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All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/amazing-pac-12-college-football-stats-week-4-2013
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether its a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in week 4.
1942: Saturday was the first time since 1942 Washington, Washington State posted a shutout on the same day
With its 42-0 victory over Idaho, Washington State posted its first shutout since 2003, and its first home shutout since 1999. Meanwhile, in Seattle, Washington blanked Idaho State 56-0 for its first shutout since 2009. 
The Cougars and the Huskies registering a shutout in the same season is rare, much less the same day. Saturday was the first time since 1942 the two programs accomplished the feat — something they did in back-to-back weeks 71 years ago. 
On Sept. 26, 1942, Washington State was a 6-0 winner over Stanford, and followed with a 7-0 win against Oregon on Oct. 3. Washington was a 27-0 winner against Pacific on Sept. 26, and followed with a scoreless tie against USC on Oct. 3.
It was one of four shutouts for the Cougars that year, and six for the Huskies, including a scoreless tie when the teams met on Nov. 28.
While it was the first same-day shutouts for UW and WSU since 1942, it was also the first time since 1997 they even had a shutout in the same season. They have each had a shutout in the same season nine times, dating back to 1942 (1942, ’45, ’46, ’47, ’53, ’58, ’61, ’68, ’81 and ’97).
39: UCLA’s school-record 39 first downs lead to rout of New Mexico State 

UCLA racked up school records for yards (692) yards and first downs (39) on the way to a 59-13 victory against New Mexico State. The Bruins racked up 362 yards and three scores on first-down plays alone, and amassed 419 yards — not including penalties — to attain each first down. This is the first season since 2005 that the Bruins have opened with three straight 40-plus-point games, and the most points (158) they have scored in a three-game stretch since 1997 (172).
49: USC defense limits Utah State to 49 yards in final five drives to stay in contention for the win
After surrendering a game-tying, nine-play, 72-yard touchdown drive midway through the third quarter, the USC defense clamped down over the final 21:51 to hold on for the 17-14 win over Utah State.
The Trojans surrendered just 49 yards over the next 26 plays and five drives. They forced three punts, two turnovers on downs and never let the Aggies cross their own 47 after the score.
USC outside linebacker Morgan Breslin recorded three of his four tackles after the second touchdown, including a pair of 3-yard sacks of Chuckie Keeton on back-to-back possessions. Lamar Dawson, Leonard Williams and Kevon Seymour all posted tackles for loss after the last Aggie TD.
And the USC offense certainly needed this defense, as 17 points is an all-time low in the series with Utah State. The Trojans hold a 5-0 advantage in the series, but 40 was previously the low point total for USC.
28:  Utah among big-play leaders in the nation
Utah has 28 plays of 20 yards or more in four games after having just 15 in 2012. The Utes added five such plays in their 20-13 win over BYU. James Poole had rushes of 65 (career high) and 22 yards, while quarterback Travis Wilson connected on passes of 24, 26 and 74. Dres Anderson caught the 26- and 74-yarder — a career-long reception — on the way to his third straight 100-yard receiving game, and a career-high 141 yards on the day.
Utah had 25 plays of 20-plus yards in 2011 and 32 in 2010. Maryland leads the nation this season with 35 plays of 20-plus yards; Oregon is the top team in the Pac-12 with 34.
1-of-14: Utah downs rival BYU, despite just one third-down conversion
It was a good thing the Utes had those big plays to move down field, as the first three — Poole’s 65-yard run and Wilson-to-Anderson for 26 and 74 yards — led to two field goals and a touchdown in their 20-13 victory. Otherwise, Utah had trouble keeping drives alive. It converted just 1-of-14 third downs — the only conversion was on its eighth offensive play of the game. 
The only conversion was a Wilson-to-Anderson 9-yard pass on third-and-6, which ended with a punt three plays and nine yards later.
The Utes averaged third-and-6.8 on Saturday, including 12 yards to go on their first third-down attempt, and had third-and-12, 16 and 13 on their final three possessions. 
8: Eight different Huskies scored in blowout win over Idaho State
A lot of Huskies got a taste of the end zone in the 56-0 win over visiting Idaho State, and only one of the eight touchdowns scored came outside the 10-yard line. 
Bishop Sankey (3-yard run), Jesse Callier (8-yard run), Keith Price (1-yard run), Joshua Perkins (1-yard pass from Price), Austin Seferian Jenkins (6-yard pass from Price), John Ross (57-yard pass from Cyler Miles), and Deontae Cooper (4-yard run) all scored for UW. Travis Coons banged through all eight PATs to move to 17-of-17 on the year. 
The Huskies were 7-of-9 in the red zone in the win.
350: Mannion eclipses 350 yards passing for a fourth straight game
Sean Mannion, moved to the top of the nation in passing yards after he threw for 367 yards in Oregon State’s 34-30 win over San Diego State. He became the first player in the program’s history to throw for 350-plus yards in four consecutive games, extending his own school record. 
His three-touchdown effort against the Aztecs also gave him sole possession atop the nation in TD passes thrown this season (15).
43: Cooks’ torrid receptions pace continues for Beavers
Brandin Cooks has been on the end of many of those Mannion passes. The Oregon State receiver tied a school-record with 14 catches (for 141 yards) in the win against San Diego State. The junior leads the nation in catches, yards and touchdown receptions (43-639-7).  
The 14 catches tied Mike Hass’ school record, and made Cooks just the second player, along with Hass, with at least two 12-plus reception games. Cooks is on pace for 129 catches, for 1,917 yards and 21 TDs. All three would be school records (91-1,532-12).
23: Cardinal fend off Sun Devils’ rally to give Shaw 23rd win when leading at the half
Stanford moved to 23-2 under coach David Shaw when holding a halftime lead, and the Cardinal’s 29 first-half points in a 42-28 win over visiting Arizona State proved to be just enough. It was the first first-half shutout for Stanford since holding a 35-0 edge in last season’s 48-0 win at Colorado. 
The Cardinal, under Shaw, also moved to 11-0 when scoring 40-plus points, and 6-1 when allowing 20-29 points.
2: Arizona State’s second-half performance comes too late at Stanford
A second-half comeback in the 42-28 loss at Stanford only left Arizona State fans wondering, “what if?” What if the Sun Devils had put together just one solid drive in the first half? Well, they did not. 
Of the seven drives in the first half, just one crossed midfield, and it ended with a missed 45-yard field goal. The other six totaled 40 yards, and led to a 29-0 halftime deficit. 
The second half was a different story, as ASU outscored Stanford 28-13, including touchdown drives of 75, 75, 57 and 67 yards. The Sun Devils scored from the Stanford 2, 45, 27 and 6, and their seven second-half drives totaled 340 yards.


Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-qb-braxton-miller-expected-start-against-wisconsin-2013

Kenny Guiton has been nearly flawless in relief of Braxton Miller, throwing for 10 touchdowns and 491 yards in Ohio State’s last two games.

Although Guiton has been excellent, there’s no quarterback controversy at Ohio State. Miller suffered a MCL injury against San Diego State and has missed the last two games. However, the junior is expected to play this Saturday against Wisconsin and will reclaim the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. Prior to his injury, Miller was one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy. 

Although Miller will return to the starting role, Guiton’s performance should give Ohio State plenty of confidence should its starting quarterback suffer another injury the rest of the year. And who knows, maybe coach Urban Meyer can find a way to get them both on the field at the same time.


Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Virginia Tech Hokies
Path: /college-football/virginia-tech-wear-hokie-stone-helmets-against-georgia-tech-2013

Alternate helmets and jerseys are popping up everywhere in college football, but Virginia Tech takes the award for one of the most interesting looks over the last few years.

On Thursday night against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech will unveil these “Hokie Stone” helmets.

So what exactly is this helmet symbolizing?

Here’s what coach Frank Beamer had to say in a release from the school:

“When you look at this helmet, it’s not flashy, but it means a tremendous amount to this University. The outside world may have to do a double-take, but the Hokie Nation will know exactly what it is: Hokie Stone! And it’s something we’re proud of. The reason I like it, is because it represents what this program and this University are built on. Each piece, in its place, serving its purpose, doing its job, and when it’s all working together, it’s rock solid and it’s something special. That Hokie Stone … represents what we’re all about, a foundation that we’re proud of, built on brotherhood, loyalty, leadership, Ut Prosim, sacrifice, service, honor, and duty. And I hope you saw all of that on display this past Saturday in our game with a very talented and determined Marshall team. Not just from the players, but from the fans as well, who withstood a driving rain and stuck in there with us through it all!
"So, on Thursday night, some may see it as stone on our helmets. We know it’s SO much more!"

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-september-23-2013

Catching up on everything that happened in Week 4 and an early look at Week 5.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Monday, September 23rd

LSU has joined the SEC's offensive show.

Saturday Down South takes a look at some of the key developments in the SEC in Week 4.

Sad news out of Cincinnati: One player was killed and two others were injured in a car accident on Saturday night.

Bruce Feldman rounds out the weekend with some insight on Week 4, as well as a look at why Baylor's offense is so difficult to defend.

Another Week 4 recap: SB Nation's Matt Hinton takes a look at some stats to know.

Washington running back Bishop Sankey is fine after suffering a shoulder injury against Idaho State.

Two players on Syracuse's defense suffered injuries against Tulane.

Hawaii won't replace the canceled Fresno State game on Colorado's schedule.

Is James Conner set to be Pittsburgh's No. 1 running back the rest of the year?

Even when Taylor Martinez expires his eligibility, it appears Nebraska is in good shape at the quarterback position.

Injuries will play a role in Mack Brown's future at Texas.

Arian Foster tells Sports Illustrated he took money on the side at Tennessee.  

BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley has been suspended five games for violating the school's honor code. But there's an interesting twist to how Hadley was suspended.

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is dealing with a disgruntled running back.

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-4-2013
Alabama held on to the top spot in the Legends Poll, after a slate of lackluster games over the weekend. The first eight teams did not change order from last week's poll. No. 9 Texas A&M swapped positions with Georgia, overtaking the ninth position in this week's poll. No. 5 LSU looked impressive as they beat SEC rival Auburn at home 35-21. 
"LSU's running game and passing game looks more cohesive under their new coordinator, Cam Cameron," former Auburn coach Pat Dye said. "They have all the pieces to make a great football team. Their running back (Jeremy Hill) was outstanding today against Auburn. I put him up there with Georgia's running back, Gurley."
The teams from 11 to 19 remain unchanged with the exception of Michigan. Michigan continued to slide down the poll as it escaped another upset bid this week at Connecticut. The Wolverines had to come from behind in the 24-21 win. 
Texas Tech and Georgia Tech made their first appearance in the Legends Poll this season at No. 24 and 25, respectively. Arizona State and Auburn dropped out of the poll this week after falling from the ranks of the unbeaten.
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll
1AlabamaAlabama (14)3-03981
2OregonOregon (2)3-03862
4Ohio StateOhio State4-03374
7Florida StateFlorida State3-03017
9Texas A&MTexas A&M3-127410
11Oklahoma StateOklahoma State3-022111
13South CarolinaSouth Carolina2-120213
14Miami (FL)Miami (FL)3-019615
21Notre DameNotre Dame3-18420
22Ole MissOle Miss3-07022
24Texas TechTexas Tech4-024-
25Georgia TechGeorgia Tech3-014-

* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/sec-post-week-4-power-rankings-2013

LSU and Florida both recorded solid wins in league play, but neither team made a move in the post-week 4 SEC Power Poll. Missouri, which looked good in its win at Indiana, jumped from No. 12 to No. 9.

More Post-Week 4 Power Rankings: ACC Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12

SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

11Alabama (3-0, 1-0):  It might not have been the thorough beating that most Alabama fans expected, but the Crimson Tide topped Colorado State 31-6 in their 2013 home opener. Bama pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring first on a 30-yard pass from AJ McCarron to DeAndrew White and then, with 2:05 remaining, on a 14-yard toss from back-up Blake Sims to Chris Black. Alabama’s offensive numbers — 341 total yards — don’t look good at first glance, but keep in mind the Tide only had 48 offensive snaps. They averaged 7.1 yards per play. Next Week: Ole Miss
22Georgia (2-1, 1-0): Georgia found itself in an unexpected battle with North Texas midway through the third quarter. But a 21-21 game became a 45-21 victory thanks to a dominating second half by the Bulldogs. Georgia outgained the Mean Green 641-to-245 due in large part to a big day from quarterback Aaron Murray. The fifth-year senior completed 22-of-30 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns — including a school-record 98-yarder to Reggie Davis in the second quarter. Todd Gurley rushed for a game-high 91 yards but was held to a rather ordinary 4.3-yard average. Next Week: LSU
33LSU (4-0, 1-0): The Tigers continue to look like a legitimate SEC title contender. They ran their record to 4-0 with a solid 35-21 win over Auburn at a rainy Tiger Stadium. With tailback Jeremy Hill leading the way, LSU jumped out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. The game never got out of hand, but LSU was never seriously threatened either. Hill finished with 184 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, while quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed 14-of-22 passes for 229 yards with one touchdowns and one interception (his first of the season). Next Week: at Georgia
44Texas A&M (3-1, 0-1): The Aggies bounced back from their emotional loss to Alabama last week by disposing of former Southwest Conference rival SMU with ease. Johnny Manziel threw for 244 yards and added a game-high 102 yards on the ground en route to the 42-13 win. Aggie wideout Mike Evans only caught two passes, but they went for 57 yards, giving him 575 on the season (good for second in the nation). The A&M defense gave up 434 total yards, but SMU only scored one touchdown — early in the fourth quarter with the outcome already decided. Next Week: at Arkansas
55South Carolina (2-1, 1-1): The Gamecocks enjoyed a week off before their trip to Orlando to play UCF, a team that beat Penn State in Week 2. South Carolina has won four straight non-conference road (or neutral site) regular-season games. Next Week: at UCF
66Florida (2-1, 1-0): Florida overcame a series of injuries (and an ejection) to beat Tennessee for the ninth straight time. Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel went out with a season-ending ankle injury in the first quarter, forcing the Gators to turn to untested junior Tyler Murphy. The Connecticut native responded with an outstanding performance, throwing for 134 yards and rushing for 84 to lead the surprisingly potent Florida attack. The Gator defense forced five turnovers and limited Tennessee to 220 total yards. Next Week: At Kentucky
77Ole Miss (3-0, 1-0): The Rebels, off to their first 3-0 start since 1989, had the week off to prepare for their big trip to Tuscaloosa next week. Ole Miss has lost nine straight to Alabama and has not won at Bryant-Denny Stadium since 2004. Next Week: at Alabama.
88Auburn (3-1, 1-1): The Tigers have made tremendous strides under first-year coach Gus Malzahn, but winning in Baton Rouge was too tall of an order. After falling behind 21-0 in the second quarter, Auburn kept things interesting but was never able to cut the lead to one score. Nick Marshall had some trouble in the passing game (17-of-33 with two INTs), but the Tigers ran the ball well. Tre Mason led the way with 132 yards and two scores on 26 carries, while Marshall added 46 yards and Cameron Artis-Payne chipped in with 41 yards. Next Week: Bye
912Missouri (3-0, 0-0): Missouri played on the road for the first time this season, and the result was quite impressive. The Tigers feasted on a porous Indiana defense, rolling up 623 yards of offense in a 45-28 win in Bloomington. James Franklin threw for 343 yards, with two MU receivers topping the 100-yard mark — Dorial Green-Beckham (8 for 105) and Marcus Lucas (10 for 101). Russell Hansbrough led the Tigers’ rushing attack with 104 yards on 13 carries. Next Week: Arkansas State
109Vanderbilt (2-2, 0-2): The Commodores were a bit sluggish on both sides of the ball but still picked up a non-conference road win by beating UMass 24-7 at Gillette Stadium. UMass had allowed an average of 331.3 rushing yards in its first three games, but Vanderbilt managed only 166 on 39 attempts. The Commodores were relatively productive threw the air — Austyn Carta-Samuels completed 18-of-27 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Senior Jonathan Krause caught six passes for 105 yards and one touchdown — the first receiving score of his career. Next Week: UAB
1113Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1): The opponent was far from elite, but Mississippi State was one of the more impressive SEC teams of the week. The Bulldogs pounded Troy 62-7, outgaining the Trojans 574 to 177. Dak Prescott, making his third career start, threw for 233 yards and rushed for 53 to lead the MSU attack. In State’s 35-point second quarter, Prescott threw three TD passes and also caught a 36-yard TD from Jameon Lewis. The Bulldogs’ defense limited Troy quarterback Corey Robinson, the NCAA’s active leader in passing yards, to 105 yards on 25 attempts.  Next Week: Bye
1210Tennessee (2-2, 0-1): Butch Jones made a switch at quarterback, benching Justin Worley in favor of redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman. It didn’t work. Peterman, a native of Fruit Cove, Fla., committed three turnovers in the first half and was benched. Worley wasn’t much better in relief, completing only 10-of-23 passes and throwing two interceptions. The Vols had 220 yards of total offense en route their its ninth straight loss to Florida. Next Week: South Alabama
1311Arkansas (3-1, 0-0): Arkansas surged to a 24-7 lead at Rutgers on a Hunter Henry touchdown midway through the third quarter. That’s the good news. The bad news? The Razorbacks didn’t score again. Rutgers did, three more times — taking the lead for good with 6:01 remaining on a 4-yard toss from Gary Nova to Leonte Caroo. The Hogs’ tailback duo of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins combined to rush for 85 yards, 185 below their previous season average. Quarterback A.J. Derby, a former Iowa Hawkeye making his first start at Arkansas, completed 14-of-26 for 138 yards. Next Week: Texas A&M
1414Kentucky (1-2, 0-0): Kentucky had the week off to prepare for a grueling three-game stretch that includes home games against Florida and Alabama sandwiched around a trip to South Carolina. Next Week: Florida

SEC Week 4 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Jeremy Hill, LSU
The Tigers prefer to rotate through a stable of talented running backs, but there was no need for that against Auburn. Hill rushed for 183 yards on 25 carries in a rain-soaked 35–21 win over Auburn. Hill’s output was the most for an LSU running back since Alley Broussard rushed for a school-record 250 yards against Ole Miss in 2004. For the season, the Baton Rouge native has rushed for 350 yards on an 8.3-yard average. He missed the opener against TCU due to a suspension.

Defensive Player of the Week: Dante Fowler Jr., Florida
Fowler was a key cog on a Florida defense that limited Tennessee to 220 yards in a 31-7 Gator win in Gainesville. A sophomore “Buck” — a hybrid defense end/linebacker — Fowler recorded three tackles for a loss (including one sack) and forced two fumbles (recovering one). The Florida defense forced six turnovers and allowed only once touchdown.

Team of the Week: Florida
In a light week in the SEC, Florida made the biggest statement by proving it can win without its starting quarterback. Junior Jeff Driskel went down with a broken leg in the first quarter, forcing the Gators to turn to untested Tyler Murphy, a Connecticut native who had not thrown a pass in his three-plus years in Gainesville. Murphy, to everyone’s surprise, came off the bench and sparked what had been a stagnant Gator attack, throwing for 134 yards and rushing for 84 to lead Florida to a 31-17 win over Tennessee. With Driskel out for the season, Murphy must now prove he is not a one-hit wonder.

Coordinator of the Week: Josh Henson, Missouri
Missouri will not be the only team to post gaudy stats against Indiana this season, but Henson and the Tigers’ offense deserve credit for an outstanding performance in a 45-28 win in Bloomington. Mizzou rolled 623 yards of offense on 97 plays on its way to its third win of the season. The Tigers had a 300-yard passer (James Franklin), a 100-yard rusher (Russell Hansbrough) and two 100-yard receivers (Dorial Green-Beckham and Marcus Lucas).

Freshman of the Week: Reggie Davis, Georgia
Davis only caught two passes, but he is now in the Georgia record book for having the longest reception in school history. Aaron Murray connected with the true freshman on a 98-yard scoring strike on the first play of the second quarter in the Bulldogs’ 45-21 win over North Texas. Davis also caught a 36-yard pass, giving him 134 yards on two receptions in only the second game of his career.

5th Down

• Mississippi State scored five offensive touchdowns in the second quarter of a dominating 62-7 win over Troy. Four of the Bulldogs’ five second-quarter scoring drives went for at least 61 yards. Mississippi State did not punt in the game.

• Vanderbilt allowed UMass to complete 20-of-28 passes, but none of the Minutemen’s completions went for more than 10 yards. Vanderbilt beat UMass 24-7.

• Auburn lost for the first time of the Gus Malzahn era, but the Tigers’ offense enjoyed some success against LSU in Baton Rouge. Auburn had 437 yards of offense, with standout performances from running back Tre Mason (26 carries, 132 yards, 2 TDs) and wide receiver Sammie Coates (4 catches, 139 yards). The Tigers are averaging 439.5 yards of offense but have scored no more than 24 points in their two SEC games.

• T.J. Yeldon averaged 7.0 yards on his seven carries on Saturday, but Alabama’s four other tailbacks struggled in the Tide’s 31-6 win over Colorado State. Jalston Fowler, Altee Tenpenny, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake combined for only 24 yards on 11 carries. For the game, Alabama averaged 3.1 yards per carry (including two sacks). Colorado State had been allowing 4.3 yards per carry.

• Arkansas had only 283 yards in its xx loss at Rutgers. It was the first time the Razorbacks had less than 300 yards in a non-conference game since the 2010 Liberty Bowl, when they had 283 in a 20-17 overtime win over East Carolina.

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/8-amazing-college-football-stats-week-4-2013

Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.

Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.

With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

297-14: Combined scores from Miami, Louisville, Baylor and Ohio State
The Buckeyes (76), Hurricanes (77), Bears (70) and Cardinals (72) each scored at least 70 points while both Ohio State and Louisville had shutouts on defense. Baylor was the only team, however, to do all of this against semi-legitimate competition. With all due respect to Savannah State, FIU and Florida A&M aren't in the same category as Louisiana-Monroe and Kolton Browning.

1930: Last time a team scored at least 60 points in its first 3 games
Baylor is leading the nation in total offense at 751.3 yards per game — nearly 80 yards more than No. 2 Oregon. Baylor leads the nation in yards per play at nearly 10 yards per snap (9.8) — just ahead of Oregon. And it tops all FBS schools with an absurd 69.7 point per game scoring average — 8.4 more point per game than second-place Oregon. Art Briles' team became the first team since LSU in 1930 to score at least 60 points in each of its first three games. Oregon is great but Baylor might be the best offense in the nation. Lache Seastrunk's nation-leading seventh consecutive 100-yard effort is almost an afterthought for the Bears.

18.9%: Florida's nation-leading third down defense
The Gators might have the best defense in the nation when all players are healthy. While other schools like Michigan State, USC or Stanford might argue who's the best, no one can argue which team is best at getting off the field. Florida leads the nation in third-down defense, having allowed just seven conversions in 37 attempts (18.9-percent). They forced six turnovers against Tennessee and now rank No. 2 in the nation in total defense (212.3 ypg) after the win.

239-58: Georgia Tech's second-half yardage advantage over North Carolina
North Carolina, behind a fast start from Bryn Renner, took an early 20-7 lead over Georgia Tech in Atlanta early on Saturday. But Paul Johnson made adjustments at half-time and watched his team completely dominate the second half against the Tar Heels. North Carolina ran 18 plays on four possessions for 58 total yards with three punts and an interception. Tech, on the other hand, ran 43 plays for 239 yards on five possessions, scoring twice to win the pivotal Coastal Division swing game in come from behind fashion.

0-1: SEC record at High Point Solutions Stadium
The SEC has never won a football game in Piscataway, N.J. Rutgers opened High Point Solutions Statdium in 1994 and were No. 2 in Big East attendance last season, despite being the sixth-biggest venue in the league this fall.  And no SEC had ever stepped foot on its field, much less won a game there until Arkansas visited the Scarlet Knights this weekend. Bret Bielema's Hogs controlled the game without starting quarterback Brandon Allen for the first 43 minutes. But Gary Nova, aided by a few big special teams plays by Janarion Grant, led a furious 21-point comeback over the final 17 minutes to give Rutgers the improbable win. It may be another 19 years before another SEC team returns to High Point.

0:00: Time Duke led despite scoring 55 points
Duke scored more point on Saturday than ever before in school history by hanging 55 on the Pitt Panthers defense. The only problem was the Blue Devils, despite scoring eight touchdowns and churning out 532 yards of offense, never actually had a lead against Pittsburgh. Paul Chryst's Pitt offense scored early and often, totaling 58 points and 598 yards of its own. Quarterback Tom Savage connected with emerging star freshman wide receiver Tyler Boyd for three touchdowns and 154 yards. Savage tied an ACC record with six passing touchdowns on the day.

35.1: Taysom Hill's completion percentage in 2013
The talented and athletic Hill has started three games for the BYU Cougars and has yet to complete more than 37.5 percent of his passes in any game. That was his rate this weekend in an upset loss at home to rival Utah (18-of-18). He has thrown 74 incomplete passes and just 40 completions for the season with one passing touchdown and three interceptions in two losses and one win. 

18: Combined penalties in the Notre Dame-Michigan State game
The referees had a rough day in East Lansing on Saturday, calling 18 penalties for a combined 201 yards. The Spartans were charged 10 times for 115 yards, including multiple pass interference calls that kept Irish drives alive time and time again. Notre Dame was called for eight penalties and 86 yards. The Irish got a key victory despite mustering just 220 yards of total offense against the nation's No. 1 defense.

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football
Path: /college-football/acc-post-week-4-power-rankings-2013

The top of the ACC power rankings hasn’t changed much this season. The top four teams in the conference seem to be Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami. However, Maryland has been impressive in its 4-0 start, and Virginia Tech has one of the conference’s best defenses.

The Terrapins and Yellow Jackets scored the ACC’s most-impressive wins of Week 4, as Maryland shutout West Virginia 37-0, while Georgia Tech beat North Carolina 28-20.

North Carolina is 1-2, but the Tar Heels have dropped games against South Carolina and Georgia Tech. Although coach Larry Fedora’s team is off to a slow start, North Carolina shouldn’t be counted out of the Coastal Division title picture.

Pittsburgh’s offense has been impressive in three games, but the Panthers rank last in the ACC in total defense.

Syracuse and Wake Forest picked up much-needed victories in Week 4.

