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Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (Texas Rangers) and worst (Houston Astros) baseball teams and players in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.

  1. Rangers—Texas survived first blown save and three HRs by Miggy.

2. Cardinals—Young pitchers must step up to replaced injured starters.

3. Yankees—In first place in tough division despite numerous injuries.

4. Red Sox—Would like to have Justin Masterson-Victor Martinez trade back.

5. Reds—Johnny Cueto’s return improves an already strong rotation.

6. Pirates—Tied for second-best record in NL.

7. Giants—Lost four games in which they’ve scored six runs or more.

8. Braves—First time all season best lineup on the field together.

9. Nationals—Sputtering offense has scored just nine runs in last six losses.

10. Indians—Won 17 of 21, but can starting pitching hold up?

11. Rays—Injury to David Price could be devastating to surging Rays.

12. Tigers—Starting pitchers did not enjoy trip to Texas.

13. Diamondbacks—Won nine of 13 to bolt back into first place.

14. Rockies—Plated 31 runs while taking three of four from Giants.

15. Orioles—Winning road record (14-9), losing at home (9-11).

16. A’s—Won three one-run games in sweep over Royals.

17. Phillies—Ryan Howard: .050 with runners in scoring position, 2 outs.

18. Padres—Won 15 of last 20 when not playing at Tampa Bay.

19. Royals—Leadoff hitters are batting just .190 off K.C. pitching.

20. Mariners—No. 9 hitters batting an NL-esque .151.

21. Twins—Tough tests at Atlanta and Detroit this week.

22. White Sox—Offense begins and ends with Alex Rios.

23. Cubs—Would Cubs really consider a move from Wrigley?

24. Mets—David Wright/Daniel Murphy: .307; rest of team: .209.

25. Blue Jays—Batted .303 last week, but team ERA was 5.02.

26. Dodgers—Adrian Gonzalez has 22 percent of team’s RBIs.

27. Angels—This lack of winning isn’t what Albert Pujols signed up for.

28. Brewers—Lineup is too good to be this bad. 

29. Marlins—Suffered four three-game sweeps this season.

30. Astros—Thankfully, Houston and Miami will not meet in 2013.

 

Al Player of the Week

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit

Miggy continues to separate himself from the rest of the league, much like Barry Bonds did 10 years ago. With four hits, including three home runs, Cabrera raised his major-league leading batting average to .387. He batted .429 with seven RBIs and seven runs for the week.

 

AL Pitcher of the Week

Justin Masterson, Cleveland

The surging Indians have won eight of Masterson’s 10 starts this season, scoring a total of three runs in the two losses. The new Cleveland ace pitched a complete game shutout over the Yankees last week, and followed up with seven shutout innings in a 6-0 win over Seattle. For the week, he threw 16 innings, gave up seven hits, five walks and struck out 20.

 

NL Player of the Week

Joey Votto, Cincinnati

Quietly and consistently, the Reds’ first baseman shows why he is the best hitter in the National League. He hit .583 last week with a pair of home runs, five RBIs and seven runs. He drew five walks to go with his 14 hits over the six games.

 

NL Pitcher of the Week

Homer Bailey, Cincinnati

After a complete game win over Miami, Bailey tossed seven shutout innings at Philadelphia in the Reds’ 3-2 loss. Over his 16 innings last week, Bailey allowed 11 hits, a walk and struck out 13.

Teaser:
<p> A look at the best and worst baseball teams in the league.</p>
Post date: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 15:55
Path: /nascar/johnson-wins-nascar-all-star-race-danica-earnhardt-jr-disappoint
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Say what you want about Jimmie Johnson. Critics have a long list of rebuttals for why he’s not the greatest driver of this era: Chad Knaus, superior equipment and more money through sponsor Lowe’s than his closest rivals. But it’s hard to argue the stats on paper. Johnson’s fourth win in the All-Star Race, a NASCAR record, launched him past teammate Jeff Gordon and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.

With five Cup championships, 62 wins and another decade or so to add to that total, it’s time to give the man his due. Yes, he may be paired forever with a political correctness label that leaves him scorned by much of the fan base. Surely, Knaus and owner Rick Hendrick’s “New York Yankees” model of having the best of the best in all positions helps immensely. But someone still has to drive the car. Johnson had to hold off a hungry Kasey Kahne, side-by-side and initially charge forward from a starting spot of 20th place. That was no easy feat, a goal that could only be reached by a select few.

This All-Star Race was another reminder that, like it or not, Johnson is clearly in the “Greatest Driver of His Era” category. A decade from now, when all is said and done in his career, Saturday night will surely not be the only record he’ll leave behind.

Other gears to shift through after NASCAR’s greatest exhibition include…


FIRST GEAR: The All-Star Race Needs a retool
The All-Star Race has long been billed as one where sparks fly, rivalries ignite and drivers let it all hang out. So what have we gotten these last nine years during the Chase era? A total of one pass for the lead within the last five laps. There have been few, if any, incidents of close racing let alone contact between drivers that would spark fan interest. On Saturday night, Johnson needed two laps to fully dispose of Kahne before cruising to the checkers, part of a 90-lapper that had only one major incident (Mark Martin being spun out by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.). Not exactly the type of marketing the sport needs for an exhibition race, right?

Clearly it’s not all the driver’s faults. Charlotte has struggled as a racetrack since a 2005 “levigation” experiment gone awry, producing asphalt that’s left Goodyear in a pickle. In the first race run after the process, a 500-miler was nearly stopped as tires blew every 15-20 laps; in response, the tire company has acted more scared there than a five-year-old without a nightlight in his room. The rubber they produce, every time out, has been far too conservative, forcing the drivers to race the same, as little falloff (creating similar lap times) combined with high speeds make passing difficult at best.

With that in mind, Saturday night still felt like a missed opportunity from a garage that’s not too happy with each other right now. From Kasey Kahne-Kyle Busch to Denny Hamlin-Joey Logano, the list of drivers who feel they “owe” somebody for some past on-track issue is lengthy; Don King could have a field day with a Friday Night Boxing Special on HBO. So with a chance to take a “free shot,” all these drivers did … was nothing. Absolutely nothing but ride around, make laps and watch as the prohibitive favorite (Johnson) entering the event took control and pulled away. It was anticlimactic, paired with a staggering amount of empty seats and with a format based on best average finish for the final segment that left fans referring to an abacus. Add in a graphical mistake by SPEED that made it look like NASCAR was manipulating the rules for “Five-Time,” and the whole show took on the feel of a debacle.

Clearly, major changes for this race need to happen, and they need to happen now. Stick ‘n’ ball sports are struggling with All-Star formats too, but no one seems to need to go back to the drawing board more than NASCAR.


SECOND GEAR: Kurt Busch proving his worth
Furniture Row Racing, as a single-car team, has just one victory in its near-decade of NASCAR competition. Expect that to change soon. Kurt Busch is on a tear, winning the pole for the All-Star Race (as well as the pole at Darlington the week prior) and winning two of the first four segments of the race. Only a slow pit stop kept the No. 78 from Victory Lane, as Busch lost track position for the final 10 laps and was forced to settle for fifth.

In the past, that incident would cause the once-tempestuous driver to explode. Make no mistake, Busch has had his in-race moments in 2013, but Saturday night was another example of Busch keeping those mood swings in check. Yes, he let his frustration be known over the in-car radio, but the fury was nowhere near on par with past outbursts, and there certainly was no throwing the crew under the bus — instead, he was roundly complimentary.

No doubt, that belies a level of confidence the driver feels with this program, more heavily linked with Richard Childress Racing than ever before, as the big man himself considers potentially placing the driver in a top-tier ride in the RCR camp come 2014.

Still in the top 20 in points, Charlotte’s 600-miler presents one of several opportunities for this team to steal a win in the coming weeks (Michigan, Sonoma and Daytona are others that come to mind). With a “win or wreck” mentality, Busch is likely to run around 20th in points, which means he’s the biggest roadblock for Denny Hamlin should this team break out and reach Victory Lane multiple times.

The “wild card” race is about to ramp up.


THIRD GEAR: Ford’s failure
Brad Keselowski, blowing a transmission on the second lap, said it all for a Ford contingent that’s looking a step behind. Despite adding two cars to its roster this offseason through Penske Racing, Fords have only won twice this season in 11 starts (plus a 12th opportunity in the All-Star Race). For every feel-good story (Carl Edwards’ return to prominence, David Ragan’s Talladega miracle, Aric Almirola’s top-10 surge) there’s been a long list of tough ones. Greg Biffle has been maddeningly inconsistent, hitting the wall at Charlotte Saturday night and once again being a non-factor. Ditto Joey Logano, although his charg to a strong second behind Johnson in the closing laps of the All-Star Race was admirable. Marcos Ambrose was once again invisible and will need to rely on road course expertise to make the Chase.

With Hendrick and Gibbs clicking on all cylinders for Chevrolet and Toyota, respectively, there’s not one top team you can rely on across the board at Ford right now. They really need to take the two weeks while at home in Charlotte to study their notes, retool and get it together for NASCAR’s grueling summer stretch.
 

Teaser:
<p> Reaction from NASCAR's All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.</p>
Post date: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 14:57
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-may-20
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Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire report every Monday. Our fantasy junkies cover the hottest hitters, best waiver wire pick ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bullpens from around the league each week.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (May 13-19):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Carlos Gonzalez OF COL 8 3 8 3 .375 1.364
2. Jason Kipnis 2B CLE 7 3 8 2 .417 1.398
3. David Ortiz 1B BOS 5 3 12 0 .458 1.352
4. Miguel Cabrera 3B DET 7 4 7 0 .429 1.448
5. Raul Ibanez* OF SEA 5 5 11 0 .308 1.193
6. Everth Cabrera 2B/SS SD 4 0 6 7 .357 .776
7. Daniel Murphy* 1B/2B NYM 7 2 5 1 .500 1.374
8. Joey Votto 1B CIN 7 2 5 0 .583 1.572
9. Elvis Andrus SS TEX 8 0 4 5 .345 .854
10. Adam Dunn* 1B/OF CWS 5 4 10 0 .320 1.273
11. Mitch Moreland* 1B TEX 5 4 10 0 .308 1.191
12. Paul Goldschmidt 1B ARI 6 3 5 0 .500 1.583
13. Jean Segura SS MIL 5 1 5 4 .387 .954
14. Alex Rios OF CWS 6 2 7 1 .407 1.282
15. Norichika Aoki OF MIL 7 0 3 2 .533 1.209
16. Adam LaRoche* 1B WAS 4 4 10 0 .308 1.148
17. Ryan Zimmerman 3B WAS 4 2 9 1 .385 1.102
18. Andrew McCutchen OF PIT 8 2 3 2 .308 1.033
19. Billy Butler 1B KC 4 1 10 0 .480 1.239
20. Howie Kendrick 2B LAA 6 1 6 1 .429 1.091
21. Matt Joyce* OF TB 5 2 8 1 .300 1.064
22. Dustin Pedroia 2B BOS 9 1 5 0 .375 1.089
23. David Wright 3B NYM 3 1 5 3 .393 .950
24. Adrian Beltre 3B TEX 6 1 5 0 .448 1.155
25. Mike Trout OF LAA 6 2 4 2 .238 1.004

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Jurickson Profar, 2B, TEX (49% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
No doubt you've heard that the elite prospect has been called up to the majors to take Ian Kinsler's place (DL, ribs) on the roster. He may not be up for long but he is worth stashing as a future commodity. And in keeper leagues, he is a must-add. He was hitting .278/.807 with four dingers and six stolen bases at Triple-A Round Rock this season.

Mitch Moreland, 1B, TEX (54%)
Moreland's career high in home runs was 16 two years ago in 464 at-bats. But it appears his power is rounding into form. He is on pace to blow past his career high and should provide solid production across the board in that lineup.

Daniel Murphy, 1B/2B, NYM (56%)
He won't ever be a huge producer in the power or speed categories, but he is a pro hitter. He hit .500 last week and Terry Collins is toying with the idea of hitting him fourth or fifth to give his bat more RBI chances. He won't help much at 1B but has plenty of value at 2B or MI.

Yonder Alonso, 1B, SD (19%)
Only 19 percent of Yahoo! leagues have rostered the talented second-year first baseman so I will continue to push the Padres slugger. He hit .381 last week and will blow past all of his career totals before the All-Star break. He won't be an elite player but has the pedigree to continue to develop into a dependable fantasy option who won't hurt your lineup in any category.

Last Week:

Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN: .370/.851, 2 R, 5 RBI

Jhonny Peralta, SS, DET: .350/1.058, 3 R, HR, RBI
James Loney, 1B, TB: .261/.637, 3 R, RBI
Chris Carter, 1B, HOU: .238/.571, 2 R, RBI

 

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Chris Sale CWS 24.0 2 24 0.38 0.54
2. Justin Masterson CLE 23.0 3 27 1.17 0.78
3. Shelby Miller STL 14.2 1 19 0.00 0.41
4. Matt Harvey NYM 23.1 1 22 1.54 0.56
5. Jon Lester BOS 16.0 2 10 1.13 0.56
6. Scott Feldman* CHC 19.2 2 15 0.46 0.97
7. Clayton Kershaw LAD 15.2 1 15 0.57 0.77
8. James Shields KC 24.0 0 23 1.50 0.79
9. Hiroki Kuroda NYY 22.2 2 9 1.59 0.79
10. Cliff Lee PHI 22.0 2 16 1.64 0.95
11. Jordan Zimmerman WAS 22.2 2 18 1.59 1.10
12. Brandon McCarthy ARI 23.1 1 13 1.16 0.90
13. Mike Minor ATL 19.2 2 20 1.83 1.12
14. Adam Wainwright STL 15.0 1 15 1.80 0.67
15. Andrew Cashner* SD 21.1 2 13 1.69 0.98
16. Travis Wood CHC 20.2 2 13 1.74 0.97
17. Ubaldo Jimenez* CLE 16.2 2 25 2.70 1.20
18. Patrick Corbin ARI 13.1 2 9 0.68 1.05
19. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 14.0 2 13 2.57 0.86
20. Bronson Arroyo* CIN 19.1 2 18 1.86 1.19

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

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

1. Jose Fernandez, MIA: (Tues.) Philadelphia (49% owned)
Stop me when you've heard this before: the extremely talented rookie is owned in less than half of Yahoo! leagues and I have no idea why. He's 2-0 with five earned runs, 21 strikeouts and six walks over his last three starts.

2. Andrew Cashner, SD: (Sat.) at Arizona (38%)
The highly touted youngster is 2-0 with 13 strikeouts and just four earned runs allowed over his last three starts. He has the pedigree to be much more than just a spot starter so keep him on your watch list all season.

3. Bronson Arroyo, CIN: (Fri.) Chicago Cubs (26%)
Arroyo has been downright nasty the last two times out. He has tossed 14.1 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts, just 13 base runners and two wins in his last two starts. And he gets the Cubs on Friday.

4. A.J. Griffin, OAK: (Sat.) at Houston (52%)
The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder has allowed just seven earned runs over his last four starts with 21 strikeouts and two wins. He has settled down and should be able to handle Houston — a team he posted this line against earlier in the year: 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 K.

5. Tommy Milone, OAK: (Fri.) at Houston (56%)
The soft-tossing lefty has had his ups and downs this year — four games with 4 ER or more and three with 1 ER or less — but has an excellent set of ratios. His 3.47 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 49:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio plays in any league. And especially against the Astros.
 

Closing Morsels:

The Dodgers' Kenley Jansen picked up a save on May 14. With Brandon League struggling, Jansen was on audition this week and didn't perform. He has allowed four earned runs in 2.1 innings with two losses. The big fella should be the closer but it may take some more time... The D-Backs' closer Heath Bell has finished off five of his last six chances without a blemish. He did blow one save in the middle of his recent run but that is to be expected with the aging reliever. Take the good with the bad for now... The Indians' Chris Perez has pitched twice since complaining of shoulder pain last week. He blew his second save of the year and still doesn't appear to be 100 percent... Junichi Tazawa didn't allow a run in 3.0 IP last week but he's allowed two hits per outing in his last four trips to the mound. That doesn't bode well long-term once Andrew Bailey returns — who is back throwing simulated innings... Keep an eye on Ryan Madson with the Angels as Ernesto Frieri is still allowing too many runs. He's still getting the job done and has tons of strikeouts but this a situation to watch.

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

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: May 20</p>
Post date: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-wide-receivers-bcs-era
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Greatness is defined in so many different ways. Statistical production, individual awards, team success, longevity, supporting cast, level of competition, raw talent and athletic ability all factor heavily in determining overall greatness. Sometimes, you simply know greatness when you see it.

So all factors were considered when trying to determine who the greatest wide receivers of the BCS era have been. Here are the Top 50 wideouts since the BCS was implemented in 1998:

Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter at @AthlonSports, using the hashtag #AthlonWR50.

1. Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh (2002-03)
Stats: 161 rec., 2,677 yds, 34 TD

Few players have ever been as impossible to cover as the star from Richfield (Minn.) Holy Angels. After redshirting, Fitz dominated college football for two full seasons. He became the first Pitt Panther to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, owns the school record with 34 touchdowns (in just 26 games) and owns the NCAA record for consecutive games with a touchdown reception (18). As a sophomore in his final season at Pitt, he caught 92 passes for 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns, winning Big East Player of the Year honors and the Walter Camp and Biletnikoff awards. His second-place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting is the highest by any wide receiver during the BCS era and he is the only one in to finish in the top three.

2. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech (2004-06)
Stats: 178 rec., 2,927 yds, 28 TD, 40 rush, TD

Appropriately nicknamed Megatron, no player has combined the size and speed Johnson brought to the Ramblin Wreck offense. The Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek prospect was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2004 before earning back-to-back All-American honors in 2005-06. He owns school records for receiving yards and touchdowns during his time at Tech and claimed the Biletnikoff Award as well as ACC Player of the Year honors in 2006. He is one of 13 wide receivers to finish in the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting during the BCS era (10th). He is simply a freak of nature.

3. Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech (2007-08)
Stats: 231 rec., 3,127 yds, 41 TD

No player has been as productive in two seasons as the Dallas, Texas native. As a redshirt freshman, Crabtree set NCAA records for receptions (134), yards (1,962) and touchdowns (22) and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wideout. He also won Big 12 Newcomer and Offensive Player of the Year honors. He became the first player in NCAA history to win a second Biletnikoff Award when he caught 97 passes for 1,165 yards and 19 touchdowns for the 11-2 Red Raiders the next year. He finished fifth in the Heisman balloting in ’08 — one of just four wide receivers to finish in the top five during the BCS era. Certainly, Mike Leach’s system inflated the two-time consensus All-American’s numbers, but the 6-foot-2, 215-pound wideout was — and still is — easily the most talented Texas Tech receiver in program history.

4. Peter Warrick, Florida State (1995-99)
Stats: 207 rec., 3,517 yds, 32 TD, 188 rush, 4 TD, 937 ret. yds (6)

The phrase all-purpose wasn’t en vogue when Warrick broke onto the scene so the Bradenton (Fla.) Southeast superstar might deserve credit for the invention. And if not for an incident at Dillard’s Department Store that resulted in a two-game suspension, Warrick likely would have won the Heisman Trophy. The two-time consensus All-American could do it all. His joystick, open-field moves made him dynamic in the passing game, special teams and he was one of the first wideouts used in the running game. His Sugar Bowl MVP performance — and touchdown catch — in the 1999 National Championship game (six rec., 163 yds, three total TDs) will go down as one of the greatest national title performances in NCAA history.

5. Percy Harvin, Florida (2006-08)
Stats: 133 rec., 1,929 yds, 13 TD, 1,852 rush, 19 TD

If Warrick invented the all-purpose position, Harvin glorified it. A true dual-threat offensive talent, Harvin burst onto the scene as the SEC Freshman of the Year. He played a key role in the 2006 BCS National Championship run, totaling 82 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against Ohio State. He capped his college career with 14 touches for 171 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in the 2008 BCS National Championship game against Oklahoma. Few have combined speed, strength, production and winning like Harvin did. He nearly topped 2,000 yards both rushing and receiving, and, if not for nagging injuries his entire career, the Virginia Beach prospect might have been more decorated nationally.

6. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (2009-11)
Stats: 252 rec., 3,564 yds, 40 TD, 136 rush, TD

Similarly to Crabtree, Blackmon’s numbers are inflated due to an elite offensive system. But make no mistake, he is the one of the greatest pass-catchers to ever play. He posted back-to-back seasons with at least 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns, earning consensus All-American honors twice. The Ardmore (Okla.) Plainview product also became just the second player in NCAA history to claim two Biletnikoff Awards. Blackmon won Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2010 and capped his illustrious career with a Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl MVP performance against Stanford. At a program with a long track record of elite wideouts, Blackmon has to be considered the best. He is one of just four wide receivers to finish in the top five for the Heisman Trophy (5th, 2010).

7. Braylon Edwards, Michigan (2001-04)
Stats: 252 rec., 3,541 yds, 39 TD

Not many players have three consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards and at least 10 touchdowns but that is what the Detroit native did at Michigan. He was uncoverable during his time at Ann Arbor, setting school records in every major receiving category. His 39 career touchdowns remain a Big Ten record. Edwards claimed Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors and claimed the Biletnikoff Award as a senior in 2004. The consensus All-American finished 10th in the Heisman voting that season as well.

8. Torry Holt, NC State (1995-98)
Stats: 191 rec., 3,379 yds, 31 TD, 119 rush

One of the greatest receivers to ever play the game on any level, Holt capped his outstanding Wolfpack career with an ACC Player of the Year award in the first year of the BCS. Over his final two seasons in Raleigh, the Gibsonville (N.C.) Eastern Guilford receiver caught 150 passes for 2,703 yards and 27 touchdowns (he also threw a 45-yard TD pass), finishing eighth in the Heisman voting in 1998. Holt set all types of NC State and ACC records during his college career and he went on to become one of the NFL’s greatest wide receivers.

9. Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2009-12)
Stats: 288 rec., 3,413 yds, 29 TD, 1,031 rush, 6 TD, 2,840 ret. yds, 5 TD

Be it through the air, on the ground or in the kicking game, Austin was downright unstoppable. The diminutive talent won’t ever be confused with prototypical physical outside receivers, but with the ball in his hands, few were as productive. The Baltimore prospect was a two-time All-American and two-time Big East Special Teamer of the Year. He posted back-to-back 100-catch/1,000-yard seasons and was a 1,000-yard rusher for his career. In fact, Austin’s signature performance came as a running back against Oklahoma as senior when he nearly set an NCAA record for all-purpose production with 572 yards (344 rushing, 82 receiving, 146 kick return). He scored four different ways during his unbelievable senior season and finished eighth in the Heisman voting.

10. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma (2008-11)
Stats: 349 rec., 4,586 yds, 45 TD, 97 rush, TD, 1,307 ret. yds, 2 TD

No one in NCAA history caught more passes than the smallish local star from Norman, Okla. And it didn’t take long for him to become a star, catching seven passes for a freshman school record 141 yards in his first collegiate game. He posted three straight seasons of at least 80 catches, 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns. He led the nation in both receptions (131) and punt returns (34) as a junior and is the Big 12’s all-time leading receiver in all three major categories. Broyles was a two-time consensus All-American.

Related: The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era 

11. Troy Edwards, Louisiana Tech (1996-98)
Stats: 280 rec., 4,352 yds, 50 TD, 447 rush, 6 TD

From a stats perspective, no player during the BCS era was as productive as Edwards — and he did it prior to the spread offense explosion. At one time, Edwards owned the NCAA record for receptions (140), yards (1,996) and touchdowns (27) in a single season to go with NCAA single-game records for receptions (21) and yards (405). His 27 scores and 405 yards against Nebraska in 1998 are both still NCAA records. He was a consensus All-American and won the Biletnikoff Award that season.

12. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (2008-11)
Stats: 271 rec., 3,686 yds, 37 TD, 30 rush, TD

The physical monster from famed Cretin-Derham Hall is the all-time leading receiver in Notre Dame history. He owns every major freshman, single-season and career benchmark in the Irish’s record book. If not for nagging injuries and a small off-the-field issue, Floyd’s numbers might be on par with the likes of Edwards or Broyles.

13. Mike Williams, USC (2002-03)
Stats: 176 rec., 2,579 yds, 30 TD

Fans in Los Angeles may always wonder what could have been had Williams not pressed NFL Draft eligibility rules. In his two underclass seasons for USC, Williams was extraordinary. As a true freshman, the massive 6-foot-5, 240-pounder caught 81 passes for 1,265 yards and 14 TDs. He returned to top those numbers as a sophomore with 95 receptions, 1,314 yards and 16 scores in 2003. He was a consensus All-American and finished eighth in the Heisman voting. Had the NFL allowed sophomores to enter the draft, he would have been a top-ten pick.

14. Roy Williams, Texas (2000-03)
Stats: 241 rec., 3,866 yds, 36 TD, 243 rush, 3 TD

Right out of the gate, Texas knew they had a great one in the massive 6-foot-3, 218-pound star from Odessa, Texas. He was a three-time All-Big 12 selection and left school with the records for receptions, yards and touchdowns. “The Legend” never caught fewer than seven touchdowns or 800 yards in any of his four NCAA seasons.

15. Marqise Lee, USC (2011-present)
Stats: 191 rec., 2,864 yds, 25 TD, 139 rush, 1,141 ret. yds, 2 TD

With one more year in school and one more season left in the current BCS structure, Lee is poised to become one of the era’s best. As just a sophomore, Lee has already won the Biletnikoff Award, been given consensus All-American honors, won the Pac-12 Player of the Year Award and broke multiple USC and Pac-12 receiving records. He is one of just two wideouts in BCS history to finish in the top four of the Heisman voting and should easily move into the top 10 on this list with another solid season in L.A.

16. Charles Rogers, Michigan State (2001-02)
Stats: 125 rec., 2,551 yds, 25 TD, 110 rush, TD

The in-state product from Saginaw played just two seasons for the Spartans but was an All-Big Ten performer both years. He posted back-to-back seasons with at least 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning consensus All-American and Biletnikoff honors in 2002. He set an NCAA record with 13 straight games with a TD catch (since broken) and owns just about every Michigan State receiving record.

17. AJ Green, Georgia (2008-10)
Stats: 166 rec., 2,619 yds, 23 TD, 105 rush

Based on raw talent alone, Green is the one of the greatest receivers to play the game. In a league not known for big passing numbers, Green led the SEC in yards and touchdowns as a true freshman. His rare blend of size, speed, vertical ability and red zone ball skills makes him one of the game’s most uncoverable targets.

18. Jeremy Maclin, Missouri (2007-08)
Stats: 182 rec., 2,315 yds, 22 TD, 668 rush, 6 TD, 2,626 ret. yds, 5 TD

He only played two seasons but was outstanding from the first time he stepped onto the college gridiron. He was a consensus All-American both years, topped 1,000 yards receiving in both years, scored at least 10 total touchdowns in both seasons and topped 1,000 return yards in both seasons. He set an NCAA freshman all-purpose yardage record with 2,776 total yards for a 12-2 Tigers team. He posted 5,609 all-purpose yards in just two seasons and might be the most underrated wideout of the BCS era.

19. Dwayne Jarrett, USC (2004-06)
Stats: 216 rec., 3,138 yds, 41 TD

A two-time consensus All-American, Jarrett was a touchdown machine. He scored 13, 16 and 12 receiving touchdowns respectively while helping USC reach  back-to-back BCS National Championship games. His 2005 campaign was his best — 91 rec., 1,274 yds, 16 TD — but he finished ninth in the Heisman voting as a junior in 2006 before turning pro. In the red zone, few players have ever been as dominant.

20. Golden Tate, Notre Dame (2007-09)
Stats: 157 rec., 2,707 yds, 26 TD, 227 rush, 3 TD, 1,196 ret. yds, TD

The all-purpose dynamo from Nashville, Tenn., was explosive all over the field for Notre Dame. After rarely playing as a freshman, Tate exploded onto the national scene as a junior. He won the Biletnikoff Award after 93 receptions, 1,496 yards, 15 touchdowns, 186 yards rushing, two more touchdowns and one punt return score. He finished 10th in the Heisman balloting in ’06 before leaving early for the NFL.

Related: The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

21. Troy Walters, Stanford (1996-99)
Stats: 245 rec., 3,995 yds, 26 TD

Walters had as complete a final season as any player on this list. He won Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, was a consensus All-American and won the Biletnikoff Award in 1999. The same year he helped Stanford win the league championship and play in the Rose Bowl. He is still the Pac-12's all-time leading receiver.

22. Jordan Shipley, Texas (2006-09)
Stats: 248 rec., 3,191 yds, 33 TD, 162 rush, 843 ret. yds, 4 TD

Colt McCoy’s go-to target made big plays in big games and was as dependable as any receiver in Big 12 history. He was a consensus All-American in 2009 when he caught 116 passes for 1,485 yards and scored 15 total touchdowns for an unbeaten Texas team that lost to Alabama in the national championship game.

23. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State (2007-09)
Stats: 147 rec., 2,425 yds, 29 TD, 574 ret. yds, 3 TD

He may not have Blackmon’s numbers, but Bryant might be the most talented Pokes wideout of all-time. He was named an All-American after 87 receptions, 1,480 yards and 21 total touchdowns as just a sophomore. Had he not been suspended for most of the 2009 season, his numbers would’ve rivaled anyone’s on this list.

24. Rashuan Woods, Oklahoma State (2000-03)
Stats: 293 rec., 4,414 yds, 42 TD

Oklahoma State has one of the best wide receiver traditions in the nation and Woods was one of the first high-profile stars. Three seasons with at least 77 catches, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns makes him one of the most prolific receivers in BCS history. And his NCAA-record seven touchdowns against SMU still stands.

25. Josh Reed, LSU (1999-2001)
Stats: 167 rec., 3,001 yds, 17 TD, 63 rush, TD

The numbers weren’t huge for Reed, but he was the nation’s best in 2001. He was a consensus All-American and Biletnikoff Award winner after catching 94 passes for 1,740 yards and seven touchdowns. He is one of the SEC’s greatest wide receivers and is the conference’s only Biletnikoff winner.

26. Julio Jones, Alabama (2008-10)
Stats: 179 rec., 2,653 yds, 15 TD, 139 rush 2 TD

From a talent standpoint, there may not be a more gifted name on this list than the superstar from Alabama. The school’s most talented pass-catcher helped lead Alabama to a national championship in 2009 and played on three teams that went 36-5 overall.

27. Antonio Bryant, Pittsburgh (1999-2001)
Stats: 161 rec., 2,805 yds, 26 TD

Two average years sandwiched around one spectacular season made Bryant one of the best offensive weapons in the nation. He won the Biletnikoff Award and Big East Player of the Year honors in 2000 when caught 68 passes for 1,302 yards and 11 scores. At one point, he scored in 13 straight games.

28. Mike Hass, Oregon State (2003-05)
Stats: 220 rec., 3,924 yds, 20 TD

He may not be the most talented wideout to play during this era but Hass is one of the best. He was the first Pac-10 receiver in history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and left school with the best single game in league history with 293 yards against Boise State in 2004. He won the Biletnikoff Award in 2005 as the nation’s best wide receiver.

29. Lee Evans, Wisconsin (1999-2003)
Stats: 172 rec., 3,382 yds, 26 TD

Despite missing extended time with a torn ACL, Evans is the best wide receiver to play at Wisconsin since Al Toon. His two-year run was as good as any in Big Ten history, posting a league record 1,545 yards in 2001. He came back after the knee injury and nearly duplicated his numbers with 1,213 yards and 13 TDs in 2003. His 10-catch, 258-yard, 5-TD game against Michigan State might have been the best single performance by any Badger.

30. Robert Woods, USC (2010-12)
Stats: 250 rec., 2,933 yds, 32 TD, 142 rush, 1,547 ret. yds, TD

Lee gets all the national hype as far as USC receivers go, but don't forget those school and conference records he set were mostly owned by Woods. His 111-catch, 1,292-yard campaign in 2011 is one of the best seasons for a Pac-12 receiver in history. He, also like Lee, was a dynamic return man as well.

31. Santana Moss, Miami (1997-2000)
Stats: 143 rec., 2,547 yds, 19 TD, 277 rush, 3 TD, 655 ret. yds, 4 TD (7)

Much like Warrick, Moss was an all-purpose dynamo well ahead of his time. He could do everything as his overall statistical production indicated. He was the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American in 2000 with this versatile stat line: 45 rec., 748 yds, 5 TDs, 201 rush, 2 TDs, 655 punt return yards, 4 TDs. 

32. David Boston, Ohio State (1996-98)
Stats: 191 rec., 2,855 yds, 34 TD

Suspicions of performance enhancers will always hang around Boston's resume so it is difficult to evaluate where he ranks. While on the field at Ohio State, he was dominant. He caught 27 touchdowns over his last two seasons and was the superstar — 85 rec., 1,435 yds, 13 TD — for the '98 team that likely should have played Tennessee for a National Championship.

33. DeSean Jackson, Cal (2005-07)
Stats: 162 rec., 2,423 yds, 22 TD, 199 rush, TD, 671 ret. yds, 6 TD

Knucklehead behavior aside, Jackson was a big-play waiting to happen throughout his college career. It was his All-American sophomore season that wowed the nation, however. He caught 59 passes for 1,060 yards and nine scores but delivered on special teams in a big way. He scored on four of his 25 punt returns and averaged over 18 yards per return. He missed time with an injury and off-the-field issues as a junior or he might have been higher on this list.

34. Roddy White, UAB (2001-04)
Stats: 163 rec., 3,112 yds, 26 TD

The career numbers aren't huge and the level of competition was suspect, however, White was an elite big-play machine well before he got to Atlanta. He led the nation in receiving as a senior (1,452 yds) and averaged 19.1 yards per catch for his career. His overall NFL talent makes him arguably the most gifted "mid-major" receiver of the era.

35. Reggie Williams, Washington (2001-03)
Stats: 238 rec., 3,536 yds, 22 TD

Similar to his Williams counterpart at Texas, Reggie Williams was one of the first massive outside physical targets. He posted 183 catches, 2,563 yards and 19 touchdowns over his last two seasons, including a consensus All-American sophomore year in 2002.
 
36. Greg Jennings, Western Michigan (2002-05)
Stats: 238 rec., 3,539 yds, 39 TD, 1,462 ret. yds, 2 TD

White is the most talented "mid-major" wide receiver of this era but Jennings is a close No. 2. The 2005 MAC Offensive Player of the Year caught at least 11 touchdowns and topped 1,000 yards receiving for three consecutive seasons. He led the nation with 98 receptions in '05 and was also an explosive return man as well.

37. Mark Clayton, Oklahoma (2001-04)
Stats: 220 rec., 3,236 yds, 31 TD, 221 ret. yds, TD

Jason White's No. 1 target helped Oklahoma play in two national championship games. The Sooners had many elite wideouts but Clayton might have been the most dynamic (possibly, more so than Broyles even). His unstoppable junior season gets him onto this list alone: 83 rec., 1,425 yds, 15 TD.

38. Kendall Wright, Baylor (2008-11)
Stats: 308 rec., 4,004 yds, 30 TD, 425 rush, 2 TD

There are just 15 receivers with 4,000 yards in their college careers and there are just 10 wideouts with at least 300 catches. There are just three such players with both (Ryan Broyles, Jordan White). Wright's offensive system certainly helped but he was as versatile, dependable and explosive as any player during this era.

39. Reggie Wayne, Miami (1997-2000)
Stats: 173 rec., 2,510 yds, 20 TD

Based on sheer talent alone, Wayne is one of the greatest wide receivers to play the game. His college stats aren't gaudy — mostly because he shared the ball with Santana Moss, Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James — but consistent production at Miami was merely a glimpse of his elite overall ability.

40. Dwayne Bowe, LSU (2003-06)
Stats: 154 rec., 2,403 yds, 26 TD

Much like White or Wayne, Bowe's raw talent makes him one of the greatest of his generation. He played sparingly on the '03 championship team but was a scoring machine the rest of his career — catching all 26 touchdowns in three SEC seasons.

41. James Rodgers, Oregon State (2007-11) 
Stats: 222 rec., 2,578 yds, 19 TD, 1,410 rush, 9 TD, 2,385 ret. yds, 2 TD  

42. Terrence Edwards, Georgia (1999-2002)
Stats: 204 rec., 3,093 yds, 30 TD, 285 ret. yds

43. Wes Welker, Texas Tech (2000-03)
Stats: 259 rec., 3,069 yds, 21 TD, 562 rush, 2 TD, 2,102 ret. yds, 8 TD

44. Jarett Dillard, Rice (2005-08)
Stats: 292 rec., 4,138 yds, 60 TD

45. Plaxico Burress, Michigan State (1998-99)
Stats: 131 rec., 2,155 yds, 20 TD

46. Antonio Brown, Central Michigan (2007-09) 
Stats: 305 rec., 3,199 yds, 22 TD, 531 rush, 4 TD, 3,434 ret. yds, 5 TD

47. T.Y. Hilton, FIU (2008-11)
Stats: 229 rec., 3,531 yds, 24 TD, 498 rush, 7 TD, 3,469 ret. yds, 6 TD

48. Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati (2008-09)
Stats: 168 rec., 2,467 yds, 22 TD, 26 rush, TD, 2,477 ret. yds, 5 TD

49. Terrance Williams, Baylor (2009-12)
Stats: 201 rec., 3,294 yds, 27 TD, 979 ret. yds

50. Trevor Insley, Nevada (1996-99)
Stats: 298 rec., 5,005 yds, 35 TD

The Next 50:

51. Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers (2009-11): 210 rec., 2,263 yds, 12 TD, 653 rush, 9 TD, 207 pass, 4 TD
52. Jordy Nelson, Kansas State (2005-07): 206 rec., 2,822 yds, 20 TD, 267 ret. yds, 3 TD 
53. Eric Page, Toledo (2009-11): 306 rec., 3,446 yds, 25 TD, 52 rush, TD, 2,549 ret. yds, 5 TD
54. Sidney Rice, South Carolina (2005-06): 142 rec., 2,233 yds, 23 TD 
55. Jerricho Cotchery, NC State (2000-03): 200 rec., 3,119 yds, 21 TD, 102 rush, TD, 300 ret. yds, TD 
56. Michael Thomas, Arizona (2005-08): 259 rec., 3,231 yds, 22 TD, 395 rush, 3 TD, 1,354 yds, 2 TD
57. Derek Hagan, Arizona State (2002-05): 258 rec., 3,939 yds, 27 TD 
58. Jabar Gaffney, Florida (2000-01): 138 rec., 2,375 yds, 27 TD 
59. Jeff Samardzija, Notre Dame (2003-06): 179 rec., 2,593 yds, 27 TD, 19 rush, TD 
60. Andre Johnson, Miami (2000-02): 92 rec., 1,831 yds, 20 TD, 594 ret. yds

61. Davone Bess, Hawaii (2005-07): 293 rec., 3,610 yds, 41 TD
62. D’Wayne Bates, Northwestern (1995-98): 210 rec., 3,370 yds, 26 TD
63. Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt (2005-07): 236 rec., 2,852 yds, 20 TD, 586 ret. yds
64. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia (2010-12): 210 rec., 3,218 yds, 41 TD
65. Austin Collie, BYU (2004-08): 215 rec., 3,255 yds, 30 TD, 1,288 ret. yds
66. Vincent Marshall, Houston (2003-06): 272 rec., 3,770 yds, 26 TD, 299 rush, 2 TD, 693 ret. yds, TD
67. Sammy Watkins, Clemson (2011-present ): 139 rec., 1,927 yds, 15 TD, 331 rush, TD, 1,106 ret. yds, TD
68. Keenan Allen, Cal (2010-12): 205 rec., 2,570 yds, 17 TD, 230 rush, 2 TD, 658 ret. yds, TD
69. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (2010-12): 206 rec., 3,020 yds, 27 TD
70. Aaron Kelly, Clemson (2005-08): 232 rec., 2,733 yds, 20 TD, 417 ret. yds

71. Dwayne Harris, East Carolina (2007-10): 268 rec., 3,001 yds, 20 TD, 526 rush, 6 TD, 2,855 ret. yds, 3 TD
72. Eric Decker, Minnesota (2006-09): 227 rec., 3,119 yds, 24 TD, 114 rush, TD
73. Dennis Northcutt, Arizona (1996-99): 217 rec., 3,186 yds, 24 TD, 382 rush, 2 TD
74. Titus Young, Boise State (2007-10): 204 rec., 3,063 yds, 25 TD, 350 rush, 8 TD, 1,525 ret. yds, 2 TD
75. Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas (2007-09): 219 rec., 3,240 yds, 31 TD, 37 rush, TD, 651 ret. yds, TD
76. Robert Meachem, Tennessee (2004-06): 125 rec., 2,140 yds, 17 TD
77. Ron Johnson, Minnesota (1998-2001): 196 rec., 2,931 yds, 31 TD
78. Dorien Bryant, Purdue (2004-07): 292 rec., 3,548 yds, 21 TD, 421 rush, 6 TD, 2,250 ret. yds, 3 TD
79. D.J. Hall, Alabama (2004-07): 194 rec., 2,923 yds, 17 TD
80. Darius Watts, Marshall (2000-03): 272 rec., 4,031 yds, 47 TD, 188 rush, 254 ret. yds

81. Jason Hill, Washington State (2003-06): 148 rec., 2,704 yds, 32 TD
82. Geoff McArthur, Cal (2000-04): 202 rec., 3,188 yds, 20 TD
83. Freddie Mitchell, UCLA (1998-2000): 110 rec., 1,955 yds, 9 TD
84. Patrick Edwards, Houston (2008-11): 291 rec., 4,507 yds, 43 TD, 947 ret. yds, 2 TD 
85. Shaun McDonald, Arizona State (2000-02): 152 rec., 2,806 yds, 24 TD, 54 rush, TD, 389 ret. yds, TD 
86. James Hardy, Indiana (2005-07): 191 rec., 2,740 yds, 36 TD 
87. Michael Clayton, LSU (2001-03): 182 rec., 2,582 yds, 21 TD 
88. Kenny McKinley, South Carolina (2005-08): 207 rec., 2,781 yds, 19 TD
89. Taylor Stubblefield, Purdue (2001-04): 316 rec., 3,433 yds, 19 TD 
90. Marvin McNutt, Iowa (2008-11): 170 rec., 2,861 yds, 28 TD 

91. Craig Yeast, Kentucky (1995-98): 208 rec., 2,899 yds, 28 TD, 125 rush
92. John Standeford, Purdue (2000-03): 249 rec., 3,618 yds, 27 TD
93. Steve Smith, USC (2003-06): 190 rec., 3,019 yds, 22 TD
94. Todd Blythe, Iowa State (2004-07): 176 rec., 3,096 yds, 31 TD 
95. Conner Vernon, Duke (2009-12): 283 rec., 3,749 yds, 21 TD, 570 ret. yds 
96. Ryan Swope, Texas A&M (2009-12): 252 rec., 3,117 yds, 24 TD 
97. Kenny Britt, Rutgers (2006-08): 178 rec., 3,043 yds, 17 TD, 75 rush, TD
98. Arnold Jackson, Louisville (1997-2000): 300 rec., 3,670 yds, 31 TD 
99. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (2010-present ): 149 rec., 2,283 yds, 17 TD, 61 rush, TD 
100. Jordan White, Western Michigan (2007-11): 306  rec., 4,187 yds, 32 TD, 462 ret. yds

Top 50s of the BCS Era:

The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era


Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter (@AthlonSports), using the hashtag #AthlonWR50

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 07:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/will-texas-am-match-last-seasons-win-total-2013
Body:

Texas A&M took the SEC by storm in his debut season, recording an 11-2 record and producing a Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Johnny Manziel.

After last year’s 11-win season, the Aggies are setting their goals even higher for 2013. Texas A&M is one of the top-10 contenders for the national title, and Manziel should be one of the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy once again.

The schedule isn’t too daunting, but the rest of the SEC has a full offseason to study Texas A&M’s offense.

Can Kevin Sumlin and Johnny Manziel repeat last year’s win total?

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Texas A&M ranks as Athlon's No. 9 team in the 2013 Top 25 countdown.

