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The SEC is very top-heavy when it comes to receivers in 2013. Leading the way is a cast of potential All-Americans, including Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, Ole Miss’ Donte Moncrief and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. But Georgia’s Malcolm Mitchell and LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. aren’t far behind.

Just like the individual players, the SEC is relatively top-heavy when it comes to ranking the individual groups for 2013. Alabama ranks as Athlon’s No. 1 receiving corps in the SEC for 2013, with Georgia checking in at No. 2. 

Kickoff for the 2013 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2013 - not how it played in 2012.

Ranking the SEC WR/TE Corps for 2013

1. Alabama
Thanks to coach Nick Saban’s relentless work on the recruiting trail, the Crimson Tide’s 2013 receiving corps could be the best of his tenure in Tuscaloosa. Amari Cooper had a standout freshman season last year, catching 59 passes for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Cooper came on strong at the end of 2012, finishing the year with four 100-yard games over the final five contests. Cooper is an Athlon Sports second-team All-American for 2013. Quarterback AJ McCarron won’t have to look Cooper’s way all of the time, as seniors Kevin Norwood and Kenny Bell are reliable options, and redshirt freshman Chris Black is due for a breakout year. Adding depth will be DeAndrew White and incoming true freshmen Raheem Falkins and Robert Foster. True freshman OJ Howard could push Brian Vogler to start at tight end.


2. Georgia
Despite the departure of Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, the Bulldogs shouldn’t be concerned about their receiving corps. After spending part of last season at cornerback, junior Malcolm Mitchell will spend all of 2013 at receiver. Mitchell caught 40 passes for 572 yards and four scores last year, including nine for 103 yards in a 29-24 win over Kentucky. Michael Bennett caught 24 passes through the first five games but suffered a torn ACL in early October. Mitchell and Bennett should form one of the SEC’s top receiving duos in 2013. Senior Rantavious Wooten, junior Chris Conley and sophomore Justin Scott-Wesley will round out the top five receiver spots, but freshman Tramel Terry and junior college recruit Jonathon Rumph will push for time. Tight end Arthur Lynch averaged 18 yards per reception in 2012 and is an Athlon Sports second-team All-American for 2013.


3. Vanderbilt
The Commodores aren’t particularly flush with depth at receiver, but it’s hard to find a better one-two combination in the SEC. Jordan Matthews turned down a chance to enter the NFL for one more year at Vanderbilt. The senior enters 2013 with 150 career receptions, 2,282 yards and 17 touchdowns. Matthews led all SEC receivers with 94 catches in 2012. Chris Boyd is back after catching 50 passes for 774 yards and five scores last year. And Jonathan Krause is slated to fill the No. 3 role after recording nine receptions in 2012. Freshmen Jordan Cunningham and Carlos Burse will provide depth. Junior college transfer Brandon Vandenburg could push Kris Kentera and Steven Scheu for the starting nod at tight end.


4. LSU
With the defense returning only three starters, LSU’s offense may have to carry this team in the early going. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger returns, and the receiving corps brings back four receivers with at least 18 catches last year. Jarvis Landry led the team with 56 receptions in 2012, but Odell Beckham was the unit’s top playmaker, averaging 16.6 yards per catch. Seniors Kadron Boone and James Wright combined for 44 catches in 2012 and will anchor the No. 3 and No. 4 spots in the receiving corps. However, true freshman Avery Peterson and junior college recruit Quantavius Leslie will push for snaps. LSU could feature the tight end more under new coordinator Cam Cameron, and junior college recruit Logan Stokes could step into the starting role over sophomore Dillon Gordon.


5. Ole Miss
Feed Moncrief became the mantra for the Ole Miss offense last season, which showed marked improvement from the 2011 squad. Sophomore Donte Moncrief emerged as one of the SEC’s top receivers last year, nabbing 66 receptions for 979 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished 2012 on a tear, catching at least six passes in five out of the last six contests, which included back-to-back 100-yard performances against LSU and Mississippi State. Junior Vince Sanders and senior Ja-Mes Logan combined for 82 receptions last season and will flank Moncrief as the No. 2 and No. 3 options. The receiving corps got deeper over the offseason, as freshman Laquon Treadwell could earn some playing time this fall too. Treadwell ranked as the No. 1 receiver in the nation by Rivals.com in the 2013 signing class. Freshman A.J. Jackson may start over senior Jack Nuismer at tight end in 2013.


6. Texas A&M
Mike Evans broke onto the scene as a redshirt freshman last year, catching 82 passes for 1,105 yards and five scores. The Texas native caught at least four passes in every game in 2012 and is a second-team All-SEC selection by Athlon Sports for 2013. Having Evans back in the lineup is huge for Texas A&M, especially since Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu have expired their eligibility. Swope is the biggest loss for the receiving corps, as he made several tough catches in key moments throughout his career. But the cupboard is far from bare for coach Kevin Sumlin. Juniors LeKendrick Williams and Malcome Kennedy and senior Derel Walker provide quarterback Johnny Manziel with plenty of experience in the receiving corps. However, freshmen Ja’Quay Williams and Ricky Seals-Jones will be two players to watch this fall. The wild card at tight end to watch is former Tennessee Volunteer Cameron Clear, who spent last season at Arizona Western College.


7. Missouri
Much of Missouri’s ranking in this article hinges on the development of sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham. The No. 1 overall prospect in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100, Green-Beckham caught 28 passes for 395 yards last season, with four of his five touchdowns coming over the final three games. With quarterback James Franklin a year removed from his shoulder surgery, Green-Beckham should be poised to easily outperform his 2012 totals. T.J. Moe will be missed, but Missouri has seniors Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington slated to anchor the other two starting spots in the receiving corps. Lucas led the team with 46 receptions for 509 yards last year.


8. South Carolina
The Gamecocks will miss the playmaking ability of Ace Sanders, but the unit has some steady weapons to lean on, including Bruce Ellington. The junior caught 40 passes for 600 yards and seven scores last year, including the game-winning 32-yard pass from Dylan Thompson in the Outback Bowl. But Ellington needs help if the Gamecocks are to reach the SEC championship game. Junior Damiere Byrd and sophomore Shaq Roland will be charged with taking a bigger role in the passing game this year. Junior Nick Jones and sophomore Shamier Jeffery are also expected to see more targets this year. Junior Rory Anderson and sophomore Jerell Adams will battle to replace Justice Cunningham as the team’s top tight end.


9. Florida
Considering the receivers that came through Gainesville in the 1990s under Steve Spurrier and the success of Percy Harvin under Urban Meyer, it’s a surprise to see the Gators struggle to develop a No. 1 option over the last few seasons. No Florida wide receiver has caught more than 40 passes since 2009, and the cupboard is relatively bare entering 2013. Quinton Dunbar is the team’s top returning receiver, but he averaged only 10.6 yards per catch last year. Andre Debose is still looking for his breakout season in his final year on campus. And the coaching staff hopes sophomore Latroy Pittman or true freshman Demarcus Robinson can give quarterback Jeff Driskel a go-to weapon on the outside. If the receiving corps struggles once again, cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy may be spending a good chunk of snaps on offense too.

10. Arkansas
Cobi Hamilton has expired his eligibility after capping off a solid career in the SEC with 90 receptions for 1,335 yards and five scores last year. With Hamilton gone, the Razorbacks will be looking for a new go-to target. Sophomore Mekale McKay showed promise by averaging 15.1 yards per reception in 2012. But McKay should have plenty of help from seniors Julian Horton, Demetrius Wilson and Javontee Herndon. Sophomore Keon Hatcher and true freshman tight end Hunter Henry are two names to watch this fall.


11. Auburn
There’s potential surrounding this group, but Auburn must settle its quarterback situation for this offense to improve from a disappointing 2012 season. But with Gus Malzahn returning to call the plays, the Tigers should have one of the most-improved offenses in the SEC. Quan Bray is the team’s top returning receiver with just 14 receptions, but the unit has interesting options in juniors Trovon Reed and Jaylon Denson, along with sophomore Ricardo Louis. Tight end C.J. Uzomah should surpass his 2012 totals: seven receptions for 136 yards and one score.


Related Content: College Football's Most-Improved Teams for 2013


12. Tennessee
With quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson departing for the NFL, the Volunteers are essentially starting over in the passing attack. New coach Butch Jones has one of the best offensive lines in the nation to build around, but Tennessee’s offense will be a work in progress. Devrin Young, Jacob Carter, Vincent Dallas and Pig Howard are the unit’s most experienced players, but none have played in a No. 1 or No. 2 role. True freshmen MarQuez North and Paul Harris, along with redshirt freshman Jason Croom are promising options and could be Tennessee’s starting trio by the end of 2013. 


13. Mississippi State
Much like Tennessee, the Bulldogs are essentially starting over at receiver. The top four pass-catchers from last year are gone, including Chad Bumphis and tight end Marcus Green. Junior Jameon Lewis will assume a bigger role in the passing attack after catching 10 passes last year. The 5-foot-9 receiver has excellent speed and 17 receptions through his first two years on campus. Junior Robert Johnson and sophomore Joe Morrow will likely round out the starting trio, but junior college recruit Jeremey Chappelle caught eight passes for 114 yards and one score in the Spring Game and should be a key part of the Mississippi State receiving corps this season.


14. Kentucky
New coordinator Neal Brown wants to implement a pass-first offense, but Kentucky is thin on proven weapons in the receiving corps. La’Rod King led the team with 48 catches last season but expired his eligibility at the end of 2012. Junior Demarco Robinson and sophomores A.J. Legree and Daryl Collins appear to have the inside track for starting spots, especially after DeMarcus Sweat left the team in June. Expect the Wildcats to give an extended look to freshmen Jeff Badet and Ryan Timmons, along with junior college recruit Javess Blue this fall. 

 

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SEC Predictions for 2013

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

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Teaser:
<p> Unit Rankings: 2013 SEC Wide Receivers</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 10:23
Path: /college-football/american-athletic-football-all-conference-team-2013
Body:

The 2013 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first, second and third All-American Athletic teams for this season.

Related Content: American Athletic Conference Predictions for 2013

2013 American Athletic All-Conference Team

First-Team Offense

QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

RB Savon Huggins, Rutgers

RB Lyle McCombs, Connecticut

WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers

WR DeVante Parker, Louisville

TE Alan Cross, Memphis

C Austin Reiter, South Florida

OG Austen Bujnoch, Cincinnati

OG Antwan Lowery, Rutgers

OT Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers

OT Eric Lefeld, Cincinnati



First-Team Defense

DE Aaron Lynch, South Florida

DE Jamil Merrell, Rutgers

DT Brandon Dunn, Louisville

DT Jordan Stepp, Cincinnati

LB Greg Blair, Cincinnati

LB Preston Brown, Louisville

LB Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut

CB Kenneth Acker, SMU

CB Deven Drane, Cincinnati

S Calvin Pryor, Louisville

S Hakeem Smith, Louisville


First-Team Specialists

K Tony Miliano, Cincinnati

P Richie Leone, Houston

KR Ralph David Abernathy IV, Cincinnati

PR J.J. Worton, UCF


The Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 American Athletic All-Conference Team

  First Second Third Overall
Cincinnati 7 0 5 12
Connecticut 2 2 2 6
Houston 1 4 1 6
Louisville 6 4 4 14
Memphis 1 3 3 7
Rutgers 5 4 1 10
SMU 1 0 3 4
South Florida 2 2 4 8
Temple 0 1 1 2
UCF 1 6 2 9


Second-Team Offense

QB Blake Bortles, UCF

RB Storm Johnson, UCF

RB Dominique Brown, Louisville

WR Deontay Greenberry, Houston

WR Breshad Perriman, UCF

TE Sean Price, South Florida

C Betim Bujari, Rutgers

OG Jordan McCray, UCF

OG Jake Smith, Louisville

OT Rowdy Harper, Houston

OT Torrian Wilson, UCF



Second-Team Defense

DE Martin Ifedi, Memphis

DE Marcus Smith, Louisville

DT Darius Hamilton, Rutgers

DT Shamar Stephen, Connecticut

LB DeDe Lattimore, South Florida

LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple

LB Derrick Mathews, Houston

CB Byron Jones, Connecticut

CB Zach McMillian, Houston

S Clayton Geathers, UCF

S Lorenzo Waters, Rutgers



Related Content: American Athletic Conference Predictions for 2013


Second-Team Specialists

K John Wallace, Louisville

P Tom Hornsey, Memphis

KR Jeremy Deering, Rutgers

PR Keiwone Malone, Memphis

 

Third-Team Offense

QB Brendon Kay, Cincinnati                                  

RB Senorise Perry, Louisville

RB Traylon Shead, SMU
  

WR Damian Copeland, Louisville

WR Andre Davis, South Florida
                                             
WR Jeremy Johnson, SMU                                                             
C Dan Sprague, Cincinnati                                              
OG Sam Longo, Cincinnati

OG John Miller, Louisville

OT Al Bond, Memphis

OT Quinterrius Eatmon, South Florida
                      

Third-Team Defense

DE Ryne Giddins, South Florida          

DE Deion Green, UCF          


DT E.J. Dunston, UCF

DT Johnnie Farms, Memphis          

LB Randall Joyner, SMU          

LB Jeff Luc, Cincinnati          

LB Jamal Merrell, Rutgers                                              

CB Terell Floyd, Louisville          

CB Anthony Robey, Temple          

S Mark Joyce, South Florida          

S Trevon Stewart, Houston

 

Third-Team Specialists

K Chad Christen, Connecticut            

P Cole Wagner, Connecticut          

KR Bobby McCain, Memphis          

PR Anthony McClung, Cincinnati
            

2013 American Athletic Conference Team Previews

Cincinnati Rutgers
Connecticut SMU
Houston South Florida
Louisville Temple
Memphis UCF


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

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

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

Teaser:
<p> American Athletic Football All-Conference Team for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 07:31
Path: /college-football/virginia-techs-struggling-offense-gets-makeover
Body:

Within the first minute after taking the dais to introduce Virginia Tech’s new offensive coaches in January, Frank Beamer made clear his distaste for change, even a change that Hokies fans have requested for years.

In 27 years at his alma mater, Beamer has carved out a legacy in college football, one he’s attributed to the consistency of his coaching staff at Virginia Tech.

But after the Hokies bottomed out in 2012, barely making a bowl game and finishing 7–6, their worst record in 20 years, even he admitted it was time for an overhaul.

Enter offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, a trio tasked with fixing what for years has been an underachieving Virginia Tech offense.

“Change is not easy for me. I don’t like change,” Beamer said upon introducing the three. “But at the same time, you’ve got to do what you think is right for your overall organization, and that’s what I’ve done in this case.”

With Bud Foster’s defense having been among the nation’s best for the better part of nearly two decades, critics of Beamer have long held the belief that the offense’s production, particularly in the post-Michael Vick era, has held the Hokies back from becoming an elite college football program.

Tech’s offense under long-time Beamer ally Bryan Stinespring, who remains on the staff as a tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, could never match the production of Foster’s defense.

In the 11 years after Stinespring was elevated to the coordinator position, the Hokies finished in the bottom half of the FBS in total offense six times. Only once in the last six years has Virginia Tech finished in the top four in the ACC in total offense, despite having either current pro Tyrod Taylor or future pro Logan Thomas at quarterback.

