the SEC isn't the best? In fact, the top four teams in the nation according to both  and  all play in the SEC.

 

Stop making excuses, creating confounded conspiracies and pointing fingers.

 

The reason four of the top six — and six of the top 19 — teams in the initial playoff rankings are from the SEC is because they deserve to be there.

 

It's not any more complicated than that.

Teaser:
Stop Complaining, There is no SEC Bias
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 09:59
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/bucs-keep-dealing-ship-casillas-pats-0
Body:

Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their second trade of the day during Tuesday's deadline by sending linebacker Jonathan Casillas to the New England Patriots for an undisclosed swap of 2015 draft choices.

 

According to ESPN.com, the Patriots will give the Buccaneers their fifth-round pick in exchange for Tampa Bay's sixth rounder and Casillas, a five-year veteran who started the first three games of this season before being displaced by Danny Lansanah.

 

Tampa Bay also traded another defensive player on Tuesday, shipping safety and 2012 first-round pick Mark Barron to St. Louis for reported fourth and sixth- round selections in 2015.

 

As for the Patriots, they acquired their second linebacker through a trade in less than a week. The AFC East leaders obtained Akeem Ayers from Tennessee last Wednesday in another exchange of 2015 draft picks.

 

Casillas was in his second season with Tampa Bay after a three-year stint with New Orleans. The 27-year-old has recorded 138 tackles and three sacks while starting 15 out of 55 career games.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 09:13
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/nfl-great-champ-bailey-officially-retires
Body:

Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Twelve-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey has decided to call an end to an illustrious 15-year playing career, his agent announced Tuesday.

 

Jack Reale, Bailey's longtime representative, said his client has received offers from teams following his release from the New Orleans Saints in August but has instead chosen to explore other options.

 

"At this time, Champ has decided not to accept on-field opportunities and pursue another career path," Reale told ESPN.com. "To play the end of this season and maybe next season, given his opportunities, he could have done that. But he decided it was best to move on to those other areas. I think everybody on his team agreed that was a good approach."

 

Bailey was one of the league's most dominant defensive players of the 2000s, earning All-Pro honors for five consecutive seasons from 2003-07 and leading the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2006. His 12 Pro Bowl selections is tied with Hall of Famer Ken Houston for the most in NFL history by a defensive back.

 

The seventh overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft by Washington, Bailey played five seasons with the Redskins before being sent to Denver in a blockbuster 2004 trade for running back Clinton Portis.

 

Bailey spent the next 10 seasons with the Broncos and finished his career among the franchise's all-time leaders in interceptions (34) and passes defensed (102). He was released by Denver shortly after Super Bowl XLVIII following an injury-plagued 2013 campaign.

 

"Congratulations to 12-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey on an outstanding career," the Broncos tweeted Tuesday.

The 36-year-old had signed with the Saints in April but was released during final cuts.

 

Over 215 career regular season games with Denver and Washington, Bailey amassed 52 interceptions -- four of which were returned for touchdowns — and 235 pass breakups.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 09:08
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-week-10
Body:

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

 

The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 10.

 

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

 

Florida State will take the blame for something

 

That’s right, I said it. Jimbo Fisher and Florida State will have to accept responsibility for losing to Louisville on Thursday night. It won’t be the SEC’s fault. It won’t be ESPN’s fault. It won’t even be Kirk Herbstreit’s fault. No, if and when the Seminoles score fewer points than the Cardinals, Fisher will have to take the podium and acknowledge that it was his team that lost the game.

 

Stanford will lose to Oregon

 

Just picking an upset normally doesn’t warrant “outrageous” consideration. However, Stanford has dominated Oregon of late and has cost the Ducks a couple of trips to the Pac-12 title game (or more). This season will be Marcus Mariota’s breakthrough performance and his first win over archrival and two-time defending Pac-12 champ Stanford. Although, Oregon will likely lose to Utah next weekend if it beats the Cardinal this Saturday.

