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All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football mock draft, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2013-fantasy-football-idp-mock-draft-rosters
Body:

Rosters for a 12-team, 20-round serpentine-style mock draft based on Athlon Sports standard scoring:

OFFENSE
10 yards rushing = 1 pt
10 yards receiving = 1 pt
25 yards passing = 1 pt
6 pts for all TDs
0.5 pts per reception

KICKING
FGs 39 yds and under = 3 pts
FGs 40-49 yds = 4 pts
FGs 50-59 yds = 5 pts
60+ yds = 6 pts
PATs = 1 pt

TEAM DEFENSE
0 pts allowed = 12 pts
1-6 PA = 10 pts
7-13 PA = 8 pts
14-20 PA = 6 pts
21-27 PA = 2 pts
28+ PA = 0 pts
Safeties = 2 pts
Fumbles recovered = 2 pts
Interceptions = 2 pts
Sacks = 1 pt
DEF/ST TDs = 6 pts

IDPs
Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
INT = 3.5 pts
Forced Fumble/Recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Starting lineup: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex (RB/WR), 1 K, 1 DEF/ST, 1 DL, 1 LB, 1 DB, 1 Flex IDP (DL/LB/DB), 6 bench spots

Click here for round-by-round picks and analysis

  1. Eric Mack       2. Matt Schauf       3. Corby Yarbrough    
  Sports Illustrtated       DraftSharks.com       Athlon Sports    
RD Name POS Team   Name POS Team   Name POS Team
1. Adrian Peterson RB MIN   LeSean McCoy RB PHI   Arian Foster RB HOU
2. Aaron Rodgers QB GB   Demaryius Thomas WR DEN   Percy Harvin WR SEA
3. Stevan Ridley RB NE   Darren McFadden RB OAK   DeMarco Murray RB DAL
4. Marques Colston WR NO   Jason Witten TE DAL   Aaron Hernandez TE NE
5. Eric Decker WR DEN   J.J. Watt DL HOU   Lamar Miller RB MIA
6. Jeremy Maclin WR PHI   T.Y. Hilton WR IND   James Jones WR GB
7. Stevie Johnson WR BUF   Tony Romo QB DAL   Tavon Austin WR STL
8. Daryl Richardson RB STL   Isaiah Pead RB STL   Josh Gordon WR CLE
9. Zac Stacy RB STL   Kenny Britt WR TEN   Matthew Stafford QB DET
10. Seattle DST SEA   Sidney Rice WR SEA   Cameron Wake DL MIA
11. NaVorro Bowman LB SF   Pierre Thomas RB NO   Ryan Williams RB ARI
12. Alshon Jeffery WR CHI   Vincent Brown WR SD   DeAndre Hopkins WR HOU
13. Charles Tillman DB CHI   D'Qwell Jackson LB CLE   Morgan Burnett DB GB
14. Brandon Pettigrew TE DET   Daryl Washington LB ARI   Jay Cutler QB CHI
15. A.J. Jenkins WR SF   Philip Rivers QB SD   Chicago DST CHI
16. Greg Hardy DL CAR   Wesley Woodyard LB DEN   Joseph Randle RB DAL
17. Shonn Greene RB TEN   Brian Hartline WR MIA   C. Patterson WR MIN
18. Toby Gerhart RB MIN   Johnathan Cyprien DB JAC   Donald Butler LB SD
19. S. Gostkowski K NE   Atlanta DST ATL   Matt Bryant K ATL
20. Elvis Dumervil DL BAL   Adam Vinatieri K IND   Brian Cushing LB HOU
                       
  4. Mike Clay       5. Mark Ross       6. Steven Lassan    
  Pro Football Focus       Athlon Sports       Athlon Sports    
RD Name POS Team   Name POS Team   Name POS Team
1. Doug Martin RB TB   Jamaal Charles RB KC   Marshawn Lynch RB SEA
2. Rob Gronkowski TE NE   Brandon Marshall WR CHI   Dez Bryant WR DAL
3. Frank Gore RB SF   Randall Cobb WR GB   Andre Johnson WR HOU
4. Hakeem Nicks WR NYG   Darren Sproles RB NO   Wes Welker WR DEN
5. Reggie Wayne WR IND   Tom Brady QB NE   Le'Veon Bell RB PIT
6. Chris Ivory RB NYJ   Antonio Brown WR PIT   Steve Smith WR CAR
7. Greg Jennings WR MIN   Giovani Bernard RB CIN   Jason Pierre-Paul DL NYG
8. Robert Griffin III QB WAS   Mark Ingram RB NO   Jonathan Stewart RB CAR
9. Ben Tate RB HOU   Mikel Leshoure RB DET   Russell Wilson QB SEA
10. Kendall Wright WR TEN   Justin Blackmon WR JAC   Jacquizz Rodgers RB ATL
11. James Laurinaitis LB STL   Von Miller LB DEN   Lavonte David LB TB
12. Sean Lee LB DAL   Eli Manning QB NYG   Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT
13. Kendall Hunter RB SF   Jerod Mayo LB NE   Desmond Bishop LB GB
14. Julius Peppers DL CHI   Geno Atkins DL CIN   Owen Daniels TE HOU
15. Ryan Tannehill QB MIA   Houston DST HOU   Cincinnati DST CIN
16. Rueben Randle WR NYG   Jermichael Finley TE GB   Eric Weddle DB SD
17. Tyvon Branch DB OAK   Dwayne Allen TE IND   Jonathan Dwyer RB PIT
18. Mike Gillislee RB MIA   Cortland Finnegan DB STL   Rod Streater WR OAK
19. Tampa Bay DST TB   Blair Walsh K MIN   Stepfan Taylor RB ARI
20. Kai Forbath K WAS   Malcom Floyd WR SD   S. Janikowski K OAK
                       
  7. Brandon Funston       8. Nathan Rush       9. John Hansen    
  Yahoo! Sports       Athlon Sports       FantasyGuru.com    
RD Name POS Team   Name POS Team   Name POS Team
1. Ray Rice RB BAL   Calvin Johnson WR DET   Trent Richardson RB CLE
2. Maurice Jones-Drew RB JAC   Chris Johnson RB TEN   Jimmy Graham TE NO
3. Victor Cruz WR NYG   Roddy White WR ATL   Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI
4. Cam Newton QB CAR   Colin Kaepernick QB SF   Reggie Bush RB DET
5. Ryan Mathews RB SD   Mike Wallace WR MIA   Dwyane Bowe WR KC
6. Danny Amendola WR NE   DeSean Jackson WR PHI   Peyton Manning QB DEN
7. Cecil Shorts WR JAC   B. Green-Ellis RB CIN   Tony Gonzalez TE ATL
8. Miles Austin WR DAL   Antonio Gates TE SD   Rashard Mendenhall RB ARI
9. Dennis Pitta TE BAL   Bernard Pierce RB BAL   Mike Williams WR TB
10. Bobby Wagner LB SEA   Patrick Willis LB SF   Fred Jackson RB BUF
11. Paul Posluszny LB JAC   DeMarcus Ware DL DAL   Chad Greenway LB MIN
12. Denver DST DEN   Danny Woodhead RB SD   Derrick Johnson LB KC
13. Aaron Dobson WR NE   Michael Vick QB PHI   Chris Givens WR STL
14. Calais Campbell DL ARI   Anquan Boldin WR SF   Harrison Smith DB MIN
15. Ronnie Hillman RB DEN   Martellus Bennett TE CHI   Sam Bradford QB STL
16. Eric Berry DB KC   New England DST NE   LaMichael James RB SF
17. Fred Davis TE WAS   Patrick Peterson DB ARI   Green Bay DST GB
18. Golden Tate WR SEA   Pittsburgh DST PIT   Justin Smith DL SF
19. Matt Schaub QB HOU   Justin Tucker K BAL   Phil Dawson K SF
20. Dan Bailey K DAL   Manti Te'o LB SD   Michael Bush RB CHI
                       
  10. Braden Gall       11. Jamey Eisenberg       12. Mitch Light    
  Athlon Sports       CBSSports.com       Athlon Sports    
RD Name POS Team   Name POS Team   Name POS Team
1. C.J. Spiller RB BUF   Alfred Morris RB WAS   Matt Forte RB CHI
2. Julio Jones WR ATL   Steven Jackson RB ATL   A.J. Green WR CIN
3. Jordy Nelson WR GB   Drew Brees QB NO   David Wilson RB NYG
4. Montee Ball RB DEN   Vincent Jackson WR TB   Matt Ryan QB ATL
5. Eddie Lacy RB GB   Vick Ballard RB IND   Torrey Smith WR BAL
6. Andrew Luck QB IND   Pierre Garcon WR WAS   Andre Brown RB NYG
7. Vernon Davis TE SF   Danario Alexander WR SD   Lance Moore WR NO
8. Michael Floyd WR ARI   Shane Vereen RB NE   Kyle Rudolph TE MIN
9. Johnathan Franklin RB GB   Denarius Moore WR OAK   Luke Kuechly LB CAR
10. San Francisco DST SF   Bryce Brown RB PHI   DeAngelo Williams RB CAR
11. Jared Allen DL MIN   Charles Johnson DL CAR   Mario Williams DL BUF
12. Ahmad Bradshaw RB FA   Emmanuel Sanders WR PIT   Aldon Smith LB SF
13. Keenan Allen WR SD   Greg Olsen TE CAR   Andy Dalton QB CIN
14. Joe Flacco QB BAL   Ryan Broyles WR DET   Santonio Holmes WR NYJ
15. Mark Barron DB TB   Lawrence Timmons LB PIT   St. Louis DST STL
16. Sean Weatherspoon LB ATL   Jared Cook TE STL   Tyler Eifert TE CIN
17. Mohamed Sanu WR CIN   Kam Chancellor DB SEA   LaRon Landry DB IND
18. Robert Woods WR BUF   Baltimore DST BAL   Richard Sherman DB SEA
19. Arthur Brown LB BAL   Matt Prater K DEN   Brandon LaFell WR CAR
20. Alex Henery K PHI   London Fletcher LB WAS   Greg Zuerlein K STL

Click here to order your copy of the Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Magazine today.

Additional Fantasy Football Content:

Fantasy Football 2013 NFL Bye Week Cheat Sheet
Top 15 Fantasy Football Rookies in 2013

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Fantasy Football IDP Mock Draft Rosters</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-football-stadiums
Body:

Fall Saturdays are special.

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

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

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

1. Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Opened: 1942
Capacity: 81,500
2012 Attendance: 81,427 (15th nationally)

There are only two atmospheres in the ACC that compare to the SEC's on Saturdays and Clemson Memorial Stadium is the best. Dubbed “Death Valley” by the late Presbyterian coach Lonnie McMillan after watching his teams get thumped by the Tigers for years, CMS has been home to historic moments and raucous crowds for more than 70 years. The fifth oldest venue in the ACC, this college football cathedral witnessed the first meeting between father and son head coaches (Bowden Bowl I) and is filled with timeless traditions. One of the most well known, of course, is the rubbing of “Howard’s Rock.” A notable Clemson alumnus brought the rock from Death Valley, Calif., and it has been affixed atop a pedestal in the East end zone for nearly 50 years. One legend has it that Memorial Stadium set the record for the loudest college football stadium at 133 decibels in 2007. Current Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney certainly likes the comforts of home. He is 25-4 at Memorial Stadium during his four years as Clemson's head coach.

2. Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech
Opened: 1965
Capacity: 65,632
2012 Attendance: 65,632 (25th)

The only building in the ACC that can give Death Valley a run for its money is in Blacksburg, Va. Named after former Tech graduate and Board of Visitors member Edward H. Lane, the beautiful venue is the largest stadium in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Frank Beamer and his Hokies are 51-8 at home during his career and haven’t lost more than one game at home during any season since joining the ACC in 2004. Before moving to the ACC, Tech went 32-9 in Lane Stadium while a member of the Big East. The Highty Tighties, Marching Virginians and “Enter Sandman” get the crowd riled up before every home game as players rush out from the tunnel slapping a slab of Hokie Stone en route to the field. Aside from the boisterous crowd (and excellent football team), part of what makes this venue so intimidating is its altitude of 2,057 feet above sea level — making it the highest stadium in the Eastern United States.

3. Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State
Opened: 1950
Capacity: 82,300
2012 Attendance: 75,601 (19th)

Named after former Florida State president Doak S. Campbell, The Doak is known for its vicious football teams and gorgeous student section. Renamed in 2004 as Bobby Bowden Field, a nine-foot statue and three-story stained-glass window of the legendary coach were added to the facilities. The Noles are 260-86-4 all-time in the largest stadium in the ACC and, interestingly enough, the gorgeous brick façade makes DCS the largest continuous brick building in the United States. The cowgirls go crazy when Chief Osceola rides in on his steed and plants his flaming spear into the 50-yard line before each home game.

4. Kenan Memorial Stadium, North Carolina
Opened: 1927
Capacity: 62,980
2012 Attendance: 50,286 (38th)

One of the most picturesque places to watch a football game, Kenan Stadium was named after dairy farmer and 1894 UNC graduate William Kenan. It is the second-oldest football venue in the ACC, and could be, in the very near future, the ACC’s nicest as major renovations are underway. The “Blue Zone” will turn the horseshoe into a complete bowl with premium seating and innovative features while an upgrade of overall stadium facilities across the board will make the fan’s experience one of the best in the conference. The Tar Heels are 12-2 over their last two seasons in Kenan.

5. Carter-Finley Stadium, NC State
Opened: 1966
Capacity: 60,000
2012 Attendance: 54,106 (37th)

Originally named Carter Stadium after Harry and Wilbert Carter, Finley was added in 1978 after another major benefactor Albert Finley. Two unique aspects to CFS that add to its value is that fans are allowed to leave and re-enter the stadium — I wonder what they do in the parking lot? — and that it has the smallest clearance between the stands and the field in the ACC. The crowds are right on top of the field and it makes it difficult on opposing teams, as was evident in last October’s upset of previously unbeaten Florida State. Over the last three seasons, the Wolfpack have lost 15 games but only three have come at home (16-3).

6. Bobby Dodd Stadium, Georgia Tech
Opened: 1913
Capacity: 55,000
2012 Attendance: 43,955 (54th)

The ACC’s oldest venue is located right in the heart of downtown Atlanta and was built for just $15,000 a century ago. Originally named Grant Field, Georgia Tech renamed the venue in 1988 as Bobby Dodd Stadium after the legendary Tech head coach. Many changes over time — Astroturf and the demolition of the South Stands and the 2003 expansion, for example — have made this stadium an ever-changing home for the Ramblin’ Wreck. And when the 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe and Buzz the Yellow Jacket come flying across the field, the Bobby Dodd faithful erupt.

7. Scott Stadium, Virginia
Opened: 1931
Capacity: 61,500
2012 Attendance: 46,650 (46th)

Located on one of the most historic and culturally rich campuses in the nation, the Cavaliers' home is named after former university rector Frederic Scott. The signature white columns and grassy hill in the Northwest end zone are flanked by Monticello Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Scott Stadium has been witness to many historic ACC contests — namely, the Warrick Dunn goal-line stand. The Wahoos’ stadium is the seventh biggest and fourth oldest in the ACC.

8. Heinz Field, Pitt
Opened: 2001
Capacity: 65,050
2012 Attendance: 41,494 (58th)

From an amenities standpoint, few college stadiums can match the posh NFL home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Panthers' swanky digs, of course, come with the stigma of being the “other” team that plays at Heinz Field. While the venue has a great view of the Ohio River and features state-of-the-art technology, it isn’t located on campus, features roughly 20,000 empty seats each game and the home locker room doesn’t have Pitt Panthers logos plastered all over it.

9. Carrier Dome, Syracuse
Opened: 1980
Capacity: 49,262
2012 Attendance: 37,953 (61st)

If one can get past the fact that a dome named after a HVAC corporation doesn’t have air conditioning, the Orange’s home has plenty of character to offer. Nicknamed “The Loud House,” the Cuse’s home has a Teflon-coated, fiberglass inflatable roof that is one of the loudest in the nation. However, while it has been home to many historic showdowns and is the nation’s largest basketball arena, the Carrier Dome has seen better days and is failing to reach capacity on a regular basis.