Nevertheless, the wins masked the issue. Eight straight 10-win seasons from 2004-11 and four ACC titles were all the justification Beamer needed for keeping things the same. When that wall came crumbling down in 2012, though, change was inevitable.

But it won’t be radical. In Loeffler, who cut his teeth at Michigan under Lloyd Carr, the Hokies have someone who Beamer believes is aligned philosophically with the style that has worked at Virginia Tech for years — control the line of scrimmage, run the football and pass off play-action. It’s an unsexy yet effective game plan.

“I think the marriage between what they’ve done in the past and what we want to do is excellent,” Loeffler says.

Still, Loeffler’s No. 1 task will be to fix Thomas, who is back for his senior season after a disappointing junior campaign that saw his draft stock drop from potential top-five pick to out of the first round.

Hardly a lost cause, Thomas still broke his own school record for total yardage in 2012, throwing for 2,976 yards and running for a team-high 524 yards. He accounted for 27 touchdowns, only three off his 2011 figure, but his efficiency numbers dropped significantly. His completion percentage fell from 59.8 to 51.3, and he threw 16 interceptions, tied for fourth-most nationally.

But Loeffler, who coached Tom Brady, Brian Griese, Drew Henson, John Navarre and Chad Henne at Michigan and Tim Tebow at Florida, might be the right guy to get Thomas on track in his quarterback-dependent offensive system.

“Some of the things that he does that are really, really difficult, he does them easy,” Loeffler says. “And you can’t coach that. I don’t care. There are some things that he does that are really, really hard. I watched him chin-over-toe escape to his left and make this freaky throw that not too many guys could do. So some things like that that are easy, I think we can make them a little easier for him to be more productive.”

Like Thomas, Loeffler had his own problems in 2012. After a successful season at Temple in his first year as a coordinator on any level, Loeffler was hired to replace Gus Malzahn at Auburn, where he was asked to install a pro-style attack with spread personnel. It didn’t go well. The Tigers finished 115th nationally in total offense en route to an 0–8 record in the SEC. Gene Chizik and his entire staff were fired.

Loeffler, a coaching itinerant who has made four stops in the last five years, remains unscarred by the experience, though.

“You’ve got to learn real quick that in this business — there’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs,” he says. “There’s going to be times when you play really well. There’s going to be times when you don’t. There’s going to be times when you coach really well and there’s going to be times that you don’t. Obviously, one little setback is not going to define who I am or what I believe in. I’m good.”

For his part, Beamer looked past those struggles at Auburn, hiring Loeffler, in part, because of a recommendation from Carr.

Loeffler doesn’t come alone. He has a kindred spirit in Grimes, with whom he worked at Auburn. The baritone-voiced offensive line coach earned points with the Hokies faithful by declaring upon his arrival that his goal was for his group to be “the toughest line in the ACC.”

“I believe we’re the tip of the spear, so to speak, the first in to fight,” Grimes says. “And if we do our job with the right approach and the right mindset, then I think the other guys will follow.”

It was music to the ears of a fan base that identifies with Foster’s Lunch Pail defense and watched in disbelief last year as the Hokies’ offensive line struggled to run-block. J.C. Coleman led the running backs with 492 yards, the lowest rushing total for Virginia Tech’s leading back since 1967.

In Moorehead, plucked from the Stanford staff, Tech hired an energetic receivers coach who at 32 years old is among the youngest assistants Beamer has ever hired.

It’s part of an overall youth movement in Blacksburg. Including the post-2010 shakeup that saw Shane Beamer and Cornell Brown replace long-time Beamer assistants Billy Hite and Jim Cavanaugh, the average age of the Hokies’ coaches has dropped from 50 to 42.

At age 66, Beamer is nearing the finish line of his Hall of Fame career. Before the Russell Athletic Bowl against Rutgers, he admitted how much the 2012 season wore on him. He said he stopped eating and lost weight, looking gaunt and exhausted by the end of the season.

But in the spring, he looked re-energized, confident in what could be the last major shakeup to a coaching staff he’ll ever make, even if it went against his nature.

“The bottom line is that we weren’t as efficient as we needed to be,” Beamer says. “I feel like when things are not working as well as they need to, you need to change it around.”

Story written by Andy Bitter for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 ACC Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 ACC season.

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

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Teaser:
<p> Virginia Tech's Struggling Offense Gets a Makeover</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 07:20
All taxonomy terms: Ask Athlon, Monthly
Path: /monthly/do-golfers-pga-tour-pay-their-own-travel-expenses
Body:

Do golfers on the PGA Tour pay their own travel expenses to and from Tour events? And what about rooming costs and meals?

— Larry Freeze, Topeka, Kan.
 
Yes, they do. And it can be pretty expensive. Some estimates place the annual expenditures on travel (including room and board) at upwards of $200,000 for a golfer who plays in events worldwide. In addition, pro golfers also have to pay their caddies each week. Not every deal is the same, but most caddies earn at least $1,200 per event, plus up to 10 percent of the weekly earnings. There is one caveat: Many of the top pros have their travel costs covered by their sponsors. But this is a perk enjoyed by only the best of the best. For some, playing on the PGA Tour can be an expensive endeavor. 
Teaser:
<p> Go on, ask us anything.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 17:38
All taxonomy terms: MLB, Monthly, Overtime, News
Path: /mlb/major-league-baseball-players-poll-revealing-results-about-gay-teammates-peds-and-more
Body:

We asked, they answered. Athlon Sports set out to gauge the opinions, tastes and preferences of major league baseball players, circa 2013. More than a fifth of all MLB players responded to our survey, sharing their opinions on fellow players, teams, managers, PEDs, women and more. Read on. 

Who was your sports hero growing up?
Ken Griffey Jr. (13.7%)
Derek Jeter (5.5%)
Michael Jordan (5.5%)
Cal Ripken (5.5%)
Nolan Ryan (4.8%)
Don Mattingly (4.1%)
Dale Murphy (3.4%)
Will Clark (3.4%)
Roger Clemens (2.8%)
Rickey Henderson (2.8%)
Barry Bonds (2.8%)
 
Who is the best manager in baseball?
Joe Maddon, Rays (14.3%)
Terry Francona, Indians (10.2%)
Jim Leyland, Tigers (8.8%)
Bruce Bochy, Giants (8.2%)
Buck Showalter, Orioles (8.2%)
Bud Black, Padres (6.8%)
Ron Gardenhire, Twins (5.4%)
Dusty Baker, Reds (4.1%)
John Farrell, Red Sox (3.4%)
Mike Scioscia, Angels (3.4%)
 
What percent of players are using PEDs?
No Idea (2.2%)
0 (6.0%)
1-5 (53.0%)
6-10 (15.9%)
11-20 (5.3%)
21-30 (2.2%)
31-40 (1.5%)
41+ (0.7%)
 
What was your BIG purchase after signing your contract?
Car or truck (67.6%)
House (12.6%)
Big dinner (3.5%)
Watch (3.5%)
TV (2.1%)
Engagement Ring (2.1%)
 
NOTE: Some interesting responses that only got one vote: Japanese Fighting Fish, microwave oven, and a zoom lens for a camera.
 
Who is the best general manager in baseball?
Andrew Friedman, Rays (15.4%)
Billy Beane, A’s (8.4%)
Theo Epstein, Cubs (8.4%)
John Mozeliak, Cardinals (8.4%)
Terry Ryan, Twins (8.4%)
Brian Sabean, Giants (8.4%)
Jerry Dipoto, Angels (4.2%)
Dave Dombrowksi, Tigers (4.2%)
Kevin Towers, Giants (3.5%)
Jon Daniels, Rangers (3.5%)
 
What team would you take less money to play for?
Yankees (11.3%)
Braves (10.6%)
Rangers (7.0%)
Giants  (6.3%)
None (6.3%)
Dodgers (6.3%)
Red Sox (5.6%)
Angels (4.9%)
Padres (4.3%)
Cardinals (4.3%)
Twins (3.8%)
Diamondbacks (3.8%)
Rays (3.8%)
Cubs  (3.1%)
 
What team would you never play for?
None, would play for any team (30.5%)
Yankees (13.5%)
Marlins (13.5%)
Blue Jays (6.4%)
Pirates (5.0%)
Astros  (4.3%)
Indians (2.8%)
Mariners (2.8%)
Cubs  (2.8%)
 
Who is the best pure hitter?
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (61.0%)
Robinson Cano, Yankees (6.2%)
Joe Votto, Reds (5.5%)
Joe Mauer, Twins (4.8%)
Mike Trout, Angels (4.1%)
Ryan Braun, Brewers (4.1%)
Albert Pujols, Angels (3.4%)
 
Who is the best defender?
Yadier Molina, Cardinals (13.5%)
Mike Trout, Angels (10.6%)
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (9.2%)
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (5.7%)
Brendan Ryan, Mariners (5.0%)
Adrian Beltre, Rangers (4.3%)
Brandon Phillips, Reds (4.3%)
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (3.6%)
 
Percent of MLB players who are faithful to their spouses?
40 (2.6%)
50 (9.5%)
60 (11.3%)
70 (16.5%)
80 (31.3%)
90 (19.1%)
100 (7.8%)
 
Which city should have a team?
Las Vegas (15.3%)
Nashville (15.3%)
Portland (6.9%)
Indianapolis (6.1%)
San Antonio (5.3%)
Charlotte (4.5%)
Oklahoma City (3.7%)
Salt Lake City (2.9%)
Columbus (2.9%)
Charlotte (2.1%)
Montreal (2.1%)
San Jose (2.1%)
Vancouver (2.1%)
Austin (1.3%)
Birmingham (1.3%)
New Orleans (1.3%)
 
Which city should be replaced?
Oakland (31%)
Tampa Bay (27%)
Miami (14%)
Cleveland (8%)
Toronto (7%)
Houston (6%)
Milwaukee (3%)
 
What player would you take less money to have as a teammate?
Mike Trout, Angels (15.2%)
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (13.8%)
Derek Jeter, Yankees (6.5%)
Justin Verlander, Tigers (5.8%)
David Price, Rays (2.9%)
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (2.9%)
Buster Posey, Giants (2.9%)
No one (2.2%)
Yadier Molina, Cardinals (2.2%)
Bryce Harper, Nationals (2.2%)
Robinson Cano, Yankees (2.2%)
 
Which player would I want my daughter to marry?
None (23.5%)
Derek Jeter, Yankees (6.5%)
Joe Mauer, Twins (3.3%)
Mike Trout, Angels (3.3%)
David Wright, Mets (2.4%)
 
Which player would I NEVER want my daughter to marry?
Any player (26.4%)
A.J. Pierzynski, Rangers (7.5%)
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (5.7%)
Jason Giambi, Indians (2.8%)
Nick Swisher, Indians (2.8%)
 
Would you have a problem with a gay teammate?
No Problem (69.8%)
Problem (28.7%)
Big Problem (1.5%)
 
Who is the hottest woman alive?
My wife (9.2%)
Kate Upton (7.1%)
Beyoncé (3.6%)
Jessica Biel (3.6%)
Rihanna (3.6%)
Jessica Alba (2.9%)
Halle Berry (2.9%)
Kate Beckinsale (2.9%)
Scarlett Johansson (2.9%)
Mila Kunis (2.9%)
Faith Hill (2.2%)
Jennifer Lawrence (2.2%)
Taylor Swift (2.2%)
 
NOTE: There were 63 different women who received votes, including “wife” as just one. One Kansas City outfielder said, “that new next queen of England.”
 
Teaser:
<p> Our off-the-record baseball player survey about managers, teams and more</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 12:20
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC South, Houston Texans, NFL
Path: /nfl/houston-texans-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The Houston Texans have won two straight division titles, but have yet to advance beyond the divisional round of the playoffs. Can this team be a Super Bowl contender this season? Here's our look at the Texans' 2013 NFL schedule.

Houston Texans 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at San Diego (Mon.)
Week 2: Tennessee
Week 3: at Baltimore
Week 4: Seattle
Week 5: at San Francisco
Week 6: St. Louis
Week 7: at Kansas City
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Indianapolis
Week 10: at Arizona
Week 11: Oakland
Week 12: Jacksonville
Week 13: New England
Week 14: at Jacksonville (Thurs.)
Week 15: at Indianapolis
Week 16: Denver
Week 17: at Tennessee

Order your 2013 Houston Texans Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: It's a tale of two halves to Houston's opening month. The Texans first two games are at San Diego and home to Tennessee, two teams that finished below .500 last season. The last two games, however, are at Baltimore, the defending Super Bowl champions, and home against Seattle, a team that won 11 games in 2012. The Texans should be able to use the first two weeks of the season to work out the kinks in hopes of being at the top of their game by Week 3.

Toughest Stretch: After getting the opportunity to somewhat ease into the season, the Texans face one of the most difficult three-game stretches of any team in the NFL starting in Week 3. Not only does Houston have to go to opposite coasts to play both Super Bowl teams (Baltimore and San Francisco) on their home turfs, the Texans also have Seattle, another playoff team last season, sandwiched in between at home. That's 32 regular-season wins, seven more victories in the playoffs, two conference titles and a Vince Lombardi Trophy accumulated by these three teams last season. Many expect Houston to contend to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII. This three-game gauntlet will be as good a barometer as there is to test this theory.

Swing Games: at BAL (Week 3), NE (Week 13)
Crossover Divisions: AFC West, NFC West
Bye Week: Week 8
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .473 (T-26th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 29th

Easiest Stretch: Coming out of its bye in Week 8, Houston gets four winnable games to prepare them for the big showdown versus New England. First, it's home against Indianapolis, followed by a road game at Arizona. Then its back-to-back home games against Oakland and Jacksonville, two teams that combined for six victories last season and don't figure to be that much better this fall. The Texans shouldn't be tested all that much in these four games, giving them ample time to get ready for the Patriots' trip to Reliant Stadium in Week 13.

Circle The Calendar: It's three straight weeks of must-see matchups for the Texans starting with a trip to Baltimore in Week 3. Not only would the defending Super Bowl champions like to exact some revenge for last season's 43-13 loss to Houston, former Raven Ed Reed will be on the opposite sideline of M&T Bank Stadium for the first time in his career. After that it's home against Seattle followed by a trip to San Francisco. These two defenses will offer good tests against Houston's offense and potentially could end up being a preview of Super Bowl XLVIII. Of course, New England and Denver could have something to say about which team wins the AFC crown, and it just so happens that the Texans get both on their home turf. The Patriots beat the Texans by a combined score of 83-42 in two meetings last season, both of these in Foxborough, Mass., while Houston was the only team in the regular season to beat Denver at home (31-25 in Week 3).

Divisional Notes: Houston plays just one AFC South opponent (Tennessee in Week 2) prior to its Week 8 bye, meaning the Texans will get a double-dose of the Colts and Jaguars in the second half of their schedule. Indianapolis is on the docket first, in Week 9, with three of Houston's final four games being divisional games, and all of them on the road. The beginning of this stretch is a trip to Jacksonville, which may not seem that daunting. However, it is worth noting that this game is on Thursday night and the Texans will be coming off of their battle with New England that prior Sunday.