More Post-Week 4 Power Rankings: Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

11Clemson (3-0, 1-0): The Tigers started slow but eventually overpowered NC State for a solid 26-14 victory. Clemson’s trailed 7-6 late into the second quarter, but quarterback Tajh Boyd made some key plays, while the defense stepped up in the second half to limit the Wolfpack to just seven points in the final two quarters. Boyd didn’t have a huge performance but finished with 244 yards and three scores. Defensive end Vic Beasley wrecked havoc on NC State’s offensive line, recording five tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble. Clemson has a favorable schedule the next few weeks, with all eyes focused on the upcoming Oct. 19 showdown against Florida State. Next Week: Wake Forest
22Florida State (3-0, 1-0): As expected, the Seminoles had little trouble with Bethune-Cookman, cruising to a 54-6 victory. Florida State’s offense was efficient, averaging 8.1 yards per play and punted only three times. Running back Devonta Freeman topped 100 yards for the second consecutive game, but converted defensive back Karlos Williams continued to turn heads, rushing for 83 yards and two scores on nine attempts. Even with linebacker Christian Jones suspended, Florida State’s defense held Bethune-Cookman to 242 yards and recorded three sacks and seven tackles for a loss. The Seminoles have a few areas to patch during practice this week, but coach Jimbo Fisher should be feeling confident about his team. Next Week: at Boston College
33Miami (3-0, 0-0): Considering Savannah State is one of the worst FCS teams, it’s hard to learn too much about Miami. The Hurricanes thoroughly dominated the Tigers, recording 77 points, 637 yards and 27 first downs – and those numbers were largely done without quarterback Stephen Morris. The senior suffered an ankle injury but is expected to play next Saturday. Miami’s defense also feasted on an overmatched opponent, registering four sacks and six tackles for a loss. The Hurricanes have one more opportunity to fine-tune both sides of the ball before playing two huge ACC contests in early October. Next Week: at South Florida
44Georgia Tech (3-0, 2-0): The Yellow Jackets passed the first test in a difficult stretch of games, rallying to defeat North Carolina 28-20. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 20-7 lead, but Georgia Tech’s defense and rushing attack controlled the game in the second half. Coach Paul Johnson’s decision to hire Ted Roof as the defensive coordinator has already paid dividends, as the Yellow Jackets rank fourth in the ACC in yards allowed and are holding opponents to 11.3 points per game. Georgia Tech is the only 2-0 team in ACC play, but key Coastal games against Virginia Tech and Miami are up next. Next Week: Virginia Tech 
57Maryland (4-0, 0-0): West Virginia is in rebuild mode, but Maryland’s 37-0 victory over the Mountaineers was one of the most-impressive wins by an ACC team in Week 4. A rainy day in Baltimore prevented the Terrapins from reaching 500 total yards for a fourth consecutive game, but quarterback C.J. Brown finished with 243 overall yards and two scores. The defense held West Virginia to 175 total yards and recorded eight tackles for a loss. Maryland’s win over the Mountaineers on Saturday was its first in this series since the 2004 Gator Bowl. Next Week: Bye
65Virginia Tech (3-1, 0-0): Another week, another close call for the Hokies against a Conference USA team. A touchdown toss from quarterback Logan Thomas to receiver Willie Byrn tied the game at 21 with just over three minutes to play to send the game into overtime. Special teams had an up-and-down performance for coach Frank Beamer, as Virginia Tech blocked a field goal and punt. However, with kicker Cody Journell suspended, field goals were an issue, as Ethan Keyserling missed all three of his attempts. There’s no question the Hokies have a defense capable of winning the Coastal Division, but the offense is still a question mark. Virginia Tech went 2 of 16 on third-down attempts, and Thomas finished 18 of 34 for 181 yards and two picks. Next Week: at Georgia Tech (Thursday)
76North Carolina (1-2, 0-1): The Tar Heels did a better job defending Georgia Tech’s offense after giving up 68 points last season, but it wasn’t enough for North Carolina to earn the victory. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 20-7 lead before halftime, however, the offense had only one drive of longer than 10 yards in the second half. North Carolina’s defense was on the field for 40:38 and allowed 324 rushing yards to the Yellow Jackets. With a tight division race expected in the Coastal, losing to Georgia Tech is an early setback for North Carolina. However, upcoming games against Virginia Tech and Miami will give Larry Fedora’s team a chance to make a statement. Next Week: East Carolina
810Pittsburgh (2-1, 1-1): The Panthers earned their first victory in the ACC, outscoring Duke in a 58-55 shootout. Pittsburgh’s defense has struggled this year, but the offense ranks fourth in the conference in yards per game, averaging 7.7 yards per play. Quarterback Tom Savage tossed six touchdown passes against the Blue Devils, while true freshmen James Conner and Tyler Boyd combined for 327 yards and four scores. An oddity about Pittsburgh’s upcoming schedule: The next three opponents are all from Virginia. Next Week: Virginia 
99Virginia (2-1, 0-0): The Cavaliers easily handled VMI on Saturday, recording a 49-0 win over the Keydets. The shutout was the first for Virginia since 2008. The Cavaliers recorded 357 rushing yards, including 136 from walk-on freshman Daniel Hamm. Quarterback David Watford threw for two touchdowns, but the sophomore tossed two picks, giving him six interceptions in 2013. The victory over VMI was a good rebound for Virginia, especially after losing to Oregon in Week 2. The Cavaliers are on the road in two out of the next three weeks. Next Week: at Pittsburgh
108NC State (2-1, 0-1): The Wolfpack gave Clemson a battle, but coach Dave Doeren simply doesn’t have the offensive firepower with quarterback Brandon Mitchell sidelined. Pete Thomas threw for 213 yards against the Tigers, but NC State’s offense misses Mitchell’s dual-threat ability. One bright spot in the Thursday night loss was the play of the defensive line. The Wolfpack recorded 12 tackles for a loss and two sacks. NC State has a favorable schedule the next three weeks and could be 5-1 going into a road test against Florida State on Oct. 26. Next Week: Central Michigan
1111Boston College (2-1, 1-0): The Eagles were the only ACC team out of action in Week 4. But an early bye week for a team with a new coaching staff and schemes on both sides of the ball isn’t necessarily a bad thing with the heart of ACC play upcoming. How much has Boston College improved since last year? With matchups against Florida State and Clemson in two of the next three games, the Eagles should have a good idea if they have been able to close the gap with the best of the Atlantic. Next Week: Florida State
1213Syracuse (2-2, 0-0): The Orange had a rough start to the season, but Scott Shafer’s team has rebounded with back-to-back wins. The competition hasn’t been outstanding, but the offense has scored 106 points in the last two games. Quarterback Terrel Hunt has led the turnaround, throwing for seven touchdowns and zero picks during that span. The sophomore is clearly the No. 1 quarterback over Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen. Syracuse’s defense has work to do during the bye week, especially the secondary with a matchup against Clemson coming on Oct. 5. Next Week: Bye Week
1312Duke (2-2, 0-2): After starting 2-0, the Blue Devils have dropped back-to-back games. Duke scored 55 points against Pittsburgh, but the defense simply had no answer for Pittsburgh. The Panthers recorded 598 yards, averaging 7.6 yards per play, and quarterback Tom Savage torched the Blue Devils for 424 yards and six scores through the air. Duke’s offense recorded 532 overall yards, but four interceptions from quarterback Brandon Connette proved to be costly in a three-point game. Although it’s only Week 4, the Blue Devils’ bowl hopes took a hit with the loss to Pittsburgh, and there’s not much margin for error the rest of the way. Next Week: Troy 
1414Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1): After back-to-back losses, the Demon Deacons desperately needed a win against Army. Thanks to 96 yards from running back Josh Harris, Wake Forest showed a few signs of breaking out of an offensive funk, while earning a hard-fought 25-11 victory over the Black Knights. The Demon Deacons averaged a season-best 5.8 yards per play in Saturday’s win, and a struggling offensive line allowed only one sack. Coach Jim Grobe can’t be pleased with his offense, but Saturday’s performance was a step in the right direction. Next Week: at Clemson  

ACC Week 4 Awards and Recap

Offensive Player of the Week: Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
Through three games, Savage doesn’t look like a player who didn’t throw a pass on the FBS level from 2011-12. The senior turned in his best passing effort of 2013 against Duke on Saturday, completing 23 of 33 passes for 424 yards and six touchdowns. Savage’s six touchdown passes were the most by a Pittsburgh quarterback since Pete Gonzalez tossed seven against Rutgers in 1997, while also tying an ACC single-game record. After three games, Savage has thrown nine touchdown tosses to four interceptions and has topped 200 passing yards in each start.

Defensive Player of the Week: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
We need to give a tip of the cap to Maryland safety A.J. Hendy after he recorded one interception and recovered two fumbles against West Virginia, but Beasley earns our ACC Defensive Player of the Week honor. Beasley dominated NC State’s offensive line on Thursday night, recording five tackles (with three going for a loss) and three sacks. The junior also forced a fumble and broke up two passes. Clemson’s held NC State to 378 overall yards, with one of its two touchdowns coming when the game was out of reach. 

Coordinator of the Week: Ted Roof, Georgia Tech
The defense hasn’t been always strength for coach Paul Johnson during his tenure at Georgia Tech, but that could be changing in 2013. After giving up 20 points to North Carolina in the first 22 minutes, the Yellow Jackets held the Tar Heels without a score the rest of the way. North Carolina’s offense also went 0-4 on third-down attempts in the second half and only one Tar Heel drive in the final two quarters went longer than 10 yards. Georgia Tech’s defense allowed North Carolina to average six yards per play and registered only one sack, but the Yellow Jackets stepped up in the second half with the game on the line.

Team of the Week: Georgia Tech
After a 68-50 shootout between Georgia Tech and North Carolina last season, another high-scoring affair was expected on Saturday. However, weather and defense won out this year, as the Tar Heels and Yellow Jackets combined for 48 points. Georgia Tech fell behind 13-0 but rallied behind a solid defensive effort and quarterback Vad Lee. The Yellow Jackets did not allow a point in the second half, and Lee was responsible for two touchdowns and 159 overall yards. Georgia Tech is 2-0 in ACC play, but the schedule won’t get any easier the next two weeks, as a Thursday home date against Virginia Tech is up next, followed by a road game at Miami on Oct. 5. 

Freshmen of the Week: James Conner, RB/Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
We usually give this award to just one freshman each week, but it’s impossible to leave off Boyd or Conner after their performances against Duke. Conner gashed the Blue Devils’ defense for 173 yards and one touchdown, averaging 6.7 per attempt on 26 carries. Boyd continued his hot start to the season, catching eight passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Boyd’s total could have been even higher, but he suffered a thigh injury in the fourth quarter and was forced to miss some action. With Boyd and Conner playing at a high level just three games into their career, the future looks bright for Pittsburgh in the ACC.

Fifth Down

• In his last two games, Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt has completed 31 of 39 passes for 446 yards and seven touchdowns.

• Duke receiver Jamison Crowder recorded 279 all-purpose yards in Saturday’s 58-55 loss to Pittsburgh.

• After recording back-to-back games of 100 receiving yards, Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs caught only two passes for 13 yards against West Virginia.

• Miami freshman running back Gus Edwards rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns on 12 attempts.

• Miami quarterback Stephen Morris left Saturday’s game against Savannah State with an ankle injury, but X-rays revealed only a sprain.

• Linebacker Stephone Anthony led all Clemson defenders with 14 stops on Thursday night against NC State.

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: Chase, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/nascars-chase-and-then-there-were-three

For years, Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship mixed like oil and water. Since its last title with Tony Stewart in 2005, JGR’s postseason has resembled an Atlanta Braves playoff run. There have been spectacular engine failures. Emotional meltdowns. On-track retaliations. A title-draining spin at Homestead. You name it, and the organization has probably experienced it.

How ironic, then, that during NASCAR’s public perception crisis in the wake of “Spingate,” this team has become the poster child for leadership and stability. Matt Kenseth, whose lone championship many claim spurred the Chase format in 2003, is acting like he’s going to waltz away with one in 2013. In capturing a career-best seven victories — the last two coming in the Chase’s first pair of events — he’s brought the quiet confidence combined with a something-to-prove attitude that JGR has needed to remind itself that it can, in fact, get over the hump.

“It's just been an amazing blessing to be part of this group, and I’m happy to have the success we're having,” Kenseth said Sunday, after expressing some rare emotion in Victory Lane. “But even without that, honestly I've just made a lot of friendships I really feel at home there.  I just really enjoy being part of it; when you can have success, on top of it obviously that makes it even more fun.”

On paper, Kenseth is only one person. But a man whose knock at Roush Fenway Racing was he couldn’t take more of a leadership role has transformed JGR’s culture in the matter of just nine months. Suddenly, Kyle Busch looks like a man capable of winning a title instead of finding every which way to lose it. Denny Hamlin? The jury’s still out. But a healthy driver in 2014 could very well experience the same type of success.

With JGR a step ahead, let’s see who’s shifting a step behind in “Through the Gears,” post-Loudon:

FIRST GEAR: The Chase is down to three drivers
That’s right. After the hubbub over Richmond’s race manipulation and drivers being added to the playoffs, none of the drama may actually matter. Barring a Talladega disaster, the three drivers in contention are the three who’ve been the most successful this year, armed with Chase spots in-hand long before the RIR crisis. Kenseth, the top playoff seed going in, now has seven wins after a flawless final 100 miles at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Winning at what has historically been one of his worst tracks, Kenseth has now led 34 percent of the two postseason events and opened a 14-point lead on second-place Busch.

Jimmie Johnson, your perennial title contender, sits third, 18 points back even after two top-5 finishes. Everyone else? They’re on another planet. Carl Edwards, sitting fourth, is 36 points behind and would need a miracle to assume the point lead after Dover this Sunday. Already, three drivers – Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne – sit over 60 points behind the leader.

That’s just going to be too much to make up. In past years you might say, “Hey, maybe a late-season surge could see someone rise through the pack.” But this year, the trio on top has been too consistent, too overpowering, to crack. Combined, they’ve led a total of nearly 2,700 laps. They’ve got 15 wins in 28 races. And, with the exception of Busch, they’re title-proven.

Everyone else should start hoping for a big wreck at ‘Dega … or start thinking about next year.

SECOND GEAR: Hendrick’s rough road  Kasey Kahne
Typically, Hendrick Motorsports is at the pinnacle of the Sprint Cup Series come Chase time. After Jeff Gordon’s late entrance into the field combined with some strong runs at Chicagoland, it appeared the four-car juggernaut had additional momentum. Instead? It’s been making some crucial mistakes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. — fastest in final practice at Loudon — had to make a costly track-position stop for loose lugnuts. He recovered, making it back up front, but ultimately settled for sixth.

Teammate Jeff Gordon was not so lucky. After leading 36 laps and taking charge in the race’s midsection, he slid through his pits during a caution-flag stop. With limited time, he recovered to just 15th and saw a longshot title bid all but evaporate. Kasey Kahne, though, had the worst luck of all, losing control off Turn 4 late and slapping the inside wall in an accident that left him 37th. Now last in the Chase, 71 points behind Kenseth, the best this intermediate expert can hope for is a few “cookie-cutter” track trophies down the stretch.

“I really don’t know what happened,” Kahne said. “Just racing and I’m not sure if there was contact or if I just spun. I seriously don’t really remember how it happened.”

HMS is looking at the standings and wondering the same thing. Only Johnson, whose consistency is a Chase hallmark, remains in position to contend for the title; the rest of the four-car crew is eighth or lower in points.