10. Bryd Stadium, Maryland
Opened: 1950
Capacity: 54,000
2012 Attendance: 36,023 (64th)

Dr. H.C. Byrd was a multi-sport athlete and Terrapins alumni who went on to coach the football team and served as university president. It’s only fitting that the Terps' stadium was named after the prolific graduate.

11. Sun Life Stadium, Miami
Opened: 1987
Capacity: 80,120
2012 Attendance: 47,719 (44th)

The building is 25 minutes from campus and the fans don't exactly pack the bleachers to watch the 'Canes. While the building has the amenities of a stadium capable of hosting an NFL franchise and the BCS national title game, it lacks the connectedness most campus locations produce. It's a nice place to play a football game but it's distant, half-filled and devoid of character.

12. Alumni Stadium, Boston College
Opened: 1957
Capacity: 44,500
2012 Attendance: 37,020 (63rd)

The Eagles had been one of college football's most overachieving programs until recently. Not surprisingly, the team's struggles on the field have likewise resulted in a dip in attendance in the stands. Alumni Stadium can be a difficult place to play when it comes to big-time games (see College Gameday in 2009). However, it's tough to draw crowds to Chestnut Hill and when the team struggles, so does the stadium.

13. BB&T Field, Wake Forest
Opened: 1968
Capacity: 31,500
2012 Attendance: 28,912 (78th)

To Wake's fans' credit, there are typically never a ton of empty seats in BB&T and the recent round of upgrades have improved the fan's experience. However, failing to draw more than 30,000 fans per game in a major conference makes this venue inferior to the massive coliseums of the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12. The tailgating is picturesque and offers the quaintness of a homely, small-town college campus. But Wake Forest home games will never be confused with those in Columbus, Norman or Tuscaloosa.

14. Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 33,941
2012 Attendance: 28,170 (79th)

Attendance has gotten better under the David Cutcliffe regime due in large part to winning more games. However, the stadium has seen its fair share of blowouts — and sparse crowds. The Duke faithful will pack Cameron Indoor long before filling Wallace Wade.

2013 ACC Team Previews

Atlantic Coastal
Boston College Duke 
Clemson Georgia Tech
Florida State Miami
Maryland  North Carolina
NC State  Pittsburgh
Syracuse Virginia
Wake Forest  Virginia Tech


Related College Football Content

2013 ACC All-Conference Team
ACC Predictions for 2013

College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

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

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the ACC's Football Stadiums</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 10:45
All taxonomy terms: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/us-open-last-time
Body:

On the eve of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, we've compiled some statistical tidbits:

Last foreign winner: 
Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland, 2011 

Last to defend title successfully: 
Curtis Strange, 1989 

Last to win three consecutive U.S. Opens: 
Willie Anderson, 1903-05 

Last winner to win the U.S. Open on first attempt: 
Francis Ouimet, 1913 

Last winner to win the U.S. Open on second attempt: 
Jerry Pate, T18 in first in 1975, winner in 1976 

Last amateur to win U.S. Open: 
John Goodman, 1933 

Last start-to-finish winner (no ties): 
Rory McIlroy, 2011 

Last winner to win money title in same year: 
Tiger Woods, 2008 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole: 
Tiger Woods, 2008 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to force a playoff: 
Tiger Woods, 2008 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to win by one stroke: 
a-Robert T. Jones Jr., 1926 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to win by two strokes: 
Lee Janzen, 1993 

Last to win without a round in the 60s: 
Geoff Ogilvy, Australia, 2006 

Last to win with all rounds in the 60s: 
Rory McIlroy, 2011 

Last to win with a round in the 80s: 
80, John McDermott, in playoff, 1911 

Last to win with a round of 77: 
Sam Parks Jr., in first round, 1935 

Last to win with a round of 76: 
Angel Cabrera, in third round, 2007 

Last to win with a round of 75: 
Payne Stewart, in playoff, 1991 

Last to win after being in sectional qualifying: 
Lucas Glover, 2009 

Last to win after being in local and sectional qualifying: 
Orville Moody, 1969 

Last winner between age 20-29: 
Webb Simpson, 26, 2012

Last winner between age 30-39: 
Graeme McDowell, 30, 2010 

Last winner over age 40: 
Payne Stewart, 42, 1999 (sixth-oldest in history) 

Last winner who received a special exemption: 
Hale Irwin, 1990 

Last defending champion to miss the cut: 
Rory McIlroy, 2012

Last to win without a sub-par round: 
Geoff Ogilvy, 2006 

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 08:45
Path: /college-football/big-12-football-2013-predictions
Body:
Big 12 2013 Predictions Big 12 Overall
1. Oklahoma State 7-2 10-2
2. Oklahoma 7-2 9-3
3. Texas 6-3 9-3
4. TCU 6-3 8-4
5. Kansas State 5-4 8-4
6. Baylor 5-4 8-4
7. Texas Tech 4-5 7-5
8. West Virginia 3-6 6-6
9. Iowa State 2-7 5-7
10. Kansas 0-9 3-9
       

The Big 12 is the toughest BCS conference to predict for 2013.

With the departure of most of the league’s top quarterbacks from 2012, there’s no clear favorite for first-team All-Big 12 honors, which also leads to uncertainty as to the conference’s No. 1 team.

Oklahoma State is Athlon’s pick to win the Big 12, but a strong case could be made for Oklahoma, Texas, TCU, Kansas State and Baylor. The Cowboys lost three of their Big 12 games by a touchdown or less last year, and Clint Chelf is settled at quarterback after the transfer of Wes Lunt. Joseph Randle will be missed at running back, but Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland is a capable one-two punch.

Blake Bell replaces Landry Jones as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback, and all eyes will be watching to see if the Belldozer can transition from a part-time to full-time offense. The Sooners have plenty of weapons around Bell, which should help to ease the transition of the new quarterback. Oklahoma’s biggest issue is a defense that returns only four starters and is very thin on depth on the line.

Texas may have the Big 12’s most-talented team, but the Longhorns are just 11-15 in the conference over the past three years. If quarterback David Ash continues to make strides as a passer, and the defense proves it can stop the run, Texas could win the Big 12. 

TCU, Kansas State and Baylor are all worthy of top-25 consideration. The Horned Frogs regain the services of quarterback Casey Pachall and return nine starters on defense. However, the schedule is very challenging with road dates at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kansas State. Baylor must reload at quarterback, but the defense made progress late in the year, and running back Lache Seastrunk should be one of the nation’s best. Kansas State lost a handful of key players, but Bill Snyder always keeps the Wildcats in Big 12 title contention.

With Kliff Kingsbury returning to Lubbock, Texas Tech could be the Big 12’s most-interesting team in 2013. If quarterback Michael Brewer picks up where Seth Doege left off, the Red Raiders should have one of the league’s top offenses once again.

West Virginia has a massive rebuilding project on offense, as quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin must be replaced. The defense ranked last in the Big 12 in points allowed last year and was a major focus throughout the offseason. 

Iowa State is projected to fall just short of bowl eligibility, but the Cyclones shouldn’t be counted out for the postseason. Kansas will be relying on a handful of junior college transfers to spur improvement. However, winning a game or two in Big 12 play could hinge on how good BYU transfer quarterback Jake Heaps performs.

Inside the War Room: Key Questions That Shaped Athlon's 2013 Predictions

Texas has a talented roster. Why are the Longhorns picked third in the Big 12?

Texas might have the highest ceiling of any Big 12 team, but it’s hard to jump on the Longhorns’ bandwagon based on their recent history of underachieving. They have been average at best at the quarterback position in the past three seasons, and their defense was record-setting bad in 2012. The roster is loaded with 4- and 5-star talent

How did the projected Big 12 champion end up outside the top 15?

We knew that it would be difficult to sort out the top four teams in the Big 12. We also knew that for the first time in recent memory the team that we picked to win this league wasn’t going to be in the discussion to be our preseason No. 1 team in the nation. Simply put: The Big 12 has solid depth in 2013, but it’s unlikely that any team in the league will emerge as a legitimate national title contender. Oklahoma State, our pick to win the conference, is ranked No. 16 overall — the lowest we have ranked a preseason Big 12 favorite in the 17-year history of the league.

Can West Virginia survive the loss of so much talent on offense?

It’s going to be tough. West Virginia lost a ton of firepower — its starting quarterback and two 1,200-yard receivers — from a team  that struggled down the stretch in 2012. Dana Holgorsen should find a way to piece together a respectable offense, despite the personnel losses, but the Mountaineer defense will have a tough time — once again — slowing down the high-powered offenses in the Big 12. It could be a long year in Morgantown.

Doesn’t Kansas State deserve the benefit of the doubt?

You’d think that we would have learned our lesson after picking Kansas State to finish ninth and sixth, respectively, the past two seasons. And even though Bill Snyder has made a habit of exceeding expectations at Kansas State, the 2013 Wildcats might have a tough time elbowing their way into the top four of the Big 12. The offense should be in decent shape, even with the loss of Heisman finalist Collin Klein. Daniel Sams, the backup QB last fall, is an ideal fit for the K-State attack. The defense is the big concern. The Cats must replace nine starters from a unit that gave up 24 points or more in five of its last six games. Kansas State, at least on paper, looks like a fringe top-25 team at best.

Texas has a talented roster. Why are the Longhorns picked third in the Big 12?

Texas might have the highest ceiling of any Big 12 team, but it’s hard to jump on the Longhorns’ bandwagon based on their recent history of underachieving. They have been average at best at the quarterback position in the past three seasons, and their defense was record-setting bad in 2012. The roster is loaded with 4- and 5-star talent, but there is nothing to suggest that this will be the season that Mack Brown gets things turned around. Sure, Texas will be good — we are predicting a 9–3 record in the regular season — but Texas fans want more than good. They want a national championship. And that doesn’t appear likely in 2013.

How did Casey Pachall’s return factor into TCU’s ranking?

Pachall is a huge part of the equation at TCU. Had he played the entire season (and played well), it’s very likely that the Horned Frogs would have been our pick to win the Big 12 in 2013. But he didn’t play the entire season. He only made it through four games before taking time off to deal with a substance abuse problem. He was back with the team in the spring and is expected to reclaim his role as the starting quarterback, but there are no guarantees that he will return to form. TCU can still be a very good team with Trevone Boykin at quarterback, but to be elite, the Horned Frogs need Pachall, the more gifted passer, to take the majority of the snaps in 2013.


2013 Big 12 Team Previews

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


Big 12 Notebook

OU Soaring Above Big 12 
Oklahoma was in a state of rebuilding when the Big 12 Conference was born in the mid-’90s. Then Bob Stoops rolled into Norman. And the Sooners have been rolling ever since. After sharing last season’s conference championship with Kansas State, OU has won eight Big 12 titles: 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012.

That’s five more than No. 2 Texas. Since 2000, the Sooners are 87–19 in Big 12 play, good for an .821 winning percentage. The Longhorns are next at .745 (79–27).

Nationally during that span, among BCS conferences, OU owns the best conference winning percentage, followed by Ohio State at .788, Texas, Virginia Tech at .740 and Oregon at .739.
 

New-LOOK Attack
Last year, Longhorns coach Mack Brown was talking tough, pushing the promise of smash-mouth offense and ground-it-out game plans as the way back to prominence for his program.

Well, that didn’t last long. After last season’s shift in philosophy, Texas has a new direction: play fast and loose.

It’s an approach Brown has seen work for conference foes like Oklahoma State, Baylor and West Virginia. And it’s something he saw — and liked — from his own squad in rally mode against Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl, when the Longhorns went no-huddle, up-tempo in the second half of a 31–27 comeback victory.

“It was invaluable,” Brown told reporters in the spring. “It was really, really important to send the message to our fans, our kids and our recruits that we’re still fighting.”
 

Cowboys On The Road, Again 
For Oklahoma State, major facility renovations have enhanced Boone Pickens Stadium to the point that players and coaches enjoy all the comforts of home — and then some.

So forgive the Cowboys if they get a little homesick.

OSU ended the 2012 season with a road trip and will open 2013 away from home for multiple weeks again, a span of five games. For a program now used to winning and winning big, that’s an unusual schedule quirk. And it’s partly why Cowboys coach Mike Gundy flirted in the job market with openings at Tennessee and Arkansas, trying to gain more control of who and where his team plays.

OSU had little to say about the way 2012 ended, with visits to Oklahoma and Baylor, followed by an appearance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. But Gundy was opposed to playing Mississippi State in Houston, preferring a more manageable game in Stillwater. And after that game, the Cowboys head back out the next week for a game at Texas-San Antonio.

While spanning two seasons, it amounts to one of the longest road trips in OSU history and the first five-game stint away from home since a stretch bridging the 1988-89 seasons, when the Cowboys closed one year at Iowa State, then played Texas Tech in Tokyo, Japan, before a Holiday Bowl date with Wyoming in San Diego. To open 1989, OSU visited Tulsa and Ohio State.
 

Snyder’s Rebuild Still Going 
The rise of Kansas State’s football program under Bill Snyder, dubbed the Manhattan Miracle, is now in its second stage, with Snyder’s return from retirement ultimately paying off with a Big 12 championship last fall.

Phase 3 is well underway, as well, with a major renovation at the facility fittingly named Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. The project involves a reconstruction of the west side, which when finished will feature premium seating with outdoor suites, club and loge seating, a massive lounge and enhanced facilities for athletes in 16 sports.

The cost: $75 million.

Construction crews have been working around the clock, and ahead of schedule, to get the stadium ready for K-State’s Aug. 30 season opener against North Dakota State.


Coordinator Carousel

Oklahoma State

Offensive Coordinator
Old: Todd Monken; New: Mike Yurcich
Monken is now the head coach at Southern Miss. Yurcich is making the move from the Division II ranks, where he served as the offensive coordinator at Shippensburg (Pa.) University the past two seasons. The Red Raiders averaged 529.9 yards and 46.8 points per game in 2012.
 

Texas

Offensive Coordinator
Old: Bryan Harsin; New: Major Applewhite, Darrell Wyatt
Harsin is now the head coach at Arkansas State. Applewhite has been on the Texas staff since 2008. He was the assistant head coach and running backs coach from 2008-10 and the co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach from 2011-12. Wyatt has been the wide receivers coach the past two seasons. Applewhite will call the plays.
 

Texas Tech

Offensive Coordinator
Old: Neal Brown; New: Sonny Cumbie, Eric Morris
Brown is now the offensive coordinator at Kentucky, where he played wide receiver in the late 1990s. Cumbie, a former quarterback at Texas Tech, coached the Red Raiders’ outside receivers last season. He called the plays in Texas Tech’s 34–31 win over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl after former coach Tommy Tuberville left for Cincinnati. Morris, also a former Red Raider, served as the inside receivers coach at Washington State last season, working for his former head coach, Mike Leach.


Defensive Coordinator
Old: Art Kaufman; New: Mike Smith, Matt Wallerstedt
Kaufman followed Tommy Tuberville to Cincinnati and is now the Bearcats’ defensive coordinator. Smith, a Lubbock native who started 45 games at linebacker for Texas Tech from 2001-04, was the outside linebackers coach for the New York Jets last season. Wallerstedt was the linebackers coach at Texas A&M last year, where he worked with new Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. Previously, he had stints as the defensive coordinator at Air Force and Wyoming.
 

West Virginia

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Joe DeForest, Keith Patterson; New: Keith Patterson
DeForest was stripped of his coordinator duties in the offseason but will remain on the staff and coach the West Virginia safeties. Patterson will serve as the Mountaineers’ lone defensive coordinator. 

 


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Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-nebraska-football-fan
Body:

Even for the best college football programs, certain eras are better than others. And even the most successful programs have their lean years.

In a semi-regular series, Athlon Sports will look at the best times to be a fan for college football’s major powers -- when the stadium was a little louder, when the tailgates were a little livelier, and when it was just a little more fun to hang out on campus.

For Nebraska, was it more fun to be in Lincoln when Tommie Frazier was king? Or when Johnny Rodgers won the school its first Heisman? What about when the storied program was in its infancy?

Of course, there’s a flip side. Forgettable and even painful seasons when fans found better things to do on Saturdays, or worse, nothing to do during bowl season.

Here's when it was fun to be a Nebraska fan and the times best forgotten.