 

Trevone Boykin, Clint Trickett will throw for 1,000 yards

 

Trickett is sixth nationally at 345.4 passing yards per game this season. Boykin is eighth at 329.4. The Frogs defense ranks 116th nationally in passing yards allowed in conference play at 324.0 yards per game. West Virginia is 50th nationally in the same category. Look for both QBs to air it out in an old-fashioned Big (East) 12 shootout.

 

Will Muschamp won’t make it back to Gainesville

 

We all know that Muschamp isn’t likely to return as the Gators coach in 2015 but many Florida fans have pointed to the Cocktail Party matchup against rival Georgia as the last straw. A fourth consecutive loss to Mark Richt would force Jeremy Foley’s hand and would likely be the last loss for Muschamp on the Gators' sideline.

 

Utah will be alone in first place in the Pac-12 South

 

The Utes are a 5.5-point underdog to Arizona State this weekend but defensively match up very well with a team that struggled to score last weekend against Washington. A win for Utah gives ASU a second league loss and pushes the Utes to 4-1. When Arizona loses to UCLA in the Rose Bowl, Utah will find itself alone in first place of the Pac-12 South entering Week 11.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Week 10
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/cowboys-durant-has-torn-biceps-no-word-tony-romo
Body:

Irving, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett did not reveal any details regarding Tony Romo's injury in Tuesday's press conference, but he did confirm linebacker Justin Durant has a torn biceps.

 

Garrett hesitated to rule out Durant for the rest of the season, but said "it's a serious injury" and the team will make a decision based on "how much time is left in the season and what the options are."

 

Durant suffered the injury during the second half of Monday's 20-17 overtime loss to the Redskins. The weakside linebacker has emerged as a solid contributor to an already depleted defense and leads the team in tackles (49) despite missing two games.

 

The Cowboys are already without star linebacker Sean Lee and will likely have to find a replacement for Durant given the nature of the injury.

 

Romo, meanwhile, suffered what the team called a back contusion on Monday and there was no additional information at the time of Garrett's presser.

 

"We did X-rays at the stadium (on Monday) and that allowed us to say he could go back in (Monday's game)," Garrett said. "We are doing additional scans to make sure if there's anything else going on."

 

Romo exited early in the third quarter after taking a knee to his surgically repaired back. He returned for the final possession of regulation and overtime but was clearly limited in his abilities.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 08:58
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-9-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

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

 

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

 

The Panel:

 

, FOX Sports

, Big Ten Network 

, CBS Sports

, SBNation

, Sports Illustrated

, NFL.com

, Big Ten Network

, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

, MrSEC.com

, Athlon Sports

Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

 PlayerTeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Marcus Mariota62103---
2.Dak Prescott5339-1-
3.Ameer Abdullah29-1542
4t.Melvin Gordon16--323
4t.Amari Cooper16--242
6.Trevone Boykin12--311
7.Everett Golson3----3
8.Jameis Winston2---1-
9t.Tevin Coleman1----1
9t.Shaq Thompson1----1

Dropped out: Kevin White, Bo Wallace

 

Listen to the Week 9 recap podcast:



Subscribe: |

 

The Top 3:

 
1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Late on Friday night, Marcus Mariota watched a double deflection end his interception-less streak. Otherwise, he was perfect once again in a critical road win against Cal. He became Oregon’s all-time leading passer by throwing for 326 yards and five touchdowns, passing Bill Musgrave, while adding 36 yards rushing on six carries. Mariota will face Stanford and Utah over the next two weeks.

 

Season Stats: 2,283 yards, 68.82%, 24 TDs, 1 INTs, 325 rush yards, 5 TDs

 

2. Dak Prescott, Mississippi St

With a struggling defense, Prescott is being asked to carry his team to victory each week. He got plenty of help from Josh Robinson (198 yards, 2 TD) but still delivered in a big way on the road against Kentucky. The Bulldogs' QB threw for 216 yards, one touchdown and one interception while rushing 18 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns. He is just the fifth player in the last decade to account for at least three touchdowns in each of his team’s first seven games.

