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All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-8-preview
Body:

 

 

Hosts Braden Gall and Steven Lassan preview the big games of Week 8. The Big 12 takes center stage with five ranked teams in action. Notre Dame visits Florida State in the ACC, Stanford and Oregon highlight key games out West and plenty of SEC contenders are looking to hold off upsets. The guys also offer up some locks of the week against the spread.


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @AthlonSteven or email . The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, , and .

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 8 Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 11:14
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-16-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 16:

 

• To help you plan for Halloween: .

 

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• A list I'm glad I'm not on: .

 

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• Something I didn't know: . Think Lorde knows about this?

 

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• Interesting historical tidbit: . Good call, Tuna.

 

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• Watch a dude who looks like Aaron Rodgers learn what it's like to be Aaron Rodgers.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 10:46
Path: /nba/steve-nash-injured-his-back-carrying-bags
Body:

Steve Nash is 40 years old now. He’s also, in case you forgot, a point guard with the Los Angeles Lakers, for whom he’s played just 65 games in two seasons, including only 15 last year. The man can’t stop getting hurt anymore. His most recent malady is probably his most telling:

 

 

Nash is famously healthy — is akin to how Nash has always lived. Arguably no one in the league more religiously subscribes to the notion that his body is a temple.

But fate is no longer on Nash’s side. His devastating brand of vision-driven basketball took a toll on the former MVP; he’s been playing since the Phoenix Suns drafted him in 1996. Most of his current Lakers group (a young bunch that surrounds Nash and Kobe Bryant, including Nick Young, Jordan Hill and Jeremy Lin) couldn’t even drive a car at that point.

Nash won’t be remembered as an aching Laker, though. The same, strange “oh yeah, that happened” twinge that accompanies photos of Michael Jordan in Washington Wizards blue will dominate the memory of Nash’s fleeting time in Hollywood. 

Two years ago at this time, Nash and Dwight Howard had joined Bryant and Pau Gasol to form a team that many believed would win an NBA championship. But the team was brought down by injuries, bickering and poor front-office decisions. They never won a playoff game together, and the super squad now feels like the failed experiment that sunk the Lakers’ franchise into the unfamiliar territory of mediocrity.

When Nash inevitably makes the Hall of Fame, we’ll wax nostalgic on Suns highlights like these — with him torching the Lakers, not joining them in the rubble of Rome:

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 10:20
Path: /nfl/new-york-jets-vs-new-england-patriots-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The New York Jets, who arrive in Foxboro in the midst of their longest losing streak in seven years, will try to get off the schneid on the road against a surging New England Patriots team that has looked like a Super Bowl contender the last two weeks. The obvious distaste these two AFC East franchises have for one another adds some spice to an otherwise lackluster primetime matchup on CBS/NFL Network.

 

"You don't have to worry about the motivation," said Jets coach Rex Ryan. "It's going to be there. Both teams don't like each other. There's respect for each other, but I don't think you really like each other. We know we have to be at our very best." What Ryan will have to worry about is his quarterback. He remains committed to Geno Smith, who played reasonably well last week against Denver but needs more help from the running game to avoid obvious passing situations and disastrous turnovers.

 

New York Jets at New England Patriots

 

Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network

Spread: New England -10

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Desperation Breed Success for the Jets?

No franchise in football is more desperate for a win than the Jets. Coach Rex Ryan entered the season on the hot seat, and a 1–5 start — the worst stretch of the Ryan era in New York — doesn't exactly turn down the temperature. The Jets' obvious desperation will have to manifest itself in a commitment to the run and in winning individual battles at the line of scrimmage. New York has rushed for a combined 122 yards the last two weeks, but it's essential that the Jets relieve pressure from quarterback Geno Smith by chewing clock on the ground. This would be a good week for the running back tandem of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson to get untracked. "We're built to run," Ryan said. "I think we've just got to stay the course with it and see what happens."

 

2. Will Geno Get Marooned on Revis Island?

The Jets wouldn't return cornerback Darrelle Revis' calls during the offseason. Now's his chance to make them pay for their apparent disinterest. Rex Ryan, who did have an interest in re-acquiring one of the best players in Jets history, couldn't persuade the front office to comply, and now he has to face Revis as a division rival. "Oh, man, I'm not going to go there," said Ryan, when asked about his desire to bring Revis back to New York. "Let's focus on the team right now in front of us, and recognize the guy is an excellent player and plays on someone else's team. That's the way it is." Ryan claims credit for the "Revis Island" approach of putting an elite corner in single coverage on the opponent's best receiver, a strategy that is gaining traction across the NFL. Now, struggling second-year quarterback Geno Smith has the unenviable task of looking for top receiver Eric Decker and seeing Revis draped all over him.

 

3. Tom Brady vs. Depleted Jets Secondary

As if the Jets needed something else to worry about, they face a resurgent Tom Brady without all their pieces in the secondary. Their best cornerback, Dee Milliner, was placed on injured reserve this week with an Achilles injury, making an already depleted secondary even weaker. The Jets are allowing an opposing passer rating of 109.2, 30th in the NFL, and they've grabbed only one interception while allowing a league-high 15 touchdowns. Brady has been flawless the last two weeks, completing a combined 50-of-72 (69.4 percent) passes for 653 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions in wins over Cincinnati and Buffalo. The Jets will need their pass rush, which has produced 19 sacks thus far, to force Brady into mistakes. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Tom Brady has won six straight regular-season home games against the Jets and is almost certain to make it seven. Gillette Stadium is no place for an ailing team to get well, particularly against a Patriots team that is playing its best football of the season right now. 

 
Prediction: New England 27, New York 10
Teaser:
New York Jets vs. New England Patriots Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/sec-2014-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

After two monster weekends in the SEC, things calm down just a bit. There’s still plenty of intrigue, but the Week 8 slate lacks the Armageddon-esque matchups of recent weeks. It might be a stretch to call Texas A&M and Alabama rivals, but these teams have played two very entertaining games since the Aggies joined the league. Neither Missouri nor Florida has the look of an SEC champ, but the winner of this game in Gainesville could still be a threat in the wide-open East. Elsewhere, Georgia heads to Arkansas, Kentucky visits Death Valley and Ole Miss hosts Tennessee.  

Week 8 Previews and Predictions:
|  | 

 

SEC Week 8 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Texas A&M (+11.5) at Alabama (3:30 ET, CBS)

Two years later, the Aggies return to the scene of the crime — a monumental 29–24 win over No. 1 Alabama in the school’s first-ever visit to Tuscaloosa. Since that victory, however, Texas A&M is “only” 7–6 in SEC games and has allowed an average of 39.8 points in those six defeats. Offense has not typically been an issue during Kevin Sumlin’s tenure, but the Aggies have been slow starters in recent weeks. They’ve scored a total of 10 points in the first halves (while giving up a total of 49) of consecutive losses to Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Alabama is experiencing some puzzling offensive problems of its own. The biggest surprise in last week’s lackluster 14–13 win at Arkansas was Alabama’s inability to run the ball. The Crimson Tide averaged only 2.0 yards per attempt against a Razorback defense that allowed 6.3 yards per carry against Auburn, 4.6 against Texas Tech and 5.1 against Texas A&M. Not good.

 

Listen to the Week 8 preview podcast:



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2. Missouri (+6) at Florida (7 ET, ESPN)

This might not be the second “best” SEC game on the docket, but it’s a very intriguing matchup between a pair of teams jockeying for position (behind Georgia) in the average SEC East. Missouri is coming off one of the worst performances of the Gary Pinkel era, a 34–0 loss at home to Georgia. The Tigers were actually decent on defense — Georgia averaged a season-low 4.4 yards per play — but the Mizzou offense was absolutely brutal. Speaking of bad offensive play, Florida cracked the 300-yard mark for the first time since the three-overtime win against Kentucky in mid-September yet lost a heartbreaker to LSU in Gainesville. Statistically, the Florida offense has actually been decent at home, averaging 5.7 and 5.4 yards per play against Kentucky and LSU, respectively. That’s far from proficient, but it is a sign of progress (though only at home). This week, Florida is expected to play both Jeff Driskell and Treon Harris at quarterback. That will be interesting.

 

3. Georgia (-3.5) at Arkansas (4 ET, SEC Network)

Georgia passed its first test without Todd Gurley with ease, rolling past Missouri 34–0 in Columbia. The Bulldogs head to Fayetteville this weekend for their second (and final) trip west of the Mississippi this season. Arkansas is clearly improved in 2014, but the Razorbacks are still nursing an SEC losing streak that reached 15 with a one-point loss to Alabama. You figure at some point the Hogs will break through and win a game (or two) in the league this season. Doing so this week, however, could be tough. The Hogs will have to find a way to run the ball on a Georgia defense that is allowing under 3.0 yards per carry for the season. This is not a good matchup for Arkansas.

 

4. Kentucky (+9.5) at LSU (7:30 ET, SEC Network)

Kentucky has stormed out of the gate with a 5–1 record and needs only one win to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010. It’s just a matter of time, right? Maybe not. Take a look at the Cats’ schedule: At this point, Kentucky will be an underdog in each of its final six games. The guess here is that UK finds a way to win at least one more game, but it’s far from a sure thing. LSU has a pep in its step after escaping Gainesville with a three-point win. This is still a team with significant issues — on both sides of the ball — but the emergence of Leonard Fournette in recent weeks has at least given Les Miles’ club an offensive identity.

 

5. Tennessee (+16.5) at Ole Miss (7 ET, ESPN)

Ole Miss has climbed the national rankings in recent weeks thanks to a dominating defense and an efficient offense that is limiting mistakes. The Rebels “only” averaged 332.5 yards in consecutive wins over Alabama and Texas A&M, but they turned it over just once while forcing four turnovers. That is a recipe for success. Tennessee has yet to find a recipe to deliver an SEC win. The Vols have come close, losing by three at Georgia and by one to Florida at home. Several things will need to go well to give the Vols a chance to win in Oxford: Freshman tailback Jalen Hurd must be healthy enough to carry the rushing load (he had only two carries last week against Chattanooga); the offensive line must overachieve and find a way to protect quarterback Justin Worley; and Tennessee needs to win the special teams battle.

