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Path: /college-basketball/kentuckys-calipari-rules-college-basketballs-one-and-done-era

One-and-done isn’t a one size fits all.

Colleges and coaches have had seven draft cycles to navigate the NBA’s rule that a player must be one year removed from high school to be eligible for the NBA Draft.

As the NBA sifts through the latest batch of college prospects, young and old (relatively speaking), we decided to look through how the college game has handled the so-called one-and-done phenomenon.

Roughly 40 to 50 underclassmen have declared for the draft (and kept their names available to be called) each season since the rule was put in place in 2007, the season Ohio State’s Greg Oden and Texas’ Kevin Durant starred for a year in college before becoming the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in the draft.

Of the 473 Division I players to make themselves available for the NBA Draft, only 37 percent are true one-and-dones, followed by 33 percent sophomores and 29.6 percent juniors.

That breakdown may surprise casual observers who think of this period of college basketball as a glorified weigh station for freshmen before the Draft. Part of the credit (or blame) goes to John Calipari, who has operated within the new landscape like none other.

Of the 177 players to go one-and-done since 2007, a dozen played for Calipari at Memphis or Kentucky. No other coach had more than five players stay for a year and bolt for the draft.

Here are a few other things we learned in our look at the NBA Draft early entry numbers since 2007.

A few notes on how we compiled the numbers:

• For the sake of consistency, the players we counted were those who were on the NBA’s underclassman list. That includes some players who declared for the draft before electing to play overseas.

• In the conference tally, programs were counted for the conference in which they will play in 2013-14, so Syracuse and Pittsburgh count for the ACC, Memphis and Louisville count for the American and so on.

• In the coaches’ tally, the coach listed is the one who had the job full-time in the player’s final season. For example, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie played their first season at Georgia under Dennis Felton but declared for the draft under Mark Fox. Both count toward Fox’s total.

• The “years lost” column refers to the seasons of eligibility a school, conference or coach lost when a player declared early for the draft. A freshman counts as three years lost, a sophomore two and a junior three.


 UnderclassmenYears Lost UnderclassmenYears Lost
John Calipari1844Paul Hewitt511
Bill Self1017Mark Fox57
Ben Howland917John Thompson III57
Rick Barnes819Jeff Capel49
Thad Matta819Mike Krzyzewski49
Jim Boeheim814Lorenzo Romar49
Roy Williams812Jim Calhoun47
Tim Floyd713Mark Turgeon48
Billy Donovan610John Beilein46

• Calipari has owned this era, as expected. It's not even close. The 18 early entires doesn’t stand out quite so much as the 44 years of eligibility lost. Calipari’s 18 draft-bound underclassmen at Memphis and Kentucky left after playing an average of 1.5 seasons. Texas’ Rick Barnes and Ohio State’s Thad Matta were in a similar spot with 1.6 seasons on average out of their early entry candidates.

• Kansas’ Bill Self, the only coach besides Calipari with double-digit early entires, got an average of 2.3 seasons out of his underclassmen. Kansas sent only three freshmen to the draft, Darrell Arthur, Josh Selby and Ben McLemore, and McLemore was a redshirt freshman. Six of Kansas’ 10 early entries left school as juniors.

• Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has an identical early entry profile (four players gone, nine years of eligibility lost) as former Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel and Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. Fired with the Sooners, the former Blue Devil Capel is now an assistant on Krzyzewski’s staff.

• One surprising name among the "leaders" is Georgia coach Mark Fox, who had three underclassmen declare with the Bulldogs (Travis Leslie, Trey Thompkins, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) and two at Nevada (Ramon Sessions, JaVale McGee).


 UnderclassmenYears Lost UnderclassmenYears Lost UnderclassmenYears Lost
Kentucky1537N. Carolina812Duke49
Ohio St.819Ga. Tech511Nevada46

• Duke's 2010 national championship team was the only title winner without an underclassman who left for the following NBA Draft. Michigan State's 2009 national runner-up was the only other team to play in a title game duirng the one-and-done era without an underclassman who immediately went to the draft.

• Something interesting is going on in Los Angeles. UCLA and USC each had nine players leave early for the NBA Draft, more than any school besides Kansas and Kentucky. The Bruins aren’t a surprise, but the Trojans are, even considering USC landed on probation for NCAA violations. UCLA lost four underclassmen to the draft off two Final Four teams compared to five on the since 2009. At UCLA, Howland’s replacement Steve Alford lost only two underclassmen to the draft, both juniors.

• Who is getting the least out of underclassmen going to the draft? Of the eight teams that have sent eight or more underclassmen to the NBA Draft, only USC and Texas failed to reach a Final Four since 2007. One of the Trojans' early entries was counterproductive with freshman O.J. Mayo at the center of the NCAA investigation that landed the Trojans on probation and ended up with coach Tim Floyd fired.

• Connecticut also had a surprisingly low amount of players who declared early for the draft. The Huskies lost only four early entries and one freshman (Andre Drummond). During the same amount of time, DePaul lost three early entries. Granted, in the 2006 NBA Draft, Connecticut had three underclassmen selected in the first round, plus one more senior.

• Among notable programs with just one underclassmen leaving early: UNLV (Anthony Bennett) and Marquette (Vander Blue) lost their early entry candidate after the 2012-13 season.

• Florida State and Gonzaga lost as many players and seasons of eligibility to the draft since 2007 as Florida International did in three years under Isiah Thomas.


 UnderclassmenYears Lost UnderclassmenYears Lost
SEC4583Big East1727
ACC4478Mountain West1421
Pac-124172Conference USA1217
Big 123466Atlantic 1056
Big Ten1837West Coast46

*Tallied by schools in the 2013-14 conference alignment

• Take Kentucky out of the SEC tally, and the league slips behind the ACC and Pac-12 in terms of early entries. Removing Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky, the SEC accounts for 31 early entries, staying for an average of 2.5 seasons.

• The Big Ten is a veteran league for a major conference. The 18 early entries are as many as the upcoming lineup in the American Athletic Conference and one more than the new Big East, alarmlingly low totals for a major conference.

• One reason the Big Ten's numbers are much lower: Three Big Ten powers were among those who haven’t produced an early entry candidate during the one-and-done period, much less a freshman: Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue. Other notable programs that haven’t produced an early entry candidate since at least 2007 include Oregon, Temple, Creighton and the entire Missouri Valley Conference.

• Should this be a sign the reformed Big East will have trouble attracting NBA Draft talent? Georgetown (five) is the only program in the league that has produced more than four early entries to the NBA Draft. The American Athletic Conference includes Memphis, which produced three early entries (all sophomores) under Josh Pastner plus four more from UConn. Remove ACC-bound Louisville from the American and the remaining lineup has produced 14 underclassmen heading to the draft, as many as the Mountain West.

A look inside the numbers of underclassmen heading to the NBA Draft
Post date: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 12:35
All taxonomy terms: NFC, NFC West, St. Louis Rams, NFL
Path: /nfl/st-louis-rams-2013-schedule-analysis

The St. Louis Rams will feature plenty of new faces on offense this season. Can Sam Bradford and company come close to matching the success of "The Greatest Show on Turf?" Here's our look at the Rams' 2013 NFL schedule.

St. Louis Rams 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Arizona
Week 2: at Atlanta
Week 3: at Dallas
Week 4: San Francisco (Thurs.)
Week 5: Jacksonville
Week 6: at Houston
Week 7: at Carolina
Week 8: Seattle (Mon.)
Week 9: Tennessee
Week 10: at Indianapolis
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: Chicago
Week 13: at San Francisco
Week 14: at Arizona
Week 15: New Orleans
Week 16: Tampa Bay
Week 17: at Seattle

Order your 2013 St. Louis Rams Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: St. Louis gets to open the season at home against Arizona. Even though this is a divisional game, it's by far the easiest matchup the Rams have in September. After playing the Cardinals, the Rams have to go to Atlanta and Dallas before returning home to face San Francisco for the Thursday night game in Week 4. That's two defending divisional champions (Falcons and 49ers) and a road game against "America's Team" jammed into the first four weeks.

Toughest Stretch: If the Rams can survive the first six weeks, they should have a decent chance of finishing the season at .500 or better. Before the middle of October comes around, St. Louis will have played Atlanta, Dallas and Houston on the road and San Francisco at home. None of these four teams had a losing record last season and the Falcons, Texans and 49ers all won their respective divisions and at least one playoff game. The other two games in this six-week stretch are both at home against Arizona and Jacksonville. A break-even mark entering Week 7 has to be the Rams' goal, because anything worse does not bode well for the rest of the season.

Swing Games:at DAL (Week 3), CHI (Week 12)
Crossover Divisions:NFC South, AFC South
Bye Week:Week 11
Opp. 2012 W/L %:.539 (T-2nd)
Athlon's SOS Rank:3rd

Easiest Stretch: With seven games against teams that made the playoffs last season, there are few breaks to be found on St. Louis' 2013 slate. In fact, the only time the Rams plays teams that posted losing records in 2012 in consecutive weeks is in December. And even that stretch (at ARI, NO, TB) includes two teams, the Buccaneers and Saints, that just missed the .500 mark (both went 7-9 in 2012). This St. Louis team will certainly have plenty of opportunities to show just how "Ram tough" it is in 2013.

Circle The Calendar: The Rams will play their first Monday night home game since 2006 when they host NFC West rival Seattle in Week 8. St. Louis' other prime time game also is a home divisional contest, as it will kickoff Week 4 action by playing San Francisco on Thursday night. The Week 9 matchup with Tennessee is significant in that it will be the first time Jeff Fisher goes up against the team he coached for 17 seasons. Tight end Jared Cook is probably looking forward to facing his former teammates too.

Divisional Notes: Though it mattered nothing in the end, St. Louis actually posted the best record in the NFC West last season, going 4-1-1 against Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle. The Rams open (ARI) and finish (at SEA) the season with divisional matchups, with the ones at home scattered among their first eight games. The script flips after that, however, as all three NFC West road contests fall in December. This means these three games are crammed into a five-week span at the end of the season. The schedule alone makes a repeat of last season's 4-1-1 divisional mark seem unlikely.

Playoff Push: Since the Rams are in the same division as the 49ers and Seahawks, securing a playoff berth is a lofty goal in and of itself. When you couple that fact with a final month slate that includes road games against all three divisional foes and home dates with New Orleans and Tampa Bay (both went 7-9 last season), St. Louis' path to the postseason looks to be a difficult one. The Rams went 7-8-1 in 2012 and appear to be an even better team entering this season. Still with the degree of difficulty that is evident when analyzing St. Louis' schedule, the improvement this team is able to make this fall may not be accurately represented in the win column.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Sam Bradford got some new weapons, namely Tavon Austin and Jared Cook, but few breaks when it comes to his fantasy playoff schedule. On one hand there’s the Saints, who gave up the most fantasy points to QBs last season. On the other there’s a top-four fantasy defense in Arizona and a game against a Tampa Bay secondary that now includes Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland (6/28)
NY JetsPittsburgh (7/1)Tennessee (7/3)San Diego (7/2)
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3)MinnesotaTampa Bay (7/2)Seattle (7/1)

Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Post date: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 12:08
All taxonomy terms: AFC, New York Jets, NFL
Path: /nfl/new-york-jets-2013-schedule-analysis

The 2013 season feels like a transition year for the New York Jets despite the fact Rex Ryan is still leading the ship. But with lots of new faces in key positions, the Jets could be in store for a long '13 season. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

New York Jets 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Tampa Bay
Week 2: at New England (Thurs.)
Week 3: Buffalo
Week 4: at Tennessee
Week 5: at Atlanta (Mon.)
Week 6: Pittsburgh
Week 7: New England
Week 8: at Cincinnati
Week 9: New Orleans
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Buffalo
Week 12: at Baltimore
Week 13: Miami
Week 14: Oakland
Week 15: at Carolina
Week 16: Cleveland
Week 17: at Miami

Order your 2013 New York Jets Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: There are winnable games in the first month for Ryan and the Jets. New York will face Tampa Bay and Buffalo at home with a road trip to Nashville, Tenn., capping the first month. A road trip to New England on a short week feels like a potential bloodbath, but if the Jets can win one or two of the first four, signs would be very positive for a team in desperate need of good news.

Toughest Stretch: This one is easy. From Week 5 to Week 9, the Jets will face five teams all projected to make the playoffs this year — three of which have played in the Super Bowl within the last four seasons. The other two will involve road games with two frontrunners for this year's Super Bowl in Atlanta and Cincinnati. The Jets need to make headway in the first month because an 0-5 stretch is waiting for them in October.

Swing Games:at TEN (Week 4), OAK (Week 13)
Crossover Divisions:AFC North, NFC South
Bye Week:Week 10
Opp. 2012 W/L %:.496 (19th)
Athlon's SOS Rank:23rd

Easiest Stretch: The first month may provide some wins but the final month is the easiest. Two games with Miami, home games with the Raiders and Browns and a road trip to Carolina might be the easiest finish in the NFL this fall. These five games will feature five opponents who combined to lose 50 games a year ago and could help save Ryan's job should the Jets pull some upsets.

Circle The Calendar: What is the marquee showdown for a team expected to be one of the league's worst? A visit to the Super Bowl champs in Week 12? Two battles with former rival Tom Brady that will feature endless loops of butt fumble footage? How about a Monday night trip to Atlanta? Sure, these games feature big-time opponents but no one thinks the Jets can win a single one of them. That said, there are many swing games on this schedule and a few wins over those teams could give this team a seven-win season. So the home and season opener against Tampa Bay might be the most exciting and most watchable Jets game of the year.

Divisional Notes: The AFC East slate is pretty spread out for the J-E-T-S. Games with New England on the road and Buffalo at home will come in back-to-back weeks early in the season, but New York only has one divisional game between Week 4 and Week 10. The final three AFC East games will come in the final seven weeks and the final two be against the Dolphins. There are plenty of wins to be had in the weak AFC East, but both games with the Patriots appear to be guaranteed losses.

Playoff Push: As previously stated, the final month of the season will be the Jets' easiest stretch of games. It is hard to see this New York team making a playoff push but there are definitely wins to be had in December. Two with Miami and one each with Cleveland, Carolina and Oakland would be a cakewalk for most of the playoff contenders, but Ryan's squad will have to battle to pick up some victories. That said, a 3-2 finish could give the current coaching regime another year to rebuild.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): No current Jet finished among the top 20 at their position in fantasy last season, so chances are that many fantasy players may not rely on this roster in 2013. However, if some weapons emerge, it’s possible some Jets could pay off come playoff time. For example, Oakland, Carolina and Cleveland were all in the bottom 13 against fantasy RBs in '12, and the Raiders and Panthers were among the bottom 10 defenses against TEs.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland (6/28)
NY JetsPittsburgh (7/1)Tennessee (7/3)San Diego (7/2)
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3)MinnesotaTampa Bay (7/2)Seattle (7/1)

Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Post date: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 11:53
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-ohio-state-football-fan

Best and Worst Times to be an Ohio State Football Fan

Pinpointing the best times to be an Ohio State fan are pretty plain: Competing for national titles, winning Rose Bowls, fielding Heisman Trophy winners and, most of all, beating Michigan.

Over the years, Ohio State fandom enjoyed great highs, from when Woody Hayes dominated the first battles of the Ten Year War with Michigan and Bo Schembechler. And though Jim Tressel’s tenure may be remembered as much for its futility against the SEC and the scandal that cost Tressel his job, rooting for the Buckeyes at the start of the 21st century was awfully fun.

