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All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-3

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

2012 NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

1 San Francisco 49ers at MIN
2 Houston Texans at DEN
3 Chicago Bears vs. STL
4 Philadelphia Eagles at ARI
5 Pittsburgh Steelers at OAK
6 Green Bay Packers at SEA (Mon.)
7 New York Jets at MIA
8 Baltimore Ravens vs. NE
9 Dallas Cowboys vs. TB
10 Seattle Seahawks vs. GB (Mon.)
11 Arizona Cardinals vs. PHI
12 Detroit Lions at TEN
13 Atlanta Falcons at SD
14 Miami Dolphins vs. NYJ
15 Buffalo Bills at CLE
16 New England Patriots at BAL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Additional Week 3 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Week 3 Start or Sit

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 3</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 05:14
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/arianny-celestes-best-photo-shoot-videos

In our quest to know as much as possible about beautiful women (without getting arrested), we're training our eye on UFC octagon girl and all-around hot model Arianny Celeste. Below is her bio. But even better, we put together her hottest photo shoot videos. Enjoy. 

ABOUT ARIANNY: Arianny Celeste was born on November 12 in Las Vegas. She booked her first modeling job when she was four months old for a car seat company. She has always been athletic excelling in cheer, dance, and gymnastics. Arianny started back into modeling at the age of 15. She attended UNLV, majoring in fitness management and nutrition. In 2006, she was casted as the new UFC octagon girl. She has appeared in magazines including Playboy, FHM, and Maxim. She currently resides in Los Angeles where she has had the opportunity to be in films and music videos. One of her main passions is music. She loves to sing and has recorded some original songs. Another passion of hers is fitness. 

Arianny’s favorites: dark chocolate, sushi, fish, mango, pineapple, movies, Louis Vouitton, beaches, singing, dancing,  pilates, kickboxing, muay thai, dogs, and her family.

Dislikes: cheese, sour cream, red meat, rude, judgmental, lazy, people.

Arianny Celeste 2012 Calendar Shoot behind the scenes from paulcobo on Vimeo.

Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 17:44
Path: /nfl/best-and-worst-0-2-teams-nfl

Before BountyGate sent their season into chaos, the New Orleans Saints rightfully dreamed of being the first team to play a Super Bowl inside their home stadium. They were loaded with talent, one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL, and came within a whisker of advancing to the NFC championship game last year.

Now, under the weight of scandal and with their head coach sitting home, disgraced, the Saints are in a hole that is virtually insurmountable. Two games into the season they have two losses, and by now they are well aware of the daunting stats: Since the NFL expanded the playoffs to 16 teams in 1990, only 22 of the 184 teams that started 0-2 ended up qualifying for the postseason.

Sure, the Giants became Super Bowl champions after an 0-2 start as recently as 2007, but history is still working against Drew Brees and co.

The good news? They are by far the most equipped of the NFL’s six 0-2 teams to rebound from their disastrous start.

Here’s a look at the teams on the brink of disaster. And no, that’s not too strong of a word considering in that same span only three NFL teams made the playoffs after starting 0-3:

New Orleans Saints—The reason for the Saints’ horrible start has been a defense that has been manhandled and startlingly off performances by quarterback Drew Brees. Here’s the reason to hope, though: Both Brees and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo know how to dig out of a hole. Brees is too good and has too many weapons for his problems to be a long trend. And Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator with that Giants team that went 0-2 (thanks mostly to his defense) and ended up as champs (thanks in large part to his defense). Add in arguably the greatest home-field advantage in the NFL and it would be crazy to count them out.

Chances for a rebound: Good, though with the Atlanta Falcons in the same division they should already be aiming for the wild card.


Cleveland Browns—Their entire hopes are resting on a 28-year-old rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden and a rookie running back with injury issues in Trent Richardson. After Week 1, this looked like a program headed for disaster. But in Week 2, both of them looked terrific against Cincinnati. Richardson ran for 109 yards and Weeden threw for 322. The problem, though, is they still lost and chances are both rookies will have their struggles down the road.

Chances for a rebound: In a division with the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals? Forget it. But next year might finally look bright.


Jacksonville Jaguars—In the first half against the Houston Texans on Sunday, QB Blaine Gabbert had thrown for minus-4 yards and ended up with a total of 53. If that’s not reason to set off alarm bells, I don’t know what is. They have a clearly rusty Maurice Jones-Drew and a passing attack that fears nobody. They’ve earned their 0-2 start and it’s probably only going to get worse from here.

Chances for a rebound: Bad, unless Gabbert is better than expected and they have more weapons than most people think they have.


Tennessee Titans—Running back Chris Johnson is already furious after the Titans’ anemic start – and his too. He has 21 yards on the season with just 19 carries, which is ridiculously bad. The good news, you’d think, is he can’t get any worse, right? Also, a lot of people think Jake Locker has shown some promise. Add in the fact that their early schedule was dangerous – vs. New England, at San Diego, and it’s possible they may have bottomed out.

Chances for a rebound: Good considering Johnson is still likely to push for 1,000 yards on the season. Also they share a division with the awful Jaguars and the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts.


Oakland Raiders—The fact that the Raiders have scored just 27 points in their first two games is shocking considering the amount of offensive weapons they have. They had such high hopes for Carson Palmer, who seemed to develop a great chemistry late last season with WR Darius Heyward-Bey. They haven’t been able to connect and RB Darren McFadden has just 54 yards in two games so far. He’s better than that and so are the Raiders. Their defense isn’t great, but they should be able to keep up in high-scoring games.

Chances for a rebound: These are the Raiders, so by now everyone is used to false hope. A turnaround is possible, but they better hurry before the Chargers and Broncos break away.


Kansas City Chiefs—It is absolutely startling that Romeo Crennel is coaching a team that can’t seem to play defense. The big problem with that is that Matt Cassel is an average quarterback with good weapons who isn’t equipped to keep coming back. Throw in an average rushing attack behind Jamaal Charles (and company) and it looks like the good feelings the Chiefs built up at the end of last season were nothing but a mirage.

Chances for a rebound: Well, they lost their first two games by 16 and 18 points and now they play at New Orleans, and then home vs. San Diego and Baltimore? They’ll be lucky if they’re not 0-5.



<p> We look at which teams are likely to rebound</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 13:10
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/nfl-replacement-referees-hurting-integrity-game

What happens when those charged with correcting mistakes are the ones making the worst errors of all?

The NFL is in the process of finding out, as the second week of replacement referees quickly deteriorated into mass confusion — with unorganized game management, inconsistent (or wrong) penalties called and a general lack of on-field discipline that, at times, bordered on out-of-control.

“There’s some serious calls the refs missed,” said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, following a 24–23 loss at Philadelphia, in a game filled with controversy as well as extracurricular physical altercations after the whistle.

“It’s just the way it is, man, all around the league. We have to correct that. These games are critical. Guys are giving everything they’ve got all across the league. But these are calls, with the regular refs — if they were here — we know the way the calls would be made.”

Currently the NFL has locked out 121 referees in a dispute over pay and pensions in a labor struggle that, in some ways, mirrors last year’s prolonged lockout of the players.
As a result, the league has turned to replacement referees to officiate games until both sides have come to an agreement. And the NFL doesn’t seem to be in any hurry.

“Officiating is never perfect. The current officials have made great strides and are performing admirably under unprecedented scrutiny and great pressure,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello stated in an email to The Associated Press.

Thus far, replacement referees have struggled with every aspect of the rule book — game clock, ball placement, down and distance, NCAA vs. NFL rules, replay, timeouts, etc.

And at the end of a rocky Week 2, tempers were running hot among coaches, players and even television analysts — one of which was quick to point the finger at Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league office.

“Everything about the NFL now is inelastic for demand. There’s nothing (the NFL) can do to hurt the demand for the game. So, the bottom line is, they don’t care,” said ESPN analyst Steve Young, during a postgame rant after Monday Night Football.

“Player safety? Doesn’t matter in this case. Bringing in Division III officials? Doesn’t matter. Because in the end, you’re still going to watch the game. … It doesn’t affect the desire for the game. If it affected the desire for the game, they’d come up with a few extra million dollars.”

The integrity of the game — or the 2012 regular season, at the very least — hangs in the balance. How many games have to be impacted before the regular referees return to the field?

“The time is now,” said Lewis. “Get the regular referees in here and let the games play themselves out. We already have controversy enough with the regular refs.”

<p> NFL replacement referees are hurting the integrity of the game.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/lsu-auburn-five-things-watch

Auburn is looking for anything positive on the gridiron after a 1-2 start, while undefeated LSU will look to continue dominating opponents when it travels to the Plains for a 7 p.m. ET kickoff Saturday night on ESPN. In this tale of two Tigers going in different directions, Les Miles’ crew will enter SEC play as an almost three-touchdown favorite over Auburn. However Gene Chizik’s bunch has a ton of talent and pride, and the Jordan-Hare crowd can be a difference maker.

1. Wild things happen in SEC night games.
LSU easily handled Auburn, 45-10, in Baton Rouge last season, but this one is on the road. While the Bengal Tigers have won 24 consecutive September games, the visitor in the LSU-Auburn series is 1-11 in the last 12 matchups. In fact, the last time Les Miles lost in the month of September was a 7-3 defeat at Auburn in 2006.

2. Zach Mettenberger makes his first SEC road start.
The new LSU starter has performed well this season, throwing for 609 yards and four touchdowns while completing 72.7 percent of his passes. Even though Auburn has struggled on defense, the Tigers talent should present more of a challenge for Mettenberger than North Texas, Washington and Idaho. A solid run game should help the junior quarterback, but the atmosphere at Jordan-Hare could be intimidating if Auburn can gain momentum early.

3. Auburn must tackle better to have a chance on defense.
New coordinator Brian VanGorder arrived on the Plains with much acclaim, but the results through three games have been ugly. The Auburn defense has allowed an alarming 651 rushing yards this season, and LSU’s power running attack is one of the best in the nation. AU has talented defenders, but VanGorder must find a way to make them work better as a unit. If Auburn can make open-field tackles and not break in the red zone, the home Tigers can keep it close and use the raucous crowd to their advantage.

4. LSU has had a rash of key injuries to its running backs and offensive line.
Tailback Alfred Blue (270 yards and two touchdowns in 2012) suffered a knee injury against Idaho and is out indefinitely, while Spencer Ware has already missed two games. Offensive linemen P.J. Lonergan and Josh Dworaczyk have missed time as well, although both should play at Auburn. Perhaps no team in the nation has as much depth as LSU, but the Tigers current attrition is a concern.

5. Quarterback Kiehl Frazier must be able to make a few plays on third down.
The young signal caller has struggled to adjust to new coordinator Scot Loeffler’s offense, and he has only two touchdown passes versus five interceptions in three games. The focus of the Auburn attack will be on runners Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb, who have totaled 435 yards on just 75 carries, but LSU tends to allow next to nothing on the ground. Frazier will need to use his athleticism to avoid a solid LSU pass rush and move the chains enough to give the AU offense some balance.  

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> LSU at Auburn: Five Things to Watch</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 12:05
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-picks-every-game-week-3

NFL Week 3 previews and predictions for every game on the schedule:

Giants (1-1) at Panthers (1-1)
Carolina’s Cam Newton steps into the spotlight on Thursday night, taking on a Big Blue defense led by one of Cam’s few athletic peers, pass-rushing end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Giants by 2

Buccaneers (1-1) at Cowboys (1-1)
Tampa Bay’s best bet is to keep Dallas from ever lining up in the “Victory Formation.” Why didn’t Greg Schiano think of that sooner?
Cowboys by 3

Jaguars (0-2) at Colts (1-1)
After watching Adam Vinatieri hit a game-winning FG last week, Andrew Luck knows what Tom Brady and Peyton Manning feel like.
Colts by 3

Bills (1-1) at Browns (0-2)
C.J. Spiller joined O.J. Simpson, Thurman Thomas and Fred Jackson as the only Bills to rush for back-to-back 100-yard games to open a season. The league’s leading rusher will look to go for three straight at the Dawg Pound.
Bills by 1

Jets (1-1) at Dolphins (1-1)
Tim Tebow returns to Miami, where the Mania started last season — when Tebow threw two TDs in the final 2:44 to pull off an 18–15 win on the same day the Dolphins honored the 2008 Florida Gators national championship team.
Jets by 2

Chiefs (0-2) at Saints (0-2)
One team will earn its first victory following the only matchup of winless teams. Drew Brees and Co. should put on a fireworks display at the Superdome against the struggling Chiefs.
Saints by 7

Bengals (1-1) at Redskins (1-1)
RG3 remains front and center on offense, but seemingly the entire Washington defense is banged up — with linebacker Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker already out for the season.
Redskins by 6

Rams (1-1) at Bears (1-1)
St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher returns to Chicago, where he learned the ropes from Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan during the famed 1985 Bears’ Super Bowl run and set the team’s punt return yardage mark since broken by Devin Hester.
Bears by 9

