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All taxonomy terms: College Football, USC Trojans, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/usc-rb-silas-redd-wont-play-against-hawaii

USC opens its 2013 season with a road trip to Hawaii on Thursday night. But it appears the Trojans won’t have one of their key offensive players in action.

According to the tweet below, USC running back Silas Redd won’t play in Thursday night’s game. Redd suffered a knee injury in the spring and isn’t quite 100 percent.

Although Redd is USC’s best running back, he won’t be missed against Hawaii. With Redd sidelined, sophomore Tre Madden and freshmen Justin Davis and Ty Isaac will pickup the slack on the ground.

USC RB Silas Redd Won't Play Against Hawaii
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 08:45
Path: /college-football/oregon-state-picks-sean-mannion-its-starting-qb

Oregon State coach Mike Riley let Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz compete for the starting job this offseason, and both players didn’t make it easy on their head coach. However, Riley has picked Mannion as the Beavers’ starting quarterback, with Vaz expected to serve in the backup role.

Mannion was Oregon State’s quarterback through the first four games of last season but was sidelined due to injury. In the first four games, Mannion had seven touchdowns and four interceptions and threw for 433 yards in a 38-35 win at Arizona.

Vaz started while Mannion was out, leading the Beavers to a road win at BYU and against Utah, but he also missed time later in the year due to injury.

The coaching staff let Mannion and Vaz compete for the starting job in the bowl game, with Vaz eventually getting the starting job. However, Vaz struggled against Texas’ defense, completing 15 of 28 passes for 194 yards and two interceptions.

Mannion needs to cut down on his mistakes, but the junior is the right answer for Oregon State’s offense. Mannion has more talent than Vaz was off to a good start prior to his injury last year.

But if Mannion struggles, the Beavers know Vaz is a capable option.

Oregon State Picks Sean Mannion as its Starting QB
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/texas-am-qb-johnny-manziel-questioned-ncaa

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s busy offseason continued with a visit from the NCAA on Sunday. is reporting Manziel interviewed for six hours with the NCAA, and it’s not clear if it will have any effect on his playing status for Saturday’s game against Rice.

Needless to say, this story isn’t going away anytime soon. Here's some more info from writer Travis Haney on the latest surrounding Manziel.


Johnny Manziel Questioned by the NCAA
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:55
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ranking-all-32-nfl-head-coaches-2013

Ranking a coach isn’t just about the number of wins. It’s about consistency, longevity, level of competition, support, championships and how that all compares to history. Yes, a Super Bowl ring puts a coach into an elite fraternity and is the benchmark with which every coach is judged. But it’s not the only way to evaluate a coach, after all, only seven active NFL coaches have led their team to capturing the Lombardi Trophy.

For example, winning with the Saints has proven to be much more difficult than winning with the Giants. Winning under Jerry Jones, Bud Adams or Dan Snyder is much different than working for Green Bay Packers, Inc. Winning with the support of the Rooney family and Steeler Nation is likely easier than, say, the support and fans of Jacksonville.

All things must be considered when trying to rank the 32 NFL coaches in 2013. The new faces haven’t proven anything and, almost by default, find themselves near the bottom of the rankings. That said, it doesn’t take long to prove oneself in the cut-throat world of professional football. Will Marc Trestman or Chip Kelly be able to bring innovative offenses from the CFL and college and make them successful in the NFL? Only time will tell.

Here is how Athlon Sports ranks all 32 NFL coaches entering the 2013 season:

1. Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco
Record: 24-7-1 Playoffs: 3-2 Age: 49

Harbaugh went 22-2 in his last two seasons at San Diego University, winning back-to-back Pioneer League Championships in 2005-06. He built a perennial loser into a BCS bowl winner in just four seasons at Stanford. And the former NFL quarterback is 24-7-1 in his first two seasons with the 49ers, leading them to their first two playoff appearances since 2002. He was five yards away from winning the Super Bowl in February — the powerhouse franchise’s first such appearance in the game since 1994 — and is the leader of the team labeled by many as the front-runner to win the Lombardi Trophy this season.

2. Bill Belichick, New England
Record: 187-101 Playoffs: 18-8 Age: 61

Only Tom Landry (20) and Don Shula (19) have more career postseason wins than Belichick. He has three Super Bowl rings and two other appearances in the game to lead all active coaches in both categories. Yet, his last title came nine years ago and his franchise has become more of a punch line than Super Bowl champ. That said, the Pats have won at least 10 games in 10 straight seasons and there is no reason to think this team won’t run away with the AFC East for the 13th time in 14 seasons.

3. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay
Record: 74-38 Playoffs: 6-4 Age: 49

In seven years as a head coach, McCarthy has one losing season (2008, 6-10), three NFC North titles, one Super Bowl, helped his quarterback win a MVP trophy and he still hasn’t reached the age of 50. He’s made the playoffs four years in a row and five of the last six years, and only 24 coaches in NFL history have more than his six career postseason wins. A second Super Bowl is well within reach and his consistent performance in the NFL Draft makes him one of the best sideline generals in the league. His career winning percentage (66.1) trails only Mike Smith and the Harbaugh brothers among active NFL coaches.

4. Sean Payton, New Orleans
Record: 62-34 Playoffs: 5-3 Age: 49

The Saints' 7-9 record last season might be all the data we need to evaluate Payton. The Saints were 37-11 in the three seasons prior to Payton being suspended. The bottom line is New Orleans had one playoff win in five total postseason trips in four decades prior to his arrival in 2006. He has led this team to the playoffs four times in six seasons and last year’s 7-9 record was the team’s first losing record since 2007. He has a Super Bowl title, ranks sixth in the league among active coaches in winning percentage (64.6) and isn’t yet 50 years old.

5. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
Record: 151-121 Playoffs: 12-7 Age: 66

The hard-nosed Coughlin has two Super Bowl championships and is seventh all-time with 12 career postseason wins. He is the oldest coach in the league, and after 17 seasons, won’t be around for too much longer. He has seven total division titles in his career but has won 10 or more games just once in the last four years. He may never be viewed as one of the league’s greatest but he is consistent and has overcome plenty of adversity.

6. John Harbaugh, Baltimore
Record: 54-26 Playoffs: 9-4 Age: 50

The Ravens coach supplemented himself as one of the league’s elite coaching talents with a Super Bowl championship in just his sixth season. He’s never missed the playoffs, never posted a losing record, won three AFC North titles and is one playoff win away from becoming just the 16th NFL coach in history with 10 postseason victories. He trails only Mike Smith and Jim Harbaugh in career winning percentage (67.5).

7. Mike Smith, Atlanta
Record: 56-24 Playoffs: 1-4 Age: 54

Other than Jim Harbaugh, who hasn’t coached enough games to technically qualify, no active coach wins at a higher rate than the Falcons leader. He is currently fifth all-time behind John Madden, Vince Lombardi, George Allen and Guy Chamberlin with a 70.0-percent winning clip. He finally got his first playoff win but still needs to prove himself amongst the league’s best by finishing a season by competing for the Lombardi Trophy. He’s never had a losing season and is 36-12 over the last three years.

8. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh
Record: 63-33 Playoffs: 5-3 Age: 41

One of the younger coaches in the league, Tomlin won a Super Bowl championship in just his second season as a 36-year old. He got back to the big game in his fourth season at the age of 38 but lost to the Packers. He has never had a losing season and has four AFC North titles in six years. He is coming off of his worst year as a coach last fall (8-8). So despite all his past success, Tomlin is facing pressure to return his team to the postseason this fall as the rest of the Steelers' divisional foes wins championships and improves.

9. Jeff Fisher, St. Louis
Record: 149-128-1 Playoffs: 5-6 Age: 55

His 149 wins rank 19th all-time and is fourth among active coaches. He has won four division titles and took the Oilers/Titans franchise to its one and only Super Bowl — which they fell one yard short of winning. He is a no-nonsense guy who was run out town by a meddling owner in Nashville before landing in St. Louis. He appears to be rebuilding a once dormant franchise by bringing his signature physicality to every aspect of the team. From 1996-2008, Fisher had just three losing seasons.

10. Mike Shanahan, Washington
Record: 167-125 Playoffs: 8-6 Age: 60

Shanny’s first two seasons in D.C. were rough as he went 11-21 before finally reaching the postseason last year due in large part to Robert Griffin III. He is the second winningest active coach with 167 wins, which is good for 12th all-time in NFL history, and is one of 13 coaches to claim two Super Bowl titles. Shanahan posted one losing season from 1996-2005 but has just one 10-win season since 2006 and has to prove last year was the rule rather than the exception.

11. Andy Reid, Kansas City
Record: 130-93-1 Playoffs: 10-9 Age: 55

From 1961 to 1998, when Reid was hired in Philadelphia, the Eagles made 10 postseason appearances. Under Reid, the Eagles went to the playoffs nine times in an 11-year span. The divorce between Reid and the Eagles, however, was an amicable one for both as the 55-year old coach quickly landed back in the league with the Chiefs. If he can turn a two-win team around in short order, it will only help validate his 130 regular season wins and 10 postseason victories.

12. Gary Kubiak, Houston
Record: 59-53 Playoffs: 2-2 Age: 52

How many franchises have just two head coaches in team history? After Dom Capers posted four straight losing seasons in the Texans' first four years, Kubiak was hired and in just his second year, set a franchise record for wins (8). He has continued to build this team and has a winning record in three of the last four years. He has led the Texans to back-to-back playoff appearances and back-to-back seasons with at least one playoff win. The next step is finishing in the postseason.

13. John Fox, Denver
Record: 94-82 Playoffs: 6-5 Age: 58

The proud and normally dominant AFC franchise had fallen on hard times, winning no more than nine games in any season from 2006-11. Enter Fox, who has returned the Broncos to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. Originally, he took over the Panthers in 2002 and immediately built a winner by taking Carolina to its only Super Bowl in just his second year. He lacks the consistency of the game’s elite and has one glaring black-eye — his 2-14 2010 campaign. But he also has four seasons with at least 11 wins, five division titles and just four career losing seasons. He is a hard-nosed coach that we will learn more about once Peyton Manning retires.

14. Pete Carroll, Seattle
Record: 58-54 Playoffs: 3-4 Age: 61

As a college coach, he is a Hall of Famer who completely dominated the West Coast for the better part of a decade. As an NFL coach, his final legacy is still left to be decided. He had two winning seasons as the Patriots' head coach (1996-98) after one bad year in New York (Jets, 1994). It has taken three years but he has Seattle poised to be a Super Bowl contender this season. Will his laid-back, players-first attitude last in the grind-it-out NFL world?

15. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati
Record: 79-80-1 Playoffs: 0-4 Age: 54

Lewis is a bit of an enigma. He is one of the longest tenured coaches in the NFL as he enters his 11th season in Cincinnati. He has taken a franchise used to playing the role of whipping boy and turned them into a playoff contender. He has been in the postseason three of the last four years and has just three losing seasons as a head coach. His overall record is still under .500 and he has yet to win a playoff game. Should that all change in 2013, he could find himself as a top-10 NFL coach in short order.

16. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota
Record: 16-22 Playoffs: 0-1 Age: 54

After three seasons, Frazier is still a big unknown as an NFL coaching commodity. He has two full seasons under his belt with one utter 3-13 failure and one mild 10-6 playoff success. He did an excellent job last year and has done good work in the draft to rebuild his aging defense, but 2013 is a critical year for both Frazier and his starting quarterback Christian Ponder — who he hand-picked to run his team.

17. Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay
Record: 7-9 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 47

Many look at the Bucs as a downtrodden NFC doormat, however, the Bucs have had three winning seasons in the last six years and made the playoffs seven times since 1997. The flip side of this is that Tampa Bay hasn’t been to the postseason since 2007, something Schiano aims to rectify this fall. He is largely responsible for building Rutgers from an also-ran to a league contender in college and took a 4-12 Bucs team and improved them by three games (7-9). Will his tough-nosed style work for a team that is starting to stockpile a deep and talented roster?

18. Jason Garrett, Dallas
Record: 21-19 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 47

No coach will be under more scrutiny this fall than Garrett but that comes with the territory as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He has produced back-to-back 8-8 seasons after his predecessor, Wade Phillips, posted three winning seasons in four years. And each of the past two seasons have ended with losses in games in which a win would have sent Dallas to the postseason. This franchise has a meddling owner and has won one playoff game since 1996, so Garrett is on an extremely short leash.

19. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis
Record: 2-2 Playoffs: 0-1 Age: 52

Pagano isn’t the first former Ravens defensive coordinator to land a big-time NFL coaching job. He dealt with a cancer scare during his first season and only registered five total games on the sidelines in 2012. His two wins did come against playoff teams (Houston and Minnesota), but Pagano also lost his first postseason game. His coaching staff has been rebuilt but he is leading a great organization with a future Hall of Famer under center.

20. Joe Philbin, Miami
Record: 7-9 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 52

The Fish have made the playoffs just one time since 2001 and fans in South Florida are hoping Philbin is the answer. He helped the Packers win a Super Bowl, go 15-1 and coached an Aaron Rodgers-powered offense from 2007-12. The Dolphins had some impressive wins over Cincinnati and Seattle last year en route to a respectable 7-9 season. With a team lacking in upside talent, Philbin deserves credit for a solid first year. That means expectation levels might be higher in Year 2.

21. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Record: 34-30 Playoffs: 4-2 Age: 50

There aren’t too many NFL coaches with Rex Ryan’s resume.  He has a winning record after four seasons with two trips to the AFC Championship game. But his locker room has more crazies than "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," he is in the NFL’s biggest media market and has a quarterback situation that is a punch line for the second straight season. Many believe he is a lame duck in 2013.

22. Mike Munchak, Tennessee
Record: 15-17 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 53

Munchak is a lifer for the Oilers-Titans organization. He was a Hall of Fame offensive lineman and hasn’t coached for another organization since retiring in 1993. He took a slight step back in year two, going from nine wins in 2011 to six wins last year, and made changes on his coaching staff. Much of his potential will be tied to the health and productivity of Jake Locker. Is he simply a company man who was given the job almost by default or a legitimate long-term head coach? 

23. Bruce Arians, Arizona
Record: 9-3 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 60

He won AP Coach of the Year last fall after filling in for Pagano during his battle with leukemia, going 9-3. He has won two Super Bowls as an assistant with Pittsburgh and has had his hands on some great quarterbacks (Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck). He is a solid offensive mind but is one of the older new coaches in the league.

24. Marc Trestman, Chicago
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 57

Trestman comes to the NFL after winning two Grey Cup titles in the Canadian Football League. He hasn’t been in the NFL since 2004 and there is concern about his ability to unite a locker room. However, his offenses have been incredibly successful and early reports are that the players are enjoying his leadership thus far.

25. Chip Kelly, Philadelphia
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 49

In just seven years Kelly has gone from offensive coordinator at New Hampshire to OC at Oregon to head coach at Oregon to head coach of the Eagles. His innovative and unapologetic style is why he went 46-7 in four seasons as the head coach in Eugene. But it remains to be seen if his offense can be successful at the NFL level.

26. Doug Marrone, Buffalo
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 49

Opponents of Syracuse came away battered and bruised no matter the outcome. He built a physical brand of football at the Cuse and is bringing that — and an up-tempo offense — to Buffalo. He has a solid track record as an NFL assistant and is a native of New York. But there is a reason the Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999.

27. Mike McCoy, San Diego
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 41

McCoy makes the intradivisional jump from OC of the Broncos to head man in San Diego. He has shown adaptability with both Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning running his offenses in the postseason the last two seasons. He is the second-youngest coach in the league and should be able to improve on the previous regime.

28. Jim Schwartz, Detroit
Record: 22-42 Playoffs: 0-1 Age: 47

The 2011 season featured big numbers on offense, 10 wins and a trip to the postseason. The other three seasons, Schwartz is 12-36 as a head coach. This team has weapons and should show improvement or Schwartz will find himself a defensive coordinator once again.

29. Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 45

The Browns have new ownership and plenty of new faces on the roster. That includes Coach Chud, a 45-year old making his head-coaching debut at any level. Pat Shurmur was fired after just two years (9-23) for an organization that has made the playoffs just once (2002) since returning to the NFL.

30. Dennis Allen, Oakland
Record: 4-12 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 40

It is virtually impossible to accurately rate Allen’s job in an organization in such disarray. This team has no quarterback, finished 26th on offense and 28th on defense last year. He won’t last long in Oakland but it’s impossible to see his tenure with the Raiders as a fair measuring stick.

31. Ron Rivera, Carolina
Record: 13-19 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 51

His long slow rise culminated when he got his first head coaching job for Carolina as a 49-year old two seasons ago. He drafted Cam Newton and has won six and seven games respectively. He needs to win in Year 3 to keep his job.