 

6. Furman at South Carolina (12 ET, SEC Network)

South Carolina returns to action for the first time since blowing double-digit fourth quarter leads in consecutive games — a 21–20 loss at home to Missouri and a 45–38 loss at Kentucky. The Gamecocks should have little trouble with a Furman team that has lost four straight games. 

 

Week 8 SEC Predictions

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Furman at S. CarolinaUSC 35-7USC 45-10USC 45-10USC 38-10
Texas A&M at AlabamaUA 42-28UA 31-20UA 34-24UA 30-20
Georgia at ArkansasUGa 21-20UA 24-23UGa 27-24UGa 31-17
Tennesse at Ole MissUM 35-14UM 40-20UM 34-13UM 27-17
Missouri at FloridaUF 13-9UF 27-24UF 24-20UF 17-13
Kentucky at LSU21-17LSU 27-24LSU 27-20LSU 31-20
Last Week6-25-35-36-2
Season51-1251-1251-1254-9

 

Teaser:
SEC Week 8 Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

It’s not a nationally important weekend in the Pac-12 but there are four important and intriguing matchups for both the South and North Division races out West.

 

The North could officially become a two-horse race if Washington cannot overcome 10 years worth of struggles against Oregon. (Especially, if Stanford can handle its business in Tempe.)

 

In the South, UCLA, Arizona State and Utah could be dealt significant title blows with losses OR could find themselves near the top of the heap with key wins.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions:
|  | 


Pac-12 Week 8 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Washington (+21) at Oregon
8 p.m., FS1

One of the most fascinating games within the game takes place this weekend in Eugene. Washington’s front seven is one of the most talented and difficult to move in the nation while Oregon’s offensive line, while healthier, still has major concerns. Despite running for his life, Marcus Mariota has been downright filthy managing his offense (try zero interceptions) but he may be forced to work his magic once again. On the flip side, Cyler Miles has developed into one of the league’s better players and should be able to move the ball against the porous Oregon defense. If the Huskies can slow the Ducks rushing attack and pressure Mariota consistently, Washington should be able to keep it close. If not, history will repeat itself. Washington hasn’t beaten Oregon since 2003 (10 straight) and hasn’t lost by fewer than 17 points. The average score over that span has been 43.6 to 18.2. Only once (2011) has this game been within 20 points.

 

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2. Stanford (-3.5) at Arizona State
10:30 p.m., ESPN

The Sun Devils have lost four straight to Stanford including both meetings a year ago. After huge numbers from backup Mike Bercovici at quarterback, Todd Graham is expecting Taylor Kelly to be back under center. He will have an interesting decision to make after Bercovici threw for 998 yards (yes, 998) in two games if Kelly is fully healthy and ready to start. Either way, the ASU signal caller will face one of the nation’s nastiest defenses and will be hard-pressed to produce the same type of numbers against the Cardinal. The key will be the rebuilt ASU defense and how it handles the slowly-but-surely developing Stanford offense. Kevin Hogan had arguably the best game of his career last week but that was against lowly Washington State. Another solid outing from Hogan on the road against in a tough environment against a quality team would prove to doubters that the Cardinal can be a most complete team. A statement win for Stanford could put David Shaw’s bunch right back into championship conversations out West.

 

3. UCLA (-7.5) at Cal
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

It will be a tall order for the Bears reeling defense to stop Brett Hundley and what should be an angry Bruins squad. On defense, Cal is 124th in the nation at 518.2 yards allowed per game but had balanced that out with huge offensive numbers. But Sonny Dykes’ group hit a wall against Washington posting season lows with 368 yards, seven points and 4.3 yards per play. The Bruins are in danger of losing three straight and will be tested on the road but Hundley should have no issue moving the ball against a defense that doesn’t pressure the QB (91st nationally with 10.0 sacks) and doesn’t force turnovers (96th with seven). Jared Goff and company could make things interesting but the Bears’ lack of defense gives UCLA a severe edge.

 

4. Utah (-3) at Oregon State
10 p.m., P12 Net

Kyle Whittingham is playing it coy against Mike Riley. He won’t announce who is playing quarterback after both Kendal Thompson and Travis Wilson took reps during the off weekend. Meanwhile, the Utes head man knows exactly what he’s dealing with in Oregon State’s Sean Mannion. The Oregon State quarterback has had two weeks to get his supporting cast healthy and should be prepared for the brutal test against a tough Utah front seven that is leading the nation in sacks (28.0). This was a thrilling 51-48 win for the Beavers in Salt Lake City last fall in which Mannion threw for 443 yards, five touchdowns and no turnovers. Whittingham’s defense (and elite special teams) will have to play much better this time around to upset Oregon State on the road.

 

5. Colorado (+19.5) at USC
6 p.m., P12 Net

The only game in the league severely lacking in intrigue will take place in Los Angeles. USC is coming off a critical road win over Arizona and sits in control over the Pac-12 South race. That makes this situation a must-win for a team that has proven to be wildly inconsistent. In three Pac-12 games with the Buffs, USC has won all three 139-52, so odds are the Trojans move to 4-1 in the league.

 

Off: Arizona, Washington State

 

Pac-12 Predictions:

 

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Wash. (+21) at OregonOre., 38-30Ore., 40-30Ore., 42-28Ore., 38-27
Stan. (-3.5) at ASUStan., 33-24Stan., 21-17ASU, 21-14Stan., 31-27
UCLA (-7.5) at CalUCLA, 41-31UCLA, 28-20Cal, 28-21UCLA 40-30
Utah (-3) at Ore. StOSU, 30-27Utah, 27-21OSU, 35-28Utah 27-24
Colo. (+19.5) at USCUSC, 40-21USC, 33-14USC, 31-13USC, 41-24
Last Week:3-13-12-22-2
YTD:38-1441-1141-1137-15

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Few weekends in the Big 12 will be as important and as critical as Week 8.

 

The top ranked team and lone unbeaten in on the road at one of the most difficult places to win in the league. Two of the greatest coaches in Big 12 history will battle in Norman with two ranked teams. And Oklahoma State has its first of many brutal road trips against a ranked TCU squad without its star quarterback.

 

More so than any other weekend thus far, the Big 12 takes center stage nationally in the college football world.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions:
| 


Big 12 Week 8 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas State (+8) at Oklahoma
Noon, ESPN

Two of the most successful coaches in Big 12 history square off in an always interesting and important showdown near the top of league. The Wildcats defense has proven it can stop the nation’s best (See: Auburn) and Trevor Knight has been human ever since Katy Perry called him out on Gameday. Knight has struggled and the running game might not be able to help as KSU has allowed a total of 407 yards rushing in five games (81.4 ypg). Meanwhile, Jake Waters has been excellent, be it torching Texas Tech (395 yards, 5 TD) or carrying his team to victory (Iowa State), but will be faced with his toughest task against Eric Striker and Zack Sanchez on the road. Bill Snyder is 3-3 in his last three trips to Norman, including the last visit in 2012 and has had two weeks to prepare. On two evenly matched and similarly built teams coached by equally impressive leaders, the edge generally falls towards the home team.

 

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2. Baylor (-8) at West Virginia
Noon, FS1

Strange and bizarre things happen in Morgantown so Baylor better click on all cylinders for all four quarters if it wants to return to Texas unbeaten. Two of the best passing attacks will be on full display when Clint Trickett (367.2 ypg) and Bryce Petty (306.8) do battle in what is one of the highest scoring rivalries in the nation. In two games since joining the Big 12, Baylor and WVU have combined for 248 points as the Mountaineers scored 63 and 42 points in losses. It took a miracle fourth quarter for the Bears to survive at home against TCU last weekend and that won’t work against a West Virginia team that is capable of beating any team in the nation. West Virginia fans need to hope that Dana Holgorsen finally speaking with his kicker hasn’t jinxed a player who has won two games for WVU thus far.

 

3. Oklahoma State (+8) at TCU
4 p.m., FS1

Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer is charged with stopping arguably the nation’s most improved player in Trevone Boykin (who will play despite bizarre internet reports on Tuesday). TCU’s quarterback is second in the league at 353.6 yards of total offense per game and is leading the No. 3 scoring offense in the nation (45.8 ppg). The key for Gary Patterson’s balanced squad is how they handled the crushing fourth-quarter defeat at Baylor last weekend. If there is any letdown factor whatsoever, Daxx Garman, Tyreek Hill and the Pokes offense is good enough to walk into a normally not very hostile Amon Carter Stadium and win. While the Frogs have already announced themselves as Big 12 contenders, a win for Mike Gundy would give OSU a 4-0 start in the Big 12 and a sixth consecutive win.

 

4. Iowa State (-12.5) at Texas
8 p.m., LHN

This has become a must-win game for Charlie Strong if his team wants to get to a bowl game and Paul Rhoads certainly hasn’t forgotten about how this controversial game ended last year in Ames. The Horns defense has been excellent and should be able to stop the Cyclones modest attack. The real difference maker should come under center for Texas. Tyrone Swoopes played the best game of his young career against Oklahoma and it’s critically important he continue his positive development. A clear outcome against ISU could be a sign the tide has turned in Austin.

 

5. Kansas (-14.5) at Texas Tech
3:30 p.m.

Much like Texas, Kliff Kingsbury is in desperate need of a Big 12 win after losing eight straight in the league. That losing streak continued last week in painful fashion on a long, last-second field goal but there were signs of hope. After losing the turnover battle in 13 straight games, Tech broke even and Davis Webb had his best game since beating UTEP in Week 2. Penalties and defense are still a major issue and if this team can’t “get healthy” against Kansas, it may not win against the rest of the season.