Playoff Push: This is how the Texans' December slate looks: New England and Denver at home coupled with road games against all three AFC South foes. The Patriots come calling the first Sunday in December, with Houston looking to finally flip the scoreboard on Bill Belichick's team. Then it's at Jacksonville the following Thursday and a trip to Indianapolis before coming back home for the Broncos in Week 16. The two home contests more than likely will have some say in playoff seeding, but the Texans can ill afford any slip ups on the road in their division either. A seemingly harmless Week 17 loss to the Colts last season ended up costing the Texans a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the AFC Divisional round. That meant the Texans first had to beat Cincinnati in the Wild Card game, which they did, but then they had to play the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., instead of getting them at Reliant Stadium. And everyone remembers what happened in that game, especially Houston.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): That sound you hear is Arian Foster owners salivating over the Texans’ first two playoff opponents. Jacksonville and Indianapolis finished 29th and 25th in fantasy points allowed to RBs last season, respectively. Granted, things get much tougher with a championship week matchup against Denver (3rd against the run in 2012) looming, but did we mention the first two games are versus the Jaguars and Colts?
 


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 (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) 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 (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) 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

Teaser:
<p> Houston Texans 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: Detroit Lions, NFC, NFC North, NFL
Path: /nfl/detroit-lions-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

Jim Schwartz is entering a critical season in Detroit. A good season is likely needed to keep his job as the Lions' head coach. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Detroit Lions 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Minnesota
Week 2: at Arizona
Week 3: at Washington
Week 4: Chicago
Week 5: at Green Bay
Week 6: at Cleveland
Week 7: Cincinnati
Week 8: Dallas
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: at Chicago
Week 11: at Pittsburgh
Week 12: Tampa Bay
Week 13: Green Bay (Thurs.)
Week 14: at Philadelphia
Week 15: Baltimore (Mon.)
Week 16: New York Giants
Week 17: at Minnesota

Order your 2013 Detroit Lions Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: The first month isn't all that daunting (relatively speaking, of course) to start the season. None of the four teams to start the Lions' season are predicted to go to the postseason and this group combined for an 0-2 playoffs mark a year ago. With two divisional games coming at home and a winnable trip to the desert, the Lions could easily begin the season with two or even three wins in the first month. A slow start could spell doom for this coaching regime.

Toughest Stretch: Three of the final five games will feature playoff teams from a year ago and it means the toughest portion of the Lions' slate will come in December. Detroit will face the last three Super Bowl champions before capping the season with a visit to the Twin Cities to take on Adrian Peterson — who could be charging for an NFL rushing record in the season finale. And mixed in is a trip to Philly to take on Chip Kelly and what should be a much-improved Eagles team.

Swing Games: at ARI (Week 2, TB( Week 12 )
Crossover Divisions: NFC East, AFC North
Bye Week: Week 9
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .539 (T-2nd)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 16th

Easiest Stretch: There is no easy stretch for the Lions as this team plays seven games against playoff teams from last year. The good news is the schedule features just five games with predicted playoff teams this year. The first month could provide some victories, and Detroit also will have two winnable games against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia over a three-week stretch (Week 12-14) later in the season.

Circle The Calendar: There are loads of historic NFC rivalry games on the schedule this year as the Lions will play the NFC East in crossover play. But a home game against the Bears in Week 4 might be the most important game of the year. A win could cap a successful first month and would give the Lions some momentum in the division heading into back-to-back road games. A loss could send the Lions spiraling into a new coaching staff. A potential record-setting performance from Adrian Peterson in the season finale will also be must-see TV.

Divisional Notes: The worst part of the Lions' NFC schedule is that they don't get to face the Lions twice. The Packers, Bears and Vikings combined for 31 wins a year ago and all three have eyes on the postseason again this year. Detroit will face all three in the first five weeks of the season and wrap up with a road trip to Minnesota. The Bears may be heading in the wrong direction and Green Bay is still the kings of the NFC North, so back-to-back games in Week 4 and 5 against those two rivals could determine the Lions' divisional fate early in the year. Games with the Vikings bookend the 2013 campaign.

Playoff Push: The month of December will likely be the toughest five-week stretch for the Lions in '13. It means they will have to get work done before the calendar flips. The Packers and Giants are picked to win their divisions this year and the Ravens are the defending champs. If Schwartz wants to keep his job, he better have plenty of wins before he enters the final month of the season.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Matthew Stafford will be more than happy to see just how far Philadelphia’s defense, which allowed the second-most fantasy points to QBs last season, has come. At first glance the Ravens and Giants may look scary, but the Lions get both at home, inside on the turf, and both defenses, especially the defending Super Bowl champs, have seen a lot of changes on their respective depth charts.


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 (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) 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 (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) 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

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-sonoma-raceway-0
Body:

To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s 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.


The NASCAR road course races have become some of the best on the circuit each season thanks to the absurdity of NASCAR's heavy, over-powered cars trying to work delicately around tight, left and right turns. Road course racer Andy Lally recently said on Twitter that NASCAR is his favorite road course vehicle because it “handles like a school bus with the power of the space shuttle.” This week at Sonoma Raceway sounds fun!

Jump in, make your picks and, hopefully, make us look like we know what we’re talking about … if you took advantage of the free advice last week, you’ve got a race-win under your belt.


A-List (Pick two, start one)
Tony Stewart
Just when we were ready to write off Tony Stewart and his Stewart-Haas Racing bunch, he’s reeled off four top-10 finishes (a win included) in the last four races. He’s now leaped to 10th in points and figures to pile on this weekend at the Sonoma road course. Stewart leads all A-List drivers in the last eight years at Sonoma with an average running position of 10th.

Although he hasn’t won there since 2005, he’s picked up four top-5 finishes in the last five races and would've had a fifth in 2011, but wound up stuck on top of a tire barrier, courtesy of Brian Vickers. Obligatory note: Vickers is racing this weekend, too.

Jeff Gordon
Anyone who has paid attention to NASCAR’s road races in the last several years knows Jeff Gordon’s status as “King of the Road” has long since faded. However, banking on Gordon as a smart fantasy pick for Sunday is the intelligent play.

Gordon’s last road course win was in Sonoma in 2006, and since then he’s recorded a top 10 in every trip to Napa Valley. He led 13 laps a year ago — his first laps led at Sonoma since the win — and finished sixth. Don’t be concerned if things aren’t looking great for the No. 24 at halfway, either. In the last eight Sonoma races, he’s averaged 17th at the cross flags only to wind up with a series-best average finish of 8.3.

Also consider: Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson
 

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy NASCAR tips for the Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 10:56
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-most-improved-teams-2013
Body:

Every college football season brings a few surprises. Whether it’s a team finishing in the top 10 that no one expected in the preseason or another program struggling to reach .500 after a successful stretch, each year presents many different case studies when trying to project teams for the upcoming season. And some teams are quick to rebound after a disappointing year to contend for a conference title or crack the top 25 once again.

Projecting which teams will fill those categories and show significant improvement is no easy task.

When it comes to judging improvement in college football, it doesn’t always come in the form of wins and losses. Improvement can simply come as a result of a team being more competitive within its conference and reducing the margin of defeat.

Kickoff for college football’s 2013 season is still a few months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about which teams will be some of the most improved in the nation.

Auburn had a disastrous 2012 season under Gene Chizik, but new coach Gus Malzahn should have the Tigers back in a bowl game. Another team that should see an improvement in its win total is Maryland. The Terrapins bring back only eight starters, but improved health at quarterback should help Randy Edsall’s team return to the postseason.

While Auburn and Maryland are two teams that should showcase their improvement in the win column, Colorado’s will come in a different form. For the Buffaloes, two victories in 2013 will represent improvement from last season. More importantly, this team under first-year head coach Mike MacIntyre should be considerably more competitive in Pac-12 play this fall.

College Football's Top 10 Most-Improved Teams for 2013

Auburn

2012 Record: 3-9 (0-8 SEC)

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 9

What Went Wrong Last Year: Everything. After Gus Malzahn left to be the head coach at Arkansas State, Gene Chizik hired Scot Loeffler to coordinate the offense. The results were disastrous. Largely due to being miscast in a pro-style offense with spread personnel, the Tigers ranked last in the SEC by averaging 305 yards per game. The offense wasn’t solely to blame, as the defense ranked 13th in the SEC in yards allowed.

Why the Tigers Will Be Better: There’s talent in the program. Over the last eight years, Auburn has an average rank of 12th nationally in Athlon’s team recruiting rankings. Malzahn’s return should help spark an offense that was among the worst in the nation last year, especially as the Tigers return to a spread attack. Quarterback is still a question mark, but the offense has a capable one-two punch at running back with Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne, and the offensive line returns four starters. New defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson was one of the offseason’s top assistant hires and three talented incoming freshmen will bolster the defensive line.

Athlon’s 2013 Projection for Auburn: 6-6, 2-6 SEC
With home games against Washington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina and FAU, Auburn should be 4-0 in non-conference play. Games at LSU and Texas A&M, along with home dates against Georgia and Alabama, are likely losses. However, matchups with Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Tennessee are winnable.

 

Colorado

2012 Record: 1-11 (1-8 Pac-12)

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 7

What Went Wrong Last Year: Colorado’s struggles started in spring practice, losing receiver Paul Richardson to a torn ACL. Without Richardson, the passing attack lacked its best playmaker and one of the Pac-12’s top receivers. The Buffaloes never found any consistency at quarterback, and the offensive line allowed 4.2 sacks a game. The defense was a disaster, allowing 46 points a game – the worst FBS performance in scoring defense since 2008. Due to injuries and overall struggles, Colorado was forced to play a handful of young players last season, but the experienced gained through the struggles should help this team in 2013 and beyond.

Why the Buffaloes Will Be Better: Simply, it’s hard for Colorado to be any worse. But there are signs the Buffaloes are moving in the right direction. New coach Mike MacIntyre was one of the top 10 hires of the offseason and should eventually return the Buffaloes to the postseason. Quarterback play is a question mark, but MacIntyre and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren played a key role in David Fales’ development at San Jose State. Running back Christian Powell had a solid freshman year, rushing for 691 yards and seven touchdowns. His return, along with Paul Richardson’s recovery from a torn ACL, should give the winner of the quarterback battle more weapons to work with in 2013. And while the defense could rank near the bottom of the Pac-12 again, it can’t be as bad as it was in 2012.

Athlon’s 2013 Projection for Colorado: 3-9, 1-8 Pac-12
The win total may not increase by much, but the Buffaloes will be a better team in 2013. Colorado State and Central Arkansas are must-wins to start the season, with a home game against California and a date at Utah representing possible upsets in Pac-12 play. Colorado isn’t likely to make a huge jump in wins, but the Buffaloes should be more competitive and will get better as the year progresses. If Connor Wood struggles early, how quickly will MacIntyre turn to incoming freshman Sefo Liufau at quarterback?
 

Indiana

2012 Record: 4-8 (3-5 Big Ten)

Returning Starters: Offense – 10, Defense – 7

What Went Wrong Last Year: Considering Indiana improved its win total by three games from 2011 to '12, it’s hard to say things went drastically wrong. Instead, the Hoosiers showed signs of progress, leading the Big Ten in passing offense (311.2 yards per game) and coming within a couple of plays of making a bowl game (lost four games by four points or fewer). While the offense averaged 30.8 points a game, the defense was the team’s Achilles' heel. The Hoosiers allowed 463.5 yards a game and ranked last in the conference in points allowed.

Why the Hoosiers Will Be Better: Indiana’s performance on offense is even more impressive when you consider starting quarterback Tre Roberson was lost in the second game of the season with a leg injury. With Roberson back in the mix, the Hoosiers could be even more deadly on offense, especially with one of the Big Ten’s top receiving corps and an improving offensive line. While the defense won’t take a huge step forward in 2013, seven starters are back, and this unit has more upperclassmen with game experience than it did in 2012.    

Athlon’s 2013 Projection for Indiana: 6-6, 3-5 Big Ten
Kevin Wilson certainly has Indiana moving in the right direction. After some close calls last year, the Hoosiers should be able to get over the hump and make a bowl game in 2013. The offense will be one of the most explosive in the Big Ten, and slight improvement should be expected on defense. The non-conference schedule isn’t easy, but Navy, Bowling Green and Indiana State should be victories, with Missouri visiting Bloomington in a key swing game. The Hoosiers have tough crossover games in Big Ten play with road trips to Michigan and Michigan State. However, Indiana hosts Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue, which should be three opportunities for wins in conference games.

 

Marshall

2012 Record: 5-7 (4-4 C-USA)

Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 7

What Went Wrong Last Year: Defense. The Thundering Herd averaged 40.9 points a game, yet failed to make a bowl game in Doc Holliday’s third season. The defense was one of the worst in the nation, allowing 43.1 points a game and ranking 101st nationally in yards allowed. Marshall struggled in close games, losing four games by a touchdown or less.

Why the Thundering Herd Will Be Better: Considering Marshall outgained its opponents in Conference USA play by 72.2 yards a game last year and was a minus-2 in turnover margin, the Thundering Herd were a little unlucky in 2012. Assuming the offense performs at a high level once again, Marshall should contend for the C-USA East title. Quarterback Rakeem Cato returns, and the receiving corps is bolstered by the addition of Penn State transfers Devon Smith and Shawney Kersey. New coordinator Chuck Heater should be a good addition for the defense, and that unit returns seven starters. With a new and improved scheme and most of the core returning for 2013, Marshall won’t be as bad on defense this fall. 

Athlon’s 2013 Projection for Marshall: 8-5, 6-2 C-USA
With UCF, SMU, Memphis and Houston leaving for the American Athletic Conference, Marshall’s path to the C-USA title got a little easier. MTSU, FAU and FIU will join the Thundering Herd in the East Division, with FAU and FIU ranking near the bottom of Athlon’s rankings for 2013. Another scheduling factor working in Marshall’s favor: East Carolina visits Huntington on Nov. 29. 
 

Maryland

2012 Record: 4-8 (2-6 ACC)

Returning Starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 4

What Went Wrong Last Year: Injuries. The Terrapins lost four quarterbacks to injury last season and were forced to finish the year with converted linebacker Shawn Petty as their signal-caller. Not having a consistent passing attack hindered Maryland in close games, as it lost four contests by a touchdown or less and finished last in the ACC in total offense.

Why the Terrapins Will Be Better: Randy Edsall’s first season was a disaster. But despite the injuries at quarterback, the second year brought a two-game improvement in the win column and a handful of close losses. The Terrapins are in better shape at quarterback for 2013, as C.J. Brown is back from a torn ACL, and Ricardo Young is eligible after transferring from New Mexico. Stefon Diggs is one of the nation’s best all-around threats, and the offense features some promising playmakers at running back in Wes Brown and Brandon Ross. The defense finished third in the ACC and 21st nationally in yards allowed but must replace seven starters in 2013.

Athlon’s 2013 Projection for Maryland: 7-5, 4-4 ACC
The defense needs to be rebuilt, but Maryland has a favorable schedule and should return to a bowl game for the first time since 2010. The Terrapins should start the year 3-0 with matchups against FIU, Old Dominion and Connecticut, with West Virginia the swing game of their non-conference slate. Road games against Florida State and Virginia Tech are likely losses, but Maryland doesn’t play North Carolina, Georgia Tech or Miami in crossover play and hosts Boston College, Syracuse and Virginia – three crucial swing games – in College Park. 