32. Gus Bradley, Jacksonville
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 47

The Minnesota native made his NFL coaching debut in 2006 as the Bucs linebackers coach. He has quickly moved through the ranks, by way of defensive coordinator in Seattle, to his first head-coaching job. Best of luck in Jacksonville.

Ranking All 32 NFL Head Coaches in 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-ranking-big-12s-coaches-2013-14

The Big 12 coach rankings start with Bill Self.

That’s the easy part.

After that, ranking the Big 12 coaches is a chore. Three of the league’s most accomplished career coaches — Bob Huggins, Rick Barnes and Tubby Smith have more than 1,700 wins among them — are coming off of lackluster seasons. Smith was let go from his last job, and Barnes will be under pressure to turn things around at Texas in a hurry.

A decade ago, Scott Drew took on one of the toughest rebuilding projects in the country at Baylor, succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations but still kept the Bears wanting more.

Lon Kruger and Fred Hoiberg are two Big 12 coaches who have impressed. Kruger did at Oklahoma what he’s done everywhere — stay competitive, get into the NCAA Tournament and, well, that’s about it. Hoiberg hasn’t led Iowa State beyond the Round of 32 in the last two seasons, but that still better than anyone else in Ames in the last decade.

Indeed, after the top tier of Big 12 coaches, any of the others in the league could plausibly sit in the second or third group.

*A few things to note as we are ranking coaches: We are attempting to look at the whole package of gameday acumen, recruiting, player development, and regular-season and postseason success. We are also keeping in mind a coach’s career trajectory.

And now, on to the debate. Feel free to chime in at @AthlonSports on Twitter or Athlon Sports on Facebook.

Other conference coach rankings: ACC | American

1. Bill Self, Kansas
Record: 507-164
Record at Kansas: 300-59 overall (.836), 137-27 Big 12 (.835)
NCAA Tournament: 35-14, two Final Fours, one national championship
The names and faces outside of Lawrence keep changing, but Kansas hasn’t fallen from its perch in the Big 12. Self has won at least 30 games in four consecutive seasons and reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in six of the last seven seasons. Even when the Jayhawks looked vulnerable for 2013-14 after losing all five starters, they signed the presumptive No. 1 draft pick, Andrew Wiggins, and landed transfer Tarik Black from Memphis. The new faces, including a signing class that ranked only second to Kentucky, will present a challenge for Self. He’s had the luxury of developing players like Cole Aldrich and Thomas Robinson from role players to All-America-type stars. Perry Ellis fits that mold for KU, but he's one of the few players with experience in the Big 12.

2. Bob Huggins, West Virginia
Record: 651-261
Record at West Virginia: 133-75 overall (.635), 60-48 Big East/Big 12 (.556)
NCAA Tournament: 27-20, two Final Fours
West Virginia’s first season in the Big 12 truly was an aberration for Huggin. The 13-19 season was only the second losing season of his career and second losing conference season (the first for both being his first season at Akron in 1984-85). Perhaps Huggins had a mix that simply didn’t jell last season with Deniz Klicli trying to mesh with a handful of transfers and freshmen. Still, Huggins has made things work with wayward souls throughout his career, and he’ll try to do the same in 2013-14. The Mountaineers have regressed each season since reaching the 2010 Final Four, so there’s an element of concern here.

3. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma
Record: 514-332
Record at Oklahoma: 35-28 overall (.556), 16-20 Big 12 (.444)
NCAA Tournament: 14-14, one Final Four
Oklahoma knew what it would get when it hired Kruger, and the well-traveled coach delivered. No coach is more reliable at taking over a tough situation and putting the program on the right track. Kruger went 11-7 in the Big 12 in his second season at OU and became the first coach to take five different teams to the NCAA Tournament (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV were the others). Kruger has done his work with a minimal amount of flash — he’s never coached a consensus All-American, hasn’t won a regular-season conference title since 1998 and hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2008. But programs don’t hire Kruger expecting John Calipari.

4. Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
Record (all at Iowa State): 62-39 overall (.614), 26-26 in the Big 12 (.500)
NCAA Tournament: 2-2
Only Iowa State could have hired “The Mayor,” who spent more time in NBA front offices than on the coaches’ bench at any level. Hoiberg returned to Ames to make his alma mater competitive, going 23-13 in the Big 12 in the last two seasons. Iowa State needs to be creative to stay competitive, and that’s what it got in Hoiberg. He’s succeeded with Division I transfers in Royce White, Korie Lucious, Will Clyburn, Chris Babb and now DeAndre Kane. And Hoiberg has beeing among the best in applying advanced statistical analysis and scouting to his program. The Cyclones led the Big 12 in points per possession and effective field goal percentage last year.

5. Rick Barnes, Texas
Record: 560-289
Record at Texas: 358-155 overall (.698), 164-75 Big 12 (.686)
NCAA Tournament: 20-20, one Final Four
Before last season, Barnes had a remarkable streak of 17 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. Then the Longhorns bottomed out at 16-18 capped off with a loss to Houston in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. Most coaches with Barnes’ raw numbers would be permitted one bad season, but Barnes has had too many recent seasons in which the results haven’t matched the potential. The Longhorns have failed to reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in five consecutive seasons despite having five first-round NBA Draft picks and a handful of other highly touted recruits during that span. With Texas’ in-state recruiting base (which Barnes is losing hold of) and ample resources, these are meager results in a conference with only one true powerhouse.

6. Bruce Weber, Kansas State
Record: 340-163
Record at Kansas State: 27-8 overall (.771), 14-4 Big 12 (.778)
NCAA Tournament: 11-9, one Final Four
One thing we can say about Weber: He can win quickly. In his first season at Kansas State, Weber took Frank Martin’s players and won the Wildcats’ first share of a conference title since 1977. In his second season at Illinois, Weber went 37-2 with a national championship game appearance with a team recruited by Bill Self. Weber’s results at Illinois, however, dwindled in his final five seasons, but he will get a second chance for longevity in Manhattan.

7. Scott Drew, Baylor
Record: 200-149
Record at Baylor: 180-138 overall (.566), 63-95 Big 12 (.399)
NCAA Tournament: 6-3
Drew not only brought Baylor back from the brink but also brought the Bears to their most successful era since the 1940s and early ‘50s with two Elite Eights in the last five seasons. At the same time, though, Baylor arguably should be even better. Look at the end of last season as an example: Baylor drilled Kansas by 23 points and then won the NIT, but the Bears had a roster that shouldn’t have been in the NIT in the first place. Baylor has had a top-25 signing class in each of the last five seasons, according to, but has reached the NCAA Tournament only twice during that span.

8. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
Record: 227-179
Record at Oklahoma State: 104-64 overall (.619), 44-40  (.524)
NCAA Tournament: 1-4
Ford has at least brought Oklahoma State back to relevance in the Big 12. With Marcus Smart returning to Oklahoma State, all eyes will be on Ford to lead the Cowboys to the next steps: Contending for the Big 12 title and making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Ford has a potential top-10 team on his hands, and Oklahoma State is hungry for a winner. The Cowboys haven’t reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2005.

9. Tubby Smith, Texas Tech
Record: 511-226
Record at Texas Tech: First season
NCAA Tournament: 30-16, one Final Four, one national championship
Maybe we’d be more optimistic if Smith were at a job that played better to his strengths. A program with little recent success on an island out in Lubbock, Texas Tech, is in need of an infusion of energy. A fine coach Tubby Smith may be, but he’s not a personality that generates much enthusiasm. On the court, the results have dwindled since his early years at Kentucky. Smith never had a winning conference season in his last stint at Minnesota and hasn’t reached the Sweet 16 since 2005 with the Wildcats.

10. Trent Johnson, TCU
Record: 237-207
Record at TCU: 11-21 overall (.344), 2-16 Big 12 (.111)
NCAA Tournament: 5-5
Johnson has quite the rebuilding job at TCU, but there are glimmers of hope. The Horned Frogs’ only Big 12 wins came against NCAA Tournament teams Kansas and Oklahoma, and TCU signed a top-100 center in Karviar Shepherd. Johnson pulled Nevada out of the depths of the WAC, but rebuilding in that conference is different than rebuilding in the Big 12.

Bill Self an easy No. 1 in interesting cast of coaches
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-football/10-players-who-will-decide-college-footballs-2013-national-title

Every college football team has personnel issues that will be a question mark going into the 2013 season. But some have national title implications.

Alabama has the nation’s best roster, but the Crimson Tide is replacing a couple of key starters on the offensive line. Ohio State’s defensive line lost all four starters from last season and will be relying on two sophomores to start at defensive end. Stanford won the Pac-12 title last year, but the Cardinal is picked behind Oregon in most preseason polls. If Stanford wants to win the national championship, it has to get more production from its passing attack.

What players could play a huge role in college football’s national championship picture? Athlon examined 10 key players to watch, along with a few extras to keep on the radar this year.

10 Players Who Will Decide College Football's 2013 National Title

1. Noah Spence/Adolphus Washington, DE, Ohio State
The Buckeyes are considered by most to be the top threat to Alabama this season. There are few questions about an offense that returns nine starters, but the defense will be a work in progress to start the year. The line was hit hardest by offseason departures, as the top four players from last season – John Simon, Nathan Willliams, Johnathan Hankins and Garrett Goebel – are gone. While it will be difficult for Ohio State to match last year’s production from the line, there’s no shortage of talent. Sophomore ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington were two of the top defensive linemen in the 2012 signing class and played sparingly last year. Spence recorded 12 stops in 11 games, while Washington had three sacks and nine tackles in 10 contests. The Buckeyes also need a big season from tackles Joel Hale and Michael Bennett, but Spence and Washington will be the key pieces in Ohio State’s chances of ranking in the top 15 of rush defense and averaging 2.5 sacks a game once again.

2. Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
It’s no secret the Cardinal has one of the best defenses and offensive lines in college football. But the passing game is a concern, especially after the departure of tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo to the NFL. Quarterback Kevin Hogan should be better in his second year as a starter, but Stanford needs to find a few playmakers on the outside. Is Montgomery that player? After catching 24 passes (13 receptions over the final two games) in 2011, Montgomery appeared poised for a breakout year in 2012. However, injuries prevented the Texas native from getting on track, finishing with 26 catches for 213 yards. If Montgomery can stay healthy, he can be the threat Hogan needs on the outside to stretch opposing defenses. The Cardinal could also play a few young players at receiver, including Francis Owusu and sophomores Kodi Whitfield and Devon Cajuste.

3. Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame
After the summer departure of Everett Golson, Rees is set to be Notre Dame’s No. 1 quarterback once again. The senior has experienced plenty of ups and downs throughout his career in South Bend, throwing for 1,106 yards and 12 touchdowns as a true freshman and then 2,871 yards and 20 scores in 2011. Rees lost the starting job to Golson last year but played relatively well in relief, throwing for 436 yards and two scores. With one of the nation’s best defenses at his disposal, Rees doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards each week. However, the senior needs to limit his mistakes (24 interceptions on 634 career passes). If Rees is solid and cuts down on the turnovers, the Fighting Irish will be back in the hunt for the national title once again.

4. Julien Obioha, DE, Texas A&M
Entering the second offseason under coordinator Mark Snyder, the Aggies should have a better grasp of the defensive scheme for 2013. But the front seven is undergoing a little bit of renovation, as end Damontre Moore and interior players Jonathan Mathis and Spencer Nealy are gone. Texas A&M has recruited well, so there’s plenty of talent ready to step into the lineup. However, Snyder may have to rely on some true freshmen – Justin Manning, Isaiah Golden and Daeshon Hall – to contribute significant snaps. But all eyes will be on Obioha to star the year, especially with a year of experience under his belt. Last season, Obioha started 12 games and recorded 25 tackles and one sack. Replacing Damontre Moore’s 12.5 sacks is no easy task, but the Aggies hope Obioha spends a lot of time in opposing backfields this fall. 

5. LG Arie Kouandjio and RT Austin Shepherd, Alabama
The Crimson Tide coach staff should feel pretty good about three spots on their offensive line. Left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is a future NFL first-round draft pick, guard Anthony Steen has 25 starts in his career, and center Ryan Kelly impressed in limited action last year. But the other two spots were a concern this fall. Arie Kouandjio eventually settled at left guard and Austin Shepherd won the job at right tackle. Matching the dominance of last year’s offensive line will be difficult, and there’s a ton of pressure on the two new starters to perform at a high level right away. If Kouandjio and Shepherd are up to the task, Alabama’s offensive line will clear plenty of holes for the running backs, along with keeping quarterback AJ McCarron upright in the pocket. But if it struggles, Alabama becomes more vulnerable in key games against Texas A&M and LSU.

6. Mike Thornton, DT, Georgia
We could list a few defensive players here for Georgia, but the success of any 3-4 defense starts in the trenches at nose tackle. The Bulldogs have a huge void with the departure of John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers on the interior, and Thornton is slated to start at nose tackle in the season opener at Clemson. The junior checks in at 6-foot-1 and 290 pounds, which is a stark difference to the 6-foot-3 and 358-pound frame of Jenkins last year. However, Thornton is capable of holding down the middle of the line, and his quickness will allow him to create problems off the snap for opposing quarterbacks. If Thornton struggles, Georgia has plenty of linemen ready to rotate into the game. However, the coaching staff would like to see the junior anchor the line this year and lead a rush defense that needs to improve after allowing 182.1 yards per game on the ground last season.  

7. Tony Washington, DE/LB, Oregon
The Ducks return a loaded roster, so it’s hard to pinpoint a weakness for 2013. The defense does have a few holes to fill in the front seven, especially at linebacker/rush end where Dion Jordan is off to the NFL. Washington is slated to fill Jordan’s role, and the junior recorded 20 tackles in 13 contests last year. The junior isn’t as dynamic or athletic as Jordan is, but he is more than capable of keeping Oregon’s defense among the best in the Pac-12. 

8. Bashaud Breeland/Darius Robinson, CB, Clemson
The Tigers’ first depth chart of 2013 didn’t reveal much about the cornerback position. Garry Peters and Bashaud Breeland are listed as co-starters at one spot, while Darius Robinson and Martin Jenkins share the other side. Clemson’s pass defense is a concern heading into 2013, especially after finishing sixth in the conference last year. Sophomore safety Travis Blanks is a rising star, but the Tigers are still searching for the right mix at cornerback. True freshman Mackensie Alexander was slowed in fall camp due to an injury, so it may be a few weeks before he makes a significant impact. Whether it’s Breeland, Robinson, Jenkins or Peters, Clemson has to find two players it feels comfortable with to start at cornerback, especially with a huge test against Georgia in Week 1.

9. Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina
The Gamecocks finished 2012 ranked 13th in the SEC in rushing offense, and their leading rusher – running back Marcus Lattimore – left for the NFL after a season-ending injury against Tennessee. Quarterback Connor Shaw ranked second on the team with 435 rushing yards, while Davis finished last season with 275 yards and two touchdowns. Although Shaw has good mobility, South Carolina would like to keep him healthy for a full season, which means one of the running backs needs to step up. Davis was a big-time recruit for the Gamecocks in the 2012 signing class, ranking as a four-star prospect and the No. 63 overall player in the nation according to Brandon Wilds will also see plenty of carries, but South Carolina needs Davis to be a go-to back that can handle 25 touches a game and take some of the pressure off of Shaw or Dylan Thompson at quarterback.

10. Big 12 Quarterbacks
Yes, we are cheating just a bit with this selection. However, most of the Big 12 is dealing with uncertainty at quarterback this year. Will Clint Chelf hold off J.W. Walsh for the starting job at Oklahoma State ? Is it Casey Pachall or Trevone Boykin at TCU? Is Trevor Knight ready for the spotlight at Oklahoma? What about David Ash at Texas? There are question marks abound at the quarterback position in this conference, which is a big reason why no Big 12 team was picked in the top 15 of Athlon’s projected 125 for the 2013 season. If Knight, Chelf or Pachall has a big season, the Big 12 could have a team in the national title hunt.

Others to Watch

Dan Hicks/Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State
Hicks and Edwards will be tasked with replacing Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner.

Zach Mettenberger, QB LSU
Will Mettenberger thrive under new coordinator Cam Cameron?

Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida
Can Florida find a go-to target for quarterback Jeff Driskel?

Jake Smith, C, Louisville
Smith has the tough task of replacing Mario Benavides at center this year.

Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan
Toussaint held off freshman Derrick Green for the starting job, but the senior is coming off a significant leg injury suffered late in the 2012 season.