BEST TIMES TO BE A NEBRASKA FAN

1993-97
Record: 60-3
National titles: 3
Coach: Tom Osborne
Notable players: Tommie Frazier, Aaron Taylor, Grant Wistrom, Zach Wiegert, Trev Alberts, Brendan Stai, Ed Stewart, Jason Peter
Why this was a great time to be a fan: Osborne’s long wait for a national title ended in ’94 with a 13-0 record and a 24-17 win over Miami in the Orange Bowl. That was only the start. With Tommie Frazier at quarterback, Nebraska’s offense was one of the best in college football history, and the ’95 team was one of the sport’s legendary teams. The 62-24 demolition of Florida in the Fiesta Bowl for a second national title in two years was par for the course -- Nebraska defeated opponents by 38.7 points per game that year. In the final season before the BCS, Nebraska split a national title with Michigan in 1997, going 13-0 and finishing first in the coaches’ poll. Frazier was gone by then, but Nebraska produced an Outland winner (Aaron Taylor) and Lombardi winner (Grant Wistrom) that season.

1970-72
Record: 33-2-2
National titles: 2
Coach: Bob Devaney
Notable players: Johnny Rodgers, Rich Glover, Bob Newton, Larry Jacobson
Why this was a great time to be a fan: The era brought Nebraska’s first AP national champion in 1970 and the Cornhuskers’ first Heisman winner, Johnny Rodgers, in 1972. Nebraska went 24-0-1 in 1971 and ’72, earning back-to-back national titles. The 1971 squad may have been Devaney’s best team. That year, the biggest matchup became the Game of the Century against rival Oklahoma on Thanksgiving. Led by Rodgers, the Cornhuskers defeated the Sooners 35-31 in a wild matchup between the top two teams. Devaney avenged earlier bowl losses to Alabama and Bear Bryant to defeat the Tide 38-6 in the 1972 Orange Bowl to seal the title. Bryant called the ’71 Nebraska team one of the best he had faced with good reason -- Nebraska defeated teams that finished No. 2 (Oklahoma), No. 3 (Colorado) and No. 4 (Alabama).

1978-84
Record: 72-14
National titles: 0
Coach: Tom Osborne
Notable players: Mike Rozier, Turner Gill, Irving Fryar, Dave Rimington, Dean Steinkuhler, Roger Craig (right)
Why this was a great time to be a fan: Osborne set the tone for the remainder of his tenure during the late ’70s and early ’80s when the Huskers won five Big Eight titles and three outright. Rozier won the Heisman in 1983, but the undefeated Huskers missed out on a national title with a 31-30 loss to national champion Miami in a classic Orange Bowl upset. This may have been the most heartbreaking time to be a Nebraska fan: Of the 14 losses during this span, 12 were by a touchdown or less.

1962-66
Record: 38-6
National titles: 0
Coach: Bob Devaney
Notable players: Wayne Meylan, Bob Brown, Larry Kramer, Freeman White, Walt Barnes, LaVerne Allers
Why this was a great time to be a fan: The mid-'60s would be upstaged, but Nebraska entered new territory when Devaney was hired in 1962. The previous coach, Bill Jennings, went 15-34-1 in four seasons. In his first season, Devaney led Nebraska to its third bowl game in school history in 1962 and the following year led Nebraska to four consecutive Big Eight titles. Nebraska fans of this era were the first to get a taste of success.

WORST TIMES TO BE A NEBRASKA FAN

1941-61
Record: 72-125-4
Why this was a bad time to be a fan: Think fans of the Bill Callahan (right) era had it bad? It’s tough to remember a time when Nebraska wasn’t relevant, but the Huskers cycled through eight different coaches before 1962, each experiencing various degrees of futility. During this time, Nebraska won two or fewer games six times. The rivalry with Oklahoma wasn’t even a blip on the radar at the time as Nebraska lost 16 in a row from 1943-58.

2004-08
Record: 27-22
Coach: Bill Callahan
Why this was a bad time to be a fan: The previous four decades set the standards that Callahan failed to meet. He was supposed to bring Nebraska into the modern era on offense, but he ended up in the record books for the wrong reasons. Callahan’s first season (5-6) ended a streak of 35 seasons without a bowl and was Nebraska’s first losing season since 1961.

IT WASN'T AS BAD AS YOU THINK FROM...

1998-2003
Record: 59-29
Coach: Frank Solich
Why this wasn't so bad: Solich was Osborne’s preferred successor, but he struggled to live up to his former boss. Still, Solich led Nebraska to a 33-5 record from 1999-2001, producing a national title game appearance and a Heisman winner. Solich remains the last Nebraska coach to win a conference title (in 1999).
 

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Teaser:
<p> Tommie Frazier or Johnny Rodgers? Bob Devaney or Tom Osborne? The best times to root for the Huskers</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 07:55
Path: /college-football/conference-usa-football-2013-predictions
Body:
2013 C-USA Predictions    
East Division C-USA Overall
1. Marshall 6-2 8-5
2. East Carolina 6-2 7-5
3. MTSU 5-3 7-5
4. UAB 4-4 5-7
5. Southern Miss 4-4 5-7
6. FAU 2-6 3-9
7. FIU 1-7 2-10
       
  West Division    
1. Tulsa 7-1 10-3
2. Rice 6-2 8-4
3. Louisiana Tech 6-2 7-5
4. UTEP 4-4 5-7
5. Tulane 2-6 4-8
6. North Texas 2-6 3-9
7. UTSA 1-7 1-11
       
  C-USA Championship  
  Tulsa over Marshall    

With the departure of Houston, UCF, Memphis and SMU to the American Athletic Conference, the landscape of Conference USA has changed for the 2013 season. And get ready to get out the eraser again next season, as Tulsa, East Carolina and Tulane depart, with Western Kentucky and Old Dominion sliding into their place.

While the depth of the conference took a hit with the departure of two teams that played for the C-USA title over the past two years, it’s also a new opportunity for some teams.

Marshall has yet to match its run of dominance from the 1990s in Conference USA, with its last season of more than seven wins coming in 2003. The Thundering Herd is Athlon’s pick to win the East Division this season, especially since they host East Carolina on Nov. 30 and return 14 overall starters, including quarterback Rakeem Cato. The big question mark for Marshall is a defense that allowed 43.1 points a game last year.

Much like Marshall, East Carolina returns a standout offense (31.5 points a game in 2012), but the defense is a question mark. Coach Ruffin McNeill switched coordinators, hiring Rick Smith to improve a defense that ranked 10th in the conference against the pass last year.

Outside of Marshall and East Carolina, the rest of the East Division is up for grabs. MTSU rebounded from an opening week loss to McNeese State to finish 8-4 last year. The Blue Raiders are a slight favorite to edge UAB and Southern Miss for the third spot. However, the Blazers and the Golden Eagles are trending in the right direction. FAU and FIU bring up the bottom of the East Division, and both teams have significant question marks going into 2013.

Defending Conference USA champion Tulsa must replace nine starters on defense, but the offense is loaded thanks to the return of quarterback Cody Green and running backs Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas. The Golden Hurricane must play the top two teams from the East in the regular season, which could play a key role in deciding homefield advantage for the conference title game.

After finishing 2012 on a five-game winning streak, Rice should be Tulsa’s top challenger in the West. The Owls return 18 starters and won’t play Marshall or East Carolina during the regular season.

Louisiana Tech and UTEP are neck-and-neck for the No. 3 and No. 4 spots. The Bulldogs suffered a plethora of personnel losses, but welcome Texas Tech transfer Scotty Young at quarterback. The Miners also have a transfer at quarterback – Jameill Showers from Texas A&M - but return only three starters on defense. Both teams have a new coaching staff, with UTEP under the direction of former player Sean Kugler, and Louisiana Tech led by former USF and Connecticut coach Skip Holtz.

Tulane, North Texas and UTSA round out the West Division predictions. The Green Wave should show some signs of improvement in 2013, and the schedule is favorable enough to expect a run at bowl eligibility. North Texas is also making progress under third-year coach Dan McCarney, but expecting a huge jump in win total is unlikely for 2013. The Roadrunners went 8-4 in their first season on the FBS level last season. However, the schedule is very challenging, and coach Larry Coker needs another year or two to build depth in the program.
 

2013 Conference USA Team Previews

East Division West Division
East Carolina Louisiana Tech
FAU North Texas
FIU Rice
Marshall Tulane
MTSU Tulsa
Southern Miss UTEP
UAB UTSA


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Teaser:
<p> Conference USA Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 07:40
Path: /college-football/campus-quarterbacks-best-friend
Body:

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The tight end position has evolved into a highly sought-after commodity at the NFL level.

A lot of that has to do with the type of athletes who are suiting up and honing their craft in college. The really talented ones are an integral part of any offensive scheme and bolster a quarterback's confidence when dropping back in the pocket.

Here is a list of the top tight ends at the FBS level in 2013:

AUSTIN SEFERIAN-JENKINS (Washington): While position rankings can be subjective, that isn't the case at tight end. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Seferian-Jenkins is a nightmare for opposing defenses to handle and is without a doubt the top player at his position in the country. He was named to the All-Pac-12 second team and was a finalist for the Mackey Award in 2012, hauling in 69 balls for 850 yards and seven touchdowns. He doesn't have the straight-line speed to blow by defenders, but he uses his size to his advantage and adjusts for the ball in flight. The only thing that could derail an All-America campaign this season outside of injury is Seferian-Jenkins himself. An off-season arrest for DUI has left the talented playmaker suspended from team activities, and until the case plays itself out in the court system, Seferian-Jenkins is in football limbo.

COLT LYERLA (Oregon): He may not have put up eye-popping numbers in Oregon's prolific offensive attack, but there is no mistaking Lyerla's enormous talent. This 6-5, 246-pounder can do it all on the field. Chip Kelly made sure to showcase that last year, as Lyerla finished with 25 catches for 392 yards and six touchdowns. He also added a seventh score on 13 carries. A prep standout at running back and linebacker, Lyerla is perhaps the most athletic tight end in the country, something the NFL is looking for at the position. Kelly is no longer calling the plays in Eugene, but the script won't change that much for Oregon going forward. The playmakers on offense will continue to shine, and Lyerla has as bright a future as any Duck on the roster.

ERIC EBRON (North Carolina): Another supreme athlete at the position, the 6-4, 245-pound Ebron is evolving into a complete player in Chapel Hill. The junior is extremely fast, explosive after the catch and doesn't mind blocking. A second-team All-ACC selection as a sophomore in 2012, Ebron finished with 40 receptions for 625 yards and four touchdowns. UNC's workhorse tailback Giovani Bernard has moved on to the NFL and North Carolina could get more vertical in its offensive play-calling as a result. That could mean big numbers for Ebron, who will undoubtedly be one of Bryn Renner's top targets in 2013.

C.J. FIEDOROWICZ (Iowa): This Iowa Hawkeye isn't the greatest athlete at the position, but he is as reliable as they come. A huge target at 6-7, 265 pounds, Fiedorowicz knows how to take advantage of smaller defenders. He earned All-Big Ten honorable mention a year ago, finishing with 45 receptions, for 433 yards and one touchdown. He also may be the best blocking tight end on this list, a skill set that will help bolster his NFL stock when draft time comes around.

XAVIER GRIMBLE (USC): On a team that featured two All-Americans in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods on the outside, it wasn't easy for this Trojan to earn recognition as a viable receiving threat. However, that was a common mistake for USC's opponents, as the 6-5, 250-pound Grimble made plays when on the field (nine starts last year), finishing 2012 with 29 catches for 316 yards and five touchdowns. The Trojans are stock-piling at the position with Randall Telfer and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick fighting to earn playing time, but it is Grimble who has been the most productive. Another big target with above- average athleticism for the position, Grimble will continue to produce in USC's offensive attack.

JACOB PEDERSEN (Wisconsin): The 6-4, 240-pound Pedersen gets better with each year in Madison. After earning second-team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore in 2011, he was an All-Big Ten first-team member as a junior in 2012. He finished last season with 27 receptions for 355 yards and four touchdowns, but his modest numbers were more a product of a heavy emphasis on the run (Montee Ball) and subpar quarterback play than anything else. While new head coach Gary Anderson has a defensive pedigree, he will maximize his offensive talent in his debut season with the Badgers and that is likely to include Pedersen.

NICK O'LEARY (Florida State): The 6-3, 238-pound Seminole is a bit undersized at this time, but he has shown flashes of brilliant play over the last two seasons and has some real potential. A receiving threat who can line up outside and make plays down the field, O'Leary finished last season with 21 receptions for 242 yards and three touchdowns. It marked the most TD catches by a tight end at FSU since 1994. With some added bulk and dedication to blocking, O'Leary has the chance to really make a name for himself in 2013.

ARTHUR LYNCH (Georgia): Relegated to backup duty until last year, the 6-5, 260-pound Lynch showed enough in 14 games (13 starts) to land on this list, finishing with 26 catches for 448 yards and three touchdowns. He has great size and is probably a better blocker than most on this list. The Bulldogs have supreme talent at the skill positions this year and Lynch certainly could take advantage with a seasoned quarterback, Aaron Murray, who wants to go out with a bang.

CHRIS COYLE (Arizona State): A special teams ace his first two seasons in Tempe, Coyle burst on the scene as a legitimate vertical threat in Arizona State's passing game last year, finishing with a team-high 57 receptions (a school record for a tight end) for 696 yards and five touchdowns. He falls into the "tweener" category, with marginal size (6-3, 238) for the tight end position, but that didn't stop Coyle from becoming a key target in 2012.

KANEAKUA FRIEL (BYU): The 6-5, 250-pound Friel took time off from football to do mission work in Africa, but got right back into the swing of things in 2012, finishing with 30 receptions for 308 yards and five touchdowns as a junior. He provided glimpses of strong play last year and is a competent blocker, but will need to be a more consistent offensive threat in 2013 to bolster his draft stock.

HONORABLE MENTION: Asa Watson (North Carolina State), Jordan Najvar (Baylor), Jace Amaro (Texas Tech), Ted Bosler (Indiana) and Ben Koyack (Notre Dame).

Teaser:
<p> The tight end position has evolved into a highly sought-after commodity at the NFL level.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/most-shameful-college-football-games-2013
Body:

Everyone likes to win on Homecoming. A quick warm-up game to start the season isn’t bad, either.

The problem is, every program has to pay the bills, too. Guarantee games, in which major programs shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for games against overmatched opponents from the lower levels, are one of the downsides of college football.

Not all of these games are awful. Every year a few FCS teams, despite fewer scholarships and resources, step up to beat a major program (right, Michigan?).

But most don’t have a chance. These are the games both sides should be embarrassed to play.

This season, Miami and Al Golden receive top honors in this category, though it was a tough call. Oregon will fly a Louisiana team all the way up to Eugene just for a warm-up for two non-conference games against AQ opponents. But Miami gets the nod after we saw last season what happens when Savannah State faces a major conference team (or two).

A few things to establish:

• A shameful game is a proven, major conference program hosting a bad FCS team. And a bad FCS team isn’t just a team with a poor record last year. These are teams that have been the worst of the worst in lower Division I for a few seasons.

• Extra shame points go to teams bringing a bad FCS team across state lines and time zones. If a big-time FBS team is going to crush an overmatched opponent, giving an in-state or regional team a brief taste of major college football is the least the big brother can do.

• Lastly — and this is very important — we do not care why this game was scheduled, and we do not care what other games are on the schedule this season. Last year, Florida State picked up Savannah State because West Virginia backed out of a non-conference game last year. Seminoles fans still wasted time and money to watch a 55-0 beatdown.

So take our advice, skip these games. Don’t buy a ticket. Don’t watch on TV. And athletic directors on both sides, have a little dignity and stop scheduling these opponents.

MOST SHAMEFUL GAMES OF 2013

1. Sept. 21: Savannah State (1-10, 0-8 MEAC) at Miami (team preview)
Welcome back, Savannah State. A year ago, Savannah State earned $860,000 just for losing by a combined 139-0 to Oklahoma State and Florida State to start the season. Mike Gundy practically apologized for not being able to stop his team from running up the score, but at least Florida State failed to cover the 69.5-point spread by winning 55-0. Last year, Savannah State was ranked 243rd among 247 Division I teams in the Sagarin ratings, earning its only win over Edward Waters of the NAIA. Miami coaching legend Howard Schnellenberger once said he’d play anyone, anywhere. This was not what he had in mind.