Miami

2012 Record: 7-5 (5-3 ACC)

Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 4

What Went Wrong: Off-the-field distractions and NCAA investigations aside, Miami’s biggest issue last year was on defense. And frankly, it wasn’t pretty. The Hurricanes ranked last in the ACC against the run, as well as both yards and points allowed. Miami gave up 366 points last year, which was the most in school history.

Why the Hurricanes Will Be Better: With eight starters back, the Hurricanes should have one of the best offenses in the ACC. Adapting to new coordinator James Coley will be a challenge for quarterback Stephen Morris, but running back Duke Johnson should be in the mix for All-American honors, and the offensive line is solid with all five starters returning. The defense still has issues, but there’s no way this unit can be as bad as it was last year.

Athlon’s 2013 Projection for Miami: 9-4, 6-2 ACC
Miami hasn’t had a double-digit win season since 2003 and is just 20-17 over the last three years. There’s no question the program has slipped recently, but the Hurricanes seem to be trending up entering 2013. Assuming there’s a seamless transition from Jedd Fisch to James Coley at offensive coordinator, Miami’s offense should exceed last year’s totals. The defense is in need of major repair, but there are pieces to build around, including end Anthony Chickillo, linebacker Denzel Perryman and safety Deon Bush.  The schedule is more favorable in 2013, especially since Notre Dame and Kansas State are gone from the non-conference slate. With Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech traveling to Miami this year, the ACC Coastal title will likely run through Sun Life Stadium.
 

South Florida

2012 Record: 3-9 (1-6 Big East)

Returning Starters: Offense – 3, Defense – 7

What Went Wrong Last Year: Just like Auburn: Everything. Despite successful stints at Connecticut and East Carolina, Skip Holtz was never able to push the right buttons at South Florida. The Bulls lost five games by a touchdown or less in 2011 and never seemed to recover for '12. South Florida won its first two games and then lost six consecutive matchups before a win over Connecticut in early November. An injury to quarterback B.J. Daniels slowed the offense, and despite having seven starters back on defense, the Bulls finished seventh in the Big East in yards and points allowed last season. 

Why the Bulls Will Be Better: South Florida’s decision to hire Willie Taggart from Western Kentucky was one of the best coaching moves of the offseason. Taggart helped to turn the Hilltoppers from a struggling FBS program to a bowl team in 2012. It will take some time for Taggart to rebuild the depth on the Bulls' roster, but he has some pieces to work with in 2013. The offense received a boost with the transfer of Penn State quarterback Steven Bench, and the defense will be bolstered by former Notre Dame defensive end Aaron Lynch, who is eligible after sitting out last season as a result of transfer rules. South Florida will also have help from a weaker schedule, which replaces Florida State, Syracuse and Pittsburgh – three losses last year – with FAU, SMU and Memphis – three very winnable games.

Athlon’s 2013 Projection for South Florida: 7-5, 5-3 American
Taggart’s arrival is just what South Florida needs. The Bradenton, Fla., native will bring some much-needed energy and toughness to the program. The Bulls have a ways to go in order to move to the top of the American Athletic Conference. However, the pieces are in place to make a trip to a bowl game, especially with a more favorable conference slate, as well as two non-conference wins against McNeese State and FAU. 


TCU

2012 Record: 7-6 (4-5 Big 12)

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 9

What Went Wrong Last Year: Considering all that transpired for TCU, it’s hard to say anything went wrong. The Horned Frogs made a successful transition from a non-BCS league to one of the toughest conferences in college football. And despite the loss of quarterback Casey Pachall before midseason, TCU went 7-6 and won at Texas for the first time since 1967. There were a couple of areas of concern for the Horned Frogs, as the rushing attack ranked eighth in the Big 12, and the offensive line allowed 2.2 sacks a game. 

Why the Horned Frogs Will Be Better: Now that TCU has a year under its belt in the Big 12, it should be more familiar with its opponents and tendencies. Add the fact coach Gary Patterson is one of the best in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs will be a tougher out for the rest of the conference. Pachall is back under center and should help to bolster TCU’s passing attack. Although the rushing attack was a concern last year, B.J. Catalon turned in a solid freshman campaign, Waymon James is back from injury, and Nebraska transfer Aaron Green is eligible after sitting out a year due to NCAA rules. The defense must replace end Stansly Maponga, but nine starters are back, including likely All-American end Devonte Fields.

Athlon’s 2013 Projection for TCU: 8-4, 6-3 Big 12
It’s possible TCU will be a better team, but it could still struggle to improve its win total. The Horned Frogs have a challenging schedule, which features a non-conference game against LSU, along with road trips to Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Assuming Pachall quickly recaptures the form that watched him throw for 2,921 yards in 2011, TCU’s offense should easily improve on last year’s numbers. Even though Fields will miss the first two games of the year due to a suspension, he should be one of the Big 12’s top defenders. A difficult schedule presents a challenge for TCU. But Patterson and his staff have proven over and over again they are up to the task.
 

USC

2012 Record: 7-6 (5-4 Pac-12)

Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 7

What Went Wrong Last Year: The Trojans were widely considered one of the top five teams in the nation last preseason. Yet, USC finished with a disappointing 7-6 mark, which included a 1-5 stretch to close the season. An injury to starting quarterback Matt Barkley slowed the offense late in the year, but the Trojans’ biggest problem was a defense that ranked eighth in the Pac-12 against the run and allowed 394 yards per game.

Why the Trojans Will Be Better: Despite the loss of Barkley and center Khaled Holmes, USC should be solid on offense. Whether it's Max Wittek, Cody Kessler or Max Browne starting at quarterback, the passing attack will be fine, largely due to the return of junior receiver Marqise Lee and tight ends Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble. And there’s depth at running back with Silas Redd, Justin Davis and Ty Isaac competing for carries. New coordinator Clancy Pendergast should be a good fit for a defense that returns seven starters. Pendergast plans on implementing a 5-2 scheme, which will take advantage of USC’s talent on the defensive line.

Athlon’s 2013 Projection for USC: 9-4, 6-3 Pac-12
Could this be it for coach Lane Kiffin? If USC goes 7-5 again, the calls for a coaching change will only get louder. However, there’s reason for optimism in 2013. The Trojans outgained their opponents by 69.7 yards per game last year but struggled in the turnover department. The schedule is more favorable this season, as USC misses Oregon and hosts UCLA and Stanford. Winning a division title is certainly within reach. But USC needs to settle on a quarterback, as well as continue to improve its offensive line and secondary as the year progresses. 


Washington State

2012 Record: 3-9 (1-8 Pac-12)

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 8

What Went Wrong Last Year: The transition from Paul Wulff to Mike Leach didn’t go exactly as planned. The Cougars scored two surprisingly close non-conference wins against UNLV and Eastern Washington and upset rival Washington in the season finale to finish 3-9. Leach was supposed to inject some life into the offense, but the Cougars finished 94th nationally in yards per game and 106th in points. The defense shared in the struggles, allowing 425.9 yards per contest. The problems for Washington State were even deeper than the stats on offense and defense showed, as the offensive line allowed 4.8 sacks a game, and the Cougars ranked 101st nationally in turnover margin.

Why the Cougars Will Be Better: As with any coach entering his second season, you expect to see some type of uptick in production with more familiarity when it comes to schemes. That should hold true for Washington State, especially with Leach calling the plays. The Cougars have one of the nation’s worst rushing attacks, but having another offseason to allow quarterback Connor Halliday to work as the No. 1 passer should help this offense. Halliday will also have plenty of options to choose from a stocked receiving corps. With eight starters back on defense, Washington State should be able push for a finish in the top six of the Pac-12 in total and scoring defense. Although the Cougars lost nine games last year, three of those – including matchups against Stanford and UCLA – came by eight points or less.

Athlon’s 2013 Projection for Washington State: 4-8, 2-7 Pac-12
Just like last season, Washington State should go 2-1 in non-conference play. However, Wazzu's Pac-12 schedule sets up more favorably. The Cougars do have to travel to California, but the Golden Bears – much like Washington State – are rebuilding. With home games against Oregon State and Utah visiting Pullman, Mike Leach’s team will have a chance to pull an upset or two. Progress and winning games may take a little longer than most expected for Leach. However, Washington State seems to be on the right track and should be more competitive in the Pac-12 this year.


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Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 10 Most-Improved Teams for 2013</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 08:10
Path: /college-football/big-12-football-2013-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2013 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first, second and third All-Big 12 teams for this season.

Related Content: Big 12 Predictions for 2013

2013 All-Big 12 Team

First-Team Offense

QB Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State

RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor

RB James Sims, Kansas

FB Trey Millard, Oklahoma

WR Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State

WR Eric Ward, Texas Tech

C Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

OG Trey Hopkins, Texas

OG Cyril Richardson, Baylor

OT Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State

OT Daryl Williams, Oklahoma



First-Team Defense

DE Devonte Fields, TCU

DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas

DT Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State

DT Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech

LB Bryce Hager, Baylor

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas

LB Jordan Hicks, Texas

CB Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma

CB Jason Verrett, TCU

S Sam Carter, TCU

S Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State



First-Team Specialists

K Jaden Oberkrom, TCU

P Kirby Van Der Kamp, Iowa State

KR Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

PR Tramaine Thompson, Kansas State


The Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 All-Big 12 Team

  First Second Third Overall
Baylor 3 5 3 11
Iowa State 1 0 2 3
Kansas 2 0 0 2
Kansas State 3 2 3 8
Oklahoma 4 2 6 12
Oklahoma State 4 5 2 11
TCU 4 3 3 10
Texas 3 5 1 9
Texas Tech 2 3 3 8
West Virginia 0 1 3 4


Second-Team Offense

QB Casey Pachall, TCU

RB Johnathan Gray, Texas

RB Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State

WR Mike Davis, Texas

WR Tevin Reese, Baylor

TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

C BJ Finney, Kansas State

OG Parker Graham, Oklahoma State

OG Mason Walters, Texas

OT Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech

OT Spencer Drango, Baylor



Related Content: Big 12 Predictions for 2013


Second-Team Defense

DE Dartwan Bush, Texas Tech

DE Chris McAllister, Baylor

DT James Castleman, Oklahoma State

DT Chucky Hunter, TCU

LB Eddie Lackey, Baylor

LB Caleb Lavey, Oklahoma State

LB Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State

CB Carrington Byndom, Texas

CB Quandre Diggs, Texas

S Ahmad Dixon, Baylor

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia



Second-Team Specialists

K Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma

P Ethan Perry, TCU

KR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

PR Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma



Third-Team Offense

QB Blake Bell, Oklahoma

RB John Hubert, Kansas State

RB Damien Williams, Oklahoma

WR Brandon Carter, TCU

WR Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma

WR Jaxon Shipley, Texas

C Tom Farniok, Iowa State

OG Adam Shead, Oklahoma

OG Keenan Taylor, Kansas State

OT Quinton Spain, West Virginia

OT Cody Whitehair, Kansas State



Third-Team Defense

DE Will Clarke, West Virginia

DE Terrance Lloyd, Baylor

DT Chuka Ndulue, Oklahoma

DT Davion Pierson, TCU

LB Isaiah Bruce, West Virginia

LB Jeremiah George, Iowa State

LB Corey Nelson, Oklahoma

CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

CB Joe Williams, Baylor

S Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State

S Elisha Olabode, TCU



Third-Team Specialists

K Ryan Bustin, Texas Tech

P Ryan Erxleben, Texas Tech

KR Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech

PR Levi Norwood, Baylor


2013 Big 12 Team Previews

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

 

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Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Football 2013 All-Conference Team</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 07:45
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-miami-football-fan
Body:

Believe it or not, there actually was a bad time to be a Miami fan before the decline in the last decade. And we’re not talking about the brief time on probation in the mid-90s.

We’re talking about the 1970s. It’s tough to remember a time when Miami was a non-factor in college football, but before the Hurricanes became the dominant program of the 1980s, they were on nobody's radar, let alone anyone's pick to become the first team from the state of Florida to win a national title.

Related: 2013 Miami preview

Enough about that bad times. Being a Miami fan during the Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson days was fun — as long as those fans didn’t mind rooting for college football renegades. And let’s face it, winning five national championships in less than 20 years makes it a little easier to root for any team.

Miami football fandom ebbs and flows just like any program. The Hurricanes may be on the rise under Al Golden right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy to get up for Hurricanes games over the last seven years (and judging by those crowd shots, it’s been quite tough).

Our series looking at the best and worst eras for college football fans continues with Miami. From the lean years of the 1970s to dominance on the field and draft day in the 80s, 90s and 2000s, here are the highs and lows for the faithful in Coral Gables.

Other best times/worst times:
Nebraska

Notre Dame


BEST TIMES TO BE A MIAMI FAN

1986-92
Record: 78-6
National championships: 3
Coaches: Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson
Notable players: Vinny Testaverde, Bennie Blades, Gino Torretta, Steve Walsh, Russell Maryland, Micheal Barrow, Michael Irvin (right)
This is when Miami became “The U” and one of the transformative programs in college football history. Johnson and Erickson built upon Schnellenberger’s groundwork to establish the preeminent football program of the 80s and early 90s. The Hurricanes earned all the confidence they exuded with three national titles in five seasons (’87, ’89 and ’91). The ’87 team was the first unblemished team in school history, defeating an unbeaten Oklahoma team in the Orange Bowl. Overall, the Hurricanes went 56-4 from 1987-91 and added Heisman winners in 1986 (Testaverde) and ’92 (Torretta). But this was also a time of near misses. In a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game to end the 1986 season, Miami lost 14-10 to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl, a game preceded by Miami players showing up for dinner with the Nittany Lions in fatigues. Then, in the “Catholics vs. Convicts” game in 1988, Miami lost 31-30 to Notre Dame for its only loss of the year. Miami became the villains of college football, but the Hurricanes’ players and fans soaked up the image.

Related: Miami picked to win division in 2013

2000-03
Record: 46-4
National championships: 1
Coaches: Butch Davis, Larry Coker
Notable players: Ed Reed, Bryant McKinnie, Willis McGahee, Ken Dorsey, Santana Moss, Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow, Dan Morgan
Miami escaped NCAA probation as dominant as ever, thanks to Butch Davis’ ability to stockpile talent in Coral Gables. Miami lost 34-29 to Washington on Sept. 9, 2000 and wouldn’t lose again until the national title game in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State after the 2002 season (cue the groans about the pass interference call that aided the Buckeyes’ victory). The 2001 team was one of the best teams in college football history, defeating opponents by an average of 33 points per game on the way to a Rose Bowl rout of Nebraska for the national title in Coker’s first season. The program was awash in NFL draft picks during this era, including 19 first-round selections in the 2001-04 drafts.

Related: Bryant McKinnie tops list of best OL of the BCS era

1980-83
Record: 36-11
National championships: 1
Coach: Howard Schnellenberger
Notable players: Bernie Kosar, Fred Marion, Jim Kelly
Other coaches would have better records and more top-five finishes. Other teams would be more dominant. But no coach and no era meant more to Miami than Schnellenberger in the early 1980s. Miami’s program was hanging by a thread in the 70s when the former Bear Bryant assistant Schnellenberger came up with a recruiting plan to build a wall around South Florida for what he called the “State of Miami.” The ‘Canes went 9-2 in 1981 with Kelly at quarterback for Miami’s first bowl game in 13 years. Then, Miami upset Nebraska in the Orange Bowl in 1983 to become the first of 10 national-title winning teams from the state of Florida.