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10 Players Who Will Decide College Football's 2013 National Title
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/7-threats-alabamas-dynasty

If it wasn’t already, the Sabanization of college football is officially here. The national conversation has changed from how to stop the SEC’s dynasty to how to end Alabama’s dynasty. Three BCS championships in four years by Nick Saban leave Alabama with a title run that not even Bear Bryant accomplished.

As if to rub salt in everyone else’s wounds, Saban then landed his fifth mythical recruiting national championship in six years. Eight of the past 11 No. 1 classes by won a national title within three years.

The recruits continue to sign. The players continue to develop. The crystal balls continue to be raised.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

So what can stop Alabama? There are some potential pitfalls.

7 Threats to Alabama's Dynasty

1. Nick Saban leaves

Every year Alabama fans read tea leaves and convince themselves that Miss Terry won’t let her husband leave Tuscaloosa for another college job, the NFL or a lake house in Georgia. And every year, Saban slams the door on the NFL more loudly than ever.

“I closed the door,” Saban said of the NFL on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning” in January. “The damn hinges are wore off, dog.”
The truth is, Saban has the best job in the world for him. He’s a control freak who wants to impact players and not be hamstrung by salary caps and salary egos.

Saban, who spent two years with the Miami Dolphins, could win in the NFL. But he could never win as much as he does at Alabama. Bill Belichick, Saban’s buddy, won three Super Bowls in four years and hasn’t won another in the eight years since.

NFL teams have multiple front office voices who draft one new player each round. At Alabama, Saban’s one voice makes the final call while signing as many talented recruits as he wants — or as the rules allow.

Never say never about coaches leaving. There’s too much money, ego and pressure ever to rule it out. But unlike with the Dolphins, Saban’s words and actions continue to line up at Alabama.

2. Complacency

It’s the most dangerous obstacle in sports to a team on top. Alabama experienced it in 2010 after its first national title under Saban, turning a talented team (albeit a young one on defense) into a three-loss Capital One Bowl team.

It’s always a fight at the top. Every opponent gets fired up for Alabama, leaving no room for feelings of entitlement.

Go ask Florida. The Gators won two BCS titles in three years under Urban Meyer. Then they collapsed to 8–5 in 2010 after Saban destroyed a 2009 Florida team that may have been Meyer’s most talented — and most entitled — team in Gainesville.

Go ask USC. Pete Carroll won two national titles and played for a third within three years. In Carroll’s final season, USC slipped to 9–4. Today, the program is depleted, partly due to Lane Kiffin and partly because of No. 3 on the dynasty-killer list.

3. NCAA penalties

This would be the quickest way for Alabama’s dynasty to end. The NCAA would have to hit a program like Alabama hard to have an impact. Imagine Ohio State’s postseason ban for lying about tattoos, rather than Alabama’s probation for impermissible sale of textbooks.

Forgotten in Alabama’s dynasty: The Crimson Tide won its first BCS title while on NCAA probation. In fact, in January 2012, Alabama and LSU staged the first BCS Championship Game in which both teams were on NCAA probation.

This isn’t to suggest that Alabama finds itself in danger of being hit by the NCAA. But rival coaches and fans are always on the lookout for players’ curious photos, vehicle purchases and living arrangements — especially if those players are on the No. 1 team.

4. SEC challengers

This just in: No SEC coach plans to kneel and kiss Saban’s feet. They’re paid too much money and are under too much pressure to play for second place.

Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin beat Saban last year. The Aggies are on the rise with their new SEC brand while Texas is declining, opening up even more talent in their football-rich state.

LSU’s Les Miles is 3–4 vs. Saban since 2007. The Tigers may take a step back this year, but Miles takes games personally against Saban, and LSU isn’t going anywhere.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a once-in-a-generation pass-rusher. What happens to Alabama’s dynasty should Clowney dominate the SEC Championship Game, which has essentially become a BCS semifinal?

Georgia’s Mark Richt (left) could have been a national champion and the Saban vanquisher right now if not for falling five yards short at last year’s SEC Championship Game. Georgia and Florida — where Saban protégé Will Muschamp resides — both acquire enough talent annually to challenge Alabama in Atlanta.

Sign of the times on how the SEC won’t cave to Saban: James Franklin of Vanderbilt — Vanderbilt! — vowed to outwork “Nicky Satan.”

5. No-huddle offenses

Tempo is the name of the game now in some SEC circles. Saban hates the no-huddle, because it impacts his substitutions over the course of lengthy drives. Alabama mixes and matches defensive personnel based on down and distance as if it were an NFL team.

Days after facing Ole Miss’ up-tempo offense last season, Saban questioned how fast college football should allow the game to go for player safety.

“It’s obviously created a tremendous advantage for the offense when teams are scoring 70 points and we’re averaging 49.5 points a game,” Saban said. “With people that do those kinds of things, more and more people are going to do it. I just think there’s got to be some sense of fairness in terms of asking, is this what we want football to be?”

“Yes!” shout many coaches challenging Saban.

Texas A&M shredded Alabama with tempo last season. Gus Malzahn rejoins Auburn, after giving Saban fits in 2009 and 2010. Even Hugh Freeze’s no-huddle offense produced Ole Miss scoring drives of 13 and 16 plays against Alabama last year.

6. Mobile quarterbacks

Quick: Name the past six quarterbacks to beat Alabama.

Florida’s Tim Tebow. Utah’s Brian Johnson. LSU’s Jordan Jefferson (twice). South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia. Auburn’s Cam Newton. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.

They have one trait in common: Mobility. Some were more elusive than others. Almost all of them could make plays with their feet, either to move the chains on designed runs or to escape pressure for a scramble or throw downfield.

Manziel befuddled Alabama last year with his arm and legs, amassing 92 yards rushing. Think Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart spent the offseason watching film for the Sept. 14 rematch in College Station?

7. Luck runs out

Alabama may have dominated its three BCS Championship Game victories, but it did lose one game in two of those three seasons.

In 2011, if Oklahoma State hadn’t lost to Iowa State, if Boise State hadn’t missed a field goal against TCU, if Oregon hadn’t scheduled (and lost to) LSU, or if Stanford hadn’t fallen to Oregon, Alabama wouldn’t have played for the BCS title. In 2012, if Stanford hadn’t upset Oregon or if Baylor hadn’t stunned Kansas State, Alabama would have stayed home.

The BCS is around only one more year before a four-team playoff arrives with the whims of a selection committee instead of computers and polls. The SEC is already wondering aloud what happens if an elite team loses in the SEC Championship Game, positioning itself for the chance to have two teams in the playoff.

Dynasties are constructed with that type of forward thinking. Eventually, though, they always end.

Sometimes you never see it coming.

Written by Jon Solomon for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 SEC Regional Preview Editions. 

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7 Threats to Alabama's Dynasty
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:14
Path: /college-football/redrafting-sec-rosters-2013

Fantasy drafts are a popular part of any offseason, but Athlon Sports (with a little bit of help from a few friends) took it to the next level when it came to the SEC.

College football’s premier conference is loaded with talent, so we thought it would be interesting to erase the rosters and conduct a redraft with 14 managers serving as the coaches of SEC programs.

The rules for the draft were simple: 22 overall picks, with 11 coming on offense and 11 on defense. Teams were allowed flexibility for schemes, as some managers chose to draft four receivers over a second running back or starting tight end.

What do the results of the draft tell us for 2013? It’s hard to glean much from a fantasy draft, but as expected, Alabama had the most players selected (40), while Kentucky had the fewest (12). Interestingly enough, Vanderbilt checked in tied at fourth with 25 players drafted. The Commodores ranked ahead of Texas A&M and South Carolina in the amount of players selected. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel was the No. 1 overall pick, with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney picked at No. 2. 

Note: Some players have been dismissed or left the team since the draft was conducted. Number after player indicates round in which he was selected. 

Redrafting the SEC's Rosters for 2013

Jon CooperJesse JohnsonMark Ross
SaturdayDownSouth.comVandySports.comAthlon Sports
QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (1)QB Brandon Allen, Arkansas (20)QB Aaron Murray, Georgia (1)
RB Matt Jones, Florida (11)RB Mike Davis, So. Carolina (8)RB Jeremy Hill, LSU (13)
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M (2)WR Malcome Kennedy, Texas A&M (13)RB Jeff Scott, Ole Miss (20)
WR Michael Bennett, Georgia (13)WR Demarcus Robinson, Florida (19)WR Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M (16)
WR Jaylon Denson, Auburn (21)TE Malcolm Johnson, Miss. State (15)WR Quan Bray, Auburn (21)
WR Jonathan Rumph, Georgia (22)TE Brian Vogler, Alabama (21)TE Arthur Lynch, Georgia (4)
OL Ryan Kelly, Alabama (5)OL Chris Burnette, Georgia (3)OL Travis Swanson, Arkansas (3)
OL Brey Cook, Arkansas (12)OL Kenarious Gates, Georgia (4)OL Tyler Moore, Florida (7)
OL Arie Kouandjio, Alabama (6)OL Austin Shepherd, Alabama (11)OL Darrian Miller, Kentucky (8)
OL Corey Robinson, So. Carolina (16)OL Alex Kozan, Auburn (18)OL Mitch Smothers, Arkansas (17)
OL Patrick Miller, Auburn (20)OL Isaac Luatua, Alabama (22)OL Pierce Burton, Ole Miss (18)
DL Ronald Powell, Florida (7)DL Jadeveon Clowney, So. Carolina (1)DL Walker May, Vanderbilt (5)
DL Mike Thornton, Georgia (9)DL Brandon Ivory, Alabama (6)DL Mister Cobble, Kentucky (11)
DL Kaleb Eulls, Mississippi State (14)DL Jared Morse, Vanderbilt (10)DL Dee Ford, Auburn (14)
DL Julien Obioha, Texas A&M (17)DL Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt (14)DL Nosa Eguae, Auburn (15)
LB Benardrick McKinney, Miss. State (4)LB Adrian Hubbard, Alabama (2)LB Amarlo Herrera, Georgia (9)
LB/S Justin Garrett, Auburn (10)LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama (12)LB Andrew Wilson, MIssouri (12)
LB Dontavis Sapp, Tennessee (18)LB Darreon Herring, Vanderbilt (16)LB Tommy Sanders, Texas A&M (22)
DB Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida (3)DB Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M (5)DB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama (2)
DB Brian Randolph, Tennessee (8)DB Nickoe Whitley, Miss. State (7)DB E.J. Gaines, Missouri (6)
DB Marcus Maye, Florida (15)DB Jalen Collins, LSU (9)DB Sheldon Dawson, Georgia (10)
DB Jamerson Love, Miss. State (19)DB Howard Matthews, Texas A&M (17)DB Jermaine Whitehead, Auburn (19)
Steven GodfreyNathan RushZac Ellis
SBNation.comAthlon SportsSports Illustrated
QB Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (2)QB AJ McCarron, Alabama (1)QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU (2)
RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama (1)RB Kelvin Taylor, Florida (7)RB Todd Gurley, Georgia (1)
RB Brian Kimbrow, Vanderbilt (13)RB Wesley Tate, Vanderbilt (21)WR Bruce Ellington, South Carolina (6)
WR D. Green-Beckham, Missouri (4)WR Vince Sanders, Ole Miss (12)WR Javontee Herndon, Arkansas (12)
WR Chris Conley, Georgia (10)WR L'Damian Washington, Missouri (20)WR Demarco Robinson, Kentucky (20)
WR Robert Johnson, Miss. State (18)TE Jay Rome, Georgia (16)TE Rory Anderson, South Carolina (9)
OL John Theus, Georgia (5)OL Reese Dismukes, Auburn (6)OL Zach Fulton, Tennessee (5)
OL Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (8)OL Brandon Shell, South Carolina (8)OL Mike Matthews, Texas A&M (8)
OL Joe Townsend, Vanderbilt (16)OL Greg Robinson, Auburn (14)OL Andrew Bridges, Vanderbilt (14)
OL Evan Swindall, Ole Miss (17)OL Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M (15)OL Patrick Junen, Ole Miss (17)
OL Clayton Stadnik, S. Carolina (21)OL Alex Bullard, Tennessee (18)OL Charles Siddoway, Miss. State (19)
DL Carl Lawson, Auburn (6)DL C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss (4)DL Chris Smith, Arkansas (3)
DL Ed Stinson, Alabama (7)DL Ego Ferguson, LSU (5)DL Gabe Wright, Auburn (10)
DL Quentin Thomas, LSU (14)DL Leon Orr, Florida (13)DL Za'Darius Smith, Kentucky (16)
LB Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (3)DL Darren Lake, Alabama (22)DL DeMarcus Hodge, Arkansas (22)
LB Donnie Baggs, Texas A&M (11)DL Caleb Azubike, Vanderbilt (10)LB Lamin Barrow, LSU (3)
LB Kris Frost, Auburn (19)LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee (2)LB Curt Maggitt, Tennessee (11)
LB D.T. Shackelford, Ole Miss (22)LB Daunte Carr, Arkansas (17)LB Jarrett Lake, Arkansas (18)
DB Brian Poole, Florida (9)DB Andre Hal, Vanderbilt (3)DB Jaylen Watkins, Florida (7)
DB Trae Elston, Ole Miss (12)DB Victor Hampton, South Carolina (9)DB Javon Marshall, Vanderbilt (13)
DB Chaz Elder, South Carolina (15)DB Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama (11)DB David Johnson, Missouri (15)
DB T.J. Gurley, South Carolina (20)DB Antonio Conner, Ole Miss (19)DB Chris Davis, Auburn (21)
Steven LassanJosh WardDavid Fox
Athlon SportsMrSEC.comAthlon Sports
QB Dylan Thompson, South Carolina (8)QB Tyler Russell, Miss. State (2)QB Jeff Driskel, Florida (2)
RB Brandon Williams, Texas A&M (20)RB Rajion Neal, Tennessee (12)RB Ben Malena, Texas A&M (11)
FB Jay Prosch, Auburn (19)WR Chris Boyd, Vanderbilt (8)RB Alfred Blue, LSU (21)
WR Chris Black, Alabama (13)WR Marcus Lucas, Missouri (13)WR Odell Beckham, LSU (5)
WR Trovon Reed, Auburn (21) WR Quinton Dunbar, Florida (18)WR Shaq Roland, South Carolina (17)
TE Trey Burton, Florida (15)WR Marquez North, Tennessee (22)WR Bud Sasser, Missouri (22)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (1)OL Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (1)OL Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee (3)
OL Gabe Jackson, Miss. State (2)OL Aaron Morris, Ole Miss (6)OL Jon Halapio, Florida (7)
OL La'el Collins, LSU (5)OL Jonotthan Harrison, Florida (10)OL Emmanuel McCray, Ole Miss (13)
OL Dillon Day, Miss. State (16)OL David Hurd, Arkansas (16)OL Chad Slade, Auburn (16)
OL Ethan Pocic, LSU (17)OL Zach West, Kentucky (17)OL Cody Waldrop, So. Carolina (20)
DL Donte Rumph, Kentucky (4)DL Kelcy Quarles, So. Carolina (3)DL Bud Dupree, Kentucky (4)
DL Jonathan Bullard, Florida (6)DL Daniel McCullers, Tennessee (4)DL Denico Autry, Miss. State (6)
DL Jermauria Rasco, LSU (11)DL Kyle Woestmann, Vanderbilt (9)DL P.J. Jones, Miss. State (9)
DL Issac Gross, Ole Miss (14)DL Chaz Sutton, South Carolina (14)LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama (1)
LB Xzavier Dickson, Alabama (7)LB Avery Williamson, Kentucky (5)LB Karl Butler, Vanderbilt (12)
LB Kwon Alexander, LSU (12)LB Tahj Jones, LSU (15)LB Daniel McMillian, Florida (15)
LB Otha Peters, Arkansas (22)LB Deontae Skinner, Miss. State (20)LB Tim Kimbrough, Georgia (19)
DB Marcus Roberson, Florida (3)DB Jalen Mills, LSU (7)DB Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss (8)
DB Landon Collins, Alabama (9)DB Ronald Martin, LSU (11)DB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida (10)
DB De'Vante Harris, Texas A&M (10)DB Josh Holsey, Auburn (19)DB Jimmy Legree, South Carolina
DB Demetruce McNeal, Auburn (18)DB Justin Cox, Miss. State (21)DB Rohan Gaines, Arkansas (18)
SEC LogoMitch LightLouie Belina
SEC LogoAthlon
QB Connor Shaw, So. Carolina (2)QB James Franklin, Missouri (8)QB Jalen Whitlow, Kentucky (22)
RB LaDarius Perkins, Miss. State (5)RB Henry Josey, Missouri (12)RB Tre Mason, Auburn (10)
WR Kenny Bell, Alabama (8)RB Raymond Sanders, Kentucky (19)WR Amari Cooper, Alabama (1)
WR Kevin Norwood, Alabama (10)WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (1)WR Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss (2)
WR Mekale McKay, Arkansas (15)WR LeKendrick Williams, Texas A&M (21)WR Laquvionte Gonzalez, Texas A&M (19)
TE C.J. Uzomah, Auburn (13)TE OJ Howard, Alabama (11)WR Jaquay Williams, Texas A&M (20)
OL David Andrews, Georgia (4)OL Anthony Steen, Alabama (2)OL D.J. Humphries, Florida (5)
OL A.J. Cann, South Carolina (7)OL Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (4)OL Vadal Alexander, LSU (6)
OL Justin Britt, Missouri (16)OL Max Garcia, Florida (9)OL Evan Boehm, Missouri (11)
OL Jordan Swindle, Kentucky (20)OL Blaine Clausell, Miss. State (14)OL Josh Williford, LSU (13)
OL Alphonse Taylor, Alabama (22)OL Jake Bernstein, Vanderbilt (17)OL Max Copeland, Missouri (18)
DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (1)DL Dante Fowler, Florida (6)DL Trey Flowers, Arkansas (3)
DL Montravius Adams, Auburn (18)DL Damien Jacobs, Florida (10)DL Kony Ealy, Missouri (8)
DL Jacques Smith, Tennessee (21)DL Vince Taylor, Vanderbilt (13)DL Robert Thomas, Arkansas (9)
LB Trey DePriest, Alabama (6)DL Sterling Bailey, Georgia (18)DL Lavon Hooks, Ole Miss (14)
LB Steven Jenkins, Texas A&M (11)LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU (15)LB Chase Garnham, Vanderbilt (4)
LB Reuben Foster, Alabama (12)LB Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (22)LB Mike Marry, Ole Miss (12)
LB Michael Taylor, Florida (17)LB Josh Harvey-Clemons, Georgia (7)LB Jake Holland, Auburn (15)
DB Craig Loston, LSU (3)DB Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt (3)DB Byron Moore, Tennessee (7)
DB Charles Sawyer, Ole Miss (9)DB Deion Belue, Alabama (5)DB Jonathon Mincy, Auburn (16)
DB Justin Coleman, Tennessee (14)DB Micah Eugene, LSU (16)DB Cyrus Jones, Alabama (17)
DB Nick Perry, Alabama (19)DB Steven Clarke, Vanderbilt (20)DB Toney Hurd, Texas A&M (21)
Braden GallChris Childers 
QB Hutson Mason, Georgia (20)QB Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt (9) 
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama (14)RB Keith Marshall, Georgia (5) 
RB Kenyan Drake, Alabama (22)RB Jerron Seymour, Vanderbilt (21) 
WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (5)WR Jarvis Landry, LSU (6) 
WR Damiere Byrd, South Carolina (21)WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (14) 
TE Cam Clear, Texas A&M (12)WR Christian Jones, Alabama (19) 
OL Antonio Richardson, Tennessee (2)OL Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt (2) 
OL James Stone, Tennessee (3)OL Chaz Green, Florida (10) 
OL Trai Turner, LSU (7)OL Dallas Lee, Georgia (11) 
OL Jarvis Harrison, Texas A&M (10)OL Elliott Porter, LSU (13) 
OL Andrew Jelks, Vanderbilt (17)OL Spencer Pulley, Vanderbilt (20) 
DL Anthony Johnson, LSU (1)DL Dominique Easley, Florida (1) 
DL Garrison Smith, Georgia (8)DL Byran Jones, Arkansas (3) 
DL Danielle Hunter, LSU (11)DL Jeoffrey Pagan, Alabama (7) 
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (4)DL LaMichael Fanning, Alabama (17) 
LB Antonio Morrison, Florida (6)LB Darrin Kitchens, Florida (8) 
LB Denzel Devall, Alabama (16)LB Ryan Anderson, Alabama (12) 
LB Khalid Henderson, Kentucky (19)LB Ronnie Feist, LSU (18) 
DB Geno Smith, Alabama (9)DB Damian Swann, Georgia (4) 
DB Tray Matthews, Georgia (13)DB Jarrick Williams, Alabama (15) 
DB Eric Bennett, Arkansas (15)DB Tevin Mitchel, Arkansas (16) 
DB Bradley Sylve, Alabama (18)DB Tre'Davious White, LSU (22) 