Will Texas A&M Match Last Season's Win Total in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
On paper, I penciled in 10 regular season wins for Texas A&M, leaving the bowl game as a chance for No. 11. Clearly, the 11-win mark and perhaps an SEC title is possible for the Aggies, but A&M may have trouble matching last season. Nick Saban told the Dan Patrick Show last week that the preparations for Johnny Manziel is an “ongoing process.” In May. That’s a pretty scary thought. It seems when Alabama and Saban looks to rectify a past loss -- the rematch with Florida in the 2009 SEC championship game, the rematch with LSU for the 2011 national title -- the Tide rarely repeat the same mistakes. That’s just one team. The rest of the SEC is also playing catchup after Kevin Sumlin and Manziel ran all over the league. Some defensive coordinator is going to find something that works in the Aggies’ second season in the league. The Aggies have the potential to get back to the 11-win mark, but it’s going to be far more challenging the second time around.


Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Texas A&M was one of the SEC’s biggest surprises last season. But the Aggies go into 2013 with a bullseye on their back. Defenses in the conference now have a full season of gametape on quarterback Johnny Manziel, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury is now the head coach at Texas Tech, and the defense must replace key contributors in defensive end Damontre Moore, linebackers Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart and defensive backs Dustin Harris and Steven Terrell. Considering all of those factors, I think it will be difficult for Texas A&M to exceed last season’s 11 victories. However, it’s reasonable to expect the Aggies to at least match 2012’s win total.

The non-conference schedule should provide four victories, while SEC contests against Arkansas, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Missouri are likely wins. If that holds true, Texas A&M would be sitting at nine victories, needing to win two games out of this group: Alabama, at Ole Miss and at LSU and the bowl game. It’s likely the Aggies are headed into the bowl game with 10 victories and need a win to get to 11. If the defense makes strides this offseason, Texas A&M could exceed 11 wins, but I think it’s more likely this team finishes 11-2 or 10-3 overall. 


Sean Lester, The Dallas Morning News, (@s_lester14)
The 2012 season at Texas A&M was spectacular for many reasons but most prominently because of all the swirling changes the A&M program was going through. Everything was new from coaches to jerseys and most importantly - the conference.

For the Aggies to win 11 games was more than a coupe, it was unthinkable entering the season.

The schedule will largely be in their favor in 2013, as Kevin Sumlin and Johnny Manziel try to expand on what they accomplished a season ago. But this time they will be marked by their expectations, not the newness that defined a season ago.

In order to win more than 11 games this year A&M doesn’t have to beat Alabama or LSU, while trying to take down both. Defeating one of them could put them in the SEC Championship game and beating both could mean a BCS national championship bid.

Winning 11 games is not only doable for this A&M team, it is very likely given the team’s favorable schedule. Behind the legs of Manziel, anything can happen for this A&M team. Something we’ve seen once before.  
 

Mark Ross
Last season the Aggies made their transition from the Big 12 to the SEC look fairly easy, as they went 6-2 in the conference and 11-2 overall, highlighted by an upset of eventual national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa and routing Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. They have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in dynamic, dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel and one of the nation's most explosive offenses directed by its mastermind, Kevin Sumlin. What could possibly go wrong in 2013, right?

Not that I am predicting them to revert to a .500 or worse team, I do think Texas A&M is due for a bit more of an adjustment period in Year 2 in the SEC. First, for the Aggies to match last year's win total of 11 that means they have to win at least 10 in the regular season again. The non-conference schedule should be a breeze, but you know Alabama has got that Sept. 14 date at Kyle Field circled. Also, Manziel and company have a fairly difficult closing stretch to the regular season with Mississippi State at home and then a visit to Baton Rouge to play LSU, who defeated the Aggies at home last season, followed by the finale at Missouri. Yes, there is no Florida or Georgia or South Carolina from the SEC East on this schedule, but it's still the SEC and it's not like Texas A&M, or Manziel for that matter, is sneaking up on anyone this fall.

Also, don't overlook the fact that even though Manziel and several key offensive weapons, namely wide receiver Mike Evans and running backs Ben Malena and Trey Williams, are back, Texas A&M is having to replace five starters on offense and six on defense from last season's team. Those losses include left tackle Luke Joeckel, the second overall pick in April's NFL Draft, defensive end Damontre Moore (third round) and linebacker Sean Porter (fourth). That's a lot of talent for any team to lose, let alone one that's still new to the SEC.

Texas A&M will be a very good team in 2013 and should put plenty of points on the scoreboard. However, just as history has shown that the odds are pretty stacked against Manziel repeating as Heisman winner, I think the Aggies will be hard-pressed to match last season's 11 wins. Then again it's not like a 10-3 or even 9-4 campaign, especially in the SEC, is anything to be ashamed about, right?
 

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Ranking the SEC Running Backs for 2013

Ranking the SEC Quarterbacks for 2013

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Ole Miss or Mississippi State: Who Wins More SEC Games in 2013?

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Teaser:
<p> Will Texas A&amp;M Match Last Season's Win Total in 2013?</p>
Post date: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 07:40
Path: /nascar/nascar-mourns-loss-prepares-all-star-race
Body:

1. All-Star race, qualifying format changes in store
The most exciting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying event of the season happens Friday night at 6:00 pm EST.

That's a fact even without the new hair-raising rule change allowing drivers to speed both away from pit road (like always) as well as enter it without a speed limit (new).

Qualifying for drivers in the Sprint All-Star Race is unique in that it demands three total laps around the track and must include a four-tire pit stop. In the past, that's been plenty exciting because NASCAR hasn't enforced a pit road speed limit after the pit stop — forcing drivers to manage 800-plus horsepower hooking up to their rear wheels from a dead standstill.

Now, they'll be doing the same coming to pit road. Lassoing a race car from the corner banking to pit road while slowing down is an event right on the edge. Nursing it down without scrubbing speed has the potential to go flying over that edge.

Additionally, NASCAR initiated the "Johnson Rule" for this season after last year's winner Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus played the strategy too well. Johnson won the first of four segments in 2012 to earn the pole for the 10-lap heat race at the end. In the remaining three segments, he sandbagged to keep his car in one piece.

This year, NASCAR will use a method that makes sense but one without a thought to how fans at the track will be able to compute it. Essentially, the 10-lap finale returns after a mandatory pit road visit. But instead of individual segment winners getting automatic priority, NASCAR will set the pre-pit road lineup by average finish.

It's a smart fix, but a silly one all at once thanks to the calculators required to know who even leads.


2. Johnson aims for All-Star record
Defending All-Star race winner Johnson is bound to get plenty of coverage this weekend as he guns for a fourth win in the midseason exhibition race. A checkered flag for Johnson — or teammate Jeff Gordon, for that matter — would set a new bar for the most wins in the event.

Only one other driver has ever scored three wins in the race for not much else than money and pride. Of course, that's Dale Earnhardt.

Gordon and Johnson, however, haven't had the best of relationships with the All-Star event in recent seasons. For Gordon, a top 10 in the exhibition race hasn't happened since his third-place run in 2006 and he hasn't won since his epic 2001 victory in a back-up car after a rain shower on the first lap caused a massive Turn 1 crash.

Johnson, meanwhile, went three seasons (2009, ’10 and ’11) without an All-Star top 10. That's not exactly futility, sure, but we are talking about Jimmie Johnson at Charlotte Motor Speedway.


3. Gibbs still looks for first All-Star win
One of the greatest oddities left in the always odd weekends produced by the All-Star Race is that Joe Gibbs Racing has never been to Victory Lane in the event.

It's not like JGR has paraded slouches into the race. The lack of checkered flag success has occurred despite drivers like Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarrett all giving it a go.

JGR, though, will be the hot pick this weekend. A week after a near-miss on a 1-2-3 finish at Darlington Raceway, the Toyotas from that camp have proven to be the fastest machines this season despite reliability. Matt Kenseth, riding high off win No. 3, should be the team's primary favorite.

It will also be worth watching how the recently returned Hamlin will compete Saturday night. Will he be willing to take major chances for a win so soon after his return from his back injury?

We'll find out.


4. Using the All-Star Race for Coca-Cola 600 knowledge
The All-Star weekend festivities are the traditional kickoff of the Charlotte region's own version of Daytona's Speedweeks. Between the opening of Sprint Cup practice Friday for participants in the All-Star Race and the start of the Coca-Cola 600 next Sunday evening, drivers and teams are scheduled to have four hours and 50 minutes of open practice.

That doesn't even include the race conditions teams will get to experience Saturday night.

The result of all of this track time is often a line of thinking saying the teams who fare well this weekend have the inside line to a win — or at least record a good finish — in the 600 next weekend. Results, though, tell a different story.

In fact, five of last 10 All-Star Race winners haven't even finished in the top 10 of the following Coca-Cola 600. Plus, the last 10 years has produced an average of just four drivers scoring top-10 finishes in both events.

Whether you chalk it up to the normalization of racing or blame the effects of a 600-mile race, the result stays the same: a good run Saturday night doesn't guarantee a good one the following Sunday.


5. NASCAR remembers fun-loving, hard-charging Dick Trickle
News that former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle took his own life Thursday in North Carolina spread across the sport in a startling, sad fashion. By the evening, words from every corner of the sport were spoken, typed or sent expressing remorse.

The grief for Trickle, both for his death and in the somber realization of the extreme personal baggage he carried in the waning period of his life, had no bounds and reflected the wake he left in his now long-retired career. The most remarkable part of Trickle's impact, of course, is that his NASCAR numbers were never remarkable.

Trickle didn't drive a full season in today's Sprint Cup Series until he was 47 years old in 1989. Just three times — 1990, ’92 and ’95 — did the Wisconsin short track ace ever qualify for every race on a season's schedule. He made 303 Cup starts, scoring just 15 top-5 finishes and never a Cup win. He did rope two career Nationwide (then Busch) Series wins (1997, ’98).

Trickle's mark on the sport came in both his legend from his midwest short track days and the number of drivers he raced along the way. Of course, his trademark of enjoying a cigarette during a race's caution flag was unforgettable to even casual race fans in the 1990s.

It's not a stretch to wonder if today's NASCAR — good or bad — would ever have room for a character like Trickle that helped the sport's narrative in ways that leading laps and hoisting trophies could never do.


by Geoffrey Miller
Follow Geoffrey on Twitter:
@GeoffreyMiller
 

Teaser:
<p> Five storylines to follow as the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the All-Star Race.</p>
Post date: Friday, May 17, 2013 - 09:44
Path: /college-football/will-louisville-cardinals-go-undefeated-2013
Body:

Thanks to a win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl, Louisville entered the offseason with momentum for its final season in the Big East/American Athletic Conference.

The Cardinals return a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and one of the nation’s best receiving corps. The offensive line is a question mark, as center Mario Benavides and left tackle Alex Kupper must be replaced.

The defense returns nine starters and should be one of the best in the American Athletic Conference in 2013.

If Louisville can run the table and finish 12-0, it should have a chance to claim a top-five finish. However, even if the Cardinals have a perfect record, it may not be enough to earn a spot in the national title game.

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Louisville ranks as Athlon's No. 10 team in the 2013 Top 25 countdown.

Will the Louisville Cardinals Go Undefeated in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Louisville has one of the softest schedules for a team contending for a major conference title and a top-10 ranking. With a group of veterans -- many of whom are multi-year starters -- the Cardinals also have the players for an undefeated run. At the same time, I wonder if we’ve overreacted to Louisville’s rousing bowl win over Florida. Think of what everyone though of West Virginia at this time last year, when the bowl rout of Clemson was fresh in our minds. Now, the Cardinals may not be as clearly flawed as 2012 West Virginia was. Louisville should be a legitimate run-pass team, and its defense should be able to win games. That said, Louisville found away to lose to Syracuse by 19 and to Connecticut at home in triple overtime in back-to-back weeks. This team isn’t immune from slipping up in shocking ways, and if Louisville loses Teddy Bridgewater, the Cardinals’ undefeated hopes are gone. It’s certainly possible, but I’d take the over on zero losses.
 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
It's pretty hard to see Louisville finishing anything worse than 11-1 in the 2013 regular season. Road games at Kentucky, USF, UConn and, most importantly, Cincinnati in the season finale provide the biggest hurdles away from Papa John's Stadium. Rutgers, Ohio, UCF and Houston are the most challenging home games this season. Meaning Louisville should be favored in every game it plays this year. The Cards are well coached, young talent is developing into upperclassmen and Teddy Bridgewater is a potential superstar at quarterback — so an unbeaten season is well within reach. An 11- or 12-win season would put Louisville squarely in the BCS National Championship game hunt, but to land in the title game, however, the Cardinals will likely have to be perfect. And in a league known for bizarre upsets and unforeseen twists, one loss somewhere — Rutgers, USF, Cincinnati — is my prediction.
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
There’s no question Louisville has one of the most favorable – if not the easiest – path to an unbeaten season in 2013. The Cardinals non-conference schedule consists of Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky and FIU, and the American Athletic Conference is unlikely to have another team in most preseason top 25 polls. Kentucky and Ohio aren’t guaranteed victories, but the Cardinals will win both contests to claim a 4-0 start in non-conference play.

Despite the favorable schedule, I think Louisville will lose one game this season. The most likely chance for a loss is the Dec. 5 showdown against Cincinnati. The Bearcats return 13 starters, including the conference’s best offensive line, an emerging quarterback in Brendon Kay and a defense that returns six starters, including first-team all-conference linebacker Greg Blair.

In 2011, Louisville lost at home to FIU and Marshall. In 2012, the Cardinals were handled by Syracuse 45-26 on the road and lost 23-20 to Connecticut. The last two years have provided a head-scratching loss for Louisville, which isn’t a complete surprise considering Charlie Strong is still building this program. The path is favorable for an unbeaten season, but I think Louisville stumbles once during the regular season. 
 

Mark Ross
The Cardinals won't be sneaking up on anyone this season, not after their impressive victory over Florida in the Sugar Bowl in January and not with potential Heisman Trophy contender Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. And an undefeated regular season would certainly do nothing but buoy Bridgewater's candidacy to win said stiff-armed trophy. However, Louisville, and Bridgewater for that matter, will go into this season with a bull's-eye squarely on their backs as their conference foes would like nothing more than to spoil their first, and only, season in the new American Athletic Conference.

Rutgers and UCF will likely be the first teams to test Louisville, but the Cardinals get both of these teams at home. Fittingly, the Cardinals' toughest game could also end up being the only thing standing between them and an undefeated regular season. It's entirely possible that the Thursday, Dec. 5 date in Cincinnati could have conference title and BCS Championship Game implications, especially if Louisville is 11-0 at that point. Do you think Nippert Stadium would be rocking for that one? Don't get me wrong, Louisville is without question a top-25-caliber team led by Bridgewater and Charlie Strong, one of nation's top coaches. However, I just don't think an undefeated regular season is in the (ahem) cards this fall.

 

Related College Football Content

2013 College Football Preview: No. 10 Louisville Cardinals
Ranking the Big East Quarterbacks for 2013

Ranking the Big East Running Backs for 2013

Ranking the Big East Coaches for 2013

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaches for 2013

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Will the Louisville Cardinals Go Undefeated in 2013?</p>
Post date: Friday, May 17, 2013 - 07:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-greatest-discontinued-nicknames
Body:

There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but there may be a name change.

After more than a decade as simply the “Warriors,” Hawaii announced Tuesday the school’s men’s athletic program would return to their original nickname of Rainbow Warriors. The women remain the Rainbow Wahine.

The “rainbow” was originally dropped for the football team at the start of the June Jones era, but now that it has returned, we decided to look back at some other college football nicknames that have been retired, perhaps never to return.*

These are the best retired and discontinued nicknames in college football history. Some schools retired names when the names of schools changed -- all those A&Ms that became State Universities dropped "Aggies" for something new. Normal schools (i.e. teaching schools) quit being the Normals, the Normalites or Teachers because who wants to be normal in college football anyway?

Other schools dropped names because -- unless you're Dan Snyder -- Redskins just isn't appropriate.

Some schools upgraded where others took a step back. Really, Arkansas State? You could have been the Gorillas instead of the Red Wolves?

Anyhow, here are the best of the best old college football team nicknames.

*with a little help from the ESPN College Football Encyclopedia.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S GREATEST DISCONTINUED NICKNAMES

Arizona State Bulldogs
Arizona State parted with Bulldogs in 1946 for the Sun Devils, giving us the mascot Sparky and then “Fear the Fork.” Good move.

Arkansas Cardinals
Arkansas changed its name to Razorbacks after coach Hugo Bezdek compared his 7-0 team in 1909 to a “wild band of razorback hogs.” Bezdek’s comment provided the impetus to never-ending “Woo Pig Sooie” enjoyment.

Arkansas State Gorillas
After going by Aggies, Gorillas and Warriors, Arkansas State opted for Indians in 1931. Indians stuck until it was no longer OK to be a sports team going by “Indians.” Arkansas State changed its nickname to Red Wolves in 2008. Fellow Sun Belt team Louisiana-Monroe also changed from Indians to Warhawks.

Army Cadets
Black Knights was an unofficial nickname since the 30s and 40s but changed in 1999.

Ball State Hoosieroons
In another time, David Letterman, Jason Whitlock and Papa John all would have been Hoosieroons.

Buffalo Bisons
The grammatically incorrect Bisons changed their name to Bulls in 1931 to avoid confusion with other Buffalo-based teams. That was fine until the Bills came along in 1960.

Kent State Silver Foxes
It’s true. Kent State changed its name from Silver Foxes to Golden Flashes in 1927. Strong.

Speaking of which, what’s going on in the MAC?
Bowling Green quit being the Normals in 1927. Eastern Michigan went form the Normalites to the Men From Ypsi to the Hurons before just giving up and going by Eagles. Akron shortened its name from Zippers to Zips. UMass went from Redmen to Minutemen. Miami (Ohio) went from Redskins to RedHawks. Toledo shortened its Skyrockets nickname. Ohio decided Green and White was not a mascot at all. Western Michigan went from Hilltoppers to Broncos. Northern Illinois cycled through Profs, Cardinals, Evansmen, Northerners and Teachers. Central Michigan went from the Normalites to the Dragons to the Chippewas. College football needs more Dragons.

FIU Sunblazers
Florida International started as the Sunblazers, giving us one great mascot. Golden Panthers was too much, so now they’re just the Panthers.

Maryland Old Liners
Old Liners referred to Maryland soldiers during the Revolutionary War. The school newspaper (The Diamondback) and the school yearbook (The Terrapin) inspired the name change in 1935.

Nebraska’s informal nicknames
Cornhuskers is perfect along with Big Red and Blackshirts, but shouldn’t we pine for the Treeplanters, Rattlesnake Boys, Antelopes and Old Gold Knights?

Nevada Sagebrushers and Sage Hens
Nevada had a two-word nickname long before the Wolf Pack.

North Texas Eagles
Got to love a program that changed its bland nickname to one that referenced its most famous players -- Mean Joe Greene -- in 1966.

Northwestern Purple and Syracuse Orangemen
This serves as proof that schools with great journalism programs are not great at picking team nicknames.

Notre Dame Catholics and Ramblers
When Grantland Rice wrote one of the most famous first paragraphs in sportswriting history:

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden.

The Four Horsemen weren’t even Fighting Irish. They were “Ramblers.” And before that, the would have been simply “Catholics.” What started as a derisive term from opponents, Fighting Irish became the school’s official nickname in 1927.

Oklahoma Rough Riders and Boomers
Oklahoma adopted its current name from the school pep club -- The Sooner Rooters -- in 1908. Like Notre Dame, Oklahoma took a put-down and turned it into a nickname. “Sooners” referred to settlers who left for the Oklahoma Territory before the Land Run of 1889. “Boomers” left when land was officially opened by President Grover Cleveland.

Rutgers Queensmen
The State University of New Jersey was originally Queen’s College, thus the Queensmen. Rutgers adopted Knights and later added Scarlet Knights. Although if Rutgers really wants to claim New York as its territory, it might not hurt to claim a borough or two.

Stanford Indians
After objections by the Native American community in 1975, Stanford dropped the Indians nickname but didn't adopt the Cardinal until the 1980s.

UCF Knights of Pegasus
Knights of Pegasus stood until 1993 when Central Florida became the Golden Knights. Boo.

USF Brahman Bulls
USF Bulls is dull for a moderately new football program. Brahman Bulls, in use before the school had a football team, wasn’t much better.

USC Methodists and Wesleyans
The two were retired by 1912 when USC adopted the Trojans name. Song Girls came decades later.

Texas Tech Matadors
Texas Tech retired the Matadors in 1932 for Red Raiders. A shame. Mike Leach would have had fun as a Matador.

Troy Red Wave
Like Hawaii, Troy backtracked. Troy went from the Bulldogs to the Teachers, to the Trojans to the Red Wave and finally back to Trojans in 1973.

Tulsa Yellow Jackets
The Yellow Jackets nickname had stuck by the early 1920s, but new coach Howard Archer wanted to change the name to Golden Tornadoes. Georgia Tech was using the Golden Tornadoes moniker at the time, so Tulsa settled on Golden Hurricane.

UCLA Cubs
Originally, UCLA was nicknamed the Cubs as homage to the Cal Golden Bears. UCLA then played as the Grizzlies from 1923-28 before settling on the Bruins.

Utah State Highlanders
Arkansas State, Colorado State, Kansas State, Michigan State, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State all changed their names from Aggies. Utah State changed to Aggies. There can be no Highlanders.

Washington Sun Dodgers
Perhaps it wasn’t a great recruiting tool that it rains a lot in Seattle -- hence the Son Dodgers, maybe? If it wasn’t that, maybe the 1919 “Sunny Boy” logo just needed to go.

West Virginia Snakes
The Mountaineers made their first appearance in 1905. The nickname needs to return for someone, though, just so we can hear a 60,000-person crowd hiss on third down.

Teaser:
<p> Hawaii brings back the Rainbow Warriors nickname. What other discontinued nicknames should make a comeback?</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 13:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football, LSU Tigers, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/what-will-lsus-sec-record-be-2013
Body:

LSU had national title aspirations in 2012 but losses to Florida and Alabama pushed the Tigers to a 10-2 mark at the end of the regular season.

Getting LSU to a spot in the national championship will be even more challenging for Les Miles in 2013, as the Tigers lost a handful of key contributors on defense, and the offense is still a question mark.

A schedule featuring a non-conference matchup against TCU, along with SEC games against Alabama, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Georgia and Florida won’t be easy. 

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

LSU ranks as Athlon's No. 12 team in the 2013 Top 25 countdown.