Related: Schnellenberger among notable Hall of Fame snubs

WORST TIMES TO BE A MIAMI FAN



2006-12
Record: 48-40
Coaches: Larry Coker, Randy Shannon, Al Golden
Miami appears to be on the right track, as Athlon projected the Hurricanes to reach their first ACC title game this season. Still, the last seven seasons have been lackluster by the standards Miami set since 1983. The Hurricanes have been mediocre on the field, finishing only one of the last seven seasons with more than seven wins and a top-25 ranking. Off the field, Miami has been embroiled in scandal with the Nevin Shapiro case -- even if the NCAA comes out of the whole affair looking even worse. In the stands, attendance has sunk to embarrassing levels. And in the NFL Draft, Miami’s presence has faded with no first-round picks since 2008. The biggest indignity was a 48-0 loss to Virginia in the final game at the storied Orange Bowl.

Related: 2013 Preseason All-ACC team

1968-78
Record: 46-72
Coaches: Charlie Tate, Walter Kichefski, Fran Curci, Pete Elliott, Carl Selmer, Lou Saban
Those born after 1980 or so have no recollection of how irrelevant Miami football once was. The Hurricanes went through six coaches over the course of the decade including the Selmer (5-15 overall) and Saban (8-13). The 1970 team under Tate and Kichefski was outscored by a total of 144 points in 11 games while the 1977 team under Saban was outscored by 120 points. Against Florida — Miami’s primary rival at the time — the Hurricanes went 2-9, including the infamous Florida Flop in 1971. Florida quarterback John Reaves was attempting to break Jim Plunkett’s career passing record in that game. With Reaves 10 yards short of the record and Florida up 45-8 late, the Gators’ defense flopped to the ground at the 8-yard line to allow Miami to score. Reaves broke Plunkett’s record as time expired.

IT WASN’T SO BAD WHEN...

1961-67
Record: 41-30-3
Coaches: Andy Gustafson, Charlie Tate
Notable players: Ted Hendricks, George Mira
Miami’s high and low points are so obvious it’s tough to pinpoint an underappreciated time in the Hurricanes’ history. Going 41-30-3 with four bowl games in seven seasons would get a Miami coach fired in 2013, but this was the high point of the pre-Schnellenberger era. The Hurricanes had two star players in quarterback George Mira and defensive end Ted Hendricks, the name of the latter now sits on a trophy presented to the nation’s top defensive end. Miami went 5-2 against Florida in this span, including a pair of wins against 1966 Heisman winner Steve Spurrier. Honorable mention for this category: Miami went 22-5-1 from 1954-56.

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Teaser:
<p> Fans went along for the ride as Miami went from doormat to dominant</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: Monthly, News
Path: /monthly/whats-greatest-sports-themed-advertising-campaign-all-time
Body:

In your opinion, what is the greatest sports-themed advertising campaign of all time? I like ESPN’s “This is SportsCenter” spots.

— Sarah Crawley, Fairfax, Va.
 
Those SportsCenter ads, with their creative use of easily recognizable athletes, are pure genius. But for the best of all time, we have to go with Nike’s “Bo Knows” series featuring multi-sport legend Bo Jackson. Every now and then a product, a pitch man and an era come together in perfect harmony, and that is what happened when Nike was looking to promote its new cross-training product. Who better than a crossover superstar like Bo? The campaign blossomed into baseball cards, t-shirts, shoes and a permanent spot in the public consciousness. This might be one of the greatest marketing/advertising campaigns in the history of capitalism.
Teaser:
<p> <span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Helvetica, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px; line-height: 17.99715805053711px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Go on, ask us anything.</span></p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /mlb/21-amazing-mlb-stats-week-june-10-16
Body:

The A’s are hot, the Yankees and Rangers’ bats are not. Competition in the NL West is getting tight and Dustin Pedroia is tough with two. These and more amazing MLB stats are here from the week of June 10-16.

22-7    Oakland A’s record since May 15
The A’s have been smoking hot since the middle of May. With a 22-7 mark from May 16-June 16, the A’s own the best record in the majors during that time, three games better than the next-best mark of the Braves.

.000    Opponents batting average off of Johnny Cueto with the bases loaded
This isn’t that small of a sample. It’s over the past three seasons. Batters are 0-for-29 with three walks against the Reds’ righthander with the bases full.

8-2-3    W-L-T in road series for St. Louis this season
The Cardinals finally lost a road series for the first time since the opening set at Arizona. And it wasn’t to the division rival Reds, or the NL East-leading Braves, or even one of the contenders in the West. The Redbirds’ road series loss came at the hand of the worst team in baseball, the Miami Marlins.

.333    Dustin Pedroia’s batting average with an 0-2 count
That number includes the past two seasons. Not surprisingly, it is the highest among all players with as many as 50 plate appearances down 0-2.

24    Runs scored by the Yankees in their last nine games
Maybe the New Yorkers are missing Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and — dare we say — Alex Rodriguez — a little bit.

8    Runs scored by the Rangers over six games
Not to be outdone by the Yankees’ pathetic offense, the Rangers hitters took a vacation as well. During a recent six-game skid, Texas was outscored 34-8.

2    Games separating four teams in the NL West
After a few hiccups by division leader Arizona, and a torrid streak by the Padres, the NL West has become a cluster of four contenders. With Colorado losing Troy Tulowitzki for a significant period, the Rockies may struggle to stay in the hunt. With Yasiel Puig doing his thing and Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp set to rejoin the Dodgers’ lineup soon, it may be too early to count the Dodgers out, making this a five team free-for-all in September.

5    San Diego pitchers with saves over a 10-day period
From June 6-15, the Padres won seven games, using five pitchers to get six saves. Lefty Eric Stults didn’t need relief help in a two-hit, 2-1 win over Arizona. But the other wins required bullpen assistance as Brad Boxberger, Dale Thayer and Nick Vincent each notched their first saves of the season. The saves were the first in the careers of both Boxberger and Vincent. Long-time setup man Luke Gregerson notched a pair of saves over this stretch before closer Huston Street returned from the DL to his familiar role and adding a save.

.444    Anthony Rendon’s June batting average
The Washington Nationals’ highly touted prospect has been swinging a hot bat this month. Too bad his teammates haven’t joined the hit parade. They have combined to hit just .216 in June.

5.54    First-inning ERA for Shelby Miller
If hitters are going to get to the Cardinals’ young righthander, they better erupt early. Miller’s ERA is a robust 5.54 in the first inning, then drops to a miniscule 1.58 afterwards. Opponents are batting .357 in the first frame, then just .175 after he settles in.

30    Games since San Francisco has won three in a row (and counting)
You have to flip the calendar all the way back to May 12 to find the last three-game winning streak by the Giants. That was 30 games ago. Since then, the defending champs are 12-18.

.211    Aggregate batting average of White Sox 4-5-6 hitters
Typically, the heart of the batting order is expected to produce runs and set the tone for a team’s offensive punch. Guess this is why the Sox have dropped to last place.

0-for-3    Mets bullpen in save opps in June
I’m not sure what is more startling about this. The fact that the Mets are 0-for save opportunities, or that they have just three chances this month.

1    Games in June in which the Royals have allowed more than three runs
The Kansas City pitching staff has buckled down and been downright nasty this month. Only once in their first 15 games have the Royals allowed more than three runs. That is the definition of keeping your team in the game and giving yourself a chance to win. The Royals are 11-4 in those games.  

.500    OBP of Yasiel Puig through his first 13 games
The rookie outfielder continues to provide amazing stats with each game. Once Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez join the youngster in the lineup regularly, the Dodgers just may battle back into contention.

2.91    Astros ERA in June
Sure, we’re only half way through the month, but after a 5.55 ERA in April followed by a 5.06 number in May, Houston fans should celebrate any ERA under 4.00 at this point.

.389    Adam Dunn’s batting average last week
With that huge week, the Big Donkey raised his season average from .165 to .189, or still about 96 points below his weight.

11-15    Record for the Texas Rangers without Ian Kinsler
The Rangers’ second baseman returned last week after being out of the starting lineup for 26 games. Kinsler made his last start on May 16, before returning over the weekend. The Rangers were 27-14 prior to his injury.

5    Key number of runs for the Pirates
In June, when the Bucs plate five runs or more, they are 5-0. If the pitching staff coughs up five or more, not good. The Pirates are 0-6 when giving up five or more runs in June.

3-9    New York Mets record in June, worst in the majors

4-11    Texas Rangers record in June, worst in the AL

-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

Teaser:
<p> The A’s are hot, the Yankees and Rangers’ bats are not. Competition in the NL West is getting tight and Dustin Pedroia is tough with two. These and more amazing MLB stats are here from the week of June 10-16.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 16:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-all-sophomore-team-2013
Body:

Projecting the all-conference and All-America teams is a staple of any college football preseason preview. And after projecting those teams for 2013, it’s clear college football has a stockpile of talent in its sophomore ranks.

Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel stole the spotlight by winning the Heisman Trophy last year, but Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and UCLA’s Brett Hundley also had outstanding years as redshirt freshmen.

Quarterback is not the only position with young talent, however. When it comes to running back, look no further than likely All-America selections Todd Gurley and T.J. Yeldon, who are set to lead the ground attack for two of college football’s top teams.

Projecting an all-conference, all-sophomore or all-freshman team is never easy. In order to compile this team, some projection was used for how the players would play in 2013, their stats from 2012, recruiting ranks and projection for the NFL. To put it another way, this is not a list just based on last year’s stats. 

First-Team Offense

QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
All-Purpose Duke Johnson, Miami
WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
TE Kyle Carter, Penn State
C Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
G Dan Feeney, Indiana
G Max Tuerk, USC
T Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
T John Theus, Georgia


First-Team Defense

DE Devonte Fields, TCU
DE Aaron Lynch, South Florida
DT Issac Gross, Ole Miss
DT Leonard Williams, USC
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
LB Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
LB Shaq Thompson, Washington
CB Jalen Mills, LSU
CB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame
S Josh Harvey-Clemons, Georgia
S Karl Joseph, West Virgin
ia
 

First-Team Specialists

K Ross Martin, Duke
P Ethan Perry, TCU


Related Content: College Football's 2013 All-America Team

Second-Team Offense

QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
RB Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
All-Purpose DJ Foster, Arizona State
WR Davante Adams, Fresno State
WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland
TE Devin Funchess, Michigan
C Jake Brendel, UCLA
G Jordan Rigsbee, California
G Trai Turner, LSU
T Andrus Peat, Stanford
T Cody Whitehair, Kansas State


Second-Team Defense

DE Deion Barnes, Penn State
DE Noah Spence, Ohio State
DT Jaxon Hood, Arizona State
DT Davion Pierson, TCU
LB Isaiah Bruce, West Virginia
LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
LB Antonio Morrison, Florida
CB Alex Carter, Stanford
CB Nick VanHoose, Northwestern
S Landon Collins, Alabama
S Chris Hackett, TCU


Second-Team Specialists

K Austin Lopez, San Jose State
P Tyler Williams, Marshall


Related Content: College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 1-125


Third-Team Offense

QB Brett Hundley, UCLA
RB Johnathan Gray, Texas
RB Jeremy Hill, LSU
RB Keith Marshall, Georgia
WR Quinshad Davis, North Carolina
WR J.D. McKissic, Arkansas State
C Ryan Kelly, Alabama
G Jack Allen, Michigan State
G Ted Karras, Illinois
T Spencer Drango, Baylor
T Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah


Third-Team Defense

DE Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State
DE Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
DT Arik Armstead, Oregon
DT Xavier Cooper, Washington State
LB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
LB Jabari Hunt-Days, Georgia Tech
LB James Ross III, Michigan
CB Blake Countess, Michigan
CB Ronald Darby, Florida State
S Travis Blanks, Clemson
S Deon Bush, Miami

 

Third-Team Specialists

K Jared Oberkrom, TCU
P Will Monday, Duke

 

Honorable Mention

Quarterbacks: Michael Brewer, Texas Tech; Tre Roberson, Indiana; Daniel Sams, Kansas State; Travis Wilson, Utah

Running Backs: Byron Marshall, Oregon; Matt Jones, Florida; Brandon Williams, Oklahoma; Trey Williams, Oklahoma, Storm Woods, Oregon State

Wide Receivers: Bralon Addison, Oregon; Nelson Agholor, USC; Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri; Deontay Greenberry, Houston; Chris Harper, California; Gabe Marks, Washington State; Alonzo Russell, Toledo; Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma; Jaime Wilson, Western Michigan

Tight Ends: Pharoh Brown, Oregon; Alan Cross, Memphis; Jake Phillips, UNLV; Sean Price, USF, Kent Taylor, Florida

Offensive Tackle: Vadal Alexander, LSU; Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech; Aviante Collins, TCU; Parker Ehinger, Cincinnati; Ereck Flowers, Miami; Simon Goines, UCLA; D.J. Humphries, Florida; Ryker Mathews, BYU; Kyle Murphy, Stanford; Brandon Shell, South Carolina; Jason Spriggs, Indiana; Donovan Smith, Penn State; Torian White, UCLA

Offensive Guard: Zach West, Kentucky

Center: Austin Blythe, Iowa; Evan Boehm, Missouri; Dillon Day, Mississippi State; Robert Kugler, Purdue; Mike Matthews, Texas A&M

Defensive End: DeForest Buckner, Oregon; Jonathan Bullard, Florida; Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State; Dante Fowler, Florida; Eli Harold, Virginia; Julien Obioha, Texas A&M; John Taylor, Georgia

Defensive Tackle: Malcom Brown, Texas; Darian Cooper, Iowa; Christian Covington, Rice; Eddie Goldman, Florida State; Darius Hamilton, Rutgers; Javonte Magee, Baylor; Ellis McCarthy, UCLA; Ondre Pipkins, Michigan

Linebackers: Kwon Alexander, LSU; Denzel Devall, Alabama; Travis Feeney, Washington; Cory James, Colorado State; Peter Jinkens, Texas; Raphael Kirby, Miami, Tyler Matakevich, Temple; Mason Monheim, Illinois; Darryl Monroe, Washington State; Otha Peters, Arkansas; Dalton Santos, Texas; David Santos, Nebraska

Cornerbacks: Kenneth Crawley, Colorado; Ronald Darby, Florida State; Sheldon Dawson, Georgia; Lorenzo Doss, Tulane; De’Vante Harris, Texas A&M; Tracy Howard, Miami; Stefan McClure, California; Lafayette Pitts, Pittsburgh; Darion Monroe, Tulane; Geno Smith, Alabama; Kevon Seymour, USC; Trae Waynes, Michigan State; Zac Whitfield, North Texas

Safety: Dante Barnett, Kansas State; Kevin Byard, MTSU; Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires, Army; D.J. Hunter, Marshall; Justin Simmons, Boston College; Trevon Stewart, Houston
 

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Teaser:
<p> College Football's All-Sophomore Team for 2013</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 15:51
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/greatest-and-most-bizarre-athlete-name-changes-all-time
Body:

What’s in a name? Much more than a few letters, that is for sure.

Teams change their nicknames all the time. Some organizations refuse to change their name despite odd arithmetic — looking at you, Big Ten. Everything from branding to religion has been cited as a reason to change a name. Some have done it simply to gain exposure and command headlines while others have been forced to change due to societal pressures and sensitivities.