The lows seem to be marked by uncertainty more than extended periods of losing. The lowest point in Ohio State fandom may have been the disappointing 1978 season that started in the top 10 and ended with the sudden demise of Ohio State’s legendary coach. Though the 2011 season didn’t make our list of the worst times to be an Ohio State fan, the 6-7 season and coaching and NCAA instability must not have been fun for the Buckeye faithful.


Record: 73-11-1
National championships: 2
Coach: Woody Hayes
Notable players: Archie Griffin, John Hicks, Jack Tatum, Randy Grandishar, Crhis War, Tom Cousineau, Jim Stillwagon
Ohio State had already won two national championships under Woody Hayes in the 1950s, but this is when things started to get really interesting. The Buckeyes entered the ’68 season with limited expectations, but an upset of No. 1 Purdue in third game of the season changed everything. The class of “Super Sophomores” of quarterback Rex Kern, defensive back Jack Tatum and defensive lineman Jim Stillwagon led an undefeated national champion in ’68. Eleven players from that team would earn All-America honors one time or another in their careers. The following year, though, began The Ten Year War between Ohio State’s Hayes and Michigan’s Bo Schembechler. Ohio State went 5-2 in its first seven matchups including four consecutive wins from 1972-75. Ohio State went to six Rose Bowls in eight seasons during this period, and running back Archie Griffin became only player to win the Heisman Trophy twice (’74 and ’75).

Record: 87-17
National championships: 1
Coach: Jim Tressel
Notable players: Troy Smith (left), Maurice Clarett, A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Chris Gamble, Ted Ginn Jr. (right), Chris Wells, Mike Doss, Quinn Pitcock, Terrelle Pryor
Ohio State rarely had long stretches of mediocre football, but the Buckeyes had tired of losing to Michigan when they hired Jim Tressel from Youngstown State. Tressel paid dividends against more than just UM in his second season when the Buckeyes won six one-score games during the regular season before upsetting a loaded Miami team in the Fiesta Bowl for the 2002 national championship. Ohio State, Tressel and the Big Ten became better known for near-misses at the hands of the SEC during this time as the Buckeyes lost back-to-back national title games to Florida and LSU in 2006 and ’07. Still, the run included eight BCS games, seven top-10 finishes and a Heisman Trophy winner (Troy Smith) in a span of nine seasons. Tressel also re-took the series against Michigan, winning nine of 10 games against the Wolverines. Moreover, the basketball program reclaimed national power status under Thad Matta reaching the Final Four in 2007.

Record: 21-5-1
National championships: 1
Coach: Woody Hayes
Notable players: Bob Ferguson
Ohio State won a share of the national title in 1961, but we picked this time because of the two-sport exploits in Columbus during this time. As the football team fared well, the men’s basketball program won the 1960 title and reached the NCAA championship game in ’61 and ’62 with future Basketball Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek on campus.

Record: 32-6
National championships: 2
Coach: Woody Hayes
Notable players: Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, Jim Parker
Hayes put his stamp on the program by leading Ohio State to a 10-0 season and national title in 1954, its first national championship since 1942 under Paul Brown. Hopalong Cassady also became Ohio State’s third Heisman winner in 1955. For the second (but not the last) time under Hayes, the Buckeyes won the UPI national championship and the Rose Bowl in 1957.



Record: 7-4-1
Coach: Woody Hayes
Ohio State started the season in the preseason top 10 before a 19-0 loss to Penn State to open the season. Things would be downhill from there. Ohio State finished the regular season 7-3-1 with a 14-3 loss to Michigan. But the season would be infamous after a 17-15 loss to Clemson in the Gator Bowl. After Clemson’s Charlie Baumon intercepted the Buckeyes, Hayes punched Bauman and one of his own players who was trying to restrain the coach. Ohio State fired the best coach in school history the next day. Hayes was fourth all-time in career wins when he was fired. Earle Bruce went 11-1 with a Big Ten title in his first season replacing Hayes, but Ohio State fans were understandably shaken.


Record: 43-7
National championships: 0
Coach: John Cooper
Notable players: Eddie George, Orlando Pace, Mike Vrabel, Joe Germaine, Terry Glenn, Korey Stringer, David Boston
Cooper’s tenure will be remembered partly for the coach’s futility against Michigan (he went 2-10-1 overall and 1-3 against the Wolverines from ’95-’98). But look at the star power from this era. George won the Heisman, and Pace was one of the best offensive linemen of all time. During Cooper’s best days with Ohio State, the Buckeyes won the Rose Bowl in 1995, twice reached the Sugar Bowl.

Which era under Woody Hayes was the best?
Post date: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 10:36
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketballs-best-coaches-under-40

The top two coaches from last year’s list of college coaches under 40 remain our top two here.

That’s fitting because Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart show no signs of going anywhere.

The two 30-something coaches have stuck with Butler and VCU, respectively, despite overtures from programs like UCLA and Illinois. True, those programs bring more notoriety and resources, but Stevens and Smart have proven they can win just as much where they are right now. And with both coaches easily crossing the $1 million mark, they don’t need to jump jobs for salary.

Stevens and Smart are no-brainers for our list of best college basketball coaches under 40, but the rest of the list may contain surprises. With Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg and Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie departing the under-40 club for the 2013-14 season, we dipped into the mid-major ranks to find our young coaches on the rise.

*All ages as of Nov. 1, 2013


1. Brad Stevens, Butler
Record: 166-49, 12-5 NCAA Tournament
Age: 37
No coach has won more games in his first six seasons as a head coach than Stevens. That almost seems like a footnote in the Butler coach’s career. He took over successful mid-major and by staying in Indianapolis turned Butler into a national brand. The Bulldogs have twice reached the national championship game under Stevens, reached the NCAA Tournament in five of six years and moved up from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 to the reformed Big East. With few exceptions, the calm and collected Stevens seems to have done this without raising his heart rate.

2. Shaka Smart, VCU
Record: 111-37, 7-3 NCAA Tournament
Age: 36
Like Butler, VCU was up to the challenge by moving up from the Colonial to the Atlantic 10. The Rams have not won fewer than 27 games in four years under Smart and have proven to be a superb postseason team (one Final Four, two rounds of 32 and a CBI championship). Smart’s program has become synonymous with the havoc defense that forces turnovers better than just about any team in the country. With Butler, Xavier and Temple leaving the Atlantic 10, VCU is poised to become the top program in the A-10 as long as Smart is in Richmond.

3. Josh Pastner, Memphis
Record: 106-34
Age: 36
The energetic Pastner achieved an important milestone in 2013 with Memphis’ first NCAA Tournament win of his tenure thanks to a narrow win over 11th-seeded Saint Mary’s. Signature wins have been lacking under Pastner, but that’s about to change. Memphis trades lackluster Conference USA for Louisville (at least for a year), Connecticut, Cincinnati and Temple in 2013-14. Pastner has kept a string of McDonald’s All-Americans coming to Memphis, so there won't be a talent deficit in the new league. He’ll soon find out if they can keep up with better competition on a more consistent basis after breezing through C-USA last season.

4. Steve Prohm, Murray State
Record: 52-12, 1-1 NCAA Tournament
Age: 39
The Racers’ second season under Prohm wasn’t quite as magical as the first when Isaiah Canaan led Murray to a 31-2 season. Murray State still won 21 games and the West Division of the expanded Ohio Valley. Now it’s time to see what Prohm can do without Canaan.

5. Bryce Drew, Valparaiso
Record: 48-20, 0-1 NCAA Tournament
Age: 39
The most famous basketball player in Valpo history has turned out to be a pretty good coach. The son of longtime Crusaders coach Homer Drew took over his father’s program two seasons ago and brought Valpo back to the postseason contention with back-to-back Horizon League regular-season titles. The NCAA bid in 2013 was Valpo’s first since 2004, and the 26 wins were a school record.

6. Richard Pitino, Minnesota
Record: 18-14
Age: 31
FIU’s second attempt to hire a coach with name recognition fared much better than the first. Isiah Thomas won 14 Sun Belt games in three season at FIU. Pitino went 11-9 in the league in his lone season in Miami. FIU was on the brink of its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1995 before losing 65-63 to Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt title game. Minnesota took note and made him the youngest coach in the Big Ten. He has the family name, but his old bosses — Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan — have a good success rate with assistants-turned-head coaches.

7. Mitch Henderson, Princeton
Record: 37-23
Age: 38
Harvard has won the Ivy League the last two seasons, but Princeton has been right on the Crimson’s heels. The Tigers have finished one game back of Harvard in the Ivy the last two seasons. Like Bryce Drew at Valpo, Henderson is a hometown hero at Princeton who played on the 1996 Tigers team that upset UCLA in the NCAA Tournament. Henderson spent more than a decade on Northwetsern’s coaching staff, Big Ten experience that could become relevant.

8. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
Record: 94-98
Age: 38
Though Seton Hall took a major step back last season — from 21 wins and an NIT appearance to 3-15 in the Big East — Willard has a good overall resume. Willard took over an Iona team that went 2-28 the year before he arrived. By the time Willard left, Iona won 21 games in 2010. A Rick Pitino assistant with Celtics and at Louisville, Willard will look to rebound in the new Big East.

9. Andy Toole, Robert Morris
Record: 68-36
Age: 31
Promoted to head coach before his 30th birthday, Toole delivered the biggest win in Robert Morris history when the Colonials defeated Kentucky in the NIT on their home court in March. That shouldn’t obscure what else he’s accomplished in Moon Township: 50 wins in the last two seasons, an NEC regular season title in 2013 and a 39-15 overall record in the league. A former Mike Rice assistant at Robert Morris before his promotion, Toole might be under the microscope as he’s a candidate for another job.

10. Michael White, Louisiana Tech
Record: 45-23
Age: 36
The WAC was watered down last season and the schedule was paper thin, but it’s tough to ignore Louisiana Tech’s progress in White’s second season. The Bulldogs improved from 6-8 in conference in his first season to 16-2 in the second. The former Ole Miss assistant led Louisiana Tech to its second-highest win total of 27 victories, second only to Karl Malone’s 29-win team in 1984-85. White is poised to build on last season in Conference USA in 2013-14.

<p> Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart are the best, but they're not alone.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /node/23321

The Pac-12 Conference doesn’t win a lot of Heisman Trophies, but when it does, it dominates.

Over the last 30 years, the league has just three such stiff-armed awards, but USC won those three Heisman in a four-year span from 2002-05: Carson Palmer (2002), Matt Leinart (’04) and Reggie Bush (’05). That said, the Pac-12 has been close recently with Heisman finalists LaMichael James, Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart coming extremely close to winning the trophy.

On top of that, recent trends are pointing toward another potential Heisman run for the Pac-12. An influx of elite offensive coaches and a dearth of electric underclassmen gives this conference as good a chance as any to win sports most prestigious award.

Here are the Pac-12’s top Heisman contenders for 2013 (complete with updated Vegas odds):

1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (16/1)
Manziel gets most of the love as a redshirt freshman, but Mariota wasn’t far behind. Thanks to big leads by Oregon, he didn't see a ton of action deep into most second halves and still led the nation in road passing efficiency. Overall, he led the Pac-12 in passer rating and scored 37 total touchdowns. He plays with poise and confidence well beyond his years. The big question mark will be the loss of head coach Chip Kelly. The last time Oregon switched head coaches internally, there was little drop off, but one has to think this offense will take a small step back. Yet, as the leader of Oregon's offense, the supremely gifted 6-foot-4, 200-pound second-year starter should be destined for at least one trip to NYC in his career.

2. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona (40/1)
Carey was the most underrated player in the nation last fall. He led the nation in rushing (148.4 ypg, 1,929 yards), set the Arizona single-season rushing record and the Pac-12 single-game rushing record (366 yards). He scored 24 times and helped turn the Wildcats from a four-win team in 2011 to an eight-win, zone-read monster. And he did all of this as a sophomore. With spread guru Rich Rodriguez calling the shots, the tough-nosed workhorse has a chance to post huge numbers once again in 2013. Charges were recently dropped concerning Carey’s domestic dispute and he has been punished internally by RichRod, so all signs are go for a huge 2013 campaign… as long as he walks the straight and narrow.

3. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon (14/1)
An elite big-play machine, Thomas’ biggest weakness is actually one of his biggest strengths. The Oregon scheme lends itself to huge numbers but it also distributes the football. Simply, he needs more than 137 touches on offense to get to New York. The change in head coach will also play a role with Thomas' campaign like it will Mariota's. That said, few players in the nation are as captivating and explosive as Thomas. His 18 rushing touchdowns, 14 receiving touchdowns and four return touchdowns in just two seasons prove that pretty clearly.

4. Marqise Lee, WR, USC (14/1)
With a proven commodity at quarterback coming back, Lee might be a Heisman frontrunner nationally. But with Matt Barkley — and counterpart Robert Woods who drew plenty of defensive attention — leaving for the NFL, Lee’s numbers will almost assuredly go down. Those numbers, however, were extraordinary a year ago as he was No. 2 in the nation in receptions per game (9.1) and yards per game (132.4) and he scored 15 times. He is an elite player who may not have the supporting cast to get to Radio City Music Hall.

5. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA (25/1)
The Bruins finally found a quarterback. The redshirt sophomore-to-be threw for three 300-yard efforts in his first four career games. He then led his team to the Pac-12 title game, scored 38 total touchdowns and produced nearly 4,100 yards of total offense in just his first year under center. The show will be all his in Westwood now that Johnathan Franklin is gone.

6. Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
In just his first year under center, Kelly finished No. 2 in passing efficiency in the Pac-12 and averaged more than 273 yards of total offense per game. He also threw at least four touchdowns in a game four times in the final eight contests. With a host of talented surrounding cast, the efficient Sun Devils passer could easily push for Pac-12 Player of the Year honors.

7. Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
The Huskies tailback and his 1,439-yard, 16-TD sophomore season flew well under the national radar a year ago. But with four starters back along the offensive line and his quarterback entering his third season as the starter, Sankey has a great chance to earn national acclaim as a junior. Even just a slight increase in production would place Sankey among the nation’s best.

8. Silas Redd, RB, USC
Redd scored in seven of his first nine games as a Trojan and posted three 100-yard efforts in his first five. But he slowed over the course of the year and dealt with small injuries late in the year. Still, he posted 1,018 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns in his first season in L.A. With a new quarterback, he should now be the focal point of the offense.

9. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
It took eight games but David Shaw found his replacement for Andrew Luck when he inserted the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder into the lineup a few plays into the Colorado game. Hogan proceeded to lead the Cardinal to a 6-0 record to end the season — including the school’s first Rose Bowl win since 1972 — with efficient and dynamic play under center. He passed for 1,096 yards (71.7%) with nine touchdowns while providing a spark on the ground with 263 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. Look for much bigger things in ’13 from the Cardinal signal caller. 

10. Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Now that C.J. Anderson and Isi Sofele have departed the backfield and Keenan Allen is in the NFL, Bigelow becomes the main offensive weapon in Berkeley. And few players nationally have as much upside as the electric tailback (see Ohio State game). He has big-play ability and will be right at home in Sonny Dykes high-octane offense.

11. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The next dynamic, versatile all-purpose type for Mike Riley. Extremely explosive.

12. Keith Price, QB, Washington
Look for the Husky's QB to return to his record-setting form in 2013.

13. Storm Woods, RB, Oregon State
Should build on solid freshman season: 940 yards and 13 TDs.

14. Arizona’s Quarterback
Anu Solomon would post much bigger dual-threat numbers while Jesse Scoggins might win the most games. But both players are chasing B.J. Denker entering fall practice. 

15. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The nation's top tight end is in store for a huge (and final) year in Seattle.

16. USC’s Quarterback
Cody Kessler and Max Wittek will battle for one of the most Heisman-worthy positions in the nation.