THIRD GEAR: Championship? What championship?  Jamie McMurray
For some drivers, Loudon was simply a race to work on building blocks for 2014 — be it with their current team or someone else’s. For Jamie McMurray, it was his third top-5 finish of the season; his highest total in three years. Recovering from a spin involving teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, he’s working on developing Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing while Montoya works on an exit to Penske Racing in the open wheel ranks. That’ll make for an interesting last eight weeks, especially since owner Chip Ganassi was angered by the on-track contact.

Further back, Brian Vickers provided the most stablizing run for controversial Michael Waltrip Racing with a seventh-place finish. His is the only MWR team with sponsorship secure for 2014, as Aaron’s has publicly offered its support while NAPA has announced its exit and 5-Hour Energy remains (publically) on the fence. Finally, for Jeff Burton, an eighth place was more like an audition to a limited number of teams with seats available. For the 46-year-old veteran, his future is unknown beyond this season. Could we be seeing the last of Burton, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin in just one offseason?

FOURTH GEAR: Stewart-Haas Racing’s slump
While most expected Ryan Newman to run strong, riding the momentum of a bid to the Chase, he’s instead been underwhelming, posting an average finish of 13.0. Mark Martin, subbing for an injured Tony Stewart, has been far worse; he’s got just one top-10 finish in five races in the seat. And Danica Patrick? We know how her rookie season’s gone.

Clearly, this team is expected to be a powerhouse in 2014 with the additions of Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. But it’s going to be a big jump if the team ends the season with a whimper like this one.

Greg Biffle
, third at Loudon, has had a weird year. Under the right circumstances he could finish top 5 in points, but he’s led just four races all season. … Martin Truex Jr. remains in limbo this week after sponsor NAPA announced they’d leave his No. 56 car after the season. An early contender before circumstances left him 10th, the driver has put forth a valiant effort in the face of national controversy. And he’s driving with a broken wrist on top of it. … How bad has this season been for Denny Hamlin? His 12th-place finish at New Hampshire was the best for the No. 11 team since an eighth at Pocono in June.

Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: Matt Kenseth, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/kenseth-rolls-loudon-scores-second-nascar-chase-win

It should come as no surprise that a driver who has spent a career  flying under the radar in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is at his best while the sport churns in a chaotic whirlwind of controversy.

Welcome to winning, Matt Kenseth-style.

As fallout from a Richmond rumpus continues to rain down on the sport, Kenseth just keeps on winning — while staying well above the fray.

The first-year Joe Gibbs Racing driver won Chase race No. 2 on Sunday in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, his second straight victory in as many playoff events. He did so in his milestone 500th Cup start — a feat the 41-year-old summed up in his classic deadpan manner, saying, “All this really means is that I’m old.”

If experience equates to success, then the 13-driver Chase field should be on high alert. Further, Kenseth’s wildly successful maiden voyage in JGR’s Toyotas — the victory in Loudon was his career-best seventh of the season — should have the competition downright nervous. After all, he already holds a full race-worth of a points lead over one-third of the competition. Not that Kenseth is preoccupied with such stats.

“My outlook or approach is really not any different, honestly,” Kenseth said of his hot start to the 10-race playoff. “I know it’s kind of cliché, but it really is one week at a time, especially right now. If you get down toward the end (of the Chase) and you’re lucky enough to have a lead or something, maybe you start looking at that more.”

His tempered approach is predicated on a points format that awards consistency; where poor finishes are more damaging than sterling finishes rewarded.

“Two whole months of racing is a lot of racing, and in this system one bad finish and you’re behind, said Kenseth.”

When examining the upcoming slate of races, though, poor finishes aren’t the first thing that come to mind for Kenseth. He has two wins at Dover, the next stop on tour; he’s won the last two visits to Kansas; was a 2011 winner at Charlotte and is the defending race-winner at Talladega.

“Again, anything can happen anywhere,” said Kenseth, downplaying the advantageous schedule. “You can be at your best track and have whatever happen and get a bad finish. But certainly (I) have a lot of confidence in the next three tracks coming up.”

The first speedbump — Talladega’s crapshoot aside — comes fives weeks down the road, when the sport hits the half-mile Martinsville Speedway. It’s a venue where Kenseth has yet to record a win and has only three top-5 showings in 27 starts. Even then, he doesn’t seem overly concerned, saying, “I’m actually pretty confident going to Martinsville.”

And why not? Four of Kenseth’s 2013 wins have come at racetracks  — Chicagoland, Darlington, Kentucky and now New Hampshire — where he’d failed to post a win previously. So what’s different this season than in year’s past?

“I think a lot of this sport is about combinations,” Kenseth explained. “When you think of Jimmie (Johnson) and Chad (Knaus), Ray Evernham and Jeff Gordon, there wasn’t anybody that could beat them. It has to start with the organization that has the fast cars and have all that stuff — but you’ve got to have the right group (of people), and I’m really fortunate right now to have the right group.”

Included in that “group” — though relatively distanced — has been Kenseth’s chief Chase challenger, teammate Kyle Busch, who finished second the last two weeks to the No. 20 car. And that’s kept Kenseth honest.

“Matt is just executing at the end of the (race), which is what you’re supposed to do,” Busch said.

“I won eight of the first 26 (in 2008) and then fell flat on my face (in the Chase). Matt is doing a really good job — he’s put it all together.”

So while the questionable events that transpired in Richmond’s transfer race continue to demand a white-hot spotlight within the sport, the pre-Chase favorites of Kenseth, Busch and the sleeping giant of Johnson methodically rack up top-flight finishes.

That fact isn’t lost on the current points-leader:

“When you look at what the 48 (Johnson) can do and the 18 (Busch) — and they’re going to be good everywhere — you’d better be good everywhere if you’re thinking that you’re going to be a contender.”

There are still eight long weeks remaining in NASCAR’s 2013 championship chase, but as is typically the case, those contenders have already put the field on notice.

Follow Matt Taliaferro on Twitter: @MattTaliaferro


Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
Path: /college-football/should-ohio-state-start-kenny-guiton-or-braxton-miller-2013

Ohio State is 4-0 and one of the top contenders to play for the national championship. However, do the Buckeyes have a quarterback battle on their hands?

Braxton Miller began 2013 as one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman, but he suffered a MCL injury against San Diego State and did not start against California and Florida A&M.

Prior to his injury, Miller threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns, along with rushing for 82 yards on 18 attempts.

When Miller went out, Kenny Guiton assumed the starting role and has played two nearly perfect games. Guiton has thrown for 664 yards and 13 touchdowns and two interceptions through the first four contests of 2013.

Even though Miller was the starter, has Guiton deserved an extended look?

Should Ohio State Start Kenny Guiton or Braxton Miller?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even though Guiton has played well over the last two weeks, Ohio State has to go back to Miller. After all, Miller was one of the top quarterbacks in the nation last season and was off to a good start before his injury. The junior was completing 70.8 percent of his throws and was averaging a healthy 4.6 yards per carry through the first two weeks. Miller also has experience going through a full year of Big Ten action and should be better now that he had another offseason to work with coach Urban Meyer and coordinator Tom Herman. If anything, Guiton’s emergence has allowed Ohio State to be more aggressive with Miller. Surrounding the quarterback with a better, more explosive supporting cast was a priority for Meyer this offseason, and there’s no question the Buckeyes have a deeper group of weapons. Miller is one of the nation’s best quarterbacks when healthy, but Guiton has proved he is more than capable of leading this team if injury strikes again.

Mark Ross
Who knew that Ohio State's deepest position would end up being quarterback? That's what happens when Braxton Miller goes down early to injury and Kenny Guiton steps in and sets records. Guiton has thrown 13 touchdown passes with just two interceptions and is averaging better than seven yards per carry as the Buckeyes' offense hasn't missed a beat since he replaced Miller as the starter. While no one can certainly fault Urban Meyer for going back to Miller, believed by many to be the leading contender for the Heisman Trophy entering this season, at the same you can't help but ask if it isn't broke why fix it? Wisconsin is Ohio State's first true test of the season, so perhaps the better question would be this: if Miller struggles early against the Badgers will Meyer pull him and put Guiton back in? With expectations as high as they are in Columbus, it's not out of the question that the Buckeyes will have to deal with a budding quarterback controversy in addition to the rest of their Big Ten slate.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
If Braxton Miller is healthy, he should be the starter at Ohio State. Period, end of discussion. Kenny Guiton is a really nice player who has performed extremely well in his place but Miller is the star. He is more talented, more explosive and more dynamic. In fact, Guiton's play actually should give Urban Meyer more confidence in starting Miller. Should anything happen to No. 5, he knows he has an extremely productive and proven backup plan already in pace. The game with Wisconsin might be the biggest game of the year for Ohio State not named Michigan, and all hands will need to be on deck for the Buckeyes to win.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Braxton Miller should remain the starter at Ohio State. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Kenny Guiton has been fantastic, and there’s little reason yet to believe that Ohio State’s record could be any worse with him at quarterback. But we’ve only seen Guiton against Buffalo, Cal and Florida A&M. His only crunch time experience was against Purdue last season. That said, Urban Meyer surely recognizes what he has in both of them. Although he’s said there aren’t any plans to get both on the field, I can’t believe that’s true. This is the same guy who won a national championship with Tim Tebow spelling Chris Leak in 2006. Imagine putting both out there for a double pass or some other trick play? Or just a decoy? Meyer loves his trick plays, and he’ll use them. Just a question of when.

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler)
If Braxton Miller is healthy, then he should be the starter. This isn’t exactly the no-brainer most people claim it to be, however, as Guiton has proven his superior pocket passing skills. Granted, Guiton played against very weak competition, yet the Ohio State passing game hasn’t looked this dangerous since the Heisman year of Troy Smith. Coach Urban Meyer must make sure he uses the fact that he has two reliable quarterbacks as an advantage and not a potential problem. We could see some of both signal callers during games throughout the season, but Miller finished fifth in the Heisman voting just a season ago and is still one of the most dynamic players in the entire country. He will be and should be the clear starter moving forward.

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Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Missouri Tigers, SEC
Path: /college-football/should-we-buy-missouris-3-0-start-2013

Missouri is the last unbeaten team in the SEC East. The Tigers haven’t played a tough schedule, but coach Gary Pinkel’s team has won all three of its games by at least 15 points.

Missouri has one more non-conference game remaining, which is a home date against Sun Belt foe Arkansas State.

After Saturday’s game, the Tigers have eight consecutive games of SEC play, starting with an Oct. 5 date at Vanderbilt.

Is Missouri improved after going 5-7 last year or are the Tigers a product of their easy schedule?

Should we buy into Missouri's 3-0 start?

Steven Lassan  (@AthlonSteven)
Yes, I am buying into Missouri’s 3-0 start. No, I’m not ready to anoint the Tigers as a contender in the SEC East, but I do think this team is improved from its 5-7 record last year. Missouri’s offense is averaging 6.6 yards per play and ranks third in the conference with 567 yards per game. The level of competition has played a role in the offensive numbers, but quarterback James Franklin looks sharper after a full offseason to recover from a shoulder injury, and the rushing attack has three players who can contribute significant carries. The Tigers may have to win a few shootouts this year, as the defense is a question mark. The secondary ranks last in the SEC in pass yards allowed, and Missouri has generated only three sacks. Do I think Missouri will win the East? No. But I do think this team will make a bowl and wouldn’t be shocked if the Tigers find a way to upset Florida or South Carolina this year.

Mark Ross
Give credit to head coach Gary Pinkel and quarterback James Franklin for turning things around. Missouri's offense is clicking on all cylinders as the Tigers are scoring points (47 ppg) in bunches. However, before anyone starts printing those SEC East champion T-shirts let's see how Mizzou fares against some, well, SEC-caliber competition shall we? Yes, offense was certainly an issue for this team last season (11th in SEC in both total and scoring offense), but it's not like the defense shut the opposition down either (10th total, 11th scoring). Missouri will face considerably tougher defenses in conference play, starting with Vanderbilt in two weeks, and I want to see how this Tigers team responds when the offense is unable to just march up and down the field. It clearly is a good start for Missouri, but don't forget the Tigers went 2-6 in the SEC in 2012 and the only difference between that SEC slate and this season's is that Alabama has been replaced by Ole Miss. With how well the Rebels have played thus far, there's very little drop-off there, if any. Welcome to life in the SEC Mizzou.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I buy that Missouri will get back to a bowl game. I don't buy that Missouri is an SEC contender. James Franklin appears to be healthy again and churning out yards, trailing only Johnny Manziel in total offense per game in the SEC. But the Tigers haven't played a legitimate defense yet this season. Mizzou is obviously better on offense and improved from a year ago, but the defense lacks star power and it will need that side of the ball to pull an upset against, say, Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, Ole Miss or South Carolina. Otherwise, there are winnable games with Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky that could provide a trip to the postseason. A trip to a bowl game should keep Gary Pinkel employed, right?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I still need to see a little bit more to fully buy into Missouri. The Oct. 5 trip to Vanderbilt will be the key. The Tigers may need to win that game to salvage anything out of an SEC schedule that includes Ole Miss and Texas A&M from the West division. I was skeptical of how the Tigers’ defense would perform this season without Sheldon Richardson, a first-round draft pick. Missouri acquitted itself against Indiana on the road, especially with the way Kony Ealy was able to disrupt the passing game at the line. But what works against Indiana might not work against Georgia and Ole Miss on the road, or South Carolina’s physical game and certainly not Johnny Manziel.

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
Yes, go ahead and buy into Missouri’s 3-0 start. The Tigers entered the season with low expectations, which was understandable following last year’s disappointing finish. But this team is improved, especially on offense. Quarterback James Franklin looks closer to his 2011 self, having already produced more than 1,000 yards of total offense in three games. The emergence of sophomore wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has been huge. Green-Beckham, Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington make up a dangerous receiving corps.

Missouri still has to face its toughest part of the schedule – the SEC – but its start is promising. The Tigers were picked to finish sixth in the SEC East by the media. That could still happen, but games against Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt will all be winnable. Missouri isn’t close to winning the division, but its 3-0 start has shown the Tigers might be on their way to competing at a more respectable level in the conference.