 

Big 12 Predictions:

 

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
KSU (+8) at OklaOkla., 28-24Okla., 27-20KSU, 21-17Okla., 30-24
Baylor (-8) at WVUBay., 51-42Bay., 48-40Bay., 63-48Bay., 50-40
Okla St (+8) at TCUTCU, 30-27TCU, 37-21TCU, 31-21TCU, 34-24
ISU (+12.5) at TexasTexas, 24-7Texas, 17-10Texas, 28-17Texas, 31-13
Kansas (+14.5) at TechTech, 38-24Tech, 44-24Tech, 35-21Tech, 44-20
Last Week:5-04-15-05-0
YTD:40-437-741-341-3

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2014 Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2014-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Attention: Nebraska and Northwestern. We’re counting on you.

 

The most exciting week in Big Ten history this is not. Teams like Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin are off. And the league’s top teams this season, Michigan State and Ohio State, are facing Indiana and Rutgers.

 

This week may be a bit of a snoozer, but Nebraska and Northwestern have provided some of the more memorable games in the league the last three seasons, starting with a Wildcats upset in Lincoln in 2011 and most recently a Hail Mary for a Huskers win in 2013.

 

Perhaps Nebraska and Northwestern don't want another dramatic game, but for the sake of the viewer, please try.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions:
|  | | 

 

Big Ten Week 8 Game Power Rankings

All times Eastern. All games Saturday

 

1. Nebraska at Northwestern

7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Northwestern might not be the team Nebraska wants to see to re-start its bid for the Big Ten West. The Cornhuskers have won the last two meetings by a combined margin of four points, the most recent victory on a Hail Mary. Before that, the Huskers lost their first meeting with Northwestern as a member of the Big Ten. The off week was fortunately timed, though, as Nebraska could get several key players back from injury — linebacker David Santos, cornerback Daniel Davie, wide receiver Kenny Bell. The Cornhuskers also will look to regroup on the offensive line after Ameer Abdullah rushed for a season-low 45 rushing yards against Michigan State two weeks ago. Northwestern is an improved team but some of their offensive issues resurfaced against Minnesota as the Wildcats managed only one play longer than 20 yards in 84 snaps against the Gophers.

 

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Subscribe: |

 

2. Iowa at Maryland

Noon, ESPN2

After an uneven start to the season, Iowa has won three games in a row to put the Big Ten West back on the radar. The Hawkeyes’ run game has stabilized in recent games, and the pass defense has been stifling. That perhaps makes for a bad matchup against Maryland. The Hawkeyes run game posted its top two rushing performances of the season in the last two games. Meanwhile, Iowa has held its last two opponents to 20-of-53 passing with a touchdown and five interceptions, granted that was against Purdue and an Indiana team down to a backup QB. Maryland is 13th in the Big Ten in rush defense, and quarterbacks C.J. Brown and Caleb Rowe are coming off a four-interception performance against Ohio State.

 

3. Rutgers at Ohio State

3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Ohio State’s improving offensive line will receive its toughest test since a disastrous game against Virginia Tech in Week 2. Rutgers has an active front four that has contributed to 24 sacks, tied for most in the Big Ten this season. Since giving up seven sacks in the loss to the Hokies, Ohio State has surrendered five sacks in the last three games. Meanwhile, Rutgers is getting more solid quarterback play from Gary Nova. The senior completed 22-of-39 passes for 404 yards with three touchdowns in a win over Michigan, but winning in Columbus without running back Paul James (ACL) and with an injured center will be difficult.

 

4. Michigan State at Indiana

3:30 p.m., ESPN

Indiana might not be a major obstacle in Michigan State’s bid to win the Big Ten East, but the Spartans will be under pressure to put together a full four quarters. The Spartans gave up 19 unanswered points in the third quarter against Nebraska and two late touchdowns against Purdue. Indiana is just looking for any sign that the Hoosiers can salvage their season without starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld. The Hoosiers may be down to a third-string quarterback in Zander Diamont, who was expected to redshirt this season.

 

5. Purdue at Minnesota

Noon, Big Ten Network

Minnesota is 2-0 in the Big Ten with a backloaded schedule against the top teams in the Big Ten West. The Gophers may still be a long shot to win the division and have little room for slip ups against teams like Purdue at home. The Boilermakers, though, have become an improved team with Austin Appleby at quarterback. Appleby is 39-of-57 for 413 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the last two games. 

 

Big Ten Week 8 Staff Picks

 

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light

Iowa at Maryland (-4 1/2)

Md 31-27Iowa 34-30Iowa 27-24Md 27-22

Purdue at Minnesota (-12 1/2)

Minn 28-14Minn 34-27Minn 30-13Minn 23-17

Michigan State (-14 1/2) at Indiana

MSU 38-10MSU 40-20MSU 41-10MSU 48-27

Rutgers at Ohio State (-19 1/2)

OSU 42-10OSU 38-24OSU 40-17OSU 41-20

Nebraska (-6 1/2) at Northwestern

Neb 35-28Neb 34-30Neb 30-24Neb 30-23
Last Week3-25-03-23-2
This Season52-1851-1952-1847-24

 

Teaser:
Big Ten 2014 Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Florida State and Notre Dame are two of college football’s marquee programs, and the Fighting Irish and Seminoles meet on Saturday night in one of the top games for Week 8. The matchup between Florida State and Notre Dame headlines the action in the ACC this Saturday, but there are a few intriguing games outside of Tallahassee.

Pittsburgh hosts Virginia Tech in a critical game for positioning in the Coastal Division, while Clemson travels to Boston College on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers won’t have quarterback Deshaun Watson, but their defensive line is a good match for the Eagles’ ground game.


Georgia Tech-North Carolina has potential for plenty of fireworks on offense, while Virginia-Duke is another key game for the Coastal Division title picture.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions:
 |  | 

 

ACC Week 8 Game Power Rankings
 

1. Notre Dame at Florida State (-11.5)
8 p.m. ET, ABC
 

Tallahassee is the epicenter of the college football world in Week 8. Notre Dame and Florida State enter Saturday night ranked among the top five teams in the nation, and both programs expect to contend for college football’s new four-team playoff in 2014. Despite the history among the programs, this is only the eighth meeting between Notre Dame and Florida State. The Seminoles own a 5-2 series edge, with the last regular season meeting taking place in 2003. An interesting note to this series: Five of the seven games were decided by a touchdown or less. With that in mind, this could be another close matchup on Saturday night. Florida State leads the ACC by averaging 462.5 yards per game, but Notre Dame will counter with a defense that’s allowing only 17.2 points per contest. However, the Fighting Irish gave up 43 points to North Carolina, and the Seminoles’ offense will be the best this defense has played in 2014. Quarterback Jameis Winston is growing more comfortable with his new receivers, and the sophomore – provided the line provides protection – should have a huge performance against the Notre Dame secondary. But the same holds true for the Fighting Irish offense, as the Seminoles are allowing opponents to average 5.0 yards per play – almost a full yard increase from 2013. Quarterback Everett Golson has to be more careful with the football, as he’s committed nine turnovers in the last three games. Golson should have opportunities to move the ball on the ground or through the air. But in Tallahassee, Notre Dame’s margin for error is small and turnovers will be costly on Saturday night. 
 

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2. Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh (-1)
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Thursday)


It seems like a broken record, but this is a key game for positioning in the Coastal Division. With little separating the top six teams, this is a prime opportunity for both Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh to take a step forward in the division race. The Panthers opened conference play with a win over Boston College but lost 24-19 to Virginia on Oct. 4. The Hokies are also 1-1 in ACC action, defeating North Carolina 34-17 after opening with a loss to Georgia Tech. Running back play is under the spotlight on Thursday night, as Virginia Tech will be without leading rusher Marshawn Williams due to an ankle injury, leaving J.C. Coleman (61 yards) and Joel Caleb (84 yards) as the team’s top backs. Pittsburgh’s James Conner is one of the nation’s leading rushers, but he may see time on defense as a pass-rush specialist. A key matchup to watch will be Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller against Pittsburgh receiver Tyler Boyd. Both are among the nation’s best at their position, and if Fuller contains Boyd, the Panthers need some of their secondary weapons to step up. A tight game is expected, which means both quarterbacks (Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh and Michael Brewer, Virginia Tech) have to limit their mistakes, as both teams rank near the bottom of the ACC in turnover margin.
 

3. Clemson (-5) at Boston College
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
 

If you like trench warfare, then Saturday’s matchup in Chestnut Hill is a must-see matchup. Clemson’s defensive line is one of the best in the nation, headlined by likely All-America selection in defensive end Vic Beasley and fellow senior Grady Jarrett at defensive tackle. The Eagles counter with an offensive line featuring five senior starters and a strong rushing attack led by quarterback Tyler Murphy. Clemson is holding opponents to just 100.5 yards per game on the ground, while the Eagles lead the ACC with an average of 315.7 rushing yards a contest. Murphy leads the team by averaging 118.5 rushing yards per game, but Jon Hilliman (4.4 ypc) and Myles Willis (5.0 ypc) factor into the gameplan. The Eagles hope to get their ground game on track and limit the opportunities for an explosive Clemson offense. The Tigers will turn to senior Cole Stoudt at quarterback after freshman Deshaun Watson was injured in last week’s game against NC State. Stoudt has yet to pass for a touchdown against a Power 5 opponent this year and will be tested by a Boston College defense that likes to create havoc around the line of scrimmage (17 sacks and 38 tackles for a loss).