17. Byron Marshall, RB, Oregon
Marshall will fill the Kenjon Barner role and could see more touches than DAT.

18. UCLA’s Running Back
Jordan James and Paul Perkins will battle for touches in void left by Franklin.

19. Connor Halliday, QB, Washington State
Year No. 2 under Mike Leach has to better than Year No. 1, right?

20. Anthony Wilkerson, RB, Stanford
Will get the first crack at taking over for Stepfan Taylor. Tyler Gaffney and Barry Sanders will play too.

2013 Pac-12 Team Previews

OregonArizona State
Oregon StateColorado
Washington StateUtah

Best of the Rest:

21. Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State
22. DJ Foster, RB, Arizona State
23. Christian Powell, RB, Colorado
24. Zach Kline, QB, California
25. Travis Wilson, QB, Utah
26. Thomas Tyner, RB, Oregon
27. Kasen Williams, WR, Washington
28. Shaquelle Evans, WR, UCLA
29. Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
30. Nelson Agholor, WR, USC 

10 Defensive Players to Watch:

Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
Dion Bailey, S, USC
Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford
Morgan Breslin, DE, USC

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Post date: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 07:24
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, News
Path: /college-football/ranking-college-footballs-conferences-2013

After seven consecutive national championships, the SEC is reigns supreme as college football’s premier conference for 2013. The bottom of the conference isn’t its strength this year, but Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Florida are all national title contenders for 2013.

The SEC is clearly ahead of the rest of the conferences, but the Pac-12 boasts two top-10 teams in Oregon and Stanford. The South Division is a wide-open battle between Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and USC. Helping the Pac-12’s case as the No. 2 conference should be the bottom of the league, as Colorado, Washington State, Utah and California should continue to improve as the season progresses.

The Big Ten and Big 12 round out the top four conferences, with the ACC and Mountain West running just behind. The Big 12 doesn’t have a clear frontrunner in 2013, but the league has solid depth. 

Ranking College Football's Conferences for 2013

1. SEC

Athlon's 2013 Favorite: Alabama

The SEC increased its run of national championships to seven straight thanks to Alabama’s dominating win over Notre Dame in the BCS title game. The Crimson Tide are our pick to win it all again, but Texas A&M, Georgia, South Carolina, LSU and Florida could all play their way into the national title discussion. Texas A&M is loaded once again, but the Aggies will have to deal with huge expectations. LSU lost a ton of key personnel on defense but still has one of the most talented rosters in the nation. Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, two up-and-coming programs, are just outside the top 25.

2013 SEC Predictions

2. Pac-12

Athlon's 2013 Favorite: Oregon

Oregon lost its leader — head coach Chip Kelly — but the Ducks have enough pieces in place to win the Pac-12 title for the fourth time in the past five seasons. New coach Mark Helfrich will lean on sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota and a talented corps of skill players. Stanford will remain among the elite in the Pac-12 thanks to an outstanding defense and one of the nation’s top offensive lines. The South Division race should be intriguing. Our pick is Arizona State — which returns quarterback Taylor Kelly and eight starters on defense — but you could make a case for USC, UCLA or Arizona.

2013 Pac-12 Predictions

3. Big Ten

Athlon's 2013 Favorite: Ohio State

The Big Ten boasts a legitimate national title contender in Ohio State, which returns 13 starters from a team that went 12–0 in Urban Meyer’s inaugural season in Columbus. Wisconsin, under new leadership with Gary Andersen, and Penn State should both be solid, but neither figures to pose too much of a threat to Ohio State in the Leaders Division. The Legends race, however, should be tight. Our pick is Michigan to edge Nebraska, but always-underrated Northwestern will be a factor.

2013 Big Ten Predictions

4. Big 12

Athlon's 2013 Favorite: Oklahoma State

The Big 12 features quality depth but lacks star power at the top. Oklahoma State is ranked No. 16 in our preseason top 25 — the lowest spot for the preseason favorite in the 18-year history of the league. There was heavy debate for the next three spots. Oklahoma, despite its concerns at the quarterback position — Can the Belldozer be a weapon in the passing game? — got the nod over Texas and TCU. The Longhorns have plenty of talent, but they must show significant improvement on defense. TCU will be a legitimate title threat if quarterback Casey Pachall returns to form.

2013 Big 12 Predictions

5. ACC

Athlon's 2013 Favorite: Clemson

Led by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wideout Sammy Watkins, Clemson is the favorite to win its second ACC title in the past three seasons. The Tigers have won 21 games over the last two years and are in the midst of shedding their label as chronic underachievers. Florida State appears to be the only worthy challenger to Clemson in the Atlantic Division. There are four teams capable of winning the Coastal Division. Miami is our pick, followed by Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and North Carolina.

2013 ACC Predictions

6. Mountain West

Athlon's 2013 Favorite: Boise State

The Mountain West, now up to 12 teams and two divisions, is stronger than ever. Boise State is the team to beat in the Mountain Division, though league newcomer Utah State, which went 6–0 in the WAC in 2012, should be a factor in the division race. The return of quarterback Derek Carr makes Fresno State the easy choice in the West Division. The Bulldogs should score a ton of points. The West has solid depth, with San Jose State, San Diego State and Nevada each likely to play in a bowl game.

2013 Mountain West Predictions

7. American Athletic

Favorite: Louisville

The league formerly known as the Big East continues its descent down the college football food chain, but that doesn’t mean the league is without quality teams. Louisville, fresh off its BCS bowl win over Florida, is capable of running the table in the regular season. Cincinnati, now under Tommy Tuberville’s watch, returns 13 starters (including all five O-linemen) from a 10-win team. Rutgers will have to fight off  league newcomer UCF for third.

2013 American Athletic Predictions

8. MAC

Athlon's 2013 Favorite: Northern Illinois

Last season, the MAC sent its first team to a BCS bowl (Northern Illinois) and had four different schools ranked nationally at some point. This year, the power remains in the West, where NIU has the edge over Ball State and Toledo. Bowling Green is the pick in the East, but it’s not wise to count out Ohio and coach Frank Solich. The Bobcats have won three division titles under Solich but have not won the outright MAC title since 1968.

2013 MAC Predictions

9. Conference USA

Athlon's 2013 Favorite: Tulsa

Conference USA is up to 14 teams, but the league is weaker in 2013 due to the loss of UCF, Houston and SMU (among others) to the American Athletic Conference. Tulsa, which will make the move to the American in 2014, is a strong favorite to win its second straight C-USA crown. The race in the East should be intriguing. Our pick is Marshall over East Carolina.

2013 Conference USA Predictions

10. Sun Belt

Athlon's 2013 Favorite: UL Lafayette

The Sun Belt lost four teams to Conference USA but did retain the defending league champ (Arkansas State) and two of the three teams (UL Lafayette and ULM) that tied for second place. Moving forward, ULL has a great opportunity to claim its first outright league title since winning the Gulf States Conference in 1970. 

2013 Sun Belt Predictions

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Post date: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 06:12
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, New England Patriots, NFL
Path: /new-england-patriots-2013-schedule-analysis

It's been quite an offseason for the New England Patriots. But even murder scandals and public contract disputes won't keep Tom Brady and the Pats from being the clear-cut AFC East frontrunner. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

New England Patriots 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at Buffalo
Week 2: New York Jets (Thurs.)
Week 3: Tampa Bay
Week 4: at Atlanta
Week 5: at Cincinnati
Week 6: New Orleans
Week 7: at New York Jets
Week 8: Miami
Week 9: Pittsburgh
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Carolina (Mon.)
Week 12: Denver
Week 13: at Houston
Week 14: Cleveland
Week 15: at Miami
Week 16: at Baltimore
Week 17: Buffalo

Order your 2013 New England Patriots Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: There should be little doubt that the Patriots will start the 2013 season 3-0. But a 4-0 first month will be difficult as New England will visit one of the NFC's best in Week 4 when it heads south to Atlanta. A 3-1 start looks like the worst possible scenario while a 4-0 first month wouldn't be far fetched at all.

Toughest Stretch: Tom Brady and his squad will face the other three projected AFC division winners over a four-game stretch. Games with Pittsburgh, Denver and at Houston will be tell-all tests in the conference that could have huge seeding implications. A road trip to take on Cam Newton mixed in makes the heart of the Pats' schedule the toughest of the year. There is good news, however, as the off weekend falls right in the middle of this run (Week 10).

Swing Games:DEN (Week 12), at HOU (Week 13)
Crossover Divisions:AFC North, NFC South
Bye Week:Week 6
Opp. 2012 W/L %:.508 (14th)
Athlon's SOS Rank:9th

Easiest Stretch: The final four weeks provide some easier games but the first three weeks of the '13 slate look about as "easy" as an NFL schedule can get. Home games with the Jets and Bucs could get ugly quickly while a road test in Buffalo could feature the NFL debuts for both the head coach (Doug Marrone) and quarterback (EJ Manuel).

Circle The Calendar: Huge AFC tests with Pittsburgh, Houston, Denver, Cincinnati and Baltimore will all carry playoff seeding import. But the date to circle will be the visit from New Orleans and Drew Brees in Week 6. Should Brady throw a touchdown in each of the first five games, he will be attempting to tie Brees' NFL record for consecutive games with a TD pass at 54... against Brees himself. Coincidence? Hard to believe.

Divisional Notes: No team in the NFL may have an easier divisional slate than the Patriots. A pair of games each with Buffalo, Miami and the New York Jets mean no team has a better shot at 6-0 in their division than New England. Two of those will come right out of the gate to start the year before back-to-back AFC East games in Weeks 7 and 8. The next two come in the final three weeks with a home game against Buffalo capping the year.

Playoff Push: The Patriots have two huge road games in December with Houston and Baltimore. But Belichick's team also will have three games in which they are likely to be heavy favorites. And since the Houston game comes in Week 13, the Pats will finish with an extremely manageable final four weeks. If a 3-1 finish is the worst possible scenario, the Pats could have a big leg up in the race for the all-important first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): The wide receivers have changed in New England, but they still have Tom Brady throwing to them and a fantasy playoff schedule that opens against Cleveland. The Browns were the 30th-ranked fantasy defense against WRs last season. Miami (15th) and Baltimore (17th) fared better, but Brady has impressive career statistics against the Dolphins, and the Ravens have several new faces in their secondary and, more important, no more Ed Reed.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle


Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.
Post date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: NFC, NFC East, Philadelphia Eagles, NFL
Path: /philadelphia-eagles-2013-schedule-analysis

The Andy Reid era in Philadelphia has come to an end as Chip Kelly makes the jump from college to the pros. Can he lead the Eagles to the playoffs in his first season? Here's our look at the Eagles' 2013 NFL schedule.

Philadelphia Eagles 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at Washington (Mon.)
Week 2: San Diego
Week 3: Kansas City (Thurs.)
Week 4: at Denver
Week 5: at New York Giants
Week 6: at Tampa Bay
Week 7: Dallas
Week 8: New York Giants
Week 9: at Oakland
Week 10: at Green Bay
Week 11: Washington
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: Arizona
Week 14: Detroit
Week 15: at Minnesota
Week 16: Chicago
Week 17: at Dallas

Order your 2013 Philadelphia Eagles Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: It's somewhat ironic that Chip Kelly's first game as an NFL head coach will be in Washington. Not only is that a divisional contest on the road, but Kelly will be tasked with slowing down Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, provided he's healthy. RGIII fits the mold of the dynamic, dual-threat signal-callers Kelly churned out while at Oregon and undoubtedly would like do the same with the Eagles. After that, it's back-to-back home games, including Andy Reid's return when Kansas City comes to town in Week 3. Kelly's first month ends the same way it started, on the road. This time the destination is Denver, where a completely different mold of quarterback awaits him – the future Hall of Fame type – in Peyton Manning.

Toughest Stretch: Starting with its Week 4 date in Denver, Philadelphia plays three straight games on the road. This span includes a trip to New York to play the Giants, who will then come to Lincoln Financial Field less than a month later. In between the Broncos and those two games with the G-Men, the Eagles will go to Tampa Bay and also play the Cowboys at home. There's only one playoff team (Denver) from last season among those five games, but that doesn't make this stretch any less difficult for Kelly's charges.

Swing Games:at TB (Week 6), ARI (Week 13)
Crossover Divisions:NFC North, AFC West
Bye Week:Week 12
Opp. 2012 W/L %:.496 (T-19h)
Athlon's SOS Rank:7th

Easiest Stretch: Coming out of their Week 12 bye, the Eagles play three of their next four at home. Those games are with Arizona, Detroit and Chicago, three teams that didn't make the playoffs last season. The lone road contest during this four-game span is at Minnesota, who did play in the postseason in 2012. It's no secret that the key to beating the Vikings is containing Adrian Peterson. If the Eagles' rebuilt defense can do just that and the offense can generate some home cooking, the Eagles could put together a strong finish to Kelly's first season in the NFL.

Circle The Calendar: It's only fitting that this is the season Philadelphia gets the AFC West in crossover play. Otherwise, we wouldn't get to watch Andy Reid return to the City of Brotherly Love in his first month as Kansas City's coach. Week 3 figures to be an emotional one for Reid, regardless of whether he gets a warm welcome or a greeting more in line with the well-earned reputation of the Eagles' home crowd. The six NFC East matchups should be just as entertaining, but nothing tops the league-wide interest surrounding Reid's homecoming in September.

Divisional Notes: The Eagles open (Washington) and end (Dallas) the season with divisional road games, while their two matchups with the Giants fall within a span of four weeks. The NFC East has been one of the more interesting and entertaining divisions to follow throughout the years, and this season should be no different with no lack of storylines to follow in Dallas (pressure on Jason Garrett and Tony Romo), New York (can the Giants get back to the playoffs and make one last run?) and Washington (RGIII's health), in addition to all eyes being on Kelly in his first NFL season.

Playoff Push: Philadelphia's bye is in Week 12, which means the Eagles get a break before heading into the final month of the season. December is mostly about the NFC North, as Philadelphia will face Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago in a row. The matchup with the Vikings is the only road contest of the three, and these crossover games are bookended by a home date with Arizona and the regular-season finale in Dallas. If Kelly has his Eagles in contention for a playoff spot by this point, then it's already been a successful season. Everything after that, especially if it comes at the expense of the hated Cowboys, is just icing on the cake.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Chip Kelly will get his fill of the NFC North in December and LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown probably aren’t looking forward to that part of their schedule, either. Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago were all in the top nine fantasy defenses against RBs last season. This task doesn’t appear as daunting for whoever is at quarterback by this point, however, as the Lions were 20th against QBs with the Vikings near the bottom at No. 29.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle


Philadelphia Eagles 2013 Schedule Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-kentucky-speedway

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

It's back to the status quo this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. The third-year Saturday night 400-miler is the newest addition to NASCAR's top circuit schedule, though the racing is rarely much different than we'll expect at any other 1.5-mile venue. Kyle Busch won the inaugural race in 2011, and Brad Keselowski took race No. 2 last season.

A-List (pick two, start one)
Brad Keselowski
Last year's winner at Kentucky, Keselowski led 68 laps in the race that really set the stage for his surge to the Sprint Cup title. Coming in to the 2012 race, he had four consecutive finishes of 12th or worse. After the win, he reeled off six straight top 10s. Keselowski is on a current streak of three finishes of 12th or worse; will Kentucky mark his fourth top 10 on 1.5-mile tracks this year?

Kevin Harvick
The most recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner on a 1.5-mile track (Harvick beat Kasey Kahne late to win the Coca-Cola 600), Harvick also holds the interesting distinction of finishing every non-restrictor plate race 14th or better this year. Harvick doesn't yet have a Kentucky top 10, but he did test there with Richard Childress Racing after the 600 win.