However, this list doesn't apply to the men-less Syracuse Orange or 10-team Big 12 Conference. This one is dedicated just to the greatest and most bizarre athlete name changes of all-time. Here are some of our favorites:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Born: Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr.

Growing up in Harlem, Alcindor was quickly discovered as one of the greatest basketball prospects in the history of the sport. He led Power Memorial Academy to three straight New York City Catholic titles before signing with UCLA and leading the Bruins to three straight national championships. He was raised Roman Catholic, however, before his final season at UCLA he joined the Nation of Islam and converted to Sunni Islam in the summer of 1968. The move prompted a name change to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which means "generous servant of the mighty one." At an official press conference in June 1971, the reigning NBA MVP told the world he wanted to go by his Islamic name instead of his given name.

Muhammad Ali
Born: Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.

Named after his father and raised a Baptist by his mother in Louisville, Ky., Ali won a pair of national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union National Championship and a Light Heavyweight Gold Medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics as Cassius Clay. Clay won his first World Heavyweight Championship against Sonny Liston in 1964 — the same year he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Eleven years later, Ali officially converted to Sunni Islam. He likely didn't have to change his already intimidating name to become arguably "The Greatest" in American sports history.

Metta World Peace
Born: Ronald Williams Artest, Jr.

Not only is this name change one of the most bizarre, it’s also the most ironic. From the Queensbridge projects in Queens, New York, Artest had a hardened edge from his childhood — one story has him witnessing a murder on the court of a YMCA hoops tournament. After three years at St. John’s, the troubled Artest was a first-round pick by the Bulls. In 2004, Artest sprinted into the stands to attack a fan and was given the longest suspension in NBA history. Artest has gained a reputation for being a great defender on the basketball court, but he also never lost his troubled edge. However, in 2011 in a bizarre effort to change his entrenched image and “inspire and bring youth together all around the world,” he officially changed his first name to “Metta” and his surname to “World Peace.”

Sugar Ray Robinson
Born: Walker Smith, Jr.

Many believe the welterweight and middleweight champion was the best pound-for-pound fighter of all time. But many don’t know his birth certificate from Ailey, Ga., read Walker Smith, Jr. After moving to Harlem, and at 14 years old, he attempted to enter his first boxing tournament. But since AAU had a 16-year-old age minimum, Smith had to borrow his friend’s membership card in order to compete. His friend’s name was Ray Robinson. His manager George Gainford added “Sugar” a few years later because his boxing style was a “sweet as sugar.” The rest is history.

Chad Ochocinco
Born: Chad Javon Johnson

The brash wide receiver has made a lot of bizarre — and questionable — decisions in his time as an athlete. Through social media and savvy business moves, Johnson grew his brand both on and off the field until his absurd 2008 name change. Interestingly enough, his official name to change to Chad Ochocinco — which doesn’t even mean eighty-five — coincided with his worst season in the NFL to date. He was never the same player again, has since changed his name back to Chad Johnson and was released from the Dolphins in 2012 due to domestic abuse issues.

Ahmad Rashad
Born: Robert Earle Moore

A College Football Hall of Famer, Moore starred at Oregon as both a wide receiver and running back. He was drafted in 1972 in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals and converted to Islam the same year. Bobby Moore became Ahmad Rashad — meaning "Admirable One Led to Truth" in Arabic — after his mentor Rashad Khalifa. He played for 11 seasons in the NFL and has built a remarkable career as one of sports top broadcasters.

The other Karim Abdul-Jabbar
Born: Sharmon Shah

Shah was a standout running back for the UCLA Bruins in 1995 and was already a member of the Muslim faith when his Imam gave him a new name. The newly minted Karim Abdul-Jabbar quickly gained national notoriety due to its similarities to famed Bruins great hoops star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The basketball Abdul-Jabbar filed a lawsuit in 1998 against the football Abdul-Jabbar, feeling the then Dolphins running back was profiting from the hoops Hall of Famer’s name. Thus, Shah changed his name a third time and is now known as Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar.

Fausto Carmona
Born: Roberto Heredia Hernandez

This story is a long and circuitous one for the current Tampa Bay Rays pitcher. In order to play professional baseball in America, the Dominican native had to obtain an illegal visa under the name Fausto Carmona. He debuted for the Cleveland Indians in 2006 and went 19-8 in his second season, as he helped the Indians to the playoffs in 2007. However, in January 2012, Dominican police arrested Hernandez after leaving the U.S. Consulate, accusing him of using a false identity. When the Indians found out that not only was their starting pitcher not named Fausto Carmona but was also three years older than reported, they placed him on the restricted list. He signed with the Rays 12 months later and is now a member of their starting rotation.

World B. Free
Born: Lloyd Bernard Free

A former NAIA star at Guildford College, Free landed in the NBA as a second-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers. But in 1981, on his third NBA team, Free legally changed his first name from Lloyd to World. His nickname “All-World” was the inspiration. He played for five different NBA teams over a 12-year NBA career. He was an All-Star as a Golden State Warrior, was honored by Cleveland as a “Cavaliers Legend” and is currently a Director of Player Development and Community Ambassador for the 76ers.

Bison Dele
Born: Brian Carson Williams

Dele’s story is a tragic and bizarre one that involves a famous musician father (Eugene Williams of The Platters), a nine-year NBA career, a post-career name change honoring his Native American and African ancestry and a terrible South Pacific disappearance. A catamaran trip with Captain Bertrand Saldo, girlfriend Serena Karlan and brother Miles Dabord (born Kevin Williams) ended when Dabord brought the boat into port in Tahiti by himself. No one has ever heard from anyone else aboard the ship since and Dabord eventually overdosed on insulin months after the fatal voyage while reportedly under police suspicion, only adding to the mysterious circumstances.

Pele
Born: Edison Arantes do Nascimento

Born in Brazil and named after Thomas Edison, Pele’s name doesn’t come from a religious belief, bizarre self-image or important family heritage. The greatest soccer player the world has ever seen is named Pele because he couldn’t say his favorite player’s name correctly when growing up. Local Vasco da Gama goalkeeper Bile was young Nasciemento’s favorite player but he couldn’t say the name correctly and it stuck — despite years of trying to rid himself of the nickname. Now, his one-word name is the most recognized in all of soccer history worldwide.

Leo Nunez
Born: Juan Carlos Oviedo

At age 17, the Dominican pitcher started using the name Leo Nunez — his 16-year-old best friend at the time. The former Royals and Marlins relief pitcher was simply trying to gain an extra year to sell to MLB clubs. He signed with the Pirates before being traded to the Royals for catcher Benito Santiago. After four uneventful years in Kansas City and four similar ones in Miami, Nunez was placed on the restricted list in September 2011 in order to return to the Dominican. He signed a statement saying he used fake identification and was allowed to re-sign in the majors (Tampa Bay). He is currently on the 60-day disabled list.
 

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
Born: Chris Wayne Jackson

One of the SEC’s best players, Jackson excelled as a guard at LSU. He was the third overall pick by the Denver Nuggets in 1990 and went on to a 11-year NBA career with three franchises. He converted to Islam in 1991 and officially changed his name in 1993 — the same year he won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. He is best known for not standing for the National Anthem and calling the U.S. flag a symbol of oppression. He played in Turkey, Russia, Italy, Greece, Saudi Arabia and Japan after his NBA career ended.

He Hate Me
Born: Torrold Deshaun Smart

With a first name like Torrold, it is easy to see why Smart wanted to change his name and went by Rod most of his life. However, the former Western Kentucky running back took it to another level when he put “He Hate Me” on the back of his XFL jersey in 2001. Technically, it was short for his nickname “They Hate Me” but it didn’t fit on his Las Vegas Outlaws jersey. While he clearly wasn’t as committed to his nickname as Ochocinco or World Peace because it was just a nickname and not legally changed, Smart’s “He Hate Me” was the XFL’s top selling jersey. After one year in the XFL and one cup of coffee with the Edmonton Eskimos, Smart actually had a brief NFL career with the Eagles (2001) and Panthers (2002-05). Had he legally changed his name, he might be up there with Ron Artest and Chad Johnson.

Hulk Hogan
Born: Terry Eugene Bollea

This might be a reach because the name Hulk Hogan is simply a character created out of thin air. However, Bollea has built a career as a wrestler, actor, TV personality and entrepreneur due to his brand as Hulk Hogan. No actor has ever absorbed a character like Bollea’s permanent transformation and has turned it into a multimillion dollar brand for himself. Why would he ever go back to being called Terry or Gene?

Teaser:
<p> The Greatest and Most Bizarre Athlete Name Changes of All-Time</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 15:30
Path: /mlb/2013-mlb-power-rankings-june-18
Body:

Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (St. Louis Cardinals) and worst (Miami Marlins) baseball teams and players in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.
 
 1. Cardinals Lost first road series since first of season — at Miami.
 
 2. Red Sox Rays at home, Tigers on the road this week.
 
 3. A’s Oakland is smoking hot since middle of May (22-7).
 
 4. Braves B.J. actually outproduced brother Justin last week.
 
5. Reds Four-game set with Pittsburgh before a trip west.
 
 6. Pirates In June, when Bucs score five or more: 5-0, give up five: 0-6.
 
 7. Orioles Took three of four from Red Sox over the weekend.
 
 8. Tigers Won 11 of last 15 vs. AL Central.
 
 9. Yankees Scored a scant 24 runs in last nine games.
 
10. Rangers Offense produced just eight runs during recent six-game skid.
 
11. Diamondbacks Swept at San Diego, now four teams within two games in West.
 
12. Rays Led the majors with 16 homers last week.
 
13. Rockies Can potent offense continue without Troy Tulowitzki?
 
14. Padres Five different pitchers have shared last seven saves.
 
15. Giants June: Lost 2, won 2, lost 2, won 2, lost 2, won 2, lost 2.
 
16. Nationals Anthony Rendon hitting .444 in June; rest of team .216.
 
17. Indians Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana combined .500 vs. K.C.
 
18. Royals Given up more than three runs just once in June (11-4).
 
19. Blue Jays Enjoyed four-game sweep at Texas.
 
20. Phillies Opponents hit .305 last week as Phils dropped five of seven.
 
21. Twins With bases empty, Joe Mauer batting .340; rest of team, .228.
 
22. Mariners Desperately seeking starting pitching from Nos. 3, 4 and 5.
 
23. Angels Team ERA leader? Jerome Williams. Enough said.
 
24. Dodgers Yasiel Puig has .500 OBP in first 13 games.
 
25. Brewers June ERA about a run and half better than May. 
 
26. White Sox Nos. 4, 5 and 6 hitters are combined .211 this season.
 
27. Cubs Cubs pitchers holding opponents to a .210 average on the road.
 
28. Mets 0-for-3 in save opportunities this month.
 
29. Astros Monthly ERAs: April, 5.55, May 5.06, June 2.91.
 
30. Marlins Calmly took two of three from best team in majors.
 
NL Player of the Week
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
Without running buddy Troy Tulowitzki for the next month or so, it may be difficult for CarGo to maintain his strong season. Last week, he batted .476 with a 1.617 OPS, three home runs, eight RBIs and six runs. His six extra-base hits led the senior circuit.
 
NL Pitcher of the Week
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee
After giving up multiple runs in each of his last nine starts, Gallardo found some magic last week. In road starts at Miami and Cincinnati, the righthander didn’t allow a run over 14 innings. He gave up seven hits, walked three and struck out nine.
 
AL Player of the Week
Adam Dunn, Chicago
Very little has gone right for Dunn this season, and the White Sox have struggled of late. But last week, the Big Donkey socked four home runs and drove home eight. He began the week with a four-hit game, and by hitting .389 he raised his season average from .165 to .183.
 
AL Pitcher of the Week
Corey Kluber, Cleveland
The Indians are struggling to stay around .500 and Kluber played a huge role last week. He allowed just one run over eight innings in a win at Texas, then shut down Washington over eight frames in a 2-0 win over the Nats. In 16 innings, he gave up 13 hits, three walks and only one run.
Teaser:
<p> <span style="font-family: Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Tahoma, 'DejaVu Sans', sans-serif; font-size: 11.818181991577148px; line-height: 17.99715805053711px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (St. Louis Cardinals) and worst (Miami Marlins) baseball teams and players in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.</span></p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 14:04
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-7-amazing-stats-sonoma
Body:

With the first half of this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winding down, one of two annual visits to a road course — right-hand turns, everybody! — presents itself this weekend as the tour heads to Sonoma Raceway, a track that has seen eight different winners in the last eight years.

Could the parity continue? Perhaps. There is one driver that you will read about below that, while being one of the strongest drivers at Sonoma over the last four years, has yet to visit victory lane. What might stand in that particular driver’s way is the fact that several past winners are consistently terrific at the 1.99-mile course.


5.5  Road course stalwart Marcos Ambrose has averaged a 5.5-place finish in the last four Sonoma races.

Unlike his utter dominance at Watkins Glen, he is less adept of a driver at Sonoma (but he is still really, really good). He hasn’t ever won — his best finish is third in 2009 — but he does rank second in track-specific PEER (5.100), which makes him one of two non-winners to rank inside the top 5 in driver production. Ambrose and his No. 9 team are in need of a strong finish; ranking 23rd in the point standings, they only have two top-10 finishes to show for their 2013 season.
 

Teaser:
<p> David Smith crunches the numbers and finds the key NASCAR stats for the Toyta-Save Mart 250 at Sonoma Raceway.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 13:04
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Mountain West, News
Path: /college-football/mountain-west-football-2013-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2013 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first and second All-Mountain West teams for this season.