49ers (2-0) at Vikings (1-1)
The Vikings better batten down the hatches, because the 49ers defense has been a wall of water, flooding backfields and drowning ball carriers in wins over the Packers and Lions.
49ers by 12

Lions (1-1) at Titans (0-2)
“People need to step up and do their job,” Chris Johnson told The Tennessean after a 38–10 loss at San Diego. “They don’t need to let people beat them. It don’t matter who the opposing defense is, you can’t let your guy beat you.” The opposing defense is coached up by Jim Schwartz, who worked in Tennessee from 1999-2008 before taking the top spot in Detroit.
Lions by 3

Falcons (2-0) at Chargers (2-0)
Atlanta power back Michael Turner — who was known as the “Burner” during his days in San Diego — returns to his old stomping grounds. Unfortunately, Turner was charged with DUI after the win on Monday night. The Dirty Birds may have to rely more on Matt Ryan — who threw his 100th career TD last week — to carry the load in this battle of unbeatens.
Chargers by 1

Eagles (2-0) at Cardinals (2-0)
Remember when Kevin Kolb was tabbed as the “Quarterback of the Future” in Philadelphia and Michael Vick was just a high-profile backup?
Eagles by 2

Steelers (1-1) at Raiders (0-2)
Big Ben Roethlisberger completed 24 passes to 10 different receivers in a win over the Jets. New Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley will take the aerial show on the road to the Black Hole. But the Steel Curtain defense will likely be without safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and linebacker James Harrison (knee) once again.
Steelers by 5

Texans (2-0) at Broncos (1-1)
Peyton Manning knows all about the Texans from his days tossing TDs in the AFC South as a member of the Colts. During his tenure in Indy, the four-time MVP went 16–2 against Houston, with 42 TDs and nine INTs. In fact, Manning has thrown more TDs against the Texans than any other team during his career.
Texans by 2

Patriots (1-1) at Ravens (1-1)
This Sunday night fight is a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game, which was won by the Patriots, 23–20, following two botched plays by the Ravens — a dropped pass by Lee Evans (who had the ball knocked out of his casual grip by Sterling Moore) and a missed potential game-tying 32-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff with 11 seconds remaining.
Ravens by 1

Packers (1-1) at Seahawks (1-1)
The Packers will have had 10 days to bask in their 23–10 beatdown of the Bears on Thursday. The Seahawks will try to avoid getting too cocky after whipping the Cowboys, 27–7.
Packers by 3

<p> NFL Week 3 previews and predictions for every game on the schedule, including New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans at Denver Broncos, New York Giants at Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 10:48
Path: /nascar/backseat-drivers-fan-council-27

Round one is over in the Chase but it already has produced many changes on and off the track for fans. Races are starting later, fans are seeing more of it and there’s a new points leader with the former points leader saying he’ll win this weekend. Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council examine these and other issues this week.

Denny Hamlin proclaims on Twitter he’ll win at New Hampshire
After running out of fuel at the end and losing several spots last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, Denny Hamlin stated on Twitter he would win this weekend’s race at New Hampshire. Fan Council members were asked what they thought of his declaration:

72.0 percent said it was a great move to get his team looking ahead rather than back
28.0 percent said it was a bad move because it raised expectations and pressure

What Fan Council members said:
• These guys have to stay motivated and move on regardless of what happened in one race. I don't blame Denny one bit for being positive and knowing what his team is capable of!

• Denny, Denny, Denny … why did you have to open your mouth and make the statement, “We will win next week.” That statement just might come back and bite you in the a**. I have watched Denny want to win a race at any cost and he didn't care who he ran over to get the job done. Watch out Chasers!!!

• Denny's handling himself and his team MUCH better this year than in past years! The driver is the focal point that the team rallies around, and unlike his teammate who tends to isolate and turn off the team with his tirades, Denny seems to have learned his lesson and is doing what he needs to keep his team rolling along!

• It shows that while he has a fragile psyche (at times), he feels confident in himself and his team for next week. New Hampshire is one of Denny's best tracks and (crew chief Darian) Grubb won the race there last year ... why not make a bold prediction?

• Every driver should expect to win, so I see nothing wrong with expressing thoughts.

• I can remember the last time Denny had that same look on his face. Phoenix 2010 and his Chase was done as he folded like a house of cards. Only now we'll see him fold up the tent over nine races instead of two.

• There is a difference between confidence and cockiness — and that right there is confidence. He knows that he and his team can and WILL get it done. Any time Denny calls his shot, they deliver. They will be in Victory Lane next weekend when it's all said and done.

• It's a good thing. With NASCAR having become so vanilla, it could certainly use some more Joe Namath types.

Is later greater?
As it has done in the past, start times for NASCAR Sprint Cup races in the Chase are later than they normally are before the Chase. Fan Council members were asked if they liked the later start times during the Chase:

48.5 percent said it didn’t matter to them
27.8 percent said they liked it
23.7 percent said they hated it

What Fan Council members said:
• I don't understand the thought process. How does pushing start times back bring in viewers? Football viewers are going to start watching those games and if they are intense and good how are you going to pull those viewers away? NASCAR would have to expect those games to be boring and not exciting to entice those viewers over. Just doesn't make sense.

• It doesn't matter to me what time the races start, I will watch them over the NFL.

• NASCAR is going to lose to NFL or college football, no matter what they do. The product and the number of cookie-cutter tracks lends to that. I watched football for most of the day and came back at the best time — when Brad took the lead from Jimmie. I had no problem with the earlier start times but whatever NASCAR believes, they go with, no matter how flawed the logic.

• There's no way it won't conflict with NFL so best bet would have been to have the race at the normal time. My (NFL) game was 4:00 pm and I had to stop watching the race 60 percent of the way in to watch my game. A 12:00 start might have worked out.

• I started watching NFL games. Almost forgot to turn the TV to the race. I see this as a serious problem with casual fans. If they tune into an NFL game and it turns out to be a good game, they are less likely to change the channel to watch the race.

• I like it. It gives me the chance to see the start of the race as I normally arrive home after church and the race has started.

• NASCAR should stop trying to worry about the NFL all the time. Changing start times is an inconvenience to people in every time zone.

• I couldn't care less ... I'm DVRing the races and watching NFL RedZone all day.

• Like it or not, it is best for our sport. The later in the day you run the races the more people who can tune in, especially on the West Coast.

Split-screen coverage
Just as it did last year during the Chase, ESPN will show a split-screen of the race and commercials during the second half of the race. Fan Council members were asked about what they thought of this:

54.2 percent love it
30.5 percent like it
12.6 percent don’t care
2.7 percent hate it

What Fan Council members said:
• Just like last year, having the box there during the commercial is POINTLESS if ESPN isn't going to show any RACING. Showing a close-up of Jimmie Johnson during a commercial break is irrelevant.

• Keeps from missing out on racing action during those long string of commercials. LOVE IT!

• They should do this more and NOT just for select races. With all the commercials being poured into the races these days, us fans deserve to see more than 60 percent (max) of the racing action.

• I wish that all the TV partners would do a split screen for the entire race, every race. Actually, it's better because the advertiser's logo is seen separate of the commercial so you actually know what is being advertised. Maybe that can be worked out in the next TV contract. IndyCar does it and it's great. I understand that the local breaks have to be full-screen commercials; but, for the national commercials, they can do split-screen.

• Commercials pay for the sport, and this is a good way to accommodate the advertisers while making sure we don't miss something during a commercial break. I wish all the NASCAR networks did this from midway through, rather than just the last few laps.

• Watching in the UK, we have commercial free coverage for the whole race

• Not OK with the race being 25 percent and the ads being 75 percent of the screen. Needs to be a 50-50 split.

• Bravo to ESPN … I'd like to see this 100 percent for Homestead!

<p> Dustin Long and the Backseat Drivers Fan Council discuss Denny Hamlin's bold New Hampshire prediction, ESPN's split-screen commercial coverage, NASCAR start times and the GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 10:47
Path: /college-football/15-worst-college-football-teams-bcs-era

Colorado is off to an awful 0-3 start and with a daunting upcoming schedule, an 0-12 record seems likely. The Buffaloes' early struggles and a loss to FCS opponent to Sacramento State made us wonder: Who are the worst BCS teams since 1998?

Washington State, Baylor, Duke, Rutgers and Syracuse each had multiple mentions on this list, with Washington's 2008 squad ranking among the top-five worst BCS teams since 1998. 

Needless to say, if the Buffaloes continue at their current pace, they could rank as the No. 1 team on this list. 

College Football's Top 15 Worst BCS Teams Since 1998

1. 2008 Washington State
Final Record:
Don’t be fooled by the two wins on the resume: Washington State was awful in 2008. The Cougars were outscored by an average of 48-14 each game and its only victories came against a bad FCS team (Portland State) and a Washington team that was without quarterback Jake Locker and finished with a 0-12 record. The Cougars were shutout in three Pac-10 games and scored only a field goal against California and UCLA. 

2. 2006 Duke
Final Record:
One year after posting a 1-10 record, Duke’s struggles on the gridiron continued with an 0-12 season. The Blue Devils lost 13-0 in the opener against Richmond and were outscored 73-0 by Virginia and Virginia Tech. There were signs of progress from 2005, as Ted Roof’s team lost by one to North Carolina and Wake Forest and was defeated by five points to Miami in mid-October.

3. 2003 Temple
Final Record:
Temple was largely uncompetitive from the moment it joined the Big East in 1991. The Owls won just 15 overall games from 1991-99 and went winless in conference play in 1996. The 2003 season included a loss to FCS opponent Villanova, with the only victory coming on the road at MTSU. Temple did have a close call in Big East play, losing 24-23 to Virginia Tech in mid-November. The Owls were booted from the Big East due to their struggles on the field and low attendance after the 2004 season but returned to the conference in 2012. 

4. 2000 Duke
Final Record:
Finding success on the gridiron hasn’t been easy for Duke. However, the 2000-01 seasons were possibly the worst in school history. The Blue Devils were not only winless but largely uncompetitive. Duke was shutout in the opener against East Carolina and lost by at least 30 points five times. The Blue Devils also managed only 155 points, their lowest offensive output in the BCS era. 

5. 2008 Washington
Final Record:
Tyrone Willingham failed to record a winning record during his four-year tenure at Washington, and 2008 was a rock-bottom point for this program. The Huskies went 0-12, which included a 16-13 loss to rival Washington State in Pullman. Washington was largely uncompetitive in Pac-10 play, with only two games decided by a touchdown or less. Losing quarterback Jake Locker certainly didn’t help Washington’s chances, but the Huskies’ leading rusher had just 338 yards, and the defense allowed 38.6 points a game. 

6. 1999 Baylor
Final Record:
Kevin Steele was brought in to replace Dave Roberts after back-to-back two-win seasons, but his tenure was a major disappointment. The Bears went 1-11 in 1999 and was defeated by an average score of 38-13. Baylor’s only win that season came against North Texas, but the lowlight of the year came in a loss against UNLV. Baylor led 24-21 with less than 20 seconds left and just had to take a knee to seal the victory. Instead of lining up in the victory formation, the Bears ran the ball and fumbled, which was returned 99 yards for a touchdown. Although Steele was trying to set an attitude or mindset for the team, it was a huge error on his part. Baylor won only one Big 12 game during Steele’s four years in Waco.

7. 2001 Duke
Final Record:
After a disastrous 2000 season, the Carl Franks tenure at Duke didn’t get much better in 2001. The Blue Devils failed to record a win for the second season in a row and suffered blowout losses at the hands of Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Franks’ 2001 team was a little better but still one of the worst in BCS history. 

8. 1999 Rutgers
Final Record:
After going 0-11 in 1997, Rutgers showed some signs of life with a 5-6 record in 1998. However, the Scarlet Knights regressed to a dismal 1-10 record in 1999. The only win of the season was a surprise 24-21 upset over Syracuse, but Rutgers lost 56-28 to a 2-9 Temple in late October. Outside of the victory against the Orangemen, the Scarlet Knights had only two losses decided by 14 points or less and was defeated by an average score of 39-14.

9. 2005 Duke
Final Record:
After four miserable seasons under Carl Franks, Duke turned to Ted Roof to help turn the program back in the right direction. Roof had some initial momentum, but things quickly went downhill. The Blue Devils went 1-10 in 2005, with the one win coming over a VMI team that finished 3-8. Duke had a point differential of -231 and had only one ACC loss was decided by less than 25 points. 

10. 2000 Baylor
Final Record:
After a disappointing 1-10 record in Kevin Steele’s first season in 1999, the Bears weren’t much better in 2000. The Bears won just two games, beating a North Texas team that went 3-8 and South Florida, who was just in its second season of football. Baylor’s offense was virtually invisible in October, as it was shutout in three consecutive games and never scored more than 22 points in Big 12 play. 

11. 2007 Syracuse
Final Record:
The 2005 Syracuse team was bad, but the 2007 version was worse. The Orange doubled their win total from 2005, which isn’t saying much when you won only one game. Syracuse beat Louisville 38-35 and Buffalo 20-12 for its only wins of 2007 and lost by 30 points or more four times, including a 35-0 defeat to Iowa in the second game of the season.