Also consider: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon

B-List (pick four, start two)
Kyle Busch
There are just four Sprint Cup drivers who have scored top-10 finishes in the first two races at Kentucky for the series, and Kyle Busch is the only one in the B-list. Busch has led nearly half of all the laps contested at Kentucky (243 of 534) and has a sterling average running position there of 3.6.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt isn't a Kentucky pick because of how well he's run there in the past (the No. 88 has the 11th-best average running position in the two Cup races), but more because of how good that team's intermediate program has been despite some poor finishes. Earnhardt had a top-5 car at Texas before a battery issue, seemed to have righted the ship in the Coca-Cola 600 before his engine failed and then had a dominant car at Michigan before the engine again cracked. That's three poor finishes, but three races where a team didn't tear up the car.

Joey Logano
Logano is another driver without terrific success in the two Sprint Cup races at Kentucky, but he's been riding a very hot streak since a poor outing at Darlington. For context on how good Logano has been, his 11th-place finish at Sonoma was his worst in five races. In Kentucky, he'll have access to Keselowski's notes from last year, and the confidence of three Nationwide Series wins at the track.

Martin Truex Jr.
I'm not sold on Truex's line of thinking that a single race win will suddenly change his ability to win races, but I do think that No. 56 is in for another good run at Kentucky thanks to its strength on similar tracks this year. Truex has a top 10 in every race at a 1.5-mile track this year, and should have won at Texas until a shock broke on the car late in the going.

Also consider: Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers

C-List (pick two, start one)
AJ Allmendinger
Allmendinger returns to JTG-Daughtery Racing's No. 47 Saturday night for his second start of the season for that team in place of Bobby Labonte. His part-time C-List status makes him a good choice, especially if he can duplicate the top-20 run he had in the No. 47 at Michigan.

Casey Mears
Mears, if nothing else, has been remarkably consistent of late in the No. 13. Since a crash at Darlington, he's finished between 16th and 23rd in all five races. Charlotte and Michigan are the most comparable tracks of those five races to Kentucky, and he took 23rd and 21st, respectively. Expect another top 25 from Mears — a better day than most in the C-List world.

Also consider: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., David Ragan, Travis Kvapil

by Geoffrey Miller
Follow Geoffrey on Twitter:

Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch lead the way in tips for your NASCAR Fantasy squad at the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Post date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 11:08
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/oregon-football-wins-big-minimal-ncaa-sanctions

"Win the Day" is a phrase associated with Oregon’s football program in recent years. And with Wednesday’s announcement of penalties from a recent NCAA investigation into the program, there’s no question the Ducks came out a winner.

After a lengthy investigation and attempt at a summary judgment with Oregon, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions finally announced its findings from an investigation into the football program and former head coach Chip Kelly.

And for Oregon and new coach Mark Helfrich, the news wasn’t as bad as some initially feared when this investigation began in 2011.

Most importantly, the Ducks avoided a bowl ban and will be eligible to compete for the national championship this season.

Here’s the rundown on the other penalties:

• Oregon was hit with a loss of one scholarship for three seasons (2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16).

• Former coach Chip Kelly was hit with an 18-month show-cause penalty.

• A former assistant director of operations received a one-year show-cause penalty.

• Oregon was placed on three years probation, starting on June 26, 2013 and ending on June 25, 2016.

• Oregon’s football evaluation days have been reduced from 42 to 36 in the fall of 2013, '14 and '15. And the permissible football evaluation days have dropped from 168 to 144 for the spring of 2014, '15 and '16.

• The Ducks are also not allowed to have a subscription to a recruiting service during the three-year probation period.

What’s the Biggest Takeaway from Wednesday’s Announcement?

The easiest way to characterize Oregon’s punishment: It’s hardly anything to be worried about. The Ducks certainly won’t be affected by the loss of a couple of scholarships and not having a bowl ban keeps the program alive for the national title in 2013.

Losing the evaluation days is a big deal, but nothing that should derail the program from continuing to win at a high level. The Ducks have an established brand on the recruiting, as evidenced by the program finishing inside of the top 20 in Athlon’s recruiting ranks in each of the last four seasons.

In Oregon’s case, the Committee on Infractions placed a heavy emphasis on the violator (Chip Kelly), rather than punishing the players currently on the roster. And the program’s cooperation with the NCAA significantly helped to prevent the penalties and infractions from being worse.

Overall, this is the best-case outcome for Oregon. The probation period and scholarship reductions are manageable, and there’s no long-term damage to the program through an extended bowl ban.

What does it mean for the Pac-12 and National Title Race for 2013?

With Oregon eligible for postseason play, the Pac-12 has two of college football’s top-10 national title contenders. The coaching transition from Kelly to Helfrich will be a challenge, but the Ducks still have some of the nation’s best personnel.

Even if Oregon does not make the national championship, having the Ducks eligible to play in a bowl game is huge for the Pac-12. Oregon, along with Stanford, should be in the mix for a BCS bowl. Having the Ducks eligible to compete for a BCS bowl is potentially a huge boost to the Pac-12 in terms of postseason revenue, especially if Oregon and Stanford both qualify for BCS games.

Oregon will have a chance to appeal its penalties. However, considering the committee’s ruling was in their favor, the school probably won’t appeal.

Oregon reportedly paid the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King at least $208,991 over the last 19 months, as the program was dealing with the ongoing NCAA investigation.

No program wants to appear in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions. However, thanks to its full cooperation, Oregon has avoided any major penalties and can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this chapter from the Chip Kelly era has closed.

Related College Football Content

Oregon Ducks 2013 Team Preview
Pac-12 Predictions for 2013
Pac-12 2013 All-Conference Team
Athlon Sports' 2013 All-America Team
College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013
College Football's Top-10 Most-Improved Teams for 2013

Post date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-all-freshman-team-2013

College football fans know about Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney, De'Anthony Thomas, AJ McCarron and Marcus Mariota, but there’s a new crop of superstars waiting to emerge. Every college football season always brings new household names, and the countdown has officially started for 2013.

Florida State’s Jameis Winston is widely regarded as one of college football’s top breakout performers for 2013. The redshirt freshman could help lead the Seminoles to back-to-back ACC titles and has all of the makings of a superstar in Tallahassee. In addition to Winston, Michigan’s Derrick Green, Baylor’s Robbie Rhodes and LSU’s Kendell Beckwith are other players that should have an opportunity for a huge season.

With the release of Athlon Sports’ All-America Team, it’s time to take a look at the future and some of the top freshmen for 2013. True and redshirt freshmen were considered for this list, with the emphasis on playing time. Talent and recruiting rank does play a part in compiling an All-Freshman team. However, a major factor in placement was determined by how much the players would see the field.  

College Football's 2013 All-Freshmen Team

First-Team Offense

QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
RB Alex Collins, Arkansas
RB Derrick Green, Michigan
All-Purpose Derrick Henry, Alabama
WR Chris Black, Alabama
WR Robbie Rhodes, Baylor
TE OJ Howard, Alabama
C Dan Voltz, Wisconsin
G Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
G Kyle Kalis, Michigan
T Adam Bisnowaty, Pittsburgh
T Jonathan McLaughlin, Virginia Tech

First-Team Defense

DE Carl Lawson, Auburn
DE Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
DT Montravius Adams, Auburn
DT Austin Johnson, Penn State
LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU
LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
LB Steve Longa, Rutgers
CB Ishmael Adams, UCLA
CB Brandon Facyson, Virginia Tech
S Hatari Byrd, Oklahoma
S Tray Matthews, Georgia

Related: Athlon's 2013 All-America Team

Second-Team Offense

QB Zach Kline, California
RB Greg Bryant, Notre Dame
RB Thomas Tyner, Oregon
All-Purpose Dontre Wilson, Ohio State
WR Shelton Gibson, West Virginia
WR Demarcus Robinson, Florida
TE Jordan Leggett, Clemson
C Ethan Pocic, LSU
G Alex Kozan, Auburn
G Caleb Peterson, North Carolina
T Kiaro Holts, North Carolina
T Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss

Second-Team Defense

DE Taco Charlton, Michigan
DE Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama
DT Kenny Bigelow, USC
DT Isaiah Golden, Texas A&M
LB Alex Figueroa, Miami
LB Addison Gillam, Colorado
LB Nyeem Wartman, Penn State
CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
S Vonn Bell, Ohio State
S Su’a Cravens, USC

Third-Team Offense

QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
RB Barry Sanders, Stanford
RB Kelvin Taylor, Florida
WR MarQuez North, Tennessee
WR Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M
WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas
C Gabe Roberts, Pittsburgh
G Caleb Benenoch, UCLA
G Ben Braden, Michigan
T Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh
T Seaver Myers, SMU

Third-Team Defense

DE Al’Quadin Muhammad, Miami
DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, Northwestern
DT Darius Latham, Indiana
DT Justin Manning, Texas A&M
LB Chans Cox, Arizona State
LB Daniel McMillian, Florida
LB Mike Mitchell, Ohio State
CB Justin Thomas, Utah
CB Priest Willis, UCLA
S Antonio Conner, Ole Miss
S Marcus Maye, Florida


Honorable Mention

Quarterbacks: Max Browne, USC; Ford Childress, West Virginia; Danny Etling, Purdue; Jeremy Johnson, Auburn; Anu Solomon, Arizona; Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh; Malik Zaire, Notre Dame

Running Backs: Riley Bullough, Michigan State; Justin Davis, USC; Keith Ford, Oklahoma; Khris Francis, North Carolina; Gerald Holmes, Michigan State; Ty Isaac, USC; Akeel Lynch, Penn State; Taquan Mizzell, Virginia; Mario Pender, Florida State; R.J. Shelton, Michigan State; Delton Williams, Michigan State State; Zaire Williams, Temple

Wide Receivers: Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh; Joel Caleb, Virginia Tech; Stacy Coley, Miami; Jason Croom, Virginia Tech; Robert Foster, Alabama; Paul Harris, Tennessee; Gerome Hopper, Clemson; Eugene Lewis, Penn State; Jalin Marshall, Ohio State; Devonte Mathis, West Virginia; James Quick, Louisville; Damore’ea Stringfellow, Washington; Tramel Terry, Georgia; Ja’Quay Williams, Texas A&M

Tight Ends: Adam Breneman, Penn State; DeSean Smith, LSU

Center: Matt Cochran, California; Dylan Foxworth, Tulsa; Patrick Kugler, Michigan; Zach Myers, Kentucky; Cody Waldrop, South Carolina

Guard: Darius James, Texas; Kyle Johnson, BYU; Denver Kirkland, Arkansas; Brendan McGowan, Temple

Tackles: Zach Banner, USC; Grant Hill, Alabama; Dan Skipper, Arkansas

Defensive End: Joey Bosa, Ohio State; Tashawn Bower, LSU; Elijah Daniel, Auburn; Jason Hatcher, Kentucky; Chris Jones, Mississippi State; Dee Liner, Alabama; Greg McMullen, Nebraska; Avery Moss, Nebraska; John Taylor, Georgia; Demarcus Walker, Florida State

Defensive Tackle: Greg Gilmore, LSU; Kelsey Griffin, South Carolina; A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

Linebackers: Jonathan Allen, Alabama; Ryan Anderson, Alabama; Alexander Anzalone, Florida; Larenz Bryant, South Carolina; Vince Biegel, Wisconsin; Chans Cox, Arizona State; Carlos Mendoza, Arizona State; Daniel McMillian, Florida; Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; Matthew Thomas, Florida State; Nyeem Wartman, Penn State

Cornerbacks: Antonio Allen, Indiana; Chaz Anderson, Boise State; Eli Apple, Ohio State; Jeryl Brazil, LSU; Cam Burrows, Ohio State; Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech; Chris Hawkins, USC; Tyvis Powell, Ohio State; Jalen Ramsey, Florida State; Sojourn Shelton, Wisconsin; Maurice Smith, Alabama; Tre’Davious White, LSU; Priest Willis, UCLA

Safety: Holland Fisher, Virginia Tech; Tyler Freeman, UCLA; Tahaan Goodman, UCLA; Leon McQuay III, USC; Max Redfield, Notre Dame; Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee; Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma; Dymonte Thomas, Michigan

Related College Football Content

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How Heisman Trophy Voting Has Changed
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College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 26-40
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College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013
Post date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 06:45
Path: /which-schools-are-most-likely-win-their-first-heisman

Before 2009, Alabama and Baylor were in the same boat.

It's tough to imagine ways in which the Crimson Tide and the Bears of Waco stood on the same ground in college football history. But four years ago, Alabama and Baylor both lacked Heisman winners until Mark Ingram took the trophy for Alabama. Two seasons later, Robert Griffin III won a Heisman for Baylor.

This season, Johnny Manziel is one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy, and even if a repeat winner would be historically significant on its own, a handful of schools are looking to fill a void in their trophy cases.

When oddsmaker Danny Sheridan released his Heisman Trophy odds, three of the top 10 favorites could represent the first winners for their schools: Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas both at 10-to-1 and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd at 15-to-1.

Louisville, Oregon and Clemson all have notable accomplishments in the 78 years since Heisman started being awarded, but they don’t have the most wins without a trophy.

Here’s a look at the schools with the most wins since 1935 and our assessments for each to pick up their first Heisman.

Related: Manziel, Clowney lead Heisman revolution


*List presented in order of wins since the first Heisman Trophy was awarded in 1935.

1. Tennessee (593 wins since 1935)
Notable-near misses: Four runners-up (Peyton Manning in 1997, Heath Shuler in 1993, Johnny Majors in 1956, Hank Lauricella in 1951)
Contender for 2013: None
ETA for first Heisman: Not anytime soon.
With Mark Ingram winning Alabama’s first Heisman in 2009, Tennessee is the most storied SEC program without a winner. The Volunteers have the sixth-most wins since 1935 and no Heisman to show for it. The Volunteers’ best hope for a Heisman contender in the next few years may be 2014 running back Jalen Hurd. That said, bowl games and beating Vanderbilt are more pressing goals in Knoxville now.

T-2. Arkansas (514)
Notable-near misses: Darren McFadden (runner-up in 2006 and 2007)
Contender for 2013: None
ETA for first Heisman: Not anytime soon.
McFadden first ran into Troy Smith in 2006 in a lopsided Heisman race before falling only 254 points behind Tim Tebow in 2007. Arkansas never had a 3,000-yard passer until Ryan Mallett in 2009, but neither he nor Tyler Wilson finished higher than seventh in the voting. The Bobby Petrino mess, however, set Arkansas back a few years, and the same goes for the Razorbacks’ Heisman prospects for the time being. New coach Bret Bielema brings hope, though. Just two seasons ago, Bielema coached two players who finished in the top 10 of the voting: Montee Ball (fourth) and Russell Wilson (ninth).

T-2. Clemson (514)
Notable near-miss: C.J. Spiller (sixth in 2009)
Contenders for 2013: Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins
ETA for first Heisman: Getting closer.
Tajh Boyd has 15-to-1 odds on the Heisman this year. The quarterback is our leader among Heisman contenders out of the ACC this season. But don’t forget about Sammy Watkins. His ability as a receiver and returnman placed him as a Heisman frontrunner for the first few months of his freshman season in 2011. As long as Clemson has ample skill players running the no-huddle spread, the Tigers will have Heisman contenders.

4. Georgia Tech (507)
Notable near-miss: Joe Hamilton (runner-up in 1999)
Contender for 2013: Vad Lee
ETA for first Heisman: A long way off.
A college football irony, Georgia Tech (like Clemson) employed John Heisman as head coach but hasn’t fielded a Heisman winner. As long as the Yellow Jackets spread the carries in the option, Georgia Tech may have trouble producing a candidate to compete with quarterbacks accounting for 5,000-plus total yards.