What Will LSU's SEC Record Be in 2013?

Jon Cooper, lead writer and editor Saturday Down South, (@JonSDS)
LSU has the most questions of any of the big six teams in the SEC entering 2013. The offense is going through a change in coordinators, albeit a good change, and the offense’s best player in running back Jeremy Hill may not even suit up because of legal issues. And replacing six starters on defense, five of whom went in the first three rounds of the draft, will be very tough. The Tigers are still talented enough to compete for a championship, though, because Les Miles has recruited so well.

Then, we can throw in the schedule aspect: LSU has one of the toughest in-conference slates of any team. Not only do they play the yearly Alabama and Texas A&M, but when you toss in Florida and Georgia from the East, and it becomes a brutal schedule. Also, Auburn, Ole Miss and Arkansas will improve upon last year. Finishing .500 in league play isn’t out of the question, but LSU should win five SEC games.
 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I have major concerns about LSU being able to maintain its recent level of elite national championship contention. This roster has loads of talent on both sides of the ball but is 10-4 in it's last 14 games and just watched more than a dozen elite players depart the roster for the NFL. The game's most important position is still manned by Zach Mettenberger, who has done little to prove to me that he is capable of winning big-time football games in the nation's toughest conference. He has excellent receivers so there is no excuse for him to be so inaccurate and inefficient. And finally, this schedule is downright nasty. While LSU appears to be trending in the wrong direction, every other SEC team appears to be getting better. Road games at Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are all extremely difficult while home tilts with Florida and Texas A&M are no joke. Toss in a neutral site game with TCU in the season opener and always heated divisional rivalrly tests with Auburn and Arkansas and the Tigers have the making of a four-loss season. An 8-4 regular season may be the ceiling for a team that appears to be well past its best days.
 

Josh Ward, MrSEC.com, (@Josh_Ward)
I see three SEC losses for LSU this year. Arkansas and Auburn look to be the only sure conference wins for LSU, which faces a brutal SEC schedule.

The Tigers play Florida and Georgia, the top two teams in the SEC East last year. LSU will be fortunate to split those two games. Road games at Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State will be challenging, and Texas A&M will be looking for revenge from last year’s loss in College Station.

There’s still a lot to figure out about LSU, which has to replace seven starters on defense. While coordinator John Chavis believes his starting lineup will be as good as any in the nation, he admits there are concerns about the defense’s depth. There is optimism on the offensive side of the ball with first-year coordinator Cam Cameron, but questions still remain. Is quarterback Zach Mettenberger ready to win big in the SEC? And how will the off-field issues involving running back Jeremy Hill affect LSU’s backfield rotation?

With questions on both sides of the ball and a challenging SEC schedule, a 5-3 finish in conference play should be considered a successful season for LSU. Of course, Tiger fans probably won’t see it that way at the end of November.
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
LSU has one of the toughest schedules in the nation, so reaching double-digit victories for the fourth consecutive season will be a challenge. Making matters worse was the departure of several key players to the NFL Draft, leaving only 10 starters returning to Baton Rouge for 2013. The defense was hit the hardest by departures, with defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, linebacker Kevin Minter, cornerback Tharold Simon and safety Eric Reid all leaving early for the next level. New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron could help spark a struggling passing attack, but the status of running back Jeremy Hill is a concern.

The Tigers have three guaranteed victories in non-conference play with UAB, Kent State and Furman. TCU will challenge LSU in the opener, but Les Miles’ team will eventually pull away from the Horned Frogs in the second half. While the Tigers should be 4-0 in non-conference games, there’s a good chance they go 4-4 in SEC play. Losses at Georgia and Alabama are likely, with home games against Texas A&M and Florida placed in the tossup column. The road trip to Ole Miss on Oct. 19 is another swing contest, especially after the Rebels nearly won in Baton Rouge last year.

Anything from 5-3 to 3-5 wouldn’t surprise me for LSU’s SEC record. However, I think the Tigers find a way to get to 4-4 and finish 8-4 overall this season.
 

Mark Ross
With the exception of 2008 (3-5), Les Miles has gone no worse than 5-3 in SEC play in his eight seasons with the Tigers. Ironically, that also is the only season in which Miles' Tigers finished lower than a tie for second in the SEC West. While I do think there's a good chance this year's Bayou Bengals could finish third behind Alabama and Texas A&M in their division, I don't see that happening due to a below .500 conference mark.

LSU does have Florida and Georgia from the East on its schedule, but the Gators and aforementioned Aggies will both have to venture to Death Valley. Even with the questions surrounding the offense and the seven defensive players (eight if you include Tyrann Mathieu) that were taken in April's NFL Draft, Miles always seems to find a way to win a game (or two) that he has no business doing so. "The Mad Hatter" pulls out another one of those this fall (against the Gators? Aggies?), as the Tigers finish 5-3 in the SEC.


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Is Florida's Jeff Driskel a top-five SEC quarterback for 2013?

Georgia, Florida or South Carolina: Who Will Win the SEC East in 2013?
Will Missouri Make a Bowl Game in 2013?

Ranking the SEC Running Backs for 2013

Ranking the SEC Quarterbacks for 2013

Will Tennessee Make a Bowl in 2013?

Ole Miss or Mississippi State: Who Wins More SEC Games in 2013?

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaches for 2013

Ranking the SEC Head Coaches for 2013

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Teaser:
<p> What Will LSU's SEC Record Be in 2013?</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 07:19
Path: /mlb/2013-25-best-baseball-players-25-and-under
Body:

Youth is being served in MLB. Don't believe me? Look at last year’s awards voting. Besides running away with the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year award, 21-year-old Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout finished second to Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in the AL MVP voting.

Over in the National League, 24-year-old Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel led the senior circuit in saves with 42, finished 5th in the NL Cy Young voting and also in the top 10 for NL MVP. And of course, like Trout, fellow teenaged phenom Bryce Harper won the NL Rookie of the Year award last season as a 19-year-old outfielder for the Washington Nationals.

There’s plenty of young talent to be found in the majors right now, with several more promising prospects on their way. Looking at current MLB rosters, here is a list of the top 25 players who were 25 or younger on Opening Day (April 1).

1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Trout made his MLB debut in 2011 at just 19 years old and showed a glimpse of his all-around ability (.220-5-16 with 4 SB) in his 40-game introduction. Last season he didn’t get called up until April 28, and despite a slow start, he quickly proved that he belonged.

Even though he played in just 139 games, Trout still led the American League in runs (129) and stolen bases (49) while hitting 30 home runs with 83 RBIs and a .326 average to post one of the finest rookie seasons in the history of the game. If not for Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown, Trout may have taken home AL MVP honors too.

2. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington
Harper and Trout both got recalled from the minors the same time, with Harper making his MLB debut on April 28. The then-19-year-old quickly made a name for himself not only for his production at the plate, but for his hustle and the manner in which he played the game.

Like all young players, Harper went through some tough stretches at the plate, especially against left-handed pitching, but showed more than enough to earn his first All-Star Game invite and eventually claim the NL Rookie of the Year award following his .270-22-59 (with 98 runs and 18 SB) season. In 2103, Harper has picked up where he left off, hitting two home runs on Opening Day and he entered this week with a .303 average and 10 dingers.

Related: 25 Young Athletes Most Likely to be Hall of Famers

3. Stephen Strasburg, P, Washington
Strasburg has struggled in the win column this season (1-5), but that’s been more a byproduct of a lack of support from both his offense (2.25 runs per start) and defense (8 unearned runs allowed). The flame-throwing right-hander won’t turn 25 until July and his career ERA sits at 2.96 through his first 300 innings, during which he’s also struck out 364 batters.

After bursting on the scene in 2010 (5-3, 2.91 ERA, 92 SO in 68 IP), Strasburg missed nearly all of '11 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but showed ill effects upon his return last season. Now with no innings cap to worry about, Strasburg should return to the form that saw him win 21 of his first 45 starts, provided he get a little more help from his teammates.

4. Craig Kimbrel, P, Atlanta
The Braves’ 24-year-old closer has led the National League in saves the past two seasons, posting 46 in his NL Rookie of the Year campaign in 2011 and 42 last season. He recently picked up the 100th save of his young career, needing just 114 opportunities to reach that milestone.

Kimbrel is a strikeout machine, recording 283 Ks in 160 1/3 innings entering this season. The only concern when it comes to Kimbrel is associated with overuse, but the Braves have done a good job of monitoring his workload, going from 79 appearances and 77 innings in 2011 to 63 games and 62 2/3 innings last season.

5. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami
It’s hard to ignore that the 23-year-old slugger formerly known as Mike already has 96 career home runs in less than three full seasons (393 games played). Like most power hitters, Stanton does come up empty quite a bit (458 SO in 1399 AB), but he hit .290 last season and isn’t afraid to take a walk.

If there’s any concerns with Stanton moving forward it’s durability and the sad state of affairs that is the Marlins franchise. Stanton played in only123 games last season because of different injuries and he’s been in only 20 so far this season due to a hamstring injury. His big bat can’t do any damage if it’s on the DL.

Related: 10 Young MLB Players Who Could be Hall of Famers

6. Justin Upton, OF, Atlanta
It may seem like Upton shouldn’t be on this list anymore, but he wont turn 26 until late August. He made his debut in August 2007 at 19 for Arizona, where he spent the first six seasons of his career. His best year came in 2011 when he finished fourth in the NL MVP voting after batting .289 with a career-best 31 home runs and 88 RBIs, as well as 105 runs scored and 21 stolen bases.

A wrist injury impacted his 2012 production, which somewhat led to him being traded to Atlanta earlier this year. Reunited with older brother, B.J., Justin has rediscovered his power stroke, as he currently leads the majors with 13 home runs.

7. Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs
The 23-year-old shortstop already has 575 career hits in less than 500 games played. A two-time All-Star, Castro still has plenty of room to grow, both in physical stature and as an all-round player.

A work in progress in the field (27 or more errors in each of his first three seasons), he still has the tools necessary to become a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop. At the plate, his power should continue to develop as he gets older and better plate discipline (36 BB in 646 AB last season) will only make him an even more fearsome hitter.

8. Aroldis Chapman, P, Cincinnati
The Cuban defector turned 25 in February and, after a brief experiment as a starter during spring training, returned to the closer’s role he excelled at last season. The fire-balling lefty saved 38 games in 2012 with an ERA of 1.51 and WHIP of 0.81. He recorded nearly four times as many strikeouts (122) as hits allowed (35) last season and is a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities so far this season. Chapman appears to have the stuff to be a successful starter in the majors, but there’s no disputing his dominance as a closer to this point.

9. Madison Bumgarner, P, San Francisco
Bumgarner made his Giants debut when he was 19 and joined the starting rotation just one season later. After going a combined 29-14 with 3.29 ERA in 2011 and ’12, the 24-year-old lefthander is now a key member of one of the best rotations in all of baseball. He’s already shown he can handle the big moment, having pitched 15 scoreless innings in two World Series starts, helping the Giants win it all in both 2010 and last season. Bumgarner is 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA so far in 2013.

10. Matt Harvey, P, New York Mets
Just how good has the 24-year-old been this season? He’s 4-0 and leads the majors with a 1.44 ERA over his first eight starts, which includes a no-decision where he gave up just one hit in nine innings. He also struck out 12 in that game, and has 62 in 56 1/3 innings so far. The Mets may not be very competitive this season, but their future looks a lot brighter with Harvey fronting the rotation.

11. Matt Moore, P, Tampa Bay
Moore will turn 24 in June and by then the Rays’ lefthander will have added many more strikeouts to his stat line. All he’s done so far this season is become the first AL pitcher to reach seven wins, while posting a 2.44 ERA and 51 whiffs in 48 innings. The swing-and-miss stuff is certainly there; it’s now just a matter of harnessing it. If Moore figures out a way to limit the walks (25 so far this season), look out.

12. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona
A somewhat unknown commodity headed into last season, Goldschmidt changed that after batting .286 with 20 home runs, 43 doubles and 18 stolen bases. The 25-year-old has started off even better this season, hitting .312 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs entering Wednesday’s action. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that Goldschmidt will win a Gold Glove or two at first before his career is done, perhaps maybe even this year.

13. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta
Freeman is just 23, but you couldn’t tell by watching him play. After finishing second to teammate Craig Kimbrel in the 2011 NL Rookie of the Year voting, Freeman battled issues with his eyes and still managed to hit 23 home runs and drive in 94 last season. An oblique injury limited him to start this season, but he’s already driven in 19 runs in his first 25 games while playing his usual solid defense at first.

14. Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta
Heyward made his major-league debut one to remember as he homered off of Cubs’ starter Carlos Zambrano in his first career at-bat on Opening Day in 2010. The then-20-year-old finished second in Rookie of the Year voting that season after posting a .277-18-72 line. He took a step back in 2011, as a shoulder issue hampered him all season and he managed to hit just .227 with 14 home runs.

Heyward came back with a vengeance last season, finishing 2012 with 27 home runs, 82 RBIs and winning his first Gold Glove. He had gotten off to a slow start at the plate this season before he went on the DL after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in late April. He could return to the Braves’ lineup as early as Friday.

15. Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore
The Orioles’ shortstop of the future, Machado was called up at the ripe age of 19 last August to play third, a position he had virtually no experience at before. That mattered little, however, as the No. 3 overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft made him himself at home at the hot corner. He made just five errors in 51 games, helping stabilize the Orioles’ infield defense in the process. He was no slouch at the plate either, hitting .262 with seven home runs. He’s been even better to start this season, currently batting .329 with 20 extra-base hits in 39 games.

16. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
Rizzo may be with his third franchise, but the seven-year, $41 million contract he signed this week should tell you everything you need to know about what the Cubs think of him. The 23-year-old struggled mightily (.141-1-9 in 49 G) in his first taste of the big leagues with San Diego in 2011, but that didn’t prevent the Cubs from trading for him in January 2012.

After tearing up Triple-A, Rizzo was called up in late June last season and hit .285 with 15 home runs in a little more than half a season. After a slow start to his 2013 campaign, Rizzo has caught fire, currently sporting a .270-9-28 line. The future of the Cubs is in good hands with Rizzo and Castro both signed to long-term deals.

17. Brett Lawrie, 3B, Toronto
Lawrie made his Blue Jays debut in August 2011 and provided a glimpse of his all-around ability by hitting .293 with nine home runs and seven stolen bases in just 43 games. Unfortunately, injuries have prevented him from building off of this, as he played in just 125 games last season and started the 2013 campaign on the DL. The tools are there for a 20/20-type of season, it’s just a matter of him staying in the lineup long enough to find his rhythm at the plate.

18. Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas
Jurickson Profar is getting most of the attention these days, but that shouldn’t be viewed as a knock on Andrus. The 24-year-old shortstop is in his fifth season as one of the Rangers’ offensive catalysts, while providing solid defense up the middle. A career .275 hitter, Andrus has averaged nearly 90 runs and 30 stolen bases over the past three seasons and has driven in 60 or more runs in each of the last two campaigns.

19. Chris Sale, P, Chicago White Sox
The lanky lefthander made his debut back in 2010, but really came into his own last season. He finished sixth in the AL Cy Young voting after going 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA in 29 starts. He struck out 192 in 192 innings and has maintained this performance level through his first eight starts this season (4-2, 2.88). His delivery may be a reason for concern, but for now, there’s no denying the 24-year-old’s results.

20. Shelby Miller, P, St. Louis
The 22-year-old Texan won a spot in the Cardinals’ starting rotation in spring training and all he’s done since is proven that it was the right decision. He’s 5-2 with a sparkling 1.58 ERA in his first seven starts, highlighted by his last time out on May 10 against Colorado when he gave up a leadoff single to Eric Young and then retired the next 27 batters in a row, 13 by strikeout, in a one-hit gem in front of the home crowd.

21. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston
Altuve, 23, is the epitome of the saying “good things come in small packages,” as all the diminutive (5’5”) second baseman has done is hit since he made his MLB debut in 2011. A free agent signee of the Astros out of Venezuela, Altuve has 279 hits in his first 242 career games and was named to the NL All-Star team last season.

22. Jean Segura, SS, Milwaukee
The Brewers got Segura in the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels last July and the 23-year-old shortstop has really come into his own to start this season. He entered Wednesday second in the NL with a .362 average as he’s already collected 51 hits, 16 for extra bases, and stolen 13 bases. He has teamed with Norichika Aoki to serve as the perfect table-setters for Ryan Braun and the rest of the Brewers’ lineup.

23. Andrelton Simmons, SS, Atlanta
Already a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop who reminds some of a young Ozzie Smith, Simmons has shown stretches of solid production at the plate too. Making his debut last season at 22, he was off to a great start at the plate (.296) before a broken finger sidelined him for two months. This season, he’s already surpassed his 2012 home run total with four in his first 37 games, including his first career two-home run game against Cincinnati on May 6.

24. Jose Fernandez, P, Miami
There are few reasons for Marlins fans to cheer right now, but the 20-year-old righthander is a nice building block for the future. The No. 14 overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft made just 27 starts in the minors (14-2, 2.02 ERA) before being summoned to the majors for his first career start on April 7. Through his first seven starts, Fernandez has already produced three quality starts (at least 6 IP, 3 ER or fewer) and has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all but two outings. Wins will probably be tough to come by this season for Fernandez, but that shouldn’t be the only stat by which he’s measured in 2013.

25. Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh
Marte’s plate discipline leaves plenty to be desired, as he’s currently on pace for 162 strikeouts and only 39 walks, but there’s also lots to like from both a speed and power perspective. The 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic is currently hitting .320 and already has matched his home run total from 2012 (five) and did so in 15 fewer games (45 in 2012, 30 in '13). He’s on pace for a 20/40 season with more than 200 hits and 120 runs scored, and while the chances are slim he will finish with these lofty numbers, it looks as if the Pirates outfield is in good shape moving forward with Marte and Andrew McCutchen out there.

Best of the rest (alphabetical order)
Patrick Corbin, P, Arizona
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston
Mike Minor, P, Atlanta
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City
Sal Perez, C, Kansas City
Addison Reed, P, Chicago White Sox
Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado
Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle

Maybe next year? (alphabetical order)
Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota
Trevor Bauer, P, Cleveland
Gerrit Cole, P, Pittsburgh (currently in AAA)
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati (currently in AAA)
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay (currently in AAA)
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami
Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas (currently in AAA)
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington (currently in AA)
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis (currently in AAA)
Zack Wheeler, P, New York Mets (currently in AAA)

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Teaser:
<p> 25 Best Baseball Players 25 and Under</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 18:00
Path: /college-basketball/top-25-college-basketball-recruiting-classes-2000
Body:

Even though Kentucky lost out on Andrew Wiggins on Tuesday, the Wildcats may still have a signing class for the ages.

The Wildcats bring in six McDonald’s All-Americans for 2013-14, and Wiggins, the consensus top prospect, would have added to an embarrassment of riches. Instead, Wiggins heads to Kansas where he headlines the No. 2 class -- a recruiting haul that could be No. 1 in most years.

Where those classes end up no one knows, but all signs point to these being some of the best on paper.

These are the freshman classes Kentucky’s and Kansas’ freshmen are up against -- national champions, All-Americans and NBA lottery picks.

In this ranking, we put most weight on college production, particularly for classes that had mutliple high-level contributors. We also considered longevity and pro potential in assembling this ranking.

TOP COLLEGE BASKETBALL RECRUITING CLASSES SINCE 2000

1. 2011 Kentucky
The class: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Kyle Wiltjer
John Calipari’s best recruiting class produced a dominant regular-season team (38-2, 16-0 SEC), the national champion and the top two players in the NBA Draft. Anthony Davis joined Kansas’ Danny Manning and UCLA’s Lew Alcindor as the only players to win the Naismith Award, to win Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors and to go first in the NBA Draft. Kidd-Gilchrist was a second-team All-American and the second overall pick while the point guard Teague was the No. 29 pick in 2012.

2. 2004 Florida
The class: Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, Al Horford, Joakim Noah
The ‘04 class formed the core of Florida’s back-to-back national championship teams in 2006 and 2007. When they all left for the draft in 2007, Horford, Brewer and Noah were top-10 picks, and Green was a second-rounder. Noah was the only All-American in the group, earning second-team honors in 2007, but he and Brewer ended up as NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Players.

3. 2002 Syracuse
The class: Carmelo Anthony, Billy Edelin, Matt Gorman, Gerry McNamara
Before one-and-done players were commonplace, Anthony had one of the best freshman seasons in college basketball history, leading Syracuse to the national title in 2003. After averaging a double-double and earning NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors, Anthony went on to be the third overall pick in the NBA Draft after LeBron James and Darko Milicic. McNamara stayed all four years to become a beloved player for Syracuse, vociferously defended by Jim Boeheim in a famous tirade.

4. 2002 North Carolina
The class: Raymond Felton, Damion Grant, Sean May, Rashad McCants, David Noel
Signed under Matt Doherty and unleashed under Roy Williams, this trio was the nucleus of North Carolina’s 2005 national title team. Three became NBA lottery picks -- Felton at No. 5 overall, May at No. 13 overall and McCants at No. 14. May was a consensus All-American his last season, and Felton won the Bob Cousy Award for the nation’s top point guard.

5. 2006 Kansas
The class: Mario Chalmers, Micah Downs, Brandon Rush, Julian Wright
Rush and Chalmers were the keys to Kansas’ first national title in 20 years when the Jayhawks won the 2008 championship. Chalmers hit the game-tying three-pointer to send the title game against Memphis to overtime before winning NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Rush was a three-time All-Big 12 selection. A year earlier, Wright, Chalmers and Rush won 33 games en route to the Elite Eight. Downs played one season at Kansas before finishing his career at Gonzaga.

6. 2001 Connecticut
The class: Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor
Gordon and Okafor led Connecticut to a national title as juniors in 2004 to cap a 33-6 season. A shot-blocker extraordinaire, Okafor was a consensus All-American and the second pick in the NBA Draft after Dwight Howard. Gordon followed his teammate as the third overall pick.

7. 2002 Illinois
The class: James Augustine, Dee Brown, Aaron Spears, Deron Williams
A class recruited by Bill Self enjoyed most of its success under Bruce Weber. Brown and Williams led Illinois to a 37-2 season in 2004-05, reaching the national final that year. The Illini, though, lost to the North Carolina team led by May, McCants and Felton. Brown was a consensus first-team All-American in 2005 while Williams was a second-teamer that year. Williams left for the draft where he was selected third overall, but Brown stayed for his senior season to become a second-team All-American.