How the first four rounds were selected:

Round 1Round 2
1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (Cooper)15. Wesley Johnson, OT, Vanderbilt (Childers)
2. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (Johnson)16. Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee (Gall)
3. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia (Ross)17. Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss (Belina)
4. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama (Godfrey)18. Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama (Light)
5. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama (Rush)19. Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina (Logo)
6. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (Ellis)20. Jeff Driskel, QB, Florida (Fox)
7. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama (Lassan)21. Tyler Russell, QB, Mississippi State (Ward)
8. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (Ward)22. Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State (Lassan)
9. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama (Fox)23. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU (Ellis)
10. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss (Logo)24. A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee (Rush)
11. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt (Light)25. Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss (Godfrey)
12. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (Belina)26. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama (Ross)
13. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU (Gall)27. Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama (Johnson)
14. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida (Childers)28. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M (Cooper)
Round 3Round 4
29. Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida (Cooper)43. Damian Swann, DB, Georgia (Childers)
30. Chris Burnette, OG, Georgia (Johnson)44. Jordan Jenkins, LB/DE, Georgia (Gall)
31. Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas (Ross)45. Chase Garnham, LB, Vanderbilt (Belina)
32. Denzel Nkemdiche, LB, Ole Miss (Godfrey)46. Cedric Ogbuehi, T, Texas A&M (Light)
33. Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt (Rush)47. David Andrews, C, Georgia (Logo)
34. Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas (Ellis)48. Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky (Fox)
35. Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida (Lassan)49. Daniel McClullers, DT, Tennessee (Ward)
36. Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina (Ward)50. Donte Rumph, DT, Kentucky (Lassan)
37. Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee (Fox)51. Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU (Ellis)
38. Craig Loston, DB, LSU (Logo)52. C.J. Johnson, DE, Ole Miss (Rush)
39. Kenny Ladler, DB, Vanderbilt (Light)53. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri (Godfrey)
40. Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas (Belina)54. Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia (Ross)
41. James Stone, C, Tennessee (Gall)55. Kenarious Gates, T, Georgia (Johnson)
42. Byran Jones, DT, Arkansas (Childers)56. Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State (Cooper)

Which team had the most players selected?

RankTeamPlayers Drafted
4TGeorgia 25
4TAuburn 25
Texas A&M23
8Ole Miss22
9South Carolina19
11Mississippi State16
14 Kentucky 12

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Redrafting the SEC Rosters for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:10
Path: /nascar/kahne-takes-pass-kenseth-wins-nascar-night-race-bristol

Kasey Kahne, by his own admission, is NASCAR’s version of “Mr. Clean.” What else can you say after Bristol’s big fireworks show that never exploded? He had several prized opportunities Saturday to turn Matt Kenseth’s Dollar General Toyota and skate by for the win and a season sweep at the half-mile track. No one would have blamed him, either. All season, the No. 5 car has been swung into SAFER Barriers like clockwork by Kenseth and his teammates; they’ve made the old Allstate cougar accidents seem minor by comparison. It would have been only fair, in a locale nicknamed “Thunder Valley,” to cash in on the payback that was ripe and ready for the taking.

The fact Kahne passed on the aggression and settled for second is a compliment to his character — just not his career. Kahne turned down a “get even” opportunity on a move used commonly by short track racers around the country. Remember Bristol 1999, when Dale Earnhardt spun Terry Labonte on the last lap? The Intimidator was hardly intimidated by boos; neither were NASCAR officials. The No. 3 car sat in Victory Lane without penalty while Labonte’s crumpled heap of a Chevy was wheeled back to the garage behind a tow truck. Sometimes, that’s just the way you win races at short tracks. Let the best man who survives contact win.

How ironic that Kahne, driving the same car Labonte once made famous, has developed a similar, low-key and conflict-free personality. That might have worked in the ‘80s, even the ‘90s, but NASCAR is now a different place. Any athlete worth his weight in gold will smell out someone’s weakness. Now, all 42 competitors know, in a series where passing is difficult, that Kahne won’t hit them back if they play bumper cars. An element of fear, often an asset for a racer, is now gone. If Kahne won’t hit a competitor now with a win on the line and having been wronged all season, he’s not going to stand up for himself on the track. Ever.

I never truly believed in Leo Durocher’s quote, “Nice guys finish last,” but maybe Kasey Kahne has turned the other cheek one time too many.

Off the track? That makes him a winner. On it? That keeps a championship out of reach.

Speaking of titles prevented, “Through the Gears” find some people missing shifts after Bristol …

FIRST GEAR: Championship chances in big trouble  Brad KeselowskiBrad Keselowski hit Bristol with tons of momentum. He left it, well, getting hit. A late-race wreck, the icing on the cake of a myriad problems Saturday evening, left the No. 2 team outside looking in at the Chase. Only once has the previous year’s series champion missed the postseason (Tony Stewart, 2006). Only four points out, recovery is still possible, but it’s not a risk you want to take with another short track left on the slate.

“I’m not gonna be out of the worried zone unless I make it or it’s over,” Keselowski said. “That’s my job as a race car driver. I care about my team. We’ve got two races left. I think they’ll be good racetracks for us.”

Whether they will is yet to be determined. Keselowski’s teammate, Joey Logano, had a solid top-5 finish, is 10th in points and has the speedy setups he can pass over to the reigning champs. It’s just that, as we’ve seen so often with the No. 2 team this season, circumstances out of their control can jump up and bite. And other circumstances very much in their control — two points penalties equaling 31 points for failed inspections — find them out of the Chase by an agonizingly slim four points.

SECOND GEAR: Bristol had buzz  Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick
Who says Denny Hamlin can’t have an impact on the title this season? His contact on the backstretch with Brian Vickers set off a multi-car incident that altered the points race going forward. In an instant, a strong run for Chase contender Martin Truex Jr. was wiped out. So were the showings of about a half-dozen other cars. Tense moments ensued thereafter, when another victim, Kevin Harvick, parked in Hamlin’s pit stall to show maximum displeasure.

Hamlin explained the pit road incident away as no big deal.

“Me and Harvick are good friends, so luckily he was man enough to come over to talk to me right now and we were able to hash it out in about 10 seconds.”

It was just one of several examples of Bristol gone wild. 11 cautions. Quality racing. Flared tempers. All the elements the old track used to have, with more side-by-side competition thrown in. No question, the night race was one of the best this season, a showcase of what short tracks and NASCAR’s Gen-6 can do. Now, to transfer that to the other dozen or so ovals that don’t get it …

THIRD GEAR: Kenseth gets back on track
JGR’s newest pilot has spent the dog days of summer chasing his early-season brilliance. Entering Bristol, Matt Kenseth had led just one lap during the past four races and earned one top-5 finish during that span — easily his worst “slump” of 2013. Saturday night? He paced the field for a race-high 149 laps. Peaking at the right time, he positioned himself perfectly once Carl Edwards’ engine went south around Lap 375.

In one sense, this victory should come as no surprise: While not necessarily known as a short track ace, Kenseth has led 414 laps over the last five races at Bristol. Where the shock value comes in is that he now owns the top Chase seed by three bonus points over Jimmie Johnson with two weeks left in the regular season. All summer, the No. 48 team has made portions of races its own personal playground, only to fall flat in crunch time. Those three to four missed opportunities now loom large, giving the top Joe Gibbs Racing team some confidence entering the fall.

“Hopefully that gives you momentum,” Kenseth said. “The next 12 weeks are the most important 12 weeks of the season, so I approach every race the same. Go out with the idea of trying to qualify the best you can and prepare like you're going to go try to win the race.”

No question that Johnson has had more speed throughout the season. But there’s no arguing that Kenseth has now closed the deal at a greater clip than his Hendrick Motorsports foe and may just have something for him yet in that final 10-race run.

FOURTH GEAR: Edwards gets his mojo back … kind of
Roush Fenway Racing, with the exception of Greg Biffle’s Michigan win in June, has spent the year a forgotten superpower. Not in the Silly Season mix with its drivers signed to long-term deals, the organization seems to have faded into the background behind the typical rollercoaster dramas that flare up when drivers, crew chiefs and team look to make changes. While Chevy and Toyota have traded punches, RFR’s Fusions have been picking up the scraps of top-10 finishes to stay in Chase contention.

Enter Carl Edwards. Since the spring, he’s had the points deal on lockdown but has remained conspicuously absent from the front of the pack. Bristol was a surprise opportunity to change all that. If not for a blown engine with less than 120 laps to go, it’s very likely the storyline would have been the No. 99, front and center, in Victory Lane. With 119 laps led — his most since a Phoenix win in February — it was a key moment that shows the team can still flash speed.

“That’s the most fun I’ve had in a race car in a long time,” Edwards said. “Jimmy did a great job. The car was almost perfect and the engine ran awesome until it broke. We had great pit stops and I think we’ve got some good things to get forward to.  This is what we needed, a race like this — with the engine aside — I think we were the dominant car here tonight. We’ve got some good races coming up.”

David Ragan, who has struggled since his upset win at Talladega, was a strong 12th for Front Row Motorsports. It was the best finish for him at an unrestricted track with the team in two seasons. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. played it safe to run 10th rather than risk it on gas to try and win the race down the stretch. That did put him 33 points ahead of the cutoff but it’s still far from a guarantee. Remember, one blown engine could cost him 40 points, if not more.

Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles
Photos by Actions Sports, Inc.

Post-race reaction from Matt Kenseth's win in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 20:42
Path: /mlb/2013-mlb-power-rankings-aug-26
Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (Atlanta Braves) and worst (Houston Astros) baseball teams and players in the league. Here are our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.
Athlon Sports MLB Power Ranking
 1. Braves Projected date to clinch: Sept. 13 at home vs. San Diego.
 2. Tigers Batting .341 with 11 homers, 48 runs over last eight games.
 3. Dodgers Beginning to show signs of coming back down to earth.
 4. Red Sox Giants and Dodgers hit just .167 off Red Sox last week.
 5. Cardinals 13 straight games vs. Reds and Pirates. #makeorbreak
 6. Pirates Unsuccessful in last five stolen base attempts.
 7. Rangers Averaging 6.2 runs per game since Nelson Cruz suspension.
 8. Rays Begin key 10-game West Coast road trip this weekend.
 9. Reds Starting pitching continues to carry Reds.
10. A’s Next three opponents (Det./T.B./Tex.) may decide postseason fate.
11. Indians Last shot at Tigers this weekend.
12. Yankees Won 11 of 15, within 3.5 games of wild card.
13. Orioles Tough nine-game road trip to Boston, New York and Cleveland.
14. Diamondbacks 13 straight games vs. losing teams before next series with L.A.
15. Nationals Still time to make a charge, but running out of games fast.
16. Royals Continue to tease fans just enough.
17. Rockies 15 of last 30 games vs. teams currently in playoff position.
18. Mariners Best below .500 team in American League. #uselessinfo
19. Padres Tyson Ross has been a very pleasant surprise.
20. Angels Batting just .246 over last 20 games.
21. Giants Two teams had more triples last week than Giants had homers.
22. Phillies Won six of eight, with one of the losses in 18 innings.
23. Twins Could be key spoilers in all three AL divisional races.
24. Mets Matt Harvey injury news could be devastating.
25. Blue Jays 16-year string of better records than Royals likely to end.
26. White Sox Given up 29 runs over last nine games (8-1).
27. Brewers May have found future stars in Scooter Gennett and Khris Davis. 
28. Cubs Five NL teams have worse run differential.
29. Marlins Emergence of Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna is encouraging.
30. Astros Could be mathematically eliminated by week’s end.
AL Player of the Week
Jason Castro, Houston
The All-Star catcher swung a torrid bat last week, hitting .529 with a 1.913 OPS. He reached base safely in all six games, including a walk on Sunday in his only appearance. He was 3-for-3 on Saturday and had six extra-base hits for the week.
AL Pitcher of the Week
Jarrod Parker, Oakland
Parker was outstanding in his two starts last week, winning both, which represent Oakland’s last two victories. In 17.0 innings, Parker allowed 13 hits, three walks and whiffed 13 for a 0.94 WHIP and 1.06 ERA.
NL Player of the Week
Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia
The Phillies’ backstop batted .440 with a 1.302 OPS last week. He hit two home runs and drove home six. He amassed eight knocks in his last three games, including three in the Phillies’ 18-inning loss on Saturday in which he caught the entire contest.
NL Pitcher of the Week
Jose Fernandez, Miami
Last week, the young righthander was 2-0 with a 0.85 WHIP and 0.69 ERA. In 13 innings, he gave up eight hits, three walks and struck out 16 as he continues to be one of the few bright spots in Miami this summer.
Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (Atlanta Braves) and worst (Houston Astros) baseball teams and players in the league. Here are our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 18:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-august-26

It's game week. 