4. Virginia at Duke (-3)
12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network


At the beginning of the season, it’s unlikely anyone would have pegged this matchup as a critical showdown in the ACC. But seven weeks into the season, this matchup is suddenly an important game. Virginia is the lone unbeaten team (2-0) in conference play from the Coastal Division. Duke picked up a win over Georgia Tech last Saturday, which was a key rebound victory after losing 22-10 to Miami on Sept. 27. The Blue Devils are the defending Coastal champs, and a win over the Cavaliers would allow this team to take an early lead for the division title once again. Quarterback play is critical every week, but it’s an even bigger storyline this Saturday. Virginia’s Greyson Lambert has missed the last two games due to injury, and Matt Johns is 2-0 during that stretch. Lambert could return this Saturday, but both quarterbacks are expected to play. For Duke, Anthony Boone has to play mistake-free. In the Blue Devils’ 22-10 loss to Miami, Boone tossed two picks and completed only 43.1 percent of his throws. A low-scoring game should be anticipated, as Duke ranks second in the ACC in total defense (15.5 ppg), and Virginia is among the best in the conference in sacks and tackles for a loss. This is the Cavaliers’ first road ACC game of the year, while the Blue Devils have won five out of the last six in this series.


5. Georgia Tech (-2.5) at North Carolina
7 p.m. ET, ESPNU

 

Three of the last four meetings in this series were decided by eight points or less, and another close game should be anticipated in Chapel Hill on Saturday. The Tar Heels enter Week 8 on a four-game losing streak, but coach Larry Fedora’s team nearly upset Notre Dame last Saturday. North Carolina needs another second-half surge to make a bowl this year, and that run has to start Saturday against the Yellow Jackets. The Tar Heels have to find a way to slow down Georgia Tech’s option attack, which is averaging 294.7 rushing yards per game. That’s bad news for a North Carolina defense allowing 191.7 yards per contest on the ground. Quarterback Justin Thomas is the headliner (6.3 ypc), but Zach Laskey (4.9 ypc) has recorded at least 70 rushing yards in every game this year. Stopping the Yellow Jackets is going to be a challenge, as their style of play is not easy to replicate in a week of practice. While the Tar Heels will struggle on defense, their offense should be able to move the ball on a Georgia Tech unit allowing 6.3 yards per play this year. Quarterback Marquise Williams is coming off his best effort of the season (510 yards) and should have another huge day against the Yellow Jackets. Turnover margin is critical in this game. Georgia Tech was +5 entering last week’s game against Duke. But the Yellow Jackets lost three turnovers in a 31-25 loss. Forcing turnovers and getting stops on third down will be crucial to North Carolina’s hopes of snapping a four-game losing streak.


6. NC State at Louisville (-17)
3:30 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3


This matchup features the biggest spread from the seven games in the ACC in Week 8. Most thought NC State turned a corner after a 56-41 loss to NC State, but the Wolfpack has stumbled in its last two games. Dave Doeren’s team was soundly defeated 41-0 to Clemson in Week 6 and lost 30-14 to Boston College last Saturday. Stopping the run has been a problem for NC State, as it has allowed 536 yards and six touchdowns in its last two games. In addition to the defensive struggles, quarterback Jacoby Brissett has to get back on track after completing just 18 of his last 48 passes. Jumpstarting the offense is going to be a challenge for NC State this Saturday. Louisville’s defense is holding opponents to 3.7 yards per play and has allowed only nine touchdowns in seven games. While the Cardinals own one of the ACC’s top defenses, the offense is surprisingly averaging only 23.4 points a game in conference action. Will Gardner is set to start at quarterback after completing 10 of 16 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown against Clemson, but freshman Reggie Bonnafon will play in a limited role. Even though Louisville’s offense is off to a slow start, it could get on track against a NC State defense allowing 6.3 yards per play in conference games. The Wolfpack defense will be without starting linebacker Jerod Fernandez and safety Josh Jones due to an off-field incident.

 

7. Syracuse (-5) at Wake Forest
12 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3


With both teams at 0-2 in conference play and 2-4 overall, Saturday’s game is a must-win situation if either program wants to make a bowl this year. Syracuse is dealing with a handful of injuries on offense, and freshman A.J. Long will make his first start under center. Long showed promise in last week’s game against Florida State by recording 187 total yards and two passing touchdowns, and Wake Forest’s defense will be a good challenge in his first start. The Demon Deacons are holding opponents to 4.9 yards per play and are allowing 24 points per game. The numbers for Wake Forest’s defense are impressive considering the offense is managing just 3.3 yards per play and has not scored more than 24 points in a game this year. Points should be at a premium with two young quarterbacks – Long and Wake Forest freshman John Wolford – starting under center on Saturday. 

 

Week 8 ACC Predictions

 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Notre Dame at FSU (-11.5)ND 28-24FSU 34-28FSU 34-27FSU 30-20
Va. Tech at Pitt (-1)VT 34-31Pitt 31-30VT 27-24VT 28-24
Clemson (-5) at BC BC 28-21Clemson 34-24Clemson 31-27Clemson 33-21
Virginia at Duke (-3)Duke 21-17Duke 24-21Duke 24-20UVa 23-19
Ga. Tech (-2.5) at UNCGT 35-21GT 35-30GT 38-34GT 37-30
NC State at Louisville (-17)UL 31-14UL 30-23UL 34-13 UL 34-17
Syracuse (-5) at Wake ForestSU 27-14SU 30-27SU 24-20SU 24-17
Last Week4-24-24-24-2
Season Record53-1553-1556-1254-14

 

Teaser:
ACC 2014 Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/illinois-unveils-gray-ghost-uniforms-oct-25-game-against-minnesota
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Illinois has a new uniform design for 2014, but the Fighting Illini have unveiled a special look for the Oct. 25 game against Minnesota.

The “gray ghost” uniforms are a tribute to Red Grange and the 1924 game against Michigan.

Check out Illinois’ “gray ghost” uniforms for Oct. 25:

Teaser:
Illinois Unveils "Gray Ghost" Uniforms for Oct. 25 Game Against Minnesota
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: Kentucky Wildcats, SEC, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-qa-kentucky-forward-willie-cauley-stein
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Willie Cauley-Stein is a rarity for Kentucky under John Calipari — a seasoned junior with pro potential. Such a situation may not have occurred if not for an ankle injury in the Sweet 16 that ended Cauley-Stein’s NBA Draft hopes (and made him a brief fashion icon in the basketball world).

 

Not since 2010-11 with Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins has Calipari had a third-year player in a key role. That said, Cauley-Stein’s minutes won’t be guaranteed simply because he’s been around the block a few times. Cauley-Stein will be a member of one of the best frontcourts in the country with holdovers Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee and freshmen Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles.

 

Athlon Sports spoke with Cauley-Stein about Kentucky’s transformation from a 12–6 team in the SEC to the national runner-up and how Cauley-Stein is embracing his role as one of the veterans for another team with national title  aspirations.

 

This interview and more appears in the 2014-15 Athlon Sports college basketball annual, available on newsstands and in our now.

 

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We may as well start with this. One of the last times people saw you was wearing that wild shirt while on the bench at the Final Four. It got quite a bit of run. Where did you find that?

 

I had just seen it in a mall. When I first saw it I didn’t look twice at it, and as I was walking around. I was like, you know what, I like that shirt after all, so I picked it up.

 

Did you know people would be talking about it? It was quite the subject on Twitter.

 

Anything different is going to be a subject.

 

How do you view last season in retrospect? How you finished was great with a run to the national championship game, but your team didn’t show that potential until you got to the postseason.

 

I think we just stayed focused. When you have a lot of young guys out of the gates, it takes a long time to start clicking together like a real team. We did the things we did at the end because we learned how to play with each other. It just took a whole season to figure out that out.

 

So do you consider it to be a successful season or do you feel like you left something on the table since you didn’t start playing to that potential until the late?

 

It was real successful. We made it to the finals. Everybody had us canceled out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

 

When did you sense the switch had started to flip and you were starting to play together?

 

It was the first game of the SEC Tournament. That’s when the sense of urgency was different. The feel was different. You can tell players had finally figured out how they wanted to play and how they were supposed to play. They had starting giving of themselves for the team, and that started at the SEC Tournament and carried over from there.

 

Coach John Calipari said he had to learn through the season how to coach this team and figure which buttons to push. Did you notice a change in him during the season?

 

He got more chill as we were starting to win. When you’re losing, the coach isn’t going to be chill. You change a lot when things are going to right. He just changed the way guys are playing. The change he made with Andrew (Harrison) was vital. Andrew should have been playing like that from Day 1. That changed the whole team up.

 

You suffered an ankle sprain against Louisville in the Sweet 16 on March 28 but didn’t undergo surgery until mid-April. How has your recovery progressed?

 

Pretty good. I’m pretty much cleared to do stuff now. Now it’s just getting back to playing shape and strengthening my legs back up again. Other than that, I’m able to do little workouts here and there and hit the weights hard.

 

How tough was it to watch the Final Four, and do you feel like you could have won the title had you been able to play?

 

That’s hard to say. People say it’s true, but you don’t really know. I’d like to think that I’d be able to change the game that much to change the outcome. But it’s hard to say. You don’t know what could happen.

 

For the last few years Kentucky has been a team without a lot of veterans, and you’re going to be one of the guys that Kentucky looks to. How do you prepare for that role?

 

It’s going to be different, but I think it’s time to just go into that role and stopping all the kiddish stuff. It’s time to step up and take a role that older dudes take.

 

What do you mean by “kiddish stuff” and stuff that you’re cutting out?

 

Like arguing with the coach or looking for calls. Just playing like nothing really matters, playing with a good attitude and a good mind and not worrying about little petty stuff.

 

Do you feel that arguing with coaches or officials held you back?

 

No. But when you get to the veteran stage it’s almost like you’re a coach. You have to start telling young guys what you’ve been through and you got through it. And if you’re doing the same things as a young dude when they come in, you don’t get the kind of respect as a veteran.

 

When you were contemplating going to the NBA Draft after the season, what was your conversation like with John Calipari?

 

He just gave us all the facts, what teams are saying. He’s trying to pick your brain on whether you’re ready to go or not. That’s all he tells you, or if he thinks you can go.

 

He said he was surprised that you returned to school instead of going to the draft. What led to that decision?