8. 2006 Texas
The class: D.J. Augustin, Kevin Durant, Matt Hill, Damion James, Justin Mason, Dexter Pittman, Harrison Smith
In retrospect, Texas going 25-10 with a second-round exit with Kevin Durant in 2006-07 looks indefensible. Durant was dominant in his only season in college as one of two freshmen to win the Naismith Award (Anthony Davis was the other). The class paid off over the years with Augustin, a first-team All-American and ninth overall pick, leading Texas to a 31-7 season and the Elite Eight in 2008. James was a third-team All-American in 2010 and the No. 24 pick.

9. 2006 Ohio State
The class: Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook, Othello Hunter, David Lighty, Greg Oden
The “Thad Five,” Thad Matta’s first major recruiting class at Ohio State, produced two top-five picks (Oden and Conley) and the No. 21 pick (Cook). Though his NBA career has been injury plagued, Oden was a star college player, earning second-team All-America and National Defensive Player of the Year honors. Besides Oden, Conley was a second-team All-Big Ten pick, and Cook was the league’s sixth man of the year for a team that reached the NCAA final. Lighty stuck around to be a leader and key cog on the Buckeyes’ 2010-11 Big Ten title team.

10. 2010 Ohio State
The class: Aaron Craft, Jordan Siebert, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas
This star-studded class for Thad Matta had more of a lasting impact for the Buckeyes than the Thad Five. Sullinger, Thomas and Craft led Ohio State to an Elite Eight in 2011 and a Final Four in 2012. Sullinger was a two-time All-American before leaving school after two seasons. The team led by Thomas and Craft reached the Sweet 16 in 2013. This class has formed the core of teams that have won at least 30 games in each of their three seasons.

11. 2006 North Carolina
The class: Wayne Ellington, William Graves, Ty Lawson, Alex Stephenson, Deon Thompson, Brandan Wright
Along with Tyler Hansbrough from the 2005 class, the Tar Heels’ ‘06 class formed the core of a team that went to the Elite Eight in 2007 and the Final Four in 2008 before winning a national title in 2009. Wright was the highest draft pick of the group at No. 8 in 2007, but Lawson was the 2009 ACC Player of the Year and Ellington was the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. Lawson (No. 17 overall) and Ellington (No. 28) were drafted in 2009.

12. 2009 Kentucky
The class: Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, John Wall
Calipari’s first class at Kentucky would be outdone by later classes both in the NCAA Tournament and in the NBA Draft, but this was a dominant class nonetheless. This class went 35-3 overall and 14-2 in the SEC before falling in the Elite Eight to West Virginia. All four were first round picks -- Wall at No. 1 overall, Cousins at No. 5, Bledsoe at No. 18 and Orton at No. 29.

13. 2005 North Carolina
The class: Bobby Frasor, Marcus Ginyard, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough
Hansbrough was one of the most accomplished four-year players in recent decades, earning first- or second-team All-America honors all four seasons. The consensus national player of the year as a junior, Hansbrough led North Carolina to a national title in 2009, his final season. Green wrapped up an underrated career in which he averaged 9.4 points on rosters never lacking for talent.

14. 2004 UCLA
The class: Arron Afflalo, Jordan Farmar, Lorenzo Mata-Real, Josh Shipp
This class set the bar for Ben Howland at UCLA as Afflalo, Farmar and Shipp were the top three scorers on the 2006 national runner-up (32-7, 14-4 Pac-10). Farmar was a first-team Pac-12 selection in 2006 while Afflalo returned in 2007 to become an All-American and the top player on another Final Four team. Shipp, who played in three consecutive Final Fours, ended up the No. 12 scorer in UCLA history, only 37 points behind Bill Walton.

15. 2007 Purdue
The class: Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, Scott Martin, E’Twaun Moore
A bad-luck recruiting class left Purdue fans wondering what could have been accomplished. Even so, this group turned out pretty good. The trio of Hummel, Johnson and Moore went 52-19 overall and 26-10 in their first two seasons, reaching the Sweet 16 in 2009. Hummel, however, endured a season-ending injury in February 2010 and missed all of 2010-11. The Boilermakers still went 28-8 in the Big Ten in that span. Johnson was a first-team All-American in 2011, Hummel a three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and Moore was a two-time first-team all-conference pick. Martin finished his career at Notre Dame.

16. 2003 Connecticut
The class: Josh Boone, Charlie Villanueva, Marcus Williams
The class produced three first-round draft picks, but also the core of the 2004-05 team that was a No. 2 seed bounced in the second round of the NCAAs by NC State, and the 2005-06 team that was a top seed but lost to 11th-seeded George Mason in the championship game. All were role players for the 2004 title team.

17. 2010 Kentucky
The class: Terrence Jones, Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb
This haul lacked the oomph of the class that preceded it (led by Wall) and the class that came after (led by Davis), but formed the nucleus of a Final Four team even without the ineligible Kanter.

18. 2007 Kansas State
The class: Michael Beasley, Jacob Pullen, Bill Walker
Beasley broke many of Durant’s Big 12 records and, like Durant, topped out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Pullen led K-State to an Elite Eight appearance in 2010.

19. 2010 Syracuse
The class: C.J. Fair, Baye Keita, Fab Melo, Dion Waiters
Waiters (fifth overall) and Melo (22nd) were first-round picks. Fair and Keita played in the Final Four this year.

20. 2007 Syracuse
The class: Jonny Flynn, Donte Green, Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine
The class produced first-round draft picks (Flynn and Green), regular season success ... but unfulfilled promise in the NCAA Tournament, never advancing past the Sweet 16.

21. 2006 Duke
The class: Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek
Henderson was a lottery pick (No. 12), while Scheyer, Thomas and Zoubek were key players on the 2010 title team.

22. 2006 Connecticut
The class: Jerome Dyson, Curtis Kelly, Stanley Robinson, Hasheem Thabeet
Led by 2009 Big East Player of the Year Thabeet, this class produced three starters on the Huskies’ Final Four team in 2009.

23. 2008 Kansas
The class: Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Travis Releford, Tyshawn Taylor
Marcus Morris was the 2011 Big 12 Player of the Year. Markieff was selected one spot ahead of his brother at No. 13.

24. 2008 Butler
The class:
Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Ronald Nored, Chase Stigall
The class formed the core of the 2010 national runner-up. Hayward was the ninth overall pick in the draft.

25 or better? 2013 Kentucky
The class:
Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dominique Hawkins, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle, Derek Willis, James Young
Calipari may have outdone himself by landing six of the nation’s top 15 prospects.

25 or better? 2013 Kansas
The class
: Joel Embiid, Conner Frankamp, Brannen Greene, Frank Mason, Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins’ announcement Tuesday means Kansas will be just fine despite losing five starters.

Teaser:
<p> Will Kentucky and Kansas add their 2013 hauls to the mix of top recruiting classes since 2000?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/floridas-jeff-driskel-top-five-quarterback-sec
Body:

If Florida wants to win the SEC East, its offense has to take a step forward in 2013. The Gators ranked last in the SEC in passing offense last season and averaged only 334.4 yards per game.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel was solid in his debut year as the starter, throwing for 1,646 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also rushed for 413 yards and four scores.

Although Driskel shined against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, he didn’t play well in the Sugar Bowl versus Louisville, throwing two interceptions on 29 attempts.

There’s a lot of pressure on Driskel, especially with a largely unproven receiving corps.

Can he take the next step in his development this year?

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Florida ranks as Athlon's No. 13 team in the 2013 Top 25 countdown.

Is Florida's Jeff Driskel a Top-Five Quarterback in the SEC?

Jon Cooper, lead writer and editor Saturday Down South, (@JonSDS)
Jeff Driskel really did all the Florida coaching staff asked him to do in 2012. He protected the ball (just five INTs), became the second-leading rusher with 408 yards and four touchdowns and won 11 football games as a first-year starter. But it was obvious at times that Driskel was underdeveloped as a passer and locked on to one receiver much throughout the season, often getting him and the offense into trouble.

Driskel should improve as both a passer and a runner this season, but I’m not sure he’s going to put up top-five numbers as a passer. Seven other returning quarterbacks finished with better numbers last year. So, if we’re talking numbers, Driskel will probably be on the outside of the top five looking in.

Florida should have another strong running game but still have limited playmakers at receiver. Driskel could still win 10 games and only throw for 1,700 to 1,900 yards. And who wouldn’t take that?
 

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Let’s go ahead and pencil in Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray as top-five quarterbacks in the SEC. I like Jeff Driskel as a potential top-five talent, but he won’t have the receiver talent to put up the numbers of an upper-echelon SEC quarterback. And this is an offense that looks to be a ball-control attack once again. Give me Bo Wallace, Tyler Russell or Connor Shaw to maximize their opportunities this season. Driskel will be fine, especially if he gets anything out of a receiver position that’s been a mess for some years now, but other SEC quarterbacks have higher ceilings for regular-season production right now.
 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Top five in the SEC isn't the same today as it has been for the last few decades. In a league that has long struggled with producing elite signal callers, the nation's toughest league has begun to churn out All-Americans, Heisman Trophies and National Champions under center of late. So will Jeff Driskel be better than Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron or Aaron Murray? Certainly not, however, could he pass Connor Shaw, Tyler Russell or Bo Wallace and finish as one of the five best quarterbacks in the SEC? Absolutely. He is an extraordinary athlete who will be an upperclassman for the first time this fall. Driskel has always been able to make big plays with his legs and will continue to do so this season, but he showed flashes of brilliance as a passer and leader of the offense a year ago. He needs to be more consistent in the pocket and within the framework of the offense, but there is a reason Driskel was the No. 1 QB recruit in the nation coming out of high school. He already has an 11-1 season under his belt and I think analysts tend to forget he was just a true sophomore last year. I'm expecting big things from the burly Gators passer in 2013 and that likely makes him the fourth or fifth best QB in the SEC.


Josh Ward, MrSEC.com, (@Josh_Ward)
There are only three quarterbacks in the SEC I would take over Jeff Driskel: Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray of Georgia. Those three quarterbacks have established an elite tier for themselves in the SEC.

Driskel would be next on my list. He has enormous potential entering his second season as a full-time starter. Driskel is a big (6-4, 237) quarterback with a strong arm and great athleticism. He rushed for 408 yards last season, including a 70-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to help secure a win against Vanderbilt. Driskel threw for only 137.2 yards per game last season but was accurate and took care of the football, completing 63.7 percent of his passes while throwing only five interceptions.

Florida coach Will Muschamp has continued to express confidence in Driskel, who coaches believe has taken on more of a leadership role as his understanding of coordinator Brent Pease’s offense has grown. But Driskel won’t be able to carry Florida’s offense by himself. The Gators are still waiting on someone to step up at wide receiver. If Driskel gets the proper help, he should establish himself as one of the SEC’s top five quarterbacks.
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Jeff Driskel’s debut season certainly wasn’t awful, but Florida needs more from him in 2013. A late-season injury slowed his progress in the final month of the year, finishing with 1,646 yards and 12 passing scores. Driskel added 413 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, which included a 177-yard rushing effort against Vanderbilt.

Although Driskel was efficient and completed 63.7 percent of his throws, the Gators averaged only 146.3 passing yards per game. And in SEC contests, Driskel threw for only 139 yards per game. It’s not out of the question for Florida to win the SEC East with a similar performance, but the defense might take a small step back with the departure of safety Matt Elam, tackle Sharrif Floyd and linebacker Jon Bostic, and the offense loses running back Mike Gillislee and first-team All-SEC tight end Jordan Reed.

Although Driskel isn’t asked to win a lot of games with his arm, he should be better by default in his second year as a starter. However, making progress as a passer also hinges on Florida developing a go-to receiver or two.

Numbers aren’t necessarily a good indicator of how to rank quarterbacks, but it does play a role in establishing a pecking order. I think Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Georgia’s Aaron Murray are clearly the top three quarterbacks in the SEC. After that, South Carolina’s Connor Shaw is probably No. 4, with Mississippi State’s Tyler Russell and Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace fighting it out for fifth place. I think it’s unlikely Driskel posts top-five numbers, but the talent is certainly there to rank among the top five in the conference. Is it possible? Yes. But I think Driskel falls just outside of the top five at the end of the season.
 

Mark Ross
I have nothing against Driskel and think he is perfectly capable of doing his part to help Florida win the SEC East in 2013. However, when it comes to the quarterback competition, Driskel is already facing an uphill battle before he even takes a snap this fall. When it comes to the likely all-conference picks at the position, it's pretty safe to assume, barring injury, the primary candidates are Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray, not necessarily in that order. This means that Driskel is already looking at no better than fourth place in this "race." And while there is quarterback uncertainty at Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, that's not the case at LSU (Zach Mettenberger), Mississippi State (Tyler Russell), Missouri (James Franklin), Ole Miss (Bo Wallace) and South Carolina (Connor Shaw). Among this group, I like Shaw and Wallace the best, although I also think Russell and Franklin are capable of staking a claim to a top-five spot as well.

There's no disputing Driskel's talent and ability, but there's also no lack of depth at the quarterback position in the SEC as evidenced by the presence of the reigning Heisman Trophy recipient, a two-time national champion and the player most likely to hold all of the conference's passing records when his career is over. In the end, Driskel's caught up in a numbers game and just misses out on being a top-five quarterback in the SEC this season.
 

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Teaser:
<p> Is Florida's Jeff Driskel a Top-Five Quarterback in the SEC?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 08:14
Path: /college-football/will-michigan-play-bcs-bowl-2013
Body:

After recording an 11-2 record in Brady Hoke’s first season, Michigan slid to an 8-5 mark in 2012. A challenging schedule certainly hurt the Wolverines’ win total, as they lost to Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State and South Carolina.

With a lighter slate coming for 2013, Michigan should have a chance to get back into the mix for 10 victories.

The Wolverines play only one top-25 opponent in their non-conference slate (Notre Dame) and host Nebraska and Ohio State in November. Quarterback Devin Gardner should emerge as one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks in 2013, and the defense should be steady despite the departure of a couple of a couple of starters.

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Michigan ranks as Athlon's No. 14 team in the 2013 Top 25 countdown.

Will Michigan Play in a BCS Bowl in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
More often than not, the Big Ten finds a way to produce two BCS teams. Ohio State sure looks like a favorite to lock up one of those spots, perhaps the Rose Bowl or a national title game slot. After that, there are only a handful of teams that can claim the second slot. The Legends Division is going to be a tough race with Nebraska being the main foil for Michigan this season. I’ve thought about scenarios where Michigan loses back-to-back games to Ohio State, and Nebraska swoops in to grab an at-large BCS bid. Or Michigan -- a five-loss team last year -- simply isn’t ready to contend for the Big Ten title and ends up in the Outback Bowl again. Michigan’s certainly capable of winning the Big Ten, assuming Devin Gardner settles in as starting quarterback. But the Wolverines could lose three Big Ten games and not even be a factor in the BCS.
 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I'd have to lean towards no. To make a BCS bowl, Michigan at minimum needs to win 10 games and the Legends Division — both of which are well within reach. And in fact, the Wolverines made a BCS bowl appearance not two years ago when it DIDN'T win the Legends Division. However, to land in a BCS bowl the Maize and Blue likely has to start the year 11-0 because back-to-back losses to Ohio State in the season finale and Big Ten title game are also well within reach. Unfortunately, the schedule looks entirely too daunting to pick the Wolverines to begin the year with 11 straight wins. If Michigan loses just one game against, say, Notre Dame, Nebraska, at Penn State, at Northwestern or at Michigan State, a three-loss season is likely. It is hard to see anyone landing an at-large BCS bowl bid with three losses.
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Michigan may not be a top-10 team in terms of talent, but the Wolverines certainly have the schedule to make a run at a BCS bowl. And it may be strange to say this, but Ohio State could help Michigan’s case, especially if the Buckeyes finish No. 2 nationally and a spot in the Rose Bowl is available for the Big Ten.

Michigan’s non-conference schedule is very favorable. Central Michigan, Akron and Connecticut are all wins, with Notre Dame a key swing game. The Wolverines have three wins in a row over the Fighting Irish in Ann Arbor, including a 35-31 thriller in 2011. If Michigan knocks off Notre Dame, it should be 5-0 heading into a road trip to Penn State. Considering the Nittany Lions will have a new quarterback and need to replace a few key leaders on defense, the Oct. 12 matchup should be a win for Michigan.

The final month of the season will determine where Michigan needs to plan for its postseason destination. The Wolverines play at Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa, while hosting Nebraska and Ohio State. It’s not going to be easy, but I think Michigan can go 4-1 or 3-2 in that stretch. Even if the Wolverines finish the regular season 10-2 and lose close to Ohio State in the regular season finale and Big Ten Championship, a berth in a BCS bowl is very realistic.

Kevin McGuire, No2MinuteWarning.com and NittanyLionsDen.com(@KevinonCFB)
There is only one way Michigan gets a chance to play in a BCS bowl game this season, and it is not going to be easy. For the Wolverines to make a BCS bowl they must beat Ohio State at least once, and possibly twice. A win in the Big Ten championship game would send Michigan to the Rose Bowl of course, but I am not even sure Michigan will get a chance to play for that trip. I still give an edge to Nebraska for now out of the Big Ten Legends Division and if Michigan can't get by the Huskers in the division I do not like their chances at being eligible for an at-large BCS bid despite their high profile brand.

However, if Michigan can advance to the Big Ten Championship game, the odds may be pretty good they would at least be within striking distance of at-large eligibility. If they happened to lose to Ohio State in the conference championship game by a close margin, perhaps that would help them stay in the running. Getting the Buckeyes at home the previous week could play to their advantage, but the odds Ohio State loses to Michigan twice is not something I would be willing to bet on. And with that, I would consider it a surprise if the Wolverines are booking any trips to a BCS bowl game in January.
 

Mark Ross
The ironic thing here is that Ohio State, Michigan's hated rival, could play a huge role in whether the Wolverines end up in the BCS or not. Should things go according to plan, Michigan, one of the contenders in the Big Ten Legends Division, and Ohio State, the overwhelming favorite in the Leaders, could end up meeting twice in a span of two weeks. The first matchup will be the regular-season finale in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Nov. 30. The encore could come the following week in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis, provided each teams wins its respective divisions.

In most cases, an Ohio State win over Michigan would seemingly eliminate the Wolverines from the BCS picture, but not if the Buckeyes end up in the national championship game as a result. Should that happen, then the Maize and Blue could end up in the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten representative. As far as consolation prizes go, they wouldn't get much better than that for Wolverine fans. Since I have already laid out the path for Brady Hoke's team, I'll say they take care of the rest on the field this fall and do what's necessary to earn that coveted trip to Pasadena, Calif., in January.
 

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Teaser:
<p> Will Michigan Play in a BCS Bowl in 2013?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 07:29
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-7-key-stats-nascar-all-star-race
Body:

The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race isn’t a typical all-star event.

Unlike the stick ‘N’ ball all-star “breaks” that feature lackadaisical effort and are more celebrated for the parties that supplement the fan activities rather than the actual contests, the Sprint Cup Series version of an all-star event pits recent race winners and champions in a race comprised of dash-style formats which has a $1 million carrot dangling on the end of a stick. It’s wild, unpredictable and in no way resembles a normal NASCAR race.

It also doesn’t have much bearing on the following week’s Coca-Cola 600, which, like the All-Star Race, takes place at Charlotte Motor Speedway.


3 in 13  Dating back to 2000, a span of 13 races, the All-Star Race winner has gone on to win the next week’s Coca-Cola 600 just three times.

Though they take place at the same facility, the two races don’t actually coalesce. The 600 not only requires a car capable of thriving on extended green-flag runs, but also a team that has built a setup to survive in both day and night conditions. The All-Star Race simply requires a setup for short runs, making the drivers and teams that excel at such a thing instant favorites.


3.2  Matt Kenseth has the highest average race rank (3.2) among all drivers in speed early in green-flag runs.

Kenseth, who also ranks first in the series in speed on restarts, has been a juggernaut at the drop of the green flag and for the ensuing 25 laps. While the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 team has been stellar on intermediate tracks this season — two of its three wins came at Las Vegas and Kansas — it will be its affinity for immediate speed that separates it from the rest of the field in Saturday night’s event.


6 in 13  In the last 13 All-Star Races, six were won by drivers that had visited victory lane at an intermediate track in one of the prior races that same season.

The fact that Kenseth has captured two 1.5-mile (intermediate) track victories this season provides no guarantees for Saturday. It doesn’t take numbers — just common sense — to understand that this race is its own beast. A stout intermediate program like the one JGR is currently flaunting is always good to have, but the varying formats of the race don’t lend it to easy prognostication. If Kenseth becomes the victor, it will be because of the combination of car strength and short-run ability.
 

Teaser:
<p> David Smith crunches the numbers and finds the key NASCAR stats for the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 19:40
Path: /mlb/12-amazing-mlb-stats-week-may-6-12
Body:

Cincinnati can win only against bad teams, Dee Gordon is fast, the Texas bullpen is good and the Astros may have trouble when they play at Texas. Here are these and other amazing stats from the week of May 6-12.

27    Retired Rockies in order by Shelby Miller
The young St. Louis righthander made just one start last week, but what an outing it was. Miller allowed a leadoff single to Eric Young in the first inning, then retired the next 27 Rockies in order. Obviously, he doesn’t get credit for a perfect game, and the one-hitter was the first shutout of his career.

23-4    Giants outscored Braves by 19 over the weekend
After the Braves defeated the Giants 6-3 behind the pitching of Julio Teheran on Thursday night, the rest of the weekend series shaped up for three pitching duels. Matt Cain and Tim Hudson on Friday, Madison Bumgarner vs. Paul Maholm on Saturday with Tim Lincecum and Kris Medlen going on Sunday. However, the Giants’ pitchers were the only arms doing any dueling. San Francisco bashed Atlanta pitching as the Giants outscored the Braves 23-4 in the final three games.

1    Time this season Josh Hamilton has driven home Albert Pujols
When Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno signed former MVP Josh Hamilton last winter for $125 million over the next five seasons, just a year after signing Albert Pujols to a record deal, he probably expected a little more. Fans were excited, too about the prospects of Hamilton hitting cleanup behind Pujols. But through Sunday, Hamilton had driven in Pujols just once this season.