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

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Monday, August 26th

Is Mack Brown hurting is legacy at Texas by sticking around?

Depth chart news from Alabama. And Kansas. And Northwestern. And Arkansas.

LSU coach Les Miles isn't saying much about the status of running back Jeremy Hill for the season opener. And it looks like guard Josh Williford's playing career is done.

Saturday Down South takes a look at the schedule posters in the SEC.

The Sporting News takes a look at some early elimination games for the national title race. And can Texas play for the national title?

Will Temple build an on-campus stadium?

Seantrel Henderson is not listed as a starter on Miami's depth chart.

Could Alabama's offense - not its defense - key another run to a national title?

Michigan, Notre Dame or USC could play in a future kickoff game in Atlanta.

California and Stanford could play their 2014 matchup in the 49ers' new stadium.

A good story on Syracuse coach Scott Shafer and some of the experiences that helped to shape him as a coach.

Georgia could be without safety Tray Matthews in its season opener against Clemson. 

Colorado has picked Connor Wood as its starting quarterback.

Here are 10 keys to Penn State's season.

College Football's Link Roundup: August 26
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 15:37
Path: /college-football/kansas-state-picks-jake-waters-start-quarterback

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder isn’t a fan of releasing a depth chart, but he did provide one crucial bit of information for Saturday’s opener against North Dakota State. Junior college transfer Jake Waters will start over Daniel Sams, but both quarterbacks are expected to play.

Sams was believed to be the frontrunner to start the opener, but the sophomore missed some practice time, which allowed Waters to pull ahead for the starting job.

Waters was a huge pickup on the recruiting trail for Kansas State. Last year at Iowa Western, he threw for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns, while tossing only three picks on 333 attempts. Waters also completed 73.7 percent of his throws.

Sams is the better athlete between the two quarterbacks, but Waters can move around in the pocket as well.

Could the starting spot change hands later in the year? It’s possible. However, for now, Waters will take the first snap. And Sams will play a handful of snaps in the opener in a backup role.


Kansas State Picks Jake Waters to Start at Quarterback
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 13:22
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football-2013-comparing-all-preseason-rankings-and-picks

Hope is plentiful during the college football offseason. Every practice is great. Every signing class brings promise. Most players are injury-free and improving.

Just as healthy and vibrant is offseason debate. Who’s No. 1? Who is the preseason conference favorite? Who is headed for a fall?

Athlon Sports is proud to be part of your offseason preparation with our national and regional preview annuals. We understand we’re not the only game in town.

Everyone has opinions, and we figured we would provide a quick snapshot of how things are shaking out in those top 25 rankings, months before the season starts.

A few picks lined up across the board — Alabama is a unanimous preseason No. 1 — but a handful of top-25 and conference champion predictions varied wildly.

Now that all publications are on newsstands, we wanted to see how Athlon compared to preseason rankings and picks for other major publications. We looked at rankings for Lindy's, The Sporting News (TSN), USA Today (USAT) and Phil Steele.

If you're the kind of person who buys every preseason magazine or just the ones that rank your favorite team the highest, here's your guide to the guides for 2013 college football.




1. Alabama1111111
2. Ohio State2522224
3. Oregon4855335
4. Georgia612495512
5. South Carolina931114766
6. Clemson798158810
7. Stanford32311442
8. Notre Dame*1410141011148
9. Texas A&M57713673
10. Louisville1011127997
11. Boise State1715633191920
12. LSU8161817131214
13. Florida124101810109
14. Michigan16131524171718
15. Florida State1318173121113
16. Oklahoma State1161981413--
17. Oklahoma1519--19161619
18. Texas1814134151511
19. Wisconsin2624--202323--
20. TCU22--1621202016
21. Nebraska21219161818--
22. Fresno State33--2222------
23. Arizona State37----27------
24. Northwestern28----32222222
25. Oregon State3123--292525--
Other notables:       
26. USC25----62424--
27. UCLA2320----212121
28. Vanderbilt32----48----23
29. Miami2422--25------
30. Virginia Tech38----12----25
31. Kansas State36--2439------
32. Michigan State20----23----15
33. Ole Miss2925--28------
36. Baylor1917--36----17
44. Northern Illinois27--2326----24
50. Tulsa57--2536------

*Notre Dame was ranked No. 8 in Athlon's preseason magazine but moved to No. 10 in an updated ranking following the departure of starting quarterback Everett Golson.

# Published a top 25 only.

%Derived from Phil Steele's Preseason Top 40.


*Indicates conference title game winner

 AthlonLindy'sTSNUSATSteeleMedia picks
ACC AtlanticClemson*ClemsonClemsonClemson*Florida StateClemson*
ACC CoastalMiamiMiamiMiamiVirginia TechVirginia TechMiami
Big 12Oklahoma St.Oklahoma St.Oklahoma St.TexasTexasOklahoma St.
Big Ten LeadersOhio State*Ohio StateOhio StateOhio State*Ohio StateOhio State*
Big Ten LegendsMichiganMichiganMichiganNebraskaNebraskaMichigan
C-USA EastMarshallEast CarolinaEast CarolinaEast CarolinaMarshallEast Carolina
C-USA WestTulsa*TulsaTulsaTulsa*TulsaTulsa
MAC EastBowling GreenOhioBowling GreenOhioBowling GreenOhio
MAC WestNorthern Ill.*Northern Ill.Northern Ill.Northern Ill.*Northern Ill.Northern Ill.*
MW MountainBoise State*Boise StateBoise StateBoise State*Boise StateBoise State
MW WestFresno StateFresno StateFresno StateFresno StateFresno StateFresno State
Pac-12 NorthOregon*StanfordStanfordStanford*OregonOregon
SEC EastGeorgiaGeorgiaSouth CarolinaGeorgiaGeorgiaGeorgia
SEC WestAlabama*AlabamaAlabamaAlabama*AlabamaAlabama
Sun BeltUL LafayetteULMWestern Ky.UL LafayetteUL LafayetteULL/ULM (tie)

Related College Football Content

Athlon Sports' 2013 All-America Team
Which Schools are Most Likely to Win Their First Heisman?
College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013
College Football's Best Coaches Under 40
How Heisman Voting Has Changed
College Football 2013 Team Rankings: No. 1-125

Athlon is but a seat at the table in offseason debate. Here are everyone else's picks.
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-august-26-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Aug. 26.


Enjoy this countdown of the 101 Most Beautiful People in Sports. When surfer Ellie Jean Coffey (pictured) is only No. 14, you know it's a strong list. Fair warning: The list does include both sexes.


• It's here. College football. And there are already some BCS Championship elimination games on tap for the first weekend.


The LolJets have already provided a season's worth of entertainment, and the season hasn't started. Let's enjoy the Ryan-Sanchez-Smith circus while we can.


Jets and Giants fans staged an inter-sex brawl that was better than the action on the field.


The SEC arms race has extended to schedule posters. These are pretty spectacular.


Caroline Wozniacki is trying to convince the Twitterverse that she and Rory McIlroy are still together. Methinks she doth protest too much.


A kid with cerebral palsy asked Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana of the Indians to hit homes runs for him, and they obliged. Suck on that, Babe Ruth.


Evidence as to why "Predator" is the greatest movie ever made. Hey, you'll get no argument from me.


• Were last night's VMAs the death knell of American culture? Here's the evidence in pictures and GIFs. The folks over at Morning Joe in particular had a conniption over Miley Cyrus' "performance."


I know nothing about rugby, but I know a good prank when I see one.


• You know it's baseball's dog days when the old gum on the hat trick makes an appearance.




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

Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 10:37
Path: /nfl/new-orleans-saints-2013-nfl-team-preview

The Saints enter the 2013 season as one of the most mysterious — and potentially dangerous — teams in the NFL. Are they the one-dimensional 7–9 squad that allowed an NFL-record 7,042 yards last season? Or the formidable 13–3 unit that set an NFL record for most yards gained in a season in 2011? The truth falls somewhere between the two extremes.

Coach Sean Payton’s swagger and offensive creativity should return the edge to the sideline and locker room. So should the arrival of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who has installed a pressure-based 3-4 defense. But whether the Saints have enough to keep pace with rising NFC powers San Francisco, Atlanta and Seattle remains to be seen. One way or another, we know they won’t be boring.

Athlon Sports NFC Power Ranking: 6th

Related: 2013 New Orleans Saints Schedule Analysis

As long as Drew Brees is under center, the Saints will have a puncher’s chance against anyone. Brees is the great equalizer for a team with a shaky defense and inconsistent running game. He spearheads an offense that has ranked first or second in total yards in five of the past seven seasons. The consummate field general, Brees understands every facet of Payton’s sophisticated offense and consistently keeps the Saints a step ahead of the defense with astute pre-snap reads and audibles. His anticipation, accuracy and pocket awareness rank among the best in the NFL. Indeed, Brees’ greatest strength might also be his biggest weakness. He can be interception-prone because he sometimes forces ill-advised throws.

Payton wants to re-establish the running game and become more physical up front. Mark Ingram should be the beneficiary of this renewed emphasis. The former first-round draft pick runs with power and balance and rarely is tackled by the first defender. It’ll be interesting to see if he can regain the acceleration and explosiveness he showed before injuries ended his rookie season in 2011. Payton plans to put the ball in Ingram’s hands more often this season. Pierre Thomas does a little bit of everything but lacks a special quality. He’ll continue to work his way into the rotation and make plays, especially on screens. The diminutive Darren Sproles makes plays as a runner and receiver whenever he touches the ball in space.

For the third consecutive year, the front line will have to find a replacement for a departing Pro Bowler. Jermon Bushrod’s departure in free agency leaves a gaping hole at left tackle. Former second-round draft pick Charles Brown will get the first crack at the starting spot, but the staff is high on rookie Terron Armstead. Both are excellent athletes who lack experience and prototypical bulk and power. When healthy, Brown has played well in cameo appearances. Reclamation project Jason Smith is the fallback option. The rest of the line returns intact, led by road-grader guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs.

The receiving corps lacks a superstar talent but is versatile and deep. Marques Colston doesn’t possess prototypical speed but has excellent hands and body control. Few players make more clutch catches. Lance Moore is expected to assume Devery Henderson’s starting receiver spot. He’s one of Brees’ favorite targets in the red zone, where he uses his quickness and field vision to find seams in opposing zones and move the chains. Joe Morgan, who the Saints were hoping to utilize his big-play ability, tore his ACL during training camp, putting more pressure on second-year wideout Nick Toon and rookie Kenny Stills to contribute this season. Tight end Jimmy Graham is a freakishly talented athlete who uses his 6'7" frame to make big plays in the middle of the field and in the red zone.

Ryan’s pressure 3-4 scheme will be a welcome change for the Saints defenders, who never appeared to buy into Steve Spagnuolo’s complicated system. The Saints have invested a number of high draft picks on defensive players in recent years and need a few of them to enjoy breakout seasons if the team is to rejoin the NFC elite.

Up front, the search for a pass rush continues. Defensive end Cameron Jordan assumes the mantle as the top pass-rusher with Will Smith on the tail end of his career. Jordan lacks elite strength and explosiveness but is a solid technician who knows how to use his long arms to keep blockers at bay. Smith is expected to hold down the other end spot. The 32-year-old vet is smart, tough and reliable, but he’s no longer a double-digit pass-rushing threat.

Instead, the Saints will look to outside linebackers Victor Butler, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson to bring the heat on opposing quarterbacks. Butler is undersized but is strong and explosive off the edge and will get first crack to start on the right side. Galette will have to make the transition to linebacker but has the burst and acceleration to be a double-digit pass-rush threat off the edge. The lanky Wilson needs to turn his flashes of ability into production.

Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley was a disappointment as the interior run-stuffer and could be replaced by massive rookie John Jenkins. Inside linebackers Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Vilma form the heart of the defense. Both are smart, instinctive leaders. Vilma did undergo surgery on his knee during training camp, but the hope is he will be ready to play by Week 1.

Finding cornerbacks who can hold up in man-to-man coverage is critical to Ryan’s pressure packages. Jabari Greer thrived in Gregg Williams’ old system but struggled in 2012. He’s an excellent athlete but might have lost a step. The signing of cornerback Keenan Lewis is an indictment of Patrick Robinson, a former first-round draft pick who struggled in his first full season as a starter. Lewis has the size and speed Ryan likes. Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper are looking to rebound after subpar 2012 campaigns. Harper’s ball skills are rudimentary, and he’s become a popular target in coverage for opposing quarterbacks. That’s where rookie Kenny Vaccaro comes in. The athletic combo safety from Texas will see the field early in passing situations and could be the Saints’ answer to defending opposing tight ends.

Punter Thomas Morstead and placekicker Garrett Hartley form a solid one-two punch. Morstead finally earned his first Pro Bowl berth. He has a powerful leg and is a master at directional punts and rugby-style backspin kicks. Hartley is solid but might have lost some range last year after his knee injury. The elusive Sproles had a terrible season on punt returns. Courtney Roby is a standout on kickoff returns and as the gunner in punt coverage.

Final Analysis: 2nd in NFC South
How bad was the Saints’ defense in 2012? The Saints ranked third in scoring offense and second in total offense and still finished just 7–9. If the Saints can make modest strides under Ryan, a return to the playoffs is not just possible — it’s likely. But that’s a major question considering the club’s history of struggles on that side of the ball. The Saints appear to lack the defensive firepower to challenge the NFC elite, but they’ll undoubtedly be a factor in the race. And as always, they’ll be one of the most entertaining teams in the league.

Order your 2013 Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

2013 Athlon Sports NFL Team Previews:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston (8/29)Denver (9/3)
MiamiCincinnati (8/27)IndianapolisKansas City
New England (8/30)ClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburgh (8/28)TennesseeSan Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
DallasChicagoAtlanta (8/27)Arizona
NY Giants (8/30)DetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen Bay (8/29)New OrleansSan Francisco (9/3)
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle (8/28)


New Orleans Saints 2013 NFL Team Preview
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/baltimore-ravens-2013-nfl-team-preview

The Ravens’ second Vince Lombardi Trophy is prominently displayed in the lobby of their training complex underneath a painting of the late owner Art Modell. But that doesn’t mean that the defending Super Bowl champions are overly sentimental when it comes to making tough roster decisions.

The Ravens traded wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers following a contract dispute. They cut strong safety Bernard Pollard and allowed free safety Ed Reed, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger and cornerback Cary Williams to leave as free agents.

“It wasn’t that one day we woke up and decided that we were going to let a lot of really good football players walk away and play for other teams, but we had a plan in place,” says general manager Ozzie Newsome, who’s also dealing with replacing the leadership of retired middle linebacker Ray Lewis. “We had to allow the plan to unfold.”

The Ravens have significantly overhauled their roster and are confident they’re built to compete again after qualifying for the playoffs for five consecutive years under the leadership of coach John Harbaugh. “I think we like our football team,” Newsome says. “I’d like for someone to be able to tell me that we aren’t good enough to go to the playoffs right now. Can anyone say that? OK then.”

Athlon Sports AFC Power Ranking: 6th

Related: 2013 Baltimore Ravens Schedule Analysis

Rewarded with a blockbuster $120.6 million contract after being named the Super Bowl MVP, quarterback Joe Flacco is a strong-armed pocket passer who delivered 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions during the playoffs and has become much more accurate, particularly on the deep ball. He’s willing to take calculated risks with his most trusted targets. Flacco is capable of greater production and will be granted significant freedom due to his growing comfort with the offense and a growing rapport with offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.

Trading Boldin takes away the Ravens’ most proven receiver, which means that Torrey Smith is being thrust into a more prominent role. Primarily a deep threat, Smith has incorporated more short and intermediate patterns to add polish to his game. Pro Bowl return man Jacoby Jones could become a regular starting receiver this fall. Possession receiver Tandon Doss, speedster Deonte Thompson and David Reed will compete for playing time.

Entering training camp, the Ravens seemed to be set at tight end with sure-handed Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson in the fold. That was before Pitta, who has nearly ascended to a Pro Bowl level, dislocated his hip and Dickson injured his hamstring. Pitta is most likely lost for the season, while Dickson's inability to practice resulted in the team adding veterans Billy Bajema, Dallas Clark and Visanthe Shiancoe to the roster. Once considered a position of strength, tight end has become a rather large question mark headed into the season.