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler)
As happy as I am to see quarterback James Franklin regain his form from a promising 2011 season, Missouri is surely in for trouble once conference play starts. Franklin has been excellent in his first three games. In fact, he's averaging 291 passing yards and 60.7 rushing yards per contest. He has thrown six touchdown passes and has nearly 200 yards rushing yards with another score. To be fair, the Tigers have hardly been challenged with games against Murray State, Toledo and Indiana. This week they play host to an Arkansas State team that was held to just seven points by Memphis. Despite this offensive success, the Tigers real concerns are on the defensive side of the ball. In three games, Missouri is allowing an average of nearly 400 yards of total offense. Expect this to be even more against some of the excellent quarterbacks in the SEC right now. After they surely improve to 4-0 this week, the schedule becomes a veritable murderer’s row. The Tigers will have a month straight of four of the SEC’s toughest teams with road trips to Vanderbilt and Georgia, along with home games against Florida and South Carolina. The end of the season won’t be kind either, as they finish up with Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Don’t expect the Tigers’ defense to be able to stop the likes of Connor Shaw, Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray or even Bo Wallace. I have Gary Pinkel’s squad finishing 6-6 (2-6).

Related College Football Content

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College Football's Coach on the Hot Seat Rankings
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SEC Week 4 Recap

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-point-guards

 Perhaps the two names atop Athlon Sports’ list of point guards and floor leaders for the 2013-14 season says something about how the year will transpire.

Oklahoma State and Arizona State are not likely candidates to have the nation’s best point guards, but Marcus Smart and Jahii Carson are not your average sophomores. And the best part about these two names is that both guards are drastically different. Smart is a 6-4 guard who can rebound while Carson is a 5-10 speedster.

The first blue blood program on the list is Kentucky with Andrew Harrison, who follows in the footsteps of other one-and-done point guards to play for John Calipari. He should improve a position that was a major liability in Kentucky’s failed bid to defend its national title in the NCAA Tournament.

Our list of the nation’s best point guards is the first in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Floor Leaders

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
6-4/220, So.
The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year could have left school to be the top point guard taken in the NBA Draft. He averaged 16.3 points and 3.9 assists during Big 12 play, both among the top five in the league. He also led the league in steals (3.2 per game) in conference games. His intangibles are even better.

2Jahii Carson, Arizona State
5-10/180, So.
The speedy point guard reversed fortunes for Herb Sendek and Arizona State by leading the Sun Devils to the NIT. Carson led all freshmen nationally in scoring (18.5 points per game) and became the first freshman in 20 years to top 18.5 points and 5.1 assists.
3Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
6-5/210, Sr.
In 2012-13, John Calipari lacked a dynamic point guard for the first time since the Derrick Rose days at Memphis. That will change this season with Harrison arriving on campus. The freshman from Fort Bend, Texas, is another big, athletic point guard who will put his name with guys like Rose and John Wall.
4Aaron Craft, Ohio State
6-2/195, Sr.
If you’ve watched the least bit of college basketball the last three seasons, you’re familiar with Craft: He’s a consummate leader and floor general and an intense defender. And as Iowa State learned in the NCAA Tournament, he can nail the big-time 3-pointer.
5Keith Appling, Michigan State
6-1/190, Sr.
Appling may be under more pressure than any point guard on our list. The Spartans are a national title contender, but Appling needs to take the next step in his development. He improved his decision-making late last season when he led Michigan State in scoring (13.4 ppg).
6Joe Jackson, Memphis
6-1/174, Sr.
Jackson may go down as one of the top players in Memphis history after improving each his first three seasons. His biggest improvement last season was improving form long range from 30.2 percent to 44.7 percent in 22 more attempts.
7Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
6-6/200, Jr.
Dinwiddie has been the backbone of Tad Boyle’s reclamation project at Colorado, starting every game the last two seasons. Dinwiddie got to the free throw line 240 times last season, converting 82.5 percent of the time.
8Kyle Anderson, UCLA
6-9/235, So.
This will be one of the most intriguing positions to watch as the 6-9 Anderson takes more point guard duties with Larry Drew II gone from the Bruins. He’s not your typical point guard, but the Swiss Army Knife is a floor leader/floor general/point forward nonetheless.
9Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
6-0/178, So.
Ferrell had the unenviable task last season stepping into the point guard role on a preseason No. 1 team featuring highly touted veterans. With Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and others gone, Ferrell is now the veteran on a young team. His 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio shows he’s up to the task.
10Chaz Williams, UMass
5-9/175, Sr.
Williams is the centerpiece for UMass’ up-tempo offense/pressure defense philosophy. The Minutemen expect to be in NCAA Tournament contention with Williams running the point, which he does superbly. Williams scored or assistant on 48.7 percent of UMass’ field goals last season.

More point guard superlatives
Freshman to watch: Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington
Transfer to watch: T.J. McConnell, Arizona (from Duquesne)
Seventh-year seniors: Grant Gibbs, Creighton, and Jake Odum, Indiana State
Returning from injury: Tim Frazier, Penn State
Mid-major star: Siyani Chambers, Harvard
Best you don’t know yet: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Heisman Trophy
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-4-heisman-trophy-voting

Each week of the college football season, Athlon Sports will poll some of the nation's foremost college football people from every region of the country. Each voter offers up a top five, and each first-place vote is worth five points. A second-place vote is worth four points, and so on. With 13 voters, a perfect ballot — i.e., 13 first-place votes — would give a player 65 total points.

Oregon's Marcus Mariota was off last weekend but was still able to hold on to his slim lead in the Athlon Heisman voting. Johnny Manziel, however, is closing the gap after yet another typical Johnny Heisman performance — albeit, against a lowly SMU defense. The big three still sit well above the rest of the nation when it comes to college football's most prestigious award.

Post-Week 4 Voting Results:

1.(1)Marcus MariotaQBOregon56652--
2.(3)Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M49453--
3.(2)Tajh BoydQBClemson463352-
4.(6)Teddy BridgewaterQBLouisville13--223
5t.(4)Todd GurleyRBGeorgia7---31
5t.(5)AJ McCarronQBAlabama7---31
7.(6)Brett HundleyQBUCLA5---13
8t.(8)Jameis WinstonQBFlorida St3---11
8t.(ur)Jeremy HillRBLSU3--1--
10t.(9)Jadeveon ClowneyDESouth Carolina2----2
10t.(10)Chuckie KeetonQBUtah St2---1-
12t.(ur)Melvin GordonRBWisconsin1----1
12t.(11)Keith PriceQBWashington1----1

Heisman Headlines:

Tajh Slipping? Boyd dropped behind Manziel this week and I’m not sure why. Boyd played near flawless football on the road in a hostile environment with little support from his offensive line. He threw for 244 yards, ran the ball 13 times and scored three touchdowns without a turnover in a win over NC State. And yet, the voters weren’t impressed. Manziel threw for exactly 244 yards, ran the ball 12 times and scored three touchdowns. The big differences were Manziel threw an interception, rushed for more yards but did so at home against lowly SMU. It seems as if voters are already forgetting Boyd’s performance against Georgia and that the Aggies have already lost.

Running Backs Join the Party. Melvin Gordon has been arguably the best back in the nation. He leads the country with 156.0 yards per game, is averaging 11.8 yards per attempt and is No. 2 with seven rushing touchdowns. Jeremy Hill, fresh off his 183-yard, 3-TD performance against Auburn at home also joined the voting this week. Both are tremendously talented and both are deserving of being mentioned with Todd Gurley as the best in the nation.

Nobody Drops Out. There are a few new faces on the list — Gordon and Hill — but no one dropped out of the Heisman voting this week as the list grew by two. On a weekend with a fairly week slate of games, little movement was to be expected.

Week 5. This will be a huge weekend for the Heisman race. AJ McCarron could make another big statement over Ole Miss at home. Hill and Gurley will go head-to-head in Athens. Gordon will visit Columbus with the potential return of Braxton Miller highlighting the massive Leaders Division game. Chuckie Keeton has a showdown with David Fales and San Jose State. And Manziel, Jameis Winston and Jadeveon Clowney have interesting road tests. Buckle up because this could be the best weekend of action to date.

Others to Watch. Derek Carr of Fresno State could go unbeaten this year so check him out late Saturday night in Hawaii if you get a chance. Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson of Miami will go for the second leg of The Sunshine State sweep this weekend at USF. Oklahoma’s Blake Bell could join the Heisman mix with a huge performance on the road against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

The Voting Panel (click name for twitter accounts):

NameOrganizationWebsiteNo. 1
Tom DienhartBig Ten NetworkBigTenNetwork.comMarcus Mariota
Bryan FischerPac-12 NetworkPac-12.comJohnny Manziel
David FoxAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comJohnny Manziel
Braden GallAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comMarcus Mariota
Steven GodfreySB NationSBNation.comTajh Boyd
Chris HustonHeisman PunditHeismanPundit.comMarcus Mariota
Steven LassanAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comMarcus Mariota
Chris LevelRed Raider SportsRedRaiderSports.comTajh Boyd
Mitch LightAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comTajh Boyd
Billy LiucciTexAgsTexAgs.comJohnny Manziel
Dan RubensteinSB Nation/Solid VerbalSolidVerbal.comMarcus Mariota
Josh WardMr. SEC/WNMLMrSEC.comMarcus Mariota
Jim YoungACC Sports JournalACCSports.comJohnny Manziel


Post date: Monday, September 23, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-15-coaches-hot-seat-2013-14

Earlier this week, Athlon Sports broke down the top 50 coaches in college basketball for 2013-14.

This isn’t necessarily the flip side to that, but coaches certainly would rather be on that list than this one. The coaches on this list have been hot commodities at one point and all of have been successful. After all, they all had to get their current jobs before starting to feel the pressure.

And the pressure is clear for these 15 coaches as the enter the 2013-14 season.

Relatively speaking, this was a quiet season for coaching moves in the SEC and Pac-12 (outside of Los Angeles, that is). That means a handful of coaches in those leagues specifically are on the hot seat.

But the most intriguing hot seat may be that of Texas coach Rick Barnes. The overall coaching record for the Longhorns coach is impressive, despite a CBI appearance last season. But there's still a sense the program has underachieved for its talent in recent years. Will Barnes begin to feel the heat as his counterpart with the football program has?

Top 15 Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2013-14

Tony Barbee, Auburn
Two things have been constant in Barbee’s three seasons at Auburn: roster turnover and losing. The Tigers are 35–59 overall and 12–38 in the SEC under his watch and are picked to finish last in the league this season.

Rick Barnes, Texas
It’s tough to put a coach who led his school to 14 straight NCAA Tournament invites (1999-2012) on the hot seat, but Barnes is under pressure to win big at Texas. The Longhorns went 7–11 in the Big 12 last season and have won fewer than 10 league games in four of the last five seasons. He has coached 10 first-round NBA Draft picks since 2000 yet has only reached one Final Four at Texas.

Ben Braun, Rice
It’s not easy to win at Rice, but Braun has struggled to keep the Owls competitive in a bad Conference USA in recent years. After surging to an 8–8 league mark in ’11-12, the Owls slumped to 1–15 last season. He is 56–103 overall and 19–61 in the league in five seasons.

Ken Bone, Washington State
After winning big at Portland State, Bone appeared to be a good fit at Washington State. In Year 2, he won 22 games overall and went 9–9 in the league, but he is just 32–37 overall and 11–25 in the Pac-12 in the last two seasons.

Brad Brownell, Clemson
Brownell has a strong reputation and did well in stops at UNC Wilmington and Wright State, but the Tigers are trending in the wrong direction. After going 17–15 in the ACC in his first two seasons (including an NCAA invite in ’10-11), Clemson slumped to 5–13 last season and is picked to finish near the bottom of the league this year.

Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons showed some signs of life last season in Year 3 of the Bzdelik era, but a 6–12 record in the ACC won’t please a fan base that grew accustomed to annual trips to the NCAA Tournament in the 1990s and 2000s. Bzdelik is 11–39 in the ACC at Wake and 21–77 in league play in his last six seasons as a head coach, at Colorado and Wake.

Johnny Dawkins, Stanford
The numbers aren’t awful (93–73 overall, 39–51 Pac-12), but it’s hard to look past this damaging stat: Stanford made the NCAA Tournament 13 times in the 14 years before Dawkins was hired but has not been to the NCAAs in his five seasons on the job.

Mark Fox, Georgia
Fox has managed a .500 SEC record or better in two of his four seasons at Georgia, but he has yet to win a postseason game (one NCAA Tournament bid) and has a 28–38 mark in the league. Last year, he had the SEC Player of the Year (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) on his roster yet had a losing record.

Tom Pecora, Fordham
Pecora’s move from Long Island (Hofstra) to the Bronx (Fordham) hasn’t gone well. The Rams are 24–64 overall and 7–41 in the A-10 —with three straight 14th-place finishes — in his three seasons.

Buzz Peterson, UNC Wilmington
Peterson’s sixth stop as a head coach (including two stints at Appalachian State) could be his last. The former North Carolina Tar Heel is 33–57 overall and 17–37 in the Colonial in three seasons in Wilmington. The prospects for ’13-14 aren’t too bright.

Oliver Purnell, DePaul
Purnell has yet to win an NCAA Tournament game in 25 seasons as a Division I head coach. That dubious streak isn’t likely to end anytime soon. DePaul is 30–64 overall and 6–48 in the Big East in his three seasons as the head coach. The Blue Demons will have a tough time avoiding a last-place finish in the new-look Big East.

Eric Reveno, Portland
He’s a good follow on Twitter, but Reveno needs to start winning more games. The Pilots had a nice run in the late 2000s, but are 18–44 overall and 7–25 in the WCC over the last two seasons.

Keith Richard, Louisiana-Monroe
It’s never easy to fire an alum, but Richard has really struggled in his three seasons at Monroe, with an overall mark of 14–73 and a 7–45 record in the Sun Belt.