5-11    Atlanta Braves record in their last 16 road games
During that stretch, the Braves’ ERA has ballooned to 5.52. In the team’s first seven away games this season, the club was 7-0 with a 1.41 ERA.

11.2    Seconds it took Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon to score from first
Gordon, on first after a single to right, was off and running on a double by Nick Punto off the Diamondbacks’ Wade Miley. Gordon, whose father was known as Flash, raced around the bases in 11.2 seconds as timed by the media.

4    Fewest home losses, and road wins for any team
The Texas Rangers have lost just four games at home this season, the fewest in the majors. Their Texas brethren in Houston have won just four road games, also the fewest in the big leagues this season. The Astros have yet to visit their division rival this season with nine games to play at Texas.

6-13     Cincinnati’s record against winning teams
The Reds are feasting on the downtrodden this season. The Reds ended the week with a 16-3 record against losing teams, and just 6-13 vs. winning teams. Beginning this week, the Reds’ next 12 games are against losers.

19-3    Detroit’s record when scoring 4+ runs
When the Tigers score three runs or less, their pitchers have little hope. The team is 1-12 when scoring fewer than four runs. Strangely enough, the Tigers have yet to score exactly five runs in a game this season.

15, 10    Home runs and stolen bases by the Blue Jays
Last week the Toronto Blue Jays dominated the power/speed categories. The Jays led the majors with 15 long balls and 10 swipes.

.600        Joe Mauer’s OBP last week
The Twins’ catcher, batting in the No. 2 hole, is batting .465 in May with a .574 OBP. He has scored 13 in the last 11 games.

0    Blown saves by the Texas Rangers
The Texas bullpen has been charged with closing out 12 games and remains the only team in baseball with a perfect record. Texas relievers have been called on a combined 28 times with the game on the line, and each time the pitcher has done his job. Joe Nathan gets most of the ink with his 11 saves. Michael Kirkman has one save, Derek Lowe has one hold and Joe Ortiz has two. However, Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers have done much of the heavy lifting. Ross has stranded all 15 runners he has inherited. Scheppers has inherited just three, but left them all on base.

31    RBIs for Brandon Phillips and Troy Tulowitzki this season
The Reds’ second baseman and Rockies’ shortstop are tied atop the National League with 31 RBIs. No middle infielder has led the senior circuit in ribbies since the great Ernie Banks in 1959 when he drove home 143 during the second of his back-to-back MVP campaigns.

-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

Teaser:
<p> Cincinnati can win only against bad teams, Dee Gordon is fast, the Texas bullpen is good and the Astros may have trouble when they play at Texas. Here are these and other amazing stats from the week of May 6-12.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:25
Path: /nfl/top-25-young-athletes-most-likely-be-hall-famers
Body:

To suggest that any player in any sport after just a few seasons is a lock to make the Hall of Fame is ridiculous. But it is always fun to look at athletes who have had instant success and try to extrapolate long-term potential.

Young star players give franchises hope of long-term success and, even greater still, young Olympians can give entire nation's reasons to cheer. How do you think Chinese fans felt about the remarkable performance of Tianlang Guan at Augusta National this spring? Or how proud Canadian fans are of Sydney Crosby's accomplishments in his first few seasons?

Needless to say, projecting future Hall of Famers are virtually impossible. But Athlon Sports has taken its best stab at which young professionals — ones who have debuted since 2010 — are the most likely to do so in their respective sports.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis
The Colts were 2-14 in 2011 and it landed them Mr. Luck. All the rookie QB did was win 11 games and return the franchise to the postseason. And he shattered every important rookie passing record along the way. His 4,374 yards, 627 attempts and six 300-yard passing efforts were all NFL rookie records. His 339 completions and 23 touchdown passes are second all-time for an NFL rookie. His set the single-game rookie passing record with 433 yards against Miami. He is the first QB taken No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft to make the playoffs as a rookie and his 11 wins were the most ever by a No. 1 pick as a rookie. His 54 attempts were an NFL rookie playoff record and his 268 yards passing against the eventual Super Bowl champs was second-best ever by a rookie. He was an elite top-100 recruit when he signed with Stanford. He was second in the Heisman voting two years in a row. And he just posted one of the best rookie seasons by an NFL QB ever. Canton might as well get the bust ready now.

2. Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing
At age 29, Keselowski isn't a spring chicken, however, his rookie season was just three years ago in 2010 and his instant success is impossible to ignore. The driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Penske Ford Fusion finished 25th in the points standings in his first season, fifth in his second year and became the defending Sprint Cup Champion after edging Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson for the title in just his third full season. Keselowski posted 24 top-five finishes and nine wins in just three full seasons in Sprint Cup competition. His refreshing yet old-school attitude as a driver is magnetic to the fans, media and, at times, other cars on the track. However, his raw driving talent is painfully obvious and is the reason for such lofty expectations. He is one of just three drivers to win the points championship in the last eight years. The list of potential future HOFers in NASCAR begins and ends with Brad-K, and should he continue to achieve at his current rate, an induction into the newly created NASCAR Hall of Fame is well within reach.

3. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
There are few players who have ever had a better start to a career than Mr. Posey. He claimed NL Rookie of Year honors in 2010 and led the Giants to their first World Series championship since 1954. Then, after missing all but 162 at-bats of 2011 with an injury, he led the Giants to a second World Series title and claimed the NL MVP trophy last season. He is a career .312 hitter with an .887 OPS and just 203 strikeouts in 1,122 at-bats. He is the consummate professional and the face of a franchise that is positioned to make another run at the World Series and he was recently rewarded with a 9-year, $164 million contract.

4. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington
The only reason Harper's own rookie season gets marginalized was Mike Trout's performance in the American League. Harper, who played all of last season at the age of 19, posted one of the best inaugural seasons in recent memory as well. He was an All-Star and earned NL Rookie of Year honors. He finished with 22 home runs, 18 stolen bases, 98 runs scored, 59 RBIs and a .270/.817 split at the plate. And to start his second season, Harper went deep twice on Opening Day. He is well on his way to destroying his rookie marks in 2013 and should play in his second All-Star game still at the age of 20 years old. Harper could easily lead the majors in home runs or OPS as just a second-year player. It's Hall of Fame or bust for a player who made his Sports Illustrated cover debut at 16 and made his second appearance before turning 21.

5. Missy Franklin, US Swimming
Mark Spitz set the world record when we won seven Gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics. A mark he held until Michael Phelps took home eight Gold medals in the 2008 summer games in Beijing. At age 17, Franklin won four Golds and five total medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. With those four Golds, she is already tied for 50th all-time in total Gold medals won in Olympic history and a repeat performance in 2016 would make her one of just 12 athletes all-time to land eight Golds. Phelps has set himself apart from the rest of his Olympic peers with his all-time world record of 18 Golds medals. Franklin could easily make a run at that record and would finish no worse than second all-time in Gold medals earned with two more productive summer games. She will have the opportunity to compete in three more Summer Olympics before she turns 30.

6. Mike Trout, OF, LA Angels
What else is there to be said of Trout's rookie season in the majors? He was an All-Star, he won the AL Rookie of the Year award, led the league in runs (129) and stolen bases (49), earned a Silver Slugger honor and finished second in MVP voting behind the first Triple Crown winner in more than 50 years. He finished with a .326 average, .963 OPS, hit 30 home runs and drove in 83. With a 10.0 WAR, it was the greatest rookie season in the history of the sport — right ahead of Joe Jackson's 9.7 WAR in 1911. And, oh by the way, he did all of this at age 20. Yeah, his ticket might already be punched for Cooperstown.

7. Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans
The 6-foot-10, 220-pounder entered the NBA as the consensus can’t-miss No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. After posting the No. 3-rated freshman season in the history of college basketball, Davis and his trademarked unibrow debuted for the Hornets in style. He posted 21 points and seven rebounds in his first NBA game against Sacramento. He finished his first full season starting 60 of the 64 games he played, shooting 51.6-percent from the floor and 75.1-percent from the line. His per game rookie stat line is one of the best in recent memory: 13.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.8 bpg, 1.2 spg on 10.6 shots per game. Efficiency and defense is the name of game for this potential Hall of Famer.

8. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston
From pizza boy tight end to Big Ten Rose Bowl star to first-round NFL Draft pick to NFL rookie of the year candidate to NFL Defensive Player of the Year. That is the career trajectory for the massive defensive end. The former Wisconsin Badgers end has started all but one of 32 possible career NFL games and made history by returning an interception for a touchdown in his first postseason game (which helped produce Houston’s first-ever postseason win). He led the NFL in sacks with 20.5 a year ago and made his first Pro Bowl (where he caught a touchdown as a wide receiver). Through two seasons, he has 149 total tackles, 26.0 sacks, 20 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and been a part of two division championships.

9. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland
Coming out of St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J., the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder was one of the nation’s top five prospects. He was electric in the first eight games of his Duke career, leading the team in scoring, before hurting his right foot. Irving returned for the NCAA Tournament, scoring 28 points in his final game against Arizona. He left Duke after 11 career games to be the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft on a LeBron-less Cavaliers team. After averaging 18.5 points on 46.8 percent shooting to go with 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 51 games, Irving claimed 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year honors. And after an equally impressive second year, Irving appears to only be getting better. He finished this season by averaging 22.5 points on 45.9 percent shooting to go with 5.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. And he just turned 21 in March.

10. Tianlang Guan, Golf
The 14-year old phenom captured the hearts of golf fans all over the world this spring at The Masters. Guan (14 years, five months) shattered Matteo Manassero's PGA Tour record (16 years, two months) for the youngest player to ever make a cut. And he did so at the world's toughest course in Augusta National. Tiger Woods and others have praised the young golfer's poise and calm demeanor. As long as he grows out of his slow style of play, there is no reason to think Guan won't be the next young superstar on the PGA Tour.

11. AJ Green, WR, Cincinnati
Few players have ever started their career like Green. The superstar talent from Georgia was one of the most coveted pass-catchers in the nation as both a recruit and draft pick. He was one of the SEC's all-time bests and all he has done in two NFL seasons is catch 162 passes for 2,407 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Bengals have reached the postseason in each of his two seasons and Green made the Pro Bowl both times. He is an elite red zone target, can stretch the field and has tremendous open field ability as well. He is the complete package at wide receiver.

12. Damian Lillard, PG, Portland
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound floor leader from Oakland, Calif., was a proven commodity the second he stepped on a college court. He led Weber State to a conference title as a freshman before earning Big Sky Player of the Year honors twice in his career. It led to the Trail Blazers selecting him with the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He promptly posted a double-double (23 pts, 11 asts) in his rookie debut and was excellent throughout his first NBA season. Lillard was Rookie of the Month six times and was a runaway Rookie of the Year winner in 2012-13. He started all 82 games and finished with this statline: 17.8 ppg, 6.0 apg, 2.9 rpg, 0.8 spg on 42.9 percent shooting.

13. Julio Jones, WR Atlanta
Forever linked with A.J. Green as fellow 2008 five-star recruits to sign in the SEC, Jones is just as athletic and talented as the Bengals pass-catcher. He helped lead Alabama to a national championship as a sophomore in 2009 and forced the Falcons to trade away multiple picks across two drafts to trade up and get Jones with the sixth overall pick. He has caught 133 passes for 2,157 yards and 18 touchdowns in his first two seasons earning his first Pro Bowl invite in 2012. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Jones is a special talent and is poised for a long and productive career with Matt Ryan throwing him passes.

14. Matt Kalil, OT, Minnesota
The top tackle taken in the 2012 NFL Draft has played from Game 1 for the much-improved Vikings. The former USC All-American started all 16 games as a rookie and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl because of it. He paved the way for Adrian Peterson's run at Eric Dickerson's all-time rushing record and helped return the Vikings to the postseason. He was a coveted prospect in high school, had a great college career and appears to be a lockdown bookend tackle for Minnesota. Having an All-Pro older brother (Ryan) and professional football father (Frank) has certainly helped as well. According to Football Outsiders, Kalil allowed just two sacks in his first 721 NFL snaps.

15. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Atlanta
He is the most dominant major league reliever on the planet. The flame-throwing Braves closer won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2011 and is the only player in MLB to have posted at least 40 saves in each of the last two seasons — a feat he should accomplish again in 2013. He allowed just 25 earned runs in his first two seasons as Atlanta's closer (139.2 IP, 1.61 ERA). The 25-year old (May 28) is a two-time All-Star who finished ninth and fifth respectively in the Cy Young voting the last two seasons and was eighth in the MVP race a year ago.

16. Blake Griffin, PF, LA Clippers
It took the Oklahoma Sooner an extra year to get to the NBA court after sitting out his first season with a knee injury, but he has quickly become one of the most dominant forces in the league. His athletic ability is second to none as massive dunks and demoralizing blocks are a part of his regular routine. He averaged a double-double in his first two seasons — 22.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg and 20.7 ppg, 10.9 rbg — and this season helped lead the Clippers to their first postseason berth since 2005 and only the franchise's second playoff run since 1996. His numbers dropped a touch in his third consecutive All-Star season — 18.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg — but his career stat line is still absurd. Through 228 career games Griffin is averaging 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 52.9 percent shooting.

17. Taylor Hall, LW, Edmonton
The can't-miss No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Hall posted back-to-back 20-goal seasons in his first two years in the pros — at age 19 and 20. In his third season this year, Hall finished ninth in the league in points (50), seventh in assists (7), fifth in power play goals (15) and seventh in points per game (1.11). He has helped the Oilers improve their winning percentage in each of his three seasons (.378 to .451 to .469).

18. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington
Ever since Bob Costas called his memorable, nationally hyped debut with 14 strikeouts over seven innings against Pittsburgh, Strasburg has been a star. Despite missing all but five starts of his second season due to Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has been virtually perfect. His first three seasons featured only 45 starts but his numbers are electric: 21-10, 2.94/1.09, 251.1 IP, 313 K. He even won a Silver Slugger award during that span as well. The flame-thrower has done nothing but live up to his extremely lofty expectations as the No. 1 overall pick out of San Diego State in 2009.

19. Matt Harvey, SP, NY Mets
The only other pitcher creating as much buzz as Strasburg is the Mets' flame-throwing righty from the University of North Carolina. Through 18 career starts, Harvey has a career ERA of 2.10 and 132 strikeouts in 115.2 innings. He has an effortless motion, excellent mechanics, a great mound demeanor and a filthy four-pitch arsenal. He has 12 quality starts in 18 trips to the bump and has allowed more than three runs in a start just once in his career.

20. Gabby Douglas, Gymnastics
Much like Franklin, Douglas earned her way into the hearts and minds of the nation following her impressive performance in London's 2012 Summer Olympics. At age 16, she became the first American woman gymnast to win the Gold medal for individual all-around competition and the first woman of color from any nationality to win the all-around Gold. She also helped lead the US to a team Gold in London and has posted gold podium finishes in the 2011 Tokyo World Championships and 2012 Pacific Rim Championships as well. She is poised for two more US Olympic showings before she turns 25.

21. Tyler Seguin, C, Boston
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft (Taylor Hall), Seguin took little time developing into one of the game's best. The All-Star centerman helped lead the Bruins to a Stanley Cup title as just a rookie in 2010-11 and exploded for 67 points as a second-year player the following season. He played in all 48 games this season and has finished second (+34) and seventh (+23) in Plus/Minus rating the last two seasons. Seguin has never missed the playoffs in his brief three-year career.

22. Mike Iupati, OG, San Francisco
The Niners have seen a remarkable turnaround under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Much of that can be attributed to what might be the best offensive line in the league. Iupati, taken 17th overall in the 2010 draft, has started every single game of his NFL career and has watched the 49ers' rushing attack flourish. After averaging 103.6 yards per game in 2010, SanFran rushed for 127.8 yards per game in 2011 and finished No. 4 in the NFL in rushing in 2013 (155.7). The 6-foot-5, 330-pound mauler helped the 49ers return to the Super Bowl and should be a mainstay in the Bay Area for years to come.

23. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington
The biggest issue with RG3 won’t be his accuracy, ability to protect the football, win games or produce big numbers. It will be his ability to stay healthy long enough to earn Hall of Fame status. He, like Luck, is a great leader who sets an example for all of those around him. Yet, his style of play has already proven to be a concern as he takes entirely too many hits. He has already missed time due to a concussion as well as a twisted knee. Despite these injuries, he led the Skins to a 10-6 mark and postseason berth last season, breaking Cam Newton's rookie QB rushing record in the process.

24. Kyle Larson, Earnhardt-Ganassi
The 20-year old phenom won the K&N Pro Series East in just his first full year racing stock cars in 2012 after growing up in the cockpit of all things open-wheel. The EGR developmental driver has quickly moved his way up the pro ranks, leap-frogging the Camping World Truck Series, and landing directly in the Nationwide Series in 2013 for Turner Scott Motorsports. In just eight races in the No. 32 Turner Chevrolet Camaro, Larson is 12th in the points — due mostly to two crashes — has posted three top 10s and finished runner-up at hallowed Bristol Motorspeedway. His meteoric rise through the sport could land him in a full-time ride at the highest level in a matter of months rather than years.

25. Mark McMorris, Snowboarding
Throwing some love to the alternative sports, McMorris has taken the snowboarding world by storm of late. The 19-year old Canadian is the two-time reigning Winter X Games Slopestyle Gold Medalist (2012-13) and also claimed the 2012 Big Air Gold at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., last year. He has defeated Shaun White by executing unprecedented tricks and wowing fans around North America, garnering comparisons to the Hall of Fame American rider. He won the Slopestyle Silver at the 2013 FIS Snowboarding World Championships.

Best of the Rest (alphabetically):

Harrison Barnes, G, Golden State (NBA)
Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs (MLB)
Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati (MLB)
Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing (NASCAR)
Ty Dillon, Richard Childress Racing (NASCAR)
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England (NFL)
Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Florida (NHL)
Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina (NFL)
Gabriel Landeskog, W, Colorado (NHL)
Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore (MLB)
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NY Giants (NFL)
Aldon Smith, DE, San Francisco (NFL)
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, St. Louis (NHL)

Related Content:

5 Young NASCAR Drivers Who Could be Hall of Famers
15 Young NFL Players Who Could be Hall of Famers

10 Young MLB Players Who Could be Hall of Famers

10 Young NBA Players Who Could be Hall of Famers

 

Teaser:
<p> Top 25 Young Athletes Most Likely to be Hall of Famers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 14:55
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/2013-mlb-power-rankings-may-14
Body:

Each week during the season Athlon Sports looks at the best (Texas Rangers) and worst (Houston Astros) baseball teams and players in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.

 1. Rangers Scheppers-Ross-Nathan bullpen is tough to crack.
 
 2. Giants Matt Cain with back-to-back strong starts.
 
 3. Cardinals Even with sketchy bullpen, allowed fewest runs in majors.
 
 4. Yankees Won five straight, four by two runs or less. #MoreCloseGames
 
 5. Nationals Jordan Zimmermann leads NL with six wins.
 
 6. Red Sox Lost five of seven at the hands of Twins and Blue Jays.
 
 7. Orioles Only 6-5 in one-run games this season.
 
 8. Reds Just 6-13 against teams with winning records.
 
 9. Pirates Next 13 games vs. Brewers, Astros and Cubs.
 
10. Tigers 19-3 when scoring 4+ runs; 1-12 when scoring fewer.
 
11. Braves Justin Upton hasn’t homered since April 27.
 
12. Diamondbacks Committed just eight errors this season.
 
13. Rockies Won just seven of last 20 as bullpen innings mount.
 
14. A’s Recent 3-7 road trip featured .210 batting average, 4.55 ERA.
 
15. Rays Broke out with 52 runs to lead majors last week.
 
16. Royals Alex Gordon is carrying the offense.
 
17. Mariners Bats remain silent hitting just .211 in May.
 
18. Indians Majors’ best record in May at 9-2.
 
19. Phillies Right side of infield has 46 of team’s 82 RBIs.
 
20. Twins Joe Mauer: .600 OBP, 10 runs last week.
 
21. Padres Headley and Venable hitting .344 in May, rest of team, .176.
 
22. White Sox Chris Sale toyed with history last Sunday.
 
23. Cubs Kevin Gregg, yep, that Kevin Gregg, leads team with six saves.
 
24. Mets Matt Harvey just keeps dealing.
 
25. Blue Jays Led majors in home runs (15) and steals (10) last week.
 
26. Dodgers Five of eight losses in May by one run.
 
27. Brewers Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura are 1-2 in NL batting race. 
 
28. Angels On pace to lose 100 games.
 
29. Marlins Have won just one series this season.
 
30. Astros Opponents are batting .300.
 
 
AL Player of the Week
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
The Rays are beginning to perk up and it’s no surprise that Longoria has been carrying the offense. Last week he hit safely in all seven games, batting .464 with a 1,496 OPS. He had eight extra-base hits, three homers and drove in 11 runs.
 
AL Pitcher of the Week
Chris Sale, Chicago
The lanky lefty’s gem on Sunday night against the Angels provided the highlight, but Sale was terrific in both starts last week. In addition to the one-hitter Sunday, Sale allowed just one run in 7.1 innings for a no-decision in a win at Kansas City. In 16.1 innings, Sale had a 0.43 WHIP and 0.59 ERA.
 
 
NL Player of the Week
Jean Segura, Milwaukee
The Brewers haven’t been very good recently, but their shortstop has been outstanding in the field and at the dish. Last week he batted .500 with four multi-hit games in the Brewers’ five games. Over the weekend at Cincinnati, he was 8-for-12 with a pair of homers, two doubles and four runs.
 
 
NL Pitcher of the Week
Shelby Miller, St. Louis
The young righthander made just one start last week, but what an outing it was. Miller allowed a leadoff single to Eric Young in the first inning, then retired the next 27 in order. The one-hitter was the first shutout of his career.
Teaser:
<p> A look at the best and worst baseball teams in the league.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 11:11
Path: /college-football/how-many-games-will-florida-state-win-2013
Body:

Despite a revamped coaching staff and a handful of new starters, hopes are high in Tallahassee for the Seminoles to win 10 games in 2013.

New quarterback Jameis Winston turned in a terrific performance this spring and appears to be headed for a breakout year in his first season as a starter. In addition to Winston, Florida State’s offense returns a solid one-two punch at running back with James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman. The receiving corps is also one of the nation’s best, while the defense has plenty of talent to replace the departed starters.