5. Arizona State (506)
Notable near-miss: Jake Plummer (third in 1996)
Contender for 2013: Taylor Kelly
ETA for first Heisman: Eventually.
Neither of the last two Heisman winners played in BCS games, so the idea that Heisman winners must play for title contenders is starting to fade. That's good for programs that have struggled to reach major bowl games, yet remained competitive. Still, Arizona State hasn’t finished in the top 10 since ’96. The program has had isolated pockets of success since Frank Kush left, so it’s conceivable Arizona State could stumble its way into a Heisman race at some point.

6. Fresno State (504)
Notable near-miss: David Carr (sixth in 2001)
Contender for 2013: Derek Carr
ETA for first Heisman: Needs more time.
David’s brother Derek Carr is one of the nation’s top pro-style quarterbacks — his 63 career TD passes is third among active quarterbacks. He’ll be the beneficiary of name recognition and a Friday matchup with Boise State. Landing in the top-10 of the Heisman voting isn’t far-fetched for Carr during his senior season, but anything more may be a fantasy. Sophomore Davante Adams may be a Biletnikoff candidate someday, but Mountain West receivers generally don’t lend themselves to Heisman consideration.

7. West Virginia (496)
Notable near-misses: Major Harris (third in 1989, fifth in 1988), Pat White (sixth in 2007, seventh in 2008), Steve Slaton (fourth in 2006)
Contender for 2013: Charlie Sims
ETA for first Heisman: Missed the exit.
If only they gave out the Heisman in September, Geno Smith would have been in luck. The Mountaineers are rebuilding on offense with Smith and his receivers gone, but the arrival of running back Charles Sims, who averaged at least 100 all-purpose yards per game the last two years at Houston, gives West Virginia a legitimate postseason awards candidate.

8. Ole Miss (488)
Notable near-misses: Eli Manning (third in 2003), Archie Manning (third in 1970, fourth in 1969), Jake Gibbs (third in 1960)
Contenders for 2013: Bo Wallace, Donte Moncrief, Jeff Scott
ETA for first Heisman: Eventually.
A miracle season for Ole Miss against a brutal schedule would put one of the Rebels into the Heisman race, but this seems to be a long-term project, especially if Hugh Freeze keeps up this recruiting clip.

9. Virginia Tech (477)
Notable near-misses: Mike Vick (third in 1999)
Contender for 2013: Logan Thomas
ETA for first Heisman: Missed the exit.
All eyes were on Logan Thomas last season, and now he’s trying to rebound from a subpar season. Meanwhile, the Hokies’ normally reliable string of running backs has hit a hiccup.

10. Texas Tech (476)
Notable near-misses: Graham Harrell (fourth in 2008), Michael Crabtree (fifth in 2008)
Contender for 2013: Michael Brewer
ETA for first Heisman: Not anytime soon.
The stigma against so-called system quarterbacks playing in the spread offense lifted just as Texas Tech stopped churning out 5,000-yard passers. Kliff Kingsbury will help Tech return to offensive glory, but for better or worse the Air Raid has become mainstream. That may just mean more Sam Bradfords winning the Heisman rather than Graham Harrells.

11. Washington (476)
Notable near-miss: Steve Emtman (fourth in 1991)
Contenders for 2013: Keith Price, Bishop Sankey
ETA for first Heisman: Eventually.
Hard to believe the Huskies, even during the Don James heyday, only produced one player who finished in the top six, and that player was a defensive lineman. Washington's drought has to change eventually, right?

12. Utah (467)
Notable near-miss: Alex Smith (fourth in 2005)
Contender for 2013: None
ETA for first Heisman:  Not anytime soon.
Utah has yet to prove it can win on a regular basis in the Pac-12. Until that happens, the Utes will have trouble in the Heisman race.

13. Michigan State (466)
Notable near-misses: Lorenzo White (fourth in 1985 and 1987), Sherman Lewis (third in 1963)
Contender for 2013: None
ETA for first Heisman: Stuck in traffic.
Michigan State is too big a program not to find its way to a Heisman, but Michigan State’s program under Mark Dantonio isn’t built to produce Heisman contenders as dynamic as Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton. Michigan State's best bet may be an every down back such as Javon Ringer or Le'Veon Bell, but Ingram is the only running back to win the Heisman since 2005. With Michigan and Ohio State back on top in the Big Ten, Michigan State could slip to middle of the pack.

14. Missouri (446)
Notable near-misses: Chase Daniel (fourth in 2007), Paul Christman (third in 1939)
Contender for 2013: Dorial Green-Beckham
ETA for first Heisman:  Missed the exit.
Chase Daniel may end up being Missouri’s best hope at a Heisman in a while unless 2012 No. 1 recruit Dorial Green-Beckham puts up a campaign similar to Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson. Missouri’s ability to adapt to the SEC wasn’t nearly as seamless as Texas A&M’s, so catching up to Georgia, South Carolina and Florida may take some time.

15. North Carolina (444)
Notable near-misses: Charles Justice (runner-up in 1948 and 1949)
Contender for 2013: Bryn Renner
ETA for first Heisman:  Eventually.
North Carolina has been one of college football’s underachievers over the years. That’s mirrored in the Heisman no-show for several decades. The Tar Heels are in a talent-rich state and have the right coach for eye-popping numbers in Larry Fedora.


Oregon (431)
Contenders for 2013: Marcus Mariota, De'Anthony Thomas
ETA for first Heisman: Imminent.
Joey Harrington and LaMichael James were Heisman finalists, but the biggest near-miss may have been Dennis Dixon. The senior quarterback still finished fifth in the voting despite a season-ending ACL tear in November 2007. As a consistent Rose Bowl contender with elite offensive playmakers, Oregon will have its chances in the coming years to break its Heisman drought. Marcus Mariota and DeAnthony Thomas are contenders now, but freshman running back Thomas Tyner is the contender for the future.

Louisville (412)
Contender for 2013: Teddy Bridgewater
ETA for first Heisman: Getting closer.
Bridgewater shrugged off a Heisman campaign this offseason, but that won’t slow his candidacy. A bigger barrier will be Louisville’s lackluster schedule, especially if Bridgewater slips up in a game or two. His better bet — if he stays — may be in 2014 against an ACC schedule.

Mississippi State (380)
Contender for 2013: Tyler Russell
ETA for first Heisman: Not anytime soon
Like Ole Miss, Mississippi State’s Heisman contenders must go up against Alabama and LSU on a yearly basis. Which Egg Bowl rival gets there first?

Kansas State (324)
Contender for 2013: John Hubert
ETA for first Heisman: Missed the exit
Collin Klein and Michael Bishop were Heisman finalists from Manhattan. The window appears to have closed, but Bill Snyder continues to surprise us.

Boise State (254)
Contender for 2013: Joe Southwick
ETA for first Heisman: Eventually.
Boise State has gradually built Heisman credibility with Ian Johnson finishing eighth in 2005 then Kellen Moore finishing in the top 10 for three consecutive seasons, including fourth in 2010. Like BYU in the 1980s, Boise State has shed the “mid-major” label to reach national power status. The next step is to grab a Heisman. One guess: The next time a Kellen Moore or Ian Johnson comes around, he’ll fare better in the Heisman race.

Contenders for 2013: Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois), Tyler Tettleton (Ohio), Dri Archer (Kent State)
ETA for first Heisman:  Eventually.
With the Mountain West, Conference USA and Sun Belt getting picked over in conference realignment, the MAC may be the non-AQ league best-suited to produced a Heisman winner if only for consistency. MAC players will get their time on TV thanks to the league’s aggressive midweek schedule, and #MACtion will have a contingency of the populist vote. That said, players from non-traditional conferences have not broken through. Hawaii’s Colt Brennan from the Mountain West finished no better than third despite shattering passing records for an undefeated team in the regular season.

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MAC Predictions for 2013
Mountain West Predictions for 2013
Pac-12 Predictions for 2013
SEC Predictions for 2013
Sun Belt Predictions for 2013

Which Schools are Most Likely to Win their First Heisman?
Post date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins, NFL, NFL
Path: /nfl/miami-dolphins-2013-schedule-analysis

The Miami Dolphins began the season 1-3 last year but finished 6-6 in their final 12 games. So year No. 2 under Joe Philbin begins with cautious optimism. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Miami Dolphins 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at Cleveland
Week 2: at Indianapolis
Week 3: Atlanta
Week 4: at New Orleans
Week 5: Baltimore
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Buffalo
Week 8: at New England
Week 9: Cincinnati
Week 10: at Tampa Bay
Week 11: San Diego
Week 12: Carolina
Week 13: at New York Jets
Week 14: at Pittsburgh
Week 15: New England
Week 16: at Buffalo
Week 17: New York Jets 

Order your 2013 Miami Dolphins Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Year two under Philbin will begin with three road games in the first four weeks. And other than the season opener against Cleveland, the Fish will play three projected playoff teams during that span. Road trips indoors to face elite quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Drew Brees will be tough for the Fins defense while hosting Matt Ryan and company is no joke either. A 1-3 start to the year is likely.

Toughest Stretch: And considering Week 5 features a home visit from the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, Miami will deal with its toughest stretch right out of the gate. The Dolphins will face a four-week stretch against teams that won 41 games a year ago. Unfortunately, the Saints and the Colts should be improved this fall while the Falcons and Ravens are looking to retain the status quo. The good news is this team enters the perfectly placed bye week in Week 6 in dire need of a rest.

Swing Games: at IND (Week 2), SD (Week 11)
Crossover Divisions: AFC North, NFC South
Bye Week: Week 6
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .520 (8th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 21st

Easiest Stretch: Few teams have as obvious an easy stretch as Miami will deal with from Week 10 to Week 13. Home games with Carolina and San Diego provide big chances for wins while road trips to in-state Tampa Bay and AFC East bottom dweller New York Jets aren't very daunting. The Fish have a chance to make a run as the calendar flips from November to December.

Circle The Calendar: The Mike Wallace storyline might be the top story to track if the Dolphins aren't making a playoff push. A Week 14 visit to Pittsburgh will bring the former Steelers' star wide receiver back to Heinz Field for a late-season showdown. It also will be the first time the Steelers will get a crack at the former Packers assistant who helped to defeat the Steel Curtain in Super Bowl XL in 2010.

Divisional Notes: The Dolphins won't play an AFC East game until Week 7 when Buffalo comes to town. Then six of the final 11 will come in the division, including the final three games of the year. There are four very winnable games with the Bills and Jets with two nasty uphill battles with the Patriots. However, a December home game with the Pats provides Miami a signature win opportunity during the playoff push.

Playoff Push: There are wins to be had in the final month — the Jets twice and Buffalo — but there are also two tough tests against New England and Pittsburgh. A 3-2 record in the final month would likely put the Fish in second place in the AFC East and in contention for a Wildcard bid. Anything better than that would be a huge success.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Sean Payton is back to steer the Saints’ offense, which gets a double dose of Carolina in the fantasy playoffs. Believe it or not, but the Panthers were top five against fantasy WRs last season. If this holds up again, it could be good news for Jimmy Graham owners, as Carolina didn’t perform nearly as well (23rd) against TEs. The Rams also were a top-10 fantasy defense against WRs last season.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston Denver
Miami  Cincinnati Indianapolis Kansas City
New England Cleveland Jacksonville Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas  Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay New Orleans San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)

Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
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<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, Fantasy Football, NFL, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-fantasy-football-whos-number-2

You have the first pick in your fantasy football draft. Who are you taking? Athlon Sports has Houston Texan running back Arian Foster No. 1 overall in its rankings and on its Big Board, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was an unanimous decision.

Six different Athlon editors and one fantasy football contributor were asked who they would take with the first pick. Foster was the clear-cut choice with four votes, but two other running backs and a certain reigning NFL MVP and cover boy quarterback received one vote each as well. Below are the cases made for each player.

Arian Foster for No. 1

“This guy averaged 3.5 more points per game than anyone else at his position in 2010. He led all running backs in scoring average again in 2011 despite opening the year with a bad hamstring. You don’t need to make a case for him. You need to search for reasons to pick anyone else. So what are they? Ray Rice catches more passes? He didn’t in 2010, when both played a full season. Aaron Rodgers? He was stellar last year... and yet only one point per game better than Drew Brees. LeSean McCoy? His coach says McCoy needs to touch the ball less this year than he did last year. Ben Tate? He didn’t hurt Foster in 2011. The only thing to dislike about Foster is the loss of his right tackle, Eric Winston. Frankly, this back has earned the benefit of the doubt.” — Matt Schauf,

“I have always scoffed at those who say you cannot take a QB in the first round. Well, we will see how much that changes this year when Aaron Rodgers is a top three or four pick. We had him at No. 6 overall last year, and he paid off for us. With that said, the question is: Who’s No. 1 in 2012? Arian Foster still gets my nod. He was a non-factor in four games and still had over 300 points for the season. I’m also a schedule nerd, and Foster has seven games against rushing defenses ranked 17th or worst last season, including five of the last six weeks.” — Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports (@Corby_Yarborough)

Aaron Rodgers for No. 1

“Last year was a tough call — I voted for Adrian Peterson — but this year is even more difficult. I love LeSean McCoy’s situation in Philadelphia, but can he hold up for 350 touches for a third season? I love Ray Rice’s and Arian Foster’s feature-back status. But in the modern era of running back by committee — which is beginning to have an increasingly volatile relief pitcher feel to it of late — I would have to lean towards the safest player in the NFL, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The league averages at the quarterback position have reached all-time highs, and passing for 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns is almost a low-water mark for success at the position. With the depth at running back and wide receiver this year, my advice is to target an elite passer early and build around him. You can’t win your fantasy league with the first pick, but you can certainly lose it. Rodgers is the closest to a sure thing in the 2012 draft room.” — Braden Gall, Athlon Sports (@BradenGall)

Ray Rice for No. 1

“My choice for the No. 1 overall fantasy selection is Ravens running back Ray Rice. The dynamic Rice was the only player in the NFL to gain over 2,000 yards from scrimmage last year, the second time he has accomplished that feat in the last three seasons. The concern of other Baltimore backs stealing scoring opportunities was alleviated in 2011, with Rice tallying 15 total touchdowns. Other runners like Arian Foster of the Texans or LeSean McCoy of the Eagles are solid choices as well, but Rice’s consistent running and pass-catching make him the best option at the top of the draft. Additionally, I don’t mind taking a top quarterback like Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers or New Orleans’ Drew Brees in the first round, but getting a top running back in the first three or four overall picks will tend to be the better decision for your fantasy squad.” — Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports (@AthlonSnowman)

Chris Johnson for No. 1

“Rumors of Chris Johnson’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. The 26-year-old is in his prime, has never missed a game due to injury and has a better single season in the books (remember CJ2K?) than any of his peers. Johnson’s per-season average is 1,768 yards from scrimmage and 11 total TDs; take away the record-breaking 2,509-yard, 16-TD 2009 season, and he still averages 1,521 yards from scrimmage and nine total TDs. Obviously, CJ disappointed fantasy owners last season. Following an NFL lockout and contract holdout, Johnson struggled to find his stride with a new coach, play-caller and quarterback in Tennessee. But it was business as usual over the last eight games, when he piled up 893 of his 1,465 yards from scrimmage and three of his four total TDs. Entering his second year with the Titans’ new regime and coming off his worst season as a pro, the fastest man in the NFL should be the No. 1 fantasy pick.” — Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports

— Published on June 26, 2012

Athlon Sports 2012 NFL Fantasy Content:
Athlon Sports Big Board: Top 150
2012 NFL Fantasy Football Athlon's Top 250
2012 Fantasy Football Mock Draft I
2012 Bye Week Cheat Sheet
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: QBs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: RBs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: WRs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: TEs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: DLs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: LBs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: DBs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: IDP Top 75

Related: Order your Athlon Sports 2012 NFL Preview Magazine Here

You can preorder your award-winning Athlon Sports NFL Fantasy Football preview magazine here.
<p> 2013 NFL Fantasy Football: Who's Number 2?</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 13:01
All taxonomy terms: New Orleans Saints, NFC, NFC South, NFL
Path: /nfl/new-orleans-saints-2013-schedule-analysis

Sean Payton returns to the New Orleans Saints after his team went through a tortuous 2012 season. He has his sights set on a return to the postseason this fall. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

New Orleans Saints 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Atlanta
Week 2: at Tampa Bay
Week 3: Arizona
Week 4: Miami (Mon.)
Week 5: at Chicago
Week 6: at New England
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Buffalo
Week 9: at New York Jets
Week 10: Dallas
Week 11: San Francisco
Week 12: at Atlanta (Thurs.)
Week 13: at Seattle (Mon.)
Week 14: Carolina
Week 15: at St. Louis
Week 16: at Carolina
Week 17: Tampa Bay

Order your 2013 New Orleans Saints Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: There will be loads of intensity in the home season opener against arch rival Atlanta in the Superdome as Payton makes his triumphant return to the sideline. But after that, three games with Tampa Bay, Arizona and Miami shouldn't scare Drew Brees and company. A 3-1 mark to start the year is a very real possibility.