Running back remains an important position in the offense. Ray Rice is one of the most dynamic all-purpose backs, eluding defenders in the open field. Although he’s short in stature, Rice is a physical inside runner and creates mismatches out of the backfield as a receiver. Hard-nosed backup runner Bernard Pierce provides a complementary style to Rice. He prefers to run over linebackers but also has the speed to go the distance. Vonta Leach is a devastating lead blocker who punishes defenders, but his playing time has been reduced because of the fullback only having a part-time status in Caldwell’s offense.

The Ravens re-signed Bryant McKinnie to play left tackle, meaning four of five starters are back after six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk retired. McKinnie’s weight and conditioning are lingering concerns. Marshal Yanda is a gritty right guard who pulls well. Michael Oher has settled in at right tackle after previous stints on the left side. Kelechi Osemele appears best suited to play left guard next to McKinnie. Gino Gradkowski, the younger brother of NFL quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, is an undersized technician who steps in for Birk at center.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees faces a daunting task: He must replace a pair of former NFL Defensive Players of the Year in Lewis and Reed.

Athletic rookie inside linebacker Arthur Brown could fill the void created by Lewis’ departure. Brown is undersized and fast and has drawn some comparisons to a young Lewis. Brown first has to prove to the coaching staff he deserves the opportunity to play in Lewis' spot, which is why the team signed veteran Daryl Smith to a one-year deal in June. Smith, who is the Jaguars' all-time leading tackler, can step in until Brown is deemed ready, while also helping mentor the rookie in the process.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, another former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, had an injury-plagued year with a torn Achilles tendon and a torn biceps, hampering his contribution. The Ravens are banking on him returning to form. Inside linebacker Jameel McClain is coming off a spinal cord contusion suffered last December.

Following a bizarre fax debacle, Elvis Dumervil was cut loose by the Denver Broncos and joined the Ravens as a $35 million bookend pass-rusher to work in tandem with Suggs. Haloti Ngata is a dominant interior force when he’s healthy, but he has dealt with nagging injuries for the past few seasons. Arthur Jones is coming off a breakthrough season and returns at left end, but he could be pushed by veteran defensive lineman Chris Canty. Nose guard Terrence Cody has reached a career crossroads after a bad season and is recuperating from offseason hip surgery. Keep an eye on rookie Brandon Williams, Cody’s chief competitor for the job. Marcus Spears figures into the mix as a valuable rotation guy at end and tackle. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee had offseason groin surgery.

Michael Huff is the new center fielder. He has range and tackling ability but lacks Reed’s game-changing instincts. Rookie Matt Elam, the Ravens’ first-round pick, is expected to replace Pollard at strong safety.

A huge key to defensive improvement — whether $50 million shutdown cornerback Lardarius Webb can make a sound return from a torn ACL. Jimmy Smith had some encouraging moments in the Super Bowl. He will compete with Corey Graham for the nickel back spot and will get a look as a potential starter as well.

This is an enviable kicking game. Justin Tucker beat out Billy Cundiff as a rookie and connected on 30-of-33 field goals and made four kicks from 50 yards or longer. Punter Sam Koch has excellent hang time and is also adept at the coffin corner. He is coming off a career-best season with a 47.1 average. In his first season in Baltimore, Jacoby Jones returned three kicks for touchdowns during the regular season and ran a kickoff back for a score in the Super Bowl. The Ravens are looking for new blood in kick coverage after cutting former Pro Bowl special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo during the offseason.

Final Analysis: 3rd in AFC North
As long as the offense continues to trend upward with Flacco, the Ravens should be able to score enough points to be competitive in every game. If the new-look defense is better than last year’s vulnerable outfit, the Ravens could return to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. Defending a title is always a huge challenge, but the Ravens shouldn’t be overlooked considering their consistent track record in the Harbaugh era.

Order your 2013 Baltimore Ravens Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

2013 Athlon Sports NFL Team Previews:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston (8/29)Denver (9/3)
MiamiCincinnati (8/27)IndianapolisKansas City
New England (8/30)ClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburgh (8/28)TennesseeSan Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
DallasChicagoAtlanta (8/27)Arizona
NY Giants (8/30)DetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen Bay (8/29)New OrleansSan Francisco (9/3)
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle (8/28)


Baltimore Ravens 2013 NFL Team Preview
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/white-sox-coach-thrown-out-game-first-pitch

Well, I don't know if I've ever seen this happen before. White Sox bench coach Mark Parent was ejected by the umpire before Sunday's game even started. While exchanging lineups, Parent can been seen making a comment to crew chief Jerry Layne, who responded by telling Parent to hit the road. 

White Sox Coach Thrown Out of Game BEFORE First Pitch
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 09:01
Path: /college-football/no-surprise-jameis-winston-florida-states-starting-qb

As expected, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher named Jameis Winston the starting quarterback for the season opener against Pittsburgh.

Winston’s debut is one of the most intriguing storylines of Week 1, as the redshirt freshman ranked as the No. 15 overall recruit 2012 signing class and shined in Florida State’s spring game.

Winston is a dual-threat passer and is surrounded by a deep supporting cast. With four starters back, the offensive line is one of the best in the nation. James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman will be a solid one-two punch in the backfield, while the receiving corps is filled with talent and speed.

Opening up on the road is never an easy task for a redshirt freshman quarterback, but Winston has plenty of confidence and shouldn’t be rattled in the Steel City. After the opener against the Panthers, Florida State hosts Nevada and Bethune-Cookman, before ending the month of September at Boston College. 

If Winston lives up to the hype, Florida State has the schedule make a run at the national championship. And the biggest game of the ACC season – at Clemson on Oct. 19 – should give Winston plenty of time to get acclimated to being a starter on the FBS level.

Although Winston won the starting job, backup Jacob Coker had an impressive offseason and is a solid No. 2 quarterback. 

No Surprise: Jameis Winston is Florida State's Starting QB
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Funny, videos, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/braves-pull-gum-prank-chris-johnson

The Braves' Chris Johnson was spotted on the bench during this weekend's game against the Cardinals sporting bubble gum on his hat, thanks to his pranking teammates. The best part is that he discovered the gum in the reflection of Reed Johnson's sunglasses and immediately began to beat him on the head. 

The Braves' Chris Johnson was spotted on the bench during this weekend's game against the Cardinals sporting bubble gum on his hat, thanks to his teammates.
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 08:41
All taxonomy terms: College Football, TCU Horned Frogs, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/tcu-unveils-new-jerseys-season-opener

TCU-LSU is one of Week 1’s most-anticipated matchups. The Horned Frogs get quarterback Casey Pachall back after a suspension ended his 2012 season in October, but defensive end Devonte Fields is out for the first two games.

Regardless of whether TCU wins the opener or not, its alternate uniforms should certainly steal the show.

These uniforms feature red accents, which are to highlight the blood that horned frogs can shoot from their eyes. Read here for more information on TCU’s alternate uniform. 

TCU Unveils New Jerseys for Season Opener
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 07:55
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-35-breakout-players-2013

Every year, college football fans are introduced to a handful of players that become household names by the end of the season. Predicting which players will breakout any year is never an easy task.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston ranks as Athlon’s No. 1 breakout player for 2013, and even though there’s some key personnel departing on defense, the redshirt freshman is poised to keep the Seminoles in the national title picture. Michigan’s Devin Gardner and Baylor’s Bryce Petty are the only other quarterbacks listed in the top 10. Receiver Nelson Agholor is already off to a good start in fall camp and will help take some of the pressure off of Marqise Lee on the other side. Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson was a key reason why the Huskies improved on defense last year, and the sophomore is due for even bigger and better things in 2013.

Defining what is a breakout player is nearly impossible. Everyone has a different perspective on how players are viewed around the conference and nationally. Athlon's list of breakout players for 2013 tries to take into account which names will be known nationally (not just within the conference) by the end of season. So while some of these players on this list are known to fans of a particular team, the rest of the conference or nation might not be as familiar. 

College Football's Top 35 Breakout Players for 2013

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Considering Winston’s preseason buzz has reached meteoric levels, he might be a little too obvious to put on this list. However, the redshirt freshman has the talent to have a breakout year similar to what Texas A&M got from Johnny Manziel last season. Of course, a Heisman Trophy is simply too much to ask from Winston this year, but the Alabama native will be a difference maker for Florida State, especially with one of the ACC’s best supporting casts at his disposal. If Winston lives up to the hype, the Seminoles could match last year’s 12 wins.

2. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan
Considering his performance to close 2012, it’s a bit of a stretch to put Gardner on this list. Filling in for an injured Denard Robinson in the final five games, Gardner recorded 18 touchdowns during that span and threw for 314 yards in a win over Iowa. With Gardner now entrenched as the full-time starter, and Robinson playing in the NFL, the Wolverines will transition to more of a pro-style approach on offense. Michigan’s offensive line and receiving corps needs work, but Gardner will be one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks by the end of 2013.

3. Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
There’s no question that USC will miss Robert Woods, but the Trojans still have one of the nation’s top receiving corps. Marqise Lee is an Athlon Sports first-team All-American for 2013, and Agholor is poised to push for all-conference honors this year as well. As a true freshman last season, Agholor caught 19 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 17.9 yards per catch. The Tampa native had his best performance against Oregon, recording six catches for 162 yards and one score. With defenses aiming to stop Lee, look for Agholor to see more passes in his direction this year.

4. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Coach Art Briles certainly knows a thing or two about quarterbacks. After all, Robert Griffin III won the Heisman in 2011, and Nick Florence ranked second nationally in total offense last year. No pressure, Bryce Petty. The junior steps into the starting role after serving as an understudy over the last two years and hopes to continue Baylor’s recent run of successful passers. Petty has thrown only 14 passes in his career but has been impressive as the No. 1 quarterback this spring. There’s still plenty for the junior to prove in 2013, but considering Briles’ history of developing quarterbacks, the Bears have to feel good about Petty’s chances of emerging as a standout player this year.

5. Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
After a freshman year that saw him garner honorable mention All-Pac-12 accolades, it’s time for the rest of the nation to take notice of No. 7 in Seattle. Thompson recorded 74 tackles, two sacks and three picks last season and ranked second on the team with 8.5 tackles for a loss. The 6-foot-2 linebacker’s speed and athleticism is crucial for Washington’s defense, especially when it comes to defending the spread offenses in the Pac-12. The Pac-12 already knows all about Thompson, but look for the sophomore to push for All-American honors this season.

6. Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia
Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree are gone, leaving a huge void in the Georgia linebacker corps for 2013. Talent certainly isn’t an issue for coordinator Todd Grantham, as Jenkins was impressive as a freshman in limited action last year and is poised to be one of the new leaders for Georgia’s defense. In 14 games last season, Jenkins recorded 31 tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble. Replacing Jones’ production on the outside won’t be easy, but Jenkins should easily push for 10 sacks this year.

7. Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, DE, Ohio State
The Buckeyes have no shortage of talent on the roster, but the defensive line is a concern with four new starters stepping into the lineup. Spence and Washington are expected to be the new leaders for the line in 2013, as both players were top-30 recruits in the 2012 signing class and impressed in limited action last year. Spence recorded 12 tackles and one sack in 11 appearances, while Washington recorded nine tackles and three sacks in 10 games. The Big Ten is thin on proven talent at defensive end, but players like Spence and Washington could turn this position into a strength by October.

8. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Despite losing Montee Ball, the Badgers aren’t too worried about their rushing attack. With Gordon and James White returning, it’s easy to see why running back is near the bottom of concerns for new coach Gary Andersen. After rushing for 98 yards as a freshman in 2011, Gordon gashed opposing defenses for 621 yards on 62 attempts last fall, averaging 10 yards a carry. His best performance came against Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship, recording 216 yards on nine attempts. Gordon will split carries with White, but the junior should finish as the Badgers’ leading rusher this year.

9. La’el Collins, OT, LSU
LSU fans are certainly familiar with Collins’ ability, but the rest of the nation needs to take notice. The SEC is stocked with talent at tackle, as Jake Matthews, Antonio Richardson and Cyrus Kouandjio are considered the frontrunners for first-team All-American recognition. And Tennessee’s Ja’Wuan James and Vanderbilt’s Wesley Johnson are solid players who shouldn’t be overlooked in 2013. Collins earned honorable mention All-SEC accolades last season after starting 13 games at left guard. The Baton Rouge native plans to move to left tackle this year, and at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Collins certainly has the size to move defenders in the run game or counteract edge rushers on passing downs. 

10. Chris Black, WR, Alabama
Amari Cooper emerged as one of the SEC’s top receivers last season, and Alabama’s receiving corps is poised to get another boost in 2013 with the addition of Black. The Jacksonville native was regarded as one of the top receiver prospects in the 2012 signing class and was expected to be a factor in the Crimson Tide’s passing attack last year. However, Black suffered a shoulder injury in August, which forced him to redshirt. The redshirt freshman is now healthy, and his emergence will provide quarterback AJ McCarron with one of the nation’s deepest receiving corps.

11. Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Injuries have hindered Bigelow throughout his career, but if can stay healthy, the junior is a threat to rush for 1,000 yards in coach Sonny Dykes’ wide-open offense. On 44 attempts last year, Bigelow recorded 431 yards and three scores. He also averaged 23 yards per kickoff return and caught seven passes for 92 yards and one touchdown. Bigelow is a dynamic playmaker when he has the ball in his hands, so expect Dykes and coordinator Tony Franklin to get him at least 20 touches a game – provided he can avoid the pesky injury bug.

12. Vad Lee, QB, Georgia Tech
Fans of the ACC are certainly familiar with Lee, but the rest of the college football world should take notice of the sophomore in 2013. The North Carolina native did not record a start under center but played in 12 of Georgia Tech’s 14 contests. Lee threw for 596 yards and four touchdowns and showcased his athleticism by averaging 5.7 yards per carry on 96 attempts. He scored nine times on 96 attempts and had a 79-yard run against Presbyterian. Lee doesn’t have to be a dynamic thrower in Georgia Tech’s option attack, but he should be an upgrade in the passing attack over Tevin Washington.

13. Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
With four starters returning, Stanford’s offensive line is expected to be one of the best in college football in 2013. But what’s even scarier for the opposition: This unit still has room to improve, especially at left tackle. There’s where Peat comes into play. As a freshman in 2012, the Arizona native didn’t make a start but played in 13 games. With David Yankey sliding back to guard, Peat is poised to step into the lineup and solidify Stanford’s left tackle position.

14. Jermauria Rasco, DE, LSU
Despite having to replace a handful of key players from last year’s defense, LSU’s defense is expected to remain near the top of the SEC once again. The line will miss Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, but Rasco and Danielle Hunter aren’t short on talent and will be a handful for opposing linemen this season. Rasco was a five-star recruit in the 2011 signing class and has played in 22 games in his first two years at LSU. Although he doesn’t have a start under his belt, Rasco has 27 tackles and two sacks during that span. The junior is expected to anchor one of the end spots for coordinator John Chavis and could earn All-SEC honors at the conclusion of 2013.

15. Quinshad Davis, WR, North Carolina
The Tar Heels sped up the tempo in coach Larry Fedora’s first season in Chapel Hill, averaging 40.6 points per game and finishing 14th nationally in total offense (485.6 yards per game). Quarterback Bryn Renner is back in 2013, and the entire offense has a full offseason to learn under Fedora and his staff. Even though the Tar Heels have to replace running back Giovani Bernard and top offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper, this offense could improve upon its yards and points per game. Renner’s go-to target in the passing game should be Davis, who turned in an impressive freshman season with 61 catches for 776 yards and five scores. Davis played well late in the year, catching 32 passes over the final three games, including 16 in a win against Virginia. Expect the sophomore to be one of the ACC’s leading receivers in 2013.

16. Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State
Arizona State had three running backs record over 100 carries last season, but with Cameron Marshall expiring his eligibility, Grice is due for an increase in touches. In his first year after transferring in from a junior college, Grice rushed for 679 yards and 11 scores and caught 41 passes for 425 yards and eight touchdowns. The Texas native came on strong at the end of the year, gashing Arizona for 156 yards and three scores and Navy for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Although DJ Foster will see plenty of work, Grice should be Arizona State’s leading rusher and could push for All-Pac-12 recognition in 2013.

17. Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
In an offensive-minded league like the Pac-12, it’s not easy for any true freshman to step onto the field at cornerback. However, Carter did just that last year, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in the process. In 14 games (with eight starts), the Virginia native recorded 46 tackles and three forced fumbles. With another offseason under his belt, Carter should continue to develop into one of the Pac-12’s top cornerbacks this season.

18. Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
There’s no question the Crimson Tide will miss center Barrett Jones, guard Chance Warmack and tackle D.J. Fluker this year. However, with the return of left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and guard Anthony Steen, a solid foundation in place. Kelly is slated to replace Jones at center, and the Ohio native already has plenty of game action under his belt. With Jones hobbled by a foot injury last season, Kelly played in nine contests and impressed in limited action. Equaling the accolades and performance Jones had during his four years in Tuscaloosa is nearly impossible, but Kelly should ensure Alabama’s offensive line remains one of the nation’s best.

19. Daniel Sams/Jake Waters, QB, Kansas State
It’s a bit of a cop out to list Sams and Waters here, but both players are capable of keeping Kansas State in the Big 12 title race. Sams is a dynamic athlete, recording 235 yards and eight rushing touchdowns on 32 attempts in 2012. He only threw eight passes last year but completed six throws for 55 yards. Waters comes to Kansas State after two years at Iowa Western Community College. The Iowa native had a huge 2012 season, earning NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honors after throwing for 3,501 yards and 39 scores. Although Waters isn’t as dynamic on the ground as Sams, the junior isn’t a statue in the pocket. There’s no question Collin Klein will be missed this year. However, the Wildcats’ offense shouldn't fall off much with Sams or Waters leading the way.

20. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
The nation’s No. 1 recruit in the 2012 signing class had a relatively quiet debut. Green-Beckham was suspended for one game and finished the year with just 28 receptions for 395 yards and five scores. However, Green-Beckham’s performance picked up late in the season, catching 21 passes over the final five games, with a touchdown catch coming in each of the last three contests. With quarterback James Franklin closer to 100 percent after shoulder surgery last year, Missouri’s passing attack is poised to improve in 2013. All signs point to Green-Beckham having a good offseason, which should translate into more production.

21. Jeremy Smith, RB, Oklahoma State
It might be a little too obvious to list Smith in this article, but after playing behind Joseph Randle and Kendall Hunter, it’s his time to shine. In his first three years in Stillwater, Smith has rushed for 1,439 yards and 25 touchdowns. Smith’s best performance in his career came against Grambling in 2009, recording 160 yards and one score on 15 attempts. However, the Tulsa native has played well in Big 12 action, rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns against Texas in 2011. With Randle playing in the NFL, this is Smith’s job to lose, and the senior should rank near the top of the Big 12 in rushing yards this year.

22. Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky
New coach Mark Stoops played a key role in turning around Florida State’s defense, and Big Blue Nation hopes he can develop Dupree and junior college transfer Za’Darius Smith into All-SEC ends. Dupree played last season as the rush end in Kentucky’s 3-4 scheme, but he will slide exclusively into one of the end spots in 2013. The Georgia native recorded 91 tackles and 6.5 sacks last season and should continue to develop with a defined role coming off the edge. Double-digit sacks isn’t out of the question for Dupree this year.

23. Dontre Wilson, RB/WR, Ohio State
If Ohio State wants to play for a Big Ten title, keeping quarterback Braxton Miller healthy is priority No. 1. Miller took a pounding last season, and coach Urban Meyer would like to see the supporting cast take a bigger role in the offense. Thanks to top-notch recruiting, Meyer appears to have found a big-time playmaker for Miller. Wilson is a 5-foot-10, 174 pound running back/receiver that will be a dangerous option for Ohio State’s offense. The Texas native shined in fall practice and could fill the “Percy Harvin position” that Meyer wants to establish. With running back Carlos Hyde suspended for the first three games, Wilson should expect to see plenty of carries and passes in his direction in the early part of the year.    

24. Mario Edwards Jr., DE, Florida State
The Seminoles lose four key players from a defensive line that played a significant role in finishing first in the ACC in rush defense, along with ranking sixth nationally in points allowed. While ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine will be missed, there’s no shortage of talent returning to Tallahassee. The next star on Florida State’s line should be Edwards, who was pressed into action after an early-season injury to Brandon Jenkins. Although it was a small sample size, Edwards showcased why he was one of the top recruits in the 2012 signing class, recording 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss. With a full offseason to work in the weight room and learn under new ends coach Sal Sunseri, Edwards is primed for a breakout year in Tallahassee.

25. Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor
The Bears know what they have in senior receiver Tevin Reese, and Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood are back after combining for 57 receptions last year. But the receiving corps could use another gamebreaker to help ease the loss of Terrance Williams. Could Rhodes be that player? The true freshman has been one of the stars of fall camp, catching four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in the team’s second scrimmage. Rhodes was rated as the No. 4 receiver in the 2013 recruiting class by Athlon Sports, and all signs point to a big season from the true freshman.

26. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
New coach Bret Bielema had one of the nation’s top rushing attacks under his direction at Wisconsin and is building a run-first mentality in Fayetteville. Sophomore Jonathan Williams is expected to open the year as the starter at running back, but Collins will see plenty of action. The Florida native ranked as the No. 13 running back in the nation by and earned Broward County Player of the Year honors after rushing for 1,786 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2012. As Bielema’s offenses showed at Wisconsin, there’s plenty of carries available for two running backs. And even though he may not open the year as the starter, Collins will make it difficult for the coaching staff to keep him on the sidelines for long.

27. Deontay Greenberry, WR, Houston
Even with the departure of running back Charles Sims, Houston should have one of the American Athletic Conference’s top offenses in 2013. The Cougars averaged 32.4 points a game last year despite inconsistent quarterback play, and coach Tony Levine’s decision to hire Doug Meacham as co-offensive coordinator should pay dividends. Greenberry was a huge catch on the recruiting trail for Levine, and he didn’t disappoint as a true freshman, grabbing 47 receptions for 569 yards and three scores. The sophomore should approach 60-70 catches in 2013 and is an Athlon Sports second-team American Athletic Conference selection for this season.

28. Byron Marshall, RB, Oregon
Replacing Kenjon Barner is likely to be a three-man task in Oregon’s backfield. Junior De’Anthony Thomas is a dynamic all-around threat but won’t handle 25-30 carries a week. True freshman Thomas Tyner will see plenty of time, but the Ducks’ workhorse could be Marshall. As a true freshman last season, he recorded 447 yards and four touchdowns. Marshall had one 100-yard effort in 2012, gashing Tennessee Tech for 125 yards on 13 attempts. Expect the California native to factor prominently into Oregon’s ground attack this year.

29. Deon Bush, S, Miami
Finding answers on defense is the top priority for Miami coach Al Golden this offseason. The Hurricanes ranked last in the ACC in rushing, pass and total defense, and coordinator Mark D’Onofrio will have seven new full-time starters stepping into the lineup. Bush was one of the few bright spots for Miami last year, as he recorded 34 stops, three forced fumbles and one tackle for a loss. Even though he’s only a sophomore, Bush should be a leader in Miami’s secondary in 2013 and is expected to push for All-ACC honors.

30. Taysom Hill, QB, BYU
With Riley Nelson battling a back injury last year, BYU was forced to hand the reins of the offense to Hill in his first season with the Cougars. The Idaho native responded by throwing for 235 yards and one touchdown and recording 80 yards on the ground in a 6-3 win over Utah State. Hill also recorded 255 yards and two touchdowns against Hawaii. A knee injury ended Hill’s season prematurely but is not expected to hinder his sophomore campaign. Robert Anae has returned to Provo to coordinate the offense, and BYU is hoping to speed up the tempo this year. Although Hill is still growing as a passer, his dual-threat ability should allow him to make plenty of plays in 2013.

31. Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan
With Devin Gardner set to assume the full-time quarterback job, the Wolverines will use more of a pro-style offense in 2013. Gardner proved he is ready to emerge as one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks after a strong finish to the year, and now Michigan needs to find a few dependable receivers this fall to complement Jeremy Gallon. Funchess could emerge as the team’s No. 2 target after catching 15 passes for 234 yards and five scores as a true freshman last year. The 6-foot-5 target should be a valuable weapon over the middle and in the red zone for Gardner and could easily double his 2012 numbers.

32. Akeem Hunt, RB, Purdue
New Purdue coach Darrell Hazell developed Kent State’s offense into one of the nation's most productive rushing attacks last year, finishing 18th at 225.8 yards per game. With an unsettled quarterback situation, the Boilermakers need a big season from their ground game, which is likely to be headlined by Hunt. The 5-foot-9 back resembles Kent State standout Dri Archer, and Purdue hopes he has a similar impact in 2013. Hunt rushed for 335 yards, caught 13 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns and averaged 22.2 yards on 39 kickoff returns last year. Expect Hunt to play a similar all-around role in 2013, but he also will see a significant increase in carries.

33. Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Even though there's a new starting quarterback in Norman, the Sooners will continue to have one of the Big 12’s top offenses in 2013. And both passers have plenty of weapons at their disposal, including Jalen Saunders, Trey Metoyer and rising star Sterling Shepard. Saunders, Justin Brown and Kenny Stills overshadowed Shepard’s play last year. However, as a true freshman, he caught 45 passes for 621 yards and three scores. Shepard did not have a touchdown reception over the final five games, but he caught at least three passes in each of the last six contests. Saunders is clearly Oklahoma’s No. 1 target. However, expect Shepard to be an even bigger factor in the Sooners’ attack this year.

34. Eli Harold, DE, Virginia
It’s an overused cliché, but Virginia’s defense should be more aggressive in 2013. Jon Tenuta joins the Cavaliers’ staff from NC State, and the veteran coordinator has promised to turn up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year. Harold should benefit from the change in schemes and is expected to be the unit’s top pass-rusher. In 12 games last year as a true freshman, Harold recorded 36 stops, two sacks and one forced fumble. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, the Virginia native has the athleticism to be a standout pass-rusher and could easily triple his sack total from last season under Tenuta’s direction.

35. Jeff Luc, LB, Cincinnati
With Greg Blair and Nick Temple returning, Cincinnati’s linebacking corps was already set to be the best in the American Athletic Conference this year. And this group could be among the top groups in the nation, provided Luc lives up to the hype in 2013. Luc played in 19 games with Florida State, recording 23 tackles and three tackles for a loss. The Florida native was regarded as a top-100 recruit coming out of high school.


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College Football's Top 35 Breakout Players for 2013
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-2013-win-total-projections

The 2013 college football season is officially here. With kickoff on Thursday night, it’s time to make those final preseason predictions and projections. 

Even if you don't place any wagers on sports, the lines/projections from the good folks in Vegas are always something to check out before each season and before each week of games. Not only is it interesting content, but Vegas has a good pulse on the teams and is often one of the most accurate sources of predictions.
To get ready for the upcoming college football season, Athlon took a look at how its predictions matched up against a couple of sports books.

Athlon and the sports books in Vegas largely agreed the win totals for teams, as there weren't many large variations in projections. However, below are a few props we like heading into 2013, as well as a few that should be avoided. 

College Football's Win Total Projections for 2013

Team5 DimesCantorLVHBovadaThe GreekSportsbookAthlon
Air Force6.5  6.5  6
Akron2.5     2
Arizona7.5  7.57.587
Arizona State9.5887.58 8
Arkansas5.5  5.5  5
Arkansas State7.5     6
Army4.5  4.5  3
Auburn6.5  6.57 6
Ball State9.5     9
Baylor7.5  88 8
Boise State10.59.59.510109.511
Boston College4.5  4.5  4
Bowling Green8.5     8
Buffalo5.5     5
BYU8.5 7.58 7.57
California4.5  4  4
Central Michigan4.5     3
Cincinnati9.5  9.5  9
Colorado3.5  3.5  3
Colorado State5.5     5
Connecticut5.5  5.5  5
Duke5.5  5.5  5
East Carolina7.5     7
Eastern Michigan2.5     1
FAU3.5  2.5  3
FIU2.5  3  2
Florida State10.5101010.5101010
Fresno State10.510 10  10
Georgia State2.5     1
Georgia Tech8.5  88.5 8
Hawaii3.5  3.5  1
Houston5.5  5.5  5
Idaho1.5  1.5  1
Illinois3.5  3.5  4
Indiana5.5  5.5  6
Iowa5.5  5.56 4
Iowa State5.5  5.5  5
Kansas3.5  3.5  3
Kansas State8.5 787.57.58
Kent State5.5     6
Kentucky3.5  4.5  4
Louisiana Tech5.5     7
Marshall9.5     8
Maryland6.5  6.5 77
Memphis4.5  4.5  4
Miami (Ohio)4.5     4
Michigan State8.58.58.5 8.58.57
Minnesota5.5  5.5  6
Mississippi State5.5  66 6
Missouri5.5  66 5
MTSU5.5     7
Navy6.5  6.5  7
NC State6.5  77 7
Nevada6.56.565.5 66
New Mexico4.5     4
New Mexico State2.5     2
North Carolina9.5  99 8
North Texas5.5     3
Northern Illinois9.5  9.5  9
Northwestern8.5 7.58.5 7.59
Notre Dame9.598.
Ohio9.5     9
Ohio State11.510.510.511111112
Oklahoma State10.
Ole Miss8.5 7.5887.57
Oregon State8.5 88.5888
Penn State8.5  88 8
Pittsburgh5.5  5.56 6
Purdue5.5  5.5  4
Rice7.5     8
Rutgers6.5  77 7
San Diego State7.5  7.5  7
San Jose State7.5     7
SMU5.5  5.5  4
South Alabama2.5     3
South Carolina9.
South Florida5.5  5.5  7
Southern Miss5.5     5
Syracuse4.5  4.5  4
Temple4.5  4.5  4
Tennessee5.5  66 6
Texas A&M9.  10
Texas State5.5     4
Texas Tech7.5  7.5  7
Toledo8.5     8
Troy5.5     6
Tulane5.5     4
Tulsa8.5     9
UAB5.5     5
UCF8.5  8  7
UL Lafayette8.5     9
ULM7.5     7
UMass1.5  1.5  1
UNLV4.533.5  3.53
USC10. 9
Utah5.5 5.55.5 5.55
Utah State7.5  5.5  7
UTEP4.5     5
UTSA2.5     1
Vanderbilt7.5  7.57 8
Virginia4.5  4.5  4
Virginia Tech9.58.5 8.58.5 8
Wake Forest5.5  5.5  6
Washington State4.5  4.5  4
West Virginia5.5  66 6
Western Kentucky6.5     7
Western Michigan5.5     6
Wyoming5.5     7

Over Totals We Like

With a win total of 11 or 11.5, you have to bank on the Crimson Tide not losing a game. Considering there’s no Georgia, Florida or South Carolina on the schedule, LSU visits Tuscaloosa and Virginia Tech doesn’t look like much of a threat in the opener, Alabama’s chances of going unbeaten in the regular season seem pretty likely. Of course, there’s a huge contest against Texas A&M on Sept. 14, but it’s pretty safe to assume we will see a motivated Crimson Tide squad out for revenge in that game.

Boise State
In a bit of a surprise, most of the win projections have the Broncos at 10 or 9.5 victories. In a “rebuilding year” last year, Boise State went 11-2 and both losses were by four points or less. The Broncos have some key personnel departures, but quarterback Joe Southwick is back and the front seven should be one of the best in the Mountain West. Games at Washington, Fresno State, Utah State and San Diego State won’t be easy, but Boise State should be hitting double-digit victories once again.

This is one projection that’s right on the line. The Tigers are projected by most to hit 9.5-10 wins, while Athlon has Clemson finishing with 11 in the regular season. Although the Tigers have a reputation of underachieving, this team has finished 21-6 over the last two years. The schedule is favorable in conference play, with the toughest games (Georgia Tech, Florida State) in Death Valley. Assuming Clemson sweeps ACC play, its win total essentially comes down to two games against SEC opponents – Georgia and at South Carolina. With the Bulldogs rebuilding their defense, Clemson has a good chance to knock off another opponent against the SEC.

Athlon has the Hoosiers at six victories, while two other projections have the over/under for Kevin Wilson’s team set at 5.5 We like the over for Indiana. The Hoosiers have a challenging non-conference slate, but while matchups against Navy, Bowling Green and Missouri aren’t guaranteed victories, Indiana should get at least two wins out of that trio. In conference play, the Hoosiers will be favored to beat Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue. If Wilson’s team gets through non-conference play with three victories, Indiana should hit six or seven wins in 2013.

Kansas State
It’s easy to find reasons not to pick the Wildcats to finish among the top four or five teams in the Big 12 this year. Quarterback Collin Klein must be replaced, and the defense only has two returning starters. However, bet against coach Bill Snyder at your own risk. Kansas State always finds a way to reload under Snyder, and the new quarterbacks (Jake Waters and Daniel Sams) will keep the offense performing at a high level. The schedule also sets up in the Wildcats’ favor, especially with swing games against Iowa State, TCU and Oklahoma coming later in the year, giving Snyder plenty of time to get the new faces acclimated to life in the Big 12.