2. Aug. 31: Nicholls State (1-10, 0-8 Southland) at Oregon (team preview)
Generally, Oregon does a good job with its non-conference schedule. In recent years, the Ducks have faced LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Boise State and Fresno State with a handful of those games coming away from Eugene. Offsetting those games have been FCS guarantee games: Tennessee Tech, Missouri State and Portland State in the past three seasons. This year, the Ducks open with Nicholls State before facing Tennessee and Virginia. Oregon will bring the Colonels all the way from Thibodaux, La., to Eugene; a team that has gone 2-20 the past two seasons. And it doesn't look to get much better. After losing to Oregon State 77-3 in the final game of 2012, Nicholls State will face four consecutive FBS teams by visiting Western Michigan and Louisiana-Lafayette after Oregon.

3. Sept. 21: Idaho State (1-10, 0-8 Big Sky) at Washington (team preview)
Like Oregon, Washington isn’t afraid of stepping out of the Pac-12 for a big matchup. The Huskies have faced LSU, Nebraska, BYU, Boise State, Oklahoma and Syracuse in recent seasons. Washington opens with Boise State and Illinois before facing Idaho State, but as we said, that’s no excuse. Idaho State has gone 6-50 in the last five seasons and hasn’t won more than two games in a year since 2007.

4. Nov. 16: Idaho State at BYU (team preview)
Even if finding games is tough for an independent, BYU doesn’t get a free pass for scheduling the Bengals, either.

5. Sept. 14: Lamar (4-8, 1-6 Southland) at Oklahoma State (team preview)
Lamar didn’t play football from 1990-2009, but now the Cardinals find themselves playing in Stillwater four years after resuming the program. A signal of perhaps how this game could go: Lamar lost 54-2 for Hawaii’s only win before Thanksgiving last season.

6. Aug. 31: Austin Peay (2-9, 1-7 OVC) at Tennessee (team preview)
Butch Jones was the coach at Cincinnati in 2011 when the Bearcats defeated Austin Peay 72-10. Now, he gets to do the same as Tennessee’s coach. Austin Peay has had one winning season since 1984 and didn’t return to scholarship football until 2006.

7. Oct. 12: Western Carolina (1-10, 0-8 Southern) at Auburn (team preview)
As bad as Auburn was last season, the Tigers could handle the FCS and the lower levels of FBS. In 2012, Auburn defeated New Mexico State and Alabama A&M by a combined score of 93-14. Meanwhile, Western Carolina has gone 12-66 the last seven seasons which includes shutout losses to Florida, Florida State and Vanderbilt.

8. Aug. 29: Presbyterian (2-9, 0-6 Big South) at Wake Forest (team preview)
What should make this game more shameful for Wake Forest? That Presbyterian won two games last season with one over a Division II team that went 2-9? Or that the Blue Hose lost to Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt by a combined score of 117-3? Presbyterian is 12-44 in the last five seasons and ranked 240th in Sagarin last year.

9. Sept. 7: Tennessee Tech (3-8, 1-7 OVC) at Wisconsin (team preview)
Even with former Tennessee wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech went 3-8 last season, including a 63-14 loss to Oregon. Interesting factoid: Provided Tennessee Tech defeats NAIA Cumberland University in the opener, coach Watson Brown against Wisconsin will “earn” his 191st career loss, passing Amos Alonzo Stagg for the all-time record (tip of the hat to Athlon’s Rob Doster).

10. Sept. 7: South Dakota (1-10, 0-10 MVC) at Kansas (team preview)
Kansas had better win this one, that’s for sure. South Dakota went 1-10 last season in the first season under Joe Glenn, who was fired at Wyoming in 2008 but was successful in the lower divisions at Northern Colorado and Montana.

11. Sept. 21: VMI (2-9, 1-5 Big South) at Virginia (team preview)
Keeping the guarantee money in state is one thing, but this game is egregiously bad. Better to treat this game as a financial transaction than a source of entertainment. VMI is 19-80 since 2004 and was ranked 238th in Sagarin last season.

12. Sept. 7: Southeast Missouri State (3-8, 2-6 OVC) at Ole Miss (team preview)
Ole Miss just signed the nation’s No. 1 recruit, while SEMO is 6-16 the last two seasons with one winning season in the last decade.

13. Nov. 16: Chattanooga (6-5, 5-3 Southern) at Alabama (team preview)
Chattanooga is a mediocre FCS team, but Alabama has been proto-NFL for the last five seasons.

14. Sept. 14: Western Illinois (3-8, 1-7 MVC) at Minnesota (team preview)
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill has made the rounds at Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois. Maybe he’ll show a little compassion for a Western Illinois team that scored 17 points in its final five games last season.

15. Sept. 7: Missouri State (3-8, 3-5 MVC) at Iowa (team preview)
There’s no shame in losing big to Kansas State and Louisville as Missouri State did last season, but the Bears have not won more than six games since 1996.

Teaser:
<p> Which major powers should be embarrassed for these guarantee games?</p>
Post date: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /nascar/pocono-key-denny-hamlins-nascar-chase-hopes
Body:

1. Denny Hamlin needs Pocono more than ever
A crash last Sunday at Dover International Speedway after a flat tire dented Denny Hamlin's hope of a strong run and probably didn't feel the best for a guy just weeks removed from a pretty serious back injury. Hamlin, however, seems to be worried about one thing: Making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

One of — make that two of — the best things Hamlin his in his uphill climb to the redemption of entry into NASCAR's playoff system is a pair of visits to Pocono Raceway. You may remember that Hamlin won his first Cup race at Pocono in 2006 even after he cut a tire and crashed one-fourth of the way in. Since, he has four wins and sits just two behind Pocono active wins leader Jeff Gordon.

"We were certainly disappointed with the way Dover ended for us, and now it’s up to our FedEx team to dig down and capitalize on some of our better tracks coming up," Hamlin said.

Hamlin's continuing climb starts this week from 26th in Sprint Cup points, some 224 points behind the leader Jimmie Johnson. To get to 20th and become eligible for one of two at-large bids, Hamlin needs to make up 74 points on Ryan Newman (currently 20th) between Sunday and Richmond in September. And he’ll need, at the very least, one win.

A victory this weekend — and season sweep of Pocono, if he's really feeling greedy — would be immensely helpful.


2. Drivers appreciate Pocono's shift work
Plenty of scenes in Days of Thunder feature an oddity that Sprint Cup drivers never use: shifting mid-corner or mid-straightaway as a device to find more speed while already racing at normal pace. It won't be exactly how Cole Trickle does it in the movie this weekend at Pocono, but drivers will get to at least act like they are during each green flag lap.

Pocono's odd three-corner layout demands slow speeds in two corners that lay ahead of two extremely fast straightaways. The contrast bogs a car's engine in a low RPM range if just one gear for an entire lap is being used, which in turn depletes peak acceleration. Since the track opened in 1971, most drivers shifted between third and fourth gears to maximize performance until a new gear rule unexpectedly made that impossible in 2005. The gear rule changed again in 2011 and brought shifting back.

"It’s a fun race track and with the shifting it’s a really tough racetrack. It’s almost like a road course, it’s really tough on the cars and it’s a mentally challenging racetrack," said Carl Edwards.

"It's like a three-cornered, left handed road course, making it a lot of fun to drive," said Paul Menard.
 

Teaser:
<p> Geoffrey Miller highlights the five storylines to follow as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Pocono Raceway.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 10:09
Path: /college-football/sun-belt-football-predictions-2013
Body:
2013 Sun Belt Predictions SBC Overall
1. UL Lafayette 6-1 9-3
2. ULM 5-2 7-5
3. Western Kentucky 5-2 7-5
4. Arkansas State 4-3 6-6
5. Troy 4-3 6-6
6. Texas State 2-5 4-8
7. South Alabama 2-5 3-9
8. Georgia State 0-7 1-11
       

Much like many of the other conferences in college football, realignment has changed the Sun Belt’s team lineup for 2013.

FAU, FIU, MTSU and North Texas left to join Conference USA, leaving the Sun Belt with just eight teams for 2013. However, the Sun Belt is facing another round of changes next season, as New Mexico State and Idaho will join the conference, while Western Kentucky is headed to Conference USA. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State will make the move from FCS to FBS next year to compete in the Sun Belt. 

In time, the moves should provide the Sun Belt with some stability. However, it may take some time for the league's new members to become a yearly title contender. 

While realignment has dominated the Sun Belt over the last few offseasons, the race to win the conference title should be an entertaining four-way battle between UL Lafayette, ULM, Western Kentucky and Arkansas State.

The Ragin Cajuns’ are a slight favorite to win the league, but the Warhawks return 16 starters, including quarterback Kolton Browning. The Nov. 30 showdown between the Ragin’ Cajuns and Warhawks in Lafayette, La. could decide the Sun Belt crown.

Chasing UL Lafayette and ULM is Western Kentucky and Arkansas State. The Hilltoppers made one of the offseason’s top hires in former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and return running back Antonio Andrews (1,728 yards in 2012). The Red Wolves will have their fourth coach in four years, but the personnel is among the best in the league.

Troy could have one of the best offenses in the Sun Belt, but the defense is a major question mark after allowing 443.6 yards per game last year.

Texas State, South Alabama and Georgia State round out the Sun Belt predictions for 2013. The Bobcats have the most upside out of this trio this year, and their hopes of getting to a winning record are bolstered by transfers Michael Orakpo (Colorado State) and D.J. Yendrey (TCU). South Alabama were competitive last year and return 15 starters for 2013. Georgia State made an excellent hire by pulling Trent Miles away from Indiana State, but the Panthers have a lot of ground to make up on the rest of the Sun Belt in their first season on the FBS level.

 

2013 Sun Belt Team Previews

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


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Teaser:
<p> Sun Belt Football Predictions for 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 07:50
All taxonomy terms: high school, MLB, NBA, NFL, NFL, NBA, MLB, High School
Path: /nfl/greatest-high-school-classmates-sports-history
Body:

Some high schools have only one big man on campus. Others have a whole gang of future stars running the hallways. These are the 10 greatest high school classmates in sports history.



Robert Nkemdiche and Austin Meadows
Grayson High School (Loganville, Ga.)

The class of the Class of 2013, Nkemdiche and Meadows were this year’s consensus top prospects in football and baseball, respectively. Nkemdiche is a chiseled 6’5”, 260-pound defensive end, while Meadows is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound five-tool center fielder. Nkemdiche has stardom ahead of him at Ole Miss while Meadows was selected ninth overall by the Pirates in the MLB Draft.

Randy Moss and Jason Williams
DuPont High School (Belle, W.Va.)

One of the greatest jump-ball receivers in NFL history was one of West Virginia’s best-ever high school dunkers, catching alley-oops from a mop-topped “White Chocolate” in the mid-1990s. Jerry West may be the greatest prep player in Mountain State history, but Moss and Williams were so fun to watch that their highlights were later turned into a Nike commercial.

John Havlicek and Phil Niekro
Bridgeport High School (Bridgeport, Ohio)

“Hondo” was an eight-time NBA champ with the Boston Celtics. “Knucksie” was the godfather of the knuckleball, most notably for the Atlanta Braves — for whom he pitched a no-hitter in 1973. They lived on the same street, went on fishing trips together and were high school classmates in the late 1950s. Now each is a member of his sport’s respective Hall of Fame.

Matthew Stafford and Clayton Kershaw
Highland Park High School (Dallas, Texas)

Before becoming an NFL Draft No. 1 overall pick quarterback and NL Cy Young-winning starting pitcher, respectively, Stafford and Kershaw were childhood buddies who grew up playing on the same basketball and soccer teams before becoming a dominant pair of arms — righty and lefty, to boot — at the top of Highland Park’s pitching rotation in the early 2000s.

Jason Segel and Jason Collins
Harvard-Westlake School (Los Angeles, Calif.)

The first openly gay NBA player teamed up with the comic actor best known for his work on the cult classic Freaks and Geeks and CBS hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother. The Collins twins (Jason and Jarron) were McDonald’s All-Americans. Segel, however, was a high energy “low budget Mark Madsen” who even won a dunk contest back in the day.



Victor Oladipo and Cyrus Kouandjio
DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Md.)

Fun names to say, Oladipo and Kouandjio. Oladipo was a high-flying Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year on the hardwood at Indiana, while Kouandjio is a national championship-winner on the gridiron at Alabama. Two physical freaks and future millionaires — Oladipo is expected to be a top-five pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and Kouandjio is a preseason All-American penciled into the top 10 of every 2014 NFL Draft mock.

Marv Albert and Neil Diamond
Abraham Lincoln High School (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Yessshhh!!!! The leather-loving NBA announcer was a classmate of the seventh-inning stretch “Sweet Caroline” soft rocker. Two of the best voices in sports attended the same high school that Jesus Shuttlesworth played for in Spike Lee’s “He Got Game” — not to mention ballers Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson, and legendary authors Arthur Miller and Joseph Heller.

Snoop Dogg and Cameron Diaz
Long Beach Polytechnic (Long Beach, Calif.)

Don’t act like Snoop and Cam aren’t in the world of sports. Snoop Dogg coaches pee-wee football and gave Oregon speedster De’Anthony Thomas his “Black Mamba” nickname. Diaz was a cheerleader, played an owner in "Any Given Sunday" and stole the show by feeding A-Rod popcorn at the Super Bowl. But back in the late-80s, these two owned the halls at Long Beach Poly.

Donovan McNabb and Antoine Walker
Mount Carmel High School (Chicago, Ill.)

Before McNabb was dry-heaving in the Super Bowl and Walker was shimmy-ing following yet another bad 3-point attempt, the duo teamed up in Chi-town. McNabb played football, ran track and hooped with Walker — as well as future NFL star Simeon Rice. Despite having three future pro athletes on the same court, Mount Carmel failed to win a state championship during the mid-1990s run.

Bill Belichick and Buzz Bissinger
Phillips Academy (Andover, Mass.)

Classmates with Florida governor Jeb Bush, the three-time Super Bowl winning coach and Friday Night Lights author are just two of the seemingly endless list of distinguished alumni from Phillips Andover — which also boasts the likes of both Presidents George Bush (H.W. and W.), John F. Kennedy Jr. and Dr. Benjamin Spock.
 

Teaser:
<p> Greatest High School Classmates in Sports History, including Robert Nkemdiche and Austin Meadows, John Havlicek and Phil Niekro, Matthew Stafford and Clayton Kershaw, Randy Moss and Jason Williams, Jason Segel and Jason Collins, Victor Oladipo and Cyrus Kouandjio, Marv Albert and Neil Diamond, Snoop Dogg and Cameron Diaz, Donovan McNabb and Antoine Walker, Bill Belichick and Buzz Bissinger.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 17:49
All taxonomy terms: Austin Meadows, MLB, Monthly
Path: /monthly/classmates-austin-meadows-and-robert-nkemdiche-are-top-prospects
Body:

When Austin Meadows tries to balance what’s left of his high school experience with the demands of being one of Major League Baseball’s next great center fielders, he’s got a sympathetic ear just down the hall at Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga.

Meadows is classmates with Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top overall college football prospect for the class of 2013. Meadows is a 6'3", 200-pound left-handed outfield prospect whom some analysts have projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft (June 6-8). 

“We’re both really blessed to be going through these situations right now. We’re each doing our own thing, but we’ve talked about how special it is,” Meadows says.

Meadows is currently wrapping up his senior season at Grayson amidst the constant presence of MLB scouts and baseball media from across the country. But it’s nothing new around Grayson, as Nkemdiche’s talent made the campus a preferred destination for a who’s who in college football coaching over the last two years.

“I think it made me a little bit more prepared for what was coming with Austin,” Grayson baseball coach Jed Hixson says. “Every day on campus you’d pass Kirby Smart or see Nick Saban. When it came time, I met with Austin’s parents and talked about the scouts and attention, and what to expect. He’s responded to it great. Austin’s one of the most humble kids I know.”

Grayson High School and the greater community of Gwinnett County are a fertile crescent for athletes in 2013. Nkemdiche’s recruitment became a national storyline for well over the standard year-long recruiting cycle. Originally a verbal commit to Clemson, Nkemdiche was courted by every major program in the country for his rare combination of size (6'5", and a “raw” 260 pounds before college conditioning) and speed. Unlike game-changing South Carolina defensive end and likely 2014 NFL Draft No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, Nkemdiche was also a proficient running back for the Rams.