Toughest Stretch: There is an unenviable four-week stretch to end November that could decide the Saints' postseason fate. New Orleans will have back-to-back home games with the NFC postseason hopefuls Dallas and San Francisco before facing the Falcons on a short week and the Seahawks on a long one on the road. The only comfort will be the extra three days of rest between the trip to Atlanta and the trip to Seattle. From Week 11 to Week 13, the Saints could face the best three teams in the NFC.

Swing Games: at CHI (Week 5), DAL (Week 10)
Crossover Divisions: NFC West, AFC East
Bye Week: Week 7
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .539 (3rd)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 11th

Easiest Stretch: Both the first and last month of the regular season are fairly manageable, but the final four weeks seem like a big blessing for the Big Easy. Not only were all four teams under .500 a year ago but three of them will come in the division. A road game at the Rams will be the toughest game of the final four weeks.

Circle The Calendar: Drew Brees' consecutive game streak with a touchdown pass would be tied by Tom Brady the same week the Saints come to town in a strategically placed bout with the Patriots. Recent radio fodder from "Mayhem in the AM" only adds fuel to the Falcons-Saints fire, so both of those games are worth circling. But Payton's return to the sideline in the Superdome in the season opener against division favorite and arch rival Atlanta in Week 1 has to be the biggest date on the calendar for Who Dat nation.

Divisional Notes: The Saints have an odd divisional slate as they will start the season with two NFC South games and will finish the year with three out of four coming within the division. Playing Cam Newton twice in a three-week span in the second half of the year could be sneaky dangerous. And the massive road game at Atlanta will come on a short week between physical tests with San Francisco and Seattle.

Playoff Push: Few teams will have the opportunity to win games in the final four weeks like the Saints. Two games with Carolina and one each with St. Louis and Tampa bodes extremely well for New Orleans' push for the postseason. All three teams pose interesting challenges but combined for 26 losses a year ago and none are predicted to make the postseason in 2013.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Sean Payton is back to steer the Saints’ offense, which gets a double dose of Carolina in the fantasy playoffs. Believe it or not, but the Panthers were top five against fantasy WRs last season. If this holds up again, it could be good news for Jimmy Graham owners, as Carolina didn’t perform nearly as well (23rd) against TEs. The Rams also were a top-10 fantasy defense against WRs last season.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis Kansas City
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas  Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay New Orleans San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)

Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC West, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL
Path: /nfl/kansas-city-chiefs-2013-schedule-analysis

After 14 years in Philadelphia, Andy Reid takes over the reigns in Kansas City. Can he and new Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith turn around a team that went 2-14 last season? Here's our look at the Chiefs' 2013 NFL schedule.

Kansas City Chiefs 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at Jacksonville
Week 2: Dallas
Week 3: at Philadelphia (Thurs.)
Week 4: New York Giants
Week 5: at Tennessee
Week 6: Oakland
Week 7: Houston
Week 8: Cleveland
Week 9: at Buffalo
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Denver
Week 12: San Diego
Week 13: Denver
Week 14: at Washington
Week 15: at Oakland
Week 16: Indianapolis
Week 17: at San Diego

Order your 2013 Kansas City Chiefs Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: After spending more than a deacade leading the Eagles, it's only fitting that the NFL helps Reid settle in with the Chiefs by providing him with some familiar opponents. On top of that, it appears the schedule-makers did Reid and Kansas City a favor by letting them open up, albeit on the road, against Jacksonville. After the Jaguars it's three straight NFC East games with Dallas and the New York Giants set to come to Arrowhead and, of course, the Chiefs going to Philadelphia to face Reid's former charges. A strong opening month by Kansas City would not only bode well for the team, it also would probably provide some extra satisfaction for their new head coach.

Toughest Stretch: Kansas City plays just one playoff team from last season (Houston, Week 7) leading up to its bye in Week 10. The script flips after the bye, however, as four of their final seven games are against teams that played in the postseason in 2012. This includes two games against defending AFC West champion Denver, starting with a trip to the Mile High City in Week 11. A home game against San Diego follows before the Broncos come to Arrowhead, and then the Chiefs head east to finish off NFC crossover play with a game against Washington in Week 14. Even though Kansas City has to play three straight NFC East foes from Weeks 2-4, this four-game stretch against AFC teams gets the nod for its toughest because of the divisional implications.

Swing Games: CLE (Week 8), at BUF (Week 9)
Crossover Divisions: AFC South, NFC East
Bye Week: Week 10
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .473 (T-26th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 30th

Easiest Stretch: Once Reid and the Chiefs get the bulk of their NFC crossover games out of the way, their schedule opens up somewhat. From Week 4 up until going on bye in Week 10, Kansas City faces just one team that won more than six games in 2012. Houston (12-4) will pay a visit to Arrowhead in Week 7, while the Chiefs' remaining opponents during this five-game stretch went a combined 21-43 (.328) last season. Oakland and Cleveland are at home, while road trips to Tennessee and Buffalo don't appear be all that daunting at this point either. Even if September goes poorly, Kansas City should have a chance to right the ship and pick up some wins leading into its Week 10 bye.

Circle The Calendar: Reid's history with the NFC East makes the four crossover games intriguing, but nothing will top his return to Philadelphia in Week 3. Not surprisingly, it's a primetime game (Thursday), and it will be interesting to see what type of welcome the former Eagles head coach gets from the home crowd. Outside of that, the Week 1 opener at Jacksonville could be considered must-see in that it will feature the first two picks of April's draft on the same field. Both Kansas City's Eric Fisher (No. 1 overall) and the Jaguars' Luke Joeckel are offensive tackles who are expected to start for their respective teams. The Chiefs surprised some when they took Fisher with the first pick over Joeckel, who was rated by many the No. 1 overall prospect headed into the draft, so no doubt a lot of attention will be paid to how these two fare in their first NFL game.

Divisional Notes: The Chiefs will see lots of familiar faces in November and December, as all but one of their divisional games comes after their Week 10 bye. Oakland comes to town in Week 6 and after that Kansas City's next AFC West contest isn't until Week 11 at Denver. The Chiefs will play the Broncos twice in a three-week span, with a home date with the Chargers sandwiched in between. The final two divisional games are in Weeks 15 and 17 and both are on the road, with the season ending in San Diego. If anything, the weather should be nice out west compared to a Sunday afternoon in December at Arrowhead.

Playoff Push: If Kansas City is still in the playoff hunt by the time December rolls around, the Chiefs will have plenty of opportunities to make some noise. The final month of the season includes three divisional games, starting with Denver at home in Week 13. Kansas City also will play two other playoff teams from last season in Washington (away) and Indianapolis (home), as well as facing off with Oakland and San Diego for a second time. The three road games coupled with home dates with the Broncos and Colts make this a challenging finish to the season, but one that also could prove beneficial to Reid in his first season in Kansas City even if it doesn't culimate with a postseason berth.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): If Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson can fix the Chiefs’ offense, this unit could be a potential difference-maker come fantasy playoff time. For starters, Jamaal Charles gets two of the worst fantasy defense against RBs in the Colts (25th) and Raiders (27th). But that’s not all, as Alex Smith will get a shot at the 25th- and 27th-ranked fantasy defenses against QBs in the Redskins and Raiders, respectively.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis Kansas City
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay New Orleans San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)

Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

<p> Kansas City Chiefs 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 11:15
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-quarterback-rankings

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Team Defenses

Updated: August 22, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)

Note: This is not a list of the best players in college football. This is a ranking of the best players in terms of fantasy value (players who will have the best numbers in college football for 2013.)

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Quarterbacks

1Jordan LynchNorthern Illinois
2Braxton MillerOhio State
3Tajh BoydClemson
4Johnny ManzielTexas A&M
5Marcus MariotaOregon
6Brett HundleyUCLA
7Brett SmithWyoming
8Kolton BrowningUL-Monroe
9Rakeem CatoMarshall
10Derek CarrFresno State
11Shane CardenEast Carolina
12Bryce PettyBaylor
13Taylor MartinezNebraska
14Terrance BroadwayUL-Lafayette
15Cody FajardoNevada
16Chuckie KeetonUtah State
17David FalesSan Jose State
18Bo WallaceOle Miss
19Logan ThomasVirginia Tech
20Aaron MurrayGeorgia
21Clint ChelfOklahoma State
22Jameis WinstonFlorida State
23Teddy BridgewaterLouisville
24Clint TrickettWest Virginia
25Blake BellOklahoma
26Bryn RennerNorth Carolina
27Devin GardnerMichigan
28Vad LeeGeorgia Tech
29Tyler TettletonOhio
30Taylor KellyArizona State
31Taylor McHargueRice
32Casey PachallTCU
33Keenan ReynoldsNavy
34Garrett GilbertSMU
35Blake BortlesUCF
36Connor HallidayWashington State
37B.J. DenkerArizona
38Stephen MorrisMiami
39Keith WenningBall State
40Daniel SamsKansas State
41Michael BrewerTexas Tech
42Cody KesslerUSC
43Terrance OwensToledo
44Taysom HillBYU
45James FranklinMissouri
46Jared GoffCalifornia
47David PilandHouston
48Kain ColterNorthwestern
49AJ McCarronAlabama
50Sam RichardsonIowa State
51Matt SchilzBowling Green
52Anthony BooneDuke
53Keith PriceWashington
54Tyler RussellMississippi State
55Austin BoucherMiami (OH)
56A.J. SchurrArmy
57Joe SouthwickBoise State
58Cody GreenTulsa
59C.J. BrownMaryland
60Chase RettigBoston College
61Kale PearsonAir Force
62Kevin HoganStanford
63Corey RobinsonTroy
64Nick MarshallAuburn
65Tre RobersonIndiana
66Connor ShawSouth Carolina
67Tyler Van TubbergenWestern Michigan
68Eric SozaUTSA
69Austyn Carta-SamuelsVanderbilt
70Brandon AllenArkansas
71Logan KilgoreMiddle Tennessee
72Sean MannionOregon State
73Tyler BenzEastern Michigan
74Nick SherryUNLV
75Brendon KayCincinnati
76Jameill ShowersUTEP


<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Quarterback Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 11:11
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Roto, MLB, Fantasy
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-june-24

Every Monday, Athlon Sports covers the hottest hitters in fantasy baseball over the past seven days as well as gets you ready for this week's action. Be sure to check back each week as our fantasy junkies analyze the best waiver wire pick ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bullpens from around the league.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (June 17-23):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Pedro Alvarez 3B PIT 5 4 10 0 .414 1.383
2. Jay Bruce OF CIN 6 6 7 0 .276 1.266
3. Hanley Ramirez 3B/SS LAD 6 3 7 0 .500 1.542
4. Chris Davis 1B/OF BAL 5 4 10 0 .348 1.357
5. Edwin Encarnacion 1B/3B TOR 7 3 8 0 .364 1.326
6. Nelson Cruz OF TEX 3 3 11 0 .379 1.124
7. Raul Ibanez* OF SEA 4 4 9 0 .321 1.117
8. Ryan Howard 1B PHI 4 3 7 0 .476 1.633
9. Paul Goldschmidt 1B ARI 5 4 6 0 .364 1.326
10. Joe Mauer C/1B MIN 8 2 4 0 .407 1.226
11. Miguel Cabrera 3B DET 3 2 6 0 .536 1.427
12. Gregor Blanco* OF SF 4 0 4 2 .500 1.160
13. Maicer Izturis* 2B/3B/SS TOR 7 2 5 0 .364 1.118
14. David Wright 3B NYM 5 3 5 0 .361 1.156
16. Ben Revere* OF PHI 6 0 2 4 .320 .640
15. Shane Victorino OF BOS 4 1 7 2 .333 .968
17. A.J. Pierzynski* C TEX 6 2 7 0 .320 1.050
18. Ian Kinsler 2B TEX 6 0 6 1 .407 .859
19. Jed Lowrie 2B/SS OAK 6 1 6 0 .407 1.045
20. Evan Longoria 3B TB 6 3 5 0 .280 1.067
21. Nick Franklin* 2B/SS SEA 4 2 9 1 .241 .773
22. Anthony Rizzo 1B CHC 6 2 5 0 .350 1.140
23. Austin Jackson OF DET 7 0 3 0 .522 1.172
24. Adam Dunn* 1B/OF CWS 5 2 8 0 .280 .920
25. David Ortiz 1B BOS 3 2 6 0 .429 1.181

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Nick Franklin, 2B/SS, SEA (35% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
The elite prospect is delivering for the Mariners and for fantasy owners alike these days and is still just 35-percent owned. His .283/.848 slash line would make him valuable at either middle infield position, but his complete production line makes him a must-add: 10 R, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 3 SB in just 92 at-bats. Go to the waiver wire today.

Jonathan Lucroy, C, MIL (64%)
Lucroy just got finished with one of the best months of his career. He hit .360/1.027 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 89 at-bats. He may have his slumps from time to time but this guy can hit — as his 40 RBIs attest.

Jason Castro, C, HOU (46%)
If you need a back-stop, this might be the week to snag one off the wire. Castro is a former first-round pick who is finally rounding into form. He clubbed six homers at a .313 clip over the last month. Don't be afraid to punt on bad draft picks (looking at you Miguel Montero).

Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC (60%)
Time to get back on the Royals train. Hosmer is hitting .294 over the last month with 15 runs, 15 RBIs and four stolen bags to go with his two homers. Mike Moustakas might be turning it around and Billy Butler is showing signs of life. Is it time to get back on the Royals bandwagon?

Nate Schierholtz, OF, CHC (16%)
There is no track record or glaring talent that indicates the Cubs outfielder is worth owning. But owners can no longer ignore his production. As of Monday morning this is his tidy roto line in 199 at-bats: 30 R, 10 HR, 29 RBIs, 4 SB, .296/.905. That'll play.