12. 2006 Stanford
Final Record:
After leading Pittsburgh to five consecutive winning seasons from 2000-04, Walt Harris was picked as the coach to lead Stanford back to the Rose Bowl, especially after three uninspiring seasons under Buddy Teevens. Harris’ tenure was short lived, as he lasted just two seasons, including a horrendous 1-11 record in 2006. The Cardinal lost by an average score of 31-11 and only one loss was decided by eight points or less. Hiring Harris was clearly a mistake, but Stanford got it right by hiring Jim Harbaugh to take over the program in 2007. 

13. 2002 Rutgers
Final Record:
Greg Schiano went 2-9 in his debut season at Rutgers but followed that up with a worse record (1-11) in 2002. The Scarlet Knights’ only victory came against Army, a team that went 1-11 and lost to a 4-8 Holy Cross team. As if winning one game wasn’t bad enough, Schiano’s team was beat handily by Buffalo 34-11 – a team that won just one game that season. Rutgers was defeated by an average score of 33-14 and lost six out of their seven Big East games by 20 points or more. Considering how bad Rutgers was when he inherited the program, Schiano probably doesn’t get enough credit for turning the Scarlet Knights into a consistent bowl team. 

14. 2009 Washington State
Final Record:
Paul Wulff’s first season at Washington State resulted in a 2-11 record, so the expectations were low heading into 2009. However, the Cougars were worse than expected, winning only one game – SMU 30-27 in mid-September. Washington State didn’t strike much fear in opponents the rest of the way, as it was outscored by an average of 45-9 over the final nine games of the season. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Cougars were shut out by rival Washington in the season finale 30-0.

15. 2005 Syracuse
Final Record:
Paul Pasqualoni was fired after going 16-20 in his final three years at Syracuse. However, the Orange probably wished for Pasqualoni back after recording a 1-10 record in Greg Robinson’s first season. Syracuse’s only victory came against Buffalo, a team that also went 1-10 that season. The Orange lost by an average score of 27-14 and suffered five losses of more than 20 points. 

Honorable Mentions

1999 South Carolina (0-11)
2007 Minnesota (1-11)
2011 Indiana (1-11)
2011 Kansas (2-10)

by Steven Lassan



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<p> 15 Worst College Football Teams of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 06:36
Path: /college-football/florida-football-can-gators-win-sec-east-title

Thanks to wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee, Florida has gone from a fringe top-25 team to one that is ranked among the top 10-15 teams in the nation. The Gators were expected to show improvement after a disappointing 2011 season, but this team has been better than expected. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is improving, while the defense is allowing only 17 points a game.

Although the Gators have made significant progress under coach Will Muschamp, should they be considered one of the frontrunners to win the SEC East title?

Can Florida Win the SEC East?

Coach Pat Dye, former head coach of the Auburn Tigers, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Well, I do.  You've got to be impressed with what they've done the last couple of weeks against Texas A&M and Tennessee.  I think the emergence of the quarterback, and him getting settled has been the key.  He looked good against Texas A&M, but he looked really good against Tennessee. I think it will be between Florida and Georgia. And Florida may have an advantage because they're playing Georgia in what really is a home game for them in Jacksonville.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
The East still tilts in favor of South Carolina and Georgia, two teams with elite defenses and at least one reliable centerpiece on offense -- Marcus Lattimore for South Carolina and Aaron Murray for Georgia. Florida is getting to the same place, but the Gators aren’t quite there yet even with back-to-back SEC road wins. With only one true SEC road game left (at Vanderbilt), Florida could be in position to play for an East title when it faces South Carolina and Georgia in back-to-back weeks in October. A healthy Mike Gillislee has proven he can anchor the Florida rushing attack and Jeff Driskel is getting more confident as a passer and runner each week. For an SEC East contender you’ve got to love a team that’s strong in the fourth quarter and on the road, two traits Florida discovered the last two weeks. I’d still pick South Carolina or Georgia, but Florida is a clear No. 3 that’s probably closer to the Gamecocks and Bulldogs than the rest of the division. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Absolutely. What did we know about Florida before SEC play began? The Gators have a nasty defense that has loads of speed, the road schedule is front-loaded with few late-season tests and no Alabama, and that the SEC West was going to be tougher. What didn't we know about Florida? Does this team have a quarterback who can make key throws and be a leader on offense? Is Will Muschamp capable of coaching at an elite level in the pressure-packed SEC? Will the early schedule knock the Gators out of the race by Week 3? Well, consider all three questions answered definitively. Jeff Driskel was brilliant in Knoxville, the coaching staff made tremendous halftime adjustments two weeks in a row, and Florida returns home 2-0 after two brutal road tests in the SEC. Florida has owned Georgia and it gets LSU, South Carolina and Mizzou in The Swamp. There is one road trip outside of the state left: at Vanderbilt. All signs point to the Gators being right in the middle of the SEC East race.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
Florida has been one of the most impressive teams through the first three weeks of the season and is absolutely a threat to win the SEC East. The opener against Bowling Green wasn’t the team’s best effort, but the Gators have scored back-to-back road wins against Texas A&M and Tennessee. The biggest question mark heading into this season for Florida was the offense, which has grown up over the last two weeks. Quarterback Jeff Driskel hasn’t posted huge numbers but has yet to throw for an interception and has 113 rushing yards. The defense has been solid and can only get better as the young players get more experience in the SEC. I still think Georgia is the frontrunner in the division, but Florida hosts South Carolina, LSU and Missouri and has only one road conference game the rest of the year. The Gators have closed the gap and the Oct. 27 game against the Bulldogs in Jacksonville, Fla., could decide the East crown.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
Sure, Florida can win the SEC East. I’d still favor Georgia, who I believe has the most complete roster in the division, but the Gators have made a significant statement in the last two weeks. Right now, I’d consider Florida to be a bigger threat to Georgia than South Carolina. Will Muschamp’s team has been strong on defense (as expected) and has made significant progress on offense since struggling in a Week 1 win over Bowing Green. The quarterback position, considered a weakness before the season, is now a strength with Jeff Driskel showing everyone Saturday night why he was so highly rated coming out of high school. The Gators still lack elite talent at wide receiver, but this team now looks capable of contending for the SEC East title.

Mark Ross: 
Florida has already demonstrated what this team is capable of as the Gators have gone into both College Station and Knoxville and come out victorious. However, there's still plenty of work left to be done, as dates with LSU, Missouri, South Carolina and Georgia remain. Florida's defense appears to be capable of shutting down any opponent, as evidenced by its second-half performances against the Aggies and Volunteers, but the offense is not on the same level. Quarterback Jeff Driskel continues to make strides and has been impressive in his own right in the Gators' two SEC wins, but this team doesn't seem to have enough weapons to complement him. Florida can win the East because they hold their fate in their hands with their remaining schedule. However, the meat of their conference schedule, which starts with LSU on the first Saturday in October and finishes with a three-game stretch of South Carolina, Georgia and Missouri on consecutive Saturdays, will be too much for this relatively young team to get through with no fewer than two losses. I still have Georgia winning the East, but the fact that Florida is even in the hunt should give Gator fans plenty of reasons to be hopeful about the program's future under the leadership of Will Muschamp.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
Absolutely. The Gators already have two league wins on the road, and an athletic defense should keep UF in every game. The LSU contest in Gainesville will be difficult, but taking care of business versus the division is the key for Will Muschamp’s bunch. Florida will have the chance to claim an SEC East crown on successive Saturdays in late October, with South Carolina coming to the Swamp and then the Cocktail Party in Jacksonville against Georgia. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is showing an ability to make more plays each week, and running back Mike Gillislee is a physical presence who can wear down defenses. With offensive coordinator Brent Pease finding ways to effectively use weapons like Trey Burton, Frankie Hammond and Jordan Reed, the Gators offense is showing solid potential. Muschamp’s emphasis on the trenches is producing success in the second half of games, and that factor may be the difference when Florida battles rivals South Carolina and Georgia.

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<p> Florida Football: Can the Gators Win the SEC East Title?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 06:11
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-3

Each week, the Athlon editors vote on the most prestigious award in all of college football. A nine-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports voted this week for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the result will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point.

USC's Matt Barkley has fallen off of the top slot. After no touchdowns for the first time since 2010 and a loss to Stanford, the Trojans signal caller is no longer the front runner. Barkley was left off of only one ballot this week — direct your complaints/praise to @AthlonSnowman — but stayed safely in the top five. Only three players appeared on all nine ballots and 22 different players received votes.

I have been voting Geno Smith No. 1 each week, and now, the rest of the Athlon staff has seen the light. The West Virginia quarterback is now the top vote-getter for the stiff-armed trophy with seven of nine first-place votes.

Meanwhile, the rest of the nation has closed the gap across the board. There are dynamic quarterbacks like Braxton Miller, explosive running backs like De'Anthony Thomas and a few defenders like Jarvis Jones getting plenty of attention now that the race is wide open. Having said that, the blond-headed gunslinger from Southern California will still have plenty to say in the race to New York. 

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (seven first-place votes)
Season Stats: 
66-75, 734 yards, 9 TD, 0 INT, 10 att., 83 yards, TD
West Virginia still hasn't been tested by any quality competition, but its hard to do what Smith has done against air in practice. He is leading the nation in total offense at 422.7 yards per game and is No. 2 in passing efficiency at 209.81 (Casey Pachall, 242.37). The numbers are downright insane — he has as many touchdown passes as he does incompletions — and the level of competition will only continue to get better. West Virginia will play 10 BCS AQ teams the rest of the way. Next game: Maryland

  Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. Geno Smith QB W. Virgina 87/90 7 1 1 - - 9/9
2. De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 69/90 1 2 2 2 1 9/9
3. Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 65/90 - 2 3 1 2 9/9
4. Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 59/60 1 2 1 2 1 8/9
5. Matt Barkley QB USC 40/90 - 1 1 1 1 8/9
6. Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford 26/90 - - - - 2 8/9
7. Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 25/90 - - - 1 - 5/9
8. Collin Klein QB Kansas St 19/90 - - - - 1 4/9
9. AJ McCarron QB Alabama 18/90 - 1 - - - 5/9
10. Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 13/90 - - - 1 - 4/9
11. Le'Veon Bell RB Mich. St 11/90 - - - - - 3/9
12. Kolton Browning QB UL Monroe 10/90 - - - 1 - 2/9
13. Barrett Jones OL Alabama 9/90 - - - - 1 2/9
14. Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 9/90 - - - - - 2/9
15. Aaron Murray QB Georgia 8/90 - - 1 - - 1/9

Also receiving votes: 16. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame, 17. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville, 18. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson, 19. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska, 20. Marqise Lee, WR, USC, 21. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona, 22. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

2. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 
13 att., 228 yards, 4 TD, 11 rec., 154 yards, 3 TD, 93 PR yards
Another six offensive touches and another 12 points on the scoreboard. He finished with 135 yards from scrimmage and 87 yards on four punt returns against Tennessee Tech. Through three games, Thomas has scored seven touchdowns on 24 total offensive touches. And while the level of competition has been fairly weak, Thomas has done all of his damage in the first half as Oregon's starters have been on the bench for the second half. Imagine what his numbers would be like if he received 20 touches per game for two halves of football? Of course, that could all change this weekend against Rich Rodriguez' squad. Next Game: Arizona

3. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 
48-78, 611 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 56 att., 377 yards, 5 TD
Miller might be the most important player in the nation through three weeks of play. Without his gritty, explosive runs and clutch, big-play passes, Ohio State could be 1-2. The dynamic sophomore led the Buckeyes on two key fourth-quarter drives to give the OSU the lead both times, the last of which ended with a 72-yard game-winning touchdown strike with less than four minutes to play. He totaled 324 yards of offense and five total touchdowns in the win over Cal. There is one more cupcake left for Miller to pad the stats before things get really serious in East Lansing on Sept. 29. Next Game: UAB

4. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Season Stats: 66 att., 541 yards, 3 TD, 8 rec., 121 yards, TD
The Bruins are arguably the most improved team in the nation and Franklin's performance is a huge part of it. With help from new star quarterback Brett Hundley, Franklin is leading the nation in rushing (180.3 ypg) and all-purpose yards (222.3 ypg) — a stat normally reserved for players who also play a big role on special teams. In the 37-6 payback win over Houston, Franklin posted a "paltry" 168 yards from scrimmage and has now gone two games without scoring a rushing touchdown. Things will get much more difficult for the Bruins as Pac-12 play begins this weekend. Next Game: Oregon State

5. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 66-109, 818 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT, 8 att., minus-51 yards
Give credit to David Shaw and his staff for a tremendous gameplan against arguably the top passing attack in the nation. Barkley was held without a touchdown for the first time since getting banged-up against Oregon State late in 2010. The Trojans Golden Boy faced pressure all day from a defense targeting a Khaled Holmes-less offensive line, sacking Barkley four times and intercepting him twice. The USC passer will get back on track this weekend — and a little help from his offensive and defensive lines would be nice. Next game: Cal

6. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
Season Stats: 67 att., 338 yards, 3 TD, 10 rec., 89 yards, TD
The senior tailback was arguably the most valuable player of Week 3 nationally. He carried the ball, caught passes and scored two huge touchdowns in the marquee upset win over USC. He finished with 153 yards rushing on 27 carries and 60 yards receiving on five receptions and was featured heavily in the fourth quarter, wearing down the defense to clinch the win in the final minutes. Next Game: Open Date

7. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Season Stats: 17 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, INT, 3 FF, 2 PBU
Jones didn't play against Florida Atlantic as a precautionary measure, but head coach Mark Richt is optimistic about his star linebacker's chances to play this week against Vanderbilt. He was the best player on the field against Mizzou and did it with a bad groin. Richt knows he needs Jones for the stretch run and resting him against FAU didn't help his Heisman campaign in the short term, but if it means an SEC title for the Dawgs, he is just fine with that. Next Game: Vanderbilt

8. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
 43-59, 609 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT, 46 att., 210 yards, 4 TD
Few players are easier to root for than CK7 from The Little Apple. He threw for 230 yards and rushed for 85, scoring three total times, in the win over North Texas. He is a gritty leader who gets another shot at his Heisman moment this weekend. An upset over Oklahoma — a team that beat KSU 58-17 last year — would vault Klein to the top of many Heisman ballots. Next Game: at Oklahoma

9. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 
36-56, 607 yards, 7 TD, 0 INT, 13 att., minus-42 yards
McCarron will never have the stats to compare to the rest of the Heisman vote-getters. However, he plays the most important position on the best team in the nation and he does it at an elite level. He is No. 3 nationally in passing efficiency and has led his team to easy wins over Michigan and Arkansas already. Next Game: FAU

10. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Season Stats:
48 att., 235 yards, 4 TD, 6 rec., 33 yards
The most talented runner in the nation hasn't been needed the last two weeks in easy wins for the Gamecocks. That will all change this weekend. Lattimore carried 23 times in a key SEC road win in Week 1 and has totaled 25 carries in two games since. Steve Spurrier is saving him, rightly so, for games like this weekend. Next game: Missouri

11. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Season Stats: 81 att., 357 yards, 4 TD, 11 rec., 75 yards

12. Kolton Browning, UL Monroe
Season Stats: 70-113, 649 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT, 30 att., 127 yards, 2 TD

13. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
Season Stats (Alabama offense): 42.7 ppg, 399.0 total ypg, 186.7 rush ypg

14. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Season Stats:
63-86, 747 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT, 27 att., 75 yards

15. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Season Stats:
51-80, 842 yards, 8 TD, 2 INT, 15 att., minus-4 yards, 2 TD

by Braden Gall


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<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Voting: Post-Week 3</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL
Path: /nfl/giants-tom-coughlin-bucs-greg-schiano-who-was-right

The NFL isn't college football, or baseball for that matter. It's grown men playing a physical game for millions of dollars. There was a dust-up at the end of the Giants-Bucs game in Week 2 that made some national news. Greg Schiano asked his team to go after the football on an Eli Manning kneel down to end the game. And Tom Coughlin didn't like it all that much. So we put it to the Athlon editors and Ralph Vacchiano, who covers the New York Giants for the NY Daily News,: Who was right in Kneel Down-gate?

Debate: Should you adhere to the unwritten rules of the victory formation or is it okay for your team to play hard until the game is over?

Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN)
If you’re not going to play by the unwritten rules that everyone plays by, then you better let someone know you’ve changed them. The Giants had every right to expect that the Bucs would honor that. As a result, they were essentially in a defenseless position and their linemen or quarterback could’ve gotten seriously injured. What they did simply doesn’t happen in the NFL. Schiano’s actions reeked of a punk kid who shows up in a new class and thinks he knows better than everybody else and wants to teach them how they did things in his neighborhood. What he did was throw a sucker punch thrown just after the bell.


Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This might be a strange answer, and it’s not a cop-out, but neither coach is right and neither is wrong. Well, sort of. I don’t think Schiano should have his players diving at the knees of the opponent’s offensive line and quarterback, while Coughlin has to understand the Buccaneers have to do everything they can to win the game. There’s a middle ground here to find, as Schiano’s teams need to compete to the final snap but not to the extent where a serious injury could occur. I can’t fault Coughlin for being ticked, but I also have a hard time complaining at Schiano for making sure his team gives a full 60-minute effort every week.


Nathan Rush
Just because Greg Schiano was coaching in New Jersey against the Giants doesn't mean he should be excused for behaving as if he were still at Rutgers. Knocking down Eli Manning in the Victory Formation was a Little League move. It wasn't a "never say die" strategic play, it was an act of frustrated desperation by a sore loser -- who also happens to be a rookie squaring off against the defending champions. After taking a 27-13 lead in the third quarter, the young Bucs were outscored 28-7 by the G-Men down the stretch, before suffering an embarrassing 41-34 loss. Put the petty in perspective: Schiano has as many NFL games coached as Tom Coughlin has Super Bowl rings. It showed on Sunday.


Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I have no issue whatsoever with what Greg Schiano did and here is why. First, it was a one-score game and if there is a 1000th percent of a chance you can get the ball back, you do what it takes to win the game. If the lead had been two or three scores, I would be against it. Second, I also have an issue with Tom Coughlin, in particular, bitching about a little extra shoving. This isn't baseball, it's a big boy sport and the Giants coach is an abrasive, harsh, disciplinarian who grinds out wins and apologizes for nothing. He isn't going to hold hands and sing kumbaya with his wife and kids much less another head coach. The complaints ring hollow from a coach like him. I was taught to play the game until the final whistle and if the Giants weren't prepared for that, shame on them. "Hey man, you knocked Eli Manning over!" Come on, Tom. That said, if this is the strategy Schiano is going to employ, he better prepare his team to experience the same type of action in return.


Mark Ross
Let's see, a rookie coaching just his second career NFL game or a 17-year veteran with more than 140 wins and two Super Bowl rings on his resume. Which one are you going to side with in a battle of he said/he said? In the end, it doesn't really matter if Schiano was right or not in instructing his team to fight until the game is over, there's no way he's winning the battle of public opinion in this one. He can talk about that's the way he coached his players to play while he's at Rutgers, but that's the Big East and this is the NFL. It's football, sure, but you are kidding yourself if you don't think the rules are different when it comes to college and pro. It doesn't help Schano's case to say that "I don't know if that's not something that's not done in the National Football League," even if he is just two games into his professional coaching tenure. For now, I'm willing to chalk this up as a rookie mistake, especially considering Schiano could do little but watch as his team gave up a 14-point third quarter lead prior to the game-ending incident. The key will be how he handles losing, and how he instructs his team to do the same, moving forward.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I side with Tom Coughlin on the debate of rushing hard and/or low into a victory formation, although it hardly seems like a controversy. Greg Schiano and his Buccaneers were simply frustrated from blowing a big lead and giving up 25 fourth-quarter points, so they lost composure and were too aggressive on the last play. Schiano came up with some juvenile “play the full 60 minutes” reasoning right after the game, but that will change after cooling off. You can keep fouling while down 15 points in the last minute of a basketball game, but that doesn’t equal playing hard or a no-quit attitude. It just means you’re stubborn or stupid. This is the NFL, so accept your loss like a man when the other team is in victory formation.


Rob Doster (@AthlonDoster)
The neutering of the NFL continues unabated, as supposed tough guy Tom Coughlin called out Greg Schiano and the Bucs for playing contact football. That’s right — the Giants had their delicate feelings bruised because the Bucs hoped to force a turnover down by one score, and poor Eli Manning ended up on his backside. These objections, by the way, come from the franchise that gave us Joe Pisarcik and the Miracle in the Meadowlands, Exhibit A for the fact that a game isn’t over until it’s over. I have an idea: Let’s take all the NFL’s unwritten rules and either write them down or throw them out, starting with the notion that a tackle football game is somehow less than 60 minutes long. 

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<p> Who was right: The Bucs' Greg Schiano or Giants' Tom Coughlin?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-19-notre-dame-preview
Visit the online store for Notre Dame and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

The first practices of college basketball season begin in mid-October, and Athlon Sports 2012-13 preview annuals are starting to arrive on newsstands all over the country.

To prepare for the start of college basketball season, we will preview one team each weekday, counting down to the first official day of basketball practice on Oct. 15, or for some teams on Oct. 12.

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 19 Notre Dame.

The more pressure on the 2012-13 Notre Dame team the better as far as coach Mike Brey is concerned.

“I like that expectations are high now,” says Brey after signing a 10-year extension upon the completion of his 12th year with the Irish. “We’re coming from different territory. It’s good for the whole program to have that heat on us to deliver.”

Winners of 49 games the last two seasons (including 27–9 in the Big East) with second- and third-place finishes in the conference, the Irish return nearly every significant contributor from the 2011-12 season. Notre Dame is a legitimate contender for the Big East regular-season and tournament titles.

“When I first got here, we hadn’t been in the (NCAA) Tournament in 10 years,” Brey says. “We’ve gone from trying to survive to thriving.”

Notre Dame’s two top big men — 6-9, 244-pound senior Jack Cooley and 6-8, 219-pound sixth-year senior Scott Martin — return, and 6-10, 240-pound Michigan State transfer Garrick Sherman is eligible for the 2012-13 season.

After averaging just 10.3 minutes, 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore, Cooley became one of the most effective big men in the Big East as a junior. He nearly tripled his playing time while averaging 12.5 points and 8.9 rebounds to win the conference’s Most Improved award.

“I thought he was ready to deliver for us, that he was going to be a starter,” says Brey. “But he exceeded where I thought he would go. Once he started to have some success, it just fed on itself.”

After scoring just 39 points in the first eight games of the 2011-12 season, Cooley averaged 15.6 per game over the final 24 with 12 double-doubles.

Martin’s contributions are more subtle. He struggled throughout much of the first half of the season while adjusting to playing without frontcourt partner Tim Abromaitis, who went down with a season-ending knee injury in late November. Martin would go on to average a modest 9.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. But his leadership and defense helped spark a nine-game winning streak during Big East play.

“The back end of our defense was great last year, and it started with Scott Martin,” Brey says.

Sherman gives the Irish even more length as well as a mid-range jump shot. “I look at Garrick Sherman as a sixth (returning) starter,” Brey says.

Zach Auguste, a talented 6-10, 220-pound freshman, will be needed for heavy minutes in 2013-14, so Brey wants to get him acclimated this season.

When Pat Connaughton entered the starting lineup last year at small forward, Notre Dame began to thrive. He averaged 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He’ll share the position with Martin when Brey wants to go bigger up front, and also help out in the backcourt occasionally. Another option is senior Tom Knight, who played some big minutes down the stretch.

Related: Assessing Notre Dame's upcoming move to the ACC

Brey believes Notre Dame has never had a starting backcourt as athletically gifted as juniors Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant.

“I feel great about them, and they’re only going to get better,” says Brey of his starting backcourt, which averaged a combined 24.4 points and 9.1 assists per game. “We have one of the best backcourts not only in the Big East, but in the country.”

If Brey wants a little more size, he can shift the 6-5 Connaughton to the backcourt. He also has athleticism to add to the mix in 6-7 freshman Cameron Biedscheid, a combination shooting guard/point forward with penetration skills and the ability to score in bunches.

“The guy that will rotate through there the most is Biedscheid,” Brey says. “We’ve got to get him on the court. He’s a really talented kid.”

Most teams will have difficulty matching up against Notre Dame’s size and depth in the frontcourt. Few will find relief against the backcourt. Brey sees a great opportunity in 2012-13.

“We know we can be a player for the Big East championship this year,” Brey says.

He has plenty of options at his disposal, including on the defensive end.

“With as much length as we have this year, our team defense can still be good,” Brey says. “We have big bodies that can rotate over, take charges and be position defenders.”

Add it all up and Brey can’t help but talk about the possibilities in 2012-13. “We’re talking about a Big East championship and getting back to the Final Four,” Brey says. “Those are really things this program can legitimately talk about.”


Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 19 Notre Dame preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 05:59
Path: /college-football/college-football-bcs-crasher-stock-report-post-week-3

Fans who squirm at the long wait from Saturday college football to the Thursday night game will get a brief reprieve.

The traditional midweek MAC game will make its first appearance of the season with Kent State at Buffalo on Wednesday night. Midweek football will be short-lived, though. The next Tuesday/Wednesday game isn’t until Oct. 16.

That doesn’t mean there’s a lack of action outside of the six major conferences. This week will be full of key games for independents Notre Dame and BYU, plus Boise State, Louisiana Tech and again, Louisiana-Monroe.

Here’s our Post-Week 3 look at all the movement outside of the six major conferences in the BCS Crasher Stock Report.