 

Season Stats: 1,694 yards, 60.3%, 15 TDs, 5 INTs, 664 rush yards, 10 TDs

 

3. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

The star Huskers tailback set a school record with 341 all-purpose yards in the win over Rutgers. He rushed for 225 yards, topping 200 yards on the ground in a game for the fourth time this season. He added 26 yards receiving and 90 on kick returns while scoring three more touchdowns. His 1,249 yards are leading the nation and his 17 TDs are second.

 

Season Stats: 180 att., 1,249 yards, 6.9 ypc, 17 TDs, 13 rec., 169 yards, 2 TD 

Teaser:
Expert Poll: Week 9 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /nascar/nascar-rookie-report-fans-guide-future-cup-series-rookies
Body:

Welcome to the Athlon Rookie Report, where each week David Smith will evaluate the deepest crop of new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series talent since 2006. The Report will include twice-monthly rankings, in-depth analysis, Q&A sessions with the drivers and more.

 

Today, David looks toward the future with a menu of potential Cup Series drivers for which you may want to start rooting.

 

 

At some point, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver roster will get an infusion of young talent, drivers that aren’t rookies now and might not be in 2015. Some of those names you might already know, especially if you make NASCAR Nationwide Series races appointment viewing every Saturday. You might already have a favorite or two out of the latest litter, but in case you don’t, I’ve compiled this handy fan’s guide to the future Cup Series rookies: 

 

Are you a fan of nostalgia, strong family ties and easy championships? Chase Elliott is your driver.

 

A frustrating sight at short tracks is when a young driver fails to succeed despite having the best car and crew and deepest resources. Elliott had all of that, plus a famous dad, but capitalized on the opportunities given to him, smoking fields at hallowed grounds across the nation, collecting trophies from such notable events like the All American 400, the Snowball Derby and the Winchester 400.

 

Bill Elliott, the 1988 Cup Series champion and a 16-time winner of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver award, helped make sure his son Chase, now 19, had everything at his competitive disposal. That Chase was able to take advantage was a good sign — one seen by Rick Hendrick, who signed the younger Elliott to a development contract over three years ago.

 

Now in the Nationwide Series, Elliott, per , is poised for a series title in his rookie year, having collected wins at Texas, Darlington and Chicagoland. His aggression level is high, and a weapon he used to pick off . He’ll fit into the system already in place at Hendrick Motorsports, which amplifies the talents of drivers who utilize intelligence and aggression. He’s the closest thing to a sure thing among a deep crop of rising talent.

 

Are you a motorsports snob and appreciate refined race craft? Ryan Blaney is your driver.

 

While Blaney was still acclimating to life in high school, he was displaying a veteran-like presence on short tracks around the Carolinas. 

 

Unlike his father Dave, who is a Dirt Sprint Car legend, Ryan was nurtured on pavement and learned pace and conservation early enough — my best memory of him was a conservative ride at Hickory Motor Speedway that resulted in a savvy up-front finish as other gas-happy kids wore their equipment out — to have it translate to higher-mileage contests in NASCAR. His assimilation has been quick. He has a win for each year he’s raced in a NASCAR division, none more impressive than his score this summer at Bristol .

 

Team Penske, a ubiquitous presence in practically all forms of racing, employs Blaney and has so much belief in him that for a partial Cup Series season in 2015.

 

Are you a blue-collar worker with dirt under your nails and might have rooted for a black No. 3 car back in the day? Corey LaJoie is your driver.

 

Richard Petty Motorsports holds contractual rights to LaJoie, but didn’t bend over backwards for him until recently, placing him into four Nationwide Series races with fellow Ford team Biagi-DenBeste Racing. Up until that, LaJoie went at it alone, essentially acting as his own crew chief in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he ran neck-and-neck with Kyle Larson in 2012, scoring more victories (five) than Larson (two), but falling short in the title battle.

 

LaJoie’s outspoken nature could prove polarizing in the Dale Earnhardt sense or entertaining in the Clint Bowyer sense; however, he has enough talent — he’s a bit of a chameleon, an aggressive driver with a high Race IQ while also an ace equipment and tire conservationist — to back up whatever statements he chooses to make. And despite having family ties to the sport — father Randy is a two-time Nationwide Series champion — LaJoie created much of his heightened prospect status with his work ethic, a relatable trait to even the most old-school of NASCAR fans.