During a nationally televised press conference at Grayson on the morning of National Signing Day (Feb. 6), Nkemdiche chose to join his older brother Denzel at Ole Miss.

“It’s a relief that it’s over now, but I had fun in the process,” Robert Nkemdiche says. “Now it’s all about focusing on what’s ahead and proving myself.”

While both players are considered among the absolute best in their age group in their respective sports, their wooing has differed greatly. Nkemdiche and his family were largely in control of the recruiting process, selecting which schools the game-changing strong-side end would visit and consider.

Meadows, who is committed to play at Clemson, is at the mercy of MLB team needs and his landing spot is still unknown.

“I don’t really like getting caught up in all the evaluations. I just stick to playing baseball and keeping a level head. Different people might criticize me but that just makes me work harder,” Meadows says.

That has included working on his bat speed and his throwing. Meadows says that he’s worked extensively with coaches and his father, a former punter at Morehead State, on creating “comfort” throwing from the outfield.

“I’ve said to him, ‘Stay positive. Keep your nose clean and stay humble, and put God first.’ That’s what I go by,” Nkemdiche says.

Hixson credits the land-rush style settlement of the greater Loganville area in the last decade as well as a strong relationship between the area’s public schools and parks programs as the reasons why so many top-tier athletes are coming through the Rams’ various athletic programs. 

“The prospects we’ve had here create a chain for kids to come. They’ve brought more and more exposure and that helps the players following them,” Hixson says. “It’s been kind of cool to have the attention Austin has brought for other kids in the program. Certainly some burdens are expected, but they’ve been outweighed by the exposure he’s brought to his teammates.” 

One thing is for certain: Meadows and Nkemdiche are considered pinnacle prospects at their respective games, but there won’t be any Bo Jackson cross-sport action from either student. If there’s a downside of too many top-tier athletes in the same high school, it revealed itself when Meadows, once a running back at Grayson, had to attempt to block Nkemdiche in practice. “It was just one time in practice, I had to block down on him, thankfully, but he went right by.”

For his part Nkemdiche said he wouldn’t want to run against Meadow’s arm in the outfield. “I’d probably be out,” he admits.

by Steven Godfrey

Teaser:
<p> Classmates Austin Meadows and Robert Nkemdiche are Top Prospects</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-big-12-early-rankings
Body:

The Big 12 enjoyed one of the best offseasons of any major conference. Or at least one that will help the league enter 2013-14 with some degree of renown.

First, point guard Marcus Smart elected to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season, turning the Cowboys into a potential top-15 team. Baylor’s Isaiah Austin followed suit by staying in school as well. Then, Bill Self landed mega-recruit Andrew Wiggins, prying him from Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State.

Kansas and Oklahoma State will enter the 2013-14 season as frontline teams in the Big 12 with Baylor knocking on the door.

Iowa State and Oklahoma have enough personnel returning -- and arriving via transfer -- to keep those schools competitive. In the bottom half of the league, Texas and West Virginia were once consistent NCAA Tournament teams, but both are continuing to rebuild.

Here’s a quick look at the comings and goings in the Big 12 for 2013-14.

Other conference snapshots:
ACC
American
Big East
Big Ten
SEC
Pac-12 
Mountain West, A-10, MVC and others

1. KANSAS (31-6, 14-4, NCAA Sweet 16)

Key players gone: Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young

Top returning players: Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe

New faces: Tarik Black (transfer from Memphis) Joel Embiid (freshman), Conner Frankamp (freshman), Brannen Green (freshman), Landen Lucas (redshirt), Wayne Selden (freshman), Andrew Wiggins (freshman)
Kansas lost all five starters, but the Jayhawks had as good an offseason as any team. Kansas added the nation’s No. 1 prospect in Wiggins, a 6-8 wing who could be an elite defender on the college level. Moreover, Wiggins’ signing boosted a recruiting class that was already one of the nation’s best with three other top-50 recruits. Kansas also added coveted Memphis transfer Tarik Black, a solid big man who will add experience to the young roster. The Jayhawks also will expect a breakout season from Ellis, who averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 13.6 minutes last season.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: ACC

2. OKLAHOMA STATE (24-9, 13-5, NCAA round of 64)

Key players gone: Philip Jurick

Top returners: Markel Brown, Michael Cobbins, Phil Forte, Kamari Murphy, Le’Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart
New faces: Stevie Clark, Detrick Mostella (freshmen)
Before Wiggins picked Kansas, Oklahoma State looked like a clear favorite in the Big 12. With Smart’s surprising return to school, Oklahoma State will still have an edge in experience over Kansas. Smart will be a player of the year candidate and has the supporting cast to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament with fellow McDonald’s All-American Nash plus Brown and Forte. All four averaged at least 10 points per game.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big Ten

3. BAYLOR (23-14, 9-9, NIT champions)
Key players gone: Deuce Bello, Pierre Jackson, A.J. Walton
Top returners: Isaiah Austin, Gary Franklin, Rico Gathers, Brady Heslip, Cory Jefferson 
New faces: Allerik Freeman, Johnathan Motley, Ishmail Wainright (freshmen)
Baylor has the roster to be a top-25 team and Big 12 contender, but the Bears continue to confound. The return of the 7-foot-1 Austin was a major boost for Baylor’s 2014 prospects along with the presence of three seniors (Franklin, Heslip and Jefferson). The frontcourt should be a strength, but Heslip needs help on the perimeter. The good news? Baylor has reached the Tourney in each of the past three even-numbered years.

Related: Top recruiting classes since 2000

4. IOWA STATE (23-12, 11-7, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Chris Babb, Anthony Booker, Will Clyburn, Korie Lucious, Tyrus McGee
Top returners: Melvin Ejim, Percy Gibson, Georges Niang
New faces: DeAndre Kane (transfer from Marshall), Monte Morris (freshman), Matt Thomas (freshman)
The top two scorers, Clyburn and McGee, are gone along with the point guard Lucious, but coach Fred Hoiberg will find a way to get the most out of his roster. The transfer pipeline to Ames continues with Kane, who averaged 15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists in three seasons at Marshall. With Niang (12.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Ejim (11.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg), Iowa State is a lock for another 20 wins and NCAA appearance.

Related: Realignment tracker for all college basketball moves

5. KANSAS STATE (27-8, 14-4, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Jordan Henriquez, Montravious Irving, Rodney McGruder, Angel Rodriguez
Top returners: Thomas Gipson, Shane Southwell, Will Spradling, Nino Williams
New faces: Neville Fincher (prep school)
Bruce Weber did a great job with the returning cast -- at least before an early Tournament exit. Without the top two scorers (McGruder and Rodriguez, who transferred to Miami), Weber’s job is a little tougher. The returning cast of Southwell, Gipson, Spradling and Irving all saw plenty of work last season.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: American

6. OKLAHOMA (20-12, 11-7, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Andrew Fitzgerald, Sam Grooms, Amath M’Baye, Romero Osby, Steven Pledger
Top returners: Isaiah Cousins, Cameron Clark, Bobby Hield, Je’Lon Hornbeak
New faces: D.J. Bennett (junior college transfer), Ryan Spangler (transfer from Gonzaga)
Lon Kruger again proved to be an expert rebuilder, leading Oklahoma to its first winning season and NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009. In 2013-14, the Sooners lose their top three scorers, all of whom averaged double figures. The rising sophomore class of Hield, Hornbeak and Cousins played plenty of minutes last season and will be expected to take a bigger role. Newcomers Bennett and Spangler, a pair of 6-8 forwards, give OU a little bit of size the Sooners sorely need.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big East

7. WEST VIRGINIA (13-19, 6-12)
Key players gone: Jabarie Hinds, Deniz Kilicli
Top returners: Gary Browne, Eron Harris, Terry Henderson, Aaric Murray, Juwan Staten
New faces: Remi Dibo (junior college transfer), Jonathan Holton (junior college transfer), Elijah Macon (prep school), Devin Williams (freshman)
West Virginia lost seven in a row to seal the first losing season for Bob Huggins since his first as a Division I coach at Akron in 1984-85. Losing Kilicli is a big loss, but two freshmen and two junior college signees will look to fill that spot in the frontcourt alongside Murray. Williams will help on the glass while Macon, who committed to West Virginia out of high school before going to prep school, can shoot from outside.

8. TEXAS (16-18, 7-11, CBI first round)
Key players gone: Jaylen Bond, Myck Kabongo, Julien Lewis, Sheldon McClellan
Top returners: Javan Felix, Jonathan Holmes, Prince Ibeh, Demarcus Holland, Connor Lammert, Ioannis Papapetrou, Cameron Ridley
Texas is coming off its worst season under Rick Barnes, and answers don’t seem to be immediate. The top three scorers -- which included Kabongo in only 11 games -- are gone. Perhaps this will be addition by subtraction, but Texas’ recruiting prowess has diminished in recent years. The Longhorns bring in no top-100 recruits in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

9. TCU (11-21, 2-16)
Key players gone: Nate Butler Lind, Cornell Crossland, Garlon Green, Adrick McKinney
Top returners: Devonta Abron, Kyan Anderson, Charles Hill, Jarvis Ray
New faces: Amric Fields (injured last season), Karviar Shepherd (freshman)
Aside from the shocking upset of Kansas on Feb. 6, TCU was as overmatched as expected in its first season in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs might not be a Tournament team, but they could be better in 2013-14. The leading scorer Anderson is back, and Fields, the Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year as a sophomore, played only three games last season due to injury. TCU also signed a top-50 recruit in Shepherd.

10. TEXAS TECH (11-20, 3-15)
Key players gone: Josh Gray, Ty Nurse
Top returners: Jaye Crockett, Dejan Kravic, Dusty Hannahs, Daylen Robinson, Jordan Tolbert, Jamal Williams
New faces: Aaron Ross (redshirt)
Texas Tech had one senior on last season’s team, but assist-leader Josh Gray left for junior college. Tubby Smith inherits some experience in his first season at Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders aren’t ready to compete in the Big 12.

Teaser:
<p> Who's gone and who's back in the Big 12 for 2013-14</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 10:40
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, Overtime
Path: /overtime/pro-tennis-player-shows-worlds-least-subtle-car
Body:
We know pro athletes have big egos, but Ukranian tennis player Alexandr Dolgopolov is taking it to a whole new level with his car. Dolgopolov, nicknamed "Dolgo" (The Dog) by fellow players, recently posted a picture on Instagram of himself behind the wheel of a nearly unrecognizable Nissan GT-R, which has been customized into a giant, chromed-out crap sandwich. Woof!
Teaser:
<p> Ukranian tennis player Alexandr Dolgopolov shows off world's tackiest car.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 08:40
Path: /college-football/big-ten-football-2013-predictions
Body:

 

2013 Big Ten Predictions    
Leaders Division
 
Big Ten Overall
1. Ohio State 8-0 13-0
2. Wisconsin 6-2 9-3
3. Penn State 4-4 8-4
4. Indiana 3-5 6-6
5. Purdue 2-6 4-8
6. Illinois 1-7 4-8
       
Legends Division    
1. Michigan 6-2 10-3
2. Nebraska 6-2 9-3
3. Northwestern 5-3 9-3
4. Michigan State 4-4 7-5
5. Minnesota 2-6 6-6
6. Iowa 1-7 4-8
       
Big Ten Championship    
Ohio State over Michigan    

2012 was not a banner year for the Big Ten. Ohio State and Penn State were ineligible to compete in a bowl game, leaving Wisconsin at 8-5 overall representing the conference in the Rose Bowl.

While 2012 was a shaky year for the conference, 2013 is looking better.

Ohio State is a national title contender and ranks as the No. 2 team in Athlon’s Top 25 for 2013.  The Buckeyes are led by a Heisman candidate in quarterback Braxton Miller, and the defense should be better in the second year under coordinators Luke Fickell and Everett Withers.

Wisconsin is Ohio State’s biggest challenger in the Leaders Division. The Badgers are under the direction of a new coach in Gary Andersen, and despite the departure of running back Montee Ball, should have one of the Big Ten’s top backfields with Melvin Gordon and James White.

Penn State is ineligible to play in the postseason once again, but the Nittany Lions should have a winning record in Bill O’Brien’s second year in Happy Valley.

Indiana is making progress under coach Kevin Wilson, and the schedule is favorable enough to expect a bowl appearance.

Purdue and Illinois round out the division, as both teams have a lot of holes to fill in 2013.

While there’s a clear pecking order in the Leaders Division, the Legends is a much tougher one to predict.

Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern each have legitimate conference title hopes. The Wolverines have a rising star in quarterback Devin Gardner, and the defense should be steady despite the departure of a couple of key performers. Michigan State’s offense is a huge question mark, while Nebraska returns only four starters on defense. Northwestern is loaded on offense, but the Wildcats feature a tough crossover schedule with games against Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Inside the War Room: Key Questions That Shaped Athlon's 2013 Predictions

What gave Michigan the edge over Nebraska in the Legends Division?

Both teams have some solid talent, but both teams are flawed. Michigan is breaking in three new starters on the offensive line and is looking for playmakers at wide receiver. In addition, the Wolverines must replace key personnel on each level of their defense. Nebraska should be terrific on offense, but the Huskers’ defense is a concern. Remember, this team gave up an average of 53.5 points and 595.0 yards in its four losses last season. Nebraska, which doesn’t play Ohio State or Wisconsin from the Leaders Division, has the easier schedule. But in the end, we went with Michigan for two reasons — the Wolverines host Nebraska in November, and the Huskers are tough to trust; they have had some puzzling losses in the last two years.

Was there any thought to not picking Ohio State to win the Leaders Division?

None. The only discussion about Ohio State was about how high we would pick the Buckeyes in the national rankings. And after a brief discussion, we put Ohio State No. 2, right behind Alabama. This isn’t a team with elite talent at every position, but the Buckeyes should be very good on offense, and they have a proven commodity in head coach Urban Meyer. The schedule isn’t overly taxing, either. Aside from the season-finale at Michigan, you could make a case that Ohio State’s toughest game could be the early October trip to Northwestern. Even if the Bucks don’t navigate the regular season without a loss — as we are predicting — it will be a huge surprise if they don’t win the division and play in the Big Ten Championship Game.

How can Michigan State be picked fourth in the Legends with a schedule that doesn’t include Ohio State, Wisconsin or Penn State?

This was a huge topic for debate as we tried to settle on our third-place team in the Legends, Northwestern or Michigan State. The Wildcats, on paper, have the better team. They return almost every key piece from a team that won 10 games — and held double-digit second-half leads in the three games they did not win. But Northwestern’s schedule is not kind; the Cats have to play Ohio State and Wisconsin from the Leaders and also travel to Nebraska. Michigan State, on the other hand, was handed a gift from the scheduling gods — no Ohio State, Wisconsin or Penn State. And for that reason, it was tempting to pick the Spartans ahead of Northwestern. Last year, much was made of Michigan State’s close losses. The Spartans lost five games by four points or less, but they also won four games by the same margin. And while there is a lot to like about this team — the defense will once again be stout — the offense remains a huge concern. So even with this relatively kind schedule, we don’t believe Michigan State will finish ahead of Northwestern in the league standings.

Is Indiana showing signs of progress under Kevin Wilson, or are the Hoosiers simply of a product of the soft second tier of the Leaders Division?

It’s a little bit of both. There’s no doubt that IU will benefit from playing in the weaker of the two divisions in 2013. The Hoosiers also have the added advantage of hosting the three most “winnable” games against its division foes — Penn State, Purdue and Illinois. But this program no doubt took a significant step forward in 2012, Wilson’s second season in Bloomington. The Hoosiers led the Big Ten in passing offense and ranked second in total offense en route to a 4–8 overall record and a 2–6 mark in the league. The offense should once again be among the best in the league. If the young defense can make the progression from bad to mediocre, Indiana will be in position to take advantage of its schedule and return to a bowl game for the first time since 2007.