 

I feel like if I never got injured I would have left. A lot played into that because I was kind of thinking earlier in the season of leaving. I was banking on making my draft stock go up by going through the workouts you have to go through. Since I was injured, I couldn’t go through any of that. I wasn’t able to change any spots to go earlier because I wasn’t able to work out.

 

Were you just as surprised as anyone that Andrew and Aaron Harrison decided to come back to Kentucky or did you have a feeling they’d return as well?

 

I really wasn’t thinking about it. By the time they were going through their decision, I was going through surgery and wasn’t paying attention to anything other than getting healthy again. It took a long time to decide, so I figured if they were taking that long that they were coming back.

 

With the group of big guys coming into this team, Kentucky is going to have one of the best frontcourts in the country. How do you think this group and the competition is going to help you for the next level?

 

They’re all pros. We’re all future pros. In a practice setting, going against future pros every single day, you have no choice but to get better. You’ve just got to get your mind right before you get to the next level.

 

How competitive do you think it’s going to be for playing time? As you said, you’re all future pros and you can’t all be on the court at the same time.

 

I don’t know, but it’s the same thing every year. It’s no different this year than it was the last three years, the last four years or the last five years. It’s the same every year. Coach is going to play the guys he thinks deserves to play more or who is working hard and doing the right things. Those are the guys who are going to play. But there are so many combinations you can play with this team coming in that it doesn’t really matter who is coming off the bench or who starts because everyone is going to play the same minutes.

 

With that competition and the mixing and matching, how do you make sure that’s something healthy and not something that can disrupt the team?

 

You’ve got to sacrifice yourself for the team, tell yourself that I’m not getting 35 minutes a game, so I disagree with what coach is doing. That’s just a sacrifice you have to make to play at a level we’re trying to play at.

 

Is that where you could use Marcus Lee as an example? Here’s a guy who didn’t play much during the season, but when the time came, he was ready.

 

For sure, that’s how it is. Everyone here can play the game of basketball. You have to be ready for your opportunity. When you’re called up, you’ve got to be ready to go. That’s how we run practices and how we run workouts. You never say one guy is over everybody else.

Teaser:
College Basketball: Q&A with Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-qa-wisconsin-center-frank-kaminsky
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Frank Kaminsky was an anonymous Wisconsin big man entering last season. The 7-foot junior had barely played his first two years in Madison, but he became a household name by the end of the season — when he helped lead the Badgers into the Final Four and a near-victory over Kentucky in the national semifinals. Kaminsky thought long and hard about leaving Wisconsin to take a shot at the NBA, and he talks to Athlon Sports about that decision, his nickname(s) and why he was a class clown back in high school. 

 

This interview and more appears in the 2014-15 Athlon Sports college basketball annual, available on newsstands and in our now.

 

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Let’s start with the nickname — Frank the Tank. What was the origin?

 

I’ve actually got a few nicknames. That one started in high school. I didn’t play at all as a freshman on the sophomore team, then stayed on the sophomore team the next year. I only played two years on varsity, and our point guard got hurt our senior year for about eight games — so I played point guard at 6-10. I got to do whatever I wanted. It was so much fun. I’d call ball-screens, call plays for myself. Anyway, we had the best student section — and they started calling me Frank the Tank. I didn’t love it at first, but eventually I embraced it.

 

But I had a nickname before then — Fupps. I was fat my freshman year of high school, and someone started calling me “Fuppa Face.” I was puffy, had a little extra love on my body. I was called that for four years of high school. I like it and brought it with me to Madison. 

 

Is it true you were cut from your AAU team?

 

I was the first kid cut during the Under-15 tryouts. I made it through half of the first tryout before they told me. After that, anytime I touched the ball I shot it. Then the next year I made the 16’s, but I didn’t travel. I just went to the local tournaments, but I wasn’t allowed to go on the road. I was 2-for-2 from the field the entire month of July. Then on the 17’s, I was playing behind (current Illinois center) Nnanna Egwu, and he got hurt so I started to play. When I went into that summer, there were a couple of low-major Division I teams. Then I got to play the entire month of April after Nnanna got hurt and more schools started showing interest. It was basically Wisconsin, Northwestern, DePaul, Bradley and Southern Illinois. But Wisconsin was really the first one and had faith in me before anyone else did.” 

 

You came into Wisconsin and barely played your first two years. How frustrated were you?

 

I knew that coming in. My first year I didn’t expect to even get on the court. I thought I’d redshirt, so I was fine with a backup role. I knew it wouldn’t be much different my sophomore year because everyone was back — Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz.


You went from anonymous to having a breakout season as a junior. How much did that surprise even you?

 

Some games I surprised myself, but other games I expected what I accomplished. I’ve worked hard and never got any respect from anyone. Obviously, I’ve had my own dreams and goals, and it frustrated me that the respect never came. Once it started happening last year, it may have surprised a lot of people — but not me.


Your introduction to the college basketball world came on Nov. 19 last season, the fourth game of the year, when you erupted for 43 points in a win over North Dakota. What do you remember from that night?

 

It was interesting. I’ve had some games like that before where everything is falling — a lot of people have — but it was surreal. That was the most points I’d ever scored in a game, other than in the summer league. It was cool that Coach (Bo) Ryan kept putting me back in to get the school record. After the game, I went on Twitter, and seeing everything was crazy. I got so many texts after the game, and I’d never experienced anything like that before.

Social media exploded that night about you, but now that you’ve had a chance to deal with Twitter as a known commodity for the past year, what are your thoughts on it?

 

In the past it was fun. I got to say some things and be myself. I had about 1,000 followers. Now I have 20,000 followers and so much of the time I hate it. I’ve pretty much gotten off Twitter. Sometimes I get on to check out articles or whatever, but other than that I try not to go on there, It’s a difficult forum because sometimes you can’t just be yourself — people take everything you say and read into it. 

 

Do you enjoy the recognition you’ve received lately, or do you prefer to be questioned to add more fuel to the fire?

I’m not satisfied with what I’ve accomplished individually or as a team. I’ve never been about individual awards. I don’t care if I score two points, as long as we win. The Final Four was a great achievement, but we didn’t win anything. I want to win championships. I haven’t won a Big Ten title or a national title. The great thing about our team is that no one cares about the glory. We all just want to win. Sure, we had a great year and a terrific tournament run — but we all want more. We want to win championships.

 

You recently started a blog and called it The Moose Basketball. What was the reason for that, and how has it gone thus far?


I took a digital social media class in the spring, and I set up a blog for that. I’m not really the most creative person, but I wrote about my decision whether to stay in school or try and go to the NBA. It was about 10 paragraphs, but three words got all the headlines: “NBA looks boring.” That’s not at all what I meant. That’s my end game to be in the NBA, but I love college and really wanted to stay for my senior year.

 

How difficult was the decision to come back for your final season?

 

I thought about it for a while. I did research and talked to people, my parents talked to a ton of people. Right after we lost to Kentucky, I remember telling people that I wasn’t going anywhere. At that point, I hadn’t even thought about it. I didn’t even realize I had the potential to leave for the NBA. Then I was intrigued by it. I know I could have been drafted if I left, but I enjoy college and my teammates so much — and I want to come back and see if we can do even more than we did last year.

 

Your teammate, Sam Dekker, and many of the other top returning and incoming college players were at the LeBron James Skills Academy in July. Why weren’t you there?

 

As far as I know, I wasn’t invited. I’m not going to get mad about it, because I have no control over it. It would have been nice — especially to get all the free stuff! But I’m OK with it. I’ve been working out all summer with people I’m close to in my hometown. I’m watching a lot of film, have gotten my body in better shape. I know what I need to do to get better. I’m not trying to overdo it, either, and be in the gym for six hours a day. I’ve been efficient and do what I need to finish my college career strong.

 

The word is that you were a class clown back in the day. True or false?

 

So completely true. I couldn’t be any worse growing up. I was the tall kid who got picked on for being so tall. I remember one time in the seventh grade, the teacher was late for class, and I shut and locked the door so she couldn’t get in. I told everyone to hide in the back of the room. Then one kid finally opened the door, but I was hiding under the teacher's desk until she noticed. It took a while. I was pulling things down and knocking stuff down off her desk practically the whole class. I might have gotten in a little trouble for that one, but it was worth it.

 

How often have you watched Aaron Harrison’s game-winner that knocked you guys out of the Final Four?

 

Not once. I’ll probably never watch it — and I’m not kidding, either. It’s too painful. The same thing happened to me in high school when we were playing Jabari Parker’s team downstate. We were up three in regulation and we missed a free throw. He came down and pulled up from halfcourt to force overtime. We wound up losing in double-overtime.

Teaser:
College Basketball: Q&A with Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Kentucky Wildcats, SEC, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-kentucky-wildcats-team-preview
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College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 

 

No. 1 Kentucky begins 2014-15 where it started last season — at the top. Even though last season ended in the national title game, the Wildcats are hoping for a smoother ride this time around. The Wildcats didn’t start looking like a title team until the NCAA Tournament — a good time to do so, mind you — but this year’s group will aim for wire-to-wire consistency.

 

The Kentucky edition is one of dozens available in our  and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

After last season, most Kentucky fans promised themselves never to allow that silly notion back into their minds — the idea that this latest loaded collection of Cats could, just maybe, win every last one of their games. The weight of that expectation nearly crushed a team full of freshmen, who eventually lost 11 times.

 

However, that team did eventually click in time for a wild ride all the way to the NCAA title game. And eight guys from that team who might’ve been drafted instead passed on the NBA and returned for another season at UK.

 

Plus, four more prized recruits signed up for the circus, bringing coach John Calipari’s roster to this crazy number: nine McDonald’s All-Americans, not counting projected lottery pick Willie Cauley-Stein.

 

And in a rarity, Calipari has veterans now, six sophomores and two juniors.

 

“The levels of practice are high,” Calipari says. “They’re not backing down from each other. The younger guys are competing. The older guys are coming.”

 

And the rest of college basketball should be quivering. 