 

Do you seldom watch racing, choosing only to watch the Daytona 500, the finale at Homestead and the occasional driver appearance on a late-night talk show? Darrell Wallace is your driver.

 

This isn’t a knock on Wallace, who became the first African-American winner in NASCAR’s three major divisions in 50 years with his Truck Series triumph at Martinsville last season. This season in the Truck Series, he has already tripled his 2013 win total and has an outside shot at the series title with three races remaining. He’s got driving chops.

 

He also oozes star power, reaching to both African Americans and millennials. To the latter group, Wallace is inherently relatable, displaying a style not familiar with the Wrangler-wearing crowd and poise beyond his years that today’s kids should aim to emulate. Already firmly entrenched at Joe Gibbs Racing and with manufacturer Toyota, Wallace’s ticket is already punched for the big time. Becoming a personality that transcends the sport of racing is only a matter of when. He’ll be playing in no time.

 

Do you root for the Cinderella team every year during March Madness? Chris Buescher is your driver.

 

There isn’t a single driver among the next batch of NASCAR stars that has transformed themselves more than Buescher, a rookie for Roush Fenway Racing in the Nationwide Series. Once a wild-driving kid in Legend Cars, Buescher’s aggressiveness, once enrolled in the Roush School of Driving Like Matt Kenseth Does, balanced out and he emerged as a textbook racecar driver, one who conserves equipment yet finds unmatched speed. This resulted in an ARCA Series championship in 2012. That season he became the first driver in series history to complete every lap of competition during a calendar year while also winning four races, tying for the season’s most.

 

Buescher is already a Nationwide Series race winner and, with the organization promoting Trevor Bayne to the seat of its new No. 6 team in 2015, is in the on-deck circle once a Cup ride opens up at Roush Fenway. He might be an underdog, though, if he remains at Roush, which has lacked title-worthy pop the last three years. Buescher is a quiet kid, one who might not attract a large number of fans or the ritziest of sponsors. Fans that do latch on to Buescher will be a part of group cheering on something special and when one of his seasons breaks the right way, they’ll have a plum seat on the bandwagon ride to the top.

 

 

David Smith is the founder of and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projection, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at

 

Photo by

Teaser:
David Smith looks at NASCAR's next great crop of rookie talent.
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 08:25
All taxonomy terms: Pac-12, Utah Utes, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-utah-utes-team-preview
Body:

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak is not interested in celebrating any checkpoints or milestones in his rebuilding of the program. The Utes clearly are making progress as Krystkowiak enters his fourth season, but he’s not declaring the project ahead of schedule. 

 

“We’re in the middle of the process, showing steady improvement,” Krystkowiak says. 

 

That’s his only gauge of where the Utes are, having gone from 3–15 in Pac-12 play in his first season to 5–13 and then 9–9 (with a bunch of close losses) last year. The growth was sufficient for the school to award Krystkowiak a new five-year contract, and his recruiting success suggests that the upward trend will continue in 2014-15 and beyond. 

 

The Utah edition is one of dozens available in our  and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

Frontcourt

 

The best illustration of how far the Utes have come may be reflected in junior forward Jordan Loveridge’s role this season. After averaging 36.3 minutes in Pac-12 games last season, Loveridge will have much more help up front, which means he’s unlikely to play nearly as many minutes. 

 

Much is expected from Kyle Kuzma, who should create matchup issues. Another freshman, Brekkott Chapman, also is multidimensional, and junior college transfer Chris Reyes also should help.

 

Loveridge led the Utes with 7.0 rebounds per game, and Krystkowiak is seeking a better effort on the boards from his entire team. In conference games, the Utes ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in defensive rebounding, grabbing only 68.4 percent of their opponents’ misses. That deficiency hurt them at the end of some tight games, but it could fixed by the Utes having bigger players at every position in 2014-15.