Related Content: Mountain West Predictions for 2013

2013 Mountain West All-Conference Team

First-Team Offense

QB Derek Carr, Fresno State

RB Kasey Carrier, New Mexico

RB Adam Muema, San Diego State

WR Davante Adams, Fresno State

WR Noel Grigsby, San Jose State

TE Marcel Jensen, Fresno State

C Tyler Larsen, Utah State

OG LaMar Bratton, New Mexico

OG Nicholas Kaspar, San Jose State

OT Charles Leno, Boise State

OT Austin Wentworth, Fresno State



First-Team Defense

DE Brock Hekking, Nevada

DE Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State

DT Tyeler Davison, Fresno State

DT Travis Raciti, San Jose State

LB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State

LB Jake Fely, San Diego State

LB Keith Smith, San Jose State

CB Sean Alston, Fresno State

CB Bene Benwikere, San Jose State

S Nat Berhe, San Diego State

S Derron Smith, Fresno State



First-Team Specialists

K Nolan Kohorst, UNLV

P Ben Skaer, New Mexico

KR Chase Clayton, New Mexico

PR Scott Harding, Hawaii


The Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 All-Mountain West Team

  First Second Third Overall
Air Force 0 2 1 3
Boise State 2 5 1 8
Colorado State 0 3 5 8
Fresno State 7 1 3 11
Hawaii 1 2 2 5
Nevada 1 3 2 6
New Mexico 4 0 1 5
San Diego State 3 3 1 7
San Jose State 5 2 2 9
UNLV 1 1 2 4
Utah State 2 1 4 7
Wyoming 0 3 2 5


Second-Team Offense

QB David Fales, San Jose State

RB Jay Ajayi, Boise State

RB Tim Cornett, UNLV

WR Matt Miller, Boise State

WR Brandon Wimberly, Nevada

TE Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State

C Matt Paradis, Boise State

OG Dave Lefotu, Hawaii

OG Tyler Strong, Wyoming

OT Joel Bitonio, Nevada

OT Eric Schultz, Utah State



Second-Team Defense

DE Alex Hansen, Air Force

DE Andy Jennings, Fresno State

DT Sam Meredith, San Diego State

DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Boise State

LB Shaq Barrett, Colorado State

LB Derek Largent, San Diego State

LB Art Laurel, Hawaii

CB Shaq Bell, Colorado State

CB Blair Burns, Wyoming

S Jeremy Ioane, Boise State

S Christian Spears, Air Force



Second-Team Specialists

K Austin Lopez, San Jose State

P Chase Tenpenney,  Nevada

KR Colin Lockett, San Diego State

PR Blair Burns, Wyoming


Third-Team Offense


QB Chuckie Keeton, Utah State

RB Donnell Alexander, Colorado State

RB Jon Lee, Air Force

WR Devante Davis, UNLV

WR Robert Herron, Wyoming

TE Gabe Linehan, Boise State

C Weston Richburg, Colorado State

G Jamie Markosian, Utah State

G Cody Wichmann, Fresno State

T Brett Boyko, UNLV

T Bryce Quigley, San Diego State


Third-Team Defense

DE Lenny Jones, Nevada

DE Tavita Woodard, Hawaii

DT Patrick Mertens, Wyoming

DT Jack Reynoso, Nevada

LB Dallas Bollema, New Mexico

LB Jake Doughty, Utah State

LB Cory James, Colorado State

CB L.J. Jones, Fresno State

CB Nevin Lawson, Utah State

S John Hardy-Tuliau, Hawaii

S Trent Matthews, Colorado State

 

Third-Team Specialists

K Jared Roberts, Colorado State

P Harrison Waid, San Jose State

KR Tyler Ervin, San Jose State

PR Isaiah Burse, Fresno State


2013 Mountain West Team Previews

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


Related College Football Content

Mountain West Predictions for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013

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

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

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

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

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

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

Teaser:
<p> Mountain West Football 2013 All-Conference Team</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 12:45
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, NFC, NFC East, NFL
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

Jason Garrett and Tony Romo both enter what is a pivotal year for them and the Cowboys. A trip to the playoffs is a must and since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Dallas Cowboys 2013 Schedule:

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

Order your 2013 Dallas Cowboys Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Despite the brutal opening weekend rivalry game with the Giants, Dallas has a very manageable first month of the 2013 season. Kansas City, St. Louis and San Diego all missed the playoffs a year ago and all are picked to be at home this postseason as well. All could be improved this fall, so this month isn't a gimme but the Cowboys could easily be 3-1 heading into October.

Toughest Stretch: The final month of the season will be tough for the Boys. Week 12 to Week 16 — despite a game with lowly Oakland at home — features four huge games with NFC rivals. Nasty road trips to face the Giants, Bears and Redskins sandwiched around a home game with Green Bay serve as massive speed bumps during the most critical stretch of the season. The only good news is Dallas will get an off weekend before heading into this five-week stretch.

Swing Games: STL (Week 3), at NO (Week 10)
Crossover Divisions: NFC North, AFC West
Bye Week: Week 11
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .480 (25th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 25th

Easiest Stretch: In addition to three winnable games in September (see "Out of the Gate"), the Cowboys also should be able to make some headway in Week 6-9. During this stretch, the Cowboys will face four teams not picked to make the playoffs. Home games with Washington and Minnesota are sandwiched around road games with the Eagles and Lions — two teams who combined for 24 losses a year ago. Both of these portions of the schedule should give Dallas a chance to pad its win total.

Circle The Calendar: Home games with both Manning brothers, Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson will be great. And most every NFC East showdown is massive. But how can a home game in Week 17 against Philadelphia not be the most important of the season? Dallas has had the opportunity in each of the last two seasons to get into the playoffs with a win on the final Sunday of the year. Jason Garrett and company lost both of these games and therefore has missed the postseason both times. A win against the Eagles in the season finale could change that trend and send this once proud franchise back into the playoffs.

Divisional Notes: The always important, always heated NFC East rivalry games will come in bunches this year. The two games with the Giants are randomly located in Week 1 and Week 12, but Dallas will play back-to-back divisional games twice with Washington and Philly. The first meetings come in Week 6 and 7 before ending the season with, you guessed it, Washington and Philly. Few teams will play back-to-back divisional games to end the season like the Cowboys will in 2013.

Playoff Push: As mentioned earlier, the final month of the season looks to be the toughest stretch to Dallas' season. The Giants, Bears, Packers and Redskins could all be fighting for NFC playoff seeding and all four are on the Cowboys slate in the final six weeks. Winnable games with Oakland and Philadelphia at home are the only comfort for Dallas after taking their off weekend in Week 11.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Road games in Chicago are rarely fun, let alone for a Monday night game in December. And don’t forget that the Bears intercepted five Tony Romo passes when they last met. The Packers were no slouch against the pass (11th) either, although that Week 16 date in Washington (30th) could be a different story. Romo threw for 659 yards and five TDs (along with five INTs) in two games against the Redskins last season.


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

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) 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 (6/19) Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) 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

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC West, Denver Broncos, NFL
Path: /nfl/denver-broncos-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

Despite last season's playoff disappointment, the goal remains the same for the Denver Broncos in 2013 – Super Bowl or bust. Can Peyton Manning get them there? Here's our look at the Broncos' 2013 NFL schedule.

Denver Broncos 2013 Schedule:

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

Order your 2013 Denver Broncos Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Denver's first two games of the season certainly won't lack for intrigue. First, the Broncos host the Ravens on Thursday night to kick off the 2013 regular season with the home team looking to exact some revenge for what took place in January. If an encore matchup with the defending Super Bowl champions wasn't enough of a storyline, how about the added subplot of Elvis Dumervil on the other sideline hoping to sack Manning, his former teammate? After the opening act, Denver will go to the Big Apple for Manning Bowl III. Peyton is 2-0 against little brother Eli and the entire Manning clan will be quite relieved when Week 2 is over and done with. After the Giants, the Broncos get a chance to catch their breath with consecutive home games against Oakland (Monday night) and Philadelphia to close out their opening month.

Toughest Stretch: The Broncos were done no favors as far as the start of their season goes. They did catch a slight break with getting Baltimore, the defending world champions, at home, but everyone knows what happened the last time the Ravens played in the Mile High City. Then it's one high-profile game to another, this one coming on the road in the nation's media capital of the world. All of the focus and attention for the Week 2 matchup between Denver and the New York Giants will be on the quarterbacks, but this figures to be an exhausting and trying week for both teams, with the Broncos having to deal with the cross-country travel as well. This is only two games, but this is one of only two times on Denver's schedule that the Broncos play 2012 playoff teams in a row (at IND, WAS in Weeks 7-8 the other). These opening two weeks could end up defining their 2013 season.

Swing Games: BAL (Week 1), at NE (Week 12)
Crossover Divisions: AFC South, NFC East
Bye Week: Week 9
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .430 (32nd)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 18th

Easiest Stretch: Denver's bye comes in Week 9, meaning the Broncos' season is split exactly in half. Following the bye, Denver plays just two teams – New England and Houston – that finished with a winning record last season. The Broncos have to play the Patriots and Texans on the road, but these two games are about a month apart. The rest of November and December have Denver playing five divisional games and a home date with Tennessee. The Broncos were a perfect 6-0 against AFC West teams last season, while Manning is 13-5 against the Titans in his career.

Circle The Calendar: The opening two games against Baltimore and the Giants have already been covered, but these aren't the only two marquee matchups on Denver's schedule. In Week 7, Manning returns to Indianapolis for a battle between the Colts' franchise quarterback of the past and present. Manning undoubtedly will have nothing but good things to say about Andrew Luck and his many years with the Colts, but one has to believe the competitor in No. 18 wants to leave no doubt on the scoreboard. There's also the obligatory Denver-New England meeting with this season's get together set for Foxborough, Mass., in Week 12. If Manning vs. Tom Brady doesn't get you excited any more, how about the added drama of new Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker returning to Gillette Stadium to face the team, and head coach for that matter, that made him a household name? Not to be forgotten, the Week 16 trip to Houston could feature all sorts of playoff ramifications with both the Texans and Broncos expected to contend for the AFC crown.

Divisional Notes: The Broncos play Oakland in Week 3 and then don't have another AFC West opponent on the slate until after their bye in Week 9. Five of Denver's final eight games are divisional contests, including two each against Kansas City and San Diego. The Broncos were 6-0 in divisional play last season and the Chiefs and the Chargers both have new head coaches, while the Raiders have plenty of issues of their own. Outside of road games against the Patriots and Texans, the Broncos should be able to take advantage of their division-heavy second-half schedule.

Playoff Push: Denver's December slate is extremely manageable with the Week 16 trip to Houston the only game against a team that finished with a winning record last season. That clash with the Texans could be chock full of playoff implications, making it even more critical that Denver run the table beforehand. Three divisional contests, including road games in Kansas City and Oakland, and a visit from Tennessee is what Denver has to look forward to as the Broncos hope to make last season's playoff disappointment a distant memory come January.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Let’s face it: As long as he’s under center, you are starting Peyton Manning and Co. regardless the opposition. It only gives a fantasy owner more confidence when the first two opponents during the playoffs are Tennessee and San Diego. The former were 26th against the pass last season, the latter was the team that gave up a total of 579 yards passing and six touchdowns in two games vs. Manning in 2012.
 


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

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) 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 (6/19) Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) 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

Teaser:
<p> Denver Broncos 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 12:20
Path: /college-football/college-football-2013-all-america-team
Body:

Picking a college football All-American team is no easy task. Some positions are deeper than others, while it's also difficult to project how a player will perform with the losses or additions around them.

The SEC leads the way with 24 overall selections across Athlon's four All-America teams. However, the Pac-12 isn't far behind with 23 selections. 

With that in mind, it's time to unveil Athlon's 2013 All-America Team.

Related: Athlon's 2013 All-American Team as Recruits
 

Athlon Sports' 2013 All-America Team

First-Team Offense

QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (SO)

RB Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona (JR)

RB Todd Gurley, Georgia (SO)

WR Marqise Lee, USC (SO)

WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson (JR)

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington (JR)

C Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma (SR)

T Cyril Richardson, Baylor (SR)

T Jake Matthews, Michigan (SR)

G Cyril Richardson, Baylor (SR)

G David Yankey, Stanford (SR)

AP De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon (JR)




First-Team Defense

DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (JR)

DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame (JR)

DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame (JR)

DT Will Sutton, Arizona State (SR)

LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama (SR)

LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (JR)

LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU (SR)

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon (JR)

CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State (JR)

S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama (JR)

S Ed Reynolds, Stanford (JR)




First-Team Specialists

K Cairo Santos, Tulane (SR)

P Kyle Christy, Florida (JR)

KR Duke Johnson, Miami (SO)

PR Venric Mark, Northwestern (SR)



Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 All-America Team

  First Second Third Fourth Overall
ACC 2 1 3 8 14
American 0 0 2 2 4
Big 12 3 6 4 5 18
Big Ten 4 4 4 4 16
Conference USA 1 0 1 0 2
Independents 3 0 1 0 4
MAC 0 0 1 0 1
Mountain West 0 0 1 1 2
Pac-12 8 7 5 3 23
SEC 6 9 5 4 24
Sun Belt 0 0 0 0 0


Second-Team Offense

QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State (JR)

RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (JR)

RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama (SO)

WR Amari Cooper, Alabama (SO)

WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (SR)

TE Arthur Lynch, Georgia (SR)

C Travis Swanson, Arkansas (SR)

G Spencer Long, Nebraska (SR)

G Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA (SR)

T Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (JR)

T Antonio Richardson, Tennessee (JR)

AP Kain Colter, Northwestern (SR)




Second-Team Defense

DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State (JR)

DE Devonte Fields, TCU (SO)

DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State (JR)

DT Anthony Johnson, LSU (JR)

LB Anthony Barr, UCLA (SR)

LB Trent Murphy, Stanford (SR)

LB Shayne Skov, Stanford (SR)

CB Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma (SR)

CB Jason Verrett, TCU (SR)

S Dion Bailey, USC (JR)

S Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State (SR)




Second-Team Specialists

K Jeff Budzien, Northwestern (SR)

P Kirby Van Der Camp, Iowa State (SR)

KR Marqise Lee, USC (JR)

PR Marcus Murphy, Missouri (JR)




Third-Team Offense

QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson (SR)

RB Duke Johnson, Miami (SO)

RB Venric Mark, Northwestern (SR)

WR Davante Adams, Fresno State (SO)

WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M (SO)

TE Chris Coyle, Arizona State (SR)

C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon (JR)

G Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State (SR)

G Anthony Steen, Alabama (SR)

T James Hurst, North Carolina (SR)

T Zack Martin, Notre Dame (SR)

AP Dri Archer, Kent State (SR)




Third-Team Defense

DE Morgan Breslin, USC (SR)

DE Aaron Lynch, South Florida (SO)

DT Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State (SR)

DT Leonard Williams, USC (SO)

LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin (SR)

LB Max Bullough, Michigan State (SR)

LB Shaq Thompson, Washington (SO)

CB Quandre Diggs, Texas (JR)

CB Andre Hal, Vanderbilt (SR)

S Craig Loston, LSU (SR)

S Hakeem Smith, Louisville (SR)




Third-Team Specialists

K Chris Boswell, Rice (SR)

P Mike Sadler, Michigan State (JR)

KR Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State (SR)

PR Tramaine Thompson, Kansas State (SR)




Fourth-Team Offense

QB AJ McCarron, Alabama (SR)

RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska (JR)

RB Bishop Sankey, Washington (JR)

WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State (JR)

WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland (SO)

TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina (JR)

C BJ Finney, Kansas State (JR)

G Andrew Norwell, Ohio State (SR)

G Tre’ Jackson, Florida State (JR)

T Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State (SR)

T Jack Mewhort, Ohio State (SR)

AP Charles Sims, West Virginia (SR)




Fourth-Team Defense

DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (SR)

DE Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State (JR)

DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (SR)

DT Dominique Easley, Florida (SR)

LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee (JR)

LB Christian Jones, Florida State (SR)

LB Yawin Smallwood, UConn (JR)

CB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State (SR)

CB Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida (JR)

S Deone Bucannon, Washington State (SR)

S Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State (SR)




Fourth-Team Specialists

K Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson (SR)

P Richie Leone, Houston (SR)

KR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State (JR)

PR Rashad Greene, Florida State (JR)


Related College Football Content

All-ACC Team for 2013
All-American Athletic Team for 2013

All-Big 12 Team for 2013

All-Big Ten Team for 2013

All-Conference USA Team for 2013

All-MAC Team for 2013

All-Mountain West Team for 2013

All-Pac-12 Team for 2013

All-SEC Team for 2013

All-Sun Belt Team for 2013

Teaser:
<p> College Football 2013 All-America Team</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 11:36
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-notre-dame-football-fan
Body:

Graduates and subway alums alike may say anytime is a great time to be a Notre Dame fan. And that’s what is so infuriating for fans of other teams. Face it, the superiority complex for the Notre Dame faithful is justly earned.