With a loaded roster and favorable schedule, there’s a good chance the Cardinals finish with 11 or 12 wins this year. A couple of projections have Louisville at 10.5 on the over/under, but where are the two losses coming from? Maybe the Cardinals won’t go unbeaten. However, it’s hard to find two guaranteed defeats on this schedule.

The Wolverines finished 8-5 with a difficult schedule last season, but three losses came by a touchdown or less. Although quarterback Denard Robinson is gone, Michigan should be able to increase its win total in 2013. Quarterback Devin Gardner is a better fit for coach Brady Hoke’s pro-style offense, and the defense has more depth due to some good recruiting in recent years. The schedule features games against Notre Dame, Penn State and a difficult November stretch against the Legends Division frontrunners – Nebraska, Michigan State and Northwestern. We like Michigan to win at least nine games this year, so the 8.5 over/under seems a little low.

Coming off a 10-3 season, Northwestern has its sights set on contending for a Big Ten title. And with quarterback Kain Colter, running back Venric Mark and seven starters coming back on defense, the Wildcats are poised to push for 10 wins once again. Northwestern does have a challenging schedule, which features Ohio State and Wisconsin in crossover play with the Leaders Division. However, the non-conference slate should result in four wins, and the Wildcats host Michigan and Michigan State. Even if Northwestern loses to Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Nebraska, taking the over in 8.5 seems favorable.

South Florida
The Bulls were one of the Big East’s biggest disappointments last year, finishing 3-9 with only one victory in conference play. South Florida should be improved in 2013, largely due to the hire of new coach Willie Taggart. The Bulls need to find a new quarterback and a go-to running back, but the defense is strong enough to carry this team to a bowl. Non-conference games against Michigan State and Miami are likely losses, and beating Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers and UCF will be difficult. However, the rest of the schedule is manageable, and South Florida could pull off an upset if Matt Floyd stabilizes the quarterback position. Taggart is one of the offseason’s top hires, and he should make a big impact with the Bulls in 2013.

The Bruins have represented the Pac-12 South Division in the last two conference championship games, but Jim Mora’s team may have trouble making it three in a row. The schedule is challenging, which features crossover games against North Division foes Oregon, Stanford and Washington, along with a non-conference matchup against Nebraska. Even if UCLA loses against Oregon, Stanford and Nebraska and at USC in the regular season finale, the over at 6.5 or 7 is one we like.

Take the Under

Coming off a 4-8 season, it’s hard to see the Hawkeyes making a significant jump in wins for 2013. Quarterback James Vandenberg must be replaced, and Iowa needs to find a few more playmakers at receiver. Non-conference games against Northern Illinois and Iowa State aren’t guaranteed wins, and the Hawkeyes have to play Ohio State and Wisconsin in crossover play. Six wins on the over/under is too high.

North Carolina
Nine wins isn’t out of the question, but the Coastal Division is tough to sort out with Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and the Tar Heels all having legitimate conference title hopes. The Tar Heels open at South Carolina and have tricky road dates at NC State and Pittsburgh. This is one projection that’s just too close to call.

Ole Miss
With road games against Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, along with home dates versus Texas A&M and LSU, it’s easy to see why Ole Miss may have trouble matching last year’s win total. Even though the Rebels have a top-notch recruiting class coming, just getting to eight wins would be a good season.

The Trojans have one of the most talented rosters in the Pac-12, but Lane Kiffin’s team is coming off a disappointing 7-6 season. With a new quarterback and defensive scheme, can this team make a three or four game improvement in the win column? Although Athlon has USC at nine victories, taking the over at 10.5 or 9.5 is risky.

Virginia Tech
The Hokies were one of the ACC’s biggest disappointments last year. Three of Virginia Tech’s victories came in overtime and they needed a 17-14 win over Virginia just to get bowl eligible. Although the defense might be the best in the ACC, the offense will struggle once again. The line struggled in the preseason, and the rushing attack is still searching for a No. 1 back. Anything above eight victories is too much.


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College Football 2013 Win Total Projections: Athlon vs. Vegas
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 07:14
Path: /college-football/patience-virtue-10-teams-need-lower-expectations-2013

College football is back, folks. Fans should be giddy with excitement from Coral Gables to Lake Washington.

Teams in Columbus, Eugene, Palo Alto, Austin, Louisville and basically every college town in the SEC are preparing for a run at the final BCS National Championship. Others in Madison, Berkeley and Lubbock are delirious with anticipation of exciting new head coaches.

“Hope springs eternal,” “everyone is undefeated,” and “anything can happen on any given Saturday” can be heard all over the place. And rightly so. There is no more anticipated time of the year than when the calendar flips from August to September.

That doesn’t mean that certain teams don’t need to take a deep breath and rethink reality. Everyone has a right to be excited about their team but only one can claim the national championship, only 10 will win a conference championship and only 12 will land in a BCS bowl.

That leaves a lot of disappointed fan bases come December. And since self-awareness is one of the most underrated aspects of being a sports fan, I thought I’d let a few teams down easy on the front end.

Here are 10 teams that are highly combustible and should lower expectations. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean the teams below will have “bad” seasons. It means, relative to expectations, fans might want to be prepared for some degree of disappointment.

Jim Mora has one season of college coaching under his belt and a great quarterback in Brett Hundley. But he also has no offensive skill players returning, an extremely young offensive line and a completely rebuilt secondary. This team is talented but has to play four games on the road against preseason ranked AP teams — Nebraska, Stanford, Oregon and USC. UCLA also has to play Washington and Arizona State at home. The media picked the Bruins to win the Pac-12 South Division for the third straight season but this team will be lucky to win eight games this fall.

Here is the deal with the Cardinals. They have elite, long-term leadership at key positions, namely athletic director Tom Jurich and head coach Charlie Strong, and will move into a much better league next year. Teddy Bridgewater is an elite quarterback, the defense returns largely intact and the schedule is extremely manageable. But there is a good chance that even with a perfect 12-0 season, that the Cardinals will be left out of the BCS title game. With a razor-thin margin of error, fans in Louisville should be prepared for a potential snub at year’s end.

The Tigers are the clear-cut front-runner to win the ACC championship this fall. But this team has won a league title just once in the last 21 seasons despite consistently having one of the most talented rosters in the league. Clemson faces No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 South Carolina and No. 11 Florida State as well as typically tricky (for Clemson, at least) road games with NC State and Maryland. This team is stacked on offense and talented as usual everywhere else. But questions still loom large for a defense that ranked 63rd and 71st nationally in total defense the last two seasons. Would anyone really be that shocked if Clemson finished the year with at least three losses?

James Franklin has elevated the expectation levels at Vanderbilt in just two seasons. He has posted the two best seasons in school history and appears to have assembled the most talented roster in school history. But this program is still struggling to sell tickets and has had to deal with a community-shaking rape investigation that could cost the team as many as five scholarship players. Top it off with four games against top-10 preseason AP teams as well as games with Ole Miss, Tennessee and Missouri. An unprecedented third bowl game is certainly possible but another nine-win season is highly unlikely. Credit the coaching staff for growing expectations but the 2013 team could quickly become a victim of its own success.

The Frogs are probably the best-coached team in the Big 12, have easily the best defense and might boast the best quarterback. That said, the Frogs hadn’t lost a conference game since November 2008 (24-0) before it dropped five of nine Big 12 tests last year. Gary Patterson’s bunch will face four teams ranked in the preseason top 16 and have a daunting road slate: at Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Kansas State. And that doesn’t include the Frogs' sneaky good arch rival from Waco. There is a lot to like about this team but it's hard to see TCU winning the Big 12.

Texas A&M
This team is going to be really, really good if Kevin Sumlin can continue to recruit over the next half decade like he has in his first 18 months on the job. One great player can pull a historic upset on any given Saturday as the nation saw last year, but it takes an entire team stacked with elite players to win an SEC title. The schedule isn’t all that daunting but the defense has major holes and key road games with LSU and Ole Miss will be challenging. Johnny Manziel can handle the pressure of his off-the-field behavior and it won’t impact his play, but the same cannot be said for the other 84 guys on scholarship. The word championship shouldn’t be in the mix for a team that needs more time to develop into an SEC power.

Les Miles has consistently fielded a roster that can compete for the BCS National Championship and a fan base that expects excellence. But with one of the toughest schedules in the nation and mediocre quarterback play, this team clearly won’t be one of his best. There is tons of young talent on defense that should develop into one of the nation’s best units… in 2014. And while the O-line is outstanding and the wideouts are explosive, Zach Mettenberger threw an atrocious five touchdown passes in eight SEC games last year. There is no way the Tigers can beat Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia and Florida with that type of offensive production. This team might finish second in the West but won’t be near the BCS conversations like in years past.

This is the most talented roster in the Big 12. It has a veteran quarterback who is entering his third season as the starter. It has a head coach who has led his team to two BCS National Championship Games, including one win for the ages. But this team is soft and the 11-15 Big 12 record over the last three years proves it. Rivalry games are a great indicator of effort, coaching and commitment and the Longhorns have quit by the end of the first quarter in each of the last two losses to Oklahoma. The Sooners have embarrassed the Horns 118-38 the last two years.

The starting 22 for USC is as talented as any in the nation, including the two-time defending BCS champs. But from 23-85, the Trojans have major issues. Depth will always be a concern for a team with reduced scholarships, but few saw the six-loss debacle of last year coming. This team is once again ranked in the preseason and Lane Kiffin is beginning to feel the heat beneath his rear end. A quarterback battle that could rage through the first half of the season only adds to the uncertainty. Missing Oregon helps and this team should be improved but 10 wins feels out of the question, despite playing 13 regular season games this fall.

Ole Miss
At Vanderbilt, Texas, Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State. Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas and Missouri at home. That is what Hugh Freeze and his extremely young Rebels face in 2013. Even a veteran SEC team would struggle with that slate. If fans in The Grove are expecting to challenge the big boys in the West, they got another thing coming. If Freeze can repeat his recruiting performance from last cycle a few more times, however, that narrative will change in a hurry.

Related: College Football's Best New Rivalries

Other teams that need to pump the brakes this fall:

The roster is seriously depleted and the Hogs will finish right where they are predicted: Last in the SEC West.

The Knights are taking a major step up in competition and some are predicting big things in 2013. That’s a mistake.

Mark Stoops has things pointed in the right direction, but hold your horses Big Blue Nation. This one will take time.

The State of Oklahoma
How many starting quarterbacks are there exactly in this state? Questions on defense also should be concerning for Sooner and Cowboy fans.

The Mountain West
Fresno State and Boise State are awesome but an unbeaten champ will get snubbed. Mark it down.

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10 College Football Teams That Need To Lower Expectations in 2013
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 07:14
All taxonomy terms: High School
Path: /high-school/2013-wisconsin-high-school-football-top-10-and-preview

Wisconsin Preseason Top 10

1. Arrowhead Warhawks (Hartland)
The defending Division 1 state champs won the title with a junior-heavy roster last season. Tackle George Panos (Wisconsin), defensive tackle Billy Hirschfeld (Wisconsin) and linebacker Sam Seonbuchner (Iowa State) have already committed to FBS programs, and more will follow.

2. Sun Prairie Cardinals
The reigning Big Eight Conference champs have defensive tackle Craig Evans anchoring the defense and Ryan Curran, a three-year starter at quarterback, running the offense.

3. Kimberly Papermakers
Fourteen starters return to a team that reached the Division 1 state quarterfinals last year. One of those players, All-State receiver Scott Schreiber, will get a look at quarterback.

4. Homestead Highlanders (Mequon)
The offensive line will be tough, and the return of tackle Brandon Hines and linebacker Bryce Juedes gives the defense potential.

5. Appleton North Lightning
Few programs can match North’s 41 victories and four conference titles over the past four seasons.

6. Waunakee Warriors
There are just two returning starters on either side of the ball, but until proven otherwise, the Warriors are among the state’s elite.

7. Oak Creek Knights
Among the Southeast Conference champs’ 12 returning starters are the quarterback, a running back and three offensive linemen.

8. Mukwonago Indians
The offensive line is well stocked, and quarterback Aaron Nixon is back for his second year as a starter.

9. Hamilton Chargers (Sussex)
The return of running back Drew Patterson and the program’s overall depth could make this a special season.

10. Badger Badgers (Lake Geneva)
The Badgers have a lot of pieces back from a team that nearly beat Sun Prairie in the state semifinals last year.

Three Can't Miss Matchups

8.30 – Arrowhead at Homestead
Two of the biggest winners in southeast Wisconsin face each other in a non-conference showdown.

9.6 – Waunakee at Mount Horeb/Barneveld
Can Waunakee reload again? This game will give us an idea of where the Warriors stand.

9.27 – Appleton North at Kimberly
North’s string of four straight conference titles could hinge on how it fares against the Papermakers.

2013 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Drew Patterson, RB, Hamilton (Sussex)
Senior, 6-0, 205

Patterson’s seek-and-destroy running style makes him fun to watch, but his sprinter’s speed makes him a game-breaker. He’s pretty productive, too. He ran for 1,969 yards on 222 carries and scored 26 touchdowns in 2012. Patterson has offers from Army and Air Force.

2013 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Craig Evans, DT, Sun Prairie
Senior, 6-3, 315

Good luck getting some movement up the middle against this 6'3", 315-pound defensive tackle. He finished with 84 tackles, including 18 for a loss, and even scored six touchdowns in his role as part-time fullback. The 4-star prospect committed to Wisconsin in March.

Order your Athlon Sports High School Football Annual today!

Wisconsin's best high school football teams, preseason players of the year and games to watch.
Post date: Friday, August 23, 2013 - 19:25
All taxonomy terms: High School
Path: /high-school/2013-washington-high-school-football-top-10-and-preview

Washington Preseason Top 10

1. Bellevue Wolverines
A year after a program-defining win over Euless (Texas) Trinity and an undefeated run to a fifth straight 3A state title and 10th since 2001, the Wolverines will again have one of the top teams in the West. Two-way speedster Budda Baker and a loaded offensive line lead the way.

2. Camas Papermakers
After a run to the 4A semifinals last year, the Papermakers will attempt to take the next step behind an offense that features productive quarterback Reilly Hennessey.

3. Bellarmine Prep Lions (Tacoma)
Last year’s run to the 4A state final was powered by a junior (now senior) class that includes running back Lou Millie and wide receivers Garrett McKay and Drew Griffin.

4. Skyline Spartans (Sammamish)
The two-time defending 4A champions were hit hard by graduation. Transfer quarterback Kilton Anderson replaces prep All-American and current USC freshman Max Browne.

5. Eastside Catholic Crusaders (Sammamish)
Deion Fetui is a terrific defensive tackle to build around, while leading rusher Henry Jarvis returns to a team looking to knock Bellevue from its 3A perch.

6. Mount Si Wildcats (Snoqualmie)
Quarterback Nick Mitchell is the top returner for a team that suffered its only two losses to eventual champion Bellevue.

7. Bothell Cougars
The Cougars figure to be improved this fall behind an offense that should light up the scoreboard with quarterback Ross Bowers.

8. Federal Way Eagles
Putting up points will not be a problem with quarterback Keenan Curran and explosive junior running back Chico McClatcher.

9. Newport Knights (Bellevue)
Running back Connor Baumann and tight end Drew Sample are two of the best in the state at their respective positions.

10. Ferris Saxons (Spokane)
There is experience all over the roster. The defensive line will be especially strong behind Adam Martin and junior Keegan Bray.

Three Can't Miss Matchups

9.6 – Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) at Camas
One of Oregon’s best programs will be a good early litmus test for the Papermakers.

9.7 – Bellevue vs. Skyline at the University of Washington
This highly anticipated showdown may be a year late but will be a must-see nonetheless.

9.20 – Ferris at Gonzaga Prep
This will be an early separation game between two of the top Greater Spokane League squads.

2013 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Isaiah Brandt-Sims, RB, Wenatchee
Senior, 5-11, 180

After rushing for approximately 1,400 yards and accounting for 25 touchdowns as a junior, this speedy back, who happens to be one of the top track sprinters in the state, has verbally committed to Stanford after being pursued by BCS-level and Ivy League schools.

2013 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Budda Baker, DB, Bellevue
Senior, 5-11, 180

Another speed merchant out of Bellevue, this playmaker on offense, defense and special teams has college suitors projecting him as a safety at the next level. So far, the list of offers includes Notre Dame, USC, Boise State and Oregon.

Order your Athlon Sports High School Football Annual today!

Washington's best high school football teams, preseason players of the year and games to watch.
Post date: Friday, August 23, 2013 - 19:15