 

During a summer workout, Krystkowiak was thrilled to look at one end of the court and see six quality big men doing drills, a sign that Utah would have much more depth up front. 

 

Dallin Bachynski and Jeremy Olsen are steady, solid players who complement one another at center. Olsen joined Loveridge on the Pac-12 all-star team, coached by Krystkowiak, that toured China. The Utes continued to upgrade their athletic ability by signing Austrian 7-footer Jakob Poeltl. 

 

When he arrived at Utah, Krystkowiak’s recruiting was designed mainly to fill the roster. His staff now can be much more selective in targeting players, and the results are impressive. The Utes will be able to put different lineups on the court and take advantage of certain matchups.

 


Utah Utes Facts & Figures

Last season: 21-12, 9-9 Pac-12

Postseason: NIT

Last NCAA Tournament: 2009

Coach: Larry Krystkowiak (42-55 at Utah, 17-36 Pac-12)

Pac-12 Projection: Fifth

Postseason Projection: NCAA Round of 32

 


Backcourt

 

Delon Wright was a great discovery for Utah as a junior college transfer, and his decision to stay in school for his senior season rather than enter the NBA was a big boost to the Utes. Wright took over at point guard and finished second in the Pac-12 in steals (2.5 spg), third in field-goal shooting (.561) and fourth in assists (5.3 apg), while leading the Utes in scoring (15.5 ppg) and ranking second in rebounding (6.8 rpg). 

 

Wright and his teammates must perform better in the clutch. Dakarai Tucker took a pass from Loveridge and hit a clinching 3-pointer against Washington in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament, but strong finishes were rare for the Utes. They had fewer turnovers than their opponents, but the Utes’ mistakes seem to come at the worst times. 

 

Some combination of Brandon Taylor, Kenneth Ogbe and Tucker will fill the other backcourt roles, while freshman Isaiah Wright also may provide some relief for Delon Wright, who averaged 36.4 minutes per game. 

 

Final Analysis


Utah’s 21–12 overall record in 2013-14 was deceiving, and so were some of their statistics, because of a very weak non-conference schedule that included only one road game. The level of competition will be upgraded considerably, with a home game vs. Wichita State, plus matchups against Kansas (in Kansas City) and UNLV on a “neutral court” in Las Vegas. 

Krystkowiak hopes that those games will serve as good preparation for Pac-12 play, and that the experience of having competed in so many close battles last year will translate to greater success in pressure situations.

 

Too many times in 2013-14, the Utes came down the stretch “and were kind of looking over our shoulder, wondering if it’s going to happen again,” Krystkowiak says.

 

Judging strictly by conference play, the Utes statistically performed better than a .500 team in the Pac-12. With some better finishes, the Utes should be able to continue their climb in the Pac-12 and contend for an NCAA Tournament bid. 

 

Newcomers

 

Freshman forwards Kyle Kuzma and Brekkott Chapman bring versatility to the frontcourt. Kuzma can execute low-post moves, handle the ball and rebound at both ends of the court. Forward Chris Reyes, a junior college transfer who started his college career at Saint Mary’s, should help with his rebounding ability. Austrian center Jakob Poeltl is a skilled 7-footer with good fundamentals. 

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: Utah Utes Team Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Pac-12, UCLA Bruins, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-ucla-bruins-team-preview
Body:

When Steve Alford was chosen to replace longtime coach Ben Howland in April 2013, the hire didn’t exactly have UCLA fans jumping for joy. Howland, after all, had taken the Bruins to three straight Final Fours in the past decade and was fresh off a Pac-12 regular-season title. Alford, meanwhile, had reached the Sweet 16 just once as a coach — 14 years prior, with upstart Southwest Missouri State.

 

But when the dust had settled somewhat and Alford’s first UCLA team actually took the court, winning soothed most of those concerns. His players quickly bought in, and despite a rather uninspiring run through a less-than-intimidating non-conference schedule, the Bruins’ up-tempo, high-powered offense quickly became a force to be reckoned with in March, when it mattered most. 