Notre Dame
Last week:
Defeated Michigan State 20-3.
The Irish picked up perhaps the biggest win of Brian Kelly’s tenure in South Bend with a win at Michigan State. Defense has been one of the keys so far as Notre Dame held its fourth opponent in the last six games to fewer than 100 rushing yards. The Irish held a team to without a touchdown for the first time since 2010 and held a major-conference team to without a touchdown for the first time since 2007. Up next: Defending Michigan’s Denard Robinson. Shoelace has amassed 958 yards of total offense (582 passing, 366 rushing) and eight total touchdowns in the last two wins over Notre Dame.
This week: Michigan.

Fresno State
Last week:
Defeated Colorado 69-14.
Yes, Colorado is dreadful, but let’s give credit to Fresno State’s dominance. Robbie Rouse rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and added two touchdown catches. The workhorse running back has topped 100 yards in 11 of his last 15 games going back to the start of last season. After facing the elite (Oregon) and the bad (Colorado, Weber State), Fresno State may show a glimpse of its potential in the new-look Mountain West when it faces Tulsa on the road Saturday.
This week: at Tulsa.

Western Kentucky
Last week:
Defeated Kentucky 32-31 (OT)
Somehow, the improvement at Western Kentucky has been overlooked. An FCS power until it moved up to FBS in 2009, Western Kentucky went 0-12 in its first season in major college football. Two seasons later, the Hilltoppers were a bowl snub despite finishing 7-1 in the Sun Belt. Coach Willie Taggart, a former Western Kentucky player and Jim Harbaugh assistant, showed gumption by going for the win in overtime on a risky throwback on a two-point play. After going 0-4 in the non-conference schedule last season, Western Kentucky could go 3-1 in the non-conference if the Toppers defeat Southern Miss (0-2).
This week: Southern Miss.

Last week:
Defeated Marshall 27-24.
The Bobcats survived a scare Saturday, falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter and the 24-17 early in the fourth quarter against Marshall. Ohio capitalized on three Marshall turnovers to win 27-24. Riding quarterback Rakeem Cato’s arm, Marshall passed for 432 yards and outgained Ohio 491-399. Was this an off day for Ohio or a troubling sign for the Bobcats in the pass-happy MAC?
This week: Norfolk State.

Utah State
Last week:
Lost to Wisconsin 16-14.
A 37-yard missed field goal separated the Aggies from an undefeated start to the season, but it shouldn’t cut into what Utah State has accomplished. A week after defeating Utah, the Aggies put a scare into Wisconsin in Madison, where Utah State led 14-3 at halftime. Chuckie Keeton and Kerwynn Williams have been a dynamic backfield, but Utah State is one of 12 teams holding opponents to fewer than four yards per play this season.
This week: at Colorado State.

Boise State
Last week:
Defeated Miami (Ohio) 39-12.
After an off week, Boise State looked like the Broncos of old, albeit against Miami (Ohio). The Broncos didn’t score an offensive touchdown against Michigan State, but running back D.J. Harper accounted for four total touchdowns and 162 yards alone against Miami. Meanwhile, Joe Southwick was 24-of-31 for 309 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Altogether, Boise Stated a 423-yard swing in yard differential from Game 1 to Game 2, a notable feat even against an overmatched MAC team.
This week: BYU (Thursday).

Last week:
Lost to Utah 24-21.
Like Utah State, BYU lost thanks to a failed field goal attempt -- or rather two failed field goals. BYU had a 51-yard field goal blocked, and then missed a second one after rival Utah was assessed a 15-yard penalty when fans prematurely rushed field. Most troubling: BYU lost a game in which it outgained Utah 312-245. The Utes also were without running back John White and started quarterback Jon Hays for the first time this season.
This week: at Boise State (Thursday)


BYU at Boise State (Thu.)
Michigan at Notre Dame
Louisiana Tech at Illinois
Baylor at Louisiana-Monroe

Southern Miss
Last week:
Lost to East Carolina 24-14.
The Golden Eagles weren’t a popular pick to defend their Conference USA title with a new coach, new quarterback and new faces all of the field. After a 24-14 loss at home to East Carolina, Southern Miss looks like a team that may have to fight to reach a bowl game. If Southern Miss loses to Western Kentucky on the road an 0-6 start is possible with Louisville, Boise State and UCF on the horizon.
This week: at Western Kentucky.

Last week:
Lost to UCLA 36-6.
That undefeated regular season from a year ago is a distant memory. A week after putting up 693 yards 49 points on Louisiana Tech (right after Tony Levine forced his offensive coordinator to resign), Houston managed only a fourth-quarter touchdown against UCLA. David Piland nearly matched the Cougars’ points scored (six) with interceptions (five).
This week: Off.

Kolton Browning,
Louisiana-Monroe. ULM faces its third major-conference team of the season in Baylor. Browning passed for 649 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns against the SEC West. Now he’ll try his hand against the Big 12. ULM is converting an astounding 9 of 11 attempts on fourth down. Only USC has attempted more fourth-down plays, going 8 of 14.

By David Fox


(published Sept. 19, 2012)

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Pac-12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
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College Football Week 3 Recap

<p> College Football: BCS Crasher Stock Report Post-Week 3</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 05:58
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-4-plays

In the world of fantasy football, some team owners are relentless in their search for information that will give them a competitive edge over their competition.  Others just simply rely on projections from so-called experts, who try to convince everyone they have devised a computer program that accurately projects player stats by using a scientific formula so complicated that it makes the Drake equation seem elementary.  Eventually, those computer-driven computations prove no more accurate than an old-fashioned gut feeling.  However, in a quest to find a formula for fantasy success, one should just ask the question, “What are the odds?”

Quite simply, Vegas odds could give you all of the necessary insight to make smart roster decisions on a week-to-week basis.  In this weekly article, theCFFsite considers the point spreads and totals(over/under) in order to give our readers a unique perspective into some of the week’s most interesting fantasy matchups.

Week 4

Best Fantasy Matchups (Games with the most fantasy potential)

Baylor at UL-Monroe

Line:  Baylor -7.5(O/U-68.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Baylor 38-31

Best plays:

Baylor (QB-Nick Florence, RB-Jared Salubi, WR-Terrence Williams, Tevin Reese, K-Aaron Jones)

LA-Monroe (QB-Kolton Browning, WR-Brent Leonard)

Also consider:

Baylor (WR-Lanear Sampson)

LA-Monroe (RB-Jyruss Edwards)

theCFFsite projects:  UL-Monroe 38-34


Marshall at Rice

Line:  Marshall -2.5(O/U-70)

Projected score based on point spread:  Marshall 37-34

Best plays:

Marshall (QB-Rakeem Cato, WRs-Aaron Dobson, Tommy Shuler)

Rice (QB-Taylor McHargue, K-Chris Boswell)

Also consider:

Marshall (TE-Eric Frohnapfel)

Rice (RB-Charles Ross, WR-Jordan Taylor)

theCFFsite projects:  Marshall 41-34


Fresno St at Tulsa

Line:  Tulsa -5.5(O/U-69.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Tulsa 38-32

Best plays:

Fresno St (QB-Derek Carr, RB-Robbie Rouse, WRs-Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse)

Tulsa (QB-Cody Green, WR-Keyarris Garrett)

Also consider:

Fresno St (K-Quentin Breshears)

Tulsa (RBs-Trey Watts, JaTerian Douglas)

theCFFsite projects:  Fresno St 35-34


Arizona at Oregon

Line:  Oregon -24(O/U-76.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oregon 50-26

Best plays:

Arizona (QB-Matt Scott, RB-KaDeem Carey, WRs-Dan Buckner, Austin Hill)

Oregon (QB-Marcus Mariota, RBs-Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas)

Also consider:

Arizona (WR-Richard Morrison, K-John Bonano)

Oregon (TE-Colt Lyerla)

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon 59-31


Troy at North Texas

Line:  PICK(O/U-61)

Projected score based on point spread:  30-30 TIE

Best plays:

Troy (RB-Shawn Southward, WR-Chip Reeves)

North Texas (RB-Brandin Byrd)

Also consider:

Troy (QB-Corey Robinson, WR-Eric Thomas)

North Texas (RB-Antoinne Jimmerson, WR-Brelan Chancellor)

theCFFsite projects:  Troy 35-28


One-Sided Matchups(Using the odds to find a dominating ‘D’)

Florida Atlantic at Alabama

Line:  Alabama -50(O/U-57)

Projected score based on point spread:  Alabama 54-3

Stay away from:

FAU (All players)

theCFFsite projects:  Alabama 52-6


Eastern Michigan at Michigan St

Line:  Michigan St -33(O/U-46.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Michigan St 40-7

Stay away from:

Eastern Michigan (QB-Alex Gillett)

theCFFsite projects:  Michigan St 31-10


South Alabama at Mississippi St

Line:  Mississippi St -34.5(O/U-48)

Projected score based on point spread:  Mississippi St 42-7

Stay away from:

South Alabama (RB-Demetre Baker)

theCFFsite projects:  Mississippi St 49-14


UAB at Ohio St

Line:  Ohio St -37.5(O/U-57.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Ohio St 48-10

Stay away from:

UAB (QB-Jonathan Perry)

theCFFsite projects:  Ohio St 52-14


UMass at Miami (OH)

Line:  Miami (OH) -26.5(O/U-51)

Projected score based on point spread:  Miami (OH) 39-12

Stay away from:

UMass (RB-Michael Cox)

theCFFsite projects:  Miami (OH) 35-13


Must Watch Games (The games with the biggest headlines)

Clemson at Florida St

Line:  Florida St -14.4(O/U-58)

Projected score based on point spread:  Florida St 36-22

Outlook:  Are the Seminoles as good on the defensive side of the ball as many believe?  They may not play another opponent this season with the offensive skill talent as the Tigers.  Home field will prove valuable in a game that should go down to the wire.

theCFFsite projects:  Florida St 30-24


Michigan at Notre Dame

Line:  Notre Dame -6 (O/U-51.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Notre Dame 29-23

Outlook:  The Wolverines will look to atone for the Big Ten’s early-season struggles, but the Irish are trying to prove that they’re relevant again.

theCFFsite projects:  Notre Dame 31-21


Kansas St at Oklahoma

Line:  Oklahoma -14(O/U-58.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oklahoma 46-32

Outlook:  We won’t be shocked if the Wildcats leave Norman with a victory, but the Sooners have had an extra week to prepare for this matchup and should escape 3-0.

theCFFsite projects:  Oklahoma 34-28


theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (5-3)  ATS: (3-5)

2011 Season:  Straight Up (40-9) ATS: (35-14)


by Joe DiSalvo,

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 4 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 04:20
All taxonomy terms: NHL, News
Path: /news/ask-athlon-nhl

Q: What is the intent of the trapezoid area behind the goal of an NHL hockey rink? If I am interpreting the rules of hockey correctly, this is the only area that the goalie is allowed to play the puck outside of his goal crease without drawing a delay of game penalty.

— Ted Bauer, North Canton, Ohio

A: Ted, you’re close, but with one important clarification: It’s the only place behind the goal line that the goaltender can handle the puck. The trapezoid — or, more precisely, the goaltender trap zone — dates back to the 2004-05 American Hockey League season, when it was tested with the intent of improving the flow of the game by making it more difficult for the goaltender to control and clear the puck. The development worked so well that the NHL adopted it the following season. Nevertheless, there has been sentiment since the rule was implemented to do away with the trapezoid, since it leads to more hits on defensemen, who can’t rely on goaltender help behind the goal.

Rob Doster, Senior Editor

Have a question? Email us with any sports-related questions at
Please include first and last name, plus hometown.

<p> NHL rink</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 19:16
Path: /nba/ask-athlon-los-angeles-lakers

Q: I’d like to see some perspective on the first great L.A. Laker, Elgin Baylor.  Jerry West, his great teammate, suggested that a statue of Elgin should be in prominence there at Staples Center.  I agree.  What do you think?

— William H. Johnson, Los Angeles, Calif.

A: I agree — Baylor is probably underappreciated for his greatness. He predated Michael Jordan and Dr. J but was very nearly their equal in high-flying, attack-the-rim basketball. Baylor helped his team into the finals eight times, and he was first-team All-NBA 10 times. In 1961-62 he averaged 38.3 points a game. In the 1962 NBA Finals against the Celtics, Baylor dominated Game 5 with 61 points. The next year he finished second in scoring (34.0), fifth in rebounding (14.3), sixth in assists (4.8) and third in free throw percentage (.837). No championship, though (he retired a few games into the Lakers’ championship 1971-72 season), and that’s the only deficiency that harms his legacy and has probably prevented a statue in his honor in title-mad Los Angeles. (His weak performance as General Manager of the sad-sack Clippers didn’t exactly enhance his legacy either.)

Charlie Miller, Editorial Director

Have a question? Email us with any sports-related questions at
Please include first and last name, plus hometown.

<p> Los Angeles Lakers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 19:13
All taxonomy terms: NHL, Monthly
Path: /monthly/nhl-questions-2012-season

While the NHL and the NHLPA battle to create a new collective bargaining agreement (and they will get it done without having to sacrifice another season), the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings are primed to be the league’s first back-to-back title-winners since the Detroit Red Wings turned the trick in 1997 and ’98. We say they beat Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins in a fun final. For now, here are three key questions we’re pondering as we wait for the puck to drop.