Through the course of college football history, rooting for Notre Dame has been a worthwhile cause, from the underdog days when Knute Rockne took over through the revival under Brian Kelly.

Touchdown Jesus has overlooked seven Heisman winners, Hall of Fame coaches, 13 national championships, legendary games and a few dynasties.

Our series looking at the best and worst eras for college football fandom continues today with the Irish. From the Four Horsemen to Faust, from Leahy to Weis, these were the best times and worst times to be a Notre Dame fan.

Other best times/worst times:
Nebraska

BEST TIMES TO BE A NOTRE DAME FAN

1946-49
Record: 36-0-2
Coach: Frank Leahy
National championships: 3
Notable players: John Lujack, Leon Hart, Jim Martin, George Connor, Bill Fischer, Emil Sitko
The late Beano Cook routinely said Frank Leahy was the most underrated coach of all time and this is a good reason why: Leahy supervised the best stretch at one of the top programs in college football history, yet he doesn't get the fanfare perhaps of Knute Rockne, Ara Parseghian or Lou Holtz. Freshmen at Notre Dame in 1946 never saw their team lose when they graduated in 1949 as the Irish emerged from the postwar era with three national titles in four seasons, two Heisman winners (Lujack and Hart) and a 21-game win streak. Other highlights of the era: the 1946 team outscored opponents 247-24, and the 1947 team produced 42 professional players.

1988-1993
Record: 64-9-1
Coach: Lou Holtz
National championships: 1
Notable players: Raghib Ismail, Tony Rice, Jerome Bettis, Chris Zorich, Todd Lyght, Michael Stonebreaker, Aaron Taylor
Ending a decade-long title drought, Holtz brought Notre Dame back to national-championship status after the Irish stumbled under Gerry Faust. The ’88 season feature the famous Catholics vs. Convicts game against Miami and a win over undefeated West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame finished in the top 10 three more times during this period and wouldn’t enjoy this level of success until 2012.

1964-74
Record: 95-17-4
Coach: Ara Parseghian
National championships: 2
Notable players: John Huarte, Dave Casper, Alan Page, Jim Lynch
Notre Dame endured five consecutive non-winning seasons before Parseghian arrived, including 2-7 in 1963. The following year, a heartbreaking loss to USC in the final two minutes prevented the Irish from winning the most unlikely national title in college football history, but Parseghian would have several more opportunities to redeem himself. The 1966 season featured the “Game of the Century” between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan State, which ended in a 10-10 tie the Irish ran down the clock in their own territory. Parseghian was second-guessed ever since. Notre Dame won the AP title that year and finished in the top five for five consecutive seasons. From there, the Irish won the 1973 title in a classic showdown against an undefeated Bear Bryant-led Alabama team in the Sugar Bowl, which Notre Dame won on a gutsy deep pass on third and 8 to tight end Robin Weber to seal a first down and a 24-23 win.

1919-1930
Record: 102-11-3
Coach: Knute Rockne
National championships: 4
Notable players: George Gipp, the Four Horsemen (Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley, Elmer Layden), Hunk Anderson, Adam Walsh, Frank Carideo
This is the period that established Notre Dame as the premier college football team in the country, and thanks to Rockne’s “barnstorming” approach to scheduling, Notre Dame built a fanbase nationwide. In the pre-Heisman, pre-AP poll era, Notre Dame went undefeated five times and won four national titles by various wire services. Irish fans at the time watched one of the game’s greatest innovators at work as Rockne was one of the first to embrace the forward pass and liberal substitutions. Domers are still fans of this era thanks to the Gipper and Grantland Rice’s legendary Four Horsemen piece.

WORST TIMES TO BE A NOTRE DAME FAN

2007-09
Record: 16-21
Coach: Charlie Weis
Hopes were high after for Weis the failed tenures of Bob Davie and Ty Willingham, especially when the Super Bowl-champion offensive coordinator and Notre Dame alum raised the bar with BCS appearances in his first two seasons. Opposing fans used to call Notre Dame overrated, but now Notre Dame was just plain bad. The Irish went 3-9 in 2007 for their worst season since 1963. A sampling of the losses during these three seasons: Navy twice (ending a 43-game win streak), Georgia Tech, Air Force, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Connecticut. On the bright side, Notre Dame ended its nine-game bowl losing streak in 2007, but they had to beat Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl to do it.

1997-2001
Record: 61-41
Coaches: Bob Davie/Tyrone Willingham
Holtz’s defensive coordinator, Davie, oversaw a slide into mediocrity that didn’t end until last season. The lowlights for Davie included a 41-9 Fiesta Bowl loss to Oregon State after the 2000 season and losing years in 1999 and 2001. Willingham started 10-1 but went 13-15 thereafter.

1981-86
Record: 71-81-4
Coaches: Gerry Faust/Lou Holtz
Imagine Alabama hiring the Hoover High coach. Or LSU hiring the John Curtis coach. That’s essentially what Notre Dame did when it hired Gerry Faust. The Irish were near the height of their powers, four years removed from a national title under Dan Devine, when they hired Faust from Cincinnati Moeller. The experiment was, of course, a disaster as Faust went 30-26-1. Notre Dame started every season under Faust ranked (including three times in the top 10) and finished every year unranked. After Faust's five-year tenure, Holtz went 5-6 in his first season but rebuilt around Heisman winner Tim Brown in 1987.

IT WASN’T SO BAD WHEN...

2005-06
Record: 19-6
Coach: Charlie Weis
Weis gets a bad rap, but it wasn’t always that bad at Notre Dame. Led by Heisman finalist Brady Quinn, the Irish went 9-3 and 10-3 in his first two seasons with a pair of anticipated matchups against USC (both losses, one via the Bush Push). Notre Dame reached two BCS games, but it was clear the Irish weren’t ready for the primetime, losing 34-20 to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and 41-14 to LSU in the Sugar Bowl. We say it wasn’t so bad because it wasn’t about to get worse, so much worse.
 

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

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

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

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College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

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Teaser:
<p> The highs of the Leahy and Holtz to the lows of Faust and Weis</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 07:12
All taxonomy terms: crossword, Monthly
Path: /monthly/june-2013-crossword-solution
Body:

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 17:21
Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-2013-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2013 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first, second and third All-Pac-12 teams for this season.

Related Content: Pac-12 Predictions for 2013
 

2013 All-Pac-12 Team

First-Team Offense

QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

RB Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona

RB Bishop Sankey, Washington

WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

WR Marqise Lee, USC

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon

OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA

OG David Yankey, Stanford

OT Jake Fisher, Oregon

OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon

AP De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon


First-Team Defense

DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State

DE Morgan Breslin, USC

DT Will Sutton, Arizona State

DT Leonard Williams, USC

LB Anthony Barr, UCLA

LB Trent Murphy, Stanford

LB Shayne Skov, Stanford

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

CB Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State

S Dion Bailey, USC

S Ed Reynolds, Stanford


First-Team Specialists

K Trevor Romaine, Oregon State

P Darragh O’Neill, Colorado

KR Marqise Lee, USC

PR Shaquelle Evans, UCLA



The Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 All-Pac-12 Team

 FirstSecondThirdOverall
Arizona1124
Arizona State1348
California0213
Colorado1023
Oregon63413
Oregon State4329
Stanford44210
UCLA3328
USC5409
Utah0022
Washington2226
Washington State0134

 

Second-Team Offense

QB Brett Hundley, UCLA

RB Marion Grice, Arizona State

RB Silas Redd, USC

WR Shaquelle Evans, UCLA

WR Kasen Williams, Washington

TE Chris Coyle, Arizona State

C Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State

OG Kevin Danser, Stanford

OG Max Tuerk, USC

OT Cameron Fleming, Stanford

OT Michael Philipp, Oregon State


Second-Team Defense

DE Ben Gardner, Stanford

DE Taylor Hart, Oregon

DT Deandre Coleman, California

DT George Uko, USC

LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA

LB Hayes Pullard, USC

LB Shaq Thompson, Washington

CB Alex Carter, Stanford

CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon

S Deone Bucannon, Washington State

S Alden Darby, Arizona State


Second-Team Specialists

K Vince D’Amato, California

P Keith Kostol, Oregon State

KR De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon

PR Richard Morrison, Arizona


Third-Team Offense

QB Taylor Kelly, Arizona State

RB Brendan Bigelow, California

RB Storm Woods, Oregon State

WR Josh Huff, Oregon

WR Paul Richardson, Colorado

TE Colt Lyerla, Oregon

C Jake Brendel, UCLA

OG Daniel Munyer, Colorado

OG Grant Enger, Oregon State

OT Evan Finkenberg, Arizona State

OT Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah


Third-Team Defense

DE Henry Anderson, Stanford

DE Cassius Marsh, UCLA

DT Wade Keliikipi, Oregon

DT Danny Shelton, Washington

LB Brian Blechen, Utah

LB Carl Bradford, Arizona State

LB Jake Fischer, Arizona

CB Osahon Irabor, Arizona State

CB Jonathan McKnight, Arizona

S Sean Parker, Washington

S Jordan Richards, Stanford

 

Third-Team Specialists

K Andrew Furney, Washington State

P Michael Bowlin, Washington State

KR Teondray Caldwell, Washington State

PR Bralon Addison, Oregon

 

2013 Pac-12 Team Previews

NorthSouth
CaliforniaArizona
OregonArizona State
Oregon StateColorado
StanfordUCLA
WashingtonUSC
Washington StateUtah

 

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College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013
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College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 41-60
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College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 81-100
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 101-125
College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era
College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Football 2013 All-Conference Team</p>
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 15:03
Path: /nascar/biffle-hendrick-danica-highlight-nascar-storylines-michigan
Body:

Greg Biffle’s 19th career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory Sunday brought him into a tie on the all-time list with Dale Earnhardt Jr., the man most pundits claimed was supposed to win in the Irish Hills. It was like “Opposite Day” come to life, considering the two couldn’t be more different. Earnhardt, revered through his personality and last name, is the sport’s most popular driver. The whole grandstand shakes the second they see him in position to lead a lap.

Biffle? He’s a forgotten man. Despite winning titles in both the Nationwide and Truck series — putting him in an elite category of drivers who have done both — most NASCAR fans wouldn’t recognize him if they passed on the street. Even within his own team, a cloak of invisibility exists. Carl Edwards, who never met a camera he didn’t love, is the more charismatic driver at Roush Fenway Racing; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is dating that GoDaddy girl. That leaves Biffle as the guy in your group who shows up at the bar every Friday night, watches the game at your table but you don’t remember a thing he said — just that he seems to know his stuff and he’s friends by association.

That’s not to say the man doesn’t try. The wry, sarcastic sense of humor is there, it’s just that good friend and longtime teammate Matt Kenseth does it better. The rare time Biffle utters a quote worth using it seems Tony Stewart or someone else goes off at the same time and his words get buried on page 3C.

But at age 43, maybe it’s time we appreciate some of what the Washington native has done in the Sprint Cup Series. He’s now won in nine of the last 11 years on the circuit, has made five of the last six Chases and finished top 5 in points three times in his career. There’s not many drivers who can say that.

Is it a Hall of Fame resume? No. But for a guy who’s a likely lifer with Ford after showcasing a decade of loyalty, there’s no better person to bring home the Blue Oval’s 1,000th NASCAR victory, of which Biffle is responsible for 55.

Good luck getting people to realize it, though. Here’s what else we learned Sunday as we go “Through the Gears” …


FIRST GEAR: Hendrick’s horror story
Turns out the oft-referenced horseshoe stuck up Jimmie Johnson’s … well, you know what … fell out sometime before the green flag at Michigan. Maybe it was replaced by kryptonite? The four-car Hendrick Motorsports fleet, hoping to be led by Johnson and Earnhardt Jr.’s Superman-themed No. 88, was the class of the field. But to finish first, you must first finish … and none of them were able to do that effectively.

Jeff Gordon was first to fall, a victim of a lap 7 crash where Bobby Labonte spun in front of him. Then, Kasey Kahne, running a spirited race to win for fallen friend Jason Leffler, blew a tire while running up front. His day ended in a ball of flames on Lap 104. That left Earnhardt seemingly in control, positioned to win his first race since this same event a year ago. But his engine erupted shortly before the 300-mile mark, leaving him sitting 37th in the garage.

Three down, one to go; Johnson was left with a car that might have been the fastest of the four. The problem, surprisingly, was the inability of crew chief Chad Knaus to call proper strategy. Taking four tires when others took two, then putting an extra can of fuel in while others did not found the No. 48 buried in 11th when the race went green for a final 27-lap run to checkers. It took all Johnson could muster to fight up to second, but the aggression took its toll; a flat tire and contact with the wall — not necessarily in that order — with three laps to go left him limping to the pits and a lap down in 28th.

That’s right, four Hendrick cars, zero drivers on the lead lap. It was the first time since Sonoma in 2005 that the entire fleet ran outside the top 25 at race’s end. Will it hamper HMS over the long-term? Yes and no. Johnson, who still has a 31-point advantage in the championship standings should have won each of the last three weeks. He’ll be fine. Kahne, now pushed back into “wild card” territory still has a Bristol victory and is a top-5 car on every intermediate the circuit runs. His Chase position, along with an additional win or two this summer, is a near certainty.

For Gordon and Earnhardt, the picture is less clear. The former is winless this year, sits 19 points outside the top 10 and has seemingly suffered through more bad luck in one season than Johnson has in an entire career. History says he’ll win one before Richmond, as always, to secure a spot — but you never know.

As for NASCAR’s Most Infamous Enigma, Michigan marked just the third time all year that the No. 88 has been out front, which is encouraging. But challenges in the form of Sonoma and Kentucky await. Add in a potential Daytona “Big One,” and suddenly this team, sitting 30 points inside the Chase cutoff, is scrapping with about 14 others for one of the final three playoff spots via points. That’s not a chance they want to take, because Junior hasn’t won a race away from Michigan since Richmond in April 2006.


SECOND GEAR: And it’s Ford for the steal!
With Hendrick down for the count and Toyota down on power — its big guns failed to lead a lap for the second straight week — the Michigan race was there for the taking. And Ford was more than happy to step in. Aside from winner Biffle, Joey Logano led 21 laps and ran a solid ninth, his fourth straight top-10 result. Polesitter Carl Edwards was one position better, and would have been higher if not for an ill-timed yellow while pit stops were under way that trapped him deep in the field.

It was a big moment for the Fusions, still a step behind and needing to take advantage of situations like Sunday’s to stay in the game. Now with Biffle holding a victory, it’s almost certain he and Edwards will be in the postseason field.

Surprisingly enough, while you’d think Penske Racing would be in better position, the momentum within that camp is tilting towards Roush Fenway. There’s no guarantee Logano or even reigning champ Brad Keselowski, who ran out of gas and came home a frustrating 12th, will even make the postseason. Keselowski, who was in the news last week for comments made about why Penske and RFR are struggling to work together, has to cut the chitchat, which got Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing infuriated over claims they’ve stolen employees. Instead, he must use his newfound street cred to continue the push to share information — the teams met extensively last week — because they’re going to need it.
 

Teaser:
<p> Reaction from Greg Biffle's win in NASCAR's Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan Interantional Speedway.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 13:02

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