 

After dropping its worst game of the season to Washington State in the regular-season finale, UCLA burned through the Pac-12 Tournament like it had something to prove, pulling off a fantastic, last-minute victory over Arizona in the title game. That momentum carried the Bruins all the way to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008.

 

Alford will have to do some serious remodeling to repeat those results during the 2014-15 season, with four of five starters and his top bench option gone. But with a top-flight recruiting class coming in and some talent already in place, Alford might be in position to prove his doubters wrong again in Year 2.

 

The UCLA edition is one of dozens available in our  and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

Frontcourt

 

Twins Travis and David Wear never quite provided the post presence that UCLA needed to be taken seriously down low, and despite high expectations, one-time top recruit Tony Parker has yet to pan out as the Bruins might’ve hoped.

 

But after a year of dealing with a paper-thin frontcourt, Alford and his staff made it a point to get bigger and stronger down low. UCLA added four frontcourt players in this year’s recruiting class, highlighted by five-star forward Kevon Looney, and should finally have the versatility to play inside and out.

 

“You’ve got to be able to adjust to what you have,” Alford says. “Now, we have a lot more size. Going into this year, our hope is that we can play out of the post and still play at a high tempo.”

 

That should mean a very different-looking offense and, likely, an increased role for Parker, whom Alford says he’s counting on to make the most significant improvement of any player on the roster. 

 

Whoever it is filling the void, though, UCLA will have to find some way to replace the rebounding prowess of point forward Kyle Anderson and wing Jordan Adams, who combined for almost half the Bruins’ rebounding output last season.

 


UCLA Bruins Facts & Figures

Last season: 28-9, 12-6 Pac-12

Postseason: NCAA Sweet 16

Consecutive NCAAs: 2

Coach: Steve Alford (28-9 at UCLA, 12-6 Pac-12

Pac-12 Projection: Fourth

Postseason Projection: NCAA Round of 32

 


Backcourt

 

Losing Anderson, Adams, and enigmatic one-and-done Zach LaVine — all three of whom were first-round NBA Draft picks — could make for an insurmountable blow to UCLA’s backcourt, especially after Alford and his staff missed out on getting guard help in this year’s recruiting class.

 

But Alford has the utmost confidence in his son, Bryce, to take over Anderson’s spot at point guard, repeatedly referring to him “a coach on the floor” this offseason. And in redshirt freshman Isaac Hamilton, who sat out last season, UCLA will have a consummate five-star talent to play next to him and take on some of the scoring load.

 

The pair of young guards will have Norman Powell to lean on, at least. The senior guard exploded offensively toward the end of last season, averaging 14 points per game during the postseason. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Losing its talented core from last season will probably hurt UCLA early on in 2014-15, as it tries to find the same rhythm it harnessed during last year’s postseason run. The Bruins will also have a tougher road to travel, with a beefed-up non-conference schedule that includes Kentucky and Gonzaga. But assuming Alford follows through on his promise to adjust to a very different roster, UCLA should have the talent to be a player in the Pac-12 again this season. Unseating a top contender like Arizona might be too much to ask, but if Hamilton and Looney come through on their five-star potential, and the younger Alford can keep UCLA’s up-tempo offense on track, then the Bruins could make a splash come March.

 

Newcomers

 

Without much size last season, Steve Alford made it a point to shore up the frontcourt with his first full recruiting haul, adding an impressive four-man class, all of whom stand 6-9 or taller. The gem among them should be Kevon Looney, a five-star talent who dominates the boards. Seven-footer Thomas Welsh and versatile forward Jonah Bolden should help bolster depth, while Gyorgy Goloman will take time to develop.

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: UCLA Bruins Team Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Pac-12, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-pac-12-predictions-and-awards
Body:

The Pac-12 hierarchy can be somewhat predictable. Arizona and UCLA usually find their way at or near the top. Washington State and Oregon State generally land at or near the bottom. 

 

Those trends figure to continue in 2014-15 with Arizona challenging to end the league’s Final Four drought dating back to UCLA in 2008. The Bruins are rebuilding, but they’re rarely without the talent to challenge for an NCAA Tournament bid.