Craig Robinson, Oregon State
Oregon State is one of the toughest jobs in a high-major conference, but Robinson will need to show progress at some point. He is 31–59 in the Pac-12 in five seasons, with a high-water mark of 8–10 in Year 2.

Herb Sendek, Arizona State
Sendek has guided Arizona State to the NCAA Tournament only once in his seven seasons in Tempe. Expectations are high this season — if the ASU fails to make the NCAAs, Sendek could be out of a job.

College Basketball: 15 Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2013-14
Post date: Friday, September 20, 2013 - 07:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-september-18-2013

Week 4 is almost here...

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Wednesday, September 18th

Would Oregon beat Alabama this year? Check out the answer to that topic and more in Sporting News' weekly exit poll column. 

Mr. SEC takes a look at the speed of the offenses in the SEC this year. And here's another interesting stat article on the takeaways per defensive snaps.

Two Alabama starters could sit out Saturday's game against Colorado State. 

Syracuse coach Scott Shafer is dealing with hay fever.

Saturday Down South takes a look at a few SEC players off to a slow start this year.

Bill Connelly of SB Nation has a good preview of Thursday night's game between Clemson and NC State.

Florida is expected to get offensive lineman Jon Halapio back in the lineup against Tennessee. 

Sports Illustrated's Peter King got a good look at Stanford's offense against Army (plenty of good insight there). 

Despite the 1-2 start, Texas coach Mack Brown is remaining positive. 

The status of Arkansas' quarterback Brandon Allen is uncertain this Saturday.

Quarterback Michael Brewer is close to returning for Texas Tech.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is confident in Connor Cook as the starting quarterback.

Here are three things we've learned about Arizona so far this year. And a few things about Kentucky.

This might be the most bizarre story of the season so far.

Post date: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 16:01
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-4-waiver-wire-report-2013

Still feel like you are missing a couple of pieces to solidify your roster?  Check out this weeks’ Waiver Wire

College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 4 Waiver Wire Report

Ford Childress, QB-West Virginia
Childress threw for a West Virginia freshman record 359 yards on Saturday, but more importantly, solidified himself as the Mountaineers’ starter.

Blake Bell, QB-Oklahoma
In addition to the four touchdowns Bell threw on Saturday, he passed 413 yards, which were the most passing yards by a Sooners quarterback making their first career start.

Charles Ross, RB-Rice
Ross has turned in two workhorse performances this season, totaling 46 carries for 264 yards and scoring four touchdowns for the Owls.

Shaun Wick, RB-Wyoming
Wick’s rushing numbers may not be eye-popping, but the sophomore back has totaled 314 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns in three games.

Terron Ward, RB-Oregon State
Fellow running back Storm Woods (neck) is out indefinitely and Ward will start next week when the Beavers travel to San Diego State.

James Poole, RB-Utah
Poole shouldered 25 carries for 117 yards and added another 70 yards receiving in the Utes’ 51-48 overtime loss Saturday to Oregon State. It seems as if the sophomore has overtaken Kelvin York as the starting running back. 

Sterling Shepard, WR-Oklahoma
Now that the Sooners seem to have found themselves a quarterback, Shepard seems to be the receiver we thought he would be. The sophomore receiver hauled in eight passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns against Tulsa on Saturday.

Ty Montgomery, WR-Stanford
The tight ends usually dominate the Cardinal passing game, but the 6-foot-2 receiver has caught 10 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Kevin Hogan.

Jaydon Mickens, WR-Washington
Overshadowed by running back Bishop Sankey’s early season numbers, the sophomore receiver has been hauled in one-third of quarterback Keith Price’s 51 completions for 160 yards and a touchdown in the Huskies’ first two games.

Tyreese Russell, TE-Eastern Michigan
The Eagles should be playing from behind most of the season and Russell has already snagged 19 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown.

by Joe DiSalvo,
For addition add/drop advice, email theCFFsite

Follow us on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Post date: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 16:01
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-ready-challenge-alabama-and-lsu-sec-west-2013

Ole Miss is off to its first 3-0 start since 1989. Coach Hugh Freeze clearly has the program moving in the right direction, and the momentum continues to build after signing a top-10 recruiting class in February.

Beating Vanderbilt and Texas this year is another good sign for a program that went 6-18 in Houston Nutt’s final two seasons.

Ole Miss has a bye before playing Alabama on Sept. 28, which is the start of another difficult stretch on the schedule. After playing the Crimson Tide, the Rebels travel to Auburn on Oct. 5, then return home for matchups against Texas A&M (Oct. 12) and LSU (Oct. 19).

It’s only Week 3, but the Rebels have opened plenty of eyes around the SEC. Are the Rebels ready to challenge Alabama or LSU in the West? Or is Ole Miss still the fourth-best team in the division behind Texas A&M?

Is Ole Miss Ready to Challenge Alabama and LSU in the SEC West?

Coach Pat Dye, former head coach of East Carolina, Wyoming and Auburn, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
It is too early to tell. Ole Miss had to come from behind to beat Vandy. The victory they had this past weekend was against a Texas team in total disarray. Although they were good wins, I think they are going to have to play some better competition before we would know how good this Ole Miss team is this year. One thing that has been a nice surprise for Ole Miss has been the play from their quarterback. He has been outstanding so far this season.

Alabama, I think has the edge on LSU early in the season. LSU beat TCU. However, TCU doesn't look to be nearly as good as they have been in the past several years. It is a long season in front of those teams in the SEC West. We are going to have to wait and see if Ole Miss is able to take the next step against the tougher teams.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I still think the SEC West is Alabama and LSU’s division to lose this year. But let’s not forget about Texas A&M or overlook Ole Miss. The Rebels are 3-0 for the first time since 1989, scoring solid road victories over Vanderbilt and Texas. The offense is one of the nation’s most-balanced attacks, averaging 250 yards per game on the ground and 240 yards a contest through the air. Ole Miss is also averaging 6.2 yards per play and is third in the SEC in total defense. The Rebels aren’t as deep as Alabama or LSU, but the talent from the top-10 recruiting class is making a big contribution this year. Ole Miss is closing the gap on the rest of the SEC West and has a chance to score some solid victories the rest of the season with a road contest against Alabama and home games against Texas A&M and LSU still to come. I think the Rebels lose to the Crimson Tide and beat the Tigers, with Texas A&M in the tossup category. Ole Miss is a year or two away from winning the West, but let’s give coach Hugh Freeze a lot of credit for getting this team in contention in just his second year in Oxford.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
What do we really know about Ole Miss? The Rebels won a hard-fought game on the road against a Vanderbilt team that is now 0-2 in the SEC. They toyed with Southeast Missouri State in a closer-than-expected 31-13 win in Week 2. And they crushed what could be the worst Texas team since 1956. Ole Miss is really talented and capable of winning eight or nine games, but the point is, what do we really know about Ole Miss? The next four weeks will tell us as the Rebels face Alabama and Auburn on the road before hosting Texas A&M and LSU. The Rebels haven't been close to the Crimson Tide of late but played well against both the Aggies and Bayou Bengals on the road last year. The issue is attrition and running the SEC West gaunlet. With key injuries already along the offensive line and at linebacker, a 2-2 split over the next four would have to be considered a huge success. So, I guess my answer is no, but they are getting closer.

Mark Ross
The cop-out answer would be we'll find out in two Saturdays when the Rebels travel to Alabama. As far as my current answer goes, I fall into the "wait and see" camp. First, let's give credit to Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, who has done a masterful job of rebuilding this program rather quickly. It started last season with seven victories and a bowl win over Pittsburgh and the momentum carried over to National Signing Day. The Rebels have continued to win games — five in a row dating back to last season — and have looked pretty good in the process.

However, Ole Miss has already gotten a few breaks along the way too, starting with its last-second, come-from-behind win at Vanderbilt to open the season and then catching a downtrodden Texas team at the best time possible. Again, the Rebels deserve plenty of credit for taking care of business and doing what needed to be done to win those two road games, but the true test for this team is coming up with Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU the next four opponents. If Ole Miss can continue to run the ball like it has (250.0 ypg, 3rd in SEC) and limit the opposition's ground game (114.3 ypg allowed, 4th in SEC), then it will have a chance, even against the likes of Alabama and LSU. Because in the end, controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball is one of the keys to being successful in the nation's toughest conference.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Ole Miss is having a much more successful start to the season than most of us imagined. In our preseason game picks for Ole Miss, four of the six on Athlon’s panel projected the Rebels to start 1-2, but here they are at 3-0. Granted, they needed heroics to beat Vanderbilt, and Texas is not nearly as good as we thought the Longhorns would be at the start of the season. Eight or nine wins is achievable this season, but the ability to challenge for the West may have to wait until 2014 or 2015. Alabama’s not going anywhere, neither are LSU and Texas A&M. This is still a young Ole Miss team that needs to be ready to compete with Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU consistently — and in the case of this season, in the span of less than a month. That’s a lot to ask at this point.

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
Ole Miss is close, but I don’t see the Rebels challenging to win the SEC West this year. Ole Miss is off to a great start and is clearly on the rise under coach Hugh Freeze. Remember the preseason concern over Ole Miss’ daunting schedule? The Rebels have quieted that talk. Still, it’s difficult to believe Ole Miss will have a legitimate shot of winning its division this year with Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M all remaining on the schedule. I think third place in the West is Ole Miss’ best-case finish this season.

Next year is the year to watch for Ole Miss. The Rebels’ talented freshmen will have a year of experience and quarterback Bo Wallace should be back for his senior year. Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M will all likely be breaking in new starting quarterbacks, which could help Ole Miss jump the Big Three while each school transitions. One thing is clear: Ole Miss fans have plenty to be excited about under Freeze.

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler)
Not yet. Let the bandwagon keep chugging along because I’m not ready to jump on yet. Are the Rebels an improved team? Yes, absolutely. But we aren’t talking about the Pac-12 South here. This is the most challenging division in the most difficult conference in the nation. And quite simply, the Rebels aren’t ready. Let’s review their 3-0 start. A last-second win at Vanderbilt, who was without a major weapon in wide receiver Chris Boyd amidst the rape scandal. Followed by a win over an FCS opponent in SE Missouri State and a victory at Texas over a miserably disappointing Longhorns squad. The wins at Vandy and Texas are solid wins, but let’s not mistake the performances needed to win these games with those needs to take down the likes of Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. Austyn Carta-Samuels and Case McCoy aren’t AJ McCarron, Johnny Manziel or even Zach Mettenberger. Add in road trips to Auburn and arch-rival Mississippi State and the tune on Ole Miss could change very quickly come November. 

Related College Football Content

10 College Football Stats to Know From Week 3
SEC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
College Football's Post-Week 3 Coaches on the Hot Seat
Post-Week 3 College Football Bowl Projections
Who is the Favorite to Win the Big 12?

Post date: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 16:01
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/it-time-nebraska-part-bo-pelini-2013

Is nine or ten wins a year enough for a coach to keep his job? That’s the big question facing Nebraska when it comes to coach Bo Pelini?

Under Pelini, the Cornhuskers are 51-21 and played in the Big Ten Championship last season.

However, Nebraska expects championships, and Pelini has failed to deliver. In last year’s Big Ten title game, the Cornhuskers were dominated by Wisconsin 70-31 and were defeated 45-31 by Georgia in the Capital One Bowl.

The Cornhuskers have struggled on defense, and their recruiting hasn’t improved over the last five years. Nebraska has finished 40th or worse nationally in points allowed in three out of Pelini’s five seasons and ranked 90th against the run last year.

Although the audio tapes of Pelini’s rant are making the rounds this week, it’s not a huge factor in terms of job status. The embattled coach needs to be judged on the on-field results and trajectory of the program.

Is it Time for Nebraska to Part With Bo Pelini?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Nebraska has a difficult decision to make with Bo Pelini. And this has nothing to do with the audio tapes released this week, as the decision about his future needs to be about what happens on the field. The Cornhuskers have won at least nine games in each of his five full seasons and played for the Big Ten title in 2012. However, the defense – Pelini’s specialty – has struggled, and recruiting isn’t getting any better. Is Nebraska as good of a job as it was in the 1990s? That’s certainly debatable. However, there are high expectations in Lincoln, and Pelini does not have a conference title. Looking ahead to 2014, Nebraska will be in an easier division, but quarterback Taylor Martinez is gone. Even though Pelini hasn’t been hitting nine or ten wins every year, if Nebraska doesn’t win the division title, I think the Cornhuskers will have a new coach roaming the sidelines next year.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
This is a loaded question due to bad timing and the many different angles to consider. First, Bo Pelini has led his team to three division titles and three conference championship games in six years. But he is abrasive and has treated a lot of people with disrespect (not unlike most head coaches). But the release of this inappropriately recorded post-game rant — following a win, mind you — reeks of resentment and petty immaturity. So if you are basing your opinions on Pelini's long-term future on some two-minute sound bite that took place two years ago, you are no more mature and out-of-context than the jilted fan who leaked the tape. If you think Pelini shouldn't be the head coach at Nebraska because he team choked away a 21-3 home lead against UCLA, his defense is horrendous, and he's lost at least four games in every season, then I'm listening. He has done good things with the talent he is bringing in but he also needs to take the blame for not bringing in top-25 talent. An amicable divorce and fresh start for both might be what's best for all parties involved.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
If it’s Nebraska’s choice, the Cornhuskers shouldn’t make a coaching change. Bo Pelini isn’t the world’s biggest charmer during the season, but not many coaches are. Still, he’s been around long enough to know better than to be dismissive of Tommie Frazier, and the leaked audio from two years ago is ugly. But both should be non-factors. As for on the field, the knee-jerk reaction to the UCLA game is as hotheaded as anything Pelini has ever done. Only nine teams in the country have won more games since Pelini took over in 2008. Only 16 teams have a better win percentage. On both of those lists, Nebraska is ahead of Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina and Wisconsin. The Cornhuskers have reached a conference championship game three times in five seasons. Nebraska hasn’t won any of them, and Pelini is short on statement wins. That’s reason to be disappointed, but hardly a reason to ditch a coach. Nebraska wasn’t satisfied with Frank Solich, either, and things so bad under Bill Callahan the Huskers needed to hire Pelini in the first place. However, if Pelini is really miserable at Nebraska, I wouldn’t blame him from trying his hand at a new stop. I’m sure a handful of programs would be glad to have him.