If you have any doubt about Crosby’s ability to move right back to the head of his class, consider this number: 1.403. That’s Crosby’s career points per game average (609 points in 434 regular-season games). He ranks fourth on the all-time list behind legends Wayne Gretzky (1.921), Mario Lemieux (1.883) and Mike Bossy (1.497) and just ahead of Bruins icon Bobby Orr (1.393).

Despite being sidelined for long stretches during each of the past two seasons due to concussion problems, Crosby still managed to put up 40 goals and 103 points in his last 63 games. If he can stay healthy, there’s little doubt he’ll reclaim super-elite status. If he’s pushed by anyone, it’ll likely be by teammate Evgeni Malkin, the reigning MVP and scoring champ.

Crosby won’t be the only high-end star under the microscope. After signing matching 13-year, $98M free agent contracts in Minnesota, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will be expected to lift the woeful Wild into the playoff race. In New York, Rangers fans are banking that newly acquired Rick Nash is the missing piece to a Cup puzzle. That’s a lot to ask of a guy who’s never won a Stanley Cup playoff game.
In 2005, the NHL cracked down on obstruction and interference in an effort to speed up the game. Mission accomplished. The game is faster (and more exciting) than ever. There has been, however, an unintended consequence: concussions.

During the 2011-12 regular season, according to a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, more than 80 players missed playing time due to head injuries or concussion-related symptoms. Among those on that star-studded injury list were league icon Sidney Crosby, 2011 Rookie of the Year Jeff Skinner and 2010 U.S. Olympic goaltending hero Ryan Miller.
While concussions are nothing new in hockey (the NHL has been proactive on the issue going back to 1997, and it was the first league to introduce baseline testing and return-to-play protocol), the increased speed results in more violent collisions and less time to react to an errant stick or puck. Late last season, players and coaches grumbled that more hooking and holding were creeping back into the game, perhaps in an effort to slow things down. One top exec admitted, “We’re always looking at that; when is it too fast?” The league will continue to be challenged by that question.
The short answer: absolutely! GM Dean Lombardi has constructed a young team that’s strong in all the right areas.

Up the middle, LA’s trio of top center Anze Kopitar (just 25), No. 2 man Mike Richards (27) and checking specialist Jarret Stoll (30) are perfectly slotted and difficult to match up against. The defense is led by mega-talented 22-year-old Drew Doughty, who already has a Cup and an Olympic gold medal on his résumé. In goal, they have 26-year-old Jonathan Quick. The athletic stopper earned playoff MVP honors with a silly-good .946 save percentage.

Conversely, the Red Wings’ run of dominance might be winding down. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, the one on-ice constant in that time, hung up the skates, and the club couldn’t attract any elite free agents to replace him in Hockeytown.

If you’re looking for a long shot, keep an eye on Minnesota and Montreal. The Wild figure to be better with free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, while the Habs will rebound from a last-place finish under new coach Michel Therrien.

<p> NHL questions for the 2012 season</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 19:06
Path: /nascar/nascar-horsepower-rankings-14

1. Brad Keselowski   What has kept Keselowski and his team near the top of the Horsepower Rankings all season is the ability to win on most any style of track. To come out connecting in the Chase is big.

2. Jimmie Johnson   Certainly, an argument could be made for Johnson to be No. 1. However, he got beat in a race he seemed to have in hand. Don’t worry about this bunch, though — they’ll get theirs in the coming weeks.

3. Denny Hamlin   Mistakes like Hamlin’s team made (not getting the car full of fuel) are what turn top-5 runs into 16th-place finishes. It also costs teams championships.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.   After a month of pre-Chase, live-fire testing, Earnhardt’s No. 88 team appears back to its fourth- to 10th-place ways. Is that good enough to win a title?

5. Clint Bowyer   Follows up Richmond win with a 10th-place showing somewhere relatively near Chicago. Considering the last two months’ worth of performances, Bowyer and the boys may be getting overlooked.

6. Kasey Kahne   Loudon’s July winner returns with the Chase lead in his sights. Like Bowyer, he may not be getting the credit he deserves for his pre-Chase surge.

7. Tony Stewart   Look who appears to be rounding into form at just the right time. After a miserable month, Stewart clicks off a fourth at Richmond and a sixth to begin the Chase. Shouldn’t we all see this coming?

<p> Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson slug it at the top of Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 18:44
Path: /nascar/nascar-news-notes-week-5

Days after Brad Keselowski employed some gamesmanship — and subsequent mind games — at Chicagoland Speedway, Tony Stewart detailed his use of mental deviousness, claiming that he knew even before last year’s NASCAR season finale at Homestead ended that he would beat Carl Edwards for the Sprint Cup championship.

He could see it in Edwards’ reaction that weekend.

Stewart recounted that story in a fan forum Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame when asked about his come-from-behind charge to win the championship.

Stewart had won four races to put himself within three points of Edwards heading into the Homestead race. Three days before the event, Stewart and Edwards met with the media to discuss their championship battle and Stewart unleashed his boxer’s bravado.

Asked how far they would go to win the title, Stewart started the following exchange that day:

“I’d wreck my mom to win a championship,” Stewart said. “I respect him as a driver, but this isn't about friendships this weekend. This is a war. This is a battle. This is for a national championship. It’s no-holds barred this weekend. I didn’t come this far to be one step away from it and let it slip away, so we're going to go for it.”

“Did you say something?” Edwards asked.

“Yeah, you can come visit my trophy in the room at (Las) Vegas when you come there,” Stewart responded, referring to the site of the season-ending banquet.

“He’s got the talking part figured out,” Edwards replied.

“They say there’s talkers and doers. I’ve done this twice,” Stewart said.

Tuesday, Stewart talked about that media session and what followed:

“The trash-talking started on Thursday at the media event, which wasn’t really necessarily my plan until I got there. When we got there, I saw that Carl was nervous and it was like a drop of blood for a shark. As soon as I saw that it was like instincts kicked in for me. I’ve been in championship battles before with guys that had that look. You just know that you can kind of take advantage of that situation a little bit.

“So we wore him out at media day, but then he came back and won the pole and pretty much made a statement that it didn’t look like it really phased him too much.”

While Edwards led much of that race, Stewart battled various issues, including running over debris that forced him at the back of the pack. Yet, Stewart continually moved toward the front.

During a red flag for rain about 150 laps from the end, NASCAR parked the cars on pit road. It was then that Stewart knew he would win the title even though Edwards led and Stewart was only a few positions behind.

“I saw what to me was the final blow to him,” Stewart said. “He got out of the car ... looks back and we’re four cars behind him. The look on his face was, ‘How did he get up there already?’ He sat there for ... that rain delay, he was with his crew chief and Jack Roush at the pit box and I was just sitting on the wall talking to crew guys, laughing and carrying on. I knew we had it won. I hadn’t raced him all day but I just knew mentally we had the advantage.”

Stewart also later said that his car’s handling was as good as it had been, allowing him to make various moves. He called the race “the most fun I’ve had on pavement, for sure.

“That’s by far the best pavement race I’ve ever had,” Stewart said. “Everybody goes, ‘Oh, he did something different, he rose above everything.’ My car was really good. That’s the moral of the story. My car was good and balanced all day. When you get it driving that nice, you can do things like we were doing. I put myself in spots that I wouldn’t normally do because it drove so well and it felt so good that I felt more comfortable getting myself in those positions.”

<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit with AJ Allmendinger's reinstatement, Tony Stewart's mind games, Sam Hornish Jr.'s improved results and Ryan Blaney's record-setting win.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 18:06
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-power-rankings-going-week-3

Each week during the season Athlon Sports looks at the best and worst football teams in the NFL. Here's our NFL Power Rankings following Week 2 of the season.

  1. 49ers (2-0) Jim Harbaugh improving his postgame handshake.

 2. Texans (2-0) Two-headed rushing attack too tough for Jaguars.

 3. Falcons (2-0) Matt Ryan now has 27–4 record at Georgia Dome.

 4. Packers (1-1) “Jay (Cutler) will throw us the ball,” says Woodson.

 5. Steelers (1-1) Bounce back in style with blowout victory over Jets.

 6. Eagles (2-0) Have two wins despite nine turnovers this season.

 7. Ravens (1-1) Rookie Justin Tucker hits FGs of 56, 51 and 48 yards.

 8. Broncos (1-1) Peyton Manning throws three INTs in first quarter.

9. Chargers (2-0) Retire Junior Seau’s No. 55 prior to shocking Titans.

10. Cardinals (2-0) Pull off upset of the week over heavily favored Pats.

11. Patriots (1-1) Aaron Hernandez injured; Kellen Winslow II signed.

12. Seahawks (1-1) Golden Tate block symbolic of Hawks win vs. Boys.

13. Cowboys (1-1) Felix Jones’ fumble may be his last as kick returner.

14. Giants (1-1) Tom Coughlin confronts Greg Schiano over last play.

15. Buccaneers (1-1) Knock down Giants’ Eli Manning in victory formation.

16. Lions (1-1) Megatron transformed into possession WR by 49ers.

17. Bears (1-1) Jay Cutler snaps on J’Marcus Webb in ugly defeat.

18. Panthers (1-1) Earn first win over NFC South rival Saints since 2009.

19. Jets (1-1) Pass defense struggles without All-Pro Darrelle Revis.

20. Rams (1-1) Cortland Finnegan baits Josh Morgan to draw flag.

21. Redskins (1-1) Josh Morgan loses cool, throws ball, costs Skins.

22. Bengals (1-1) Pacman Jones munches his way for 81-yard TD.

23. Bills (1-1) C.J. Spiller leads the NFL in rushing yards (292).

24. Colts (1-1) Andrew Luck, Chuck Pagano win Indy home debut.

25. Vikings (1-1) Defense can’t hold on in last-second loss to Colts.

26. Dolphins (1-1) Reggie Bush carries Ryan Tannehill to first career W.

27. Saints (0-2) Gregg Williams testimony not good for Vilma, Smith.

28. Titans (0-2) Lose ninth straight to Chargers, dating back to 1993.

29. Raiders (0-2) Silver-and-Bleak convert just 1-of-12 on third down.

30. Chiefs (0-2) Big day by Dwayne Bowe not enough to beat Bills.

31. Browns (0-2) Have lost 13 of last 16 against in-state rival Cincy.

32. Jaguars (0-2) Offense humiliated, gains franchise-low 117 yards.

<p> A look at the best and worst pro football teams each week.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 15:26
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/dick-vitales-weirdest-summer-tweets-2012

Dick Vitale is one weird dude. He tweets about 1,000 times per day and has lots to say. He has done loads of great work in support of the fight against cancer, loves his Tampa Bay Rays, Notre Dame football and, obviously, college hoops. 

But occasionally, the crazy train goes off the tracks, culminating in some very weird (and sometimes awesome) tweets. In fact, today he tweeted this random rant against one misunderstood Hollywood youth:

Sept. 18: The strangest Dickie-V tweet I've seen in months was today's random obsession with protecting the people of Southern Cal from the tortures of a Hollywood actress by the name of Amanda Bynes, who is a stunning 26-year-old beauty who has (apparently) acted a little weird of late. But isn't that part of living in Los Angeles?


Sept. 16: We know Mike Greenberg is a Jets fan, but NFL analysis packaged with celebrity dating insight combined with smack talk is priceless:



Aug: 24: The hoops legend is apparently starting his own dating service. And equally concerning, he is hanging out at Chili's:


Aug 23: I think many of us were sick to our stomachs when we read about this horrific story. Yet, sending your heart out to someone who is already passed on seems a bit odd. Am I wrong?


Sept. 16: Vitale is a man who likes a woman with a great...personality:



Aug 29: The old coach longing for swim trunks and acting like a pre-teen:



Sept. 11: Tweeting about the Rays is nothing special, but this is the only one that talked about a spoiled Italian dish: 


Sept. 6: This is our first known documentation of Dick Vitale's apparent obsession with Amanda Bynes — and the people of Southern California:


Aug 31: Dick Vitale complaing about money is like Jennifer Anniston complaing about aging well. It just doesn't work in my book: 


Aug 31: So glad he cleared this up for me, cause I thought for sure he was talking about What I Did Last Summer. Wait, am I thinking about Scream 1, 2, 3 or 4? Also, Wazzu should be 3-1 after this weekend. 