 


No. 1 Kentucky Facts & Figures

Last season: 29-11, 12-6 SEC

Postseason: NCAA runner-up

Consecutive NCAAs: 1

Coach: John Calipari (152-37 at Kentucky, 64-20 SEC)

SEC Projection: First

Postseason Projection: NCAA champion

 


Frontcourt

 

It’s hardly hyperbole to say no one in college basketball can match the Cats’ combination of size and athleticism inside. With seven players 6-8 or taller, six of them former top-50 recruits, and all with skills that belie their size, Calipari’s frontcourt will overwhelm most.

 

Veteran forwards Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee play as if on pogo sticks and have gotten in peak condition — Poythress improving his cardio endurance and Lee packing on several pounds of muscle — demonstrated by dominant and dunk-filled performances during the Cats’ summer exhibition trip to the Bahamas.

 

It was a pivotal trip for Poythress, once considered a one-and-done and now entering his third season at UK.

 

“He came back to school to prove to the world: ‘I’m one of the best forwards in the country,’” assistant coach Kenny Payne says. 

 

Then there’s the matter of three (almost) 7-footers in junior Willie Cauley-Stein, sophomore Dakari Johnson and freshman Karl-Anthony Towns. Johnson, already a rugged rebounder and inside scorer, has slimmed down and is running the floor — and springing up off it — better than ever. Towns opened a lot of eyes in the Bahamas with an unusually polished and multi-faceted game for a freshman. He swished hook shots, skied for dunks, crashed the glass and even delivered a few slick passes not typical of a 6-11 center.

 

There’s also 6-9 Derek Willis, another high riser who is a strong 3-point shooter. And both Cauley-Stein and 6-10 McDonald’s All-American Trey Lyles, who sat out the summer tour with leg injuries. Good luck to opponents trying to come up with a counter.

 

Related:

 

Backcourt

 

When twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison passed on the draft and returned to school, it solidified the Cats’ status as fully loaded across the board. They’re joined by two other former McDonald’s All-Americans: freshman point guard Tyler Ulis, an electric 5-9 water bug, and rookie sharpshooter Devin Booker.

 

Andrew Harrison looked far more comfortable and in control this summer, taking charge of the team and playing a more aggressive — but still pass-first — style. Aaron Harrison, hero of the Final Four run with three straight clinching 3-pointers, has a much more well-rounded game now. Both twins have lost weight, and it shows most in Aaron, who looks more explosive entering his sophomore season. He had multiple drives and dunks (over defenders) that drew gasps from the crowd in the Bahamas.

 

The twins will be catalysts for this team, but both Booker and Ulis will help significantly. Ulis handles the ball like it’s on a string, is a breathtaking passer and a surprisingly aggressive defender at his size.

 

“It’s like he’s a gnat,” Calipari says. “It changes the dynamic of our team right now, because we didn’t have that.”

 

Final Analysis

 

This team is really, really, really good. Each of Calipari’s teams at Kentucky have been loaded with talent. Some of his teams have had solid depth. This one, however, has talent, depth and experience.

 

Will this team be the one to run the table? It’s unlikely. But you’ll have trouble finding a game right now they’d be picked to lose. Kentucky is the overwhelming favorite to the win the national title.

 

Newcomers

 

Only four McDonald’s All-Americans in this class? John Calipari is slipping, clearly. But 5-9 point guard Tyler Ulis is electric with the ball and will quickly be a fan favorite. Devin Booker has a sweet outside stroke but can also get to the bucket. Trey Lyles, if his undisclosed leg injury is fully healed, will be a force, while 6-11 Karl-Anthony Towns can do a little bit of everything and looks like a future top-five NBA Draft pick.

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: Kentucky Wildcats Team Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-wisconsin-badgers-team-preview
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College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 

 

No. 2 Wisconsin returns nearly every key player from a team that reached last year’s Final Four. That kind of stability has the Badgers thinking of other prizes, such as the school’s first Big Ten title since 2008 and, ultimately, its first national championship in program history.

 

The Wisconsin edition is one of dozens available in our  and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

As a keepsake from their run to the 2014 national semifinals, Wisconsin players each received a padded folding chair that included the Final Four logo. Sam Dekker has decided to put his in a spot where he can see it every day before he hits the court for practice. 

 

“I feel like I have that reminder in front of my locker every day to think about the good things we did and things we can improve on,” Dekker says of the Badgers, whose 30-win season ended with a 74–73 loss to Kentucky. “A new chair could be waiting for us if we do the right things.”

 

It’s a long road to Indianapolis in April, but Wisconsin has the pieces to contend for another Final Four berth. Dekker is one of seven key players returning for Bo Ryan. More than 80 percent of the scoring and 80 percent of the rebounding is back from a team that could have played Connecticut for the title had Aaron Harrison not drained a 3-pointer from 25 feet with 5.7 seconds remaining. 

 


No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers Facts & Figures

Last season: 30-8, 12-6 Big Ten

Postseason: NCAA Final Four

Consecutive NCAAs: 16

Coach: Bo Ryan (321-121 at Wisconsin, 156-66 Big Ten)

Big Ten Projection: First

Postseason Projection: NCAA runner-up

 


Frontcourt

 

Center Frank Kaminsky was a breakout star as a junior, leading the Badgers in scoring and rebounding. While his coming-out party was a school-record 43-point effort early in the season against North Dakota, Kaminsky’s best contributions came during the stretch run when he used a variety of post moves to become the Badgers’ No. 1 option on offense. 

 

Dekker wasn’t satisfied with his second season at Wisconsin, particularly his low shooting numbers from 3-point range (32.6 percent) and the free throw line (68.6). But he had a terrific summer that included standout performances at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy and LeBron James Nike Skills Academy and is determined to reach his potential. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin’s top player off the bench as a freshman, could be ready for a starting role that would allow Dekker to move to small forward, his natural position. Before Kaminsky’s late-season run, it was Hayes who carried the offense by using a quick first step to get to the basket and draw fouls.

 

Forward Duje Dukan, coming off a medical redshirt year, proved to be a capable scorer off the bench in his first extended action. Wisconsin’s frontcourt depth will get a boost if forward Vitto Brown, who played only 44 minutes as a freshman, makes strides and shows Ryan he’s ready to join the rotation.

 

Related:

 

Backcourt

 

The Badgers’ only significant loss is shooting guard Ben Brust. Not only is Brust the program’s all-time leader in made 3-pointers — he was 15-of-30 during Wisconsin’s NCAA Tournament run — but his defense and scrappy play also will be missed. But Wisconsin still has a load of experience at guard in seniors Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser. Jackson has started 67 consecutive games and has no fear when it comes to taking big shots in the closing seconds, while Gasser, a two-time member of the Big Ten’s All-Defensive Team, is on pace to become the program’s all-time leader in minutes played. Gasser exceeded expectations last season in his return from major knee surgery and has vowed to be more of an offensive presence, which would help make up for Brust’s departure.

 

Bronson Koenig has a nice shooting touch and the ability to break down defenses with his dribbling and passing. He could move into a starting role if Ryan chooses to stick with a three-guard lineup. Zak Showalter, whose strength is defending, redshirted last season and will compete with Jordan Hill and Riley Dearring for the fourth guard spot.

 

Final Analysis

 

Ryan’s best offensive club helped him get over the hump and finally reach the Final Four. The Badgers could be even more lethal on that end in 2014-15 and should also be improved on the defensive end. They’ll be heavy favorites to win their first Big Ten title since 2007-08 and appear to have the tools to make another deep run in March, meaning that Ryan’s biggest challenge might be keeping his players from getting caught up in the hype. 

 

Gasser says that won’t be an issue. “We’ve always had expectations of winning a Big Ten title and making a deep run in the tournament,” he says. “Really, it’s nothing different for us.”

 

Newcomers

 

Riley Dearring took one look at a crowded backcourt last season and decided to use a redshirt season to get stronger. He arrived at Wisconsin with a reputation as a shooter and willing defender, but it won’t be easy to find much playing time in an experienced backcourt. Ethan Happ committed to Wisconsin after attending a camp in Madison following his sophomore season and the coaching staff is excited about his future, but it won’t be easy for him to find minutes right away.

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: Wisconsin Badgers Team Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-7
Body:

Joe Flacco dominated last week, but Andrew Luck still reigns supreme atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 7. Flacco tossed four touchdowns in the first quarter alone on his way to a season-best 42.2 fantasy points against Tampa Bay. Luck meanwhile had another strong game (370-3-1) in the win over Houston and continues to pace everyone in fantasy scoring. And while he’s still outside of the overall top 10 at his position, Tom Brady has certainly played like the Tom Terrific of old with 653 yards, six touchdowns and no picks in his last two games for a combined total of 63.7 fantasy points (Athlon scoring). Luck leads the way in this week’s rankings but Brady at home against a depleted Jets secondary checks in as a top-10 option as well. Flacco also could be in for another big game, facing a porous Atlanta defense that gave up 381 yards passing to Jay Cutler last week.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

 

Teams on bye: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Andrew LuckINDvs. CIN
2Aaron RodgersGBvs. CAR
3Peyton ManningDENvs. SF
4Philip RiversSDvs. KC
5Jay CutlerCHIvs. MIA
6Russell WilsonSEAat STL
7Cam NewtonCARat GB
8Drew BreesNOat DET
9Tom BradyNEvs. NYJ (Thurs.)
10Colin KaepernickSFat DEN
11Matthew StaffordDETvs. NO
12Tony RomoDALvs. NYG
13Carson PalmerARIat OAK
14Joe FlaccoBALvs. ATL
15Matt RyanATLat BAL
16Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. HOU (Mon.)
17Kirk CousinsWASvs. TEN
18Eli ManningNYGat DAL
19Brian HoyerCLEat JAC
20Andy DaltonCINat IND
21Alex SmithKCat SD
22Ryan TannehillMIAat CHI
23Derek CarrOAKvs. ARI
24Kyle OrtonBUFvs. MIN
25Blake BortlesJACvs. CLE
26Ryan FitzpatrickHOUat PIT (Mon.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

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Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 7
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 06:30
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DeMarco Murray, the NFL’s leading rusher by a wide margin, leads off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 7, but he’s not the only one getting the job done. Even though Matt Forté is just seventh in the league in rushing, he trails only Murray in fantasy points among RBs thanks to a position-high 46 receptions. Murray and Forté should both earn their keep yet again this week based on their respective matchups and the number of touches each has been getting. Another back that could see his workload increase is Lamar Miller, who is now the Dolphins’ clear-cut No. 1 option with Knowshon Moreno done for the season (torn ACL). Other injured ball carriers that could be fantasy relevant as early as this week if they are able to return from injury include Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram and Jonathan Stewart. 