Mark Ross
Bo Pelini is 51-21 as Nebraska's head coach and despite winning consistently (at least nine wins in each of his first five seasons), he has seemed to worn out his welcome in Lincoln. While Pelini has certainly stuck his foot in his mouth or let his emotions get the best of him on more than one occasion, it's not like the bottom has dropped out for this Cornhuskers team either. Nebraska is 2-1 after three games, the exact same record it had at this point last season, with both losses coming to UCLA. The 2012 team went on to win 10 games and play for the Big Ten championship, goals that are still well within reach for this season. Pelini is 29-11 in Big Ten play in his tenure, so in my opinion now is not the time to consider a coaching change. Conference play opens for Big Red in October against Illinois. If the defense continues to struggle and the other issues persist into next month, then perhaps it's time to take a long look at where this program is headed.

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler)
No. I know the UCLA loss and audio recording hurts Cornhusker fans, but be careful with this one. While I understand the expectations that come with coaching at Nebraska, a program that didn’t finish a single season out of the AP Top 25 from 1969-2001 and made 33 straight bowl appearances, I believe Pelini needs to be given a few more years as the program has been trending upward. Those calling for Pelini’s ouster are fair to point out his subpar recruiting classes, a lack of statement wins and disappointing defenses. While such points are valid, I would caution those at Nebraska charged with this decision to consider the simple truth that things could be much worse. Look at the slides experienced by other perennial top 25 powers like Texas, USC, Miami (Fla.), Auburn and Tennessee. Nebraska fans know better than anyone how quickly a program can go downhill. Pelini has brought the Cornhuskers out of the dark days of the Bill Callahan years, with five consecutive bowl appearances. While the past five years have been a far cry from the Osborne years, Nebraska has consistently been a top-20 program. Let’s see if he can win a quality bowl game this year and revisit the issue in January.

Related College Football Content

A Detailed Breakdown of Bo Pelini's Tenure at Nebraska
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College Football's Coach on the Hot Seat Rankings: Post-Week 3
Post-Week 3 Bowl Projections
10 College Football Stats to Know from Week 3

Post date: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 16:01
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/8-outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-4-2013

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama.

Last week, I claimed Mizzou would be the last unbeaten in the SEC East, Ole Miss would beat Texas worse than BYU and that AJ McCarron would out-pass Johnny Football. So far, so good. However, I also said the Big Ten would go 4-0 against the Pac-12, Andre Williams would outgain USC and that Vanderbilt's defensive line would play better than South Carolina's. Well, the Big Ten went 1-3 in those four and USC crushed Boston College.

Here are our outrageous Week 4 College Football predictions.

Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.

Texas will start 1-3 for the first time since 1956
Mack Brown is entering a critical game against arch-nemesis Bill Snyder and Kansas State this weekend. The Wildcats have won five straight over the Longhorns dating back to 2006 and Texas is 2-7 against KSU under Brown. After uncompetitive losses to BYU and Ole Miss, there is no reason to think Snyder’s squad won’t walk into Austin and win again. This would give Texas its worst start since 1956, when Edwin Price coached the Burnt Orange to a 1-9 mark.

Jeff Driskel will complete a pass longer than 50 yards
The Gator quarterback has played in 20 games in his career for Florida and in just two of those games has he completed a pass of more than 50 yards. Both of those games came early in the 2012 season in back-to-back weeks against Kentucky and, that’s right, Tennessee. In fact, his longest career pass of 75 yards came against the Vols last year and his 219 yards passing in that game was a career high until the loss to Miami (291 yards) earlier this month. With the Vols reeling on defense, look for Driskel to have his second coming out party.

Stefon Diggs will top 300 all-purpose yards
Maryland's Diggs is one of the most explosive and versatile players in the nation. He is 13th nationally with 176.7 yards per game — 387 receiving, 38 rushing and 105 on kickoffs in three contests. The Mountaineers are 77th in the nation in covering kicks and their inflated defensive statistics will surely return to normal after playing both Diggs and emerging star quarterback C.J. Brown.

Texas A&M will score 100 points
The Aggies are third nationally with 609.3 yards per game and fourth nationally at 53.0 points per game. Johnny Manziel is likely fuming over the seven-point loss to Alabama at home last Saturday and will take it out on this week's in-state opponent SMU. Through two games, the Mustangs are ranked 105th nationally in scoring defense (35.5 ppg) and 84th in total defense (419.5 ypg). I wouldn’t want to be the Pony Express this weekend.

Both Holy War quarterbacks will top 100 yards rushing
The best-named rivalry in college football — The Holy War — takes place this weekend in Provo and it will feature two of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the nation. BYU’s Taysom Hill is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds and is fifth in the nation in rushing (150.1 ypg) at an astounding 10.8 yards per carry. Utah’s Travis Wilson is even more imposing at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds. Wilson is averaging 81.3 yards per game rushing at a 10.2-yard clip and has scored 12 total touchdowns. Best of luck to the linebackers trying to tackle nearly 500 pounds of dual-threat quarterback in this one.

Chuckie Keeton will throw more TD passes on Saturday than USC has all season
Max Wittek and Cody Kessler have completed just 43 passes in three games this season and just three of those have gone for touchdowns. Meanwhile, Keeton, Utah State’s star signal-caller and Heisman darkhorse, is averaging 3.0 TD passes per game after tossing five scoring strikes in each of the last two games. Don’t be shocked if Keeton’s right arm leads the Aggies to an upset over the Trojans.

Vad Lee will out pass Bryn Renner
North Carolina has a star quarterback with back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons under his belt and Larry Fedora calling the plays. Georgia Tech has the triple option. So how could it be that Lee would out-duel Renner? Because Vad Lee is no ordinary Paul Johnson quarterback. Lee threw four touchdown passes last week — a first for a quarterback under Johnson — only furthering the rumors that Lee is the most talented passer Johnson has ever coached. This was a 68-50 barnburner a year ago in Chapel Hill and the key Coastal Division elimination game could once again be an offensive showcase. However, it will be Lee, not Renner, who shines through the air this weekend.

Clemson won’t Clemson itself
“Clemsoning” isn’t defined by the Tigers losing marquee showdowns, it’s reserved for major upsets that everyone assume the Tigers will win. This week's visit to NC State is one of the dates many circled in the preseason as one of those potential "upset" games. But come Thursday night, Clemson will dominate. Two years ago, the last time Clemson played in Raleigh, the Wolfpack upset Clemson 37-13 after the Tigers had started the year 8-0. This one is too early in the year, the Tigers are coming off a bye and hung 62 points on NC State last season.

Post date: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 16:01
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-post-week-3-heisman-trophy-voting-2013

Each week of the college football season, Athlon Sports will poll some of the nation's foremost college football people from every region of the country. Each voter offers up a top five, and each first-place vote is worth five points. A second-place vote is worth four points, and so on. With 13 voters, a perfect ballot — i.e., 13 first-place votes — would give a player 65 total points.

The Game of the Century this past weekend featured not one, but two Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterbacks. And while Johnny Manziel likely proved he is the most unstoppable player in the nation, he didn't lead his team to victory like AJ McCarron did — who was one of this week's biggest movers. That said, however, it was another quarterback who torched an SEC defense last week that now sits atop the Heisman voting.

Post-Week 3 Voting Results:

1.(2)Marcus MariotaQBOregon536412-
2.(1)Tajh BoydQBClemson50355--
3.(5)Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M474431-
4.(4)Todd GurleyRBGeorgia12--141
5.(11)AJ McCarronQBAlabama8--21-
6t.(3)Teddy BridgewaterQBLouisville7--12-
6t.(ur)Brett HundleyQBUCLA7---15
8.(6)Jameis WinstonQBFlorida St5---13
9.(8)Jadeveon ClowneyDESouth Carolina3----3
10.(ur)Chuckie KeetonQBUtah St2---1-
11.(ur)Keith PriceQBWashington1----1

Heisman Headlines:

Super Mariota. The Oregon Ducks star quarterback is now atop the Heisman voting. Marcus Mariota threw for 456 yards and four touchdowns on 69.7-percent passing and nary a turnover in Oregon's cakewalk win over SEC member Tennessee. He’s fourth nationally in total offense per game (383.7), has accounted for 11 touchdowns and hasn’t thrown an interception since Nov. 17, 2012.

The Top 3. Are we starting to finally see some separation in the Heisman race? Following the third week, three names stand well ahead of the rest of the nation. Mariota (53 points), Tajh Boyd (50) and Johnny Manziel (47) took 150 of the possible 195 voting points and each got first-place votes. Todd Gurley is fourth in the voting with a measly 12 points.

Manziel vs. McCarron. One quarterback had better numbers, one team won the game on the road and one team is the two-time defending champion. But AJ McCarron can’t seem to overcome the highlight-reel factor Johnny Manziel brings to the table as voters jumped back on Johnny Heisman’s bandwagon. However, McCarron outplayed Manziel in College Station as he basically had run-pass options at the line the entire game — meaning Nick Saban let his QB call the game — while Manziel made two critical mistakes. Bama has yet to play at home this season and already has two quality wins, so for McCarron to be on just three of 13 ballots seems a tad ridiculous.

No Braxton. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller entered the season as the front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy. After a sprained MCL in Week 1, Urban Meyer has decided to play it cautiously with his signal-caller. Kenny Guiton started against Cal last weekend and was excellent. Had Miller gotten those 276 yards passing, 92 yards rushing and four total touchdowns, fans can bet he would still be on Heisman ballots everywhere.

West Coast Love. The three new faces in the Athlon Sports Heisman ballot are all quarterbacks from the West Coast. Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton, Washington’s Keith Price and UCLA’s Brett Hundley all got votes following their performances over the weekend. Keeton will play at USC this weekend while Price makes his second appearance in the voting after a second straight quality win. Hundley was arguably the player of the week nationally for his performance against Nebraska in Lincoln.

Dropped Out. Miller, Devin Gardner, Lache Seastrunk and Bryce Petty dropped from the rankings this week. Interestingly, Miller and the two Baylor Bears didn’t play a snap this past weekend. Gardner turned the ball over four times and nearly lost to Akron at home. This voting panel is a tough crowd.

The Voting Panel (click name for twitter accounts):

NameOrganizationWebsiteNo. 1
Tom DienhartBig Ten NetworkBigTenNetwork.comMarcus Mariota
Bryan FischerPac-12 NetworkPac-12.comJohnny Manziel
David FoxAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comJohnny Manziel
Braden GallAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comMarcus Mariota
Steven GodfreySB NationSBNation.comTajh Boyd
Chris HustonHeisman PunditHeismanPundit.comMarcus Mariota
Steven LassanAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comMarcus Mariota
Chris LevelRed Raider SportsRedRaiderSports.comTajh Boyd
Mitch LightAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comTajh Boyd
Billy LiucciTexAgsTexAgs.comJohnny Manziel
Dan RubensteinSB Nation/Solid VerbalSolidVerbal.comJohnny Manziel
Josh WardMr. SEC/WNMLMrSEC.comMarcus Mariota
Jim YoungACC Sports JournalACCSports.comMarcus Mariota


Post date: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 16:01
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-new-hampshire

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 Sprint Cup Series driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s 9-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned drivers strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.

Next: Sylvania 300 (New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Race: 300 laps, 317 miles (1.058-mile oval)
July 2013 Winner: Brian Vickers

A-List (Choose two, start one)
Jimmie Johnson  JImmie Johnson
Yeah, we're picking him again. It's the Chase — wouldn't you? Johnson finished fifth Sunday night at Chicago for a solid start to the Chase, and now heads to New Hampshire where he owns the second-best average running position (9.9) among all drivers. He's spent a whopping 82 percent of his last 17 races inside the top 15. More, Johnson has finished worse than ninth at NHMS just twice (2010, 2011) since the start of 2007 season. Don't lose sight of the fact that Johnson was disqualified from qualifying in July and was forced to start 43rd. In the relatively short race for NASCAR standards, he worked his way to a sixth-place finish.

Matt Kenseth
Prior to July, slotting Matt Kenseth as a driver-to-watch at New Hampshire would have bordered on a funny joke. In 26 starts, he had never won and had only finished in the top 5 on four occasions. From 2009-12 in Roush Fenway equipment, he finished better than 13th only once. But now Kenseth has the benefit of Joe Gibbs Racing's equipment and setups at the track. The result in July was Kenseth finishing ninth after leading 33 laps — 21 more than the entirety of his New Hampshire starts since 2003. Kenseth ranks last among A-list drivers at New Hampshire in terms of average running position, but much like his rejuvenated season at JGR, nothing for Kenseth is like it once was.

Also consider: Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer

B-List (Choose four, start two)
Kurt Busch

The reality of Kurt Busch being a driver capable of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup started to come in to focus in the July New Hampshire race when he led 102 of the race's first 225 laps. But Busch was caught in an accident with Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne and finished 31st. With another strong qualifying effort (he started second in July) Busch figures to be a factor and could finally put Furniture Row Racing back in victory lane just two weeks after earning the team a Chase bid. Busch has three wins and 11 top 10s at New Hampshire in 25 starts.

Kyle BuschThe younger Busch brother started the Chase for the Sprint Cup Sunday night at Chicago with a near-miss on his fifth win of 2013. He might not have to wait longer. Busch was the runner-up to Brian Vickers in the July race, leading 53 laps along the way. It was the third consecutive race he's led at NHMS, and the fourth straight he's started inside the top 10. A Sunday win would be his first since 2006 at the track.

Jeff Burton
Burton is infamous for being the last Sprint Cup driver to lead every lap of a New Hampshire race back in 2000, but he's also had a pretty sterling record at the track otherwise. Of the last 17 races at NHMS, Burton owns the sixth-best series average running position and owns a total of four career wins there. This isn't just old hat, either — Burton finished third in the July race.