Big Ten Team Previews

Leaders Division Legends Division
Illinois Iowa
Indiana Michigan
Ohio State Michigan State
Penn State Minnesota
Purdue Nebraska
Wisconsin Northwestern


Big Ten Notebook

Coaching Shuffle 
The Big Ten carousel didn’t spin quite as much as it did last year, when there were an unprecedented 40 total changes at the head coach and assistant levels, but the league had another long and active offseason of transactions. Wisconsin’s hiring of Jeff Genyk as tight ends coach/special teams coach in early March marked the 32nd and final (we think) coaching change in the Big Ten for the 2013 season.

Only two teams — Wisconsin and Purdue — hired new head coaches, but Darrell Hazell brought in an entirely new staff with the Boilers, and Gary Andersen retained only two assistants (Thomas Hammock and Ben Strickland) with the Badgers. Illinois kept Tim Beckman after a 2–10 debut, but Beckman had to replace more than half (five) of his assistants, four of whom left voluntarily.

Three Big Ten coordinators — Michigan State’s Dan Roushar (offense), Indiana’s Mike Ekeler (co-defense) and Penn State’s Ted Roof (defense) — left for other positions. Iowa welcomed in three new assistants for the second consecutive offseason, continuing a staff overhaul for a program that had seen tremendous continuity for much of the Kirk Ferentz era. Michigan saw its first coaching change of Brady Hoke’s tenure, as defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery left for Oklahoma.

The winter also featured two cases of intraleague coach poaching. Michigan State swiped Jim Bollman from Hazell’s staff at Purdue about a month after Bollman arrived. Hazell responded by hiring Jim Bridge — who had been at Illinois for about a month — to coach the Boilers’ offensive line.

Four Big Ten coaching staffs — Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State — remain fully intact for the 2013 season. Minnesota and Northwestern are the only FBS teams without a staff change for the past three seasons.
 

Welcome Returns
Quite a lot of firepower returns around the Big Ten for 2013. Thirty all-conference selections are back, the most since the 2005 season. The league also brings back the most first-team All-Big Ten selections (18) since 2005.

Eight of the 13 individual award winners from last season also return, including Ohio State’s Braxton Miller (Quarterback of the Year), Michigan’s Taylor Lewan (Offensive Lineman of the Year) and Penn State’s Allen Robinson (Wide Receiver of the Year).

Miller is the fourth consecutive Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year to return the following season. Seven of the top 10 rushers from 2012 are back, although the top three — Le’Veon Bell, Montee Ball and Denard Robinson — depart. The Big Ten also returns its top 10 receiving yards leaders from last season, led by Penn State’s Robinson.

Schedule Surge 
More Big Ten teams are moving out of cupcake city and strategically scheduling for the future college football playoff. Ohio State recently added home-and-home series against Oregon, Texas and TCU. Nebraska renewed its rivalry against Oklahoma with a home-and-home, and Wisconsin, often criticized for soft non-league slates, scheduled a blockbuster season opener in 2015 against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium. Other exciting future series include Michigan State-Oregon, Michigan-Arkansas and Northwestern-Stanford.
 

Name Change 
The Legends Division isn’t so legendary after all. The Leaders are forsaking some of their leadership.

The Big Ten will ditch the much-lampooned division names in 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers join the league. Instead, the league will follow the lead of the SEC and Pac-12 with geographic divisions.

The East Division will feature Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers. The West will include Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. All of the East teams are in the Eastern time zone, while every West team besides Purdue is in the Central time zone. Starting in 2016, the Big Ten will play a nine-game conference schedule.
 

Killer Crossovers 
The third year of division play means the crossover schedules flip for every Big Ten squad. That means good news for Michigan State, which doesn’t play Ohio State, Wisconsin or Penn State. Nebraska misses both the Buckeyes and the Badgers, while Wisconsin won’t face Michigan, Michigan State or Nebraska during the regular season. The crossover schedules get much harder for teams like Northwestern and Iowa, both of which get Ohio State and Wisconsin back on the schedule. Illinois plays three of the projected top four in the Legends division — Nebraska, Michigan State and Northwestern — and skips only Michigan.


Coordinator Carousel

Illinois

Offensive Coordinator
Old: Chris Beatty, Bill Gonzales; New: Bill Cubit
Beatty was fired after the 2012 season. He is now the wide receivers coach at Wisconsin. Gonzales left Illinois to become the wide receivers coach at Mississippi State. Cubit was fired by Western Michigan after eight seasons as the Broncos’ head coach. Previously, he was the offensive coordinator at Stanford, Rutgers, Missouri and Western Michigan. 
 

Indiana

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Doug Mallory, Mike Ekeler; New: Doug Mallory, William Inge
Ekeler left Indiana in late February to become the linebackers coach at USC. Inge comes to Indiana after serving as an assistant defensive line coach with the Buffalo Bills in 2012. Previously, he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for two seasons at the University of Buffalo.
 

Michigan State

Offensive Coordinator
Old: Dan Roushar; New: Jim Bollman, Dave Warner
Roushar left Michigan State to become the running backs coach with the New Orleans Saints. Bollman had accepted a job to be the offensive line coach at Purdue under new coach Darrell Hazell but left to join the Michigan State staff. In 2012, he was the offensive line coach and running game coordinator at Boston College. Prior to that, he served as the OC at Ohio State for 11 years. Warner has been on the MSU staff as the quarterbacks coach for the past six seasons.
 

Penn State

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Ted Roof; New: John Butler
Roof left Penn State after one season to become the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, his alma mater. Butler was promoted to DC after serving as Penn State’s secondary coach in 2011.
 

Purdue

Offensive Coordinator
Old: Gary Nord; New: John Shoop
Nord has not landed a new job. Shoop was out of coaching last season. He previously served as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina from 2007-11 and also has a stint as the OC of the Chicago Bears (2001-03).

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Tim Tibesar; New: Greg Hudson
Tibesar was not retained by the new staff and was hired to coach linebackers by the Chicago Bears. He worked for new Bears coach Marc Trestman in the CFL. Hudson was the linebackers coach at Florida State from 2010-12. He was the DC at East Carolina from 2005-09.


Wisconsin

Offensive Coordinator
Old: Matt Canada; New: Andy Ludwig
Canada is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at NC State. Ludwig served as the offensive coordinator at San Diego State for the past two seasons. He has also had stints as the coordinator at California, Utah, Oregon and Fresno State.

Defensive Coordinator
Old: Chris Ash, Charlie Partridge; New: Dave Aranda
Ash and Partridge both followed Bret Bielema to Arkansas. Ash will be the Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator, and Partridge will coach the defensive line. Aranda was the defensive coordinator at Utah State last season, working for new Badgers coach Gary Andersen. Prior to that, he spent two years as the DC at Hawaii. 
 

Related College Football Content

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

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

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

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 07:26
Path: /college-football/mac-football-2013-predictions
Body:
2013 MAC Predictions    
East Division   MAC Overall
1. Bowling Green 7-1 8-5
2. Ohio 6-2 9-3
3. Kent State 4-4 6-6
4. Buffalo 4-4 5-7
5. Miami (Ohio) 4-4 4-8
6. Akron 1-7 2-10
7. UMass 0-8 1-11
       
West Division      
1. Northern Illinois 7-1 10-3
2. Ball State 6-2 9-3
3. Toledo 6-2 8-4
4. Western Michigan 5-3 6-6
5. Central Michigan 2-6 3-9
6. Eastern Michigan 0-8 1-11
       
MAC Championship    
Northern Illinois over Bowling Green    

You can’t blame the MAC for not wanting 2012 to end after the league enjoyed its most successful season ever. Not only did the MAC send a team (Northern Illinois) to a BCS bowl for the first time, but league teams also combined to win a record 18 games against FBS opponents in non-conference action and had four different schools nationally ranked at some point during the season.

You could make the argument that last season the MAC was the second best non-AQ conference in the nation after the Mountain West.

Don’t expect another BCS bowl qualifier in 2013, but the MAC has a chance to be just as strong overall.

Northern Illinois is the favorite to repeat in the West thanks in large part to the return of dynamic quarterback Jordan Lynch. As a junior, Lynch ranked fourth in the nation in total offense with 3,138 yards passing and 1,815 yards rushing and a combined 44 touchdowns. Six other starters return on offense, including tailback Akeem Daniels and speedy wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. Defensively, NIU returns only three starters, one on each level.

Ball State and Toledo will be the biggest threats to Northern Illinois in the West. The Cardinals are loaded at the skill positions, with the return of quarterback Keith Wenning, wideouts Willie Snead and Jamill Smith, tight end Zane Fakes and running back Jahwan Edwards. Third-year coach Pete Lembo has done a tremendous job rebuilding this program. Toledo, like Ball State, will be explosive on offense but has issues on the defensive side of the ball. Only two starters returns from a defense that allowed 473.2 yards per game in 2012. The Rockets will be tested early with a Week 1 trip to Florida.

No team in the MAC has done less with more over the past few seasons than Western Michigan. As a result, there is new leadership in Kalamazoo, with former Northern Illinois star P.J. Fleck, 32, talking over for Bill Cubit. Central Michigan hopes to build off its surprising late-season run that was capped off with a win over Western Kentucky in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Zurlon Tipton is one of the most underrated tailbacks in the nation. Eastern Michigan has not had a winning season since 1995 and will struggle again in the rugged West Division.

Bowling Green is searching for its first division title since 2003. The Falcons will be outstanding on defense, even with the loss of tackle Chris Jones and linebacker Dwayne Woods. If the offense (11th in the MAC last season) improves, the Falcons will be the team to beat in the East. 

Under Frank Solich, Ohio has been the most consistent team in the division, but the Bobcats have yet to deliver in the MAC Championship Game. The return of quarterback Tyler Tettleton and tailback Beau Blankenship will keep the Ohio offense humming.

Kent State boasts the best one-two punch at tailback in the league with speedster Dri Archer and 250-pound bruiser Traylon Durham. Expect the Golden Flashes to be a run-oriented team once again as they break in a new quarterback under first-year coach Paul Haynes.

Buffalo played well down the stretch in 2012, winning three straight before losing by 14 at Bowling Green in the finale. With 15 starters back and a soft MAC schedule — no NIU or Ball State from the West — don’t be surprised if the Bulls make a move in ’13. Miami will rely on its speedy playmakers to overcome the graduation of QB Zac Dysert, a four-year starter who threw for 12,013 yards and 73 TDs.

Akron coach Terry Bowden had a rough first season in his return to the FBS ranks, but the Zips showed improvement and should be better in 2013. UMass struggled mightily in its first full season in the league — though the Minutemen did beat Akron in early November to avoid an 0–12 campaign.


2013 MAC Team Previews

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


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

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

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Teaser:
<p> MAC Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-pocono-raceway
Body:

To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s 9-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned driver strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.

NASCAR makes its first of two visits to Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania Sunday for the Party in the Poconos 400. With a race name like that, Clint Bowyer would appear to be the early favorite, right? Not so fast, says the following stringent analysis. Jump in, make your picks and, hopefully, make us look like we know what we’re talking about.


A-List (Choose two, start one)
Denny Hamlin
After blowing a tire at Dover and smacking the wall, Hamlin’s summer scramble to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup felt the pressure intensify just a bit more. Good thing he’s coming to Pocono, where in 14 starts he’s moved to second in Pocono wins among active drivers. Expect Hamlin to both start (average 5.6) and finish (average 10.7) up front Sunday — especially after the blemish on his Pocono resume handed down in July last year when he was caught in Jimmie Johnson’s late-race crash. In total, Hamlin has led right at one of every four laps that he’s run at Pocono. That’s stout.

Jeff Gordon
Gordon has plenty of glowing career statistics that aren’t so reflective of how well his No. 24 has performed in recent seasons. Such is the break of his astounding period from roughly 1995 to 2002. But stats enhanced long ago muddying the current waters isn’t the case for Gordon at Pocono. Three of Gordon’s last nine wins on the Sprint Cup tour have come at Pocono, and four of his last five starts have resulted in top-10 finishes. The five-race rate bests a career top-10 average at the 2.5-mile triangle of 70 percent.

Also consider: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth
 

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy NASCAR tips for the Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 17:56
Path: /mlb/baseballs-all-time-all-steroid-team
Body:

Steroids are as synonymous with baseball as hot dogs or cold beer. It's an unfortunate era of the game that fans of all ages must accept. Are the use of performance-enhancing drugs terrible for the body and a form of cheating? Yes, and this country should work diligently to combat their growth. But steroids are a part why the game survived during the '90s — aka the 1998 home run chase — and, unfortunately, don't seem to be going away any time soon.

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" has learned that MLB will look to suspend upwards of 20 players related to the Miami-based clinic run by Tony Bosch. Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun are the marquee names but Gio Gonzalez, who is coming off of his best season, and Everth Cabrera, who is having his best year in '13, also stand out. Other big names like Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera are mentioned as well. Many believe that baseball is looking for 100-game suspensions for several of the players reported to be associated with Bosch's clinic.

Should steroid users be in the Hall of Fame — alongside plenty of other great players who bent the rules? Who benefits more from PEDs: Hitters or pitchers? Will there ever be confirmation of who used what when? Since there will likely never be a definitive answer to these questions maybe baseball should build a “Steroid Wing” in Cooperstown and just lump everyone from 1990 to 2006 — when Bud Selig finally created the Joint Drug Prevention and Blunt Treatment Program.

How would that roster look? Here is the all-time steroid team made up of names who have been connected in one way or another to some sort of PED at some point. The starting lineup is a murderer’s row and the rotation has one of the all-time greats fronting it.

C: Pudge Rodriguez (1991-2011)
Key Stats: .296/.798, 2,844 H, 311 HR, 1,332 RBI
Awards: All-Star (14), Gold Glove (13), Silver Slugger (7), MVP

He is one of baseball’s all-time greatest catchers. He has more putouts (14,864) than any other catcher in history by a wide margin as his 21-season career would indicate. He hit over 20 home runs, however, just five times. They all came in consecutive seasons with the Rangers after playing three years with Jose Canseco. His 35-homer, 113-RBI MVP season is a clear outlier as Canseco claimed to have personally educated Rodriguez about steroid use. He never topped 30 home runs or 100 RBIs in any other season. Following the release of Canseco's inflammatory book, Juiced, the 215-pound catcher showed up at Tigers camp at 187 pounds and never hit more than 14 homers the rest of his career. Honorable Mention: Mike Piazza, Javy Lopez

1B: Mark McGwire (1986-2001)
Key Stats: .263/.982, 583 HR, 1,414 RBI
Awards: All-Star (12), Silver Slugger (3), Gold Glove (1), Rookie of the Year

McGwire is one of the few who has openly admitted that he used PEDs during his playing career. In fact, he dates his use of steroids back to as early as 1989 when he and Canseco won the World Series in Oakland — the modern birthplace for steroids. The Big Mac would have been a big bopper no matter what drugs he took, but breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record two years in a row seems highly unlikely. Especially considering he did it at age 34 (70 HR) and 35 (65). Honorable Mention: Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Bagwell

2B: Bret Boone (1992-2005)
Key Stats: .266/.767, 252 HR, 1,021 RBI
Awards: All-Star (3), Gold Glove (4), Silver Slugger (2)

Boone’s career stat sheet is one that steroid haters point to on a regular basis. How could a 5-foot-10, 180-pound second baseman who hit a total of 62 home runs in his first six seasons somehow blast 37 dingers and lead the league in RBIs (141) with a .331 average at age 32? His .950 OPS that year dwarfed his career .767 mark. In eight of 14 seasons, Boone hit 15 round trippers or less. But from 2001 to 2003, he hit 96 of his career 252 homers. Once again, it was Canseco’s book that fingered Boone as a potential steroid user. Honorable Mention: Brian Roberts, Chuck Knoblauch

3B: Alex Rodriguez (1994-present)
Key Stats: .300/.945, 647 HR, 1,950 RBI, 318 SB
Awards: All-Star (14), Silver Slugger (10), MVP (3), Gold Glove (2)

Playing in Seattle and Texas, two steroid hotbeds, AROD tested positive for PEDs in 2003 and eventually confessed to his use of banned substances from 2001-03. He has also seen his name mentioned prominently with more recent accusations hailing from the aforementioned Biogenesis clinic based in South Florida. He was an elite player with elite skills but his 40-40 season, multiple MVPs and historic numbers have all been called into question by his decision to cheat. His legacy is very much on the line as a result of his association with MLB's latest investigation in Miami. Honorable Mention: Ken Caminiti, Mike Lowell, Gary Sheffield

SS: Miguel Tejada (1997-2011, '13)
Key Stats: .285/.793, 306 HR, 1,289 RBI
Awards: All-Star (6), Silver Slugger (2), MVP (1)

Tejada was arguably the top shortstop in the game during a five-year stretch from 2000-04. He hit over 30 home runs in four out of five seasons, led the majors with 150 RBIs in 2004 and won the 2002 MVP as a key cog in the emergence of the "Moneyball" era in Oakland. But like many Bay Area players, the Latin star was fingered for steroid use by a variety of people. Rafael Palmeiro accused him of giving him tainted B-12 shots. Canseco accused him in his book. And then his name was featured prominently in the Mitchell Report. It all eventually led to a somber confession in 2009, as he was facing federal perjury charges, leaving little doubt that his career is tainted. Following a one-year absence in 2012, Tejada returned to the majors this season and is currently a utility player for the Royals.