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

 

Teams on bye: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1DeMarco MurrayDALvs. NYG
2Matt ForteCHIvs. MIA
3Arian FosterHOUat PIT (Mon.)
4Le'Veon BellPITvs. HOU (Mon.)
5Marshawn LynchSEAat STL
6Jamaal CharlesKCat SD
7Giovani BernardCINat IND
8Ben TateCLEat JAC
9Andre EllingtonARIat OAK
10Branden OliverSDvs. KC
11Eddie LacyGBvs. CAR
12Lamar MillerMIAat CHI
13Alfred MorrisWASvs. TEN
14Justin ForsettBALvs. ATL
15Fred JacksonBUFvs. MIN
16Andre WilliamsNYGat DAL
17Joique BellDETvs. NO
18Ahmad BradshawINDvs. CIN
19Frank GoreSFat DEN
20Ronnie HillmanDENvs. SF
21Shane VereenNEvs. NYJ (Thurs.)
22Chris IvoryNYJat NE (Thurs.)
23Reggie BushDETvs. NO
24C.J. SpillerBUFvs. MIN
25Trent RichardsonINDvs. CIN
26Pierre ThomasNOat DET
27Bishop SankeyTENat WAS
28Mark IngramNOat DET
29Steven JacksonATLat BAL
30Jerrick McKinnonMINat BUF
31Jonathan StewartCARat GB
32Brandon BoldenNEvs. NYJ (Thurs.)
33Isaiah CrowellCLEat JAC
34Zac StacySTLvs. SEA
35Darren McFaddenOAKvs. ARI
36Jeremy HillCINat IND
37Khiry RobinsonNOat DET
38Bernard PierceBALvs. ATL
39Matt AsiataMINat BUF
40James StarksGBvs. CAR
41Chris JohnsonNYJat NE (Thurs.)
42Knile DavisKCat SD
43Storm JohnsonJACvs. CLE
44Benny CunninghamSTLvs. SEA
45Antone SmithATLat BAL
46Carlos HydeSFat DEN
47Roy HeluWASvs. TEN
48Juwan ThompsonDENvs. SF

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

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Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 7
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-7
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The NFL’s best tight end may be sidelined for a little longer, but there’s no slowing down the one who checks in at No. 1 on Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 7. Julius Thomas not only leads his position in fantasy scoring, he leads the entire league in touchdown catches with nine. This is something we are accustomed to seeing from Jimmy Graham, but unfortunately the Saints’ top target could be sidelined up to three weeks because of a sprained shoulder. There has been some good news on the tight end injury front, however, as Jordan Reed returned last week and made his presence immediately known with eight catches for 92 yards.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

 

Teams on bye: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Julius ThomasDENvs. SF
2Rob GronkowskiNEvs. NYJ (Thurs.)
3Greg OlsenCARat GB
4Martellus BennettCHIvs. MIA
5Antonio GatesSDvs. KC
6Delanie WalkerTENat WAS
7Jordan CameronCLEat JAC
8Jordan ReedWASvs. TEN
9Travis KelceKCat SD
10Jason WittenDALvs. NYG
11Larry DonnellNYGat DAL
12Vernon DavisSFat DEN
13Dwayne AllenINDvs. CIN
14Heath MillerPITvs. HOU (Mon.)
15Jared CookSTLvs. SEA
16Owen DanielsBALvs. ATL
17Clay HarborJACvs. CLE
18Jace AmaroNYJat NE (Thurs.)
19Coby FleenerINDvs. CIN
20Jermaine GreshamCINat IND
21Tim WrightNEvs. NYJ (Thurs.)
22Eric EbronDETvs. NO
23Charles ClayMIAat CHI
24Scott ChandlerBUFvs. MIN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 7
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-7
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Seattle’s DST hasn’t been all that productive from a fantasy standpoint, but it’s the Seahawks’ reputation and matchup that has the defending Super Bowl champions leading off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 7. Even though Seattle lost to Dallas at home last week, the Seahawks scored their first defensive or special teams touchdown of the season and now gets a Rams team that’s allowing the most fantasy points to opposing DSTs. Elsewhere, Detroit’s defense had its way with rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater last week (8 sacks, 3 INTs), tying Philadelphia for the most fantasy points (22, Athlon scoring). The Lions are shaping up to be another strong play this week, as they are at home facing a Jimmy Graham-less New Orleans offense.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

 

Teams on bye: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay

 

RankPlayerOpp
1Seattle Seahawksat STL
2New England Patriotsvs. NYJ (Thurs.)
3Buffalo Billsvs. MIN
4Cleveland Brownsat JAC
5Arizona Cardinalsat OAK
6Detroit Lionsvs. NO
7Baltimore Ravensvs. ATL
8Houston Texansat PIT (Mon.)
9Denver Broncosvs. SF
10Dallas Cowboysvs. NYG
11Chicago Bearsvs. MIA
12San Diego Chargersvs. KC
13Green Bay Packersvs. CAR
14Cincinnati Bengalsat IND
15Tennessee Titansat WAS
16Pittsburgh Steelersvs. HOU (Mon.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

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Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 7
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-7
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Order has seemingly been restored when it comes to Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 7. Not only is Stephen Gostkowski No. 1 among kickers in fantasy scoring, he also led his position in points for Weeks 6 and 7. New England appears to have rediscovered its championship form, so there’s a good chance that Gostkowski will camp out atop our rankings for the rest of the season. Except when the Patriots are on bye in Week 10 of course.

 

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

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

 

Teams on bye: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. NYJ (Thurs.)
2Dan BaileyDALvs. NYG
3Adam VinatieriINDvs. CIN
4Nick NovakSDvs. KC
5Justin TuckerBALvs. ATL
6Chandler CatanzaroARIat OAK
7Brandon McManusDENvs. SF
8Phil DawsonSFat DEN
9Steven HauschkaSEAat STL
10Dan CarpenterBUFvs. MIN
11Matt BryantATLat BAL
12Mason CrosbyGBvs. CAR
13Robbie GouldCHIvs. MIA
14Caleb SturgisMIAat CHI
15Shaun SuishamPITvs. HOU (Mon.)
16Randy BullockHOUat PIT (Mon.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 6
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, NBA
Path: /nba/nba-will-experiment-shorter-game-times
Body:

Earlier this month, we heard that in order shave time off games. Now, they’re taking a more direct route to brevity.

When the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics face off on Sunday, October 19 (a preseason game), the bout’s duration will be just 44 minutes, not 48. The league’s president of basketball operations, Rod Thorn, , per USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt: “We have looked at everything that we do and are taking a fresh look at all the different things we do. One of the things that keeps coming up is our schedule and the length of our games... Our coaches talked about it, and a lot of them seemed to be in favor of at least taking a look at it. We talked with our competition committee, and they were in favor of taking a look at it... Let's get some empirical evidence regarding this and take a fresh look at it.”

The biggest flaw in the NBA’s product has been, for some time, its volume. There’s too much of it. The 82-game season is a beleaguered yawn at times, and fans are often right to turn their attention elsewhere until the playoffs begin and teams are finally in the pressure cooker of do-or-die expectations. That’s when the real drama begins.

But the season probably won’t shorten anytime soon. There’s simply too much money in all that TV time. The next best thing the league can do to make their brand snappier, though, is to condense the game, and that seems to be a priority for progressive new commissioner Adam Silver. 

And 48 minutes is an aberration, anyway: Every other major basketball league across the globe plays the game for 40 minutes or less. It seems like only a matter of time before the NBA comes closer to that figure.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/injuries-have-and-will-impact-rest-nfl-season
Body:

The scene seems to be played out over and over every week, and there’s simply no way to avoid it. A player takes a wrong step, a big hit, or is simply running. Then he drops to the ground in pain.

 

Fans lose a star player to cheer for. Players lose a valuable teammate. Sometimes it’s just for a few weeks, and sometimes it’s much longer. But in this war of attrition that is the NFL season, many of these injuries have huge impacts on the standings. Teams can lose all hope in a single pop.

 

So far this season, more than a handful of big-name, big-play, high-impact players have been taken away from the teams that need them. Here’s a look at some of the walking – or not-walking – wounded whose absences could have the biggest impacts on their teams.

 

Giants WR Victor Cruz

The Giants’ offense was just beginning to roll when Cruz went down with a torn patellar tendon. And when he did, it exposed the Giants’ incredibly thin receiving corps. Rookie Odell Beckham, who has been in two NFL games and hardly any full practices, now steps into a starting role and vet Preston Parker becomes the slot man. They also signed the well-travelled Kevin Ogletree, but there’s not a lot behind the starters, Beckham and Rueben Randle, with Cruz gone.

 

Patriots LB Jerod Mayo

The Patriots don’t look much like the Patriots anymore, and losing their leading tackler (with a knee injury) from an already weak linebacking corps won’t help. Now his job will likely fall to an undrafted rookie (Deontae Skinner) and that’s big, since Mayo was the leader of the group and the one who made the play calls. In years past, we’d all just assume Bill Belichick would just find someone else to fill in and move on. But Belichick doesn’t look much like Belichick these days either.