Aug 29: There is no chance THIS guy has ever been THIS club while there were other living beings inside. Just imagine DV at Aria in Vegas? Yup, made me laugh too:


Aug. 16: Dickie-V is jaded just like the rest of us with politics. However, nominating himself for President is a bit much for this American voter to take:


Aug 15: His take on domestic abuse is spot on. But as a man who has never resorted to physical violence towards women, I am not sure what "system" he is talking about. Unless, of course, he is talking about spending lots of time and money to impress women with nothing expected in return:


Aug 3: Uh, I have no idea what to tell you here:


June 8: From my count, Dickie V wished Magic Johnson and maybe one or two other people happy birthday this summer. Also on that list? The oft-troubled rapper/producer Kanye West — who has a long list of legal trouble:

Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/steve-sabol-co-founder-nfl-films-dies
Few people have done more to popularize the NFL than Steve Sabol, the president and co-founder of NFL Films, who died today a couple weeks short of his 70th birthday from complications of brain cancer. If you're anything like me, Sabol's life work was instrumental in fostering your love affair with pro football. 
Born Oct. 2, 1942, in Moorestown N.J., Sabol played college football at Colorado College, but the family business had its origins during his high school career. Sabol's father, Ed, used a motion picture camera that he received as a wedding gift to film Steve's high school football games, giving rise to the family passion for capturing football on film. Soon thereafter, the Sabols founded a small film company called Blair Motion Pictures — Steve originally worked for Ed as a cameraman — and won the rights to film the 1962 NFL Championship game, impressing NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle with their work.
In 1965, the Sabols agreed to Rozelle's proposal to buy out their company, renaming it NFL Films — a name that became synonymous with expertly filmed and packaged highlights, with the booming voice of John Facenda and stirring marching band music serving as the soundtrack. 
NFL Films' priceless archives provide the only filmed record from many 1960s-era games, including some of the early Super Bowls. With such series as Greatest Moments and Lost Treasures and Football Follies, NFL Films has captured the drama, tradition and even the humor of the National Football League.
Upon ESPN's founding, the network signed NFL Films as a production company, and Steve became an on-air personality, showing as much talent in front of the camera as behind it. Eventually, NFL Films amassed more than 100 Sports Emmys, with Sabol earning more than 40 personal Emmy Awards.
—Rob Doster, Athlon Sports
Of his work with NFL Films, Sabol once said: "The only other human endeavor more thoroughly captured on 16-mm film than the National Football League is World War II." For that, we can all be grateful. Rest in peace. 
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 13:18
Path: /news/peyton-manning-denver-broncos-picked-falcons

Interception. Interception. Interception. Three-and-out. Fumble. Three-and-out. Touchdown.

If you feel manic reading it, try watching it.

Those were the first six drives for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos Monday night in Atlanta. It was a dysfunctional night for Manning in his first road start as a Bronco, which resulted in a 27-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons

The dysfunction came from how the Denver offense played for a majority of the game, how the Atlanta defense lined up a majority of the game and how the replacement officials administered a majority of the game. 

Frankly, the arm strength did not look like it was there early in the contest. 

The first interception Manning threw was tipped 26 yards down field but looked like it was dying on the way to the receiver. 

The second interception was a 21-yard pass that would’ve short-hopped to tight end Jacob Tamme had Thomas DeCoud not stepped in front of it and picked it off. 

The third interception Manning threw was a 25-yard pass intended for receiver Brandon Stokley that the Falcons’ fifth cornerback, Robert McClain, made a good play on, but a pass that also did not appear to have much zip on it.

Through three series, Manning was 4-of-8 for 34 yards with three picks. He followed with 3-for-3 for 15 yards over the next three drives before finally putting a scoring drive together with 4:39 remaining in the opening half. 

It was the Eric Decker Show — the only time in this game Decker produced — as he caught three of the next four balls thrown for 35 yards. They were all short passes that moved the chains into Atlanta territory. 

A couple more short passes, a holding, a sack and a great Demaryius Thomas toe drag into the end zone for a 17-yard catch later and the Broncos were on the board. 

And the manic half came to a close. Manning’s line: 19-13-of-19 for 120 yards, the TD and the three interceptions.

He had almost an identical second half — 11-of-18 for 121 yards — sans the score and the turnovers to finish 24-of-37 for 241 yards. His longest pass of the game was the 18-yarder to Decker on the second play of the first scoring drive.

It is hard to say what to take away from the game in regards to fantasy. 

The positives: Willis McGahee was the best player on the field Monday night for the Broncos. He had 11 carries for 77 yards in the first half and finished with 22 for 113 and a score on the ground to go with two catches for 11 yards.

Thomas is the go-to receiver for Manning right now. His ability to take a pass from just around the line of scrimmage and make something out of nothing is the best on the team. He finished with the score, 11 targets and eight catches for 78 yards. 

Those two are solid fantasy starters each week.

The negatives: It may be hard to depend on the rest of the lineup.

Decker had eight targets for four catches and 53 yards — most coming on the closing drive of the first half. The target he got to start that drive was the first he had seen in over 25 minutes of action.

Brandon Stokely is the problem for Decker right now. Manning’s familiar receiver was targeted six times. And the tight ends Tamme and Joel Dreessen all but canceled each other out with four and two targets and both grabbing two balls for 13 and 16 yards. 

Once Manning gets settled in with the no-huddle in Denver, he should be fine. He might look a little frantic again next week against Houston, but his schedule becomes very fantasy friendly, until at least the start of December, with games against the Raiders, Patriots, Chargers twice, Saints, Bengals, Panthers and Chiefs.

It was not a fun performance to watch from Manning and the Broncos’ offense as a whole, but just knowing that he is healthy and has come through two games having been sacked five times and bounced back is a plus. He has a capable backfield, one stud receiver, a couple of dependable possession guys and two move-the-chains tight ends. He has thrown for at least 240 yards and a score in both games against two pretty good defenses. And after next week the schedule lightens up.

You would like to know the arm strength will get there, but if Thomas continues to be the YAC king, that certainly helps as Manning’s arm does start to strengthen.

Feel good about Manning. Feel good about knowing you probably got him as a steal. And feel good that he still has plenty of fantasy production left in him this season. 

Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 07:08
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-3-rankings-2

Week 3 of the 2012 college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches saw the temperature on their seat increase by a few degrees. Kentucky's Joker Phillips easily ranks as the No. 1 coach on the hot seat after a disappointing loss to Western Kentucky. SEC foe Tennessee lost to Florida on Saturday, which only adds to the pressure under coach Derek Dooley. Colorado was blown out by Fresno State, allowing Jon Embree to jump into the top five of our hot seat rankings after three weeks.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 3 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Kentucky: 12-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-2
Phillips’ seat has officially gone from hot to scalding hot. Kentucky rallied from a 17-0 deficit to Western Kentucky to force overtime, but it wasn’t enough, as the Hilltoppers matched the Wildcats’ score in overtime and won on a two-point conversion on the final play of the game. It’s hard to fault Phillips for all of Kentucky’s woes, but the schedule is only going to get more difficult the rest of the way. The Wildcats have only more guaranteed win (Samford) and open SEC play at Florida this Saturday. Kentucky needs to show progress the rest of the way for Phillips to return, but that’s no guarantee considering the upcoming schedule.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Boston College: 21-21 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
A week after breaking into the win column against Maine, Boston College failed to build on that momentum and lost 22-13 to Northwestern. Despite the 1-2 record, there have been a few positives for the Eagles. New offensive coordinator Doug Martin has been able to spark the passing attack, but the Eagles rank a disappointing 109th nationally in rushing. The next stretch of games could decide Spaziani’s future in Chestnut Hill. Boston College hosts Clemson on Sept. 29, before traveling to Army on Oct. 6. The schedule doesn’t get any easier following those two games, as the Eagles have road dates at Florida State and Georgia Tech. Spaziani faces an uphill battle to return next season but could save his job if the Eagles pull off an upset or two in the next few weeks.

3. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Colorado: 3-13 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 0-3
Considering this is Embree’s second season with Colorado, he deserves a chance to turn things around in 2013. However, it’s hard to ignore how bad the Buffaloes have been under his watch. Colorado closed out last season by winning two out of its final three games but has opened 0-3 in disastrous fashion. The Buffaloes lost to in-state rival Colorado State in the opener, followed up by a loss to FCS opponent Sacramento State and a blowout defeat to Fresno State. Colorado is playing a lot of young players, so some growing pains can be expected. However, the Buffaloes haven’t shown much progress through three games and could finish 0-12.

4. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 7-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-1
The Chippewas had a bye week in Week 3 and head into Saturday’s game at Iowa with a 1-1 record. Under Enos’ watch, Central Michigan has yet to beat a team with a BCS record and is 0-3 against teams from the Big Ten. Needless to say, the Chippewas will need to play their best game of the season if they want to have any shot at beating the Hawkeyes.

5. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Idaho: 19-46 (6th season)
2012 Record: 0-3
It’s hard to place any blame on Akey after Saturday’s 63-14 loss to LSU. After all, the Vandals were heavy underdogs and didn’t have much of a shot to win. While Akey has a tough job, Idaho has won only one game against FBS competition in its last 13 contests and is off to a 0-3 start. One promising sign for Akey has to be the play of quarterback Dominique Blackman, who threw for 352 yards and one touchdown against Bowling Green in Week 2. The Vandals host Wyoming this Saturday.

6. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 4-24 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 0-3
The weekly hot seat watch has been harsh on Hauck the first two weeks, so it’s time to give him a little credit after Friday’s game against Washington State. After a disappointing loss to Northern Arizona in Week 2, the Rebels played the Cougars tough and lost 35-27. Of course, Hauck needs wins to keep his job, but this team has a few pieces to build around, including quarterback Nick Sherry and running back Tim Cornett. UNLV opens Mountain West play this Saturday against Air Force and a win against the Falcons would be a huge boost after opening the season 0-3.

7. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank: 4
Record at MTSU: 37-41 (7th season)
2012 Record: 2-1
After opening up the 2012 season with a loss to McNeese State, the Blue Raiders have won back-to-back games, allowing Stockstill’s seat to cool going into Week 4. MTSU has a bye in Week 4 and returns to action against Georgia Tech in Week 5. Stockstill doesn’t necessarily need a winning season to save his job, but the Blue Raiders can’t afford to go 3-9 and struggle to compete against Sun Belt competition. 

8. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank: 9
Record at Rice: 24-40 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
A week after upsetting Kansas on the road, the Owls failed to build upon that momentum and lost 56-37 at Louisiana Tech. There have been positive signs for Rice through the first three weeks, as quarterback Taylor McHargue ranks 36th nationally with 273 total yards per game. Although Rice upset the Jayhawks and the offense has been solid, this team still has a long ways to go. The Owls rank 118th nationally in scoring defense and are allowing 531.3 yards per game. Rice opens C-USA play this week against Marshall and hosts rival Houston in Week 5.

9. Tony Levine, Houston
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Houston: 1-3
2012 Record: 0-3
Houston continued to slide under Levine, losing 37-6 at UCLA on Saturday. While the Cougars weren’t expected to win, the defense was gashed for over 500 yards, and the offense had six turnovers and failed to generate much of a passing attack. After firing offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt, Houston’s offense showed signs of life in a 56-49 loss to Louisiana Tech but looked out of sync against the Bruins. Levine’s tenure is off to a disastrous start, but the Cougars still have a chance to win Conference USA’s West Division, starting next Saturday against Rice.

10. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 80-50 (11th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
Thanks to California’s solid performance at Ohio State, Tedford slides down the hot seat watch by a few spots. Despite hanging tough against the Buckeyes, the Golden Bears own a 1-2 record, and the schedule won’t get easier with a road trip to USC this Saturday and a home date against Arizona State in Week 5. California has a tough schedule, and considering the personnel in place, getting to 7-5 or 8-4 would be a good season for this team. However, would 7-5 or even 6-6 be enough for Tedford to return in 2013?

11. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Maryland: 4-11 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 2-1
Edsall was the center of attention this week, as he took on his former team (Connecticut). The Terrapins had a chance to win late but lost 24-21, which snapped their two-game winning streak. Edsall seems to have this team on the right track, but Maryland still has a long way to go in order to be a bowl team this season. The Terrapins face an uphill battle to win this Saturday, as they play at West Virginia. The matchup against the Mountaineers is the final non-conference game for Maryland, and it will be interesting to see how far this team has come once ACC play arrives on Oct. 6 against Wake Forest.

12. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 13-15 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-1
Dooley nearly fell out of our top 20 coaches on the hot seat, but Saturday’s loss to Florida is enough to jump into the top 15 of the rankings. Tennessee jumped out to a 14-10 lead at halftime but was outscored 27-6 in the second half. Both sides of the ball struggled in the final two quarters, including a defense that allowed two scores of over 75 yards. Tennessee should get back into the win column with Akron visiting Knoxville this Saturday. However, the schedule only gets tougher with SEC games against Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina coming up.

13. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-12 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
The Tigers managed to avoid at upset at the hands of Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday but that’s not enough to move Chizik down the hot seat rankings. Auburn was largely unimpressive and anytime a SEC team needs overtime to beat a Sun Belt team, it’s never good news for the head coach. Chizik has recruited as well as anyone in the country over the last few years, but the results on the field aren’t adding up.

14. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Syracuse: 18-22 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
After losing close games to Northwestern and USC to open the season, Saturday’s 28-17 victory over Stony Brook was a much-needed win for Marrone. The victory was not only crucial to get into the win column for 2012 but snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Orange. Barring a complete collapse this season, Marrone will probably return for 2013. However, getting to a bowl game and winning more than one contest in Big East play would certainly help earn more job security.

15. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Iowa: 98-67 (14th season)
2012 Record: 2-1
It wasn’t the most glamorous victory, but Iowa eased the disappointment over the loss to Iowa State with a 27-16 win over Northern Iowa in Week 3. The Hawkeyes had more injuries at running back, as Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon were banged up and did not return. Quarterback James Vandenberg was steady, completing 18 of 28 passes for 228 yards, but he is still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season. Ferentz and the Hawkeyes should move to 3-1 with a matchup against Central Michigan this Saturday.

16. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Buffalo: 6-20 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-1
The Bulls had a bye in Week 3 and return to action on Wednesday night against Kent State. Buffalo has some momentum after beating Morgan State in Week 2 but needs to show some progress in MAC games for Quinn to feel secure about keeping his job in 2013. Oddly enough, even though Kent State and Buffalo are in the same division (MAC East), this will be the first meeting between these two teams since 2009.

17. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-31 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
As we have mentioned in the hot seat column in previous weeks, it’s hard to fault Walker for what’s going on at New Mexico State. The Aggies have only one winning season since 2002 and have failed to record a season of more than four wins since 2004. The Aggies dropped to 1-2 thanks to a 41-28 loss to UTEP. Up next for New Mexico State is rival New Mexico, a team the Aggies have beat for three consecutive seasons.

18. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 19
Record at Western Michigan: 48-41 (8th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
The Broncos were close but not good enough to beat to Minnesota in Week 3. Western Michigan has another shot to beat a BCS team in Week 4, as Connecticut visits Kalamazoo this Saturday. The Broncos were picked by many as the favorites to win the MAC West crown, so it’s hard to judge how hot Cubit’s seat can get until conference play arrives on Sept. 29 against Toledo.

19. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at Texas Tech: 16-12 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-0
So far, so good for Texas Tech this season. The Red Raiders seem to have a much-improved defense, while the offense will be one of the best in the Big 12. The competition hasn’t been great, but Tuberville has to be pleased with his team so far. Thanks to Texas Tech’s 3-0 start to begin the season, Tuberville has fallen from a spot in the top 10 of the hot seat rankings to nearly out of the list.

20. George O’Leary, UCF
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UCF: 52-52 (9th season)
2012 Record: 2-1
The Knights jumped out to a 23-0 lead against FIU and cruised to a 33-20 victory on Saturday night. UCF’s only loss came against Ohio State, and the Knights appear to be Conference USA’s No. 1 team after three games. The biggest news out of UCF wasn’t on the field this week, as it has officially decided to appeal its postseason ban for 2012. The appeal may not be heard before the end of 2012, which would allow the Knights to play in a bowl game this year. However, if UCF loses the appeal after the season, it would have to miss out on the postseason in its first Big East campaign in 2013. 

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 1-2
2012 Record: 1-2
As we mentioned last week with Smith, he's essentially on a one-year deal and the odds of him returning to Fayetteville were slim for 2013. However, Smith's tenure in Arkansas has not gone well, and the Razorbacks are a disappointing 1-2 after three games. Smith can't be blamed for everything, especially since quarterback Tyler Wilson did not play against Alabama.

by Steven Lassan


(published Sept. 18, 2012)

Related College Football Content

College Football's Post-Week 3 Bowl Projections
ACC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
College Football Week 3 Recap

<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 3 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 06:05
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-3

It’s not often you can find the NFL leader in touchdowns on the waiver wire, but that’s the case as we get ready for Week 3. Who is it you ask? His name is Dante Rosario and he’s a tight end for the San Diego Chargers.

The Chargers' starting tight end is, of course, Antonio Gates, but he sat out the 38-10 win over Tennessee with a rib injury and Rosario (four receptions, three TDs) took full advantage of the opportunity.

Rosario, who's sure to receive a fair amount of attention on the waiver wire this week, is just one of the options available that may be able to help your fantasy team, whether that be for this coming week only or beyond. Here are some other names worth considering.

Dante’s Inferno

As surprising as it may have been that Antonio Gates didn’t play Sunday against Tennessee, no one could have predicted that Dante Rosario would make his absence a non-issue. Rosario, who saw just one ball thrown his way in Week 1, connected with Philip Rivers four times against the Titans for 48 yards and, most importantly, three touchdowns.

In just one game, Rosario put himself into a tie for first in the league in touchdowns and tripled his scoring output from the last two seasons combined. Prior to Sunday’s game, he had caught a total of five touchdowns in 77 career games. He went from an afterthought to the fifth highest-scoring tight end in all of fantasy football.

Moving forward, Rosario’s potential value is obviously directly tied to Gates’ health. As soon as Gates returns to the field, Rosario more than likely returns to irrelevance. However, considering Gates’ rib injury was serious enough to keep him out in Week 2, Rosario is certainly worth keeping an eye on until more news comes out on Gates’ status for Week 3.


Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
It’s only two games, but Bradford is showing signs of the type of production that was regularly expected of him after he was taken No. 1 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft and followed that up by earning AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Bradford has completed more than 70 percent of his passes so far and is coming off of a 310-yard, three-touchdown effort in the Rams' win over Washington. Next up is a Chicago Bears defense that will serve as a good litmus test of how far Bradford and the Rams’ offense have come.

Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are 0-2, but it’s certainly not all Cassel’s fault. Because the Chiefs have yet to take the lead in their first two games, Cassel has had the opportunity to throw the ball a lot and, for the most part, he’s been fairly productive. Cassel has averaged nearly 280 yards per passing in the first two games and up next is New Orleans, the worst defense in the NFL in terms of both yards and points allowed. If Cassel can find a way to cut down on the turnovers (3 TDs, 3 INTs, 2 lost fumbles so far), he could become a more appealing fantasy option as the season progresses.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton bounced back nicely from a rough opening week performance by throwing for 318 yards and three touchdowns against Cleveland. Dalton’s next four games — at WAS, at JAC, MIA, at CLE — could result in similar numbers. He’s definitely someone worth keeping an eye on as bye weeks start in Week 4.

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Smith’s game totals through the first two weeks are pretty much mirror images of each other as he’s completed 20 passes with two touchdown passes in each game. The most important number, however, is zero, as in the number of times he has turned the ball over. Smith hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 284 passes, including postseason games, which is a 49ers record. While his numbers may never be spectacular, Smith is quickly becoming a dependable and productive fantasy option.

Running Backs

Andre Brown, New York Giants
Ahmad Bradshaw went out with a neck injury and it was Brown, not first-round pick David Wilson, who got the carries. Brown finished with 71 yards rushing on 13 attempts; good for a more than respectable 5.5 yards per carry average. He also scored the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds left in the game. The severity of Bradshaw’s injury is not yet known, but given his track record, Brown may be worth a pick up as the Giants get Carolina’s 28th-ranked rushing defense next.

Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions
It’s been nearly 17 months since he was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, but Mikel Leshoure should finally make his much-anticipated pro debut this Sunday. Leshoure missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles tendon in August 2011 and  missed the first two games of this season due to suspension. Just how involved he will be in Sunday’s game against Tennessee remains to be seen, but the opportunity is certainly there as current starter Kevin Smith is only averaging four yards per carry.

Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
Reggie Bush (172 yards on 26 carries) did most of the damage, but Miller’s 65 yards on 10 carries (6.5 ypc) and a touchdown cannot be ignored. It seems likely that the Dolphins will continue to rely heavily on the running game as they look to ease rookie starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill into the offense. At this point, it looks like fellow rookie Miller has supplanted Daniel Thomas, who did not play Sunday because of a concussion, as the ‘Fins’ No. 2 back.

Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams
Richardson got more carries (15 to 9) than Steven Jackson did on Sunday and for the season is averaging 6.1 yards per attempt. Jackson missed the majority of the Rams’ win over Washington with what has been called a groin injury. Couple that with Richardson putting up similar numbers (103 yards rushing to Jackson’s 111) with far fewer carries (17 to 30) and Richardson could be a wise add, especially for Jackson owners.

Ben Tate, Houston Texans
As Sunday’s win over Jacksonville showed, the Texans are capable of supporting two legitimate fantasy options at running back. Arian Foster is the undisputed lead horse for the Texans, but Tate got 12 carries against the Jaguars for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Tate also finished third on the team with four receptions for 23 yards. The obvious handcuff for Foster owners, the argument also could be made for Tate as a weekly flex option.

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Mark Ingram got more carries (16 to 9), but Thomas got more yards as he posted 110 against Carolina. While his 12.2 yards per carry average from Sunday's game will be impossible to sustain, Thomas leads the Saints in rushing so far and is fifth on the team in receptions, meaning he’s a significant part of New Orleans’ offensive attack. Ingram and Darren Sproles may get more of the attention and are more widely owned, but Thomas has proven thus far to be just as productive.

Wide Receivers

Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
It took him a week longer than I anticipated, but Amendola clearly showed his fantasy potential this past Sunday with his 15-catch, 160-yard and a touchdown performance against Washington. Amendola tied an NFL record with 12 first-half receptions and ended the game with a franchise-record tying 15. With 20 receptions on 25 targets through the first two games, Amendola is clearly Sam Bradford’s No. 1 option and is a legitimate WR3, if not WR2, moving forward.

Donnie Avery, Indianapolis Colts
It was Avery and not Reggie Wayne who got the most targets from Andrew Luck in Week 2. Avery and Luck connected on nine of 10 total targets for 111 yards in the Colts’ win over Minnesota. As long as Austin Collie is sidelined, Avery is worth a pick up considering Luck is averaging nearly 40 pass attempts through the first two games.

Brandon Gibson, St. Louis Rams
Amendola is the undisputed No. 1 target in St. Louis, but to this point, Gibson has been No. 2. Gibson is second to Amendola in receptions and receiving yards, but his two touchdown catches are first on the team. Gibson is more of a deep threat (17.3 ypc) than Amendola, which helps his potential fantasy value.

Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill picked up his first career NFL win by posting a solid passing (18-30, 200 yards, TD) performance and Hartline was the prime beneficiary. Tannehill looked Hartline’s way 12 times and the two connected on nine of those targets for 111 yards. It’s reasonable to assume that Tannehill will continue to target Hartline as he acclimates himself to life in the NFL.

Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati Bengals
Entering the season, Cincinnati knew they had A.J. Green and a bunch of other young guys at wide receiver. Two games into the season, Hawkins, the smallest of the group at 5-7, has made strides to establish himself as Andy Dalton’s second option. The diminutive Hawkins currently leads the team in receiving yards with 142 and has the same number of touchdown catches as Green after his 50-yard scoring play against Cleveland on Sunday.

Greg Little, Cleveland Browns
Brandon Weeden had his first 300-yard passing game on Sunday, albeit in a losing effort, but perhaps the better news for Browns fans is that Little was a significant part of it. After not posting a single reception in Week 1, Little caught five balls for 57 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati. Little’s 61 receptions in 2011 were the second-most among rookies, so the potential is clearly there. It’s now just a matter of the wideout and the quarterback establishing consistent chemistry, and Little hanging onto the balls thrown his way.

Mohamed Massaquoi, Cleveland Browns
Little’s output notwithstanding, Massaquoi has been Weeden’s favorite target thus far this season. The fourth-year pro from Georgia currently leads the team in targets (15), receptions (8) and yards (131). Given his early rapport with Weeden, Massaquoi's numbers could continue to increase as the Browns’ rookie signal callers gets more and more comfortable in the pocket.

Tight Ends

Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
Eli Manning threw the ball 51 times and piled up 510 yards through the air on Sunday in the win against Tampa Bay. Although wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz did the majority of the damage, Bennett joined in on the fun as he was targeted 10 times. Bennett already has nine receptions and two touchdowns through two games and is currently sixth among his position in terms of fantasy scoring. This will probably be the last time you see his name on this list as the argument can be made he’s a legitimate fantasy starter for the rest of the season.

Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
The Bills haven’t exactly aired it out this season so far, but Chandler is second only to wide receiver Stevie Johnson in targets (11) and is averaging more than 15 yards per reception. Chandler’s true value, however, comes in the red zone as evidenced by his two touchdown catches that have come inside the opponents’ 20.

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
Half of Ben Roethlisberger’s four touchdown passes have gone to his reliable tight end as Miller has made the most of his seven catches. Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders may be the Steelers’ primary vertical threats, but there’s no one Big Ben trusts more in the red zone or over the middle than Miller.

Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders
Carson Palmer has already attempted 94 passes in two games and he’s a perfect 11-for-11 when looking Myers’ way. Now in his fourth season with the Raiders, Myers has been a pleasant surprise and dependable target for Palmer, as evidenced by a team-high six receptions for 86 yards against Miami. Whether he keeps this up moving forward remains to be seen, but if Palmer is going to continue to throw upwards of 40 or more times a game, it does appear Myers will get his share of opportunities.

Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point per 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 18, 2012

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 3</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 06:04