The schedule is favorable for Florida State to push for double-digit wins. However, with so many changes, can the Seminoles get to that mark? Or will Florida State slip to eight or nine victories this year?

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Florida State ranks as Athlon's No. 15 team in the 2013 Top 25 countdown.

How Many Games Will Florida State Win in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Florida State has the pieces to get to 11 wins, the question is if a season like that is considered a big victory for the Seminoles or if it leaves fans in Tallahassee unfulfilled. FSU is not a national-title contending team thanks to a handful of questions on offense, and the Noles’ ACC championship hopes aren’t ironclad, either. A road trip to Clemson will make things tough in the division. But quarterback Jameis Winston could be a special player for Jimbo Fisher, but he’s a redshirt freshman who could make his first career start on the road at Pittsburgh -- a manageable game, but no guarantee. Only four starters returning to the defense is worrisome at first glance, but the group coming back played enough last season to believe FSU can field a top-20 defense or better after fielding a top-two unit a year ago. Beyond road trips to Clemson and Florida and perhaps the home date against Miami, the schedule shouldn’t be too daunting for a team with talent on both sides of the ball. But this is FSU. Nothing is easy. An inexperienced quarterback, a lack of depth on offensive line and new coaches on both sides of the ball mean an injury or a loss to NC State or Wake Forest isn’t out of the question. 
 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
10. Road games against Clemson and Florida are obviously the two toughest games on the schedule and it's hard to pick a Seminoles win in either. Four other tricky "swing" games could provide an upset — Miami on Nov. 2, the season opener in Pittsburgh, at Achilles Heel Wake Forest team on Nov. 9 and an improved Maryland team on Oct. 5 in Doak Campbell. However, Florida State should be a fairly heavy favorite in all four games.  So with a manageable schedule, the Noles are almost guaranteed nine wins but should lose the nasty road trips to The Swamp and Death Valley when facing the best two opposing quarterbacks on the schedule. So a 10-win season seems all but certain — either a 10-2 regular season or a 10-3 year with a win in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even with the loss of a handful of key players from last season’s team, Florida State is in great shape to make a run at 10 victories. Opening the year at Pittsburgh on a Monday night won’t be easy, but the Seminoles should have the edge in that matchup. And after playing the Panthers, Florida State should win its next four games to get to 4-1 by the time it has to travel to Death Valley to play Clemson. The Seminoles have lost five straight at Death Valley, and considering the Tigers are a heavy favorite to win the Atlantic Division, it would be a surprise to see Florida State win that game. However, after playing at Clemson, the Seminoles should be favored in the rest of their games, with the exception of the finale at Florida. A Nov. 2 matchup against Miami could be the toughest crossover game with the Coastal Division, but Florida State should finish with 10 victories and have a chance to position itself for an at-large spot into a BCS bowl.

 
Anson Whaley, Founder and Editor of Cardiac Hill@AnsonWhaley
With games against Bethune-Cookman, Idaho, Boston College, Syracuse, and Nevada, the path to bowl eligibility should come fairly easily for Florida State. The Seminoles should also be favored in games against Pitt, Maryland, North Carolina State, and Wake Forest. Contests against Miami, Clemson, and Florida will be decidedly more difficult, but FSU should be able to compete there, too. My bet is on the Seminoles winning those first five, three of those next four, and one of the last three to get to nine victories. But with so many winnable games, ten isn't out of the question, either.
 

Mark Ross
The Seminoles had 11 players taken in this year's NFL Draft, the most of any team, but the cupboard is far from bare in Tallahassee. Jimbo Fisher's bunch should be right in the mix of things in the ACC's Atlantic Division, with the Oct. 19 showdown at Clemson potentially deciding who goes to Charlotte, N.C., in December to play for the conference title. FSU's schedule isn't that daunting with the regular-season finale at Florida and a Nov. 2 visit from fellow in-state rival Miami shaping up to be the only other tough matchups on its slate. Even with a new quarterback and seven starters on defense, this team should still find a way to reach double digits in the win column before the bowl bids are handed out.


Related Content

College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013: No. 15 Florida State
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Ranking the ACC Running Backs for 2013

Ranking College Football's Top 25 Dynasties of the BCS Era

Which Team is the Favorite to Win the ACC Coastal Division in 2013?

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaches for 2013

Ranking the Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

Ranking the Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> How Many Games Will Florida State Win in 2013?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 06:40
Path: /mlb/clone-fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-may-13
Body:

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

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (May 6-12):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Evan Longoria 3B TB 8 3 11 0 .464 1.495
2. Paul Goldschmidt 1B ARI 5 4 9 0 .348 1.293
3. Will Venable* OF SD 5 2 4 3 .368 1.113
4. Alex Gordon OF KC 5 3 8 0 .393 1.165
5. Joe Mauer C/1B MIN 10 0 4 0 .533 1.433
6. Vernon Wells* OF NYY 4 3 7 1 .360 1.080
7. Jean Segura SS MIL 5 2 2 2 .500 1.495
8. Chris Carter* 1B/OF HOU 4 3 8 0 .375 1.438
9. Ryan Doumit* C/OF MIN 7 3 7 0 .250 .977
10. Hunter Pence OF SF 7 2 3 2 .286 .904
11. Dustin Pedroia 2B BOS 5 1 3 1 .483 1.186
12. James Loney* 1B TB 5 2 5 1 .308 .994
13. Jhonny Peralta* SS DET 8 1 1 1 .438 1.300
14. Justin Morneau* 1B MIN 5 0 9 0 .407 .905
15. Jose Bautista OF TOR 4 2 7 0 .360 1.158
16. Marco Scutaro* 2/3/SS SF 4 1 5 0 .467 1.234
17. Ian Desmond SS WAS 4 2 6 0 .389 1.283
18. Jose Altuve 2B HOU 4 1 3 2 .364 .920
19. Dan Uggla* 2B ATL 9 2 3 0 .240 .905
20. Shane Victorino OF BOS 6 2 2 0 .393 1.076
21. Adrian Beltre 3B TEX 4 2 7 0 .308 .948
22. Matt Dominguez* 3B HOU 4 2 6 0 .333 1.000
23. Nick Swisher 1B/OF CLE 6 2 4 0 .308 1.071
24. Edwin Encarnacion 1B TOR 3 2 6 1 .269 .875
25. Manny Machado 3B BAL 5 0 3 1 .444 .983

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN (57% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
I have been going to the Twins waiver wire well for a couple of weeks now and Morneau is the next name to add — as could Ryan Doumit and his "C" eligibility. The former MVP is on a eight-game hitting streak that raised his average from .250 to .285. He won't ever return to big-bopper, MVP form, but he is very serviceable in more than one category on a team that seems to be improving.

James Loney, 1B, TB (27%)
I told fantasy GMs to add the light-hitting first baseman two weeks ago and Loney has delivered in a big way. He has five three-hit games and eight multi-hit performances in his last 14 starts, raising his average to .376. He won't hit for power but he should hit for average and drive in runs. If you need help at the corner spot, there is plenty to like on the wire this week.

Chris Carter, 1B, HOU (21%)
Carter too is appearing for the second time on this list. He must always be mentioned with a warning label for a low average and no speed. But he simply keeps producing this year. He is a last-resort option but if you need power, Carter is worth a look after three dingers last week. That's 25 HRs in his last 104 games.

Jhonny Peralta, SS, DET (48%)
The aging middle infielder makes the list due to his position alone. He won't maintain his .315 average as a career .266 hitter with three of his four seasons producing sub-.255 rates. However, his .299 in 2011 was extremely useful. He will help most rosters at his position and plays for one of the best offenses in the league. Don't expect too much but Peralta can be a stopgap until, say, Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez return.

Last Week:

Yonder Alonso, 1B, SD: 5/20, R, 3 RBI, SB
Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL: 3/20, R, 2B
Ryan Raburn, 2B/OF, CLE: 4/16, 1 R, 2 2B, RBI
A.J. Pollock, OF, ARI: 6/19, 2 R, 4 2B, 2 RBI

 

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Chris Sale CWS 23.1 2 19 1.16 0.64
2. Scott Feldman* CHC 22.0 2 21 1.23 0.68
3. Max Scherzer DET 23.1 3 25 3.09 0.69
4. Ubaldo Jimanez* CLE 18.2 3 20 1.45 0.86
5. Shelby Miller STL 15.0 2 18 0.60 0.60
6. Jordan Zimmerman WAS 15.0 2 15 0.60 0.73
7. James Shields KC 23.0 1 21 1.57 0.78
8. Felix Hernandez SEA 16.0 2 21 0.56 0.75
9. Matt Harvey NYM 21.1 0 23 1.27 0.80
10. Justin Verlander DET 19.0 2 24 1.89 1.16
11. Derek Holland TEX 15.0 2 15 0.60 1.13
12. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 14.0 2 14 1.93 0.86
13. Scott Kazmir* CLE 12.0 2 17 2.25 0.92
14. Hector Santiago* CWS 12.1 1 14 0.73 0.81
15. Jose Fernandez* MIA 17.0 2 20 2.65 1.06
16. A.J. Burnett PIT 14.0 1 18 1.93 0.86
17. Hiroki Kuroda NYY 21.2 2 12 1.66 1.06
18. Jeremy Guthrie* KC 15.0 2 6 0.60 1.00
19. Patrick Corbin ARI 13.1 2 11 1.35 1.05
20. Kyle Kendrick* PHI 21.0 2 15 2.57 1.00

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

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

1. Tony Cingrani, CIN: (Thur.) at Miami (73% owned)
He hasn't been elite in his last two starts, but he still boasts a pretty tasty line: 28.0 IP, 2-0, 2.89/1.00, 37 K, 7 BB. And the Miami Marlins should pose little to no threat for a surging team (7-2). Look for the rook to get back on track this week.

2. Wade Miley, ARI: (Sun.) at Miami (72%)
The young lefty had two rough starts in a row (9.1 IP, 0-1, 4 ER, 10 BB) before bouncing back last time out. He tossed 7.2 innings against the Dodgers, allowing two earned runs while striking out four with no walks. Against the Marlins, Miley is all systems go.

3. Jose Fernandez, MIA: (Thur.) Cincinnati (44%)
The extremely talented rookie is owned in less than half of Yahoo! leagues and I have no idea why. The elite prospect will have his rough outings but has way too much natural ability. Over his last two starts, The Cuban defector is 2-0 with three earned runs allowed and 16 strikeouts in 13.0 innings.

4. Travis Wood, CHC: (Sun.) NY Mets (52%)
Wood has been the Cubs team MVP to this point, posting awesome 2.33/0.93 ratios over 46.1 innings and is 7-for-7 in quality starts. Against the Mets this weekend, that streak should continue. 

5. Trevor Cahill, ARI: (Fri.) Philadelphia (59%)
The Reds and D-Backs — who each face Miami this week — are a good place to look for pitching. Cahill hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in four straight starts with two wins. He isn't great in K:BB leagues but should be on target against the lowly Marlins this weekend.
 

Closing Morsels:

Joel Hanrahan will soon undergo flexor tendon surgery, ending his 2013 season while Andrew Bailey is targeting a late-week return. In the mean time, stay away from Boston's pen. Koji Uehara has allowed four baserunners and two runs in his last three innings while Junichi Tazawa has given up at least two hits and one run in each of his last two outings. Bailey can't return fast enough ... Cleveland closer Chris Perez has been excellent in his few chances this year. However, he complained of shoulder soreness this weekend and was held out of the save chance in the ninth on Sunday. Monitor ... I don't like the idea, but Heath Bell might need to be added. If desperate, the current D-Backs closer is a worth a look. As expected, he has three saves and two blown saves in his eight outings. But he's got the ninth for now. Keep David Hernandez close by... Brandon League has allowed 10 ER in his last 11.1 IP. Is it time for Kenley Jansen in the ninth? It worked well last year ... The Royals went 1-6 last week and didn't have many chances but Greg Holland only pitched one inning after his blow-up last Monday. It was spotless and featured two Ks so it looks like owners will keep getting saves — but at what price? Aaron Crow's line: 9.1 IP, ER, SV, 6 HLD, 7 K, 0.96/0.86 ... Toronto's Sergio Santos and Los Angeles' Ryan Madson are scheduled to return in the next week. Keep an eye on both as they could be primary setup men and potential stopgap closers in case of injury.

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

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: May 13</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 12:45
Path: /nascar/matt-kenseth-joe-gibbs-racing-riding-high-after-darlington-win
Body:

The Southern 500, while no longer held on Labor Day is still looked at as one of NASCAR’s biggest races. Darlington remains the place where, in 1950, an egg-shaped, awkward-looking asphalt track gave birth to superspeedway competition. Thirty-five years later, a million-dollar Chase by a man named Awesome Bill was another notch in the sport’s belt that wrapped the racetrack into our national consciousness. Like golf’s Masters, purists regard it as one of the sport’s crown jewels.

“I don’t know that I’ve had a win that feels bigger than this at this moment,” said Matt Kenseth on Saturday night. Keep in mind, the former Sprint Cup champ has had plenty of ‘em; well over two dozen, including two of the last five Daytona 500s. “There’s a lot of tradition here. This is one of the most storied and historic races anywhere, not just in NASCAR.”

To those Kenseth’s age and older, that will always ring true. The key is getting a new generation to embrace it. Overnight ratings at Darlington, for the 18-to-49 crowd according to zap2it.com lost out to the NBA Playoffs on ABC. “The Lady In Black” can tear a Chevrolet apart, but the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony? He slam dunks right in her face.

It’s a shame, as an initial marketing push for Darlington’s May date designed to keep the seats filled has faded through the years, leaving the “Track Too Tough To Tame” a “Track Too Easy To Forget.” For one of the most important races on the schedule, getting tucked into Mother’s Day weekend on a Saturday night makes the race now seem lost, not loved. The importance of the Chase has diminished its overall worth on the schedule; right now, it’s just another event, with no Winston Millions or even an extra $100 bill attached to the trophy. Having a track-position yawner of a race Saturday didn’t help, either, as Goodyear seems like it’s missing the mark here more often than not.

People say NASCAR has been losing its place on the national sports landscape for several years. Perhaps it’s because of simple decisions like this one, making a race its most dedicated supporters love just another notch on a long, monotonous conveyor belt. While Kasey Kahne feels like he deserves an apology this Monday, Darlington is looking for something much more simple: attention.


FIRST GEAR: Gibbs vs. Hendrick, anyone?
The brief moment sparks flew at Darlington between Hendrick’s Kahne and Gibbs’ Kyle Busch could be a sign of things to come down the road. In virtually every category you could come up with, their two organizations — totaling seven cars — have put a whooping on the 2013 Sprint Cup field. Kenseth’s win, earned when Busch had a right-rear tire go bad down the stretch, was his third in 11 races, a series high. Busch has tacked on two additional victories for JGR, as the teammates have combined for a series-leading 1,521 laps led – more than the next eight drivers on the list combined. Kenseth has been especially impressive, seizing opportunities (Las Vegas, Darlington) late in the race where others have dominated. And he did it this time with a temporary crew chief in Wally Brown, as Jason Ratcliff serves out a downgraded NASCAR penalty after an appeals court turned his Kansas engine issue into a blip on the radar screen.

Hendrick has countered with Jimmie Johnson, fourth on Saturday night and on virtual cruise control on top of the point standings. Winning twice, Johnson has just one result outside the top 20, remains a contender at every type of track and, this season, has avoided the sting of NASCAR’s inspection process. Teammates Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon all look strong enough to make the Chase on points meaning 50 percent of the postseason field, at minimum, will be comprised of these two multi-car giants.

How dominant have these teams been? Just three of 11 races this season have been won by other organizations, and each can easily be explained away. Carl Edwards took Phoenix for Roush Fenway Racing in the second Gen-6 race, where rock hard tires meant no passing and track position roulette. Kevin Harvick captured Richmond for Richard Childress Racing, but he led just three laps in a bizarre, roll-the-dice green-white-checker ending. And David Ragan’s Talladega triumph last week? We know how much that race acts like your state’s lottery number machine.

So it’s clear that on the Chase tracks where handling, horsepower and head wrenches actually make the difference, HMS and JGR stand head and shoulders above the rest. With the season nearly halfway complete, it’s time for everyone else to start stepping up.
 

Teaser:
<p> Reaction from NASCAR's weekend at Darlington Raceway for the Southern 500.</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 12:23
All taxonomy terms: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/tiger-vs-jack-tale-tape
Body:

Through last month's Masters, the 37-year-old Tiger Woods has 14 wins in 63 major championship starts as a professional; through the 1977 Masters, the 37-year-old Nicklaus had 14 wins in 61 major championship starts as a professional.

That's some amazing career symmetry right there, but it seems appropriate, given that Tiger came out of the gate with Nicklaus' major championship record as his ultimate target.

For a long time, Woods was well ahead of Nicklaus' career pace, but a drought that is nearing five years in duration has put a serious dent in Tiger's major aspirations. Of course, Nicklaus won his last major at age 46, giving Woods nine more years of viability on the major championship scene, a reasonable assumption considering the similarity of their career trajectories.

Here are the final four majors of Nicklaus' career, all of which came at age 38 and beyond:
1978 British Open (age 38)
1980 U.S. Open (age 40)
1980 PGA Championship (age 40)
1986 Masters (age 46)

Woods turns 46 in December 2021. Between now and then, there will be 36 major championships contested; Woods needs to win five of them to reach his career Holy Grail of 19 major championships.

Of course, Tiger has already moved well past Nicklaus into second on the Tour's all-time wins ledger. Tiger trails only Sam Snead, who won 82 times over a 30-year span; Woods has crammed his 78 wins into 17-plus stellar, occasionally storm-tossed seasons on Tour.

Jack thinks he'll do it. "I still think he'll break my record," Nicklaus said during the Honda Classic. "Tiger's talent, at 37 ... it's not that old. I won four after that. They were spread out. It wasn't that difficult. I don't think for Tiger to get four or five more — or six or seven — is that big a stretch.
"But that said, he has still got to do it. He hasn't won one in five years. He had better get with it if he's going to."

So let's look at the two legends — Tiger today, and Nicklaus at a similar point in his career.
Bottom line from the data presented here: Tiger's building the better overall career, but Jack remains the greatest performer in major championship history. That's the carrot that Tiger is still chasing, and he has time to get there.

 

                                                                                  Tiger Woods            Jack Nicklaus
Tournaments won (through 300 starts)                77                                 54
Tournament winning % (300 starts)                   26.0                              18.0
Majors won (first 63 starts)                                 14                                 14
Major winning %                                                      22.2                              22.2
Major top 5s                                                               31                                 41
Major top 10s                                                             37                                 48
Longest streak of top-5 in majors                        6                                   7
Longest streak of top-10 in majors                      8                                  13
Lowest scoring avg.                                          8 times                         8 times
Money leader                                                    9 times                         8 times

Teaser:
<p> A Comparison of Woods and Nicklaus through 300 starts</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 11:18
All taxonomy terms: Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/10-amazing-stats-players-championship
Body:

Some Twitter comedian observed that Tiger Woods apparently retained ownership of Sergio Garcia in his pre-nup with Elin. That's harsh, but this much remains clear: Even after his perceived struggles of the last few major-less seasons, Tiger is far more prepared for the big moment than Garcia.

Fourteen years after their memorable duel at the 1999 PGA Championship, their respective careers have taken wildly divergent paths. After yesterday's win at The Players Championship, Woods now has 78 career PGA Tour wins. Sergio has had his moments — eight Tour wins, 10 Euro wins, various Ryder Cup heroics — but did anyone really think that Sergio would survive the 17-18 gauntlet yesterday? The golf gods simple weren't going to allow it, especially after Garcia's Saturday whining about Tiger distracting him.

The amazing numbers from the weekend's festivities:

4 With the win, Tiger Woods is only four wins behind all-time PGA Tour wins leader Sam Snead, who won his final Tour event at age 52. Tiger is 37. I think he has time to get there.

13 Garcia required 13 shots to navigate the final two holes at TPC Sawgrass, following up his quad at 17 with a double-bogey 6 at 18, where he rinsed another ball.

12 The win was Woods' fourth of the 2013 season, marking the 12th season of his career with four wins or more. Think about that: For most players, four wins denotes a career-making year. Tiger's had 12 of them.

53-4 Woods ran his career record to 53-4 when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead. He's the Mariano Rivera of golfers; give him the lead, and it's Enter Sandman.

300 Woods won the 300th start of his career. He also won the 100th and 200th starts of his career. Tiger apparently likes round numbers.

26 Tiger has now won 26 percent of his career PGA Tour starts. More than a quarter of the time he's teed it up, he's won. For reference, after his 300th start, Jack Nicklaus had 54 wins, a winning percentage of .180.

+13 The day was not without drama, thanks largely to Woods' double bogey at 14. For his career, Woods is 13-over par on that hole.

10 TPC Sawgrass has historically not been terribly friendly to Tiger. This year marked the first time in 10 years that Woods completed four par-or-better rounds in one Players.

4 Woods has his fourth victory, and it's only May 13. It's the earliest in a season that Woods has ever earned his fourth win.

3.25 Yesterday, the infamous par-3 17th claimed its share of victims. Players navigated the 137-yard hole in an average of 3.25 strokes on Sunday, the highest of the week. On Thursday, the average was 3.08; on Friday, 2.97; and on Saturday, 3.03. Of course, Sergio's 7 at the hole skews the Sunday average slightly.

Teaser:
<p> Tiger Woods Wins, Sergio Gags, and All Is Well on Tour</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/texas-am-or-lsu-which-team-finishes-higher-sec-west-2013
Body:

With Alabama expected to be the No. 1 team in most preseason polls in 2013, combined with potential top-10 teams in LSU and Texas A&M, the SEC West should be one of the deepest divisions in college football. That also doesn’t include an improving Ole Miss squad, and Arkansas and Auburn – two teams that should also get better under the direction of new head coaches.

Texas A&M took the SEC by storm last season, winning 11 games and upsetting Alabama 29-24 in Tuscaloosa. The Aggies return a good chunk of personnel from last year, but the defense is a question mark.

LSU was predicted by most to be a top-five team in 2012 and may have underachieved with a 10-3 record. The Tigers have some key personnel losses on defense and need more from quarterback Zach Mettenberger. 

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Texas A&M or LSU: Which Team Finishes Higher in the SEC West in 2013?