 

Patriots RB Steven Ridley

The effect of Ridley’s knee injury (out for the season) depends on your perspective on Ridley, which is always hard to figure when deciphering Belichick’s revolving backfield. He seemed to be their best running back, if the focus is on the running. But they do have Shane Vereen — who has been used more as a third-down-type back — and Brandon Bolden. Ridley seemed to have the most upside, though, if you could only look past his penchant for fumbling.

 

Lions WR Calvin Johnson

His high ankle sprain has had him in and out of the lineup, but it’s also made him a shell of his former self on game day. And while the Lions still have other weapons, and a pretty good receiver in Golden Tate, they have the potential to be one of the top offenses in the NFL when Johnson is on the field. They probably have enough to reach the playoffs without him, but they could be actual contenders with him. There’s no way to take one of the best players in the game off the field and not have it hurt.

 

Bengals WR A.J. Green

At this point, the on-again, off-again toe injury to Green is more annoying than devastating, but he likely will be out for a couple of weeks and who knows how much he’ll be hampered the rest of the way. The Eagles have other weapons, but Green is what makes them a Top 10 (or higher) passing offense. He is a consistent big-game player, a small notch below Calvin Johnson, and opens up the field for everyone else. Without him, the Bengals go from possible championship contender to a very ordinary-looking team.

 

Saints TE Jimmy Graham

There simply is no replacing the best tight end in the NFL, who will likely be out this week and possibly more with a shoulder injury. Obviously Drew Brees has plenty of weapons at his disposal, but Graham is their leading receiver and his size/speed forces defenses into difficult decisions on who to double and which positions to commit to covering Graham. Without him creating mismatches and opening up space for others, there’ll be a lot less room for Brees’ other targets to run.

 

Browns C Alex Mack

The Browns have surprised everyone with their 3-2 start and a lot of that has to do with their rushing attack, which ranks third in the NFL. When your rushing attack is that good, it has a lot to do with the offensive line. So losing Mack to a broken leg upsets everything. Coach Mike Pettine will have to juggle his line, probably by moving guard John Greco to center. Maybe it’ll still work, but Mack has been a solid force even through the bad times in Cleveland. And the center is usually the leader of the line.

 

Eagles RB Darren Sproles

He has been such a valuable, versatile weapon for Chip Kelly, both as an occasional runner and receiver and as a return man. There are few running backs in the NFL with his kind of explosion. Now he has a sprained MCL and while optimistic reports say he could be back in a few weeks, the real question will be if the sprain lingers. He’s 31 and small (5-6, 190) so even a loss of a half step of his speed could greatly diminish his importance.

 

Redskins QB Robert Griffin III

At first, when RGIII dislocated his ankle, it looked like a blessing in disguise for Washington because Kirk Cousins looked terrific. Then the bubble burst and in recent weeks it became clear to everyone why Griffin was such a high draft pick. He’s good. He’s dangerous. He has uncommon talent. At some point he’ll be back, but by then the Redskins likely won’t have a season to save.

 

Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno

Injuries have hampered the former Bronco all season, even before an ACL tear sidelined him for the season. With a still-growing quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins need to rely on their rushing attack. They had hoped Moreno would get healthy enough to help at some point.  Now Lamar Miller is stuck carrying a very heavy load.

 

Cowboys G Doug Free

Things had been going so well for the Cowboys and most of it had to do with their offensive line. So the last thing they wanted to do was lose one of the pieces. Sure enough, Free is out 3-4 weeks with a fractured foot. If that’s all it is, it’s not a killer blow since Dallas is 5-1. But without him, there is some question about what will happen to Demarco Murray and the NFL’s best rushing attack, and whether there’ll be a lot more pressure on Tony Romo from now on.

 

—By Ralph Vacchiano

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 14:25
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-ink-ogletree-victor-cruz-goes-ir
Body:

East Rutherford, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Giants officially placed Victor Cruz on injured reserve after the star wide receiver underwent surgery Monday to repair a torn patellar tendon in his right knee.

 

In a related move, the Giants announced the signing of veteran wideout Kevin Ogletree on Tuesday. Additionally, the team put nickel back Trumaine McBride on IR after he fractured his thumb in Sunday's 27-0 loss at Philadelphia.

 

Cruz suffered his injury while attempting to catch a fourth-down pass from Eli Manning in the end zone during the third quarter of Sunday's game. The 2012 Pro Bowl selection immediately clutched his knee after dropping the pass and needed to be carted off the field.

 

The 27-year-old spent Sunday night at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia and was transferred to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, where team physician Dr. Russell Warren performed the procedure.

 

Cruz caught 23 passes for 337 yards and one touchdown in six games this season. In 14 games last year, he hauled in 73 passes for 998 yards and four scores.

 

Ogletree began the season with the Detroit Lions but was released in Week 3 after being inactive for the club's first two contests. He caught 13 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown in 12 games for Detroit last season.

 

The 27-year-old Queens native's best season came with Dallas in 2012, when Ogletree compiled 32 receptions totaling 436 yards and four touchdowns.

 

McBride had been serving as New York's slot cornerback after Walter Thurmond sustained a season-ending torn pectoral muscle against Arizona in Week 2. The journeyman corner was a 10-game starter for the Giants in 2013, recording two interceptions and 15 passes defensed.

 

Through New York's first six games of this season, McBride had notched 21 tackles, one interception, one sack and two forced fumbles.

 

Cornerback Chandler Fenner was signed off the practice squad to replace McBride on the active roster.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 13:41
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/dolphins-place-rb-knowshon-moreno-ir-acl-injury
Body:

Davie, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Miami Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno was placed on injured reserve Tuesday because of an ACL injury.

 

The free agent acquisition from Denver played just three games in his first season with the Dolphins and totaled 148 yards with a touchdown on 31 carries.

 

Moreno had an impressive debut with his new team in the season opener against New England, running for 134 yards and a score in Miami's 33-20 victory. He then suffered an elbow injury on his only carry the following week against Buffalo and missed the next two games.

 

The 26-year-old Georgia product returned for this past Sunday's game against Green Bay, but had just 10 yards on six rushes and had just one carry after halftime in the 27-24 loss.

 

Moreno had signed a one-year contract with the Dolphins in March after playing his first five seasons with Denver. He was coming off his best year in 2013, rushing for a career-high 1,038 yards with 10 touchdowns while adding 60 receptions for 548 yards with three scores.

 

The Dolphins also reinstated the suspended Derrick Shelby after the defensive lineman sat out Sunday's game following an arrest during Miami's bye week.

 

"We have completed our process and have made the determination to reinstate Derrick," said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in a statement Tuesday. "Derrick understood that he would be held accountable for his actions as they did not represent our organizational standards."

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 13:38
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo, NFL
Path: /nfl/dallas-sitting-pretty-5-1-following-upset-seattle
Body:

Jerry Jones’ birthday party came a few hours early this season. The Dallas Cowboys owner, president and general manager turned 72 on Monday, Oct. 13, but the festivities got cranked up Sunday afternoon when the Cowboys upset the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, 30–23, at CenturyLink Field — where the neon-clad world champs had a 19–1 record (including playoffs) with Russell Wilson at quarterback prior to the Boys shocking the Hawks.


The win improved the Cowboys’ record to 5–1 for the first time since 2007 and gave Jones an early birthday present that has to rank among the sweetest — and most surprising — of his career in Dallas.

 

“Almost as good as the Herschel Walker trade,” joked Jones, referring to the blockbuster deal that, coincidentally, celebrated its 25th anniversary on Sunday and is credited with establishing the foundation of the 1990s dynasty that won three Super Bowls in four seasons.


“When I see us come up here against the Super Bowl champions and play in these adverse conditions. When I see us play like that, then I’d say we’ve got a chance to line up against anybody and win the game.”


Much like the ’90s Super Bowl teams with Emmitt Smith, these Cowboys are riding their star running back to victory week in, week out. DeMarco Murray joined Jim Brown as just the second player in NFL history to open a season with six consecutive 100-yard rushing games. Prior to Murray’s 29-carry, 115-yard, one-TD effort on the ground, Seattle’s No. 1-ranked rush defense was allowing 62.3 yards per game on just 2.6 yards per carry. The Seahawks had not allowed any runner to gain more than 38 yards this season and had not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Nov. 3, 2013. In fact, Murray is only the seventh 100-yard rusher since Pete Carroll took over as Seattle’s coach in 2010.


“He’s a powerful back,” said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who is known more for his trash talk than his praise of opposing players.
“He runs strong. You’ve got to tackle him with multiple people and when you have your opportunity to tackle him one-on-one, you’ve got to find a way to bring him down.”


Murray was the main reason Dallas had a nearly two-to-one time-of-possession edge over Seattle, at 37:39-to-22:21.


But the Cowboys are certainly more than just a one-man team. The highlight of the game at Seattle was clearly the 3rd-and-20 conversion from Tony Romo to Terrence Williams, who tip-toed the sideline on a diving fourth-quarter catch that kept a 75-yard go-ahead touchdown drive alive.
Most surprising has been Dallas’ defense, which allowed just nine first downs and 206 total yards against a powerful Seattle offense that includes Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin.


“Nothing surprises me in the NFL. They pay their players, too — the other side of the ball,” said Jones. “Those guys weren’t All-Pro players, in the ’90s, and they’re great players, great players. But before they were winning like that, they weren’t thought to be great players. The winning helped them become better players.”


This version of the Cowboys has a long way to go before being compared to the Super Bowl champions of two decades ago. But the sky appears to be the limit this year with offensive studs like Murray, Romo, wideout Dez Bryant,  tackle Tyron Smith and tight end Jason Witten, along with a defense that has shown far more ability than anticipated.


“Guys aren’t going to back down,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “We have the right kind of guys on this team.”


In other words, how ’bout them Cowboys?

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 12:38
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-15-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 15:

 

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• Have a hankie ready: .

 

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(strong language warning).

 

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• In 2003, the Year of Bartman, .

 

• Mike Moustakas' amazing over-the-railing catch is emblematic of the Royals' crazy run.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 10:38

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