Brian Vickers  Brian VickersStrike while the iron is hot, right? Brian Vickers surprisingly became the most recent Sprint Cup driver to win at New Hampshire. If you think he'll be just competitive this weekend because of his performance at the track two months ago, then he's a worthy pick. But if you think Vickers will revert to his career norms at New Hampshire (17.9 average finish, 16.5 average running position) then you might look elsewhere.

Also consider: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Aric Almirola

C-List (Choose two, start one)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Cowboy Ricky is on a roll! Two weeks ago, Stenhouse didn't have a top-10 finish in the Sprint Cup Series. Now, he has two. The rookie had to have made some fantasy owners happy with those runs, and he's likely one of the best picks again at New Hampshire — especially if his girlfriend doesn't wreck him this time. Stenhouse finished the July race 27 laps down but still had an average running position of 22nd.

David Gilliland
There's no way you have overused Gilliland at this point in the season, which means you might be hurting for someone — anyone — to fill a C-list starting position. Gilliland might be a decent pick if he can back up the 18th-place finish he had at New Hampshire in July. That finish was Gilliland's best on the flat track in 13 starts.

Also consider: David Ragan, Dave Blaney

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Post date: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 16:01
All taxonomy terms: New Hampshire Motor Speedway, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-7-amazing-stats-new-hampshire

A No. 1 seed and an opening-round Chase victory must have Matt Kenseth, crew chief Jason Ratcliff and the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team on Cloud Nine heading into this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Historically, it’s a great position to be in; the last two Chicagoland race winners went on to win the Chase. Kenseth’s next round, though, isn’t a gimme by any stretch of the imagination.

To put it bluntly, Kenseth isn’t good at New Hampshire. His team might have a good car this weekend, and he might improve upon his past performance — he has finished 13th or worse in nine of the last 11 races on the Magic Mile — but it won’t be easy sledding for the series point leader.

0.269  Kenseth’s Production in Equal Equipment Rating (PEER) in his last 13 New Hampshire starts is 0.269, which ranks 33rd out of 52 drivers with four starts or more.  Matt Kenseth

That production rating is the worst among all Chasers heading into this weekend, but it doesn’t mean he can’t score a points-padding finish. Earlier this season, he finished ninth in Loudon, after leading 33 laps — his most at New Hampshire since 2002 (77) —in a JGR car that looked like a machine on autopilot. The steady racer also showcased one of his best traits while behind the wheel in July’s race: restarting.

+18  Kenseth retained position 100 percent of the time on nine restart attempts in his most recent New Hampshire outing and gained a total of 18 positions.

He gained a total of 14 positions on six preferred-groove restarts and four positions on three, more treacherous restarts in the non-preferred groove. For the season, he has been a quality restarter at all tracks, but his performance in July was exceptional. It seems the past confusion on restart etiquette never bothered the driver of the No. 20 car; along with the Busch brothers, he is one of the most reliable restarters in an era where restarts decide races.

4.038  The best-producing driver at New Hampshire in the Car of Tomorrow/Gen-6 era is Jimmie Johnson, whose 11 top-10 finishes help push his PEER to 4.038.

Johnson has won three times at New Hampshire, but just once since the CoT was introduced (2010). Though he hasn’t been a standout, he has scored finishes of seventh or better in four of the last five races there, including a below-radar sixth-place run earlier this summer.

The track’s comfort zone can’t come soon enough for Johnson; Chicagoland served as his first top-5 finish since Indianapolis in July and the first finish inside the top half of the field since Watkins Glen (August).

100%  Just one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has finished in the top half of the field in 100 percent of the last 13 New Hampshire races: Jeff Gordon.  Jeff Gordon

Want a dependable New Hampshire racer? Look no further than Gordon, who averaged a 6.9-place finish over the aforementioned span with three runner-up results sufficing as his best outings. The last-minute Chase addition needs a jolt in the consistency department; the No. 24 team is the fourth-least consistent full-time Cup Series team with a 12.5 deviation through 27 races in 2013.

102  Kurt Busch led a race-high 102 laps (over a third of the total laps) in the July race at New Hampshire.

A 2.288 PEER (ranks 12th) across 13 New Hampshire races suggests that Busch should be a watched man this weekend. His collection in a lap 226 accident in that race foiled a real shot at contending for the win, making it one of two races dating back to Sonoma that Busch didn’t score a clean finish. In the 10 races he was able to score a result without accident, he averaged a 5.5-place finish (because of that, he is a legitimate, albeit quiet, title contender). If crashing isn’t in the agenda, anticipate this Chaser being a threat for both the pole (he qualified second in July) and the victory.

19.2  Bobby Labonte has averaged a 19.2-place finish in his five New Hampshire races with JTG-Daugherty Racing.

A healthy Labonte equals a happy Labonte, especially at New Hampshire, but will he be totally healed from a late-summer bicycle crash? He returns to the No. 47 JTG-Daugherty car this weekend, in search of his first top-15 finish since the season-opening Daytona 500. If that sounds farfetched, it isn’t. Labonte has been a serviceable producer (1.019 PEER) through the 13 CoT/Gen-6 era races at NHMS and finished seventh in his first attempt there with the JTG team in 2011. Rumors of having a substitute driver at the ready have already circulated, so Labonte fanatics and fantasy players should hold off on raising hopes until more concrete information surfaces before Sunday.

14.8  Dating back to the Watkins Glen race, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hasn’t finished lower than 19th, averaging a 14.8-place finish.

Could the rookie continue his dandy late-season surge this weekend? He finished 34th in his only other Cup Series race at New Hampshire; however in three NASCAR Nationwide Series races from 2010 to 2012, he scored two top-5 finishes and led 10 percent of the race (26 laps) in his 2011 outing. His improvement from his first race (finished 16th) to his second (fourth) was a jump of 12 positions.

For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, check out David’s glossary of terms on

David Smith is the founder of Motorsports Analytics LLC and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projections, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA.

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Post date: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 16:01
Path: /college-football/nebraskas-bo-pelini-breakdown-coaching-tenure

Nebraska’s Bo Pelini has reached a defining point of his tenure in Lincoln.


After a bad performance against UCLA, audio tapes surfaced of Pelini calling out the Cornhuskers’ fans and media members after a 2011 victory against Ohio State. The tapes, which are filled with expletives, aren’t sitting well with the athletic department.

Although the audio tapes are a bad look for Pelini, they should have no impact on his job status. The real evaluation on Pelini needs to come on the field.

The Cornhuskers are 51-21 under Pelini, but is that enough to keep his job?

Nebraska is considered one of the top-20 coaching jobs and has a strong tradition of success. The facilities are also among the best nationally.

The only downside to coaching at Nebraska is the lack of a local recruiting base.

Expectations are always difficult to gauge for each program. But at Nebraska, you are expected to win big.

Analyzing Bo Pelini's Tenure at Nebraska

Win/Loss Record

YearRecordConf. RecordFinish
20089-45-3T-1st Big 12 North
200910-46-21st Big 12 North
201010-46-2T-1st Big 12 North
20119-45-33rd Big Ten Legends
201210-47-11st Big Ten Legends


Pelini has been pretty consistent in his tenure. Nebraska has won at least nine games in each of the last five seasons but has also lost two or three conference contests in four of those years. The Cornhuskers’ 10-4 mark (7-1 in Big Ten play) resulted in an appearance in the Big Ten title game. However, Nebraska was handled by Wisconsin and lost to Georgia 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl. It's fair to wonder if program expectations are too high, but the Cornhuskers are still searching for a breakthrough under Pelini. 

Although Pelini deserves credit for consistency, the program seems stagnant. Winning nine or ten games a year is good for some programs, but not at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers expect championships and BCS bowls. Pelini has not delivered. 

Recruiting Breakdown

* Ranks using

YearNational RankConference Rank5* Signed4* Signed
200829th6th in Big 1203
200939th4th in Big 1202
201026th5th in Big 1204
201117th2nd in Big Ten09
201231st3rd in Big Ten08
201322nd3rd in Big Ten07
201446th (as of Sept. 17)7th in Big Ten00


In the two classes prior to Pelini’s arrival, Nebraska’s signing class ranked No. 38 in 2006 and No. 43 in 2007. While there has been some slight improvement under Pelini, the recruiting hasn’t gotten significantly better. The Cornhuskers have not signed a five-star prospect under his watch, and the four-star recruits have decreased since signing nine in 2011. 

Performance on Defense



Pelini was regarded as one of the top defensive minds in the nation prior to his arrival at Nebraska. But his results on defense haven’t matched his pedigree. The above numbers are especially puzzling when you consider Nebraska’s move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten. The Big 12 is a better overall conference when it comes to offense, so shouldn’t the numbers look better in the Big Ten?

There are some bright spots for Nebraska in these numbers, as the Cornhuskers finished fourth nationally in pass defense in 2012 and first in scoring defense in 2009. However, more was expected out of Pelini’s defenses, and Nebraska is clearly struggling on that side of the ball in 2013.

Performance Against Top 25 Teams



In order to get a better judge on Pelini’s performance against top 25 teams, we would need to look at all 125 coaches and compare. However, his tenure is trending down, as Nebraska is just 3-5 in its last eight games against top-25 teams. Nebraska also has some puzzling losses under Pelini’s watch, losing to unranked teams in 2009 (Texas Tech, 31-10), 2010 (Texas 20-13), 2011 (Northwestern 28-25) and 2012 (UCLA 36-30 and Wisconsin 70-31).

Final Verdict

Winning 51 games isn’t an awful tenure, but it’s easy to see why Pelini hasn’t taken this program to the next level. Nebraska’s recruiting isn’t getting better, and the defense has been inconsistent. The Cornhuskers 10-4 record with an appearance in the Big Ten title game was a step in the right direction, but the defense has been torched in four out of its last five games.

Forget the audio tapes. Pelini’s tenure should be judged on the data above. Is 51-21 good enough for Nebraska? It's fair to wonder if the expectations are too high in Lincoln, but the Cornhuskers are a top-20 program. Does Pelini deserve some credit for consistency? Sure. But is nine wins good enough at Nebraska? The answer here is pretty easy: No. 

Nebraska's Bo Pelini: A Detailed Breakdown of Coaching Tenure
Post date: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-3-bowl-projections-2013

College football's bowl season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With only three weeks of results in the books, it's hard to make long-term projections about teams, especially with several teams still playing overmatched non-conference games. But with conference play right around the corner, we should be able to get a better grasp on what teams will be able to reach the six-win mark.

With very little data to work with, the post-Week 3 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a small dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks, especially as we see how teams perform in conference games.

A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including Boston College, Utah, Virginia, Washington State and Illinois from BCS conferences. And San Diego State, Western Kentucky and Toledo from the non-BCS ranks.

As the season progresses, it will be easier to project which teams will get to the six-win mark or finish below.
College Football's Post-Week 3 Bowl Projections for 2013

New MexicoDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCOregon State vs. Utah State 
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 21MAC vs. MWCWyoming vs. Ohio
Las VegasDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCArizona vs. Fresno State
New OrleansDec. 21Sun Belt vs. CUSAUL Lafayette vs. Tulsa
Beef 'O' Brady'sDec. 23American vs. CUSAMTSU vs. Houston
HawaiiDec. 24MWC vs. CUSASan Jose State vs. Rice
Little Caesars PizzaDec. 26MAC vs. Big TenNorthern Illinois vs. Minnesota
PoinsettiaDec. 26Army vs. MWCBoise State vs. Notre Dame* 
Military Dec. 27CUSA vs. ACCMarshall vs. Maryland
TexasDec. 27Big 12 vs. Big TenIndiana vs. TCU
Kraft Fight HungerDec. 27BYU vs. Pac-12BYU vs. USC
PinstripeDec. 28American vs. Big 12West Virginia vs. Rutgers
BelkDec. 28American vs. ACCNorth Carolina vs. UCF
Russell AthleticDec. 28American vs. ACCGeorgia Tech vs. Cincinnati
Buffalo Wild WingsDec. 28Big 12 vs. Big TenNebraska vs. Texas Tech
Armed ForcesDec. 30MWC vs. NavyNevada vs. Navy
Music CityDec. 30ACC vs. SECAuburn vs. NC State
AlamoDec. 30Big 12 vs. Pac-12UCLA vs. Baylor
HolidayDec. 30Pac-12 vs. Big 12Washington vs. Texas
AdvoCare V100Dec. 31ACC vs. SECTennessee vs. Pittsburgh
SunDec. 31Pac-12 vs. ACCArizona State vs. Virginia Tech
LibertyDec. 31SEC vs. CUSAArkansas vs. East Carolina
Chick-fil-ADec. 31SEC vs. ACCTexas A&M vs. Miami
GatorJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenOle Miss vs. Michigan State
Heart of DallasJan. 1Big Ten vs. CUSAIowa vs. Kansas State*
OutbackJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenFlorida vs. Northwestern
Capital OneJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenSouth Carolina vs. Wisconsin
RoseJan. 1BCS vs. BCSOregon vs. Michigan
FiestaJan. 1BCS vs. BCSOklahoma State vs. Stanford
SugarJan. 2BCS vs. BCSGeorgia vs. Florida State
CottonJan. 3SEC vs. Big 12LSU vs. Oklahoma
OrangeJan. 3BCS vs. BCSClemson vs. Louisville
BBVA CompassJan. 4SEC vs. AmericanVanderbilt vs. ULM*
GoDaddyJan. 5MAC vs. Sun BeltBowling Green vs. Arkansas State
National TitleJan. 6BCS vs. BCSAlabama vs. Ohio State

* Indicates we do not expect a conference to fill its tie-ins. An at-large team will be selected for conferences that do not meet their required teams for bowl eligibility. 

Related College Football Content

College Football Week 3 Recap
10 Amazing Stats from Week 3
Week 3 National Awards
Post-Week 3 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 3 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 3 Big Ten Power Rankings
Post-Week 3 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 3 SEC Power Rankings

Post date: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 16:44