Jon Cooper, lead writer and editor Saturday Down South, (@JonSDS)
Texas A&M and LSU open in 2013 with the same goal: dethrone the Crimson Tide. The Tigers are the prom queen who has been around for a few years and will always be a contender, while Texas A&M is the sexy new transfer who’s getting the most attention.

LSU just presents more questions. The offense is going through a transition in coordinators, the defense lost six starters and arguably the SEC’s best back in Jeremy Hill may not even play in 2013 because of legal issues. And we haven’t even started talking about LSU’s hellacious schedule, which features five preseason ranked teams and includes road trips to Alabama and Georgia.

Texas A&M should finish first or second in the West, depending largely on the outcome of the Alabama game. The Aggies should score 40 points or more per game, and the schedule sets up nearly perfect, with just two preseason ranked teams. Obviously losing five front seven starters on defense is a major concern, but anytime teams score the way Texas A&M does, they will always be in the game. The weak schedule alone screams more wins, and add in Johnny Manziel and an electrifying offense, and it makes it even tougher to bet against the Aggies.
 

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Texas A&M has a much greater chance of matching last season’s 6-2 record in the SEC while I would be surprised to see LSU match last year’s performance in the conference. The Aggies are hoping for a national title run, a prospect that may be too optimistic without a playmaker on defense like Damontre Moore. But the Aggies still have Johnny Manziel, who again will be a great equalizer in the league. LSU just has too much rebuilding to do to expect six SEC wins against a schedule that includes road trips to Alabama and Georgia, plus Florida and Texas A&M at home. LSU reloads every year on defense, but have really seen the Tigers need to replace this much muscle on that side of the ball? Kevin Minter, Eric Reid, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, plus the ace special teams duo of Brad Wing and Drew Alleman, are all gone. Even Alabama would have trouble recruiting well enough to make a seamless transition with that many losses. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I don’t think this debate is even close. Texas A&M will finish ahead of LSU and could challenge for an SEC West title while the Bayou Bengals could lose as many as four games. Every team in the SEC could be as good or better in 2013 than it was in 2012 with the exception of LSU. A massive exodus of talent, a mediocre starting quarterback and improving SEC schedule leads me to believe that the Tigers will once again underachieve. The Aggies, too, must replace some big names — Joeckel, Swope, Moore, Porter — but have the core of their 10-win team back, including a superstar quarterback. Many around the league are concerned about the overall direction of the LSU program since the national title loss to Alabama and the rest of the SEC has gained significant ground on the Tigers. Games at Georgia, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama are nasty while home games with Florida, Texas A&M, Auburn and Arkansas provide plenty of challenges as well. And if TCU catches Les Miles’ bunch napping in Week 1, things could unravel quickly in Louisiana. Gig ‘Em.
 

Josh Ward, MrSEC.com, (@Josh_Ward)
LSU will have home-field advantage when the two teams play in Baton Rouge on Nov. 23, but Texas A&M will face a more favorable schedule in league play. LSU has the misfortune of having to play Florida and Georgia, the top two teams in the Eastern Division in 2012. Texas A&M will play Missouri and Vanderbilt from the East, a pair of opponents much easier to handle. Texas A&M also gets Alabama at home while LSU has to travel to Tuscaloosa.

LSU and Texas A&M both have to replace several key starters on defense. The advantage for Texas A&M lies on offense, starting at quarterback. Johnny Manziel returns from his Heisman season with more offensive weapons around him. The addition of transfer running back Brandon Williams and wide receiver signee Ja’Quay Williams (no relation) will make Manziel’s job even easier. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger returns with a year of experience, but he doesn’t present the same kind of threat to opposing defenses as Manziel.

Texas A&M’s depth of talent on offense and less-challenging conference schedule should help the Aggies finish higher than LSU in the SEC West.


Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Despite question marks about the defense and the loss of left tackle Luke Joeckel to the NFL Draft, I like Texas A&M to finish ahead of LSU in the SEC West. Quarterback Johnny Manziel may not have the monster season that he had in 2012, but the sophomore is still the SEC’s No. 1 quarterback and will be a handful for opposing defenses. The backfield is one of the deepest in the nation, and the offensive line should be solid with the return of Jake Matthews, Jarvis Harrison and Cedric Ogbuehi.

The biggest concern for Texas A&M is a defense that ranked ninth in the SEC in yards allowed and loses end Damontre Moore and linebackers Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart. However, the Aggies have a favorable schedule, as they miss Georgia, Florida and South Carolina in crossover play, and Alabama visits College Station on Sept. 14.

While the Aggies have some fairly significant personnel issues on defense, the Tigers could be without running back Jeremy Hill for an extended period of time, quarterback Zach Mettenberger is a question mark, and the defense returns only three starters. LSU has a challenging schedule, including a non-conference game against TCU and crossover SEC matchups against Georgia and Florida.

LSU will reload and should end up with eight or nine wins by the end of 2013. However, the Tigers will finish behind Texas A&M and could be pushed by Ole Miss for third place in the SEC West. 
 

Mark Ross
Texas A&M will have to venture into Tiger Stadium for the first time since 1994 to play LSU, but the Bayou Bengals have both Georgia (road) and Florida (home) as their crossover games in conference play. The Aggies' East opponents this season are Vanderbilt (home) and Missouri (road). The Bulldogs and Gators went a combined 23-4 overall and 14-2 in the SEC last season and will enter this fall as preseason top 10 teams. The Commodores and Tigers from the SEC East went a combined 14-11 overall and 7-9 in conference play in 2012 and only Vandy will receive any top-25 preseason consideration. Who do you think has the advantage here when it comes to schedule?

If that's not enough, Texas A&M gets Alabama at home, while LSU will travel to Tuscaloosa to face the two-time defending national champions. Yes, the Tigers were victorious the last time they played in Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2011, but don't forget the Aggies won there last season too. Last I checked, the man largely responsible for that impressive victory is still playing quarterback for A&M. Johnny Football may not win the Heisman again, but I expect him to lead the charge as the Aggies show for a second straight season they belong in the SEC by finishing ahead of the Tigers.


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Teaser:
<p> Texas A&amp;M or LSU: Which Team Finishes Higher in the SEC West in 2013?</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 08:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-greatest-dynasties-ap-era
Body:

Dynasty is a word that gets tossed around all too liberally by fans and media members alike. However, there are periods of time in sports where the term is not only applicable but completely accurate. The NFL had the Packers of the '60s, the Steelers of the '70s, the 49ers of the '80s, the Cowboys of the '90s and the Patriots of the '00s. The NBA has the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls and soon-to-be Heat dynasties. Baseball has the Yankees and… the Yankees. And John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins basketball program might be the greatest sports dynasty of all-time.

Defining a "dynasty" can be done many different ways and, for the most part, lies in the eye of the beholder. Generally speaking, elite level dominance over a period of time — ideally, the longer the better with championships to show for it — is how "dynasty" is defined. Awards, NFL talent, championships and statistical records are all considered as well. 

College football fans around the nation are just a few months away from the final season of the BCS era. When the season kicks off August 28 in Nashville, Tenn., the University of Alabama will be attempting the first-ever three-peat in BCS history and is looking for its unprecedented fourth national championship in five years.

The 2013 season aside, Nick Saban’s recent run with the Crimson Tide must be considered one college football’s greatest dynasties. But it is No. 1?

Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 greatest college football dynasties since the AP Poll debuted in 1934:

1. Oklahoma Sooners (1948-58): 107-8
Legendary head coach Charles “Bud” Wilkinson began a miraculous run in his second season at Norman. Over this 11-year span, Oklahoma had four undefeated seasons, six with just one loss and only one year (1951, 8-2) in which it lost more than one game. The Sooners claimed three national championship (1950, '55, '56), all 11 conference championships and one Heisman Trophy winner (Billy Vessels, 1952). The most impressive aspect of this dynasty? Two of the top 10 longest winning streaks in NCAA history, including the the all-time mark of 47 straight victories from 1953-57. Oklahoma also won 31 straight from 1948-50, which ranks 10th all-time in the record books. Oklahoma's historic run in the 1950s was the most dominant dynasty in college football history.

2. Nebraska Cornhuskers (1993-97): 60-3
Is winning more than 95 percent of your games a good thing? That is what Tom Osborne did at Nebraska over his final five seasons. Led by arguably the greatest college quarterback of all-time in Tommie Frazier, the Big Red posted four unbeaten regular seasons, all of which culminated in a trip to the national championship game. One loss to Florida State in the ’93 Orange Bowl is the only thing that kept the Huskers from four national championships in five seasons. A huge upset in the inaugural Big 12 title game to Texas was one of just three losses during this stretch. This Nebraska run produced the 19th longest winning streak in NCAA history with 26 straight wins from 1994-96.

3. Miami Hurricanes (1986-92): 78-6
On the heels of Howard Schnellenberger’s 1983 championship, Miami returned to the promised land under Jimmy Johnson in 1987 and Dennis Erickson in 1989 and '91. Over this seven-year span, the Canes lost less than one game per season, moved into the Big East and won two Heisman Trophies with Vinny Testaverde (1986) and Gino Torretta (1992). The 29-game winning streak that was snapped by Alabama in what was Miami’s fifth national title game appearance in seven years is the 13th longest streak in NCAA history. From 1983-92, Miami posted a record of 107-14.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide (2008-present): 61-7
There is more than one dynasty in Crimson Tide history, but it’s tough to argue that Saban’s run isn’t the most impressive. After nearly 20 years without a title and against the most ruthless conference ever built, Alabama claimed the national championship and the school’s first-ever Heisman Trophy in 2009. The undefeated ’09 team is arguably the most talented Alabama team ever constructed. Then, after a 10-3 year in 2010, the defense and quarterback A.J. McCarron have dominated college football’s biggest stage with a combined 63-14 drubbing of LSU and Notre Dame in the past two BCS National Championship Games. A narrow loss in the 2008 SEC title game to Tim Tebow and Florida after a 12-0 regular season is the only thing keeping Alabama from going for its fifth title in six years. The most interesting tidbit about this five-year dynasty? Alabama has won more national championships (3) than SEC titles (2).

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1941-49): 75-7-6
Led by the great Frank Leahy — who took a two-year leave to serve in the U.S. military — Notre Dame won four national championships (1943, '46, '47, '49) and posted five unbeaten seasons during this remarkable nine-year window. From 1946-49, Notre Dame didn’t lose a game and only tied twice — costing the Irish a fifth national title in 1948. Leahy coached three Heisman Trophy winners in Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack and Leon Hart during this dynasty.

6. USC Trojans (2002-08): 82-9
Led by Pete Carroll, the USC Trojans won seven straight Pac-10 conference championships, won two national championships (2003, '04), claimed three Heisman Trophy winners (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush), put countless players into the NFL Draft and tied Miami for the longest modern winning streak. The 34-game run from 2003-05 is sixth all-time and ended when Vince Young scampered around the right end in the greatest game ever played. The Men of Troy never won fewer than 11 games for seven straight years. Was this team tainted by an NFL agent wannabe scandal well after the fact? To some degree, however, it wasn't a recruiting violation that impacted a competitive advantage. No matter how you view the Reggie Bush issues, this USC dynasty was one of the best in college football history. 

7. Miami Hurricanes (2000-03): 46-4
Butch Davis built it and Larry Coker finished it off. On what many believe to be the best team ever assembled — as its 17 first-round picks indicate — Miami won four straight Big East championships and one unbeaten national title in 2000. This team came up one pass interference call against Ohio State from back-to-back national crowns, and, at one point, rattled-off 34 straight wins. The winning streak was the longest since Wilkinson’s 47-gamer in the late '50s and is still tied for the sixth-best in NCAA history.

8. Alabama Crimson Tide (1961-66): 60-5-1
In Bear Bryant’s fourth season (1961), the historic coach returned Alabama to the top of college football’s hierarchy with an 11-0 national title. He went on to lose just five games over the next five seasons, including two more national championships (1964, '65) and another unbeaten season (1966). Hall of Famer Joe Namath, the “greatest player [Bear Bryant] ever coach,” spearheaded this team for three years (1962-64) to a 29-4 record as a starter. This remarkable six-year run — with three national and four SEC crowns — built the foundation for legend that is Bear Bryant.

9. Army Black Knights (1944-49): 49-2-4
Under historic head coach Earl “Red” Blaik, the U.S. Army dominated college football for the better part of the decade. While the nation was captivated by the ongoing World War in Europe, the Knights steamrolled college football. This team won three consecutive national titles (1944-46) led by an All-Heisman backfield of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Blaik posted five unbeaten seasons in six years.

10. Florida State Seminoles (1992-2000): 99-11-1
Few teams have ever dominated a conference like the Seminoles did in the ACC during the 1990s. Bobby Bowden’s team never finished outside of the AP top four and won all nine ACC championships during this span. His team played in five national titles games, winning the whole thing in 1993 and '99 behind eventual Heisman winners Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke respectively.

11. Oklahoma Sooners (1973-80): 73-7
The Sooners' second dynasty took place just a decade later when Barry Switzer took over in 1973 as head coach. He began his tenure with eight consecutive conference titles, two national championships (1974, '75) and a Billy Sims Heisman Trophy (1978). During this span, OU never lost more than two games in a season and posted a 28-game winning streak, which ranks 15th all-time in NCAA history.

12. Alabama Crimson Tide (1971-79): 97-11
Bear Bryant’s second dynasty began seven years after his last one ended. Alabama won eight SEC titles in nine years and claimed the 1973, '78 and '79 national championships. Alabama’s school-record 28-game winning streak began in ’78 and ended three seasons later in 1980 — most of which took place during this dynasty. The 1979 championship featured the best record in school history (at that time) at 12-0 and gave Bryant his third and final unblemished campaign.

13. USC Trojans (1967-79): 122-23-7
One of the longer dynasties on this list, these Trojans were led first by John McKay (1967-75) and then John Robinson (1976-79). The tandem won four national championships (1967, '72, '74, '78), nine conference crowns and two Heisman Trophies (O.J. Simpson, Charles White) over the 13-year period of time.

14. Florida Gators (2006-09): 48-7
Urban Meyer posted three 13-1 records in a four-year span and the only time he didn’t win 13 games, Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy (2007). This dynasty featured two national titles in 2006 and '08 and came up one game shy in 2009 of what would assuredly have been a third championship.

15. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1964-73): 69-15-4
The Ara Parseghian era got started with a bang when the first-year coach won the 1964 national championship as John Huarte won the Heisman. The Irish would go on to win two more titles (1966, '73) before the legendary coach would step down following the 1974 season.

16. Texas Longhorns (1961-70): 89-17-2
The Longhorns won three national championships and six conference titles under Darrell K. Royal during the '60s. This team also won 30 straight games, good for 12th all-time in NCAA history. Royal had seven seasons of one loss or less during this span.

17. Minnesota Golden Gophers (1934-41): 54-9-1
Starting right when the AP Poll debuted, the Golden Gophers were one of the first true dynasties in college football. Hallowed coach Bernie Bierman won five national championships and lost just nine games during the eight-year span. Minnesota won all but one Big Ten crown from 1934-41.

18. Oklahoma Sooners (2000-08): 102-19
Head coach Bob Stoops led the Sooners back to the promised land in just his second season by claiming the 2000 BCS national title. During this nine-year run, Oklahoma played in four national title games, won five conference championships and claimed two Heisman Trophies.

19. Ohio State Buckeyes (2002-10): 99-17
Jim Tressell returned Ohio State to the pinnacle of college football with an unbeaten 2002 team. He then won six more Big Ten titles and a Heisman Trophy (Troy Smith) over the next seven years while playing in two more BCS title games.

20. Michigan Wolverines (1940-48): 68-13-2
Coached mostly by Herbert “Fritz” Crisler, Michigan won four Big Ten championships and two national titles during the 1940s. This team rattled off 25 straight wins from 1946-49 and posted two unbeaten seasons — coached by Crisler and Beenie Oosterbaan (1948).

21. Texas Longhorns (2004-09): 69-9
Over this six-year span, Texas averaged more than 11 wins per year and played in two national championship games — including winning the greatest game ever played in 2005. Mack Brown lost one bowl game during this span.

22. Ohio State Buckeyes (1954-70): 118-34-5
Woody Hayes had two five-loss seasons during this span but few coaches can claim five national championships in any amount of time much less 17 seasons.

23. Nebraska Cornhuskers (1969-72): 42-4-2
Head coach Bob Devaney won two national titles, posted a 23-game winning streak and lost just four games in his last four years in Lincoln.

24. Georgia Bulldogs (1980-83): 43-4-1
Vince Dooley had one of the best four-year runs in SEC history when he lost just four games, won three SEC championships and claimed the 1980 national title.

25. BYU Cougars (1979-85): 77-12
LaVell Edward’s high-flying, revolutionary offense rolled through opponents until the pollsters finally awarded BYU with the 1984 national championship.

Best of the Rest:

Clemson Tigers (1981-91): 100-24-5
Danny Ford and Ken Hatfield combined for a national title and six ACC crowns.

Tennessee Volunteers (1949-52): 36-4-2
General Robert Neyland led the Vols to two national titles and just four losses in four years.

LSU Tigers (2003-07): 56-10
Nick Saban and Les Miles combined for two national championships, returning LSU to prominence.

Michigan State Spartans (1950-53): 35-2
Head man Biggie Munn led the Spartans to two titles and just two losses in four seasons.

Boise State Broncos (2006-11): 73-6
Constantly beat the big boys — Okla., Oregon (twice), Georgia, Virginia Tech, Utah (twice), Oregon St (twice) and TCU. Won four WAC titles with two unbeaten seasons.

Virginia Tech Hokies (1999-2011): 132-39
Posted 11 10-win seasons, won five conference titles and played in the BCS title game in '99.

TCU Horned Frogs (2008-11): 47-5
Claimed three MWC championships while also beating Stanford, Wisconsin and Boise State (twice).

 

RELATED LINKS:

Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013

Ranking the Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 25 Greatest Dynasties of the AP Era</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-states-clint-chelf-big-12s-best-quarterback-2013
Body:

The Big 12 should have one of the most wide-open battles at quarterback for first-team all-conference honors in 2013.

TCU’s Casey Pachall is back after a suspension, but he isn’t guaranteed the starting job. Oklahoma’s Blake Bell has a lot of talent and should thrive in his first year as the No. 1 quarterback. However, he has yet to prove he can consistently beat defenses with his arm.

Texas Tech’s Michael Brewer is another intriguing name to watch. But just like Bell, Brewer does not have a start under his belt.

With the uncertainty surrounding the other options, is Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf poised to become the top quarterback in the Big 12? 

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Oklahoma State ranks as the No. 16 team in Athlon's Top 25 Countdown for 2013.

Is Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf the Big 12's Best Quarterback for 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Chelf is going to have to put more distance between himself and J.W. Walsh before becoming the Big 12’s top quarterback. Walsh, a more credible running threat, had better efficiency numbers in his stint as the starter, but Chelf drew the tougher starting assignments against Kansas State and Oklahoma. Chelf -- or Walsh, for that matter -- will play in a proven system, but another QB in the league could just as easily take first-team all-conference honors. TCU’s Casey Pachall has much to prove. First, he’ll have to prove he can quarterback his team after leaving midseason to deal with substance abuse. Second, he’ll have to prove he can beat Big 12 teams. He’s 16-2 as a starter with a 35-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but he hasn’t faced a Big 12 defense tougher than Kansas in 2012 or Baylor in 2011. Texas’ David Ash started last season on a hot streak. If he can carry the same over the course of a full season, he could be the top QB in this league. And I’m not ready to write off new quarterbacks at Oklahoma, Texas Tech or Baylor. Chelf may be the clubhouse leader in May, but there will be plenty of competition by November and December. I’m just not sure where it comes from.
 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Since he may not even be the best quarterback on his own team, I have to say no. Oklahoma State's system is the real star as it produces numbers no matter who is under center. For me, this battle comes down to Casey Pachall at TCU and Blake Bell at Oklahoma. Bell is a monster who will wow scouts with his size, mobility and arm. He has 24 career rushing touchdowns before even starting one game and has arguably the best supporting cast in the league. Two years ago, Pachall made fans in Ft. Worth nearly forget about Andy Dalton by taking over and producing from the word go. He was second in the Mountain West (Kellen Moore) in passing efficiency as just a sophomore. Pachall was off to an elite start last year — two 300-yard games in his first four — before getting suspended indefinitely for off-the-field issues. If he can stay the course off the field, he might be the Big 12's most talented quarterback — and could be a Big 12 champion by season's end. 
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Projecting who will be the Big 12’s No. 1 quarterback at the end of 2013 is no easy task. With Collin Klein, Geno Smith, Landry Jones, Seth Doege and Nick Florence all departing, there’s no clear top signal-caller returning to the conference.

Although Clint Chelf has yet to start a full season, he is my pick to be the No. 1 quarterback in the Big 12. Outside of Chelf, TCU’s Casey Pachall, Oklahoma’s Blake Bell or Texas Tech’s Michael Brewer are in consideration for first-team honors. However, Pachall is locked into a tight battle with Trevone Boykin for the starting nod, while Brewer and Bell have yet to make a start. Bell is an intriguing option, but he has yet to prove he can be a consistent passer.

With Wes Lunt transferring, Chelf is clearly the No. 1 quarterback in Stillwater. After taking over the job late in the season, the senior averaged 256.1 yards per game and tossed 14 touchdowns over the final six contests. Chelf had a good performance against Baylor (333 yards) and threw for 253 yards and one score against Oklahoma.

There’s no sure-fire candidate to be the No. 1 quarterback in the Big 12 or the preseason favorite to be picked as first-team all-conference. However, with one of the nation’s top receiving corps returning and a solid offensive line, Chelf should post huge numbers in 2013, along with leading Oklahoma State to a Big 12 title.
 

Mark Ross
Even though Chelf should be able to put up big numbers leading a Cowboys offense that led the Big 12 in scoring and finished second in total yards last season, I am going to take TCU's Casey Pachall as the conference's top quarterback this season. Pachall is hoping to write a fairy-tale ending to what started out as a tragedy when he left school last October following some off-the-field issues related to substance abuse. Fortunately for Pachall, he got the treatment he needed and has worked hard to his earn second chance.


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Teaser:
<p> Is Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf the Best Quarterback in the Big 12 for 2013?</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 07:30

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