Last Week:

Brandon Crawford, SS, SF: 3/15, 2 R
Zack Cozart, SS, CIN: 6/24, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI
Omar Infante, 2B, DET: 9/27, 2 R, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, SB
Kelly Johnson, 2B/OF, TB: 2/11, R, HR, RBI
Josh Rutledge, 2B/SS, COL: 4/18, 4 R, 2B


Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Yovani Gallardo MIL 21.0 2 15 0.00 0.81
2. Matt Harvey NYM 20.0 2 26 1.80 0.75
3. Madison Bumgarner SF 14.0 2 18 1.29 0.71
4. Max Scherzer DET 20.0 3 22 2.25 1.00
5. Mike Leake* CIN 23.0 2 10 1.57 0.70
6. Cliff Lee PHI 15.0 2 15 2.40 0.60
7. Corey Kluber* CLE 21.2 3 15 1.66 1.15
8. Matt Cain SF 19.2 1 21 2.29 0.81
9. Jeff Locke* PIT 14.0 1 8 0.00 0.71
10. Ervin Santana KC 14.2 1 9 0.61 0.68
11. Jhoulys Chacin* COL 20.2 3 8 1.74 1.02
12. Chris Capuano* LAD 11.0 1 9 0.00 0.64
13. Erik Bedard* HOU 13.1 1 14 0.68 0.90
14. Josh Collmenter* ARI 8.0 1 9 0.00 0.38
15. C.J. Wilson LAA 14.0 2 7 1.29 0.86
16. Bartolo Colon OAK 21.0 3 10 2.14 1.14
17. Stephen Strasburg WAS 12.0 1 13 1.50 0.83
18. Miguel Gonzalez* BAL 21.2 2 12 2.91 0.83
19. Esmil Rogers* TOR 13.2 2 6 1.98 0.80
20. Gio Gonzalez WAS 14.0 0 19 1.93 0.79

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

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

1. Jose Fernandez, MIA (Tues.) vs. Minnesota (63% owned)
The star rookie pitcher won't win a ton of games this year due to his team, but he is starting to show people why he was such an elite prospect. He's allowed three earned runs in his last three starts (20.0 IP) with 25 strikeouts and two wins. Look for more against the Twins this week.

2. Eric Stults, SD (Sun.) at Miami (42%)
The Padres starter has a streak of five consecutive starts with two runs allowed or fewer. He also has just three walks over that span with 25 strikeouts. The Marlins lineup will provide little challenge for the developing eighth-year vet.

3. Jeff Locke, PIT (Tues.) at Seattle (74%)
Locke has been lucky this year but he is starting to prove that it's more than just good BABIP numbers. In five of his last seven starts he has allowed nary a run and has allowed just four total earned runs over that span. A trip to Seattle won't hurt his awesome 2.01/1.13 ratios much.

4. Ricky Nolasco, MIA (Fri.) vs. San Diego (22%)
The Marlins starter has always had tantalizing talent and quality strikeout rates. He has allowed one earned run in three of his last seven starts and has only allowed more than three ER once over that span. The Padres don't have a full complement of (no Yonder Alonso, Everth Cabrera or Cameron Maybin) players and could afford some good numbers.

5. Kyle Lohse, MIL (Tues.) vs. Chicago Cubs (49%)
He has posted three straight starts with one earned run (20.0 IP) and got one of his two wins this year. He struck out 14 over that span with just 19 baserunners. Expect another quality start from the Brewers starter.

Closing Morsels:

The Tigers DFAed Jose Valverde after a couple of horrendous outings so Joaquin Benoit becomes the go-to guy in Motown. This is a last-resort option right now until Detroit can find a full-time ninth inning guy. Proceed with caution... Boston's Andrew Bailey gave up four home runs over the last few weeks and while he could certainly regain the closer's job at some point, it appears the Red Sox will use a committee to finish off games for the time being. Koji Uehara gets the first look while Junichi Tazawa and lefty Andrew Miller could also figure into the mix. Add in that order and at your own risk... Rafael Betancourt could be back with the Rockies as soon as Thursday and should slide right back into the ninth inning for Colorado... The Brewers' bullpen situation is still in a state of flux as Jim Henderson and Francisco Rodriguez have seen time as both set-up and closing options. Last year's star closer, John Axford, hasn't figured in the mix. K-ROD might be 1a while Henderson is 1b.

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

<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: June 24</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/5-first-year-starting-qbs-who-could-win-college-footballs-national-title

When predicting college football’s national champion, experience at quarterback is usually one of the most important factors to consider. However, is it time to reconsider how important experience is under center? Four of the last six teams to play in the title game had a first-year starter at quarterback. Alabama’s Greg McElroy took home the title in 2009, while Auburn’s Cam Newton won the Heisman and national championship in 2011. Notre Dame’s Everett Golson took the Fighting Irish to the BCS title last season but lost to Alabama and quarterback AJ McCarron.

Since the BCS was created in 1998, nine quarterbacks have played for the national title in their first season:

1998: Tee Martin, Tennessee - W
1999: Michael Vick, Virginia Tech - L
2002: Craig Krenzel, Ohio State - W
2007: Matt Flynn, LSU - W; Todd Boeckman, Ohio State
2009: Greg McElroy, Alabama - W
2010: Cam Newton, Auburn - W; Darron Thomas, Oregon
2011: AJ McCarron, Alabama – W
2012: Everett Golson, Notre Dame – L

Is the emergence of first-year quarterbacks as national champs a new trend in college football? Considering the unpredictability from year-to-year, it’s probably too early to make any judgments. The success of McElroy, Newton and McCarron show different options can lift a team to the title. Newton carried Auburn, while McElroy and McCarron were steady for Alabama team’s that boasted one of the nation’s best rushing attacks and defenses. Golson improved as the year progressed for Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish were simply overwhelmed by a better Alabama team last January.

Although it’s too early to make any long-term predictions about this recent trend, there is a reasonable possibility a first-year starter at quarterback will make it to the national title game in 2013. Which teams are the most likely to have a first-year starter at quarterback and play for the national championship?

Top Five Contenders to Win the National Title with a First-Year Starter at Quarterback

(Note: To be considered a returning starter, a player must have started seven overall games or the last six contests of last season)

1. Stanford (Kevin Hogan)
Hogan just qualified for this list, as he had five starts for the Cardinal last season. The Virginia native took over for Josh Nunes against Colorado in early November and held onto the No. 1 spot the rest of the way. His best performance came against Oregon State, throwing for 254 yards and three scores. Although Hogan failed to top more than 160 yards in three consecutive contests to end 2012, he completed 71.7 percent of his throws and added 263 yards and two scores on the ground. Hogan’s efficiency is a huge plus for a team that leans heavily on its defense and rushing attack to win games. Stanford needs to get Hogan more help at receiver and tight end this year, but the sophomore represents the best chance for a first-year quarterback to get to a national championship in 2013. 

2. Michigan (Devin Gardner)
Much like Stanford’s Kevin Hogan, Gardner barely makes this list since he made five starts last year. After taking over for an injured Denard Robinson, Gardner finished the season on a tear. Over the final five contests, he accumulated 18 total touchdowns and threw for 314 yards in a 42-17 win over Iowa. Gardner had a good showing in Michigan’s bowl loss to South Carolina, throwing for 214 yards and three touchdowns on 18 completions. The Wolverines need to give Gardner more help at receiver, and running back is still a question mark with Fitzgerald Toussaint healing from a broken leg. However, incoming freshman Derrick Green could give the offense a spark on the ground. Assuming Gardner picks up where he left off, the Wolverines should be a top 10-15 team in 2013. The schedule does have some challenges, including a brutal November stretch that features games against Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State. Considering the underclassmen on Michigan’s two-deep, the Wolverines might be a year away from winning the Big Ten title. However, Gardner has the ability to elevate Michigan into national championship contention.

3. Florida State (Jameis Winston)
Could Winston follow in the same footsteps as Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel? The Aggies’ signal-caller went from being an unproven quarterback to winning the Heisman Trophy in December. While it’s unrealistic to place those expectations on Winston, the Alabama native has the talent to break onto the scene in a big way. In Florida State’s spring game, Winston impressed by throwing for 205 yards and two scores. With Clint Trickett’s decision to transfer to West Virginia, the redshirt freshman has secured the starting spot. And with one of the ACC’s top backfields, receiving corps and offensive lines at his disposal, Winston has enough help lead Florida State to an ACC title. Road games against Clemson and Florida could decide just how high the Seminoles can climb in the BCS standings.

4. Oklahoma State (Clint Chelf)
Chelf began 2012 as the odd man out in Oklahoma State’s quarterback battle, as Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh were listed at the top of the depth chart for the season opener against Savannah State. However, injuries sidelined Lunt and Walsh, forcing Chelf to move from No. 3 to No. 1. The Enid, Okla. native played well in relief against Kansas State (233 yards) and started the last five games of the season. Against West Virginia, Chelf threw for 292 yards and four touchdowns and recorded 316 total yards and one score against Oklahoma. In the bowl victory against Purdue, Chelf gashed the Boilermakers’ secondary for 197 yards and three touchdowns on just 17 completions. Despite the departure of coordinator Todd Monken, Oklahoma State’s offense shouldn’t miss a beat. The Cowboys have one of the nation’s top receiving corps, and running back Jeremy Smith is due for a breakout year. With very little clarity at the top, the Big 12 is one of the toughest conferences to predict for 2013. Oklahoma State is Athlon’s pick to win the Big 12, but the Cowboys are projected to finish No. 16 nationally. If Oklahoma State can win 11 regular season games, then Mike Gundy’s team will have a chance to easily exceed our preseason prediction and could work their way into national title consideration with an unbeaten season.

5. Oklahoma (Blake Bell)
With Landry Jones moving into the NFL, it’s time for Oklahoma to transition the Belldozer offense from a part-time look into a full-time attack. Bell was rated as one of the top 150 players in the nation by in 2010 and redshirted in his first year on campus. In 2011 and 2012, Bell threw only 20 passes, but he emerged as Oklahoma’s best scoring threat around the goal-line and in short-yardage situations. On 102 rushing attempts, Bell finished with 361 yards and a whopping 24 touchdowns. Due to his limited pass attempts in his career, Bell is still a work in progress as a passer. However, there’s no question his athletic ability will be tough for opposing Big 12 defenses to stop. With no clear frontrunner in the Big 12 this year, Oklahoma could easily surprise and finish in the top five nationally – assuming Bell lives up to the hype at quarterback, and the Sooners’ defense finds replacements for the losses in the front seven.

Four Teams to Watch

Wisconsin (Joel Stave)
Badgers have a favorable crossover schedule with the Legends Division, but Ohio State should be the team to beat in the Big Ten this year.

USC (Cody Kessler/Max Wittek)
Can the Trojans rebound after a disappointing 2012 campaign? Plenty of talent returns to Los Angeles, but there’s still a question mark under center after spring practice.

Kansas State (Daniel Sims/Jake Waters)
As long as coach Bill Snyder roams the sidelines in Manhattan, don’t count out Kansas State in the Big 12 title picture. If the Wildcats fill the voids on both sides of the ball, this could be one of the top surprise teams in the nation.

Baylor (Bryce Petty)
New signal-caller in Waco? That should be no problem for coach Art Briles and Baylor, as Nick Florence threw for 4,309 yards and 33 scores when replacing Robert Griffin III last year.

BYU (Taysom Hill)
The Cougars are a longshot to make a BCS bowl, but Robert Anae has returned to coordinate the offense, and linebacker Kyle Van Noy turned down the NFL for one more year in Provo. Hill showed promise in limited action last year and has full control of the starting job with Riley Nelson out of eligibility.


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<p> 5 First-Year Starting QBs Who Could Win College Football's National Title</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 10:43
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-june-24

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for June 24.

• Coaches somehow manage to consistently outkick their coverage. Here's a rundown of sideline bosses who are married to beautiful women (like Amanda Enfield, pictured, wife of balding, nondescript USC hoops coach Andy Enfield).

Twitter went bananas last night over Nik Wallenda's Grand Canyon crossing. (Of course, Dick Vitale apparently thought it was the late Karl Wallenda doing the stunt.) Whatever ratings that thing got, they can thank social media. So is life-risking danger the future of television?

Bubba Watson put a little dent in his image by hanging his caddie out to dry on national television.

Here's every one of LeBron James' made shots in Game 7 compiled into one mesmerizing GIF.

This year's key SEC revenge games start early. Buckle in.

An amusing oopsie courtesy of a Milwaukee television station. (Warning: Somewhat R-rated.)

Chris Chambliss is selling the bat and ball from one of the most famous postseason home runs in history.

• It's always fun when angry fans get hold of somebody's Wikipedia page, as happened to Doc Rivers.

Jose Molina is so slow that Robinson Cano practically ran the ball from second to first to complete a double play.

• Proof from yesterday's Tigers-Red Sox game that there is no such thing as a routine fly ball.

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

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Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 10:29
Path: /college-football/accs-top-heisman-contenders-2013

The ACC has won two Heisman Trophies. Ever.

Florida State has provided both awards to the league when quarterbacks Chris Weinke won the award in 2000 and Charlie Ward took home the stiff-armed trophy in 1993. Both quarterbacks also have National Championship rings on their fingers as well.

Needless to say, the ACC is lagging behind the rest of big-time college football when it comes to the most prestigious award in sports. Miami and Boston College do have Heismans sitting in their trophy cases but those — Vinny Testaverde, Doug Flutie and Gino Torretta — all took place in the Big East Conference. And C.J. Spiller in 2006 was the last ACC player to even crack the top 10 in the voting.

So could 2013 break the 12-year Heisman drought in the ACC? It’s certainly possible as more than one elite player has a chance to represent the league in New York come December.

Here are the ACC’s top Heisman candidates for 2013 (complete with current Vegas odds):

1. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (16/1)
Few players posted numbers comparable to Johnny Heisman, but Boyd was one of them. He led the ACC in passing efficiency (165.59) and total offense (339.2 ypg) and was fifth and seventh in each category nationally. He scored 46 total touchdowns (36 pass, 10 rush) and has a host of elite weapons returning. More importantly, this team should be the preseason favorite in the ACC with Boyd under center and Chad Morris calling the plays. He is one of few players who will have the numbers, the marquee showdowns (vs. Georgia, at South Carolina), the potential championship and the offensive support to win the Heisman.

2. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (14/1)
The De’Anthony Thomas of the East Coast, Johnson led the ACC in kickoff returns and was third in all-purpose running as just a freshman. As the season went on, Al Golden trusted Johnson more on offense and he topped 100 yards three times in his last four games. The key will be his role in 2013 as Golden looks to get him more involved in the traditional offense. He could see a big jump from 139 carries a year ago, and should that happen, fans can bet the sophomore speedster's numbers will be eye-popping.

3. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (--)
When it comes to raw upside and physical talent, Watkins is second to none nationally. But staying healthy and focused has been an issue for the electric playmaker, causing him to miss four games in his first two years. With DeAndre Hopkins off to the NFL and his quarterback Boyd returning, the sky could be the limit for the star wideout. Consistency will be the name of the game for the junior-to-be.

4. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech (--)
Many people were massively disappointed by the 260-pound quarterback in 2012. He rallied the Hokies late and the offense should be improved in 2013 under new coordinator Scott Loeffler, but Thomas needs to show more growth as a passer (18 TD, 16 INT) to get to New York. The good news is he did run the ball more effectively and threw it with more accuracy as a sophomore than he did as a junior. A return to 2011 will get Thomas back in the mix.

5. Stephen Morris, QB, Miami (25/1)
The Canes quarterback blossomed as a junior in 2012. Morris set a Miami single-season total offense record (3,415) as well as the ACC’s all-time single-game record with 566 yards against NC State. In fact, he threw for over 1,000 yards (1,002) over a two-game span to finish the month of September. He proved to be dependable as well, tossing just seven interceptions in a school-record 421 attempts. With the youth developing around him and the running game improving, the Hurricanes gunslinger is poised for a big senior season this fall.

6. Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland (40/1)
This dynamic, explosive all-purpose talent can do a little bit of everything. As just a true freshman, he is the leading returning all-purpose “runner” in the ACC at 172.4 yards per game and a sick 15.7 yards per play. He ran the ball 20 times for 114 yards. He caught 54 passes for 848 yards. He returned 22 punts for 221 yards. And he returned 25 kicks for 713 yards. He could easily double his eight total touchdowns from a year ago and that would put him squarely in Player of the Year contention.

7. Bryn Renner, QB, North Carolina (--)
Playing in Larry Fedora’s high-flying offensive scheme will give Renner a chance to compete for the nation’s top honor. He lost plenty of talent to the NFL (Gio Bernard, Jonathan Cooper) but also has tons of future draft picks returning. He trails only Boyd as the ACC’s most efficient returning starter as he tossed just seven interceptions and completed 65.4-percent of his passes a year ago (422 att.). He won’t add much to the running game so he will have to post huge numbers through the air — and likely win the Coastal Division — to get Heisman consideration. But after 3,356 yards, 28 TDs and a co-division title a year ago, that isn’t far fetched at all.

8. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (--)
The raw talent and pure athletic ability of Winston has fans in Tallahassee raving about their future signal-caller. He has a huge arm, elite size, above-average mobility and the poise of an upperclassman. If his offensive line and running game can give him some help, Winston could easily lead his team to an ACC title and complete for Player of the Year honors.

9. Vad Lee, QB, Georgia Tech (--) 
Lee is the next in line to pilot Paul Johnson’s triple option attack. Like Josh Nesbitt and Tevin Washington before him, Lee’s physicality and athletic ability are a perfect match for the Yellow Jackets’ offensive scheme. Lee saw his playing time steadily increase last season, as Johnson got more comfortable going to the sophomore. He got 19 carries and threw nine passes in the first six games, but carried 77 times for 358 yards and six touchdowns while throwing 47 times over the final eight games of the year. His playing time last year should help the 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior-to-be immensely as he takes over as the leader of the Ramblin’ Wreck in '13.

10. Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse (--)
In his first year as the starter, Smith delivered admirably with 1,171 yards on 227 carries. The 220-pounder came on strong in the second half as well, posting five 100-yard efforts and all three touchdowns in the season’s final seven games. Look for a new coaching staff and new quarterback to lean on Smith early and often in 2013.

11. Kevin Parks, RB, Virginia (--)
The short but powerful running back is finally looking at a full-time work load for the Cavaliers. And with Steve Fairchild now calling the plays, Parks could be in for a huge season. The powerful little back is great between the tackles and, despite splitting time his first two years, has had plenty of success around the goal line (15 career TD).

12. James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State (--)
The Noles tailback was one of the most highly touted prospects in the nation a few years ago and 2013 is his time to shine. He is an extremely gifted and physical player who is at his best between the tackles and around the goal line — as his 11 touchdowns last year indicate. He only gets better with a heavy workload and could become a star as a junior. He could easily be Winston’s best friend early in the season as Jimbo Fisher breaks in his new quarterback.

Best of the Rest:

13. Tanner Price, QB, Wake Forest
14. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
15. James Hurst, OL, North Carolina
16. David Sims, RB, Georgia Tech
17. Roderick McDowell, RB, Clemson
18. Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State
19. Quinshad Davis, WR, North Carolina
20. Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest

Five Defensive Players to Watch:

Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech
Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State
Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina

Prep for the 2013 season on Twitter @AthlonSports

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<p> The ACC's Top Heisman Contenders in 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-best-coaches-under-40

Thirty is the new 40. At least in coaching.

During the last run through the coaching carousel, five schools hired coaches who had yet to reach their 40th birthday. That included the nation’s youngest coach, P.J. Fleck, who took the Western Michigan job at age 32 with neither head coaching nor coordinator experience.

Meanwhile, one 30-something coach, Willie Taggart, took his second head coaching job when he left Western Kentucky for USF.

At some schools, it’s tough to argue against the youth movement. Stanford’s David Shaw, who turned 40 last summer, has led Stanford to two BCS bowls and a Pac-12 title. Steve Sarkisian has revived the Washington program. And that’s just on the West Coast. Pat Fitzgerald, once the youngest coach in the country himself, has led Northwestern to unprecedented heights.

The under-40 coaching crowd is an interesting fraternity in college football, especially now that nearly half of it is made up of first-time head coaches in 2013. Programs hiring coaches are often looking for an influx of youthful energy, especially if the coach has local or school ties.

Whether any of these coaches will be in the game long enough to challenge records is unknown, but many of them have built enviable careers before their 40th birthdays.

*All ages as of Sept. 1, 2013.


1. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern (team preview)
Record: 50-39
Age: 38
Fitzgerald was tabbed as a potential head coach at Northwestern years before the sudden passing of Randy Walker put him in the position at 31. Now, he’s the second-longest tenured coach in the Big Ten. In 2012, Fitzgerald led Northwestern to its first 10-win season since 1995 and first ranked finish since 1996 (Fitzgerald, of course, played linebacker for both of those teams in the 90s). He’s already Northwestern’s all-time wins leader at 50, passing Pappy Waldorf with the Gator Bowl victory over Mississippi State. As usual, Northwestern is rarely the most talented team on the field, but the Wildcats find a way to be competitive. The only question is if any job, college or otherwise, could pry him from Evanston.

2. Steve Sarkisian, Washington (team preview)
Record: 26-25
Age: 39
The former BYU quarterback and USC assistant Sarkisian brought Washington back to relevance within the Pac-12 after taking over an 0-12 team in 2009. The Huskies have gone 7-6 in each of the last three seasons, but Washington fans would like to see the program take the next step. After rebuilding the defensive coaching staff after 2011 and dealing with the injury bug in 2012, Sarkisian’s team is ready.

3. Willie Taggart, USF (team preview)
Record: 16-20
Age: 37
In his first head coaching job, Taggart led his alma mater Western Kentucky into the FBS. The Hilltoppers went 7-5 in each of the last two seasons, including 7-1 in the Sun Belt in 2011 and the program’s first bowl game in 2012. Now, he’ll try to revive the program in his old backyard. Taggart graduated from Manatee High in Bradenton, Fla., and now his job is to lead a stagnant USF program over the hump. A Jim Harbaugh disciple, Taggart knows how to build a program built on toughness and resilience, something the Bulls have lacked in recent years.

4. Lane Kiffin, USC (team preview)
Record: 32-19
Age: 37
Where to start with Kiffin? It’s tough to find a more interesting — putting it gently — six years for a head coach in college and the NFL. He was hired and fired by Al Davis, hailed as a hero and scorned at Tennessee, and then had mixed results at USC. Despite NCAA sanctions, the Trojans went 10-2 including a win over Oregon on the road in 2011. That high mark as a coach only set Kiffin up for a dramatic fall from No. 1 in the preseason to 7-6 last season. For 2013, Kiffin parted ways with his father as defensive coordinator and Matt Barkley as quarterback. He could surprise again or he could land himself on the hot seat before his 40th birthday.

5. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 34
Even the risk averse might be OK with Texas Tech hiring a 33-year-old with only four years of full-time coaching experience. The former Red Raiders quarterback Kingsbury worked with NCAA career leading passer Case Keenum and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel in his brief career. Moreover, Kingsbury is intimately familiar with what worked not so long ago in Lubbock. Kingsbury was Mike Leach’s first quarterback at Tech and an assistant under Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen at Houston. After the uncomfortable fit Tommy Tuberville was in Lubbock, Kingsbury will be a return to familiarity.

6. Justin Fuente, Memphis (team preview)
Record: 4-8
Age: 37
The 4-8 record isn’t impressive and three-game winning streak to end the 2012 season were over patsies like Tulane, UAB and Southern Miss. Still, it’s not like Memphis had three-game win streaks of any kind under Larry Porter or in the final years of Tommy West’s tenure. Porter’s 3-21 stint was a disaster, but Fuente, the former TCU offensive coordinator, turned the culture around by November. Will it be enough for Memphis to compete in the American Athletic Conference?

7. Matt Campbell, Toledo (team preview)
Record: 10-4
Age: 33
Campbell was the youngest coach in the country when Toledo promoted him for the Military Bowl against Air Force after the 2011 season. As former Rockets coach Tim Beckman limped to a 2-10 season at Illinois, Campbell went 9-4 in his first full season at Toledo, displaying the same explosive offense that’s become a trademark at the Glass Bowl. This season, the Rockets should be in the mix for their first MAC title since 2004.

8. Bryan Harsin, Arkansas State (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 36
Harsin hopes to become the next former offensive coordinator to win big at Arkansas State, and the Red Wolves wouldn’t mind if he sticks around a little longer than Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn. Harsin’s best days as an offensive coordinator came at Boise State where he coached Jared Zabransky, Ian Johnson and Kellen Moore during undefeated seasons in 2006 and 2009. While Texas never finished higher than 40th nationally in total offense under Harsin, the Longhorns’ output increased both years.

9. Brian Polian, Nevada (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 38
Let’s say this: Nevada had better field good special teams. Polian, the son of NFL executive Bill Polian, has been special teams coach for Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas A&M. Those aren’t bad places to be an assistant, particularly under Kevin Sumlin, David Shaw and Jim Harbaugh. He’ll keep the Pistol offense installed at Nevada, which is good news for a program that hasn’t won under anyone other than former coach Chris Ault.

10. Matt Rhule, Temple (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 38
Rhule was integral in the rebuilding job at Temple in recent years, helping to transform the Owls from a doormat to MAC contender. In between then and taking over for Steve Addazio, Rhule spent a season as offensive line coach with the New York Giants.

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<p> Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald leads the list</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 07:55
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-alabama-football-fan

When Alabama is on the top of its game, it tends to loom over the rest of the sport.

When the SEC is on top — as it’s been for several seasons — Alabama has been at the top of the mountain. When Alabama, USC and Oklahoma all finished No. 1, 2 and 3 in 1978 and ’79, guess which team claimed the top spot.

Coaches here tend to tower over the program — Wade, Bryant and Saban. And it doesn’t get any better when Auburn is firmly under the thumb of the Tide.

At the same time, the drive to be the best contributes to some of the lowest lows. Alabama spent the early part of the 2000s largely off the map, due to NCAA sanctions.

But Alabama came back with a vengeance in the last five seasons, reaching the same heights as the Tide did under the Bear.

With Alabama gearing up for potentially a third consecutive national title, this is a great time to wear a Houndstooth hat. Maybe it’s the best time to scream Roll Tide. The first half of the 2000s weren’t great for Alabama, but was it worse than the pre-Bear Bryant depths?

Here are the best and worst times to be an Alabama fan.

Other best times/worst times:

Notre Dame

Texas A&M


Record: 97-11
National championships: 3
Coach: Bear Bryant
Notable players: John Hannah, Ozzie Newsome, Dwight Stephenson, Johnny Musso, Bob Baumhower, Marty Lyons, Barry Krauss, Don McNeal, Leroy Cook
Bryant’s second act as a national championship coach may be more impressive than the run in the ‘60s. The run includes the 1979 team, Bryant’s final title-winning team and Alabama’s only undefeated national champ before Saban’s BCS title in 2009. A year earlier, Alabama defeated No. 1 Penn State 14-7 in the Sugar Bowl on a goal line stand for the ages when Barry Krauss stuffed the Nittany Lions’ quarterback Chuck Fusina on fourth down and inches. The 1975 season ended a bizarre stretch of bowl futility when Alabama went 0-7-1 in bowl games, going back to 1968. As Alabama won more games than any other program during the ‘70s, Bryant showed he could change with the times. He adopted the Wishbone offense and more important, began to further integrate the SEC by recruiting black football players to Alabama.

Related: Alabama ranks first in 2013 countdown

Record: 61-7
National championships: 3
Coach: Nick Saban
Notable players: Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones, Terrence Cody, AJ McCarron, Greg McElroy, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Courtney Upshaw, Dee Milliner, Mark Barron, C.J. Mosley, Chance Warmack, Dont’a Hightower, Mike Johnson, Javier Arenas
Alabama has been restored to its rightful place in college football, on the top of the sport. With three BCS titles in four seasons, the Tide have established a dominance the sport hasn’t seen since Miami of the 1980s and ‘90s. Over the course of the last five seasons, Alabama has defeated opponents by an average of 22.5 points per game. Even in the supposed down year of 2010, Alabama went 10-3 with two of those losses coming by a field goal or less. The Crimson Tide have taken over every corner of the sport even away from Saturdays — from recruiting national titles to the NFL Draft (11 first-round picks in the last three years to being the topic du jour of opposing coaches on the summer speaking circuit. This stretch also captured the lone piece of hardware Alabama lacked — the Heisman Trophy. At a time when the SEC is on top of college football, Alabama is the team the other 13 SEC programs want to be.

Related: Poisoning of Toomer's trees leads our list of infamous pranks

Record: 60-5-2
National championships: 3
Coach: Bear Bryant
Notable players: Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Billy Neighbors, Lee Roy Jordan, Ray Perkins
Alabama began to flex its muscles under Bryant in 1961 when the Tide won their final seven games 161-3. From Joe Namath to Ken Stabler during this era, Alabama rarely had this much star power at quarterback. Alabama won three titles during this time, but the most satisfying may have been the 1965 title. The lone loss that season was a controversial one-point defeat to Georgia, but Alabama had a chance to redeem itself when title contenders Arkansas and Michigan State lost during bowl season. Alabama upset Nebraska 39-28 in the Orange Bowl to claim a second consecutive title.

Related: Alabama has 14 selections on preseason All-SEC team


Record: 4-24-2
Coach: Jennings Whitworth
Alabama was a power under coaches Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas and Red Drew, but passing the baton to the alum Whitworth was a disaster. Whitworth went 0-10 in his first season and didn’t get much better from there. More than that, Alabama lost three times to Auburn by a combined score of 100-7. The tenure wasn’t all bad though: Alabama fired a coach nicknamed "Ears" to hire a coach nicknamed "Bear."

Related: 2013 SEC predictions

Record: 30-40
Coaches: Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Shula
Alabama showed signs of returning to prominence during this span, including 10-win seasons under each coach: DuBose, Franchione and Shula. But any strides were countered with disappointment. Alabama spent most of this period watching the rise of LSU and Auburn, who went 6-1 against the Tide from 2000-07. Alabama also spent most of these years under NCAA sanctions, including a postseason ban in 2002 when the Tide won the SEC West on the field (10-2, 6-2). After that season, Franchione spurned Alabama for Texas A&M. Alabama tried to replace him with Washington State’s Mike Price, but his when his trip to a Florida strip club went public, he was fired before coaching a game. A period of embarrassment on and off the field ended when Shula was fired in 2006.


Record: 63-11-1
National championships: 1
Coach: Gene Stallings
Notable players: John Copeland, Eric Curry, Antonio Langham, Kevin Jackson
Few would call this era of Alabama football “bad,” but it is easy to overlook. Florida, not Alabama, was the SEC’s team of the ‘90s after defeating the Tide three of four times in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama won the national title in 1992, its only title in a 30-year period, and finished ranked in the top five two other times. Stallings ended up in the College Football Hall of Fame, but it’s tough to crack Alabama’s coaching Mount Rushmore when Bryant and Saban take up two spots already.

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<p> Best and Worst Times to be an Alabama Football Fan</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-team-defense-rankings

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

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Updated: August 17, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Team Defenses

3Notre Dame
4South Carolina
5Michigan State
12Florida State
13Oregon State
16Bowling Green
17Ohio State
18Boise State
24North Carolina
25Virginia Tech
27Ole Miss
29Oklahoma State

<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Team Defense Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:50