OF: Barry Bonds (1986-2007)
Key Stats: .298/1.051, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB
Awards: All-Star (14), Silver Slugger (12), Gold Glove (8), MVP (7)

The most high-profile steroid user in the history of baseball also just happens to be its all-time home run champ. Everyone knows the number 755 but few know Bonds’ 762. This is all, of course, due to his miraculous late-career power surge. He never hit over 50 home runs in a season until he blasted 73 in 2002 at age 36. He hit over 40 dingers only three times in his career before topping 45 in five straight seasons from 2000 to 2004 — his 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th seasons. He was at the center of the BALCO scandal playing in a roided-up city during the peak of the steroid era. This one is a no brainer and it’s a shame, because he might have been one of the greatest hitters of all-time if he hadn't cheated. Honorable Mention: Ryan Braun, Gary Sheffield

OF: Sammy Sosa (1989-2007)
Key Stats: .273/.878, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 234 SB
Awards: All-Star (7), Silver Slugger (6), MVP (1)

This should be the only stat you need to know about Sosa and the steroid era: The Cubs' slugger broke Maris’ single-season home run record three times (1998, 1999, 2001) and never once led his league in homers. Think about that? He was a power hitter despite his 6-foot, 165-pound frame before 1998, but his numbers spiked dramatically during his historic home run chase with McGwire. He hit 207 HR in his first nine seasons and 292 long balls from 1998 to 2002. His 2005 Congressional hearing performance was one for the ages and he was fingered by The New York Times in an article stating Sosa tested positive for PEDs in 2003. Seriously, Baseball-Reference has him listed at 6-foot and 165 pounds… and he has 609 home runs? Honorable Mention: Jose Canseco, Juan Gonzalez

OF: Manny Ramirez (1993-2011)
Key Stats: .312/.996, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI
Awards: All-Star (12), Silver Slugger (9)

There weren’t many better right-handed hitters in all of baseball than Man-Ram in his prime. But that all came crashing down when he tested positive in 2009 for testosterone levels and was suspended 50 games. He then tested positive again in 2011 for a banned substance. All of this after he was fingered as a user back in the infamous 2003 drug test that reportedly also implicated Sosa, A-Rod and others. He was an elite hitter who delivered in the clutch and led his team to four different World Series. But he also quit on his team and earned the "Manny Being Manny" moniker after bizarre and often inexplicable on-field behavior. Honorable Mention: Brady Anderson, Melky Cabrera

DH: David Ortiz (1997-present)
Key Stats: .285/.928, 401 HR, 1,326 RBI
Awards: All-Star (8), Silver Slugger (5)

Big Papi has a strange career boxscore. In six seasons with the Twins, Ortiz slugged just 58 home runs — or less than 10 per season. But paired up with Man-Ram in Beantown for an organization that is willing to do anything to win and he became the greatest hitting DH of all-time. He has averaged 34 home runs per season in 10 full seasons with the Red Sox and topped out at a league-leading 54 in 2006. Ortiz, like so many others on this team, reportedly tested positive for steroids in 2003, information that finally came to light in 2009. To Ortiz' credit, he has maintained his production at the plate since the disclosure, as he averaged 30 home runs per season from 2009-11. Honorable Mention: Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui

SP: Roger Clemens (1984-2007)
Key Stats: 354 W, 4,916.2 IP, 4,672 K, 3.12 ERA
Awards: All-Star (11), Cy Young (7), MVP (1)

The Bonds of the mound, Clemens used PEDs to match the slugger's MVPs with seven Cy Young awards. He led the league in ERA seven different times, including a sterling 1.87 mark — his career best — at age 42 while pitching in a notorious steroid town (Houston) in 2005. The change in his career dates back to his move north of the border. After four middling years in Boston from 1993-96, he signed with Toronto and went 41-13 in 498.2 innings with a 2.33 ERA and 563 strikeouts — at age 34 and 35. He was then traded to New York and made more than $97.8 million from age 37 to 44. His name came up 82 times in the Mitchell Report and he has been fingered by former trainers and even teammates as a possible rule-breaker. Honorable Mention: Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt

RP: Eric Gagne (1997-2008)
Key Stats: 187 SV, 643.2 IP, 718 K, 3.47 ERA
Awards: All-Star (3), Cy Young (1)

Gagne was magical when he was at his best. He converted an MLB-record 84 straight saves and closed 152 games with 365 strikeouts and a 1.79 ERA in just 247.0 innings from 2002 to 2004. In his other seven seasons combined, he closed 35 games total. However, pitching on the West Coast during those years will raise major question marks and he was named prominently in the Mitchell Report complete with extremely incriminating evidence. He was never the same pitcher following his Tommy John surgery in 2005. Honorable Mention: John Rocker, Guillermo Mota

Note: This is simply for fun and not intended to cast official judgment of anyone named above nor is it investigative journalism.

Teaser:
<p> Major League Baseball's All-Steroid Team</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 11:15
Path: /college-football/elijah-hood-recruit-flushes-letter-alabama-notre-dame
Body:

Despite winning back-to-back national championships, not every elite recruit wants to play at Alabama. No, seriously.

One of the nation’s top running back recruits for the class of 2014 – Elijah Hood – poked a little fun at Alabama on Tuesday night. On his Vine account, Hood flushed one of the recruiting letters sent to him from the Crimson Tide and closed the video with a Roll Toilet – a humorous take on Alabama’s usual Roll Tide motto. His closing to the video also sparked the #RollToilet hashtag on Twitter.

Hood is committed to Notre Dame and ranks as the No. 13 national recruit by Rivals.com.

Needless to say, if the Fighting Irish continue to improve under Brian Kelly, and Nick Saban stays on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, Hood should have a chance to matchup against Alabama in one of college football's top bowl games in the near future.

 

Teaser:
<p> Notre Dame Commit Elijah Hood Flushes Alabama Recruiting Letter&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 08:15
Path: /college-football/american-athletic-conference-football-2013-predictions
Body:
2013 American Predictions    
    American Overall
1. Louisville 7-1 11-1
2. Cincinnati 6-2 9-3
3. Rutgers 5-3 7-5
4. UCF 5-3 7-5
5. South Florida 5-3 7-5
6. UConn 3-5 5-7
7. Houston 3-5 5-7
8. SMU 3-5 4-8
9. Memphis 2-6 4-8
10. Temple 1-7 4-8

The conference formerly known as the Big East is still one in transition for the 2013 season.

There’s a new name and logo for 2013, along with more changes in the lineup of teams. Pittsburgh and Syracuse departed for the ACC, but the American Athletic Conference welcomes UCF, Houston, SMU and Memphis into the league for 2013. Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten) will leave after this year, but the conference has already secured Tulsa, East Carolina and Tulane to join the league for 2014.

While the transition has cast a large shadow on this league, the American Athletic Conference does have a legitimate national title contender for 2013 – Louisville. The Cardinals return 14 starters, including Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Louisville needs to fill a couple of key voids on the offensive line, but Bridgewater and a solid defense should carry the Cardinals to the league championship.

Louisville’s biggest challenger appears to be Cincinnati. The Bearcats have a new coach (Tommy Tuberville), but the pieces are in place to push for 10 victories. Brendon Kay stabilized the quarterback spot in the second half of last season, and the defense should have the best linebacking corps in the conference for 2013. Cincinnati also hosts Louisville in the regular season finale, which could be a huge opportunity for the program to knock the Cardinals out of the national title picture.

Rutgers and UCF round out the top four in Athlon’s projected American Athletic Conference standings for 2013. The Scarlet Knights suffered some key personnel losses on defense, and need to get quarterback Gary Nova back on track after a disappointing finish to the season. The Knights could surprise this year, especially if the defense fills a few key voids in the front seven.

Behind new coach Willie Taggart, South Florida should be one of the most-improved teams in college football. The Bulls have an All-American caliber defensive end in Aaron Lynch, along with a transfer quarterback in Steven Bench to bolster the roster for 2013. The Bulls should benefit from a weak bottom of the league to get bowl eligible this year.

The final five spots in the conference are a tossup. Connecticut had one of the nation’s top-10 defenses last year, but the Huskies managed only 17.8 points a game. Coach Paul Pasqualoni hopes new coordinator T.J. Weist can push the right buttons on offense this year. If the Huskies are slightly better on offense in 2013, getting to a bowl game isn’t out of the question.

Houston and SMU could easily be switched in our projections, especially after the Cougars lost running back Charles Sims. Houston also needs to address a defense that ranked last in Conference USA in yards allowed last year. The Mustangs return quarterback Garrett Gilbert, but the defense must replace a couple of key performers, including end Margus Hunt.

Memphis and Temple round out the American projections for 2013. However, both teams appear to be on the right track. The Tigers showed big improvement under Justin Fuente last season, and Matt Rhule was a popular hire among the Temple fanbase.  
 

2013 American Athletic Conference Team Previews

Cincinnati Rutgers
Connecticut SMU
Houston South Florida
Louisville Temple
Memphis UCF


Related College Football Content

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

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

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

Teaser:
<p> American Athletic Conference Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 07:50
Path: /college-football/mountain-west-football-2013-predictions
Body:
2013 MWC Predictions MWC Overall
Mountain Division    
1. Boise State 8-0 12-1
2. Utah State 6-2 7-5
3. Air Force 4-4 6-6
4. Wyoming 4-4 7-5
5. Colorado State 3-5 5-8
6. New Mexico 1-7 4-8
       
West Division    
1. Fresno State 6-2 10-3
2. San Jose State 5-3 7-5
3. San Diego State 5-3 7-5
4. Nevada 5-3 6-6
5. UNLV 1-7 3-9
6. Hawaii 0-8 1-11
       
  MWC Championship    
  Boise State over Fresno State  

One of the underrated winners of the recent wave of conference realignment has been the Mountain West. Not only did the league keep Boise State and San Diego State after both schools flirted with — and even temporarily joined — the Big East, but the Mountain West has also poached four programs from the WAC in the last two years (Fresno State and Nevada after the 2011 season and San Jose State and Utah State after the ’12 season). These additions helped mitigate the losses of TCU, Utah and BYU.

Boise State is the best team in the league and the overwhelming favorite in the Mountain Division, but the balance of power — at least in the short term — is in the West Division. Fresno State, which quietly went 7–1 in its first year in the league last fall, is the pick to win the division thanks to an explosive offense that features elite talent at quarterback (Derek Carr) and wide receiver (Davante Adams). The race for second figures to be tight between San Jose State, San Diego State and Nevada. Both the Spartans and Wolf Pack are under new leadership, with Ron Caragher taking over for Mike MacIntyre in San Jose and Brian Polian now in charge in Reno.

There is quite a bit of fall-off after the “Big Four” in the West as UNLV and Hawaii might be two of the worst FBS teams in the nation. Bobby Hauck needs to show significant progress at UNLV after winning exactly two games in each of his first three seasons. Norm Chow’s first season at Hawaii did not go well — the Warriors went 1–7 in the league — and the prognosis for 2013 isn’t much better.

After taking a small step back last season, Boise State should be back to its usual explosive ways on offense with the return of quarterback Joe Southwick and a veteran offensive line. The Broncos’ toughest league test will be a trip to Fresno State for a Friday night showdown in late September.

League newcomer Utah State could be Boise’s biggest challenger in the Mountain Division. The Aggies lost coach Gary Andersen to Wisconsin but welcome back quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Air Force, as usual, is a bit of a mystery with so many new faces, but the Falcons will once again be a tough out in league play. Wyoming is poised to bounce back from a disappointing 4–8 season — if the Cowboys can keep talented junior quarterback Brett Smith healthy. Dave Christensen, entering his fifth year in Laramie, needs a strong season to stay off the hot seat.

Colorado State returns 15 starters from a team that won three of its last five games under first-year coach Jim McElwain. The Rams are getting better but are probably a year away from being a factor in the league race.

New Mexico won only one league game last year but showed marked improvement in the first year of the Bob Davie era. The Lobos, however, will have a tough time escaping the Mountain Division basement in 2013 unless they can find a way throw the ball with some success. Last season, UNM completed a total of 79 passes in 13 games.


2013 Mountain West Team Previews

Mountain Division West Division
Air Force Fresno State
Boise State Hawaii
Colorado State Nevada
New Mexico San Diego State
Utah State San Jose State
Wyoming UNLV

 


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Teaser:
<p> Mountain West Football 2013 Predictions</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 07:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oklahoma Sooners, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/top-10-oklahoma-football-teams-all-time
Body:

Oklahoma has one of the richest and most successful college football traditions in the nation. The NCAA's all-time longest winning streak, four coaches with at least 120 wins at the school — although, Bennie Owen's teams are ineligible for this exercise — and one of the classic gameday atmospheres in history. Clean uniforms, a simple, yet effective fight song, arguably the greatest rivalry game in college football and, of course, plenty of championships make the Sooners one of the sports' bluest blue bloods.

But how would Roy Williams and Torrance Marshall do against Billy Sims? What about a head-to-head battle between Lee Roy Selmon and Adrian Peterson? The Sooners have won at least a share of 40 conference championships and claim seven recognized national championships since the AP era began in 1934. But which team was the best? The fact of the matter is no one will ever know for sure, so trying to rank the best teams in Crimson and Cream history is virtually impossible. But we're going to try anyway.

1. 2000 (13-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Few teams were more complete than the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners. Offensive whiz and Heisman finalist Josh Heupel led the offense at quarterback while one of the most talented defenses ever assembled posted arguably the best BCS title game performance in history. Starting No. 19 in the preseason polls, OU won road games against No. 2 Kansas State and No. 23 Texas A&M while defeating No. 1 Nebraska at home. Three neutral field wins over ranked opponents — No. 11 Texas, No. 8 Kansas State and eventually No. 3 Florida State — led to Oklahoma’s first national championship since 1985. Roy Williams, J.T. Thatcher, Torrance Marshall and Rocky Calmus are just a few of the standout names on the historic ’00 Sooner defense.

2. 1974 (11-0, 7-0)
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
The first of Switzer’s three national championship teams beat all but one opponent (Texas) by at least 14 points after starting the year as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation. The team boasted eight All-Americans and a stacked backfield that included Steve Davis, Joe Washington and Jim Littrell. This team set an NCAA record for rushing attempts as the Wishbone attack averaged 73.9 rushes per game and scored more than 60 points three times. The other side of the ball was led by the Selmon brothers, Lee Roy and Dewey, as well as All-American Rod Shoate and Jimbo Elrod. As the lone unbeaten team in the nation, OU claimed its fourth national championship.

3. 1955 (11-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bud Wilkinson
The middle team of the magical Wilkinson run in the mid-50s won games 20-30 of the famed 47-game winning streak. Led by NCAA Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald — who shockingly led the Sooners in passing, rushing AND receiving — Oklahoma went on to claim the national championship by dominating opponents. This defense pitched five shutouts, including four straight to end the regular season and a combined score of 73-0 against archrivals Texas and Oklahoma State. Beginning the year No. 3 in the polls, Oklahoma worked its way to No. 1 by Week 7 and defeated No. 3 Maryland 20-6 in the Orange Bowl to claim the national title.

4. 1956 (10-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bud Wilkinson
After winning back-to-back national titles and entering the season on a 30-game winning streak, Oklahoma went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the nation. The defense pitched six shutouts, including a combined 138-0 thrashing of Notre Dame, Texas and Oklahoma State. This team allowed 51 total points in 1956, gave OU its third consecutive national championship and pushed the Sooners' winning streak to 40 games. Quarterback Jim Harris took over admirably for Tommy McDonald and National Lineman of the Year Jerry Tubbs finished fourth in the Heisman voting.