 

Shakeups have occurred in this league in recent seasons, but perhaps one of the most surprising developments has been the rise of the two newest members.

 

Colorado and Utah figured to contribute little to the basketball product of the Pac-12 when they joined in 2011. This season, they could be two of the league's better teams.

 

Instead, Colorado under Tad Boyle is enjoying its most successful period in program history. Utah has reached the Final Four in its past but has been an afterthought for most of the last decade or so. After winning six total games as recently 2011-12, the Utes are poised to complete a quick rise that could end in the NCAA Tournament this season.

 

Arizona’s place as the league’s prohibitive favorite along with the emerging programs at Colorado, Utah and Stanford may be the top storylines in a league in a state of flux. Cal, Washington State and Oregon State have new coaches. Oregon and Arizona State have personnel losses that will make returns to the NCAA Tournament difficult.

 

Previews of every Pac-12 team and more are available in the .

 

Pac-12 2014-15 Preseason Picks

 

1. Arizona (

Postseason projection: NCAA Final Four

Sean Miller has his usual surplus of talent. He might get an upgrade going from Nick Johnson to Stanley Johnson. 

 

2. Colorado ()

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 32

Always-underrated Buffs return four starters, including one of league’s better big men in Josh Scott.

 

3. Stanford ()

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 32

Johnny Dawkins got the Cardinal back in the NCAAs. He has enough talent to go again.

 

4. UCLA ()

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 32

NBA early exits cost the Bruins three players and knocked them down a few rungs, but they won’t fall far.

 

5. Utah ()

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 32

Larry Krystkowiak can coach, and he welcomes back four starters to what could be the league’s most improved team.

 

6. Cal

Postseason projection: NIT

To really flourish, new coach Cuonzo Martin needs to get more out of guard Jabari Bird than his predecessor. 

 

7. Oregon

Postseason projection: NIT

The Ducks were gutted by scandal, transfers and graduation. Just four players return. Who are these guys?  

 

8. USC 

Postseason projection: NIT

Andy Enfield has recruited well with his two classes, but he’s a year away from noticeable results.

 

9. Washington 

The talent is down. Attendance is down. The unthinkable is happening: Lorenzo Romar is on the hot seat. 

 

10. Arizona State

The Sun Devils had four players transfer out and another leave early for the NBA. That’s not the look of a winner.

 

11. Oregon State

New coach Wayne Tinkle doesn’t have any presidential connections. He’ll need help from someone.

 

12. Washington State

Ernie Kent takes on the toughest job in the Pac-12. He may wonder why he left the broadcast booth.

 

2014-15 Pac-12 Superlatives

 

Player of the Year: Stanley Johnson, Arizona 

The five-star swingman can score from anywhere on the court. His arrival at Arizona further solidifies the Wildcats’ trend as a recruiting powerhouse.

 

Best Defensive Player: David Kravish, Cal

Cal is hoping Kravish becomes a more well-rounded offensive threat, but for now, he’s a standout interior defender. He averaged 7.7 rebounds a year ago.

 

Most Underrated Player: DaVonte Lacy, Washington State

Who finished second in the Pac-12 in scoring last season? Unless you were following closely, you may have missed that it was Lacy, who averaged 19.4 points.

 

Newcomer of the Year: Stanley Johnson, Arizona

Johnson follows Aaron Gordon as a star California prospect to head to Arizona — and probably go one-and-done.

 

Top coach: Sean Miller, Arizona ()

 

First-Team All-Pac-12

G Delon Wright, Utah

G Chasson Randle, Stanford

F Brandon Ashley, Arizona

F Stanley Johnson, Arizona 

F Josh Scott, Colorado

 

Second-Team All-Pac-12

G Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington

G Askia Booker, Colorado

G Joseph Young, Oregon

F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson , Arizona

F Anthony Brown, Stanford

 

Third-Team All-Pac-12

G T.J. McConnell, Arizona

G DaVonté Lacy, Washington State

G Norman Powell, UCLA

F Kevon Looney, UCLA

F David Kravish, Cal

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: Pac-12 Predictions and Awards
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 07:00

Pages