5. 1975 (11-1, 6-1)
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
As the defending champs, Oklahoma entered the season ranked No. 1 in the polls and proceeded to destroy both Oregon and No. 15 Pitt 108-17 to start the year. This team, which boasted eight All-Americans and an Outland Trophy winner in Lee Roy Selmon, defeated four top-five opponents in Colorado (No. 2), Texas (No. 5), Nebraska (No. 2) and Michigan (No. 5) in the Orange Bowl as well as three other top-20 teams in Missouri (No. 18), Oklahoma State (No. 19) and Pitt. A bizarre 23-3 loss at home to Kansas was the only blemish on the ’75 resume and it took losses from both No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Texas A&M in their bowl games to give OU its fifth national championship.

6. 1985 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
The Sooners began the season No. 2 in the polls and with Troy Aikman as the starting quarteback. However, after a loss to Miami in Week 4, Aikman was lost for the year. Jamelle Holieway took over and, with the help of a stacked roster, led Oklahoma to the national championship. He was surrounded by elite talents like Keith Jackson and Lydell Carr on offense and three All-Americans in Tony Casillas, Kevin Murphy and Butkus Award winner Brian Bosworth on defense. This team allowed more than seven points just four times all year and capped the season with a convincing 25-10 victory over No. 1 Penn State in the Orange Bowl.

7. 2008 (12-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
When it comes to overall talent, few rosters in Oklahoma history can match the ’08 squad. Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy while leading Oklahoma to the Big 12 Championship and the BCS National Championship Game. Ryan Broyles, DeMarco Murray, Chris Brown, Jauquin Iglesias, Jermaine Gresham, Manuel Johnson, Trent Williams and Phil Loadholt also started on an offense that set the NCAA record for points scored (716) by a wide margin (Hawaii, 656). The defense wasn’t far behind on talent either, as Gerald McCoy, Jeremy Beal, Auston English, Travis Lewis, Nic Harris and Dominique Franks all started on that side of the ball. Even a 10-point loss to No. 5 Texas in the Red River Shootout wasn't enough to keep the Sooners out of the BCS title game. However, once Oklahoma got to Miami Gardens, Fla., it was a physical Florida Gators team that handed the Sooners a 24-14 defeat that ended OU’s hopes of an eighth national championship.

8. 1987 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
A third consecutive defeat at the hands of No. 2 Miami and former assistant Jimmy Johnson in the Orange Bowl kept the Sooners from the national championship for the second straight year. On a team stacked with elite players like All-Americans Rickey Dixon (who also won the Thorpe Award), Mark Hutson, Keith Jackson, Dante Jones and Darell Reed, the Sooners rolled through the regular season unbeaten. The offense led the nation in seven statistical categories but was held to just 255 total yards in the heart-breaking 20-14 loss to Miami.

9. 1986 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
For the second straight year the Sooners lost to No. 2 Miami, except this time it cost Switzer his fourth national championship. Led by Brian Bosworth, Steve Bryan, Dante Jones and Paul Migliazzo on defense, this team pitched five shutouts and led the nation in rushing, passing, total and scoring (6.8 ppg) defense. Keith Jackson and Spencer Tillman spearheaded the offense and Tillman capped the year by rushing for 109 yards and two scores in a forceful 42-8 drubbing of No. 9 Arkansas in the Orange Bowl.

10. 2004 (12-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Led by legendary true freshman tailback Adrian Peterson, the Sooners rolled through the regular season unbeaten and were poised to face the only team ranked ahead of them in the polls all season in USC in the Orange Bowl. The passing game featured Heisman winner Jason White (2003) and wideouts Mark Clayton, Mark Bradley and Travis Wilson. Stoops featured four future head coaches in Kevin Wilson (co-OC), Bo Pelini (DC), Chuck Long (co-OC) and Kevin Sumlin (TE) as well as Brent Venables (DC). A 55-19 beatdown at the hands of the No. 1 Trojans soured the season in the Orange Bowl to end the year.

Related: Top 10 Notre Dame Fighting Football Teams of All-Time
Related: Top 15 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Teams of All-Time
Related: Top 10 Oklahoma Sooners Teams of All-Time 

The best of the rest:

11. 1954 (10-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bud Wilkinson

Not many teams feature a Hall of Fame two-way lineman who finished second in the Heisman like the nasty Kurt Burris did for the unbeaten national champs in 1954. Oklahoma beat three ranked teams in Cal (No. 12), TCU (No. 20) and Texas (No. 15) to win the title. This team won games 10-19 of the famed 47-game win streak.

12. 1950 (10-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bud Wilkinson
Despite a loss to No. 7 Kentucky in the Sugar Bowl in the season finale, the Sooners claimed a share of their first national championship in school history. The offense was led in rushing and receiving by Billy Vessels, who would eventually claim the Heisman Trophy two years later.

13. 1973 (10-0-1, 7-0) Barry Switzer
14. 1979 (11-1, 7-0) Barry Switzer
15. 2003 (12-2, 8-0) Bob Stoops

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Teaser:
<p> Top 10 Oklahoma Football Teams of All-Time</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-6-amazing-stats-pocono
Body:

Dover International Speedway, a high-banked one-mile concrete oval, and Pocono Raceway, a 2.5-mile asphalt triangle with three wildly different corners, are two tracks that shouldn’t warrant much comparison.

Tony Stewart, who slumped through the first third of this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and broke out with a victory last week at Dover, hopes that the contrary is true. The manner in how he won last Sunday emulates a lot of his past success at Pocono, including his two most recent outings on the “Tricky Triangle.” If Stewart can translate what worked at one place into working at another, all of a sudden his flash-in-the-pan win last weekend (it wasn’t undeserved, but he’d be hard-pressed to duplicate the feat) becomes the ignition of a summer hot streak.

How big of a shock was last week’s win? How did he do it? And do his numbers suggest a second consecutive victory?

For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, I refer you to my glossary of terms on MotorsportsAnalytics.com.


41st  Prior to his win at Dover, Stewart ranked 41st out of 47 drivers in Production in Equal Equipment Rating (PEER) at the mile track.

In the five races leading up to the weekend, Stewart didn’t earn a finish at Dover better than 20th. Suffice to say, his win was a bit of a shock. Considering he averaged a 15th-place running position for the afternoon, the victory wasn’t one that seemed a foregone conclusion for those at home watching the race. One of the reasons that he pulled off the victory was because he dialed back the clock and found an element of his repertoire that made a younger Tony a Stock Car superstar.


54.05%  Stewart’s single-race pass efficiency at Dover was 54.05 percent, above his season-long efficiency of 48.44 percent.

The three-time champ’s minus-passing for the year (“minus” is anything below 50 percent) has hindered his plodding approach at success in most races this season. Passing is a large part of what makes Stewart a future Hall of Famer, and what allowed him to surge from 12th to first in the final 40 laps to secure his first win at Dover since 2000.

Stewart fans might take comfort in the fact that one of his best racetracks is next on the schedule.


5.500  Stewart ranks third in Cup Series PEER at Pocono with a 5.500 rating. He is the only driver that secured top-5 finishes in both races there last year.

2012 was the first season that saw Pocono’s new pavement put to use. Historically, Stewart doesn’t fare well on new surfaces or new tire combinations. Pocono was different. Similar to his run last week at Dover, Stewart improved on his average running position by 10 spots in the spring race (from 13th to third) and eight spots in the summer race (from 14th to fifth). Can he capitalize on superb passing and a plodding approach once again? If last year was any indication, it is possible. He earned a 59.38 percent pass efficiency on 256 encounters across both races there last season.


44.9%  Jimmie Johnson led 44.9 percent of last summer’s race at Pocono, but ultimately finished 14th.

If it wasn’t for a hurried rain-imminent finish that prompted Johnson and Greg Biffle to collide and take them out of the running for the win, it’s likely that the No. 48 team would have kept cruising.

In spite of that result, Johnson ranks fourth in Pocono-specific PEER with a 5.000 rating. A driver that probably should have two top-5 finishes on the new surface could right his perceived wrong from Dover — he was penalized for jumping the final restart — this weekend.
 

Teaser:
<p> David Smith crunches the numbers and finds the key NASCAR stats for the Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - 22:39
Path: /mlb/16-amazing-mlb-stats-week-may-27-june-2
Body:

Dom Brown finally goes off for the Phillies, Nationals can’t support their pitchers and the Tigers and Pirates struggled for runs. Another installment of some amazing numbers from MLB for the week of May 27-June 2.

7    Home Runs by Domonic Brown last week
The long-time, seemingly underachieving, prospect of the Phillies finally had a breakout month. After a .233-3-11 April with a .681 OPS, Brown responded to hit .319-13-29 with a 1.055 OPS over his next 30 games. Could the Phillies finally have the next anchor of their lineup?

17-13    Nationals record when they allow 1, 2 or 3 runs
The pitchers in Washington are getting the job done, it’s just that the team has a little trouble giving them any runs to work with. They are 7-1 when allowing just one run. But that drops to 7-6 when giving up two, and only 3-6 when allowing three runs. Put in layman’s terms, the Nats could maintain a 2.00 ERA and win about 92 games at this rate.

5    Pitchers who made six starts in May with a sub-2.00 ERA
Lefties Cliff Lee of Philadelphia, Jeff Locke of Pittsburgh, Mike Minor of Atlanta and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers joined righty Stephen Strasburg of Washington to comprise the quintet of hurlers with six starts and an ERA below 2.00 in May. The aggregate record of the group is 14-3 with 13 no-decisions in their 30 starts in May.

11-5     Phillies record vs. Mets and Marlins
With a three-game set against Miami this week, the Phillies have an opportunity to improve that mark. They are 16-25 against everyone else, including 2-4 vs. the Braves and Nationals, their other two NL East rivals.

5    Straight wins for the Astros
Houston finished the week with a five-game winning steak, including a sweep of the Angels in Los Angeles, but remains four games behind next-to-last in the AL.

14    Hits for Chris Davis last week
Lest you believe that Davis’s start this season is somewhat of a fluke, his bat has yet to cool off for the Orioles. He produced 14 hits last week, including four that left the park, and scored a majors-best 10 runs in leading Baltimore to a 5-2 mark for the week.

0-4    Record in May for James Shields
The Kansas City Royals’ righthander was winless in May despite a 1.08 WHIP and 2.92 ERA in his five starts.

3-1    Record in May for Jason Hammel
The Baltimore Orioles’ righthander won three games in May despite a 1.70 WHIP and 6.44 ERA in his five starts.

3    Singles by the Pirates to start an inning but didn’t score
On May 30, the Pirates touched Detroit pitcher Doug Fister for three singles without plating a run in the bottom of the fourth. Neil Walker singled, then was caught stealing. Andrew McCutchen and Garret Jones followed with base knocks before Russell Martin whiffed and Travis Snider flied out to left. No big deal, but…

4    Singles to start the fifth by the Tigers without scoring
The next inning, the Tigers did the Bucs one better. After the speed-challenged Matt Tuiasosopo and Bryan Pena opened with singles, Avisail Garcia lined a single to right and Travis Snider gunned out Tuiasosopo at the plate while holding Pena on second. Pitcher Doug Fister singled, but Pena was held at third. Two ground balls later, and Pittsburgh hurler Jeff Locke was safely out of the inning. Oh, the Pirates won 1-0 in 11 innings.

0    Shutouts by the Brewers this season
The Milwaukee Brewers’ lineup is formidable, but the pitching staff? Well, it’s pretty bad. The Brew Crew is the only staff in baseball without a shutout this season.

5    Walk-off losses this season for the Brewers and Marlins
Milwaukee and Miami lead the majors in being walked-off.

19    Home runs in 169 at-bats for David Ortiz when playing first base since 2005
While the debate over the DH rages, Ortiz continues to produce whether DHing in American League parks or manning first base in NL parks.

8    First inning run support for St. Louis pitchers’ debuts
Three youngsters made their major league debuts in the St. Louis rotation in May, and the Cardinals’ offense staked each to a lead after the first inning. The offense produced three first-inning runs for John Gast against the Mets on May 14. Tyler Lyons was also given a three spot against San Diego on May 22. Then Michael Wacha, the most heralded prospect of the three, was given a pair of runs against the Royals on May 30.

.409-6-21    Average, home runs and RBIs for Wil Myers in last 10 games at Triple-A Durham
The Rays would love to avoid Myers earning Super 2 status with extra service this season, but it’s time to give the prospect a call. Over his last 10 games at Triple-A Durham, he’s batting .409 with six home runs and 21 RBIs.

.433    OBP for Matt Carpenter since being moved to the leadoff
St. Louis manager moved Carpenter to the leadoff spot permanently on May 2 and the former TCU standout is batting .339 with 21 runs in 27 games. He has started at second, third, first and right field during that stretch, and St. Louis is 19-8.

-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

Teaser:
<p> Dom Brown finally goes off for the Phillies, Nationals can’t support their pitchers and the Tigers and Pirates struggled for runs. Another installment of some amazing numbers from MLB for the week of May 27-June2.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - 13:55
Path: /news/7-reasons-tim-tebows-nfl-career-over
Body:

The Tim Tebow saga may be coming to a slow, painful end.

Reports surfaced recently that some in Tebow’s camp are admitting that the former Gators, Broncos and Jets “quarterback” is coming to grips with the reality that his career may be coming to an end.

Nothing is official and there has been no retirement letter filed with the NFL, so he may still be holding out hope.

But after two NCAA BCS National Championships at Florida and a miracle run with the Broncos two years ago, why has Tebow’s NFL career come to an end so abruptly?

Here are the top reasons why Tebow’s career is over:

1. He can’t complete passes
This is the main reason Tebow won’t be taking snaps from an NFL center anytime soon. He has been and will always be an inaccurate passer. It doesn’t matter how big, strong, fast, hard-working, dedicated or tough you are, if you cannot accurately pass the football, your career as an NFL QB will go the way of the Ryan Leaf bird. The bottom line is Tebow is a career 47.9-percent passer. That’s not getting the job done.

2. The media circus is too much
A professional sports locker room is an extremely delicate balance between trust, cohesion, respect, tension and talent. Outside distractions can cripple a team and its chances for a championship in any sport on any level. What Tebow brings to a locker room — leadership, commitment and work ethic — doesn’t outweigh what his persona brings to an organization. The media circus that follows his every move is too much for most teams to even consider hiring the polarizing player.

3. He refuses to change positions
Quarterbacks are egomaniacs and prima donnas just like head coaches. Tebow may not be an egomaniac but he has refused to switch positions in an effort to prolong his career. Could he be a H-back, tight end, fullback or even pass-rusher? Could he contribute on special teams? The odds are yes — he is too big, fast, strong and athletic not to make plays. But he thinks of himself as a quarterback only… and it will end his career.

4. Shahid Khan is stupid
Okay, Khan isn’t actually stupid as his $2.5 billion net worth would indicate. However, the Jaguars owner not offering Tim Tebow at least a roster spot years ago was just bad business. As tarps cover seats and TV blackouts abound in Jacksonville, the Jaguars have been looking for some sort of spark to inspire fans for years. The local boy who played high school and college football just down the road could have been a perfect remedy. Well, financially, at least.

5. Urban Meyer coaches at Ohio State
Meyer coached Tebow at Florida to two national championships and a Heisman Trophy before taking a year off from coaching. He resurfaced at Ohio State and led the Buckeyes to a perfect 12-0 record in his first season in Columbus. However, had he taken an NFL job instead of the Big Ten one, fans can bet Tebow would be on an NFL roster. Even if he is just a third QB — or designated locker room speech giver.

BONUS REASONS:

Everyone hates Skip Bayless
In an effort to remove Skip Bayless from the sports media, NFL executives are doing mankind a favor by not signing Tim Tebow. Once Tebow disappears from the NFL landscape, Bayless won't have anything to talk about. In fact, Tebow is only furthering his image as a man of the people by selflessly stepping away from the game. Ideally, this unified move from the NFL and Tebow will force Bayless to “fade into Bolivia.”

Teaser:
<p> 5 Reasons Tim Tebow's NFL Career is Over</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - 12:45

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